Welcome to Erssie Knits

To see my new website, and find patterns to download and more go here to the Erssie Knits website
I am Off

I will be in North Devon for a week, celebrating someone's birthday but also knitting a series of socks specifically inspired by special places along this rugged coastline. There will be a collection of 4 patterns, all with a variety of stitch patterns not only on the body, but on the cuff band and heels.

What I have in mind is sock patterns for those people wishing to move on from stocking stitch, that do have the know how to insert stitch patterns onto their learned structure, but frankly just cannot be bothered to do the maths. They will be people who want to knit lots of socks to wear rather than knit a showy piece. However, each one will have a vintage inspired stitch pattern involving simple cables, texture and lace with variations on standard ribbing and heels to keep the interest. They will be quick knit as well and not too bogged down by their stitch types.
Vintage Swatchin'

I recently bought a stack of cheap vintage patterns, reasonably priced too as they were the originals and not photocopies of the originals.

My purpose was to look through and see if the lace and texture patterns used were any different from the stitch patterns found on line, or in modern books. I have even got bored of my old Harmony stitch guides!

All these sources do have some beautiful stitches, it is just that there are so many knitters out there, who go online that display their beautiful work using these stitches that it leaves any design I come up with using those stitch patterns a little over used.

My intention is not to copy the vintage stitch patterns at all. I am just researching and practising and what I like about these vintage patterns is that it is easy to see how tiny differences in placing the YO's or decreases can make very different looks. I have already come up with a variety of stitch pattern myself that is an easy lacy rib. I still want to make my patterns easy to do, but to have effective small stitch patterns that are unique.

Time savers for busy swatchers

Casting on
Whilst swatching, I also realised that the way I normally cast on is tedious. If you are swatching yourself, I recommend ditching any fancy edge and just wrap the stitches around the thumb, but not knit them off, so you are literally looping yarn straight onto one needle. Then purl the first row and you have a base on which to knit your swatch.

Multiple swatches
When knitting swatches, if you aren't worried about making distinctive photography with them showing all four edges then why cast on for each one? For example, my first swatch was a 9st repeat and 1 edge = 28 sts. My 2nd swatch was for an 8st repeat plus 2 edge sts = 26, I just knit a band of stocking stitch between my 2 swatched and decreased a couple of stitches. You can even change yarn if you want and it all saves time not to have to cast on again.

Casting Off
In the same way as casting on correctly wastes time, as it is not always the cast on edge you want to see, casting off can be a bit tedious too and the normal way does seem to cause a curl. I use a more flexible cast off on a slightly larger needle. It is so much faster to do.

Knit the first stitch as normal
Slip this first stitch worked from the RH needle back onto the left needle
*K2tog the previously worked stitch with the next stitch
Slip worked stitch from rH needle back onto LH needle again
Repeat from * onwards

It gives a strange edge, almost like the live stitches have had a thread pulled through, I am not keen on the look but for speed it can't be beaten.

What to do with finished swatches
Eventually you may have enough swatches, so what do you do with them? Leaving them lingering in your project bag does no good at all. M
y swatches get washed in water slightly hotter than suggested to test the yarn, then dried flat and labelled.

Make a paper label and put on the name of the stitch, the size of needles and gauge of yarn on the front, and on the back if there is room write out the stitch pattern or if there is not then put a ref to where you can find the stitch pattern again.

Then what? Swatches are attached to the relevant pages in my design journal, or they get put into a bag and put into my swatch box or they are filed with the actual project file if there is a lot of paperwork and a plastic envelope for that project.

And something that has cropped up whilst writing this, is my love of the original patterns themselves, I am not so interested in copies. It seems that those who keep vintage libraries sell copies for quite a lot of money, e.g. about $5 compared with me paying the same for 15 women's patterns from ebay. One such company, had some beautiful colourwork and I hastily pressed the BUY NOW button, but then on the order it referred to copies. I wrote and asked very politely if the patterns I had bought were original or photocopied and got the response "they've been copies for 10 yrs!!" which put me in my place. However, it stank of poor customer service as I was only asking an innocent question, I would have bought the copies too, but not now. As it turns out, the buy now only put it in a basket, which generated an invoice and they take cheques so I will not be sending mine!

Just quickly I must catch up on the reading I have been doing.

Love in the time of Cholera
Gabriel García Márquez

I found this book very witty. I am not sure it was supposed to be written tongue in cheek as a comedy, but I did find it hilarious. I loved the atmosphere and the author's love of the setting in the Carribean could be felt. The story settles on two lovers, Florentino and Fermina. Fermina rejects Florentino to marry another, and Florentino spends his whole life waiting for her. Of course, while he waits, he has his own fair share of physical passions but all the time he saves his heart for her. I have been meaning to read this for years, and am glad I read it now. Being middle aged, it has a lot more to say to me about long term affection than it would have done in my early twenties.

On Chesil Beach
Ian McEwan

This short novel is a quick read but very intense. It focuses on two newly weds and what had brought them to that point. It made me think of the stifling sort of upbringing my parents would have had, and the way that things were not discussed, moods were portrayed by silences or body language and in this novel it not about what has happened or what has been said, it is all about those feelings left unexplored, those words not said that would have brought about a result a thousand times more different than it did.

