Sunday, March 29, 2015

Year of Project 4: Wedge 02

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus • Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious • Twisted Flower • Wedge

Ahhh, Wedge socks! It's a beautiful sunny morning  - although that -2° temperature isn't ideal - and I can't find tell you how much I'm loving this pattern!

It's been a difficult path getting here, but that's all my fault and I won't hold it against the pattern. Ignoring the warnings in the Ravelry notes about how big these socks knit up, I did my usual and cast on a large size leg on smaller needles. It was huge, but I reasoned, maybe that width is needed at the calf? and maybe the additional ease will be needed to get the sock over my heel? Stubbornly I knit on until I turned the heel, tried the sock on and admitted defeat. It was HUGE. Not to mention that I was likely to run out of yarn. Nothing for it but to rip out and start again at Medium size as recommended by oh-so-many Ravelers. Sooooo much better!

Dee asked for a review of the Wiakiwi yarn last week, so I can speak to that. It knits beautifully. It's very slightly fuzzy, perhaps due to the alpaca and possum content, but smooth enough that the stitches shine through. And it knits just fine after frogging. I find it reminiscent of Kroy sock yarn, although perhaps a bit finer than Kroy, in the sense that it's not very soft, but it's not scratchy either. The variegation is well done - it doesn't seem to want to pool and it doesn't entirely overwhelm the pattern. In fact, with Wedge, I think it emphasizes the direction changes in the pattern. I'm almost through the first ball with no knots, not even a hint of unevenness in the thickness. Just two concerns left. First, the yardage feels a bit tight to me on what is not much more than a vanilla sock with some garter stitch wedges knit on 64sts. And second, I wonder whether the alpaca and possum content of the yarn will make these socks too warm for everyday wear.

Now I'm just trying to decide whether I have enough foot length remaining for another wedge before finishing with a garter stitch short row toe, and whether I have enough yarn. One way or another, sock one should be off the needles later today, and sock two should be done by mid-week. There's really nothing to this pattern except a lot of counting under your breath once you get going. And then I need to decide about whether to cast on Sake, Lissajous or Hedera next ... I've got tentative yarn choices for each of them.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Year of Projects 4: Wedge 01

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus • Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious • Twisted Flower • Wedge

Were you expecting more woeful news about Stalagmite socks? Nope, not today. They're done and got their own post here. So I'm moving onto Wedge socks.

As soon as it appeared in the pattern database I favourited this pattern, and I've been really, really, really looking forward to knitting it. For a while I thought I'd pick a solid colour yarn, or a subtle tonal, but then I looked through the project photos and saw this, and this, and this. Hmm, I think I want to go bold here. And then I got a couple of balls of Waikiwi Natural Prints from a fellow Raveler and my plan came together! They're gonna be awesome! (I hope) The plan is to cast on the first sock today or tomorrow.

In the meantime I did cast on and knit the first Chalcot Sock. It's a beautiful pattern - a bit fiddly with lots of twisted stitches - but the pattern eats yarn. I knit the large size for the leg, knitted it a bit longer as usual, lengthened the heel flap as usual, added gusset increases to narrow the foot and then knit to fit my size 11s as usual. The first sock weighs 52 grams, leaving 50 grams for the second sock. Uh oh. My current plan for the second sock is to shorten the leg slightly, shorten the heel flap slightly, and then if necessary I'll rip back the toe of both socks to squeak out a pair from the yarn that remains.

The No-Purl Ribbed Scarf is getting longer and longer. I haven't managed six inches a day (maybe half that on average) but it'll still be done and off the needles by this time next week.

This morning I decided to wind all the skeins of sock yarn in my stash. A couple of years ago I received a Boyes Electric Ball Winder as a birthday gift. In January I bought myself an umbrella swift. And more recently Gavin switched the power supply for the winder since I complained to him that it was a bit underpowered. Now winding cakes is awesome! In fact with the new power supply I need to wind at about half the maximum speed or it'll take my arm off.

Turns out I have ten full skeins in addition to the shoebox full of sock yarn scraps and the yarn for projects already on needles.

That variegated skein in the bottom left is from Studio June Yarn  - a colourway called "True North" - that I think will be destined to become Monkey Socks which are still on my YoP list.

