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.

Pink Ops

Several years ago, I made myself an Op Art blanket from Melissa Dominguez’s pattern in the Fall 2008 Knitty. You may remember I blogged about it here. At the time, I thought that I probably would never make another one, since it’s really A LOT of garter stitch, and gets pretty unwieldy at the outer edge.

Back in December, I was showing off my Ravelry catalog of finished projects to Bob (I know, I know, I am super cool) and he LOVED my OpArt. He asked if it would be hard to make a second one. Gotta love non-knitters–even garter stitch impresses them!


Of course I knit a second one. We went to the yarn store to pick colors, and I was a bit surprised when Bob picked the exact same pink and cream color combination I had used originally. I mean, it’s an awesome combination, but a bit unexpected for Bob. On my original blanket I used cheap One Pound yarn by Caron. For Bob’s blanket he sprung for something a little nicer to work with–Berroco Vintage in colorways Watermelon and Buttercream.
That’s the blanket in action (and in really poor lighting.) I followed the pattern as written and knit through the stripe that is 10 garter ridges wide (half-way between the small and large sizes.) Because the pattern calls for DK weight and I was using worsted, I upped my needle size to a US 9. I also used a I-cord bind off rather than a normal bind off to give more stretch and a more polished edge.
I knit on this a lot while I was studying for the Washington bar exam so the garter stitch wasn’t as painful as the first time around (or maybe the pain was just so far outweighed by bar exam pain that it seemed small in comparison.) Still, the last few stripes were a real slog. I may be jinxing myself, but I really hope this is my last OpArt. Great finished product, but not very exciting on the needles.

Shapely

I know that when I focus I can knit up a sweater in 3 to 4 weeks depending on how complicated it is. I don’t know why then I always end up spending at least 6 months to make one. I’m just not good with project monogamy. I know I would have more things to wear if I could focus on one project at a time, but I am fickle. (So maybe I do know why it takes me so long to finish things…) Here is my latests 6-month sweater.


That is Shapely Boyfriend by Stefanie Japel from the 2011 Deep Fall issue of knitty.  I taught a seamless sweater class on it at For Yarns Sake last spring and worked through it in advance of the class. The class focused on the shaping of the body, so I didn’t bother to finish the sleeves before the class. Once the class was over it went into hibernation–hence the 6 months to finish.
The only alteration I made to the pattern was to shorten it. As designed, it’s a below-the-bum sweater but I tend not to like that look unless it’s a looser coat-style. For something I’m going to wear all day as part of an outfit it prefer waist-length styles. Because I shortened the cardigan I made fewer button holes than called for. Other than that, I knit this exactly to pattern.
The yarn I used is Malabrigo Rios in the colorway Teal Feathers. I did not behave like a good knitter and alternate skeins. If I were teaching I would tell all my students that the must alternate skeins, but in my own personal knitting, I take risks. Luckily my skeins were very well matched and I didn’t end up with any striping. I used just under 5 skeins, but if I had made it as long as recommended I would have needed to break into a 6th.
The yarn is super soft and I love that I can just throw it in the washing machine and dryer. The magic of superwash. I love it. The buttons were cheap ones I got a Jo-Anns, but they work really well with the sweater I think. I finished back in August, so it didn’t get a lot of wear right off the needles. This past winter it saw a lot of wear though. It’s experienced some mild pilling, but nothing surprising for a 100% merino yarn, and nothing my sweater stone can’t easily take care of.
My current knitting continues at a snails pace, but I still have a backlog of projects from last year that I can show you.

Dashing

This knitting year doesn’t seen to be off to any better of a start than last year. It’s already May and I’ve completed 2 projects so far this year. Granted, one was a blanket, but that is still a woefully small number of projects for me. Sometimes I’m able to knit on the trail while I commute, but often in the morning I’m too exhausted and at the end of the day the train is packed and I have to stand… lame-o!

Luckily (?) I was terrible at blogging last year (not that I’ve done great this year…) so I still have a back log of projects from last year that you all haven’t seen yet. Almost a year ago now, I finished a pair of fingerless mitts for my best friend Bob. Because, you know, July is when you have a serious need for gloves… See.


They are Dashing by Cheryl Niamath from the Spring 2007 Knitty. I’ve intended to make them since the pattern was published but I never really had a push to cast it on. Until 6 years later when Bob said something like “I think those gloves that let you still use your fingers are cool” and WHAMO time for some knitting.

I made a few adjustments to the pattern. I only knit 10 rounds before the first cable and 9 rounds after the last cable to shorten them a bit. Also, I used the Jenny’s Stretchy Bind Off around the fingers and thumb to make sure it would not be too tight. Other than  that I followed the pattern as written.
I used the absolutely amazing Dream in Color Classy with Cashmere to knit these. The colorway is Grey Tabby. It is so fantastically soft. It’s also spun nice and tight so I don’t think it will pill much even though it’s a merino-cashmere blend. In my mind that makes it a pretty heavenly yarn.
While they didn’t get much use in July, I did see them in the wild several times over the winter. I suppose I can’t rule out that they were being worn for my benefit, but it seemed genuine. Every knitter knows that’s a win.

