Knitting

Vanilla Cupcake Socks

One of my first indie dyer loves was from Germany, Herbstblatt Regina.  The speckles that this dyer produced were awe-inspiring.  When I finally ordered – just once – I bought three skeins of yarn for socks.  And then, shortly thereafter, Herbstblatt Regina stopped dyeing.  I was devastated.  Since then, I’ve been hesitant to use the yearn – because once it’s gone, it’s gone.  But I finally had to knit with it – so here are my Vanilla Cupcake Socks. The Yarn This yarn base is  a 75/25 but is unlike any other 75/25 base I’ve ever felt.  It’s a much woolier feeling base, meaning these will be great for winter.  With that in mind, I decided to make these taller than my usual short, Texas socks.   This colorway actually came with a bright pink mini that I missed until it was too late!  I’ll have to use that mini for my next pair of Herbstblatt Regina socks!   The Pattern  I relied on my formula from Charlene Schurch for these socks.  Given this yarn is a bit thicker than my usual sock yarn, I went up to a 2.5 mm needle.  That felt strange!   And I continue to play with numbers to find the perfect sock fit for me.  I think I’m getting close… Details Pattern:  Basic Top Down Socks with Heel Flap by Charlene Schurch Yarn:  Herbstblatt Regina Oak Sock Colorway: Vanilla Cupcake Needles: US 1.5 (2.5 mm) Made for: me Time to Completion: 1.5 months These were so much fun to knit!  The speckles are so amazing.  The pops of gold, yellow, and pink are just delightful!   I cast on 72 stitches on a slightly larger needle, a US 2, and then switched to the 1.5 mm.  After the cuff, I decreased my stitches to 70 and then, after the heel, to 68.  I’m really liking how those numbers work for my feet.  For the heel, I did an eye of partridge pattern, which is quickly becoming my favorite. And I can’t wait to knit with my other skeins of Herbstblatt Regina!

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Vanilla Cupcake Socks

Yarn

So….remember when I talked about being a monogamous knitter?  HA!  Well, no more.  I wish, in a way, that I could stick to only one project but it’s just not feasible.  I want to knit all the yarn and make all the projects….which means I’m drowning in projects.  And yarn, for that matter.  I mean…I’m dreaming of yarn and yarn stores….  And I even had borderline nightmares about putting together a kit for the Westknits MKAL, Shawlography.  Seriously! Drowning in Projects I always tend to overestimate my productivity.  (But then, I just finished a pair of socks in two weeks while also working on another pair.)  Usually, it doesn’t matter.  I have few deadlines with my knitting and I always try to finish my gift knitting super early.  But this is only my second year participating in the Westknits MKAL and I need to remember to completely right off October and November for that shawl. And that leaves little time to finish up all the projects I need to finish so that I can concentrate on Shawlography.  Thankfully, again, there is no pressure with these projects….  Except for one Christmas gift.   Drowning in Yarn I spoke about using stash yarn for Shawlography but I wasn’t happy with anything I put together.  The problem is that I don’t have a lot of solid skeins in my stash.  So I ordered a kit.  But oh, how I agonized over that decision.  Matt was both confused by my struggle and the fact that none of my stash would work…but he was also hugely supportive when I decided to order a kit.   But I’ve bought way too much yarn this year.  As I keep telling myself, I’m using more yarn than ever before.  And yarn doesn’t expire, after all!  I can use all of it when I’m retired and on a fixed income, right?  Right.   Joy Despite all of my second thoughts regarding too many projects and too much yarn, the fact remains that all of it brings me immense joy.  And there are so few things that do.  So I’m going to hold on to that joy and keep on knitting.   Even if that means more projects, more socks, more yarn….   What is bringing you joy these days?  Besides knitting, I’m looking forward to the change in seasons – i.e. cooler weather in Texas.  I’m also greatly enjoying college football, which we watch every Saturday with Matt’s parents.  It’s a wonderful tradition and one that we all cherish. Stay safe and keep on knitting!

