Category Archives: Knitting

Returning with knitting

Alexandra's Airplane Scarf

Last week, I  remembered that writing helps me to organize my thoughts and chart my life. I also remembered that upheaval of this routine means creative chaos. And creative chaos creates anxiety. So, this one area that I’ve neglected — blogging — has been very crippling and it’s spilled over into everything.  My first tactic is to begin posting on Mondays again. Writing on Monday sets the tone for my week and allows me to look at what I’ve done in the past week and what I’ll do THIS week.

I started this scarf intending it to be a mindful, relaxing knit — something easy to pick up and put down. Alexandra’s Airplane Scarf is knit in the round on a larger needle than the yarn typically calls for (in this case, Kidsilk Haze Stripe — but can be used with any lace weight yarn and a 5.00 mm circular needle). Although I started it when nights were cool and having the scarf-in-progress on my lap made me cozy and warm, I finished it during a hot, humid Houston July. I love it.

AlexandraAirplane2

 

Outline Shawl : Progress

My latest project: Outline Shawl, designed by Beata Jezek of Hedgehog Fibres. In spite of my legendary short attention span, this project is nearly complete. I’ve rushed downstairs every morning to squeeze in some knitting time before work. Those minutes have added up — only about a foot more to go. Color sequence is Villain, Teacup, Whisper, Cinder, and Pollen – more details on my Ravelry project page, linked above.


Outline Shawl

March Socks : Embossed Leaves

Did March sneak up on you like it snuck up on me? I hardly feel like I got to enjoy February — or find much time to knit. I didn’t get to choose my March sock of the month until last week, and while I knew the pattern I wanted to use was Embossed Leaves, I wasn’t inspired by the yarn I had initially matched it with. I also didn’t have the right size double pointed needles for the other possibilities. In my search for a substitute, I fell in love with a skein of Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20 from the Art Walk Series (“Iris“).  I can usually resist most of the  beguiling yarns that arrive at the shop where I work, but the idea of a yarn being a limited edition edition colorway can be irresistible. Ultimately though, when I cast on with the DPNs I had, I knew the Serenity 20 wasn’t going to work. Because I was committed to using Embossed Leaves, I did some quick rearranging of sock of the month projects and cast on with Colinette Jitterbug (“Vincent’s Apron”) instead:

Embossed Leaves

I am SO pleased with this combination and it’s been a very quick knit (helped along by marathon viewing sessions of Scandal).

There was also another potential sock option in the wings, however, because I wanted to reacquaint myself with Magic Loop. So I cast on for yet another sock — different yarn. More on that soon (and if you keep up with my Instagram, you might already know which yarn I am using).

February Socks : Marilinda

It’s time to reveal my February Sock of the Month:

February Sock of the Month

I’ve had Cookie A‘s Marilinda sock pattern in my queue since August, 2011. I love her sock design sensibilities and own both Knit. Sock. Love. and Sock Innovation. Do you have those knitting books that you always keep handy for inspiration? For me, that’s usually sock books. A worthy volume usually has a good combination of patterns that are easy to execute, followed by a majority of patterns that are slightly more challenging and require close attention to charts, and finally, at least one pattern that would represent a huge challenge. Marilinda falls in the middle group.

Because I’ve always pictured this sock in a bright pink or red, I chose the “Raspberry” colorway in Cascade Heritage Silk. The model in the book was knit with regular Cascade Heritage — sans silk — and I really felt like I wanted the slight sheen you get from the addition of a little bit of silk (mulberry silk, in this case).

Cascade Heritage Silk

Stay tuned here and on Ravelry! My loose guideline (notice: not a “rule”) is that I finish just one Marilinda by the end of the month.

Random notes:

Other Sock of the Month blog entries

If you have a minute, read this post written by a knitblogger whose sock knitting thought processes (and rationale for purchasing yarn and needles!) I could identify with. Here are her finished Marilindas.

