Tag Archives: fingering weight

Driving away

I had a full day of good bad luck recently.

The brakes in my car went out while I was driving…

…out of the state car inspection garage.

(Moments later, I’d have been on the highway, instead, I coasted into an uphill parking spot just outside the garage – and still passed the inspection!)

I had many other errands planned that day, but had to wait for a tow truck instead.

But I’d brought some knitting along at the last moment, so I had something to do while waiting.

I’d just downgraded our automobile club membership from the longest towing allowance because we hadn’t used it in years and the yearly fee is much higher now than where we used to be.

But it was still enough towing to get me back to my town.

I didn’t wear a coat when I’d left the house that morning because it was sunny and I would be running in and out of places.

But when I started the long walk home from the garage, it dropped 15 degrees and started snowing.

But I had inexplicably put on walking shoes instead of my usual clogs that morning, so at least my feet were fine.

The garage called to say my entire brake line was rusted out and my car would be in the shop for days.

And N had just left town for a three-day weekend with his.

So I was stranded in the house, which is where I’d normally prefer to be most of the time, but I was unmoored and annoyed to not be able to do the stupid running around crap I’d planned do, so with my thoughts on autos, and mood bend on frustration, I ripped out the van sock and removed the offending skein to overdye it.

van redo-before

I only had violet and yellow food coloring gels and a smattering of stinky drink mix on hand.

I wanted the neon to go away, and I was still going to knit it with the other burgundy/cranberry/orange yarn, so as long as I could turn it into some form of purple or brown, or a favorite of mine, purpley-brown, or at least just all toned the hell down, all would be fine.

van redo-dyeing

I started off with just the violet, but it turned the yarn very dull and almost grey – acceptably muted, but surprisingly unpleasant (I usually like muddy, dull, muted colors). So I jabbed in some yellow and liked that it was heading to a brown. But then for entirely unknown reasons, I tossed in a packet of grape drink mix.

I decided that fake grape is the only drink mix stink I can somewhat, just barely, not quite really, tolerate.

But I got something acceptably purple-ish.

van redo-rinse

And rinsing the whole shebang was fun – the colors broke in the wash, so at first the rinse water was pink, then cyan, and then green when I remembered to pick up the camera.

There was still some color left in the pot so I tossed in some natural white (not quite cream) roving for shits and giggles.

van redo - sop color

And it cam out an intense orchid that I would hate to wear alone, but will be a nice occasional addition in a spin.

van sopped

The yarn came out mildly nasty on its own, and has a bit of that lifeless dullness that comes with food color dyeing…

van redye

and you can see the areas I jabbed in the yellow vs. the violet…

van redye det

 but it’s just what this pair of socks needed for me to take off with them again.

van new sock

(While I’m waiting to get my car out of the shop… and on the water treatment equipment repair guys, and my new tooth, and now possibly the washer repair person or new delivery, and the lumber delivery that we planned before everything else went to hell… this is becoming a helluva expensive month.)

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Camo for crocuses in the snow; Blizzard socks

blizzard-zepplins

Our cars decided that they wanted to become zeppelins during last week’s blizzard.

blizzard-shoveling

And N had an excuse to break out his awesome vintage plaid wool pants.

blizzard-sock inside

And I had the time to sit on my ass and finish my latest socks while watching the snow fall and then get shoveled away while my toes stayed propped up and toasty.

(Yes, that is snow piled against the window, even after it was knocked down several times – the storm wanted darkness).

blizzard-sock before

But I too eventually went to war with the frozen shit – donning my swants over some wool long johns and stomping my way to uncover various vents and utility meters and paths to compost piles and sheds and garbage cans…

blizzard-sock after

(And I really should have put on my gaiters first.)

When I was making the socks, the colors reminded me of crocuses popping up through the snow. The multi-colored yarn also came from a market in a town in Abruzzo known for its saffron crop.

Now I see that they are perfectly coordinated with my snowshoes.

They could have been longer.

They could be warmer.

