Sunday, August 2, 2015

Year of Projects 5 Week 5



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

COOKIE A SOCK CLUB: June #1 • June #2 • August #1 • August #2 • October #1 • October #2 • December #1 • December #2

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January • February • March • April • May • June

Realizing that I'd done the reverse yarn overs incorrectly was a set back last week. And no, they're not difficult, it was just a dumb mistake. Must Read All Instructions More Carefully!!! But finally these Revolution Socks are done. And just in the nick of time ahead of the release of the August Club patterns tomorrow. The pattern was a fun and interesting knit, but I'm not particularly fond of the finished socks. They are just too hole-y in my opinion. Maybe if my feet and legs were more tanned they'd look better?

The yarn - Socky-Talky by The Dye-Guy - was lovely to work with. It's soft, smoothy and pleasingly plump and springy. Hopefully it washes and wears well without pilling! And I'm very happy with the colour too - lots of subtle variations in the purples without any pooling. The yardage was extremely generous too! Although this pair of socks used 104 grams of yarn, I still have almost 30 grams left!

August club yarn arrived late last week and what a disappointment that was! It's yellow which is not good for me; I'm generally not a fan of most shades of yellow. But this is a particularly awful shade of yellow - a dull, dirty yellow with greenish overtones, sinus infection mucous colour. Another Raveler compared it to "Gastric Suction" ...... eeeeew!!

No sooner had I unwrapped it, I rewrapped it. It's just too ugly to see the light of day in my home. I tried posting it for sale or trade within the club but after reading the many posts from others with similar feelings about the yarn I quickly realized that there was little chance of finding a buyer. Besides making the arrangements and sorting out the shipping is a bit painful. So I deleted my sale or trade post and contemplated my next steps.

Why not overdye it? Gavin suggested. Good thinking! So that's exactly what I did yesterday evening. I googled this tutorial and followed it step-by-step exactly as demonstrated. When I overdyed the pink socks in February/March I used a microwave method, however I prefer this stove top method - I felt more confident and more in control, particularly as I was able to obsessively check and adjust the dye bath temperature with a meat thermometer. It certainly worked like a charm. The dye bath was completely exhausted and the overdid yarn rinses entirely clear. Thanks to a teal shade of Wilton Icing Color, the awful yellow yarn is now a much more palatable green. Admittedly the final green is brighter and yellower than I had hoped but at least I don't hate the colour now. Much better!

In the meantime I'm plugging away at my second Vanilla Beans Striped sock. With any luck I'll have another finished pair of socks to show you next week!


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Year of Projects 5 Week 4

stretching a size 7 sock onto my huge foot
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

COOKIE A SOCK CLUB: June #1 • June #2 • August #1 • August #2 • October #1 • October #2 • December #1 • December #2

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January • February • March • April • May • June

For the last week I've been knitting monogamously on the second pattern for the Cookie A Sock Club June shipment  - Revolution Socks. After receiving notice that the August yarn and pattern bundle will ship early, I'm extra motivated to get this pair of the needles.

The pattern is very lacy - which is not my cup of tea - but they're being knit to give away so hopefully the recipient likes the pattern. The right sock is a mirror of the left; I like that. On the other hand the right sock uses reverse yos; I'm not so enthusiastic about those. As warned in the stitch legend, those backwards yos really want to creep across the adjacent stitches to the right of them so you have to slow down a bit to separate the stitches into the correct order.

Why reverse the yos? Here's what Ysolda Teague has to say:

The direction in which the yarn is wrapped around the needle affects the size of hole created by a yarn over. If you are working on a project that has lots of yarn overs between different types of stitches you may want to swatch and alter the yarn over directions so that your yarn overs are of a uniform size.

Haven't we all encountered situations where one or more yos look sloppy compared to the rest of the fabric? Maybe this is the answer? Particularly when a yo falls between a knit and a purl stitch!

Good thing this blog post has me rereading the reverse yarn over instructions from Ysolda's blog .... I've just realized that I've worked everyone of them incorrectly by knitting into the front leg on the following row. Instead those reverse yarn overs must be knit into the back leg to avoid twisting the stitch. And that certainly explains that niggling feeling that I've been having - that the right sock is knitting up smaller than the left. Twisting all those stitches would definitely make it smaller!

