Knitting · Year of Socks

Year of Socks: June

Work in Progress

So I got a little carefree in May, and didn’t cast on my Antirrhinum socks til the end of the month. The pattern is by Rachel Coopey, taken from A Year of Techniques, and uses her Socks Yeah! yarn in 2 colours. I opted to use a lavender shade called Kunzite for the MC, and Malachite as the contrast – a combination which actually reminds me of lavender plants. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed this yarn back when I made my Dave socks at the start of the year. It has a pleasing toughness, handles smoothly with no splitting, and the colours knit up to a subtle semi-solid shade. The pattern itself is clearly laid out, with the option of charts or written instruction for the lace. It is, or should be, an easy pattern to memorise, but I have gone astray a few times through inattention (in my defense, I insisted on continuing to knit these through a horrendous cold). I also set them aside to knit the Maytham shawl, so my tension ended up a bit iffy and the second sock came out a touch looser – which taught me that patterned socks are less forgiving of that sort of thing.

Finished Object

I have mixed feelings about this one. The pattern is interesting, and one I’ll be comfortable wearing (and have I mentioned how much I love Socks Yeah!?), but I can see all the little mistakes, so it will take me a while not to put them on with a tinge of disappointment.

Don’t look too closely 😓

It’s possible that I’ll come back to this pattern, but I suspect with a feeling of wanting to conquer it, rather than because I really loved knitting it.

Next Project

The initial plan was to move on to the second, Guardians of the Galaxy-inspired, installment from the Nerd Sock Club. Some postal mishaps meant that the yarn only just reached me, and I’m struggling to choose a pattern – I want to do it justice, but I also feel like I just want an easy knit. I may use the leftover Kunzite and Malachite to whip up a quick pair of Dave socks. Or I could raid my stash and The Knitter magazine back catalogue of sock patterns to take part in the Perth Festival of Yarn KAL.

Socks away!

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Knitting

Good Intentions Club Q3 Update

A Learning Experience

“What happened to that Q2 sweater?” I hear you ask. I could make all sorts of jokes about where good intentions may lead us, but the simple answer is that once I began I found that I didn’t like the yarn, and I wasn’t that interested in the pattern. I persisted for a while, continually letting myself be distracted by smarter patterns and tastier yarns, before admitting that I wasn’t going to finish a sweater I didn’t want to wear, in wool I didn’t like. I frogged it, donated the wool, and started another pair of socks. Hopefully, what I’ll take from this is the ability to recognise a project that just isn’t working, and move on. Life’s too short to knit things I don’t love.

A Bit of a Dither

After bailing out of the Q2 knit, I struggled to choose a Q3 project. I wanted to pick something that I knew I would finish, and ideally a short project. I find that a quick project, easily completed, can give me the motivation to keep going on a different, longer, more intricate project. I spent some time looking at shawl patterns, but settled on the Johanna Capelet, because I wanted to gift it to my mum, whose birthday was approaching and could act as a deadline.

The Johanna Capelet

Last year I started the capelet, ripped it back 2 or 3 times to fix mistakes, and then frogged the whole thing in a fit of pique.

This time I started from the assumption that I was going to screw up: I made a point of using lifelines, and counted stitches after every row of lace. I had to rip back to a lifeline once, but otherwise it was smooth sailing.

I was really happy with the final result (I forgot to take a picture after blocking), and my mum loved her birthday present. Particularly pleasing, was the realisation of how much my knitting has improved over the past year.

Momentum

With that ‘win’ under my belt less than a month into Q3, I decided to fit in a few more good intentions. I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I’m trying to use up yarn that I’d already wound, so I started there. An orphan skein of Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply became a Worth The Fuss shawl (one of Louise Tilbrook’s relaxing one-skein garter shawl patterns). With that done, and a novel blocking solution discovered, I moved on to another of last year’s abandoned projects: the Morning Pages shawl (also Louise Tilbrook).

Since the plan was to wear it while I write my morning pages, I’d decided the second attempt called for a drapier, squooshier yarn, and bought up all the (now discontinued) Rowan Fine Art Aran in colourway Conga that I could find, with a skein of the semi-solid Squirrel for my contrast. This was another knit that showed me how I’ve gained in skill and confidence over the past year. I did have to fudge the edging a little though as I didn’t have quite enough of the Squirrel, and didn’t feel I could justify buying another skein for the sake of a few rows.

My final project was the Antirrhinum socks from A Year of Techniques, which I originally planned to make for the KAL when the pattern came out, also last year. I won’t go into detail here, as there’s a Year of Socks post coming on that front, but it turned out to be one of those ‘good enough’ FOs.

