Tag Archives: handmade

A lazy post about another pair of socks

Eh, shit’s busy – working more to make up for vacation time, dealing with more house malfunctions, putting the garden to rest, and feeling the need for more rest that comes with less light.

Once again (as always) just as I though that the cuffs would never end, they did.

And since it’s cold now (several premature-ish killing frosts here already) there are always wool socks in the laundry, so I have room in my wool sock drawer for them after all.

When it officially becomes a sock. #sockknitting #socks #sockyarn #foot #dpns

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I’m still not in love with the colorway, but I’m happy with them and their process to completion. I bought the yarn somewhat on impulse and very much on sale just a couple of years ago – in fact, I think it was the last time I bought any sock yarn, and it was knit up within a reasonable amount of time and became something I will wear often.

I’d come off a stretch of not knitting any socks for a few months and wasn’t particularly excited about starting this pair.

Second sock start, complimenting cheap scarf and blanket. #knitting #sockknitting #matchymatchy #dpns

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But then they took off and I favored them over other projects.

I finished the feet and the first couple of inches of cuffs while on vacation.

Handknit socks always look too damn cheerful. #menacingsock #knitting #handknitsocks #sockknitting

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Most of the time I sat on a footstool in front of an open window listening to a neighbor dog sing along with church bells and feeling the autumn sun warm on my shoulders while my fingers did their thing.

(And there was a memorable several-hour knitting session at the base of a mountain I couldn’t climb while N could.)

Then suddenly we were home and it was cold and the light was gone and my fingers did their thing in the dim in front of the boob tube.

And now cold rain falls and they’re on my not cold feet.

Next pair? These left me with enough scrap that I finally have enough total scrap for a scrappy pair. Or I can suck it up and finally make some boring fine-gauge “business socks.” Or I can double up the yarn for another thick pair. Or I think I’ve got one more ball of this same yarn kicking around somewhere so I could do a quickish repeat, but it is a brown/light colorway and I need more greys and darks. So the last option is probably out, but the others are all up for grabs.

Knitting notes: ONline Supersocke (sport weight) on US 2 dpns. The yarn was a mess – many knots and color breaks – it could have been a seconds batch since I got it cheap, but the label didn’t have any seconds/defective markings…? Provisional cast-on 64 stitches, plain knitting to toe while reducing 4 sts on foot, then unpicked CO and knit cuff up. I decided to do a p3, k1 ribbing so more of the smooth side would be against my leg and for the sake of something different, but I didn’t want to p3, so I knit on the inside stitches first, then turned the sock inside out so it was k3, p1 after all.

 

 

 

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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).

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

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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.

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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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Fiber travels in New Mexico, part II

I mentioned in my previous post that I visited Tierra Wools in tiny Los Ojos, New Mexico.  Rather than paraphrase, this is the beginning of the description of their wool Shangri-La on their website’s about page (go there and read more later):

“Tierra Wools is a spinning, hand dyeing, and hand weaving workshop and a retail store. We buy carry local wool, and weave the yarn into beautiful weavings which are sold from our workshop in Los Ojos, a small village in rural Rio Arriba County in northern New Mexico. The enterprise is operated by Los Ojos Handweavers, LLC, a limited liability company owned by the growers, spinners and hand weavers that produce its goods, as well as supporting investors.”

I visited them around a decade (or a little more) ago, and at the time, it was a full house of wooly weaving and dying frenzy.  Sadly, it seems to have slowed down a bit and the weavers now work on commission, though the shop still offers classes and workshops.  And on Saturday, April 27th, they are having their annual Spring Harvest Festival with sheep shearing demos and other treats.  I can only imagine if such a studio was plunked down in a heavy DIY urban area, they’d have to fight people off with loom parts.  But I suppose it also wouldn’t be the same – the location is what this wool is about.  Much of the wool comes from just a few miles away as well as the dyes.  The colors in the yarn are reflected in the landscape and the products share the same rugged beauty with the surroundings.  Not to mention it offers a source of income in a place where there are few people but I imagine, fewer jobs.

While there, I stocked up on some of the gorgeous Shepherd’s Lamb organic wool products.  The wool comes from Antonio & Molly Manzanares from nearby Tierra Amarilla, who also sell their wooly beasts in meat and pelt form.  The color range of their yarns and rovings is stunning and some of the yarn lines are dyed with natural dye plants indigenous to the area.

I had selected a few skeins of sturdy Navajo Churro rug wool, but decided to buy two bags of brown and grey-brown roving instead.  The stuff apparently felts/fulls like a dream as well, so it might be the first time I end up fulling my spinning – until now, I feel like handspun is somewhat spoiled by fulling unless you’re making fulled singles, but this has the feeling of becoming something truly practical and hard-wearing, like dense nearly impenetrable mittens, or a hat with some sort of brim, or maybe an outerwear vest if I can eek out enough, but my history with vests is a little troubled…

Churro roving  Churro roving-detail

On the softer side, I picked out some organic Rambouillet yarn in DK weight.  I got two skeins of yellow which was dyed with Indigo over Chamisa, and one skein of green dyed with Osage Orange over Indigo.  I love that Osage Orange was used – it was one of my favorite trees growing up and always seemed so out-of-place exotic, nearly tropical, and the fruit is nicknamed “monkey balls.”   Who doesn’t love a monkey?  Balls!  But apparently though the fruit is inedible, it wards off pests so people put them in basements and cupboards.  But I digress, I really wanted more yarn and I was out-of-characterly very attracted to some tealy blues and lavenders, but I resisted.  I don’t as yet have a plan for this, though I’m leaning toward something shawlette-ish.