That appeals to me greatly and really interests me. I was left brooding over that point i.e. the things left unsaid and the arguments left hanging over you when just a few thoughtful words on both sides could bring about such a different ending. It is amazing how two people very suited to one another can meet in the first place, and then more amazingly that two people meant for each other, can have a breakdown in their relationship based on resentment for things not said or explained and they may spend a lifetime apart even though they were so well suited in every way. It seems to me that when you talk to older people reflecting on their life, they will often brood over the things that could have happened, rather than what actually did. Anyway, this novel is thought provoking but I would not say it was a really enjoyable or light read.

I have just started reading The Eye in the Door by Pat Barker and I am enjoying it more than the first novel, Regeneration, in this trilogy set in World War I.
More on that when I have finished it.

Free Patterns Republished

For those who were trying to get hold of former Magknits patterns, the Erssie Knits designs included in this unavailable website are now available from the new Knotions magazine website and are still free to download. Knotions includes articles and tutorials as well as very useful technical information and tables of standard sizes.

However rather than bookmark or queue patterns I would advise to download and keep, in your own files and that way you can avoid losing anything you like in the same way as Magknits patterns. Although I do think that Knotions is going to be here for a very long time!

Bee Hat and Booties

This former Magknits pattern, it republished in the magazine Knotions and can be downloaded FREE from their website patterns section

G8 Caps

These hats for mother and daughter first appeared in Magknits
and are republished in the magazine Knotions and can be downloaded FREE from their website patterns section

These booties
first appeared in Magknits and are republished in the magazine Knotions and can be downloaded FREE from their website patterns section
The Fair Isle booties, actually match Erssie's Easy Beanie below

Erssie's Easy Beanie
Knitting Pattern GBP £1.50
(Fair Isle Beanie)

Size Baby 3-6mths+
Yarn: Any DK wool rich
The knitting pattern for these beanies includes a 2 colour and 3 colour version. For a matching pair of booties, free to download from the Knotions magazine website see Under One Skein above


Lots of them. For some reason most of my recent designs have been for socks. From simple stocking stitch (stockinette) to complicated Fair Isle or even Intarsia type patterns.

I have done a fair amount of shopping around for sock yarns and these are sock yarns I have tried in no particular order

Regia Crazy Color 6ply (wool/polyamide)

2 x 50g is enough for 1 pair of socks, or a baby hat and socks (or mittens)
Knits up on 3mm - 4mm as sportsweight

What is it good for?
Knits up quickly in self striping colours and is a sports weight, that is between a 4ply and a DK. It is good for baby socks/booties and even baby hats and mittens or little sweaters

What is it not good for? Not good for those people who want control over their sock colours or want to do specific Fair Isle patterns. Remember, that however unusual your socks are to you in this yarn it is hugely popular with over 300 projects on Ravelry. If you are a designer, unless your design is very unique in shape then expect your project to look much like a lot of others. Not a bad thing if you are a knitter though, or making a gift for a non knitter.

Regia Mini Ringels (wool polyamide) 4ply/fingering 2 x 50g enough for one pair

What is it good for? It makes mini stripes in bright colours. The stripes are no extremely defined as there are other streaks within the colours as well as the mini stripes. Good for teaming up with black toes/cuffs/heels.

What is it not good for? It isn't going to be good for those wishing for very defined stripes. Probably not good for men's socks, it is fun for you to knit such bright colours but he isn't going to wear it. Stripes do not work evenly for heels and toes so teaming up with a solid/plain regia or other sock yarn is a good idea.

SWTC TOFUtsie 4ply/fingering weight 100g enough for one pair of socks


What is it good for? - An anitbacterial soy silk/wool and chitin (crab shells) mix. Good value and quite mad colourways. There is an online group to support a sock club and if you join you get a free pattern per month. These socks are incredibly soft to knit and wear and very easy care. I shove mine in the normal wash each week and they do recover.

What is it not good for? Well, the old pooling is a problem. When I used 2.5mm needles if the skein had 4 shades in it, 2 fall on one side and 2 on the other. However that is totally corrected by going down to 2.25 needles or smaller. it has been designed to make stripes of bold colours at a guage of around 8sts/inch. SWTC have introduced some semi solid shades, that knits up to a tweedy colour.

Sweet Socks For Sugar Free Feet by Erssie Major
Knitting pattern available includes sizes S/M/L


I designed my diabetic socks in this yarn
It is soft and antibacterial and quite an unusual mix of soysilk and cotton. Although I was not totally in love with the yarn on the skein and had problems pooling on a larger gauge, once I went down to 2.25mm or less (size 1 or 0 US) the stripes played out evenly and then.....I wore a pair of my socks, washed them, abused them and wore them again and thought they were one of the best yarns I had used and closest to thin socks needed for summer as I could get. You can buy my pattern from Ravelry, or you can email me directly for a free copy if you have a diabetes or another medical condition affecting yours or your recipients feet. The pattern is only £1 and is very simple to keep it non marking and is perfect for a beginner.

