Sunday, December 14, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Stalagmite 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

Admittedly there's not much to report on Stalagmite other than I've selected a yarn - Sock-Luck from Studio June Yarn in a colourway called "Wisdom". Hmmm ... not sure how wise this choice is though. The pattern is very intricate; unless the variegation plays nicely, it's not going to work. I guess I'll cast on and decide after a handful of rounds.

But I'd better not cast on until I've finished my Christmas knitting. I can't show you that: some of the people on my Christmas list read my blog! Despite my early intention not to commit to much Christmas knitting - very sensible I thought - as the clock ticks closer to Christmas, I'm plagued by all kinds of great ideas about what I could knit and for whom. It's pretty clear now that Christmas knitting will only stop when I run out of time. Somebody take these needles away from me before I make myself crazy!

Speaking of needles, I've done a little more shopping for my Christmas stocking, and it looks like I'll be test driving some Karbonz knitting needles on Christmas morning as well. Nina at Creative Yarns had nothing but good things to say about them so how could I resist? This buying my own presents things is working out awesome!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Pointelle 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

A month since my last post! Where does the time go?! Last weekend was spent in Ottawa, helping my brother and sister-in-law into their new house. The tradespeople had been in replacing the roof, the furnace, the electrical and the hot water heater, but there was still a long list of smaller chores that needed doing. We rolled up our sleeves and they put us to work! My work has also been unending craziness, so no time to knit there either!

With being so busy,  Pointelle languished on the needles for a few weeks. But finally over the past several days I've managed to get both socks done. I knit the large size, but then decreased at the top of the heel flap to narrow it, then continued the gusset decreases to 66 sts for the feet.; they'd have been too big otherwise. If I did them again, I'd shift down a needle size or knit the smaller size altogether.

Although the pattern was very "chart-y" it was much faster and easier than it looked at first glance. The arrowhead lace pattern is quite intuitive so just glancing at the chart to start the round was all that was needed. Every other row is plain knit, so that's makes it speedy too. And surprisingly there was no purling or knitting through the back loop except of the ribbed cuff!

The yarn is Twisted MCN from Studio June Yarn. It's lovely to work with and it wears beautifully. This "Lime Light" colourway is a nice bright pop of colour!

Yesterday I did take a few minutes to put up my Smitten (a Holiday Garland) knitted decorations from a couple of years ago. Rather than stringing them on a garland I decided instead to hang them on the fridge door with magnets arranged in the shape of a Christmas tree. Cute, huh? And happily each little mitten fits two Lindor chocolate balls - one for me and one for Gavin. I bought the felt numbers off eBay from a UK seller with a CriCut machine and glued them on. Each mitten is knit from scrap yarn - some are sock yarn held double, some are DK and some are worsted.

That's about as far as I've got with holiday decorating. The fake tree's up in the hallway but it seems I got tired of most of our decorations last year and gave them to the thrift shop. As a result the effect is kind of au naturel this year. I tried to convince Gavin that having the strings of lights puddled below the tree was festive enough, but he wasn't buying it, so I did spend an evening stringing them around the tree .... or rather deeply in the branches to add to the subtlety of the decor, as it turns out.

Gavin hung the stockings in the hallway, so I've bought a few things I wanted and tucked them in my own stocking. I'm thrilled to report that I will finally own some 6" 2.25mm DPNs as of Christmas day! I'm still trying to figure out if a skein or two of Madeleine Tosh yarn would fit in there!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Pointelle 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

In her book Knit. Sock. Love. designer Cookie A. organizes her patterns into three categories - columns, tessellations and diagonals. The column patterns are created by repeating one element over and over again in a vertical column; like the vertical columns of cables in BFF or Marilinda, or the vertical repeats of eyelet patterns in Hedera or Mona. The tessellation patterns are arrangements of one or more shapes in a geometric pattern; think Monkey, Rhombus and even Gothic Spire.  And last but not least are diagonals where the patterns travel back and forth, or around or even off in one direction. Perhaps because travelling stitch patterns often involve very intense charts, I hadn't attempted one of these patterns yet.

But it's time to put that right by casting on Pointelle.  Too bad I left my first sock in my desk drawer at work; I've just got this one old photo that shows very little progress. There'll be a lot more to see next week!

Just because I don't have my sock knitting, it doesn't mean I've been entirely idle though. A few weeks ago I dug out several hundred grams of a rustic wool that I bought for pennies on the dollar at auction. Months ago I made a sweater from it, but it was much too scratchy, and after repeat soaks to remove the mothball smell it felted. A couple of weeks ago I made a couple of pairs of Duffers from it. It's perfect for this pattern, but there's a lot more yarn than I could ever use up making slippers.

But then the cat laid claim to the yarn. While I worked on my slippers she was endlessly trying to lay on them or cuddle with them. When I'm at work she pulls the yarn from my knitting bag and sleeps with her face buried in the yarn cake. So I'm giving in to her insistence and crocheting a cat bed for her. The bottom - three flat circles - is complete. Next I need to crochet sides, then assemble it all together and felt it. So far the cat approves. In fact, she seems a bit glued to the WIP. I wouldn't be at all surprised if she spends the entire day there, not budging. She hasn't moved an inch in the last couple of hours, except to lay her head down and snooze face down into the wool.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Socktopus finished!

