Archive for the ‘Socks’ Category

Socks and inspiration

June 21, 2010

I’ve been secretly working on these quick socks off and on in the last month or thereabouts, intending them to be one of several presents for Mr. Kninja for our tenth wedding anniversary.  Our anniversary is the 24th, and we’d planned on having our anniversary date on the 20th, but all the kids came down with pink eye, and we had to cancel.  I still gave him the socks, though, since it was Father’s Day, and handmade socks seem like a good Father’s Day gift.

The pattern is the uber quick Woodsman’s Socks from Elizabeth Zimmermann, and I admit, I lean on this pattern a lot for man gifts.  It’s made in worsted weight yarn (Tosh DK in this case, with some lovely OrangeFlower Worsted for the toes) and it’s fast and easy and so, so comfortable.  Mr. Kninja had apparently been hoping for a pair of thick socks, so it was serendipity.  I love the rich dark blue of the madelinetosh Fathom.  It’s a more interesting color than I usually see for manly socks, but not so out there either.  Mr. Kninja is the sort who would not really mind if I made him bright, insane, out there socks, but it’s still nice to find a happy medium.

Hey, have y’all been reading the Fit to Flatter series over at stash, knit, repeat?   It is seriously one of the best written and most useful tutorials I’ve ever seen.  While intended for knitters, and very, very useful to a lady with sticks in her hands, this series is a good one for any woman to read.  It’s a great way to get to know and love your own shape and to find clothing that works with that shape to give the most flattering result.  You can also find some lovely and flattering patterns at stash, knit, repeat.  My personal favorite is Arm Candy.  I adore buttons.

The kids are now home for the summer and it’s fun, but there’s a lot of adjustment.  All three got pink eye in the first week – not all at once, but one after the other, drawing out our recovery time as long as possible.  I really want to take them out to play at the park, but as a responsible adult member of society, I can’t in good conscience infect all the other neighborhood children with the eye plague.  Even though the kids really, really need to get out, and I really, really need to get them out.  Stupid eye plague.

So now I’m trying to learn how to work with the kids at home and it’s going OK, but they are definitely a strong distraction.  I hope this gets easier!

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I do not have to do anything else this year

April 28, 2010

Because my one New Year’s resolution was to knit a pair of sock weight socks, and I am DONE!  Who is the woman??  I AM THE WOMAN!  (Now there are chest bumps and a victory dance that looks suspiciously like The Funky Chicken and Mr. Kninja dumps a bucket of Gatorade over my head.  You’ll have to imagine that part.)

The pattern is Child’s First Sock from Nancy Bush’s Knitting Vintage Socks, and the yarn is Snowflake Sock in Cthulhu from Little Red Bicycle.  I need to get modeled photos taken by someone who is Not Me, but in the meantime, enjoy some pasty legs and green clad ankles!

For the record, I am wearing pants in this picture, but I rolled them up so that the socks would be visible.  Just in case you were worried.  I am a pants-wearing citizen.  They happen to be my husband’s penguin-festooned pajama pants right now, though, and that doesn’t really go with killer soul eating tentacly green socks of absinthe madness.

(This is the moment to insert my very most favorite Cthulhu related comic.)

I love the fact that I just knit Victorian socks in a green that ripples and undulates and shines.  I know the Victorians used a lot of color, but I still think my socks would probably cause a stir.  They’re just so…I don’t know the word.  But I love them!

In which I almost have socks

April 27, 2010

It’s not just that I finished the first sock.  I’ve done that before.  My sad, single socks sit together in a perpetual singles mixer, drinking pink drinks with umbrellas in them and complaining that no guys showed up.  I’m good at making single socks.  So while this is an achievement, it’s not one I’m going to write home about.

No, the part that has me feeling like I’m going to make it for sure is that I’ve turned the heel on the second sock and am speeding down the instep to victory.  I’ve never made it this far on a second sock before, and I’m still in love with yarn and pattern.

