Friday, September 20, 2013

The Sweetness of Socks

As much as I love a good sweater knit and I'm enjoying my sweater knitting a great deal, I don't always have the mental capacity for a long row like that. Sometimes I just need something smaller, more portable, more wonderful.
Enter: The knitted sock. Anyone who has read this blog at all or knows me in person knows how much joy I find in knitting socks. I am rarely without a sock project and the few times I find myself without one, I don't know what to do with my hands. I almost exclusively knit them when out and about and do not hesitate to whip out a sock and knit a few rounds anywhere. In line at the grocery store, waiting for a train, almost anything.
Lately I've been pretty obsessed with Vesper self-striping sock yarn. I love how soft it is to knit but it gets even softer after it's washed. So far all my pairs have worn really well (although I only knit my first pair last October so that's not very long-term yet.)
This year I've been participating in the Vesper Socks KAL in the Vesper group. I am loving choosing a skein of Vesper to knit each month and earlier this year, it encouraged me to buy a few skeins so I was sure to have enough to make it through the year. I'm yarn/fiber dieting now until my local knitting group's retreat weekend in Duluth and it kills me a little bit each time she posts that new colors are going up. (I have barely contained myself when it comes to Sweater Vest and honestly, I'd love to collect all the pretty colors.)
I have consoled myself by knitting Vesper that I already own. This is Dragon's Blood. I honestly wasn't too sure why I decided to buy it but I'm so glad I did. I really love how these look.

Despite my misgivings about how close in color they are to last month's socks, I'm not finding myself dragging my feet on them at all. I've finished the first sock and I'm working away on the second now. Right on schedule and if I focus on them for the weekend, I could probably finish the second sock.
I'm doing another toe-up sock pattern. This time the toe-up sock with Slip Stitch Heel (scroll down to help and download the Sock Templates.) I can't say why I've been drawn to toe-up socks lately. It's not as though I'm trying to use up as much yarn as I can but I don't mind them toe-up with these patterns and I'm actually enjoying them so onward I knit! Maybe it has actually converted me to a toe-up sock knitter. Only time will tell.
In the meantime, I'll just be over here with my stripey socks.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Actual Knitting on a New Sweater

This may sound silly but I've been spending my knitting time actually knitting lately. I decided to cast on a sweater and I'm working away on it in the hopes that I can actually get it done in a reasonable amount of time.
Since I finally finished Spoke, I felt like it was okay to cast on a new sweater  I recently cleaned up the stash also (which is really still in-progress, it's not completely organized) but I discovered I have quite a few sweaters worth of yarn. That makes me want to get to it!
I thought about the swatch I knit awhile ago. A nice, big swatch and I dug it out. I knew it was too loose so, as crazy as it sounds, I knit another swatch. I also washed it and laid it out to dry before making a decision about my sweater. My gauge wasn't perfect, it didn't match the intended gauge exactly but it was much closer so I did a little math (I know, this whole story sounds like some other knitter doesn't it?) and figured out that by casting on a smaller size in the pattern, I would get the intended size of finished object. So I did.

I'm knitting the Monday Morning Cardigan by Laura Chau and I'm loving it! The body is cast on at the bottom, you knit upward, with waist shaping, and then knit the sleeves and join it all together. I've really focused on it the last week or so and I'm making good progress.

I love the slipped stitch pattern too. For one thing, I think it can be slimming and it's fun to knit. The wrong side row has more knits than purls so it goes fast and the right side row, while it's mostly purling is broken up enough that it doesn't drag. The yarn I'm using, Arucania Nature Wool, isn't super soft to knit with but when I washed the swatches, it softened up quite a bit so I'm really looking forward to having this finished sweater.

Monday, September 09, 2013

I Think it's an Illness

Lately I've even surprised myself with my ability to focus on a project enough to get it done, it's almost eerie.
That is to say; I've been very good at finishing things lately. I finished my Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief. I knit this out of handspun and used a smaller needle than the original pattern called for because I was using a thinner yarn.

I'm so happy with the result though! I got 4 total eyelet rows and a full set of increase rows before the edging. I also knit an extra two rows in the edging to make the most of the yarn. I have just a small ball of this lovely handspun left.

