Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Knits In Progress: Socks, Socks, Socks!!

The other day as I was rushing around the house getting ready to leave, it dawned on me that I had nothing to knit!! Ok, ok...before you all jump on me, let me explain. I had to take the Kiddo to one of his appointments and it required me to stick around. Since waiting was involved it's only natural that I would want to bring my knitting along. The thing is, all my projects were at stages that required more attention and brain power than I would like to give to my knitting while hanging out in a waiting room. 

The only socks I had on the go at the time were my Ulti.knit Socks and while they're easy peasy, they garner way too much attention and a lot of comments from non-crafters. I like to sit and knit in peace, not have people come up to me to tell me that I'm "crocheting wrong" or that my "string is snagged" on my "artsy brooch" - which is actually my ghetto makeshift knitting pin of an open plastic locking stitch marker threaded through a safety pin (this is what a real knitting pin looks like).

All my sweater WIPs need stitches picked up for a sleeve and I don't know about you, but for me that involves counting, a handful of stitch markers, and some thought about how to pick up all the required stitches. My Missoni-Inspired Blanket would have been the perfect mindless knit but it's just way too bulky and big to shove into my handbag. Plus, I would need to bring a long a few balls of yarn if I wanted to knit more than just one stripe. Although, I should point out that each row takes me approximately ten minutes to either knit or purl, so technically even if I had brought along one ball of yarn that only needed a two-row stripe, that's twenty minutes right there. And yes, I'm a knit nerd and I like to time myself throughout a project - usually the larger ones. And I always want to see what I'm faster at: knitting using my usual method or purling Portuguese style.

Anyhoo, what's a knitter to do when they don't have a small mindless project to tote around when running errands? If you guessed wind ALLLL the yarns you've ever planned on knitting socks with, you're right!! I grabbed an armload of skeins and went to town with my ball winder, and the past few days I've felt like a distracted dog (SQUIRREL!!) by casting on at least four different projects. In my defence, two of those projects are gift knitting. So do they really count?? 

But I'm happy to report that I now have a pair of self-striping plain vanilla toe-up socks (I'm using yarn by Caterpillargreen Yarns in a gorgeous limited edition colourway made for the Fibrations event that happened back in August), and another pair of Spree Socks (again using more Sunshine Yarns Merino Worsted) on the needles. I did cast on Pixel Rise but started to second guess my choice of colour for the toe/heel/cuff. I'm very surprised that I don't have any grey yarn suitable for socks in my stash. It's taking every ounce of my being to not go to my LYS and pick some up. Don't worry...I'm sure I'll come up with something.

I tried to take some photos of these new WIPs but they all looked...messed up. Maybe it's the extremely poor lighting in my living room due to the grey rainy day we're having today, or maybe it's because I can never get little tiny knitted triangles on teeny tiny needles just look both pleasing to the eye and artsy. Just trust when I saw they're looking good.  

What's on your needles this WIP Wednesday?

Happy Sock Knitting! ♥

PS: In case you're wondering, I did bring along the blanket to my Kiddo's appointment. I managed to knit up an eight-row stripe before it was time to go home.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fresh Off The Needles: Vanilla Is The New Black

How excited am I to finally have a long-standing sock WIP off the needles? Ok, confession: I actually had these finished back in July but since it was summer time and hot, I really didn't feel like putting socks on. So since July this newly finished pair were sitting patiently on top of a pile of knits that need to be blocked (I'm slowly getting there). Now that the cold weather has arrived, it's time to put these bad boys to work!

There's not a ton of things to say about these socks since it is essentially a top-down plain vanilla sock. The only thing that makes this sock stand out from all the other plain vanilla socks is the heel, which is a Strong-style heel. What's that, you ask? The Strong Heel was originally designed by Gerdine Crawford-Strong and is a heel that you knit continuously with the rest of the sock. You are knitting the heel flap and gusset at the same time. Meaning you don't need to stop knitting in the round to create a heel flap, you don't need to pick up stitches, you don't need to switch to another skein of yarn or have to incorporate the other end of the skein; you can continue knitting with the same working yarn without creating any distortion in the yarn pattern at the ankle or heel. Cool, right?

