Sock knitting: improvisation

I usually know what I’m doing when I knit socks. Leg, heel, foot, toe – I know how long I like them, where to put them, and how to knit them. Sometimes though, the unexpected hits and you’ve got to roll with the punches.

A few weeks ago, I found myself frantically running out of the house and anticipating a lot of waiting. So I did what any sane person would do, instead of putting on makeup or drying my hair, I wound up a skein of sock yarn.

Everything I had on my needles was either not mindless or was close to completion – neither stressful waiting appropriate. So I grabbed this happy skein of rainbow and wound up. Threw it into a bag with a 9″ circular and a 32″ one, just in case I knit like crazy and got to a toe.

I cast it on, got through the ribbing, and just knit round and round. If you’re a knitter you probably know how calming that knit knit knit can feel: meditative and repetitive. Once I got a bit down the leg of the sock, I remembered one crucial fact about this skein of yarn: it is one single, very long rainbow repeat.

I immediately went for my project bag and – nope! – no measuring tape, no extra stitch markers, none of my usual sock-figuring tools. So then a light bulb popped on in my head, thinking about how the yarn was one long repeat I realized that obviously I’d want to see all of the colors. But I hadn’t weighed the yarn before hand (and even if I had, it has a built in contrast color included) – so I had no idea how long to knit the first tube.

I thought and thought and realized – we could meet in the middle! Knit the other sock from the other end of the ball and put in the toes when there is just enough yarn left for them. EUREKA! I moved the first sock to the long circulars, wound off the contrast color, and cast on the second sock.

Once I got home, I kept going with them, pretty excited about the socks. This way the legs are mostly cool colors, while the feet were likely to be the warm pinks, yellows, and oranges! Cool stuff, if you ask me. So I knit…

and knit…

Until I had about 9 grams of yarn left between the two and was at the end of a stripe on both socks. Each sock tube measured a whopping 15.5″ at this point! I put in the toes and wound up with just over 3 grams once they were done. All in all, I’m pretty proud. I think there is about 3/4s of the last two stripes left – you can just see that stripe starting at the tips of the toes.

With that, I used the contrast grey that had been included to knit the heels and we’re done! These are some pretty snazzy socks, if you ask me.

I think you just can’t help but smile. They are so happy!

This yarn is from Gauge Dye Works and is the Colorstudy colorway. I knit my usual 64 stitchs on 2.00 mm (US 0) needles. I used the KirbyWirby method to cut in the heels and knit my toes according to the usual toe pattern in the Crazy Sock Lady’s designs.

I wound up using 82g of the 85g of striped main color and about 6g of the included grey contrast. I really adore how the stripes worked up, it is very subtle as you knit them but the overall effect is pretty stunning.

These are the 95th pair of socks I’ve knit and it was really fun to have to think a little and improvise away from my normal sock knitting routine.


Happy making!

A summer update in two parts: finishing

As seems to be usual these days (this year) it has been quite a while since we last spoke. That always leads me to a bit of a conundrum as to what to write, whether to pick up where I left off or just give a current state of affairs. I’ve been thinking about my goals with this blog and one is to have a bit of a diary, so I don’t want to leave things out.

With that in mind we’re going to do this in two parts. Today, we’ll have a bit of a F.O. parade. We’ll just waltz down the memory lane of projects I’ve completed this summer. Tomorrow, we’ll have a (much longer) chat about what I’m working on. You’ll need your favorite beverage on hand for that one, I’ve got a lot going these days. Without further adieu, let’s dive in!

Back in June, I was deep into sock knitting mode and was pretty far along on this pair. They were finished in pretty short order and have been getting quite a bit of wear. The yarn is ONline Supersocke 4-fach Neon Color in colorway 1721 – deep, deep stash from about five years ago.

Continuing on the sock train, I knit another pair of Rainbow Connection socks! I really love this pattern and this yarn combination really spoke to me. I knit a pair of socks in this amazing self-striping yarn last year and I am pleased to have used up even more of it. The self-striping is Tiny Human Knits (I don’t think she’s dying right now) in Cumberbund and the main color is The Wool Barn in Eden. The pattern is by the Crazy Sock Lady.

