My Socks, they are crooked!

Did you have a yarn-y holiday? This year I got a lot of “home” oriented presents but not very much in the way of yarn. For Christmas I didn’t get anything yarn related at all. My birthday is tomorrow, but I celebrated with my family tonight. I got a new ball winder (mine was doing the click of death) and a few skeins off my Knit Picks wish list from my mom and dad, and a gift card to an LYS from my brother. Also, I may have treated myself to the ChiaoGoo full interchangeable needle set on Black Friday, so it’s been a good (or bad) winter for the stash indeed.

In addition to the yarn and notion goodness, I’ve been keeping my toes toasty this winter with a new pair of socks! I finally finished my Skew socks that I started back in September of 2012.

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Originally, I started these because the LYS I was knitting at had a “sock hour” just before the general knit chat and if you came for sock hour you had a better seat for the rest of the night. I was working on the for about an hour a week at most.

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Since I’ve been trying to knit down my over-abundant number of WIPs, I’ve been dedicating my train commute to my oldest projects and (shocker) spending an hour+ per day, five days a week, is really helping to knock things off the needles.

This pattern is knit on the bias, hence the “skew” that makes the socks look like they have diagonal stripes. The directions are nothing like traditional socks, but I just followed them blindly and everything worked out great. They are worked toe-up, but the heel is grafted, so if you absolutely hate to kitchner, this is not the pattern for you.

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The yarn I used is Canon Hand Dyes Jane Self-Striping MCN (a mouthful, I know.) The colorway is called Loves Labor Lost. Colorways named after Shakespeare just make my literature-nerd heart sing. It’s 80% merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon. Heavenly soft, I tell you. Heavenly.

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I have basically been living in these for the whole month of December. From the extended wear there are a few things I can tell you. The yarn does pill, but not insanely. Most very soft fibers  are going to pill, so I’m not going to be upset about it, but now I know and so do you. I use a sweater stone to remove pills from all my knitting and it’s super fast and easy so pilling really doesn’t bother me unless it’s extreme. Another thing I can tell you after a month of near non-stop wear is that this yarn is nice and sturdy. There has been no signs of wearing or weak spots whatsoever. I’m hopeful they’ll have a good long life. Lastly, these have been washed quite a few times back to back and the colors do not bleed. I was worried with the black dye that it might bleed into the pink but there is almost no discoloration to the wash water at all. Maybe a tiny bit with the first was, but nothing since then. I need more of this yarn.

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A note about the pattern. I knit it as written and I was on gauge. They fit me great, but I have a US 7 narrow foot. If you have a larger foot you may need to recalculate the width and length to get a good fit. Given the bias pattern that means more than just knitting a few extra rows. Overall, these were fun to make and the yarn has made them luxurious to wear, but I think I will go back to a traditional sock construction for my next pair.

Welcome to my new home!

So, how do you like the new digs? Please forgive any mess as I’m absolutely not at all sure of what I’m doing. I was sitting at home thinking… I’ve never really loved the way my blogger blog looked or functioned, so I messaged my best friend who just happens to be a computer wizard (minus the pointy hat with stars on it, but plus html skills.) About 25 minutes and $15 later all that you see before you was mine. (Really just the domaine name, the building of the site took significantly longer.)

If you’re a feed reader type of blog reader (the only way to keep up with so many awesome knitting blogs) I’d love it if you’d update your reader with the new info here so you don’t miss any posts. (See how I pretend I have readers… fake it till you make it baby.)
Now that that is out of the way, I’ll talk about what you are here for: the knitting. To go with the launch of the new blog I have for you…. Some very easy leg warmers. I would have loved to have something super impressive, but not today.
Leg Warmers
These little babies were requested specifically by my 88 year old grandma. She’s 5’0″ which is why they look a little short on my legs. She wanted something to wear around the house because she is always cold. Here requirements were soft, thick, machine washable, and not “too fancy.”
I think I did a good job keeping the fancy to a minimum. The pattern is of my own devising, but its so terribly simple I can’t justify calling it a “pattern” and writing it up. Still want it? Ok. Get some chunky wool (180 yards or so) and a US 10 16″ circular needle. Cast on 48 sts. Join in the round. K2 P2 endlessly around until they are as tall as you want. Bind off.
The yarn is cheap Patons Shetland Chunky. It is 75% Acrylic and 25% wool making it fit the “machine washable” and “thick” criteria. The acrylic they use is higher quality than many and the yarn is spun more loosely than most pure acrylics are so it’s reasonably soft as well.  Also, it didn’t squeak on the needles which is good because I didn’t have to claw my eyes out working with it.
I’m almost entirely out of projects with good photos to show you… I know. Yes. I do call that a “good” photo. Baby steps. Bear with me as things (hopefully) improve even more around here.