The heel in the Vanilla is The New Black takes the concept of the Strong Heel and made it more structured, more fitted, and from what I've read online, not so "twisty" because the heel of the sock molds to the heel of your foot. I've never knit a Strong Heel myself so I can't give a proper opinion on the differences between the two heels but I can agree that the heel on the Vanilla is The New Black socks cups your heels perfectly. I have super narrow heels and find that some heel methods are too baggy and I find myself tugging at my socks because of this. So far I haven't experienced any issues with these socks. If anything, I find myself admiring my shapely heels whenever I'm sitting down!

As for the yarn, it's holding up really well. This is my first time knitting with Prairie Dye Studio and most definitely will not be the last! The base of the yarn is the Wild Rose Sock, which is your basic merino/nylon blend, but it is so soft that I kept thinking it was an MCN base. I want to get my hands on a skein of MCN just so that I can compare. But I promised myself that I will not buy any more yarn (unless it's to finish a project!) for the rest of the year. So maybe I'll make this happen next year. And by next year, I mean I'll be on the computer doing some online shopping the second the clock hits twelve o'clock on January 1st. Don't judge.

Overall, I highly recommend this pattern, especially if you like knitting plain vanilla socks but want to add a little spice from time to time. While this pair is knit cuff-down there is a sister pattern called Vanilla Reversed for the toe-up version. And if you act now, you can get either pattern (or any other of Anneh Fletcher's single patterns) for 25% off for the month of Socktober!! Check out the pattern pages for either sock for sale details and coupon code. Yay!! Now everyone can knit these socks!!

:: Sock Details ::
Pattern: Vanilla is the New Black by Anneh Fletcher

Yarn: Wild Rose Sock by Prairie Dye Studio
Colour: Prairie Sage
Needles: Hiya Hiya Sharps Fixed Circulars in 2.25mm (US 1)
Ravelry Link: MisoCraftyKnits Vanilla is the New Black

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Clockwise from top left: Unikitty, Cheesecake, Zipping Along,
Slutty Pumpkin, Reading Rainbow, Star Night

I know that right now a huge portion of the knitting community is all about "Slow Fashion October" but to me, October will always be Socktober. Maybe it's because I try to max out my Birkenstock flip-flop wearing for as long as possible before the weather starts to get really cold. Maybe it's because if I'm not wearing flip-flops then I'm wearing my rain boots, and nothing feels better in rain boots than a nice pair of hand knit socks. I know the onslaught of the rainy weather returning to the West Coast has been making me yearn for warm woollies on my feet. Even though I have a sizeable hand knit socks collection, such yearnings make me want to cast on ALL the socks!! Well, ok, what doesn't make me want to cast on all the knits? Let's not go there today. 

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Slow Fashion October. I think it's an awesome idea. Nor do I have a problem with anyone wanting to join in on that campaign as I think everyone should be more aware of how fashion and clothing are made, of what we buy, wear, and ultimately where our clothing ends up after we're done with them. I just generally don't think much about all that ever since I made the decision to swap out my bulging closet full of seasonally trendy clothes in which nothing matched for a small capsule wardrobe several years ago (here's a great article on what truly is a capsule wardrobe and what isn't - if you're pressed for time: basically a capsule wardrobe consists of staple pieces in coordinating colours that can be worn year round, not just a collection that can be worn per season). So I've already been taking into consideration what I buy and how it'll fit in with the rest of my closet (including the lot of crazy and colourful leggings that pair rather nicely with my basic monotoned shirts and hand knit cardigans!), and I already take care of my clothes regardless of whether they are fast fashion, high-end, or handmade, and I either wear them all to threads or donate them in clothing swaps. So you see, Slow Fashion October really has no impact on me. But I do enjoy reading how others are being impacted by this movement.

