Archive | February, 2012

Too bright!

27 Feb

Last week I finished a pair of socks for my 8-year-old stepdaughter, and although I wanted to blog about it, I ran into a little problem.

These socks – which I call Sophia’s Rugby Socks because of the stripes – are impossible to photograph, at least with my dinky camera. They are bright raspberry pink and royal purple in color, and although my eye can process this vibrant pairing, nearly every photo I took of the socks is an absolute mess.

Here are a couple that sort of turned out:

One of these photos is taken in natural light, and the other with artificial night in the evening. They both totally blew out the sensor of my camera. You’ll just have to take my word for it on the color. It actually looks pretty cool, and Sophia really likes them.

One other thing you might notice about these socks is that they don’t match. This is because if I’ve learned one thing about my stepdaughter it’s that she doesn’t like to wear matching socks. It’s a constant battle to get her to keep her socks in pairs, and then follow through with actually wearing them as pairs.

I’ve decided to temporarily roll with this quirk and rather than make her a matching pair of socks, she has a new pair that is coordinating. She really brightened up when she saw that they socks don’t match, so I think I made the right call.

These are knit with a DK-weight yarn (nice and thick for kid activities) and feature short-row heels. This is the first time I’ve used short-row heels (not pictured, unfortunately) but I think in the future I will spread them out across more of the stitches. The heels seem a bit short compared to my usual flap heel, and I only  knit across 50% of the stitches. I’ve read online that 60% of the stitches can be knit for a short-row heel, which seems like it would work much better.

Project Details

Sophia’s Rugby Socks

Pattern: I made it up as I went!

Yarn: Berroco Comfort DK, 185 yds., colorways: Purple and Teaberry

Needles: US 2 32″ circular

Clocks

26 Feb

"Clocks" are a 4-stich cable motif, included down the legs, heels and instep of this sock.

Sock No. 1 of my current project is complete. If I’ve been quiet this week, it’s because I’m having way too much fun knitting these cabled beauties.

Project Details

Clocks Socks

Pattern: Gansey Clock Socks, Ann Budd, Sockupied Fall 2011

Yarn: Berroco Comfort Sock, 50% nylon / 50% acrylic, 447 yds., colorway: Invercargill

Needles: US size 1, DPNs and 32″ circular for some magic-loop. The pattern recommended using US 2 needles for most of the leg, but I have slender ankles and lower legs, so I used US 1 for the whole sock and they fit great.

Versatile Blogger Award

26 Feb

I’m so pleased to say that I have been nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award. I’m thrilled that people read Sockilism at all, and it means so much to me that they enjoy it!

The Versatile Blogger Award – passed on to me by Luminous Vegans (one of my favorite blogs) – is a way for bloggers to recognize each other and recommend quality blogs. If you are nominated you have won the award, and it comes with a few rules, according to the VBA blog, and those rules are:

  •  Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  •  Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

I must say, I don’t read a lot of WordPress blogs. I have a few that I subscribe to and stay regularly updated on, but for the most part I spend my time knitting, reading books, and trying to be a good wife/mother (note I said “trying” and bought myself some wiggle room there).

I read up on this award a bit after recognizing that it feels a bit like a chain letter. Essentially, it is a chain letter, but one that you use raise awareness of great blogs. The VBA Blog asserts that by selecting excellent blogs for your nominations, you can maintain the quality of the Versatile Blogger Award. With that in mind, I will only be nominating two blogs. I would be nominating three, but as I mentioned above, Luminous Vegans has already been awarded the VBA and passed it on to me.

The two blogs I nominate for the Versatile Blogger award are about things I really love: Libraries and veganism. Both of these blogs do a fantastic job of spreading great information with quality writing. My Versatile Blogger Award nominees are:

  1. Oregon College of Art and Craft Library
  2. Save the Kales!

There are many WordPress blogs that are well-written and can teach me so much, but I just haven’t explored them enough to include on my list of nominees. In the next year, I will try to read more new blogs and develop a better sense of the WordPress community.

