The Making of Decisions & The Making of Socks

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I’ve been contemplating the best way to post about this year’s Lake County Fair.  It’s already over a month behind me, and I don’t want to end up posting about it a year later like I did with last year’s post.  The challenge is that I generally like to post about the making of my projects, but many of the items I entered this year were made and entered before I could get any photos and post about them.  So do I post about the fair, and then write about how I made the projects later, or do I wait until I can post about each project’s creation individually, and then post about the fair?

You might have noticed from the conveyor line of posts in the last few weeks that I have mostly been trying to do the latter:  show you all of the projects I made (there’s a ton to catch up on, but we’re almost there) so that I can post about the fair and show you how I did. 

So the fair post (well, probably posts actually….I took lots of photos this year) is coming soon.  Some time well before August 2015 – I swear!

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Hand knits being unpacked all over my easy chair.

This past weekend was a three day weekend from work for me (due to Monday being Labor Day), so on Saturday morning I finally had a chance to go through my fair stuff to organize everything and get some photos. 

It is just my general personality to be a total stress-case, but lately I have noticed that I am beginning to enjoy my Saturday mornings a little bit.  Saturday morning is the perfect time, being right at the end of the previous work week, but still as far away as possible from the next one that my brain will allow me to let down my guard the teeniest bit so that I can feel something resembling a state of being relaxed.  It’s brief and it’s fleeting, but that almost makes it seem sweeter, and anyway, I’ll take what I can get.

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So Saturday morning I had my coffee, and my yarn, and my ribbons and my knits and I just went with it.  Half of the living room looked like the Arts building at the fair exploded. 

In a previous post, I mentioned that I won eight ribbons at the more recent Will County Fair.  Well this year at Lake County, I won four:

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Blue ribbons are hard to come by at the Lake County Fair, so I am always extra happy to win one.  The ribbons never have the year on them (why IS that?) so I generally write the year, and which project the ribbon was awarded to on the backs of them so that years (weeks?) from now, I can remember.

In other news, I continued work on the newest project to hit my needles:

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This Simple Skyp Socks pattern is one of the most popular free sock patterns on Ravelry at the moment, so I thought I should get in on the action.  The pattern is actually really cute and clever. 

I just love the colorway of this yarn I chose from Ellen’s 1/2 Pint Farm but holy cow, I didn’t notice how fine the weight of this yarn is until I started making my socks!  It is a really light fingering weight – almost approaching lace weight.  I ended up knitting my socks with size 0, bamboo, double points but have since switched over to my beloved Kollage Square double points in size 1 because I was having pain in my hands and fingers.  Bamboo needles in size 0 tend to bend, and the constant fiddling of them into position was taxing my hands.

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I’ve been enjoying this book by Betsy Lee McCarthy, and recently read through the section on all of the options available for approaching the knitting of socks:  use of double points, one circular needle, two circular needles, magic loop etc… 

I am an old school purist when it comes to knitting my socks:  I’m pretty sure I’ll always be a double point girl.  I found it interesting that in the book Betsy suggests knitting both socks at the same time on side-by-side DPNs in order to keep the socks identical and to avoid the “second sock syndrome”.  I have considered doing this before, but never committed to it.  I was inspired enough by Betsy’s argument that I actually decided to knit my Skyps on side by side DPNs.

At this point, I am all of the way through the cuff and leg on sock one, and I am now about 1/3 of the way through the cuff and leg on sock number two.  Then I’ll go back and do the heel of the first, and then the heel of the second sock.  Then gusset, then instep, foot and toe until both socks are complete.  It might be nice to actually finish both socks at roughly the same time.  It will definitely be a different feeling.  I guess I’ll see if it catches on with me.

~Happy knitting!

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FO: Broken Seed Stitch Summer Socks

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Last week, I completed my cotton, summer socks just in time for the start of Camp Loopy Project 1.  I finished the socks on May 31, and knitting for Camp Loopy officially began June 1.

The design is the Broken Seed Stitch Sock pattern.  I knit mine in Crystal Palace Panda Cotton, one of my very favorite sock yarns.  I knew it would be great for summer socks.

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I knit these with size two, double pointed needles:

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A while back, I ordered a whole set of double point and circular Kollage Square knitting needles, along with a lovely, silk needle roll to store them in.  Square needles are supposed to be more ergonomic for knitters with tendon or joint issues, and as you know, my tendons in my left forearm began to cause me some trouble last summer.

I do love the Kollage needles, and the line provides many options for point sharpness, and circular needle cords.  I have all kinds.  The sock needles have really nice, pointy ends, which helps with splity yarn (this yarn is splity but the work is SO worth it because the socks feel so wonderful).

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Now I’m on to my Camp Loopy project, which has been very slow going in a lace weight yarn.  Details are coming soon.

~Happy Knitting!

Next Up: Summer Socks!

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I started a new project this week.  I found this adorable idea of using broken seed stitch strategically with a solid color yarn and a variegated yarn to make the cutest socks.  The resulting effect is adorable. 

See the instructions on Ravelry by clicking HERE.  It’s free!

I was wanting to make some new, summer socks since I wore one of my hand knit, cotton pairs to work last Friday, and it made me wish I had more.  I chose two balls from my stash of Crystal Palace Panda Cotton.  You would never expect it, but this yarn makes the BEST socks.

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The solid color I chose is Ivory, and the variegated colorway is called Blueberry Pancakes.

I have already completed one sock, and it is still blocking on the sock form.  Sock number two is in the works since I need to have it done by the time Camp Loopy project one begins!

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~Happy knitting!

FO: Red Maple Socks

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While I’m still working on my new linen stitch obsession (details to follow), I’ve been picking up some of my previously snoozing projects to get them done and out of the way.

