I’m a copycat!

Maybe I’m now on team, “me too!” You see, I’ve been procrastinating on casting on another sock for about two months now due to indecision. Then, one day, the nothingbutknit2 blog, hosted by a very prolific writer and knitter, showed her progress on a sock I just had to start knitting right away. The best part? It turns out the pattern is a freebie, authored by a very generous person who shared her work on Ravelry. The pattern is called “Widsith,” and it features a very easy to knit slip-stitch cable and garter stitch pattern.

IMG_1568

So, you know, the usual: I took the cable pattern from the original and I’m slapping it onto my own vanilla sock formula. I chose this nice green color with a German sock yarn from my stash called “On line” from what they call the “trend collection.” Anyway, I don’t really care about the brand. I bought it because it was a cheap 75% wool sock yarn.

Another notable thing about this sock pattern and its ability to speak to me through nothingbutknit2’s blog is that I suggested using twisted 1×1 rib instead of regular 1×1 rib, because she was unhappy with how the 1×1 rib was coming out. I generally despise 1×1 ribbing as she does.

So, thanks, nothingbutknit2, for inspiring me to begin a sock. I’m having lots of fun with the pattern. Also, notice how I followed my advice: I’m also sporting a twisted 1×1 rib pattern on the cuff. 🙂

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Review: Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders

Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders by Judith Durant. Storey Publishing, 2012. 288 pages. Digital formats also available. Grade: A

I am sock yarn’s number 1 fan. I think it’s fun to buy a random skein of it here and there. Obviously, I had to have this book. It has not disappointed me. Although it’s true that I have yet to make anything out of this book, the time when I will in fact knit up something featured in the collection is approaching. As a matter of fact, a long time ago I bought some orange Spud and Chloe 4-ply yarn with one pattern in mind, which is the “Candleglow Scarf.”

This book is different from others in the One-Skein Wonder series because all of the patterns call for the same type of yarn. So, instead of grouping the patterns by weight they are grouped by the usual categories: socks, scarves, shawls, mittens, etc. The knitting samples are all photographed well and the patterns are written clearly.

One of the refreshing things about this title is how, although focused on sock yarn, it does not overdo the variegated and self-striping material. I think there is a good balance between patterns that call for multi-colored yarn as well as solid colors.

Also, knitters who like making children’s clothes and accessories will be pleased to find a special section devoted to this category.

Even though I’m most eager to get going on the scarf pattern I mentioned above, my favorite section in this book is the one for gloves and mittens. The designers really outdid themselves with some very original and creative glove designs. There are a good number of mittens and gloves that go all the way up to the fingertips as well as some fingerless mitts. If you would like to see all the patterns in the collection, have a look at its Ravelry page.

This book will be handy for knitters like me who tend to accumulate skeins of sock yarn. Sometimes, it can be tough to decide what to do with these little treasures we keep in the stash and an arsenal of patterns like this can help in the decision-making process. As a matter of fact, I have more than one skein of sock yarn in my stash that will probably not be turned into socks thanks to this useful book.

I can talk about my WIPs on a Wednesday

This morning I actually caught a break from working and had time to photograph my WIPs with some good quality sunshine. I’ve been knitting, crocheting, and cross stitching.

My sock made with Cascade Heritage Prints is taking its time. You’d think I’d be pumped to finish the first of the pair since I’ve already finished the foot and most of the leg. But, nope. My hands get too sweaty in this 90 degree (F) weather.

sock

The background for my sock is my crochet tablecloth, which is also progressing slowly because I only work on it for maybe twenty minutes a day. Again, it’s the uncomfortable feeling on my hands in the hot weather. Cotton breathes but while it’s doing that it suffocates my hands!

