Tag Archives: sock yarn

Stash flash – the commercial yarn edition

I’m not a huge fan of stash flashing.

Sometimes it just seems like crass showing off, sometimes I think of the world’s starving people, sometimes I think it’s a little funny when a middle age woman poses naked with it in a bathtub*, sometimes it gives me anxiety of having too much, sometimes it gives me anxiety about having too much of one thing but not the needed thing, and sometimes I’ll admit I’m a little jealous.

But we reached a milestone on the house – the floors and walls are done in all of the main rooms – so I’m finally moving into my teeny tiny studio and figuring out how to cram everything in.

stash-mound

And part of that involves taking stock of my yarn stash.

It was in relatively decent storage – a few big plastic tubs – but sock yarn was mixed in with sweater quantities was mixed in with random cones of mystery fiber…

stash-cone

And of course there was yarn shoved into other yarn…

Everything needed to be aired out – there was the odd unfortunate odor of our old apartment’s carpeting trapped inside some of the tubs, and a few lavender sachets lost their pleasant one.  But all was well – no evidence of wool-munching crawling or flying f*ckers.

stash-sock&fingering

The sock and fingering weight yarns are now separated out into their own bin and I know I don’t need to shop for the stuff possibly ever again.  I’d been wanting to make some jolly-colored tights for years now, but I haven’t even considered casting on for them, so maybe it’s okay to just make one pair of socks from one of three skeins, or consider making a blanket.  I’d really like to make some pants, but though I’d like wacky tights, I’d rather have more dull pants (trousers to my friends across the pond) though I do adore my wool pants (underwear).

stash-cones

Need I remind you that I got everything really cheap?  Yeah, the internet is good for that, as are Italian markets and those newer craft/construction materials thrift shops.  I’ve been picking up the odd cone of stuff for a few years – I thought I’d be weaving by now and dying more too…  And I do intend to use some of it in spinning…

stash-lambspride

My old favorite Lamb’s Pride is all in one place now too – this is one of the few yarns I have sweater quantities of – large coat or king-sized afghan quantities…  I fell into a brief obsessive love with mosaic knitting several years ago and planned to make a cozy big long coat.  I got a billion yards of two shades of green on the cheap online, but the colors weren’t contrasty enough and besides, I never got around to finding or making up a pattern, so it sits and waits…

And the bulky green in the bottom right was, for a short time and twice, an Owls sweater, but I never got the sizing right, so I frogged it and gave up.

stash-greenlambspride

I’m in love with that old gold greenish shade “golden mushroom” in the upper left, so it’s high time I cracked it open… I love nearly every shade of green though, so I’ve got some thinking to do…

On the day that I organized this stuff I had one of those disturbing time warps wherein I missed lunch.  I never miss lunch. And the day was pretty much shot – I feel a bit guilty overall for “wasting” the time and that I have so much, yet I can’t part with it either.  I got some of it up on ravelry, so I may sell some things if asked.  But I also don’t really need any more clothes or blankets, so my knitting mojo for anything other than gifts, sales, or a few smaller accessories is pretty flat at the moment.

I’d like to replace a few commercial sweaters with me-knitted ones, but the ones I wear most often are grey.  Do you see any grey yarn up there?  Nope.

And since I work from home, I need nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  I don’t get the people who work from home or stay at home and are crazy prolific garment sewers and knitters… where and when do they wear the many, many things that they make?

(And I still have loads of yarn from unraveled sweaters, a nice bunch of that lovely Italian wool, and a smallish (relatively speaking) amount of handspun.)

And though I accomplished a needed organizing job that day, I ultimately failed when I realized that there’s still another box/bag/tub of the stuff somewhere…

*I’ve seen a few of these on ravelry, but sadly can’t find one at the moment for you – and no, I won’t do that.

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Deer john and the changing seasons…

toms&flowers

Random things of late…

Our garden is done, but the CSA is finally paying off – we completed a massive tomato and tomatillo salsa canning session last weekend.

canning-after

The deer called Doe [rhymes with  Zoe] might have had some babies, joined up with a larger family group, and has been bringing along another five or six to nibble at our backyard smorgasbord and leave an astounding number of shits – making me re-consider putting in a perimeter fence.

I found another alarming pile of poop of another kind when N moved one of our new window-unit air conditioners.  I identified it possibly as:

1. bat guano

2. squirrel turds

3. roof rat droppings…

Amazingly, all of these beasts leave remarkably similar scat.  I’m leaning toward bat though, because of the height of the window and I don’t want rats in our roof.  Perhaps a bat took up residence in or under the air-conditioner while we were on vacation?  But it didn’t stick around (at least I don’t think it’s in there still).