The orange-y red skein in the middle was specifically purchased with the Delias Eucharist Sock pattern that I received as a gift last month - the finished socks might end up as a birthday gift for a certain someone!

The brown "Truffle" coloured yarn that's second from the left in the bottom row might end up as BFF socks - a masculine pattern in a masculine colour suitable for another birthday gift on my list, and another pattern on the Yop list.

The turquoise skein near the top is destined to be knit as a Rachel Coopey pattern for the March/April Sock Sampler KAL on Ravelry. Which pattern though? I can't quite choose between Crenate, Thornfield and Arkin. Nancy's Mom has asked for ankle-to-lower-calf socks so these three seemed like good choices. But which one? Opinions welcome!

Looking at the "Clay" colourway from the Black Lamb on the right side of the second row from the top, it's being considered for Sake. I think that yarn with that pattern might also be masculine enough for another birthday gift. And yes, it's another pattern from the YoP list.

The rest of the yarn is not yet allocated, but early in April I expect the second shipment from the Cookie A sock club. Chances are I'll knit one of the two patterns in the Club yarn, and then look to the remaining stash for the second pattern.

Decisions, decisions!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

FO: Stalagmite

Now this is a long overdue post! I'm thrilled to announce that my Stalagmite socks are finally off the needles! My Ravelry project page tells me that I cast on in mid-December, so these socks have been hanging around for just over three months! Not the pattern's fault though; I just kept putting them aside to get other things done.

Fortunately I knit the pattern without modifications which made it a lot easier to find my place back each time I picked them up again. And fortunately, I still love the pattern! It's very "chart-y" and very "cable-y" which makes it slow-going and mindful knitting, but the result is beautiful. As I should have guessed all those cables make the fabric pretty sturdy and inflexible, so they knit up small. They're too snug for me, but they'll make an ideal gift. When I first started with this yarn I was worried that the variegation was too busy and that it would overwhelm the pattern.  But I persevered and in my opinion it's all worked out just fine. The pattern is bold enough to handle the busy-ness of the yarn. It's Sock Luck yarn in a colourway called "Wisdom" - a lovely mix of blues and greens. Go ahead - click that link to Studio June's Etsy shop! She's having a Spring Sale with 40% off everything!

And how nice to see some sunny day pictures, huh? Although it's still pretty cold (-8° this morning) there are definitely signs that Spring is coming. The days are getting longer, the snow banks are receding, most days we get a degree or two above zero and the sun feels warm. Hurray! Spring!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Year of Projects 4: Stalagmite 07

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus • Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious • Twisted Flower • Wedge

Poor Stalagmite socks! They got a bit of love this week, but there's not been enough progress yet to merit another photo.

As expected I did finish Peachy Keen. The yarn is Rowan Fine Art, and so far the jury's out on this one. It's a bit scratchy, a bit splitty, a bit over-twisted, a bit hairy and a bit thin to knit. None of those things was totally unexpected - it's a light fingering yarn that's comprised of 45% wool + 25% nylon + 20% mohair + 10% silk. My initial impression is that it's more suitable for shawl knitting than sock knitting. However, in the comments on Ravelry one knitter notes that the fabric blooms with the first wash, and that the socks feel silky without any felting or matting after six months of repeated washing. Now that sounds promising! I'm washing them today and will let you know what I think after that!

As for the Peachy Keen pattern, well ... it's okay. It's interesting to work the gusset decreases across the top of the foot, and it's comfy to have a stockinette foot inside a shoe, but otherwise the pattern really doesn't capture my imagination. Meh.

In contrast, this Chalcot Socks pattern does interest me! I cast on the first sock on Friday as part of the Seasonal Sock Syndrome KAL. I've got until March 19th to knit them. The good news is that I love the yarn and love the pattern. The bad news is that after knitting most of the first repeat I noticed three things:

 • I flopped the twists on the cuff - something I could have embraced if it weren't for the other two things ...

 • the large size had two columns of twists separating the pattern sections on the legs ... or at least that's what I thought until I realized that the medium size I was knitting was supposed to have them too, and I had misread the chart ...

