Betwixt

I’m a tad late for WIP Wednesday and a little early for FO Friday, so I’m going to hit you with both at once! (OooOOoOooo!) This week is barreling by and flattening me in the process. Since my energy level is essentially zero, I’m going to keep this short, sweet, and full of pretty knits. Onwards!

Novelty:

scarf

Feza Yarns Alp Light. Click for project page. (Terrible mirror selfie? Check!)

I finished my mom’s scarf-that-wouldn’t-end, huzzah! I have to say, the funky-factor was pretty cool after the knitting was finished. It’s not even a little bit my style but my mom will totally rock it. I admit my fingers are grateful to put down the novelty yarns and get back to good ol’ wool, though.

Fiasco’s Mitts:

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Feederbrook Farm alpaca/Shetland yarn. Click for project page.

The long-suffering fiance suffers no more! I stayed up working into the wee hours of the morning in a fit of relationship devotion to finish these mitts for him. I am happy I did because 1) they’ were my last holiday gift to finish and 2) nobody appreciates handknit items like my dear Fiasco. He truly loves them, which makes my knitterly heart so happy.

And now for a few WIPs…

Scummy Cedar Grove:

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Blue Moon Fiber Arts De-Vine, colorway Pond Scum. Click for project page.

My completely-selfish, couldn’t-wait-another-minute birthday shawl is well underway. Yes, birthday shawl. I’m hoping to have it finished by the 24th of this month. Do you think I can make it? It’s knit with rather bulky yarn on size 11 needles, so I think there’s a decent shot.

Festooned Joy:

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Blue Moon Fiber Arts STR, colorway Comfort and Joy. Click for project page.

And kicking off the Socks with Sarah KAL as well as the Socks That Rawk! Clean Slate KAL is this lovely old WIP begun in 2012. This poor holiday sock has wistfully watched two Christmases pass by without being finished. Since there’s so much pink and red in the yarn, I feel like it can pass for a Valentine’s Day sock easily enough, so V-day is my goal. I’d say it’s doable!

Clearly, I’m feeling optimistic tonight. Do you set yourself goals for completion or do you just knit whatever, whenever? Check out Tamis Amis for some more WIPs and FOs!

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IS #49: Dire Sock Situation

The “sock situation” over here has become dire: 7 of 12 pairs my handknit socks have blown a hole right in the ball of the foot or the heel.

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Darwin is very concerned about the state of my socks.

I’m down to just a handful of intact socks, which means those poor fellas will wear through all the more quickly unless I remedy the situation. I’ve got my darning egg and tapestry needle and some time dedicated for mending, but what’s more fun is dreaming up all the new socks I’ll knit for myself.

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These socks have already seen some mending, but holes still developed outside of the mended area.

But wait — don’t I already have a veritable butt-ton of socks on the needles? I do. Nineteen pairs, in fact (but who’s counting). Despite that, I’ve gone through my stash and queue and linked up some patterns-I’ve-been-meaning-to-knit-for-forever with some yarns I’ve been itching to knit with and wear already. Here are my top 5 choices (I’m nothing if not ambitious).

Copyright Hunter Hammersen. Click for pattern page.

This lovely thing is Mood, one of the first socks I fell in love with in Hunter’s first big sock book: Silk Road Socks. I absolutely adore her sock designs but have somehow failed to actually finish knitting any of them to date. This one will be knit with a pretty purple skein of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight.

Photo copyright Alexandra Grablewski. Click for pattern page.

I’ve talked about Jared Flood’s Strago before and goshdangit it’s time I make them. Don’t they just look perfectly wintry and cozy and delightful? I really want to try this Brooklyn Tweed Shelter yarn out, too. These will be more like house/slipper socks.

Photo copyright throughtheloops. Click for pattern page.

Ampersand is a free pattern by Kirsten Kapur that I’ve had my eye on since I first started knitting socks. I have an awesome skein of STR Mediumweight in Sea Scum waiting for just this kind of pattern. In fact, this might be the first one I knit since the yarn is already wound and ready to go.

Photo copyright myyarns. Click for pattern page.

Crevasse by Angela Johnson is just lovely. I like lacy socks a lot and I love how this particular lace pattern is also reminiscent of cables or braids. I’m not sure which skein of STR LW to use for this: Melusine (a white with just pale, pale hints of blue) or Tempest (a deep, dark, moody teal).

