Decluttering Like A Boss

I tackled my most difficult #KonMarie decluttering session yet over the weekend. It was, in fact, the whole reason I started cleaning stuff up in the first place: my knitting WIPs and notions. I keep most of my knitting needles, notions, and assorted paraphernalia in 2 small plastic drawers and a basket, all of which were crammed tight and overflowing.

All of my WIPs are kept — honestly, all over the place, but theoretically organized in another set of plastic drawers. I had them sorted by year started (which was super depressing) but then shuffled things around into three categories: socks, shawls, and ‘other’ (encompassing mitts, cowls, scarves, a blanket, etc.). And most importantly, I ruthlessly frogged things that no longer sparked joy.

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Which means I spent many, many minutes ripping back, untangling, and winding yarn back up but man it was worth it. You might be thinking, “Oh my, how can she handle ripping back 5 partially-finished pairs of socks?!” Have no fear, I still have 12 sock WIPs hibernating and 2 that I’m actively working on. I do not lack for sock projects. But at least now I know where they all are, what state they’re in, and where the heck all my needles were hiding. (I will soon be destashing a bunch of needles because I apparently just bought more when I couldn’t find some… woops. My yarn destash is still ongoing.)

I have to admit, decluttering feels really good, and it’s helped me re-focus my knitting efforts. I picked up an old sock WIP that had just one leg done that I’d like to finish by Mother’s Day (one of my Second Quarter goals), and I’m already at the heel on both socks. Turns out, socks are super speedy when you actually work on them. WHO KNEW?!

Speaking of actually working on projects, check out my top 5 ways to procrasti-knit over on Stef’s blog!

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FOFri #39: Socks, and a Plan!

Praise be to the wooly higher-ups, I’ve finished a pair of socks… FOR ME!

The last time this happened was over a year ago, in March 2014. I hesitate to say that my sock mojo is back, but it is certainly once again on the rise. Knitting these suckers ‘simultaneously’ (by alternating between socks after each section) made the process go much more smoothly for me, and eliminated most of my sock-stagnating hangups.

The yarn is the January shipment of the Rockin’ Sock Club, BMFA Socks That Rock Mediumweight in the colorway Feelin’ Groovy. The pattern is from the club a few years ago, Intrepid Traveler by Gail Marracci. I borrowed the stitch pattern but used a square heel from Sock Architecture and a toe that I winged. The stitch pattern was lots of fun and makes for a nifty effect with highly variegated yarns. And yes, these are the brightest socks I own!

Woolen Diversions

Ambition is my middle name!

And now, for my plans. We’re nearly through April already and I have yet to set any Second Quarter goals. In truth, there are just so many things I want to make, it’s ridiculously difficult to narrow things down. Here, I’ll attempt to list one project per somewhat arbitrary ‘type’:

I have finished 6 projects so far this year, so listing 7 above is likely ambitious, but I like having specific goals to work towards. I think the projects above represent enough variety that I shouldn’t get bored and should have a knit for every situation (some simple, some interesting). If I can finish them all, awesome. If I can’t, well, then I’ll just have some more WIPs and I’ll see what’s still inspiring me when the third quarter rolls around.

How do you plan what to knit next? How do you choose? I find it extremely difficult, especially when I keep acquiring pretty yarn in stash. I WANT TO KNIT THEM ALL!

Linking up with Freshly Finished Friday.

FOFri #38: Bitter Relief

I am filled with a lot of words about these socks, but very few of them are fit for typing. They were, to put it mildly, a major pain in the tuckus.

FOFri#38: Relief | Woolen Diversions

BMFA Socks That Rock Heavyweight, colorway Tea & Alchemy. Click for project page.

I began them in October as a sneaky Christmas present for the Fiasco. Since they were sneaky, they were difficult to find time to work on, but I managed to finish the first sock by the holiday despite my too-late realization that the needles I was using really hurt my hands. When he tried that sock on, it just barely fit. I mean, it was a struggle. The square needles I had used combined with slipped stitch patterning tightened up my gauge enough that these seriously lacked stretch. He insisted I knit the second one rather than frog and re-knit, and I think I dragged my feet a little because I was so unhappy with the fit.