It was around this time that much of time was taken up by a super secret project – details in my last post. Once that monster was shipped off to the long arm quilter, I began taking a look a around the sewing room, looking for a quick finish.

Enter my Happy Christmas Mini! I started this one in the spring and finished up the top and quilted it in May, intending for it to be my fifth project for my year of Christmas. Well, the year of Christmas has gotten pushed to the wayside a bit and I hadn’t finished any holiday projects since April – until I finally got around to binding this one. I tried out machine binding for the first time and was pretty happy with the result.

It was a bit of a learning curve, but I thought it was a good time to try since it’s just going a wall! Speaking of, I wound up using some old stash that’s not my fave for the backing – we’re not going to see it much while it’s hanging on the wall. I’ve been lax at showing the back of my quilts, but I like to see what people choose for backing, so here you go!

My quilting mojo was full tilt at this point in early August, so I started and finished this sweet little mini all over a few days. This was a kit I had purchased from Maker Valley, the pattern uses a single block from her Pineapple Love pattern. It was a really fast make and turned out pretty stinkin’ cute. As advised in the kit I used scraps from the top to make the binding and used that same black polka dot fabric for the back.

These socks were knit very slowly over nearly three months and, to be honest, I really only finished them because I needed their needles. The yarn is from A Homespun House in the Whale Belly colorway. They are lovely peachy-pink that is dreamy and I’m happy to have them in my sock drawer. I’m in this place where I want tonal and solid socks, but I don’t really want to knit them. Not that I’m knitting that much, but more on that soon.

My final F.O. for now is my Fat Quarter Pile Up quilt. Yep, this baby has been quilted and sitting around for months. I finally just decided to bite the bullet and machine bind this one as well, so it took me about 2 hours to finish it. It’s so bright and happy! I used a bundle from Mkaer Valley, some orange fabric for the back and some pre-made binding that was laying around here. Since I had it quilted by Nicole at KwiltIt! (who is amazing, by the way), this one only has about 6 hours of my time in it. Talk about a fast project! My machine binding was a little less satisfactory on this one, but I’m chalking it up to a learning experience.

Last, but not least, I crocheted a dishcloth. Something came over me and I decided I needed a finish in the crochet department since my blanket is, umm, taking a while. This is Spread the Dishcloth Joy, a free pattern, using Knit Picks Dishie Multi in Aquarium. Mine came out to be about 9″ x 9″ but I really don’t know anything about gauge in crochet. I used the recommended size hook and followed the pattern except that I don’t know how many rows I did. I went on until it was square and it seems to have worked out.

Well, there we have it. A summer’s worth of completed projects. I’ve been flitting around a lot between various projects so we’re less finishing and more progressing around here – but sometimes that’s how it goes.


Happy making!

Super Secret Summer Sew

As you may have heard, this summer has not been what any of us expected. When last we spoke, I was deep into a sock fog and I’ll admit my knitting mojo has not come out of that haze yet.

One thing has happened as expected, Astra’s summer visit out of town. A few months ago, I saw a pattern on sewing blog that I just knew had to be made for Astra – but she’s probably the hardest to make a secret make for. The boys are easy, mostly because they sleep in, but my little early-riser is tougher. Enter the super secret summer sew: The Minecraft Quilt!

I gathered up the fabric and got started about a week after Astra left. The pattern is less of a pattern and more of a tutorial/guide from the Seriously… I think it needs stitches blog. I started with Steve and progressed on through. I made the face blocks in batches, cutting out 3 blocks at a time and chain piecing my little heart out.

It took me about a week to cut and piece all 20 face blocks. I did have a bit of advice from Joshua for a few modifications. Block 17 became Diamond Steve and block 18 subbed in the chicken. All in all I enjoyed the process quite a bit.

I knew I wanted to do the Ender Dragon for the back so I checked all my measurements when I was trying to decide on sashing and border widths. Turned out, unless the sashing was bizzarely wide – that dragon would be wider than the front of the quilt. And so I did what any normal quilter would do… I made more blocks for the front.

