September Head to Toe Challenge Zone – Torso

So one month in. You have created some fantastic footwear, now we take on the torso. Remember think outside the box, try something new and think of the time frame.




August Head to Toe Challenge Complete- Espadrilles



After a few set backs I can proclaim that I have completed my Espadrilles in the nick of time! Huzzah!

This project was more of a challenge than I had initially bargained for, but I am pleased with the results.

My initial prototype (seen below) helped me discover a few design flaws, and the key factors in making a successful knitted shoe.


1. The Sole

The most important element to a shoes design. While the soles on my original prototype worked well, I felt that second time around a “double” sole for my espadrilles would improve longevity & durability.

2. The Sides

The sides of the original prototype were far too soft and floppy to provide support for the foot. To create the stiffer sides seen on the finished design,I used a seed stitch, which is less stretchy than it’s stockinette counterpart. I also held two yarns doubled,together. One of which was a synthetic thread. This made the stitches hold tighter and closer together.

3. Colour

On the first prototype I tried to use some cotton from my stash. The idea was to get a tribal colour scheme, however the mix of mute colours, made for an ugly design! On this pair of espadrilles I went for simple, natural colour, with a hint of gold in the trim

Pictures of the finished project below. Let me know what you think!

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Research: The making process of the classic Espadrille


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The Espadrille as mentioned previously is a classic shoe style that originates from the Pyrenees mountain region of Spain & France. It is defined by its jute rope sole, and is often made with canvas uppers.


The modern manufacture of these shoes, is often factor driven. The jute rope has become a decorative feature. The soles of the shoes will now be made from volcanized rubber, and surround by the jute roping, to provide longer lasting soles, that can be mass produced. The shoes are now made as flats, and wedges and have been approached by many big fashion designers.



There are still a few places, however where hand made espadrilles can be found, and the making process has been kindly  laid out for us to observe.

All the videos below have been taken from

ImageThe sole:

The sole is made from jute rope. The rope is wrapped around well placed pins to provide the shape, and is sewn together. The turn table allows the craft maker to create many soles quickly.

The Uppers

The uppers are canvas,  cut to shape with machinery. Once the uppers are shaped they are sewn by hand to the jute rope soles

These videos and pictures and a real insight into how I must design both my uppers (in terms of shape) and the jute rope sole.

Not quite Cinderella’s slippers….


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I recently posted that I would be making a pair of espadrilles for my latest project. Good readers I can tell you I have made prototype one, and it is far too ugly to post! My enthusiasm got the better of me as it so often does, and I neglected creating swatches, or doing any research.

As some other ladies in our Ravelry group are joining my quest to make some espadrilles, I will now be conducting the proper research, and posting it here on the blog, so that others will not need a prototype, as we are naming the beast, and will be able to come away with a beautiful shoe.

 In the mean time take a look at this Valentino Espadrille that has inspired me to try harder, and make something beautiful.


Hand Knit Espadrilles


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ImageAfter picking Feet as the first of the Head to Toe Challnege zones for the month of August, I thought long and hard about what my first “foot” project would be.

As ambitious as ever I decided to try something a little unusual. I decided to challenge myself to design an entirely knit pair of knit shoes.

Although it may sound a little ‘out there’ but it only takes a little research to see that it is actually quite an achievable goal, and one shoe in particular stands out at the best to recreate in yarn.

The espadrille is a casual, sandal like shoe originating from the Pyrenees. Known for the light colored jute rope soles, these casual creations have become a classic fashion accessory, appearing time and time again on the catwalk.Image

Although the original Espadrille is designed as a flat, fully covered shoe they now come in a variety of heel heights and both closed and open toe. 

Last month,,uk featured their top 10 Designer Espadrilles, stating

 ESPADRILLES have long been staples of our summer wardrobes, thanks to their easy-going appeal and breathable nature. This year however, they have been given a new lease of life, coming in metallics, pony skin and hot, hot pink – even Chanel joined the jute party for spring/summer 2013.

My Design

After doing my research I designed two unique Espadrilles, which are pictured below. After careful consideration I decided to combine the two designs, creating the closed toe shoe with the colour & patterning of the open toe design. 


