Thursday, July 6, 2023

The Groundwork

Everyone knows I'm a sock knitter, so it's no surprise that having decided to knit a sweater I feel completely out of my depth. Never mind that, I'm determined to knit myself a sweater that fits and that I enjoy wearing.

But what pattern? I did an advanced search on Ravelry for my three must-have characteristics:

(i) TOP DOWN CONSTRUCTION  I am very tall - over 6 foot - so I'll need to try on my WIP and adjust as I go. I'm anticipating that I may need extra rows between the neck and the bottom of the armhole, and I'm definitely going to want extra length in the body and sleeves.

(ii) RAGLAN SLEEVES  I have very wide shoulders. I've never found a woman's shirt or jacket that fits in the shoulders, except those with drop shoulders or raglan sleeves. As much as I moon over all those sweaters in "Hot Right Now" with round colourwork yokes, that kind of sweater doesn't fit me at all. My hope is that a Raglan will give me the fit I'm looking for. 

(iii) DK WEIGHT YARN  I want a nice squishy fabric but the thought of a worsted sweater just makes me feel hot and uncomfortable.

That's when I saw this pattern: Fall Line. It ticks my boxes and in addition, I like the plainness of the neck, chest and shoulders areas. No need to add bulky patterning in those areas!

Next step? Yarn. Remember that comment about "a nice squishy fabric" ... so that's wool, right? I chose Cascade 220 Superwash - a nice, reasonably priced wool yarn. It's listed as a Light Worsted, but the knitting gauge is right on where I need to be. Colour-wise I was wavering between 1235 Red Wine Heather and 1918 Shire. Gavin preferred the Shire, and there 10 balls of the same dyelot left, so I ordered them all. I'll need extra for lengthening the sleeves and the body, and besides, it's also the perfect weight yarn for fingerless mitts should there be leftover.

I picked up the yarn from the post office on Tuesday and then bought the pattern. The pattern calls for (2) 4.5 mm circular needles (eek!) - one 24" and one 40". Going through all my supplies I found a 40" Addi Turbo 4.5 mm circular - google confirming that the measurement is from needle tip to tip and NOT just the cord - so I used that to swatch.

The pattern instructions indicate that the swatch is knitted in the round, so that was my first challenge. I cast on 50 sts and learned magic loop from this tutorial by TinCanKnits. Turns out it's a lot easier than I thought and I got the hang of it quickly. I knit 16 rounds and then measured. Looks like my gauge is almost perfect - both stitch gauge and row gauge looks good! I'm feeling very lucky as I was dreading all the math to adjust for that too. A question though... do you suppose that I even need to buy the smaller circular needle? Or can I make do with the 40" long circular?

So I guess that's the groundwork done. Tomorrow I cast on for real!!

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Today I finished a pair of socks that had been on the needles for several weeks - Intersections by Marceline Smith. The yarn is County Vacay Sock in a colourway called "Secret Beach'. It is hadn't-dyed by the proprietor of Rose-Haven Yarn Shop in Picton, Ontario. My sister bought it as a gift for me whilst vacationing in Prince Edward County.

As you can see the yarn is a little busy with flashes of green and blue, so I chose a pattern with a bit of texture but not too pattern-y. The pattern has small crossing cables but nothing too challenging. I'm happy with the end result, but the knitting was a little bit tedious.

On Ravelry there were several comments about the heel being tight and hard to fit over ankles, so I substituted my favourite German Short Row heel for the heel written in the pattern. There's still a noticeable lack of stretch, but the fit's okay.

The legs are quite short - I usually like my legs to be knit at least as long as the foot - but after reading the comments about the inflexibility of the knitted fabric, I chose to play it safe, keep the legs short and add a generous ribbed cuff.

The finished pair weighs 108 grams, so I was fortunate that the yardage is so generous with this sock yarn. I have almost 15 grams left over!

