Mindful Knitting and Crochet

Posted by Amy | Posted in Crochet, Knitting | Posted on 04-04-2019

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Mindful knitting and crochet are fantastic ways of practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is already a huge part of many people’s lives these days. Taking time to come back to the present and focus your mind away from your busy everyday life, no checking that mobile phone every 5 minutes, mindfulness can help to relieve stress and tension.
Knitting and crochet have been proven to be a tool to improve wellbeing for many years now. Betsan Corkhill, founder of Stitchlinks has written a book Knit for Health and Wellness, which is not only a great read for those who wish to practice therapeutic knitting it is also a resource for clinicians and teachers to refer to. Lynne has co-authored a book with Betsan called Knit Yourself Calm, which includes patterns and info on mindful knitting.
We invited Lynne Rowe to do a series of videos exploring the benefits or mindful knitting and crochet. Lynne chats to Sara in the two part video discussion covering techniques to try and talking about how useful she finds mindfulness. Lynne also has the most soothing voice which will relax you, add in her meditative mantra and you will be ready to try out mindful knitting or mindful crochet for yourself. I could listen to her for hours!

Watch part 1 below….

Take a look at Mindful Knitting and Crochet Part 2…….

Lynne has shared with us her ‘Beginners Guide to Mindful Knitting and Crochet’. Helpful hints and tips to get you started.

  • Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted.
  • Sit comfortably, following the guidance below.
  • Focus on the cool air as it enters your body and the warm air as it leaves; visualise your breath making you feel lighter and brighter.
  • Watch your hands as you knit or crochet; marvel at the way you turn yarn into fabric.
  • Try lighting a candle to bring calm and help alleviate tension.
  • Sit on an upright chair and push your bottom towards the chair back so you lower spine is supported.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor and legs uncrossed with your knees slightly lower than your hips.
  • Bring your work up towards the top of your body to avoid slouching.
  • Lift your head slightly and tuck in your chin a little.
  • Imagine your head being slightly pulled by an invisible thread.
  • Don’t worry if your mind wanders; gently bring your attention back to your knitting and counting.
  • Try listening to meditative music.

Find more information from Lynne Rowe on her website – knitcrochetcreate.com

Lynne is hosting two workshops at the Craft Barn on Saturday 29th June 2019 – Mindful Knitting Morning  and Mindful Crochet Afternoon. Book a place on our website today!

Knitting a ZickZack Scarf

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 22-03-2019

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When Black Sheep Sara started knitting a ZickZack scarf earlier this year, she caused quite a stir on our Black Sheep Make-A-Long Facebook page. Sara had spotted this stylish scarf on a friends Instagram post and just had to cast it on the needles herself. Straight away she knew which yarn she fancied trying out on this zig zag striped scarf design. It had to be Stylecraft Head Over Heels All Stars yarn. Sara chose the shades Red Pots and Splash, quite the contrasting colour combination, but when knitted together they work beautifully.

Knitting a ZickZack scarf in Stylecraft Head Over Heels All Stars | Black Sheep Wools

The ZickZack scarf pattern is designed by Christy Kamm and is available free from Ravelry. It was published on Ravelry in 2014 so it has been around for many years and you could well be reading this having knitted one or two yourself.

Sara enjoyed knitting her ZickZack scarf and found the pattern really easy to follow. It was a great project to pick up and just know what comes next without having to concentrate too much. Watch Sara talking about knitting the scarf in the video below.

We shared a photo of Sara’s ZickZack scarf on our newsletter and Sara got lots of great comments from everyone. It wasn’t long before many knitters in our Facebook group had cast on too. Many people are half way through their ZickZack scarf, but we asked if anyone wanted to share a photo for this blog post. Take a look at how different this scarf can look when you combine varying stripey or plain yarns together.

ZickZack Scarf | Black Sheep Wools

Sara’s ZickZack scarf in Red Pots and Splash.

ZickZack scarf | BlackSheep Wools

Brenda – Stylecraft Head Over Heels All Stars – Worldgate & Saltaire.