You may recall that last August, I posted about some new yarn I had purchased, and the first sock of a pair that I had knit with it.  You can see the post by clicking HERE.

I was delighted with how the sock had turned out in the merino and bamboo yarn blend (from Blue Ridge Fibers) that I had fallen hard for at the yarn shop.  The pattern was Cookie A’s design called Monkey, which just happens to look fantastic in slightly shiny yarn.

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I finally completed sock number two in the beginning of this past week, and just had time to remove it from the blocker this morning for a photo shoot.  I’m really happy with how this pair turned out.  There could be some county fairs in its future…

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~Happy knitting!

Long Time, No Blog…

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After a bit of a hiatus, I’m back Online.  I’m still among the living (and the knitting)!  Now that some of my life-chaos has calmed, I thought I’d get posting again.

I’ve had a lovely week off since my college workplace is on spring break.  We have had spectacular weather, and I have had a chance to de-stress.  I recently went antiquing with my sister and even picked up some knitting-related antiques that I will try to post about some time soon.  I have a vintage button collection going, which – like yarn stashing, is a dangerous (but fun!) hobby.  More to follow on that.

Tonight, I wanted to make good on my promise from 12 weeks ago, and show you my progress on Sharon’s Snowflower sock.  I got some really great photos. 

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The heel is created by an interesting technique called a double-stitch short row.  In knitting this pattern, I learned that I prefer a traditional short row heel, but it was neat to learn an alternate method for turning a heel. 

Here’s the heel:

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I confess that I haven’t knit the other sock yet, but I will.  This pattern is a challenge for me, so now it’s personal!  Here’s some more of the pretty detail and the strange cabling:

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Meanwhile, I’ve been working on some other things.  Life got a little complicated in the last bit of time, so I picked up some simpler knitting projects to keep my tired brain de-stressed.  Posts about those projects are coming soon!

~Happy knitting!

Sharon’s Socks

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I got the Winter 2012 copy of Interweave Knits magazine in the mail a bit ago, and I noticed these socks:

Snowflower Socks

The pattern is Snowflower Socks by Manuela Burkhardt, a Bavarian/German designer.  These socks are aptly named, don’t you think?  The lace pattern resembles a cross between a snowflake and a flower. 

My cousin Sharon, who lives in Canada, knows how much I knit and has mentioned to me a few times that it would be fun if I knit some things and sent them to her.  I have been meaning to for a long time, and recently I have been considering making her some wool socks.  I decided to knit these for her!

The first sock is in the soak, in preparation for blocking:

Snowflower Socks Soaking

I decided to knit mine in a deeper blue color than what the pattern called for.  I would have liked something lighter to show off the lace, but I didn’t have anything suitable in the stash.  I’m using Cascade Heritage Sock washable wool.

I have to say, I have not been challenged by a pattern like I am by this one in quite some time.  I remember when all knitting patterns felt like this to me!  The pattern has some of the strangest “cables” I have ever knit.  They require TWO cable needles in addition to the two DPNs, that you shift forward and back as you knit stitches onto and off of the needles.  The lace pattern is also quite variable, so I literally had to knit the entire sock by reading row after row, a stitch at a time. 

I think it might work better with some smartly placed stitch markers, which I will probably employ for sock number two.  It should help things go faster, and help me to notice when my stitch count is off BEFORE I have finished an entire round (yeah, there was a lot of that).  I’m actually somewhat surprised that the first sock turned out as well as it did.

  I wasn’t sure what I thought of the actual sock until it was done, and then I tried it on and realized that I love it!  I hope it fits Sharon ok. 

Photos of sock number one — post-blocking — to follow!

~Happy Knitting!

FO: Fluffy Bed Socks

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Last weekend, I knit these socks.  I have so many ideas in my head lately, for so many projects that I would like to knit, that I often lay in bed at night and think “I wish could be knitting __(fill in random project idea here)__”. 

Friday night, I decided that I really wanted to use up some of the yarn that I bought last year from Freshisle Fibers, so I knit these worsted weight, cozy, Suffolk wool socks.

This lightly processed wool from Suffolk sheep is naturally machine wash and dryable.  It gets loftier and softer with every washing.  The yarn is processed without chemicals, and it still contains some lanolin along with bits of straw and organic material.

I thought it would make a nice, cozy, hard-wearing pair of bed socks for this winter.

I knit these on size 4 bamboo DPNs, following a modified version of the Watermelon Vines Socks pattern that is meant for Freshisle Fibers self striping watermelon yarn in the same weight.  It has cute lacy details that work well with the fluffiness of the yarn.

The pattern was a new adventure for me since the entire sock construction was different from any sock pattern that I have knit before.  This pattern called for knitting the sock in a tubular fashion, all of the way to the toe, which is then decreased and grafted with kitchener stitch.  As you knit past the area where the heel should be, you actually knit onto some waste yarn (shown here in red), and then keep on moving.

Once the toe is grafted, you remove the waste yarn at the location of the heel to liberate the live stitches.  A heel is then knit in and again grafted closed with kitchener stitch.

Kind of interesting.  I have never knit socks without short row heels, and I have to say that I like the result of the short row heel much better than this method.  A sock with this construction really benefits from a good blocking to enforce a nice sock shape.  Here it is on the blocker.

You can see how the heels work out with this construction.  After blocking, I ran the socks through the washer and the dryer once to make them even fluffier, and to remove some of the lanolin and straw that remained in the wool.  The socks are cozy, and should work great this winter.   

I like them so much that I plan to knit another pair in the same wool but this time with a more conventional sock construction.   Nothing but toasty toes for me!

~Happy knitting!

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