Thursday, February 9, 2017

What's in a needle?

I am knitting some cool socks with a fairly complicated traveling twisted stitch cable pattern and I just wanted to share my observation that in knitting, sometimes your needle choice is everything.

I started knitting these on bamboo dpns and it was so difficult to work the cable pattern that I nearly gave up on the third row!  I switched to some nice and pointy nickle plated needles and it made all the difference.  The tips are pointy enough to move those stitches and the needles are slippery enough to cross them without using a cable needle.

I hate using metal dpns to knit socks because I think it creates more laddering than the lighter wood dpns, so I went with an extra long circular needle here and I'm doing magic loop.  The only problem?  The cable on the needle is basically the same color as the yarn!


Now that I've got the appropriate needles for this project, it is so much fun to knit.  Complex, but kind of addicting!

p.s. the pattern is called Nebula, by Cookie A.

Monday, February 6, 2017

New Look for the Blog!

I am playing around with a new look for this blog.  I'm so in love with my adorable new header!!




Right now it looks a bit blah, but I'll be cute-ifying it in time.  I was just anxious to get it all started.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

FO: My 30th Socks!

Remember my very first pair of socks??  (Who knew these simple stockinette babies would lead to such a powerful sock knitting addiction??)

Well, after about 8 years, they finally developed a hole in the toe.  I added it to my pile of socks to fix, but I also decided that it would be kind of nostalgic to make another pair.  And, as it turns out, this was my 30th pair of socks.  Neat, huh?

What I love about these socks is that they are made out of worsted weight yarn, so they are super warm.  The original pair was knit out of Wool Ease, but I did these out of a 100% wool yarn, so they are even more crazy warm than their predecessor.  Definitely necessary in New England!

Knitted Socks in Worsted Weight Yarn -- Starter Stockinette

Also love that these are a super quick knit.  I definitely recommend this pattern to anyone who wants to get started knitting socks - it's in a great book called Knit Socks (that's an affiliate link).  It contains everything you need to learn how to knit socks.  After you cut your teeth on this pair, I like the Classsy Slip Up socks for your first pair made with fingering weight yarn.  But I digress....

yarn details
Cascade 220 Superwash in Monmarte
Worsted Weight
Dye Lot 10107
100% Wool
machine wash, lay flat to dry
$5.99 per 220 yard / 100 gram skein (purchased in March 2014)

Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Natural Heather
Worsted Weight
80% Acrylic, 20% Wool
machine wash, lay flat to dry
197 yard / 85 gram ball (purchased in 2006)

project details
pattern: "Starter Stockinette" by Betsy Lee McCarthy; available to purchase for $5 on Ravelry
needles: size 3 wood dpns
yarn used: 0.94 skeins (207 yards) of MC; 0.15 skeins (30 yards) CC
size knit: small
gauge: 13 st & 16.6 rows over 2'' in stockinette
finished size: top of cuff to end of bottom of heel flap: 9.5''; back of heel to tip of toe: 10''
duration: Nov 23 - Dec 24, 2016

Saturday, February 4, 2017

14 Things You Need To Get Started Knitting Socks

I first became addicted to sock knitting about 10 years ago.  At first it seemed kind of scary, but after you overcome the anxiety associated with casting on for your first pair, you will find that knitting socks is such a joyful experience and a gorgeous and comfy pair of socks is the best hand knit out there, in my opinion!

Here are the tools that I find invaluable in my sock knitting.  You can buy them all at once, or gradually build your collection as you grow to love knitting socks!

FYI: the links to Craftsy and Amazon below are affiliate links.  That means I get a little extra yarn money!

1. Emergency Fix Keychain

The little end on this double-sided mini crochet hook is perfect for picking up those teeny tiny dropped stitches in your sock.  Dropping stitches sucks, but it happens. (You can detach the keychain part using a pair of pliers if it annoys you).

