crafts · knitting · Life · yarn

Where I’ve been, and where I’m going…

2008 is almost over, so it’s time for the obligatory year end wrap up post!

In 2008 I completed 31 fiber projects.  That breaks down as 18 sweaters, 3 hats, 1 scarf, 4 shawls, and 4 pairs of socks.

I took a little break in the summer/fall to work on the house, but I’m back in the swing of things now!  This is the year that I learned I can knit lace – I made my first real lace shawl, the Shetland Triangle.  I also learned that I am unlikely to enjoy really complicated lace, and that I wear my rectangular stoles more often.  I rediscovered sock knitting (and sock yarn) after a long hiatus caused by trying to knit too many boring stockinette pairs.  I realized that I do not love knitting sweaters in one piece, but I will do it for the right pattern.  Six of the sweaters this year were knit in one piece, but they all made me curse their very existence at some point.

In my personal life, we bought our first house together and moved in July.  I discovered a great love of color when choosing my colors to paint the house.  Marc’s sister is having a baby in March, and I will be an aunt for the first time (important because I’m not sure that we will have children of our own.)  I survived turmoil at work, and started teaching out of my home in September (a long time dream of mine!)  We celebrated our first wedding anniversary in August, and I realized how lucky I was to have someone who shares my (admittedly unusual) views on life.

I am not so big on resolutions in my personal life, but knitting goals are easier to achieve, so… here is what I want to do this year:

1. Knit at least 1 pair of socks per month (I’ve joined a few knitalongs and found it really helps with motivation.)

2. Design a sweater for myself

3. Don’t buy sweater yarn too far ahead… I find I tend to get yarn for a project, then forget about it, and then be stuck with yarn I have to use up or destash.  I don’t mind having a stash at all (and sock yarn in particular does not matter here) I just want to be sure that I’m using yarns that I love, and that the yarns I’m using are a good match for the project.

And that’s all… other than that, I’m fine with continuing the way I’ve been going!

Speaking to #1 on my list, I wound up the yarn for the socks I want to make in January.

On the left is Fleece Artist Sea Wool to be used for a pair of Hedera socks.  I have never made lace socks or one of Cookie A.’s patterns, so I am looking forward to it.  The other yarn is by Yarn Chef on Etsy – it’s a self striping yarn in various shades of pink.  I’m planning to knit Back to Basics from Knitty, and to conquer the toe-up socks.  My last attempts were not successful, but hopefully this will keep me interested so that I can knit toe up in the future.  I bought this yarn last year, but haven’t knit it yet because I was worried about durability (it is very springy and not too tightly twisted.)  I’ve decided to take my chances, and hopefully have pretty pink socks for Valentine’s day.

I’m continuing to work on Amelia.  I am past the waistband now, and working towards the buttonholes.  I did not take it with me over Christmas, and the twisted stitches are kind of slow going (and make my wrists hurt a bit.)  It’s lovely though, so I’m going to really focus on it for a few days to see how far I get.

Dionne (above) is clearly not amused that I am using her bed for photos.

crafts · finished objects · knitting

FO: Gentleman’s Fancy Socks

Pattern: Gentleman’s Fancy Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush

Yarn: Colinette Jitterbug in Velvet Damson, 1 skein

Needles: US 0

Notes: Though I have many, Knitting Vintage Socks is possibly my favorite book of sock patterns.   The patterns are beautiful and classy without being overdone, and most are approachable to knit.  This sock is actually written for a man’s foot, and I think it would make a lovely man’s dress sock.  I reduced the number of stitches to cast on from 80 down to 60, which fits me very well.  I also swapped the heel for a slip stitch heel, and knit the toe for considerably less length than called for, though I did use the wide toe decreases, which I do not find convincing.

Jitterbug is a controversial yarn, if ever there were such a thing.  There are stories of many knots, dye lot changes, fuzzing, and short yardage.  Of these, I have only experienced the short yardage.  Below is the amount I had left over from my size 8 socks (9.5″ total heel to toe, 6″ leg.)

I could not have gotten another pattern repeat on both socks, I don’t think, though it’s possible I could have squeezed it out.  Still, a 6 inch leg is pretty much my ideal – long enough to not be ankle socks, but not enough to fall down.

