Friday, 31 January 2014

FO Friday: Maudie Socks

Finished my Maudie socks just in time for the SKA deadline:

These socks are really nicely fitted and feature a simple cable pattern down both the front and back of the leg -- the front pattern continues all the way down the the heel and the back cables all the way down the heel. Sadly, neither are captured well in these pictures.

The pattern is perfect mindless knitting, with attention only needed at the heel and toe. The yarn is Colinette Jitterbug and is a lovely round yarn, perfect for showing off the cables. Sadly I ran out with just a few toe rounds to go. The skein size is now bigger than when I bought the first one, so having ordered an extra one a week or so ago I now have more of this yarn than when I started!

Another pair of socks to start soon...? I think so.

Friday, 24 January 2014

FO Friday: Smaug Socks

One final pair of finished socks from last year's radio silence.

These are Smaug socks. They had the potential to be beautiful but they just don't fit well at all. Waaay too big in the leg for me (particularly at the ankle).

The yarn is madelinetosh tosh sock and it's kind of wasted on these. I can't decide whether to try adding elastic to pull in the ankle a bit (easy but probably not the best fix ever) or to rip them back, or to just ignore the poor fit and wear them anyway.

Pattern: Smaug Socks by Claire Ellen
Yarn: madelinetosh tosh sock in colourway Saffron
Project: on Ravelry

Monday, 20 January 2014

Saving For Best

In recent years I've noticed that I have a tendency to save new clothes for 'best' and continue wearing items that make me feel less good about myself.

Here's another previously unreported pair of socks from 2013.

These are 'Brienne', knit for June's Sock Knitters Anonymous `literary characters' challenge. Around the time that I started these I ordered the first book from the A Song of Ice and Fire series that inspired the designer of these socks. I probably didn't start actually reading the book until late July, and it's a long read so the socks were done well before the book was.

The yarn is Yarn Addict BFL sock and is a club yarn from November 2010. I seem to recall it bled slightly as I knit it, but blues often do. I've not yet worn and washed them so I'm yet to find out how much the colour bleeds in the wash.

I'm a fan of twisted stitches on socks and am very pleased with how these have come out. Since I finished them in July they didn't immediately make it onto my feet and since the weather has turned colder I've kept them at the back of my sock drawer with a few other pairs I'm "saving for best".

Can you have best socks?

On Ravelry: Saffie's Brienne

Friday, 17 January 2014

FO Friday: Sideswipe Socks

As I work away on finishing up my Maudie socks I thought I'd show off a few of the FOs that snuck by unannounced during 2013.

At the end of 2012 I learnt to knit continental style. When I first started knitting, I learnt to knit 'English style' in which you hold the yarn in your right hand -- in continental knitting you instead hold the yarn in your left hand. Knitting continental style can offer a few benefits -- it typically results in less movement of the hands which can reduce RSI and speed things up a bit.

Learning continental had been on my curiosity list for a while, so when I spotted a class at Baa Ram Ewe I jumped in and gave it a go. This class was really great -- the pace seemed about right and enough time to really get to grips with the technique (for example, spending plenty of time in the morning learning a traditional purl -- and then, once we'd got that down, learning a Norwegian purl in the afternoon). The class included a ball of yarn and a cowl pattern, the cowl covered a wide variety of techniques (cables, lace) and was the perfect project. (Also, the class was held in a lovely cafe/restaurant and the resulting lunch was really good).

Once I got home I plugged away at the cowl for a while but in the back of my mind there was a niggle about the (not-so) softness of the yarn. It was a lovely yarn, but after a while I was pretty sure I would never wear it next to my face. I ripped the cowl out and looked for a new project.

I finally spotted the perfect project when Twist Collective posted a picture of Sideswipe in their twitter feed.

This pattern is knit flat, toe up, and gave plenty of opportunities with perfecting both knits and purls. My gauge was way off the pattern gauge at 37st/4” so after I'd knit enough to count as a swatch I did the maths to adjust the size and restarted with new stitch count. Apart from that I made no pattern modifications.

I love the finished socks. The yarn comes in a variety of non-garish colourways -- most of them grey with a splash of colour (purple/green/pink/blue). I could easily I have bought a few more balls.

Mostly a mindless knit, for 90% of the time you're just plugging away at simple stockinette. If you're not into picking up stitches (and I admit it's not my favourite thing in the world) then these socks should probably come with some sort of warning and there's also a long chunk of grafting to close the sock at the end BUT I think they were worth it.

Only thing is, I've not knit anything continental style since... I'm not sure I'm ready to make this my primary knitting method (anything other than a bog standard knit or purl is still somewhat clunky) but I do want to carry on experimenting and improving my technique, so... what's next?

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Making Resolutions

While I was busily working away at the tail end of 2013, I kept telling myself that I would start a list of all the things I wanted to do when I had more time for me again.

I didn't ever write that list.

I've never been sure about New Year's resolutions, but instead I think I'm going to set myself a little monthly goal (for January at least)... something small for now, something fun, and something I can see myself achieving.

Very late in 2011 I bought a spinning wheel. I was super excited about it. Shortly afterwards I noticed I was almost never at home to use it :)

Very late in 2013, HilltopCloud introduced some non-wool blends into her shop, and very kindly offered samples for just the cost of postage... I snapped one up.

For a while I set myself a no work after 9pm rule and so over two evenings spun up two of the three samples:

First was a 65% silk, 35% kid mohair blend. in a dark purple and navy.

Second was a 65% llama, 35% faux cashmere blend with a slightly paler purple and grey.

Both samples were navajo plied to use up every last scrap. Sadly neither colour photographs well. Both yarns are beautifully soft and I can't make up my mind which one I prefer.

So, two down, one remains. I started the final sample very soon after these two but it wanted to be a much finer yarn and that meant there was no way I could get it all done in a single evening (especially not between 9pm and bedtime). So the startings of a single are sat on a bobbin waiting for the rest of the fibre to join them. It's been a while now and they're starting to get lonely.

JANUARY GOAL - Finish the last wool-free sample, then soak the lot to set the twist and work out their vital stats (yardage, wraps-per-inch).

That's it. Shouldn't be too hard...

Monday, 13 January 2014

Life Resumes

I'm the kind of person who likes to fill their time with as many things as possible, but part way through last year I realised that I had maybe taken this to an extreme. As a result, I made a conscious decision not to blog until I'd made it to a particularly important work/life deadline.

I made it.

So, now I'm picking up the fun stuff again. Starting with knitting.

In 2013 I finished nine projects (for comparison, I finished twenty-two in 2012). By the tail end of 2013 I had no knitting and was definitely noticing it's absence. So, on Christmas day I cast on for the first sock in months:

This is Maudie, a second sock.

The pattern is free and features a four row cable pattern, a new-to-me heel flap construction, and a patterned toe. I'm knitting it in Colinette Jitterbug in colourway velvet leaf, a really rich green colour. The photo is subject to the usual winter light problems, but the yarn somehow always looks at its best when I'm knitting in the car.


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