Knitting

Christmas Socks

Around this time last year, I had a crazy idea (crazy for me, that is).  I thought it would be really cool to make Christmas socks for my parents, in-laws, and husband (I have plenty of them, of course).  The idea came with a little tradition I started of giving everyone a gift at Thanksgiving to kick off the Christmas season.  So why not socks!?   All of these socks, except one, have been posted here as FOs.  But I had to lie about the recipients of the socks, as many of my family members read this blog.  I’ll link the FOs below! Yarn Despite loving the holiday season, I don’t have much holiday yarn in my stash – especially traditional holiday colored yarn.  I’m not a big red or green person.  So when I decided to knit these socks, I had to go about finding the perfect yarn for every person. It was a very fun task, to say the least!  For my hubby, I chose a traditional self-striping red and green yarn from Zebra Yarns (with a bare heel, toe, and cuff).  These socks are just too adorable! For my mother-in-law, who loves green, I used a skein from Murray Wool Goods that I bought, thinking of her, a year ago.  These socks are less traditional but I think she’ll love them!  For my father-in-law, I found some lovely self-striping yarn from Color Me Sheepish with traditional colors but with the addition of brown.  Very manly!   My mother loves pink.  So when I happened upon seeing a yarn from Coloring Book Yarns on Instagram, I went searching in people’s Ravelry stashes for a skein.  These are, perhaps, my favorite!  And for my dad, I used my coveted self-striping yarn from Must Stash Yarn, in the Elf’d and Holly Jolly colorways.  I’ll share these with you next week!   Obstacles I’ve only knit socks for me, my mother-in-law, and my mom.  We all wear the same size shoe, making things super easy.  So when I had to figure out how to knit socks for three men, it was a bit of a challenge.  To make things easier on myself, I started with my husband so he could try his on as I went.  Yes, this ruined the surprise but he already forgot what these looked like when he received them.  His dad’s feet were similar to his so I felt confident knitting his up. The real challenge came with my dad, whose feet swell.  I had to do some serious math to make sure the stitch count was correct and had to decrease the foot since the leg needed to be bigger.  Fingers crossed they fit well! (I’ll share more about these next week!) Conclusion Honestly, this was so much fun!  The challenge of knitting five pairs of Christmas socks throughout the year kept me on my knitting toes!  And now, I keep seeing Christmas colorways that I’d love to knit!  (And I may have bought a few!)  So I may be doing this again in a few years! 

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Christmas Socks 2022

Twists and Turns MKAL

I cannot believe that this year’s Westknits MKAL, Twists and Turns,  is over and done.  In a way, I’m relieved but it’s also sad knowing that I have to wait a year for the next one!  Stephen West outdid himself this year, keeping us guessing like never before (well, since I’ve participated).  It was definitely fun but also more than a little stressful because of the amount of knitting.   Let me give you all the details! The Yarn When Stephen West let us know what yarn to use for this shawl, I knew I couldn’t use stash yarn.  We needed two skeins of two different colors (for four total) and I just don’t buy skeins in pairs.  So I went looking for some yarn, having a vague idea of color and very light speckles. I happened upon Swoon Fibers on Etsy some time ago but when I looked at their yarn in regards to this MKAL, I realized it was exactly what I wanted.  I ordered two skeins of a lightly speckled blue and two skeins of a lightly speckled teal.  To go with that, I chose a brown skein that had teal speckles.  When the yarn arrived, I decided against the brown and found a blue Madelinetosh instead.  I decided that would go with more of my wardrobe.  And it was perfect! The Pattern  As I said, there was so much knitting with the four clues of this shawl.  Unlike some previous years, there was no bonus clue, which was a relief.  But I had to knit and knit and knit more than ever before to even be close to keeping up with these clues.  The first section, though definitely not the easiest to knit, was my favorite when all was said and down.  I love the braided loops.   But, as always, the reason I do these MKALs is to learn new skills.  And Stephen has made me more and more comfortable with short rows, adding stitches, and now, thanks to this MKAL, cabling.  So many cables!!!   Details Pattern:  Twists and Turns: Westknits MKAL 2022 by Stephen West Yarn: Swoon Fibers Peyton Sock in Verdigris (teal) and Seafood (blue); Madelinetosh Twist Light in Ceremony Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) Made for: me    Time to Completion:  4.2 weeks It took me a bit over four weeks to complete this shawl.  The last clue had tons of knitting and I just couldn’t keep up. The main change I made to this pattern was to forego the iCord loops in the cabling (the light blue bottom section of the wings).  I just didn’t want the darker blue to interfere with the light blue.  That was just a personal preference of mine.   Some knitters chose to stop knitting before the bottom section beneath the braids.  Some thought it just didn’t fit with the rest of the design but I liked adding on to the depth of the shawl.  For me, the more shawl, the better. There will always be knitters who do not like the finished shawl from a MKAL.  But I haven’t disliked any of the Westknits MKALs that I’ve participated in.  Now if I saw these shawls on Ravelry, I would probably not choose to knit them.  But as an MKAL, these shawls force me out of my comfort zone both in design and technique.  I love learning new things and Stephen excels at teaching them in his videos.    So I’m hard pressed to find a reason to NOT do these MKALs.  They’re just too much fun!

