Friday, July 29, 2016

Wildflowers and Honeycomb

This is Wildflowers and Honeycomb by Olivia Villereal.  You may know her as This Handmade Life on instagram and Ravelry.  Yes, it's that Olivia, the one whose crafty photos always seem like the softest, most serene place to curl up and knit for the day.  Then you put your phone down and grimace at your watery iced coffee that's leaving a ring and at the rest of the chaotic mess in which you live.  It's nice to have a mental escape.

Now that I've made learning to knit socks a priority, I'm going to knit them, whether I enjoy it or not.  But I did enjoy making these.  The second sock was no less interesting than the first.  I already mentioned the new techniques I picked up in the process.  Well, this kind of toe was one of them.  It sort of swirls to a close.

And then there's this perfect, finished pair of socks that I can't imagine christening with the first wearing.  Good thing they're going into the Box o Sox for a while.  By the way, I've got to get that box.

The little eyelet pattern combined with this colorway from Red Sock Blue Sock Yarn makes a sweet, old-fashioned looking sock, so I took these photos in our sweetest, most old-fashioned room.  The spare room is where I put a lot of my grandmother's furniture and a few of the paintings she gave me.  It's a restive, serene place.  It's also become the kitten's room, since she can't go through the night without waking us up with her antics.

Details:  I don't really have much to say about this pattern, other than love, love, love.  I guess I should mention that I usually cast on 56 stitches for my own socks and this calls for a few more, so I made sure to use a size 0 needle to get a sock that fits.

This is the neatest slip stitch heel I've ever done.  I think that I really studied the photo while picking up my stitches for the gusset and so instead of picking them from the very edge, I went a stitch inward.  It made all of the difference for a smooth transition.

This colorway, and the mini skein for the heels, came together in a Red Sock Blue Sock Yarn Sock Adventures pack, just in time for the RSBSYSummer Knit-along 2016, in case you're wanting to try them.  They may still have some because the knit-along will last through August.  This combo is killing me.

Check out the other beautiful Wildflowers and Honeycomb socks knit up in RSBSYarn in the ravelry thread and on instagram.

(more on my ravelry, kollabora, instagram, and flickr)

I noticed that Olivia has another sock pattern out for free on ravelry that makes use of sock leftovers for crazy striped socks.  I think I'll have to make that happen.

My other post on these socks is here.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

We Are Knitters' Siren Song

Have you been able to resist the siren song of We Are Knitters?  I did, for a while, thinking their kits  appealed more to beginners.  They come neatly packaged- with needles, pattern, and yarn in the perfect colors- but, at first glance, the sweaters seemed very simple to me.   However, as more of their knitwear popped up on Pinterest or in my email, I started seeing some really intricate, interesting knits like the Gesture sweater, the Ocular Sweater, or the Waffle Sweater.  So I took a look at their site and found several knits I really wanted to try.  Then, they had a 40% off sale, so I had no excuse.  I had to try the Hualpa Kimono because... well look at it:  Fair Isle on a summer top, salmon pink, kimono fit, and fringe!

Resistance was futile.   I saved it until I was finished with several test knits and it was officially summer.  And, oh man, it is so officially summer.  A quick trip to grab the laundry from the garage leaves me drenched in sweat.

image via Pinterest, pattern via We Are Knitters

I'll probably finish the back piece tonight.  So far, my Hualpo seems to be knitting up at a good, consistent gauge.   That was a little laborious.

It took some time before I felt confident knitting two handed Fair Isle on the right side.  Then, it took even more time before I felt confident doing it on the wrong side because I feared my tension would turn to crap.  And it did, actually, when knitting two handed on the reverse side.

So, yeah, I knit much of it with one hand, dropping the yarn, moving a ball, then picking up the other yarn strand- blech.  That was tedious, but I've hit my stride and I think my tension looks good now.

The photo above is my goal.  I can't see my back piece being long enough, but I can always add a repeat if I have to.  The one below is my reality.  I think it will block out well, but look at the mess of floats on the back.

Certainly you've seen We Are Knitters on Pinterest or Instagram by now.  Or maybe you've seen Alina's beautiful, beautiful Gesture Sweater.   I think about her sweater so much that it's bordering on weird.

I'm also liking this Sabrina Sweater and the Signage Sweater.  So, have you guys tried any WAK kits?  If so, how did you like them?  I found the pima cotton incredibly smooth and nice to knit with, even if the colorwork made it a challenge.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Am I a Sock Knitter Now?

I think I'm officially a sock knitter, guys!  This is pair number 6 of the year, which means I'm almost over the hump in my Box o Sox/ Year of the Sock challenge.  This one is  Wildflowers and Honeycomb, by Olivia Villarreal.  It's so pretty and is teaching me some new sock knitting tricks.  And what better design to knit, as a newly inaugurated sock knitter, than one that is full of firsts.

