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, in the middle of the Tour de France, I taught a new spinner to make fluff into yarn... and then I sold Patience, the Ashford Traditional, to her. I'm a little wistful, but mostly happy - the poor wheel had been little more than decoration for a while, and it's good to know that she's gone to a new home where she can be useful again.

Of course, I used some of the proceeds to buy new fibre.

I've been thinking that my next spinning project should be a sweater quantity. So first I looked at the "for sale or trade" section on Ravelry, and then I looked at Etsy, and then I looked at a bunch handspun sweater projects. One in particular caught my eye, and led me to buy a sampler pack of Hipstrings' "Buoy Blend". I picked six colours that I thought would go well together, and am expecting the delivery early next week.

Then I thought that it might be fun to try out a variety of wools from different breeds of sheep, and ended up at World of Wool (which is having a sale right now). I got some Southdown and some Dorset, both of which I've heard are great for socks. I got a sampler pack of Shetland wool in four natural colours. And... I designed a custom blend for myself for the sweater-spin. It's 25% merino, 25% BFL, and 50% Corriedale - I'm hoping to get the right mix of softness from the merino and BFL, and sturdiness from the Corriedale. These are the colours I chose, after much deliberating:

Eight colours of wool: navy, lime green, aqua, dusty teal, light blue, off-white, raspberry pink, and grass green.

It will be a while before that shipment arrives, of course, because it's a custom blend and it's shipping from the UK. That will give me time to finish up my spins-in-progress.

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It's that time again! Time for the Tour de France Fleece! For the second year, I've joined Team Combospin - but this year I'm going for something far less ambitious, and picked out an eight-ounce project. I have four ounces each of Falkland and a Merino/silk blend, both from Bullen's Wullens, in similar colourways. The first step was to open up the fibre and see how the colours were arranged. It looks as if there's more brown than blue in both fibres. The Merino/silk has shiny blue silk strands shooting through the brown sections, but the Falkland's colours are more distinctly separated. (Click the picture to embiggen it and see!)

Two pieces of brown and blue fibre folded into S-shapes on a wood tabletop

The second step was to decide how (or if) I wanted to split the fibre up. My plan is to spin a cabled yarn by first making two-plies with one strand of each fibre, and then plying those into a single four-ply yarn. Given how much that will blend the colours together, I decided to just simply break each fibre in half and spin it end to end. In theory, this should provide a subtly striped finished yarn.

By completely randomized selection whim I began with the Falkland, and finished the first half of singles on Saturday afternoon. Here it is with the other, unspun, half:

A bobbin of fine singles with a penny for scale rests on a nest of unspun wool.

The Falkland wool is very pleasant to spin! It's nicely crisp and crimpy, with almost no neps. It drafts smoothly and evenly, and doesn't have any matted sections or parts that just slip apart. I paused frequently to measure against my control card (read more about how to measure handspun yarn on Knitty if you're interested). The finest line on my card is 40, and that seemed like a good thickness for the singles. The finished yarn will probably come out to be a heavy fingering to sport weight after it's washed, but I've never made a cabled yarn before and I'm not sure of the ratio to figure out final WPI from the thickness of the singles. It will be an interesting experiment!

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I don't know if I've ever gone from buying something to finishing it as quickly as this - the silk that I bought at MDSW, not even two months ago, is spun and plied.

I decided to chain-ply it, and as a result it's slightly thicker than I'd originally intended. Here's a closeup with a strand of commercial fingering-weight yarn for comparison:

When I skeined it off, it measured 112 yards - not bad for just two ounces of fibre! I hope it isn't too thick for what I'd intended, which is a lining for my next pair of Fleeps (flip-top mittens, since someone asked). It's not yet time to knit those, so this will get tucked away in the stash until I'm ready to knit it up.

And... that is all the spinning I had planned prior to the Tour de Fleece beginning in a few weeks! I'm excited to try making a cabled yarn for the first time. I know I'm going to have to spin the singles really fine to come out with a cabled sock yarn - just how fine that is will have to be determined by sampling, but I'm guessing it's going to be close to "frog hair". Considering that the project will probably take longer than the three weeks of the Tour, I might even take the time to make a sample card with my singles (low-twist), the overtwisted two-ply yarn, and the averaged-out twist of the two strands of two-ply cabled together, both before and after washing.

(This was supposed to be somehow less ambitious than last year's project?!)

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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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Once I got past the heel of the handspun sock, I realized that with my inconsistent gauge (because the yarn isn't entirely consistent) it might not be a bad idea to work the leg in ribbing. I decided on a 4x2 rib and worked my way up. When I reached my usual stopping point for socks, there was still a lot of yarn left in the ball - which is just half of the total yarn I spun up - and so I decided to make these knee socks! They're so thick and cushy, I'll only be able to wear them in the winter anyway... so why not keep my whole calf warm?

But knee socks require increases to fit around one's calf. I measured the sock, my leg, the gauge I was getting, and then I looked at examples of ribbing increases to see different ways it could be done. The center of the back of the sock was on one of the purl gutters, so I increased in the gutter, one new purl stitch every other round. When I had four purls in a row, I changed to adding one new knit stitch every other round. Before long, I had a whole new rib.

Four rounds later, I did it again but the other way - since the center of the back was now a knit column, rather than a purl gutter, I started adding knit stitches first. When I had eight in a row, I added the new purl gutter in the middle of them.

A ribbed sock stretched over a hand, showing increases in the ribbing.

I think one more rib will be just right to fit my calf, but I'll keep trying it on as I go to make sure! After that I'll just need to figure out if I want to change to 2x2 ribbing for the cuff or do something else. Decisions, decisions...

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Eight (oops) years ago, I bought eight ounces of soft Corriedale roving with silk carded into it, thinking that I would make an airy tweedy yarn. Then I realized that I didn't know the first thing about how to spin woolen, and I didn't want to "ruin" the fibre by spinning yarn that wasn't what I wanted. But now I *do* (sort of) know what I'm doing, and so here's almost 300 yards of soft, tweedy, two-ply yarn that is destined to become a new pair of Fleeps.

The bits of silk were a fun spinning challenge; I had to draft more carefully, and sometimes stop treadling and draft them out separately, to keep them from making big blurps in the finished yarn. It was worth the effort, for sure. The yarn is fairly even and I think it will knit up well.

From afar, the yarn looks like a heathered gray... but up close, it's easy to see the pink, yellow, blue, and purple pieces. I'm really very happy with how this has turned out! It will probably floof up a little more once it's washed, and then I'll probably give it some good thwacks against the side of the tub to full it a bit before knitting.

I'd like my next Fleeps to be extra-warm, so I'm spinning this silk that I bought in May to use as a mitten lining. Switching between a quick magical long-draw for the Corriedale and a slow short forward draw for the silk was an interesting mental shift to make! The plan is to chain-ply it at a tight twist, and hopefully that will keep it from shedding too much against my fingers.

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