Friday, 22 January 2016

Kuretake Clean Color Brush Pens

A bit of a divergence from my usual knitting topic but I've been drawing a bit recently. I'm a sucker for a nice notebook. I love the Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks. I have an A5 one for my everyday notebook/bullet journal but I recently bought one of the smaller pocket ones.

I'm planning on using it to write all my knitting notes in and put some sketches in.

The other thing that I've bought recently is the most amazing brush pens. The Kuretake Zip Clean Color Real brush pens. I bought mine from Cult Pens, who have always been easy to deal with. The pens are Japanese and from a lot of shops come directly from Japan. I just bought a selection of pens but I've put another order in for more, as I love them so much.

The pens have an actual brush tip to them. You can get a really fine line or thick one - depending on the pressure you use. They blend with one another. The really good thing is they are water soluble, so you can get some really nice effects with very little effort.

The only downside I've found is the paper has to be cartridge or watercolour paper to use water with them - they're absolutely fine on any type of paper if you don't use the water. I used them in a colouring book and it did bleed through. You can get quite a bit of blending without the water though.

This one is in my standard moleskine notebook and I haven't used any water. If you go over same section more than once the colour deepens. What I think is really cool, is the soft colours. The light grey is great for adding shadows. I'm attempting to draw something every day, so I'll see how it goes.

This one is on cartridge paper. I was just doodling and trying out the different effects you can get. All the colours have water added to them and combined with the Pigma marker really makes the pictures sing.

The bottom left image is a colouring book and I've used the colours without water. You can still get some nice effects and blending.

I'm working on a creative lettering idea at the moment. It's the first verse from The Tyger by William Blake.

Anyway, as you can perhaps tell I think these pens are brilliant and I'm looking forward to filling my sketchbook up.

Monday, 18 January 2016


We had a lovely weekend in London and with a few pennies in my pocket, I made a visit to Loop.

I came away with yarn mainly for knitting socks.

There's some Madelinetosh Sock in Neon Peach, Blue Moon Socks that Rock in Firecracker, a couple of balls of Lang Jawoll Sock yarn for some stranded socks and 2 hanks of Quince and Co Finch in Apricot. They kindly wound one of the Finch for me in the shop, so I could get started while I was in London. 

I started a Flax Light by Tin Can Knits. It's a super easy pattern and I whizzed through it. Ravelry project page.

I didn't do any modifications as such but I used the Estonian Cast-On at the neck - my tutorial for it is here

I used TechKnitter's Fake Tubular Cast-Off for the cuffs and the bottom edge. It's a really easy cast-off and gives an interesting finish. 

1 x 1 ribbing is not my favourite type of knitting, I really dislike the open knit stitch and I just feel like it doesn't look good. I worked the neck and the bottom as normal but on the cuffs I worked the ribbing with a combination purl and though it hasn't closed up the knit stitch, I do feel like it looks a bit neater.

The yarn is Quince and Co Finch and it was lovely to work. It has a lot of body to it and the stitch definition is superb - the garter stitch is really shown off well.

The jumper is for a friend and I don't know the sex of the baby, so I went with a unisex colour. Perhaps not the most baby friendly colour as it's stronger than some would prefer but I always knit what interests me. I wouldn't say I was a process knitter per se but I want to enjoy what I'm knitting and not be bored with a non-descript colour.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016


I did get a few nice knitting bits for Christmas, mainly books this year.

I'm really loving all of these.

From left to right - Botanical Knits 2 by Alana Dakos, New Lace Knitting by Romi Hill, Sock Architecture by Lara Neal and Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook by Felicity Ford.

The first two are pattern books and there are some really beautiful ones included.

Knitsonik is a self published book that is just gorgeous and really interesting. I've really enjoyed reading this one.

The Sock Architecture book is very good and I think my favourite one, since it's the one I've used the most so far. I've started a toe up Dydas with the leftover WYS yarn from my Holly socks.

A lot of the patterns have toe up and toe down versions. There are options for different toe lengths and whether you want gussets or not. There's a lot of info and you could easily use the patterns as bases for putting your own patterns onto.

Over New Year, I started a stash busting shawl. Here's the pile of yarn I had to play with.

I worked out which colours I had enough of from other people's project pages but at the moment I'm not really in love with the colour combination in the shawl. I liked it before I started knitting. It might be because it's a departure to what I normally like - I tend to be drawn to brights, blues and yellows. I'm going to finish and block, then make up my mind. The pattern is Exploration Station by Stephen West - I seem to be on a bit of a Stephen West kick at the moment as that's the 3rd one in a row. Though I think it's because there's a lot of garter stitch involved (which I do love) and they are great for watching the TV at the same time.