I pushed myself to finish these socks today, because I had a slip from Canada Post to notify me that a parcel was waiting for me. With the holidays around the Canada Day weekend, today was my first opportunity to pick it up. Not a surprise though - it's the yarn I ordered from with this sweater in mind. But more on that another time.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Saltwater Mittens

For my birthday two years ago, my friend Jane gifted me with the book Saltwater Mittens by Christine LeGrow and Shirley A. Scott. To go along with that, my brother sent me 2 skeins each of Turquoise, Yellow and Black in Briggs & Little Regal 2 ply. "Is it enough for a pair of mittens?" he asked. As it turns out, it was enough for 8 pairs of adult mittens and a child's pair. 

After knitting socks, it was fun to knit a heavier weight yarn on much bigger needles. These mitts work up quickly! A pair takes less than a week when knitting during the evening while binge-watching TV. 

Although the book includes instructions for trigger mitts and gloves, I'm not so keen on weaving in ends, so I stuck with mittens. Besides, they're warmer, right? That's a consideration as I'm planning to donate them to charity.

What's next? Socks and more socks. At least a half dozen more pairs until I've worked all the way through my remaining sock yarn. I met up with a local woman who cranks socks - she was happy to accept a couple of bags of sock yarn scraps from me. Aaaah, it feels great knowing that they'll be put to good use.

And then? Who knows ... maybe a sweater?

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Year of Projects 12: Week 8


That's the first sock done; the second sock is underway. What a lovely sock! Did I mention how much I'm enjoying this pattern? I just adore that column of stitches - it's cleverly made by pulling stitches over each other so there's no cabling and it's very quick and easy to work.

Someone familiar with the pattern might detect the mistake I made. The tile pattern is meant to start and finish with a contrast colour round. I guess I was in such a hurry to dive into the colour work that I wasn't paying close enough attention. I only realized at the end of the tile pattern when the pattern called for a round knitted in contrast colour, but once I was that far, I decided to leave it as is and omit that contrast colour round at both top and bottom of the tile pattern. And you know, it might have been even nicer with those contrast colour rows to frame the colourwork, but it's water under the bridge now.

I'm sure you've realized that I'm generally in favour of lengthening sock legs until they are at least as long as the foot, if not a touch longer. I just think the sock looks better proportioned that way. But in this case I didn't want to do anything to move that tile pattern up the leg. It's not stretchy enough to move up onto the wider part of my calf. I settled for making the ribbed cuff about 25% longer than directed. I think it balances nicely with the length of the colourwork below.

It looks like I will have time to finish this pair before the Musselburgh KAL gets underway on September 1st. Happy crafting everyone! If you'd like to join our Year of Projects group, look for us here on Ravelry.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Year of Projects 12: Week 7

Nothing better than having a finished object to post! These Kroy Turquoise Stripes Socks are done and I'm quite pleased with them. 

Although all that vanilla sock knitting was pretty dull, self-striping yarn like this usually fights with fancy stitch patterns, so vanilla it would be. I like the colours and the stripes, but it does frustrate me that Kroy yardage is so skimpy. I'd have been happier to complete the socks entirely in the Kroy Stripes rather than having to add bands of black to lengthen the leg. 

Oh well, never mind all that. They're done, the ends are sewn in, they fit perfectly and I like them more than I thought I would. That's a win. And finishing without leftovers is very satisfying.

For the last few days I've been continuing with my Palace Volturi socks, and really enjoying the pattern. Thanks to Knit Companion I was able to pick up where I left off without missing a beat (or a row) after more than a year. The stitch patterns are interesting but not so complicated that I can't binge watch The Sandman at the same time. I can hardly wait to get to the colourwork "tile" pattern towards the top of the leg. It's making me think that I should have another look through Rachel Coopey's patterns to see if I should add a few more to my Year of Projects.

