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Month: January 2015

LYS Review: All Books, Chattanooga, TN

LYS Review: All Books, Chattanooga, TN

All Books has terrible reviews on Yelp. This is probably because the store has a split personality, both of which could probably be featured on an episode of hoarders. It’s definitely the weirdest local yarn shop (LYS) I’ve ever been in. All Books, as you […]

FO: Ornaments Socks (Afterthought Heel)

FO: Ornaments Socks (Afterthought Heel)

I can’t get over how pretty my feet are in these socks. In fact, I was so in love with the first one that I wore it while knitting the second (and a random Smartwool sock on the other foot, which was not nearly as […]

FO: Contorta Socks

FO: Contorta Socks

Behold, the first socks I have knit for myself since 2010. It wasn’t on purpose. I just… didn’t. Time for True Confessions of an Obsessed Knitter time – I don’t actually wear handknit socks that often. (*gasp!*) I know, I know… they’re supposed to be the epitome of comfort and luxury and bespoke-ness. But I don’t, for some reason. Guess it’s another sign of being a process knitter and not caring so much about the finished product.

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In any case, when I read the Loopy Ewe interview with Carrie of Irish Girlie Knits a few months ago and saw the Contorta socks, I knew I had to have them for ME. I’m also following them up with two more pair of socks for me, bam, bam, so I’ll soon have a handknit socks hat trick to start the new year.

I knit these out of String Theory Caper Sock, a blissfully soft and squashy blend of 80% merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon, on U.S. size 2 (2.75 mm) needles. The label says for “best results” you should hand wash, but I was reassured in the LYS where I bought it that they could be machine-laundered… which I haven’t had the guts to do yet. Has anyone else had any experience with this yarn?

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The stitch pattern on these is gorgeous and is something I would have never come up with by myself in a million years. I found it easy to memorize the progression of a row fairly quickly, but I repeatedly screwed up which row I was on, meaning I had to keep the pattern close (and that I had some epic frogging sessions because of not paying attention).

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Sizing Issues

The sock comes in two sizes, and I debated for a long time which to make. I ended up making the larger size, but as I got towards the toe on the first sock, I had a nagging feeling that, though the sock fit around the leg, it was too large for my foot. I ended up making the sock a little shorter than I would have, thinking that the sock stretching lengthwise to accommodate my foot would pull in the fabric a bit and make them fit better around the foot. It was a nice theory, anyway.

I could pinch about 8 stitches extra.
I could pinch about 8 stitches extra.

I started the second sock and got to the part where I was supposed to quit decreasing for the foot and put the socks in timeout. For two days. I flitted between other projects and seriously thought about casting on a different pair of socks, but since I’m traveling, I only have one set of sock needles with me, and they were in this sock. After being thoroughly mad at all my knitting, I finally decided to bite the bullet and make the second sock smaller, then go back and re-do the first sock. This decision was aided by some math. The two sock sizes in the pattern are purportedly 0.5″ different in size, but they are 11 stitches different at a gauge of 8 stitches per inch. This does not compute. This means they are actually closer to 1.5″ different in size, since all of those 11 stitches come from the stockinette section on the bottom of the foot. In fact, my sock was measuring larger than what it should have. Bolstered by my calculations, I ended up decreasing 8 stitches more than called for in the larger size and zoomed merrily toward the toe, obsessively trying on as I went. The second sock made my foot much happier, so as soon as it was done, I frogged the foot of the first sock and redid it. Voila!

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I’m really happy with these and think they’re gorgeous, though I wouldn’t knit them again in a hurry, given all the frogging I had to do because of not paying attention and the size issue. It would be nice if they came in an intermediate size, but my advice is just to decrease that gusset until you’re happy, regardless of what the pattern says.

FO: Triangle Thumb Toddler Mittens

FO: Triangle Thumb Toddler Mittens

It’s bitterly cold. A few days ago, when it was merely chilly but we knew the frigid temperatures were coming, my family went on a hike. My 3-year-old complained his hands were cold and ended up wearing my Bella’s Mittens from 2010, which are designed to […]

2015 Goals: Addendum

2015 Goals: Addendum

Forgot one thing I want to try this year: different heels for socks. I purchased the instructions for Sox Therapist’s Fish Lips Kiss heel this past fall and have yet to put it into action. I’m about to knit myself some self-striping Ornaments socks from Gynx […]

2015 Goals

2015 Goals

Seems like everyone out in knitting world is busy coming up with their 2015 goals, so I was inspired to jump on the bandwagon. First, a look back.