Next time maybe I’ll drop another needle size while holding the yarn doubled, but I’m starting to think I just need 100% wool socks – screw the bit of polyamide and/or nylon which I think is the culprit for clamminess…

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A tiny experiment

While cleaning up the autumn yard messes recently, I gashed open my main knitting finger – the top joint just above the nail where the yarn slides over just before it becomes a stitch.

So I switched to spinning and sewing quilt hexes for a few days and pissed off my wrist again…

But none of these bodily harms could prevent me from continuing to unpack and organize our house…

but I really didn’t want to…

The main part of our house is smaller than the last, but has more storage space, sort of. We also have more storage furniture of sorts. But everything doesn’t have a space, and there’s not a space for everything… I’ve gotten rid of many things lately, and haven’t acquired much in the last few years, so I’m not sure what’s going on here…

And in the time that I procrastinated from further unpacking, and mulled over things to no viable solution, my finger healed enough to start fibering again.

The verdict is still out if I like the tiny circular needles, but I’m leaning heavily to not

sock experiment

I think my hands are too big for them and they get crampy pretty quickly, but they’re size US 0 and I’m not crazy about dpns in that size either. I thought the tiny circs would make knitting faster without the pause to change needles like with dpns, but the stitches don’t slide very well, so I’m actually spending more time shifting shoving them around. The greatest advantage however, is on the gusset – they eliminate the chance for laddering, so I would potentially use them just for this part of the sock and switch back to dpns for the rest. Oh, and another big minus for them is you can’t try the socks on as you go – a brief aside: I can’t understand why toe-up socks are lauded for their ability for being tried-on as you go when top-down are just as able?!?! And better, I think too – you can mush your heel around a bit and situate your foot in active poses to know exactly when to start the toe.

But I think the biggest problem is the size 0-ness of the tips. I don’t dislike the journey in making a sock, but I’m not joyful/delightfully challenged about it either – I like making plain socks because I make them when I can’t pay much attention and just want my hands to move, and then I get a bit of pleasure in seeing that bam! suddenly half the foot is done when I’m pissy about sitting around waiting somewhere and in turn, I got one quarter of a sock for my troubles.

These particular tiny needles are a tiny struggle with only a tiny result in a not-tiny amount of time.

experiment-balls

So a day late and a dollar short, I finally came to the realization that I should knit my skinnier sock yarn held double and get bigger, faster socks.

Perhaps I’ll get some bigger shorties to try out at some point, or magic loop some socks for shits and giggles.

(I also like that this will be a cheap pair of socks – the mostly white yarn came from a stall in the market in Sulmona – it was either 1 euro per ball, or for two; and the green was from the big box with a big coupon or big sale and acquired in my old days of stash building, or perhaps for an old now-dead desire for colorwork socks.)

experiment-swatch

And it also solves my problem of not loving certain colorways – blended together, almost anything is better.

And I wasn’t liking the too-white tiny sock above anyway – I don’t have a need for white socks in my life anymore.

I’m not sure when I did, and why I’ve had some in my drawer for too many years.

experiment-color balls

(The top ball is one of the greatest color disappointments in my online purchases – it was supposed to be a nice 1920-30s stripey combo in mustard, olive, dusty rose and medium brown – the medium brown is right, but the candy colors are disgusting… it was in my pile of things to overdye, but I’m thinking it might blend well with the burgundy, cranberry, orange on the bottom…)

Now I’ve just got to resist playing with all of the color combination possibilities and casting on for several pairs of socks before I finish the current in-progress ones…

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Fancy feets

It’s been several months since I had an actual sock on the needles.

I’m working on a simple sock yarn cardigan that was small enough to be travel knitting for a time, but has since outgrown my everyday bag and will probably take me years to finish…

fancy feets

N treated me to a fancy feast in NYC for my birthday last month and I finally began a new sock on the train home. (I went up earlier in the day for a work thing and wisely tucked the yarn into my bag in case there was a gap in the work moments – I don’t normally bring yarn to dinner).

