Socks for Jeans

This was one of the treasures I brought home from a recent trip to visit a local mega yarn store that boasts a wall of sock yarn that's easily 15' long by 10' high. It was a wonderful antidote to my snow-induced colour starvation and offered a break from my nasty black sock project.

Its Lana Grossa Meilenweit colour #8003. I could hardly wait to get home and cast on for some dead simple plain old top down stockinette socks. It has the perfect colours for jeans and just about any colour you might want to wear with them. Its also the first obviously self striping yarn I've used so that was fun. (I know I must have been living under a rock to have avoided this stuff for this long but better late than never!) I started one sock from the middle of the ball and one from the outside and I'm quite pleased with the matching of the stripes from one sock to the next. See it close up...
and from further away...

This yarn may have great colour but it isn't the softest in the hand. With 20% Polyamide content - its a hard wearing sock yarn and it feels like it but it means I can look forward to having and enjoying these socks for a long time! Its also a bit heavier than much of the sock yarn I've used in the past so they flew off the needles.

This yarn comes with 420m to the ball - easily enough for two socks but I 'm a tight knitter (one yarn store employee recently described my tension as "board like") so I am always leery of running out of yarn.

In the end I had just enough to do the job. (Leftover yarn on the left. A new ball for reference on the right. That ball belongs to my Aunt - having it around as I finished the second sock was like knitting with sock insurance! I liked the yarn but not enough to buy a second ball - if I had run out I would have re-knit the toes with contrasting colour ) So I'm very happy with these both as a project and for wearing!


Hobby or Habit?

Last night we had a little gathering to celebrate the presence of my sister and her family from out of town. The menu was take out Chinese Food so no one had to really work to put dinner on or clean it up. That meant I wouldn't have to pitch in and help! So needless to say I arrived before everyone and grabbed a spot with good light, parking my purse to allow for smooth drawing of yarn from the bag as I of course planned to knit on my work socks for the four or five hours we were there. Bliss!

But when I looked into by bag, my omnipresent Ziploc and its precious contents weren't there!!!

Upon his arrival shortly after this terrible realization came to me my son immediately told me to just go home and get it. He said, "you know you'll be so much happier if you have it! Why don't you just go now, before anyone else gets here!

As others arrived, they too expressed sympathy with my plight.

Now one of the reasons I started this blog is because no one I know really cares a whit about knitting. My family will, when cajoled, look, squeeze, smell and make a positive comment about my knitting and or yarn but that's as far as it goes. What I know they do care about though is that they all clearly recognize I'm generally a happier person in the company of knitting (that is going well) but I had no idea how clearly they understood the corollary of that in that I am not as happy without it.

It actually surprises me how much it is the case that the presence of my knitting makes me calmer and more patient with what is going on around me and hence more content. With family here from far away how ridiculous to feel such disappointment at the absence of sticks and string! It makes me wonder just what this thing called knitting is for me...pleasant pastime or crutch?


My Sixth Socks - Try to Say that 10 Times Fast!

I've been working on a pair of simple work-style socks for my Beloved in a k4,p1 rib. The yarn is Lana Grossa Meilenweit Marmi. The colour is 7008. It yields a rather marbled effect in cream and various shades of grey with the odd hint of olive green. The effect of the green is interesting. Its not at all noticeable in the ball but then in the knitting it plays with your eyes. You think you see it then dismiss it but then upon closer examination you can make out subtle little hints of colour. I'll be interested to check out the other colourways in this yarn on my next trip to the LYS - looking more closely for hidden colours and potential new projects in them!

Can you make out the colour?

The socks look and feel the essence of good old men's work socks. A contrasting heel and toe would have been a nice addition. I'll make note of that on my pattern for sure. I may still do contrasting toes. (I'm a very tight knitter and always worried I won't get two socks out of a single ball. I seem to be developing a habit of leaving off knitting the toe of the first sock until I see how the yarn holds out through the second one.)
This pair will be my first worked without the omnipresent aid of a pattern always at hand. How freeing! My head is swimming with visions of ridiculous levels of almost comatose knitting of basic socks turning every wasted or bored minute of my life into blissful fibre filled productivity! 'Not saying knitting should be like that, ' just admitting I am. Anyway my next pair will likely be something involving a more demanding stitch or different construction and I will no doubt need the pattern with me for that but I'm just thrilled to know that for basic, commuter knitting, knitting in the dark watching movies and that kind of thing, I will be able to work away unhindered by the need for instructions.

All this from someone who just a couple of years ago thought knitting socks was a ridiculous waste of time when socks could be purchased for such a reasonable price.

A few things have changed my mind about this. First, commercial socks now seem to last less than a season before gaping holes develop under the heel, at the toe or both. Secondly, wool socks are so much warmer than the cotton/nylon variety from the store and the only wool socks available now are too thick to wear under anything but huge bulky boots which I seldom wear - whatever the weather.

My Beloved, having grown up with hand knit socks, of course has always known of their merit and is very much looking forward to wearing this pair very soon!


Happy Easter!

The Easter Bunny came to our house a bit early this year...by a couple of months.