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Drowning in Projects

Scrappy Socks

A few months ago, I finished my very first pair of Scrappy Socks.  If you’re not familiar with the concept, Kay, the Crazy Sock Lady, makes tons of these using scraps or leftovers of yarn in her stash.  Considering my amount of leftover yarn is growing bigger every day, I decided it was time to try my first pair.  (This comes from the fact that I hate to throw away any amount of yarn.  I’m quite OCD about saving it all, in fact.) The Yarn For this first pair of Scrappy Socks, I had a very specific idea in mind.  I cannot, after all, just throw a bunch of random yarn into a sock and be happy.  The colors need to coordinate to soothe my OCD-ness.  So…..I had a very good idea.  I would use the leftover yarn from my Slipstravaganza shawl! I loved the yarn I used for that shawl – and there was some left, though not a ton.  So this was the perfect, color-coordinating solution for my first Scrappy Socks.  I even had another half-used skein of yarn that I added in that coordinated. The Pattern  I didn’t really use a pattern for these socks.  I just relied on my formula from Charlene Schurch and watched videos of the Crazy Sock Lady to see how she knit her Scrappy Socks.   Details Pattern:  Basic Top Down Socks with Heel Flap by Charlene Schurch Yarn:  Hedgehog Fibers Sock in Ink (navy); Stitch Together Smooth Sock in Lioness; Have Wool We Will Travel Carry On in Havana at First Light; Emma’s Yarn Practically Perfect Sock in Don’t Call Me Peaches; Cat Sandwich Fibers Trustie in Italian Ice Needles: US 1 (2.25 mm) Made for: me Time to Completion: 2 months I didn’t work exclusively on these socks, so they took me a bit longer to knit.  I casted on using 2.5 mm needles to get a stretcher cuff.  I’m still trying to find the perfect number of stitches so I cast on 72 and then decreased to 70 after the cuff.  Then, after the heel, I decreased to 68 on the foot.  And these socks fit great! The only thing I don’t love about how these turned out is the joining of the various colors.  There are a lot of ends to weave in after knitting only 5 rows of each color.  So the join on the bottom of the foot isn’t ideal.  I need to re-watch Kay’s video to see what she does.   But I love how these socks turned out!

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Scrappy Socks

Wool and Vinyl

I’ve talked before about joining Knitty Natty’s Love in Stitches membership.  One of the benefits of this knitting community is frequent access to yarn swaps, if you wish to participate.  And I’m not one to turn down a good swap!  My first one, in July, consisted of yarn and a project bag.  The August swap was a bit different…. Mandi’s Makings, an indie yarn dyer, has popularized something called Share-A-Pair skeins of yarn.  These are two 50g skeins of yarn in coordinating colors with which you knit a pair of socks.  (Kay, the Crazy Sock Lady, does fabulous things with this yarn)  The idea is that you buy two sets of these Share-A-Pair….to share a set with a knitting friend so you both make the same socks.   These Share-A-Pairs are so popular that they sell out in minutes.  (I’ve never managed to get one but I also have never set an alarm to try to purchase one the minute they go on sale.)  For our August Love in Stitches Swap, we made our own Share-A-Pair sets and traded with a partner.   The great thing about this swap is that it wasn’t a secret.  You talked about color choices with your partner so you knew you were getting something you loved.  It was also encouraged to use stash yarn – so no running to a LYS to get yarn!   What I Sent My partner loves fall colors – and no pastels.  I have plenty of red/orange skeins of yarn but knew I’d have trouble finding coordinating solid-color skeins.  My first choice for my partner was a skein of EuphoriaKnits yarn – pictured here – called Arachnophobia.  And I just happened to have some coordinating orange yarn from Candy Skein. For a mini skein to go along with it, I wound some Cat Sandwich yarn, which has gotten much love. My partner seemed to really like the set and we casted on socks together – in honor of the beginning of fall.  So much fun!! What I Received My partner’s first choice for me is what I chose – two skeins of yarn from Wool and Vinyl, a new-t0-me dyer, which was perfect!  And these yarns are beautiful!  I’m so very tempted to get more yarn from Wool and Vinyl now!  My coordinating mini skein was perfect – bright pink!   As soon as I finish our fall socks, I’m going to cast on socks with my yarn.  I can’t wait to see how it knits up! Conclusion I love these swaps so much, I wish they happened every month!  I know I don’t need more yarn…..but most of the fun of these swaps is meeting new people in the Love in Stitches membership!   And you can never have too much yarn!