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor

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 done! Not just the Farmer McGregor socks, but the entire Socktopus book. And yes, I did finish before the final deadline for the Socktopus KAL by about 28 hours. I updated my little GIF so you can see every pair of socks in this book.

Now, what to say about this book? Would I recommend it? Well maybe, with some qualifications.

Almost every pattern will knit up too large unless you are a crazy tight knitter. In almost every instance I went down a pattern size and down at least one needle size ... and I have BIG feet.

A couple of the patterns I would definitely NOT recommend. Om Shanti for instance is not very stretchy, and is designed with a shallow heel flap and an inflexible cuff. If you can tug them over your heels, then they might fit okay, but I can't imagine they'd be comfortable in shoes. Caretta Caretta has beads throughout - I skipped the beads on the instep, and probably should have skipped them altogether. Spring Shoots are one of those designs that seems to be all about unusual construction at the expense of comfort and fit .... and another inflexible, non-stretchy cuff.

Kwalla - with its bulky cables  - fits much better if you modify the pattern to drastically decrease when transitioning from cables to stockinette. It's the sock shown on the book cover, and look, it doesn't fit the model either!

On the other hand, though, there are some real winners in the book too. Shur'tugal, Mince Pie Mayhem, Hundred Acre Wood, Vorticity and Farmer McGregor are all pretty awesome as far as I'm concerned. And if you knit every pattern, you'll likely encounter some new cast-ons and heel constructions so that's kinda fun.

If you have the book, or are considering buying it, you should also be aware that there are numerous errata. Check Ravelry notes before starting any of them. You will also discover that the lines demarcating the repeats on the charts are very faint - I needed good light and reading glasses to see them. As well, don't be thrown off by the row and stitch numbering on the charts - it doesn't line up. And personally, I think they should have the socks made to fit the feet they photographed them on. It is a book of sock patterns, after all!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Farmer McGregor 02

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor

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

Four weeks later and I'm not much further ahead with the second Farmer McGregor sock. I did cast on sock two, and I did knit all the way to the top of the heel flap, and it was then that I realized I'd made the second sock at a larger size. Seriously?! There was no chance I'd have enough yarn for that.

It took a few days for me to build up the courage to rip out the entire leg of sock two and start again at the correct size. After re-knitting the cuff and the first few pattern rounds, sock two languished for weeks. As well as a ridiculously busy spell at work, my remaining waking hours have been spent getting the softcover version of my brother's novella "A McAdam Station Christmas" printed and delivered, not to mention designing, typesetting, formatting and finalizing a hardcover book "McAdam Railway Station and Hotel: Fact, Fiction & Photographs" for printing release and sale before Christmas. Car trouble, a flu bug and roofers have only added to the craziness.

Happily, the softcover book was delivered in New Brunswick last week - just days ahead of the pre-launch and launch events. And I uploaded final files for the hardcover book to the printer at the end of last week. Early this week I'll have eProofs to review and then hopefully we can get the books printed and delivered by the end of November. Fingers crossed that sales are strong and lots of money is raised for the restoration of this amazing landmark!

Car trouble meant commuting back and forth to work on transit - the perfect opportunity for some mindless knitting. For the Seasonal Sock Syndrome KAL hosted by Revelations of a Delusional Knitter, I settled on a pattern called "October Leaves". It's a simple toe-up ribbed sock with a colourwork band at the top of the leg. A ribbed sock was about all my exploding head could manage. As written there was also a colourwork section to begin the foot, which I skipped, and the colourwork was meant to be four colours not three, but I shortcut that too. The socks turned out beautifully, and are super comfortable, so that's another thing on my to-do list accomplished.

Oh, and the car? I had shut off the engine in the line-up at the Costco Gas Bar, but when the line ahead of me started to move, the car wouldn't start. You can just imagine how patient the drivers in line behind me were!! The lot boys helped to push the car to the parking lot. It was Sunday morning of a holiday weekend, so there was no chance of finding a dealership or auto mechanic to look at the car. My step-son-in-law and my step-daughter tried jump starting the car, but determined that it wasn't the battery, but probably the alternator, or more likely the starter motor. It's a standard transmission so we push-started the car so that I could drive home. We push-started it once more so that Gavin could take it up to the garage on the following Tuesday, and left it with the mechanics for most of the day. By late afternoon they found a frayed ground wire that was causing the trouble. Not a mechanical problem at all! Isn't that the thing with all the electronics in today's cars? Always something to go wrong! Oh well, that was the cheapest thing, so I'll count myself lucky.

Here's hoping that things are back on track now! With luck - and providing the rain holds off - the roofers should finish our row of townhouses next week. Gavin works nights, so he's quite sleep deprived with all the hammering and banging through the day. I'd better run to do some grocery shopping and some laundry. It's my BIL's birthday this week, so we're hoping to catch up with him later today for a bit of a celebration. One way or another I'd better find time to finish these Farmer McGregor socks! The KAL ends on Friday - this is the last pattern of the entire book, and I'd hate to blow it now!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Farmer McGregor 01

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor

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

... or camouflage socks as they've come to be known. Seriously! These socks are almost invisible in the grass of my backyard!