FOFri #38: Relief | Woolen Diversions

JUST ENOUGH YARN.

Then… the toes. OH the toes. Since this was my own design, it was particularly unhelpful that I had lost my notes. I found some note I had made somewhere, tried it, AND RAN OUT OF YARN. I joined some green yarn I had amidst mumbles of “he’ll just have to deal with a mismatched toe” and finished up. Turns out, the toe was way longer than the toe on the first sock. I ripped back and re-knit with some other notes I found. Ran out of yarn again, rejoined the yarn, knit nearly to the end… and nope, still too long. Then it sat in time out. Finally, I threw caution to the wind and made it up as I went along and ended up with a toe that pretty much matches and (thankfully) didn’t need me to join new yarn in, I had just enough left for the kitchener stitch at the end. So while I’m happy these are finished, I’m not so sure they’ll fit well and I generally am not feeling much love for them. I had intended to write them up as a pattern but that would involve re-knitting them (and taking better notes, obviously) and I just don’t think I love them enough for all that.

Since it’s basically the end of March, now is a good a time as any to review my ridiculously ambitious First Quarter plans. Here’s what I had intended to focus on between January and now, with % complete and new things I had not intended to do marked with asterisks (***):

New Projects:

Sock WIPs:

Other WIPs:

So for those keep tracking, of 5 new projects I had intended to work on, I abandoned 2, never started 1, and made some progress on the other 2. I also began 5 different projects, finishing 2 of them. It appears that this whole ‘predict what I’ll want to knit over the next 3 months’ thing doesn’t work so well for me. As for WIPs, between socks and ‘other’, I had intended to focus on 7 projects, and I finished 2 of them and nearly finished a third. Perhaps I can try to bust out my Cypress vest before the month is up since this rainy, dismal spring weather is perfect for vest-wearing.

I believe my goals for the next quarter will need to be less… stringent, less planned. Perhaps instead of choosing particular projects, I’ll say “1 socks, 1 shawl, 1 garment” or “2 WIPs and 3 new” or “this yarn and 2 other WIPs” something like that. This will take some thinking.

How do you focus your crafting? Do you try to make a plan, or do you just go with what you feel like doing?

Sock Sucker

I’ve been forced to accept this fact: I’m a sucker. A bonafide, can’t resist, don’t even try, total sucker for brightly-colored, brand new, Socks That Rock sock projects.

Sock Sucker | Woolen Diversions

Let me introduce you to sock WIP #19? 20? Who knows!

As we discussed in this week’s Inspiration Saturday post, I received the first shipment of the 2015 Rockin’ Sock Club yarn. Turns out, I was so enamored with it that I couldn’t wait to cast on. Rather than knit any of the myriad sock WIPs I already have on the go, or even wait until I got access to the pattern that went with the shipment, I cast on an old RSC pattern that I queued way back in 2011 and my goodness, do I love it. It turns out that Intrepid Traveler is a relaxing and zippy little pattern and I knit the entire cuff and leg of the first sock in one day. In an effort to curb my Second Sock Syndrome affliction, I’m going to knit this pair of socks sequentially: the cuff and leg of the first sock, then the cuff and leg of the second, then the heel of the first, the heel of the second, the foot of the first, etc. I normally get stalled out on sock projects at the trickier bits that need attention (like heels and toes) and sometimes I put the project down for so long that I completely forget what I’ve done by the second sock, and that stalls me further. I’m hoping that if I power through the easy bits on both socks at almost the same time, and address the tricky bits all at once, I won’t get so delayed. Think it will work?

Sock Sucker | Woolen Diversions

The socks I really should be knitting.