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August Swap

Powder and Dust

Back in March, I was itching to cast on a shawl.  I dove into my stash and looked at patterns on Ravelry….  There are so, so many shawls in my “favorite” list!  I finally settled on a pattern from Veera Valimaki, Powder and Dust.  It looked soft and lovely….just what I was looking for!   The Yarn Looking through my stash, I tried to think like Andrea Mowry and put together a nice fade.  Immediately, two skeins seemed to go together perfectly – one from ThreadHead Knits, with a purple base, and another from La Bien Aimee, with a light grey base.  Both of these had fluorescent accents that worked very well together.   The third color gave me some problems but I finally settled upon a skein from A Homespun House called Berlin Sunrise (the original iteration of that colorway).  The pink and black speckles paired nicely with the speckles from the other two skeins. The Pattern  This shawl is a traditional V-shape.  Veera’s pattern features two lace sections – and the basic pattern motif looks like little paw prints or flowers.  So lovely!   This pattern wasn’t specific about how many inches to knit between the lace sections – or when to change color.  I both liked and disliked that.  Flexibility is good but I also like structure!  Near the end, I had a lot of yarn leftover so I inserted one pattern repeat of the little paw prints, just to add a little something near the bottom of the shawl. Details Pattern:  Powder and Dust by Veera Valimaki Yarn:  (light to dark) A Homespun House in Berlin Sunrise; La Bien Aimee in Pop Grunce; ThreadHead Knits in Crybaby    Needles: US 6 (4 mm) Made for: me Time to Completion: 5.2 months This shawl provided a lovely respite from sock knitting.  When not doing a lace section, this is knit in stockinette – so it’s perfect for TV knitting.   If you’re looking for a relaxing knit with just a bit of lace, this is the perfect shawl for you!

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Powder and Dust Shawl

Shawlography

So, y’all remember just how much fun I had doing Stephen West’s (Westknit’s) MKAL in 2020??  The great, Slipstravaganza?  Ever since I finished that lovely monster of a shawl, I started thinking about 2021’s MKAL.  Time has flown and it’s already September, meaning that Stephen has just released clues as to what he’s doing for the MKAL in 2021.  And we have a title!!  Shawlography! What It Is Every year, in October, thousands of knitters around the globe follow Amsterdam-based Stephen West on a mystery knitalong 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. Last year, I decided to just trust Stephen and go with the flow.  Would I have chosen to knit Slipstravaganza out of a line-up of shawls on Ravelry?  Heck, no!  Do I love it?  Heck, yes.  There are so many memories tied to that shawl (and so much lovely yarn!) and I’m hoping the same will be true for Shawlography. What We Know Stephen released a video on Monday where he told us what materials – ahem, yarn! – we need for the shawl.  Prior to that, I said I was going to stash-dive but now….. For Shawlography, you need five skeins of fingering weight yarn.  And Stephen recommends mostly solid skeins of yarn.  If you must use speckled yarn, he says to use only two skeins.  He advocates for high contrast to make the stitches pop….  But, if you want a more sophisticated shawl, you can also go for low-contrast. Stash/Buying After watching Stephen’s video on Monday, I dove into my stash.  But what I feared came to be true: I have very few skeins of solid-colored yarn.  And the few that I have are all different fiber contents.  Now, if they were all purely nylon/wool blends, I’d be fine.  Slipstravaganza was like that – all different kinds of nylon/wool sock blends.  But my solids are BFL, single-ply Merino, nylon/wool, nylon/cashmere/wool….  Ugh!!   So while I had the best of intentions, I may have to buy some yarn.  And if I do, I may have to put a moratorium on yarn for the rest of  the year.  Eek! But one thing I’ve learned about knitting big projects and yarn….  Don’t skimp on price or settle for something you don’t love because then, you won’t knit on the project.  At least, I won’t.  So I’m going to go hunt for something I love! Are you joining the Westknits MKAL this year??  It’s going to be a blast!

