Saturday, January 31, 2009

Polly Jean


(Yes, I faked the MJ part, but it's really her cake.)

It's MJ's birthday today, and she has a fabulous new free pattern out which I was luckily enough to test knit this spring - Polly Jean. I highly recommend it.


Pattern: Polly Jean by MJ
Yarn: JKnits in Virginia
Needles: 2.5mm
Started: 3/5/2008
Finished: 5/6/2008


There are a couple more pictures on my ravelry project page and quite a few more on MJ's blog linked above. Now everyone go tell her how awesome she is. :)

Today I'm headed off on a yarn crawl with some of the local knitters - to a bunch of shops I've never been to. Should be exciting!

Listening to: Standing on the Edge of Summer ~ Thursday, The Hollow ~ A Perfect Circle

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Friday, January 30, 2009

A story about gauge...

Most knitters know about gauge. It's that evil monster that has something to do with numbers and makes your projects not come out the right size!

In all seriousness, I don't mind a little math and I've been lucky so far to not have encountered a gauge-related knitting disaster. And, really, I still haven't. But in the last couple days I had a very interesting and visually apparent issue with gauge... so I've decided to share it. Because I'm all for admitting my mistakes obsessive tendencies.

A couple days ago I posted the progress of my Space Dust Diamondy "twin socks" with MJ and it looked something like this:


MJ's sock, on the other hand, looks like this:

MJ's Space Dust Diamondy Socks
Originally uploaded by nerdcoop

I liked her socks better. I admit that I have issues with pooling - it's not that I mind pooling necessarily, I just want it to pool a certain way. I realize this is crazy. In fact, even after knitting four lace repeats on two socks, I still liked her socks better. The problem was as follows:

The pattern calls for a size 2.5mm needle and 8 stitches / inch gauge. I wrote the pattern and that is what I did the first time, but with a slightly thinner yarn. I checked with MJ, her gauge was exactly 8 stitches / inch. I checked my gauge again, and it was off by less than 1/4 stitch per inch. The socks would have fit just fine, but I didn't like the way the colors were coming out. I debated ripping them out and starting over with a true size 1 (2.25mm) needle, but I wasn't sure it would make that much of a difference.

We debated. We looked on Ravelry and saw that - as one expects with a hand-dyed yarn - there were finished projects with more yellow than our skeins had. In fact, our skeins weren't bought at the same time, so who knows if they're even in the same "lot" so to speak... Maybe they would never look the same!

I decided I was going to rip the socks, since I knew I would never be happy otherwise. I did, and I started over using the smaller needles. The ribbing is the same, I didn't rip it out - we've already discussed how much I love knitting that ribbing...


Uh... wow! Even I didn't expect it would make that much of a difference - I mean really, it's a .25mm difference in needle size, less than 1/4 stich per inch difference in gauge... Wow.

In other fibery news...


Yep, it's a loom. No, I didn't buy it, I'm borrowing it from Stephania. And I didn't warp it either, it came that way. I'm excited to figure out a bit about the loom - I figured I'd use the exisiting warp for a bit of a practice to figure out how to get it working and then warp it. So... anyone have any suggestions about places online for info for a very beginner weaver? Is there a knitty of weaving?

P.S. Today I registered for Blue Moon's Sock Camp. I can't wait. :D

Listening to: Lightning Crashes ~ Live, Pale September ~ Fiona Apple


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rockin' Socks

As I mentioned in the last post, MJ and I are making Diamondy "twin socks" in Space Dust. It's not really my colors, but since it was my camp name I had to get some. MJ is knitting way faster than I am, and I feel like the mother of a small child telling myself in my head "This is not a race!" Do you hear that MJ? Twin socks are not a race!


Of course, I'm consoling myself with the fact that, since I'm knitting two at once, I already have the whole horrible 1x1 twisted rib section done. I HATE knitting 1x1 twisted rib, but it is so pretty when it's done! I couldn't believe I had put it in this pattern, but I did and so I knit it. I was complaining to MJ on IM too, but really I only have myself to blame.