2014 – A Look Back

2014 was interesting. And lopsided. According to my Ravelry notebook, I finished 4 projects in the first half of 2014 and 22 in the second half of 2014. I’m not sure how that works. I know I knit a lot more at the end of the year because of not being at work as much, but only 4 in the first half? I think I must have been working on some of those later-in-the-year projects during that first half – I just didn’t finish them then. I’m not going to be so foolish as to try to set a goal based on numbers for 2015. It’s popular to say things like, “I’m going to knit 15 pairs of socks in 2015!” but I think that way lies madness. I’m going for quality and enjoyment of my craft, not quantity or some crazy self-imposed quota.

2014 was also the year I started publishing designs. I had two New Year’s resolutions for 2014, one of which was to write and publish a pattern. (The other was to learn Swahili. I’m *slightly better* at it? But I wouldn’t count that resolution as achieved.) The Simple Cable Socks were sent out into the knitting ether in the spring, and I can’t describe the thrill I felt by having complete strangers knit them. I think the pattern earned me about $9 last year (whoohoo!), so thank goodness earning money was never the goal. The designing bug bit me hard after that limited success, and I have a notebook full of more ideas than I’ll ever be able to carry out without quitting my job and my family, neither of which is going to happen. In the meantime, it’s a fun side distraction.

Simple Cable Socks
Simple Cable Socks

October saw the start of this blog, the motivation for which I explained in my first post. I have no desire to add “blogger” to my resume and still feel really self-conscious when I tell people I’m doing it. However, it’s been fun interacting with everyone, and it also seemed like a good place to collect all those patterns that were dancing around in my head, once they got written down. The end of the year had me writing down two more original patterns, the Circuits hat and Sweet Faux Hawk baby blanket, both of which went out for test knitting on January 1, 2015. The other thing I did on January 1 was something I’d been telling myself to do for years – I submitted one of them to the Knit Picks Independent Designer Program. It’ll be a while before I hear back, but just making myself submit was something that had been itching at me for a couple years. Might as well start off the year with a bang!

Circuits hat
Circuits hat
Sweet Faux Hawk baby blanket
Sweet Faux Hawk baby blanket

Goals for 2015

My first goal is to spin more. I moved a wheel and several bins of fiber to Nairobi about 18 months ago and haven’t done much with them. I’m *not* going to move them again in 2016 in the same state. Part of my issue may be the wheel. I like my wheel, but I have this nagging feeling that I should have tested more wheels (okay, ANY wheels) before buying it back in 2006. You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving. One of the things I did recently was to go test some different wheels, and I’m just about ready to buy one and probably sell my old one. I think the old one would sell for about half the cost of the new one. I can make serviceable yarn that is even, but I can’t really sit down and decide I want a certain yarn or even a yarn of a certain thickness. It’s pitiful how little I know about different methods of spinning, fiber preparation, breeds, etc, so I think it might be fun this year to try to educate myself a little bit with the goal of becoming a more proficient spinner. Of course, the only real way to get better is to practice…

Next, I’m actually going to knit with some of my handspun. I have two sweater quantities of my handspun fiber that has been sitting in my stash for a few years. I need to do something with them. I think a simple pullover would be best to show off the quality of the handspun. So I guess that is a numbers goal: knit at least one sweater out of this stuff.

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I wrote a post about stash organization. It felt so good to get everything into my Ravelry stash and has helped me do some stash-busting with end-of-year projects. The next Ravelry organizational task, I think, will be to complete the “my library” section. The patterns I’ve purchased on Ravelry are there, of course, but I want to enter all the books I own. Every once in a while I pull a pattern book off the shelf and am surprised to be reminded about the treasures that are in there. Having the library all in one (searchable!) place will make planning future projects easier.

Finally, I want to continue designing and publishing projects.

Those are my biggies. I have two others that would be nice, if they happen. One, I want to participate in a Knit-a-long (KAL). I’d never really been attracted to these before, because it seemed to me that everyone would knit the same pattern, usually one that didn’t appeal to me. However, I’ve since realized that there are KALs where everyone knits their own thing, unified by some sort of theme… and that when bloggers and podcasters run them, there are sometimes prizes. 🙂 I won’t force this goal to happen, but if the right one falls into my lap, I’m going to run with it. Lastly, there are a lot of fun test knits out there. As I mentioned, right now I’m running two of my own as the designer and need to focus on those. However, I think it might be fun to test knit someone else’s pattern, so I’m going to keep my eye out for the right one. Seeing how other people do things (i.e., write down patterns) will only help me improve my own skills.

I do also plan to continue this blog. As I said, it’s been fun, and I told myself when I started I would give it a year and see what happened.

What would you like to see more of on this blog? Or less of? 😉

Thanks for hanging out with me in 2014. Looking forward to more knitting (and blabbing about it) in 2015!