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It came up in conversation with my mom that my grandma is cold all the time. So I decided to crank out a wrap on the machine, using yarn that I already had in my stash, and send her a surprise bit of warmth in the mail. The first attempt was less than successful, but the second attempt worked out just fine!

A teal and brown knit wrap displayed on a purple bedspread.

For this wrap, I used Loops & Threads Impeccable in the "Tropical Storm" colourway (originally purchased to crochet a blanket, but... no). I cast on 110 stitches, which is the full width of the machine, and knit for about 400 rows, putting a hem at the top and bottom. For the sides, to try to prevent curling, I did a three-stitch bias border - moving stitches 2, 3, and 4 out to needles 1, 2, and 3, and then picking up a stitch for the now-empty needle 4. It helped, but not really enough. I think for something this wide, a more significant border might be required. Ultimately I crocheted it down with slip stitches to make kind of a rolled hem up the sides, and I think that looks rather nice. It doesn't completely eliminate the curl, but it helps.

Closeup of the detail of the edge seam of a teal and brown knit wrap.

I have a bunch of this yarn in my stash, but it seemed like none of it was the same dye lot, so I didn't bother trying to match up the colour progressions. Some of the plances where I changed skeins are kind of jarring to the way the argyle was playing out, but I think it will be just fine. I'm going to fold this up as small as possible, wedge it into a flat rate box, and mail it off. Hopefully this will help Grandma stay warm - at the very least, I'm sure she'll think of it like wearing a hug from me. :)

A teal and brown knit wrap draped artfully on an oversized, overstuffed chair.

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While my sock drawer will never truly be full (it will just expand to be two drawers, haha!) I thought perhaps I might use some of my sock yarn to knit a shawl instead. I wanted something quick, easy, and relatively simple, and chose Multnomah - a pattern that I've had in my mental queue for about a decade. I love the waves of feather and fan for the edging, and the idea of a nice mindless garter stitch centre of the shawl was appealing.

I finished it in a week, using about 75 grams of Cascade Heritage Paints in the Olympic Forest colourway... which I've had in my stash for, um, a while. I bought it because it matched my eyes, and then could never decide what to do with it. I think it makes a really good Multnomah shawl! (Oh, and I dyed my hair fun colours. What better time than now?)

Pirate modeling the shawl

I would definitely knit this pattern again, but I'd do it a little differently next time. For starters, this isn't really a shawl, it's a shawlette. So if I knit it again, I'll make the garter section a little bigger before starting the feather and fan border... and then perhaps I'll do more repeats of the edging as well.

As the pattern is written, when you're knitting the edging, you still maintain the garter stitch pattern in the central triangle and the corners of the shawl. If I knit it again, I would switch that out for the knits and purls of the feather and fan pattern to keep the texture of it all the way around the border.

Pretty sure I need advice about how to wear mini-shawls.

Pirate modeling the shawl.

Here's a better view of the whole thing, which shows off the pattern and that garter stitch triangle in the centre that I don't quite understand. Overall, I really like the result, I'm glad I knit it, and I'd totally do it again, maybe in handspun next time! Now, back to some of the more complex pieces that I'd started... like that brioche shawl I think I remember starting... ;)

The shawl displayed on a gray carpet.

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It's another rainy day here in northern Virginia, and possibly the last day that it will be cool enough for handknit socks, so I'm taking advantage of the weather to wear my new pink knee socks!

Pirate is modeling knee-high stripy pink socks.

This yarn (ONline Supersocke 100 Sierra Effekt, colourway 584 Pinks) came from someone at knit night who was destashing. She had four 100g balls of it, and tried to convince me to take them all, but I thought two would be more than enough for a pair of knee socks. I used just about 160 grams of yarn for both, so there's enough left over in case I want to make matching pink armwarmers.

To avoid second sock syndrome, I knit the socks in parallel, rather than sequentially. It feels like they went much faster that way! The pair took two and a half months from start to finish, which is a good pace for me - especially for knee socks! I started the first one while we watched the Super Bowl, and the second one on a train ride, and then I swapped off working on them to keep them fairly even with each other. This came in handy when I was doing the increases and ribbing, as I could be sure to start at exactly the same point in the striping sequence.

Pirate is modeling knee-high stripy pink socks.

