The Stitch and Story slipper kit is a very popular gifted item on the stall. You may not know, that all the Stitch and Story kits are built and designed for beginner and I can now advocate, this one really really is.
As I'm sure you've seen, I've run beginner knitting workshops before, learning beanie hats and my own slipper pattern with t-shirt yarns - and this is not dissimilar, with 2 basic stitches, no increasing and some super simple decreases and you'll be done. SPOILER:- you are basically knitting a big square-ish-thing - that sounds simple enough, doesn't it?
The pack includes some beautiful stubby 12mm knitting needles, the yarn, pattern and instructions on how to knit - Stitch and Story also have lots of videos you can watch to help with this bit too! All you need to learn is how to cast on, a knit stitch and a purl stitch. It'll be a frustrating 5 minutes - but perseverance is key! I promise you'll have it and unending satisfaction in no time.
I knitted one slipper in an hour - so for beginners maybe allow 2-3? You'll see it growing quickly, which is super rewarding and in an evening you can get one done! The 100% merino wool is super super soft, will keep those toes warm (the pattern splits between sizes 3-5 and 6-8 for a snug fit) and you can make the cute little pom poms for the embellishment on top without any additional tools or cutting of card circles - the pattern recommends using a fork! - I used my fingers.
It is with a heavy heart that I report on this guy. I was exceptionally proud of this knit, perhaps in part because I had knitted an amazing jumper to go with it already (and being matching is both ridiculous and ridiculously satisfying) and because it only took 2 hours. None of those things leave one heavy, but the fact that two days after this picture was taken, proudly wearing my hat out for a civilised dinner and a few wines with my favourite ladies it was sadly mislaid, does. Fare the well my gorgeous, we had good times.
Luckily - I probably still have enough wool to make another one, once I'm finished mourning, because it's knitted from Wool and the Gangs Crazy Sexy Wool which comes in luscious 200g balls and this pom pom was made from jumper remains, so fingers crossed!
The thing I was keen to try with this knit was bobbles. I've been seeing lot of chunky knits on the instagram lately with beautiful baffling bobbly bits - and so I decided to unbaffle them. I'm not sure the extent to which I succeeded, but I loved this guy when he was finished, so happy times all round.
To 'bobble' I essentially I:-
0) got to the stitch in question (1)
1) increased the given stitch by 2 (3)
2) turned the work around to purl back across those 3 stitches (3)
(you only purl these 3, you don't go to the end of the row or complete anything else (don't pass go, don't collect £200)
- this is all contained and focussed on creating the one stitch into a bobble)
3) turned the work around again to knit back across those 3 stitches (3)
4) pulled the further 2 stitches over the closest 1 (essentially decreasing/casting off 2 to leave you with one again) (1)
To make a bigger bobble, increase by more, or do more rows in the step - and for smaller, do less.
To make your own bobbly beanie, you'll need a ball of the Crazy Sexy Wool, 12mm needles and a yarn needle. It went a little something like this:-
Cast on 40 stitches
Row 1-5: rib stitch - *knit 1, purl 1* (knitting again, I'd increase this to 7 if you're hoping for the folded over version) (40)
Row 6-9: stocking stitch - *knit 1 row, purl 1 row* (40)
Row 10: knit 4, bobble 1, *knit 7, bobble 1*, knit 3 (40)
Row 11 - 13: stocking stitch- purl 1 row, knit 1 row, purl 1 row (40)
Row 14: knit 7, bobble 1, *knit 7, bobble 1*, knit 6 (40)
Row 15 - 17: stocking stitch- purl 1 row, knit 1 row, purl 1 row (40)
Row 18: knit 2, bobble 1 without increase (so you decrease by 2),
*knit 5, bobble 1 without increase (so you decrease by 2)*, knit 4 (30)
Row 19 - 21: stocking stitch- purl 1 row, knit 1 row, purl 1 row (30)
Row 22: knit 3, bobble 1 without increase (so you decrease by 2),
*knit 3, bobble 1 without increase (so you decrease by 2)* (20)
Row 23: purl 1 row (20)
Row 24: decrease (knit 2 into 1) (10)
Row 25: purl 1 row (10)
Finishing: Cut a long tail, thread onto a yarn needle. Take the stitches off the needle and thread through starting with the furthest stitch from the tail, creating a loop which pulls the stitches together in a circles. Sew down the side of the hat and fasten off.