My Next Step

My next step is to make the jute rope sole. I have purchased jute twine from a local garden centre and plan to build the sole up by knitting the  twine into a long i cord, which will be folded & sewn against itself in the shape of a shoe sole. 

Updates to come!


August’s Head to Toe Challenge zone




The first of the 5 zones for the head to toe challenge will be Feet. To inspire you I turn to Dr Seuss & Oprah Winfrey

I still have my feet on the ground, I just wear better shoes.

Oprah Winfrey 

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
Dr. Seuss 

So what will your project be? Competition starts Thursday! 

Head to Toe Knitting Challenge RULES & REGULATIONS

Following my last post about the Head to Toe Challenge, I have put together the official rules!

There are 5 months left until January 1st 2014. For each month I will be designating a body zone, or theme as it were to which your project must adhere. The zone of choice will be announced a few days before the start of the month.







You must complete at least one project each month (covering all 5 zones) to have successfully completed the challenge.


1 point- using a natural yarn

2 points- using handspun yarn

2 points -using hand dyed yarn

3 points- completing a project within the month in correct theme

5 points- using a unique or unusual ‘yarn’ or material

5 points- creating your own pattern

*Bonus 5 points* given to unique projects that take the theme and think outside the box. These will be awarded by competition creator.

 Finally at the end of the month the best projects will be posted on the blog & a vote will be held for our favourite project of the month. The winner of the vote will get an **extra 20 points!**

Each month a scoreboard will be posted, to see how everyone is fairing and at the end one knitter or crocheter will be crowned king or queen!


1. your project must be completed between the 1st & the 30th/31st of the month in question.

2. The project must be related to the designated body zone theme.


3. Evidence of project progress must be given through the medium of either a blog or a ravelry project.

4. Photos must be provided of each project on completion.

5. All project titles on Ravelry for this challenge must be tagged with Head to Toe Knitting Challenge & the month  e.g. “Head to Toe Knitting Challenge AUGUST – Headband”

Materials & Patterns

6. You may use ANY pattern and ANY yarn you like and knit ANY thing you can think of as long as it is within the theme of the month.

Additional guidelines:

7. Any social media eg. blog, facebook, twitter, should be tagged appropriately #headtotoeknittingchallenge and link back to the original blog or ravelry group to promote participation

8. We are using an honour system. Please be honourable crafters 🙂


Click here to join the official Ravlery group. 


The first zone will be announced this Tuesday!

The Head to Toe Knitting Challenge


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Take a look over the last 3 projects you have finished.  Are they diverse in size, shape, and purpose or do you have a basket full of mittens, scarves and hats?  Did each project take you down a path of learning to new techniques and materials, or are you floating in a sea of stockinette?

Whether a yarn addict or a casual enthusiast, it is all too easy to get stuck in a project rut. For most of the working population, it’s hard to be motivated into taking on a large, or complex challenge after a stressful day at work.

However I am determined to revive my knitting routine. Just as the beer bellied crowds head to the gym on New Year’s Day, I will be breaking bad habits & keeping my body of work healthy with “The Head to Toe Challenge”. It even sounds like a fitness boot camp.

The head to toe challenge is the task of knitting at least one thing for each body zone on the list below, before January 1st 2014, and I want to encourage all of you out there to join me.  The rules are simple. There are 5 months left of the year, and 5 designated body zones;

Head / Torso/ Hands/ Legs/ Feet

Each month you will need to complete a minimum of one project per zone. Each pattern or project will need to present a new challenge.  You can start at any zone, and work your way through in any order, but by January 1st 2014 you must have completed a project from each zone.

The challenge starts August 1stgiving you a few days to think up your first challenge.  I have designated this forum wall on Ravelry to those who want to join me. Here you can discuss & share project delights, woes and pictures.  The best project from each category from each month will be posted on the blog.

Please share this around to all your knit or crochet friends, so that we can get a good group going!

Toques for Turbans: Revisited


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When I was making and reviewing Lola Erhlich’s Turban from vogue knitting I wrote about the difficulty I had with putting it together. But I did manage to figure it out.

However there are still no sources out there to help others with the assembly of this piece, which is why I have drawn up a “HOW TO ASSEMBLE YOUR HAND KNIT TURBAN” chart.

