I’ve knit four pair of socks (pics: one | two | three | four) with Patons Kroy before, and I really like that the yarn is slightly thicker than the usual sock yarn I get. It makes thick cushy socks that still don’t feel like they take up too much space in my shoes. As with all the other Kroy socks I’ve made, I started this new pair on US 2 (2.75mm) needles and… it was way too loose. Floppy fabric doesn’t make good socks at all!

The beginning of a toe-up sock.

What? What is going on! A little internet research affirmed my suspicion that the ragg shades really are a little thinner, more like a standard sock yarn. (Hrmph.) So I ripped out the start of the toe that I had, and began again on US 1 (2.25mm) needles, this time with a navy yarn for the toe. That feels like a much better fabric, for sure, and I like the contrasting colour in the toe better too.

A half-knit toe-up sock with a navy toe and rainbow stripes.

The sock starts with a figure eight cast-on with fourteen loops, and I increased on every other round until I had 64 stitches total. It’s now about two inches shorter than my foot, so at this point I’ll put in waste yarn across half the stitches and then go on knitting the leg of the sock. Later, I’ll pull out the waste yarn and pick up those live stitches to knit an afterthought heel. (Or is it a “forethought” heel, since I’m planning exactly where it will be?)

This blogpost has some interesting details about the construction of afterthought heels, as well as some hints about improving the fit. Since there’s no gusset in this kind of sock, it can sometimes be a little too tight over the ankle. I’m going to try the short-row suggestion and see how well it works for my own foot.

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Cascade Heritage sock yarn in "Teal Mix" My first socks of the year are knit from last year’s souvenir yarn from Utah, Cascade Heritage Paints in the “Teal Mix” colourway. I used my own pattern, the Cakewalk Socks, which are available for free on Ravelry.

I’m sure I knew what I meant when I wrote the pattern, and lots of people have knit the socks without asking about the stitch counts, but I thought it could use a little bit of clarification (and a new picture) so I rewrote some sections to make them easier to understand, and published the update to Ravelry this morning.

Apparently my tension wasn’t exactly the same from one sock to the other, so the spirals came out a little bit differently on each sock – but how cool is it that the heels and toes match almost exactly! I wasn’t trying to make that happen; it was just a happy coincidence.

These were a fun pair to knit, and not just because it was my own pattern. A good portion of them were knit on an airplane to and from vacation in Colorado; some of them were knit whilst chatting with friends, and the last section of the foot was knit as winter gave way to spring. That’s one of the best parts of souvenir socks – remembering where I bought the yarn, and then knitting memories into every stitch.

A pair of ribbed socks in a variegated teal colourway.

And now, onto the next sock… even though I have other projects that are already started, and I should probably focus on those for a bit as well. But none of them are good traveling projects like this one is going to be! So there.

A ball of rainbow-striped yarn sits above a pair of knitting needles. The end of the yarn is wrapped around the needles in a figure-eight cast-on.

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There I was, at the National Museum of American History (one of my all-time faves) and there it was… THE SWEATER. Well, one of many sweaters, anyway – but it’s The Sweater that was donated to the museum. It’s been rotated out of display for a while, but there it was…

Mr. Rogers’s sweater.

Mr. Rogers's red cardigan sweater with cables on either side of the zipper

I took some more pictures, of course, because one doesn’t get to see such an iconic piece of knitting very often. Here’s a closer view of the collar and zipper. I couldn’t tell what the zipper was made of, but the Smithsonian’s website says that it’s metal. The collar looks as if it’s folded over to make two layers:

closer view of Mr. Rogers's sweater's collar and zipper pull

The cuffs are turned up just slightly:

very zoomed in picture of Mr. Rogers's sweater sleeve and cuff

This sweater has set-in sleeves with a cable down the side, though some of the others he wore on the show had raglan sleeves with ribbing. Some of them had pockets, too, unlike this one.

side view of Mr. Rogers's red cardigan

Some things I noticed and found interesting: First, it was a bigger gauge than I was expecting, and the zipper pull is relatively large. I wonder if that’s for ease of grabbing while on camera! The cables turn the same way on both sides of the sweater, which really surprised me… and one of them seems to have a slight mis-cable in it, which just goes to show that nobody’s knitting is perfect. Even Mr. Rogers’s mom’s knitting.

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When I bought the Sonata, I decided that a Woolee Winder was too expensive, and invested instead in a bunch of bobbins. Later, I got the jumbo flyer and bobbins as well, and that (I told myself) was that. But then the Schacht-Reeves came with a WW, and I fell in love.

If you’re not familiar with spinning or Woolee Winders, here’s the deal: when you spin, the yarn you make winds onto a bobbin. Usually, you control where exactly on the bobbin the yarn goes by threading it around a hook, and when one portion of the bobbin starts to get full, you move the yarn to a new hook. Some flyers have sliding hooks, but you still have to manually move them. The Woolee Winder, on the other hand, has a gear-driven assembly that automatically moves up and down the bobbin as you spin, so you never have to stop and change/move hooks. You can fit more yarn on a bobbin when it’s winding on evenly, and not having to pause all the time is nice, too. Here are the two Sonata flyers for a comparison:

A standard Kromski flyer and bobbin on the left, Woolee Winder flyer and bobbin on the right.

Yep, that happened! I saw that someone on Ravelry was selling a slightly used Woolee Winder, in the right colour, with six bobbins included, for the right price… and I jumped on the deal with a minimum of wembling over it.

A Kromski Sonata spinning wheel in walnut finish, in 3/4 view from above, with a Woolee Winder flyer and bobbin visible.

Plying is going to be a lot less annoying now. (I know, some people like plying. I am not one of those people.) The Woolee Winder bobbins may not hold quite as much as the jumbo ones, but I think it’ll be worth it to have the faster speeds and more even winding-on.

The Woolee Winder bobbins are just about the same outside diameter as the regular Kromski bobbins, but the shaft is narrower and they’re about half an inch taller on the inside, so a lot more yarn fits onto them. Here’s a comparison picture with a Kromski jumbo bobbin on the left, the standard bobbin in the center, and the new Woolee Winder bobbin on the right. (Yes, sometimes I tape my leaders to the bobbins to keep them from sliding. Don’t judge me.)

three different bobbins for the Sonata

Now I just have to finish last year’s Tour de Fleece project… I’ve made some progress since my last post, but not nearly enough!

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The wheel has been sitting in a corner of the living room for months, looking at me. And so has the pile of fibre that was supposed to have been last summer’s combo spin for the Tour de Fleece. I got derailed, and it’s taken me this long to get back into it.

Tonight I set the wheel up, oiled it, and got back into the saddle. The impetus? It’s a month until Maryland Sheep and Wool, and if I don’t finish what I’ve already started, I won’t be buying much, if anything at all.

No new pics tonight because it’s dark and gloomy here, but here’s last summer’s collection of the two pounds of fibre that are going into this spin. The first two skeins are done, but I have a lot to work through in the next month!

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Over the weekend I sewed the lining into the hat (which wasn’t nearly as tricky as I was expecting). I used the instructions on Techknitter’s blog post, which also explains why one would want to sew a facing down rather than knit it in. The only difference is that I didn’t split the stitch I was sewing onto, because I want the stitches and floats to be able to move and shift around when the hat is blocked.

A stranded colourwork hat is inside out, with a facing partially sewn in. A darning needle is halfway into the next stitch to be tacked down.

And then, yeah, I took out the top of the hat and re-knit it. There were some really loose stitches that I couldn’t tighten up well enough, I wasn’t 100% happy with one of the decreases being white instead of black, and I wanted a smoother decrease overall. It was worth the time it took to do, and I’m glad I didn’t spend a lot of time waffling over whether I should or shouldn’t.

The hat took a nice warm bath in some Eucalan right now, and I’m excited to see what it looks like once it’s blocked and dry! (Also: the soap dispenser in my bathroom is one my dad made. He’s getting really good at this pottery thing. I haven’t asked him, but I bet he’d be happy to take orders for yarn bowls…)

A stranded colourwork hat floats in a bathroom sink full of water topped with bubbles.

Edited to add: it’s drying now! Is it impolite of me to say that I think it looks amazing?

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In an effort to get this hat finished while it’s still cold enough to wear it this year, I finished knitting it earlier this week… and then spent far too long angling the camera, myself, and the bathroom mirror to get a good picture of it. It’s still unblocked here; the lining isn’t sewn down yet, and I’ve left the lifeline in for insurance, because I’m not 100% sure that the way I worked the decreases will block out smoothly.

This weekend I plan to do all the finishing work and get some good photos, and then I can write up the pattern for publication! I’m pretty excited about releasing my first pattern of 2018, and hopefully I’ll have the time to design and knit and write some more before the year is out. I’d like to get back to my purple cabled socks next. After that, who knows?

There’s also been some progress on the second of my green Cakewalk socks – it’s about halfway through the leg now. I’ve been knitting while watching YouTube videos (watercolour tutorials, interestingly enough) because I can’t knit and watch TV or movies very well. At least, not if I want to keep track of the plot, characters, and dialogue!

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Yesterday I had a surprise day off work due to high winds. It was such a strange storm – we didn’t really get any rain, only winds. The airport a few miles away reported wind gusts of almost 70 miles an hour! Trees came down around the area, lots of people lost power, bridges were closed, and they’re just now starting to get everything put back together again. But hey, a day off means a day to knit! And what better project to work on than my new hat design?

There I was, happily knitting away, when it occurred to me that the hat was looking awfully… well… tall. There are a lot of rounds left in my chart, and my head’s not that big. Hm, I thought to myself, it’s the same number of rounds as that other hat I made, and that one fits all right. So I kept going. But it kept nibbling at the edge of my thoughts. Isn’t this hat kind of tall? I’m nowhere near the decrease rounds yet. Am I sure about this?

black and white hat in progress, about 2/3 done

I went downstairs and retrieved last year’s hat, which fits me snugly and is exactly the right height, and set it down next to the new hat. Suddenly the mistake was crystal-clear:

black and white hat WIP next to finished colourwork hat

I had knit fifteen rounds of corrugated ribbing instead of ten. The chart says ten (I triple-checked) so I don’t know why those five extra rounds are in there, but there they are. I could see three options:

One, ignore the problem and keep knitting. But then I’d have a too-tall hat, wouldn’t I, and what good is a too-tall hat? It wouldn’t be sufficiently too tall to become a slouchy hat, it would just be a sticky-up hat. No good.

Two, rip back to the tenth round of ribbing and begin again. But then I’d lose a lot of work, and a lot of time, and I’d be annoyed.

Three, rework the chart so the decreases at the top of the hat begin a little earlier. That seemed like the most wise decision to make, so that’s what I’ve done, and I think it will be all right.

I still have a doubt or two about the hat’s circumference, but I’m sure I’m not fully accounting for the power of a good strong wet blocking. With only 20-something rounds to go, I should be finding that out pretty soon!

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While the commitment trying to start and finish a project during the Olympics is more than I want to take on right now, *starting* seemed easy enough. (Starting is always the easy part, isn’t it.) And so, while I watched the Opening Ceremonies, I cast on for a new colourwork hat, with the same Cascade 220 that I used for Michael’s bicolour hat.

My original plan had been to use a two-colour cast on, knit some corrugated ribbing, then pick up stitches from the cast on edge and knit a facing in a slightly thinner yarn, the leftover sportweight lambswool from my old Highwayman Armwarmers. That didn’t quite work out the way I’d hoped, but before I ripped it all out to start over, I took this video of the way I work the corrugated ribbing:

I hold both strands of yarn in my left hand, the darker one over my index finger and the lighter over my middle finger. The working yarns are wrapped twice around my pinky to maintain tension, which is why they look as if they’re twisted together. Normally when I’m knitting with just one strand, it’s only wrapped once, but with two (or more) strands they pull against each other and get a little loose.

Anyway, I didn’t like the way the cast-on edge looked after I’d picked up the stitches, so I scrapped it and started over with a new technique. Instead of starting with the hat and working the facing afterwards, I started with the facing. I cast on the same number of stitches as I’d planned for the hat, using the thinner yarn but on the same size needles as I’ll use for the hat, and I knit until my leftovers were almost gone, saving some for sewing the facing down later. (There’s actually another full ball of the stuff in my stash, but I didn’t want to dip into that. I can use it for other hats!)

With 3.25″ (just over 8cm) of facing knit, I switched to the Cascade 220 and knit one round in each shade of gray, then purled one round for a turning ridge, and then got started on the body of the hat with the corrugated ribbing.

While it looks as though that purl round is sticking out unattractively right now, it will create a spot in the knitting that just wants to fold inwards (because inside, it’s a recessed round of knit stitches amongst a sea of purls) and will create a nice firm edge at what will be the bottom of this hat, once the facing is folded up and sewn down.

If all goes according to plan (I estimated the gauge based on Michael’s hat, and I know how big my own head is, and I’m pretty sure this will fit… I hope…) I’ll have a double-warm hat with a triple-warm band around my ears. And if it comes out too big, then someone else will have a double-warm hat with a triple-warm brim. But I think it will work. Fingers crossed.

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Michael and I visited friends earlier this month. We both worked on our socks on the plane, which was a good conversation starter with our seatmate (she crochets!). One of the flight attendants commented, “Whatever it is you’re making, I wear a size medium,” which was both funny and not at the same time. I know people mean that sort of thing as a joke, but it comes across as having no concept of the time and effort that goes into these things – probably because I get similar comments so often that I almost expect to hear “could you make me a–” or “you should knit this for me–” or even “you *need* to make me one.” Yikes.

It was warm when we got on the plane, but cold when we landed. I pulled on my Fleeps and immediately noticed that a crucial strand of yarn towards the top of one finger was dangerously thin. So thin, in fact, that it fell apart when I inspected it more closely. Fortunately, the local yarn shop was generous enough to give me the tail end of some green yarn they had lying around, and now my Fleeps look a little more battle-scarred. I could re-knit that finger… but I think I’ll just leave it like this. It looks kinda cool.

I also bought this lovely skein of Malabrigo Sock yarn in the Zarzamora colourway, because the people at the store were just so nice about everything. I posted a thank-you note to them in their Ravelry group, too!

One night it was a little too cold for me, and Michael let me wear his floppy hat. He posted this pic to his instagram with the caption, “[Pirate] often says she loves when people wear the things she knit for them. I knit this hat for myself, but it was cold out, and I know what she means now. ❤︎” Is that not the sweetest thing? Then we had duck confit ramen for dinner, which was exactly right for the weather and my mood.

Also I think I need to make a floppy hat for myself. Maybe a floppy stranded colourwork hat! With a pompom!

On the plane ride home, I got up to the heelflap of my current sock. I’m knitting my own Cakewalk pattern again, and realized that… um… it’s kind of confusing. Lots of people have made the pattern and no one’s said anything, so maybe it’s not so bad – but I’m going to update it so that it’s more clear. Heck, this is my fourth pair of Cakewalks and *I’ve* never noticed a problem before. Maybe I knew what I meant when I wrote it, but I sure didn’t this time!

Anyway, I’m quite pleased with the way these socks are coming out. The yarn is from last year’s vacation to Salt Lake City; it’s Cascade Heritage Paints in Teal Mix, some of my favourite colours of all time. I’m well into the gusset now and I’ve remembered why the pattern instructions are what they are, but I still think they need to be clarified in an update. Perhaps that will be tomorrow’s project.

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