I have to confess that a lot of this work has been done with me sitting on my butt and watching Bones. I hadn’t seen it before, but Netflix has all these episodes on Instant Viewing, and it sounded sort of cool, and next thing I know, I’m on Season 3.  I love procedurals.  Holy cats, I love them.  I love them for the same reason I love English detective novels.  I love that the violence generally occurs off stage, before the events described, and then it’s all about making sense and order out of chaos and mess.  I love that the writers work hard to get the science right, but are completely fine with going completely nuts when it comes to the artist’s role.  I am having far too much fun with this silly show.

Items of note:

* Pam of Flint Knits has a really, really freaking cute new pattern out, Willie, a little kid sweater with an adorable weiner dog wrapped around the bottom.  Willie came into being for a sad reason: Pam’s sweet little hund, Crush, broke her leg and needed surgery.  Expensive surgery.  Sales of Willie are helping to pay for poor Crush’s medical treatments, and you can also wander over to Juniper Moon Farm for an amazing contest to help support Crush.  I’m trying to get my ducks in a row for next year with the kids, and I think Nora may need a weiner dog sweater.  Heck, don’t we all need a weiner dog sweater?

* With some input from Sarah, I named the wee baby sweater, and have begun working on writing up the pattern!  Surtsey will hopefully be up and ready for release next month.

* I think I fixed the thing where I couldn’t reply by email to comments here!  I’m not 100% sure, but hopefully you’ll start hearing from me again soon.

* Thank you for all your thoughtful comments on my disability post.  It meant a lot.

Oh, God, I can see forever!

April 20, 2010

Look at that!  It’s most of a sock!  I am not getting cocky yet, because I’ve made single socks before, but hey, it’s most of a sock!

The yarn is my Snowflake Sock in Cthulhu from Little Red Bicycle and my picture here does not do it justice.  This yarn, pretty as it was in the skein, is even better knit up.  The way the colors fall reminds me of Dream in Color, but the tones themselves are quite different.  The blacks and greens look almost metallic, and I’m so so glad I picked this color, because even though it is essentially a semi solid, the various tones are so beautiful that I keep wanting to knit just a little more to see what it will look like.

The pattern is Child’s First Sock (appropriately enough) from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush.  This is such a cool little book.  I don’t own it, not being a sock knitter, but my library has it, and it’s worth a look through even if you don’t plan on knitting anything in it.  The patterns are updated versions of vintage sock patterns, and they’re really lovely and clear.

I’d originally started on a pair of Julia socks.  These are, in my opinion, just about the prettiest socks out there.  Unfortunately, the twisted stitches were hurting my hands a bit (they’re very stiff this week) and I had to put Julia on hold for the future.  The whole point of this project is to start and finish a pair of fingering weight socks, and I want no reasons to stop or to turn back partway through, so I’m going to save the pattern for later.  Other socks I will eventually knit, provided this goes well, include the gorgeous Francie socks, the Delicious Knee Socks, and the ubiquitous Monkeys.  I am a great admirer of handknit socks, and the single socks I’ve completed have convinced me that yes, it’s worth the cost and time to have such comfy and lovely foot coverings, but my hands are just not as keen on working socks as they are at working on sweaters and mitts and hats.

Moving on from socks, I will be writing up the baby sweater over the next couple of weeks and then hopefully getting it tested, edited, and released in May.  Surprisingly, I used only one skein of Shibui Sock for the main color, and a very small amount for the contrast color, so if you’re knitting for a small baby, you can probably make this using leftover sock yarn, or single skeins of Koigu and Louet Gems, or other smaller skeined fingering weights.

I’ve been thinking a lot about good patterns.  Not just well written patterns, but patterns that result in a garment that looks good on a lot of different people, despite differing body types and looks.  There are very few of these patterns out there and many, many excellent patterns that don’t quite fit the category.  However, I’ve noticed that Audrey in Unst has looked good on every single person who has made it.  I hadn’t considered making it when it came out, even though I liked it, but as I see person after person complete it and not a one look anything other than great, it hit my list.  Kate Davies’ Manu is another that has moved up my mental queue as I’ve seen people complete them and have noticed that it looks great on everyone.  Are there other patterns you’ve noticed that tend to work for almost everyone who knits them?  I’m trying to mentally connect the dots and see what these various patterns have in common.