Shepherd's Lamb

New Mexico yarn

That wasn’t the most flattering shot of Northern New Mexico, though I do love ruins and murky colors, so I’ll leave you with a few more.

Northern New Mexico

I love this road – it’s the perfect antidote to the crowded East (except you have to be careful of the occasional elk).  This is also fairly close* to Tierra Wools.  The landscape of the north is more conducive to grazing sheep and other livestock.

New Mexico boney pile

A pile of bones, but not a boney pile.

New Mexico litter

Litter is bad, but vintage litter is cool.

Plaza Blanco

Another good day of hiking amongst amazing rocks.

New Mexico rock tree

Is it a giant rock, or tiny tree?

New Mexico rest stop

And I love these rest stops with private landscape viewing boxes – you can picnic free of wind and sun while watching dust devils snake below the mesa – just watch out for rattlesnakes.

And oh, holy hell, when looking up some of the abundant links in this post, I just found that there is an established “Fiber Arts Trail” in New Mexico, including a route dedicated to the Northern area.  I am ashamed to say that though I am somewhat of a professional researcher, I utterly failed in looking up anything about this before I went… Next time, right???

*About 40 minutes away, which might as well be next door out there.

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Who’s my momma?

thrift stitchery

In the sometimes sad cruel world of thrift shop discards, I occasionally come across some artistic foundlings.  Who wouldn’t dream of finding a lost masterpiece/rare historic document/load of cash hidden behind a paint-by-number rendition of a horse in the desert?  But sadly, the only hidden score I’ve ever made was five bucks stuck to some used gum in a jacket pocket.  But once in awhile I’ll come across some decent handmade items – amateur paintings that are crude but appealing, wonky but charming efforts from a ceramics class, or stitchery – much in the way of beautifully embroidered home items.  With vintage stitched tablecloths, napkins, dresser scarves and the like, I assume they were made by a long ago grandmother.  They were lovingly kept, passed on, and possibly used for decades until the family ended, someone had to make a significant move or downsizing and was sad to let them go but had to, or the maker was a mean old bag and no one wanted her crap.  But these two wool canvas work pictures caught my eye since they didn’t seem to fit the mold of someone making them long ago or an assignment for a community arts class or freshman art 101.  One was framed professionally, and the other somewhat sloppily.  I’m dating them to the 1980s since the whale pattern reminds me of the cotton lining of a kelly green rubber raincoat I wore with navy duck shoes* that I had then.  The primary colors in the other also make it a good fit for the decade, or perhaps as early as the late 1970s.  I haven’t dismantled them enough to see if the canvas was printed and thus a kit, and thus I wouldn’t really be interested in them anymore, so I don’t want to know quite yet.  So I am seeking opinions, identifications, possible makers, reference leads – help?  I found them in a Goodwill in Mahopac, Putnam County, New York last fall on the way up to Rhinebeck 2012.

*Links for visual references only, I’m not pushing this Etsy shop, nor is it mine.

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Fiber high

I have other things I should be doing, other things I should be finishing, more important life/money/job things that really need my attention, but instead I started another project.  A very simple one with very lovely fiber from Pigeonroof Studios.  I spun it last summer when I should have been doing other things then too, but I couldn’t resist its siren song of buttery sproingyness.  I bought it on impulse, wondered why others praised it, and spent more than I normally do for just a few ounces (but I normally buy rough raw stuff or cheap rejected bits).  And then it came and I realized it’s fiber crack (or whatever is better than crack but just as addicting).*  Seriously, I don’t want to go back to my cheap street farm-level habit now.  The fiber basically spun itself and the colors popped through my fingers – spinning happiness at its best.  So now in the frozen days of winter, I couldn’t stop myself, and I’m enjoying every bright and buttery-kitteny-soft moment of letting it slip through my fingers.

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The pattern I’m vaguely following is the Lazy Daisy Shawlette by Orange Flower, and alas, I can’t afford to buy any more of the fiber at the moment, unless I start pawning selling some of my things.

*Drug addiction is serious stuff, I apologize for making light of it, but what other colorful exaggerations about addictions can be made? Saying it’s like a nice stiff drink on a thirsty day actually makes me sound like an alcoholic (and making light of alcoholism is bad too), saying it’s like having a [insert good poker hand here] when the pot is huge sort of endorses gambling and I hate casinos, saying it’s like a daily mega-hunk of chocolate while under the throes of PMS would alienate a male reader, and I don’t even want to get into the sex-addict analogies… [hee hee anal is in analogies]…addictions of any sort are bad, get help.

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