*Note: These instructions tell you simply how I assembled mine. I cannot guarantee that this is the way the author intended it.

Anyway here it is! Hope this helps anyone who was looking for some help!

Here are the instructions:

1.Lay the band out around the flat crown. Put a twist in this side by flipping the band once.

2.Carefully sew the top of the band around crown. The “cut out” sections of the crown fold in to create rounded corners- like the net of a box.

3. Cross the left hand side of the band OVER the right.

4. Next loop the left hand side of the band back under the right hand piece (making a loop around right hand side of band). Sew the end of the left band to the remaining section of crown at the front of the turban.

5. Now take the right hand side of the band and loop it over the top of the left hand band. With the end of your band pointing down into the turban, adjust the length to your wish (depending on whether you have a tight or loose look in mind)

Sew the end to the front of the turban.

6. This is the end result.

Pattern Review: Brioche Hat by Wendy Easton


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Recently I have been reading “Weekend Knitting” by  Melanie Falick, so let me start by reviewing the book.

The Book

This book looks at knitting from a “lifestyle” perspective, fusing knitting patterns,with recommended literature and baking recipes, all intent on making for a perfect weekend.

However this book falls short of all that it promises. It lacks heart from the author and almost seems to have been pieced together, with the theme as an after thought.

Equally as all the patterns and recipes and provided by contributors, the only part of the book that gives us any insight into the authors personality are the blurbs, which are brief and lackluster.

The Pattern- Brioche Hat by Wendy Eaton

The pattern for the brioche hat is an interesting one. And I must confess I have a love/ hate relationship with it. I really love the texture, the look of the end results, and the ease of the technique after the first few rounds. However, the cast on is incredibly frustrating, and the decrease baffled me, meaning that my decrease was not in pattern.

Both of these elements are no fault of the designer though I do believe that the instructions could be a little clearer. Equally the addition of some pictures would help.

I would recommend the pattern, however if this is something you want to try take these steps to prepare, to make it as easy as possible.

5 Tips to creating a brioche hat in the round

1. You only need the smaller circular needle.

Firstly the pattern in the book requires two circular needles, one larger than the other, but Ms Eaton’s ravelry profile for this pattern states that this is not necessary.

2. Watch some video tutorials

The “tubular” or “Italian” cast on is tricky. Once you have finally got all the stitches on the needles, the set up rows (first 3 rows) are a nightmare. I really recommend watching this video from cotton and clouds  to learn the cast on….

… and then this video by lchilton275 to understand the theory behind the stitch.Whilst she does take a slightly different approach to the pattern itself, by watching this video you will be able to see whether your work was correct from the get go. Before watching this video I frogged my cast on rows 6 times!

(She also has a video on how to decrease)

3. Understanding the technique

If the videos don’t work for you here is an explanation from what I have learnt.

When you work a purl row (sl1, yo p2tog), the color you working with (purple in my case) will “sandwich” the other color. So once the row is finished you will have 2 dark stitches, 1 light all the way along.

If you put your yarn to the back of the needles, then slip a stitch and p2tog, it will make it easier to see this pattern emerging as you go.

The same is true the other way around, so on a knit row your light color with sandwich your dark stitches.

3. Find a quiet haven

Pick a time and a place to start this project. Because the first few rows are tricky you will need to concentrate and be patient. Once you get in the swing however, the pattern becomes second nature and you can easily complete it while watching a film.

4. Shaping

Before you make the pattern be sure you know what you want from your hat. Because the decrease is very rounded, it is not wearable as a baggy toque. If you want the option to wear it without the cuff you will need to make a steeper increase, or choose another pattern. The shape is well suited for males, and I found that adding the pom pom to mine made it much more feminine.


Really think about your colors before you approach this project. You will see that Ms Eaton takes great care to use a dark and a light color. I made mine in two very bold colors, which I love, and are suited to the my “ski bum” lifestyle.

** Extra tip!

I recommend plain colors. Using variegated yarn, or self striping will take away from all your hard work on the texture and will look messy.

You should be ready to go now, so happy knitting all!

Please post your pictures of this hat in the comments below, or ask any questions!

And as always if you have something you would like reviewed email