Honestly, I love Jitterbug.  It’s a very heavy fingering weight, which I knit on size zeros for durability (the socks felt stiff before blocking, but are lovely now.)  It has a tightly twisted feel – it is rather a hard yarn, compared to something like koigu.  The colors are gorgeous – both the semisolids like my yarn, and the pretty multis, many of which have really interesting color combinations.  I have a skein of Slate in my stash, which I’m planning on using to make a pair of Monkeys sometime this spring.  I can’t speak to the durability of the yarn yet, but it was a pleasure to knit up.  As long as the socks don’t fall apart I can see myself using this many times in the future.

crafts · knitting

Happy Holidays!

I’m about to head off for the first Christmas service.  After that it’s one family gathering or work obligation after another, so I thought I would wish you all happy holidays now!

And also share this pretty picture of Amelia in progress…

I love the pattern.  I also finished  a sock, with seemingly no effort (I love simple socks for carrying with me!)

I will work on the other while we are visiting Marc’s family in Cincinnati.   I love the pattern and the yarn, but I am not thrilled with the toe (the wide toe from Knitting Vintage socks.)  See you all after the rush!

crafts · knitting

The winner is…


I’m not convinced it will be a quick knit – I’m always a little slow on things knit in one piece.  The yarn is so pretty, though it does dye my fingers.  I hope I have enough yarn – I’m knitting the 34″ size at 5.25 st/in to get a slightly smaller size (around 32″)  One of my skeins is a little underweight, and I’m also alternating skeins because of dyelot differences.

I think it will even out that way.  I have the right yardage in theory, but I’m worried about that underweight skein.

Wisteria was a somewhat close second in the vote, and the Blooming Cardigan got plenty of votes as well.  I will knit them all soon, I hope.  Wisteria will need to happen while it’s winter, while the Blooming cardigan can probably function in the early spring because of its lavender color.

I received an Ott Lite for Christmas -even though it’s early, I already have it out of the box!  I never really got the point of these, but now I do.  I didn’t realize how much squinting and guessing I did at night – but now even my socks in dark yarn are easy to see when knitting at night!

crafts · knitting · patterns

What now? (help me choose!)

Thank you to everyone who commented on my FOs yesterday – your feedback really means a lot to me!

I’m glad that Christmas is almost here – soon the rush will be over!  We’re going to my in-laws for two days after Christmas (then I have to go back to work, though Marc is off until Jan 5th.)  I’m trying to decide on my next projects.  I did start a new sock, something that is easy to work after the cozy cable socks!

This is the “Gentleman’s Fancy socks” pattern from Knitting Vintage Socks. The yarn is Colinette Jitterbug in Velvet Damson, which I got as a present last Christmas – I thought it was time to use it up!  I actually started several patterns, but this yarn is such a dark blue that nothing really showed well.  I especially loved the pattern for “Child’s French Sock,” also from the same book, but I want to make it in a lighter color (green, I think.)  Anyway,  these will be really pretty when they are done, which shouldn’t take long because the pattern is so terribly easy.

My next sweater is a harder choice.  I have three patterns I’m thinking of, with yarn for each… I’m soliciting opinions, so vote for your favorite!

Blooming Cardigan from Interweave Winter 08.  I’m going to make it without the belt, and in a more fitted size.

Wisteria in Araucania Nature Wool.  I’m knitting to a smaller gauge to get a smaller size than the 37″ bust small, and I’m nervous about that…

Amelia from Knitty Winter 08 in Madelinetosh worsted.

So… which one should I make now?

crafts · finished objects · knitting

FO: Climbing Vines Pullover

Pattern: Climbing Vines Pullover, Interweave Knits Winter 08

Yarn: Dream in Color Classy in Chinatown Apple, 2.75 skeins

Needles: US 8 and US 7

Notes: I think Interweave Knits suffers from several problems lately, but after knitting this pullover I’m not sure that dowdy designs is one of them.  I was attracted to the lace panel in the magazine, but honestly I thought that the sweater looked pretty dowdy and awful on the pretty model in the magazine.  First of all, she was wearing a long sleeved button down shirt under it, which creates unflattering lines, and then the sweater she was wearing was too large for her.  I am wearing this sweater with three inches of negative ease in the bust.  That may seem like a lot (it did to me) but to be honest this is one of the few pullovers I own that I feel fits like my storebought sweaters.

