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Archive for the ‘Sock Knitting’ Category

Things have been pretty hectic the last month or so . . . plenty of not-so-good stuff, but there have been bright spots.

Since my last knitting project update, there has been some (albeit limited) progress:

Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan:

I have to knit about 6 rows on the button band and embroider in the black hooves and noses on the sheep.  However, I haven’t touched this sweater in about a month and the baby will be here in just a few weeks.  Finishing is a goal for this weekend.

Druid Mittens:

When last I wrote, I thought I’d figured out a workable gauge (cuff on 2.5 mm, body of mitten on 2.25) but . . . since then I’ve knit almost to the tip of one mitten, only to realize that it is still way too short (like 2 inches too short).  The pattern doesn’t let me repeat it without some funky fiddling, which I don’t really care to do, so the mittens are “resting” at the moment.  Since I have so much yarn, I’m considering ripping and re-knitting with the yarn doubled.  I WILL CONQUOR THESE MITTENS!!!

– Baby Booties:

So the whole idea of making up my own pattern has sort of fallen by the wayside in favor of all the projects I keep accumulating.  I did manage to do an eyelet variation on Saartje’s Booties: instead of the straps, I worked a row of yo, k2tog and yo, ssk, then just threaded a ribbon through the booties.  Fast and dirty (took me under two hours to do both) but they sure did turn out well I think:

Ice Queen:

Somehow I managed to finish, block and gift, all without getting a photo.  I loved the project though — a quick, easy smoke ring with a single ball of yarn.  The beading was really fun too, and came out beautifully.  I would absolutely knit this pattern again.

There is other big news too . . . I know, I know, way to bury the lead . . . but finally, after so much trouble, I’ve managed to climb aboard the Monkey Sock bandwagon.  Using Knit Picks Essential (soon to be Stroll) I was able to knit a decent pair of socks.  Since I started the socks without a foot in mind (long story, I needed an portable, emergency knitting project) I found a foot to fit the socks after they were half-knit:

This particular foot belongs to Miss V, one corner of my four-person knitting circle.  I think the socks ended up fitting pretty well:

Now that I’ve knitted socks for one member of the group, I’m going to knit up a pair for the other two ladies.  Fun 🙂

Of course, as soon as the first pair of Monkeys were done, I immediately cast on another pair, this one in the Essential Kettle Dyed colorway Eggplant.  The socks are a gift for Adorable, whose birthday is today.  Here is my progress as of this moment:

I have just one more repeat and the toes to finish — lucky for me, she has tiny little feet.

A truer picture of the beautiful deep purple of the socks:

As you can see, there is a slight color change at the top of the gusset where I changed skeins.  I don’t love it, especially since the yarns were both from the same dye lot, but hey, they are handmade socks made from kettle dyed yarn.  I am also hoping that the difference will be more subtle when the socks are worn, and that a good washing will help blend the colors a bit.

And what’s next up?

I would like to make some birthing socks to go with the Sheep Baby Sweater — if I start a pair of Monkeys now, can I get them to the mom-to-be before her due date in late July?  I think so . . . I hope so . . . I would also like to make a small stuffed animal for the baby, to go with the sweater and socks.  It’s a lot of knitting and not a lot of time!

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Hey there . . . I know I have not been blogging too much recently but still . . . I am feeling very lucky for the people and stories I’ve encountered on the internet . . . from my very first blogging buddy Mick to Needles & Vectors, a blog I just discovered today, I wanted express my appreciation to all the varied ways that wonderful people and ideas and experiences come into our lives.  This is a thank-you for the other knitters in the world — yay knitters!  Also a thank-you for the other bloggers — including my cousin who is solving the world’s problems here — yay bloggers!  And of course . . . put ’em together and you get a huge double-yay for knitbloggers!  To me this is all just part of learning how technology, something that has the potential to be so isolating, can bring us all together.  It amazes me how quickly I can zip across the country and see through someone else’s eyes a new perspective on life.

I will be spending the weekend sprucing the house up for a little get-together next weekend at our place, doing some knitting, and poring over a very cool wedding gift: The Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without by Mollie Katzen of the Moosewood Cookbooks.  I spent last weekend with my college roomates on our annual (and far too short!) girls’ weekend in Tahoe, and they tosted me with the most delicious champagne and princess cake and sent me home with what looks to be an absolutely kick-ass cookbook.  Yes, I will cook the meats as a gesture of my love for The Baron, but I am trying to find increasingly healthier ways to eat and cook and be in the world, and veggies seem like a good start.  Who knows, I might even find the new “it” dish that will keep my belly full and happy all winter!

