Thursday Sock-Along: My Best Gussets Yet

Oh blog, I’ve missed you! I was out of town for the weekend and then was down for the count for a couple of days with a GI thingy we really don’t need to discuss. I’m finally feeling up to tackling life and knitting and blogging again! What better way to tackle it all than with a post on socks?

So, my Petty Harbour socks continue. More accurately, sock, as I haven’t finished the first one yet. I did however turn the heel and am cruising down the foot, so it shouldn’t be long now.

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My progress as of late this afternoon

I had a few minutes to stop by my LYS and knock out a handful of rounds. You can’t tell from this picture, but the gussets on this little beauty are my finest to date. Usually I get a little hole on one end of the heel flap or the other where the picked up stitches just aren’t quite right. On most of my other socks, I’ve picked up one or two more stitches than called for. These aren’t different in that respect as I picked up one extra on each side. What is different is how I handled that extra stitch. Previously, I have decreased them out of existence on the next row. This time, I just added one more decrease row. Voila–no hole!

While I’m waiting for these to be finished*, I can now start to plot my next pair. I had some credit and a free shipping code at jimmy beans that was set to expire today. While I was still sick, I browsed around for some yarn to use it on. You know I really wasn’t feeling well because I just couldn’t get excited about anything! Well, a day later I got the bright idea to use it on needles for TAAT toe up socks. So, I expect to soon receive two sets of 47″ Addi rockets, US0 and US1. That giant batch of yarn I got from freecycle recently included a ton of sock yarn, and I’m determined to work my way through as much of it as I can!

I’ve got lots of blog material to catch up on. I’ve won two yarn prizes I haven’t shared with you yet, I got a blogging award I haven’t done anything with, and I haven’t finished my 30 day knitting challenge deal. I also haven’t finished knitting my sword. I will try to get everything covered in the near future! In the meantime, I’ve started actually using my Instagram account. I can’t promise I’ll post much, but you can find me there as alexandknits if you’d like!

Want to read more about sock knitting? Head over to Paula’s blog at Spin A Yarn and Hannah’s at unsophisticated + jejune to see what they’re up to. Also, take a look at Iseago, our newest Thursday Socketeer, at nursingandknitting! Edited to add: also check out fiberandsustenance’s great post on afterthought heels here. Want to share your sock knitting exploits, too? Just post on or around a Thursday and feel free to link up. Happy sock knitting!

*My mom has pointed out that there’s no hurry to finish these as it will continue to be unbearably hot in Georgia for approximately forever.

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FO Spotlight: Wee la Nina

The rundown

Pattern: Wee la Nina by cashmerejunkie of Taiga Hilliard Designs.

Yarn: A total of 232 yards of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, a worsted weight blend of 80% cotton and 20% merino. I used 181 yards of the main color and anywhere from 6 to 22 yards of the four contrast colors. It could be done in as few as two colors or as many as ten, or more for bigger sizes.

Size made: 12-18 months. The model is 12 months.

Needles: US8s. With this yarn, I would probably use US7s next time and just add a few more rows. The gauge is just a touch loose on the 8s.

Techniques used: Nothing too crazy, and nothing that wasn’t described in the pattern.

Modifications: None.

Difficulty: Easy. This would be appropriate for an advanced beginner.

Ravelled: here.

The Pretty

Man, was it tough to get pictures! This child is in constant motion. As cute as the top looks on her, the pictures just don’t do it justice. It really was just stupid cute on her.

Despite the fact that it took me over three months to do the finishing bits on this one, it was a very quick knit. Like many of Taiga’s patterns, it’s designed to be able to be worn long for a while and then shorter as the child grows. Also, the high cotton content means that it will grow in length if it’s hung to dry instead of being laid flat, so she will hopefully get a couple of years of wear out of it.

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Please enjoy this rare, blurry glimpse of me. The child wanted to take a selfie. How could I refuse??

The 30 Day Knitting Challenge – Days 23 & 24

First, I want to back up for just a moment:

Day 22: Have you ever stricken someone off your to-knit-for list because they didn’t appreciate/take care of your last knitted gift to them?

In my Day 22 post, I said I hadn’t really, completely cut anyone off. However, I realized yesterday that isn’t entirely true. There is one person for whom I will never make another handknit: my sil’s ex-boyfriend. Those of you who have read my blog for a bit might remember the Color Dipped Hat I knit:

It was a bear to knit, honestly. I had to rip giant sections out more than once. It took forever and repairing mistakes was all but impossible. However, it turned out awesome. The plan was to give it to said sil’s said ex-boyfriend for Christmas. I chose the pattern and yarn after much discussion with my sil, as the recipient had very specific tastes.