Edited to add: The creepy title of this post is a Lovecraft quote, in reference to the Cthulhu colored sock yarn.  I’ve never read Lovecraft, but I do like to see Cthulu jokes on the internet, like Hello Cthulhu, the Family Cthulhu, and some of the LOLTHULHUs. I apologize in advance for the work you now will not get done.

Catching up with Project Spectrum

May 13, 2009

I have had a rough time of it lately in terms of health.  I was sick for a time (though not with swine flu – yay!), and then I hurt my ankle and now I’m on crutches.  I’ve been largely confined to bed, so I haven’t really been as up on things that require being upright, such as sitting at the computer.  (I had the iPod in bed, but that’s very hard to type on.)  Anyway, this means that all my Project Spectrum North projects, cast on last minute in mid April or later, have gone unposted until now, when we’re in Project Spectrum East.

Dishcloths?  Oh yeah, baby.  That’s right.  I got yet hardcore dishcloth action right here!

Honestly, I never really imagined myself knitting dishcloths, but I came into a small amount of dishcloth cotton over time, and last month I decided to use some of it up.  I have to admit, while not the most exciting thing to make (rectangles that will eventually be covered in grime) they are much, much nicer to use than my usual pile of rags from hacked up tee shirts.  In both of these instances, I picked a simple knit/purl stitch pattern and just went with it.  No edging, just two kinds of basic basketweave.  The texture actually makes them very useful for cleaning.  Can you tell which one’s been washed?

I also made a hat for Mr. Kninja for next winter.  He’d been eyeing the leftover green yarn from Liam’s rainbow jacket, and while I knew he wanted a Thorpe or other ear flapped hat, I didn’t have enough left for that.  I chose Turn-A-Square, and used the remnants of my Chasing Rainbows Superwash for the stripes.  It reminds me oddly and intensely of Oscar the Grouch.  It’s just such a nineteen seventies Sesame Street sort of hat, what with the bright colors and the stripes.  I really love this thing…it just suits Mr. Kninja to the skies, and it’s so cheery and odd.  The stripes are actually really close to Mr. Kninja’s skin tone, which adds to the funny overall look.  It’s like he’s trying to camoflauge himself in a crayon box.

Finally, another project for Mr. Kninja.  The Lady was kind enough to meet up with me and teach me Magic Loop, and this is what I’m making with my new ninja skills.  I am so loving the Magic Loop, and kicking myself for not learning it earlier, after all these years of posting vaguely about how I should probably learn.  The toes on these socks are leftover Smooshy from my Spring Green top.  The rest is yummy Trekking.

I am afraid Project Spectrum North just zoomed by for me.  I love green!  I felt so ready for green and North and all the ideas connected with North, but somehow it just kind of passed me by, with only these last minute projects (and one still secret project) to show for it.  However, that’s not the case with Project Spectrum East.  Oh no.  I am so ahead of the game on this one.

This indistinct heap of knitting is a project that hit me quite suddenly this weekend.  Since I was laid up anyhow, I decided to just go ahead and start it.  It’s in every way connected with the themes of Project Spectrum East.  From the Project Spectrum Ravelry group page:

EAST (May/June)
Color: Yellow
Material: Wood
Season: Spring
Element: Air

The project you see here is a spring layering cardigan in butterscotch silk tweed with a woody look and an open, airy lace pattern on the top half.  It’s not as yellow as a project I have in mind for later, but I just couldn’t resist starting right when inspiration struck.  I have very few urgent projects on the go at the moment, and it seemed like an opportunity for spontaneity.

The lower half of the cardigan is knit sideways in one long strip.  The upper half is a Shetland fir cone lace – very puckery, but I think the silk will flatten pretty well.  It’s all got a very rustic, outdoorsy look.  I made large short sleeves, which are just now being attached, and I’ll be finishing it up with a raglan construction.  I’m afraid I have no plans at all to write up a pattern, though.  It’s really very improvised, and I think my method of dealing with the lace is pretty amateur.  I may write up a similar pattern later, but not this one.

