Two Chaotic Weeks

Well, hello my long-neglected blog. Perhaps it’s time we got reacquainted.

Tomorrow marks two weeks since my quiet little world went a bit bonkers. Two weeks ago tomorrow, I woke up to my phone blowing up, to hundreds of new Instagram followers appearing by the minute, out of the blue. Through my 6am -bleary eyes, it was baffling. And the timing was just impossible. Knee-deep in half-packed boxes, as I prepared to move with my husband and five sons 300 miles south to Lowestoft, from the sleepy ex-mining village that had been my home for 9 years, I fielded a call from a gentleman reporter at The Times.

“Tom” I nearly said, “stop doing a silly voice,” so convinced was I that it must be my brother winding me up.

“Did you know?” Mr Malvern asked me. “How has it affected you?”

Erm, I’ve had moments to process this! Plus, not to put too fine a point on it, my head was a little thick with the late night last hurrah I had just spent with the ladies I call friends, before I was due to leave them all behind.

I had by this stage, of course, twigged though. That Tom Daley, that diving legend, had been photographed, a picture globally distributed the night before, knitting my pattern at the Olympics.

And he had tagged me.

The debate was hot: what was he knitting? Some confidently professed it a hat.

But no. It was my little Juno’s jumper.

I had had a couple of brief exchanges with Mr Daley, who had told me he had used my pattern to knit a few dog jumpers for friends already, and thanking me for “such a great pattern”. As if that wasn’t amazing enough!

It’s always been my most popular pattern. And I don’t think it’s hard to see why. The photograph of my feisty little princess looking like butter wouldn’t melt is kind of irresistible, especially in such a rich and beautiful coloured jumper. (Those in the know are fully aware she’s waiting for the treat just off camera…) And it’s a speedy knit, without being complicated.

But I certainly didn’t expect it to become news.

Sure enough, the next morning an article appeared in The Times online. “Alice Neal, 50” Come on, Mr Malvern! I’ve only just turned 50. Give me a chance to process that, too! But sure, perhaps that’s not the bit to be focusing on. And besides, it gave my friends something to rib me about.

That same day, I had an email from the Sun, a message from someone at the Daily Mail (the less said about that particular experience the better. Let’s just say: lesson learned) and an email from the Mirror. I’ve never had a faster, more precipitous lesson in the crazy world of ‘strike while the iron’s hot’ journalism. And all the while, those boxes weren’t packing themselves.

I managed to squeeze a pattern for an Olympic-themed scarf between packing up the sitting room and the last of the kitchen (“I literally have nothing to sit on”) and it appeared in the Mirror that Sunday.

I am more grateful than you can know for the outpouring of enthusiasm for my designs, the pattern sales, and the little messages of encouragement from fellow knitters around the world.

Now that the dust is settling the other side of the move, now that I’m only ankle-deep in boxes, and they’re being tipped out rather than filled up, now that I can walk regularly along the seafront, breathing it all in as deeply as my lungs allow, I am looking forward to an autumn of new patterns, old favourites, and getting to know a little bit more about all the people who have come to share in my good fortune.

With love, gratitude, and bundles of yarn,

Alice x

Featured post

Warm toes, warm heart. Pair 4 of 26 pairs for 2021

So, socks number 7 and 8 of my 52 socks for 2021 are now finished.

They’re knitted in the same brand of socks as that last gorgeous stripy slouchy pair (Novita 7 Veljesta) but this time, the heels and toes are worked with 7 Veljesta Pohjola, which also contains 30% Finnish wool and is DIVINE.

This pair (hence the title) will be part of my beloved husband’s Valentines present, helping keep his tootsies toasty in this crazily snowy winter we find ourselves surviving.

The pattern is the same as the slouchy ones, without the decrease before the heel, and with a rather experimental boomerang heel that doesn’t go all the way around the sock in the middle.

I think they came out rather well! Roll on 14th ❤️

Socks 5 and 6 of the 52 socks of 2021

I’m quite excited about these, for a number of reasons.

Let me list them for you:

  • They are super cosy and snuggly.
  • They are bright and cheerful.
  • They are, technically, worsted weight and therefore not quite as bulky as my other boot socks
  • They knit up really speedily.

They’re knitted in Novita 7 Veljesta Raita (self-striping) and Lappi (solid colour) on 4mm needles and one ball of self-striping, knitted as I did, does EXACTLY one pair. You’ll only use around 35g (around 70m) of the ball of solid colour.

Let me show you how much of a yarn chicken winner I was with these ones:

I’ve written up the pattern and it is available for a nominal fee of £1 for a while over here.