From cast on to closing the toe, I learned several new techniques with the first sock.  Phrases like "new techniques" can sometimes sound daunting, especially when it's for a big sweater project.  But techniques become bite sized and easy to incorporate when your'e just knitting a couple of socks.

I'm really enjoying this type of slip stitch heel and the toe is like nothing I've ever done on a sock.

This is also part of Red Sock Blue Sock Yarn's Summer Knit-along 2016 (#RSBSYSummerKAL2016).  My socks are knit in their Mille- Feuille colorway, with In the Study for the contrasting heels and toes.  I am so in love with this colorway.  I'm thinking it would make an awesome Light Rain sweater.   I may have to ask for a sweater's worth for Christmas.

This KAL is still going strong.  It doesn't end until August 31, so there's plenty of time to join in. You've got to see how these look worked up in different colorways in the KAL thread.

Speaking of Olivia, this is a project bag from her new shop, Handmades by Olivia, with my next sock project stashed inside.  I'm thinking I'll try another vanilla sock pattern, but with an afterthought heel-  another first for me.

How are all of your knitting goals coming along?  Are you participating in Operation Sock Drawer or Box o Sox KAL?  I feel like most everyone is waaaay past their 6th sock in the Box o Sox KAL.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


I started Canyon , by Mel Ski, earlier this summer on a day trip to Galveston Island with my daughter and her husband.  It sounds so idyllic... being on the isle... finding shells... knitting the hours away next to clear blue water.

Reality was restful, but not quite so perfect.  The water just isn't as pretty as instagram makes it seem, and there had been recent warnings about waterborne viruses, so I didn't swim.  I did get in up to my ankles to run along the beach, dodging jellyfish.  And it's nice to lay on the beach and talk with people you love.  Plus, I found a sea bean- always a satisfying experience.  

We took the ferry, perused an antique store, and had a really good meal downtown.  But I'm totally in it for the sea beans and shells.

Back to Canyon:  I needed a stockinette, fairly simple knit for that trip and for knitting in the theatre  later in the week.  Knit on larger needles, this top grows very quickly and is easy to see in the dark.

I love everything about this pattern- the way changing the stitch creates shaping, the linen yarn, and the colorblocking.

I also like the easy way the edges roll under so there's no need for finishing them further.  The hi-lo hem is pretty awesome too.

Details:  I used size 7 needles, 2 skeins of Willow Yarns Field in Lobster and 1 skein in Pebble.   It was similar to the colors of the sample, which I loved, but I had a coupon code for Willow Yarns, so I choice them.

I found this cotton/ linen blend just a bit more linen-y than other such blends I've tried.  I liked it as much as a wool knitter can like knitting with linen or cotton.  I am adaptable and highly motivated to use plant fibers because of the incredible pore-opening, sweat hog heat I live in.  And the cotton content does make it easier to knit with than pure linen.

It's also an incredibly easy fiber to wear and care for.  However, when I washed it, I wet blocked it to make sure I had enough length, rather than more width.  I knit the medium size, but it was still looking a bit tighter than pattern gauge (mostly in length), so I added some length like this:

Mods on the front:  On the bottom stitch pattern, just before the stockinette portion begins,  I added 3 extra repeats of Rows 3 and 4 that I had just been working.

Then, on the stockinette bit, I added 3 extra rows of CC after the decreases, but before adding the MC stripe.  I then made the MC stripe 2 rows, instead of one, to avoid weaving in another end since I had carried my MC along the side.  So I added 6 rows to the bottom and 4 to the top.

Mods on the back: Just before shaping for the arms, I added 3 repeats of Rows 3 and 4 that I had been working.
Then, at the top, I added 4 rows of stockinette to the stockinette portion.   So I added 6 rows to the bottom and 4 to the top, as on the front.

I have to admit, I was unsure if these would sew up well together.  The back looked so big in comparison to the front.  But after carefully studying other finished projects, I realized that the seams are more toward the front of this top, not at the side as with most sweaters.

Seaming wasn't bad at all.  I use one locking stitch markers to hold the sides together where the arm hole should start and just eyed it the rest of the way.

I am glad for the length I added.  As you can see mine does not have the amount of ease as the pattern sample, but it's still oversized and comfy.  I am still getting used to my current shape and often reflexively pick patterns for the "old me" and am surprised when I try on a WIP and remember I have a chest and hips now.  In this case, it worked out fine because this had plenty of ease.   I'm very happy with it.