Photo copyright Hunter Hammersen. Click for pattern page.

Finally, we have another Hunter pattern, Afshari, also from the Silk Road Socks book. I like the simplicity of this one. All the cool/fun stuff happens on the cuff while you’re still motivated to knit and the rest is just simple, smooth sailing. My hope is that this pattern would be good for my tendency to stall out mid-gusset since these would be simple enough to be great take-anywhere-socks. I’m a bit stuck on color choice for these as well: Dolphin’s Disco (variegated blues, aquas, purples, and teals) or Thraven Fledge (more subtle teal-overdyed-grey loveliness). I really want a pair of socks knit with the Thraven Fledge because it matches my wardrobe but I think the variegated Dolphin’s Disco will make the simple stockinette more fun/interesting.

I have one more skein that I’m really anxious to try but haven’t found just the right pattern for it yet:

IMG_4123This is BMFA BFL Fingering in the colorway SasSwatch. There’s a pretty stark contrast between the green and the aqua so I need to find a pattern that would work well with that. I’m itching to try BFL in socks because it is a longwool and should be a bit stronger than Merino wool, perhaps less future holes to mend?

What socks are on your must-knit list? Feel free to leave a link to your own Inspiration Saturday post in the comments below!

WIPWed #35: Knit-a-long’s Everywhere!

Guess what, guys? It’s October! That means it’s time for Malabrigo October Stockpile on the Malabrigo Junkies board! That means there are KALs and contests and plans and schemes to stockpile as many one-skein knits for holiday gift-giving as possible. Also, lots of lovely Mal Junkie designers offer discounts off their patterns (myself included: 20% off any of mine until the end of the month with code “MalStock13”) so there really is no excuse not to join in on the fun. Hence, I have a new WIP:

Striped Comfort:

IMG_5112Thanks to a wickedly long morning meeting, I’m nearly finished already! (I love bulky hats.) The pattern is my free Giving Comfort knit in Malabrigo Chunky Mariposa and Bobby Blue leftovers. I changed color on the knit/purl rows specifically to get that dashed look along the blue stripe. The color combo is a little wacky but I think my niece will like it!

October is also apparently all about socks (Socktober!) on Cassy’s blog and I can’t say I disagree, with most of my holiday gift recipients wanting socks this year it seems like I’m destined to participate. Goodness knows I have enough SIPs to finish up! Hence, my second WIP.

Ribby & Blue:

IMG_5108This pattern is coming out of my head. The yarn is BMFA Socks that Rock Heavyweight in a fabulous, fabulous mistake colorway. I love how the swirl of the colors is interacting with the swirl of the rib pattern. Fun!

Finally, we have Light Blue Sea:

This WIP has obviously not gotten very far yet, but it will become a Deep Sea Wanderer cowl so I can join in with Audry’s KAL on Ravelry.

Phew! Is that enough KALs for you? Check out other WIPs this week by visiting Tamis Amis.

IS #37: You Think You’re Generous?

You haven’t seen generosity until you’ve seen the gigantic, amazing, wonderful, fantastic, impressive, beautiful sock yarn blanket that Deb (a.k.a. discoknits) is giving away. Yes, you heard correctly: giving away.

Blanket flat

Photo from discoknits blog

Deb is knitting a Bee Keeper’s Quilt entirely out of Socks That Rock yarn, which will go to one lucky winner chosen from among those who donate at least $5 to her cause. Deb is fundraising and running a marathon in honor of her late brother and in support of children’s charities in the US and the UK. She has already knit over 350 hexipuffs, and look how gorgeous they are!

You can donate to support the US children’s charity here. As you can see, she’s already met her goal (woohoo, go Deb!) but more never hurt anybody. Plus wouldn’t it be wonderful to win that gorgeous quilt? I’m still totally gobsmacked at the knitter’s propensity to give. It really is inspiring.

OH YEAH, THAT BLOG-WARMING GIVEAWAY! Want to know who won?

I’ve contacted the winners and will be mailing the yarn out on Monday. Thanks so much to all who commented and liked and followed, etc. It was great to hear from everybody and find some new blogs to follow, myself!