Meanwhile, my poor, patient Fiasco is giving me the side-eye because he still has not received his Christmas gift socks. I have been working on them (I swear!) but I’m coming to understand a bit more about my sock knitting hangups, and needle choice is certainly one of them. In an effort to tighten up my gauge so I won’t have to do so much mending in the future, I knit this pair with Kollage square metal DPNs, which it turns out I find to be mildly uncomfortable to use. They do, indeed, tighten up my gauge — to the point where the stitches can feel like a struggle and the fabric is more-or-less bullet-proof. That tightness is what I was going for, except I am realizing now that I don’t want to knit socks that are bullet-proof everywhere. I really only need the fabric to be so tight on the heels and soles. So in the future (and what I’m trying with my Tropical Traveler socks in the first photo) I plan to knit the cuff and leg on needles that are a comfortable size and material for easy, breezy knitting. Then I will switch to needles that give me a tighter gauge for the heel and foot. This should allow for a reduction in wear on the soles and also help prevent the unthinkable: sock legs that don’t stretch enough to go over the heel. (I still haven’t recovered from that one, sadly.)

Do you do any fancy finagling to get your socks to be just right? I’d love to hear how you reconcile knitting at a tight enough gauge to prevent wear-and-tear, with knitting comfortably (or is this just a problem for me?).

P.S. I decided to have a little Spread the Love sale at Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe. Use the coupon code ‘love10’ this week (through 2/15) to receive 10% off $18 worth of merchandise, perfect for a gift set or 2 lotion bars, one for you and one for a friend!

10% off sale at Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe!

Click the image to visit the shop!

IS #86: Simple Socks That Rock

Today’s post is inspired by my favorite sock yarn of all time: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock. It will involve spoiler photos for the first shipment of the 10th Anniversay Rockin’ Sock Club, so I suggest you click away if you don’t want to see the color.

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Spoiler protection photo.

The first shipment is in the sport weight base (called Mediumweight) and the colorway is Feelin’ Groovy. It reminds me of tropical Starburst candies and its brightness is a welcome contrast to the white snow-covered world outside. I love STR because it is unlike most of the other sock yarns out there. Many of the typical, indie-dyed sock yarns are made up of a 2-ply superwash Merino/nylon base. The other common sock yarn base is a loosely-plied 3-ply with Merino/chasmere/nylon. In contrast, STR is a very tightly-plied 3-ply yarn that is composed entirely of superwash Merino wool. This gives it lots of energy while knitting and makes a really snug, plump fabric with excellent stitch definition.

IS #86: Simple Socks That Rock

January shipment of the 2015 RSC.

The shipment came with a couple of fun little Floops stitch markers. I can’t access the accompanying pattern just yet because my dear mom signed up as herself when she bought the membership for me as a gift, and the passwords aren’t working. However, you can peruse other people’s projects here. It’s a basic, toe-up sock pattern knit in rib and modified linen stitch. Its simple stitch combination makes good use of the frequent and relatively short color changes in the yarn. It has inspired me to highlight some other good, simple sock patterns that would work well for the crazy variegated colorways so lovingly dyed by BMFA. (It turns out I’ve discussed sock inspiration before, click here for some sock patterns I’d been dreaming about (and still need to knit!) and here for details about my own free, simple sock pattern.)

Photo copyright dutchcolorqueen. Click for pattern page.

This pattern, Intrepid Traveller by Gail Marracci, was part of the Rockin’ Sock Club the last time I was in it in 2011. Its straightforward ribbed design with the elongated stitch detail is perfectly-suited to very colorful yarns. It was written for Lightweight (fingering) but could easily be modified for thicker yarns, as well, and might be what I end up using for my shipment.

Photo copyright Sarah Ronchetti. Click for pattern page.

The strong vertical lines of the Scott Base pattern, designed by Sarah Ronchetti, look lovely in a semi-solid but would work nicely in a multi-colored yarn as well. You might lose some of the stitch detail, but the texture would add an interesting effect to a striping or pooling yarn.

Photo copyright Laura Kicey. Click for pattern page.

