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?