Monday, November 28, 2016

tide

I think these are my best socks yet. Practice does indeed make perfect! In the continued spirit of our handmade holiday this year with his family, Dave asked me if I could make his dad a pair of wool socks. Sooooo, this pair is destined for my father-in-law's feet. Convenient since Dave's feet were a perfect stand-in model to make sure they would fit right.


As you'd expect, each sock solidifies the general construction principles in my head a little more. Eventually I'll be able to work less off of a pattern as I turn the heel, but for now I remain glued to the line by line instructions to tell me how to work that magic. The toe decreases I've got down. That's progress, at least. 


This yarn, Swan's Island Merino, is what I would imagine butter would feel like in yarn form. I don't know of a better way to describe it than that, but suffice to say it's fun to work with. The kicker is that this color, dyed with indigo, rubbed off on my hands and made it look like I contracted a weird knitting related illness. This phenomenon, upon Google searching, is called "crocking" and totally normal with a pigment like indigo. Apparently if I wash these guys in water until they stop bleeding then they won't rub off on Steve's feet. Hmmmm...... ;) 


Pattern: Petty Harbor (free on Ravelry; link to my Ravelry project page)
Yarn: Swan's Island Natural Colors Merino in "Teal"
Needle: US 1 1/2 DPNs

Saturday, September 17, 2016

labor day weekend

I had an extremely productive Labor Day weekend! In addition to all the lovely knitted things, I managed to get a good chunk of work done on my Indie quilt and even photograph the finished top.


I took advantage of the legislative session finally being over on September 1 to finish work at a reasonable hour and sew in the evening sunshine. Our home is oriented so the late afternoon sun shines into the office and dapples the room with sunshine spots that the kitties love to chase. In addition to the furry company, I also like the way my sewing area is actually lit up so I can see! It's not nearly as nice to sew in the evenings as it is during these few sunwashed hours. I suppose sewing in the sun is my equivalent to kittens sleeping in it. It's pretty relaxing. 


The remainder of the blocks came together quickly and with perfect points on nearly all of them. I'm still amazed at how complicated they look but how easy they are to make. Then I spent a bunch of time trimming to size. In the past this hasn't been my favorite step because it was so cumbersome to flip and snip. Mom got me a big square ruler on her last visit - game changer!


It's all finished and ready for backing now -- just look how it sparkles. I'd make this pattern again; in fact I have lots of fabric leftover to make another with these colors.

Friday, September 9, 2016

skipping stones

In a frenzy of finishing Labor Day weekend, these mitts made it to the finish line. I wanted to clear some end weaving off my plate before I moved on to my next pair of gift socks, and I decided to include these in the mix. Recall that the knitting itself took only a week or so and then I put them aside because I had to figure out how to attach the straps and find buttons. 


For future reference, here's what I did and I think it ended up working out really well. I used a length of yarn and, holding the strap in place where I wanted to tack it down, started a few stitches to the right as if I were weaving in ends. When I got to the strap I included the edge in my weaving, and then kept on going a few stitches after. This way there isn't a noticeable set of whip stitches or wonkiness showing on the front and I think it should be pretty secure. As to where to position the strap, I just picked a random spot I thought would work and tried to match it as best I could on the second one.


I totally lucked out on these buttons. They were in my miscellaneous grab bag buttons from Britex Fabrics - the purchase that keeps on giving - and they are awesome. I took another length of yarn and stitched these down ending with a simple square knot on the back, the snipped ends of which you can see above.


It's getting a little bit chillier here, at least at night in that still so mild Bay Area way, so I'll be sporting these lovelies around town with my Kelpie scarf soon.


Pattern: Rye (my Ravelry page)
Yarn: madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in 'Big Sur' and 'El Greco' (leftovers from last year's Kelpie)
Needles: US 2 1/2 and US 4

Thursday, September 8, 2016

a little bit of glitz

The end of this project snuck up on me. It's been great TV knitting since the pattern is so easy to remember. It's a simple cowl so there's not much to say about the making, though if I could change one thing it would be to make that bind off tighter so the ribbing on the left in the photo below doesn't flare out so much. I'm sure it won't be noticeable when worn. 


This was yarn I bought the day I flew back home from vacation in Kentucky so I'd have something to work on during the flight. It was a bargain bin find at the back of the store and I have to say, it's great yarn. The purple is a regal shade and the sparkly nylon strung through it varies from gold to copper and back. It's tres glitzy. 


The texture from the Andalusian stitch is enough to keep it interesting without competing with the rather busy yarn. It's fluffy and soft, and since it's acrylic I bet I can wear it without getting itchy! There may be a small headband in the future from the leftovers... 


Pattern: Andalusian Garnet Cowl (free on Ravelry, here's my page)
Yarn: Premier Yarns Isaac Mizrahi Craft University in 'Fordham'
Needles: US 10 (I didn't bother changing for the ribbing -- 10 was the only size I had at the time)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

somewhat dutch

The colorway for this Regia is 'orchard' which I suppose I could see with the colors of apples, oranges, sky, and clouds (perhaps?). When I look at these finished socks though, I just think of Amsterdam when we were there during Queen's Day 2011. Now King's Day with the new monarch, the holiday is celebrated with a riot of bright orange everywhere.