Have a great week! See you again next Sunday for my next Year of Projects 12 update. Year of Projects is a group on Ravelry - you're very welcome to join us if you are interested.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Year of Projects 12: Week 6


My Kroy Turquoise Stripes Socks aren't done yet.  Almost, but not quite, done. I'm about half way through the ribbing on the leg of the second sock and expect to finish them in the next day or two. And then on to Volturi Palace Socks as my focus for the remainder of August.

I've got an exact time frame in mind, because I've signed up for the Monster Musselburgh KAL on Instagram (#MonsterMusselburghKAL). Two knitters that I follow - @circletoes and @smcarn - are hosting the KAL. Every year they run a Monster Sock KAL, but this year they're doing a hat rather than socks. The pattern is Musselburgh by Ysolda Teague. The KAL runs from September 1 to October 15. Participants must use scrap yarn and/or mini sets. 

The Musselburgh pattern is written for your choice of 9 gauges, from light fingering to DK, to make a reversible double-layered hat in your choice of 6 sizes, from baby to adult extra-large. That should work with ALL my scraps. And I suspect these will make good Christmas gifts!

In anticipation of the September 1st cast on, I've organized three collections of sock yarn scraps as shown in my photo. At the top are blues and greys, at the right are greens, browns and neutrals and on the left are pinks and purples. The tough part is choosing where to start. As I was sorting the scraps I thought that I'd be starting with the blues and greys, but seeing them in collections like this I'm now leaning towards the greens, browns and neutrals. Hmmmm. What do you think?

In other news, I had a slight stumble in my Austere August plans. At a garage sale on Saturday morning, I picked up two 50g balls of Regia 6-fâdig sock yarn in a tweedy charcoal grey and one 100g ball of SRK On Your Toes Sock with Aloe Vera yarn in a tweedy brown - for $2 each and a grand total of $6. That was too much of a bargain to pass up! The garage sale had bins and bins of crafty goods - quilting fabrics, embroidery kits, needle felting supplies, beading supplies and tools, sewing patterns, and yarn - so I really think I controlled myself pretty well in the face of a great deal of temptation!

Have a great week everyone. To find out more about the Year of Projects, have a look here on Ravelry!

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Year of Projects 12: Week 5


I'm ready to turn the heel on my second sock in Kroy Turquoise Stripes, but never mind that! I found my Volturi Palace Socks project, hiding in plain sight of course, exactly where it was supposed to be. Not sure how I missed it on the first few searches. It's a relief to stop wondering whether I left it behind somewhere.

The Volturi Palace pattern by Rachel Coopey is one that's been on my favourites list for a long time. It combines a little bit of colourwork with patterned columns up the foot and leg. It's a really stretchy pattern too, so it's going to be a really well-fitted pair of socks. Those familiar with the Twilight Series will recognize the designer's inspiration for the sock pattern, but it means nothing to me. It's just a fun and attractive pattern as far as I'm concerned.

The yarn is 80/20 Sock from Shelridge Yarns in Aubergine and Natural White. It's one of my favourite sock yarns of all time. The Aubergine is especially beautiful  - it's mostly solid with little flecks of darker, lighter and golden tones. I bought it a few years ago in a little shop in Lakefield when we were cottaging on Stoney Lake, expressly with this pattern in mind.

So the plan now is to finish the Kroy Socks this week, then move on to the Volturi Palace socks. Thankfully I was tracking my rows in Knit Companion so I should be able to pick up exactly where I left off. If you're not familiar with Knit Companion, it's a very handy iPad app that makes it super easy to keep track of progress through knitted charts. I've been using it for years and won't go back to printing out patterns and marking them.

Over at Wandering Cat Studio, Valerie has announced her plan for "Austere August". I can get behind that. I'll admit that I was engaging in some magical thinking - along the lines of ordering solid colour sock yarns to combine with my sock yarn scraps. But honestly, I DO have solid colour yarns on hand to use up, so I should really start there!

Have a great week everyone, and I hope to 'see' you again next Sunday for my next Year of Projects 12 update. Year of Projects is a group on Ravelry - you're very welcome to join us if you are interested.