On the needles at the moment: I’m turning the heel of my second of the Oriel Lace Socks for Glamourous, and I’m cranking away on the Goddess Knits Anniversary Shawl.  I got a lot done traveling to and from Tahoe, but I am working chart 4 B, which has 95 rows, but I’m on row 17 so there’s not really a light at the end of the tunnel yet.  After sleeping on the baby blanket of it all last night, I think I’m going to try swatching for an Aran something using some variation on the KnitPicks Swish Bare (undyed) in my stash.  Stay tuned!

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The Fourth of July weekend was just perfect — friends, family, BBQ (just veggies for me of course), fireworks, a movie and lots and lots of knitting.

I’m almost done with the Trellis baby sweater — Mick, I think you’ll be proud of what I’ve done with your yarn — and although the pattern itself is a bit fiddly I enjoyed working the cables. Over the weekend I spent some quality hammock time just swinging and knitting, watching The Baron splash around in the pool.

Here is the sweater in pieces (back, both fronts, and a sleeve):
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And here is the sweater after a slavish amount of finishing (the color is closest to this photo, at least on my monitor):
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The directions called for grafting the two front panels to the back of the sweater at each shoulder, but after several failed attempts to kitchner in pattern (including cables) I gave up and just worked single crochet through the live stitches to seam things together. I used the same technique to seam up the sides, to close up the sleeves and to attach them to the sweater body.

I’m now working the collar, which calls for yet another in-pattern kitchner and then seaming the collar to the neck hole. After working the adult-sized Tangled Yoke Cardigan, specially designed to require a minimum of finishing, all this seaming is a bit of a drag. If I ever work this sweater again, I’ll be working the body in one big piece and working the sleeves in the round by picking up stitches at the armholes. Boo to seaming and double boo to weaving in ends.

However . . . on the topic of weaving in ends . . . I came across this amazing tutorial today that demonstrates how to weave in ends as you go — super simple and it looks like it really works. I’ll be trying it out on my next time I have lots of ends to contend with!

I finally got around to buying another copy of Sensational Knitted Socks so I could finish working the Oriel Lace Socks. The socks were the perfect sitting-and-chatting-by-the-pool project for the insanely hot weekend, and I’m almost to the heel turn on sock number one. Very exciting. I know I’m no sock magician, churning out pairs in a day like some bloggers out there, but it’s a great project for just schlepping around to keep the fingers busy. Of course, as soon as I bought the new book I found the old one — I’d hidden it in a dark corner of my stash closet as part of the under-the-rug junk sweep before the in-law invasion — so now I’ve got to return the new one.

And finally, I got started on the Goddess Knits Anniversary Mystery Shawl. Here she is, just moments after her birth:

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Much more about this project later, but for now it sure feels good to get some lace on the needles!

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After my last rant, and what I admit has been a somewhat negative attitude over the past few weeks, I think I’m turning a corner with my knitting. In fact, I’m starting to regard the knitting as something of a lifeline, a way out of darker places.

No, I still haven’t found my sock book, but there’s no reason I can’t just go out and get another one (the library doesn’t have it!) and get back to my socks. Done. Well, not quite done yet, but close. And once again, thanks go to The Baron for insisting that it’s money well spent . . . although I’m sure that as soon as I actually buy a new copy of the book I will find my old one and therefore be able to return the new one.

On the clouds-are-clearing front, however, two packages arrived via the good old USPS on Monday and both really cheered me up.

First I got four skeins of Rowan All-Seasons cotton via a yarn swap with my knitting-blog buddy Mick. Go check out her linky and see my new balls of yarn.  Aren’t they pretty?  The arrival of this yarn was exciting on many levels. First and foremost, when I finished Peacock Feathers I was left with more than 3000 yards of violet Jaggerspun Zephyr — a beautiful color, but I was fairly sure I wasn’t going to use it again for a long while. Somehow, maybe because Mick’s first lace piece turned out so well, I just felt that she was supposed to have the leftover yarn.

Meanwhile, my cousin, the youngest of our generation, the little girl I used to play with and the preteen I taught to shave her legs, is about to have a baby. Knitting is called for, but I’ve been feeling uninspired with my stash of KnitPicks Swish in shades of baby blue, baby pink and baby yellow and all-around stuck, what with the stalled sock and all. As soon as Mick’s yarn arrived though, I began trolling through Ravelry looking for just the right thing. I made one of EZ’s February Baby Sweaters and it came out really well, but I want to try something new this time. Many of the baby sweater patterns out there are a bit boxy and simplistic. I get it, babies are sometimes a little nebulous around the edges, but still I think it’s important to put detail and attention into a baby sweater and not just seam together two garter-stitch rectangles. Wow . . . I am becoming such a knitting snob! Any gift made with love is a wonderful one that will hopefully be received as such, but I have (hello, type A much?) high standards for my own gift projects and I want this sweater to kick ass.