That said, this yarn is very clever. All that complicated looking design work is a result of the way the yarn is dyed along its length. They are 'made' to be for socks, so I'm sure it looks best worked up as a small tube though I'd be curious to see how it turns out with other patterns. Each knitter will have a slightly different gauge and socks are a range of circumferences depending on the wearer, but within error the patterns still shine through with only a little bit of muddiness.


By sheer accident these socks ended up looking very similar in pattern from top to bottom. You may notice the mismatch at the toes, showing that I had a yard or so difference in the 'start' position between the two, but not much. The other difference is the heels. I wasn't going to try to match them so just knit from wherever I broke my yarn. This was an afterthought heel, meaning while knitting merrily along a growing tube of fabric, you get to the part where the heel goes and use waste yarn on half of the stitches so you can come back later, rip those out, and put the heel in. 


The afterthought heel was super easy compared to remembering how to make a more traditional heel flap and picking up stitches to turn the heel etc. I'm sure that gets easier with practice since I've only done it once, but after one go-round of this version I could make a sock this way from memory. 

I'm pleased with this, my second pair of knitted socks and I've got a few more pairs to join this one for holiday gifting. I'll be trying some different patterns for those next few pairs, though I'm sure I'll return to this one as I continue exploring this new genre of knitting. 

Pattern: Afterthought Heel Socks (my Ravelry page)
Yarn: Schachenmayr Regia Design Line by Arne & Carlos in 'Orchard'
Needles: US size 1 DPNs (2.25 mm)

Monday, September 5, 2016

stash supplements

Isn't this a pretty rainbow? Dave and I went on a shopping spree at Uncommon Threads in August... *most* of these are bound for holiday gift knitting for his family. Those deep dark blue hanks at the end are not :). I think I need one more to have enough for the ginormous folk shawl I have in mind, so hopefully at some point I can hunt some down online. 


After being on a yarn diet for the first half of this year and working from stash (for the most part - go me!) I've somehow found myself with quite a few newcomers since summer began in addition to the 'practical' purchases above. Basically I've been the beneficiary of a bevy of thoughtful people who know what keeps me out of trouble.



The two balls at top left my mom bought me on a trip back home in June when she and I went in search of a local yarn store for her to frequent. We found a great one where we certainly did not leave empty handed. I'm sure we will return! The gorgeous alpaca collection at top right are an extremely thoughtful gift from friends who came to stay with us in May. They went to Peru on vacation this year and bought this local yarn. I'm still amazed they would think to do so. The two pictures on the bottom Dave bought  me at the King's Mountain Art Fair this weekend. The red and gray will be a Stanford-spirit scarf for him and the purple lace-weight is, I suppose, payment for the scarf. :)

I actually did make quite a dent in my unknit stash this year. I still have leftovers from many of the skeins, but also ended up using up a few other leftovers along the way. With this latest infusion it looks like I have a lot of stitches in my future!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

indie irony

Many moons ago I bought myself a 1 yard set of all the Art Gallery Indie fabrics. I loved them when I first saw them on Maureen Cracknell's blog in an amazing quilt she designed, and wanted to make a big quilt of my own. I've been hoarding them like Gollum ever since. I'm sure every quilter has those fabrics, the ones kept tucked away for a special selfish project. 'My Precious' anyone? 

It took me a while, but I settled on a quilt design that I thought would suit all of these prints pretty well, the challenge being that there are a lot of great small scale mixers but also some really stunning larger scale prints. I don't recall how I stumbled on this pattern (who am I kidding, probably Pinterest) but it is called Anita's Arrowhead. It took me another while to sit down with my Kona color card and order some coordinating solids, and then yet another while (do we see a pattern?) to start the darn thing. I began, as is prudent, with a test block, which looks awesome.


My test block has multiplied into about half of the blocks I'll need. Chain piecing through all the steps in batches has really helped the blocks come together quickly. My least favorite part of this whole process has been the cutting (not surprising), but this is constructed in a clever way so as to minimize the slicing and dicing. It was kind of mind blowing when I put together that first block. I recommend this pattern because, well, look what you wind up with.


Here's the kicker -- this quilt isn't for me! Despite my initial intentions, I'm using the first cuts from these lovely fabrics to make a wedding gift. I think sometimes subscribing to the principle of gifting something you would want to receive yourself is a really good way to go, this being one of those cases. I was looking at my stash trying to come up with a quilt I wanted to make when I consulted my notes and realized I already had one planned. I thought it was for me, but the universe had something else in mind. And I'm really excited about it!


I've spent the last couple of evenings chained to my sewing machine whipping through some more blocks because the date is fast approaching and somehow August got entirely away from me. Just a couple more batches to go and it will be time to square up and trim.