I also got my first 2009 Rockin' Sock Club package today. I know there's a big issue with spoilers, so here's what I did... I posted the photo to my flickr, but if you go there you wouldn't see that. To see it you have to click the links below, which is a "guest pass" to the photo, which is marked as private. Hopefully this is a good solution to not spoiling (even accidentally) while still letting people see it if they want to. Let me know if it won't work or something.

the whole kit

just the yarn

I won't say anything spoily either, but I will say that I really like this kit and intend to make it soon so more spoiler links may be in order.

Listening to: Moth ~ Audioslave, Breath of Water ~ Cave In

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I can't leave it alone

The Nutkin sock pattern was mentioned as being a quick one on the Yarn Harlot's blog, so I decided to have a look. It's a lovely pattern, and the color pictured reminded me of a skein of Tiny Toes I had hanging around, so voila! a gift was born.


Pattern: Nutkin
Yarn: Interlacements Tiny Toes
Needles: 2.5mm
Started: 1/20/09
Finished: 1/27/09


The yarn is very nice stuff - knotted in the center of the 100g skein so it winds into two balls, which I'm beginning to enjoy. It's a soft any springy 2-ply with a fairly tight twist - kind of similar to Socks That Rock but less... shiny if that makes any sense. I think it's the looser twist and fluffiness that does that. I really have no complaints about this yarn other than the fact that there were occasional fuzzballs (little bits of fluff that make a spot in the yarn thicker and more fuzzy) attached to the yarn, but they were pretty easy to remove so it wasn't really an issue.

As for the pattern... well I just can't leave these things alone. It is a very nice pattern, and the fact that I have certain personal obsessive tendencies is not a criticism of the original pattern at all - just to be clear. I knit these socks more or less as written - I started with ribbing to avoid the picot edge since they're a gift and I don't have accurate leg measurements, and I knit my usual heel and toe so I'm not sure that they're the same as the pattern. However, while I was knitting I kept thinking of things I could change...

The socks bias slightly due to the decreases that form the pattern all going in the same direction - it's not a problem and was mostly gone after blocking. Perhaps they'll swirl a bit when worn, but that's ok. But combine this fact with my love of mirrored symmetry? I'm going to have to make another pair of Nutkin-inspired socks for myself with a mirrored mod on the swirls and a couple other changes... I had a thought about the toe shaping as well but I haven't crunched the numbers in my head yet.

What's next? Well, lots of things. But MJ and I have started a new pair of twin socks - Diamondy in Socks That Rock colorway Space Dust. The first year at BMFA sock camp my nickname was Space Dust, so of course I had to buy a skien although it's not my usual colors. Even though I designed Diamondy over a year ago, the original socks were a gift so I still don't have my very own pair. But if MJ's progress is any indication, I will soon!

And one last thought:

Last week I read on the knittyBlog about "slow stashing". It's certainly not a new idea, in fact I've been following a slightly more structured version since sometime in 2007. In summary, what is described there is not a dead stop to yarn buying, but an approach to carefully consider each skein purchased. In my case it's a plan to decrease the stash by using more yarn than I acquire. Similar to an actual food diet - I use or destash more grams of yarn than I bring in and my stash, slowly but surely, loses weight. I think it's more reasonable than declaring that I'll stop buying yarn entirely - that's unlikely. ;)

Listening to: Almond Beauty ~ Sculptured, Fireye ~ Viada

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More socks!

I've been finishing things so quickly that I'm getting behind on blogging. Yesterday I finished these socks:


Yarn: Meilenweit Mega Boots Stretch
Pattern: plain ol' socks
Started: 1/10/09
Finished: 1/20/09

I must admit that this skein of yarn has been sitting in my stash for a long time. I got it at a Knitsmiths swap a couple years ago because it was a new yarn I hadn't tried yet, but the colors in the ball just weren't all that appealing. Plus it was a little rumpled. But I was knitting socks for someone who likes blue and red, and I figured it was a great opportunity to try a new yarn.

