Monday, March 23, 2015

…another scarf

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I repeated the same exact idea for Scarf #3 as I did for Scarf #2, with one small change: hemstitch. See how subtle the top of the fringe is? I like this hemstitch treatment way more than the overhand knots. Here are overhand knits, for comparison:IMG_5596 The warp is more Cascade 220 Superwash left over from a wedding blanket (this is the army green color from Jess’s blanket), and the weft is Interlacements Tiny Toes from very, very deep in my sock yarn stash. It’s 100% superwash and I would not use it for socks now.IMG_5630S1 picked this combo and it came out quite well. She wanted the exact same measurements. It’s 52 1/2” long and 5 7/8” wide. I used 32 grams of sock yarn and 37 grams of warp.

Next I might try warping double strands of fingering through my 8-dent heddle.

I finished the blue sweater but it hasn’t been photographed. One day, probably in the middle of summer, I’ll surprise you with it!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

A-ha!

Last weekend when we gathered the handknit socks for washing, we noticed that this pair (knit in Fall 2013) was decided misshapen (it hasn’t been washed yet):IMG_5600

Do you see where the heel actually is, compared to where it appears Boy 1’s heel sat in the sock all day? He is wearing socks that are far too small for him. Every time we tell him to take them out of rotation, he just ignores us. Here is the same sock next to a recently-knit pair – this really highlights the difference:IMG_5601

Since I knit these socks top-down, I decided to see if I could just rip out (or cut out) the toe and reknit them (I was inspired by S1’s sock toe makeover). With an extra 1.5” in length, these fit much better now:IMG_5615

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That little project went so well that I started looking at the sock laundry with new eyes. I decided that these also needed some toe lengthening: IMG_5617These were scrappy socks I knit way back in Fall 2011, so it’s crazy that he’s still wearing them. These turned out to be much more challenging to lengthen. The yarns were more felted. I had to rip one pair back quite a bit further than the other. But, they live to serve another year!

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Here are the photos from when these pairs were brand new:

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IMG_6379 These two modifications took a full week of my knitting time, but that is far faster than knitting him two pairs of socks. I call this a WIN!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Warp Speed

For Valentine’s Day, S1 totally surprised me with a 15” Schacht Cricket loom! We put it together that day and warped it the next day. For my first project, I used the yarn that came in the box with the loom: 2 balls of Nature Spun Worsted (100% wool).

The instructions that come with the loom are okay, but not awesome. I supplemented with YouTube videos… also helpful, but not awesome. But still, I got it warped up and started weaving: 20150215_142343WHAT FUN! I could not believe how fast it went. I pretty much immediately wanted to know more, and I recalled that Caitlin watched this Craftsy class before buying her Cricket: Rigid Heddle Weaving with Angela Tong. Craftsy was having a Valentine’s weekend sale so I got the class for half off – bonus! Almost as soon as I started watching it, I wish I had done so before warping, because Angela is so much more clear and the “view” is perfect on those videos. IMG_5587I finished my first scarf when I ran out of the green weft yarn. It has lots of things wrong with it – the edges are wonky, I didn’t beat at the same rate throughout so some parts look more purple than others, and the width of the scarf changes. But I made a scarf! Just as with my first skein of handspun, I will save this so I can look back on it and chuckle later.

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Immediately I began thinking about my next project. The loom came with an 8-dent heddle, which is perfect for worsted yarn. So I knew I needed a strong (plied) worsted yarn for the warp. I pulled out the “share bag” of Cascade 200 Superwash leftovers (from Jess’s blanket and Caitlin’s blanket and my blanket) and handed it to S1. Her job was to choose a warp color that I had enough of (I could weigh the yarn to see if I had enough to make a 55” scarf, which is what she wanted) and choose a sock yarn from my stash to use as weft. The idea was to choose a fingering yarn that I would never make socks from. She chose a great one, this Fleece Artist Sock which is hand-dyed but unfortunately on 100% superwash merino. It is one of my oldest stash yarns and I’ve been avoiding it for years (at least for socks) because I predict it won’t wear well. IMG_5594And look! I made a scarf! I warped the loom and wove this all in an evening! It went at WARP SPEED! I did it so fast I never even took a picture of it on the loom. IMG_5597It is soft and drapey (thank you superwash merino) and the edges are nice and straight. Angela Tong’s course is excellent and I recommend watching it BEFORE you warp your first loom.