And I forgot to shoot the shit.

And speaking of bats, I do love them, and we’ve got plenty around here – I love watching them swoop in in the evenings and take out a sizable chunk of the even more sizable population of ‘skeeters.  Eventually we’ll get around to building some bat houses.

I found out by accident that the giant spotty crickets that I found living near our well (that I was so startled by and didn’t bother to photograph in case I was the only one who saw them and they didn’t really exist) turned out to be another Asian invasion and quite common in the area.  And now I’m wondering if they’re edible…

And we’ve finally experienced the yard in every season, and have identified all of the flora.  The last hold-out was a large Burning Bush – I suspected that it could be one, and hoped it was so because otherwise it was a somewhat boring green thing.

sunchoke-maybe

Some of the weeds I never got around to pulling ended up being lovely flowers.  I see the stuff around the roadsides here, so perhaps it’s native, or perhaps it’s an invasive beast?  I wished I’d paid more attention to what it looked like when it was coming up, so I don’t pull it out next year, unless of course it is something to be rid of… I think it’s a Sunchoke.  Anyone know if this variety is native to the Eastern states, or a nasty invader?  I haven’t gone digging for the tubers yet.

And I have another pair of socks on the needles – these might end up being a gift.

socksonatrain-window

I’ve been traveling for work a bit, and have enjoyed going by train, even though it adds another three hours to the trip.  But the leg room is astounding, the cars are nearly empty (come on Americans, use it or loose it!) and the scenery on this particular route is nice.

socksonatrain-withball

I never wrote down (or can’t find my notes) my formula for going down a needle size or two for my standard socks, so I have to go through the misery again of figuring it out.  In the meantime, I’m just using a heavier yarn and my old numbers…

Abruzzo October 2013-trail

And because of the new-to-us house and its ongoing expenses and labor (and my continued hobbled state) we decided not to go to Italy this year.  The weather turning to autumn reminds me of my boots crunching along the trail in the warm central Apennine sun, so I’m a bit bummed out about it, but hopefully we’ll be back next year.

I also decided not to go to Rhinebeck to save money too – and since we’re often in Italy when it happens, this year was good timing for it – but I got enough of a fix at the New Jersey festival a few weeks ago.

I’ll have my own personal wool festival when I can finally unpack my boxes of the stuff soon…

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Filed under gardening, hiking, home, knitting, travel

The last things of 2013…

I’m greeting the new year with some all of my same old knitting and sewing UFOs, but I also finished a few new things just in time.

And I jinxed myself in my last whiny post (because of which someone suggested I re-name this blog Abitchmatism) – despite avoiding public gatherings, pot-luck foods, and public transit, I still wound up with an odd little cold/flu, so my end-of-year output is slightly less than I’d hoped it to be.

PRS-dragondays1

A few weeks ago, I did a quick spin of Pigeonroof Studios Mixed BFL in “Dragon Days” for a birthday gift a couple months from now.  The colors are downright nearly iridescent and change from turquoise to male-Mallard-head green depending on the light.  I spun it a little thinner than I intended, but I was a little out of practice.  I’ve already started another Hitchhiker out of it.

headband-button

And the leftover Dream in Color Classy yarn from my Honey Cowl became a Calorimetry headband.

headband-detail

I have to admit I don’t love it, and I’m pretty convinced the pattern isn’t the same as the one in the picture on the pattern – it has to have fewer rows.  I shortened mine by 8 rows and it’s still quite wide, and I didn’t do the hole-making version of the short rows except for the buttonhole either.  I’ve worn it a few times during a warmer spell here (in the 50sF) and that’s about as cold as it can get for wearing this thing.

And my nostalgia socks came together.

(The yarn, though I generally really like it for socks, had 7 knots in this skein – unacceptable!)

nostalgia socks

Over Thanksgiving, I found a picture of the sweater that the yarn reminded me of – and it was sort of close.

nostalgia sweater

The socks have some issues, and like the rookie mistake I made with twisting my Honey Cowl, I’m suddenly having rookie issues in my sock-making: ladders, weird toe grafting, and some general wonkiness with my ssk.  I really don’t know what’s going on, but they still work as socks and the fit ended up being okay after all (they are the same length, despite what you see in the pic).

nostalgia socks-full

I was playing with different ribbing patterns too – if I had more patience, I’d rip it out and just keep it to K3, P1, but I didn’t.

nostalgia socks-heel

And yes, they are proudly fraternal rather than identical.

