Archive for the “design” 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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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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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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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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Almost two pattern repeats in, and I wasn't really happy with that cabled sock design I started last summer and tossed aside in despair. I spent quite some time ignoring it, hoping it would somehow fix itself. (This never works.)

the first few repeats of the cable pattern on the purple sock, displayed on a sock blocker

It's all too close together and the pattern isn't really showing up very well. If it had more room between the cables, more of a purl background for them to stand out against, and more vertical space between the crossings, then it would be closer to the image I have in mind.

Ah well, live and learn - I'll be re-working this so it comes out the way I want. (What's the point in going on knitting a sock that I don't like?) After a bunch of reading and research, I've got a new set of cables charted out, and I decided to knit a swatch in some heavier yarn to see if it looks right. It seems like it's going to work this time!

a knitted swatch of cable pattern in worsted weight burgundy yarn

I think the pattern would make a nifty scarf or hat, too.

For 2018, Ravelry has started a "challenge" where you can set how many projects you want to finish in the year. Adding a deadline date on queued patterns or projects you've already started will make them show up on your challenge page! Mine is here if you want to see what else is on my list besides these cabled socks. (I'm not able to add it to the challenge, but part of my goal with these is to write the pattern up for sale!)

Do you have any knitting, crochet, spinning, or other artsy-crafts goals for 2018?

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I've had the idea for these cabled socks in my notebook for a while, and with the imminent completion of the Textured Socks, I wanted to start something new. I sketched out the overs and unders, decided which round would be the first one, and had a moment of pride for remembering that cables take up some of the fabric and make the socks fit more tightly. The general rule is to look at the row or round with the most cable crossovers, and add one stitch per crossover to the total amount. Since my usual socks are knit at 64 stitches, and these will have one round with eight crosses, I decided to start with 72.

Step One: Cast on 72 stitches, using the stretchy slipknot cast-on. Discover that the yarn is frayed to breaking. Slide 72 stitches off the needle; discard yarn.

Step Two: Grumble a little.

Step Three: Cast on 57 stitches before discovering another frayed spot. Slide 57 stitches off the needle; discard yarn. Inspect frayed end and decide that it doesn't look nibbled, at least.

Step Four: Grumble a little more, using slightly stronger language. Ponder the options of either throwing the ball of yarn across the room, or bringing it home so that it can be rewound into a centre-pull ball, looking for more frayed spots along the way.

Step Five: Decide to try it once again. Cast on 72 stitches. Slide the next ten yards of yarn through fingers. Determine that there are no further frayed spots, and that the ball of yarn must have gotten pinched in a tote or something.

Step Six: Knit twenty rounds of k2, p2 ribbing. (Take some time, twelve rounds in, to wonder if a 1x1 twisted rib might not look better with the planned 3x1 ribbing for the sock. Decide that 2x2 is stretchier, anyway. Keep going.)

Step Seven: Ask boyfriend to mix a drink that matches the sock.

Step Eight: Choose a name for the new design. (It's "Cabled Violets" for the moment, but it won't stay that way forever. Suggestions are welcome!)

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I was in the artsy-crafts store the other day and saw this ball of Sugar 'n Cream in a new colourway that I just could not resist (Pebble Beach Ombre). And for $1.20, why should I? So I brought it home with me. At first I was going to make my usual washcloth pattern, but then I had the idea (perhaps inspired by mopping the floor) that I should come up with a textured stitch that would be useful as a washcloth, dishcloth, or re-usable mop pad. It came out so pretty that I wanted to share... so here it is. (It's also on Ravelry if you prefer a pdf for your library.)

I started with a chain of 36 stitches and a US H / 5mm hook for a washcloth of about 10" / 25 cm. Any even number of stitches to start will work just fine.

Scrubbing Nubbles Washcloth

Yarn: 1 ball Sugar 'n Cream or other worsted weight cotton, 95 yards / 57 grams
Hook: US H / 5mm

Row 1: Chain 36. Skip the first chain and sc across (35 stitches). Chain 1, turn.
Row 2: (sc, tr) across, ending with sc. Chain 1, turn.
Row 3: sc across. Chain 1, turn.
Row 4: (tr, sc) across, ending with tr. Chain 1, turn.
Row 5: sc across. Chain 1, turn.

Repeat Rows 2 through 5 until the cloth is the size you like.

Optional hanging loop: When you reach the end of your final row, chain 15 off the corner, then sc back down the chain. Fold to create the loop and sl st to attach the end to the corner of the cloth. If you prefer a border on your washcloths, you can sc around the whole cloth, putting three sc into each corner (except for the one with the loop).

Fasten off yarn, weave in ends, and enjoy your new washcloth!

The texture is so neat that I took a giant picture of it. At 3658 x 2774, it could be used for phone/computer wallpaper. Feel free to download it here.

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