Anyway, as you can see, it is approaching the correct size of its intended wearer, which is the table that it is resting on. When I use up this second skein of cotton it will be time for me to start a nice border for it with skein 3. I’m thinking about using a filet pattern.

tablecloth

My crochet “Telegraph Sweater” designed by Peter Franzi is also coming along very gradually. If the cotton is uncomfortable in my hands, just imagine how the wool feels. Anyway, this garment can take its time. I’m in no hurry just yet to wear it, considering it’s July and I wish it wasn’t necessary to wear clothes.

Cross stitch – for the most part – has cured my need to create in uncomfortably hot Castilian weather. I’m glad I’ve got back into this pastime. I’ve been spending most of my free time cross stitching and less of it knitting and crocheting. The pattern I’ve chosen, which is Joan Elliott’s “Celtic Wheel Cushion” from her book Magical Cross Stitch, is a delightful challenge with very fine color details. The rose and the bunch of grapes you see have three or four shades. If you think the fruit and the flower look awkward you have a good eye. There is a lot of backstitching to complete for outlining things as well as to add stems and other little details. Right now the poor rose’s leaves are just suspended in midair and disconnected from the flower.

crossstitch

I have already become an over-enthusiastic cross stitcher and ordered more stuff for future projects. I’ve got plenty of Aida cloth in different colors and I’m waiting for some seed beads, floss, and Kreinik metallic threads to arrive in the mail. Yeah, you bet, when I’m in, I’m all in. After placing my order I forgot that I wanted some gold-colored Aida cloth for a bookmark I’d like to make, so I’ll have to buy some more supplies soon.

I can’t wait for the end of the day when I finish work and relax with a little WordPress browsing so I can see what you’re up to with your WIPs.

 

Just a sock

Well look at me talking about a WIP on a Wednesday. I haven’t collapsed yet after getting home from work. My energy level is pretty good at the end of a Wednesday for a change.

And then we have Murphy’s Law at work. It’s WIP Wednesday, I’m all ready to write on this blog about it, and all I’ve got is a picture of a sock I started with Cascade Heritage Prints. I made sure I worked through a full color repeat before I photographed it. Now I’m lamenting that I left my knitting bag in the background but I think you can still appreciate the colors.

cascadeheritageprints

I’ve also been crocheting my sister’s pineapple shawl and knitting my blue lace scarf.

Happy Hump Day!

 

Review: Sock Knitting Master Class by Ann Budd

Sock Knitting Master Class by Ann Budd, Interweave Press: 2013, 184 pages. Paperback, Kindle, and PDF editions available. Grade: A

I bought Ann Budd’s Sock Knitting Master Class a couple of years ago. I decided to get  it because it offers patterns to be knit cuff-down and toe-up. I’ve even knit up a pair of socks included in the patterns: Cookie A’s “Asymmetrical Cables.

If you’re looking for inspiration, this title has it all with innovative ways to create stylish stockings. There are enough techniques to keep a knitter busy for ages. Just a few examples to consider are: Intarsia in-the-round, instep and sole knit together in a modular fashion, and entrelac.

Of course, Ann Budd did not design all these unusual socks on her own even though two of hers are included: “Mock Cables and Lace” and “Toe-up Travelers.” As far as the patterns go, they’re very well written. One drawback for some of them is the limited sizing. There are patterns that include instructions for three sizes and a few of them are only written for one. The assumption here is that the knitter can adapt the patterns to fit any foot. For me, this is pretty easy to do with most of them. I’ve found maybe two others that I would need to think carefully before daring to cast on a sock for a foot size different from the suggested ones. Let’s take, for example, the “Twisted-Stitch
Stockings” written by Meg Swanson, which I really like. I am more than certain it can be adapted to my clunky feet. My only issue is that it’s based on Elizabeth Zimmerman’s “Moccasin Sock,” an unusual construction that I am still not familiar with. Adapting numbers for a different size seems more complicated for me than if it were a “normal” in-the-round sock because I have never actually made “Moccasin Socks.” I doubt there’s a lot of mystery to it, but still, I’ll have to sit down and think a bit before trying.