ZickZack scarf | Black Sheep Wools

Jean – Fyberspates – Peach Bellini and Peak District yarn for the contrast.

ZickZack scarf | Black Sheep Wools

Jean – Stylecraft Head Over Heels – Red Pots and another shade which Jean didn’t keep the ball band.

Knitting a ZickZack scarf | Black Sheep Wools

Karen – Sirdar Baby Crofter 4ply.

Knitting a ZickZack scarf | Black Sheep Wools

Brenda – second scarf in Stylecraft Head Over Heels All Stars – Pool and Ossie.

Knitting a ZickZack scarf | Black Sheep Wools

Rosa – Sirdar Heart & Sole 4ply – yellow/green and pink/purple.

Have you knitted a ZickZack scarf? What yarns did you use?

Temperature Blanket

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 01-02-2019

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What is a temperature blanket?


A blanket that you knit or crochet with the shades chosen dependent on the temperature outside each day. Choose a selection of colours and create a key with the shades coordinating to temperatures. Depending on how many shades you want to use it can be a good idea to go up in 2 degree increments, e.g. 5°-6°c. Every day knit or crochet a row in the corresponding colour to the temperature that day. By the end of the year you will have a fabulous, unique blanket!

The idea of a temperature blanket is quite a fun way to crochet or knit. If you love stripes but never know what shade to choose next, then the temperature blanket will choose it for you. Allowing your blanket to evolve with your chosen colour combination. Another option is to make a temperature scarf. This probably wouldn’t last a whole year, but depending on the finished length you wanted and thickness of yarn used then you could do it over a couple of months or take a weekly average. It is completely up to you, you make the rules with a temperature blanket / scarf.

This post was inspired by the lovely Maria, customer and ex-colleague of Black Sheep Wools. Maria was our Customer Services Manager for many years, always on hand to help with queries and an avid knitter and crocheter herself. She posted a photo of her completed temperature blanket for 2018 in our Facebook Make Along group (if you haven’t already, please do join us and share your makes). It was such a beautiful blanket we had to share it on social media. The adulation this blanket was met with sparked the idea for a blog post.
Maria chose a range of blues and purples in Stylecraft Special DK (White, Parchment, Silver, Duck Egg, Storm Blue, Sherbet, Cloud Blue, Bluebell, Wisteria, Parma Violet, Mushroom, Pale Rose, Soft Peach, Apricot, Vintage Peach, Shrimp). This is knitted in garter stitch with 4mm circular needles, 308 stitches.

Temperature Blanket | Black Sheep Wools

If you are planning to make your own (even though we are a month into the year) search on google for temperature blankets and you will see some fine examples. Take a look below at some yarn suggestions that you will have a varied colour choice.

Temperature Scarf Yarn Ideas

Scheepjes Namaste – a chunky yarn that’s a blend of wool and acrylic. A mix of pastel and bright shades to choose from.

Baa Ram Ewe Pip Colourwork – there are 15 shades of this 100% British wool 4ply to choose from.

Rowan Baby Cashsoft Merino – a great selection of shades to make a beautifully soft scarf, with a touch of luxury.

Temperature Blanket Yarn Ideas

Sirdar Snuggly DK – not just for babies this yarn has plenty of shades to opt for. Making a machine washable blanket.

James C Brett Double Knitting with Merino – this yarn doesn’t have a broad range of colours like some of the others, but there is enough to choose from. It is a really cosy yarn and lovely to work with.

Stylecraft Bellissima & Stylecraft Bambino – mix and match with these two treasures from Stylecraft. The composition is the same, which gives you that few more colours to choose from.


Betwixtmas Make-A-Long | More Tips

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 24-12-2018

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Have you already cast on the Betwixtmas shawl? Could you not resist that sumptuous hank of Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply? There is only so long that you can stroke and stare at yarn before it simply has to be on your needles, we understand. If you are waiting for the Betwixtmas period (in-between Christmas and New Year) well done for resisting!
Before you do begin, have you read the shawl designer, Bronagh Miskelly’s guest blog post? For anyone who is unsure about knitting a flat piece of knitting on circular needles, it is really easy to do. You use your circular needle like it is two straight needles. Watch our video of Barbara below.