I added a big pom pom too. I was at my mum's house without pom pom makers and had a pile of left over little bits from my jumper, so I simply wrapped these all around my hand, pulled them off my hand carefully, tied the middle with the thinner piece of string nice and tight, cut the two ends where necessary, rolled the pom pom in my hands and pruned until even (Google hand pompoms for better youtube explanations!)
So - that was Christmas - and what have we done?! Well, I bloody well knitted a jumper.. and it wasn't half as scary or time consuming as I expected!
It's something I've had my eye on for a while. As many of you know, I only came back to knitting in the summer and I've been keeping everything simple and basic. I am always envious of people who have the time and attention for detailed jumper knits on tiny needles - and feel a bit of a fraud for not being one - but I am not one of these fabulous people and that's ok. I like things I can finish, I like big needles with big yarn that develops quickly - and I loved this knit.
I searched for the right kit for a while. I knew it needed to be chunky and I wanted something on straight needles, because it's accessible - and if one day I finally get round to organising a jumper club, everyone can have fun without the mental boundaries of circular needles! I also have a particular taste in clothes. I like clean lines and fitted sleeves, something that fits properly over the shoulders and is without frills and frolics. Pretty boring right? But basics last the test of time.
I was stuck for a long time between We Are Knitters and Wool and The Gang. Both have a beautiful range of jumpers that fit my requirements, but like the Cinderella experiment, when I knew, I knew - and it was Wool and The Gang's Eden Jumper that got me. The only 'downside' was the vast range of colours, this nearly held me back from buying at all, but I spotted some of their 'Crazy Sexy Wool' in John Lewis on Oxford Street and seeing a decreased range in person, I opted immediately for the Ultra Violet.
So, what do you get? If you opt for the full pack, you get 12mm needles, the pattern, a yarn needle and 6-8 balls of Crazy Sexy Wool. I must confess, I purchased mine during Cyber week and got 30% off - but usually this would cost around £120. I had my own needles (the Hoooked needles do just fine), so that made it a little better too.
The wool? The Crazy Sexy Wool has the same size specifications as Stitch and Stories chunky merino but seems far hardier and bouncy. Not quite as soft, which is to be expected, but where the softness of the merino means you have to be quite careful with it, the Crazy Sexy Wool runs with the punches and is reassuringly strong. On their website Wool and the Gang say: 'Crazy Sexy Wool come from happy sheep in South America, sourced with consideration as to reduce the impact on the environment. It happens to have amazing qualities - it’s natural, renewable, biodegradable. Plus, it’s also breathable, stretchy, made to last, easy to care for and comes in amazing colours!' I'd say it's pretty accurate - and as ever, having a mindfulness of sustainability and environmental impact, you can knit with a sound mind.
The knit? It claims to be intermediate, but as long as you can knit and purl, increase and decrease - you'll have this one down. There's some rib stitch for the edges (knit 1, purl 1) and a point where you have to put the body and sleeves piece onto a needle together so you can knit the neck across all sections and bring them together, but that really is it. Stocking stitch and a bit go shaping - sew it together - and done!
The feeling? I managed to get this completed within 54 hours - sleeping, socialising and Christmas celebrations included. The rush of seeing it developing and working through the balls of wool was thrilling (maybe I need more socialising?) - and for the size 2 (UK 10-12) I knitted, I was sent 6 balls and only used 5! - So, not only did I finish before I expected, I also had a whole ball to play with afterwards, which was useful, because I found it very hard to stop knitting at the pace I had done whilst attacking the jumper. A jumper detox ball, if you will. I finished this guy at 1am on Boxing Day morning - stuck it on, jumped on the sofa and danced a little on my own next the Christmas tree. Everyone else was already bed. Amazing. I'm already planning the next.
Then, on Boxing Day morning I knitted an amazing little hat in about 2 hours, and tried knitting bobbles for the first time (see next blog post) - but it shortly got lost on a night out with the girls (perhaps less socialising required hahaha).
And as soon as I have the funds, I will share what I can of it with you all by adding it to the stall stock! Until then, the Company of Crafters is always open if you need some assistance and have bought your own kit from their websites!
Thank you Wool and the Gang - you really made my Christmas.