The pattern is Farmer McGregor and it's the last pattern of the Socktopus KAL. Nice to go out on a high note - this pattern is gorgeous! With all those twisted stitches I worried that the knitting might be painful, but it moves along at a nice pace. I'd be further along, except I borrowed the 2.25mm needles for some secret Christmas knitting. By this aft, those needles should be free for me to cast on sock two.

All that crisscrossing creates a fabric that's somewhat thick and inflexible so you need to cast on more stitches than you might think. For patterns like this with unusually high stitch counts, I add a decrease row at the top of the heel flap and another to finish the instep to take up the slack and transition smoothly into a fitted heel and toe. Works like a charm.

That high stitch count also means I have to pay attention to yardage so I don't run out. Yep, yarn chicken again! Not to worry though; sock one weighs in at 51 grams, leaving me with 54 grams for sock two. The yarn is a "Frog Prince" colourway on a based called "Twisted House Cat" from Wandering Cat Yarn. The extra twist of this sock yarn makes it lovely to work with and the stitch definition is fantastic. And, as you can see, this colourway is also fantastic.

I've got an out of town guest coming later this week so I'd better get moving to get the spare room ready. And I've signed up for the "Seasonal Sock Syndrome KAL" over at Revelations of a Delusional Knitter so I need to think about what socks and what yarn for fall. So far we're having THE most gorgeous fall weather ever, so I'm a huge fan of autumn at the moment. I think my inspiration may come from that old April Wine song: "Red and yellow, seasons changing gear ..."

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Om Shanti

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor • Om Shanti

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

Last week I started (and finished) Om Shanti socks. Truth be told, I'd been avoiding this pattern. The KAL for this pattern ends in September so it was decision time: knit them to complete the KAL? or skip them and disqualify myself from the "Hall of Fame" for completing all the Socktopus patterns? Of course I knit them.

Sometimes when I knit a pattern that doesn't appeal to me, the pattern surprises me. I might learn a new technique that I like, or I might like the pattern better than I thought I would; you just never know. In this case I did pick up a tip about how to modify a short row w&t garter stitch heel for a higher instep, so I'm pleased about that. But I still don't like these socks.

I had planned to knit these from MCN, however these socks are knit on 2.5-2.75mm needles so I switched to a sport weight yarn. It's always best to knit socks at tight gauge; they're more comfortable and more durable that way.

So what don't I like about these socks? Well, first of all they're thick and entirely unsuitable for wearing in shoes. The designer specifically calls these "bed socks" so that was not a surprise, but I have no use for bed socks. My feet poke outside the covers at night to cool off. As well they're ankle socks, which aren't my thing. I wear socks to keep my feet warm; I don't want wintery winds whistling up my pant legs around my ankles. And then there's the cuff with its horizontal Kihnu Vits braid and corrugated ribbing. Interesting design choices - neither of these elements has any stretch. Don't you want your sock cuff stretchy? Must I struggle to them pull on and off over my heels?

Nope, these socks are done, photographed and will be promptly frogged. And the best remedy for sock pattern disappointment is to cast on a different pair. So that's exactly what I did; I've cast on Farmer McGregor socks. What a difference! Loving these! And look, it's the last pair from Socktopus!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Marilinda 02

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor • Om Shanti

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

As I knit the first few inches of these Marilinda socks in Dye-Version stretch bamboo sock yarn I was worried that the yarn was too busy for the pattern. Unless I'm knitting in a solid colour, I almost always think that. I guess it's all about the pattern for me with sock knitting - that's why I typically buy tonal yarns. The only thing to do is to knit a few more inches, try the sock on and then decide. More repeats can reinforce the details of a pattern, and, as every lace knitter knows, stretching the fabric open can make the pattern pop too.

I'm sure you'll agree, now that we can see the finished socks, that those initial fears were groundless. The pattern and yarn are just fine together!

Now about this pattern: it's a bit surprising because it might be one of the very few Cookie A. patterns I've ever encountered with almost no knitting through the back loop. That was a pleasant change of pace. I don't mind some knitting through the back loop occasionally but not whole patterns of it, please!

It's always a nice touch when the cuff ribbing flows into the main leg pattern. In this case there's a transition chart, and the main pattern slowly emerges from the ribbing. Awesome! And the heel has it's own chart too, where the pattern slowly dissolves back into ribbing. More awesome!

One more nice thing? A plain stockinette wedge toe. Although it would be awesome knitting fun to knit another pattern chart for the toe; if I'm to wear them an unpatterned toe is preferable. I can't stand the feeling of decreases across the tops of my toes or under the pads of them. Sorry, that's just the way it is. I've been known to rip back patterned toes and reknit them to plain stockinette.