The yarn itself is really interesting. It has a lot of stretch and tends to look a bit strange in the ball - sort of like the plies are different lengths, which I guess they kind of are. Knitted up it looks like normal sock yarn. There are two plies that I believe are the ones with the stretch that stay one color throughout the skein - in this case a slate-ish blue. The third ply is looser and changes color along the length of the yarn giving the variegated effect you see above. I enjoyed working with the yarn and the finished socks turned out great, so maybe I'll attempt to find some Mega Boots Stretch that's more my colors and knit some socks for myself sometime.

So it looks like I'm on track for a good sock-knitting year, at least so far. Three weeks into January and I have three pairs of socks finished. I started Nutkin as soon as the Mega Boots Stretch socks were finished.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Beret!

As promised, here's one of the two FOs for this week - at this rate I might even have more than two!

Star Crossed Beret

Pattern: Star Crossed Slouchy Beret (Ravelry link)
Yarn: handspun
Started: 1/16/09
Finshed: 1/19/09

The handspun is not my handspun. In fact, this hat is a collaboration between a few crafty people. I'm part of a swap that isn't knitting related, but quite a few knitters are in it, so I arranged to knit this for someone in exchange for a non-knitting crafty item for my swap pal. And this hat is for *her* swap pal. And yet another person spun the yarn, although I'm not sure what kind of swappy goodness she got. In any case, a collaboration of craftiness.

And the texture shot without flash:

Star Crossed Beret texture

I am perpetually shocked at how fast things knit up when they're on needles that aren't 1s or 2s. Surprising, really, use big yarn and big needles and get something quickly! I've never knit a beret before, because I'm not really a hat person. My hats are only for very cold weather and I don't wear anything fancy like berets. That's one of the things I love about knitting for other people - it gives me a chance to knit things I would never wear!

Now back to the toe decreases on the socky FO for this week...

Listening to: Quiet ~ Smashing Pumpkins, Hallways of Enchanted Ebony ~ Agalloch

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Starting the year off right

Yesterday the knitting group in Salem was having a yarn swap, so I gathered up a few less-loved colors of sock yarn and a bunch of odds and ends that weren't sock yarn and headed out. Not many people brought much yarn, but I did manage to make a couple swaps with the sock yarn for other sock yarn and offloaded a bunch of other yarn that was nice, but just not something I'm going to knit. I've realized that I really do knit socks *way* more than anything else, and I like it. I've tried to convince myself to knit other things, but the truth is I don't often want to. So I'm embracing my sock-knitterness and paring down the non-sock stash.

The best part about this is that my Stasholution is now in the black. I have a stash rule that I can only bring in 1/3 the amount of yarn (measured in grams) as goes out. The "out" yarn is anything I destash or knit up. I was a bit in the red at the end of last year, but now as a result of this yarn swap I have a few new-to-me skeins of yarn and "credit" for 33.3g of yarn. Yeah, not even up to a skein yet.

As for the knitting, these past few days have been all about the WIPs. The second of the two scarves has been started and is threatening the progress on other WIPs - everyone wasn't kidding when they talked about how addictive it is!


Watching those little stripes form is so fun! And I hate 1x1 rib. I'm sure it will be even better when the colors change... you can see that the turquoise is starting to become green. I'm using colors 40 and 233.

I've also be participating in the Leyburn KAL on Ravelry. A bunch of people in the Socks That Rawk!! group are knitting this pattern in different colors of Socks That Rock - the idea is to get as many colorways as possible.


Mine are in Carbon Dating. I changed the pattern to cuff down and had to mess with the numbers a bit to get them to fit, but so far I think they're going really well. It's an interesting pattern, but very easy to memorize and fun to knit.

I should have a couple finished projects this week if all goes well, and neither of them are pictured above.

Listening to: I'm Not the Only One ~ Filter, Bruise Pristine ~ Placebo

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Thursday, January 15, 2009


I'm off to a good start on the sock knitting this year.