The Novita Raita self-striping yarn you can find here, and the Lappi solid colour is here.

Do share your pictures with me if you have a crack at them!

Happy knitting ❤

Noro Shinryoku Jumper: how I made it.

Hot on the heels of my intense love affair with this yarn, which produced the scarf and hat here, I managed to snaffle a few more balls of gorgeousness (70% wool, 30% silk) from the same eBay source (I’ve a sneaky suspicion this particular yarn may be discontinued but with the right gauge, there are plenty more beautiful colour-changing yarns out there) and embarked without much of a plan on a raglan sweater. I wanted the same beautiful combination as the hat and scarf, so I stuck with 2 rows of each of number 4 and number 8 colourways, alternated.

What has resulted is an almost-cropped (waist-length) fairly boxy raglan sweater with a wide neck. And I love it.

I’m a size 12, and 5 foot 9, and this is how I made it:

This sweater is knitted in the round, top down, using long circular needles and the magic loop method.

Gauge: 17 sts and 28 rows for 10cm

You will need:

4.5mm circular needle 100cm minimum
5mm circular needle 100cm minimum
(Note: if you get 120cm needles, it is easier to try it on without having to transfer to scrap yarn first, but it’s a little tight on the needles if you don’t pull some of the cord through in a magic loop fashion)

Around 450g (810m) yarn (2 different colourways of the same yarn) if you stick to the gauge.
I used a little over 2 x 100g balls each of colours 04 and 08 of Noro Shinryoku

8 x stitch markers for the raglan sleeves

1 tapestry needle for sewing in the ends.


K: Knit
P: Purl
PM: Place Marker
Yo: yarn over (bring the yarn to the front as if to purl and perform the next stitch from there, creating a ‘hole’ or new stitch
K2tog: knit two stitches together
SM: Slip Marker


With the 5mm needles and whichever colour you choose to start with, cast on 120 stitches.
Join in the round being careful not to twist the stitches, and knit around twice.
Introduce the second colour and knit around, placing markers thus: K12, PM, K2, PM, K44, PM, K2, PM, K12, PM, K2, PM, K44, PM, K2, PM

The last Marker is the beginning of the round
The K2 are the constant line down the middle of the raglan sleeves (the K2 raglan ‘strip’)
The K12 are the sleeves, and
The K44 are the front and back.

On the next round (and every second round of each colour) you are going to make the increases. It sounds complicated, but once you’re underway, it makes more sense!
Remember to include the marker at the end / beginning of the round.
Raglan increases: K to 2 stitches before the marker for the K2 raglan ‘strip’. Yo, K2tog, yo, SM, K2, yo, K2tog, yo
You will do this 4 times per increase round, for each K2 raglan ‘strip’.
And you will perform the increases every other round, on the second round of each colour.
On the round after the increases, K the yarn-overs as stitches.

When you have 48 sleeve stitches each, and 80 front and back stitches each (and still the 4 x K2 raglan ‘strips’) K around 4 times in stripe pattern without making any more increases. (You can get rid of all the stitch markers now, except the one that marks the beginning / end of the round).

On the 5th round, divide for the sleeves as follows:
Put 50 stitches on scrap yarn, cast on 4, K82, put 50 stitches on scrap yarn, cast on 4, K82
Move the marker to the middle of the first cast-on 4 for the new beginning of the round.

K around in the two-stripe pattern to your desired length (mine is 120 rows, or 60 stripes, or around 40cm from the cast-on neck.)

Switch to 4.5mm needles and K1, P1 rib for 10 rounds.
Bind off using your favourite stretch bind-off. My favourite is Jeny’s 🙂

For the sleeves:

Transfer the sleeve stitches from the scrap yarn to 5mm needles and pick up 4 stitches under the armpit, so you have 54 stitches on the needles. Take the middle of the 4 cast-on stitches as the beginning of the round, and have 27 stitches on either side of it on the circulars for the magic loop (so the loop comes through at the top of the arm as you can see below).

Knit the two-stripe pattern for the desired length minus 3.5cm for the cuff. (Mine are 75 stripes, 150 rows from the cast-on)

Switch to 4.5mm needles and K1, P1 rib for 8 rounds.
Repeat for the second sleeve.


With the 4.5mm needles, pick up 118 stitches evenly around the neckline.
K1,P1 rib for two rounds.
On the third round, continue the K1,P1 rib, but K2tog twice at each shoulder (114 stitches)
K1, P1 rib for 7 more rounds and bind off using your favourite stretchy bind-off.

Sew in all ends.