Fraternal

Hand knit socks are one of the little luxuries that non-knitters don’t get to experience (unless they have a knitter who loves them very much.) They are so comfy and warm and can be customized to fit perfectly. Then there’s the endless variety of amazing sock yarns–pretty much any fiber blend and color you can hope for. Here is my latest pair (and by latest, I mean they were finished in October.)

Side note: taking pictures of your own feet takes an inordinate amount of body contortion. These are plain stockinette socks following the Yarn Harlot’s Sock Recipe. As much as I like the look of fancy socks with cables and lace, and as interesting as they can be to make, my favorite socks to wear are the plain knit ones.
These are knit with Patons Kroy Socks FX in the color way Clover Colors. By sock yarn standards this yarn is incredibly cheap (in price) and can be found in most of the big box stores like Michaels and Jo-Anns. It’s a blend of 75% wool 25% nylon so its nice and sturdy. It’s definitely not as buttery soft as the luxury yarns with cashmere, merino, etc. but its definitely fine for wearing on your feet. These feel like they will wear really well and after a full winter of wear I don’t see any signs of weakening in the heels or balls where I tend to wear holes through my socks.
I made no effort to try to make the colors match from one sock to the other. I just started each sock from the beginning of a 50g ball and let the colors line up as they may. With such a long color repeat and slow transition it would have been a real pain and really, I just don’t care that much about having matched up socks. I think the fraternal pair is actually really cute.

Skew

For a while I was knitting Skew by Lana Holden. I’ve loved the pattern ever since I saw it in the Winter 2009 Knitty. I especially love the versions that I’ve seen in self striping yarn.

When a Skein of Canon Hand Dyes Jane Self Striping yarn in the colorway Love’s Labor Lost came into my possession via the awesome Laurie, I knew it would become Skew eventually.

Eventually, has turned out to be right. Since September I’m….

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That far. Which is to say, not far. As a bouns, on my left foot you can see my icky surgery scar from the 2008 osteotomy (aka the Great Foot Straightening), and on my left foot you can see my hairy big toe. Sexy Lady.
An interloper (or several) came between me and these lovely socks and I haven’t made it back to them. Also, since I’ve been working at the yarn shop during the regular sock hour, I don’t have that time set aside to dedicate to them anymore. I really do need to give my neglected WIPs some love. They’re all projects I like. I’m just… easily distracted.
Speaking of easily distracted, on the reading front I’m STILL reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke. I do like the book, I really do, but I keep putting it down for sexier, flashier, quicker reads. According to Goodreads, I started reading this in March… and according to my Kindle (which I have named Anthony because it’s fun to call things by a proper name) I’m only 40% through. Now it’s about 1,000 pages so 40% is like reading two little books, but still… Also, the last 10% or so of the book is footnotes, and I’ve read a lot of the footnotes already, but they don’t count in the 40% since it measures from the page you are on looking back. I like it when I flip to the footnotes and it tells me I’m 96% done. A girl can dream.

Friday Slipper

That’s slipper, singular, not slippers. I only knit one. You guessed it. It’s a sample for the shop. These uber-cute slippers were in the last issue of Knitscene. You know, the issue that was so popular that it’s completely sold out in North America. That issue.

The Friday Slippers by Kristen TenDyke are super cute and very fast to knit up. They are designed to be knit with super bulky yarn and size 9 and 13 needles. The smaller-than-average needle size makes nice dense slippers that feel like they have some substance to them. They really do wear more like slippers than socks.
That button is from my button jar. I think it might have been the spare from an old sweater, but I can’t be sure. I love the contrast of the orange and blue.
I made this sample with Spud & Chloe Outer in colorway Cedar. The super bulky yarn is 65% wool 35% cotton. It’s very soft, but feels like it will be very strong. I did find it difficult to knit super bulky yarn (especially one with so much cotton) on size 9 needles. It was hard on my wrists and I had to take frequent breaks.
I cut it really close on yardage. I wanted to get one slipper (in the smallest size) out of a single skein–60 yards. I was so close that I literally could not bind off the last two stitches. I ended up having to thread my tiny tail through the last two stitches and tack it down. I think I hid it well. If I had had 61 yards I would have been golden.
The soles are worked in a variation of the linen stitch meaning they are double thick and nice and strong.
There are lots of short rows in this project, so if you have never done them before this would be a great low-commitment project to practice on. Especially because you never have to unwrap your wraps (the trickier part of short rows.)
Once again things have ballooned out of control here and I am staring down the barrel of 12 WIPs with signs that more will be added soon. Help?