I decided we’d do her name down the side to widen it out a bit. Next came the dragon. Much like eating the proverbial elephant, the dragon came one bite at a time. The tutorial broke it down into three sections, with 10-15ish blocks in each section. I think the whole dragon alone was something like a 12 hour project. For reference he finished at 70″ wide and 27.5″ tall.

I finished this guy up last Sunday, and from there it was just sashing and borders for the front and a whole lot more purple for the back. In the middle of the week I picked up my new sewing machine and that made the final bit of the process fly. I’ve packed it all up and sent it off to be quilted. When I get it back, I’ll just need to spend a few nights hand sewing the binding before tucking it away for Christmas.

The top finished at 74″ x 80.5″ – a really generous throw. I used the recommended Moda Fabrics fat quarter bundle with a few scraps from my stash thrown in. I also purchased additional black, light, medium, and dark grey, and a ton of purple – all from Moda as well. The fat quarter bundle isn’t available any more but the list is provided here – I didn’t use all of the colors. I also used less than a half yard extra of the greys, an additional 3.75 yards black and about 5 yards total of purple.

Overall, I enjoyed the process and I’m super proud of how it came out and that I finished it and shipped it out before Astra’s home. I do have to say though, it was way out of my usual wheelhouse and I am beyond ready to get back to the pretty, floral lights and brights that I usually sew with. That was a lot of solid purple and black!


Happy {super secret} making!

The final score: WIP Wipeout 2019

Way back in June, I took a long hard look at all of my works in progress. I pulled them all out, posted them on the blog, and challenged myself to finish them off by the end of the year. Well, friends, the end of the year is here. How’d I do?

Completely, totally, all finished:

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Jelly Roll Twist Quilt

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Dresden Mini #1

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Layer Cake Pop Quilt

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Lumen

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Quilted Notions Pouch

Overdyed Mathilde

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Dresden Mini #2

4-Patch Hearts Mini Quilt

Rose City Rollers

Ugly Christmas Sweater Socks

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No Frills Sweater

Circular Sock Machine Socks #2

Circular Sock Machine Socks #3

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Divi Divi Shawlette – after a coffee incident on a plane, this baby got frogged

Kinda finished:  (Off my mental list, but something still needs to be done with them in the physical world, i.e. these need to be frogged)

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Dammejaka Lopa – The verdict is in, we’re going to frog this one. It’s way too big for me and I even sent it to a knitty friend and it wasn’t right for her either. I don’t know if I’ll knit the same thing with the same colors, but I do need to reclaim the yarn.

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Circular Sock Machine Socks #4 – The orange/yellow/black/green tube is very, very wonky. Not sure what happened, but I’m going to try to reclaim the yarn.

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Swirl Dress – This version is just going to have to be scrapped. I’m going to toile the bodice but haven’t. I had thought I could salvage this version, but I don’t think that will work. The fabric can be used for something else, but probably not just to redo this dress.

Axed projects – yep, I still didn’t frog this yarn. One day, probably.

Unfinished, not touched, not no how, not no way:

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Julgran – To be quite honest, I have not been taking great care of myself and the result of that is a definite lack of enthusiasm for knitting a fitted sweater.

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Beauty School Top – ditto to the Julgran. The yarn is frogged and ready to go, but I haven’t cast it back on for the same reason.


Ok, so all in total, thats 14 out of 20 finished. If I were in school, I’d be passing, but barely. Add in the “not frogged” items and that get’s me up to a respectable 18 of 20. Not too shabby. I also started 16 new projects and finished 9 of them. That makes my net progress for the second half of the year 27/36 = 75%. Not too shabby.

I listened to a podcast recently about embracing your WIPs as creative opportunities. One thing I learned over the course of this challenge is that starting something new can be daunting. I don’t love the mental clutter of having tons of stuff hanging around, but it’s also fun to be able to pick among things to work on. As they say, balance is key.

With that, we’ll wrap up the year. Happy New Year’s Eve to you all!  I can’t wait to see what creativity blossoms in 2020.


