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!

Advertisements
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.

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & Week(ends) #20

Cooking on a Bootstrap During Snowmaggeddon

The sudden influx of rewards from projects I’ve backed continued this week with the long-anticipated arrival of Cooking on a Bootstrap from Jack Monroe. It proved to be good timing, as we were then struck by the ‘beast from the east’ snow storm.

While not technically snowed in, in practice, since the buses stopped running along our road, the Technician is working away, and the supermarket is too far for TT to walk there and back even in good weather, we were snowed in. Being unable to get out for supplies encouraged my creativity to make the most of what I found in my cupboard, ably assisted by my newly-arrived cookbook.

Exploration and Reflection

As mentioned a while back, I’m taking part in the KnitBritish Wool Exploration. I submitted my first review, on Gotland wool, in February, and I’m partway through my explorations of Ryeland and Jacob, guided by Louise’s excellent template for notes, which you can find on her blog. I am finding that the number of swatches and pieces of A4 are becoming unwieldy, so decided to use a sketchbook to collate the information.

I chose a sketchbook as the paper will be sturdy enough for me to attach the swatch to the relevant page, and the spiral binding should mean that it copes better with multiple inserts. While the first part will be dedicated to the KnitBritish breed swatches, I’m going to use the rest to start noting down my own impressions of particular breeds and brands.

Tangentially, I started reading Folk Fashion today (a book from my Christmas haul), which is making me realise that I rarely reflect on my making in any structured way – there’s a lot of “ooh, pretty I want to knit (with) that”, but less attention on whether it’s an item I need, or uses what I already have. It can sometimes feel like I’ve shifted focus from high-street consumerism to independent supplier consumerism, and I feel like I need to slow down and unpack that a bit. It seems that the Wool Exploration is part of that thought process too. A topic I may return to if I come to any conclusions worth sharing.

From the Mailbag

For obvious reasons it’s been a slow post week, but my Read The Year book for March made it to me, along with the aforementioned cookbook.

Odds and Sods

  • Libby Johnson of the Truly Myrtle blog and podcast is running an Autumn/Spring Shawl KAL between 17th March – 17th May. I shall be taking part as I’ve wanted to make her Windsinger shawl for a while.
  • Craftsy has been offering unlimited access this weekend, so I’m taking the opportunity to audit a few courses that I’d marked as favourites.
  • If you missed out on the Kickstarter of Cooking on a Bootstrap, Jack Monroe has announced that a revised version is being released via a traditional publisher too.

Upcoming

The worst of the snow is over, and thawing fast, but they’re predicting rain from tomorrow so I expect to get damp when heading out in search of supplies. Nursery is due to re-open tomorrow – a relief because the Tiny Tyrant and I are sick of the sight of each other. My main plans for the week are to knit, and start plotting what I want to do and see at EYF.

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!

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & (Week)ends #19

The Fruits of Crowdfunding

I’ve generally had a good experience with supporting crowdfunded books and games, and this week 2 longstanding pledges arrived:

The Lady and the Tiger, from Jellybean Games, is loosely inspired by Frank R. Stockton’s short story, and includes 5 games, ranging from a solitaire game to 2-6 player options, all using the same components. I’ve only played Hoard, the solitaire game, so far – it’s been a solo parenting week – but I’m looking forward to working my way through the others. And I must just mention that Tania’s artwork is divine. The ladies and tigers are so unique and distinctive that I find myself imagining their backstories as I play – I probably shouldn’t do that when I come to play the pair, and group games though.

My other ‘reward’ was The Secret History of Mac Gaming, which I backed on Unbound. We had Macs at home when I was growing up so any gaming that couldn’t be done on various iterations of Gameboy was done on the Mac. In the ’90s that meant not getting to play the games my console-blessed friends were playing, but it has left me with a lifelong love of the Civilisation series (Civ II was the best; I will accept no debate on this). Timescales on Unbound are typically longer than other types of crowdfunding, but both books I’ve backed have been worth the wait.

From the Mailbag

As anticipated, my copy of Laine #4, and the Ysolda shawl club yarn arrived this week. The latter is the most smooshable blend of Corriedale and Zwartbles, spun specially for the club by John Arbon Textiles (which amused me as I’ve just started my Lanes cardigan in some of their Exmoor Zwartbles blend). My Valentines dice from Q-Workshop also arrived, so I’m well supplied with red D20s.

Odds and Sods

  • Easyknits’ new website is up and running, and as part of the relaunch they’ve announced a new Nerd Sock Club, which will include a skein of sock yarn and a pin, themed around a nerdy topic, sent out bi-monthly. Naturally, I signed up.
  • I’ve been enjoying Reedsy’s bite-sized writing emails over coffee this past week. I’ve finished Kristen Kiefer’s How to Plot a Novel Using the 3-Act Story Structure, which I thoroughly recommend, and have moved on to How to Start Writing a Book. Can you tell my writing motivation is low right now? 🙂
  • We’re trialling the monthly ToucanBox as the Tiny Tyrant is blazing through the fortnightly craft boxes when they arrive. The Grande box includes 2 crafts, a book, and a list of activity ideas around a theme (adventure, most recently). The books we’ve had have been excellent, and ToucanBox are generous with the craft supplies. If you’d like to try a free Petite box, click here.