This weakness, however, reflects a trend in sock patterns we see just about everywhere. The designer writes up the pattern for one size and lets the knitter figure out the rest. Because it’s a practice so in fashion, I suppose we should be forgiving. Furthermore, this flaw is by no means a deal-breaker. In fact, I personally believe that Sock Knitting Master Class should be on any sock enthusiast’s bookshelf or digital collection. The patterns are very challenging and original. We need more complex knitting patterns in a world with a glut of “quick and easy” fair. Like anyone else, I love to knit easy things, but I also like to challenge myself and knit difficult, and equally beautiful, items.

The sock patterns offered are so varied that the author includes an extensive Introduction to explain heels, toes, and all sorts of other important details. Then, the book is divided into two sections, according to the direction of knitting: first come the cuff-down patterns and then the toe-up ones. Before each section there are instructions to cast on and bind off using an ample range of methods. Along with these directions, the author discusses the advantages and disadvantages of knitting cuff-down and toe-up, respectively.

In addition to the patterns, the clear explanations of all things related to sock knitting, and general instructions about techniques, the yarn guru Clara Parks discusses the yarns chosen and why the designers used them. Her little “blurbs” about each individual yarn come at the beginning of each pattern. There is a lot to learn from these tidbits of advice if you find that sort of thing interesting. I think spinners just as much as “yarn shoppers” would enjoy these little boxes of wool thoughts.

I would recommend this title to sock knitting enthusiasts with some experience. The purpose of Sock Knitting Master Class is to help knitters take it to the next level. It is written in such a way as to be helpful to beginners, as well. I say this because a lot of the information included in the Introduction wasn’t really new to me. Furthermore, the little snippets of advice were not exactly ground-breaking stuff for me, but they would be of interest to knitters somewhat new to stitching up socks.

Overall, I think this  deserves a grade of A because it’s not very often that one finds so many challenging and unusual sock patterns all together in one book. It’s thorough. All of the techniques called for are explained clearly with illustrations. When we consider the price – I believe the PDF download is about $9.95 – it’s a bargain considering all the useful information and fun patterns it includes. But, a word of caution: some of the patterns in this book are reprinted and appear in other older publications. I didn’t have any of them in my collection, so for me this was a good option.

I forgot I had Arne & Carlos sock yarn

One of the things that can happen when you stock up your stash is that you can get distracted for years by projects you’re stitching away at and forget that you bought this or that stray skein of yarn for “some day.” I have recently finished a couple of pairs of socks that I’ll write about another day. This means, of course, that I had to make a trip to the stash in the wee hours of Friday night to get some more sock yarn. I just can’t finish socks without starting another pair right away, you know. Anyway, I opened a bin and there I saw it: Regia “Design Line by Arne & Carlos” self-patterning yarn for socks. I think I probably bought it two or more years ago. Of course I got a toe-up sock started right away.  I’m having fun with it. I began the toe last night and I haven’t put them down much this weekend. My progress is promising:

Photo May 06, 2 43 08 PM

I’m pretty happy with this, but I am beginning to wonder if the number of stitches casted on will determine the pattern that appears on the socks. I keep looking at the photo on the yarn label and comparing it with what’s working up on my needles and the design that is developing is not exactly the same. It’s the same in a generic sort of way, but in the photo it seems to me that the patterning is a little more defined. I’m not worried about the quality of the dyeing that was performed on this yarn. I’m concerned that, since I cast on a lot more stitches for socks that will fit me, it will change the results. I seem to think that the average sock knitter who makes socks for themselves tends to have smaller feet.

Recently I bought another skein of Arne & Carlos sock yarn and it’s the “third edition” of self-patterning color ways so I think I’m pretty eager to get this pair finished and work on some different Arne & Carlos yarn to see if I get “better” results. I’ve put “better” in quotes because I don’t really know if my eyes are playing tricks on me or if I need to get more of the sock knitted to see if there are some more interesting and well-defined patterns to come on these socks. I suppose it’s good motivation to get the socks finished faster. If I’m eager to see how the designs play out in my knitting I’ll have to knit more.

