Before Sock, After Sock

I’ve been putting time and energy into Starsky and finished the body last night. (And I must say, I’m relieved the sleeves are plain.) So I haven’t even finished the cuff of the second Endpaper Mitt, or started another sock.

A good reason to delay starting a sock was that Artisan Books rang to say this was in:

Cat Bordhi’s “New Pathways for Sock Knitters”. I wanted to check it out before picking a new sock project.

It’s certainly an innovative book, though by now I’ve seen plenty of socks knit from it, or comment on it, so the ideas within it weren’t a surprise or revelation. Once you read the intro and how the whole idea of putting gusset increases in different places came about, each of the different sock ‘architectures’ makes perfect sense.

I’d already tried out one last year on my Quick & Dirty socks, after attempting a pair of Cat’s socks in VK mag that had the same sort of shaping. Now I’m thinking I’ll try another one next instead of the plain pair I had planned.

But the book also had me thinking of an idea I’d already had for approaching sock shaping, and then another one popped into my head last night. Both possibly dodgy, but I won’t know if they’ll work or not until I try them out.

At the same time I’ve been planning new socks, I’ve been recyling old ones. Into wristwarmers:

Another pair are long enough that I’m tempted to turn them into mini leg warmers. Would I wear mini leg warmers? I dunno – but it certainly has been cold lately.

Crosswalker Socks

They are done!

I love the way they look, but I must admit, that second sock felt as if it took a lot longer than the first. Probably more because I got a little tired of the yarn, which is good old robust but rather stringy Regia, rather than the pattern. My, how fussy I’m getting about sock yarn lately!

Starsky is up to the armholes:

I was wrong about the time it took to do the 12 row repeat of the pattern. It took up to an hour and forty minutes. This is definitely a concentration-demanding project, especially when I’m knitting the body in one piece. But I’m enjoying it and the feeling I’m stretching myself.

I’ve finished the first Endpaper Mitt:

Though the pattern is simpler than other colourwork, and has lots of repetition, for some reason I haven’t succeeded in memorising it. But it’s well worth it the effort. The pattern fits beautifully and the yarn is so nice I may become a convert to cashmere.

I extended Mum’s hat brim and added some piping added to hold the shape. (But I didn’t bother taking a photo, as it’s an old FO.)

I also wove up a scarf in the WWKIP day novelty yarn gift, and it proved to me yet again that weaving can make beautiful objects of difficult yarn. At s’n'b it was admired with amazement, and the lovely Andrea gave it an appreciative home. But I was so careful to pack it away ready to take to s’n'b that I forgot to take a photo.

The loom wasn’t empty for long. I’d tried weaving the eucalyptus yarn with itself with no success – it was still very gappy. So out came the linen thread used for Bananarunna. It proved to be exactly the warp this needed. No more gaps:

Lesson learned: the ropier the yarn, the thinner and less elastic the warp needs to be.

Want Now

The Interweave Knits fall preview is up, and I like nearly everything in it.

The Dumpling Bags – and I rarely like bag patterns, but these are cuuute
The Tweedy Waistcoat – my fave of the garments
The Bacchus and Knotty or Knice Socks – not too complicated from the looks
The Fresco Fair Isle Mitts – but then, I like everything fair isle at the moment
The Far Afield Vest – though I’d probably shorten it
The Little Blue Sweater – though I’d probably lengthen it
The Estes Vest – caaaaables
The Backstage Tweed Jacket – which looks a bit big for the model
The Biased Eyelet Stole – me liking a ‘lacy’ stole? You’re kidding

And top of the list, the Winter Twilight Mitts. Want. To. Knit. NOW.

The Adventure of Giving

It arrived! It arrived! Yesterday afternoon I logged onto Ravelry for the umpteenth time and found my swap recipient had left thanks for the parcel I’d sent her.

Deciding what to knit my swap recipient took a bit more ‘stalking’ and guess work than my previous one, as she has a very new blog. She requested mittens or a scarf, and I decided that I would knit the first and weave the second. I noted that her favourite colour was pink, and she also liked red and grey.

My first thought was to weave a wide, long scarf in some natural wool/cashmere and then dye it pink, so I warped up the loom and started weaving. Then I searched Ravelry’s database of mitten patterns. The Knitty pattern Corazon caught my eye. Since I was already making something pink, I decided to knit these in red and white instead:

Comments by other knitters who had made these gloves indicated they often come out too long, so I decided to ask my recipient how long her hands were. (Just as well, as I did need to shorten them.) But to conceal which project I was making – or rather, that I was making both – I also asked how long she preferred her scarves.

