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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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 really wanted to get this pair off the needles before going on vacation, and here it is! Tiger-Striped Socks for Michael, which look exactly like mine except for the white trim at the cuff and the duplicate stitch “claws”.

I’d just started the toe when I noticed a split stitch quite a way down. It didn’t seem like it would be too troublesome to fix, so I got out my tiny crochet hook, dropped the stitch down to the split, caught it properly, and picked all the stitches up again. You can barely tell where the repair was made, and once the socks have been through the wash, any looseness remaining in that column will all work out.

A long column of dropped stitches

All the stitches have been picked up again with this crochet hook.

Then I miscounted on the toe stitches and had to rip back four rounds to start the toe over. Of course.

Figuring out how to duplicate stitch the “toes” was pretty easy, but figuring out the “claws” took me a little longer. Eventually I went for a slightly thicker yarn and embroidered them on, rather than duplicate stitching. Hopefully they aren’t too thick.

Embroidered 'claws' on the white toe of a tiger-striped sock

Now, here’s the weird thing. These are plain stockinette socks. The only purl stitches are in the cuff’s ribbing and in the heel. So what was I thinking here? What even happened?

A red circle shows a mistake of a purl stitch that should be a knit stitch.

Anyway, they’re done and they look really cool. Next up… a new pair for myself!

A pair of tiger-striped socks with white toes and embroidered claws, laid smoothly on a black leather couch

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At Thanksgiving, the annual family reunion, one of my cousins mentioned the rainbow pillow I knit last summer. “Can you make me two of those?” he asked. I tried to explain that just the one had taken me nearly two months of crafting time. “I’ll PAY you,” he said. I asked if I could maybe sew pillows for him instead. “What’s the difference?” he asked – and with that, I knew that sewing would be just fine.

I bought pre-cut strips of fabric from Amazon:

First I pressed them flat…

…then sewed the strips together in rainbow order, and pressed the seams down. (True, pressing them all in one direction rather than open/flat might not have been the best decision. But it worked.)

From each long rainbow, I cut two squares and sewed them together all the way around, and I even managed to set in mostly-invisible zippers on the purple sides, which seem like they’d be the bottom and therefore the most hidden.

(I’m pretty pleased about the zipper.)

My cousin will be buying the inserts, because it’s way easier for me to bring him pillow cases than actual pillows. But even unstuffed, I think they look pretty good!

I usually curse and grumble a lot when I’m sewing, but this project went surprisingly well. Both pillows were done in an afternoon (I’m sure if I were better at this, it would take even less time) and I only had to rip out one super-crooked seam and try again. I even have some leftovers to play around with – not enough for a third pillow, but enough for a piece of wall-art or something. Hmmm, if I cut them on angles… and then turn one upside-down… and sew it all back together… that sounds fun, doesn’t it?

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This is the official end of 2017 tallying-up post! It wasn’t a bad year at all…


Incoming fibre in 2017:
Greenwood Fiberworks merino, souvenir fibre from Utah (4 oz.)
Ashland Bay merino/silk (8 oz.)
FatCatKnits merino swirl (4 oz.)
Greenwood Fiberworks merino/bamboo/silk (4 oz.)
Bee Mice Elf BFL (4 oz.)

24 ounces

Outgoing fibre in 2017:
8 ounces of BFL from Three Waters Farm became 580 yards of two-ply yarn
4 ounces of BFL/Silk sold to a fellow member of the ComboSpin team for Tour de Fleece
10 ounces of Corriedale in a rainbow of colours spun up into 368 yards of two-ply yarn

22 ounces (if I hadn’t derailed during the Tour de Fleece, I’d’ve really had a lot more out than in. NEXT YEAR.)

Plus I carded some batts:

Incoming yarn in 2017:
1 skein Cascade Heritage Paints, souvenir yarn from Utah (437)
1 skein Malabrigo Sock, souvenir yarn from Utah (440)
1 ball Sugar ‘n Cream for a washcloth (95)

3 balls / 972 yards

Outgoing yarn in 2017:
1 skein Socks that Rock, for the Textured Socks (360)
3 skeins Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted, sold (570)
4 half-balls Jo Sharp DK Wool Classic, for the Moorefield Hat (214)
1 ball mystery pink yarn for a kitty-ear hat (150? best estimate…)
1 ball Sugar ‘n Cream for the Scrubbing Nubbles washcloth (95)
6 half-balls of Red Heart Soft went to Sam (768)
Rainbow and grey handspun for a couch-pillow (368)

12 balls / 2,555 yards


The Year in Crafting:
I feel really good about my projects this year! I got a lot done. They’re all together on a 2017 Projects page.

Favourite project:
The Moorefield Hat, for sure. I love the colourwork – and how warm it is!


Patterns Published:

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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 1×1 twisted rib might not look better with the planned 3×1 ribbing for the sock. Decide that 2×2 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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A very kind Raveler sent me a bit of their leftover yarn so that I could finish the Textured Socks. So finally, almost a year after I started them, they are done! Hooray!

I used the free Stanton pattern and just over one skein of Socks that Rock Lightweight in the Smokey Mountain Morn colourway. The pattern was well-written and easy to follow, though I made a few adjustments: lengthening the toe slightly and widening the heel turn. I chose to keep the stitch pattern down the back of the heel flap, but slipped the first stitch on every row to make picking up the gusset easier. The stitch pattern is quickly memorized, and gives a good all-over texture that adds interest to the spirals of this variegated yarn. It draws in a bit like ribbing, so these socks should fit snugly.

Apparently Socks that Rock Lightweight now comes in a larger skein than when I bought this yarn – 405 yards instead of 360. The price has gone up to match, but at least if I decide to use the yarn again, I’ll have a better chance of getting a whole pair of socks out of one skein.

One of the older, smaller skeins is still in my stash, in the “Moss Agate” colourway. If anyone wants to buy it from me, I’ll send it on. $23 includes shipping anywhere in the continental United States; I’ll have to do the math on postage to other countries. It’s quite pretty but now I know from experience that it just won’t make socks big enough for me.

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Ten years ago on a motorcycle ride through the countryside with my ex, we stopped at a little yarn shop called Needles in the Haymarket, and I bought a ball of pink and gray Austermann Step yarn. I didn’t know, then, that less than a year after that ride I would be moving to Haymarket, and that shop would become my LYS for years!

Four years ago I cast on for another pair of Jaywalkers. I liked the yarn well enough, but for some reason I never felt the urge to knit on the socks. I’d take the project out from time to time and put a few rounds onto it, but didn’t fall in love with it. When I was traveling last fall, I thought of bringing it – but no, I started something else instead.

At the end of the weekend I said to myself, “Self, it’s time to finish that sock. Or something.” So I tried it on to see how much more I’d need to knit before the toe and… it didn’t fit. My feet have grown. I’ve put on some muscle in my legs since I started biking and running. And this sock is never going to fit.

Farewell, Pink Jaywalker. It was nice almost knowing you.

Hello, Austermann Step in pinks and grays. What kind of sock do you think you’d like to be?

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