2. Crayola Blunt Tip Scissors

The best thing about sock knitting is that it is so portable! You'll want these blunt tipped scissors in your knitting bag so you never stab yourself when you are reaching in there. Bonus: the TSA lets you fly with this babies!

3.  Digital Scale (the smaller the better!)

Why a scale you ask? Because sock yarn usually comes in one big 400+ yard ball, you need to make sure you use no more than half of it in your first sock or you will run out on the second sock = no fun! With the scale, you can weight the yarn ball every now and then while you are working on that first sock to keep an eye on it and make sure you never go below the halfway point. This is particularly useful if you are knitting toe-up socks because you can keep going on the cuff to make it as long as possible - if that's your style.

4. Knit Socks!: 17 Classic Patterns for Cozy Feet

This is the book I used to learn how to knit socks. The Starter Stockinette sock is written for knitting a sock out of worsted weight yarn, which is a good place to start if you have (a) never knit a sock before and (b) never knit with fingering weight yarn before. A worsted weight sock is less of a time commitment than a fingering weight sock and they are super cozy! After you master the Starter Stockinette, I love the Classy Slip Up Socks for your first "fancy" pair of socks.

5. Umbrella Yarn Swift and Yarn Ball Winder

I'm a sucker for buying my sock yarn online, but sock yarn usually comes in hanks and not balls. You will need a swift and ball winder. No one wants to wind a 400+ yard skein by hand.

6. Bamboo Double Pointed Needles, Size 2

I love knitting socks on wooden dpns. They are light so they don't create as many ladders and they aren't as slippery as other materials so your stitches are less likely to slide off the needles. Size 2 is the size I use most often for socks. I highly recommend buying more than one set because you will inevitably lose one and it's nice to have a spare!


7. Pretty Snag Free Stitch Markers

You'll want small snag-free stitch markers handy in case your pattern calls for them. I have these ones and they are well-made. Love buying stitch markers on etsy -- there are so many cute ones! I have quite a large collection.



8. Heart Locking Stitch Markers

You'll need a locking stitch marker to mark where the beginning of your round is. Why not get a super cute one??

9. Project Bag

You'll want a super cute bag to keep your WIP in, right? I'm a big fan of these wedge style bags with the zippered top and a handle. They are available from lots of sellers on etsy.

10. Darning Egg

If you get a hole in your socks, you should try darning them. It's not an easy task, but worth it to save the socks you worked so hard on. There are lots of tutorials on the internet about how to darn socks. Many will suggest using a lightbulb as your darning surface, but I think that is a crazy idea. Just buy a wooden darning egg and don't risk it!

11.  Craftsy Class: Learn To Knit Original Cuff-Down Socks

I'm addicted to using Craftsy for picking up new knitting skills. Once you have a few pairs of socks under your belt, you will love this class by sock-knitter-extraordinaire Donna Druchunas. She covers different methods for making heels and toes and you can design your own custom-fit socks using any stitch pattern you like. Fun! (There is a toe-up version of this class as well, if that's your thing.)

Knit Original Cuff-Down Socks

12. View Sizer

Smart knitters check their gauge. Just do it.

13.  Embroidery/Tapestry Large Gold Eye Needles

This is my needle of choice for finishing my socks. It has a sharp point so if you use it for kitchener stitch be careful not to split the yarn as you graft. I like the sharp point precisely because it *does* split the yarn when I am weaving in my ends. Makes them much more secure.

AND...  don't forget the yarn!

14. Stroll Tonal Sock Yarn

This is my absolute favorite sock yarn! It is ever so slightly variegated so it's interesting to knit with, but it will never pool or distract from your stitch pattern. When shopping for sock yarn, be sure to pick one that is made from superwash wool and I highly recommend getting one with a little nylon mixed in. This makes the yarn more heavy-duty and your socks are going to last a lot longer. (Repairing holes on the heels/soles of your socks is possible, but not at all fun!)