Note: Initially, I knitted a moss stitch hem which, while it was really pretty as you can see in the pic of the sleeve being worked above, I didn’t like because of the way it sat ‘out’ at the waistline. So I frogged it back and re-worked it with a rib hem.

Ooh, and note 2: If you’re interested in the rather fabulous chunky socks I’m wearing in the pictures, they are my Beauteous Boot Socks, knitted in Novita 7 Veljesta on 5mm needles. And as I have mentioned previously, have made a sock-knitting tutorial using my pattern, which you can find here.

Happy knitting! ❤

Socks. Pair 2 of the 26 pairs of 2021

Well, hello again.

Without too much waffle, here are some pictures of the second completed pair of my 26 pairs of this year. Or , 52 socks in 52 weeks.

These ones are knitted with a sock yarn that popped up in my social media feed. I don’t usually give in to such things, but I did rather like the colours in this, and had a lovely yellow to compliment them, so… I caved.

It is called Cygnet Truly Wool Rich 4 Ply Sock Yarn. I bought it from the devil that is Amazon, and the colourway is called 4572 Mossdale though it comes up as out of stock when I look at it now. I do love how these have come out and it took way less than a ball for the pair. They have others, and of course there are plenty of other self-striping yarns out there to choose from! (I’m currently lusting after West Yorkshire Spinners in Robin….) The cuff, heel and toe contrast is a lovely rich yellow snaffled from my stash, now sadly minus its ball band so I can’t tell you what it is.

So: basic formula for these was 60 stitches distributed exactly in half for the magic loop method on a long 3mm circular needle, with a boomerang heel (also known as a German short row heel). I have been thinking about a slightly different method of knitting these, without having to go around the sock body twice in the middle of it. I’m going to experiment on the socks after the next, I think 🙂

And for final full information, both my beautiful blue Duckfeet shoes and my faded red skinny jeans are preloved and recently acquired from eBay.

My next pair is a huge long stripey pair of boot socks. Which should be making an appearance next week if all goes according to plan.

TTFN and happy knitting ❤

Socks. 52 of them.


My name’s Alice.

Erm. I’m not sure I’d class it as a ‘problem‘ as such, but…

I love socks.

I never saw it coming.

I knitted a sock once.

It was a lacy number, and it never ever EVER had a partner.

And I thought that was it. I thought I’d never knit another.

Fiddly little chuffers.

But…. somehow. Over these past few years (ack! Where did THAT time go??) I have been completely seduced.

I couldn’t even tell you how it happened. It snuck up on me.

Except, maybe, it began with the Beauteous Boot Socks, which I still knit and still wear daily, and in the winter at night, too. And then, gradually… well hey. If you’re prepared to knit a big sock on 5mm needles, why not take a little longer and knit smaller ones. On 3mm needles?

And, if you have ever walked in a hand-knitted sock, then you know. You know. It’s like walking on carpet. It’s a whole different experience.

And….. there I go. Into that nether-land of the yarnie. Into that world that only other yarn addicts really know. The land where, when I start talking, my family – as much as they love and want to support me – begin to glaze over and get that rabbit-in-the-headlights look, heads darting, surreptitious as can be, searching for an escape, ANY escape.

If you know, you know.

So, given the utter upside-downness of our insane-crazy world right now, I have set myself a challenge. 52 socks in 52 weeks. 26 pairs this year.

On top of which, I will look after my family, work my day job, finish some WIPs and design a few more lovely things.

Because, frankly, not keeping busy in this unrecognisable world is not an option. Am I right?

So without further ado, allow me to present socks #1 and #2 of 52 for this year, making my first lovely pair. (Hanging them on the wall isn’t weird, right?)

Knitted with Drops Fabel in Rose Mist Long Print on 3mm needles, with pale pink cuff and heel accents of Drops Nord, and grey toes of Happy Feet.

The pink heel is an afterthought heel or, more accurately, a peasants’ heel, since an afterthought heel traditionally is cut into the sock tube after knitting, whereas the peasants’ heel employs a piece of scrap yarn knitted across where you plan for your heel to go, slipped back across onto the working needle and then knitted over to continue the sock. After knitting, you unpick the scrap yarn, pick up the stitches and knit a heel.

If I were going to knit them again, I’d use the Happy Feet yarn for the toes AND the heels as, on 3mm needles, a much sturdier fabric is produced, which is pretty good for those hard-wearing spots, I reckon.


I have two more made, but not matching, so I’m going to finish a pair before posting the next two.

Happy knitting! x

Noro Striped Hat and Scarf

I’ve always loved Noro.

The combination of colours and the luxuriousness of the natural yarn mixes…

But I’ve never really been able to decide what to DO with it.