Now, I'd better get moving with Om Shanti. I need to get them finished and posted in the KAL thread on Ravelry before the end of September. Not to worry - they're knit on 2.75mm needles. That should take no time at all! Contrast that to this Fox Paws pattern .... Wandering Cat is trying to tempt me into a KAL with this pattern. That'd pretty much wreak havoc with Christmas knitting plans, wouldn't it?!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Year of Projects 04: Marilinda 01

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor • Om Shanti

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

Although for KAL timing reasons I probably should have cast on Om Shanti, instead I cast on Marilinda. It just looked like more fun. When I first glanced at the pattern I thought it was a lot of cabling, but it turns out to be mostly travelling stitches. That's a good thing as far as I'm concerned. I don't mind an occasional cable, but a lot of cabling is... well... tiresome. There are lots of fun charts, with a handful of symbols and corresponding stitch sequences that I have never seen before. That's kinda fun. And the heel flap is patterned; I just love that!

The yarn is Dye-Version stretch bamboo sock which I picked up from a Ravelry destash. I've been wanting to make a pair of socks for my sister, but her skin condition can be exacerbated by wool. I hope the Bamboo/Lycra blend is more soothing. It's interesting to knit. It's soft and a bit slippery with quite a bit of sheen to it. It looks like it wants to worm, but it seems to knit smoothly and the stitch definition is fine. It's not splitty like you'd expect for bamboo, and the lycra gives the bamboo a much needed springiness and stretchiness. So far, so good, other than a stripey-ness that I'm not entirely enamoured with.

I'm not very far along - just the first leg and heel knit - but the pattern actually flies pretty quickly. I just haven't had much time to spend on it. There are couple of reasons...

First, I've got a new computer at work. Thursday I finished the migration from old to new. Friday I spent downloading and updating software. Feels like I entered my Apple ID a thousand times! So far so good though; seems almost everything works exactly as it should. And the new MAC is lightning fast!

Second, I've taken over moderation of a group on Ravelry. It's my first experience with something like this so there's a bit of a learning curve. I've created and uploaded new badges, I've learned how to sticky threads and now I'm trying different things to encourage the participation of the group members. A big thank you to Wandering Cat Yarns for their support in donating a skein of yarn as a prize for our first KAL.

Third, I've been working with my brother to self-publish a series of stories to raise money for the restoration of a historic train station in McAdam, NB. He wrote a Christmas novella which will launch on November 9th ... well, presuming I got the illustrations done and the books printed. Looks like we're on track (lol - a train joke); the files are with the printer and we expect the first samples in the next few days.

Fourth, I've finished the blanket I've been working on since July. The baby is due early to mid December, however as overseas shipping can take 6-8 weeks unless you pay premium rates, my deadline for this was looming. I hope it will arrive to the expectant grandparents in time to gift to the expectant parents at a baby shower in the weeks before delivery. The pattern for the blanket is Sea of Dreams - this is the second time I've knit it and it's just a gorgeous the second time through. The yarn is Baby Cashmerino with I ordered from My yarn arrived in a sheer organza bag - just the perfect thing in which to wrap the finished blanket. Those adorable little gift tags you see? They're handmade by my friend Jane - her Etsy shop is here.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Gothic Spire 04

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor • Om Shanti

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

Wow, I love these socks. This Gothic Spire pattern might be my all-time favourite! The smocked stitches combine with the travelling stitches to create an almost wrought iron look. And all that knitting through the back loops has paid off - the stitches really pop.

I stand by my mods - a series of dramatic decreases at the top of the heel flap and the at the beginning of the toe section create a smoother transition from the pattern to stockinette. As you can imagine all that smocking necessitates a high primary stitch count and the fabric bunches at those transitions if you don't decrease.

There are eyelets in there too - and I think we all know how I feel about eyelets - but they seem pretty important to this pattern. I suspect that the eyelets help give the patterned areas a bit of stretch and flexibility.

With all that smocking and a high primary stitch count these socks eat up a lot of yarn. Fortunately the yarn I chose - Super Cash Sock from Studio June Yarn - is put up in 100 gram 435 yard skeins. The skein I got was 108 grams so my yardage was probably more like 470 yards. It was enough to do the large size with an extra half repeat on the foot for my size 11s. For a while it looked like it was going to be close, but thankfully it's one more game of yarn chicken played and won!

It's been crazy hectic over the last few weeks - Eat, Sleep, Work and Repeat. I didn't get much knitting done and I didn't get any blogging done, and there were a whole lot of other things not done (like laundry and cleaning the house). But work is starting to settle down and I hope to be back on my usual routine by the end of this week or the start of next week. I did get a chance to cast on my first Marilinda sock ... but that's next week's topic!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Gothic Spire 03

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor • Om Shanti

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

Turns out ripping back, adding decreases and reknitting the heel flap and gusset was totally the right decision. Decreasing from 42 sts to 32 sts at the top of the leg improved the fit dramatically. There's still a small bump where the leg pattern meets the ribbing at the top of the heel flap when I turn my foot certain ways but I shudder to think how far I'd have had to rip back to fix that. I suppose I could have tapered the last vertical repeat at the back of the leg ahead of the heel by omitting some of the yarn overs ... but hey, it works fine for me now, so I'm leaving well enough alone.

