Time flies….when you’re not having fun

We are now in our peak daily cases of the pandemic. Spring has sprung but it all feels grim and scary right now. Our public health officials are rolling out vaccine as fast as possible, but of course it isn’t fast enough. I would be ecstatic if I could get an appointment right now, but I still have a few weeks to wait. It has been draining and depressing.

On top of that, my other work called to me and I became buried in a blizzard of papers and receipts and attempting to create order from chaos. This meant 6 day weeks and working till at least 11pm every night. Contributing to draining and depressing.

Then the socks. They look amazing. The pattern is great and I’m unhappy. I haven’t pulled the trigger to publish because the pattern isn’t perfect. I didn’t have an eye of partridge heel standard section so had to write one (to create the standard section). It was hard, my way of doing it requires knowledge, I ellide over instructions, and all in all make it inpenetrable for a beginner sock maker or for someone who doesn’t do heels frequently and feels super confident with them. Now I am noodling and procrastinating. So today is the day. I’m just going to publish, with all my irritations about heels still there. Because pursuit of perfection is actually putting me off achieving anything right now.

The Fireweed socks are beautiful – look at that heel! I hope you enjoy the pattern! The delay was solely due to me getting in my own way. You can find the links to download on my pattern page.

Fireweed socks

This pattern just took so much longer than I would have liked. But the final pair of test knits is done and I just have a pair to do for photos. This means Fireweed Socks are actually getting published in March 2021.

The final pattern includes three sizes, and some handy hints for making more sizes for extra narrow or extra wide feet. I’ve detailed two heel types, both a traditional eye of partridge heel and a German short row heel. The socks are top down with a wedge toe and kitchener stitch to finish.

Fireweed (Chamerion Angustifolium) is native to North America and you might see it if you are out hiking in British Columbia. It’s a lovely plant with very pretty pink or purple flowers. Look for it at the edges of woodland. My pattern uses the spikiness of the leaves for inspiration.

fireweed stem seed
Photo from Ediblewildfood.com

I’ve used Knit Picks Capretta Superwash and Koigu KPM wool to make these socks but you can use any sock wool that you like working with. The pattern is very textured and subtle so works best with a solid or semi solid yarn colourway. This is a great unisex sock to knit and is a very simple repeat.

Please check out the patterns page for where to purchase from. Pattern release is set for 17 March 2021

Winter Rose cowl – alternatives

Although I initially designed this cowl to be down in wedding white and to be a striking piece against black or dark grey coats, I had some very bright mohair lying around and decided to give it go. Well…..

It’s going great! So if you’re interested in doing the winter rose cowl – purchase here – there are some options for you. I am using Aloft Mohair in Mirth from KnitPicks and it is held double. Otherwise the pattern is the same. It would also work beautifully with Debbie Bliss Angel or for something really expensive but amazing Shibui Knits Silk Cloud. All would need to be held double or could be single stranded if matched with a fingering yarn.

Bread and Roses Shawl

In ivory, this beaded shawl is inspired by, and pays homage to the worldwide call for suffrage and equality.  You can find more out here: Bread and Roses Shawl inspiration

This shawl is stunningly elegant and incredibly light while still providing warmth.  It will work in a variety of settings, from an evening out, to cuddling up in a lakeside cabin watching storms roll over.  It would also work beautifully as a shawl for a winter or fall wedding.

Pattern has been sample knitted and tech edited.  Both written and charted instructions are provided.

This is an excellent project for both a confident knitter and someone who wants to expand their repertoire. The shawl builds to a beautiful complex piece of work but each step is carefully laid out and the individual lace patterns are relatively simple.

This shawl is also available as a commissioned work. Please contact me directly – alexandra@kororaknits.ca to discuss further.

Techniques used:  Lace work, crochet hook beading.

Materials required:  800 – 850 yds (730-750m) fingering weight yarn, stitch markers, tapestry needle, 1.00mm crochet hook, approximately 1300 size 6/0 seed beads, US size 6 (4mm) knitting needles (straight or circular)

Sweetheart Socks

A simple vanilla sock with a little texture to make it interesting.  When you put your feet together you will have a heart shape looking back at you.  This sock is designed for Knit Picks Felici yarn to take advantage of the wonderful self-striping colourways, but an be made with any self-striping or single yarn.

There are 3 size options given and you can adjust the leg height and shock length to individual requirements. 

Techniques:

  • Written pattern
  • top down
  • double pointed needles
  • kitchener stitch

Materials:

  • 2 skeins of Knit Picks Felici yarn or 300 – 436 yards of other sock yarn to make these lovely and loving socks
  • Tapestry needle
  • stitch markers

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They are a great idea for a present any time of year, but would make an unusual and delightful Valentine’s Day present.

Winter Rose Cowl

This pattern uses a simple repeating lacework technique and beading. It is great for someone wanting to dip their toe into either lacework and/or beading. This pattern has both written and charted instructions.