Let me interrupt myself to explain that if it wasn’t for my sil, I never would have knit this hat for that guy. I didn’t really care about him much one way or the other, but I knew my sil (who is eminently knitworthy) would understand and appreciate the work that went into it. So, even though it was for the boyfriend (before he was exed), it was really for her.

Well, this dude completely ghosted on her…a couple of weeks before Christmas. They had been together for two years and he just disappeared. He didn’t stick around long enough to get the hat, thankfully. At Christmas, I gave it to my sil to give to him (it wasn’t clear yet at that point that he wasn’t going to resurface) but she never saw him again. A few days ago, she gave it back to me. So, it’s not likely that I would ever have the opportunity to knit for this d-bag again. If I did, though, I would tell him in no uncertain terms where to stick it.

Day 23: If you had the supplies (and patience) for it, what project would you start today?

Mark this date in your calendars, folks, because I have a single definitive answer for this one! I have plenty of patience for this project, but I don’t have the yarn and I have a knitting to do list the size of a football field to get through first. The pattern is the Japanese Garden Shawl by Jana Huck. Here are some of the pics from the pattern page on ravelry:

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All images are copyright janukke on ravelry. I first saw this on the Mason Dixon Knitting blog a few days ago and I was instantly in love. The pattern calls for about 800 yards total in three different colors…of 100% silk worsted weight yarn. That’s not happening any time soon, so I’m contemplating options from my stash.

Day 24: Have you ever made your own pattern or dyed your own yarn? How did it turn out?

I’ll start with the dyeing question. Yes, once. I dyed a skein of white worsted weight wool with Kool-Aid and my microwave. I then knitted a soaker with it. I have no idea where it ended up, but at least I have a picture!

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If I remember correctly, I used three different colors but two were so close they just blended together. I tried to get more of the pale green, but ended up with just a little bit. In any case, I think it looks kind of cool! The whole thing was really just an experiment as the wool was really too scratchy to be worn by a babe.

Have I ever made my own pattern? Hopefully in a couple of days, the answer will be yes! I’m in the process of designing and knitting a toy sword. I couldn’t find a pattern that had what I was looking for, so I struck off on my own and started designing. So far I’m very happy with how it’s turning out!

How about you? What are you just itching to get on your needles? Have you had any dyeing or designing exploits?

The 30 Day Knitting Challenge is the creation of Meggiewes who blogs at Knitting in Wonderland.

Thursday Sock-Along: Progress, of Sorts

Well, my quest for the perfect (for me) vanilla sock pattern will need to take another turn. After knitting away for a bit on the cuff of my latest sock (the pattern I’m using is Petty Harbour), I decided I would try it on for size. It took a little tugging, but I didn’t think much of that–socks stretch, right? So I kept tugging. Long story short, the sock was too tight, as evidenced by the fact that I seriously bent one of the dpns while getting the sock on and off!

My first reaction to that was one of disbelief. It couldn’t possibly have been the wrong size. I’m knitting a stretchy pattern! It’s sock yarn and I’m using US1s! I always get gauge on US1s with sock yarn! Something must be wrong! So I counted the stitches*. No error there–I had 72, just as I had intended. I thought about it a bit more, then decided to check my gauge. Better late than never, after all! Sure enough, I was getting a smidge over 9 sts/” instead of the pattern’s 8 sts/”. That means that my 9″ cuff (which in all honesty still would have been a bit small) is actually an 8″ cuff…and is never going to fit me.

But, a sock is a sock is a sock, and I’m not the only one of my acquaintance who both has feet and likes handknits. So, since my mom had asked for a pair a while back, I decided that they’ll go to her if they fit–and I believe they will.

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It’s really challenging to get this yarn right in photos. The above pic shows the colors a bit brighter than they really are, but it’s close. At the end of the current pattern repeat, I will start the heel flap.

Want to read more about sock knitting? Head over to Paula’s blog at Spin A Yarn and Hannah’s at unsophisticated + jejune to see what they’re up to. Also, take a look at Iseago, our newest Thursday Socketeer, at nursingandknitting! Want to share your sock knitting exploits, too? Feel free to link up. Happy sock knitting!

*More accurately, I straightened out the dpn as best I could and then I counted the stitches.

My 30 Day Knitting Challenge series will continue tomorrow.

The 30 Day Knitting Challenge – Day 22

Day 22: Have you ever stricken someone off your to-knit-for list because they didn’t appreciate/take care of your last knitted gift to them?

Ohhh. That’s a tough one but no, not really. There are people I probably won’t make anything else for any time soon, but it’s not because they did something to warrant banishment from the handknit bounty. It’s more because not everyone has a passion for handknits, and that’s okay. I very well might knit something for them at some point, but I would tend to keep them rather more light in the rotation. There’s something very rewarding about knitting for people who are thoroughly knitworthy, so I would tend to knit things for the people like that in my life more often.

