Sunday, February 11, 2018

Year of Projects 7: Week 33

  • Yaacov Socks - using Lang Jawoll Magic Dégradé, 25% complete
  • Mojo Socks - using purple unknown stash yarn, 20% complete
Through most of the past week I've been knitting my first Yaacov sock, but my enthusiasm for these socks has flagged somewhat.

First, I'm not altogether happy with the yarn. Although I did purchase the yarn shown in the pattern photo, I did not match the colourway and that has led to some disappointment. The Rainbow colourway shown in the pattern photo has a lot of yellow and dark blue, whereas the colourway I have has orange and brown; it's just not as bright and fun. I'm going to carry on with the hope that the more I knit, the more interesting it becomes.

As well, I'm not altogether happy with the pattern. The ribbed cuff is worked in two yarns - like corrugated ribbing - so it's not stretchy. In fact, the entire sock is worked in stranded colourwork so it's not very flexible at all. It fits so far, but I don't dare make the leg longer and I'm not convinced that the heel cup won't be too shallow. We'll see. I'm fully prepared to give these away if they don't fit me. That'd be easier than trying to modify the pattern to fit, so that's the plan.

No matter, progress will continue. There's some interesting shaping about to happen through the gusset which should be fun. Maybe that will restore my enthusiasm?!

The Plaid socks are done and I'm reasonably pleased with them. They are certainly warm and comfy, although the pattern is nothing special. And they worked entirely through that handspun yarn with just a couple of yards to spare, so that's another point in their favour! I much prefer the look of these socks with contrasting cuffs, heels and toes as compared to the pattern instructions with a 2C stranded colourwork heel flap. Mine have a kind of work sock vibe to them that I quite like.

The Hiya Hiya Sharp DPN needles I ordered have made their way from Alabama to Illinois... maybe they'll get here by the end of the week? Gschnitztal awaits! In the meantime I cast on Mojo Socks. The right sock is written with the toe pulled inside out before working the foot. I tried it, didn't like the look of it, ripped it out and restarted. I also added some stockinette to start the foot as I have very long toes and don't like too much pattern across the top of my toes. It's a very weird looking sock off my foot, but super comfy on my foot so full speed ahead! I hope to work the heel today and maybe have one finished sock to show you by next weekend!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Year of Projects 7: Week 32

The Plaid socks are progressing well but they are definitely a tedious knit. I decided against the colourwork heel written in the pattern going with an afterthought heel instead. The finished socks are quite big and thick, in part because of the columns of slipped stitches within the pattern, and in part because the natural colour yarn is quite thick in sections. I'm guessing that the natural colour yarn is a handspun yarn inherited from someone else's stash - it's very high twist (annoyingly so) and very uneven in thickness. In some sections the yarn was so worryingly thin that I doubled it, but in other sections it felt almost like DK or heavier. All of which explains why the plain stockinette sections of the sock look lumpy. Maybe some washing and blocking will help out? I hope so.

I've never been prone to Second Sock Syndrome, but if there was ever a time for it to strike, it would be with this pair of socks. Immediately after kitchenering the afterthought heel of the first sock I was overcome by an incredible urge to cast on something entirely different. Fortunately I was foiled by not having the needles for the sock I wanted to knit, so I gave myself a stern talking to and cast on the second sock. The big and thick character of the first sock inclines me to think that the finished pair will be thoroughly appreciated by the Warm Hands Network - they specifically request warm, non-lacy socks in larger sizes.

For my 2018 Paper Bag Project Year Long KAL on February 1st I opened another paper bag to find the yarn for Yaacov socks. Hurray! That'll brighten up my February! Now I just need to find the sustained willpower to finish my Plaid socks. I'd dearly love to cast on Gschnitztal but those needles are still in the mail service somewhere. Last time I checked my tracking info they were in Alabama!

What did arrive in the mail from lovely Frieda at Restless Needles was Silk Road Socks by Hunter Hammersen! That was a lovely belated birthday gift; the book is absolutely gorgeous. It's an interesting read about the history of silk rugs by geographic area, and illustrated with stunning photography. Oh and the sock patterns!!!! My head is just spinning!!!! Expect many of these patterns to pop up in my list for Year 8 ;)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Year of Projects 7: Week 31

Last week I rolled up my sleeves and opened my Hand Dye Sock Kit from Louet North America. The kit contained three 50gram skeins of natural Louet Gems fingering weight yarn, small jars of dye crystals labelled Silver Birch, Cornflower and Blueberry, a squeeze bottle and instructions.

First I soaked the undyed yarn for 40 minutes in warm water. Next I mixed the Silver Birch dye with hot water, then squeezed it onto the yarn skeins. I realized after the first colour that I should have untwisted the skeins from the very beginning, so I did that right away. I repeated the dye step with the Cornflower dye and the Blueberry dye, turning the skeins to make sure that all the yarn was dyed.  Next I wrapped the skeins in plastic wrap, bagged them in Freezer bags (unsealed) and microwaved them.  Being careful not to burn or scald myself, I unwrapped the skeins and hung them to dry overnight. And finally I rinsed the skeins in a SOAK bath to remove excess dye and hung them once more to dry.