Finally

I started knitting my Lissajous Socks in July of 2011. They were the For Yarn’s Sake knitalong that month. After the knitalong ended I only really worked on them for one hour a week–For Yarn’s Sake Sock Hour. (Pro Tip: the hour before the open knit chat is sock hour, if you come to sock hour you can get a really good seat for knit chat.) Well, after a year plus of one hour sessions, they are done!

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What’s that you say? The last time I showed them to you they were white? Oh yeah. I may have dyed them. You see, they got dirty. While in progress, they fell out of my bag at Red Robin one night while we were having dinner after knit chat. I didn’t notice, and when I retrieved them from the restaurant a week later, they had clearly been left on the floor for a long time and were soaked with nasty mop water. In the picture below you can see the dirty parts on the outside compared to the part of the sock in the middle of the picture where I had joined a fresh clean ball.
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After about two straight days of washing they were cleaner, but still discolored. Enter the magic that is Jacquard dye. I pulled out my little pot of “Lilac” and after half an hour, I had this:
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Dying is seriously magical because you put the dye in the water, and the water turns a very dark version of whatever color you are using. Then you put the yarn or fabric in and the dye gets sucked up into it. The water goes back to being clear once all the dye has been sucked up. It’s pretty cool. And look, you can’t tell they were ever dirty.
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The pattern will make you extremely comfortable with twisted stitches and 1×1 cables. Also, the cable pattern is only charted, so if you have problems reading charts you might want to brush up on your skills before attempting this one.
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These are one of my biggest knitting accomplishments. I would definitely rate this as harder than most of the sweaters I’ve made. Finish anything big lately?
On the reading front, I have dropped everything to start The Casual Vacancy. Yes, I am a sheep.
Go check out other people finished projects that Tami has rounded up.

New Socks

May was a month of finishing projects.  I finished my last Westknits Shawl Club shaw Cumulonimbus.  I finished my brother’s birthday present gloves.  I finished my ugly Dahlia.  And just at the end of the month I managed to get my Pomotomous socks off the needles.

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As you can see this pattern has over 4,000 projects on Ravelery.  The swirly shell pattern is beautiful and the twisted stitches really make the pattern pop.  I’ve been tinkering on these on and off for a very long time.  They rode the bus with me to the legal clinic all year long, but it’s hard to make significant progress knitting 4-5 rounds at a time.
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The yarn is one of the first cones I ever bout from Yarnia, it’s one of their custom house blends called Arch Cape.  If they don’t have it in their store right now, I bet they can make you up something very similar.  They’re super accommodating like that–super nice.
This pattern creates a very long sock leg.  I think if I make it again I will only repeat the pattern twice on the leg rather than three times.  Cookie A‘s pattern is written very clearly and is easy to follow, but the pattern is only charted so you have to be able to read charts.
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Unfortunately, June is not the best time to be finishing wool socks.  I’ll have to pack them away until it starts to get cold again.  If you want to check out other projects that people have been casting off this week, you can check out Tami’s Amis blog where’s she’s collects FO links.

Knit-a-long

May marks the beginning of the second year of the monthly knit-a-longs at my LYS For Yarn’s Sake.  Each month the shop picks a project and hosts some time once a week to work on it, get help, trade advice and modifications–it’s lovely.  I haven’t participated in all of them but have done quite a few.

Last May it was Jared Flood’s Rock Island.  It’s extremely intricate double-sided lace.  I got about 12 repeats into the border–you need 71… I’m planning to go back to it now that school is over and I can focus on things like double sided lace.  Here’s what I have:

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Pathetic, I know.

June was not a month I participated.  The project was the Radian Yoke sweater by Wendy Barnard.  I love this cute summer tee and plan to make it eventually, I just didn’t have the time or (if you can believe it) the right yarn.
July and August were devoted to the same project.  The Lissajous Socks by Cookie A.   I’m still actively working on these.  Actually, “actively” might be a bit strong.  “Reluctantly” is more accurate.  Now that the knit-a-long is well over I’ve only been working on them for an hour a week at sock hour at the yarn shop.  I have one complete and I’m almost through the big chart for the second one.
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Turns out, slow and steady does NOT win the race.
 

September was also a month I participated.  And also a project I have yet to finish.  I’m also still working on my Dahlia Cardigan by Heather Zoppetti.  This one is so close to being done I can taste it.  All I have left is the left front of the cardigan.  I don’t have a photo since finishing the right front, but I did snap one after I had finished the back and sleeves.  Hopefully I will be showing this off as an FO soon.
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October was another intense lace project–the True Love Stole by Wendy Johnson.  This was a project that a lot of the knitters had a hard time getting into (the chart is a 45-row repeat!) and I doubt I’ll ever really sit down to make this one.  I do think it’s lovely though–just too fiddly for me currently.  Maybe someday I’ll want something really fiddly and I’ll come back to this one.
November and December were devoted to the Larch Cardigan by Amy Christoffers.  I didn’t get in on this project either because finals were just heating up for fall term and I didn’t have the time.
January was scheduled as a “catch-up” month and I spent some extra quality time with Dahlia–after you finish the lace back it’s a never ending sea of stockinette.
February was the first project that I actually finished (don’t judge!) and only because it was a hat.  The Rustling Leaves Beret by Alana Dakos was a nice quick knit and allowed me to use up some silk-alpaca handspun I was itching to find a project for.
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Yeah for small victories!
 