What’s been inspiring you lately?

IS

FO Friday #21: Sweetness

Sweet, merciful wool — I’ve actually finished something!

IMG_4967This is the Lintilla shawl designed by Martina Behm. Designed for fingering weight yarn knit on size US 2.5 needles, I used sport weight yarn on US 6 needles to make it a little bit larger and less dense. Which I’m really glad I did, since it isn’t really that big and BMFA Socks That Rock Mediumweight is plenty dense already!

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This pattern was really a ton of fun. You can tell because it only took me four months from beginning to end, and most of the delay was because I ran out of yarn! The shawl is knit sideways using short rows to form the (adorable!) ruffles. It’s easy to keep track of with the help of a removable stitch marker, simple enough in all garter stitch for social/mindless knitting, and does really fun things with variegated, handpainted yarn like the Budding Twig colorway.

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The above photo shows the shawl before blocking, but all I did was soak it and lay it flat (no pins) so it didn’t change much after blocking except to soften up a bit.I knit my shawl to 24 repeats before beginning the edging and took exactly 1.5 skeins (600 yards), 1/3 of which a few very generous Ravelers supplied me with. I thought it would take just a little bit over one skein, but I was wrong. Thank goodness for sweet knitters! You can find my project page here.

FINAL REMINDER: You still have until 11:59 pm US Eastern time tonight to enter my blog-warming giveaway! Winners will be announced tomorrow. Who will it be?! Exciting!

Keepin’ It Loose

Happy Friday, everyone! I have nothing finished this week because my knitting time was practically nonexistent, but I do have a little progress to show!

BMFA Socks That Rock Lightweight, colorway Melusine and some Bugga in Blue Lobster for contrast.

That is the beginning of the second Tour-de-Sock pattern, Chicane Socks by Debbie O’Neill. I debated earlier in the week whether to knit the second sock of the first TDS pattern and (obviously) decided to start the new sock. For one, I’ll take almost any excuse to start a new project, the beginnings of projects are my favorite parts. For another, I feel less guilty about all my stash yarn when more of it’s currently in use. And finally, by the end of TDS I’m going to have a pretty difficult time ignoring all of the gorgeous half-finished pairs of socks lying around, so the motivation to finish them should be strong minus the feeling of repetition that sometimes happens when I knit one sock right after the first.

This was my first time knitting any sort of colorwork that involves a significant number of floats on the back of the fabric (those long strands of yarn you see there). I was pretty anxious about keeping them loose since carrying the unused strand behind the work tightens up the fabric and in a sock that needs to stretch over the heel, that’s not great. In fact, a sock with a too-tight-cuff is pretty much the worst thing ever. To help prevent this I went up a needle size, cast on more stitches than I usually use with this yarn (72 instead of 60-66), knit CRAZY LOOSELY especially when going from the end of one needle to another (give the float a little tug with your fingers after you knit the next stitch so it doesn’t snug up too much between DPNs), and I elongated the ribbing and shortened the leg overall so the colorwork part would hit lower on the calf when worn, which works better for my short and stout legs… in theory. I have no idea if any of that will help yet but the fabric seems like it has a decent amount of stretch so here’s hoping!

Anybody have some good colorwork tips? I think the third TDS pattern is going to involve much more colorwork so I’m all ears.

WIPWed #28: It Has Begun

Tour-de-Sock has officially begun… and as of this posting, 48 people have already finished their pair of socks. FORTY-EIGHT! Finished pairs! In less than 4 days! Insane. Absolutely insane.

BMFA Socks That Rock Lightweight, colorway Bleck

But hey, I’m on the third repeat of the leg of the first sock and I’m done with the beads for now! Not half bad, eh? The pattern is The Secret Fan by Adrienne Fong. I like the idea of the beads as an accent on just the one fan. I’m using slightly larger beads than called for, though, and think they look a little wonky (6’s instead of 8’s). Hopefully it’ll look better on the leg!

BMFA Socks That Rock Mediumweight, colorway Budding Twig

I haven’t shown off my Budding Lintilla shawl in a while, check out that progress! The pattern is intended to be knit with any amount of yarn, you just start the final ruffle when you have 25% left. However, my shawl didn’t seem long enough at that point so I am knitting to the end of my ball and then will do the final ruffle with leftovers that some kindly Ravelers are sending to me. (I love Ravelry.)

