3.30.2015

Black Walnut Socks

This weekend, I finished not just one, but two projects! And I managed to clean the house. I think this was mainly because winter decided to grace us with her presence again this past weekend - highs were in the 40s, and lows in the low 20s, with high winds, so there wasn't a whole lot of time spent outside.

The first project I finished was my cozy, thick socks. The pattern, Aran Socks, from the book Country Weekend Knits, was the first pattern I've used from this book. I love the book, and I love all the different sock patterns in it, but if this pattern is any indication of how the rest of the book will read, I'm not sure I'll be making many more projects from it. I had to make quite a few modifications to the pattern, and one of the cable rows has an error in it. I've detailed most of my modifications on my Ravelry page, but I'll speak to a few of them here also.


I will say, despite all the adjusting I had to do, I really love these socks. I've hardly taken them off since I finished them - I'm even wearing them right now! They're very cozy and warm, and I love the look of them. This is my first finished project using my naturally dyed yarn, and I love the result. The yarn itself is nothing fancy - it's just under two skeins of Paton's classic wool. Starting out with natural dyes, I've not been able to justify using nice, more expensive wool for fear of a disaster, which would ruin something nice. As I get more experience I think I'll branch out into some nicer wools, but for now, this is working great. This yarn was dyed with black walnut hulls that I collected from our yard. As you can see, one skein is a little more variegated than the other, but it's not that noticeable. Having a larger dye pot would help with that.


The first major modification I made was to cast on only 60 stitches instead of the 76 stitches the pattern calls for. 76 stitches for a worsted weight sock?? I realized these are supposed to be more like "house socks" instead of socks you wear under boots, but even after cutting out 16 stitches, the socks do a little slouching on their own while wearing them. I can't imagine they'd even stay up a little bit with those extra 16 stitches.

I also had to play around with the ribbing some. The instructions are very unclear in the pattern, and if one were to knit them as written, you'd end up with a panel of 4 knit stitches running down the middle of the back of the sock, yet the photos in the pattern don't show the sock with that, so I made some adjustments to make the ribbing a continuous k2,p2. I've noted those mods in my Ravelry notes. Since I started with less stitches, I also had to change the way I did the heel, but it wasn't too difficult, and worked out nicely. Those notes are also on my Ravelry page, along with the correct instructions for row 11 of the cable pattern.



All in all, I'm counting these socks as a huge win. I have a feeling they're going to be well-loved!

3.24.2015

A Knitter's Struggle

I usually don't have this struggle. I can usually pair yarn with a pattern fairly easily - with one exception. Baby knits. I'm basically clueless when it comes to babies and knitting for babies. I've knit only one garment for a baby once - a baby sophisticate sweater for my nephew, and I'm pretty sure it fit him for about an hour before he outgrew it. 

So here's my current situation.  I'm going to a baby shower in a couple of weeks, and I want to knit something for the little girl who is due in June. I've picked out this wonderful skein of Hermosa Fiber Company sock yarn, but I'm struggling with what to make. I've narrowed it down to two choices - the Immie Tee by Carrie Bostick Hoge, or the Sproutlette Dress by Tanis Lavallee.


So my question to you is, which one should I go for? And, which size do I make? Since these are both spring/summer knits, and the baby is due in June, I could make the newborn size, but then they would only be wearable for a few months. If I make the 6-12 month size, they could be worn next spring & summer. Furthermore, if I made the 6-12 size of the dress, it could be worn as a tunic once the baby gets too big for it to be worn as a dress.

Knitters with lots of baby knitting experience, what are your thoughts?

3.18.2015

A Host of WIPs

There has been quite a bit of knitting going on in these parts. Too much, some might even say. (Just kidding, that's not a thing.) I'm currently plugging away on 3 projects, two of which are nearing the end.

First are these wonderful thick, cozy aran socks.


I posted a photo of the first finished sock a few posts back, and right now I'm about halfway through the second sock. The cozyness factor of these socks is off the chart, and as a person who wears wool socks inside all year long, I'm looking forward to having these off the needles and on my feet.