Pattern: Thuja
Yarn: Interlacements Toasty Toes
Needles: size 5
Started: 1/8/09
Finished: 1/15/09

I modified the pattern a bit so I could knit it with this sport weight yarn instead of the worsted / aran suggested by the pattern. I cast on 48 stitches, knit the top in k3p1 rib instead of the k1p1 in the pattern, and centered 21 sts of rib (starting and ending with a seed stitch column) on the instep and decreased to 23 sts of stockinette on the sole. They turned out really well! If you look closely at the picture you might notice how strangely the yarn behaved - apparently for the leg 48 stitches was the exact number so that each color wrapped once around the sock - perfect 1 row stripes. After the gusset there were only 44 sts so there were 4 stitches of overlap of each colors which started some spiraling. It was a complete accident, but I like the effect on the leg.

Toasty Toes is a nice yarn to work with - soft and fairly springy. It's a heavier weight - they say sport but I'd say more of a DK - which makes the socks a little thicker. They're still thin enough to wear with sneakers, I think, but they sure knit up quickly. The colors overlap a bit more than I like - I'm a big fan of abrupt changes unless the colors are selected to blend well into each other. For example, the pink into orange was quite pretty but the orange into blue gave a really ugly brown. :( There was a knot approximately in the center of my skein, and I think this might have been intentional as the 2nd end was tied to the strings binding the skein when I wound it. A pretty good idea, which I've heard that Malabrigo sock does as well.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Scrolls Socks

My second FO of 2009 is, indeed, socks.


Yarn: Maizy in Neptune
Pattern: Scrolls Socks from Sockamania
Started: 10/22/08
Finished: 1/11/09

I bought this yarn at Rosie's Yarn Cellar during the Philly Knitty Fest because it sounded interesting. It was, although it's very splitty, that's not really a problem for me so I didn't mind. I first started a pair of socks in stockinette, but it was pooling in a really ugly way so I decided to break it up by using another stitch pattern. Overall the yarn is nice, very stretchy, and one of the few vegan options out there for sock yarn. The colors it comes in aren't really my taste, but I'm sure there will be more colors available if they keep the yarn, and how cool is it to have socks made mostly of corn?

A variegated yarn probably wasn't the best choice for this pattern, but I'm sure it will show up better when the socks are being worn. Until then, here's a (slightly blurry because it's no flash in the winter) detail shot:


And now, back to the knitting!

Listening to: Becoming X ~ Sneaker Pimps, Fallen ~ 30 Seconds to Mars

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Tale of Two Scarves

Since the turn of the year I've been knitting here and there but not really finishing anything. Well, other than this scarf... I arranged a swap with someone to knit a long, skinny, dark red scarf. She picked the yarn and I was given full artistic license.

I tend to be very picky when knitting things and will gladly rip something out if it's not exactly what I want, but I think that tendency actually gets worse when I'm knitting for someone else. I started out making the Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf pattern. I did a few triangles but the line caused by the decreases was bothering me, so I decided to try another style of decrease - I ripped back to the first triangle and started over, but the new and different lines made by the decreases were *still* bothering me. I ripped it out and started looking on Ravelry for a new pattern.

The problem here was similar to the one I posted about here - solid color yarn is "boring" and I didn't want to make someone a "boring" scarf. At the same time, I needed something pretty quick and easy. Once again Ravelry came to the rescue and I found a perfect pattern, and that is how my first finished item of 2009 ended up being a scarf. I can't even remember the last time I knit a scarf!


Yarn: Knit Picks Shine Worsted in Hollyberry
Pattern: One Row Handspun Scarf by the Yarn Harlot
Started: 1/1/09
Finished: 1/6/09

As for the second scarf... it hasn't been started yet, but I have two colors of Kureyon for the Noro Striped Scarf. Watch out socks!