She said she liked her scarves short. Very short – more like neckties or cowls. Oops. So I had to knuckle down and get the wide, long scarf off the loom so I could start something more suitable. I wasn’t sure there was time to go ordering yarn, so I turned to the stash and found some Nundle yarn that couldn’t have been pinker. But I had only one ball so I had to calculate carefully the width of the scarf so it would still end up long enough to wrap around a neck.

I worked out a method not unlike how you calculate wraps per inch – winding the yarn around a piece of wood about the width I thought the scarf would be. Then I warped up and started weaving. And it turned out just big enough to fold over itself around my neck.

Small scarves seem more like decoration than something to keep you warm, so I decided this was more like jewellery than knitwear. It needed a bit of glitter or shine, so I added some beads to the fringe. Then I added a button and an adjustable loop for fastening.

Both of these projects were entirely new to me. I’d never made a short scarf or fair isle mittens. The mittens got me addicted to fair isle knitting, and the scarf has me considering taking the weaving all the way to the jewellery side by using wire and beads. That’s one of the great benefits of swaps. They can challenge you to try something new.

For extra goodies I looked to my recipient’s Ravelry profile again. I saw she liked spinning, so I added some red-pink roving. Her pic showed her drinking wine which got me thinking of the Ravelry ‘ripped’ and ‘frogged’ shot glasses. Considering how to fasten the scarf had me thinking about pins, and when I went to order the glasses I saw the Ravelry buttons and had one of those ‘aha!’ moments. (Of course, I had to order some shot glasses and buttons for myself at the same time.) I reused the box the glasses and buttons arrived in, with the Ravelry sticker on the side, to post it all.

All in all, it was a fun swap to participate in, made all the better by hearing how much my recipient loved her gifts. Turns out she’s heading to the snow next week, and was madly knitting mittens and hats for herself and her companions, so this meant one less item to knit!

We’ve Got You Covered swap

Last week was mail-out week for the latest Ravelry Australian Knitters Group swap. I sent my recipient’s gift off last Tuesday, registered mail, but there’s been no indication it has arrived yet. I even took the form to the post office yesterday, but they couldn’t tell me if it had arrived as the phone at the other end was engaged.

But they did have a parcel for me. Inside was this:


And inside that were these:

(I whipped out a bottle of bubbly so I could try out the cosy straight away.)

I requested a champagne bottle cosy or wrist warmers and my very generous swap pal, missfee, made both. The cosy is appropriately glam and is now sitting on the mantle so I can admire it. The pulse warmers are a work of art, knit out of fine baby alpaca and covered in tiny, tiny beads. I wore them yesterday afternoon and most of the evening, only taking them off to avoid getting hand cream on them.

Here’s a close up of them:

And of the beautiful stitch markers. Last night I went through my little collection of markers and culled some to make room for these. The ones that I removed were a bit tired and worn and it’s lovely to have fresh, sparkly new ones in there. (Who’d have thought you could wear out stitch markers?)

The yarn is Cascade Fixation – a yarn I wanted to try for summer socks. I did a search on Ravely to see what other people have made out of it, but nothing I saw could tempt me away from wanting to knit socks. The most popular sock pattern was Broadripple, but I think I’ll be a bit over chevrons by the time I’ve finished my Crosswalkers. Another pair of Charades appeals, though.

The bottle cooler is going to come in very handy, as I never remember to put a bottle of wine in the fridge until five minutes before it’s time to serve it! And the beau and I are doing our bit to decimate the world’s chocolate frog population.

So on the receiving side of the swap it’s been wonderful, but I am a bit worried about the sending side. The post office said they’d call me when they knew where the parcel had got to. They didn’t call yesterday. I hope they call with good news today.

Doing a Runner

This table runner will go on top of an old buffet cabinet in the guest room.

I’m going to warp up and make some matching bedside table mats, and perhaps some pillows, too. But I might do a few other small weaving projects first. I still want to weave that WWKIP day challenge yarn, and keep experimenting with the eucalyptus dyed handspun. You know, maybe I need to get a second loom…

On the knitting front, I have completed the first Crosswalker sock:

I’m not enamoured with the way the cuff sits, but I absolutely love the way the ‘v’ on top of the foot flows into the toe.