I'd like to get my daughter to try this on because I think she'd really like one and, being linen, it would be worn more often and be near indestructible with lazy washing habits.

I have some more of the Lobster color, to combine with a light pink, for the Pomelo bag from Pom Pom Quarterly Issue 13.

I also have yarn ready for Trail, another pattern in 6 Bits: Wander.  These collections are just the most beautifully photographed and knitted!

This is my first warm weather top to make this year and it's been insanely hot for months here.  Have you guys been making any progress on summer-weight knits?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Hydrangea Socks

This is my project for Regina's Floralong in her Hydrangea Garden colorway.   I cannot get enough of watching these colors interact with each other as I add each round.  I think I've said it before, but it makes me think of all the colors of summer, slightly faded by the sun- like denim.  It's bright, but soft to look at.  It makes up for the sparse color, other than green, in my own garden.  Thankfully, I do have lots of green this dry summer.

Details: I used Kristin, of Voolenvine's, Favorite Sock pattern again.  It's the vanilla sock pattern that's permanently stuck in my mind.

I used size US 0 needles and though it looks too small when knitting, it blocks out to fit perfectly.  I don't think I've ever knit such perfect, tiny stitches before.   This is pair number 5 for the year, so I really should be getting better at this sock thing.

As I mentioned, I gave up on 9" circulars.  It doesn't gel with my knitting style and trying to alter that one more time would make knitting a chore, instead of a joy.  For whatever reason, my usual knitting mechanics rarely ever causes me wrist pain, and I'm a firm believer in "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

My sock blockers have proven indispensable for taking photos of my knits, especially after the last pair.  My poor I Heart Bees socks had so much pet hair on them after being worn only seconds for the photos.  This is after sweeping and vacuuming.  Sigh.  Maybe I should knit a pair of swiffer socks just for the purpose of walking around and picking up all of the dog hair we can't seem to find any other way.  Though I normally find a few doggy hairs on my knits endearing, it was seriously detracting from the handwork, so I actually edited them out.   Seems a bit extreme, but whatever.

I see Regina has started another KAL for her Aquarium colorway, a more vivid combo of colors, too. You can catch up with her on The Herbstblatt Regina Podcast or in her Ravelry group.

My next colorway to knit of Regina's has got to be one of those Vikings colorways.  I've been really restrained about not digging into them until I got some things off of the needles.

And here's the source of my sock photo woes:  A sweet, shedding Spotacus.

(more on ravelry, kollabora, instagram, and flickr)

My other post about these socks is here and has a great closeup of this colorway once knit.

Friday, July 8, 2016

I Heart Bees

I can't believe I haven't posted this finished pair of socks that I test knit for Vanessa Townley of Kill to Craft.  It's been a busy few weeks of boy scout activities and youth fundraisers, but here it is- the I Heart Bees pattern.

This design hits that sweet spot of being interesting while still being easy enough to memorize.  So you won't need to ignore your family members when knitting, unless you just want to.

Details:  I used this gorgeous skein of Comfort Sock, from Red Sock Blue Sock Yarn, in the April Showers colorway.  Most of these photos were taken on a dark day indoors, but the photo below shows the exact color.  I'm seeing a pattern in most of my sock color choices thus far in the Box o Sox KAL- lots of gray and blue.

Anyway, I followed the pattern directions for a size small exactly, only I accidentally used a US 0 needle on the second sock instead of the size 1s I used on the first.  There's a noticeable difference when they're on the sock blockers, but not really once they're on my feet.  I meant to use 0s for both because I tend to get a better fit that way.   Sheesh.

Isn't that honeycomb sweet?  And I love an eye of partridge heel!  It just feels classic.

I did want to say that as I was knitting up the leg it looked super tiny.  I was a little nervous that I'd swung to the opposite extreme of my old habit of making myself ginormous man socks and had, instead, made a baby sock.  But I trusted the pattern and when I blocked them, they stretched right out for the fit you see here.   I think if I'd loosened my tension while knitting, they would've been too big.

I can't recommend this pattern enough.  It worked for this variegated yarn and so it would look equally as lovely in a tonal or solid color.  I think I will knit this again in a honeycomb-ish color because I'm a beekeeper, of sorts, and I think this would look really great in a golden wheat or mustardy yellow.

I think I first saw Vanessa's knitting in the Pom Pom Quarterly group.  She has knit quite a bit from that mag, and I stalked a few of her projects.  Then I saw she'd just started a podcast- Kill to Craft and I've been enjoying keeping up with her making ever since.   She's got an impressive amount of personal designs on ravelry, too.

(more dark indoor photos on ravelry, kollabora, instagram, and 
flickr, when they get their uploader working again)

Another post including these socks is here.