Latvian Braid Booties

Want to try a new technique such as Latvian braids or colourwork? This is the project for you!

latvian braid baby booties

I’ve finally released this pattern – several months in the making. Thanks so much to all my test knitters and my tech editor for their hard work, suggestions, improvements, and general good cheer!

These are a perfect opportunity to use up those lovely sock leftovers that you don’t know what to do with. They make a great gift for holiday giving or a new baby.  :)

Pattern now available on Ravelry.

Tiny sheep in sweaters

sheep stash

These gorgeous tiny sheep, hand-cut from birch, are from Juniper Moon Farm. This is the Sheep Starter Flock pack, which comes with 4 lambs, 3 yearlings, and 3 ewes. A portion of the profits will go to Heifer International.  There’s a T-Rex herd too …

Bonus! Susan B. Anderson has designed and made available a free pattern to knit sweaters for your tiny sheep. I plan on using mine as gift ties for Christmas presents, but I think I’ll attach them with a twisted cord long enough so that they can become ornaments afterwards.

I dragged some sock yarn leftovers out of stash and got organized …

tiny sheep

These knit up so quickly and are so much fun to make!

tiny sheep

darn it

For today’s adventure in knitting repairs, I’ve “darned” a hole in one of my favourite pairs of socks.  This is not darning as I learned it from my Nanna, rather, it’s picking up some stable stitches at one end of the hole and knitting back up to fill in the hole.  You also reinforce the edges as you go by picking up some solid stitches on the sides.  When you get to the “top” of the hole, you can choose a line of solid-looking stitches to graft your patch to.

sock darning

If you are smart, you repair your socks before they actually have a hole by duplicate stitching over the thinning section. Much easier!

With either method, having a darning egg or mushroom is really helpful.  I’m lucky enough to have two lovely antique mushrooms.  One was given to me by a friend and one was my Nanna’s.  Considering that my grandfather wore only handknit socks made by her from when they got married until he died (50+ years), I think hers probably saw a lot of use!

darning mushrooms

Socks

Why do we knit socks? Is it the challenge? Is it the reward? Is it the portability? Is it to impress? Is it to comfort?

Perhaps all of the above. I just read this lovely article in the Sydney Morning Herald about sock knitting on the home front during World War I.  It’s believed that Australians knit over a million pairs of socks for the troops during the war. Many of the knitters tucked hopeful notes into the socks before they were sent off.

“Wishing you all a quick victory and a speedy return,” wrote Bill O’Brien from the Shand Hotel in Newport, Victoria.

My family normally gets a pair of hand-knit socks in their Christmas stockings. I’m inspired this year to start a new tradition. I think they’ll get a skein of sock yarn and a note with the promise of a pair. Partly dictated by necessity (I’m very behind on my sock knitting schedule!), but partly because they’ll have some say in the socks. If they don’t like the colourway, I can swap it out for another.

Current socks underway: simple toe-ups using the Fish Lips Kiss Heel for Zach (he of the long skinny feet):

ragg socks with flk heel

Only my fifth pair this year.  It has been busy …

Serendipitous design inspiration

So, I am a Ravelry member (shakeyourbooties).  Of course.  And I design baby booties (in case you hadn’t noticed).  One of the groups I belong to on Ravelry has a monthly encouragement/discussion thread for WIPs and offers prizes (donated by participants in the thread) for FOs.

Last month I won a prize.  :)

It was a “choose your own book from Amazon up to a certain amount including shipping.”  What a great idea!  I picked this book:

knitters.life.list.steege

A picture on the first page I randomly opened it to:

This picture led me to the fabulous Photo Library collection at the Shetland Museum and Archives.  The intersection of libraries and knitting again.  :)

Knitted gansey booties …. hmmmm ….. ?  Swatching has commenced.  :

gansey.test.1

Lavaliere

Lavaliere – an ornamental pendant, usually jeweled, worn on a chain around the neck

Cecily Glowik MacDonald’s Lavaliere pattern is a nice lightweight cardigan, worked in one-piece top down.  The neckline & front bands are worked in a smocking pattern – making it somewhat ornamental, I suppose.  Mine is even more elaborate as I ended up doing short rows around the fronts to widen the front bands, then knitting in a lining for the whole band as I didn’t like how it was lying.

Lavaliere cardigan

The result?  Pretty good, I think.