I also got this, which isn’t quite a WIP yet but will be someday:

My first fleece!

At the farmer’s market over the weekend they were doing a sheep shearing demonstration on four Southdown sheep… and one of the fleeces came home with me. Woops! I’ve never washed a fleece before but the ladies in my spinner’s guild made it sound so easy… we’ll see. 🙂 All that wool is currently residing in my shed stored in paper bags, after airing out some of the moisture from the heat of the day/being on the sheep, as pictured above.

I think it’s neat that you can see where the dirt stopped penetrating into the wool in each lock.

The locks are relatively short-stapled and fine and have a springy feel. I think it’s going to make great yarn (but what do I know, really) once all that dirt is washed out… I’ve ordered some mesh laundry bags and some drying racks and then will just need to wait for a free weekend at home (with good weather) to get this thing done. Honestly, the washing will be easy compared to the endless carding and spinning that will follow! Oh boy. Here we go.

IS #3: Gettin’ Edgy

Welcome to another Inspiration Saturday post! Last week I was all about chunky lace, large motifs, big details. Today, I’d like to talk about the little things, namely: edgings.

BMFA Socks That Rock Lightweight, colorway Comfort and Joy

I am completely and utterly charmed by the i-cord edging on this sock, a modified version of Joy by A. Karen Alfke, one of the patterns from the 2011 Rockin’ Sock Club. I changed the ribbing pattern on this sock but the edging!– the edging, I adore. It’s a little bit frilly, a little bit silly, and totally makes this festive sock extra wonderful. Sometimes, it’s the smallest detail that makes an otherwise plain or simple knit extraordinary.

Here’s another example, which you’ve seen here before:

The Sanguine Gryphon Codex, colorways Lionness of Brittany and On Seeing The 100% Perfect Girl

The pattern is Regina by Carina Spencer. The way the brim is knit in the opposite direction from the rest of the hat is so fantastic, and the flare is feminine yet not overmuch. It adds a lot of interest to an otherwise plain hat and I think it’s a brilliant design which I really enjoyed knitting.

And the piece de resistance:

Photo from Ravelry pattern page.

This is Hasselnusse by Anne Hanson. It is a gorgeous little cowl design comprised almost entirely of interesting edgings. The leafy hem edging is knit first and then stitches are picked up all around it to make a button band. It’s clever and looks like a quick, satisfying knit. I bought the pattern almost at first sight, I could not resist. I look forward to knitting this and finding the perfect buttons to finish the whole thing off someday. (Buttons, another small yet crucial detail… it’s all in the details!)

These are the things that have got me going this week! If you’d like to share something you’ve seen/found/done that’s inspired you lately, please link along below. I’d love to read it!

Cheerful Mitts and Afterthought Thumbs

After all the stress and natural-disaster-related worries of late, how about a little cheerful knitting and a brief afterthought thumb tutorial on a Monday morning?

These are my Beribboned Wrists pattern knit with Malabrigo Worsted in Natural for the body and i-cord knit with Socks That Rock Mediumweight in On Blueberry Hill to lace them up instead of ribbon. I love the rainbow effect of the color changes in the STR paired with the simplicity of the super-soft Malabrigo, don’t you?

I knit the Worsted size but ‘accidentally’ knit the DK chart for it. The only real difference is that the DK chart is a bit longer. I decided to add the optional afterthought thumbs that turn these into fingerless mitts instead of wristwarmers. They are a tad small for me, but since they are intended to be gifted to a young girl, that’s ok! If you’ve never knit an afterthought thumb before, you should give it a try because they are pretty simple and since they don’t involve shaping they are a flexible method for modifying patterns. You knit until the point where you’d like the thumb to be, then you knit a few stitches with waste yarn, turn your work and purl back over those waste yarn stitches, then resume knitting in the round with your regular yarn, and forget all bout the thumb until the end!

When you are ready to add the thumb, you unravel your waste yarn. With the extra-fuzzy Malabrigo I lost patience unraveling so I opted to cut the waste yarn out. Just be careful where you snip!