If the yarn has caught your eye it is King Cole Riot DK that Barbara popped on the needles for this demo.

If you haven’t already, it might be worth practicing the cast on method with a half ball /oddment from your stash. Prior to casting on with your chosen Betwixtmas shawl yarn. We have put together a little video to give you an idea of how this should look when you are doing it too.


Don’t forget to join in the chat for the Betwixtmas shawl on our Black Sheep Make-A-Long Facebook group.


What is a Make Along?

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 21-12-2018

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A make along? Whatever is this, you might ask? Many of you will have heard this term in the knitting and crochet world and for others it something completely new. Let me try and explain what a make along (sometimes Make-A-Long) is all about. Here goes…..
A make along is when a pattern is released with all of the details required to make the design, along with a start date. Usually a blogger, yarn company or yarn store will do this and set a date for everyone to begin their project together. There will be a yarn suggestion and opportunity to purchase said yarn prior to the make along commencing. It brings a community spirit to a project, allowing people from all over the world to join in and make something, knowing that others are doing the same somewhere else in the world. More often than not you will find a dedicated Faecbook group or Ravelry group to share your progress and discuss the project with fellow crafters. A bit like going to a virtual knit and natter group, but you can go at any time of day. If you have a question you can ask away, or you may find that someone else has already asked when you scroll through the group. It is nice to have a browse of what yarn or shade others of chosen for a spot of inspiration. Even if there is an end date on a make along, it doesn’t really end because you can still cast on at a later date (so long as the pattern is still available). Plus, you don’t need to rush and makes mistakes because everyone works at their own pace. It is a friendly and relaxed way of coming together as knitters and crocheters.
You may have also heard – knit along and crochet along. A couple more alongs to add into the mix. These are normally projects where the pattern is released in sections over a period of weeks or months. For example our crochet along blankets with Cherry Heart Spice of Life and A Spicier Life. These patterns are still available and a few years on we still enjoy adding new members to the Facebook groups who are just about to begin the blankets.

We have picked a selection of examples of make along projects that you might find of interest, including a rather special one that is just on the horizon.

Obviously, we have to start with the Black Sheep Betwixtmas Shawl Make-A-Long. This is a free pattern to download, designed by Bronagh Miskelly and it is knitted in Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply.If you would prefer to use a yarn from your stash or an alternative 4ply, then you can do. That is the great thing about a make along it is relaxed and inclusive for everyone. This make along starts on 24th December 2018. Find more info on our Betwixtmas page.

Betwixtmas Shawl Make-A-Long 2018 | Black Sheep Wools

Lilla Bjorn blogger and designer, Tatsiana released her make along the ‘Esja Sweater‘ in November this year. A crochet make along in Scheepjes Our Tribe. Tatsiana chose to break the pattern up into weekly sections, but the full pattern is also available to purchase. Tatsiana has a Facebook group where you can go for advice and support whilst making the sweater.

Lilla Bjorn Image

The Scheepjes and Canadutch make along earlier this year was fab because it gave both knitters and crocheters the opportunity to join in. Designer and blogger Canadutch came up with a shawl design that could be made in a knitting pattern – Read Between the Lines and crochet – Crochet Between the Lines. The patterns are available as leaflets by Scheepjes and you will need two balls of Scheepjes Whirl.

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 13-12-2018

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Have you seen our Betwixtmas shawl? It is a delicate lace design, combined with simple stocking stitch, knitted in a hank of Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply. This is a project to cast on in between Christmas and New Year.
The designer of the shawl is Bronagh Miskelly. She is kindly put together a blog post with her top tips on knitting the shawl. We would recommend having a practice of the crochet cast on method with scrap yarn before you commence knitting the shawl. With Bronagh’s hints and tips to hand you should have all your questions answered. Don’t forget to share your progress in our Black Sheep Wools Facebook Make-A-Long group. We can’t wait to see which shade of the delicious Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply yarn you have chosen.

