Knitting Socks that Last

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It’s been a crazy week, and I’m happy to get back to action on my current work in progress – my Skyp Socks. 

By last weekend, I had knit one sock from the cuff all of the way down to the start of the toe, and began the foot on the other.  As mentioned in a previous post, I’m trying a new approach (just for the heck of it) by knitting each sock simultaneously on DPNs.  When I finish a component of one sock, I pick up the other and knit that one to match, and so on. 

I took this photo last week, when I had achieved the cuff and leg for each of the two socks:

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As you can see, I’m using my trusty Kollage Square needles.  Since I only have one set of them in size 1 (keeping enough sets of all of these needles gets pricey when you’re a knitting junkie like me), I held stitches on the resting sock with bamboo needles, and just switched them out when I was ready to knit on the next sock. 

As mentioned before, I love the color of this yarn, and hey, it’s just in time for fall!  I LOVE the fall, and even on the day I took these photos, when it was above 80 degrees outside, I could feel that fall was in the air.  I can’t even explain it.  I just know it when I feel it.  And to prove that I’m not just imagining it, I snapped a quick pic of my yard:

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I am lucky enough to live under what I think is a spectacular canopy of trees.  Just look at all of those leaves on the ground!  That happened in a matter of about 48 hours.  The trees knew it wanted to be fall outside too, even in the midst of the hot and humid weather.

So lovely, hand dyed merino yarn in fall colors is the perfect thing for right now!  My only worry is that the yarn is not officially a ‘sock yarn’ in that it has no nylon or supportive fiber component to help it last with use.  The book that I have been reading, Knit Socks by Betsy Lee McCarthy, has great content on considerations for knitting socks that will hold up to regular wear.  In a nutshell, wool that is blended with nylon, bamboo, mohair, silk or Tencel will hold up for much longer than plain fingering weight wool.  (Tencel is a tough, biodegradable fiber made from wood pulp.)  She mentions mohair more than once for this purpose, and suggests fingering weight wool with both added nylon and mohair as a great choice for socks that will last.

She also makes an interesting case for tightening up your gauge.  Like really tightening it up.  Like going down four needle sizes from the size recommended by the yarn’s manufacturer wherever possible.  Four needle sizes!  That’s a concept that is new to me, and in her book Betsy admits that many people raise an eyebrow when she suggests it, but she claims to have a system for getting good, long wear out of her hand knit socks and that is part of it.

Of course, I read this AFTER I purchased this yarn (which is light fingering weight merino wool) and started my socks.  I can tell you that this yarn (did I mention that I’m in love with this yarn?), is not going to stand up to lots of wear according to Betsy’s criteria.  From the book, I learned that there is compromise that needs to be made when choosing sock yarn for socks that one really means to wear, between beautiful (sometimes one of a kind) yarn that will make amazing LOOKING socks, and lovely yarns that will make amazing socks that not only look good, but will also not wear out after several weeks in a shoe. 

When I bought this yarn, I was all about amazing LOOKING socks, and the happiness I get out of working with gorgeous yarn that I love.  I did end up putting a heel in each sock in a brown wool/nylon blend that I hope will help to extend the life of this pair.  Another option for these socks would be to hold nylon thread double with my yarn for at least the heel and toe portions of the sock to help toughen the fabric in those areas.

Here is a closer look at the cute ribs that are achieved by the Skyp pattern.  It’s like a wide rib with a decorative little braid running down the center of it.  So cute!

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The stitches will even out a little more after blocking.  And I have to say that the colors in this yarn are so much better in person.

These socks have been a little slower going than I was expecting.  Last weekend, with the onset of cooler, fall weather, I wanted to knit up a quick pair of fingerless mitts for my early drives in to work.  At that hour, it is chilly outside, and my hands get cold holding the steering wheel.  So I took a little break from these socks to do that, and then the following week was a bit of a marathon, so I had nearly no time to work on them in the evenings either.

Yesterday, I drove down to Purdue University for a conference I was attending, and I initially planned to bring these socks along.  I thought I might knit on them during any down time.  I changed my mind at the last minute, suspecting that I would be too busy to really have any real knitting opportunities.  (I was wrong, and wished I had brought them on at least two occasions during the day.)