Happy making!

In which gifts were given.

Well, here we are at the end of the year. Once again, I have gone a bit dark on the internet (this year was a bit of a blackout, to be honest) and just busying myself like a wee elf with gift making.

This year was all about the socks. I gifted a personal high 5 pairs of socks this year! I righteously finished the first pair back in May and tucked them away for my [not quite yet at that point] sister-in-law, Madelyn.

The main, stripy yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 Ply in Wood Pigeon and the contrast is the same yarn in the Poppy Seed colorway. These were my first ever circular sock machine socks. Back in 2018, I traded someone yarn for circular sock machine services. I cut my tubes up and knit in heels, toes, and cuffs and voila! socks!

I other circular sock machine news, I made Kevin’s mom and my other sister-in-law each a pair. Kevin’s mom, Jackie’s are knit in Miss Babs Northumbria Fingering – a lovely 100% BFL base – in Zombie Prom. Kevin gifted the yarn to me years ago so I love the idea of making socks for his mom out of it.

Crystal’s socks are knit out of Into the Whirled Bukavu Sock, a longwool/nylon blend. They should be nice and hard wearing and I love the short color repeat rainbow effect. The colorway is Timey Wimey Wibbly Wobbly.

My brother Noah’s socks are in Patons Kroy FX in Clover. These socks are so stinkin’ squishy that I want a pair for myself. In general, I knit most gift socks (all three pairs above) the same stitch count and all as mine, I just adjust for foot length. My brothers both have pretty narrow feet and all so I go down a bit. These are knit at 52 stitches on a 2.5 mm needle, where I typically knit mine at 56.

Last, but certainly not least on the sock train, are my brother Judge’s socks. A few years ago, I stumble across some old yarn that used to be spun with possum fur. Knowing that Judge would get a kick out of the thought, I went on the hunt for this yarn. I finally found it on Ravelry destash and snapped up two balls. This is Naturally Waikiwi Prints, a New Zealnad made yarn with an interesting blend: 55% NZ Merino, 20% Nylon, 15% Alpaca, 10% Possum. The colorway is aptly called Greens.

Let’s count the socks in the picture above. How many do you see? If you said four, you’d be right. That’s right my friends, this pair of socks was knit twice. I cast these on in August, and finished in October. I kept telling myself that things were fine, that it would block out. Of course it didn’t. The socks I had knit were completely different sizes. I think the first sock got stress knit at a stranglehold gauge. Once I came to terms with this result, I frogged them and washed the yarn. The second try was much more successful and now my brother’s feet are warmed by possum socks. In case you’re curious, yes he thought this was hilarious.

The last, and I do mean very last, gift I made this year was a quilt for my mom. I finished sewing the binding the night before we left for our holiday trip. So late that I didn’t even get a picture of the thing. That turned out ok, mom agreed to help with the picture.

This is the Fat Quarter Flowers Quilt, a free pattern from the fat quarter shop. I used all Art Gallery prints and solids, the fabric is just so fine and crisp, it makes a lovely quilt.  The back is a gorgeous navy print with feathers all over. I think she likes it.

That was the extent of my holiday crafting this year. I’ve got big plans for holiday making next year in the non-gift department, but it’s always fun to gift a bit of cozy to my loves.


Happy making!

 

Just a few things.

I don’t feel well, but I’m knitting and making and sharing. So here we go for a very brief share. Happy fall and fall alergies, y’all!

On Saturday, I cast on a new hat for Kevin. I am trying to get into the tradition of making Kevin a hat every fall, so here’s this year’s entry. He picked the pattern and the yarn.

On Saturday night and Sunday morning, I appliquéd the 3rd and 4th (bottom two) blocks for my Granny’s Garden Quilt. I really love the way these are coming out. Applique is pretty fun, but I may need to take a look at my thimble situation.

It really was no time until I finished Kevin’s hat. This is the Chapelfield Hat by Kari-Helene Rane, knit up in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in the Snowbound colorway. I knit the medium size to the pattern exactly. Once it was finished, ends woven in and all, and Kevin tried it on and quietly asked how much trouble it would be to make it just a few rows longer.

