For my February socks for Liesl’s sock challenge, I decided to give into dark, freezing Canadian winter and knit up some cabled, tweedy socks. I added this yarn to my stash during Knit Picks Cyber Monday sale because I had been envying tweed sock yarn for awhile, and horrible Canadian Februarys are the perfect time to break it out for a pair of warm winter socks.
Storm had been on my queue for awhile, so this project also allows me to make some progress with Emily’s Love your Library challenge (I’ve had a slow start on the challenge, but things are starting to pick up now). So that’s one project off the queue and using stash yarn, too!
Storm was easy to choose as my pattern because it’s free and it had a nice simplicity to it with ribbed cables that play well with the tweed flecks of the yarn without the two battling each other for attention. Plus, the cables add in a little bit of interest so the pattern never gets too boring, but it was very easy to memorize.
The only thing I changed in the pattern was to work short row heels rather than the heel flap & gusset the pattern called for. I’m kind of in love with short row heels right now because they are so fast and don’t require me to work gusset decreases. And they work very well for ribbed socks patterns like this where you have built in stretch from the ribbed pattern and don’t need the extra space from the gusset.
I finished these socks just in time (I blame all the sweaters/cardigans that have been hogging my attention lately). I think for March I’ll go with some cheerier socks. Something that reminds me that spring actually will come. Soon. I hope.
Yarn: MadelineTosh tosh merino light in Medieval, Antler, and Charcoal
After spending a weekend seaming and blocking, I finished my crew sweater early last week. And I’ve worn it three times since then (including right now). Because I love this thing! It fits really well, which I was a little nervous about because I chose to use a fingering weight yarn rather than the recommended sport weight. To compensate for the smaller yarn, I knit the sweater up a size. It’s meant to be worn with positive ease, so I figured it would give me a little wiggle room in the sizing without too much fuss or worry. And it worked out just fine. Better than fine. The fit is perfect and I didn’t have to modify a thing. I love it when a pattern works out.
I have loved Amy Miller’s designs for awhile now (more than a few of them are on my Ravelry queue), and this design is beautiful. The sweater is knit in pieces and seamed together, so it can feel like a lot of stockinette while you work it. The stripes and raglan shaping help to keep things interesting, but I didn’t truly love this project until I started to see it come together with seaming. I made no modifications to the pattern. It was straight forward and easy to follow, and the dimensions worked out great for me. There is no waist shaping in sweater, but the way Amy has designed the front to narrow at from the armhole to the ribbing provides a flattering line on the front.
This sweater can be worked in so many great color combinations. And the buttons are just plain, straight-up, great details. I can’t recommend this project more highly. And the Madtosh is holding up to the wear (it is so comfortable and soft – perfect for close to the skin sweaters). I wish I could afford to make more sweaters from this yarn, but it’ll end up being a once in a while splurge for special pieces. If you have it in your budget, though, I recommend filling your shelves with loads and tons of fluffy soft merino wool sweaters.
I finished my Northern Neuk! And just in time, too, because it seems like every day we just get more and more snow and things have remained resoundingly chilly. But my Neuk keeps me cozy and warm, just like a thick guernsey-style sweater should.
I enjoyed working on this sweater, even though it uses up a pile o’yarn. The yards feel like they go by quickly when working the different charted patterns. Almost everything is worked seamlessly, with just the sleeves having to be fit in afterwards, so I enjoyed learning how to make the front pouch and the hoodie without too much sewing! I also really like the asymmetry at the bottom hem – because bums need to be warm, too. But I think my favorite bit is the beautiful peek-a-boo of patterned stitching on the back that moves into the hood. I like the idea of having a little surprise of unexpected texture on the back, giving it a bit of interest so all the fun isn’t just on the front.
My row gauge was a bit off from the pattern, so I had to make small adjustments to how tall I worked the pouch and the hood. But other than that, I didn’t make any other modifications to the pattern and it came out fitting nicely. Perfect amount of positive ease so you can toss it on over another shirt, but I’m not completely lost in an oversized sweater.
My only complaint with this project is the shaping of the hood. I don’t like it at all. The top of the hood is no way deep enough to be worn easily, so it sits far back on your head. And the body of the hood just feels oversized and slouchy (I told Andy I feel like a Jedi knight with my robes on because of how the hood falls around my face). The hood fits better when the buttons are done up, but it still just doesn’t feel deep enough to be worn comfortably. I had never made a hood before, so I wasn’t sure how it would turn out until the whole thing was finished, but I would recommend increasing the depth if you know what you are doing. As it is, I wasn’t planning on wearing the hood much, so it’s not too much of a disappointment for me.
