Sock Stories – May 2020

Let’s be honest, my sock round up had been pretty sad in March & April, but this month, I actually have stories to tell because I’ve actually been knitting socks!

First, I got a simple vanilla pair finished!

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The yarn is Timber Yarns in Platform 9 3/4 – if you notice, the stripes are all the colours of the Hogwarts Houses. I bought this vibrant yarn last year at the Prince Edward County Fibre Festival

*excuse me for a minute while I reflect back on an amazing Saturday with friends and grieving the fact that there have been no in-person fibre festivals*

Okay, I’m back. Yes, socks. Bright, fun, self-striping socks.

I’ve also (finally) made some headway on a pair using the pattern Cozy Autumn Socks by This Handmade Life. No idea why getting going on this was a slog, but, I think I’m coming to a realization. I love lace and cables, I really do, but getting used to a pattern and what is expected takes time to get used to, so I drag my feet when making these patterns.  The Half Blood Prince Socks felt the same way.

Finally, I started a pair of socks this weekend for my sister. I got through about 25 rounds of an eyelet pattern before realizing how much I disliked how it was shaping up. A quick visit to the frog pond, a new pattern, and two webinars later, and the socks are just over 20 rounds finished, so basically back to where I was. This pattern is Let It Shine Socks by Sarah Youde, and it’s living up to the name. The yarn really does shine with this pattern, and the lace panel adds the right amount of interest.

Happy sock knitting!

What’s On (And Off) My Needles

Let’s start with some exciting news: I finished my Elkko sweater! This Aran weight sweater came together very fast (just under two weeks fast); it’s a Knitty.com pattern (read, FREE), and I really enjoyed making it.

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But then, towards the end of last week, I found myself wanting knitting inspiration. I called my mum and asked if there was anything in particular she wanted me to make for her? I was thinking socks, hat, something like that. Nope, my mother went to her Pinterest account and found patterns for a stuffed cat (that could be used as a doorstop, she says) and feather bookmarks. I have to say, while the cat was a little blarg to knit, the feathers were really fun.  I made a few with two strands of sock yarn held double, and one was made with left-over DK weight. I can see myself making more of these before quarantine is up.

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And then, I got a message from my brother who heard I was looking for knit projects. This is very unlike my brother to ask for something knitted, so I was intrigued.  He and his wife just adopted a French bulldog named Lotus, and apparently Lotus was wanting a new coat. I couldn’t WAIT to cast on.  It tugged at my heart that the pattern Brother asked me to make was Hoodie Dog Coat (so she would look tough while out for walks, he said).

I’ve made this pattern once before, for our beloved Border Terrier who passed away in 2018. The coat has now been passed along to my Grandad’s Jack Russell. Tucker was rather portly, so it was snug on him, but the Medium fits a Jack Russell REALLY well While the pattern itself is rather poorly written, I couldn’t resist making this project for nostalgia alone. I’m making Lotus’s Coat in a Large based on chest measurements, but adjusting the length for her.  Fingers crossed it works out…

And after spending much of Sunday on the couch watching Community on Netflix, I got a good bulk of the coat finished. It’s made with old Red Heart, so that if the dog gets it dirty and it need washing, it can handle pretty much anything.

What have you been working on? What has been your Knitspiration?

Stay safe!

Trying my hand at brioche

Late last week, with the holiday knitting finished, I cast on a new project, new in many senses.  I haven’t yet knit brioche; so far, I haven’t really found a project that captures my fancy which is why I’ve put it off, but then I found Flashpoint by Knitting Apprentice.  This hat has the look of cables, and it was one of the first patterns for brioche that made me say ‘hmmm.’  It calls for DK weight yarn, and I had two skeins that would look awesome together, so away I went.

Step one is the German Twisted Cast-on, new to me, so a few YouTube videos later, and it was started. My go-to is long tail (or sling shot) so a lot of the movements were not unfamiliar.

Once ready to start the hat, what surprised me is the whole new set of abbreviations that is involved with brioche. brk, brkyobrk, sssbrk. I’ve never seen these letters arranged together; it almost felt like learning a new language, having to make sense of what these combinations of letters mean and what I’m supposed to do. The hat has an option for a ribbed brim or just going right into the body, so to get used to the brioche motions, I’ve knit the brim, and after the first couple rounds not only did I feel like I was getting the hang of it, I was enjoying it!

Made pretty good progress, if I do say so myself.

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The yarns I’m using is Annie Paaren MTL BFL, a fun speckled yarn I bought in Montreal in April, and the main colour is yarn I overdyed as teal.