Still, I’m very excited about this project.  I only started it this weekend and I’m almost done.  I hope to have modeled pictures (sans crutches) soon!

Knitting Kninja: Made from equal parts WIN and FAIL

January 24, 2008

Something to ponder: If unicorns are the new ninjas, do I need to change the blog to Knitting Uknicorn?

Anyway…

WIN:

* One sock down, one to go. Looks flipping awesome. Fits great. I feel like I should add less filling, but that would just be a dirty, dirty lie. Also, don’t eat socks.

* I got a lovely birthday present from my dear friend Andrea, including the above alpaca and silk yarn (feels like butter, seriously), and a copy of Sensual Knits, which turns out to be an even better book than I had imagined it would be. I loved the cover jacket, but the inside contains many lovely surprises.

* Mr. Kninja has been wearing his new mitts almost daily, and his beloved new socks are almost done. The Malabrigo on size six needles works out perfectly for EZ’s Woodsman socks. I was terribly excited on both socks to find that I had exactly the right amount of selvage stitches at three inches on the heel, even though I hadn’t been counting. Win! They also are super warm and soft. Mr. Kninja has been rather gloaty, actually. (Gloaty being an adjective to describe someone who is gloating. If I can say what part of speech it is, surely it must be a word.)


Malabrigo for the feet. Decadent.

* Mr. Kninja finished his first knitting project! He made a scarf (in nummy cashmere/merino) for Eleanor’s doll. Eleanor has appropriated it for herself at least some of the time.


Look on the cute works, ye knitters, and despair. Or just say, “Awww!”

* We got a new computer, a fancy, fancy new computer, for Mr. Kninja, who is now working from home. It’s pretty darn spiffin’.

* I found that I’m a much faster knitter than I was this time last year, as I finished the front panel of my McQueen Knockoff sweater (yeah, remember that?) in just a couple days time.

* My boffo new sewing machine, which I got for Christmas, is all set up, and it’s a-freakin-mazing. I love it. Even a sewing dunce like me can operate this sucker.

* And finally, the fabulous Orata over at Feather and Fan gave me this:

I’ll pass it on in my next entry. Right now I just want to revel in my day-making powers. Orata certainly made mine.

FAIL:

* So. damn. cold. Feel free to laugh at me, colder climed folks, but it’s cold for here, and since I felted and ruined my Willow coat, I’m not much better prepared for cold weather than I was last year. My toes are cold, my fingers freeze on every walk to and from the children’s school, and I don’t even have a hat anymore, now that my Shedir got stretched out and had to be passed on to Mr. Kninja. (I have a toddler sized pea-head. He has a great honkin’ melon. That honkin’ melon became an advantage when Liam yanked on my Shedir until it wasn’t going to snap back to size. Well played, Mr. Kninja. Well played.)

* I cannot believe how molasses slow the Sweetheart Socks are. Good heavens! The first one took me two weeks and a little extra. Whoa. And I am only a few rounds into sock two.

* I’m much, much farther than that into the second Woodsman sock, but I discovered only after I’d finished the leg and the heel that I’d forgotten to incorporate a few small changes to the pattern that I made on the first sock. They aren’t big enough changes for it to make sense for me to rip the sock, but I’m annoyed with myself.

* Handpainted yarn can apparently vary a good amount even within the same dye lot. I’ve checked the dye lot over and over again, but Sock Number One and Sock Number Two will just have to be fraternal twins. The colors are similar, but different enough to be rather noticeable even at a distance. Since these weren’t going to be quiet, demure socks to begin with (who knew Mr. Kninja liked his socks so crazy?) we’ll just call it character and leave it at that. They’re still warm and cozy, even if they aren’t exactly the same.

* All that pride in being a faster knitter than last year has come to naught when I made a rookie mistake and washed the (100% pure baby alpaca) panels of the McQueen Knockoff, and got to see them stretch all to hell when they dried. My fitted sweater is fitted no longer, and after much deliberation, I’ve decided to rip it and start over. On smaller needles, so there’s less room to stretch, and I’m never, never going to wash that sweater. After a year of being dragged all over, the soft, soft yarn had gotten rather itchy. Washing solved that problem, but created its own quagmire. So I will just have to pledge never to get dirty when I wear that thing, because I don’t think I can take the heartbreak a second time. I briefly considered tossing the dry panels in the dryer with a damp towel, but after the Felting Disaster of ’07 that was Willow, I’m not trying anything like that again. Adios, my dear cables.