Since I was in the town of West Lafayette, IN, I was also hoping to make it over to River Knits, which is the local yarn shop out there.  Unfortunately, the shop was closed by the time the conference was over, and I didn’t get to visit the yarn.

I’m looking forward to relaxing a little this weekend, and knitting on my socks.  Maybe I’ll even finish them, but I a little part of me wants to put them down again to knit up some quick mittens.  We’ll see what happens…

 

~Happy (lasting sock) knitting!

 

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Stitch Markers, Homemade Soup & a Knitted Cowl For Fall

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Last weekend, I decided that I should try to find a receptacle to hold my small collection of stitch markers.  As stitch markers go, I have mostly utilitarian, plastic cheepies, but over the last year or so, I have acquired some pretty ones that came in their own little boxes.

The problem with the little boxes is that they are always put away with my knitting tools, and I have to open each box to find what I’m looking for.  When I’m focused on a project, I’m usually not really in a frame of mind to go looking through boxes for the perfect stitch marker.  What ends up happening is that I grab whatever little piece of plastic or safety-pin or twister tie is nearby while I’m knitting, and that becomes my stitch marker. 

Kind of silly to have a bunch of pretty stitch markers if I never use them, eh? 

I decided to look for a small, glass, decorative jar for my markers so that I could keep it on the table next to my knitting chair (that way the makers would always be there when I need them).  This sounds like a simple order, but several kitchen stores and antique shops later, I still hadn’t found what I was hoping for. 

Here’s the marker I have been using for my most recent project:  It reminds me of an ice-cube!

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I finally ended up at good ol’ Walmart, and I found this little, clear, plastic organizer in the beading isle.  I decided to give it a try.  Since it is composed of several smaller compartments, I thought I could also organize my markers somewhat.  For two bucks, I am happy with the result:

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In my last post, I showed off some of my new cashmere blend yarn from The Plucky Knitter.  The colors are amazing!!

I began a cowl called Rayures (a pattern by Amy Miller) last weekend, and I have made some good progress over the past few days.  Rayures uses a striping pattern to develop a cowl by knitting fingering weight yarn in the round.  It is joined into a ring by grafting the two ends together as the last step, and blocking it flat.

Sarah at The Plucky Knitter came up with this great idea for the use of color in this pattern, and knit hers using coordinated color changes that always carry one previous color over in the stripe sequence when a new color gets added. 

I am IN LOVE with my color choices, and this cowl is an absolute dream.  It is colorful without being gaudy or juvenile, and due to the cashmere and high stitch count, it is so soft.  I’m knitting mine long enough that I can wear it draped around my neck like a scarf, or doubled up like a cowl for extra warmth.

It makes me happy that  fall is upon us here in the Midwest.  Fall has always been my favorite season.  It is cool and crisp and sunny outside today, and I’m making a pot of soup.

~Happy Fall!

Black Magic

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In all of my yarn-craziness, I have recently become obsessed with fibers from The Plucky Knitter.  I mentioned the yarn in a previous post when I discovered this sensational stuff at Stitches Midwest (see the post HERE).  I purchased 4 hanks of the yarn with the plans to knit a cowl pattern that I had admired at the Plucky Knitter booth. 

Since my trip to Stitches, I had been waiting until I finished a few of my lingering projects before starting my cowl.  Meanwhile, I had occasion to search around online to see if I could purchase more of this lovely yarn, only to discover that it is a bit hard to come by.

Enter:  The Plucky Knitter Destash forum on Ravelry.  This forum is seemingly one of the only ways to get some of this in demand, hand-dyed yarn when you need it.  Members of the forum are crazy for the stuff, and buying and trading goes on among participants continuously. 

I’m ashamed to say that since finding the forum, I have purchased 4 more skeins of Plucky Knitter Primo (which is a merino and cashmere blend) in fingering weight, and I love every last hank.

