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 …

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!)

bad …

… blogger … somewhat bad knitter.

Life got busy with a new job and somehow 6 months or so just flew by.  The new job is great, but I just haven’t had the mental energy to keep up with everything.  One of my goals for the new year is to get a little balance back into my life.

Knitting suffered a bit too.  My goal of 11 in 11 (pairs of socks and cabled things) was just barely achieved and only with a little fudging.  One “pair” of socks were these tiny ones …

 tiny socks

Some of the socks were cabled, so they counted for both.  Not exactly what I had in mind initially, but still not too bad.

Some of the socks did double duty on the design front too.  I’m working on two separate cable patterns:

Hugs & Kisses:

hugs and kisses socks

and Manly Hugs:

manly hugs mitts

I’m hoping to have patterns written up and published for mitts and socks for both by the middle of January.  Eventually, I’d like to add a toe-up version to the sock patterns too.

11in11 update

Well, I continue to mess with the master list of eleven cabled items and eleven pairs of socks, buy hey, it’s my list so I can do whatever I want.

For cables, it occurred to me that two hats finished early in the year were actually cabled projects.  Single stitch cables to be sure, but cables nonetheless.  So, I have completed two Travelling Rib Hats, one Rock Creek Hat, and I’m underway with a pair of Hugs & Kisses socks (my own design), and Schmidt vest for The Boy.  That’s three done and two on the needles.  I’d better get moving!

Traveling Rib hatSchmidt vest underway

In the sock stakes, I’ve finished six pairs, and I’ve started the seventh pair (the afore-mentioned Hugs & Kisses).  I also knitted a few tiny socks early in the year.  I’m totally counting those (and any more I whip through) as another pair.  ;)

Tiny socks

Skew socksHiss socks

Hugs & Kisses socks underway

The plan (well, today’s version of it anyway) is to knit at least one more pair of Hugs & Kisses, then I’ll only have two more pairs to do.  I’ll pick two from the revised list to round out the eleven (most likely Raindrops and Cauchy).  For cables, I’ll knit Dashing with my mods (twice, for two giftmas presents), the Hugs & Kisses can double as cable projects, then I’ll need to finish three projects from the revised list (definitely Wall Street Cables and Vivian, and possibly Beatnik, for myself).

Then there’s the Westknits Mystery KAL which starts August 1 (that’ll be a whole blog post by itself, I suspect), and assorted giftmas presents to get through.

Also, I’d really like another cardigan before I start work ….

idio(m)t

“Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.”

I wonder what the knitting queue equivalent to this idiom is  … “Your imagined spare time is bigger than your reality” perhaps?

Revisiting the 11in11 idea, I’ve had to apply a little common sense to the two lists.

For eleven pairs of socks, here’s the revised list:

  1. Tracks (Ravelry pattern link), by OzKnitter, in Lion Brand Sock-Ease, Rock Candy – Done!
  2. Globe Trotter Socks (Ravelry pattern link), by Jodie St. Clair, in Knit Picks Stroll Tonal, Kindling – Done!Globe Trotters Socks
  3. Raindrops, by Melissa Morgan-Oakes, from Toe-Up 2-at-a-Time Socks, in Schaefer Yarn Company Heather, in greens (not sure of colour name)
  4. Cauchy, by Cookie A., from Sock Innovation, in Dream in Color Smooshy, Black Parade
  5. Tatu (Try A Toe-Up) (Ravelry pattern link) by Carolyn Kern, in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport Multi – Done!Tatu socks
  6. 100-17 Ribbed Socks in Knit Picks Essential (now called Stroll) Carbon Twist – Done!
  7. Skew by Lana Holden from Knitty, Winter 2009, in Berroco Sox – Underway!
  8. Cable Footies (from One Skein), by Leigh Radford, in Queensland Collection Rustic Wool, Purple
  9. Cable Footies (from One Skein), by Leigh Radford, in Queensland Collection Rustic Wool, MidnightEasy Ribbed socks
  10. Cable Footies (from One Skein), by Leigh Radford, in Queensland Collection Rustic Wool, Denim
  11. Pavo Slipper Socks (from Interweave Knits, Winter 2010), by Chrissy Gardiner, in Knit Picks Stroll, Black Tweed (discontinued colour)

See what I’ve done there?  Yep, I should be able to finish Skew, knock out the four pairs of slipper socks, and make one other pair over the summer while I have plenty of time.  Then, I’ll only have Raindrops and Cauchy to go.  :)

As for the cable part of the challenge … well, that’s seen some slashing as well …