And I’ve got the next pair lined up – some boring grey socks to replace some aging commercially-made boring grey socks.

grey sock yarn

I’ll be in sketchy territory for these too since I plan to go down two needle sizes… I’ll need to rip and re-start and repeat, I’m sure.  And I take that back about the boring color – I like grey and some days bright colors are obnoxious, and all of my socks are a very basic “boring” pattern, but they don’t bore me.   I love simple socks.

Here’s to many more made things in the new year!

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Half-cool sweater weather

Earlier in the month, the days turned half-cool.  It was an awesome and welcome relief after the steamy summer inferno.

These are just a handful of days in the year when you can wrap a thin wool blanket over a silky chemise and comfortably drink coffee/tea on the porch (assuming you don’t have creepy neighbors).  Or don a fingering-weight wool sweater over a sundress when seated in the shade.  These kind of days are rare, yet so many knitwear designs are inexplicably styled and photographed this way.  I suppose other parts of the country and world have climates where these kind of days are more frequent – higher altitudes and northern coasts, but here in the Mid-Atlantic/East Coast and for the lower and middle parts of the states, it’s usually hellishly half-naked hot, or full bodily-coverage cold and only about three days of pleasantry on either end.*

I also think of it in terms of sock weather or not sock weather (or tights weather or bare legs weather).  And these rare comfortable days are also perfectly described in Toni Morrison’s Sula as “too cool for ice cream.”

The return of cooler evenings also stirs up a certain muscle-memory itchiness for the dozen and more years spent in school.  The summer is ending, freedom will go away, much needs to be crammed in before it’s all over – anxiety about unfinished novels, end to swimming days, late night bonfires, and playing in the creek; dread and depression of the impending virtual lock-down for most of the day, stupid classmates, stupid teachers, and stupid homework assignments**; and a slight glimmer of excitement since one more year is starting and it’s one more year closer to being done with the whole mess, a long-awaited class or teacher might finally be on the schedule, and perhaps it will be nice to see a classmate or crush again.  Here and now in my sh*tty apartment complex, some of the ne’re do well kids from the neighboring state are appearing again to attend the better schools on this side of the river, and the school buses are making their shortcuts in the parking lot that come maddeningly close to clipping my car.

Every year around this time I want to knit a thin sweater.  I own one cheap commercially (probably also unethically) made thin cardigan that I either wear for several days straight in a row or not at all during an autumn or spring.  I know a thin sweater could take me ages to knit too, or else I’ll get a bit obsessive about it and knock it out in a few weeks, but still couldn’t reasonably finish it until the next window of half cool days.

Half cool cardigan

I’ve queued the Featherweight Cardigan, paulie, and Autumnal Cardigan but none of these is quite what I’m after, though they’re all close.  I like the top-down construction of the paulie, (and I like this one as-is, just not for what I need at the moment) but with the drapey hang of the Featherweight or Autumnal, but none of these three patterns has the gauge I’d like to use.  I’ve got a few balls of Lion Brand Sock-Ease yarn in the stash that I got on the cheap and was saving for tights or a sweater.  I’d prefer to re-create the gold/saffron of my current sweater, but this “toffee” yarn will also work with what I usually wear with it.  Part of the reason I haven’t started this yet is the math needed to re-configure or create a new pattern from scratch – I am sorely lacking in math education and natural ability, so I rarely knit garments to fit because of this – especially since I need to modify most patterns to fit my weird body anyway (except something boxy I suppose).  So I prefer items I can try on as I go rather than having to work out everything on paper beforehand.

But I also haven’t started yet because at the moment I am soooo busy with portfolio pieces and will be for a few months more, although I’m absolutely dying for a side project, a distraction, mindless knitting…

And most importantly, it is hot again and thoughts of a thin sweater are mothballed.

My legs and feet are bare once again.

*I omitted air-conditioning.  I often need sweaters in air-conditioning, and interior environments often mimic half-cool weather.  Since I half-work from home now, I can control my own thermostat, and thus no longer need the air-conditioning sweater.  And in my previous gainfully employed life, I usually left the air-conditioning sweater in the office and rarely wore it outside, so it was more of a tool rather than a wardrobe component.

**I like school, school is good, but my primary school was bad, so stupid was a reality on all fronts.

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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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