I began with a figure-eight cast on and increased to 64 stitches. As I worked my way up the foot, I started thinking about what heel to use - and then I remembered! I'd bought the instructions for the Fish Lips Kiss Heel and hadn't tried it yet! So I made my foot template, found my ankle bone, followed along with the photo tutorial, and voila! Well-fitting socks. (It's pretty difficult to take pictures of one's own feet.)

When I had knit as far as my calf muscle, I started to do some math for the increases. I measured my leg at 9" from the floor, then 10", 11", and so on, and multiplied the measurement by my stitches per inch gauge. Ultimately I increased four stitches every other round until I had 96 stitches on the needles. When I got past the widest part of my calf, I switched to a 2x2 ribbing and kept going that way until the socks were tall enough.

Pirate is modeling knee-high stripy pink socks.

In other news, I have my first baby pepper! As soon as it stops raining, I can move these plants (there are twenty of them) to their summer home of three-gallon pots on the back deck. I hadn't planned for twenty pepper plants, but here they are, and so now I'm planning for lots of pepper jam, salsa, hot sauce, relish, chili powder, pickled peppers...

A baby pepper, not yet an inch long, grows from one of many plants in red solo cups.

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I like to buy souvenir sock yarn when I travel, especially if I can find something from a local dyer. This year's yarn, which I got at Wasatch & Wool - a nifty little shop in Park City - is Salta Fingering from Yarnaceous Fibers. The colourway is "My Dinosaur Ate Your Unicorn," and it's beautifully dyed in shades of a mountain sunset. I love it. I don't yet know what I'm going to knit with it, but I absolutely love it. I bet those colours pool in the most fantastic ways if the pattern is right. Since the care label says to hand wash, I think I won't be making socks with this yarn...

A skein of sock yarn in purples and a bit of orange, very sunsetty colours

But before I let myself knit this year's souvenir yarn, I want to use some from a previous year! I got this skein of Malabrigo Sock in "Lotus" when we went to California in 2017, and paired it with some Fable Fingering from Sheep's Clothing Yarn Co in the "Nebula Speckle" colourway. It's a perfect match.

Two skeins of sock yarn - one dark purple with a tinge of cyan, the other mostly white with purple/blue/pink speckles

After Michael made his scarf and matching hat, I started to consider the possibility of a making brioche scarf or shawl for myself, but in a lighter weight yarn than he chose. After a lot of riffling through the Ravelry pattern library, I eventually settled on Sizzle Pop as a good challenging first brioche pattern to try. I've done swatches of brioche before, but never a whole project.

Over the weekend I cast on and started knitting. Of course, a triangular shawl which starts at the tip goes quickly at the beginning! I was able to get through the setup rows and then two pattern repeats already. The speckle yarn combined with the tonal purple is just *chef's kiss* perfect. (And it hides a mistake that I made early on that I decided that I wasn't going back to correct.) Hopefully I don't lose all interest in the project when the rows get long. At least only 1/4 of the rows have patterning that requires me to follow along with the chart! That makes it seem like it goes fast. On the other hand, I keep spreading it out to look at it, which takes up some time. Less admiring, Pirate! More knitting, less looking!

Two repeats of the Sizzle Pop shawl in progress.

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The first time I saw "Nothing Says Screw You Like a Rainbow" from White Birch Fiber Arts, I swore that I'd buy it if I ever got the chance. (It's currently out of stock, but there are other rainbow and self-striping colourways available!) Even though I usually waffle over adding to my already-overflowing stash, back in July when I heard that there was some of this gorgeous yarn available, I hit "buy" without a second thought.

A skein of self-striping yarn that alternates rainbow stripes with wide sky blue stripes.

Self-striping yarn like this doesn't need any textures or patterns, which is ideal for the mindless knitting that I prefer for my traveling socks. I cast on at the end of December, and then I knit while Michael drove up and down the east coast - to and from a snowboarding trip to Vermont...

The road to Stowe Mountain, with the ski area visible in the background

...then to and from my inlaws' for Christmas, and back down to Virginia for Chanukah and New Year's, and then I knit on the airplane (link is to a video on instagram) to and from our vacation in Utah...

The highway to Utah ski resorts, with directional signs to each one, and tall mountains in the background

And now they're done!