I made this little cutie back in January as a baby gift. Its a Debbie Bliss pattern I found in a book from the Library. Debbie Bliss is my favourite source for baby patterns - classic but usually with some little detail that really makes the finished project shine - just the thing for gifts!
The yarn is Bernat Satin leftover from a project I did on request for a friend's 3 year old. The three year old picked out the yarn which I wouldn't have considered but I'm glad I had the leftovers on hand because it really is very soft - especially when gently stuffed with loose fill. The colour ("Sea Shell") is also pretty - not too garish which can be a problem with pinks. The machine wash-ability is also great when making toys for little ones.

As for the pattern itself - quick, fun and satisfying. Check out the shaping to make that bustle-like hind end topped off with a pom pom tail! (Different yarn used for the tale - a mystery ball leftover from years ago)

The leg shaping yields a very "rabbity" haunch and I love the way the shaping on the face makes a nose and frames the eyes!

Finally the size of the limbs - especially the ears - is just right for a wee one to grab and hold and at about nine inches long, the bunny's very light and not too bulky to take along anywhere baby might be off to. This bunny was fun to make and to give -'full marks on all fronts!


Vernal Equinox!

The birds know whats going on! Following months of silence they are suddenly vocal from before sun up well into twilight.

The snow banks are proof of whats going on! After two days of rain(!) they are still huge but not as huge as they were at the start of the week.

The clocks have been adjusted to keep up with whats going on. Now set an hour ahead of where they were two weeks ago the daylight we are having seems just endless.

As of 5:48 this morning SPRING is here!

On top of all this the tulips available in stores this year are the best I can ever remember. They last and last, continuing to grow towards the light, hanging onto their petals until they are wide open like technicolour daisies.

In our house living in a way that acknowledges the seasons is central to how things feel, how we live, even what we eat. Martha has been a huge inspiration for me in this regard through the years (yes that Martha!) I have an almost complete set of her magazines from the first 10 years she was publishing and I continue to use them as seasonal inspiration.

Each month I get out my collection for the upcoming month, make myself a cup of tea and comb through them, notebook in hand to gather ideas and develop plans for the upcoming weeks. Everything from menus to household maintenance and organization to cleaning and houseplant and garden information is there, just when I want or need it.

I've been doing this for years and I'm amazed how it keeps the endless chores and what can be the drudge of domestic responsibilities fresh and healthy and even entertaining for the whole family.

Life outside the house is busy and distracting for all of us. Its generally very fast paced, often hectic and since we are all going in opposite directions for the majority of the work and school week it can really be functionally divisive. This monthly process and routine acknowledgement of the seasons brings us all together in our experience of our home and I have seen how we all benefit from it.

I said in a recent post I had some inclination towards "old school" thinking. Living seasonally is definitely one example of that mindset but we definitely live it in a context of today's world and reality.

So the arrival of a new season is exciting not just because its been a pretty intense winter or because in Canada, Spring is generally a kinder and gentler time than the one that precedes it but also because it holds in store all kinds of fresh yet familiar tasks and treats to which we are all looking forward.

(And of course more knitting too!)


Oh So Cozy!

My first felting project! - A teapot cozy knit in Patons Classic Wool.

I loved making this - working with anything in such a deep crimson red always makes me happy. It was quite simple. I knit it 30% larger than the finished dimensions I was aiming for and away I went.

Prior to felting I did as the book I was working from instructed and basted the open ends together to ensure they would both felt at the same rate and stay even with each other.

I hand felted using two buckets - one in each laundry sink. I didn't use boiling water - only hot and only added ice cubes to the first two buckets of cold. All in all I think I went back and forth about five times in each bucket before it got to where I wanted it to be both in terms of size and degree of felting.

It was a very cold January day when I did it and it was thoroughly enjoyable to be busy mucking around in hot steamy water for the hour or so it took me to finish felting.

After it was dry I tried it on the tea pot and decided to add some embellishments. I had some wooden beads that I saved years ago when a favourite necklace broke and applied them in combination with some simple embroidery using more Patons. I had no real plan when I started out on this part of the project - it was just like doodling with needle and yarn. Very pleasant indeed.

I worked on the front...

Then I added a bit of a flourish to the back and added a beaded handle...

It turned out just the way I wanted - I love it!


I was just looking through the latest issue of Knitty and saw a review of a yarn winder that I then scrolled right past. I'm not interested in winders because I love winding by hand. For me it doesn't matter whether the fibre passing through my fingers is en route to becoming a sweater or a sock or a nice squishy centre pull ball ready for knitting. The feel of the fibre is a huge pleasure.
I'm very old school about some things and winding balls by hand from skeins is pretty old school for sure. Its no accident that when I was choosing a photo for the title of this blog I chose one that captured one instance of ball winding in progress.I was particularly thrilled to also learn the correct way to do it - with a centre pull option no less!
I read about it in Simply Fabulous Knitting based on the work of Montse Stanley - a terrific resource book that I would very highly recommend. I borrowed it twice from the Library before I found it for sale in an LYS. Its magazine-like size, isn't too heavy to throw in the knitting bag when I'm heading out the door - there aren't many reference books that I've found with which I can do that!
Anyway back to the hand wound balls - I love them! Making them is very pleasant, looking at them, even more so. I'm amazed at how easily they release yarn from the inside out. No knots, no big lumps of half wound yarn, just a smooth feeding source of yarn right down to the bitter end of the ball.