Then I bought Rigid Heddle Weaving: Beyond the Basics (while the half price sale was still on) and am partway through watching that. Watch out because there will be more weaving to come.IMG_5599My biggest problem right now is resisting the urge to buy different yarn to weave with. I want to use stash yarn, at least for a while. But I also want to make kitchen towels, which requires cotton, and I have no cotton in stash. I don’t care to knit with it.  So we’ll see how long that holds out.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Boy grows, needs socks

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Here’s the latest pair of socks for Boy 1, who is growing out of socks a bit faster than I can knit them. His foot is almost as big as mine now, so maybe I should just open my sock drawer to him? For the very first time, I have cast on 64 stiches on 2.0mm needles with fingering weight yarn for him. That’s what I use for women’s socks in my family. IMG_5581A couple of things about this pair. First, I performed the promised experiment with cast on. Can you see a difference above? The sock on the left is my usual long tail CO, and the sock on the right uses the alternate cable CO (see Woolly Wormhead’s excellent instructions for this technique). I think the alternate cable CO is a lot more attractive. It seems to be stretchy enough. Time will tell if it’s too stretchy. I had to work the first row flat and join later… here you can see the little split before I joined it up:IMG_5563I will report back on how that wears.

The second thing to note is the slight bit of patterning just under the 1x1 cuff ribbing. Initially I planned to work this sock in a waffle-like pattern, but I felt it just wasn’t coming through in the yarn so I switched to 3x1 rib. After working that for a couple inches, I showed the sock to Boy 1 to get his feedback. He preferred the smooth ribbing but also didn’t want me to rip back the 3 repeats of waffle at the top. So I repeated that on the second sock. IMG_5583 I chose the eye-of-partridge heel, since it lays so nice and flat and is also extra sturdy. And I did the graduated toe decrease again. It seems to be my go-to toe right now.

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After a week of ridiculously low temperatures, we gave up on photographing outside and made do in the house. He wants his socks, and he doesn’t get them until after the photo shoot!

That’s another pair for #operationsockdrawer. I have another pair on the needles that is working up very quickly. Next up is seaming the Stonington cardigan and knitting the button band – I finished and blocked the sleeves yesterday. And my next post will be about something totally different. Something that lets you work at warp speed. You know what I mean.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Winter is for sweaters

I cast on a new sweater a couple of weeks ago. I’ve had requests from two family members who want sweaters, and while I’m happy to oblige, neither project can be made from stash yarn of which I have sweater quantities. I didn’t feel right purchasing more yarn when I have yarn. So I did some quick searching on Ravelry, tried not to overthink, and started a new sweater.

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The yarn is Bartlettyarn Fisherman 2-ply that I purchased at MDSW in 2013. I swatched with it over a year ago when planning my first CustomFit sweater. I decided then that that yarn was a little too chunky and a little too rustic for that first sweater. But now I’m returning to it to make a CustomFit version of Stonington by Amy Herzog.fronts blocking This yarn is knitting up very quickly. Before I knew it, I had the back and two fronts done. I’m over halfway through sleeve #1 right now. Soon I’ll need to shop for buttons and a shirt to wear with it. This yarn is crunchy enough (even after rinsing with hair conditioner) that I’ll find it uncomfortable right next to my neck. You’ll notice that Amy models hers with a collared shirt, which is what I’ll do once I own one.

IMG_5552 The yarn color is true in the top picture, not the blocking photos. But I couldn’t resist sharing the view of blocking pins on the horizon. Those little yellow flowers always make me smile.

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Because I had this swatch on file and my measurements were already in the CustomFit website, this was an easy project to jump into. I really wish I had the sweater ready to wear NOW. The weather forecast calls for sweaters:image But I’m so distracted! I received a 15” Cricket loom for Valentine’s Day this morning and I want to play with that! What a luxury of troubles to have.

Hope you have some fiber love today!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Custom

S1 and I have been doing more walking than ever recently, thanks to our Fit Bit goals (12,000 steps/day). On work days, a lot of that walking happens around campus - in work clothes. Recently, she said that she was on the verge of developing a blister on her toe because of the roughness in the yarn of a handknit sock. What?! I’ve never heard of this before.