So once I finish grocery shopping and laundry, I guess I'll be ripping the second sock back to the cuff and starting over! Oh well, at least I'm not too far into sock two! And thank goodness for another small blessing: sock one just used regular yarn overs.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Year of Projects 5 Week 3

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

COOKIE A SOCK CLUB: June #1 • June #2 • August #1 • August #2 • October #1 • October #2 • December #1 • December #2

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January • February • March • April • May • June

I'm pleased to report that I've got the first pair of socks for the Cookie A Sock Club June Shipment completed. And more than a little relieved.

The pattern is Apollonia, and I can't say I  enjoyed it much - entirely too much purling, too many YO eyelets, a pattern that ends partway on the instep and ends with plain stockinette foot and toe, and a shortish leg with no simple way to lengthen it - nope, not really my thing. It's a nice enough result but the knitting felt very tedious.

 The yarn is "Purple Rain" from Knitting Notions, and I can't say that I enjoyed that much either. The purple is so dark and so intense that it is actually blinding. "Loud" is what Gavin calls the colour. The pattern barely shows up unless you really peer at it, and you might want to get some sunglasses before you attempt that. Knitting at night or in low light was impossible. And it's a light fingering - quite thin - with no nylon so I'm not confident about how well these socks will wear.

Fortunately a coworker paused at my desk to admire the sock pattern and yarns so the finished socks have already found a new home.

With those socks off the needles it was time to cast on the second pair of socks for the Cookie A Sock Club June Shipment. This pattern is Revolution. So far the knitting is more interesting than the other pattern, although those six K3togs every fourth round are painful. Thank goodness those are carbon fibre needles, or I'd have snapped 'em by now! This pattern still has too many YO eyelets for my taste but we'll see what it looks like once it's knitted a little further. The yarn is Socky Talky from The Dye Guy who is a local dyer. The colourway is "Scottish Heather" ... still purple but I like this purple way more! A friend picked out the yarn asking that I knit a pair of socks for her Mom's caregiver, so these will be given away too!

My Vanilla Bean Striping socks for my July Charity Socks list are a bit further along too. The first tube is knitted and awaits its afterthought heel. The second sock hasn't been started yet. No love for Rhombus this week, but I hope to turn my attention to them as soon as I've got Revolution socks off the needles.

It's swelteringly hot here in Toronto. Is it wrong to have Freezies for lunch? Hope you're having a great weekend and see you next week!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Year of Projects 5 Week 2

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

COOKIE A SOCK CLUB: June #1 • June #2 • August #1 • August #2 • October #1 • October #2 • December #1 • December #2

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January • February • March • April • May • June

Having spent the past week at a cottage with intermittent slow speed internet I missed posting last week - the inaugural week for this year's Year of Projects. What is the Year of Projects? It's a group on Ravelry where participants prepare and publish a list of goals for the upcoming year, then blog weekly about their progress. I find having a list and being accountable through blogging motivates me to complete my goals. If you're interested please do join here. We're very relaxed - nobody's stressing anyone else out - so don't be intimidated.

In prior years I've selected a book of patterns and then knit through them. But last year, after selecting a book of Cookie A patterns and then also joining the Cookie A Sock Club I came down with Cookie A exhaustion. So my goals this year are to finish the remaining patterns in Knit. Sock. Love, knit the remaining eight patterns from the 2015 Cookie A Sock Club, and knit at least one pair of vanilla socks for The Warm Hands Network each month.

Last week at the cottage I did get a bit of knitting done. My time was divided between two projects - Apollonia Socks and Vanilla Bean Striped Socks. The Apollonia pattern is one of two June patterns for the Cookie A Sock Club. I'm using the club yarn - Knitting Notions Classic Merino Superwash Sock in a really dark and loud purple. Sock one is done and sock two is at the heel flap so I hope to finish these this week. They'll be heading out the door to a coworker who admired the colourway.