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Westknits MKAL 2021

WIPs

Can you believe it’s almost September?!  I can’t!  The summer has flown by – but also dragged by.  It’s been an interesting month and one of the few constancies is knitting.  I started the month off with what felt like too many WIPs….but now it seems as if I don’t have enough.  Shocking!  I have some big things planned…. ….but first – WIPs! Herbstblatt Socks I was so excited to knit these socks with yarn from Herbstblatt Regina, a German dyer who is no longer dyeing yarn.  This yarn is much plumper than other sock yarn I’ve used – and it’ll be great to have these for winter!  I’m loving this colorway – it is simply spectacular! Junkyarn Socks Why did I start knitting these socks?  Oh, yes, I couldn’t get enough socks to work on, apparently!  This yarn from Junkyarn is so beautiful and just speaks to my soul.  And it makes me ridiculously happy!   I’m knitting these on two circular needles, which is new for me – and a lot of fun! Battenberg Blanket I’m still making these little crocheted squares, which will soon become a blanket.  I’m tempted to start sewing them together….but that makes me nervous! Candy Cane Lane Advent Shawl This shawl is something I pull out every morning for 30 minutes before work.  It’s such a beautiful design and it’s great stress-free knitting.  And I definitely need more stress-free knitting!  Crystal Tea Knits is the designer of this pattern and I’ll definitely look at her other patterns once I finish this shawl. FOs I finally finished my Powder and Dust Shawl from Veera Valimaki.  I hope to get some pictures taken soon.  Spoiler alert: it’s a bit….big.  Ha! What’s Next KnittyNatty is hosting a series of classes and meetups to knit Joji Locatelli’s Long Summer Cardigan.  While I didn’t sign up for that, it made me realize just how much I wanted to knit this cardigan.  I kept looking at it, longingly.   So I jumped off the deep end and ordered yarn for it.  Eek! And it’s almost time for the Westknits MKAL!!  Stephen West is releasing early information regarding this yearly event on September 1.  I would like to do it again – the Slipstravaganza was so much fun – but I really hope I can use stash yarn for this!  If not….I don’t know. What’s on your needles?  I hope, whatever it is, it’s bringing you joy and comfort!

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WIPs – August 2021

Holiday in July swap

A few months ago, I joined the Love in Stitches membership, which is the creation of Knitty Natty (aka Natalie).  I’ve been watching Natalie’s podcasts for a long time and when she created the membership I was immediately intrigued….but  a bit hesitant.  It’s turned out to be a lot of fun and there are some great activities, like yarn swaps!  I took part in the July Swap and got a lovely package from my partner. Let me tell you more… Love in Stitches Membership Natalie’s Love in Stitches membership is a community of knitters – and other crafters – who join in on Zooms, MALs (make-a-longs), and swaps.  There are knitting Zooms led by Natalie and other members of the community.  And there are other activities like movie nights!   I mainly decided to join the membership to be able to talk to fellow knitters.  Since I don’t have a knitting group locally, it’s nice to have one virtually! July Swap All swaps in the membership are optional.  The Holidays in July Swap paired you with someone to send a package to and a different person who would send you a package.  The package had to contain at least 100g of yarn, a project bag, and a little something extra that would fit in the palm of your hand.  How fun!! To get to know your swap-ee, you were given some basic information such as the kind (and weight and color) of yarn they like, other interests and hobbies, allergies, and the type of project bag they would most like.   My partner sent a fantastic package containing a skein of yarn from Suburban Stitcher, which is extraordinary, a llama bag from The Silver Shed, and some cute stitch markers (and my favorite kind of scissors to hand on hand for knitting).  Such a great package! I forgot to take a picture of the package I sent, but I found my Disney/Marvel fan partner a Marvel project bag.  So cute!  I looked through my stash and decided to send her a skein of Ancient Arts yarn, and Mickey/Minnie progress keepers.   Conclusion Swaps are always an iffy proposition.  You may get something you love, like, or really dislike.  But it’s always fun knowing that a knitter is shopping for you – and vice versa.  I don’t get to shop for any knitters in my family so it’s nice to give a  far-away knitter some fun items!