This is my last ball of 6-ply sock yarn and I’m a bit sad about that – I still have plenty of sock yarn in my stash, but hands down, I like the thicker stuff much better (even though I’m not crazy about these colors, but at least green is involved) and I’m still on the longest non-buying spree of my yarn life (except for that stupid neon stuff) that I hope to stretch into next year, or hell, maybe even the following, or the one after that too…

But only a day after I committed those words to the screen, I caved and ordered two more balls (on the cheap, of course).

Balls usually come in pairs, right?

(Well, I guess not in the ball sports, but I’m not much of a sports fan.)

fancy feets-more

But this really isn’t about stash-building, it’s more like a work-in-progress waiting in the wings, and I know my trusted pattern* works for me, and I gave the other pair I made earlier this year away, so my conscious is clear.

fancy feets tiny needles

I also got some absurdly teeny 9″ US0 size circulars to try out on the rest of my sock yarn stash – I like knitting and wearing the thicker yarn (though I also like wearing thin wool socks in the warmer months, but commercially-made thinness – an impossible weight for me to knit) so I’m not holding my breath that I’ll fall in love with knitting and wearing the light fingering weight yarn, but I do love a repetitive round and round and round and round and round on circulars, so who knows… But I knit a little tighter on circulars than dpns, so I won’t be too keen if that skews my stitch numbers too much. And not to mention I’ve got big paws and these are sized for child labor or the dainty bird-like lady…

If these don’t work out, the rest of the skinny stash (held double, of course, or maybe triple…) is probably destined to become a throw blanket…

*My favorite/trusty sock is 64 stitches of the light sport-weight yarn on US2 dpns (got a high instep) with provisional cast on from ankle down, a slipped stitch heel flap, reducing 4 stitches on the foot, then picked up and knit ankle up. After one ankle/foot is done, I make the other on another set of dpns. Then I wind the yarn into a center-pull ball if it isn’t already and take turns knitting each cuff up from each end of yarn, so it’s sorta two at a time and no leftover yarn.

And I still haven’t settled on how many stitches I need when dropping down to US1 or US0 needles…

For the sake of keeping notes, I’m thinking the following might work for me:

US2 – 64 sts

US1.5 – 68 sts

US1 – 72 sts

US0 – 80 sts

But 80 stitches is 20% more sock that I usually make, so that doesn’t sound too promising…

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Sock monkey

I finally got that sock monkey off my back.

monks

No, not you friends.

Remember this?  My first failure with a very basic pair of socks.  Now I can call them done (after three years).

sox 016 - Copy

I just had to take the ubiquitous shot of hand knit socks with (sorta) high-heeled shoes.  Does anyone actually wear them this way?

sox 021 - Copy

This is my way.  Yes, I know it is approaching frumphood, but practical – hand knits are a little grippier in shoes that slide on and off and clogs, orthopedic as they may be, are the most comfortable footwear for standing and such.

I first learned to knit socks in 2008.  That means I spent at least eight years (let’s just call it a decade) only doing garter stitch and timidly and slowly adding simple hats and a new stitch or two at a snail’s pace.  I can’t remember why I wanted to knit socks – perhaps to fit my mismatched feet, perhaps I thought it was the perfect manageable project to project myself off my lazy knitter’s ass, or perhaps I was talking about it and N encouraged me to take a class – either way I know he paid for it as a gift.  At the time, there was only one LYS in my old neighborhood and it was well, a bit strange.  They carried some gorgeous yarns but only in the worst colorways – way too much pink, bad pink, and some of the high-end novelty yarns… not much I ever wanted to buy.  I signed up for the (over-priced in my opinion*) two-session class, bought a skein of meh sock yarn from the sale bin (and I swear it was the only skein that wasn’t pink or candy-colored in the whole shop) and a terrible set of bamboo dpns that have since broken.  The class was described for beginners with basic skills who wanted to learn basic sock construction which described me.  The first session had four attendees – two of us were there for the stated purpose, one only wanted to learn how to knit entrelac, and one was there purely as a substitute for a therapy session.  (There’s always at least one, right)?  Things got off to a sketchy start – the instructor said we could buy a book with a sock pattern, use class time to download a pattern, or buy her basic pattern for $5.00.  I was annoyed at having to buy a pattern on the spur of the moment, but I thought since she was the instructor, her’s made the most sense to buy and I wanted to cast-on immediately.  So the first session amounted to nothing since none of use could get past a cuff in an hour (and bad teacher, she didn’t suggest making an anklet or child’s sock, and bad me for not thinking of it either)!  The second session (when not of course listening to the sad messed up life of the one attendee or entrelac instructions) was a whirlwind of before-to-me-unknown ssks, gussets, and heal-turnings.  I left feeling frustrated and quite under-taught and not much better off than I was before.  I spent the next few weeks poring over the $5.00 basic sock pattern and slowly churning out a legitimate first sock.  By the second one, I basically had it down and realized the pattern was sh*t and it wasn’t just me – some of the simple numbers didn’t add up and a few crucial instructions were missing.  Shortly thereafter, I was poking around in a big box craft store and discovered the $5.00 basic sock pattern was just a poorly copied version of the free pattern that came on the ball band of Lion Brand Sock-Ease sock yarn.  So, lesson learned I guess?  What lesson?  Um, so N and I wasted some money but in the end in a round-about-way it was the catalyst that got my knitting up to speed.  And the basic pattern I first used is still the one I occasionally reference today only now I carry around the ball band rather than the stupid $5.00 version.