I started each sock at the beginning of the sky blue stripe, then knit 2x2 ribbing until the start of the rainbow. The heel flap also begins at the start of the rainbow stripe. I'm amazed at how well this worked out; apparently my feet are *just the right size* and the socks' toes end right at the end of the rainbow.

The two-ply yarn is slightly thinner than I'm used to. I started with 64 stitches on US size 1 (2.25mm) needles but thought the fabric was a little loose for hard-wearing socks, so after the heel flap I switched to US 0 (2mm) for the foot. That 0.25mm really made the difference, especially in row gauge. When it came to the toe decreases, I worked two plain rounds between each decrease round (usually it's only one) for a more gradually angled toe, ending with 16 stitches on each side before grafting.

Each new pair of socks is my favourite, but these might hold the position for a while.

A pair of light blue socks with rainbow stripes.

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Before last week's vacation, I decided that I wanted to make a new scarf on the machine (since there was no way I was going to get new mittens finished in time) using Loops & Threads "Woolike" yarn from Michaels that I bought as practice yarn for the machine. It's a light fingering weight, mostly acrylic yarn with a soft feel to it, and it's quite inexpensive - $2.99 for 678 yards, but with the ubiquitous 40% off coupons, it comes out to $1.80 a ball.

First, I spent some time using Excel as graph paper (tedious, but sometimes I have a lot of down time at work) charting out the design for the border and main body of the scarf. This is what I came up with, though it got tweaked a little before I started - partly to adjust the stitch count for the width of scarf I wanted, and partly because it's more convenient to have even numbers of solid-coloured rows to avoid breaking the contrast colour yarn.

A screen capture of a fair isle knitting chart, done in Excel

Then, I had to figure out how to get this chart into Designaknit, which isn't exactly the most intuitive or user-friendly program. With that accomplished, I then figured out how to load the pattern into the machine, and began to knit.

It wasn't long before things went sideways. I didn't quite get the contrast yarn into the carriage properly, and dropped a whole bunch of stitches as a result. After some time trying to rescue the piece, I decided that it would be easier to just start over... so I did.

The end of the scarf, with solid blue lines separating a small snowflake border from the main body snowflake pattern.

The second attempt went a lot better. Not that I didn't make mistakes! The major one was that I forgot to keep an eye on my yarn supply as it fed up through the mast, and at one point a big chunk of yarn barf got hung up in the tensioner and I produced one super-tight row. I successfully unraveled it and then didn't get the machine set properly, so my next row was the wrong one in the pattern... which I didn't realize for another ten rows.

It takes 2.5 minutes to knit a 28 row pattern repeat across 150 needles. It takes an hour to unravel ten rows of colourwork.

Anyway, that was the worst of it, and I made the rest of the scarf with little further problem. I brought it on vacation with me, optimistically thinking that the seaming wouldn't take the whole week... but it did, and I sewed the last bit of it up on the morning that we left for home. For the seaming, I used a small crochet hook to line up the motifs on each side, and then made an attempt at doing mattress stitch.

Seaming the long side of the scarf

As a test piece goes, I'm quite happy with this scarf. I've worn it twice now, and it's incredibly squishy, soft, and comfortable - and warm! I have no idea how well the yarn will wear or how quickly it will get fuzzy and pulled, but since it took a few evenings to make and under $6 in cost, I don't mind if it does. My seaming skills could certainly use some improvement, and I already know how I would change the design and making-up for the next time... because there will definitely be a next time!

A long scarf with traditional snowflake motifs in navy blue and gray colours.

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Happy happy new year!

As usual, this tally is more for myself than anything else, but you may find it interesting as well:

PUBLISHED PATTERNS
Hollis Hills Hat
Sneaux Zone Hat
Passing Days Hat

A collage showing the Sneaux Zone hat from a variety of angles.