  1. Lia, by Mandie Harrington, from Knitty, Deep Fall 2010, in Queensland Collection Uruguay Chunky, Wisteria – Done! Lia cabled sweater
  2. Twisted Rib Cable Tank, by Angela Hahn, in Jo Sharp Desert Garden Aran Cotton, Magenta
  3. Dr. G’s Memory Vest, by Kirsten Kapur, from Through the Loops!, in Cascade 220 Superwash, Lichen
  4. Wall Street Cables, by Kathy Zimmerman, from Arans & Celtics: The Best of Knitter’s Magazine, in Cascade 220 Sport, Navy
  5. Vivian, by Isolda Teague, from twist collective, Winter 2008, in Queensland Collection Uruguay Chunky, Russet – currently hibernating from 2009, it must be finished this year!
  6. Rock Creek Hat, Nicole Rheese, Knitty, Winter 2011 – a quickie, and done!Rock Creek hat
  7. Beatnik, by Norah Gaughan, from Knitty, Deep Fall 2010, in madelinetosh tosh vintage, Celadon
  8. Cable Footies (from One Skein), by Leigh Radford, in Queensland Collection Rustic Wool, Purple
  9. Cable Footies (from One Skein), by Leigh Radford, in Queensland Collection Rustic Wool, Midnight
  10. Cable Footies (from One Skein), by Leigh Radford, in Queensland Collection Rustic Wool, Denim
  11. Pavo Slipper Socks (from Interweave Knits, Winter 2010), by Chrissy Gardiner, in Knit Picks Stroll, Black Tweed (discontinued colour)

See what I’ve done there?  Yep, it’s called doubling up for the sake of necessity.  Cheating?  Never.

carolinas part 2

What would a vacation be without some knitting?  Yes, I’ll admit it, I packed my knitting before anything else.  Knowing that I’d have six or seven days in the car was a good motivation!

Project 1: finish Zach’s basic ribbed socks.  This pattern from Drops has been translated really badly, so I just used my basic cuff-down sock pattern-fu and figured it out for myself.  The yarn is Knit Picks Stroll (mine is old enough to still be called Essential) in Carbon Twist.  Nice to knit with, soft in the hand, but it splits very easily.  Also, the skeins must be really out of whack as I knit one whole sock (with a bit left over) from one skein, but only got to the beginning of the toe on the second sock.  Grrr.  I hate being unable to finish something as planned!  Luckily, I have heaps of this yarn as I bought it to do the edging on both the kids’ sock-yarn blankets. Now, all I have to do is find it in the house somewhere.  ;)

zach's easy ribbed socks

Project 2: TATU (Try-a-toe-up) socks.  I’ve done toe-up socks before, but I was looking for a good, easy, fairly vanilla pattern for toe-ups and this one certainly fits the bill.  It’s also written for sport-weight yarn on US 3s so they really moved along.  They just need the ends woven in and a quick wash and they’re done (for me)!

tatu easy toe-up socks

Project 3: Riley.  My god-daughter will be visiting the US from Australia in April/May with her husband and daughter (my great-god-daughter ;)) and we’ll be catching up with them in either Boston or NYC, work schedules permitting.  I’d like to have something summery but not too light-weight for the baby (Tabitha) to wear as necessary while here, but to grow into for the Australian spring and summer.  I recently made a baby kimono and hat from this cotton/microfiber blend and I loved the finished garment in terms of drape, texture and usability.  I’m knitting a pattern from Nashua Handknits and am going out on a limb a little bit in terms of size.  If I’ve done the knitting maths correctly (and there could always be a first time ;)), knitting the 12-month size with this yarn and US size 5 needles should result in an 18-month-ish size.  Fingers crossed!

Riley baby cardigan in progress

Riley baby cardigan in progress

Project 4: Custom Zooming. Several months ago, I experimented with a pattern (Zoom) to make a cotton cover for the Swiffer sweeper.  I’m pretty sick of throwing away endless pieces of paper (Swiffer cloths – both wet and dry) so I’d like to find a more sustainable solution.  I played around with the pattern and customized it to fit our particular Swiffer.  It works pretty well on dry floors and really well wet (although I’m yet to find an easy and mess-free way to get it wet enough but “wrung-out” enough for mopping floors).

zoom swiffer cover

Luna with Zoom

Project 5: Dishcloth.  Have I, perhaps, been on another planet?  Growing up, I was oblivious of the whole knitted dishcloth phenomenon.  Maybe we didn’t have it in Australia? (Someone please correct me if I’m wrong?)  Anyway, I’ll admit to being a Sugar’n Cream snob for many years …  now you can call me a convert!  Between the Swiffer Zooms and my newly discovered obsession for knitting dishcloths in the car … beware A.C. Moore!  I tried out my first ever dishcloth today, and I’m in love.   I can totally see putting out a new one of these every day and washing them in the weekly old towels/rags/zoom/dishcloth hot+bleach wash (we have one of the old Maytag Neptune front loaders with the inherent mold problems, and I’m always looking for an excuse to run a hot wash with bleach!).

dishcloth

First ever dishcloth

dishcloths

I'm hooked!