Sunday, January 22, 2017

FO: Silverplait Socks

These socks were much more simple to knit than they look!  I had a lot of fun with them!  I did these without a cable needle -- I didn't need one for the two side cables and I positioned the center cable at the join of my dpns so I could use the spare dpn as if it were the cable needle when I reached the join in that area.  (Hard to explain this concept, but it's easy if you have it in your hands!)


I'm not in love with this yarn, I have to say.  It's just not as soft as I'd like it to be.  Definitely not scratchy, but I guess I would use to describe it is "stiff".  That said, I got some awesome Beyond Soft fabric softener at Knit Picks and it worked like a dream in the blocking stage to soften up the yarn.  They are still not as soft as creations out of my beloved Stroll, but definitely much better than nothing!  Anyway, so the yarn isn't horrible, but I would probably not buy it again....  but it's not bad for $3.00 a skein.

This picture is a little more true to the color of the socks...  they are a very pretty blue!



yarn details
Cloudborn Fibers Highland Superwash Sock Twist in Dolphin Blue
Fingering Weight
Dye Lot 19-0
80% Wool, 20% Nylon
machine wash, lay flat to dry
$3.00 per 178 yard / 50 gram skein (purchased in August 2016)

project details
pattern: "Silverplait" by Ariel Altaras; available to purchase for $5 on Ravelry
needles: size 1.5 (2.5mm) wood dpns
yarn used: 1.9 skeins (338 yards)
size knit: medium (CO 70st)
finished size: top of cuff to end of bottom of heel flap: 8.5''
duration: October 6 - Dec 24, 2016

notes

  • If you want to know how to cable without a needle, I learned how in Patty Lyons's Craftsy class -- Explorations in Cables (affiliate link)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

These are a few of my favorite things...

I'm super excited about the scarf I'm knitting -- it's called "My Favourite Things" by Jill McGee.  It's more of a "recipe" than a pattern.  The instructions to get you started are a free Ravelry download, so I recommend checking it out.

I am stashbusting for this project, which means it's mostly coming from my leftovers of acrylic from various amigurumis or whatnot.  (All gathered together in what I call my "bag of chaos.")  I'm having tons of fun playing with different color combinations and picking out cool motifs to make the scarf.  I just pick color schemes and motifs that remind me of my favorite things.  Like this one, where I'm knitting the Federation symbol while watching TNG...



I'm also loving the pink cat motif (although I used some extra crappy yarn for that piece and it looks pretty bad.  Really should have frogged it and started over with better yarn, but that ship has sailed, so I'm gonna live with it...)


I'm loving playing with color and getting to use everything I learned in my color theory class on Craftsy [affiliate link].  BTW, I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that I'm enrolled in 108 classes, but happy to report that this color class is absolutely my very favorite!

OK, back to knitting!  Pepper out.


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

FO: Emergency Ear Warmers (Two Posts in One!)

After all these years, I lost my beloved Head Hugger Earwarmer.  RIP my dear friend!  I'm so sad.  I really hope someone found it and decided to use it.  I hate to think it just ended up all dirty on the street and got swept up....  no, Pepper, don't think that!!

Anyway, I tried to knit some replacements the weekend after I lost it.  Don't really love either candidate.  I'm going to be ordering more Lamb's Pride Bulky soon so I can replicate the original Head Hugger.

Anyway, here are the ones I knit. You can get more details on the Ravelry pages if you are dying to know the details.

The Parisian Twist Earwarmer:

This one is knit out of some acrylic yarn that I randomly bought recently.  It is nice and soft, but not very warm.  However, I am excited that I got to use this cute button on something!  {details on Ravelry}

  

Head Hugger:

This is the Head Hugger pattern, but without any embellishments.  I was going to embellish it, but after wearing it, it's not warm enough.  I used some lovely thick & thin yarn on it, but I think the thin parts are letting the wind in. {details on Ravelry}