January Socks : Shur’tugal

Alice Yu’s sock designs are wonderful. They’re just challenging enough to keep me enthralled, with familiar elements for a sock knitter like me who prefers to knit her socks one at a time, cuff-down, with a heel flap, on DPNs. (However, all of her sock patterns can be used with the Magic Loop method or knitted in the round on two circular needles). I purchased her book, Socktopus, when I realized that she didn’t offer her patterns as individual Ravelry downloads. Fair enough though, because there are already several of her sock designs in my queue, and the book is a better value than buying several individual patterns. I knit Shur’tugal with Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20, in one of their One-of-a-Kind colorways. While this isn’t going to be my hardiest pair of socks (what with the cashmere and all), they are luxurious and warm. And super soft.

Shur’tugal was my study break sock last semester, and I wasn’t putting pressure on myself to finish the pair. But then it got cold, and I knit the second sock in record time so I could wear them! That’s when I realized that having a finished first sock in the bank (so to speak) gave me instant motivation — finishing just ONE sock is far less daunting to me than starting and finishing TWO. This dovetails perfectly with my sock-of-the-month plan. I’ve designated a second bin as my Sock Bank — where single socks wait patiently for their knitter to decide to knit them a mate. I have loose guidelines about this, but one thing remains inviolate: everything related to the project has to be intact in a labeled (project name and date) plastic zipper bag — yarn, pattern, notes, and needles (if practical).

With my tendency to find starting a sock most appealing when I’m stressed, I have some lovely single socks ready to go in the Sock Bank. I’m not worried about deadlines (well, when am I ever when it comes to knitting?) because handknit socks and having warm feet in the winter are always in fashion.

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Not going anywhere

Despite all evidence to the contrary, and for those who have wondered and sent thoughtful emails, I am not going anywhere — and neither is my blog home! The blog break was unintentional, but I leaned in to it. I recently decided that I’m taking this semester off from school and am not enrolled in any classes. Instead, I’m really looking forward to spending quality time with my yarn!

Sock planning session

Last week, I had a fun planning session related to my sock knitting queue. I love knitting socks, and I want to honor that this year, because time and knitting opportunities are precious. Since I already have (and continually seek) more sources of sock knitting inspiration than anything else (books, individual patterns, Pinterest, Ravelry), I am excited about my idea. (Obviously, I also have the stash to support it). I am not ashamed to admit that I focused on a plan that works out in my favor:

Sock of the Month plan

Short version of my plan: I get to start a new sock on the first of every month. To make the decision making process easier, I am working ahead to match patterns to stash, printing out hard copies of patterns (or referring to the book or digital source) and placing yarn, pattern, and related notions in a plastic zipper bag. I can choose one bag every month, and leave the bin undisturbed till I get another “turn” the following month. (Hat tip to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, who had a similar idea a few years back). Eight months later, she updated that the system was really working out for her. The main difference between her plan and mine is that I don’t have to intend to complete a pair before I start a sock project on the first of the month. (After all, it’s my plan and I can do as I want, right?) Also, my rules are loose enough that I’m not going to blindly choose a bag — I’ll decide when I open the bin which project I want to knit.

Guess who’s looking forward to February 1st?

Ann Norling #35: Feather and Fan

I started this blanket over a year ago and the intended recipient is already one year old. I’m sure I’m not the only knitter to have ever done this, right? My kids all loved blankets well into their grade school years and my daughter still has her favorite blanket, so I think it will still be well received.

It was my first time using Cascade Pacific, a machine-washable blend of merino (40%) and acrylic (60%). As soon as it was off the needles, I washed it on the delicate cycle with a small squirt of Soak (Lacey) and dried it in my dryer — it laundered beautifully. It’s a great choice for baby afghans.

The pattern is a classic and I’ve used it before — Fantastic Eyelet Crib Blanket.

Purple Feather and Fan
Feather and Fan with Cascade Pacific

What about you? What are your favorite blanket patterns for babies?

Even though I had it on the needles for over a year, it’s actually a quick knit. The pattern is easily memorized and it’s great TV knitting. I don’t knit much while I’m in school, so I’m catching up on my WIPs now that it’s summer. I have a lot to share (and not all of it is knitting — think jewelry!)

Feather & Fan
Feather & Fan with Cascade Pacific

 

 

Fretful : A Sock Story

Knitting, as a hobby rather than livelihood, makes no demands. Yarn doesn’t jockey for position or ask to be used, even though guilt (and shame?) sometimes suggests otherwise. It is just . . . there. When I started knitting it was to make something special for somebody, but it was also to engage in something with my hands in order to keep my attention on positive things. Stated in another way, I knit to stay out of trouble. And after almost ten years, I return to knitting over and over again for those same reasons.