I decided a little while back that my Effervesce socks were not going to be finished in time for this month’s sock challenge. So I broke out a skein of Malabrigo and chose a simple, comforting ribbed sock pattern and went to town. I finished these up just in time for my January socks for Liesl’s challenge.
I enjoyed this pattern. It plays with the regular ribbing design and keeps things interesting by adding in a bit of texture using different stitches. I altered the pattern just a smidge and worked a short row heel rather than the heel flap + gusset. It took me a couple tries to get my picked up wraps looking pretty, but now that I have it figured out, I am definitely a fan of these simple heels.
These socks are a happy addition to my sock drawer and they are doing their job keeping my toes warm on this snowy Saturday.
You may have heard me mention that I’m joining Emily over at Snapdragon Crafts in the Love Your Library challenge this year. That means making a real effort to use the patterns I have on hand and not letting myself be seduced by the call of buying pretty, exotic, persuasive, I-need-it-now, new patterns. I think this is a great challenge to undertake, because I know I am guilty of hoarding patterns that I bought in a spurt of excitement and motivation, only to discard it for the next oh-so-shiny and pretty project that crossed my path (why is it all so pretty?!).
So what do I, specifically, want to get out of this challenge? Well, I would like to use it to make a dent in my Ravelry queue of projects. Mine may not be as long as others, but it’s grown exponentially in the past year. So I want to make some progress and actually knit projects I’ve added to the queue, rather than just watching it grow. If I bought the pattern and it’s on my queue, it’s at the top of the list.
Second, I am making a real effort to use stash yarn for these projects. Many of them were added to the queue because they were projects I specifically bought yarn for, but never started, or are items that fit yarn I had purchased with no real project in mind. So I can’t use this challenge as an excuse to buy new yarn. It’s time to make use of what I have.
Yarn: I plan on making my Ravello tweedy, using some Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal that I bought in November. I have one skein each of Autumn Gold, Fuchsia, and Snowdrift. I go back and forth on the exact color scheme, but today I’m feeling fuchsia and white striped top with a golden bottom.
Yarn: I couldn’t resist the beautiful blue of Knit Picks Diadem in Fluorite when it was on closeout over Thanksgiving. I should have enough for the body of the sweater. The lace insets on the sleeves will use up the last of some MadTosh Light in Antler that is left over from other projects.
Yarn: This sweater looks sleek, cozy, but the colorwork keeps things interesting. I see this made with my Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label DK in Sand, with bright fuchsia accents. Or turquoise blue. I don’t have enough of a DK weight yarn for the accent, so I will have to buy a skein or two, meaning I can still day dream about it and don’t have to commit to anything just yet.
And, of course, there are several accessories I hope to get to this year.
Yarn: I have been in love with Henslowe for a long while now. The garter stitch + lace border makes me swoon. I have set aside a beautiful skein of MadTosh light in Cousteau that will become this beautiful shawl, likely this summer.
Yarn: I have some Stroll Tweed that is just begging to be made into a pair of cabled socks, and I think this is the pair they are destined to become.
I think all of that is more than enough to get me started. I hope by planning them out a bit, I can get myself excited about each project as it moves from thought to tangible item on my needles. I won’t say that I will stay away from adding new patterns to my queue or library this year, but I hope this will at least make me stop and think about how much I actually need a pattern, pushing me to use what I have already and grow as a knitter. If you’d like to join in on the challenge, you should, because it’ll be a blast (and it’s never too late to start).
Knitting: I finally finished the back of my Crew sweater, which seems like its been on the needles for for-ev-er. This is not a difficult knit, but my inspiration to work rows and rows of plain stockinette comes in bursts and spurts. One such spurt came this last week, when I finished up the top half of the back. So now it can join the front of the sweater in my knitting basket while I work up the inspiration to churn out two sleeves. But the end is in sight, so by the end of the month, I’m hoping this project will be off the needles and in my closet.
Reading: I finished Eleanor & Park early last week. I was in the mood for a more traditional fantasy, so I went through my library Wish List and chose to go with Queen of the Tearling. I feel it is a little slow currently, as the world and characters are established, but hopefully things will pick up a bit more as we get more action in the mix.