The sock in question was this Monkey made in American B.R.A.N.D. yarn. I was eager to try this yarn because it is U.S.-made from start to finish. It is not super soft like superwash merino, but it’s durable and beautiful in its way.

IMG_2984 S1 loves these socks, so I wanted to make them work. These were knit top down, so the fix was easy. I just picked up stitches (so easy to do in stockinette), cut off the toes, and reknit them in another yarn.

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The bottom of the sock was felted a bit at the ball of the foot. I had to pierce the fabric there instead of just catching a loop, but it seemed to work out fine. IMG_5523These photos should have been color corrected. The real color is a yellowish beige like the top photo.

The yarn is super ramen-y after being knit for many months!IMG_5525New toe, old toe: IMG_5529 What’s the point of knitting by hand if you can’t customize? No one but S1 (and all of you) will ever know she’s sporting orange toes on her yellow socks. But her toes will be happy.

Do you have any socks that rub you wrong? If I walk too much in this pair, I feel the purl nubs rubbing against my feet. My solution is to wear a thin pair of cotton socks as a liner.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The search for the perfect mitten continues…

These mittens were intended to be a quick, gratifying project following on the heels of finishing the epic chevron blanket. I spied this pattern on Ravelry before Christmas and was completely enamored with how darn cute this particular version is.

Mine came out like this: mittens_crop

I’ve been looking to upgrade my warm handwear this winter, since I tend to lose circulation in the tips of my fingers when it’s cold. This past fall, I’ve been wearing commercial fleece gloves with a pair of handknit mittens on top. The mittens are made from a warm blend of merino and angora from Jamie Harmon. I haven’t had any trouble with cold fingers, but the angora creates a lot of fuzz that gets in the way and makes a mess. I wanted some mittens that would be as warm as that combo, but more durable. This pattern seemed perfect!snowball cropWhile I’m fairly happy with the result, the process of creating them was frustrating. I had to modify the pattern a lot, starting before I even cast on. The designer calls for a gauge of 8 st/in on the outer mitten, which is made of sock yarn. I chose a ball of Trekking XXL for my outer mitten. I just made a pair of socks from Trekking XXL last fall, and I got 8 st/in on a 2.0 mm needle. The larger mitten is only 1 stitch bigger in circumference than my socks, so I put the socks on my hands. They were WAY too tight and small. So, I upsized. IMG_4992The pattern calls for an i-cord cast-on. I thought it looked nice and I hadn’t tried the technique before, so I worked it. But the wrist opening for the mitten was WAY too big and would have let a lot of cold air in. So I ripped that back and replaced it with ribbing.

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The pattern calls for a worsted weight yarn in the liner mitten. I reached for this Julia out of my stash, since it is a warm blend of 50% wool, 25% alpaca, and 25% mohair. But since the yarn weight was different, I essentially had to rewrite the pattern AGAIN. I did a fair bit of ripping and reknitting to get these done!IMG_5428 The lining is just whip-stitched into place. I put the mittens over my phone to hold everything in the right position. I used segments of the sock yarn that matched the stripe I was sewing into, just to make sure it wouldn’t show on the right side of the mitten. Here’s a finished one from the inside:

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The ribbing fits under my coat sleeve but doesn’t add nearly as much bulk as it would if it were lined, too.IMG_5432 I’ve worn these quite a bit during the past two weeks. They aren’t quite as warm as my fleece glove/wool & angora mitten combo, but they are pretty good. What I really appreciate is how TOUGH the outer mitten is. That XXL is rustic stuff. I have wiped ice off my windshield wipers with the mitten, and it doesn’t seem to be worse for wear. Plus, no moisture got down to my skin. That is really nice.

I’m not giving up on lined mittens, but I’ll make some changes next time. I think I’d like to use fingering weight yarn on both layers. I’ll use a tough yarn on the outside and a much softer one on the inside. And I think I’ll use Susan B. Anderson’s Waiting for Winter mitten pattern as my guide (though she specifies worsted weight yarn so maybe not). I’ve made her pattern and it was perfect the first time.

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So far, I’ve had TWO unsatisfactory pattern experiences in 2015. That’s annoying!