Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Twas the Night Before Christmas

What am I going to say about the Twas the Night Before Christmas socks that you haven't already read or heard a thousand times?  It's everything you've heard- cute, interesting to even the most bored sock knitter, and able to entice non-sock knitters to try it.  It works with tonal or variegated colorways, and even stripes.  Yeah, all of that.

They were my Christmas Eve Cast On, but I was too busy to cast on the night of the 24th.  So, on Christmas Day, after our company left, I sat down to knit the first sock.  Wow, I just had a weird deja vu moment as I write this.  I vividly recall the feeling I had when I sat down to cast on and it was not at all the feeling I intended this post to invoke.

Okay, if I'm honest, it was a little blue.  I mean our Christmas celebration had been nice and I was so excited to see my daughter and son-in-law.  We had a lot of fun with them and at my father's house, but there was a spot in my living room where my grandmother should have been sitting, trying to pet my dogs with the back of her hand so she could be loving but still not get dog germs.  I'm not feeling sad or on the verge of tears or anything, as I write this.  It's just a fact that Christmas, after a loved one dies, isn't easy.  I didn't go on a crying jag or anything. I felt kind of numb and weird.  It was that unsettling feeling like I'd get on the first day of school, as a girl, only worse.  Everything was going to be different now. Every milestone, every event would feel different.

So, I sat there on the couch, after everyone had left and it was quiet and cast on Dani's pattern.  It wasn't a magical balm that made everything easy.  But it was rhythmic and familiar.  Dani is my friend, wether she knows it or not.  I keep up with her, her mom, her dog, and now her cat on her podcast.  It feels homey and comfortable, like knitting with a friend.  She dotes on those pets like my sister and I dote on ours, so I feel a kinship.

I concentrated on learning the cast on, a type I've only done once before, but love the look of.  Then, I focused on the subtle coloring of the Agave colorway as it slowly became the leg of a sock.  My mind began to clear and I was aware of every part of the making process.  Maybe it's in my head, but that yarn knit up to make a better fabric than I normally get with fingering weight yarn on a size 0 needle.

The repetition of knit one, purl one was soothing and it made the night easier.  I'm thankful for that.  So my memory of my first Christmas [Day] Cast On wasn't the kind anyone would necessarily ask for, but as far as strange times of change go, it wasn't that bad.  By the way, Dani's pattern is fantastic.

So let me tell you what I love about this pattern.  I've never knit gussets the way she directs us to, but it is absolutely the neatest job I have ever done on a heel flap-type sock.  I want to use this pattern as a template for all of my heel flap and gusset socks in the future.  I can always omit the trees and purl/knit/purl line that runs down the length of it.  Though, that last detail would work great with any vanilla sock.

Details: I used Peepaloo Fields' Sensible Sock in the Agave colorway and size 0 circular needles to cast on for a size small.  The colorway was a subtle one that I thought would go well with this lace pattern.

Sensible Sock is an 80% wool/ 20% nylon blend.  It felt more substantial than the average sock yarn.  I think it must be a tad more plump.  I tend to love sport weight for socks, and an 80/20 is a good fingering weight substitute.  I have now worn them several times and can attest that the fit is great in the heel and the yarn wears well.

When I think of this yarn dyer, I tend to think of delicate speckles, but she really has a wide variety.  Her dark totals are equally beautiful.  I will, personally, keep how much I loved using that base in my mind for next time I am wanting some sock yarn.  To be honest, though I'd love to buy more immediately, that doesn't need to be soon.  I have plenty of sock yarn to knit for the next year.  I am trying to organize my home and collecting more craft stuff only thwarts that goal.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Christmas on My Feet

I have a few Christmas yarns in my stash, but all of them were debatably Christmasy.  You know, they were great colorways- some with vintage pastel speckles, one with movie -inspired stripes, but they'd never make someone say, "Aw, you're wearing Christmas on your feet!"  And don't we all long to hear that at some point in our lives?  Well, my day is coming.