Feeling: I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed as the semester ramps into gear. I feel a bit like there is too much on my plate. I’m a person who prefers to have things under control, put into its specific place and time. I like schedules and predictability. I’m still trying to get my feet under me as I juggle my research load (which seems to increase more and more as my Ph.D. goes on), teaching two courses (one that is brand new to me), taking my last course (in a field I have relatively little experience in). I know I can’t let work/school overload me otherwise I will be pulled too thin and spent. Then I’m good to no one. So I’m working to fit in some down time, me-time, dedicated knitting/reading/relaxing time. And the cold, dark winter is not helping me much, either. The countdown to spring starts now!
Cooking: I got a new, programable crock pot to help remove one thing from my to-do list. I’m exploring all the great, yummy recipes out there and trying to stockpile a reliable list of go-to dishes. What are your favorite crock pot recipes?
Earlier this month, Knit Picks released their 2015 Fair Isle Collection, with which I immediately fell in love. I love stranded knitting. I love looking at it. I love knitting it. It is one of my favorite knitting techniques. I have been in the mood for a sweater with an all-over stranded knitting motif, something modern and pretty. So I fell pretty hard for the Mull of Kintyre Cardigan.
And by fell hard, I mean I bought the whole pattern book and the kit for the sweater. And I was really, really, really excited for the yarn to arrive so I could start on this beautiful, challenging, perfect sweater. But I hadn’t really paid attention to the fact that the whole thing was knit flat (yuck). And it wasn’t until I looked over the charts that I realized that there were more than a few rows that were knit using 4-5 colors at the same time. I was a little worried, but I told myself it would just be my challenge for the year (because I really, really loved the sweater, guys): finish this sweater while strengthening my skills in stranded knitting.
So this weekend, when my yarn arrived, I started swatching.
I could not get gauge! Everything I tried came out too tight, even after I went up 1.5mm in needle size. (I actually knit four different gauge swatches, but these are the only ones that lived to see the light of day). And, more importantly, I kind of hated knitting just the swatches. My purl rows were not too pretty, and fighting with 5 different yarns (even on bobbins) was a nightmare for my tension. By Saturday night, I was so frustrated with the whole thing. I would look at the pattern and the swatches, which were so pretty (mostly), and just be exasperated that this wasn’t working for me. I wanted it to work really, really badly. But I just knew that if I was this frustrated with just the swatches, then getting through the whole sweater would be a knitting nightmare of epic proportions.
If anyone has/knows of tips for stranded knitting flat and with 4+ colors, please share with me! I couldn’t find much out there, which only compounded my frustration.
I felt rather defeated. And a bit angry. And just all together flustered. I hate feeling like I couldn’t accomplish something I set out for myself. So I spent all day Sunday planning to take on another stranded knitting project with this yarn because 1) I have it, so I want to use it, 2) I love the colors they picked for this sweater, and 3) I will not be beaten by this. I want something that pushes me a bit. So, I think I’ve decided to modify Kate Davies’ Paper Dolls sweater. I’ve knit the pattern before with a Totoro yoke, so I have a familiarity with the pattern that I feel will give me the confidence to try it again with a custom yoke of my own design while also converting it into a cardigan.
I love the mod, retro look of the flowers on the Bunty Mitts (especially with my color palette) combined with the style of Kate’s Foxglove sweater, so I ran with it, playing with different heights and color combinations.
In the end, I’ve decided to go with a single height (to avoid having to do the flower tops with intarsia and having weird tension issues) and stick to red flowers with just a couple cheeky turquoise flowers thrown in for a little surprise and good fun.
So, I’m going to let myself cool down a little bit while I finish up at least one of the other sweaters I have on the needles currently. Then I’ll take on this project just to build up my self-esteem a little bit. And maybe someday, after some more practice and patience, I’ll be able to tackle the Mull of Kintyre. But today is not that day.
It’s been a busy week as I settle into the new routine of the semester. I’ve managed to sneak in knitting here and there for an hour or two when I get home from work. Slow progress is being made, but at least it is being made. I hope that once I get more into the flow of things, I can fit in a bit more ‘me’ time, but that may be wishful thinking.