I’ve decided to knit these socks toe-up because A) I’ve just finished two pairs cuff-down and I need a change; B) I want to try doing a short-row heel again, the kind that creates a nifty wedge. As you might remember from my posts about toe-up sock knitting I was not happy with the short-row “wedge” heel because I didn’t like the little holes that appeared at the ends of the short rows. I went on to work on my own gusset and heel flap toe-up socks and I got nice results with those. However, I have learned from wearing them that, at the end of a day of wearing them, the gussets stretch out more than I care for. After a washing they correct themselves and spring back into shape, but then I wear them and they stretch out again. So, back to the short-row heel. It’s more my OCD style anyway. I wouldn’t want to interrupt the Arne & Carlos self-patterning, now would I? I mean, you never know, maybe some day I’ll be wearing them and some official person with authority will have to inspect my shoes, feet, and socks.

How fast can I post?

I’ve got 18 minutes until midnight, which means in 18 minutes Wednesday will be done and Thursday will begin. I am on the threshold between “Wednesday WIPS” and “Just Another Thursday.” Today was a bright, beautiful, glorious day with more sun than I could shake a stick at, so between classes I had some time to fuss with photography and get some somewhat OK photos of my WIPS.

First of all, why not talk about some socks I’ve casted on? A few months ago I said I wanted to make some red socks with some kind of triangular pattern on them. Well, I tried that a couple of months ago and it bored me. I just wasn’t feeling it. So, I frogged it, proceeded to finish two sweaters while contemplating what kind of red socks I wanted to knit. In the end, I fell back on my good old cable pattern I like so much. It’s basically cables slapped onto my vanilla sock formula. Here is my sock I’ve started, basking in the sunlight:

red-sock

Last week I started a Star Motif sweater with the “Blue Smoke” color way that could be from no other than Cascade 220. Over the weekend I finished my sleeves and by tomorrow I’m pretty sure I’ll be attaching them to the yoke because I’m just an inch shy of finishing the lower body.

blue-star-motif

This is what happens when you knit monogamously. In one week’s time I’ve knit about 3/4 of a sweater. I think it helps that I haven’t had to think too much. First of all, I’ve used this pattern before, so I pretty much don’t need to concentrate too much on it. Second of all, most of the knitting is “kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk” which means I can pick it up and put it down whenever I like. I can even knit this while drinking alcohol. Yes, I am certain because I’ve done it.

I have a WIP in the waiting. I winded some GrĂĽndl Hot Socks yarn and bought a second set of Hiya-Hiya mini circular needles. You might notice that my mini circular purchase found a way to duplicate itself:

socks-in-waiting

The way my new needles got duplicated is a saga that only an Amazon order disaster can produce. I ordered my second set of needles on January 16. They weren’t in stock so they were sent to me on Jan 26 with an estimated arrival date of February 1. February 1 came and went and so a new estimated arrival date of February 5 was established. By February 7 I was on the phone with Amazon customer service. If they weren’t going to arrive a week from then I would receive a refund – upon my special request because Amazon wanted to refund me right then and there. Last Wednesday the needles, in my mind, were lost forever, so I ordered some more from another shop I found on Google. On Saturday morning the needles I ordered from Amazon magically appeared at my doorstep, in a mangled package which, of course, did no damage to my needles inside. Yesterday my other arrived. So, now I have three sets of Hiya-Hiya mini circs for knitting socks. I’ve decided to keep the duplicates because I like to knit gloves with fingering weight yarn. Anyway, Amazon customer service is AWESOME and I am their number one fan. So friendly, helpful, and eager to resolve problems. I hope I never have to talk to them again, but they were enthusiastic about doing the right thing. Amazon has won itself some serious points with me and I will continue to shop with them.

My clock says it’s midnight, so I am posting my WIPs on the cusp. Happy knitting and crocheting!