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.)
I feel like recently all I’ve been showing you are finished socks. I know there have been other projects, but I’m usually so slow to finish a pair of socks that three pairs done so close together has me feeling like I’m cranking them out. (Disregard the fact that all three pairs were on the needles between six months and two years.) Here is the latest pair.
These are my first pair of socks from Yarnia yarn. This is one of the house blends that is very popular named Boylston. (If the online shop is out of stock you can always call or email them and ask them to make you up another cone of Boylston. If they have the ingredients they’ll be happy to whip you up a cone.) This yarn is 50% Bamboo, 27% Merino, and 23% alpaca. This picture really shows the depth of color.
The yarn is composed of four strands: one navy bamboo, one navy merino, one bright blue merino, and one heathered gray alpaca. I think the color is perfect for manly things, which is nice because sometimes it can be hard to find “manly” yarn. Of course, this didn’t stop me from making these socks for me.
I have found that Yarnia yarn sometimes has a weird quirk to it. As you knit, sometimes one or more of the strands will get “loose” like you have more of those strands than the other, so you have to slide the excess down as you knit so that you’re working with a length of yarn where all the strands are the same tension. If you’ve worked with Yarnia yarn before you might know what I’m talking about. It’s a minor annoyance and slows knitting a bit. In the few instances where it’s become completely unmanageable I just cut the yarn, trim the strands with excess down, join, and continue on.
The pattern is just a simply 64-stitch sock. I followed the Yarn Harlot sock recipe the first time I made these, but now I just knit from memory. The only thing I have to look up each time is how many stitches to knit/purl across for the first two rows of the heel turn. I just grab any of my many sock books off the shelf and flip through till I find a sock with a heel flap worked over 32 stitches and use the numbers there. Some day I’ll memorize that too and then I’ll be able to make socks completely from memory. I think that’s cool.
This yarn is a bit heavier than a traditional fingering weight, not quite a sport, but close. At 64 stitches on size 1.5 needles it made a very dense fabric. These would be perfect hiking socks and a great for walking around the house when it’s not quite cold enough for slippers but you still want something on your feet. I won’t be wearing these for a while it seems though. It’s finally spiked up into the 80s here in Portland and I’ve been able to bust out the sandals. The warm weather is totally worth having to put off wearing my new socks for a few months.
I like to keep a very simple project in my backpack all the time. That way if I have a weird half hour block of time that’s not really good for working, I can pull it out and get some knitting done. (Or if I’m really stressed, I can blow off steam knitting in lieu of studying, which strangely enough does reduce the stress.) These backpack projects take a long time to complete because they only get a little work done on them at a time, they usually only get worked on on school days, and I don’t have spare time every school day. My last backpack project was Ryan’s blue beanie and it took about a month and a half to finish. Here is my new backpack project:
Please ignore the chipped toenail polish, it has not been sandal weather and so I have not been vigilant. It’s a plain sock in a Yarnia house blend called Boylston. This is an extremely popular house blend. It’s one strand of navy bamboo (50%), one strand of navy merino and one strand of bright blue merino (27%), and one strand of gray alpaca (23%). As you can see it makes a great dark heathered blue and is a color that could totally be used to make man things. (I usually tag plain socks with the Yarn Harlot’s Sock Recipe pattern, even though I don’t really “follow” it, I just make a sock. Cast on a number of stitches that seems reasonable, knit some ribbing, knit until I think the leg is long enough, flap heel, gusset, knit until 2″ before toes, shape toes. Since this is basically what the Yarn Harlot pattern is, I tag it for convenience.)
I have several requirements for backpack projects.
1) It must be small enough to fit in the front pouch of my backpack.
2) It must not require me to look at a pattern, read a chart, or count rows/stitches.
3) It must be a pattern I can knit without looking; this includes garter stitch, stockinette stitch, ribbing, and things like seed/moss stitch which are basically just ribbing so long as you know where to start.
4) There can’t be any shaping, and I should not have to pay attention to what row I’m on.
Given these criteria some projects can go from being backpack projects to not at various stages. A project may start out small enough to be a backpack project then grow too big. Ryan’s blanket was once a backpack project, now it takes up my whole living room floor. A project may have a pattern or shaping only a certain times. This project was in my backpack for the whole leg, but had to come out until the heel and gusset were finished because that involved counting rows and paying attention to decrease placement. Now they’ll stay in the backpack until it’s time to shape the toe. Do you have a take-everywhere project?
Alright, so now that you’ve been apprised of my new house and my major yarn-related outing it’s probably about time for me to tell you about so actual knitting that I’ve done. First, though I know it doesn’t look like it, I’ve made some progress on my Op Art blanket.
The last time I showed this to you there was a giant tail of circular needle sticking out because I was magic-looping it on a 60″ needle. Now the entire needle has stitches around it and it’s not even half the total number of stitches. I’ll probably not show you any more pictures of it until I get it off the needle since it will just look like a bigger and bigger wad of knitting. If you really care a lot you can keep up with the progress on the side bar.
Next are a couple of FOs. The first was actually finished in time for me to wear to sock summit, which was very lucky because they’re probably my “funnest” pair of socks yet.
They are just a basic sock with a short-row heal. I decided to try the short-row heal because it is supposed to be the best kind of heal for striped yarn because it doesn’t screw-up your stripe length like a heal with a gusset does. I don’t much like it but at least I learned a new skill. The yarn is Knit Picks Felici in colorway Coney Island.
Finally, I finished my Ishbel shawl two days ago and it finally finished blocking this morning. It’s made from yarn that someone handspun and sent to me as part of a swap. I managed to make the full large size with the yarn and still have about 15% of the skein left. It’s not made from very soft wool but I can wear it with no problem.
I never know exactly how to wear shawls but I enjoy making them and they make good gifts so I guess my lack of fashion sense isn’t really a problem. Next post I’ll tell you all about the new house guests.