This yarn from Turtle Purl Yarns is unmistakably Christmasy.  (Excuse me, you have to say that word, "Kwithmathy" with a lisp.  I'm not sure why, I just have to do it.)  When I wear these, next year, everyone will know I am big on Christmas.  

Details:  I knit these socks with size 0 needles and TurtlePurl Yarns in the Mistletoe Kisses colorway.    I wanted them for the minty, green stripe that interrupts the usually green and red palette.  I was pleased to see they came in two, identical mini skeins so that I could have a matchy-matchy Kwithmath!

I started out knitting the socks individually, then decided to start another sock and put them on a large needle for two-at-a-time Smooth Operator socks.  When I remembered I didn't have a contrasting yarn for heels,  I was like, "meh. Why botha?" and went with a traditional heel flap and gusset.  The fact that the heel flap on each one is solid green is accidental, but cool.  I did use the rounded toe from the Smooth Operator pattern, though.  I do find that I need good light and focus to do this without dropping stitches.  When I did a Box o Sox in 2016, I finished two or three different socks just to find I'd dropped a stitch during the rounded toe process.

I didn't block them for these photos, so my magic loop ladder is obvious, but I just wanted to hurry and wear them while I had the chance.

They are finished and beautiful and I'm staring at them now while wearing a cotton blend sock because, alas, it turned warm again.  That's okay, I didn't expect to have my glorious Christmas Sock Reveal until next December anyway.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Episode 2: Doing it with Ease

This episode was filmed before I'd seen any feedback on Episode 1.  So, I didn't get a chance to respond to any comments there.  But I'll get to it with number 3.

Test knitting, creating boundaries, an unexpected LYS, my first John Arbon, my fancy first design (not), the art of Leon Collins, and digging wells.  There.  Who needs show notes?

But if you do want links to most of the things I mention, they are both on Youtube and at the bottom of this post.

I appreciated the kind words and encouragement.  I live in a home with (sometimes) terse men.  It's nice to get feedback :) .

On my site: www.myso-calledhandmadelife.com
On Instagram as @mysocalledhandmadelife: https://www.instagram.com/mysocalledhandmadelife/
On Ravelry as mamatronic: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic

My So-Called Handmade Life Podcast Episode 2:

Questions for you:  Is there any significance to your first project of the year?
What are you learning to do, with ease, for yourself  that was once difficult?
What are some new podcasts you are watching or listening to?
Have you seen Citizen Kane? Is it the monumental film everyone says?

Stuff I mention:

My StripeEd Cowl pattern: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/stripe-ed-cowl
and on my blog: http://www.myso-calledhandmadelife.com/2012/02/my-first-pattern.html

Calzetta hat by Justyna Lorkowska:

WCMercantile: http://www.wcmercantile.com

Leon Collins and Molly Bee artwork: http://austin.culturemap.com/news/arts/10-09-11-atx-13-00-a-life-in-colors-inspired-by-big-mama-a-father-and-daughter-duo-launch-an-unlikely-art-career/#slide=0

Maike Goods:https://www.maikagoods.com

Selbu Mitts by Skeindeer Knits:https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/selbu-mittens-3

Mountain Meadow Wool: https://mountainmeadowwool.com

Julekveld Mittens by Skeindeer Mitts: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/julekveld

Underwing Mitts by Erica Heusser: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/underwing-mitts

John Arbon Exmoor: https://www.jarbon.com/yarns/exmoor-sock-yarn/exmoor-sock-yarn?zenid=rltcabg2dm52794iae10fb67e7#.WmuB_SOZNBw

Emily Foden's article about working at the John Arbon mill:

Cafe Au Lait by Klever Knits: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/cafe-au-lait

Appalachian Knits: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/appalachian-knits/patterns

Silvermine by Christina Danaee: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/silvermine-2

Remington Steele (hehe): https://metv.com/lists/12-cool-hard-facts-about-remington-steele

The Weekender by Andrea Mowry:

The Edge test knit is by Gift of Knitting: http://giftofknitting.com

Sunset Highway Caitlin Hunter: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/sunset-highway

Mistletoe Kisses socks: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/mistletoe-kisses-socks