Betwixtmas Shawl Make-A-Long 2018

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips
Guest Blog by Bronagh Miskelly


Getting started with your Betwixtmas Shawl

If you haven’t made a triangular shawl before, there maybe a couple of things that you aren’t familiar with, so here are a couple of tips to help you along.

But don’t worry, there is nothing complicated in this shawl, if you can knit, purl and put your yarn over a needle you are ready for anything in the pattern.

Getting started

The first thing the pattern asks you to do is to crochet a chain of 4 sts in some spare yarn and place these on you knitting needle before knitting them with the main yarn.

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

This is a provisional cast on method, which is a way of having stitches at both ends of a section of knitting. Once you have worked a number of rows (a total of five in this case) you unravel the chain of crochet to reveal live stitches at the bottom of your piece of knitting.

If you are worried about dropping stitches when you unravel your crochet, us a spare needle to pick up the stitch loops before you remove the spare yarn (as shown below). It is a good idea to use a smooth yarn for your crochet stitches so it is easy to remove.

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

Once you have revealed your stitches from the provisional cast on, they work just like any other stitches. In this case you knit the three original stitches, pick up some down the side of what you have knitted so far and then knit the three from the provisional cast on. This means you have worked stitches round three sides of your piece of knitting creating a small curve that forms the centre back of the shawl that you will work outwards from.

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

Stitch markers

The pattern sets the position for three stitch markers. It may feel quite crowded to have three markers when you only have 9 or 13 stitches.

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

However, these three makers help you put the yarn over increases in the right place and rapidly become more spaced out because the yarnovers add four extra stitches on every right side row which is what makes the shawl grow.

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

Checking your shawl shaping

I recommend using a circular needle for this shawl even though you are working in rows. This is partly because you end up with a lot of stitches but also because it is difficult to see the shape of the shawl developing and to check your yarnovers are correctly lined up.

Here the start of a shawl is spread out along the cable of a circular needle. This allows us to see that the garter stitch sections at each end in fact create a single long side of the shawl and that the centre set of yarnovers create a spine down the centre of the shawl to the final point.

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

As your shawl grows the shape will become more obvious and it is important that your yarn overs always line up.

DIY Knitting and Crochet Tips

Posted by Amy | Posted in Crochet, Knitting | Posted on 05-10-2018


What do all of these items have in common? They can all be there to help you out when you don’t have the correct knitting or crochet tools to hand. Sometimes you can discover that a household item that you use every day, actually lends itself to crafts more than you realise. One day it’s in the kitchen cupboard, next it is taking pride of place next to your project bag. A collection of DIY knitting and crochet tips.

DIY Knitting and Crochet Tips | Black Sheep Wools

We asked our Facebook followers – Do you ever find yourself using household items to help with your knitting and crochet? 
Along with Black Sheep staff too, there were some brilliant suggestions made. Crafters are a resouceful lot, thank you to everyone who shared their tips. It only made sense to pool all of our DIY knitting and crochet tips together in one blog post. We have probably only really scratched the surface of what super ideas you crafty lot use. If you do think of any more please comment below this post.

DIY Knitting and Crochet Tips

Highlighter tape / Post it note

Handy items from your stationary draw, highlighter tape or a post it note. These will be there for you when you are following a chart (also good for a complex row on a pattern) and want to keep track of the row you are on. Move the tape / post it up a row every time you have completed a row. So simple, yet very helpful when you are deep in concentration. A post it can also double up as somewhere to write down where you are up to on your pattern when you are putting it away for the day.

Paperclips / Safety Pins

Paperclips or safety pins can be a saviour when you just can’t put your finger on where you put that tin of beautiful stitch markers you bought. Not as pretty, but do the job in your moment of need. Another good suggestions is a scrap of contrasting yarn. We all have an old scrap of end of balls at the bottom of our project bag!

Hair Clip

This was a fab suggestion from a Facebook follower called Marie, use a hair clip to keep your ball of yarn neat and tidy. Really helpful when you are making a blanket or something that requires multiple shades of yarn being used at once. There will be no excuse for tangled yarn with this top tip.
A hair clip can also be handy for when you are transporting a project on the go. Use the clip to snap onto where you have just stopped working to help prevent any unravelling.