Urchin

The last of the projects that I finished early last year, before I even moved, was Urchin by Ysolda Teague. This is one of Ysolda’s very early patterns from the 2007 Fall Knitty. The reason I chose to make it is the unique construction. It’s knit vertically around your head and joined when you have the needed circumferences, rather than starting circularly and knitting from the brim to the top.


I HATE that the brim is folded under in all my pictures. I think it looks crazy. One of the problems with getting a non-knitter without much enthusiasm for hand-mades to take your photos… They’re more concerned with snapping the shots and getting out of the cold than with making sure you have awesome photos for Ravelry. Some people’s priorities are so out of whack.
(I also wish I had been told about that one straggly strand of hair, it would have been so easy to tuck into the hat. Sigh. First world problems.) I knit the smallest size which makes a much more beanie style hat than the beret shape that the larger sizes tend to form. All in all it took two days of knitting to make this (and I probably only spent 2-3 hours each day.) Nevermind that Ravelry says it took me a week to make. That’s just a product of the fact that last year was so bad for me knitting-wise.
I used a fun yarn by Colinette called Calligraphy. The colorway is call Gaughin.  It’s a loosely spun thick-thin yarn that’s a bulky 100% wool. It wasn’t bad to work with and the project came out nice, but I don’t feel anything more than “meh” for the yarn. Cute, serviceable, but I’m not losing my mind over it. I would use it again if I found a pattern I thought it would compliment, but I’m not going out of my way to stash it (unlike Madelinetosh which I aggressively horde incase of an unexpected sheep apocalypse.)
Honestly, I can’t tell you how this has held up over the past year because… I don’t know where it is! I know, I know. Losing hand knits sucks. All that work, the expense of the yarn, the memories of what was going on in my life as I was making it. It sucks. I’m a serial hand-knit loser though… mittens, hats, scarves, I just can’t seem to hold on to woolies. I’m going to have to either get my sh*t together and keep track of my things, or adopt a more zen mentality about losing them. Le sigh.

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.

Freja

I had been eyeing the Freja mittens by Emmy Petersson ever since they were released in the Winter 2011 Knitty. When I decided to teach a stranded knitting class at For Yarn’s Sake, I chose it as one of the patterns my students could pick from. Naturally, I had to make up a sample.

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Notice how I’m strategically hiding my other hand? That’s because I only made the one mitten. It’s going to live at the shop and the sad truth is that if we make pairs of things they tend to get stolen. (Let me know if you want to hear my some-people-are-jerks rant.) Single mittens, socks, slippers, etc. have a much longer shelf life.
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The yarn is Spud & Chloe Fine 80% wool 20% silk in colorways anemone and lipstick. If you’re thinking you’ve maybe heard me mention the yarn before it’s because you have. I love it. It’s soft, got great sheen, comes in some amazing solid colors, and is hands down the sturdiest fingering weight yarn I’ve come across yet.
This single mitten whipped up in about 6 days of off and on work. If I had been dedicated I could have easily finished the pair in one week.
I’m trying to put some love into a lace project that has been languishing on my needles for far too long. Hopefully I will be able to show it to you soon.  In the meantime I have several more one-offs for the shop I can show you to make it look like I’m being productive.

New blanket just in time

I finished my Op Art.  Truth.  I know it’s been on the needles since forever (June 30, 2009 cast on according to Ravelry.)  Don’t you hate how Ravelry can remind you that you’ve been a complete and utter slacker when it comes to those lingering projects that just won’t finish themselves? LOOK!

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This is supposed to be our last day of sunshine before the winter grey sets in so I pretty much finished right on time as far as taking nice pictures is concerned.  It’s huge, over 5 feet square.  Here it is on the floor with cats for scale (and because I couldn’t get them out of the picture–my “shoo”s mean nothing to them.)

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It’s true what everyone says about blocking this, you have to be highly aggressive with it.  It comes off the needles totally wobbly and not at all square.  Here it is laid out pre-blocking.

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See how it’s all dimple-y and swirly at the corners? No good.  Time for pins and a yardstick.  I started from the center and pulled out one row of corners along the spiral and pinned them out.  Then I pulled out all the corners on the opposite side and pinned them too.  Here it is half pinned.

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Then I did the same thing with the other two sides.  As you can see from the finished pictures, at some point, I had to take a “good enough” attitude toward the whole thing or drive myself crazy trying to make it perfectly square.