So . . . this afternoon I pulled out Mick’s yarn and swatched for Trellis from Knitty, which strikes me as the perfect combination of cool and detailed without being too fussy or going overboard. My gauge was a tiny bit off but I was happy with the fabric and hey, babies come in all sizes, right? I always think a little bigger is better for baby things — the roominess extends the useful life of the garment. I had to go down to size 5 needles to even get close (4.5 inches for 21 stitches instead of the suggested 4 inches) and now I’m ready to cast on.

But wait . . . what was the other package that brought sunshine and light? It was from KnitPicks, of course. I had a leftover bit of cash on a gift certificate and my work/knitting buddy Miss V. was going to do an order so we went in on it together to get the free shipping. It was pretty wonderful having a few days of anticipation before the KnitPicks box showed up, early as usual. It was also really fun to have Miss V. be as excited as I was about the delivery. I think it’s one of my favorite things about knitting — having other people to get giddy with about something as simple as a cute stuffed animal pattern or finding the perfect yarn. I barely had time to teach her how to knit before she was off and running, tracking down cool books and patterns and joining me on yarn shopping trips.

What was in the KnitPicks box you ask?  Well, I’ve been wanting to try a mystery lace KAL for a while now, and when I came across the Goddess Knits Anniversary Mystery Shawl Along it seemed perfect. I wanted to use just the right yarn — the Zephyr seemed too delicate, I didn’t really like the swatch I made with the KnitPicks Shimmer (seen here in Turquoise, I initially bought it to make a shawl for my wedding and scrapped the plan when it started to look too much like tye-dye), and I didn’t have anything else that felt right in my stash. With the start of the KAL looming (the first clue was posted last Friday — I think membership will be open until June 30) I was desperate to find the “right” yarn and I rather blindly took a stab and ordered 4 skeins of KnitPicks Shadow in Juniper. Big mistake. The color is a teal-and-red combo that Miss V. described as “grandma.” Funny though, rather than being bummed I’m a bit excited to test out the KnitPicks exchange process. More about the Goddess Knits KAL later . . . for now it’s enough that I have a cool baby project that I’m excited to get started on. I hope the summer sun is going to keep shining on my knitting!

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So I’m working away on socks. Socks have often given me trouble, so I’m being careful to follow the pattern, swatch, all that good stuff. So far, so good, right?

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These are the Oriel Lace Socks from Sensational Knitted Socks, and I’m really enjoying them so far. I worked the suggested toe (which I liked way better than the short-row toe I’ve used in the past) and have gotten through three repeats of the lace pattern. Perhaps time to start the gussett and heel? Well, to know that I’d have to consult the pattern, which is in the book, which is who knows where.

I am pretty much losing my mind over this. Of course The Baron suggested I simply stop by a bookstore and get another copy (isn’t he a great, understanding guy?), but after owning the book for over a year I am just now getting to my first project from it and a re-purchase seems downright wasteful. Where could it be? I blame my new in-laws, who descended on us en-masse the first weekend of June. We spent so much time cleaning and tidying that now I cannot find a thing. Sadly my Sensational Socks book is the first severe casualty. The book is not in my knitting room, not in the living room or bedroom or bathroom or kitchen, not under any couches, not on my desk at home, not in my car . . . I was holding out hope that perhaps it was somewhere in my cubicle at work (I took the book to work and made a photocopy of the lace pattern to carry with me) but this morning when I got in I rummaged through everything and still came up empty.

I know in the grand scheme of things it’s no big deal, but I need to knit! Maybe this is the universe telling me that I need to keep more than one project at a time on my needles. Little elves who watch over lost things, please bring my book back to me!

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When I was a little girl, my mother told me that I did not look pretty in the color yellow. I’m not sure why she said this, or if she realized the lasting effect it would have on me. I was “washed out” she said, as though a person could be flushed of all vitality by simply putting on a t-shirt. Also my brain connected the “low” sound at the end of the color with the similar allele at the end of the word “sallow” and clearly sallow is not a thing that a little girl wants to be. Sorry . . . this is just how my brain works. I know there are plenty of beautiful yellows out there, but I just can’t overcome my early conditioning enough to go beyond simply remarking “what a rich, lovely color” and actually knit with the stuff.