And there's more good news: sock one weighs 50 grams, leaving me with 58 grams for sock two! No need to order more yarn. Thank goodness this Super Cash Soft sock yarn from Studio June Yarn ships with such generous yardage! Remind me to put a bit more thought into this when I match up yarn to the remaining patterns.

Last night temperatures fell to 13° C (55° F) which is crazy cold for August, so I wore sock one while I worked on sock two. Have I mentioned how much I love these socks??!! Occasionally I think that I should be adding these to the gift pile, but I really don't think I have the strength to give them away. It's quite possible that these are my favourite socks of all the socks I've ever made. Definitely in the top three anyway.

Considering I'm more than halfway through the leg of sock two, I'd guess that this pair will be finished by the end of the week. And then it's decision time - cast on Om Shanti for the Socktopus KAL with some more Super Cash Sock yarn in a colourway called "Cocoa Dusted Truffle", or cast on Marilinda from Knit. Sock. Love. with Dye-Version's Bamboo Sock in a colourway called "Sky". What would you do?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Gothic Spire 02

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor • Om Shanti

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

Last week I wrote "The recommendation from the designer is 370-555 yards. I've got 430 yards to work with, so wish me luck!" and just typing that sentence gave me pause. I'm knitting the large size; can I realistically expect to finish them with 430 yards? No, probably not. For a couple of days I considered omitting one vertical repeat on each leg - that would likely save enough yardage to squeak them out of one skein. But I couldn't bring myself to do it; I love these socks too much to shorten the legs. Instead I had a look at the yarn dyer's Etsy site, and yes, there are two more skeins available. Rather than skimp, I decided to finish sock one, weigh it and the remaining yarn, and then order a second skein if necessary. After all, there'd be enough left over from the second skein for some fingerless mitts, right?

After making that decision I picked up the needles again, finished the fourth vertical repeat on the leg and then carried on through the heel and the gusset. The heel is worked over 42 stitches, and that seemed like a lot, but I reasoned that the instep pattern is quite inflexible and probably that extra ease is needed. Sounds convincing, right? Yeah, until I finished the gusset decreases and tried on the sock this morning. If I hold my foot a certain way it doesn't look too bad but there's no escaping the facts:  there's a bulge at the bottom of the leg where the heel flap starts, and the heel and gusset are baggy. I should have known better. 

Later today - when I am less annoyed with myself and this sock - I'll rip back to the start of the heel flap to add a row of decreases to address the fit problems. Despite my frustration, I still love these socks too much to not go back and fix this. Besides, with half the foot done I still have 67 grams left of my original skein. Narrowing the heel flap and tightening up the gussets will save yardage and make it quite possible to finish the pair from one skein. Fingers crossed again!

So my new plan is to rip back today and reknit to finish sock one by the end of this week. That way I can confirm that one skein is enough put that worry to rest. I've got a busy week ahead with meetings before and after work, but I'll be on public transit for two days and that means lots of time to knit. Now I'd better stop whinging about this sock and get on with my chores!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Gothic Spire 01

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor • Om Shanti

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

And now for something completely different; I've made a start on Gothic Spire socks. Just looking at the charts made my  heart leap - a symbol I'd never seen before! Turns out working the new-to-me stitch involves shifting stitches to a cable needle, wrapping them a few times and then knitting the wrapped stitches. As you can imagine, it really slows you down. On the first repeat I used my fifth DPN for a cable needle but that was way too cumbersome. Gavin took an old broken rosewood DPN and made me a much smaller cable needle to shorten the distance around which I have to wrap the yarn. It really makes a tremendous difference.

The yarn is from Studio June Yarns - it's Super Cash Sock in a TexGal Light colourway. It's a gorgeous royal blue and soooo very soft. The colour in the first photo is more accurate than the second, I'd say. I'm going to have to be careful about yarn usage. A number of Ravelers warn that with all these wrapped stitches the pattern is a yarn hog. The recommendation from the designer is 370-555 yards. I've got 430 yards to work with, so wish me luck!

There are four chart repeats to be worked on the leg. I've completed two and have started the third. But there's no hurry as I'm enjoying this pattern tremendously and really loving the way it looks. Although, I'm starting to think that this Year of Projects is really going to be an entire year of knitting in the back loops. It's a Cookie A. thing, I think.

Monday is a civic holiday here - Lord Simcoe day or some such. Aren't long weekends lovely? We've spent the first couple of days at Lake Erie and now it's time to do chores. Laundry awaits!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

Seems I mostly knit socks ... and I mostly blog about knitting socks ... but I don't exclusively knit socks and here's the proof: I've cast on a Sea of Dreams baby blanket. There's a baby boy on the way to relatives in Holland; knitting baby things is fun!

I've knit this pattern before and it's absolutely lovely. Typically I don't knit a pattern twice but for this pattern I'll make an exception. The finished product is very striking and the picot hems and seed stitch borders add gorgeous finishing touches.