I think they turned out beautifully! The three dye colours resulted in a nice tonal yarn with an overall denim-y effect. I'm so pleased with the yarn and highly recommend the kit. It was easy and fun!

I decided to knit Ringwood Socks from the yarn. It's a very simple traditional pattern that creates a nice texture which works well with variegated yarn.

Ringwood Pattern:
R1: K1P1
R2: Knit
R3: Knit

I knit them toe-up with an FLK heel, although with 3 skeins of yarn there was no chance of running short. As well, because I made the legs longish, I increased 8 stitches at the top of the leg before the cuff to accommodate the widening of my legs at the calf. That worked out great, I think.

The socks are great; and I'm not the only one who thinks so. Gavin keeps trying to steal them. That's a backhanded compliment, I'd say!

Now what to knit next? My Mystery Paper Bag for February is coming up in just a few days, so nothing too complicated. For my Gschnitztal Socks I've decided that I'd better work with metal 2.5mm needles - which I don't have so I've ordered them. I was thinking Mojo Socks, but there was a delay when I purchased the pattern from Ravelry. So now I'm knitting Plaid Socks... but more on that next week.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Year of Projects 7: Week 30

As expected, my Mad Mix Socks are done, and from the moment the last end was woven in these socks have been on my feet. They are my favourite socks at the moment - no contest. And I'm not even sure why; it's not like they're my favourite colour(s) or anything.

Besides, they don't even match! Can you see there on my right foot that I ran out of the most vibrant purple about an inch before finishing that section?! Not surprisingly I couldn't win every game of yarn chicken. That berry red above my ankle? I finished that section of sock two with mere inches of yarn left! Let's count that as super-efficient stash busting.

I will admit that the pattern I used in that section above the ankle was poorly chosen. It has very little stretch to it and ends up baggy during wear. I'm having to pull up these socks a lot. And of all the patterns incorporated, it's my least favourite - kind of meh really to look at.

The middle pattern on the leg is probably my favourite - it's Mad Colour Weave from the sock pattern of the same name. It's fun and easy, and would be a very good choice for a busy yarn, I'd think. I'm not sure it's got a lot of stretch either.

Never mind all that hindsight... they are what they are, they're done and I love them.

So what's next? As I was organizing cupboards I came across a boxed kit from Louet North America - a hand dye your own sock yarn kit. It was my last birthday present from my Mom before her passing, and I've been afraid to attempt it... afraid I'd wreck it, I suppose. But enough time has passed now that it just seems a shame to see it still in the box in the cupboard so I summoned up my courage and hand-dyed my yarn and cast on some Ringwood Socks. More on that next week!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Year of Projects 7: Week 29

  • Mad Mix Socks - 60%, using various stash yarn scraps 
  • Gschnitztal Socks - ripping and restarting in Tanis Purple Label Cashmere sock in papaya  
  • Mojo Socks - using stash yarn frogged from Gschnitztal

The other day I finished my Crenate socks, knit from Sydney Sock from Studio June yarn in a blue-grey colourway. It is a lovely pattern that looks beautiful knit up and is very nicely fitting. As mentioned last week I knit them smaller than fit my feet so that I can give them away. Personally I prefer my socks without lacy holes and with a longer leg.

And with that pair off the needles, I turned my undivided attention to my Mad Mix Socks. The first sock is done and I just love it. It's all I can do to keep myself from wearing that one finished sock while I work on the second. Isn't that great motivation to work away at sock two?! As for sock two, the cuff's done, the first two colour sections are done and I hope to be at the heel by end of day today. So far sock two is an identical twin despite a close call at yarn chicken at the end of the first colour section below the cuff. No new pictures again this week... after all, I fully expect to be able to present them to you as an FO next week.

Besides all that, I've been pondering what to do with Gschnitztal. Oh the thinks you can think! As I was considering which pattern to select for my birthday yarn - a very cheery orange Cashmere Sock yarn from Tanis Fiber Arts - I found myself eyeing the Mojo Socks pattern, but wondering whether the pattern wasn't a bit vanilla for this yarn. At the same time I was internally bemoaning the fact that the yarn for Gschnitztal wasn't as light and bright. Err, yeah... new plan. Rip out Gschnitztal from the purple yarn and restart it in the orange yarn. And while I'm at it, knit it toe-up on larger needles to maximize the leg length and add ease. And then knit Mojo socks from the purple yarn originally intended for Gschnitztal. Yup, I think this will all work out nicely!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Year of Projects 7: Week 28

I'm finally back to my Mad Mix Socks. I had trouble before the heel where I attempted a travelling pattern that was just too much work with dark yarn and blunt needles. I just kept dropping stitches when attempting the SSSKs and K3togs and finding them back in dark yarn was too frustrating. Eventually I ripped back and switched to a simpler pattern before the heel. That did the trick!

Not that I plan to let that pattern kick me in the *ss! I've just joined a light purple and will revisit the problem pattern on the instep. I'm guessing that I'll have an easier time of it now with a light coloured yarn and not having to worry about how the pattern travels around the leg. Also, I switched down a needle size at the heel, so I'm now knitting on pointy metal needles. Should do the trick!