The vacation was a complete knitting success, especially as we finished our trip staying in a B&B where the host(ess) was a knitter and we compared knitting war stories over breakfast.

eleven in eleven

(aka the “Happy New Year’s” post)

The first knitting plan for 2011 is to do a self-imposed sock club (a la the Yarn Harlot’s of 2010) to finish 11 pairs of socks in the year.  Mine will be a little less random as I’ve matched patterns and yarns to planned recipients.  Should be some ready-made Christmas presents at the end of it all!  Here are the pattern and yarn pairings (recipients shall remain nameless for now):

  1. Retro Rib Socks, by Evelyn A. Clark, from Favorite Socks, in Knit Picks Essential (now called Stroll), Ash Tweed (discontinued colour, I think)
  2. Simplicity, by Melissa Morgan-Oakes, from Toe-Up 2-at-a-Time Socks, in Lion Brand Sock-Ease, Rock Candy
  3. Raindrops, by Melissa Morgan-Oakes, from Toe-Up 2-at-a-Time Socks, in Schaefer Yarn Company Heather, in greens (not sure of colour name)
  4. Cauchy, by Cookie A., from Sock Innovation, in Knit Picks Essential (now called Stroll) Carbon Twist (another discontinued colour, I think)
  5. Jelly Beans, by Maureen Clark, from Green Mountain Spinnery, in Knit Picks Imagination Hand Painted, Wicked Witch
  6. Leyburn Socks, by MintyFresh at pepperknit, in Dream in Color Smooshy, Black Parade
  7. Red Thread Socks, by Cookie A., in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, Magnificent Meadow & The Red Thread
  8. Undulating Rib Socks, by Ann Budd, from Favorite Socks, in Knit Picks Felici, Putty
  9. On-Your-Toes Socks, by Ann Budd, from Interweave Knits, Summer 2007, in Lion Brand Sock-Ease, Toffee
  10. Coupling, by Deb Barnhill, from Knitty, Summer 2007, in Handmaiden Fine Yarn Casbah, Bronze
  11. Trilobite Socks, by Wendy D. Johnson, from Socks from the Toe Up, in Knit One Crochet Too Ty-Dy Socks, Panama

The second part of the plan is to make eleven cabled things.  I haven’t finalized this list yet; it will be made up of things for myself and gifts for other people’s birthdays, etc., as well as finishing one long overdue and hibernating project.  Here’s what I have so far:

  1. Lia, by Mandie Harrington, from Knitty, Deep Fall 2010, in Queensland Collection Uruguay Chunky, Wisteria
  2. Beatnik, by Norah Gaughan, from Knitty, Deep Fall 2010, in madelinetosh tosh vintage, Celadon
  3. Shredder Pullover, by Jennifer Hagan, from “Interweave Knits, Winter 2009,” in Ella Rae Classic Chunky Superwash, Mulled Wine Heather
  4. Alan, by Berroco Design Team, in Cascade 220 Superwash, Cordovan
  5. Sweet Eleanor, by Wendy Neal, in Filatura Di Crosa Baby Zarella, pink
  6. Twisted Rib Cable Tank, by Angela Hahn, in Jo Sharp Desert Garden Aran Cotton, Magenta
  7. Dr. G’s Memory Vest, by Kirsten Kapur, from Through the Loops!, in Cascade 220 Superwash, Lichen
  8. Wall Street Cables, by Kathy Zimmerman, from Arans & Celtics: The Best of Knitter’s Magazine, in Cascade 220 Sport, Navy
  9. Vivian, by Isolda Teague, from twist collective, Winter 2008, in Queensland Collection Uruguay Chunky, Russet
  10. Unsure yet
  11. Unsure, but possibly a design I’ve been working on for cabled, fingerless mitts – if this works out, everyone will probably get a pair in their Christmas stockings

Underway at the moment:

Lia, which is knitting up at an appealingly rapid rate:

Lia sweaterMy test Traveling Rib hat, which is full of mistakes, but will still probably look okay, and which has taught me all kinds of things about the pattern:

Traveling Rib hatAnd, just cast on, the first pair of socks, Retro Rib:

Retro Rib socks

all work and no play

makes the handknit librarian a very dull girl indeed.

I’m on day six of what is scheduled to be thirteen straight days of work and in combination with a lot to do for both classes it really isn’t very good for my mental health.  Oh, and factor in the architect ripping up half the kitchen floor with the consequent dirt and chaos and I’m really crazy in the head.  Stepping in wet concrete while wearing suede shoes yesterday was almost the final straw.

Sanity may be saved by sneaking a day off work next week and going into NYC with the architect.  While he goes to some boring IT thingy at the Hilton mid-town, I’ll be hanging out at the NYPL, getting fish & chips for lunch at A Salt & Battery, then walking down to Purl in SoHo to drool over yarn.  I have to buy some sock yarn for a swap for the blankie, but I know it’s going to be hard to restrain myself …

Progress is slow on In Vino Wisteria.  I’m finally down to the cabled section at the bottom of the body, but it’s just going to get slower and slower as I go along because there are more and more cables.  Still, it does look great, and hopefully the sleeves will move along more quickly when I get to them.

I did manage to finish’s Grant’s (giant) CMU toe-up socks and he likes them (shown here with a “normal” sized sock for comparison):

I also made a nice hat for Alexandra (A Slouch for All Seasons) in Moda Dea Bamboo Wool which was really nice to knit with:

What is most likely only the first Meret I’ll make is finished (and I don’t think Phoebe has taken it off yet):

I’ve managed to start a little bit more holiday knitting too.  A Calorimetry for the girl in some luscious Malabrigo Dos (it really feels like butter) supplemented with some Woolen Rabbit laceweight.  The colour combination looks great: