Archive for the “meta-knitting” Category

I've been considering the idea of matching my sock patterns with cocktails for a while, and the first one in a new series is finally knit! These are the Boulevardier Socks, knit in Tess' Designer Yarns Super Socks & Baby in a rich shade of amber. I bought this yarn an embarrassingly long time ago and am pleased to have finally knit it up! As soon as I've translated my scribbled notes into something that can be shared, I'll be publishing the pattern on Ravelry.

A pair of amber socks

My usual sock knitting tends to be the sort of plain thing that I can carry around with me and knit without too much concentration, but semi-solid or tonal yarn is kind of boring for just stockinette socks, or even plain ribbing. So I've got three of these twisted stitch socks charted out and in my queue, and I'm excited about knitting them all up - and about mixing the perfect matching cocktail for each of them.

Why a Boulevardier for this pair? Well, for starters, they're delicious. Secondly, their colour matches these socks perfectly! But thirdly, and most importantly, they're often served with a twist... and these socks have little left and right twists all up and down the ribbed stitch pattern. These twists, or two-stitch cables, are super easy to work but give a lot of visual and textural interest to the fabric. I hope you enjoy knitting them as much as I did!

An amber drink in a cocktail glass with a twist of orange peel sits on a wooden table.

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In preparation for the Great Sweater Spin (the custom blend of fibre I ordered from World of Wool) I busied myself by finishing the spinning project I already had going and knocking out a new one as well.

Michael's mom gave me four ounces of this yak-silk blend from Greenwood Fiberworks a few years ago, and after a lot of waffling over whether I'd be able to do justice to the fibre by spinning it, I stripped it into lots of stripes, spun it as finely as I could while still remaining mostly consistent, and chain-plied it to maintain the colour sequence. It came out to 258 yards when I was done.

skein of fingering-weight yak-silk yarn in reds, browns, greens and blues

This was a tricky spin. The silk fibres tended to slide out first, leaving me with small clumps of yak to deal with. I think that splitting it lengthwise actually helped quite a bit with that, though. Originally, I'd wanted to pull it apart the other way and spin all the blue together, all the red together, etc. It became obvious pretty quickly that I'd need to change my plan. Now I'm considering spinning an equal amount of white silk and knitting a moebius cowl in two-colour brioche...

Closeup view of a fingering weight yak-silk blend

Next, I had six sample ounces of Buoy Blend from Hipstrings. I organized them in a gradient from light blue to dark blue, then from dark purple to light pink, and split the middle four colours in half. The light blue and light pink, I pulled one third off. Then, to offset the colour shift in the yarn, I spun one bobbin that started with a smaller amount of light blue and ended with a larger amount of light pink, and a second bobbin that started with the larger amount of light blue and ended with the smaller amount of light pink.

I think it worked, but I would try to be even more precise if I were to do this technique again.

skein of two-ply yarn in a gradient from pink to purple to blue

I really enjoyed spinning this yarn, and I'm also glad that I got a sample of it instead of enough for a whole sweater. It's soft, but a little hairy and I'm not sure I'd want to wear it next to my skin. The finished skein is 320 yards, and I think this is going to make an excellent wrap, knit on large needles for an airy, lacy look. Hopefully there's enough of it to do what I want!

closeup picture of two-ply yarn

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After a wait which *seemed* like a very long time but was in reality only about three weeks, my custom yarn blend from World of Wool has arrived! Here it is still in the bag, which gives a pretty good idea of the eventual overall colour once it's all spun up and the individual wools are blended together. I'm expecting (and hoping for) something on the desaturated teal side of green, with a few heathered pops of pink and lime here and there.

A bag of blended wool in stripes of greens, pink, purple, and white.

They vacuum-sealed the bag for minimal shipping space, and when I opened it up the wool took a deep breath and spread out quite a bit. Close up, you can see the eight different colours that I chose. The fibre is 50% Corriedale, 25% Merino, and 25% BFL. It feels a little bit stiff - somewhat less soft than I was expecting, but then, I chose the Corriedale for sturdiness rather than softness. And, to be fair, I've been spinning that yak-silk blend, so maybe that's thrown me off and I just need to recalibrate my softness-sensors.

A closeup picture of blended wool in stripes of greens, pink, purple, and white.

Since I was already paying for international shipping, I added some undyed wools to my order. There's a sampler pack of Shetland in 50g each of four natural colours, with which I might get ambitious and spin into laceweight for a shawl, and then I got 200g each of Suffolk and Southdown, both of which I've heard are excellent for handspun socks.

A collage of packets of undyed wool.

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Mom told me that she'd been teaching her granddaughters (my niecelings) to knit, that all three of them had caught on, and that I should bring a project to her house so that we could all knit together. As I mentioned in my previous post, I didn't have anything that was in a good spot to be a traveling project. But instead of saying no, I cast on for a new sock. This is Trekking XXL in colourway 66, which was a gift from Janis to me a Very Long Time ago. Before I started the blog. Before Ravelry even existed. (It was a birthday present. In 2007.) I feel badly that I haven't knit it up before now, but now I am! I decided to go with my own Sibling Socks pattern, as the other pair I have is super-comfy.

The first few rounds of a purplish sock cuff, with the ball of yarn at the top of the picture.

Even though I have several other projects on the needles right now, I'm really glad I started this sock so I could bring it along, because otherwise we wouldn't have gotten this picture of all six of us knitting (well, my SIL is crocheting, but that still counts) together. How fantastic is this?

Also, I should point out, my dad *made* all those yarn bowls. I'm trying to convince him to open an online shop for his work. Aren't they lovely?

Three adults and three children knitting and crocheting on a couch.

Having a new traveling sock gave me something to do at the car dealership while I was waiting for my annual inspection, too. I've made a little bit of progress and now the oil-slick colours are really starting to show up nicely. It's slow-ish going with 80 stitches on size 0 (2mm) needles, but I enjoy the feel of the yarn and I know I'll be glad to have the finer-gauge socks in my drawer when it starts getting cooler out but is still too warm for the thicker ones.

A few inches of sock leg in oilslick colors, in the waiting room of a car dealership.

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These two socks have been stuck at the heels for a few weeks already, and they were holding me up. I like to turn heels when I'm by myself and can keep track of where I am in the process, or inevitably something goes wrong and I have to rip back. I decided that I'd just buckle down and get them both back to the point where I can work on them and hold a conversation at the same time.

The second of the handspun knee socks had some adjustments from the first one so that it will fit better. Fortunately, I'd left comprehensive notes for myself so that I'd know what to do. On this sock, the third wedge of the Sweet Tomato Heel ends with 16 stitches unworked in the centre, rather than eight, and I can tell that this will be a better fit already. I finished the heel and the inch or so of stockinette that comes after it, and got started on the ribbing for the leg. It will be another six inches of knitting before I have to think about increasing for the calf.

These are way too tall for my sock blockers and the ribbing on the leg really makes them look funny when they're lying flat on the table! Once the second sock is finished, I'll get proper photos of them on my feet/legs to show off the heel and leg shaping.

One and a half knee socks in burgundy stripes, and half a ball of yarn.

I also made it past the heel and gusset decreases on the first of my Twisted Stitch Trilogy socks, which is still unnamed, so I've just been calling it Twisted ONE. This will be my next published sock pattern! I'm really happy with everything about them - the yarn, the colour, the texture, the feel and fit. I'll cast on for Twisted TWO with the yarn I bought at Mom's LYS just as soon as this pair is off the needles!

One and a half amber socks, and half a ball of sock yarn, displayed on blue sock blockers.

Right now the handknits are sharing space in a dresser drawer with the storebought socks, but they're all starting to feel a little squished in there. Not that I have a sock addiction problem or anything, but... pretty soon I'm going to need to give the handknits their own drawer.

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Last week I mentioned ordering the sample pack of Buoy Blend fibre from Hipstrings, and today it arrived! The package had a cute sticker on it:

A sticker on the outside of a shipping bag that says, in fancy blue type, "Something fluffy this way comes"

I got six one-ounce samples. They're crisp but not crunchy and smell deliciously sheepy. Seriously, I have shoved my face into the little bundles at least three times already. But wouldn't this make two gorgeous gradients?

Top row: Mussels (rich purple, blue, and brown), Urchin (purples and brown), Rose (pink, cream, and tan)
Bottom row: Depths (deep blue, rich purple, and brown), Bay (medium blues and brown), and Sky (light blues and tan)

Six 1-ounce balls of wool fibre

I can't start spinning it until I clear the bobbins, though. I'm plying my TdF combo spin and wishing that the Woolee Winder bobbins for the Schacht-Reeves held a full four ounces (they don't). And that plying job will take approximately forever, since I mean to cable the two two-plies together - each one has to be awfully overplied first, so it takes twice as long just to make the two-ply part of it, and then I have to ply the whole thing again. It will be worth it!

(And then I've got a bobbin full of yak-silk, and another half the fibre to spin... pics of that later. It's amazing. It's the softest thing I think I've ever touched.)

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Last weekend Michael and I went to a Knit in Public event at a local winery, where we met up with friends, drank wine, and worked on our respective socks. This weekend I had the opportunity to go with my mom to her LYS, Laughing Sheep! We spent a while looking through this glorious stack of yarns, as well as all the other cubbies and shelves.

Mom goes to a weekly knitting group at the shop, and some of the local folks were there yesterday. It was nice to meet her group and show them what I've been working on, and I know she enjoyed showing *me* off to them! They're getting ready to do a knitalong for this amazing shawl, Butterfly/Papillon. I might have to borrow the pattern from her after she knits it... isn't this just beautiful?

This tonal turquoise yarn (Classic Elite Yuri, in colourway 5046) came home with me and is destined to be a part of the Twisted Stitches Sock Trilogy, which is still nameless. I'm a few pattern repeats into the second sock of the first pair, and really happy with the way it's coming out. It's been going quickly, so it shouldn't be long before I get to start this new yarn for the second design! (Hopefully I didn't jinx it by saying so...)

P.S. Apparently turquoise is a very difficult colour for a camera. My phone wouldn't accurately capture it so I got out the point-and-shoot, which also had troubles. The yarn showed up as far more blue than it actually is, and I had to do a lot of fiddling with the settings to get a good representation of the colour. Any advice on this subject is definitely welcome!

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I'm working on a new sock design!

Blue-painted toenails peek out of a partially knitted amber sock.

This is "Tess' Designer Yarns Super Socks & Baby" in a tonal amber that I bought at MDSW some years ago, and am pleased to finally be knitting with. I like how it's working up; the stitch definition is good for this mini-cable pattern, and the yarn is soft and feels good running through my fingers.

(No, the patterning doesn't go all the way to the toes. That's just how far I'd gotten on the leg portion of the sock when I stopped to take the picture.)

I'd love to find a mannequin foot that's just my size, to better display and photograph the pattern samples. Unfortunately, all the womens' mannequin feet are shorter than mine, and all the mens' mannequin feet are wider. I'm sure a custom foot would be unthinkably expensive... so now I'm wondering how difficult it would be to make one. I could make a mold of my foot with duct tape, fill it with expanding foam for stability, and wrap it in pretty fabric - but it might be difficult to slide a sock on over that. And plain duct tape would be pretty ugly. Any ideas?

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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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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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