The Monkey socks, designed by Cookie A, are another pattern that look wonderful in both semi-solid and variegated yarns. The lace is simple and bold enough that it still shines through a colorful yarn, and the lace stitches slightly change the angle of the fabric which gives an interesting chevron effect to any stripe details.

Photo copyright Hunter Hammersen. Click for pattern page.

And finally, Marooned by Hunter Hammersen is another example of good use of slipped/elongated stitches with multi-color yarn. I love the way the vertical columns and horizontal slipped stitches play with color, it really can’t be beat.

So, in sum, any pattern with all-over repeated texture, a chevron-like effect on the fabric, strong vertical lines, or regularly slipped stitches will likely work well with highly variegated yarns like Socks That Rock. Do you have a favorite simple, fun sock pattern that would work well in colorful yarn? Share with us in the comments below!

IS

Mending

Turns out that three straight weekends of excitement and good times catches up with a girl. The Fiasco had a wretched cold over the weekend (and somehow managed to throw me a kick-ass birthday celebration despite it) and I’m feeling a tad worn down today myself. I ended up taking a partial sick day and sleeping through yet another snow storm.

Despite the need for recovery, there’s no denying that I couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful time. We rented a house so a bunch of out-of-town friends could visit and have enough space to sleep. We ordered some Thai stir fry and noodles and the Fiasco grilled a ton of chicken and cooked up several dipping sauces. We had snacks, delicious cocktails, and a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity. There was knitting and board games, as well as brunch and a little shopping at the local yarn store, The Mermaid’s Purl. Nary a word was spoken about football and that’s exactly how I like to spend my superbowl weekend.

I picked up a gorgeous braid of Merino fiber by sweetgeorgia yarns (called ‘Sugar Shack’) and Katy knit me a pair of beautiful wristwarmers. I’ve been complaining about how cold my office is and how I needed a new pair and she totally delivered. I love to wear these under my sweaters as they really help keep the heat in while my hands are up on the keyboard without getting in the way (no finger restrictions). She used the karkom wristwarmers pattern (with several alterations) and Madelinetosh DK (in ‘Nebula’) and they’re perfect.

Mending | Woolen Diversions

Oh, darn.

After the Fiasco and I both blew holes in our socks over the weekend, I knew it was time to finally face the darning pile. I think I have about a dozen pairs in there that need repair… and man, I’m not fast at it. It took me 45 min to mend each hole last night, but I was also distracted by TV. I think mending all the socks will be my goal this week, as I’m really tired of wearing the same two or three pairs over and over, while the rest sit in sad-holey-limbo. Plus, the more I fix now, the fewer holes we’ll wear in the remaining pairs with overuse… right? (Sigh…)

I hope your week is beginning restfully!

Winner, Winner

Congratulations to Jordyn, the winner of the Eucalan wool wash giveaway! You should be contacted shortly regarding your prize.

woolwash#We had over 40 entries in the giveaway, which is really exciting! It was fun to read everybody’s comments on the scents they like best and whether or not they’ve tried Eucalan before. And thanks to all who shared the giveaway via Twitter, Facebook, or Ravelry. It earned you an extra entry and made this little blog feel quite loved. We’ll certainly be doing more giveaways soon!

In other news, I (temporarily) couldn’t find the old sock I was working on, so I started a new one:

BMFA Socks That Rock Mediumweight, colorway Blue Moonstone. Click for project page.

This is the start of Hunter Hammersen’s Loasa lateritia pattern for the Socks That Rawk! group’s 2nd quarter KAL. I’m super excited because I nominated this pattern for the KAL and it actually got chosen! It’s rare that a pattern I already wanted to knit gets picked so I’m pumped to get this one done. This pattern involves some of my favorite sock features: a little bit of simple lace at the beginning, a turned-down cuff, and then easy-peasy ribbing for the rest of the sock so it can fill two distinct roles of interesting couch knitting AND easy travel knitting throughout its lifetime. Call it a knitting-related ontogenetic niche shift, if you will. (That’s eco-dork jargon, don’t worry about it.)