Socks - first

The pair that changed it all, spawned several more, and yes, I do have two pairs of the same shoes in different colors…  I actually have several pairs of shoes in duplicate but for their colors (I mentioned I have mismatched feet, so I embrace acquisitions when the shoe fits).  I prefer fraternal to identical twins in sock making and it is sheer coincidence that the two pictured (my first and latest) happen to be identical in terms of stripe placement, with exception of an additional stripe on the toe of the longer one.

sox 018 - Copy

Yeah, I got me some freak feet.

The socks are bit wonky at the moment since they’ve yet to be washed and were tinked and re-knit.  The yarn is Lang Yarns Jawoll Color Aktion which I’ve loved for its durability but isn’t mentioned on their website and is possibly discontinued???  That would suck though I think I still have some more in the old stash.  It also comes with a spool of matching reinforcing thread which I love but have never used in the three pairs I’ve made with the stuff – I always forget about it!  But it will be good for mending.

And the brownish background fabric?  It will eventually become the backing on N’s shirt quilt.  It’s actually more of a caramel color but my camera sucks and needs to be replaced.  The socks aren’t quite the right color either, but at least they are consistent…

Next sockly challenge?  I keep wanting to focus on learning to do two-at-a-time from the toe-up with either magic loop or two circs.  Toe-up makes way more sense to me and I’ll never have leftover yarn or run out at the toe… but I’m really stuck in my cuff-down comfort zone and I would have to buy more needles…

*I’m not against paying a healthy fee for a class, but at the time there wasn’t much competition so they got away with charging more than usual and the teacher was bad to boot…

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Love affair…

…with the Lacy Baktus pattern.

A few years ago I came across this pattern by Terhi Montonen who made it as a variation of Baktus Scarf by Strikkelise on Ravelry.  For a while (longer than I’d like to admit) I thought this pattern was called batkus and in my often 12-year-old-boy brain, I thought of it as buttkiss, so buttkiss it will always be to me.  I knit my own hybrids of a basic watch cap, plain socks, and one particular Stephen West hat pattern over and over again for gifts and hard-wearing work-a-day items, but the Lacy Baktus is the only pattern I really feel like I could knit ad infinitum as is without modification beyond size.

