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

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.

In the weeds

I went to an excellent Connecticut State Library workshop yesterday. Weeding in the Garden of Good and Evil was presented by Mary Engels (from the Middletown Library Service Center) and Linda Williams (from the Willimantic Library Service Center).  These two ladies have presented this workshop many times before, but this was the first chance I’ve had to attend (well, that I could actually justify).

 “Our approach to weeding is that it isn’t the irresponsible disposal of the library’s property, but rather a part of the public service to borrowers, that of maintaining the best possible collection for the community.”

We are facing the daunting task of weeding our non-fiction collection, starting this year, and with all three librarians and four out of five staff members being new in the last twelve months or so, I was a little apprehensive about weeding in a collection that most of us really don’t know well.

I feel I learned some very good strategies from the workshop and will be able to make the case for a comprehensive collection development policy which also spells out our weeding policy.  Armed with my new CREW Method booklet, I think we’ll be able to work together to decide on criteria and a procedure for getting the job done.

It’s almost always colder up in the stacks on the second floor, so I’m swatching for “In the Weeds”:
Pattern: Goodale
By: Cecily Glowik MacDonald
Yarn: Misti Alpaca Tonos Pima Silk (cotton silk blend)
Colourway: 25 Truffle

This should be a nice, lightweight but warm cotton cardigan to wear in the fall and the spring.  The colour is a fabulous muted blend of browns & grays veering almost to full black in places so it should be versatile enough to go with most things.  The yarn is as soft as butter and knits up beautifully.

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 ….

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

year of scarves update #10

Tenth and final update on the Year of Scarves.  It worked out pretty well and the final count is twelve scarves (or shawlettes) for 2010.  Having a goal of getting one done each month (even if I didn’t actually stick to that timetable) really proved a good incentive.  Having graduation, birthday, and Christmas gifts ready to go was also an excellent carrot for this donkey.

The final contenders in the YoS were these two:

Un_Noro striped scarfUn-Noro striped scarf

Both done in Moda Dea Tweedle Dee (discontinued) for fast, machine-washable, and warm winter scarves.  For the ungrateful one and the boyfriend for Christmas.  I love this pattern and I’d do it again in a heartbeat with the right yarn.

In the Christmas knitting stakes, I’m not doing too badly with my original, and somewhat unrealistic, list.  Here’s what is already done:

Cabled coffee coziesDashing cabled mittsDashing cabled mittsDashing cabled mittsHive striped mittsChunky knitted beret

Underway:

  • Jackson’s dead fish hat (just waiting for eyes) – pattern from Knitty
  • Miss Bella’s Arrrgyle dog coat – Bernat’s I-Matey Dog Coat pattern (more about this below)

Still on the crazy person goal items list:

  • Three hats (the architect, the boy, and the boyfriend)

Doing the three pairs of Dashing mitts gave me the time to ponder some modifications to the pattern.  I wanted the cables to twist in the direction of the hand worn (i.e. left-leaning cables for the left hand and right-leaning for the right), I wanted to add another cable round, but only on the top of the mitt – not on the palm, and I wanted a thumb gusset which grew out of one of the cables.  My mods are available on my Dashing page.  Doing this has been a spur to designing my own cabled mitts pattern.  I’m hoping to get these done for the ungrateful one for Christmas, but I probably will have to knit another pair after that to iron out any kinks in the pattern before I publish it.

The dog coat for Miss Bella is based on a Bernat pattern which is, by all accounts on Ravelry, atrociously written.  I’m going to nut it out somehow because I’d like to include something for that sweet and silly dog in the Christmas package, but I’m subbing in an Argyle pattern from Knitty (Mangyle) instead of the skull.  If I figure out the basic structure, I’ll be in good shape to rewrite the pattern next year and make her a custom Steelyard dog coat.  :)

I may do Mangyle down the track for the boy.  He’s hankering after an Argyle vest for some reason.

year of scarves update #9

Getting close to the end!

phoebe's un-Noro striped scarf
This is the ungrateful one’s (or her boyfriend’s) un-Noro scarf in Moda Dea Tweedle Dee. She wanted something in these colours and I was lucky enough to find plenty of each colour from two different Ravelers. One of them kindly sent an extra skein in a different colour and the girl has already knit herself a scarf out of it with some DIC Classy leftovers scavenged from my stash. All I have to do now is get her beyond garter stitch and she’ll be over on the dark side with the rest of us. ;)

That’s the second last scarf this year (I’ll knit another the same for Chris for Christmas), so the total will be 12 for the year.  Not exactly one each month as far as when they were knitted, but it averages out that way.  :)

As far as other knitting goes … well, it is the end of November so the manic Christmas knitting is in full swing.  Here’s what I plan to knit between now and December 24th (crazy person goal items are in italics):

Scarves:

  • Un-Noro for the ungrateful one: underway
  • Un-Noro for the boyfriend: next

Hats:

  • Jackson’s “Alive, alive-O!” fish hat; underway except that I apparently live in some kind of alternate reality where 0.2 of a skein of Knit Picks Swish Worsted in black is enough to do all the black stripes.  Alas, I’ve had to order more from KP, which necessitated buying just over $50 worth of stuff total to get the free shipping.  ;)
  • Botanic for Wright: done!
  • Super-simple fast & easy chunky hand-knit beret for the ungrateful one: I will have enough of the Moda Dea Tweedle Dee left to do one of these in gray, I think.
  • Botanic (I think) for the boyfriend
  • Botanic (again!) for the architect
  • Botanic (I should be able to knit this in my sleep by now) for the boy

Mitts:

  • Dashing in machine wash and dry Wool-Ease for the architect: underway
  • Hive Mitts for our stupendous student aide at work (yarn ordered as part of KP “must get just over $50″ shopping spree)
  • Dashing (ditto machine wash & dry) for the boyfriend
  • Dashing (ditto care and knitting in sleep) for the boy
  • As yet unknown pattern for the ungrateful one

Other:

So, that’s only 2 more scarves, 5 hats, 5 pairs of mitts, 1 dog coat, and 2 coffee cozies to go, right?

Oh, and the Chiral cardigan I’ve done a gauge swatch and bought buttons for.  The buttons are just beautiful.

Argyle pattern pewter buttonsThey’re lead-free pewter in an Argyle pattern from Roosterick on etsy.  Not only are they lovely, but they come beautifully packaged, so they’d make great gifts for other knitters.

Oh, and finishing the ungrateful one’s blanket in time for her 21st a few days after Christmas.  Thankfully, that’s nearly done.  I’m halfway around the i-cord edging and it moves along pretty quickly.
i-cord edging on blanketWe won’t even mention the work I have to do for the final hours of my internship and the paper yet to be written.

Or the Maryjanes booties I took an order for yesterday …