Between this hat, my stashdown sweater, a cowl and a few pairs of socks, I should be able to get a lot of knitting done over the holidays!

For those who celebrate, a very Merry Christmas!

And just like that, it’s November

Time really flies when you’re not paying attention. While I’ve been busy knitting, the month of October came to its inevitable end.

Earlier in October, my friend Victoria and I visited a new yarn shop in our community.  It’s a yarn shop / cafe, and really, could there be a better combination for me? Yarn and coffee? Hello! While there, I spent far too much money on yarn, including a fantastic thrummed mitten kit from Fleece Artist. It was 125g of yarn and 60g of roving which will end up being a Christmas gift. I really disliked the last thrummed pattern I used, largely because I really didn’t like the afterthought thumb, so I gave the Family Thrummed Mittens by Catherine Vardy/Briggs and Little a try. I was a little annoyed that before I bought there was no indication on Ravelry if it was a gusseted pattern or not; I love that Ravelry users can suggest edits to patterns as it is now tagged with ‘gusset’ 🙂

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Is there anything happier looking than the inside of a thrummed mitt?

This past weekend, I also made progress with my Weekender (by Andrea Mowry) sweater. I got to a point a few weeks back where I needed to start short rows for shoulder shaping, and so it sat idle at the bottom of my bag. This weekend, however, I got the front panel finished and am starting the back! Hopefully, I can have this off my needles sooner rather than later because we really are getting into sweater season!

I also received a lovely shipment of yarn from Biscotte Yarns. God I love their yarns.  I’ve bought a lot from them this month, between one skein at the yarn shop/cafe and then the online order.  Hudson’s Memories was purchased in person, and I’ve been lusting over this colourway for quite some time. I have no idea what it will grow up to be but I love this yarn.

From the online order, I got their Wizard Sock kit in the ‘badger’ colourway, as any good Hufflepuff would, and I bought their coffee mug kit with Mon Pays C’est L’Hiver colourway. In googling to find the translation, (which is roughly is ‘My Homeland is Winter), I learned that this is actually a common saying from a Quebecois folk song expressing nationalism, solidarity and connection to the northern landscape.

I had leftover Bis Sock in ‘Pink and Purr’ which I bought when I was in Montreal, so that knit up VERY quickly to become my new mug insert. LOVE it.

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Once again, a delightful combination of coffee and yarn. Be still my heart.

Staying Cozy in the Cold

This was one of those weekends where Candian stereotypes held up – it was cold, it was snowy. My car termperature this morning was reading -20C. Very cold indeed.

Needless today, besides shovelling my sidewalk, I did very little this weekend.  Books were read, Netflix was binged (I’ve watched too much Schitt’s Creek), and knitting happened. A lot of knitting.  Selfishly, I’m happily working on two cowls: Lace Eyelet Cowl by Stefanie Canich, and I started Anguli Cowl by Hilary Smith Callis. Unsurprisingly, these are two cowls that look like shawls when worn.  I’m also fixing a pair of socks I initially made for my co-worker’s daughter.  I THOUGHT I made it to the measurements she gave, but either I messed up (which could happen) or her daughter’s feet grew (which does happen), so I’ve been trying to fix the mistakes.  One sock down, one to go. 

The pattern is the lovely Hermione sock, but because the yarn is self striping, I’ve made it with an afterthought heel, a technique I hate.  I was bemoaning about this a few months ago at a knitting group when one of the women said something that has changed my outlook. 

To make an afterthought heel, you knit the leg to the length you want, then knit half of the stitches with waste yarn , then continue knitting the same stitches with the working yarn. The idea is, you remove the waste yarn and have the right amount of live stitches with which you can work the heel, leaving the self striping yarn’s pattern uninterrupted.  Simple enough concept, but removing that waste yarn and putting the stitches on needles is a process that usually leaves me using lots of creative curse words. Then Vickie said: you should knit more than one row with the waste yarn. Lightbulb went off. Really, the waste yarn is just keeping the heel stitches live for later. It doesn’t matter how many rows with the waste yarn you knit. By knitting MORE THAN ONE ROW, you are making it easier to pick up those stitches and remove the yarn.  There’s very little room when only one row is knit, but the angles are easier to work with when there’s, say, three rows of waste yarn used.

Sorry it’s a little blurry – but as you can (maybe) see, there’s three rows of white waste yarn used which are holding the heel stitches for an afterthought heel.

I tried her advice with the Hermione sock, take two. It was so much easier than any other time I’ve tried this technique. Seriously. If you haven’t been doing this for afterthought heels, try it. Mind blown. 

Happy knitting, and if anyone is living through these temperatures or anything close, stay warm!