Listening to: Parabol ~ Tool, Morning Star ~ Amorphis

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Sock Yarn

    A quest to use sock yarns:

    Yarns I've had:
    * means I really liked it

    4-ply Soft
    A Piece of Vermont*
    Artyarns Supermerino*
    Austermann Step
    BMFA Sock Candy*
    Black Bunny Fibers*
    Brown Sheep Naturespun Sport
    Chinese Mystery sock yarn
    Claudia's Handpaints
    Conjoined Creations Flat Feet
    Crystal Palace Maizy
    CTH Supersock
    Dicentra Designs
    Dorchester Farms
    Fearless Fibers
    Gloss (KP)
    Interlacements Beibi Seda
    Interlacements Tiny Toes
    Interlacements Toasty Toes
    Jarbo Raggi
    Jojoland Melody
    Kona Superwash
    KP Essential
    KP Merino
    KP Palette
    Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock*
    Macek Designs
    Magic Stripes
    Mega Boots Stretch
    Nature's Palette
    Noro Kureyon Sock
    Panda Cotton
    Paton's Kroy*
    Peru DK
    Peruvian Quechua
    Regia Bamboo*
    Regia Cotton
    Regia Strato*
    Ruby Sapphire
    Socks That Rock*
    Star (Classic Elite)
    Stitch Jones
    Sunshine Yarns*
    Three Fates Cauldron Sock*
    Wool Ease
    Yarn Pirate*

    In Progress:

    Perchance to Knit
    Yarns in the stash:

    All Things Heather
    Ancient Threads
    Apple Laine
    Araucania Ranco
    Artyarns Ultramerino
    Autumn House Farm
    Baby Ull
    Ball and Skein
    Baywood Yarns
    Bearfoot (Mountain Colors)
    Briar Rose Fibers
    Brooklyn Handspun
    Cavyshops Handpaint
    C*eye*ber Fiber
    Cervinia Calzetteria
    CTH Superglitz
    Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks
    Chewy Spaghetti
    Classic Elite Alpaca Sox
    Colinette Cadenza
    Colinette Jitterbug
    Country Classic Yarn for Sox
    Crash Into Ewe
    Crown Mountain Farms Sock Hop
    Curious Yarns
    Done Roving
    Dream in Color
    Duet (A Swell Yarn Shop)
    Dye Dreams
    Ellen's Half Pint Farm
    End of the World Farm
    Fashion Trend Sportivo
    The Fiber Denn
    Fleece Artist
    The Flock Bransonas
    French Hill Farm
    Froehlich Blauband
    Gjestal Silja
    Great Adirondack Soxie
    Greenwood Fiberworks
    Jaeger Matchmaker
    Jarbo Mini Raggi
    Jawoll Cotton
    Just Our Yarn
    Knit Purl Natural Collection
    Kona Superwash
    KP Dancing
    KP Essential Tweed
    Lime & Violet
    Lisa Souza
    Louet Gems Pearl
    Mama Llama
    Merlin the Cat
    Meilenweit Cotton
    Meilenweit Trend
    Mind's Eye Merino/Tencel
    Mirasol Hacho
    Misty Mountain Farm
    The Natural Dye Studio
    Neighborhood Fiber Company
    Over the Rainbow Twinkletoes
    Pigeon Roof Studios
    Pine Woods
    Posh Yarn Lucia
    Prism Saki
    Pucker Brush Farm
    Regia Surf
    Reynolds Swizzle
    Reynolds Soft Sea Wool
    Rio De La Plata
    Royale Hare
    Roz Houseknecht
    Schaefer Anne
    Scout's Swag
    Sheep Shop Wensleydale
    Shelridge Farm
    Sockenwolle Unipo
    Spirit Trail Fiberworks
    Spunky Eclectic
    Steinbach Wolle Sockenwolle
    Sundara Yarn
    Tess Designer Yarns
    The Unique Sheep
    Universal Ditto
    Valley Yarns Franklin
    vanCalcar Acres
    White Oak Studio tvyarn
    Wisdom Yarns Marathon
    Wool in the Woods
    The Woolen Rabbit
    Yarn Botanika Radiance
    Ysolda Yarn
    Zen Yarn Garden

    To check out:

    Sophie's Toes
    The Spinning Bunny Yarns BFL

WIPs and FOs