Techniques used:

  • Lacework
  • Beading using a crochet hook
  • Working in the round

Tools and non yarn materials required:

  • Circular needles
  • 1.00mm crochet hook and 280 6/0 beads for beading
  • tapestry needle for sewing in ends

Winter Rose Cowl Update

I published this on Saturday and have already had some purchases on it. I’m just incredibly chuffed about this. It is great feeling that someone liked your idea enough to pay you some money for it. Incredibly validating. So even though it is cold and damp and not very nice her this morning, I am having a great floating on air day.

Winter Rose Cowl

This pattern is now available. See Patterns for where you can purchase it.

Inspiration and information

I wanted a romantic soft alternative to a hat or scarf and a cowl is the best of both worlds. I adapted an older Orenburg flower lace pattern and the whole time I was thinking about winter flowers and roses in particular. Fortunately such things exist not just in my imagination but in reality as well. They are a delicate romantic beauty perfect for capturing in a lacework cowl.

Hellebores, the Winter Rose
https://www.gardenclinic.com.au/how-to-grow-article/growing-hellebores

I am also currently obsessed with beadwork and got to enjoy putting gold, silver and pearl beads all over this piece. Of course it can be knitted to suit your own style. No interest in beads, no problem. It is very flexible, you could do it in any colour with any colour bead or mixed beads as shown here. I don’t like saying that a piece is for a beginner or advanced or whatever. Anyone can knit anything. It just might take a little longer for some people.

multi coloured beads

Having said that, because it’s a relatively small piece though it’s a great place to start learning to use beads in your knitting or starting to use lacework. At the end of it you’ll have something beautiful to wear and a new skill. If you are already happy with beading and lacework then this is great shorter project that you can fit in between larger projects.

As always I think of what I’m doing during the knitting. The design process was longer than the knit. It is knittable while listening to audiobooks or watching TV. I recently read about someone who can knit while playing World of Warcraft which leaves me in awe. I have no idea how you do that. But I enjoyed finish HBO’s Perry Mason series while doing this!

More pictures!

The Beautiful Steph van Willigenburg wearing the Winter Rose cowl

Bread and Roses Shawl

I have struggled with this shawl. The idea is clear as day in my head, but getting it out on paper and realized in yarn has been more challenging that I thought it would be. The good news is that the problems have been solved and it is now coming together beautifully. The rosebuds look gorgeous and the Czech seed beads are a lovely shade of pink/copper/gold. I’m a bit concerned about the ears of wheat, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

It is my suffrage shawl and it is not going to be ready in time for the NZ elections where one of two women will definitely be Prime Minister (17 October). Nor will it be ready for the British Columbia elections (24 October) but I’m pretty sure it will be ready for me to swish around my shoulders and watch the US elect a women Vice President. They might fall short again, it’s true. But the shawl is reminder to keep fighting for your rights not only for the most basic of things, enough money to buy food and shelter but also that we all deserve beauty, art and inspiration in our lives.

I hope when the pattern is published at the end of October 2020 that this shawl inspires other knitters or brings joy to anyone lucky enough to have it given to them as a gift.

Glorious Inspiration

Bread & Roses (Judy Collins)

I have loved this song and this specific version for as long as I can remember. As I got older the lyrics resonated more and more for me. If there was an anthem just for me and my philosophy on life, this would be a good place to start. It has never failed to move me and I wanted to pay tribute both to the beauty of the song but also the continuing cause of women’s suffrage.

Lawrence Textile Strike

As someone in fiber arts I’m also interested in the association the song has with the Lawrence Textile Strike where thousands of women mill workers took to the streets for better pay and working conditions. Although the strike captured public sympathy and drew attention to the cause, it ultimately was not successful in significantly improving the lot of mill workers. Yarn dyers, and fabric designers are still trying to work out how to make a living wage from fiber arts. Sweatshops in the developing world continue to have horrendous working conditions and give the developed world a false sense of the cost of clothing production. It’s still relevant.

Lyrics

As we go marching, marching
In the beauty of the day
A million darkened kitchens
A thousand mill lofts grey
Are touched with all the radiance
That a sudden sun discloses
For the people hear us singing
Bread and roses, bread and roses

As we go marching, marching
We battle too for men
For they are women’s children
And we mother them again
Our lives shall not be sweated
From birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies
Give us bread, but give us roses

As we go marching, marching
Unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing
Their ancient call for bread
Smart art and love, and beauty
Their drudging spirits knew
Yes, it is bread we fight for
But we fight for roses, too

As we go marching, marching
We bring the greater days
The rising of the women
Means the rising of the race
No more the drudge and idler
Ten that toil where one reposes
But the sharing of life’s glories
Bread and roses, bread and roses

Our lives shall not be sweated
From birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies
Bread and roses, bread and roses!