Ripping back finished work is never something I relish, but as I told Kevin–my goal is that he wear the hat. If it doesn’t cover his ears like he likes, he won’t wear it, and that’s no fun. So I ripped out back about a fourth of the hat and knit one extra repeat in the first crown shaping section. This added soemthing like a half inch, which was perfect.

And last, but certainly not least, once I was on the Shelter train I didn’t really feel like getting off. I love this yarn. I’ve been wanting to knit a Winter Honey shawl for several years but had just kind of been collecting the yarn for a while. I finally procured my final skein and couldn’t wait another minute. Almost. I decided to swatch for the shawl because I was afraid of the cables making the shawl to tight and small, or of going the other way and having an overly loose fabric. So I swatched.

Well, that was less brief than expected. A wee bit of crafty recap for this Wednesday night and I am back to my new shawl cast on.


Happy making!

Beeswax Hat.

Many moons ago, I saw this hat on The Fat Squirrel podcast. I loved it then and have thought about knitting it many times. I purchased this skein of yarn to try out the color, really thinking it wouldn’t work on me even though I like it.

Looking at the pattern and the yarn, they really seemed to be right for each other, so after I finished my sweater, I thought I’d cast it on. This yarn is Quince and Co. Chickadee in Honey – one of their iconic colorways. I thought, given my recent gold/green/mustard obsession, that I would like it but I didn’t expect to love it like I do.

The pattern is Beeswax Hat by Amy van de Laar. I am obsessed with these cables and this pattern. The way the ribbing works up into the main pattern? Genious. Those decreases? Perfection! The pattern is written for DK and Chickadee is a sport weight, but I didn’t really change anything and it worked up fine. I had 5g of yarn left from one skein.

Yeah, I love this hat.


Happy making!

No Frills Sweater.

It is finished and fuzzy and fantastic! 

That’s right, my No Frills Sweater is all done. This is the coziest, softest, and warmest thing I own. I can’t wait to wear it this fall and winter.

The pattern is No Frills Sweater by Petite Knit. It is knit holding one strand of fingering double with one strand of mohair. I used Lichen and Lace  Marsh Mohair in Natural and Hue Loco Spun Sock (her merino/cashmere blend) in Pop Sugar. Between the cashmere and the mohair, let me tell you – this sweater is soft.

I actually got the Hue Loco yarn in a mystery bag… She posted mystery sweater quantities one day and I decided to take a chance. It was three skeins of the same color for a great deal. I indicated in my order that I like pastel pink and mint. I could not have been happier when I opened the package, this color is amazing!

I knit everything to pattern, no modifications. I got gauge by going down a needle size and knit the size small. I’m very pleased with the length in both the body and the sleeves. I have to say that holding the two yarns double slowed me down a bit as you had to be paying attention so as not to drop the mohair strand. But the effect is definitely worth it in the end!

I alternated skeins throughout the body, using the helical method. Check out the tutorial here if you haven’t seen this method before, it’s a bit of a miracle. I’ve never really minded alternating skeins, but this really made alternating in the round so much easier and seamless looking.

This is one more project off my WIP to-do list. I am so glad I picked up again, it really didn’t take much time to finish up the body and knit the sleeves. I was hoping to get a cozy, handknit sweatshirt effect with this sweater and I think I landed sqarely in sweatshirt territory.


Happy making!

Only the beginning.

I’m doing it. I decided to take a huge leap in my making and dive right in to a fully appliquéd quilt. I have long loved the look of appliqué but much like colorwork knitting, I thought it was out of my grasp. Well, it seems I was wrong. At least so far.

I have started the Granny’s Garden quilt, by Lori Holt. It is so gorgeous I cannot stand it. I took some time reading through Lori’s other sewalongs and appliqué tutorials and it seemed like I could do it with some practice, so I decided to dive right in. And let me tell you, the water is deep and the shore is far.