The yarn is Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino -what a pleasure it is to knit! I wanted a really good superwash yarn for this blanket, and all my research pointed me to this particular yarn. After a few weeks poking about in LYS I wasn't able to find it in sufficient quantities in a matching dyelot, so I ended up ordering online from It was cheaper than I could source it locally and shipping was free. Six business days later my yarn arrived and I cast on. I'd definitely order from them again!

Now I'd better get back to my knitting. After all, the blanket won't knit itself and the baby won't wait!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Mona

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor • Om Shanti

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

With Rumpled off the needles, and with a few weeks to go before the start date for the next pattern in the Socktopus KAL, I decided to cast on something from Knit. Sock. Love. Although I was initially drawn to Marilinda and Rhombus, it was Mona that seemed the best match for this YvieKnits yarn from my stash purchased in early May at The Gathering in Port Hope.

Somehow I picked a pattern eerily similar to Rumpled: same twisted rib cuff, same twisted rib heel, even the 18 stitch pattern is similar. Seriously, these two patterns are so alike that the greatest challenge was to stay focussed on the Mona pattern and not accidentally reknit Rumpled. No surprise that these Mona socks flew off the needles in no time - just like the Rumpled Socks did.

There's a purl ridge across the top of the toes; that's a little detail I really like. The line of purl bumps makes a nice finish to the instep patterning. And the toe is plain stockinette which I prefer over anything simply for comfort. After reviewing other Raveler's projects I decided to knit 2-1/2 repeats on the leg before starting the heel, but now that they're done I'm sorry I didn't knit another repeat. This finished pair weighs in at 75 grams so I would have had enough yarn for the extra repeat. Not sorry enough to rip them out and redo them though.

The yarn is okay but honestly I'm disappointed with the dye job. It's a mix of teal blues and mallard greens that looked lovely in the skein but once knit it reads like an unevenly dyed solid colour. Can't complain about the yarn base - it's nicely twisted and it knits up beautifully - but I wouldn't go out of my way to buy more. I've already pulled out a skein of a merino/cashmere/nylon blend for the next pair of socks, so onward and upward.

A couple of weeks ago someone asked how many DPNs I use. For this sock I cast on with four needles - three needles holding stitches and a fourth working needle. This is how I learned to knit on DPNs and I still find it the most comfortable. But as soon as I got to the leg with its four pattern repeats I shifted to five needles - four needles holding stitches and a fifth working needle. Having each pattern repeat on its own needle makes it easier to keep track and avoids the need for stitch markers. Additionally, having the stitches arranged on four needles makes it easier to fold flat and tuck in my knitting bag when I'm on the go. As usual, after the heel turn I switched back to four needles - one for the instep stitches, one for each side of the sole and a working needle. I just find that easier for remembering where my round starts. So I guess the answer to how many DPNs is "it depends". There is no right answer so do whatever feels most comfortable.

With a few days left in August, and a few days left before the next pattern in the Socktopus KAL starts, my plan is to start Gothic Spire socks from Knit. Sock. Love. Those look more complicated so we'll see how far I get by next week's update.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Year of Project 4: Rumpled 02

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor • Rumpled! • Om Shanti

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

The subtitle of the book Socktopus is "17 Pairs of Socks to Knit and Show Off" and this Rumpled! pattern lives up to the billing. The finished sock is really striking. The combination of twisted rib and eyelets makes for a very textured pattern with lots of drama - very nice.

And my goodness, was that pattern ever easy! Honestly, other than fighting with a handful of K3tog stitches every fourth round, there was really nothing to it. There was almost no need to refer to the pattern after the first repeat.

All that twisted rib paired with all those eyelets also creates a very stretchy fabric, and that's a must for a well-fitted sock. I'll admit, I was skeptical about 72 sts on 2.25mm needles. Seemed to me there was a strong possibility that I'd end up with a baggy pair of socks, but my fears proved unfounded. I suppose I could have decrease to 68 sts around the foot to make them a bit more snug, but I'm happy with them just the way they are.

I knit the pattern as written with two minor modifications: I made the heel flap 4 rows longer and I grafted the toes at 22 sts. That's one thing in favour of this heel construction - it's easy to adjust for pointy heels, high insteps and thick ankles!

The Sokkusu yarn also behaved itself. There's enough variegation to keep it interesting but not much pooling (other than that dark blob at the bottom of one heel that irks me just a tiny bit). The colour is lovely and it's not at all splitty which makes it nice to work with. Compared to other sock yarns it's on the light fingering side of the spectrum and not very soft; reminiscent of Koigu PPPM I think. Nothing to complain about, but it won't be added to my list of favourite sock yarns.

As I've completed this sock well ahead of the start date for the next pattern in the Socktopus KAL, I've moved on to a pattern from Knit. Sock. Love. But more on that in next week's update!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Rumpled 01

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor • Rumpled! • Om Shanti

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

This is one of those patterns that looks a lot harder than it is. Although the pattern spans 24 rounds, it's easy enough to memorize - one eyelet row is followed by three almost plain rounds, repeat those four rounds twice more, and then shift half a repeat and do it again. And if you can read your knitting, it's dead simple to see where you've left off in case you're picking it up and putting it down. All in all that makes the perfect sock pattern for travel knitting or interrupted knitting between file downloads at work. One word of warning though: don't attempt the K3togs with delicate needles. I'm using steel needles - carbon fiber would also work - but bamboo needles would be risky. SNAP!