With Ease by Sylvia McFadden: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/with-ease

Gentle Armour: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/gentle-armour/patterns

How we will drill the water well: http://www.cocamaproject.org/drilling_a_water_well

Contagious Creativity Podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6SubGRepaE

Sophie Crespy's site: http://lescrapdesoph.blogspot.com

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Eleventy Billionth Knitting Podcast: Hashtag Goalz

All that big talk about blogging more and maybe doing a podcast... and here I am with very little to show for the end of 2017 and beginning of the new year.  But I was hard at work, in every spare moment, learning the skills I'd need to upload photos and film, edit both, and get it sized for my blog and/or Youtube on completely new programs.  I could've hired an elementary school child to help me, I suppose, but I have that DIY gene.

I won't ask you to excuse the rambling talk, or the video length, or my not-so-fresh-faced appearance.   This isn't ethereal FO photos, run thru an instagram app.  It is the real me, genuine (if frayed), talking to a camera with you on my mind.  So, if you happen to enjoy that, please ramble back to me.

I will not quit blogging, because it's a great place for more focused rambles, with an occasional highly edited FO shot.  It's also where you'll find all of notes on anything I make, in detail.

Notes for anything I talk about on the podcast will be found in the downbar on Youtube or at the bottom of this post.  Comment there, comment here, whatever, friends!

I feel weird publishing this.  But, It's too late.  I am committed to it.

This is where I record the eleventy billionth knitting podcast.

On my blog:http://www.myso-calledhandmadelife.com
On Instagram @mysocalledhandmadelife: https://www.instagram.com/mysocalledhandmadelife/?hl=en
On Ravelry as mamatronic: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic

My So-Called Handmade Life Podcast Episode 1: 

Questions for you:  Any thoughts on making resolutions?  Do you have any, crafty or personal?

Stuff I mentioned:
Cobblestone Pullover on my blog:


Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee:

The True Cost Documentary:

Sagas of the Icelanders:

With Ease by Sylvia McFadden:

Mistletoe Kisses socks in Turtle Purl yarns::

Twas the Night Before Christmas socks by Danielle Jorge:

Marley by Andrea Mowry on my blog:

There may be a rush of posts on the blog as I finally pull the trigger on all of the stuff I've collected to say thru December and January. :)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Marley and How I Conquered Brioche

I finished it, a giant shawl of just brioche stitch!  I feel like I could run a marathon, or try a back flip.  I will probably just waller a hole in the couch, watching a podcast and eating dark chocolate, but the point is I can do anything!

I've been needing to learn this for so long, but I always had something else that needed to be knit or I didn't have the brain space for new techniques.  This summer, I made the room for it and cast on my Marley, by Andrea Mowry.  Then I promptly forgot while working on the Summer Sweater Knit-along and had to re-learn it a few weeks ago.  Hopefully, I will keep it fresh on my mind for a while by knitting some other designs that incorporate the stitch pattern:  What the Fade, Exploration Station, etc.

I'd link you to the photo tutorial I used to get this straight, but it's long forgotten.  That's okay, I'm sure you have already mastered brioche by now.  I held out for a long time.

This is the squishiest.  I now totally see why every knitter is crazy over brioche.  I think I prefer the darker side of mine.  I love the simplicity of this shawl design, once you learn the stitch.  It's meditative and can look vibrant in high contrast colors or subtle in neutrals.  I am also crazy about the marled, garter border too.  It was the most satisfying way to finish an all-over brioche project.

I saved money by combining variegated, indie-dyed skeins with a more affordable tonal colorway.  The pinkish orange and black looked so good together, without being too Halloweeny.

Details:  I used sizes US 2.5 and 4 needles with 2 skeins of Gynx Yarns Strong Sock in Sunset and 2 skeins of Knit Picks Hawthorne in Blackbird.  I remember hearing that brioche can look sloppy if it stretches out too much with blocking, so I tried for a nice, tight tension to begin with.

I made note of a few things to keep in mind that helped me:

1) It helped me to remember which side of the shawl the increases were on- whether dark or light.