I decided to go ahead and get all the cutting over with in one fell swoop. That turned out to be a monumental task. All in all, the fabric, background, and interfacing took me about 18 hours to cut. I also organized everything into baggies by block. Don’t worry, I’ll be saving the bags for the next inevitable huge project like this!

Apologies for this photo! I think it’s time for a more photogenic bedspread in the guest room. In the 18 hour marathon of prep, I also made about 8 yards of 1/4 inch binding for the stems. I like my little card with them all wound up!

That prep took me a whole weekend. I couldn’t even stand to think about sewing after that, and I’d done a pretty good number on my shoulder. So I took the night off and went for the first block after work the next day. Now, this is a cool appliqué trick. Lori has you sew the interfacing onto the fabric and then turn the pieces. This was my first heart, a little wonky at first.

A few minutes with my handy point turner and, voila! a heart!

After turning the rest of the shapes, I pin basted everything to be sure I liked the arrangement. I followed the pins with a nice little glue-baste to secure everything.

I’ll be honest, it took me a minute to get the hang of the appliqué technique. While it’s certainly nowhere near perfect, I think my stitching is starting to look pretty good.

I like the way stitching looks on the back of the piece, all the colorful outlines.

And that’s a finished block one! I think it turned out pretty well, though there’s a bit of wrinkling going on. At any rate, it’s super cute. I think I’ll try and prep more than one block at a time, since the hand sewing is the fun part.

I am way behind on the actual sewalong, she’s doing four blocks a week. With my skill level, free time, and multiple other projects that was just never going to happen. Kevin’s comment was that this quilt will take me forever. I think that’s mostly fair. I would love to complete it in year! My goal right now is to finish one block per week. At 42 blocks plus the appliquéd borders, that should be about right.

It’s really fun to learn a new skill like this. It’s challenging and takes a while and can be frustrating, but I’m hoping this quilt will really give me some good practice. After 42 blocks, I should be an old pro!


Happy making!

Whatever I feel like.

What happened to August? It felt like a whirlwind and here we are, a whole week into September. The kids are back in school and I’m back to cooking in a way that makes me feel good. Something has switched with me this week and I’ve felt motivated to make. Let’s catch up.

I finally finished my Christmas socks! The yarn is Lattes and Lllamas BFL sock in Ugly Christmas Sweater. That’s one off the #wipwipeout list.

I decided to try needle turn applique on soem clambshells. I’m using the tutorial from over on the Sunny Day Supply blog. I still need practice, but they’re super cute.

I finihsed a quilt top! I cut it out and sewed up the rows over my birthday weekend and then finished sewing the rows together a couple of weeks later. I really liek this quilt top, the pattern is great. It’s Arthmetic by Jeni Baker, I did the 4″ square version.

Pretty much as soon as the Arthmetic top was done, I started sewing up some rainbow strips for a bargello quilt. It’s still in the sewing strips together phase at this point.

I did wind up casting on another pair of socks, but these are a gift so I won’t say much.

I’ve been spending a fair bit of time in the sewing room and the stash shelves were starting to look pretty rough. That’s the before…

And this is the after! It’s pretty nice, if you ask me.

As I mentioned, the kids started back to school this week. This was at 6:30 right before Joshua walked off to his first day of high school. Astra was up early for breakfast with us, but her first day of fifth grade was hours away at this point.

Something made me want to pick up my No Frills and knit a row or two and now I’ve been obsessed. I’ve only got a couple of inchs to go till the ribbing now!

And last, but certainly not least, I have started an Everest of a project. This is the first block of my Granny’s Garden quilt, a fully appliqued monster of a quilt. I’m excited but this is definitley a long term project. I’ll have to ellaborate in another post, but let’s just say it took me about 18 hours to cut the thing out. Yeah.

Well, there you go. Not very much making for six-ish weeks but I’m trying to have peace with that. I do what I feel like doing and that’s ok. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I don’t have some quota to meet every year.

Making feels a bit all over the place at the moment, but I’ve really been just picking up whatever feels fun at the moment. At any rate, I’ve got some enjoyable projects going on right now, and I’m digging it.


Happy making!