The kicker though is that I love green. I love greens that are deep and rich in their blue hues, and not so much bright or puce (what an unfortunate word!) or lemongrass. But in the yarny world, where hand-dyes are literally created from the building blocks of color (red, yellow, blue) it’s difficult to find a varigated yarn that doesn’t incorporate yellow in with the green. Yarns that are green and blue are usually overpowered by the blue, and the green pops in just as an accent. I love green, but looking over my finished projects Ravelry page recently I realized that I just have not knitted anything green save for the turtle (Sheldon) who is (duh) supposed to be green.

To remedy this lack of green in my knitting life, I cast on for a pair of socks this weekend with Knitpicks Risata in Grass. After a false start (um, yeah, read the directions carefully when trying out a new toe technique for socks!) I’m off to the races, as you can see:

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Although I’ve had this yarn for a while, it wasn’t until my recent success with the mitts for Adorable that I really felt ready to tackle socks again. It’s been a little stressful at home recently so for the moment I am clinging to these socks for sanity.

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The good news is that last night I cast off and delivered Adorable’s Nereid mitts (a fingerless glove adaptation of Cookie A.’s Pomatomus socks) and she seems to love them. The bad news, for me at least, is that I’m now facing the whole Memorial Day long weekend with no knitting project at all.

Here is the finished product, modeled by Adorable herself:

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I really enjoyed making the mitts, first and foremost because I got a chance to play with the Koigu KPPPM that I picked up at String in New York. I’ve worked with self-striping and variegated yarns before, but never with a fiber that just feels so super-saturated with color, even in the muted brown and pink colorway. The yarn itself is beautiful to touch as well as to look at, and the finished knit had a spongy, rich feel that is frankly luxurious. I can already tell I’m going to be a sucker for this yarn! I worked the mitts on Clover Bamboo needles — a bit sticky, but so soft that I actually broke off the tip of one — and I’m still undecided about whether I’ll reach for the bamboo or the aluminum next time.

At first I wanted to work both mitts at the same time, but I just wasn’t happy with the feel of the fabric on the size 2 or even size 1 needles I have (see my this-is-not-a-sock-it’s-a fishing-net dilemma from my last Cookie A. sock attempt). On size zero, the fabric was just right. Confession: one of my key motivations for liking two-at-once socks is not second sock syndrome, it’s that I just can’t seem to count properly. Invariably one sock or the other ends up being longer or shorter which is sweet and, yes, confirms that the finished pair is truly homemade, but just doesn’t give me that happy feeling of successful completion that I’m looking for in a knitting project. What should have been obvious to me is that working a sock in pattern means that socks become error-proof. It’s far easier to keep track of 10 rows of ribbing for a cuff than for 150 rows in the entire length of a sock. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me — perhaps because Jaywalkers seem like “patterned” socks and I managed to mess up their length — but I suddenly feel free to try more complicated patterns on DPNs. I guess I am having a somewhat backward sock experience, but hey, that seems typical for me.

One issue I had (really the only one) was that the scallops on both mitts faced the same way instead of going in opposite directions. I guess the way to reverse this phenomenon would be to work the chart backwards. Or maybe upside down and backwards? I’ll have to look into it for the next time I knit something that is directional. I must admit that as I worked the mitts (and I added an additional chart repeat to make the mitts arm-warmers instead of simply wrist-warmers) I admired the way the tubular lace pattern looked and thought that it might make a very pretty knitted sleeve, especially given the subtlety of the varigated yarn against the subtlety of the pattern itself. I’m filing that idea away for the day in the far far far future when I attempt another adult sweater again.

My favorite thing about this project: I pulled out my trusty Knitter’s Handbook and taught myself the Tubular Bind-Off (aka Kitchner Bind-Off or Grafted Bind-Off) for K1 P1 ribbing. I’d create a tutorial but there is a fantastic one here if you are interested. It’s actually quite simple, if a bit tedious, and creates an edge that looks something like the edge that’s formed by folding a square of stockinette fabric in half. I’m curious if there is a similar bind-off for garter or stockinette fabric, but from now on I’ll be using the Tubular Bind-off for ribbing on most everything.

After writing all this I’m thinking that maybe taking a stab at a toe-up patterned sock is the way to go for this weekend. Nothing like a new project to get the heart racing! Or maybe I should return to the dreaded Monkey socks . . .

Some final photos that make me happy . . . the awesome color/pattern combo in close-up:

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Adorable rocking her mitts Wonder-Woman style:

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