Until I stumbled across this little tutorial on the Berroco blog. And suddenly, those two balls of contrasting yarn I’d been eyeing up had a purpose.

My yarn is a little different from their James C Brett Northern Lights, so my needles and stitch numbers are different. I used, initially, 2 x contrasting 100g balls of Noro Shinryoku (in colours 04, and 08), which I found on eBay for, I considered, a rather bargain price of £6.95 a ball, with minimal postage. It is 70% wool, 30% silk and it’s FLAMING DREAMY. By the time I’d got to the end of those 2 balls, though, it still wasn’t long enough, so I ordered a couple more. I wasn’t long into those two, however, when I decided it had reached optimum length for either 1) one wrap around the neck and long ends over the tummy under the coat, or 2) two wraps around the neck and tuck the short ends into the coat collar at the neck.

Having so much left, I knitted a hat to match which, with hindsight, I would probably have knitted a little longer for a squidge more slouch, but it fits perfectly and is super SUPER warm.

So, without further ado, this is how to knit it:

With 5mm needles (you can use straights, circulars or a couple of DPNs – whatever floats your boat) and colour 1, cast on 41 stitches.

Row 1: [K1, P1] across. As it’s an odd number, you’ll end on the same stitch you started.

Row 2: Slip the first stitch and continue in pattern – Knit the Knit stitches and Purl the Purls. You are going to Slip the first stitch of EVERY row from hereon in.

Row 3: Colour 2. Slip the first stitch (which is still colour 1, of course) and continue in pattern, introducing colour 2 after you’ve slipped the first stitch. Knit the Knits, Purl the Purls.

Row 4: Still colour 2. Slip the first stitch and continue to the end in pattern.

Row 5: Back to colour 1. Slip the first stitch and continue to the end in pattern.

Row 6: Still colour 1. Slip the first stitch and continue to the end in pattern.

Repeat rows 3- 6 until your scarf is the length you require (mine is 225cm). Bind off in pattern (yarn back for K stitches, forward for purls), and sew in ends.


You can see how the different ball colours provide the slowly changing, alternating, graduating stripes.

And here are a few more gratuitous pictures of the beauty as it progressed:

OK, so now to the hat.

With 5mm circular needles – I use at least 80cm long and use the magic loop method which, essentially, means working with half the stitches on each needles, pulling the cord through and working one side, then pulling it through to work the other – cast on 80 stitches. I used the knitted cast on method for this as I folded the brim when it was long enough and actually knitted it folded, which provides a super thick, squishy, cosy brim which won’t come undone. But if that sounds too complicated, just knit it and fold it up afterwards, like a normal foldover brim.

Next comes 22 rounds of [K1, P1] rib. You are going to knit these rounds in the same way as the scarf: 2 stripes of each colour.

When you get to round 23 you are switching to stocking stitch, so you are going to knit around and, if you are feeling brave enough, fold the brim over and pick up the corresponding cast-on stitch with each stitch, knitting both together. The knitted cast on provides a little ‘loop’, almost an eyelet, where each stitch was made, which makes it super easy to identify which is the next stitch to be picked up and knitted together with the next stitch on the needle. This will permanently fold your brim. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take a picture until I’d very nearly finished this process, but here is what it will look like:

Here is a picture from a fair isle hat I designed – the Owl and the Pussycat – which shows the cast on stitch being knitted together with the next live stitch on the needle:

The most important part is to keep the brim lined up, so that it doesn’t get sewn up skewed.

As I say, if this feels too ambitious, just work the 22 rounds of rib and then carry on in stocking stitch. You can just fold the brim back like a regular hat, or even sew it closed after you’ve finished if you prefer.

Tip: in stocking stitch (stockinette) for a ‘jogless’ stripe, i.e. a stripe that doesn’t look like it’s off-kilter when the knitting is done, knit the first round of the next colour as usual, but slip the first stitch of the second round rather than knitting it, and continue as usual. This will line the stripes up a little better.

Now you will knit the rest of your hat, continuing in stripes. If you prefer a relatively fitted beanie, knit about 23cm before the decreases (15cm from the top of the brim – the beginning of the stocking stitch). If you prefer it slouchier, knit at least 30cm before the decreases (22cm from the top of the brim – the beginning of the stocking stitch).


[K6, K2tog] around
K around
[K5, K2tog] around
K around
[K4, K2tog] around
K around
[K3, K2tog] around
K around
[K2, K2tog] around
K around
[K1, K2tog] around
K around
[K2tog] around
[K2tog] around

Cut a longish tail, and, using a darning needle, sew the yarn through the remaining live stitches, pull tight and secure. Sew in ends.