It’s very satisfying to have four projects off the list, and I feel I’ve built some nice momentum going in to Q4. I have several more sock pattern/yarn combos which could count as good intentions, though I may try to get one of the many sweaters I have lined up done instead. Decisions, decisions….

Knitting · Year of Socks

Year of Socks: Still April

Work in Progress

I got the Double-stripe socks cast on as a travel knitting project for my birthday day out, expecting to then put them aside, and concentrate on my other WIPs. But I fell out with my other WIPs, so I ended up knitting these almost monogamously, and finished them in the space of a week. The yarn is a fairly standard 75% merino/25% nylon sock weight, which was pleasant to knit with. What makes it so special is the way it’s been dyed. The main yarn has been layered with black, blue and purple which create a wonderful effect somewhere between speckled and variegated. As you knit, the yarn ranges through black, grey, aubergine, purple, teal, lilac, sky blue and white. The pop colour has a similar effect, meandering through red, coral, fuchsia, pale pink, and primrose. The two skeins look beautiful together. The pattern is a simple one, mostly twisted rib, with a heel flap and turn, and definitely a good choice for showcasing this special yarn.

Finished Object

I made the medium size, and find it a little tight to squeeze my foot into as the twisted rib has less stretch than regular rib, though they are comfortable enough once they’re on. If I make these again I’ll increase the stitch count for a slightly looser fit. I’ll also make the cuff longer. Overall, I’m happy with how these turned out: they really fit my perception of Jessica Jones, and I’m looking forward to wearing them on days when I need to feel like a badass superhero.

Next Project

This time last year I was still relatively new to knitting, and wound skeins into balls as soon as I got them, whether I planned to knit them or not. I’ve since learned that doing the latter puts unnecessary stress on the yarn, and decided that a simple way to choose my next few projects would be to use the yarns sat ready to knit first. Which in sock terms meant some Coopknits Socks Yeah! in Kunzite and Malachite that I wound last summer. I’d planned to knit the Antirrhinum socks from A Year of Techniques anyway, albeit in different colours, so this is kind of a no-brainer. I’ve got my project bag set up, but I’ll wait till I’ve wrangled those other WIPs into submission before I cast on.

Socks away!

Knitting · Year of Socks

Year of Socks: April

Work in Progress

I had this mad idea that I would rush these and get them finished in March, but, between other WIPs and being ill, my BOB socks proceeded in fits and starts, mostly on bus and car journeys (socks are such a good travel project). This is a great pattern: simple, straightforward, but with options and suggestions that allow you to customise it a little. The short row heel instructions are easy to follow, and I think this might be my favourite kind of heel – I can knit it as I go, and don’t have to pick up stitches. I knit the first sock with bamboo circulars, and did struggle to pick up the wraps with the blunter tips, so I moved to metal sharps for the second socks, which made life much easier, and I think will be my sock needles of choice going forward.

Finished Object

Though you can’t tell from the photo, the second sock ended up noticeably bigger than the other – a pointed lesson in why not to change needle type partway through a project. I’m not going to reknit, however, because the socks are for me, both of them fit, and you can’t really tell once they’re on.

I enjoyed working with the Squirm Sock. It’s an 80/20 blend of merino and nylon, and I was surprised by how much softer that ratio was compared to 75/25 blends of sock weight I’ve used before. I adore this colourway, and am plotting what I might make with a sweater quantity of it.

Next Project

The plan was to knit my A Year of TechniquesAntirrhinum socks next, as I’ve had the yarn sat waiting for ages, but I was seduced away by the arrival of the first Nerd Sock Club parcel from easyknits. The theme was Jessica Jones:

I’ve chosen a pattern called Double Stripe Socks, which calls for 2 colours. I’m excited to get started on these, but have learned my lesson and won’t try to predict when I’ll finish 😂

Socks away!

Year of Socks

Year of Socks: March

Work in Progress

My second project was Katya Frankel’s Brixham sock pattern, which I snagged from an old copy of The Knitter magazine, designed in Eden Cottage Yarns Oakworth DK. I had the specified yarn in the Lichen colourway, and I used magic loop for the first sock, as I didn’t have small circulars in the right size, but caved and ordered them in time to knit sock two as I just find it a smoother and quicker method. Being DK, they sped along nicely, and I turned my full attention to sock two in the week running up to EYF, so that I could wear them to the festival (which turned out to be an excellent plan as it snowed on us). The cuff transitions from rib to a gansey-inspired knit and purl pattern, which I wasn’t too sure about, but looks great when the socks are worn. The pattern calls for a traditional turned heel (my first experience of that), and was clear enough that I didn’t feel the need to resort to my copy of A Year of Techniques. I stuffed up the slipped stitch heel flap on the first one, somehow, and I’m not picking up the stitches as neatly as I’d like when turning the heel, but I think I’ve done quite well for a first attempt.