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Twists and Turns MKAL

WIPs

October means it’s Stephen West month!  Yes, this month is generally filled with MKAL knitting, thanks to the genius of Stephen West.  So though I’ll give you my WIPs for the month, it goes without saying that practically every knitting moment has gone to the MKAL.  Ha! Here are my WIPs for the month! Twists and Turns MKAL For details on the Westknits MKAL, go here and here.  I won’t post pictures here to avoid spoilers.  This shawl is definitely a work of art and I’m enjoying learning so many new-to-me techniques.  But I’ll be glad to not be so focused on just one project when this is done.   Must Stash Elf Socks These socks are so close to being done!  I only have the toes to go!  And I’m still loving this Must Stash sock  yarn – it is just too precious.  I may have to get another skein at some point to knit another pair of socks!   Advent Cowl Wolop This is such a fun pattern!  I’m using my 2021 Advent from Blush Yarns and am loving how the colors are coming together.  I only got a bit of knitting done on this project this month. Selbu Mittens I haven’t made much progress on these mitts.  I’m determined to finish these, but I have to re-find my motivation! Long Summer Cardigan This project hasn’t gotten much love this month, thanks to Stephen West. I was amused to see that West incorporated a similar twisted rib in his MKAL – so very much like Joji Locatelli’s in this cardigan.  I have a love/hate relationship with this troublesome stitch! Battenberg Blanket This has been another Saturday football project for me –  knitting little squares and then attaching them.  However, not much has happened with this in October. Lava Lake I can only handle one Stephen West shawl at a time so my Lava Lake won’t get any love until the MKAL has finished.   FOs I didn’t finish any projects this month – though I really wish I’d finished my Elf socks.  Those will be what I grab first after finishing the MKAL.  What’s Next Though I’m most likely to not finish the MKAL on schedule, I vow to not be far behind.  Clue 4 is going to be a lot of knitting, but I’m determined to finish soon.  There are so many other things I want to finish up – and begin!

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WIPs – October 2022

Habitation Throw

Can you believe it’s almost November?!  The holiday season is just around the corner and I cannot believe it’s coming up so quickly!  With the holiday season comes Advent swaps, gift knitting….and Knitvent!  Yes, Helen Stewart’s annual bundle of easy gift knitting patterns is now for sale! Let’s talk more about it! What It Is Every year, knitwear designer Helen Stewart releases a collection of knitting patterns designed to be knit before Christmas.  These patterns release, one week at a time, mostly in the month of November, giving you plenty of time to knit them before Christmas. Most patterns are easy and quick so that you won’t have any issues knitting them before Christmas – such as mitts, hats, cowls…  But other, larger patterns are often included, as well as patterns to knit with those lovely Advent yarn calendars we order each year. In The Past One of my favorite Knitvent patterns of all time is the Habitation Throw.  I’ve now knit two of these so I know you remember them!  This is the perfect pattern to make with your Advent calendar.  It’s a lovely, relaxing knit that I know you will enjoy knitting! Some of my other favorite from past Knitvents include the Dust of Snow wrap, the Land of Sweets cowl, and the Hearten Mitts.  All of these are so lovely and I know I’ll knit them one day. Cost This bundle of patterns is not free, but today is the last day you can order them at the pre-sale pricing.  The first pattern releases tomorrow, October 27 – and a new one follows every week after that until the end of November. I cannot recommend Helen Stewart’s patterns enough.  In the past, she’s included several one-skein shawls in Knitvent, which is always a great way to use up those single skeins of yarn we inevitably buy.  I’ve already purchased the Knitvent 2022 collection and cannot wait to see what Helen has designed for us this year!

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Knitvent 2022

Westknits MKAL 2022

We’re now into week three of  the Westknits MKAL 2022 – Twists and Turns!  It’s been two weeks of, what feels like, non-stop knitting!  Whew!  This shawl is not what I expected – but who knows what to ever expect from Stephen West!  Here are my thoughts on Clue 2! Clue 2 So if you’d asked me what not to expect in this shawl, it would have been a twisted rib, just like in Joji Locatelli’s Long Summer Cardigan, and cabling.  And Stephen West threw them both in with this Clue 2.  Wow! So, twisted rib takes time to knit.  I hate any ribbing that’s 1×1 and you add a twist in there, and this is slow going.  You alternate these rows with short row sections on each side of the shawl.  Then, to make things interesting, you add cabling on the bottom.  So again, we’re picking up stitches and then binding off stitches.  Ack!   Thoughts Just like last week, this was a lot of knitting for me.  Clues 1 and 2 have been killer.  I don’t normally knit this much during a day and my hands have been aching as a result.   But this shawl and its construction is fascinating.  Again, I don’t think I’d see this pattern in Ravelry and choose to knit it, but as a MKAL, it’s a lot of fun!  I won’t lie and say that I enjoy the i-Cord bind off with all these stitches – or picking up stitches, but at least I’m gaining a lot of experience with techniques I usually don’t try.   I’m slightly terrified to see what Clue 3 will bring!

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Twists and Turns Clue 2

twists and turns

We’re now over a week into the Westknits MKAL 2022 – Twists and Turns!  This is such a fun time of year and Stephen West’s mystery knit-a-long makes it even better!  I’ve had time to knit Clue 1 and can’t wait to talk about it! Clue 1 In typical Stephen West fashion, this shawl is very unexpected!  I kept knitting and knitting these little bands of garter stitch between lovely chevron stripes, having no idea what Stephen had up his sleeve.   Well, when you get done with those little bands, you braid them together!  Who would have thought?!  (The picture above has just a tiny bit of Clue 2 on the right side, just ignore that!) Thoughts This was a lot of knitting for me.  I’m not a particularly fast knitter and, though these stitches became easier the longer you knit them, this was very time consuming.  The clues come out on Thursday morning, here, and I finished Clue 1 on Thursday night.  So I’m a day behind.  But I’m fine with that!  I’ve decided that as long as I finish within a few weeks, I’m content! I’m loving my colors, though the accent color hasn’t been added yet.  And the pattern is definitely intriguing to me.  Since you bind off all the stitches in Clue 1, there will be a lot of picking up stitches in Clue 1.  And that’s fine.  I’m hoping for less knitting this coming week so fingers crossed! If you’ve joined htis MKAL, I hope you’re enjoying it!

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Twists and Turns Clue 1

Almost Rose Garden Socks

Several months ago, Tara of Crystal Tea Knits asked me to do another test knit for her.  I was only too happy to oblige!  The Rose Garden Socks looked adorable!  Unfortunately, I was dealing with some family issues at the time and, though I remembered my socks, I forgot Tara’s pattern.  So, I had to continue on with a mostly vanilla sock, though I did manage to incorporate Tara’s colorwork.   Though these did not turn out as expected, they’re adorable!   The Yarn Earlier this year, I used a beloved skein of Hedgerow Yarn for some socks.  I’d had this yarn for years and loved knitting with it, finally!  But I had so much leftover that I decided to use this yarn for these socks.  And I’m so glad I did because I wouldn’t want any of it to go to waste! The minis are from various sources including my Advent from Blush Yarns and a mini set from Stress Knits. The Pattern  Tara’s sock patterns are always a delight to knit!  This pattern, if I had been able to follow it precisely, is adorable.  My only complaint is that I do not enjoy knitting the lacy cuff (which I’ve done before) – but that’s just because the stitches give me issues; it looks so sweet when finished. Details Pattern:  Vanilla Socks and Rose Garden Socks by Crystal Tea Knits Yarn: Hedgerow Yarns High Twist Sock in Meadowsweet; various minis Needles: US 1 (2.25 mm) Made for: me    Time to Completion:  4.5 weeks These socks are a great idea if you’re wanting to use up scrap yarn.  You can use any type of yarn – variegated, solid, speckled…  You’ll get fabulous results any way you knit them!  And Tara’s patterns are always fun! This sock includes a Heel Flap and Gusset but you could easily change out the heel of your choice.  

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Almost Rose Garden Socks

Westknits MKAL 2022

Tomorrow – tomorrow! – the Westknits 2022 MKAL starts!  I can’t believe it!  I’ve been excited for this day since I finished my Shawlography in November of 2021!  Ha!  I recently talked about the yarn I’ve chosen, but I’ve decided to make a change. Just a recap…. What It Is Every year, in October, thousands of knitters around the globe follow Amsterdam-based Stephen West on a mystery knit along featuring one of his very extravagant designs.  You never know what you’re knitting!  But every week, you’re given a piece of the puzzle to knit.  And every week you scratch your head and wonder what-the-heck Stephen is doing. New Yarn For this MKAL you need five skeins of fingering weight yarn – two skeins of two different colors and one contrast color.  It was the contrast color that had me wanting…more.  And so I ordered a skein of yarn from Madelinetosh that I like more to go with my four skeins of Swoon Fibers yarn. I wear a lot of blue so I wanted a shawl that would go with more in my wardrobe.  Sure, I love my pinks, purples, and corals, but not all of those go with the clothes I own.  So I’m trying to be practical while still finding colors that I’ll love to knit with.   Conclusion This yarn makes me happy so I know I’ve made the right decision.  And I can’t wait for Thursday and the kick off of the MKAL!  What the heck will Stephen teach us this year?! 

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Westknits MKAL Yarn

WIPs

It’s finally fall!  We’ve had the windows up for two mornings in a row and it’s been glorious!  And all these thoughts of fall always end up leading to knitting, of course!  I’m working on clearing WIPs off the needles in time for the Westknits MKAL.  Not long now! Here are my WIPs for the month! Must Stash Elf Socks I’ve wanted to knit with this colorway for forever!  I’ve been infatuated with it for so long, I can’t even remember.  And now I’m finally knitting with it!  Just vanilla socks, but I adore them! Advent Cowl Wolop I’m making this fun pattern using my 2021 Advent from Blush Yarns.  I generally work on this every morning for 30 minutes and a bit during football on Saturdays.  And I’m loving the colors! Selbu Mittens I haven’t made much progress on these mitts.  I’m just not motivated, mainly because the pattern requires so much concentration. I hope I find some motivation soon!  Long Summer Cardigan This project has gotten more love this month.  I’ve been knitting on it during football on Saturdays.   Battenberg Blanket This has been another Saturday football project for me –  knitting little squares and then attaching them.  So, a bit more progress than usual! October House Cowl I’ve made the hard decision to frog this cowl.  I’m just not loving the pattern – which is why I haven’t been knitting on it.  I still love the yarn so I’ll wait for a better pattern.  If you have a favorite one-skein shawl pattern, send it my way! Lava Lake This shawl from Stephen West is still a joy to knit, but I haven’t had much time to spend on it lately.  Socks have taken most of my time! FOs I finished one pair of socks this month – the Second Hedgerow Socks that I started late last month.  This was meant to be a test knit but life got too busy and I couldn’t keep up.    What’s Next The Westknits MKAL, of course!  Who knows what Stephen West has up his sleeve this year, but I can’t wait!

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WIPs – September 2022

Swoon Fibers

I cannot believe the first day of fall has come and gone….and with that, it means it’s almost time for Stephen West’s (Westknits) MKAL of 2022!  Yes!  This annual shawl mystery knit along is something I now look forward to every year!  This will be my third time participating and I cannot wait! What It Is Every year, in October, thousands of knitters around the globe follow Amsterdam-based Stephen West on a mystery knit along featuring one of his very extravagant designs.  You never know what you’re knitting!  But every week, you’re given a piece of the puzzle to knit.  And every week you scratch your head and wonder what-the-heck Stephen is doing. I’ve learned to not stress and just go with the flow (wow, Slipstravaganza), as Stephen always advises in his tutorial videos.  There’s no way to predict what stitches (ahem, Shawlography) he’ll come up with so it’s best to just follow along and let him do all the thinking for you! What We Know Stephen released a video to talk about what to expect this year and what yarn is needed.  He always does this with plenty of time for you to get the yarn and supplies you need for the MKAL.   And we have clues to go with the yarn: Twists and Turns is the name for this MKAL.  Who knows what the heck that will translate to in that Westknits brain!  Ha!  And the yarn needed: two pairs of matching skeins and one contrast skein, all fingering weight.  As always, you can decide how much contrast you want and how bold you dare to go! Stash/Buying Though I would have preferred to use stash yarn, always, I do not have many pairs of matching skeins.  Actually, I don’t think I have any.  (Ack, sock knitting!) So that meant buying yarn.  I didn’t see any kits I loved so I started fresh in my search for yarn.  And I decided to be practical….  I wanted colors that I could wear with the clothes in my closet.  That means more sensible colors, which I usually hesitate to knit with.  I decided to try to find some blues and then I found the perfect skeins from Swoon Fibers…  A light blue, a lovely teal, and a contrasting brown.  Now, I must admit that I’ve already ordered a different contrasting skein from Madelinetosh but it hasn’t arrived.  I like the brown but I’m not sold on it….   I’ll let you know what I decide but I love this yarn from Swoon Fibers.  And I can’t wait for the MKAL!   Now to clear off those needles in preparation…..

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Westknits MKAL 2022