Upcoming

It doesn’t seem possible that we’re at the end of February already. I expect to finish my first ‘Year of Socks’ socks in the next day or so, and cast on the next pair before March arrives – all of which I’ll devote a post to during the week. I suspect that I also have a school shoes trip to Clark’s in my immediate future. Oh, joy.

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

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds and (Week)ends #17

I’ve skipped this update for the past couple of weeks, and my only excuse is that the Technician is now in that silly season where all concept of a working week goes out the window and I never know what day it is.

Startitis, and a Few Things I’ve Finished

I’ve been suffering from startitis all through January and into February. My ideal is to have three WIPs at any one time: the travel project (small enough to knit while out and about), the tv knitting (a bigger project in stocking stitch or a memorable pattern repeat), and something a little tricky (any project that demands I keep a close eye on the pattern and have minimal distractions). Somehow I’ve had 5 WIPs for most of the past month, and it’s started to feel a little pressuring.

I decided to concentrate on Threipmuir (since I want to wear it), but stopped between stages to complete smaller projects like my Blacker PodKAL legwarmers and my Wool Exploration swatch – using little victories to motivate me for all that stocking stitch in fingering weight yarn. This weekend I’m knitting a little on my Dave socks while I work on finishing and blocking the pile of finished objects I already have.

The next step is to review my queue of planned projects, and prioritise, by deciding which are things I need in my wardrobe and really want to knit. I think the Lanes cardigan from Laine #1 is pretty high up on both counts. But that will need to wait until I’ve finished another of my current WIPs.

Putting Pen to Paper

I’ve been struggling to regain my writing mojo over the past few months (not helped by the distractions of illness, study, Christmas…). I have my projects set up in Scrivener so that I can sync them to the app on my phone via Dropbox. In theory, this means I can jot down notes, get some writing done while out and about, or revise earlier work, when I have the time – all very efficient since I don’t have a desk/study space at the moment. In practice, I find a blank screen far more paralysing than a blank page, so it just hasn’t been working. With that in mind I’ve accepted that I capture my thoughts quicker working with pen and paper, and that I will need to type up what I’m working on – which meant convincing myself that it’s an opportunity for another revision, rather than a dull chore that’s slowing me down – and bought a couple of packs of exercise books. My plan was to write 350 words a day this year, so hopefully this will get me back on track. I’ll let you know how it goes.

From the Mailbag

It’s been all about the knitting technique books this week, but I also picked up some yarn in the Countess’ sale as the Technician has requested his own hi-vis hat.

Odds and Sods

  • Most of my February knitting time has been to Audible accompaniment – Andrew Roberts’ Napoleon the Great. I don’t consider myself a fan of military history, but I’ve been gripped by the retelling of his battles; even knowing the outcome of Austerlitz, or the retreat from Moscow, it made for tense listening.
  • Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was one of my favourite games of 2012. It doesn’t have the emotional pull of a Dragon Age, because interaction with NPCs is minimal, but the size of the world and depth of the lore is impressive. It’s also a good one for playing in small doses, which I’m currently doing.
  • The Tiny Tyrant has had me watching Trolls. It’s not as awful as I thought it would be; I may have purchased a song from the soundtrack. 😳

Upcoming

Half-term week means I will mostly be entertaining the Tiny Tyrant, with knitting, gaming, and anything else squished into the few hours between her bedtime and mine. We do get to go to the library though.

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

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!

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds and (Week)ends #15

I’m feeling exhausted today as I’ve been parenting solo on a busy, busy week, so this post will be short and sweet, and probably not proofread.

#KB100DECK

It’s always a little daunting to go to an event on your own, so I’m pleased to report I had a really great time. It was nice to meet some local knitters, there were great info sessions with Blacker Yarns (a lot of discussion around the ethics of wool), and New Leaf Yarns (their origin story, and a meet-and-greet with their range of yarns), prizes, cake, a chance to buy yarn, and lots of coffee and knitting. I’d cast on my Blacker PodKAL project (Stephen West’s Dustland Legwarmers in the Splosh colourway of Brushwork) on the bus, and by the time I got home I had 2/3 of a legwarmer. Not bad. I couldn’t resist a skein of New Leaf Yarns Alpaca/BFL/Teeswater blend, and then couldn’t resist casting on a Rattan shawl. I think my other WIPs are going to languish a bit this week. All in all, a fun day, and a real privilege to be able to celebrate 100 episodes of KnitBritish with Louise.

From the Mailbag

It was pretentious book week:

Odds and Sods

  • The Tyrant Tyrant referred to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery as “the statue shop with lots of stairs” and I giggle every time I think about it (obvs I’m very proud that she’s asked to go there again).
  • I’ve been made to watch a lot of Trollhunters this week. It’s good enough that I may have to rewatch it in my own time.
  • I’m reading Shirley, and it is doing nothing to dispel my feeling that Charlotte was the dullest and most overrated of the Brontës.

Upcoming

I have a tutorial next weekend, so I need to get my head down and study. I expect to make good progress with my Rattan shawl, and may feel the need to talk to you about socks. I make no promises.

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