This will give you a bunch of live thumb stitches to deal with. You will have one more stitch on the bottom than on the top. I start by picking up a side stitch and all the bottom stitches on one needle. Then I flip the mitt and pick up a side stitch, all the top stitches, and another side stitch. These ‘side stitches’ are just any old random stitches on the edge of the thumb hole that you grab to try to prevent gaps from forming when you begin knitting in the round. It really doesn’t seem to matter which ones you pick up, as long as you aren’t forming holes when you grab them.

After I have both sets picked up, I split the bottom stitches onto two needles. Then I join my working yarn on the bottom right of the thumb hole and begin knitting clockwise in the round. After that it’s just following the pattern for a few rows and binding off!

It’s tough to see in this pic, but sometimes you still get gaps near the start of the round no matter how many extra stitches you pick up. When this happens, I take the tail of my yarn and work it into the fabric to close up the gap. Works like a charm! And the really neat thing about afterthought thumbs is that if you decide you don’t want a thumb later on after all, you can just remove the waste yarn, put the stitches on two needles, and use kitchener stitch to graft them together with matching yarn. If you do it neatly and weave in your ends securely, nobody will ever know there should’ve been a hole there! The only downside to these thumbs is that they can sometimes distort the pattern due to the lack of shaping to accommodate the base of the thumb (like in a gusset), but I think despite that they are useful, quick, and look just fine with many patterns. (I’ll have you know I had to try really hard to resist saying something about giving them a thumbs up. You’re welcome.)

Come join the KAL on Ravelry through 12/31/12!

Finished-Object-Friday #3

Guys, I love Finish-itis!! In the past few days I’ve finished not one but two long-term WIPs! First, my Fall Shaelyn shawl. I am so pleased with how this shawl came out. The yarn is The Sanguine Gryphon Bugga, colorway Painted Damsel, held double which makes an incredibly lush fabric when knit on size US 10.5 needles.

This has been hibernating forever because I knew I was running short on yarn and would not be able to complete another repeat of the entire chart, but I still had a bunch of yarn to use up, so I wasn’t sure how to proceed. I let it sit, and sit, and sit, I wasn’t comfortable just winging it. When I picked it up again on Tuesday, I tossed in a lifeline just in case and went at it. This, I think, says a lot about how I’ve cahnged as a knitter over the past year. Before, the pattern felt like some kind of sacred voodoo magic that I was afraid to mess with. Now I modify at will! I am knitter! Hear me… quietly click my needles?

I ended up working another repeat of the lace section only (not the stockinette), added plain knit stitches as needed to the beginning and middle of the rows so that the lace pattern aligned correctly, and increased 2 sts on the wrong side rows throughout to give it a wider shape. After that I knit two sets of a row of eyelets (*YO, k2tog*) and a garter stitch ridge and bound off using Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off, which is fantastic for shawl edges, btw. In retrospect, I would’ve liked it just as well if I had left out the eyelet rows and knit a bit more garter stitch but no matter. It’s done! And I only had 2 grams of yarn left. Love when it works out like that. 🙂

 
My second FO is a pair of socks, woooooohoo! Just in time, too, since it’s been getting chilly at night. These socks were the May 2011 shipment of the BMFA Rockin’ Sock Club. The colorway is Maia, which I adore, and the pattern is Transition Point by Star Athena.
The pattern involves some lovely seed stitch, which I think is underutilized as far as stitches go, and a lot of traveling twisted stitches. It’s neat the way everything twists and turns. I modified this one, as well, changing the foot so that the slipped stitches make a ‘V’ across the top and the rest of the toe is knit in stockinette. It mirrors what happens on the back of the sock and I like the dainty look it gives them.

I can’t believe that both of those projects were in progress for over a year. There’s no good reason for that kind of dragging out! Except these socks required charts and much fiddling, and fiddly charted socks do not get knit very quickly over here, since socks are my travel project and I hate referring to charts when I’m on the move. (Excuses, excuses…) Now, which long-suffering WIP to conquer next?

Year of Projects progress update (7 down, 43 to go):

1. WIPs: 2/10 finished, 1/8 left in progress
2. SIPs: 1/5  finished
3. New Projects: 1/14 finished, 2/13 left in progress
4. New Socks: 2/6 in progress
5. Of My Own Design: 3/16 finished, 2/13 left in progress