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This is Sheldon.

Look how the clever use of shaping creates a nose and mouth for the little guy!

Sheldon was made using leftover bits of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. His body (except for the legs) is knit in one piece and then you knit him a shell that can be taken on and off. I guess you could call it a "turtle neck sweater?"

His legs and body stick out through the holes.

The stitch for making the top of his shell is one I've never tried before. Often my mind gets in the way of doing something new and different when I incorrectly anticipate what might come next - so I followed the directions line by line without thinking about what I was doing or looking at the results until I was well into it and just for some insurance did this while watching a movie. In 20 or 30 minutes, like magic, I had this amazingly appropriate piece for the back of an adorable little turtle with no sense of how it was accomplished!

I did opt to make Sheldon's head a bit smaller than the pattern called for. The recipient of the finished Sheldon is two and a half years old and I wanted the head to easily slide through the shell when taking it on and off.

I love making stuffed animals like Sheldon. You don't have to worry about gauge or fit and using up left over yarn is very satisfying. In fact I'm told the only time I look relaxed while I'm knitting is when I'm making little stuffed creatures like this!


Ignoring Henry

I was so hoping to have a finished pair of black socks by now. Despite working on them exclusively over the oh so snowy weekend that goal still eludes me . Shovelling and skiing and movie watching ate into my time and those socks need full light and fully rested attention. They are not the stuff of knitting on the road either. If they deteriorate into ripping back it is into blinding blackness where I almost instantly loose my bearings and things seem to quickly get worse than the original problem I was trying to fix.

In the mean time there is basket full of red alpaca that's screaming at me but I must hold firm and remain faithful and just be satisfied and motivated by the possibility of it later in the week. Look at the halo around that skinny little line of cast on stitches! Look at the prospect of that little swatch of herringbone stitches. Henry is calling me but I am determined to make him wait his turn!


Black and White

There's an awful lot of "white" around here. So far this winter we've received 177cm (about 70") in large sometimes biweekly dumps of snow. As I write this a storm is approaching that could be the biggest this year - one that may put our total accumulations into the record book at over 200 cm.

Now I love the winter months for many things, not the least of which is knitting away by the fire, watching movies and if its going to be cold I really do prefer the landscape to be snowy. The garden is a huge beneficiary of consistent snow cover so I am also grateful for that. We enjoy downhill skiing and this has been a great ski season for sure but three months of uninterrupted whiteness is really starting to get to me.

To be honest, one thing that's pushing me over the edge is my current knitting project - a pair of men's knee high socks, size large in what I am trying to think of as a "dark charcoal grey" but lets face it, they're effectively black.

Back in the riotous colour of autumn I figured out the pattern by copying from a pair of socks made many years ago for my beloved by a maiden Aunt . The Aunt has long since passed away but her beautiful hand knitting continues to live on in the sock drawers and on the feet of several of my in laws. At 76 stitches around, 18 " in length and repeating columns of single rib alternating with sections of moss stitch the knitting doesn't exactly skip along. The "charcoal grey" Regia errors are hard to recognize until they are a significant way back in the pattern and corrections are even more difficult to make out without the aid of full sunlight.

Nonetheless I started and finished one sock while watching the World Series.

As the orange red and yellow leaves fell from the trees and the bright orange pumpkins came and went from porches up and down the street sock number two got bumped off the priority list by urgent Christmas knitting. By mid December holiday lights dotted the landscape that had otherwise turned white and once the lights came down at New Year's the short, dark days made working on them fully depressing and almost impossible because the stitches were so hard to see in anything but the best light. So I set them aside until the light improved late in January - when we usually also enjoy a brief thaw and melt and get to see at least a glimpse of wintry grass.

In the meantime I made the rounds of several of the excellent yarn stores in the city here at home and even made a visit to Purl while in NYC. After that, a few fun and colourful projects jumped onto and off of my needles as the second black sock was pushed to the bottom of the knitting basket and right out of my knitting cue.

It was out of sight but never out of mind. As I entertained myself with colourful projects through weeks of white my beloved made comments about how much he was looking forward to someday wearing his hand knit socks...if they were ever finished. These accumulated comments are now similar in proportion to the piles of snow covering the city; blocking movement and generally stalling progress on other tasks until cleared away. I can't enjoy starting anything else until they are out of the way, off my mind and onto his feet!

So just as the city has added snow moving and melting crews in the 48 hour windows we are having between storms, I am throwing extra effort at wrestling these socks onto the FO pile.

As the white snow falls ever faster outside today, tonight, tomorrow and through the weekend I am going to force my way onward with this black beast. Once its out of the way my aim will be to post about some of the vibrant, colourful projects I've enjoyed while the neglected toes of my beloved have suffered so throughout this snowy white winter!

Gotta love that colour!...

Wish me luck!...