I made the first one a few years ago with two skeins of the tongue-twisting Koigu Painter’s Palette Premium Merino yarn (or KPPPM) that I picked up from School Products on a scorching hot summer day in NYC.

baktus1-in progress

I didn’t quite capture the colors correctly in the in-progress pic, but the second image is accurate.  That one also shows our former awesomely textured and colored garage wall… sigh.  But I really liked the finished scarf/shawlette hybrid.  I loved that it stretched lengthwise but it was a long tapered triangle. The only minor fault I have with this one is that it is at times slightly too short – we’re talking only an inch or two – when I tie for more warmth or protection against grabby wind the ends poke out rather than drape downwards, but no big deal.

baktus1-detail

Maybe it was the same year, or the next, but I was caught without a gift for my mother’s birthday.  I’d already picked out this Plymouth Happy Feet sock yarn for myself and had it patiently waiting in my stash, but I knew my mom liked orange and at the time had a pair of eyeglasses with purple and orange streaks in them, so it was a good match.  N and I were in a long-distance purgatory at the time too so I had a lot of time to knit in airports and trains.  I found this to be perhaps the most perfect travel project since it required no complex thought and was extremely gratifying to watch grow and then shrink, and could be interrupted and shoved back in my bag with little worry.  I even used some ghastly but surprisingly comfortable TSA-friendly plastic needles whose origins are completely unknown to me – I think they came from a box of miscellaneous sewing supplies from a garage sale.

baktus2-in progress

The Happy Feet had a bit more yardage, so the finished scarf was the perfect length even before blocking.  Mom wouldn’t model it for me, but Dad is a good sport.  I’m tempted to re-buy this yarn to do a re-run for myself, but I have plenty of other pretty things languishing in my stash, not to mention I think this color is discontinued.

baktus2-done

But I had to have another, and I thought an even bigger one would be that much better.  I actually bought the yarn specifically for this – usually I see something on sale and buy as much of it as I can reasonably justify and figure out what to make with it later, but I actually went seeking for something with a little bling.  Yes, I said bling – highly uncharacteristic of me, but I wanted a scarf that could look a little more downtown and a little less rustic farmyard.  So I bought sock yarn called “Disco Color” (audible cringe) by Schoeller Stahl’s Fortissima line, but it was perfect because the little strand of silver metallic polyester* is surrounded by hard-wearing wool and along with the grey there is a nice greenish teal that fails to show up in the pictures.  It is the same color as bits of wood I’ve been finding in the forest, though I don’t know if it is a particular tree species, fungal or floral organism on or in the wood, or tinted by green deer pee.**

ADK 2012-detail

So I worked on this most of last Spring and early Summer when I was not coping very well with the slashing and burning of my job and subsequent relocation and it was rather soothing activity.  A large section of it was done when while we were resting from hikes in the Adirondacks.

ADK 2012

Then it was done before I was ready to finish it and I had to wait for the weather to cool down into autumn to wear it.  But wear it I did, and continue to do.  It’s also been traveling quite a bit.

baktus3-restaurant

baktus3-cafe

baktus3-cemeteryAnd it does well to dress-up a t-shirt (even after it has spent a day on the trail), and I do in fact own several very similar grey wool t-shirts.  I like grey and I like wool, nothing wrong with that, right?  And at times it has also functioned properly and well as an honest-to-god good wooly warmth machine and left the cafes and city streets to go hiking with me.

The sunset just barely catches some of the bling…

baktus3-hiking

And you know what?  I decided I wanted another, and then maybe another after that.  And I thought that since I love the pattern so much, I will make one with a yarn I don’t really love at the moment to see if my opinion of it will change.  If it doesn’t, I will have another gift to give, if it does, I will have a new scarf in warmer colors.  This one will be a little larger than the second (orange) one but not as gloriously large as the grey.

Remember the much maligned Redwood Roving Mix?

Baktus-new

Yep, onward!  And a last-minute long weekend trip back to the Adirondacks last month was the perfect time to start it.

ADK 2013

I will take my time with it though since I have other things waiting to be completed.  I’m thinking this might also be a good project for the beach…***

Baktus on rock

I can’t say I’m falling in love with this one yet – my uneven (intentionally) handspun makes it look a bit more wonky than I’d like, but it feels good to be making it…

*Yes, these two words, especially in combination, typically make me run for the hills…  and I believe this yarn might be discontinued as well, but it can still be purchased from various shops and online purveyors.

**Happens when the deer eats something in late winter – you can look up a pic of it yourself.

***I detest swimwear and all things beach bum, but the sea is somewhat sorta close by and we currently have no yard so I can pretend it is our outdoor living space at the moment.

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