(The plus side to this tragic episode is that I can stop wavering about it and finally fix the cables I messed up on the earlier knit back panel. They were really wonky and looked sort of odd, but since it was the back, I decided to let it go.)

* Total, so far, of zippers purchased for Eleanor’s Tomten: 5
Total, so far, of zippers that are the right kind and color: 0

* Related failure: the hour spent last night trying to sew one of the wrong zippers in using my magic sewing machine of awesomeness. No matter what I did, I managed to stretch the knit material and attach the zipper all wrong, often at an interestingly jaunty angle that changed over the span of an inch or so. I spent as much time with my seam ripper, picking away at little bits of thread, as I did with the magic sewing machine of awesomeness. Sewing: 1. Kninja: 0. I’m strongly considering the purchase of clasps or frogging for the T0mten. Eleanor’s been wearing it sans a way of closing it, and it’s warm and comfy and cute, but I think being able to close it would be super plus good.

* My final failure is my ability to keep up with email. If I owe you one, send me a line and let me know. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this. I get an email, or a blog comment, or a private message on Ravelry or something, and I read it and I think to myself, “Well, I don’t have time to answer this right now, so I’ll do it in just a little while.” I go about my business of the day, thinking about the message, and what I will respond to it. Later, when I think of the message again, I remember the response I was thinking up, and assume that I have actually written and sent said response. Only I haven’t. So I lose.

What I did on my summer vacation

July 4, 2007

I just want to say first of all, that even though the fires in Tahoe started the day after we got there, there was no Kninja involvement. Seriously, it was spooky scene, as you can see above. We were staying at the north end of the lake, and the fire was at the south end. We’d look out and see…that. The shadow caused by the smoke meant that the green water was quite cold, while the blue water on the left side of the picture was fairly warm. It was utterly surreal. The loss of property in Tahoe is pretty devastating, but it’s amazing that there were no major injuries.

Other than the fires and the fact that Mr. Kninja and I both were a little under the weather, it was a nice trip. We were able to relax, to go to the beach, to play miniature golf, to watch Ratatouille, to hike in a lovely meadow, to eat fondue…it was a very pleasant trip.

And then we tried to go home.

That didn’t go so well. The car broke down at Donner Pass, and we were stranded where stranded people once ate each other. We opted not to eat each other, especially since there were conveniently located restaurants in the vicinity, but it was tempting, under the stress and with the prospect of a long drive ahead of us, to at least nibble on one of the children. We didn’t, but there was an agonizing ordeal involving renting a car, having our car towed to a gas station right next to Donner State Park, and deciding to go back home without it. In the end we made it home, but the car never will. It’s gone to that big Volvo lot in the sky, rest its soul.

The one redeeming feature of all this mess is that Mr. Kninja was able to snap this photo on his way back up to dispose of the car.

So that was stressful, and now I am trapped at home with three small people and no car, and very little to do within walking distance, which is everyone’s dream situation.

However, I did do a heckuva lot of knitting when we were at Tahoe. In fact, I knit at the beach rather than frolicking because the end result of my illness was weight loss, and I looked like a walking skeleton, so there was no way I was getting into a bathing suit. I figured I’d end up on the cover of some tabloid with the caption, “HAS THE WEIGHT OBSESSION GONE TOO FAR???” Instead I wore jeans to the beach and sat on a towel and worked on the Rowanspun striped sweater. But that wasn’t all. I got a lot of knitting done.

Pattern: [Not So] Fluffy Bolero from Simple Knits for Little Cherubs
Yarn: Random stash yarn
Yardage: Unknown, but I used whatever amount of yarn I had
Needles: size 5 generic bamboo needles
Modifications: The pattern has a major error, so I had to make some of my own decisions about length. More below.