Here are some swatches of some of the yarns which come in bright self striping and more subtle semi solid tweedy shades.

Opal Neon (wool polyamide) 4ply/fingering 100g enough for 1 1/2 pairs

What is it good for? It is quite good value if you want to use the leftovers, as one ball is more than enough for ah adult pair of socks so if making multiple pairs there is usually enough left for one more sock if you've made a pair. The Neon colours are very bright in daylight, and girlie sock colours unless you have an adventurous male. On 2.25 needles there is little pooling. The yarn is a joy to knit with as it has a coating making it quite stiff but less splitty. Don't be alarmed by the feel of German sock yarns, they do feel brittle on the skein but soften up after one wash.

What is it not good for? Probably not good for a males. Not brilliant for intricately textured or lacy patterns where you wish to show off your skills. On needles of 2.5mm or above, there is more chance of pooling although this is still much less than other types of yarn.

Lorna’s Laces 4ply/fingering and sportsweight 2 x 50g skeins is more than enough for one pair of socks in either weight

What is it good for? A good luxurious but medium priced yarn and you can get 1 and a half pairs out of 100g
If you choose the Flamingo Stripe colourway, about 20% of profits go to Breast Cancer charities as well as you making your socks to help your own causes.
There is a huge amount of choice in solid and variegated shades that are always up to date and fashionable.
I get mine from Get Knitted What is it not good for? Availability in the UK is somewhat limited or you have to wait.

Fyberspates various sock yarns from Pure British Wools

Photo/Sock courtesy of Noblin Knits

What is it good for? A British company, contact Jeni and see what she can do to help out with custom dyes. She has a range of different shades of hand dyed hand spun yarn. She stocks some of the online companies as well as having her own website. I have used some Blue Faced Leicester mix in a rich purple (loved it) but I especially liked my variegated shades of autumnal colours in a merino and Tencel mix. She runs a well supported sock club and is always adding patterns.

What is it not good for? Ranges offered are not as permanent as bigger companies as it is much more sensitive to supply and demand. The tencel mixed sock yarns do have a lot of softness, but they have less elasticity.

Artesano Hummingbird DK sock and 4ply fingering weights

What is it good for? Lovely rich tropical colours in stripes that do not seem to pool whatever the gauge. Good for baby clothes and bed socks or slouch socks, and good value too.

What is it not good for? Alpaca alone is nowhere near as hardwearing as an everyday sock yarn although they are free from nylon or other synthetics. Artesano themselves recommend the yarn for special socks, bed socks or slouch socks rather than socks to be worn every day inside shoes.

Artesano 4ply -100% superfine alpaca 4poly/fingering
100g should be enough for one pair of socks

What is it good for? Lots of solid shades. Artesano did design this type of spun yarn to make shawls, garments with lightness and fluffiness so it is perfect for crochet garments and it is so luxurious and soft. At £3.30 for 50g it is luxury at an affordable price. Good for Fair Isle patterns as the fluffiness hides any stranding of yarn. What is it not good for? This yarn is going to be too delicate alone for every day socks so I recommend either knitting a Fair Isle heel and toe, like Norwegian stockings or double up the strand and go down a needle size for strength. Adding nylon is an option but see below re this.

Austermann Step (Skacel)
4ply.fingering sock yarn Wool/polyamide with Jojoba oil.

What is it good for? Impregnated with oil that lasts for about 46 washes. Quite good for men’s socks with self patterning stripes.

What is it not good for? A tiny bit more difficult handle than other sock yarns. A lot of companies put a coating on the yarn to help stop it splitting whilst knitting and it washes out in the first wash to make socks softer but these socks already have oil in them so are soft to knit but the yarn splits easily. Use blunter needles e.g. Clover dpns if possible.

Socka: Especially Big Mexiko or Limbo

What is it good for? in a quick knit 6ply. They have Fair Isle stripes of a Mexican or S American style and have the same properties as the Regia Crazy Colour above

What is it not good for? Not suitable for uniqueness of design if using for very plain garments. There is little choice or variation on how the colours play out.

Good Places to look for sock yarns

Lorna’s Laces website
The Woolly Workshop (good range and next day delivery if you get it early in the day and RM deliver on time) (very reliable and a good range of Lorna’s Laces there as well as Opal, Fyberspates and others.
Get Knitted
Web of Wool website

Tips for socks for swollen feet are
Use large needles for the cast on edge 3mm or more Keep ribbing at top very small e.g. about 5 rows K2 P2 Keep all over stitch very plain e.g. stocking stitch

Keep the leg fairly short, so foot is covered but ankles are free

Knit a very deep heel flap, that will give a larger heel/ankle circumference Leave a wide toe, most wedge toes get you to decrease down to quite a point and that is not necessary.

You can knit more rows than required for the toe to get the length, then leave at least one third of your stitches on needles and use Kitchener seam for smoothness

Use a non wool, or slippery type of yarn like a silk or soy silk and perhaps a cotton element. they breathe well but are also softer

Wear shoes a couple of sizes bigger than necessary (even then you can get into difficulty, I wore my shoes into the evening last night and they got stuck on my feet and I thought I was going to have to cut the shoe off!)