I'm going to try and keep a list of exactly how much yarn I've used for each section, so others can use it if they want to do the same. I'll put all the details on my Ravelry Project Page.

Monday, 4 January 2016

New Year

Hope everyone has had a lovely Christmas and New Year. I enjoyed mine though glad to be back to some semblance of normality.

I’ve got a few projects to share that I gave as Christmas presents.

Actually, the first one wasn't a present but I didn’t get around to blogging about it. This one was for me.

I started on a weekend away as I thought it would be one of those really easy travelling projects. It was a very simple pattern. I worked it in one colour but I’ve seen some nice multi-coloured versions about.

The yarn is Posh Yarn Martha Sock and the pattern is Dotted Rays by Stephen West. There’s something about it that bugs me a bit but you’ll have to spot it for yourself. Here’s my Ravelry Project Page.

This little one was a Christmas present for my new godson. I’ve made this one before for another friend and it went down well. I did it in about a week before I had to give them the presents so was a bit rushed. The pattern is a Sirdar one and the yarn is Rico Baby Classic DK. Here's my Ravelry Project Page.

I only managed to snap this one photo of the mitts. I’ll try and get some modelled ones but Mum got these for Christmas. The yarn was one I got two Christmases ago from my Mum and I think she picked her favourite colour, so it was only fair to make something for her and give it back!

The pattern is Tatara by Olga Buraya-Kefelian. It has short rows around the wrist section that allows the fabric to rib up. It’s very clever and interesting enough to knit. The yarn is Loft by Brooklyn Tweed which is very nice and creates quite a spongy fabric, though you have to treat it gently because the style of yarn means it does break if you give it a tug. Here's the Ravelry Project Page.

This was the big hit of Christmas. Mum absolutely loves it and has been showing it to everyone.

It’s the MKAL by Westknits and I kept seeing all these stunning photos of shawls around Instagram. I had no intention of doing it as I was a bit under pressure work wise but I was tempted in the end. I ended up stash diving and using some yarns that were intended for other projects but they went so nicely together. The green is Drops Alpaca, the beige is the original Baa Ram Ewe Titus and the lovely dark brown is Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply. Doodler by Stephen West. Here's my Ravelry Project Page. I kept a list on my project page on how much I used of each yarn in each section, which might be useful to those planning on making one (Nicki!).

The final project was for me and it’s my Christmas socks. The yarn was the limited edition Christmas one from West Yorkshire Spinners and the pattern was free with the yarn. Here's my Ravelry Project Page.

Saturday, 12 December 2015


This is a bit slow in the writing but last week, we had a Knitmas event at A Good Yarn.

Kate and Ruth from Practical Publishing came for the evening to give a talk. There was games, food and fun.

Kate Heppell is the editor of Knit Now magazine and her talk was on the process of making a design from inception to publication in the magazine. It was very interesting and they brought lots of lovely samples to show us.

We had a prize draw and a couple of competitions – how many stitches can you cast on in a minute and how many rows can you knit blindfolded in two. Lots of hilarity ensued as you can imagine.

We’d prepared lots of knitting kits and many of them had a Christmas theme.

There’s an advent calendar in the shop for customers this month. The first customer that spends the first £10 of the day gets to open the calendar. I had a peek – the prizes are good.

The window display this year is pretty cool. Everyone contributed green strips and Carolyn and Kate have produced the most wonderful Christmas Tree.

I am knitting lots at the moment but they are all for Christmas presents, so I can’t share them with you yet. 

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Review: Chiaogoo Twist Set

This is a review I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time but I’m glad that I waited as I’ve really given them a good test drive and recently discovered something new.
I bought a the full Chiaogoo Twist set over 2 years ago now.

Here are the pictures when I just bought it.

Chiagoo1 (1)
Chiagoo1 (2)
Chiagoo1 (3)

You get plenty included in the set – you get the longer length needles from 2.75mm to 10mm (3.00mm, 7mm & 7.5mm are not included), 6 cables (3 different lengths in the large and small), 2 keys, needle gauge, cable connector, stops for large and small and stitch markers.
I ended up buying the missing sizes and the case has a second layer of pockets, so you can put spare needles in there. I have also bought duplicates in 3.00mm and 4.5mm, as they seem to be sizes I use a lot.

I have never used the stitch markers as they look too bulky for my liking.