• and if that wasn't bad enough, I was also far enough along to determine that the large size for the leg on smaller needles would likely be a better fit...

So, yes, I've ripped that first sock out entirely and plan to start again later today.

At the same time I'm moderating a group that's hosting a C/KAL that ends on the last day of March, so I guess I'd better get moving on that too. The intent was to knit some form of Baktus, but the yarn and pattern weren't a good match so I've frogged that too and restarted as a No-Purl Ribbed Scarf. It's very tedious knitting but it'll be a fabulous finished object. Now if I can just manage to knit 6 inches or so a day I'll have this off the needles by the end of next week.

It's not all ripping and frogging around here though. I won a skein of yarn and a project bag from the donated prizes for the Canadian Crazy Train sock knitting race, although I don't know what skein or what colour, so it'll be a surprise in the mail. As well, I was gifted the Delias eucharis Sock pattern by another sock knitter on Ravelry and I'm keen to try that. Not to mention that I've committed to knitting a sock pattern from Rachel Coopey in a KAL that runs through March and April - which might be a perfect time to knit some promised socks for Nancy's mom.

In conclusion, there's little hope for my Year of Projects list until I work through the projects piling up for other commitments. Remind me next year not to overdo this way! Poor Stalagmite!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Year of Projects 4: Stalagmite 06

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus • Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious • Twisted Flower • Wedge

Now, where were we? Oh yeah, you guessed it,  Stalagmite socks were put aside in favour of knitting the February 2015 Cookie A sock club shipment.

My shipment arrived and I excitedly ripped open the package to find the club yarn was Anzula Squishy in a colourway called "Begonia".  The two patterns released February 16 2015 were Pai Mei and Peachy Keen. Admittedly, I was dismayed. I didn't like the yarn, nor was I excited about either pattern. Oh dear. Never mind, maybe I had the February blahs ... maybe I'd like it all better as I knit.

The good news is that I did like the Pai Mei pattern better once I tried it on. It's a kinda wide travelling rib. After reading that others found the leg inflexible and difficult to pull over their heels, I decided to knit the large size leg on smaller needles than the pattern called for and then added decreases to narrow the heel flap and added gusset decreases to narrow the foot. Across the instep the pattern travels from the outside of the foot to the inside where it terminates leaving the rest of the foot and toe in stockinette.

If you're thinking of knitting this pattern then a word of warning is in order: the instep chart is LONG! I started my toe decreases immediately after finishing the instep chart, and the sock fits my size 11 feet! If, for instance, you have short and wide feet, you may run into trouble!!

As for the yarn, I'm not a fan. Initially I thought it was the carnation pink that was putting me off. And it did. But the yarn base feels "spongy" - I guess that's why they call it "squishy" - and it's somewhat lifeless. Oh, and a bit splitty. And don't even get me started about the number of joins in my skein - five? six? Gah!

So a week passes after I complete the Pai Mei socks, and the entire week I think about the pink colour and how much I hate it. Then inspiration strikes! Two bucks at the Bulk Barn to buy Wilton Sky Blue gel food colouring and it's a whole new ball game! I LOVE these socks now!

Next step is to knit pattern number two - Peachy Keen. Enter that yarn that I don't much like - Rowan Fine Art - for the pattern I don't much like. Okay, after knitting most of one sock, I don't hate the pattern. It's a bit tedious, but it's interesting to knit the gusset decreases across the top of the instep. And the yarn reviews on Ravelry suggest that the yarn plumps up after the first wash, so maybe I'll like it better. Why knit it, you may ask? Two reasons really - I've been wrong about patterns before and it qualifies for prizes. I guess we'll see how that works out for me. And if I finish these soon, I can FINALLY get back to Stalagmite... which I'll like better than any of the above!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Year of Projects 4: Stalagmite 05

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus • Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious • Twisted Flower • Wedge

After finishing my first Stalagmite sock I put this WIP aside in favour of a bunch of other things. With any luck I can stop saying that before next week's update. I've been motivated to finish up a bunch of WIPs that have been hanging around to clear the decks for the first Cookie A sock club shipment expected mid- to late-February.