Last week, I was feeling fretful and without much forethought, I began rummaging in my sock yarn bin. I have plenty of projects on the needles, but nothing I wanted to knit while I was fretful — gifts for others and baby blankets require (I think) a more positive mindset. I only wear socks a handful of times in any given year since it doesn’t get very cold here, so I don’t feel an urgency to knit them in order to keep my feet warm. I just knit socks because I love it.

And starting a sock turned out to be the right choice.

I’d made a deliberate decision to use the needles my daughter gifted me several years ago:

Sox Stix & Jansdotter Journal

The ebony 2.25 mm DPNs are probably my top choice for knitting socks — not too pointy, just the right length. But I avoid them because I’m afraid to break them (I’ve snapped expensive Lantern Moon DPNs before). I definitely wanted to knit with wood though, so I risked it. My intention was to pick up and knit the sock every time I felt anxious or worried. But I hardly put it down in the three days it took to finish it — I thought it would be on the needles for weeks (the second sock might).

A recent accomplishment . . .

The yarn is Phydeaux Designs fingering weight Soie – a silk and merino blend – in “Sugared Plum.” I took this photo indoors at sunset and you can really see the shiny silk:

Latest project . . . closer

Brenda’s yarns are beautiful. I also have the same yarn in the “Sansa” colorway.

I didn’t decide on a pattern until I knit two inches of plain K2, P2 ribbing. I’d used the cable twist in another project and thought the twisted bundles would be what I would focus on while I was knitting — as a mindfulness exercise. Following this urge even while I had many other projects on the needles was exactly what I needed — not just for relieving some of my worries, but also for daydreaming and planning — something that anxious feelings often keep me from doing.

One thing I decided NOT to fret about so much is how much yarn I have. I’ll release some of it and enjoy the rest and remember that there are worse things I could be doing to excess.

UPDATE: I’ve published the pattern and it’s available for purchase and download on Ravelry. Until March 23, 2013 the end of the day on March 19, 2013, the pattern is FREE.

Adiri Slouch Hat

Adiri Slouchy Hat
Adiri Slouchy Hat – Mind of Winter Designs
My project notes on Ravelry

The Adiri hat has been my post-season football-viewing companion and a great use of a basic stash yarn. I’m always excited when I come across a pattern that uses one skein of a basic worsted weight yarn (Cascade 220), because guess what I have a lot of in my stash?

Julia Trice, the designer behind all the Adiri design iterations, has been releasing these little treats (cowl and hat patterns) using the same stitch pattern featured in one of her sweater designs. I think it’s brilliant (Bonne Marie of Chic Knits occasionally does that too — Mondo Cable comes to mind) along with being an effective way to knit a useful, wearable “swatch” to see how yarn and pattern combinations behave.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a hat to finish and football news to catch up on.

Adiri Cowl

Mind of Winter Designs - Adiri Cowl
Adiri in Cascade Venezia

For the past several years, my fellow co-workers and I have each created handmade ornaments for the annual holiday gift exchange. This year, the focus was slightly different — we drew names for our secret “cowl pals” and each of us worked on a cowl based on the intended recipient’s favorite colors, stitch patterns, and/or techniques. When Julia at Mind of Winter Designs posted a new pattern set (pullover and cowl), I thought the design was perfect for Debbie G. — she loves cables and Adiri has an understated feminine design — the cables aren’t bulky. I had several great colors of Cascade Venezia to choose from but ultimately took the advice of a friend who chose the deep purple.

I reacquainted myself with knitting with Denise Needles and I was thrilled with how the yarn and needle combo worked well together. The Venezia would have been a bit too slippery for my Addi Clicks and a little too draggy for my Clover bamboo circulars.

While I have admired Julia’s designs for years, this might be the first time I’ve knit one — but it won’t be my last because I’m eyeing the Adiri pullover for myself (and definitely the slouchy Adiri hat)

Mind of Winter Designs - Adiri Cowl
Adiri Cowl – Stitch Pattern