I'm all about quick knits. I'm certain that for new crafters in particular, the ability to complete something and to see the development of a piece is super important. There's encouragement in being able to visualise an end point and magic when you see a textile develop and grow from your needles or crochet hook or in this case arms. That's not to say that the reward that comes from a detailed piece isn't very fulfilling, but starting off, getting a few pieces finished really builds confidence. Here I am trying to justify this addition into the shop, but let's face it, I've always wanted to try this - and now I have - and am very much looking to spreading the craze. Because, GIANT YARN BALLS!
So, how did I go about this? I took my 2kg yarn ball and I Googled. I often tell people on the stall to do the same. There's such a wealth of youtube videos and blogs out there, when you can find someone that speaks your language, it's a piece of cake. There's no denying, being able to knit was very useful in getting started very quickly, but I like to be reassured I'm about to embark in the right direction. I used this blog article from Wool Couture here. They sell beautiful merino arm knitting wool and was an initial port of call when I was trying to find a supplier. Instead I went with Woolly Mahoosive and their acrylic balls as a start. The acrylic yarn is more accessible price wise, whilst working out what the appetite is (£20 vs. £40 per kilo), it's also vegan friendly, though there's no denying, it doesn't have the same softness of merino!
So I cast on 16 stitches and got going. I'd recommend avoiding bulky jumpers for this one! I managed to get my blanket started and finished in an hour ('Have I Got News For You' and 'Would I Lie to You' - a fun filled Friday night in - though I wasn't able to reach my wine very easily!.. check out instagram for some silly time-lapse videos of the feat). I probably knitted it a little too tightly, a bit looser and the knit would have been more even, but we live and learn. It was quick and arriving at a pink blanket about 110 x 90cm in such a little time was super rewarding.
And it's not just blankets you can get done with these guys, it's an affordable way to make rugs, bed runners, big bags, pet beds, storage boxes - endless options! I'll be setting up some workshops soon so you can get a handle on it with some in-person assistance, so keep those eyes peeled!
Four beautiful colours available...
And so, we're booked in at The Doodle Bar in Bermondsey to hold a knit workshop on the 17th of November where I'll be teaching how to knit hats or these super comfy slipper socks - check the events page for a link to book!
These are knitted on straight needles, rather than crocheted like the last ones - so the workshop will be a knit-for-all - and with contrast colours (which you'll be able to pick) and a combination of stitches which makes them look like they have a sole, they're really quite lovely for yourself or as a gift for someone else!
As usual, I've created these for me - I'm a size 6 (39) and they fit very well, but given Hoooked is stretchy (and you should also be cautious of the difference from Hoooked to Hoooked, different batches of different types and thicknesses of t-shirts make for slightly different results), it's best to measure as you go along. The Clarks Shoe Size Guide provides the cm length of UK and EU shoes sizes - remember when the foot goes in the slipper will stretch outward too, so they may look long, but that's ok!
12mm Knitting Needles
Hoooked Zpagetti Yarn (2 x medium bundles)
1 Yarn Needle
cast on 14 stitches in colour 1
row 1: k (knit) 4, p (purl) 6, k4 (you have 14 stitches)
row 2: p4, k6, p4 (14)
row 3: colour 2 - k4, p6, k4 (14)
row 4: p4, k6, p3 (pass colour 1 to the other side of the knit*) p1 (14)
row 5: colour 1 - k4 p6 k4 (14)
row 6: p4, k6, p3 (pass colour 2 to the other side of the knit*) p1 (14)
row 7-8: repeat 3-4 (14)
row 9: colour 1 - k1, increase in k2, k2, p6, k2, increase in k3, k1 (16)
row 10: p5, k6, p4 (pass colour 2 to other side of the knit*) p1 (16)
row 11: colour 2 - k5, p6, k5
row 12: p5, k6, p4 (pass colour 1 to other side of the knit*) p1 (16)
rows 13-26: -repeat row 11-12, switching colours as before (16)
row 27: decrease the first 4 stitches into two by knitting 2 stitches together twice, k1, decrease the 6 purls into 3 by purling 2 stitches together three time, k1, decrease the remaining 4 stitches together by knitting 2 together twice (9)
row 28: p3, k3, p3
to finish: cut the colour off with a long tail, and thread into a yarn needle. Thread the tail through the remaining stitches from the furthest away from the edge of the needle and pull tight (creating a loop through the stitches that pulls together to create the toe shape), the stitch the edges together until you get to where the shape decreases to form the foot of the slipper. Separately, bring the corners of the back together and sew the fold together to create the heel.
*passing colour 1 through before the last stitch, will keep the knit tidy and ensure you're ready to start with it again