Anyway, all you really need to know is that I love this colorway (which I rescued via frogging a long-abandoned sock), I’m thoroughly enjoying this pattern, and I hope that these factors combine to mean that I’ll finish the socks in record time for the KAL (which goes through June). What new project are you excited about? What are your favorite sock pattern features?

Dresses and Joy

I had a rather productive weekend! First, I found a wedding and dress, and second, I finished some socks! As I mentioned, I was kinda dreading the dress shopping thing and quite frankly, you could tell. While going through all the photos of all the dresses I tried on, I was highly amused by my facial expressions. I call this collage “The Many Faces of Dress Shopping”:

dress

But, as the middle photo suggests, I found a dress that works and was strong-armed into buying an overpriced veil (by my mom) and I’m pretty happy about it all. It was super helpful having my mom, my aunt, and my friends there — they really helped me sort through what I was thinking and made the process more fun. Although that hasn’t stopped me from having dress-shopping-related nightmares. I think because I only spent 2 weeks thinking about the dress and 2 visits trying dresses on, I’m stressing out that I didn’t get the right one. And when I look at photos of some of the poofier, more elaborate and more ‘bridal’ gowns, I wonder if I should have gotten one of those. But then I look at the photos of me in my lightweight, flowey bridesmaid’s dress and remember how comfortable I was in it and I feel better about it. There’s a lot of weird pressure caught up around the wedding dress, guys. It’s kinda messed up. People buy keepsake sketches of their gowns, take those weird ‘creepy floating dress’ portraits as if the gown (and not the woman in it) matters, and spend thousands and thousands (and thousands) of dollars on something they will wear for literally 5 hours. I just don’t get it. I like pretty things as much as the next gal but… priorities. Anywho, onto more fun things!

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BMFA Socks that Rock, colorway Comfort & Joy

I feel like a ‘Hallelujah!‘ is in order because this is the first pair of socks I’ve finished for myself in a year and a half, since September 2012! That is far too long to go without new socks. It was a Rockin’ Sock Club kit from 2011. I loosely followed the pattern (Joy by A. Karen Alfke) for the i-cord cuff and the linen stitch heel, but I customized the ribbing pattern and did a half linen stitch toe.

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I wish I had made the i-cord on top longer with more exaggerated ‘festoons’ because when the sock is worn it stretches out and you loose the neat wiggly effect you can see in some of the other photos on the project page. Other than that, I’m very happy with them because they’re new and they’re done!

I also received my Rockin’ Whorl Club fiber for February. If you don’t want to be spoiled, you should look away now!

 

Right now!

 

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BMFA Rockin’ Whorl Club Super Silky Merino, colorway Spring Fever

This fiber looks so sweet and delicious, I could almost eat it! It’s a blend of 40% extra fine Merino, 40% superwash Merino, and 20% bleached tussah silk. Tina suggests that this fiber would make excellent socks and I think that’s what I’ll likely try, when I am able to get around to it. For now I’m just petting it because it’s delightful.

I hope you all had excellent, productive, and joyful weekends!

FOFri #27: The Fiasco Gets His Socks

Oh, my Fiasco. So patient, so loving, so appreciative of knitwear, and so often neglected when other knitted gifts or deadlines are nigh. However, he is neglected no longer! This past Valentine’s Day he finally got one item of knitwear he’s been wanting for sooooooo looooong and another that he didn’t know he desperately needed until he had it.

Ribby & Blue:

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BMFA Socks That Rock Heavyweight, rare gem colorway. Click for project page.

I started these socks way back in August thinking “Good for me, I’ll have plenty of time to finish these for Christmas”… yeah. Not so much. But, better late than never. Since I was getting some really fabulous pooling with this colorway, I kept the stitch pattern simple with a swirling 3×3 rib that transitioned to a standard 3×3 rib after the heel. Nothing too fancy but I like the results.

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Another glamour shot for good measure.

