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Month: December 2014

FO: Sweet Faux Hawk Baby Blanket

FO: Sweet Faux Hawk Baby Blanket

I finally finished the baby’s blanket! I knew I wanted to knit a colorful and geometric blanket for my second child, like the Log Cabin Afghan I did for my first. I picked a pattern from a book I owned, ordered the yarn, and waited […]

All the Christmas Knits

All the Christmas Knits

Now that Christmas is over and these items have flown my coop, here’s my very own FO parade: Circuits (original design; will be looking for test knitters soon) Last-Minute Christmas Ornaments Turn a Square Hat Peacock Socks Hitchhiker Quick Cable Slouch Hat Fences socks Border […]

FO: Border Socks

FO: Border Socks

I’ve had Mary Jane Mucklestone’s Border Socks from Interweave Knits Fall 2011 in my queue since the magazine arrived three years ago. I showed them at that time to my husband, who said he’d wear in them in the designer’s colors… so they went into my Ravelry queue. Till now. And now that Christmas is done and these are no longer secret, I thought I’d share.

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Because of an unexpected trip to the U.S., I was able to pick up yarn in person vs. ordering it online. The nice people at Looped Yarn Works in Washington, D.C. (see my review of their store) were determined to find me the right yarn and dug through boxes of recently arrived goodies to produce three skeins of Malabrigo Sock. Not only that, but they made sure I viewed the yarn in natural light to get the best idea of how it would look. Somehow I’ve never knit with Malabrigo, though it’s a favorite among yarnlovers. I wasn’t sure the Cordova (brown) and Persia (navy) colors were different enough in value to be in the same colorwork piece, but it turns out that they are not actually next to each other in this pattern – they are separated by the Natural, which makes all the difference.

Needle Issue – and Solution!

The pattern calls for U.S. size 2 (3.0 mm) and 3 (3.25 mm) needles, though I found that to get gauge, I needed a U.S. 3 as my smaller needle. Colorwork always pulls in, so the designer cleverly has you use the larger needed for the colorwork portion on the cuff only. Without this change, it might be hard to pull that section over you heel. Problem was… I don’t own any U.S. 4 (3.5 mm) needles. I’ve been knitting for 10+ years and somehow have never acquired any in dpns or circulars. I think it’s because I tend to use 2 or 3 for fingering weight and 5 or 6 for DK… so size 4 is just this great big hole in my needle library.

So what to do? I remembered reading about a stranded colorwork technique in which you turn your circular knitting inside out and knit from the far side. This means the floats are carried around the outside of the tube you’re making instead of along the inside, thus stretching them out a bit. Worth a shot!

Border socks

Turns out it worked! In addition to working the sock inside out, I added in a fifth needle to reduce strain. (Some people knit socks with five dpns as a standard – I usually prefer four.) I found the whole thing a little fiddly and floppy – it was hard to keep a good grip on everything, particularly with my left picking hand. (When working two colors in colorwork, I usually keep one color in each hand – the left to pick and the right to throw.) However, the fiddly feeling only lasted the 21 rounds it took to do the cuff’s colorwork. I popped the sock back right-side-out, went back to four needles, and was on my way. As you can see from the picture, the colorwork section doesn’t pull in at all.

Border socks 2

I would have preferred to just use a larger needle, but living overseas in a country with no local yarn stores, it would have delayed me 10-14 days to order the needles I needed and wait for them to show up. Soooo… VICTORY!

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Yarn Review

I have to confess I’m a little worried about how these are going to wear. The fabric amazingly comfortable but fairly loose. The pattern called for U.S. size 1 needles, and I used U.S. size 3 to get the right gauge. (This probably isn’t as bad as it sounds – I think many knitters prefer size 1 for socks, whereas I usually use 2 or 3.) Additionally, the Malabrigo Sock yarn is 100% wool, meaning there’s no nylon for sturdiness. I can see the heels of these blowing out in rapid fashion, but if that happens, I suppose that means they’re being worn… and I’ve saved extra yarn behind for darning.

As I said, the fabric is lovely and soft and smooth – they feel just glorious on the feet. (Yes, I know they’re not for me, but how could I not try them on?) Furthermore, the colors, while appearing solid, have depth. There are highlights and lowlights to both the blue and brown that these pictures can’t do justice. I’m thrilled to have lots of leftover yarn. I might make another pair of socks (with smaller needles?), though I wouldn’t mind wrapping this yarn around my neck – or a loved one’s neck, in a loving, non-strangley kind of way. 🙂

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FO: Giraffe

FO: Giraffe

I can’t believe I knit a giraffe in 6 days. When I randomly found Susan B. Anderson’s book, Itty Bitty Toys, in a local yarn shop in… 2008?… I was instantly enthralled. The book is full of the most magical and adorable toys for children. After […]

FO: Last-Minute Ornaments

FO: Last-Minute Ornaments

Looking for some last-minute ornaments to knit? Here are two that would be lovely on your own tree or that would make nice present toppers. The first is a star, a free Ravelry download called Knit Stars by Kirsten Hipsky and published by Valley Yarns. […]

FO: Puerperium, Take 2

FO: Puerperium, Take 2

Since I’ve been on vacation, I’ve been banging out knitting lately, which means I need to bang out some blog posts. I had a stack of knitting planned for Christmas and a stack of knitting planned for post-Christmas but pre-baby… and it’s essentially all done.

One of the baby essentials was a sweater to wear home from the hospital. Pretty much three years ago exactly, my son wore a Hudson Bay blanket-esque Puerperium cardigan by Kelly Brooker home from the hospital. I don’t say it was “inspired” by Hudson Bay blankets because at the time, I naively had no idea what they were. I was just in a stripey and stash-busting mood. It was only when my mom admired the finished product, saying, “Oh, Hudson Bay!” that I was clued in.

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I decided to make the same Puerperium cardigan for Stinker #2, as I’ve been referring to this baby of unknown gender, but I loved my son’s sweater so much that I had a hard time picking a color scheme. I’m still a sucker for stripes, so I again just went to my stash and settled on yellow Cascade 220 Superwash that I’ve already used in several projects and turquoise Berroco Vintage leftover from my son’s baby blanket. I decided I get bonus points for these being Ukrainian colors, since this baby will be 1/4 Ukie.

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The pattern is a free Ravelry download and knit from the top down. It’s only intended to fit babies until they’re about 6 weeks old, so be mentally prepared for that. My only modification was to add a few inches of length. My son has his dad’s long torso and always grows out of tops before bottoms, so I’m hedging my bets that this baby might be the same. Wee baby sweaters turn me to mush – do you have a favorite to knit?