Yesterday I was in the city, so I popped into Cleggs. Lots of discounted yarn there… which I didn’t buy. But also some yarn I hadn’t seen before:

Paton’s bamboo/cotton blend yarn. I’ve been looking for a yarn to crochet baby blankets out of that isn’t wool (because it can’t be bleached) or contain acrylic (because it melts onto baby’s skin if it happens to catch fire). This yarn is too expensive to make an entire baby blanket out of, unfortunately, but I’ve been thinking that baby bibs might be a quicker, less expensive alternative. Or, at least, small enough to try out yarns on.

Patonyle! In the new labels, but not 100 grams skeins as I’d been told to expect the new yarn in. So is it the new Patonyle, or just the last batch that ACS had balled up to tide us over? I don’t think I’ve seen this pale blue-grey before.

It happens that the colour is just what I’m looking for for this:

Actually, the pattern calls for ‘slate’, ‘natural’ and ‘robin’s egg’. The dark aqua Patonyle is pretty close to the slate. This new blue-grey isn’t quite what I’d call ‘robin’s egg’ but I think it will work well enough.

Because I don’t really use mittens, I’m planning to make these into socks instead. I’ll knit the cuff first, see how stretchy it is, and if it isn’t stretchy enough for the foot of the sock I’ll just do stocking stitch from the heel down.

Only down side I can see at this point is having that song going ’round and ’round and ’round my head.

When Sock Yarns Go Bad

Remember these?

These Butterfly Bows socks were favourites from my Bust Out of The Box Sock Challenge last year. I love the pattern. I loved the yarn – Colinette Jitterbug. Here are those socks now:

Shrunken, felted shadows of their former selves. What happened? I’m not entirely sure. All I can guess is, the yarn isn’t as machine washable as it says it is.

I read or heard recently that most people use only one or two settings on their washing machine. This amazed me, since I use nearly all the twelve or so settings on mine, if you don’t also count that spin speed and temperature can be adjusted. It’s a front-loader so it’s much gentler on clothes than top-loaders. I wash my socks on a gentle cold cyle and have had no trouble until now.

I’ve only ever knit socks out of hand-wash yarn once. It drove me nuts having to wash them separately (not to mention how the dye stained one of my few successful sewing projects) so eventually I converted them into gloves and wristwarmers. And vowed never to knit non-machine washable socks again.

So much for that.

I have another ball of Colinette Jitterbug. I don’t have the courage to knit socks and hope it will be different, so it’s gone into my warp yarn stash.

Remember these?

Well, they’re okay. They’re knit from some Lisa Souza yarn that I bought assuming the yarn would be the same as the lovely, thick, smooshiness that I’d bought from the dyer some years before. It isn’t.

While winding the last of the skeins up yesterday I considered what to do with it. Warp yarn, perhaps? They do look really nice lined up together. What if I double the yarn, combinging it to make nine graduating colours? Doubled, it would make nice thick socks, just as I’d intended.

Aha! Sock yarns may go bad, but I can turn them around to the good sock side.

Well, except there’s nothing I can do about those Butterfly Bow socks now except toss them in the bin.

Big Jacket Knits

Starsky is a big garment, but it’s knit with 10ply so progress is fast. It didn’t take me long to knit the 3″ of rib, even with the body pieces knit as one. (It took far longer to tweak the pattern so the rib was symmetrical across the back, though.)

The first repeat of the pattern took over an hour, and required more concentration than I’d expected. Looks like there are about five repeats of this before the armhole shaping. Reckon that’s going to keep me busy for quite a few evenings.

I may change my mind by the time I’ve finished Starsky, but it’s not the only big garment I want to knit. Last year I bought two large batches of Patons Inca at the ACS Mill Shop. One to become a big cosy jumper, the other to become a jacket. I’ve been considering jacket patterns ever since. None of the Patons patterns appealed, either having great big cables right over the boobs, or were a bit too tight-fitting. There was even a crochet pattern I was considering, but it was a bit holey for what ought to be a snuggly winter over-garment.

A few days ago, filling in time while tradies worked on the bathroom, I went to all my Ravelry friends’ profile pages and checked out the projects they’d made. That’s how I stumbled upon Gingernut’s Josephine – a big cosy cabled jacket with a wide shawl collar. Like Starsky, an easily accessible Knitty.com pattern but, more importantly, knit out of Inca.