I knit the front by hand, and knit the stockinette portions of the back and sleeves on the Bond.  After knitting them I transferred the hem stitches to size 7 needles, and knit the ribbing by hand.  To be honest, I cannot tell the difference between the handknit and machine knit portions.  For the most part I found the pattern to be clear and easy.  I did shorten the body by 1 inch in length (I like pullovers at 14″… the pants I’m wearing are very low waisted, it is not too short.)  I also did one extra set of decreases for the waist, since I wanted this to be formfitting.  The neckline as written is quite wide, but I really like wide necklines, especially if (as in this case) holes in the lace require the wearing of a tank underneath.  It does not fall off the shoulders – it is merely pulled to one side in these photos.  However, if you don’t like a wide neckline you might want to consider altering this.

I liked knitting with Classy much more this time than my last experience.  I don’t know if this is because of the color, or because I wasn’t knitting garter stitch.  I did find some vegetable matter in the yarn, which surprised me, but it wasn’t very much, and it wasn’t large splinters or anything.

This was a very pleasant experience, and I am glad to find the Bond useful for the purpose I wanted it – to knit the boring bits of some sweaters, and free me up to enjoy the rest (the lace panel here was quite enjoyable.)  I’m not sure how much faster is was, since I it’s a bit cumbersome to knit a piece, and I tended to knit a piece and then stall for a few days on the next, but at least during that time I was able to work on other things by hand.  I’m very interested now in seeing how the other sweaters in IK might look in more appropriate sizes.  For instance, the cover sweater from the winter issue, the Blooming Cardigan, is clearly huge for the model.  I’m thinking it might be far nicer in the smallest size (and without the belt) so I may make that soon.

As usual, I had to get the Sarah Jane seal of approval.

She is mildly amused.  I have promised her a sweater of her own, and I will interpret her cries as cries of joy!

crafts · finished objects · knitting

FO: Cozy Cable socks

Pattern: Cozy Cable socks by Terry Morris

Yarn: Dream in Color Starry in Cinnamon Girl

Needles: Knitpicks dpns, size 0

Notes: I wanted to make these socks from the moment I first saw them on Ravelry.  I love knitting socks, but rarely am I so struck with a pattern that I must make it right away.  I decided these would be my socks to wear for Christmas (it is very important in my mind to have special Christmas socks) so I ordered some Dream in Color yarn in sparkly red and got started right away.

The pattern was incredibly easy to follow.  It was divided up into lots of little charts for every step, and you only had to follow them in order.  I did the cables without a cable needle, which I prefer for socks.  They took me 9 days to complete, working at the same time as a sweater.  The leg chart took the longest – the pattern on the foot is easy and was at least twice as fast.  I did think that the toe directions were a bit long, so I shortened them.

I have mixed feelings on the yarn.  On one hand I really like the color, and I appreciate that it isn’t super skinny.  On the other hand this is supposed to be a semi-solid, but it really isn’t (it looks a little bit in the photos, but doesn’t appear that way in real life.)  The silver bits tend to come loose, and are pretty long strands which give the socks a fuzzier look than I prefer (and look a bit like lint to me sometimes.)  The yarn was a little splitty too.  I haven’t knit with smooshy, so I really can’t say how similar it was, but I plan on getting some in the future to try out and compare.

I would highly recommend giving these socks a try!

books · crafts · knitting

Book Review: Knitting socks with Handpainted Yarn

The other day I was shopping at Amazon for my sister-in-law’s Christmas present, when I noticed that this book (which I had not seen before) was now shipping.  Since Folk Socks, which I was going to get, had a long shipping time (I ordered it from Knitpicks instead) I got this lovely book.  I’m so glad that I did!

I will tell you right off the bat that I love books about sock knitting for some reason.  Once Folk Socks arrive I will own all of Nancy Bush’s books (she is my sock hero.)  I love Favorite Socks, and even the Vogue Sock Book, errors and all.  But more than sock books, more even that knitting socks, or wearing handknit socks, I love sock yarn.  Perhaps you have noticed, yes?  In fact, today I had an exceptionally good meeting, and as a reward?  I got a skein of one of the yarns used in this book.  But sometimes, of course, we all end up disappointed in our yarn once knit up.  I know I have destashed more than one skein that pooled hopelessly for me (and went on to make lovely socks in someone else’s hands.)  This book helps to give solutions you can work with.

The first part of the book is dedicated to a basic overview of color theory.  After reading the section I looked over my sock yarn stash (and thought about the ones I’ve given away) and realized that the ones I love the most are the ones where the color values are all similar.  Yarns are divided into three types – muted multis, nearly solids, and wild multis.  Patterns are marked as to which ones will work with which yarn.  There is also  discussion of dying methods, and how it affects the yarn’s pooling potential.