Knitting: I finished up the body of my Northern Neuk sweater and have started on the first sleeve. It’s easy knitting – stockinette in the round – so it’s great for couch knitting when I’m tired from the day. I’m almost done with the first of my January socks, too, almost exactly on schedule for where I need to be if they are going to be finished this month. They only get knit on during my commute, so I may pay a little more attention to them if I fall behind.
Reading: I have about 20 pages left of Eleanor & Park. It has been such a pleasurable read that I have just breezed through it. The writing is honest and beautiful in its simplicity, that you are just sucked into these characters as their lives become so entwined. I often found myself smiling while reading, eagerly eavesdropping as the characters discovered each other, and by doing so, discovered themselves. I’m not sure what I will pick up next – maybe something more fantastical.
Watching: I’m on a total crime kick lately. I’m really enjoying the current season of The Good Wife, and I’m excited that the second season of Broadchurch has returned (and is already so stressful!). I’m also making my way through the very creepy The Fall on Netflix – it has a bit of a slow build, but it gets under your skin.
Like much of North America, it’s been spectacularly, depressingly cold around here lately. The kind of cold where you put on at least three layers before heading out, smirking about how you’ve planned this outfit so well that no cold shall penetrate your shell. Until one gust of -30F wind hits you straight on in the face and you run for the closest heated area in your vicinity. It’s the kind of cold where you wish you could shirk all responsibility and never, ever, ever leave your warm, comfortable, perfect bed every again. It’s the kind of cold that makes you very glad you on a lovely pair of woolen socks (or two or three).
After a long-distance love affair with Tahnée’s socks, I had to make myself a pair. (In a blatent copycat moment), I was hoping to grab some graffiti yarn at the Boxing Day sale, but they didn’t have any in fingering weight, so I pulled some Knit Picks Hawthorne out of my stash and got to work over the holiday break.
These socks seemed to come together in no time at all. I worked these one-at-a-time because I knew the traveling stitches would give me a nightmarish headache if I tried to figure them out working two-at-a-time magic loop. I didn’t have even an inkling of second sock syndrome. The pattern is completely intuitive, and once you get started it is really hard to put them down.
I was a wee bit worried that the 72-stitch cast on would be too big for my feet, especially with my gauge being 1 stitch off, so I went with 64 stitches instead. But the twisted stitches make them super tight to get over my heels, so I would suggest sticking with the larger cast on and maybe adjusting the number of stitches on the foot if they are coming out too big down there. Other than that, I didn’t make any other modifications and I would definitely knit this pattern again.
I also enjoyed working with the Hawthorne yarn – it is a beautiful, budget friendly choice for hand dyed sock yarns like Malabrigo or MadTosh. And if you get it on sale (like I did with the cyber Monday sale this year), it is an amazing deal on decent quality yarn. I’m wishing I had stocked up on more skeins now (one in every color!).
Stay warm out there, everyone (except poor Australia and the koala bears) and enjoy your lovely knits.
If you haven’t done so already, this is just a quick reminder to update your blog subscriptions and Bloglovin feed to the new URL to stay up-to-date with new posts. Thanks.
Knitting: I’ve been working on my January socks for Liesl’s monthly sock challenge, knitting up lots of teeny, tiny cables and twisted stitches. It’s taking a bit of time, but I’m almost to the heel of the right sock, and with less cables, the foot should (hopefully) go faster. As long as I don’t get stuck in second sock syndrome, these should be finished before the end of the month. I’ve also been making really good progress (and having good fun) on my Northern Neuk sweater, my first project that is part of Emily’s Love your Library challenge, and have reached the armhole bind-off. I’m still in that groove you have after the start of the new year where you can still believe that you will tackle all the challenges/resolutions/goals you’ve set for yourself. When February hits, we’ll see how optimistic I still am at keeping up with all these knitting challenges.
Reading: I’ve also set reading goals for myself this year because I was disappointed in how I let my reading slip last year. I mostly read before bed, but last year I let my knitting take over and would stay up far too late working on projects, leaving no time for bedtime reading. I’m trying to set boundaries for myself, like not bringing the iPad to bed to surf knitting patterns and reading instead. I finished Going Bovine on Sunday and have started up Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (I really hope that is her real name because I love the idea of someone going through life with the name Rainbow). I’m loving Eleanor & Park so far – the writing is simple, but effective, immediately swallowing you up in the pure, true emotions of falling in love for the first time.