March and April was another two-month project with a twist.  We got to choose to either make the Gnarled Oak Cardigan or the Wildflower Cardigan both also by Alana Dakos.  Some crazy women decided to knit both since we had two months.  In two months I didn’t even manage to finish the back piece of the Wildflower.  I don’t have a picture of my progress yet since right now it’s just a big slab of stockinette.  All of the fun is on the front of this one.  When I get something more interesting than a rectangle of stockinette I’ll show it off.
Now, year two is kicking off with a beautiful little shawlette from Ysolda Teague–the Pear Drop.  Do you think I will be able to finish within the month?

Lost and Found Girl

Are you a fan of Seinfeld? You should be.  It’s funny.  Trust me.  There is an episode where Elaine becomes obsessed with the idea that Jerry is “Even Steven.”  Whenever something bad happens to him, something good happens to balance it out and vice-versa.  Elaine tosses one of Jerry’s $20 bills out the window, 5 minutes later Jerry finds a $20 in the pocket of an old coat.  I have a similar sort of super power–I am Lost and Found girl.

I am constantly losing misplacing my stuff, but it always comes back to me.  My purse has been left in innumerable dressing rooms, or draped over the back of restaurant chairs.  Traveling there’s 50/50 chance that something will be left in a hotel room.  Every time I’ve called and either been able to get the item shipped to me, or I was close enough that I could swing back and get it.  One time, I even lost misplaced my iPod for 3 weeks before it turned up in a bar.  I walked in (after having not been there for three weeks) and the bartender, who I didn’t know, looked at me and said “I have your iPod here.”  It helped that there was a photo of me set as the wallpaper.

I think that there are people in the world with certain types of luck.  My grandma wins things in her church raffel all. the. time.  Way, way, way more than probability should allow for.  My father can always always find a good parking spot.  Even if the lot is completely full, someone in the front row will back out just as he’s driving by.  And, for whatever reason, I misplace things, but they’re never lost for good.

Such was the case recently with my Lissajous Socks.  I have one sock finished and am doggedly working on the second.  After knit-night several of the knitters get together for dinner.  One week, we went to Red Robbin.  The next week as I’m putting my knitting bag together to get ready for knit-night my socks are nowhere to be found.  I check at the knitting shop that night and they’re not there.  I call Red Robbin and the man who answers the phone tells me that there is absolutely nothing matching my description in the lost and found at all.  Liar.  I drive over to the Red Robbin and low and behold, my socks are sitting at the bottom of the lost and found where they have probably been all week.

They were wet (I think they were probably found when the floor was being mopped) and dirty but they were certainly there.  If they had really been lost I would have been out about $27 in yarn as well more than 30 hours of work.  I’m a bit steamed that the lying-liar-McJerk who answered the phone straight up told me that my socks weren’t there when they clearly were.  If I were a more trusting sort of person, I’d be screwed and my socks likely would have been tossed out after laying lonely an unclaimed for weeks.

These socks are too awesome for that.

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For Cathie and Patt

Pictures of Lissajous.

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I finished the first one at knit chat tonight.  These (I say “these” even though the second one is not cast on yet) have been worked on exclusively at sock hour since July.  There are several reasons (besides the fact that they only get one hour a week of attention) that these are taking so long.  Reason one: big-ass chart on the cuff.
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Reason two: same big ass chart on the heel, only this time worked back and forth.
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Reason three: calf shaping leading to over 100 stitches at the widest part.
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Just for fun, try taking a picture of the back of your calf in a pencil skirt.  I couldn’t be bothered to change outfits before my photo shoot.  Luckily, I live alone so no one was here to mock my strange gymnastic poses.
 
Reason four: um, hello, they’re KNEE socks.  Knees are many inches away from toes.  25 inches.
I came home a put the sock on in a display of knitterly pride.  (Oh come on, you’ve worn a single sock just off the needles, you have. Admit it.)  Ryan came over for some pasta and I started cooking with the sock still on.  Then I had a heart-stopping moment when a drip of bright red pasta sauce dripped off the serving spoon toward the floor.  It missed the sock, but I kid you not, I gasped out loud.  The sock came off and got put away somewhere safe.  Disaster averted.