2) I kept track of my increase rows by counting the number of rows between the hole made by the last center increase to the point where I was about to make another center increase.  I kept in mind that there should only be four rows between the "holes".

3) All Sl1yo's begin to the front of the work, whether the stitch worked after it will be a p2tog or k2tog.  If it is a p2tog, then I must wrap my yarn from front to back, around the stitch to make the "shawl" around it.  Then, I p2tog.  So the trickiest part is to not forget to bring the stitch forward, no matter what, before a sl1yo.

Did you get that or did it just read like the sound made by a test of the Emergency Broadcasting System?   Don't worry, I've already forgotten what all of this means, too.

So, I saw Stacy of StressKnits' color combo for her What the Fade and fell in love with it.  But, there's no way I needed to buy 5 skeins of indie-dyed yarn to make one brioche shawl.  I did, however, already have one of the colorways she included, Sweet Disposition, and she was having a Black Friday sale, so I picked up I Smell Snow and My Jam.  I think I can fill in the color palette with some skeins already in my stash.  I am hopeful it will have the same calming vibe.

(more on ravelry, instagram, and flickr)

So that's one skill off of my To Do list.  I still have to steek, but that just doesn't sound as exciting as brioche, so.. meh, it will happen when it happens.

My other post on this knit is here.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Cobblestone Pullover- My Christmas Eve Cast Off

Literally.  I knew I would end up doing this.  I just knew, deep down, that no matter how much I budgeted my time and planned my holiday knitting, this would be a last-minute finish.  And it was.

But, friends, my son-in-law's Cobblestone Pullover is completed.  I enjoyed knitting it, or at least knowing who it was for.  I'd be lying if I said all of that stockinette and garter in-the-round was thrilling, because it wasn't, and striped Christmas socks were calling to me from a bag next to the couch the whole time.  I can say that it was satisfying to finish it and to make it for someone so knit-worthy!  Also, did I mention it was supposed to be one of his Christmas gifts last year?

Details:  I used Wool of The Andes Tweed in Reindeer Heather and US size 5 needles.  I think I used 12 balls of this yarn, including the bit of sleeves I had to cut off to re-knit in the correct length.
 I don't mean to complain about the WotA yarn.  I love this stuff, it was just a lot of brown stockinette- a color and stitch type I like to wear, but just get tired of knitting.

This pattern is from a decade-old 2007 Interweave magazine I have from my early knitting days when I bought every knitting magazine I was lucky enough to find at the bookstore. (I flipped through it on Vlogmas Day 20 to show that early 2000's style.)  Anyway, it is a Jared Flood pattern; my first, actually.  I have admired his designs, and those he curates, in his Brooklyn Tweed collections, but never made one.  So, that was a pleasant first.

This sweater was very simple construction, with sleeves joining the body, knit bottom-up, to finish the yoke.  I was just insecure about the sizing.  I've seen some on Ravelry that I thought were too fitted and I didn't think he would like that.  But as I knit it seemed like it would be too large.  I'm hoping I struck a good balance.  I had him try it on Christmas Day and it was clear that the sleeves were too long and maybe the body too.  I knew I could shorten the sleeves, but there was no way I'd get the bottom of the body re-knitted before they went home.  Also, I was kind of done with the sweater at that point.

Since the sleeves were a cast-on edge, I just cut the garter cuff off of each one and ripped back to the point the garter should begin.  I joined my abundant leftover yarn there and re-knit the sleeve cuffs.  I am so thankful I ordered extra yarn for this project!

I took an inch off of the sleeves and left the hem as is.  What do you guys think?  This is where I or my husband would want a sweater to hit us, so I'm hoping he enjoys the fit.  And I think he looks really cute in it :)

(all photos, except the ones with a doofy dog and yarn balls, by Julia Gros)

See more on Ravelry, Instagram, and Flickr

Another post on this knit is here.

I still have one more knit to re-do for someone.  The Ribbed Watchman's Hat turned out floppy and huge, so that will take a couple of evenings of watching Dark with my husband to finish.

More on my New Year Plans to come, but for now Happy New Year, friends!!!!