For my July Charity socks I decided to knit another pair of Vanilla Bean Striped Socks, this time striping all the pink, red, purple, orange and yellows in my yarn scraps with a creamy white 80/20 sock yarn from Shelridge Farms. Once again I'm knitting toe-up with the plan of an afterthought heel. I'm always astonished at how well all the different scrap yarn colours play together! These are working up awesome!

Have a great weekend one and all - what's left of it. I'm ducking out now for a lunch with family!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

FO: Delias eucharis Socks

Pattern: Delias eucharis Socks by Hunter Hammersen

Needles: 2.25 mm

Modifications: none

Comments: First let me apologize for the photo: it's oversaturated, but despite posing on an  overcast day in a shady corner of the deck it's the best photo I got. Never mind though, it's good enough to see the pattern I think!

And what a pattern! The pattern is named for an Indonesian butterfly. From Wikipedia:

The Common Jezebel (Delias eucharis) is a medium sized pierid butterfly found in many areas of South and Southeast Asia, especially in the non-arid regions of IndiaSri LankaIndonesiaMyanmar[1] and Thailand. The Common Jezebel is one of the most common of the approximately 225 described species in the genus Delias.

What a beautiful butterfly! But here's the sentence in the Wikipedia entry that really caught my eye: It has bright coloration to indicate the fact that it is unpalatable due to toxins accumulated by the larvae from the host plants. I wonder if brightly coloured socks will have the same protective effect?

The pattern looks complicated but it's much easier than it looks. Every fourth round there are some fiddly crossings that have you playing twister with a handful of needles, but otherwise the pattern was very straight forward. In the pattern photo there looked to be eight repeats on the leg, I knit nine repeats and wish I had knit a couple more - I had enough yarn leftover.

There's no ribbed cuff on this sock; you cast on and dive straight into the chart. The pattern is stretchy enough that this works. The eyelet column continues down the heel. I like the look of that but I'm not sure how practical that is. Similarly the twisted rib continues through the toe section - pretty but a little uncomfortable in shoes. Maybe these are special occasion socks rather than everyday socks? I've knit these as a gift for my sister - who often tells me that she thinks my socks are "too nice" to wear casually - so it shouldn't be a problem.

I knit the pattern as written, including working the toe decreases as written, which has led me to the conclusion that I have much longer, pointier toes than designer Hunter Hammersen. After working a handful of toe decreases every other round she instructs to work decreases every round. That really shortens and rounds off the toe box. It doesn't work very well for my feet but might work for my sister whose toes are much more compact.

The yarn is from Manos del Uruguay; it's a sock yarn called "Alegria" in a fiery red colourway. It's gorgeously soft and squishy, and lovely to knit, but I fear it may not very sturdy or hardwearing. Hopefully my fears are unfounded - it gets great reviews online - but regardless it's perfect for special occasion socks!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Year of Projects 4: Year End Wrap Up

Vanilla Bean Striped Socks
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

It's the final post for a Year of Projects 4 and time to admit that I'm nowhere near knitting through the book Knit. Sock. Love. In fact, I've only completed 7 of 19 patterns, with the 8th on the needles now.

And my poor Rhombus socks are not getting much love from me these days.
Why do I avoid them? Let me count the reasons:

  • the pattern is too fussy and involved for travel or distracted knitting
  • the yarn is too dark for night-time knitting
  • the yarn feels kinda thin and bumpy and not very satisfying to knit
  • between vacations at work and compressed deadlines thanks to the PanAm Games I've been stupidly busy at work
  • there are other socks I'd rather be knitting

Wouldn't you know it the June shipment for the Cookie A sock club has arrived. The club yarn appears to be the same base - kinda thin and bumpy and not very satisfying to knit - and it's almost the same colour. NOOOOOO!!

The June patterns are leaving me cold too - both are written for knitting on 2.5mm needles which seems mismatched for the light fingering weight yarn supplied. Did I mention that the yarn has no nylon? Yeah, not a great candidate for knitting at a loose gauge.  Oh and did I also mention that the April club yarn also had no nylon? I'm sure not feeling any sock club love. So far this whole club thing is feeling like a bad idea to me.

Delias eucharis Socks
I think I might have Cookie A exhaustion.