But this post isn't about that, it's about socks!! Socks, on the other hand, is something that I think about a lot. Seriously. It's probably abnormal. I always have a sock (or two, or three...) on the needles with skeins of yarn queued up to be cast on immediately before after I bind off a pair. Socks also make for great in-between-projects projects. You know, when you finally finish a sweater and can't decide if you should do another selfish knit or start your gift knitting early. Sock knitting is the perfect time filler. Waiting for your kiddo's track meet to start? It's sock knitting time. Waiting to pick up your kid or significant other from school or work? Get out that sock. Procrastinating from parenting and adulting? Oh yeah, you can find me knitting on a sock.

October in my household is usually nuts. The Mister is always working late or having to do events out of town, the Kiddo has to be chauffeured to his various activities, IEP preparations and meetings take place, and so.many assessments and questionnaires need to be filled out. And recently, we took in a cat. Sock knitting just somehow manages to calm down the stress levels. I'm going to assume that it's because it's easy to pick up and put down, and you can see progress much faster than say, a cardigan. Also, socks are just so incredibly portable. Ok, so are hats, mittens, cowls, and some shawls. But socks are small enough to shove into even the smallest of handbags (although, can a knitter truly sport a small handbag?? I know this knitter can't!).

So I'll say it once more, October equals sock knitting equals SOCKTOBER!! 

I know, I know...we're halfway through October, why am I talking about it now? Ah, life. Let's just say time got the better of me and I didn't realize just how far into October we were until the Canadian Thanksgiving (which was last Monday!) rolled around. I've also been wanting to talk about socks and share my basic "recipes" for a long time now, but that will have to wait for another post. Instead, I want to share a pair of socks that recently fell off my needles:

Seriously, these are the fastest socks I've knitted up in a long time. Let me introduce to you my Spree Socks. Earlier this month I volunteered to test knit these socks for Kemper Wray of JunkYarn. Designed to be knit with either DK or worsted weight yarns, this simple plain vanilla sock pattern will be released sometime next week. Just in time for the colder weather and for gift knitting!! 

I know several knitters who gift socks for the winter holidays and for some weird reason they usually start knitting them up in October. I, for one, have never gifted socks. Mainly because the people in my life are not "hand knit socks worthy". I'll knit them shawls, hats, and mittens, but not socks. That's a whole different category of knit-worthy people.

Anyhoo, when I got the go ahead to start test knitting the worsted weight version of the pattern I immediately knew what yarn I wanted to use. The worsted weight portion of my stash consists of mainly sweater quantities, a Rubbermaid tub of Cascade 220, and a few solo skeins of highly variegated yarns that I had purchased way back in the day when I had just started to take knitting seriously. Back then I had discovered there was more to knitting than Lion Brand, Bernat, Patons Classic Wool, and even Cascade 220. SweetGeorgia Yarns was my gateway indie dyed yarn that took my knitting (and my stash!!) to a whole new level. Through the Ravelry forums I discovered Sunshine Yarns and quickly became obsessed enough to stalk the updates. Soon I had quite the stash of highly variegated yarns (and a few braids of beautiful fibre...don't ask) that I had no idea what I was going to do with. Back then, I bought yarn without a game plan. I bought yarn because it was pretty. I mean, I still do but at least now I look up patterns and have potential projects in mind. In those days, I let the yarn fumes take over and I snap out of it half an hour later wondering what just happened and why do I have all my credit cards out in alphabetical order... ahem ...

Back to the socks. I blindly grabbed one of the variegated skeins and hoped that I would be able to get away with a decent pair of socks using only 160 metres/175 yards of yarn (the pattern calls for 200 metres/218 yards). Yay for small feet because I did knit the socks according to the pattern with plenty of yarn leftover. I didn't do any modifications because well, this is a test knit. I'm super happy with how these socks came out. They're so comfy and warm, which is perfect because the Mister and I refuse to turn the heat on just yet, and I haven't taken them off since I finished them!