INCOMING YARN: 7946 yards
Yikes, I got a lot of yarn this year. It's all on my Ravelry stash page, except for the ones I've already used up. I do have plans for (most of) the rest of it:

5 mini skeins Frabjous Fibres Mad Hatter (430)
3 skeins Cascade 220 Sport in Jet (492)
1 skein Cascade 220 Superwash Sport in Summer Sky Heather (136) (used up)
2 balls Cascade 220 in Crushed Grapes and Natural (440) (used up)
1 ball West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 Ply in Rum Paradise (437)
9 balls Loops & Threads Barcelona in Wild Berry (2699) (used up)
2 balls Patons North America Kroy Socks in Spring Leaf Stripes (333) (used up)
1 ball Patons North America Kroy Socks in Gentry Grey (166) (half used)
2 balls ONline Supersocke 100 Sierra Effekt in Pinks (918)
2 balls Cascade 220 in Mallard and Silver Grey (440)
1 skein Cascade 220 Superwash Sport in Jasmine Green (136)
1 ball Sheep's Clothing Yarn Co. Fable Fingering in Nebula Speckle (460)
1 skein White Birch Fiber Arts 80/20 in Nothing Says Screw You Like a Rainbow (400) (in progress)
1 ball Zauberball Crazy in Tiefe Wasser (459)

A ball of "Zauberball Crazy" in greens and teals.

OUTGOING YARN: 4623 yards
(links go to Ravelry project pages)

Sneaux Zone Hat (220 + 136)
Couch Blanket (2788)
Passing Days Hat (246)
Secret Socks for Michael (333 + 80)
Green Traveling Socks (460)
Wild Tide Socks (360)

A red and teal blanket with a cabled edge is artfully arranged on a black leather couch.

So uh. That's 3323 yards of yarn that came in and didn't go out. Oops.

INCOMING FIBRE: 32 ounces
(links go to pictures):

8 ounces Superwash Targhee from Hipstrings in Invincible (picture below)
16 ounces Ashland Bay Multi Merino in Sage, Granada, Borealis, and Riverstone
8 ounces Ashland Bay Merino/Tussah in McKenzie and Del Mar

Eight ounces of Targee wool in teal and pink

OUTGOING FIBRE: 35 ounces
I spun up an entire kilogram of "Unicorn Spit," a custom blend that I ordered from World of Wool. As a side note, this was absolutely glorious to work with, and I will definitely order from them again in the future! I may even have already picked out the colours and types of wool, because of course I did, and I'm planning to make the order as a reward for whenever I make it through my next two big spinning projects: my half of the fleece that friend Carrie and I bought at MDSW a few years ago, and that pound of Ashland Bay merino that I'm going to spin as a fade/gradient yarn.

Six completed skeins of yarn with a bundle of unspun fibre perched on top.

And whooooo do I have some exciting plans for the coming year! I'm planning to publish all three patterns in the Twisted Sock trilogy, I'm restarting those colourwork fleeps, there are two big spinning projects, and I've got the plans to build my own lazy kate... and, most exciting of all, I got the software that will let me connect my computer to my knitting machine!

The CD case for Designaknit 9

Now the holdup is that my laptop doesn't have a CD drive. Hopefully there's an option to download the software so I don't have to go get an external one. I get that they're trying to prevent piracy by using the CD itself as a dongle to activate the software, but seriously? I wrote to the distributor and am waiting to hear back, but grrr, what a frustration to have the software in my hand and be unable to actually, you know, use it.

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The Silkie Socks that Rock that I got earlier this year is now a pair of actual socks! The pattern is from this dummies.com article, "How to Knit Socks with Slip-Stitch Ridges", adapted to slip every fifth stitch, instead of every sixth. The finished socks are a little tight to pull on, but once I have them over my heel, they do fit well. If I use this pattern again, I'll add another stitch or two for ease - and a yarn with more yardage.

I started knitting on Flexi-Flip needles, but got frustrated at the number of gusset stitches and switched back to DPNs. I didn't try again for the second sock; maybe next time. Or maybe I'll just sell the needles; I'm not sure I care for them. (I have them in both 2.25 mm and 2.5 mm sizes - if you're interested, message me on Ravelry and we can work out a price and shipping costs.)

The start of a knitted sock leg on Flexi-Flip needles, with columns of slipped stitches on a stockinette background

As I got close to the toe of the first sock, I started to get nervous about not having enough yarn for both. There are only 360 yards in the skein, and I have long feet... and my previous Socks that Rock socks were both a few yards short. So I stopped the first sock just before the toe decreases, broke the yarn, and cast on for the second sock on a fresh pair of needles.