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July Swap

Hue Loco socks

I love knitting socks for family members!  And thankfully, they seem to like them, as well!  I especially like hearing what yarns and colors and color combinations they like – and finding the perfect yarn for them.  When my mom wanted a pair of grey socks, I found a yarn from Hue Loco that I knew would be perfect! The Yarn Usually, when knitting socks for gifts, I try to find a yarn in my stash that will work.  But, of course, I always want to make what people want and sometimes that means buying yarn.  Shucks! I found this yarn on the Hue Loco site when I was looking for some other yarn.  And it is perfect – a variegated grey with lovely – though light – speckles.  It’s the perfect neutral! The Pattern I used my favorite sock pattern, from Charlene Schurch’s Sensational Knitted Socks.  Though I’ve tried the afterthought heel, I still much prefer the fit of the heel flap and gusset.  I am looking forward to trying some other heel patterns, just to see if I prefer any others more than the Heel Flap. The only little detail I added to this sock was a pattern on the back of the leg.  I tried out a pattern that I was thinking of using in my first pattern design.  This was an early rendition so be sure to stay tuned for more on that! Details Pattern:  Basic Top Down with Heel Flap by Charlene Schurch Yarn:  Hule Loco Phyllis Sock 75/25 Colorways: Beach Glass Needles: US 1 (2.25Med mm) Made for: my mom Time to Completion: 3.5 weeks I wasn’t really looking forward to knitting grey socks but this yarn from Hue Loco was such a wonderful surprise.  The variegated grey hues knitted up in such a lovely way – and the speckles were just perfect.  

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Hue Loco Socks

Blurry Cowl

When was the last time I knit the same pattern three times?  Joji Locatelli’s Blurry Cowl won my heart the instant I saw it in Interpretations, Volume 7.  I  made immediate plans to knit three of these: two are gifts and the third one is for me.  The pattern is varied enough that I still haven’t tired of knitting it! The Yarn Since I have little DK in my stash, I had to buy yarn especially for these cowls.  I found two perfect colors at Miss Babs, and two complimentary colors at Spun Right Round.  I’d been wanting an excuse to order some yarn from Spun Right Round and was so happy this gave me the opportunity.  Their yarn is fabulous! For this, my third Blurry Cowl,  I used leftovers of the Miss Babs colorway from my first Blurry Cowl and a fresh skein of Spun Right round, in the Bitten colorway.  The Pattern Joji’s pattern is so much fun to knit.  It starts with a chevron pattern that’s not easily seen in the pattern photos.  It’s subtle but good to keep a knitter engaged with the pattern.  And the stripes are just lovely!  I was so happy with how well these two colors compliment one another! Details Pattern:  Blurry Cowl by Joji Locatelli (Interpretations, Vol. 7) Yarn:  Miss Babs Yowza Colorway: Blusher (cream/pink)  2nd Yarn: Spun Right Round Squish DK Colorway: Bitten Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) Made for: a gift Time to Completion: 2 weeks I really tried to knit these cowls loosely.  Without thinking, I’m a very tight knitter so I have to concentrate in order to knit a bit looser.  But I wanted the fabric of this cowl to flow and I think I accomplished that.   I’m so happy to have accomplished my goal of gift knitting with these cowls!  If you need a gift, I can’t recommend this pattern enough!

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Blurry Cowl #3