The nanny/babysitter who takes care of my daughter falls into that category. She has consistently shown such non-pushy enthusiasm for my knits that I just naturally tend to want to make things for her and her daughter. It helps that her daughter, a real pistol, is about 12 months and ridiculously cute. She’s been the recipient of a number of test knits that I’ve done.

She doesn’t stay still long (at all) so it’s hard to get pics, but she recently modeled my Knight’s Helmet Hat, too.

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I while back, I offered her (the mom) a choice of things that I had made. I didn’t know her tastes well enough to choose for her. I had a couple of hats and a scarf on hand. As testimony to her good taste, she looked for about a half a second before choosing one of the loveliest things I’ve made:

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That is my Wayfarer Hat test knit by made from madelinetosh Tosh DK. It’s a great pattern by Carol E. Herman. I love the textural symmetry between the cables and the rib, and between the rice stitch on the crown and on the band under the cables. It works well in the Tosh DK. The high twist gives it good stitch definition and the color just defies explanation. It’s so deep and layered. And, it’s soft and silky and just a little bit crisp to the touch. I love it and I wanted it to go to someone who would really appreciate it. I’m so glad it did!

I somehow manage to keep answering different questions than the ones that were asked! My blog, my prerogative, right? In any case, my posts have really helped me to reflect on some of my knitting practices and past projects. This challenge has been a lot of fun so far. What about you? Do you have a No Gifting list? Or do you spread your knitting babies around with abandon and trust that they’ll be loved?

The 30 Day Knitting Challenge is the creation of Meggiewes who blogs at Knitting in Wonderland.

The 30 Day Knitting Challenge – Day 21

Day 21: Do you knit gifts for friends and family for the holidays or birthdays?

Well, yes! And no. It just depends. Last Christmas I knitted lots of gifts for family, mostly. I don’t know that I can do quite that much this year and in the future. No one expected me to do it, I just wanted to. At least any pressure was self-imposed! I think that moving forward, though, I’d rather just knit things for people on an ongoing basis. That way, if I stumble across a project that I think would be great for someone, I can just work on it and give it to them whenever it’s ready. That way my knitting time won’t be entirely co-opted by gift knits. I do like knitting for myself, as well.

And, honestly? I don’t think I could come up with a yearly knitted gift for my fil, among others. Not everyone needs or wants a million handknits.

The best way to get knitted gifts out of me are as follows:

  • Recognize the large amounts of time, energy and often money that go into handknits.
  • Appreciate any previous handknits you’ve received, from me or others.
  • Use your handknits! That’s what they’re for! Just don’t abuse them.
  • Ask me! If I don’t know you would like knitted socks, for instance, I certainly won’t make you any. That said, there’s a difference between asking and demanding. Be prepared that I might say no. But, if you ask in a way that makes it clear that you understand bullets one through three, I’ll know that you get it, and that goes a long way.
  • If I am making you something, for the love of all things cashmere, TELL me if you are unlikely to use whatever it is I’m making. If yellow makes you look like a liver patient, don’t let me make you something yellow. Don’t just accept whatever I suggest to be polite (but do be tactful). I don’t want to put hours into something that will just fall flat.

Just a smattering of gifts I’ve made in the past year (okay, one or two are still in progress, but you get the idea).

What about you? Do you give your knits away? Are you a selfish* knitter?

*I don’t think knitting for oneself is selfish, but some people adopt that label for themselves.

The 30 Day Knitting Challenge is the creation of Meggiewes who blogs at Knitting in Wonderland.

The 30 Day Knitting Challenge – Day 20

Day 20: Do you knit in public? Was anyone offended/incredibly happy/curious that you were doing so?

It’s funny that this question popped up so close to WWKIP Day! I knit in public all the time–in waiting rooms and coffee shops, mostly. I also knitted my way through many, many lectures when I was in nursing school ten years ago. You’d think that would detract from my ability to listen and retain information, but it’s just the opposite. Something about knitting actually helps me focus more, not less. Provided it’s a simple knit, that is.

I’ve never known anyone to be offended by my knitting in public. However, I am sometimes pretty oblivious to stuff like that, so I might not always notice unless someone said something to me. No one ever has. For the most part, people seem interested in what I’m doing. I’ve had some nice chats with fellow knitters and aspiring knitters alike.

Happy Solstice and happy knitting!

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The 30 Day Knitting Challenge is the creation of Meggiewes who blogs at Knitting in Wonderland.

The 30 Day Knitting Challenge – Day 19

Okay, I know I’ve said before that I don’t really want to get into politics on my blog. I mean, I don’t mind a good debate, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that I want people to be drawn here by the knitting, the potential for a piece of the fiber community, and the sense of healing, not because of shared (or not) political views. I am hoping that much of that can be transcended by a mutual love of making, fiber and learning.