DIY Knitting and Crochet Tops | Black Sheep Wools

Nail Clippers

As a knitter or crocheter you will know that although sometimes you think your fingers can withstand snapping the yarn it is just not possible without nearly injuring yourself. With scissors no where in sight, but a pair of nail clippers to hand they will do the trick. Also, nail clippers are ideal to carry with you if you don’t won’t to have sharp scissors.

Bamboo Skewer

Maybe not for too many stitches, but a bamboo skewer could be helpful as a temporary stitch holder.

Plant Pot / Teapot / Colander

A yarn bowl is a great invention for your ball of yarn to bob up and down in gently rather than thrashing around your feet as you knit. Not always so dramatically, but we’ve all had a rogue ball of yarn that won’t sit still. An actual yarn bowl has been designed with a lip of holes to feed yarn through. A make shift yarn bowl can come in many guises – a plant pot, teapot – feeding the yarn through the spout or a colander – so many holes to choose from and plenty of space for a large ball of yarn.

Cocktail Stick

When you are knitting a pair of socks or rather fine needles a cocktail stick makes for a good cable needle.

Supermarket Beer / Wine Carrier

A Facebook follower called Chris, suggested a supermarket beer / wine carrier as multiple use yarn holder. When you are crocheting (or knitting) with 6 to 8 balls of centre pull yarns all at once, all of the balls can sit snuggly in the beer / wine carrier without any tangles.

Pegs and Washing Line

Black Sheep Lucy, blocks her lightweight shawls by pegging them on the washing line. With lots of pegs the weight will help to block the shawl out to your desired shape. It saves you having to find a flat area large enough to pin it out and block.

DIY Crochet and Knitting Tips



Scheepjes Stone Washed & River Washed XL Mini Pack

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 19-04-2018

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Carol is knitting a blanket in Scheepjes Stone Washed XL and River Washed XL 15g mini balls. The pack contains 50 balls, one of each shade and it comes in a fabulous box, complete with handle. There is also a slightly finer 4ply alternative to the aran weight XL, Stone Washed and River Washed colour pack. Sara and Stacey had fun strutting up and down the Craft Barn showing off the latest must have from Scheepjes. Take a look below.

Now I have set the scene with these pretty snazzy colour packs, it’s back to Carol’s blanket. Carol is making an easy knit garter stitch blanket, picking out each shade in colour order and knitting as she goes. Some of the balls do run out mid-way across the blanket, but that adds to the overall colour effect of the blanket. As long as you don’t mind sewing in a few ends this blanket is a must knit. Watch Carol’s video below, where she talks you through her project.

The blanket so far with roughly half of the mini balls used.

Scheepjes Stone Washed XL and River Washed XL Colour Pack

Men’s Knitting Patterns

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 23-03-2018

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In amongst so many patterns for ladies and babies, men’s knitting patterns sometimes can be missed. We have plucked out a selection of men’s knitting patterns to share. If you are ever struggling though, we do have the option to narrow down the search depending on who / what you are knitting for. Hover over patterns on our home page and select in the ‘For’ category.

Before you even begin to be tempted to make any of the knitwear below, we must talk about the ‘Boyfriend Sweater Curse’ (unless you are a man knitting for yourself). You may have heard this pop up online or in a knitting magazine over the years. It is a theory that knitting a sweater for your significant other can lead to a break up! Eeeek! A knitted sweater isn’t just whipped up in a couple of hours, as we all know, a lot of time and effort goes into making it. With all the hours put in you are thinking about this person a lot (maybe whether or not they are the one for you) and you really want the person you are knitting for to appreciate it. This can be said for any knitted gift though and I guess this is where the theory came about.

We are obviously very sceptical of this theory and feel that the sweaters and cardigans below are too fabulous not to be knitted. We want knitting to bring you happiness! A good way to know the recipient will like the jumper is to involve them in choosing the pattern and shade. Pick a selection of designs that you would be happy to knit and let them choose from there. If you are going to knit for a new man in your life, maybe start small and go for a scarf or hat – still a lovely gift.