The Plucky Knitter is a small yarn production business run by two sisters and their family.  The yarn bases are soft and smooth with a deep matte-type finish.  They are hand dyed in batches using what I can only suspect is black magic.  The colors are SO amazing.  I mean:  SO amazing.  There is no other explanation.

Here are some photos I took while winding my yarn.  Drool along with me:

I did finally start that cowl:  a pattern called Rayures (see it HERE) in my Plucky Primo yarn. 

Once I get a bit farther along with it, I’ll post some photos and we can all drool some more.

~Happy drooling!

New Sock Yarn, New Socks

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I finished the first of a new pair of socks late last night.  I’ll be casting on for sock number two shortly.

It was this yarn that inspired me to knit this pair of socks:

I just love it.  It is Blue Ridge Fibers, Bambi (a merino wool and bamboo blend), in the colorway Red Maple.

I didn’t really have a pattern in mind, but I was desperate to knit up this yarn.  I just happened to come upon Cookie A’s Monkey sock pattern, (not only is it lovely, but it’s FREE) and decided to give it a go.

It really is working out nicely and the pattern is fun to knit.  I made a few modifications to ensure a good fit, and I’m zipping right along.

I like it when things work out…

~Happy knitting!

Will Knit for Food

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I have been on a bit of a spending spree lately. 

I seem to have meandered into no less than 3 LYSs in the last few weeks.  There was Sheep’s Clothing for some vacation yarn shopping on my week off.  Then there was Yarns To Dye For that hosted the Knit In Public knit-out.  Then I finally made a trip out to Spinnin’ Yarns, a new yarn shop start-up located right in my very own neighborhood. 

When I went over to Spinnin’ Yarns, I was looking to get a specific type of yarn to start a small sweater to work on until Camp Loopy project two can be started.  The shop, being a start-up, did not have the type of yarn that I was looking for, but after perusing the shelves and finding a new brand of sock yarn that I have never seen/tried before (I brought home 4 hanks) and nearly buying out the clearance wall (I must start planning for Christmas gift knitting), I had dropped one serious chunk of change (yet again).

Add to that my Camp Loopy project two purchase, which was followed last night by yet another Loopy Ewe  surprise shopping spree (yes, I surprised myself) after Sherri posted THIS.  I’m realizing that my spending has gone a bit out of control.

They say acceptance is the first step…

Amid all of this, I also splurged on some new project bags that I REALLY wanted.  When I was at Knit In Public Day, I noticed that one of the knitters had the absolute best project bags.  When I asked her about them, she told me they were Piddleloop bags which are handmade by sisters in Indiana.  She mentioned that they are a bit pricey, but that she stocks up on the bags when she sees them at knitting conventions.

I have seen some bags from Piddleloop on the WendyKnits blog, and I recall that Wendy likes the bags as well.

I checked online, and sure enough, I found some bags for sale.  I purchased two, and I have to say that I just LOVE them.  The quality of the bags is spectacular.

There is this compact project bag which has been perfect for smaller projects:

 

 

Then I got this larger project bag with Mr. Sheep on it: 

 

It is working out well for holding both yarn balls for the most current project on my needles.

The owl bag is my favorite due to its shape and size, so I keep entertaining thoughts of ordering another.

…I think my credit card may need to go stay with friends for a while…

“The Work Of Art…”

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“The work of art is a scream of freedom.”  — Christo

FO: Primavera Socks for Camp Loopy 2012

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Hooray for the weekend!  I finally had time to photograph the Primavera socks now that they are blocked and lookin’ all purty.

(You can click on the photos to enlarge them and see closer detail)

As mentioned in prior posts, these were knit for Camp Loopy 2012 (project one) in Cascade Quatro sock yarn in the colorway Antiqua.  I used size 1.5 double pointed needles, and even though I struggle a bit with this pattern in general, they went pretty fast.

I am happy with the final outcome, and I have submitted my photo to the Camp Loopy 2012 Project One photo gallery (click HERE to go to the gallery) to show my completed work, and to be eligible for the camp contests.  Once all of the projects are posted, we will all vote for our favorites.

~Happy knitting!

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