Of course, we all came for the patterns, and the book does not disappoint.  There are patterns from some big names (Ann Budd, Veronik Avery, Nancy Bush) as well as lovely patterns from newcomers to me.  Most patterns are written for several sizes, which is unusual for a sock pattern.  None of the patterns look super hard to me, and all are charted (I have discovered that I can’t knit socks without charts because I can’t memorize the pattern.)  Highly recommended, especially if you have a sad sock yarn habit like me (is there a 12 step program?)  Below are some more of my favorites… I have actually knit with two of the colors used before (the heel/toe color of the first sock is Shibui sock, and it still makes me mad how it pools as a semi-solid)  I’ve also used the Red Tail hawk Bearfoot that Nancy Bush uses for her socks (second pair) and I think they would be even lovelier in a different color… I find that Bearfoot obscures patterns because of the mohair, and that yarn is super dark (but comfy I know!)  Oh, and the yarn I bought?  Colinette Jitterbug in Slate, seen in the purplish pair above.  I love Jitterbug, short yardage or no… the feel of the base yarn is excellent, and it isn’t super skinny, and the colors are so pretty… of course, my socks will be shorter because I’m too cheap to buy 2 skeins, but no matter…

crafts · knitting · yarn

Gloomy day yarn

Since it’s a gloomy day here (we had snow and ice last night) and I have to go to work tonight (Advent reconciliation service) I thought I would cheer us all up with some random yarn prettiness.  These are the latest additions to my sock yarn stash.

Socks That Rock lightweight in Moonstone. I bought this during their 15% off sale last week.  I have another order coming with mediumweight in 24 karat and heavyweight in rosebud.  I’ve never used this yarn, but I’ve always been curious about the frenzy.  They have some more solid colors now, so pooling is less of an issue.  I’m thinking of Chalet Socks or some sort of lacy pattern.

Fleece Artist Somoko in Beet. So pretty.  This yarn contains mohair, so I expect it will fuzz up a bit, but the color is gorgeous.

Fleece Artist Sea Wool in Silver. Absolutely looks like silver.  Love the crunchy, springy feel.  I can’t wait to knit with this, I hope I can find a deserving pattern!  I love fleece artist and handmaiden yarns in general, so I’m pleased that these yarns are so nice.  I also want to try Casbah, Handmaiden’s sock yarn with cashmere in it.

I finished my first Cozy Cable sock.

It’s pretty and fits well (those cables really pull in!)  I am not so enamored of the yarn, but more on that later.

Right now I am eating Qdoba for a quick dinner, and I’ve just finished knitting the back of the climbing vine pullover on the machine.  I decided to go ahead and machine knit the stockinette, because I have so many sweaters still to get to this winter, and as much as I love the yarn I love my tendonitis less (I always knit too fast on stockinette and wind up having to take knitting breaks!)  Right now my tendonitis isn’t bad, but with Christmas and Christmas jobs coming up, who knows how I will fare.

crafts · knitting · Life

December blah

Yesterday (Friday Dec 12th) was my last day off until December 26th.  I’m trying not to be grumpy about it, but I sort of hate all the stress that comes with the holidays for me (I have a job where I will never get Christmas off, ever.)  There is the stress of family, and family expectations (of course) and that combines with work stress and an endless stream of holiday parties (parties are not easy for me… I am too shy, and usually stressed out around the holidays.)

I haven’t actually done any Christmas shopping yet either, and I’m feeling pretty cranky about the whole thing.  I’ve decided to call my socks “Christmas socks” to cheer me up.

I think you can tell my stress level by how complicated a chart I’m willing to follow.  It distracts me.  And yes, there is a purl in the midst of one of my cables on the first repeat, which I wil not be ripping back to fix… it really is not noticeable when not in extreme closeup mode.

I also cast on for the climbing vines pullover.  I love the way the pattern looks in this yarn.  I was worried that it would obscure the vines, but I’m really happy with how it looks.  I’ve done another repeat of the pattern since I took this photo, and it’s going quickly.  I’m making the smallest size, and it looks tiny, but I’m counting on the yarn stretching a bit the way it has for me in the past.  If it doesn’t, then I’ll just have a super fitted sweater.  The chart for this sweater is super easy to follow.  I was was considering knitting the back on the bond, but I love this yarn so much that I might reconsider that idea…

Now I must be off to get ready for work tonight…