This one was frustrating, since I didn’t have computer access to look up errata for Simple Knits for Little Cherubs. I now realize I should have looked this up before I left, but I didn’t think of it. There’s a part here where the knitter is told to knit for nine inches – and that makes up only half of the sleeve for a two year old. I know no two year olds with eighteen inch (circumference) arms, but even though I could tell it was wrong, I went along with it, because I thought I might be misunderstanding things. I wasn’t, and it meant a lot of unraveling. I chose my own length for the sleeves, and it all worked out fine. This is a major error, and I’m not sure how it made it to print, but apart from that it was a good knit, because the construction is really clever. The front panels are knit separately, then joined to form a single piece, and only the sides are seamed.

I don’t usually like pink, but this pretty heathered stuff makes me smile. I used it both to clear out room in the stash, and because it goes well with most things, and I figured the girlchild could use a simple sweater for times when she’s wearing a dress without sleeves. It worked out well. She wore it out before it was blocked. It looks better now, but she still looked cute.

Then there are the socks. As you may know, I do not make socks. I don’t really dig DPNs, and I haven’t found the desire to make socks to be so overpowering as to force me to learn Magic Loop or to just press on. Nonetheless, I made socks – well, slipper socks, but they were made the same way as regular socks. And then I learned how hard socks are to photograph well.

Pattern: Cable Footies from One Skein
Yarn: Leftover Andean Silk in Leaf
Yardage: Slightly less than two skeins, about 180 yards
Needles: Knitpicks Double Pointed Needles, size 6
Modifications: Smaller needle size, made them in the medium length but the smallest width

I like the end result of this, but I’m not in love, either. Knitting socks was sort of enjoyable, but not enjoyable the way knitting a sweater is. And even though I went down two needle sizes, the socks still turned out a little too big. They’ll work for slippers around the house, but they’re not ideal. Today I performed a meaningless task and boiled them in a futile attempt to shrink them. They felted slightly but remained the same size. Eh. I boiled them longer and mashed them with a potato masher while they bubbled merrily away, but they just went on being their own too-large size. I haven’t seen how these have turned out for other people, but I’m bewildered about the fact that they’re intended to be knit on size 8 needles. Are my feet really that narrow?

I also started another Cotton Glace top, this one from the bottom up. I have a definite picture in my head of what this should look like when it’s complete, but we’ll see if it works. The color isn’t really accurate here – the color is a deeper, richer shade called Spice. I’ve had a pack of it sitting around for about a year, and I’m just now getting to it, but I’m glad I waited, because my original idea of what to do with it was very, very boring.

I didn’t quite get those leaves right. They’re something I made up based on a lace pattern in a Barbara Walker book, and I almost got them the way I intended, but not quite. I’m not worried, though. I’ll get there.

As if this wasn’t enough, I finished the back of Willow.

She’s zipping right along. I also made some decisions about languishing projects. My apologies to those waiting to see the Seaberry Shell in its finished form, but I’m going to frog it. I just can’t quite like it, and I really do think it’s too thick. I don’t want to end up with something I won’t wear, so ribbit, and the Sir Galli will find new life as a skirt. I’m thinking I might use it to make the skirt from Greetings from Knit Cafe, or I might try to come up with something on my own.

The other project I came to a decision about is poor Gabriel’s sweater. It’s been unfinished for a year, and I never have really gotten into it. It’s two things – the intarsia, and this, which I’m just now finding the heart to admit to. I made the intarsia chart myself. He wanted a beautiful hawk and I turned a beautiful hawk into a chart, but what I didn’t take into account was that the shape of the stitches was not the same as the shape of a normal square on a normal sheet of graph paper. I’ve been working for months on an unpleasurable squat, fat hawk that looks like it’s been sat upon and I’ve been so unwilling to admit to this that I’ve just kept plugging away at it. No more. I’m unraveling the sweater and starting over. This time I’ll be making it as a seamless hybrid – Gabriel was admiring his father’s sweater – and doing the hawk after the fact. I think that should work out better for both of us.

Whew. This has been a long entry. If you’ve read the whole thing, get up and go get a piece of chocolate. You’ve earned it.