I already have two more skeins of yarn lined up to make a few more pairs because you know, winter is coming and all (I couldn't help it!). It took me a few days to knit this pair and I think I would have gotten them done sooner had I stayed project monogamous enough. Either way, less than a week for a pair of socks is pretty good in my books! Wouldn't you agree?

Sock Details:
Pattern: Spree Socks by Kemper Wray
Yarn: Merino Worsted by Sunshine Yarns
Colourway: First Kiss
Needles: Signature Needle Arts Fixed Circulars in 3.25mm (US 3) and 3.5mm (US 4)
Ravelry Link: MisoCraftyKnits Spree Socks

♥ Happy Sock Knitting! ♥ 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

WIP Wednesday: October Update

October is here!! October is here!! There's so much going on right now that I'm in that state where you know you have so much to do but you stress out so much that you end up not getting anything done. I keep writing lists and then promptly lose them. Some time down the road I will find a stack of these lists somewhere completely random and unexpected in my house. Like in the crisper box in my fridge. I honestly wouldn't put it past me. 

Before I go on a major list writing spree, how about I give you an update on all the WIPs I've been working on this month? My hands have been feeling fantastic (YAY!!), so much so that my surgeon has decided to put off the surgery date we had planned for my left hand!! I really think taking a day or two off from knitting every week, and switching up my projects has truly helped in curbing the CTS pain. I also firmly believe that the cooler weather is a huge factor in this too. I have found that the few times I've been stuck in an overly warm room or area, my hands would tingle intermittently with flash pain. It's weird. Hmm...another reason for me to love fall?

Anyhoo, so far this month I've been working on three main projects: the Wild Flowers (Business Casual) socks, the Ulti.knit socks, and the Missoni-Inspired Blanket

I'm really close to finishing the Wild Flowers socks. I think I have a repeat and a half to knit for the foot before I can start the toe. I have to admit that I've been a little hesitant about finishing these socks because they've been such a joy to knit and I love watching the colours and the pattern build up as I knit. A completely silly way of thinking, I know! I just might have to knit a matching square swatch with the leftovers and frame it so that I can enjoy the beauty of this yarn on a daily basis. 

Yeah, I'm a knit nerd.

The progress has been much slower on the Ulti.knit socks due to the fact that I don't work on it outside of my house. I have to be careful that my yarns are always separated - even a slight twist of the working yarns will cause a snag in the knitting flow and the one and only time I did knit in public with it, I had quite an audience (and a lot of weird looks). A good portion of this audience felt compelled to tell me that I was knitting wrong. One person even told me I was "crocheting wrong". Um...ok... Also, my hands seem to have a higher chance of cramping up as a result of my firm grasp in a "crab claw" hold that I tend to have while knitting on this project. I have to take breaks from it often and knit on something that involves a thicker weight of yarn and bigger needles.

I think that's why I'm getting so much accomplished with the Missoni-Inspired Blanket. Knitting with worsted weight and a pair of 5mm (US 8) needles seem to be the magic knitting combo that make my hands happy. Well, that and chevron stripes are highly addictive to knit. How addictive? I'm a little over halfway finished with the colour sequence! When I noticed that I was completely surprised. Although, there are a few colours that I only had to knit a few rows with and the magenta and cerise colour arrangement is worked only once and that's at the very beginning of the blanket. I have a fair amount of both colours left so I'm thinking I may repeat that colour order at the end to make it look like end borders or something. I'll have to see how big the blanket is once I'm finished the colour sequence as written.

