Friday, January 30, 2015

Stash Match: Sock Yarn

Last year I set out to match my stash yarn to patterns so it wouldn't languish indecisively forever more. I managed to allocate my 4-ply "Too Pretty For Socks" yarn, and I'm well on my way to using it for its intended purpose. (By which I mean, I've completed two projects and started a third. I'll get there.)

Today I'm finally getting around to my next category: Sock Yarn (aka "Pretty enough for socks," I guess.) The yarns in this category are no less pretty than my un-sock yarn, but probably/hopefully more durable.

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Top to Bottom:

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock: I've been holding on to this for a long time, since people keep telling me it is the ultimate sock yarn. I might have put it on a pedestal, just a little, so I've found it difficult to commit to a pattern. Also, it is heavily variegated - fortunately (or unfortunately) there are loads of interesting patterns out there especially for this kind of yarn. After much internal debate, I've settled on Mad Color Weave by Tina Lorin. I'll re-evaluate if it pools strangely when I start, though.

Yarn Yard Cairn: I have had this yarn almost as long as I've lived in Edinburgh. (4ish years). It is time that I knitted it up! It's quite dark, so choosing a pattern that would show through was difficult. I've settled on Torrent by Tin Can Knits, since I think the lace will show up even in the dark colour.

Hand-dyed red: I believe this is 75/25% wool/nylon. Dyed with Wilton's icing gel colours, it initially turned out the colours of canned salmon. Eeeeh not really what I was going for. Then I dumped most of the rest of the red dye into the pot and there was much rejoicing. I think it will look awesome as Blueberry Bubbles by Thayer Preece Parker. Or perhaps strawberry bubbles, in my case. I'm looking forward to a sock with a lot of stockinette but a goodly portion of detail as well.

Hand-dyed tea/brown:
Probably 75/25 wool/nylon. I dyed it using a shedload of teabags a few years ago, and it has been waiting for a project ever since. I actually started knitting Hedgerow with this yarn, but I just wasn't enjoying it, so I frogged and thought some more. The winner came upon me suddenly - not from my favourites or queue, but from the new Knitty: Tauriel. ALL THE CABLES. This is certainly not television knitting, but I'm enjoying it so far.

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What are your favourite sock patterns?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Luna Viridis

For the first time in a long time, I have a new exciting WIP on a Wednesday!

I have the beginnings of a delightful cowlette on the needles right now.

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Luna Viridis, by Hilary Smith Callis is fun so far. I've never made a cowlette - a cowl that mimics the shape of a shawlette wrapped around the neck. It seems like it will be very wearable, but we'll have to see when I'm finished.

The yarn is Sweet Georgia Cashluxe Fine, which is Merino/Cashmere/Nylon and possibly the softest thing I've ever knit with. This is my fourth project using my stash match yarn, and so far I think it was the right choice. It's more of a gently-variegated than a semi-solid colourway, if that makes any sense, but I think it'll work. I've only just started on the textured portion, but slipped stitches and tonal variation are usually friends.

Linking up to Stitch Along Wednesday this week.

Monday, January 26, 2015

2014: The Knitting Year in Review

OH HAI blogosphere. Before it mysteriously becomes February, I wanted to do the customary summary of the last year's knitting. I really fell behind on documenting this stuff, and to be honest I probably won't catch up. So this will have to do and I'll try to do better this year!

In 2014, I had 11 FOs.

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(All links to my ravelry projects)

Top Row: Tiny Owl by Anna Hrachovec, Rye / Ruista Ranteeseen mitts by Hanne Katajamäki, Catkin Hat by Kate Davies, Grassroots by Melissa Schaschwary.

Middle Row: Wethersfield by Cecily Glowik MacDonald, Dragonflies by Joji Locatelli, Song of the Sea by Louise Zass-Bangham.

Bottom Row: Mini Manu by Kate Davies, Crystalline socks by Cailyn Meyer, Earlybird socks by Cassandra Dominick.

I also made my dad a hat, but I don't have a picture of it yet. I will do a separate post about it when I get a photo, since I'm super happy about this hat!

Thinking back to my knitting goals for 2014, I fulfilled most of them, but not all:

Knit at least two sweaters for myself (check!)
Knit something for my dad (check! For some reason I didn't put this in my original post last year, but it was still a goal).
Knit 14 FOs in 2014 (FAIL.)