The sock is odd looking, isn't it? When it's not on my foot, I'm not a fan; in fact, I've considered ripping out more than once. But as soon as I pull it onto my foot, I love it. Weird, huh? I guess I'd better plan to keep these for me. It is nice to knit through some of these oddments of sock yarn.  For sock number two I am planning to match sock one, but if I run out of any colour then I'll switch to the next and carry on. I haven't been very scientific about this. I didn't weigh the yarn before I started and I haven't been precise about how much I've used on sock one.

On New Year's Day I pulled my first mystery bag for my KAL: 2018 Paper Bag Project Year Long KAL/CAL. Inside was a skein of Sydney Sock from Studio June yarn in a blue-grey colourway. It's a very subtle tonal so I matched it up with Crenate pattern and cast on. As you can see, I've made good progress. I really like the pattern - the charts are simple enough for TV knitting, but involved enough to keep it interesting and there's enough ribbing to make for a good fit. Just two things I'm not so happy with: the pattern bulges at the top of the heel flap and the leg length is not easily adjustable. I generally prefer my sock legs longer. With that in mind, I'm going to knit these smaller than my foot and gift them to a friend with smaller feet (and shorter legs).

So the plan for the coming week is to make progress on both pairs of socks. Not sure I'll have time to finish either pair for the next update, but I guess we'll see. It looks like the extreme cold has finally lifted so I'm hoping to get outdoors a lot more in the coming days.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Year of Projects 7: Week 27

So my Brigit Socks are done and aren't they lovely?! This is exactly the sort of sock pattern that I love - lots of ribbing for a nice snug fit with some added interest from cable sections.

I did modify the pattern somewhat - as I mentioned in an earlier post - to eliminate puffiness at transitions from cabled patterns to stockinette, and, to centre the pattern on the leg.

The yarn is unknown MCN from stash, although I'd guess it's either Wandering Cat yarn or Studio June yarn. Either way it's gorgeous. I find MCN is a little thicker and loftier than plain merino/nylon blends which works nicely with this pattern to avoid holes at the crossed stitches. Although it's beautiful to work with, these days I don't buy much MCN as I find it doesn't wear as well as plain merino/nylon. I've got a lot of very pilled socks in my sock drawer! They're still comfy but it'd be nicer to see the stitch pattern still :)

Back to the yarn... I only wish I had another half skein. To my way of thinking both the leg and the foot of this sock could use another repeat. Unfortunately, with my giant feet in mind, there's never enough yarn for that. I read somewhere that socks look best proportioned when the leg is at least as long as the foot, and I've found that to be true. For this sock I lengthened the foot by adding 12 rib rounds (similar to the cuff) as I didn't have the yarn for another full repeat. I'm happy enough with the socks but they're a bit small for me. They'll have to go on the gift pile.

A little more progress on my Mad Mix Socks but not enough to justify another photo. The last couple of weeks have involved a lot of travel knitting, which was better suited to a simple chart like Brigit than multiple charts like Mad Mix. Not to worry, now that Brigit socks are off the needles, I can turn my undivided attention to Mad Mix.

Er, did I say undivided attention? Well, that's not really true. I celebrated a birthday a couple of days ago and unwrapped some lovely yarns. From my brother I received some Ploome Fiber Arts DK Merino Single yarn. Mark met the yarnie, Anna Matthis, at the Boyce Christmas market in Fredericton and picked out a couple of lovely skeins for me. I couldn't help but wind one skein and cast on a hat just to see how it would knit up! The yarn colourway is quite busy so I decided on Violet Waffles hat -  a simple, straight forward hat. At the moment I'm about an inch away from starting crown decreases. If I'm not mistaken I'm going to have enough left for a matching scarf or cowl. Pretty, huh? It's a gorgeous base too - really nice hand with lots of sheep-y lanolin - an absolute pleasure to knit. Right now I'm picturing it with one of those big, fluffy faux rabbit fur pompoms; once it's done I'll see what I think on my next visit to Lens Mill Store.

Not shown is another skein of birthday yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label Cashmere Sock yarn in a bright and happy colourway called "Papaya". Mmmmm, Tanis + Cashmere!!!!! I'm spoiled and I know it!

On Ravelry I'm part of a "Canada Let's Swap" group. I don't participate in the swaps but I have signed up for a KAL: 2018 Paper bag Project Year Long KAL/CAL. You take 12 month-long type projects you’ve been meaning to knit/crochet, and put each in a bag you can’t see through. Each month, you pick a bag and get knitting (or crocheting)! My 12 projects are bagged - they'll all be socks and they're mostly from my YoP list above. So we'll see how that goes, but I think it'll be fun. If this sounds interesting to you, and if you're a Canadian 18 years or older, well then you're welcome to join us.

That's it for me for today. Have a great New Year everyone. Gavin and I will be toasting the new year at about 9:30pm and calling it an early night shortly thereafter. Gone are the days of staying up all hours!