I'm really hoping that I can finish one of these projects before the month is over, most likely the Wild Flowers socks, as I decided over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend to start my holiday gift knitting and just last night I had cast on a pair of test knit socks. My hands feeling awesome has truly ignited my knitting mojo and I find myself wanting to knit all the knits. I've been combing through my stash (which I've documented a few times as an Instagram story) trying to "shop" for yarns that I could use to knit up one of Jane Richmond's newest patterns, Fireside Pullover (from her newest book, Within, co-written with Shannon Cook), as well as Joji Locatelli's Granito (from her newest collection, Favorite Things). I honestly have no business thinking about casting on new garments when I still have a few on the needles...and I should really, really, really think about gift knitting now while my hands are capable. While I think about exactly who I'm gifting hand knits to and what I should knit them, I think I'll go through the stash once more to see if I have anything to knit Tin Can Knits' 1999 pullover (from their newest book, Mad Colour)...

Happy Knitting!! ♥

Friday, September 30, 2016

Knit City

Hey Friends!!

Just a quick little note that I'll be heading to Vancouver this weekend and that on Saturday (October 1st) I'll be spending the day at Knit City!! I was sad that I couldn't attend the annual event last year due to my son's birthday. This year, even though Knit City once again falls on the Kiddo's birthday weekend, I lucked out in that there's also a huge Lego tour also happening this weekend in Vancouver and to make the weekend even more exciting, my inlaws will be flying in to surprise the Kiddo. It's going to be a fun, busy, and hopefully a fibre-filled weekend!!

If you are attending Knit City on Saturday too and you see me around (most likely sniffing yarn) please don't be shy (even though I am)! I love meeting people I only know online (and usually just their user names!) and love to meet the actual person and put a face to that name!! If you are planning on being in the area, please think about stopping by and checking out the event!   

» Knit City «
October 1-2, 2016
From 9am-5pm, both days
PNE Forum
2901 E. Hastings Street, Vancouver BC
Admission: $10

For more information about the event and for a complete list of vendors and instructors, check out the Knit City website.

♥ Hope to see you there! ♥

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Knit In Progress: Missoni-Inspired Blanket

A long, long, long time ago, back when I started to really get into knitting, I was scrolling around on Ravelry and came upon a blanket project and pattern that really caught my eye. I immediately queued and downloaded the then free pattern and wrote out the list of colours needed to make a blanket of my own. Judging from the date stamps on the stash pages, it took me two years and five yarn shops to collect all the yarn (there is, after all, almost 200 colourways and I highly doubt a single yarn shop is willing to carry every single colour offered).  So since 2011 I've had all the yarns for this blanket packed up like a project kit, just sitting there in the closet, waiting to be knitted up.

Then a few weekends ago, as I was going through my stash (again), I pulled the bag out (which I do practically every time I go through the stash) and decided enough was enough. It was time to knit this bad boy up. If not now, then when?? My hands were feeling a little achy and I knew I needed to take a break from sock knitting, or any other project that involved tiny yarn being knitted with tiny needles before the carpal tunnel flared up and prevented me from knitting any yarn on any needles. Am I grasping at any excuse to cast on another project? Maybe. But my hands really were feeling achy and my past experience has taught me that switching projects/yarn weights/needle sizes really does help in deterring hand pain. So I went with it and decided to (finally!!) cast on the Missoni Inspired Chevron Blanket.

I'll confess right now that I had started this project twice before I was able to really get going on it. The first time I had used the recommended needle size (yes...I did NOT do a gauge swatch...seriously, this is a blanket. I'm confident in my knitting abilities!!) and had cast on the number of stitches as written in the pattern. A few rows into the first colour of the colour sequence and I knew something was wrong. First off, I didn't like the CO method that I had used. I was trying to be all fancy and used the Old Norwegian CO, while it's nice and stretchy, it didn't look good to me. Especially with the garter stitch edge. Second, I had this constant nagging feeling that the gauge was too tight and that the blanket was going to be too small. 

Instead of knitting on and hoping that blocking will cure all in the end, I choose to listen to my gut instincts and ripped what I had. I'm SO glad that I went with my gut on this one!! I went up a few needle sizes, added an extra chevron repeat to make the blanket bigger, and used the gold ol' long-tail cast on. Ah. Much, much, MUCH better!!