However, there’s been quite a debate that has touched my fiber community lately. I read a piece yesterday that simply blew me away and I imagine others would like to read it too. The controversy centers around the presence of the Pride flag on the ravelry logo. It’s now tradition for them to “fly” it during Pride every year and, every year, there is copious discussion about it on the forums. Recently, someone posted an open letter to ravelry in protest of the flag (to limit traffic to the author’s blog, I’m posting a link to the same content hosted on another site). The response that I found so moving can be read here.

So, click and read if you feel inspired to do so. You are welcome to leave comments with your reactions if you like–I just ask that you keep things respectful, regardless of your stance. It’s no secret what side of the debate I fall on. If you see things differently, that’s okay. I might not understand why but I would still knit with you. Once upon a time I was much more outspoken about my viewpoints and much less tolerant of different stances. In more recent years, I’ve started appreciating more fully that everyone has experienced a different walk of life, and that each person’s history will have shaped their thoughts and beliefs uniquely. I admire those people who take a hard look at their assumptions and strive to overcome shortsightedness, but I recognize that not everyone gets to that point.

With that, I’ll return to our regularly scheduled program.

Day 19: Do you watch movies and/or listen to podcasts while knitting? What are your favorite things to knit to?

Yes, frequently. I mostly watch Netflix but I will occasionally watch a knitting vlog if I stumble across one*. I mostly watch shows instead of movies as I find I don’t have to pay as close attention to them. The best options are ones that I can listen to and just look up at now and then. Shows that have complicated plot lines don’t tend to be good choices! I tried to watch House of Cards and knit but I just ended up completely clueless as to what was going on.

For whatever reason, I find police procedurals and shows about crime to be the most interesting. I also like things with a touch of the fantastic thrown in. Right now, I’m working my way through Star Trek Voyager. Things I’ve watched recently are Lie to Me, Lost Girl, How to Get Away with Murder (this one was really too complicated to knit to, so I just rewound a lot), Sherlock (which was amazing), The Returned and Person of Interest. I’m looking forward to watching season 4 of Orange is the New Black. If you have any suggestions for good shows on Amazon or Netflix, let me know!

I hate to leave you without some sort of knitting pic, so here’s the current state of my Wee la Nina. I wove in the rest of the ends yesterday while I was knitting in public.

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It’s size 12-18 mo and will be for our nanny’s 1 yo daughter. Just needs buttons and blocking!

*In fact, I’m interested in finding good knitting vlogs to follow. I’d love if you’d share your favorites with me! Kepanie/Stefanie, I haven’t watched yours yet but it’s at the top of my list!

The 30 Day Knitting Challenge is the creation of Meggiewes who blogs at Knitting in Wonderland.

The 30 Day Knitting Challenge – Day 18

Day 18: Do you knit English or Continental?

English. It’s how I learned when I was a kid. A friend of mine in college knit Continental. When I saw how fast her knitting went, I switched. It took me a while to get the hang of it and to build up some speed, but I got pretty good with it for a bit. Then school and life happened for a while and I had a knitting dry spell. When I picked the needles up again, my muscle memory kicked in and it was back to English.

I’ve thought about trying to switch again, but have decided against it (at least for now). I do tension one of the yarns in my left hand when I do stranded colorwork but, let’s be honest, I don’t do a ton of stranded colorwork. I’ve stuck with my current style because if I switch I will have a long period when my tension is irregular and my knitting speed drops way down. Although I know I would regain both consistency and speed, the idea sounds really irritating. I rely on knitting a lot at the moment: for pain relief, for emotional solace, for providing a sense of self-worth and accomplishment. If I pulled the rug out from under that I don’t know where I’d be! So for now, I will stick with what’s working. That said, I’m getting to be a pretty quick knitter…for a thrower.

Of note, there are many more styles of knitting than just English and Continental, and there are different variations of both of those styles. Other styles that come to mind are Portuguese knitting, where the knitter tensions the yarn by running it behind her (or his) neck, sometimes guiding it through a specially designed pin worn on the chest. Purling is typically much faster with this style. Also, there’s Irish Cottage or Lever knitting, which is just something else entirely. You can watch the Yarn Harlot churning out knitting on straight needles here and on dpns here. The second video is actually slowed down for a bit and analyzed so that you can actually see what’s happening. It’s just a little crazy. If I were really concerned about speed, I would try to learn that method! As it is, what I’m doing now brings me comfort.

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Bonus sock progress pic!

What’s your knitting style?

The 30 Day Knitting Challenge is the creation of Meggiewes who blogs at Knitting in Wonderland.