So where does that leave me? I did finish another pair of Vanilla Bean striped socks with Striped Turtle Toes yarn from Turtle Purl in a colour way called "Rock Paper Scissors". This is more of the yarn that I bought at the Knitter's Frolic in July, and once again I got a deal because the skein set was slightly underweight. I knit to-up this time but still with the afterthought heel to keep the stripes perfect. Truth be told I could have squeezed out another couple of stripes at the top cuffs but I wanted to start and finish with red and I didn't want the natural white colour at the heel.

I LOVE these socks. I've knitted them for the Warm Hands Network so it's unfortunate how perfectly they fit me and how entirely comfy they are. Makes it harder to give them away.

I'm also make rapid progress through Delia eucharis socks by Hunter Hammersen. The pattern is very fancy looking but surprisingly easy and intuitive, although I don't entirely appreciate the fact that Hunter Hammersen needs to have her own special chart symbols. Seriously? Isn't the usual symbol for a knit stitch just an empty square? grumble, grumble, grumble!

The yarn is Alegria by Manos del Uruguay and it is heavenly! Plump, soft, squooshy, AWESOME. I haven't taken a recent photo but I've turned the heel on the second sock so these'll be off the needles sometime this week. These are a gift, and if they weren't intentionally too small for me it'd be a challenge to give these away too!

So what's the plan for the next Year of Projects?

  • Cookie A sock club patterns - two every second month
  • Knit. Sock. Love. - the remaining patterns carried over from YoP 4
  • interspersed with whatever socks for charity and gifts that catch my fancy

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Vanilla Socks


A few weeks ago I mentioned that I planned to do some sock knitting for the Warm Hands Network, and with these Vanilla Bean Striped Socks I've made a start.

In the Vanilla Bean pattern the transitions between colours in self-striping yarns are made a bit more interesting by slipping every other stitch for a round. It's a simple little thing but strangely effective. Other than that the socks are plain stockinette with the knitter's choice of heel.

I chose an afterthought heel - gotta keep those stripes uninterrupted across the instep! At the same time I was thinking that was my best strategy to use every inch of this yarn. I bought it from the sale bin - it had been marked down as a lightweight/short yardage pair of skeins. My thinking was to start with 66 sts, work cuff down, start the toe with six colour stripes left on the skein, leaving myself with three colour stripes for the heel. And that's exactly how it worked - less than a yard left on each skein and a generously sized pair of socks as a result!

For those not familiar with the afterthought heel, you can read more about it on the Yarn Harlot's blog. You start by knitting tube socks toe-up or cuff-down just as you like. Then you decide where to locate your heel and use the smallest needle you own to pick up stitches for one side of the heel (usually half your total stitch count, and definitely aligned to your toe shaping). Next, pull up a stitch in the row below somewhere near the middle and snip that row open. Finally, pick up the stitches in the row below your snipped stitch and start unravelling the cut row in each direction picking up the bottom stitches. Et voilĂ , you have an opening to insert your heel!

If you haven't done it before it can be a bit scary - especially that cutting your knitting part - but it's much easier to do than to describe. And besides the fact that it creates three more ends to weave in, it works beautifully. It is helpful if your yarn is light coloured, and smooth with good stitch definition so that you can clearly see which loops to pick up. Chances are some of the picked up stitches will wind up backwards on your needles, so be prepared to watch which way they're mounted and be prepared to twist'em back on that first heel round.

The finished socks are not very complicated or tricky, but they are bright, colourful and fun! So fun in fact that I've already cast on another pair. This time around I'm knitting a colourway called "Rock, Paper, Scissors" and working toe-up. Once again the yarn was plucked from the sale bin, and once again they're lightweight/short yardage skeins. These skeins weren't much short though - at 95 grams I figure there's plenty of yarn to knit a pair on 70 sts this time.

The organizer of the Warm Hands Network is based in Ottawa, so I plan to finish up this second pair before we head to Ottawa next weekend for a family visit. Why not save the shipping costs and drop them off in person, right?

And with that out of the way, and with several hours of car knitting time in my future, maybe I'll have a whack of progress to show you on Rhombus socks next week?!