Choose from a v-neck or shawl collar cardigan in this pattern from Hayfield in Bonus Aran Tweed. A versatile knit for any season!

Men's Knitting Patterns | Cardigan in Hayfield Bonus Aran Tweed

Rowan Journeyman book has been designed by Martin Storey. An incredible collection of knitwear for men. Out of 12 patterns in the book these are four standout designs.
Clockwise from top left ‘Heston’, a cable design using Rowan Hemp Tweed. ‘Curtis’ is the next one along, a textured design using two shades of Rowan Felted Tweed Aran. ‘Brando’ is a hooded sweater with an all over cable design in Hemp Tweed. ‘Cooper’ is a snuggly sweater knitted in Felted Tweed Aran, a slip stitch design creates a rib like texture. There are many more tempting patterns from this book too.

Men's Knitting Patterns | Black Sheep Wools

If a double knit yarn is more your thing, how about this raglan sleeve sweater in Stylecraft Life Vintage Look DK and Life DK. The Life Vintage Look yarn is a tweedy sort of yarn that lends itself to men’s knitwear.

Men's Knitting Patterns | Black Sheep Wools

Knit a round neck sweater or cardigan in a textured diamond stitch in Stylecraft Alpaca Tweed DK.

Men's Knitting Patterns | Black Sheep Wools

If a chunky knit is called for, why not knit this super cosy cabled sweater in your favourite chunky yarn?

Men's Knitting Patterns | Black Sheep Wools

Take a look on our Men’s Knitting patterns page on the website to see more patterns.

Knitting my first pair of socks

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 02-02-2018



In November last year Arne and Carlos came to the Craft Barn to teach their workshop, ‘A Master Class in Socks’. Not being a sock knitter myself the idea of a sock master class sounded complicated and difficult. How wrong I was………

Stacey, who is a team leader in the Craft Barn attended the workshop, thoroughly enjoying a day with Arne and Carlos learning how to knit a toe up sock, with lots of handy hints and tips along the way. A week after the workshop Stacey popped in the office to share what she had been making. She had already finished not one, but two pairs of socks, with a third pair already on the needles. She enthusiastically explained how the sock was constructed, not complicated at all, just very straight forward with nothing that sounded too fiddly or complex. By the end of the day I was in the shop buying a ball of Regia Design Line 6ply and a set of KnitPro Zing 3.5mm DPN’s The idea of something slightly thicker than a 4ply and I was sold, ready to embark on sock knitting. On their blog and YouTube channel Arne and Carlos have a video and pattern for the easiest sock in the world. This is what I followed to knit my socks. There is also a super video that shows how to knit the heel.

I always thought knitting socks would be fiddly, to the point where I would have just one lonely sock, if that, or a tangled mess that was supposed to resemble half a sock never to be complete. I thought they would take forever to knit and I was so wrong. They were really fun to knit, having the various milestones (adding waste yarn, ribbed cuff and heel) along the way kept it really interesting and spurred me on to knit faster. Within just a couple of evenings I had made a sock!

I had been told by many knitters that you can’t beat a pair of had knitted socks, ‘they will be the warmest, comfiest socks you ever have’. Now I can wholeheartedly agree, having worn my own pair of knitted socks they are super warm and cosy to wear.

Slightly squished dancing feet

If you have never attempted sock knitting and feel inspired to give it a go, head over to Arne and Carlos blog and watch their video How to Knit the Easiest Sock in the World. Further down their blog post you will also find a basic pattern to follow. Make sure that you take into account yarn thickness and foot size. This pattern is a great starting point for venturing into the land of sock knitting. I might even try knitting a pair in 4ply next, that’s when I have finished my second pair in Fall Night 6ply.

For this pair of size 4 socks I increased up to 4osts, 10sts on each needle. I used –
Regia Design Line 6ply in shade Summer Night
3.5mm KnitPro Zing Double Pointed Needles 15cm