I think this might be the one. I’m not 100% happy with the bulkiness of the sleeves in the Knitty.com pics, but Gingernut’s jacket looks fine. It’s going to be a while before I finish Starsky and can make a start on Josephine, however. Especially with work going from unpredicable drought to flood and back again. In the mean time, which colour do you think I should knit it in? Brown or red?

And what’s this? A bag of yarn donated to some lovely ladies making possum pouches. Much easier to let this lot go when it was going to a good cause!

Dye Solution

The cashmere yarn I’m using for the Endpaper Mitts came from the stash I adopted last year. There were lots of small batches of yarn in that stash – most likely leftovers from projects. I kept the cashmere despite not being in love with the colours because, well, it’s cashmere.

After knitting one repeat I was totally in love with the yarn. I made such a soft, cushy fabric. The pattern was easy and so far it was coming out the right size. But there was one problem.

The pale green and coffee colours were too close in tone, so the pattern was hard to discern. I knit one repeat, put it aside, and examined it the next morning in natural light. Deciding I was right, I then frogged back to the ribbing, skeined up the coffee coloured yarn and got out my dyeing supplies.

I also skeined up two other balls. Last year I ordered these over the phone:

Unfortunately the lovely and helpful yarn shop owner’s idea of a ‘strong, rich green’ were different to my own. I have been intending to dye the pale aqua I got to a royal blue ever since, but I had only vague ideas for using the yarn so I never got around to the dyeing.

After some mixing, stirring and simmering I had four skeins dyed. The berry red was perfect. The blue dye, however, turned out more like a sky blue than the royal blue on the jar label, but would work just as well. There was clearly plenty of blue dye left in the water, so I went through my sock yarn leftovers and skeined up some plain and varigated yarns. They went into the pot and onto the stove and came out just as richly dyed as the first batch.

Last night I reknit the first repeat of the Endpaper Mitts pattern…

Much better!

The sky blue yarn works with the richer yarns much better than the pale aqua ever did.

And if I combine the newly-dyed sock yarn with some other leftovers I have a nice mix for a pair of Scrappy Socks.

All in all, a successful bit of dyeing. I got to wondering, as I was stirring away, why I don’t dye more often. I think it’s partly because I like to have a purpose for the yarn. Not that I have anything against dyeing for the sole purpose of experimenting with dye techniques. But I do hesitate to buy yarn for dyeing if I don’t have an end use in mind because, at the end of the day, it still means I’m increasing the stash.

Bring It On

At the Eastern Suburbs s’n'b on Saturday we had a yarn swap. Actually, it was more of a yarn dive into a big pool of yarn. Or synchronised swimming, maybe? A few of us donated some yarn, placing it on the floor between everyone. Then a few more upended large bags of yarn over the top of it all.

I dropped in my three little contributions and fished out these:

I’m a sucker for royal blue. And for a bit of glitz. The glitzy yarn will become wine bottle cosies, I think. (One of the girls brought a cabled wine bottle cosy along that was so adorable, I’ve got all inspired.) I’m wondering if there’s enough of the royal blue for a vest. Perhaps combined with another yarn…

The two hours went in a blur of patterns and books and yarn and wool winders and yarn swifts and stories and photos and wips and fos and spinning and weaving and I came home full of inspiration and appreciation for gatherings of crafty souls.

At home I’ve made only a little progress, though. The dust from the bathroom reno had both myself and the beau suffering badly from sinusitis headaches, and I tend to get a stiff neck as a side-effect of sinus trouble. Still, I’ve turned the heel of the Crosswalker Socks. And knitted a gauge swatch for Starsky.

The specified needle size was producing fabric too tight so I knitted a section in the next size up, but when I washed the swatch it grew and it looks like the specified needle will be right after all.

I’ve also chosen another fair isle project: Endpaper Mitts.

And I’m supposed to be mending Dad’s socks and widening the brim of Mum’s hat.

And of course there’s the weaving, which I made only a little progress on yesterday at the s’n'b, with Meagan’s help.

And here’s a shot of the guest room.

This is all the sunlight it gets, only on sunny afternoons, from a narrow window. Which was why I chose a Vivid Orange. The room badly needed brightening up, and the orange walls certainly do that very well!