A few days before Jesse came to stay with us, I dyed up two skeins of wool/silk blend using cutch extract - one for me, and one for her. While she was visiting, we decided to use them to knit the same project, giving us 100% matching shawls. If that's not true friendship, I don't know what is. We landed on the ginkgo shawlette, a beautiful free shawl pattern. Since each skein of yarn is 440 yards rather than 330 yards the pattern calls for, we're going to add to the lace pattern to make it bigger than the pattern. I'll admit, the stockinette section seemed to take forever to me, but once I hit the lace it's been flying. I'm officially hooked on double-sided lace patterns - no more boring purl rows!


I absolutely love how this color turned out, and how it's knitting up. I'm a bit further than this now, and the lace pattern is really starting to stand out.

Finally, just a couple of days ago I started a lightweight pullover. Last year, an Instagram friend, Corinne, was de-stashing some of her yarns, and I grabbed a ziplock bag full of Quince and Co's Finch. I wasn't sure how much was in there, but loved the look of all the colors together, and thought it would make a nice cowl if nothing else. Plus, I'd been itching to try some Quince and Co yarn, and this was the perfect opportunity to snatch some up and give it a try.


Boy was I surprised when this arrived and I weighed it to figure out the yardage. You're looking at almost 1,700 yards of this bouncy, squishy, lovely yarn. I knew that they belonged together in some sort of pullover, I just wasn't sure. So I did a quick gauge check, ran some numbers, and cast on with no real plan in mind, other than a top down, raglan style, striped pullover.


This is what it looked like yesterday morning. I put in some work on it last night, and am already loving how it's turning out. At first I tried to imagine all different types of striped sequences - wide stripes getting smaller down the body, smaller stripes getting wider going down the body (that one went out the window pretty quickly - no one wants to look like they're getting wider down their body...), or stripes of different, yet complementary, sizes in a particular color order. In the end, I decided to throw all those out the window, and change colors whenever I feel like it. These colors all fit together pretty well, so I felt like throwing caution and planning to the wind could work. So far, so good. But I'll save those photos for another post.

Another reason I decided to go ahead and start this pullover is because it's the perfect companion knitting for the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament - I don't really have to pay attention to it like I would with the lace and cables in my other two projects, and the theme of the sweater sort of matches the theme of the tournament - no one is able to predict the outcome.

I'd love to hear what you're working on these days!

3.07.2015

Jen and Jess Do Sundottir

Sundottir, you've stolen my heart in the best way.


I'm not sure I can say enough about good things about this sweater. The colors, the yarn, the fit - they're all perfect. I'm head over heels in love.


This was my first time using small batch, hand-dyed yarn for an entire garment. After knitting a bit on the sleeve, I decided not to alternate skeins, and I'm very happy I made that decision. It would have been a pain, and the result without alternating is just wonderful. No intense pooling, just the perfect amount of variation.

The pattern was so well written that the only modifications (additions?) I made were to add some length. I added a couple of inches to the sleeves, because apparently I have long arms, and I added about an inch to the body before starting the hip decreases, because I like my sweaters to come down a bit further on the hip. This was my first color-work yolked sweater, and I have a feeling it won't be my last. The result is just fabulous.


The yarn I used is Miss Babs Heartland, which has to be the softest, butteriest wool I've ever knitted with. I bought it this past October at SAFF after touching it once and knowing I needed to wrap my entire body in it. Buying an entire sweater's worth was definitely a splurge, but I ended up with well over half a skein of the contrasting color left, and over a skein of the main color left, so my splurge will extended further than just this sweater.


This was another knit-along with my pal, Jesse. This was our second knit-along, and is far from our last. You may remember our New Girl skirts, which was our first knit-along, and was a blast. While knitting this sweater, our friendship grew so much and we realized just how much we have in common. Jesse and her husband were even able to come through Asheville and spend a couple of nights with us. It was so amazing to finally meet her in person, and so refreshing to spend time with my soul sister. I can't wait to see her again in May and go to Maryland Sheep & Wool together!
It's funny sometimes when I think about how knitting has changed my life - it's given me a productive hobby, taught me patience, given me a stronger appreciation for all things handmade, and it's brought me together with like-minded people, who are loving and supportive. And of course, it's given me the ability to make myself incredible handmade clothing.


Spring is starting to spring here in the mountains, and although I know I'll have plenty more opportunities to wear my wool sweaters, I'm turning my knitting thoughts to lightweight pullovers and shawls, but don't be surprised if you find me sweating in my Sundottir sometime in June - it's going to be a hard one to pack away.