I love the size and shape of this shawl as well as the colors. I'm such a purple person and it goes so well with my personality that I see it being a huge staple in my winter wardrobe. As a matter of fact, I intend to carry it around with me at all times. It's perfect to wrap around your neck if you're just a little cold or need something to accent your outfit. This yarn was handspun out of Cloudlover 80/20 Merino/Silk in the Ligeia colorway. I chain-plied it and came up with over 500 yards. From the beginning, I knew this lovely purple would be great as an Age of Brass and Steam and I'm so happy it's done and I love it as much as I had hoped. (The colors in the photos today aren't the best. I blame the grey and rainy weather, check out my edited Flickr photos if you're interested in what these really look like.)
I've also been focusing very well on my sock projects. Don't worry, I'm not done with those Vespers I posted about the other day, although they will now be my main focus, instead I focused on a pair I had hoped to turn in for the Harry Potter House Cup.

May I introduce the Ostrich Fantasy socks. I dug out all my nom from Gritty Knits last weekend and chose a skein to knit into a pair of socks. I originally thought to enter them into the Solid Socks group as well because their sponsor for September is Gritty Knits but a reread of their rules told me I needed to match the color they chose for the month as well as make them solid to semi-solid although I can't double-dip by turning them in the Harry Potter group and the Solid Socks group, I'm still thrilled to have them done. I chose the most recent nom of the month; River a very nice semi-solid greenish-blue and while I thought the pattern was quick, it was not easy. There was some finagling to get it to work out, it did not work with the directions as written in the pattern. There was also no chart; even after creating a chart for myself I still found I had to change a couple of things to get the stitch count to work out. While I enjoyed it, I won't be knitting these again soon. I think a good blocking of these socks will help the pattern to even out and hopefully make them a little easier to get over my heel. There's a little struggle with that at this point although they fit very well once they are on. For full notes about the modifications I made to this pattern, you can check out my project page on Ravelry.
See what I mean? All the finished things are a bit odd. Don't expect it to last. I've started a new shawl on the needles used by the Age of Brass and Steam and I've swatched for a sweater. I also have plans for a hat. I should really go wind that yarn and decide on a pattern as a matter of fact.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

A Short Week but Lots of Progress

These short weeks definitely throw me for a loop but I have been making some progress on things.
I had made a sweater pact with a friend to finish our sweaters before Labor Day. I realized it was sneaking up fast so I dug out the sweater I was working on and got going. The design is Spoke and for the most part, I enjoyed knitting it. I spun this yarn from two 8-ounce braids of Frabjous Fibers BFL in the Chocolate Cherry Colorway. I actually ran out at the last and used about 10 yards from a different skein of handspun for the bind-off and button loops. To be honest, I should have read the directions more carefully before I started this sweater. It has a lot of ribbing which was not the most fun to knit and I wasn't all that pleased with the way the front, which on the pattern page comes all the way across, does not come all the way across. I love it anyway though and rather than sew it shut as the pattern calls for, I crocheted button loops and sewed on 11 buttons! So they would go all the way around the circle part.

Overall, I'm very happy with how it came out.

I finished it up on Sunday meaning, I did finish in time! My friend sadly did not have enough time to finish her sweater. Maybe now that the weather is turning colder, she will be motivated. I definitely feel; now that this sweater is done, it's time to cast on another. I'm thinking of that lovely purple swatch from a few months back. 
I also worked on my Vesper KAL socks. I knit these for the month of August and finished them partway into September. I believe on the first, although I did weave in the ends the following morning.

As I've said before, I knit these toe-up with Wendy Johnson's Toe-up Gusset heel. I will be very interested to see how this heel wears. The colorway is Monet's Garden and I like it but I'm not in love with it, I love my Vesper socks though and I know these will get lots of wear as the weather turns colder.
Of course I had to figure out what colorway to cast on for September and settled on Dragon's Blood.

It seems a little similar to the Monet's Garden (with the chartruese replaced with orange) but the purple is more plum than purple and the pink seems a little lighter so hopefully I won't get bored with them. I started these toe-up again and I haven't decided what heel I will work just yet. Since I just finished the toe increases, I have some time to decide.
I love a plain sock knit so much. Especially while I'm reading and as I've started rereading the Harry Potter books, inspired by the Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup, I should have lots of time for that!