The Oakworth DK was dreamy to knit with, and I really loved the luminosity of this particular green. This yarn has been in short supply on the Eden Cottage Yarns online shop, and hasn’t featured in an update for a while, so I did speak to Victoria at EYF to ask if it had been discontinued. I was assured that it is on the list to dye again, but they have a wide range of bases, and dye in small batches, so it can take time to get around them all. Certainly a yarn I’ll be keeping an eye out for in future updates from them.

Finished Object

The Brixham socks are a good fit, in terms of length and heel, but I dislike the pointed toe. I think when I knit these again (I do have another cheeky skein of Oakworth tucked away 😄), I’ll decrease at the sides and then graft the toe as I did with last month’s Dave Socks.

Next Project

I picked up a gorgeous skein of Undercover Otter‘s Squirm Sock at EYF, colourway Pieces, and will be casting on Louise Tilbrook’s BOB socks with it. The pattern uses the wrap and turn method for the heel, and is well suited to speckled colourways, so I’m looking forward to the result. I may even finish these before the end of March 😱

Socks away!

Knitting · Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & Week(ends) #21

The Edinburgh Yarn Festival Edition

The Marketplace

 

This year I made a plan for which stands to visit, and what to buy, and I’m pleased to say I largely stuck to it, so I have projects lined up for most of my purchases. The impulse buys: a fabulous skein of DyeNinja’s new High Merino Twist Aran in her Embers colourway, and Rusty Ferret’s blue-purple Space Muffin on her Doll base (she had me at “space”), would suit any number of patterns I own. I had a slightly panicked moment at the Martin’s Lab stand where my bank, confused by a sudden large payment in Polish Zloty, declined the transaction, and blocked my card. Luckily I had a back-up, but who knew I’d need to inform my bank I was going to my local Yarn Festival?!

Beyond the lovely yarns on offer, it was wonderful to spend time with my tribe: I had so many fun moments with fellow knitters, complimenting each other on knitwear, sharing advice on colour choices and potential patterns; and it was such a pleasure to meet so many of the dyers who I interact with on social media, and express my admiration (generally in an incoherent, slightly starstruck way, but I think they got it 😳).

The Darning Masterclass

In the afternoon I attended Tom van Deijnen’s Darning Masterclass. He covered both Swiss Darning, for reinforcement and embellishments, and Sock Darning, used when holes have already formed. My many years of embroidery experience meant that, once I understood how the stitching interacted with the knitted fabric, everything fell into place for me. I’m now eyeing up all fabrics I come into contact with as prospective mending projects. Tom also ran an Advanced Darning Masterclass this year, so I hope that he’ll be back next year as I’d like to learn more.

 

From the mailbag

My new knitting notebook arrived this week (and can be spotted above in my darning pics), and I dealt with my EYF fomo by setting up a section specially for my day at the festival.

Odds and Sods

  • I finished Anna Karenina. Finally!
  • The Darning Masterclass was held at the Water of Leith Conservation Centre. I had a few minutes to look around and will definitely be taking the Tiny Tyrant for a visit.
  • The Truly Myrtle Spring Shawl Autumn Wrap Up KAL cast-on was yesterday (the 17th). I cast my Windsinger on while travelling in to EYF. I’m using Old Maiden Aunt merino cashmere nylon 4ply in colours Cold Sheep and Pretty Floral Bonnet. img_8998The deadline is the 17th May, and you’ll find some beautiful WIPs under #springshawlautumnwrapupkal on social media.

Upcoming

We have a busy week ahead, including a day trip to Amble. I think there may be a Neighbo(u)rhood Sheep Society parcel to collect this week as well, because I spotted a new NSS pattern on Ravelry. And I want to make a push on my Lanes cardigan, as I’d quite like to wear it.

Take care, and don’t let Monday get you down.

Knitting · Year of Socks

Year of Socks: February

Work in Progress

I took the full month to work on these socks as I wanted to finish my Threipmuir sweater, and Rattan shawl. Then I was seduced into casting on my Lanes cardigan. With the 28th looming I set all other projects aside and pushed myself to finish, so that I could cast on my next pair of socks in February. The stop-start progress on the project means that stocking stitch of the first sock is a little scrappy, but I was aiming for my first finished pair of socks, so decided perfection could wait. I pressed on with the second sock so that I could do both heels together at the end. The second sock and heels took 2-3 days, which suggests I could have made these in the space of a week had I not been distracted earlier in the month. This was a lovely straightforward pattern, which I know I will knit again.

Finished Object:

It turns out that my sock blockers aren’t ideal for this particular heel (the decreases spiral in toward a central point, so the heel is pointier as a result), but I did try my finished socks on before blocking and the fit is excellent. I want to try a couple of other patterns, and heel constructions, but Dave is already a strong contender as my go-to plain sock pattern.