Now, get out there in the snow and stay warm! ❤

Happy knitting 🙂

In pictures, in progress… (updated with pattern links)

Last year, I designed a sweater I called the Vintage Chic sweater, in Paintbox yarns super chunky.

This year, I’ve reworked it for their 100% wool worsted range.

And I’m loving how it’s coming out.

Pattern to follow ❤️


I finished the adult version and then made a couple of little ones. The pattern is available in many sizes, from baby to adult. Here are some more pictures and links to the corresponding patterns.

You can find the adult version of the pattern, pictured below, here,

the child’s version, pictured below, here,

and the ‘Mummy and Me’ version, which includes both patterns as pictured below, here.

Happy knitting! x

Embracing my lockdown

My life, like that of so many, has changed quite dramatically since this lockdown began.
Not in obvious ways.

I’ve lots of children and a small business that we run from home and are attempting to keep afloat, so although I have always spent a lot of time within these four walls, with everyone home 24/7 there is more to juggle.

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Will I manage to transplant these to the raised beds my fellas have built in the garden without a) killing them, or b) them falling prey to pigeons, slugs and other beasties?

No, it’s changed in proper “I feel like my grandmother” ways.
My grandmother kept bees in her garden in Willingdon, and I remember visiting her, being ushered to her kitchen table, and handed a doorstop of hot buttered toast sliced from fresh bread and dripping with honey spread straight from the comb. She was always making flapjacks or shortbread. Her home always smelled of baking.
I haven’t got as far as bees. I’d love a hive, but my lovely neighbour might string me up…
Instead, as this madness all began, we acquired four chickens. And fell in love instantly.

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With Hekate, Persephone and Minerva

So the morning goes like this:

My Teddy (9 and diagnosed with autism at 2.5) and I wake up first and come down to let the chickens out.
He says, every morning, unprompted and without fail, “I love those chickens” which is in itself quite remarkable for one with such limited speech.
Then, in we come, everyone else (mostly teenaged) still aslumber, and he tootles about while I knit.

No photo description available.
Very nearly finished….

And sporadically check for eggs, occasionally spurring them on with a “Come on. Time to lay my breakfast!”

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After a steaming vat of coffee from a mug I treated myself to after seeing a post from a talented ceramicist on Instagram, (that beautiful rainbow, being shown off alongside Persephone in this post’s photo) I plunder our 25kg sack of wholemeal flour – we’ve always bought flour in bulk. It makes sense, with such a large family, right? – and make a large loaf of bread, liberally showering the dough with pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds, and set it to rise while the boys begin to stir.

And sometimes the chickens visit…


By the time the boys are coming downstairs, there’s bread in the oven, the house smells gorgeous, my latest knitting project is a few rows closer to completion and I’m preparing for a freshly laid egg on homebaked bread, toasted for breakfast.


I am, in case it wasn’t obvious, seriously counting my blessings ❤

Note: If you’ve stumbled across this blog thinking it might be time to learn a new skill, on May 6th are launching a free 3-video tutorial on how to knit your very own pair of bootsocks, using my pattern. Check it out over here for details

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Dots and Stripes. Dotty Stripes.


No. This post is not about socks.

Although, I have to confess, I could gaze upon the beauty of the beauteous boot socks in perpetuity. I enjoy looking at them almost as much as I enjoy wearing them. And this very frosty northern morning, they are peeping above the tops of my boots and keeping my toes toasty. Over tights, no less. Yes. That’s how I roll.

Oh, and I enjoy wearing them almost as much as I enjoy knitting them.

But I digress.

There is of course a limit as to the number of boot socks you can possess (although as previous posts have explained – teenaged boys + washing machine + wool socks = unmitigated disaster) and I still have quite a lot of scraps of the various yarns I used for creating them.

Added to which, my wardrobe of preloved goodness has expanded this winter, and my colours are all rather autumnal.

I  needed a hat to match.

So I made one.


After which, beloved son number 2 requested one (he has a very chilly wait at the bus stop on his way to college in the mornings).


And I really love the colours he chose (and banana cake. And coffee).

After which, I made another one just because I could.


(I also made the lebkuchen because they’re my favourite and the blooming shops have stopped selling them now that Christmas is over. If you love them too, go and check out this recipe. It’s really simple and they’re bloody delicious).

If you have 100g or so of aran weight wool in a few colours and fancy a spotted, dotted, striped hat of your own, you can find the pattern here. And if you do make it, give me a tag? I do love to see it!

Happy Hump Day ❤

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