One of the main differences with the Chiaogoo compared to other interchangeable brands is the different thicknesses of the cables. Up to and including 5.00mm then you use the small cables and above that then the large cables are used. In the kit, there are 3 different lengths for both the large and small – 14”/35cm, 22”/55cm and 30”/75cm. The needle tips add about 10”/25cm to the length. They work out to be about 24”/60cm, 32”/80cm and 40”/100cm lengths. I think the difference thicknesses allow the needle to taper to the cable more gently and perhaps to allow for a greater range of needle sizes. Having a 2.75mm interchangeable is nice.

There are shorter tips available in this range too. Used with the shortest cable, then they work great for hats.

The case is zipped around the outside and I’ve worked out the hard way to always zip it up; or you get needles everywhere! There’s also a pocket on the outside to keep the cables in. I end up putting bits inside the case too – there’s plenty of room. As you can see from this photo, the effect of 2 years of use.


My first impression was I liked the stiffer cables as they didn’t kink and the stiffness makes the needle tips feel a little longer, which was something I noticed the first time I used interchangeables. The needles are hollow, so in the larger sizes particularly,  they feel quite light which is better than trying to battle with big and heavy tips. They don’t have a super smoother texture, there’s a very, very fine anodised texture to it. I think this makes the stitches hold a little more to the needle. It makes a swishy noise and you can feel it a little when you knit with it. Initially, I really didn’t like this and thought I might have made a mistake with the needles, but I quickly came about to like the sensation of knitting with them.

They have lovely points to them and they are quick and pleasant to work with.

One big benefit is the sizing labels on the needles and cables. The sizing is written clearly on both the needles and the cables, with a lot of brands the numbers rub off very quickly. After 2 years of constant use, all the sizing labels are unchanged – they look the same as the day I bought the kit. The needle sizer that is included in the kit has never been used – it’s a bit of a pointless extra!

They quickly became the only kind of needles I loved to work with. The only downside to them was magic loop. Some people say they are impossible to use. They’re not. You just have to have a longer cable than perhaps you’d normally use. Saying that I haven’t been thrilled with the effect, the red wires have such a strong memory, they push on the join between the knitting. I would overcompensate and pull it tighter as I passed the join making a column of tighter stitches. If you really concentrate on your knitting tension at the join, then you can get it so it doesn’t show.  

Here comes my recent discovery though. At Yarndale, my friend bought some Spin cables – these are the cables that belong to the bamboo version of the Chiaogoo needles. They are completely interchangeable with the Twist.  I wasn’t paying attention at the time and didn’t realise the significance and didn’t buy any.


Afterwards, she showed me why she bought them. They are clear plastic cables and very supple. They do not have the strong memory the twist cables have and the cables also “spin” around in the seat of the needle, which is another huge plus.

I quickly bought a full set of the cables and have worked a couple of magic loop projects with them. They work perfectly - no runs or tight stitches. They are just the job for magic loop.
So the only downside I had with the needles has a solution.

They are on the pricey side but I’ve had them 2 years and they don’t show any wear. They work great for lace knitting as the texture holds the fine yarn to the needle and equally great for all other types of knitting.

They do come in half sets too, so if you tend to work with fine yarn a lot then it might be wise to just get the small set or if you’re a chunky yarn fan, then get the large set.

I must say I have always had a preference to metal needles, so I might be biased towards them. Why not buy a pair and see if you like them too? Give them time though because they took a little while to grow on me.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015


Very good friends of mine have just had a second child. Mr and I are going to be godparents.

I’ve been knitting away all year on and off little baby things. The first baby had a big parcel of knitted clothes, so I’ve been trying to match it this time.


There isn’t quite as many things as last time but I have been enjoying making them.


I didn’t know until quite late on, whether it was a boy or girl, so I do have quite a few girls knits squirreled away. Luckily I know someone who is expecting a girl in the new year, so she’ll get quite a few too.



I love the colour combination of them all together. The colour of the peach one in Mr’s opinion isn’t masculine enough but well I thought it was fine, so it’s gone in the parcel.

There are two wee envelopes by Ysolda in the parcel. One of them I blogged about here.


The other I made recently.


The green one is Hygge from Loop, London and I was playing a bit of yarn chicken with this one. I only had one ball and it was only just enough.


Yarn: Rowan Pure Wool Worsted in grasshopper

This one was my favourite. I just love the yarn with this pattern. It’s a Bergere de France pattern. I bought it in the Creations 2013/14 book but you can get it as a single pattern.


There a literally loads more photos of this on my Ravelry project page.

This one is the cutest.



I loved them all and hopefully baby will too.