The yarn is Sokkusu O, a yarn which was originally offered for sale by Socktopus, but is now dyed on the same base by Whimzy. It's one of the sponsored yarns in the Socktopus KAL. By using this yarn I am supporting one of the sponsors, and as well, I increase my chances in the KAL prize draws. Win, win!

Franz Eugene Khöler
Khöler's Medizanal-Pflantzen 123
This image is in the public domain
because its copyright has expired
The colourway is "Madder". I first learned of madder red dye through Nancy Bush sock patterns; she uses yarns dyed madder red quite regularly. The dye is prepared from the ground roots of plants from the Rubiaceae family and has been in use for centuries. Traces of the dye have been found in fabric samples from the tomb of Tutankhamun. Cool, huh?

I'm making these socks for a friend for whom I knit red socks every December. She'll love to hear the history of the yarn dye; she's always asking for the back story about the yarn and the pattern. And look at that ... nothing last minute about this gift. If I finish the second sock this week then I'm a full five months early. If only I was this organized and timely with all my plans.

One more thing; a lot of people have been asking if I only knit socks. Well no, I don't knit socks exclusively; in fact I just ordered some yarn for a baby blanket and have been queuing patterns for knitted toys and felted slippers. But I do mostly knit socks. Looking back in through my Ravelry project pages 25 of the last 40 projects were socks. Seems I also mostly blog about socks ....  er, when I blog at all.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Year of Projects 4!

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor • Rumpled! • Om Shanti

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

As mentioned last week, I'll start my fourth year of projects by finishing the remaining three patterns in the Socktopus KAL - Rumpled!, Om Shanti and Farmer McGregor. In fact, by the time next week's update rolls around I should be able to show you some good progress on Rumpled! since I've rewound the yarn and cast on already.

Mostly, I can't wait to dig into Knit. Sock. Love. There are two patterns I've knit before - BFF and Monkey, and here too - so I'll leave those until last and then decide whether to knit them again. They're both awesome patterns so I'm open to the idea of doing another pair of each. The patterns in the book as listed at the top of this post are in alphabetical order - I won't feel bound to follow that. I suspect the order will evolve as the mood takes me, and as stash yarn suggest itself. But where to start? Either Rhombus or Marilinda, I think!

And you know, now's the perfect time to join in the fun with A Year of Projects group on Ravelry! Want to knit along?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Year of Projects 3: Year End Wrap Up

SOCKTOPUS: Totally Vanilla • Kandahar • V Junkie • Kwalla • Farmer McGregor • Shur'tugal • 2luvcrew • Vorticity • Rumpled! • Crowley • Om Shanti • Mince Pie Mayhem • Hundred Acre Wood • De Stijl • Fiori di Zucca • Caretta Caretta • Spring Shoots

Hard to believe that we've come to the end of another Year of Projects. And although it's the end of that KAL, three sock patterns remain for the Socktopus KAL. I'll add them to the beginning of my next Year of Projects before moving onto another book.

It's nice to review the past year of projects; to make it easier, I've put together an animated GIF showing each finished pair. For the three to-be-knit patterns I've allocated stash yarn and shown that in place of a FO photo. If you're wondering, I've decided on Sokkusu O yarn in "Madder" colourway for Rumpled, Super Cash Sock in "Cocoa Dusted Truffle" colourway for Om Shanti and Twisted House Cat in "Frog Prince" for Farmer McGregor.

Through the year, readers have commented about my determination to knit every pattern, whether I like it or not. So far, that determination has served me well. In many cases the patterns I don't like before starting, I like better after finishing. Often, those patterns also introduce me to unfamiliar techniques and new heel constructions. And sometimes the socks I don't like are sought after by others. Each to his own. My conclusion is that knitting every pattern makes me a better knitter.

I've also found the KAL experience to be very positive. Having deadlines and being accountable keeps me on track and seems to be the cure for both Startitis and Second Sock Syndrome. Knitting along puts me in a pool of other knitters who can give helpful tips, supportive encouragement and sometimes, constructive criticism. And there's nothing wrong with winding up with more than a dozen pairs of gorgeous hand knit socks! Some to keep and some to give away.

We're headed to a cottage up at Stoney Lake for a bit, so I'm posting this update a day early. I've already packed my knitting so there's sure to be a good update when I get back. Have a great weekend one and all! Happy Canada Day to my countryfolk and Happy 4th of July to my friends south of the border.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Year of Projects 3: V Junkie 03

SOCKTOPUS: Totally Vanilla • Kandahar • V Junkie • Kwalla • Farmer McGregor • Shur'tugal • 2luvcrew • Vorticity • Rumpled! • Crowley • Om Shanti • Mince Pie Mayhem • Hundred Acre Wood • De Stijl • Fiori di Zucca • Caretta Caretta • Spring Shoots

I thought it'd be a finished pair of socks that I'd be showing you today, but the socks didn't get much love this week. I'm just at the point where the instep pattern starts to narrow on this V Junkie pattern. Not too long now; in fact I expect to finish this pair by sometime tomorrow.