What I have learned from this is that goals for sweaters contradict goals for project quantity. I am slow at sweater knitting, and if I want to make sweaters I'll have to sacrifice other output. This is fair. I know it is quality over quantity that counts, but I put in the "14 in 2014" goal because I managed to knit 12 in 2013 and it felt so close!

Bearing this in mind, I have no aim to knit 15 in 2015. I had a hard time coming up with any knitting-specific goals at all, to be honest. However, I have decided that this is the year I need to stash down, so I'm going to focus on that.

2015 goals
1. Stash down, with a few exceptions.

Exception 1: I will buy yarn to make a Pomegranate sweater.

Exception 2: I will buy yarn at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival and/or the yarn crawl, should anything unmissable jump out at me. But I will show restraint!

Exception 3: I will buy yarn to make gifts if I don't have anything appropriate in my stash.

2. Finish allocating yarn to patterns in my Stash Match project, including my sweater-quantities.

So. Here we go!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

FOs: Catkin Hat and Rye Mitts

I'm sure this is a common knitterly problem. I have very few matching accessories. Scarves/shawls generally use one skein, so if I wanted a matching hat or mitts, I'd need to plan ahead and get two. Pretty single skeins are usually impulse purchases for me - planning ahead? Nah.

Most of the time I embrace my non-matchy-ness - most of what I have is purple/blue/green anyway, so whatever. (Plus, I have a bright turquoise jacket...) This time, in the interests of making something other than a shawl from my single skein, I've made a matching hat and mitts!

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Pattern: Catkin Hat by Kate Davies and Rye / Ruista Ranteeseen mitts by Hanne Katajamäki

Yarn: Natural Born Dyers BFL/nylon Hi-Twist Sock


With this hat, I think I have conquered my unease about slouchy hats. I've always felt a bit awkward wearing them, and I think I've figured it out. Previous slouchy hats have always been too loose around the brim! This one is pretty snug around the brim / my head, and only becomes slouchy at the back because of the strategically located increases. Win!

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Photos taken during a recent trip to Cambridge - with bonus punt.

One interesting technique employed in this pattern is ALL THE TWISTED STITCHES. I happen to enjoy ktbl, so no big deal. I normally use twisted stitches for ribbing or other situations in which knits are alternating with purls. This pattern calls for twisted stitches for the entirety of the cable pattern, meaning there are lots of twisted knits next to each other. I wasn't sure how this would turn out, but I think it looks okay. Not entirely convinced it is necessary, but maybe it helps define the cables a bit more?

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I chose this pattern mainly to use some awesome wooden buttons I had in my stash. This was a pretty straightforward knit, though the pattern requires some interpretation. It is translated from Finnish, and some of the directions are not the clearest. (Designer admits as much on the pattern notes, so it wasn't a surprise.) In any case, it's a free pattern and it all worked out. I ended up doing 1x1 rib at the cuff / tops / thumbs because I wasn't paying attention to the directions at first - supposed to do some sort of garter rib. Oops. When I realised my mistake I couldn't be bothered to rip back, so I just went with it. Good enough. :P

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As it turns out, I ran out of green yarn, so had to shorten the thumbs a bit and use different yarn for the straps. I dyed some yarn with tea a few years ago, and the brown complemented the green nicely, so I went with that. The only issue I have with the straps is that my buttons are too large for the buttonholes. I will probably keep the straps fastened most of the time, so it's not really a problem.

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But the mitts are nice and long if I want to unfasten the straps.

Woot for another Stash Match set of projects! I haven't forgotten about this, and plan to allocate more patterns to stash, starting with my sock yarn. Look out for this and hopefully more frequent updates soon!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

FO: Dragonflies


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Pattern: Dragonflies by Joji Locatelli

Yarn: Brigantia Luxury Double Knit

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Mods: Ribbing instead of garter stitch for neckband, cuffs, and bottom hem. More frequent decreases for sleeves, plus some winging it.

Love this and it fits perfectly. I am so excited about it now that it is finished. It was a long-haul knit because I never found the lace intuitive and I had to be glued to the chart. I got bogged down in the middle, but it was all totally worth it. The only thing I would change if I made this again would be to make a larger neck opening. It fits fine, but I think it would be even nicer if it was a bit wider.

The pattern is very well done. Joji has really gone above and beyond to provide different charts for each size, which I really appreciated. No chart-fudging or guessing required. The lace opened up a bit with blocking, but would probably open up more if I blocked it aggressively. I don't think it needs it, though.