I'm also really happy that I made a few changes to the pattern. Like knitting six rows of garter instead of four, and the methods of increases and decreases. Instead of a generic "make one" I opted to use my favourite mirroring increases (which you can see on the right in the photo above) and switched the slanting "sl1, k2tog, PSSO" to a cleaner and straighter looking "sl2, k1, PSSO" (which you can see on the left side of the photo above). They're super small mods that I think make quite a huge impact in the overall look of the blanket.

The pattern is incredibly easy to knit...which means I've been making mistakes left and right. Really stupid mistakes too. Like adding in an extra increase or forgetting to pass the slipped stitches over. Way too many times I've had to either tink back or drop down to fix such foolish mistakes. I like to blame my increasing level of tiredness on this. Otherwise, this blanket has been an awesome knit so far. The uneven striping and constant colour changes make this simple project an addicting knit and I often find myself wanting to knit "just one more stripe". I just want to see what the next colour looks like and how it'll be stacked up on the others. It's to the point where I put off going to the bathroom for as long as I can, just so that I can keep knitting. Please tell me I'm not the only one that does that when they really get into their knitting project. Please? Anyone? ...Bueller? Bueller? 

If my hands stay A-OK, I just might be able to finish this blanket in time to enjoy it this winter. That's how much I've been loving knitting this project!! Now if only I can stop making so many silly mistakes...


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Can't Blog...Knitting

I don't know about you, but this cooler weather and random periods of rain have really amped up my knitting mojo. That, and a good tossing of the stash has made me want to cast on ALLLLL the knits!! I know it seems like I'm always tossing the stash and never actually finishing anything (but I have!!), but I usually go through the stash once a season...more so to put yarn away (re: overly ambitious daydreamer knitter here!!). But this time I saw a baby carpet beetle. Yes, it was on a window ledge. Metres away from a skein of yarn. Still. That's way too close to my stash for my comfort. While something small like a tiny carpet beetle that may (or may not!) have flown to the window sill on their way to something bigger wouldn't send anyone sane else into a stash tossing tizzy, it's an occurrence that reminds me that I have unprotected skeins of yarn stacked haphazardly in one of those Bolga grass baskets in the living room and possibly in a paper shopper bag next to my bed. It reminds me that colder weather is coming and therefore all the creepy crawlies are going to want in AND want to share your space. It reminds me to not be so lackadaisical about how I store "my precccccious!!".

Anyhoo, with the start of each new season comes the onslaught of Starteritis. Well, it does for me at least. The past few days has felt like it has been nothing but winding yarn, yarn, and more yarn...and sometimes casting on. With only random, fleeting guilty thoughts of the half finished projects that are languishing in project bags that are slowly making their way to the bottom of the WIP pile...hmm...let's not talk about that. 

So far I've got a new pair of socks on the needles, another pair barely cast on (and I say barely because I'm not sure if I'm liking how the colour I chose for the toes/heels/cuffs goes with the colour combo of the kit I'm using), a kiddie knit, and...get this: a blanket. What am I thinking with that one?? I blame the cold nights!! As for the kiddo knit, I'm thinking of frogging it because the ladies of Tin Can Knits have just dropped their newest book, Mad Colour, last week and I'm thinking of casting on for either a Bumble Sweater or 1999 pullover once I get my hands on a copy of the book. 

I've also been playing around and swatching with some new yarns, thinking ahead in terms of holiday knitting and teacher appreciation gifts, and on top of all the knitting, I'm trying to photograph and list all the project bags I have on hand and have been sewing up as of late. Yeah, it's been a little busy around here. But I love it! I just wish I could do everything all at once! For now though, this blanket has caught my full attention and I just can't put it down! It's so colourful and bright and I keep telling myself "just one more row and then I'll make dinner/go to sleep/adult, but the uneven striping action makes me want to see how the next stripe is going to look. You know how it is. I promise I'll blog about it soon...

Just let me finish one more row...


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