First I finished a pair of EndPaper Mitts. It's the second pair I've knit, and it'll be the last pair. Although the result is beautiful, the knitting is extremely tedious! For this pair I purposely opted for low contrast between the two yarns. I thought it'd be interesting to see the pattern as a subtle effect. I'm a bit undecided as to whether I like the results, perhaps in part because I really dislike that blue yarn. It's Elann Superwash Wool with Nylon but it's really nasty to knit with - very split and not very soft. Never mind, they're done, they look fine and the recipient loves them. And she's very pleased to have a pair that are machine washable!

Second I cast on and knit a Balaclava for Alexandra. The weather's been pretty cold, windy and snowy this month, and it's been pretty cold waiting outside work for the bus, so an emergency knitted garment was in order. She already has a pair of Susie Rogers' Reading Mitts that I knit for her before Christmas in this Jaeger Luxury Spun DK, so a matching Balaclava was in order. The pattern is super easy and I was able to knit this up in a couple of days. If you're wondering, she wears the fingerless mitts over a pair of gloves on the very cold days. Alexandra was very pleased with her Balaclava, particularly as it nicely covers her forehead. Now, in my opinion, it looks a bit ridiculous without a hat to top it, so I've cast on a Golden Autumn Hat in the same yarn to complete the set. That's another knit I hope to finish in the next couple of days. And as Alexandra remarked, matching clothing is a sign of really being an adult :)

Also on the needles at the moment is my final sock for The Canadian Crazy Train. I received a sock knit by Sandy in BC in the mail on Tuesday and now I have to knit its mate. I'm trying my best to finish this up today or tomorrow so I will have finished pictures of the final pair of socks next week.

When I signed up for the race I thought it might be fun and interesting. I did enjoy "meeting" my team members and competitors online. It was fun to be exposed to exclusive patterns from local Canadian designers. It was also nice to try out yarn from some Canadian dyers I hadn't had experience with - Yarn Indulgences, Sweet Georgia Yarn and Biscotte & Cie. And admittedly, it is nice to be finished after knitting one sock... no second sock syndrome!

But I doubt I'd sign up for this again for a couple of reasons. Of the seven patterns offered only one or two are designs I would ever choose to knit for myself. And being barred from modifying the patterns for the competition irks me (a lot) - at least one of the patterns could have been made to fit much better with modification, and given my druthers I'd have replaced all the round and star toes with wedge toes. And then all that shipping cost - between ordering sponsor yarn, shipping a sock with yarn to British Columbia, and shipping another sock with yarn to another city in Ontario, I'd estimate that Canada Post benefited by $35-40. That's a lot of money with nothing to show for it!

You never know until you try though. Right?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Year of Projects 4: Stalagmite 04

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus • Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious • Twisted Flower • Wedge

FINALLY! Some progress to report on my Stalagmite socks! It took me a few minutes to figure out where I left off but fortunately reading my knitting gets easier with every pair of completed socks so I was able to determine that it was the left sock, and that rows 11 of chart B then chart A were next for the instep. When will I ever learn to make better notes?

There are two charts for the leg. It's actually the same cable pattern for both but the second chart is offset by half a vertical repeat. How nice is that?! For the right sock the order of the charts is reversed so that the pattern is mirrored. Love that too!

The more this sock grows, the happier I am with the yarn choice. This "Wisdom" colourway of Sock Luck yarn shifts from cyan blues through navy to emerald greens. After working the cuff and starting the first set of cables I worried that the colourway was too busy for the pattern, but the further I knit, the stronger the pattern emerges. Looks like this time I'm being rewarded for ignoring early doubts!

I'm also pretty happy with being back to knitting a Cookie A pattern. The patterns are often pleasingly complex with such nice little details and embellishments - like the way the cable pattern finishes at the heel on a diagonal... so clever! And considering the first shipment of the Cookie A Sock Club is expected to arrive in the next few weeks, being in a Cookie A frame of mind is a very good thing!

Of course the reason I'm back to knitting my Stalagmite socks is that I finished my Inlay socks for the Hunter Hammersen KAL over at the Sock Sampler group on Ravelry. It's a very striking pair of socks but all those twisted stitches made the knitting a tough slog. Suffice it to say I'm glad to have them done :)