Next Project:

February’s sock (I’m casting on today; it counts) is a DK weight in the hope that they’ll knit up faster, and I can catch up to hit my target of knitting 12 pairs of socks in 2018. The wool is Eden Cottage Yarns Oakworth DK, in the Lichen colourway, bought from Gorgeous Yarns last autumn. This is a heel flap construction, so I’ll probably refer to A Year of Techniques when I come to turn my first heel. Results to follow in next month’s update.

Socks away!

Knitting · Year of Socks

2018 – Year of Socks: January

One of my knitting goals for 2017 was to knit my first pair of socks. As the year wore on, and the gift knitting began, it became increasingly unlikely that I’d succeed. So I began plotting to focus on socks in 2018: I prepared for my ‘Year of Socks’ by collecting patterns, sock yarn, and smaller sizes of needle. As it turns out, I did sneak in a pair of socks: my Christmas Eve cast on was a pair of slipper socks, made using Alafoss Lettlopi. It was a quick knit, but very satisfying, and definitely whet my appetite for more socks.

The plan was to cast on much earlier in the month, but I when realised that the first Neighbo(u)rhood Sheep Society parcel would be a sock pattern and yarn, I decided to wait and see whether it was something I thought I could tackle. It’s beautiful yarn, which I wound into balls and swatched with, but a couple of reads of the pattern, Blairdenon, convinced me that I didn’t have the required skills just yet.

Instead, I’ve decided to start with something simple: Rachel Coopey’s Dave socks, knit in 2 colours of her Socks Yeah! yarn, using an afterthought heel. Afterthought heels are covered in both A Year of Techniques, and Sock Anatomy (a Christmas gift) so I feel confident that I have plenty of reference material if I do get stuck.

I’ve only just snuck the cast-on into January, so most of the actual knitting will happen next month. I hope to have a finished object to show you in February’s update, and to be working on my next pair.

Socks Away!

Knitting

Good Intentions Club Q2

My good intentions knit for Quarter 2 of this challenge uses some of the oldest yarn in my stash. This Wendy Merino DK in the Spice colourway was originally intended for a different sweater, back in 2013, which I’ve since fallen out of love with. I still like the colour, and, since sweater quantities of yarn take up a lot of space, I wanted to make use of this.

The pattern, Tiptoe by Louisa Harding, was on sale, and probably bought to push my order total into free postage territory. I like the sleeveless style, but have been put off by the fact that it’s worked flat and requires seaming. When I realised that it would be a decent match for the Wendy Merino, I sat and spent some time figuring out how I would knit it in the round. Luckily, it’s a simple lace repeat, separated by stocking stitch panels, and the shaping works in the round. At the armholes I’ll separate and work the sweater according to the original pattern. I may look at options to bind off the shoulder seams that avoid sewing though.

I’ve cast on, knit the garter edging, and set up the lace pattern. I know I’m terrible at keeping count for lace, so I’ve gone a bit crazy with the stitch markers. I’d already cast on the Threipmuir sweater from the pattern I was gifted in the KnitBritish Small Gestures swap, so I’m expecting to work on this at a more leisurely pace than the Q1 knit. I do have 3 months after all. 😄

Knitting

Hat Month

November is Hat Month here at Casa Polymath. This isn’t something I planned, but rather something which fell together from unrelated hat needs.

None of my existing hats fit comfortably, so I wanted to knit a quick, simple hat for myself. I’d also promised the Technician a hat to go with the cowl I made him last winter. And, of course, the Tiny Tyrant demanded to get in on the action. 

The second group of hats I wanted to make were Christmas gifts, and the brief here was for a series of hats which were quick to make, and different from each other.

Inspired by Louise Tilbrooke’s #hatsforhumans KAL (mentioned in my last post) I decided that I would also use the oddments of wool left from my hat projects to make hats to donate to charity. 

I’m mostly working from free patterns: Tin Can Knits Barley, Emily Dormier’s Quick Ombré Hat, and Joannie Newsome’s Tall Celtic Knotwork Hat. I also have some Woolly Wormhead patterns up my sleeve, and invested in Tin Can Knits’ Strange Brew pattern, which includes a swatch hat and a range of colourwork motifs – perfect for those oddments I mentioned.

Surely that’s enough hats to last a lifetime, I hear you ask. But wait, there’s more: I also joined Woolly Wormhead’s Mystery Hat-a-Long. I’m making Hat B, and am a little behind, having only just finished Clue 1. I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to mention that there’s a lace element to Hat B and I’m very proud that I’ve managed not to screw it up (so far).

I’ve finished 5 hats so far this week, and am hoping to keep up that pace and end November with plenty of hats to gift.

More hat pics soon 😁