Most of today has been spent in the garden. Slowly but surely I'm clearing out the dead wood leftover from a particularly difficult winter. About 20% of my Barberry bush died off, so I snipped out the dead branches and pruned back the rest to reshape it. Three Yucca plants also didn't make it, so they've been removed. That'll leave space for new growth around the remaining two. Both clematis were wiped out so I dug them out and removed the dead wood from the trellises on the back fence. Almost all of the English Ivy was toast, so that's also been cut back severely, with the dead wood removed from the trellises. The fence looks very bare right now; hopefully the ivy that remains will grow aggressively.

It's not all bad news in the garden though. I feared that I had lost my Japanese Maple, but after a slow start it's about 50% covered in leaves. I'll see how well it does over the summer and then decide if I need to prune out any branches in the fall. And then there's my Spindle Tree. For the last few years I've been fighting an infestation of small black leaf eating bugs ... fighting and losing. I was already tentatively planning to remove it and replace it with something else, but it looks like the hard winter was good for something: the tree survived but the infesting bugs did not!

I'll leave you with a photo of one of the branches of my Chinese Flowering Dogwood tree. This tree has been awesome from day one. It is absolutely covered in blossoms this year. The blossoms are a few weeks later this year because of the never-ending winter and the colder than normal spring, but it's a showstopper these days. Happy summer everyone!

Friday, June 20, 2014

FO: Vanellope Latte Socks

Vanilla Latte Socks by Virginia Rose-Jeanes

Yarn: Twinkle Cat in "Vanellope Von Schweetz"

Needles Size: US 00 (1.75 mm)

Modifications: Changed heel construction to an afterthought heel to keep the stripes perfect

Comments: You may have noticed the name of this yarn colourway - Vanellope Von Schweetz - it's named for a character in Disney's Wreck-It Ralph! It's a self-striping yarn that knits up to match Vanellope's own socks. So cute!

The yarn also has 5% stellina content so it twinkles. This is my first experience with stellina and it's been pretty positive. I've made quilts from metallic fabrics which look nice but are not very soft. With this yarn, there isn't a huge amount of metallic content so the softness of the merino is relatively unaffected. Sometimes you can feel a kind of tinsel-y feeling on your needles as you're knitting but for the most part, the stellina is almost undetectable. But my goodness does it twinkle! There's no missing that!

For a self-striping yarn I generally prefer a fairly vanilla sock, and this Vanilla Latte pattern was just the ticket. A bit tedious to knit however; miles and miles of broken rib. They're very nice to look at though. When Jane unwrapped them at her birthday supper she exclaimed that these must be the most gorgeous socks I had ever knit! If you've seen Jane's Etsy Store - Christmas is Magical - you'll quickly realize that Jane is a huge fan of glitter and sparkle, so when I saw the yarn I knew who was meant to have these socks.

These socks were actually finished almost two months ago, but Jane often reads my blog, so they've been a secret until now. I also need to send a big thank you to the ladies at Wandering Cat Yarn. As soon as I mentioned on Ravelry that I wanted some natural colour twinkle cat yarn for the afterthought heels and toes, they were all over it. Rhonda had a package in the mail to me within days. How awesome is that?!

Happy Friday everyone! We've got beautiful sunshine and it looks like a gorgeous weekend ahead. I'm hoping to get out on my Paddle Board for sure!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Year of Projects 3: V Junkie 02

SOCKTOPUS: Totally Vanilla • Kandahar • V Junkie • Kwalla • Farmer McGregor • Shur'tugal • 2luvcrew • Vorticity • Rumpled! • Crowley • Om Shanti • Mince Pie Mayhem • Hundred Acre Wood • De Stijl • Fiori di Zucca • Caretta Caretta • Spring Shoots

I've made good progress this week on this V Junkie pattern - the first sock is done, and I'm two-thirds of the way on the second sock. I still don't love this sock pattern, but I'm more ambivalent about it than when I started. The finished sock looks much more attractive when worn so that's good. And I do like the heel. It's a short row wrap and turn heel worked in garter stitch, and it has a rustic look that I find really appealing. It feels a bit mismatched on this sock, to my way of thinking, but I like it.

This Elann A-Series S01 yarn in Delft Blue is also much nicer than the same yarn in the bleached oak colourway that I used for the last pair of socks. It's softer, more evenly dyed and less splitty. You wouldn't even think they were the same base! If only you could be sure it's all like this batch, it'd be a tremendous deal for heavy fingering superwash/nylon sock yarn at $2.50 per 50 gram ball. It might still be worth the risk. I'm going to finish these socks, wash and wear them a few times, and then decide whether this really is an economical work horse sock yarn.

Now, I'd better run through the shower before my guests arrive! It's a beautiful sunny day and I've got chores to do.