I used acrylic yarn (Carron One Pound in colors “off white” and “rose”) so I had to kill rather than block.  After it was all pinned out I grabbed the steam iron and held it about 2 inches over the blanket and gave the thing a good steam.  I could see the yarn physically relax and settle into the pinned position.  It was pretty cool.  It also made the yarn way drapier and much softer.

Warning: if you make this blanket using this yarn, there is not enough to make the larger size.  I ran out halfway between the small and large size–with 9 rows left to go in the stripe I was working on.  Luckily a kind raveler sent me her leftovers and I was able to finish without having to buy a whole new pound of yarn.  Now to snuggle on the couch with some hot tea, my new blanket, and an episode of Star Trek.  I hate being cold, but I love being cozy… winter is a weird season for me.

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Just my luck

Recently, I’ve been cruising right along on several projects.  I’ve got… eleven… current projects and over the past weekend I think I managed to work on 7 of them.  Part of the reason I was able to work on so many was that I kept running out of ^*$# yarn.  First, I decided to work on the market bag I’m making for my mom.

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That’s BYOB by Moria Ravenscroft from the Summer 2008 Knitty.  I’m making it with Knit Picks new cotton yarn Dishie.  It feels like a great yarn for market bags, dish towels, scrubbies, etc. but I would never make something like a garment with it–too stiff, it would never drape.  Soft, but stiff.  The pattern calls for two balls of a yarn that is 207 yards per ball for the main color.  Dishie comes in balls of 190 yards.  As you can see, those extra 34 yards are critical.  All I have left to knit are the handles.  An emergency ball is on the way and hopefully I’ll have the bag done soon.

After that disappointment, I picked up a project I haven’t worked on in quite a while and got pretty close to finishing.

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That’s the Op Art blanket by Melissa Dominguez from the fall 2008 Knitty.  (Clearly 2008 was a good year for Knitty).  I started this when I first moved to Oregon way back in July 2009.  Mostly, I started it as a way to use up the two huge skeins of Carron One Pound I was given by a well meaning family friend.  I figured two POUNDS of yarn would be enough to finish a moderate-sized blanket.  Imagine my extreme frustration when I ran out of yarn 9 rows from the end.  Since the size of the stripes matters, I can’t just stop where I am and bind off.  I could go back to the last whole stripe, but I really wanted it to end on a white stripe… My own weird aesthetic.  That would mean going back a whole strip and a half and would leave me with quite a lot of left over yarn, thus defeating my plan to use up all the yarn with this blanket.

Ravelry to the rescue.  Another kind knitter used this yarn for a project and had about 4 ounces left over.  The yarn is coming to me as we speak.  I love living in the digital age.  I could not function in a world without “the cloud”….. mmm instant gratification, instant information, instant organization.

Had I not run out of yarn on these two projects I probably would have given them each some serious dedicated work and maybe had a few FOs to show for my weekend, but as it is, it was nice to revisit so many of my current projects and get back in touch with why I love them.

Susie’s Mitts

My aunt Susie is pretty much a saint.  She lives with my grandma and basically takes care of her.  Grandma is pretty much at the stage where she shouldn’t drive any more, so Susie takes her where she needs to go and all the palaces she likes do go (like doughnuts on Tuesday mornings.)

Grandma called me the other day to tell me that Susie’s hands get cold when she has to drive in the mornings because the steering wheel is cold and asked if I could please make Susie some fingerless mitts for driving.  I decided on the Commuter Fingerless Mittens by Stephanie Sun from Knitty First Fall 2011.

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I thought this patter was super cute when it first came out in Knitty and queued it immediately.  The request for fingerless gloves immediately brought the pattern to my mind.  I love the way they flip up to provide more finger coverage if you need it.

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New camera!  I just got a new Cannon SX230 HS.  It’s a pocket sized point and shoot and I love it!  It takes fantastic close up pictures don’t you think?


The yarn is some of my favorite from the stash.  It’s Berroco Pleasure 66% angora, 29% merino, and 5% nylon.  It’s basically the snuggliest yarn there is.  Sadly it’s discontinued.  I got 14 balls back when it went on close out (originally $13.99 per ball, I got it for $4.50 per ball) and have enjoyed deciding how to use it.  I have also made a Climbing Vines pullover with it.  It’s wonderful to work with but the real magic happens once it’s been washed.  The yarn blooms and becomes even softer and fluffier.  Perfect for keeping fingers nice and toasty.

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The buttons are just simple silver buttons I found at JoAnn’s last weekend, the same style on the back of the hand and on the palm just different sizes.  I was shocked at how expensive buttons have become!  It was $6 for these simple ones, more elaborate ones would have cost even more.  Oh well, since I used stash yarn the cost for the project was pretty low.  The project only took one ball of yarn and knit up in under a week.  If I didn’t like my aunt so much, I’d seriously think about keeping these for myself.

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