The poor guy hasn’t had a new pair of socks since I finished my Fiasco pattern sample in April 2012, so it was definitely time. Hopefully this pair will keep him happy for a little while! 😉

The Fiasco’s New Hat:

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Feederbrook Farm Shetland/Alpaca. Click for project page.

My man is rough on his hats. His last hat, made out of baby alpaca, is pilled and fuzzed beyond recognition. He tosses his hats in the car, tramples them on the floor, stuffs them in pockets, whips them off his head, fills them with his gloves and smooshes them into the sleeve of his coat, etc. etc. I made this new hat as thick, warm, and tough as I could so hopefully it’ll wear longer. I used a very farm-y yarn I got at Rhinebeck a couple of years ago, knit a doubled-up brim so it is extra warm, and used a tight gauge. I added a garter stitch accent so that it would match his new gloves and I went for longer than I felt like I should before decreasing so that it would be long enough to fit his gigantic head the way he likes. I’ve knit him what I think is — dare I say it? — the perfect hat. Let’s hope it lasts!

It feels good to have (finally) finished up the last of the gifts I had planned. I checked my Ravelry project page and of the 29 projects I’ve completed over the last 4.5 months (since October), only 4 of them were for me! That makes me an 86% unselfish knitter. I’ve had enough of that craziness, back to knitting for me, me, me for a while now! Check out more FOs at Tamis Amis.

IS #60: Socks for Everyone!

If I had to choose a sock philosophy, I think mine would be this: socks should be simple, enjoyable, portable knitting. I don’t deny that socks are a great canvas to explore fancy stitches and intriguing architecture, but more often than not, I just want to knit a simple sock that I can pick up and put down with little fuss.

BMFA Socks That Rock Lightweight, colorway X-Mas Rocks. Click for pattern page.

My recently-reformatted free sock pattern, Ribby Holiday Socks, fits this bill exactly. Plain vanilla (all stockinette) socks don’t usually thrill me because I need a little something for my brain to do, and having all that stockinette broken up by some ribbing every few rounds gives me an easy way to keep track of repeats and make sure my legs and feet match exactly in length. (The keen-eyed might notice that the stitch pattern is the same one used in my Giving Comfort hat. Matching set!)

SizeChart

To make this sock pattern widely accessible, I’ve provided a size chart that describes the finished foot circumference for four different sizes at four different gauges. This means this pattern can be used to knit socks for practically everyone, fitting small feet (6″ circumference) to large feet (12″ circumference) depending on yarn/needle/gauge/size choice. All you’ll need is a gauge swatch and a measuring tape and a perfect fit should be easy to find. Finally, for those who are new to sock knitting, this pattern also contains a photo tutorial explaining in detail how to pick up stitches from the heel flap for the gusset. I really love that a few knitters on Ravelry have used my pattern for their first pair of socks, as that is exactly what I had intended when I wrote it.

Photo copyright unionjgirl. Click for project page.

Joanna over at The Knitlit Twit cast on some Ribby Holiday Socks as her first pair of socks for a Ravellenics project. I love the pretty pastel yarn she’s using, as it reminds me of spring and works nicely with the stitch pattern. (She’s also running her first marathon tomorrow, wish her luck!)

Photo copyright rgd18. Click for project page.

A friend from college, Rivkah, also used my RHS pattern for her first sock ever! Her version is a great example of what the stitch pattern looks like in a more semisolid yarn.

Photo copyright aknittermom. Click for project page.

Theresa is another knitter who produced a really great pair of socks on her first try! I like how the yarn choice makes this pair feel autumnal and moody.

Photo copyright hessp. Click for project page.

Finally, I had to feature hessp’s socks because I love the name of the project: ‘Too Brain-Dead to Think Socks’. Perfect!  I love it.

So if you’re not a sock knitter yet, I hope I’ve convinced you that my Ribby Holiday Socks pattern is totally within your grasp. I think it would be a perfect choice for the #SocksWithSarah KAL that’s been going on lately, as well, because truly — sometimes simple is best.