{See more photos on my Ravelry page}

2.27.2015

Snapshots

It's been a while since I posted a Snapshots post, and I've been missing them. So, welcome (hopefully) weekly Snapshots posts back to the blog!

Here they are, a few snapshots from the last couple of weeks, brought to you by my iPhone and Instagram.


a shot of my yarn storage set-up. i love them!


a productive snow day means one finished sock!


naturally dyed wool/silk yarn with cutch and baking soda


sundottir coming along!


naturally dyed romanian wool with red onion skins and iron


a 70 degree january day


and just a few weeks later, blanketed in snow

Happy Friday! Hope you all have a wonderful, fiber-filled weekend!

2.23.2015

Single No More

My poor, lonely sock. All alone for over 3 years with no mate. Today, that's changed.



I'm so happy to have this sock off my needles and the pair on my feet. It's almost as if some imaginary weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and I can now go about all my knitting guilt-free, knowing this sock now has a mate.


While I don't think I'll be making a habit of taking over 3 years to make a pair of socks, it was actually pretty interesting to see how much I've improved as a knitter over that time. My decreases are much, much cleaner, I'm much better at being able to read my knitting, and I've learned to trust my intuition. There's a mistake in the pattern, and when I knitted the first sock, it appears I just followed the pattern exactly without even thinking about it. When I got to that part of the pattern in the second sock, I saw the instructions and immediately knew there was a mistake. For consistencies sake, I knit the sock according to the pattern, since that's how I knitted the first one, but it was really a confidence booster to see how far I've come.


The pattern was Marilinda from Cookie A.'s book Knit.Sock.Love. I love the finished result, and actually really enjoyed knitting the second sock, but I feel that it's a little ridiculous for there not to be some errata information, especially since the error I picked up on is pretty glaring, and almost everyone who has knitted these socks on Ravelry has noticed it. I'm hoping to make a few more pairs of socks from this book, and am going to make sure I read through the Ravelry notes of other knitters for any pattern mistakes.


This yarn is a skein that I picked up at a fiber festival years ago from an indie dyer in Georgia. While I absolutely love the color, I didn't truly love knitting with the yarn. The twist on my skein was so high, that at times, the yarn became tangled up in a mess. I remember having this problem while knitting the first sock, so I don't think it's because it was sitting for so long in a center pull ball. I even tried rewinding it a couple of times, hoping that would help, but it didn't. I was worried in some places that the yarn was going to break, so I'm a little concerned about longevity, but only time will tell.

Now that my first sock of 2015 is done, I'm itching to do more! This morning I cast on for some cozy socks using some wool I dyed with black walnuts. I love a good pair of thick, cozy socks!

2.12.2015

Tree Rings

My mother in law turns 60 this Friday, and since the people you love only turn 60 once (unless you're my mom, who's still celebrating her 30th birthday), I felt that it called for a big knitted gift. I debated back and forth between a sweater or a blanket, and ultimately chose to knit her a blanket. I wanted to gift to be a surprise, and knew that if I made her a sweater, I would need her measurements, which would be hard to do without ruining the surprise. I mean, how do you ask someone their bust measurement "just out of curiosity"?  So, a blanket was the winning choice. Jake and I perused Ravelry, looking for something we thought she'd love, and ended up going with Tree Rings by Andrea Rangle, from Wool People 6.


(You'll have to excuse the lack-of-natural-light photos. It's staying lighter later and later, but it just wasn't enough for these photos!)

Ahhh, that lace edging. (Side note: do not just Google the word "edging" to see if it's spelled right. I was horrified by the results. Kids these days...) It was very time consuming, and kinda a pain in the ass, but so worth it. In total, the lace 24-row chart is repeated 48 times. It took me until somewhere around the 30th repeat to actually have the thing memorized. Once I did have it memorized, though, that helped speed up the process.

For the sake of time, I had to leave out the last repeat of the slipped stitch pattern. I was a little worried at first that it might make the blanket too small, but as soon as I laid it out to block, those fears went away. It's still really big! A great size for one person to snuggle up with.


I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in the Fedora colorway. It's such a great workhorse wool, and I think this blanket will last quite a long time, and will hopefully be well loved!