Lavaliere cardigan

 

Details of mods on my Ravelry project page.

late to the (crochet school) party

Thanks to a helpful post on the LSG group over on Ravelry, I’m going to take the plunge this summer and actually learn to crochet.

Crochet School is the brilliant product of the craftyminx.  I may actually learn more than the absolutely rudimentary skills I remember my Nanna showing me a very, very long time ago.  I recently had to crochet an edging around this hat:

Thorpe hat in Brown colours

I had absolutely no clue how to do it, but with the help of the interwebs, and this helpful video from Hooked on Needles, I figured it out.  It made me slightly ashamed that I had been ignoring crochet as an option for so long and prompted me to think about what I could do to change that.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to work through all the lessons this summer.  Who knows what I might be inspired to make?

the design process #4

It’s been a long time, but the design bug has finally hit again.  Courtesy of a request on a discussion forum on Ravelry where I mostly lurk, I’m working on Dragon Baby! – dragon feet socks.

Prototype 1:

dragon baby bootie prototype 1

The process always takes much longer than I expect, and these have proved even fiddlier to work out because of all the tiny, fussy little elements.  It’s a fun process though – I just wish I had more time and could get through it a little bit faster.  Without that pesky full time job …..

For the basic structure, I used a simple baby sock pattern designed for fingering or light fingering weight yarn.  Then I needed to figure out a “scaly” pattern for the leg.  Nicky Epstein’s Knitting Beyond the Edge yielded the open spoke bobble pattern which, without the bobbles, proved just right for scales:

knitting swatch dragon scales

Next, I decided that it would be way too hard to knit the actual leg of the sock in that pattern, so I decided to do the scales as a turn-over cuff with a rolled top, like my MaryJanes.

dragon baby bootie cuff

I decided to do a plain ribbed leg (so the booties/socks will stay on wiggly little baby feet better), but I wanted a textured looking instep part which would segue nicely to the three front toes & claws.  I can’t remember what inspired this part specifically, but it’s a fairly simple broken rib concept.

dragon baby booties foot

The toes & claws were based, loosely, on the Arum Lily in Lesley Stanfield’s 100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet.  The hard part was figuring out how to do that pesky fourth claw – the one on the back of the heel (what *is* that claw called?).  On my first prototype, I think it’s a bit too high up the heel, so right now I’m knitting prototype #2 and adjusting the position of the opening for that claw.  The opening is simple, just a placeholder type (see The Principles of Knitting, p. 136), just as you might do for a thumb hole in a mitten.

dragon baby bootie

dragon baby bootie

Next up … a pair in higher contrast colours so I can take better pics of the tricky “picking up for the rolled cuff top” bit.  I’m thinking light gray leg & foot with a royal blue cuff.  I’m keeping the red claws though.  I have a couple of offers to test knit from the wonderful LSGers, so once I have a completed pair, and I’ve tidied up the written pattern a bit, I’ll let them try it and wait for their feedback.

Yarn: Dale Baby Ull

Needles: US 1.5 & 1 (2.5 & 2.25 mm) KnitPicks Harmony & Knitter’s Pride Karbonz (I love these – so smooth & pointy – lovely to knit with!)

resolutions

Knitting ones, at least.

  1. Knit from stash only (with the exception of one baby cardigan & possibly some smaller design-works-in-development items).
  2. Finish some long-languishing projects: the boy’s blanket (now overdue for his 21st – will get done for his 22nd); the semaphore socks for Mr. Booties (they’ll be for his birthday).
  3. Tidy up my queue on Ravelry – delete things that I really won’t knit any time soon (make sure they’re favourited so I can find them easily again) & resort the list so that items made from stash that I really want are at the top of the queue.
  4. Work on some designs: some new booties, and work on the patterns for Hugs & Kisses / Manly Hugs mitts and socks.
  5. Don’t (mentally) beat myself up if I don’t get everything done that I’ve planned (this one goes for life in general, too!).

As a start, I’ve swatched for my Harvest Moon cardigan.  Of course, my gauge isn’t right, so I’ll need to plan accordingly!

harvest moon cardigan gauge swatch

The Cascade Eco Duo – an alpaca merino blend – is like fairy hair. Or unicorn mane. Or something else out of this world.  I don’t even mind the thought of doing miles of stocking stitch in it.