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I also really enjoyed working with this yarn. I had never heard of it nor worked with it before I saw it at Ginger Twist on my knitting group's Yarn Crawl earlier this year, but I will definitely use it again. Reasonably priced, reasonably soft, reasonably sturdy-feeling, great colours. I will have to keep track of how it wears, but it doesn't feel like it will disintegrate immediately.

For those keeping track, this FO marks my 2nd sweater of the year, thereby fulfilling my goal to knit myself two sweaters this year. Woot. Maybe next year I'll make three? Haha.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

FO: Song of the Sea

Confession: I love the idea of infinity scarves / long cowls, and I even designed one once, but I have never felt like I could pull off wearing them as well as the fashion-y types. That said, I keep queueing them, and I intend to make more, so I'd better learn how to wear them. Here is my most recent attempt - I think it went well.

Pattern: Song of the Sea by Louise Zass-Bangham

Yarn: Malabrigo Sock

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Mods: More repeats of the large and medium waves, and skipped the small waves.

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This was super fun to knit. The lace pattern is reasonably intuitive and addictive, and the yarn is awesome. I am pleasantly surprised that it has held up so far - I felt sure that the mythic Malabrigo Sock would disintegrate the moment I put it on. Much sturdier than expected, though I will keep track of how it wears over time.

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My one gripe is the rolly-ness of the thing. I had read that the edges tended to roll, so some people use different edgings and the designer re-issued the pattern with an alternate edging that I used. (Garter-rib type thing). The thing is, on mine it isn't the edges that roll so much as the lace. Maybe I didn't block it aggressively enough. I've taken to wearing it as in the above photo. You may not be able to tell, but it is basically folded along the circumference so that top and bottom edges are together. The fold sticking out in front is along the middle of the lace. If that makes any sense. Anyway, it impedes the rolling a bit.

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Folding it over also makes it a bit more substantial. It is quite wide and so bound to become floppy when around the neck - floppiness is great, but can obscure the pretty lace. Having it slightly narrower and thicker due to folding means less floppiness. Win? I'm not sure. I still like it, though.

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It also works well worn doubled. I'm sure I will wear this a lot as the weather cools down.

Stash Match tally: 1 FO!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

FO: One for me, one for you

Sometimes knitters gravitate towards particular types of projects. There are people who knit sweaters exclusively, and others who only make accessories. Some knitters like to knit socks. Some knitters really don't like sock knitting, but they like wearing handknit socks. How is a knitter who doesn't like sock knitting going to get some handknit socks?

A few (Okay MANY months and I'm only getting around to sharing this now) months ago I participated in a Socks/Shawls swap to solve this problem. The sock knitters get to knit socks, the shawl knitters get to knit shawls, and then they swap.

I happen to like knitting socks. I also like making shawls. So when this swap came up, I volunteered to do whichever was required to make the numbers match up. In the end I was assigned to make socks, and partnered with someone who prefers shawls.

My partner was Jen (Phantominblue), and these are the socks I made.

Pattern: Earlybird Socks by Cassandra Dominick

Mods: I wrapped the yarn three times for the elongated stitches, rather than two.

These socks are toe-up with a heel-flap and gusset. I'd never done socks this way before, and I enjoyed it! Generally I avoid toe-up socks when knitting for myself, since standard short-row heels don't fit me well. This kind of heel is similar to the standard heel for cuff-down socks which fit me fine, so I'll definitely have to try it on socks for me some time.

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Yarn: Old Maiden Aunt Merino Superwash 4-ply in the Tardis colourway.
Love this yarn. I will never get tired of OMA yarns. This is the first time I've made socks with this base. I generally go for wool-nylon blends for extra hardwearingness. I couldn't pass up with opportunity to make Jen some Tardis-coloured socks, though, knowing her penchant for Doctor Who and blue in general. In any case, the merino 4-ply is sturdy for a merino, so I'm hopeful it will wear well.

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Here they are on her feet! Knitting socks for people at a distance is always interesting and a bit nerve-wracking, but this time it worked out quite well.

Jen made me a gorgeous Haruni lace shawl.

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I love it! I've admired everyone else's Harunis ever since first finding it on Ravelry, but it never made it into my projects. It's so exciting to have one that I didn't even have to make.

This was a swapping win. It was a fun novelty to receive a handknit, since I sometimes give handknits as gifts but almost never receive them. And knowing the work that went into it I can appreciate it even more.