In the ensuing game of yarn chicken, I began to think that maybe there was hope for my sock toes... but just in case it was necessary, I found a coordinating pinkish yarn in my stash to fill in the last few rounds. The colour is a little off in this picture because I took it at night; unfortunately we're a little short on daylight hours at the moment. Things should be turning around this weekend, though. ;)

A partially completed sock in variegated shades of pink, green, tan, and blue, with a coordinating ball of pink yarn at the toe.

The closer I got to the end of my yarn, the faster I knit, as if I could race the yarn to the end. (Anyway, I wanted to finish this pair before the end of the year.) At the toe decreases, I began to alternate working on one sock and then the other, carefully knitting from the inside and outside of the ball at the same time, conveniently finishing off both socks at the same time. Here there's about 32" of yarn connecting the two still-ungrafted socks, and I tried them on at this point. "I think they're long enough. I think they'll fit! I think I just barely squeaked under the wire!"

Two almost-finished socks, with about thirty inches of yarn connecting both of them.

With some trepidation I snipped the yarn connecting the two socks and started to kitchener stitch the first toe shut. I had to stop halfway across to tighten up the graft and free up a little more yarn, and... I made it. I won this round of yarn chicken.

I still have to weave in the ends, but I need to catch my breath first.

The finished toe of a new sock, with only a few inches of yarn dangling from one corner.

One day I'll learn not to knit with short-yardage sock yarn, no matter how pretty it is. (Or to plan ahead for contrast cuffs/heels/toes, and then this wouldn't be a problem.) But this was a really neat pattern and I enjoyed knitting it. I'd do *that* again, for sure.

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I have a collection of Cascade 220 leftovers, and thought that it would be a good idea to make a scrappy pair of Fleeps (convertible glove-mittens) with stranded colourwork for extra warmth. First I charted out a colour pattern and then I colour-coordinated the leftovers with the remaining yarn from my Acres Wild hat, which will be used as the lining for the cuff and mitten top.

A collection of small balls of yarn in shades of greens, purples and blues.

Then I started knitting. I couldn't tell at first if I had the size right, though I'd measured and done some math and re-measured and re-calculated. It looked small. But knitting always looks small, and once I had it well past the cuff and into the hand section, I tried it on.

It's too small. (It's lumpy over my wrist because I didn't take my watch off when I tried it on, since I wouldn't be taking my watch off in real life, either.)

The back side of a colourwork mitten in progress.

While I like how the colourwork looks on the back of my hand, I'm not really fond of how it looks on the palm or the thumb gusset. And there are going to be far too many yarn-ends to weave in at the end of this project. Just look at that cuff! Ends everywhere - blargh.

The palm side of a colourwork mitten in progress, showing the start of a thumb gusset.

So I ripped it all out, wound the yarn back into balls, charted out a different colourwork pattern over more stitches with the thumb gusset increasing more sharply, and started again. I'll laugh if this attempt turns out to be too large, instead of too small. And then I'll cry, and then I'll start over again with a happy medium of stitches. Knitting is supposed to be fun and relaxing, right?

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It's rare that I go to a yarn shop and don't sigh over a pile of Zauberball Crazy in all the colours, and now at last I have one of my very own! Friend Monica returned from a trip with this beauty as a souvenir for me: a ball of Zauberball in the "Tiefe Wasser" colourway, which coordinates perfectly with at least 75% of my existing wardrobe. I feel so loved. Next, I get the fun of deciding what pattern I want to knit with it! I'm leaning towards a small shawl - perhaps together with a navy blue, something like Dreambird?

A ball of "Zauberball Crazy" in greens and teals.

Meanwhile, Michael and I are working on plans for a lazy kate. The one I have doesn't fit my WooLee Winder bobbins, and anyway it only holds three. I'd like to be able to ply four singles together, so we're designing a box-style kate much like my current shoebox, but not made out of cardboard or tensioned with a binder clip. I've been admiring plans and pictures on Pinterest, which has, of course, given me more ideas than I have time to accomplish.

Hand-drawn plans for the construction of a lazy kate.

I'm sure the final version of our lazy kate will look a little different from the plans. We'll make at least one rough draft with plywood first as a test piece for both our skills and the design. Then we'll try it with the good stuff, though I'm a little nervous as my primary expertise in woodworking is in making large useful pieces of wood into small useless pieces of wood. We shall see...

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