On to the seven facts about me:

  1. I’ve practiced a vegan lifestyle for more than four years, and I approach it from the spiritual perspective of ahimsa: To Cause No Harm. Through this I respect the planet, my body, and the other living creatures that belong to the same web of life that I do.
  2. I sometimes will peel an avocado and eat it like an apple. This is messy and strange, and I don’t even care.
  3. When I travel, if I’m not with my family my body begins to shut down from stress. Within three days I’m totally sick and miserable, but within a couple of hours of returning home to my husband and my own bed I am right as rain. This is often inconvenient, but I think it says a lot about the way I love the people in my life.
  4. I have a vegan pet so I don’t have to compromise my values to take care of my companion rabbit.
  5. I met my husband in the comic book store where I worked as a teenager. I love that we have a cute, interesting story to tell people when they ask our history.
  6. In college I was a very controversial sex columnist. I feel this was blown out of proportion.
  7. I hope to become a special collections librarian within the next five years.

As I said, I am so pleased to have been nominated for this award, and I’m sorry I can’t follow through and pass it one to another 15 bloggers. I can only try to improve my knowledge for next year.

Thank you, Luminous Vegans, and thank you to all my other readers!

The Scent of Lavender

20 Feb

Many socks bunch up when I wear them with heels, but these fit perfectly. (Ignore the splotch on my shoe. I'm a busy woman! Who has time to polish their shoes when there are socks to knit?)

I have completed my Scent of Lavender socks – and holidays still count as the weekend, so I made my deadline. Now I just have to wait for the weather to warm up so I can show them off. They fit perfectly with my favorite wedges, so I foresee a lot of skirt days this spring.

I really enjoyed this pattern, though I did make a modification by removing the ribbing on the bottom of the heel and toe. The ridges left by ribbing can be very uncomfortable to stand on, so I switched to regular, soft stockinette stitch for those sections.

I had just enough yarn from the ball my brother-in-law got me for Christmas, with a little bit leftover to go into my hexipuff stash.

These beauties aren't meant to be hidden in full shoes.

Project Details

Scent of Lavender Socks

Pattern: Scent of Lavender, Stephanie van der Linden, Around the World in Knitted Socks

Yarn: Quo Vadis Handspun San Bamboo, 328 yards, 75% bamboo / 25% nylon, colorway: The Lost City

Needles: US 1 32″ circular (magic loop method), US 1 DPNs

Cold-Ear Remedies

12 Feb

I made my own Holiday Lights Tam after my mom's was such a success.

I’ve had a sock project on my needles for awhile, but something strange happened in the past month that really threw a wrench in the works: It snowed. A lot.

I’ve lived in Montana for a long time. Long enough that snow in January shouldn’t take me by surprise, but that’s exactly what happened this year. So, while I desperately wanted to work on my bamboo lace socks in preparation of spring, my sad little ears kept asking for hats. And really, who am I to say no to cold ears?

Over the past month four hats have come off my needles, and one didn’t even stay with me.  (My mom loves her Garden Party Lights Tam, by the way).

Just in the past two weeks I supplemented by beautiful Rose Red cabled slouchy hat with my very own Holiday Lights Tam (which I call my Scarlet Beaded Tam) and a simple blue-green beret using yarn leftover from my dad’s Christmas Cobblestone sweater.

My Farmer's Market Beret features a charming vintage button detail.

My Farmer’s Market Beret is made using Hannah Fettig’s Early Morning Beret pattern and features a vintage button from a collection my mom gave me more than a year ago. As a full-sized beret this hat is much slouchier than my tam or my Rose Red hat, but by this summer my hair will have grown out even more and I think this hat will look great and keep my ears warm when I hit the early morning farmer’s market by the river.

Since I finished my Scarlet Beaded Tam yesterday I haven’t looked at a single hat pattern on Ravelry, but I have completed a lace repeat on my socks. I think it’s safe to say that my ears are satisfied, which is good because it started to warm up a bit this week I feel confident that spring will in fact arrive soon. I’d better have some charming lace socks ready to go when it gets here.

My Scent of Lavender Socks.

I am working down the leg of the second sock at the moment, so hopefully I’ll have a completed pair by the end of next weekend. I love the pattern and I love this yarn (courtesy of my brother-in-law). Can’t wait to wear these with some cute shoes!

Project details

Scarlet Beaded Tam

Pattern: Holiday Lights Tam, Catherine Shields, Interweave Knits Winter 2011

Yarn: Cascade Ultra Pima, 220 yards, 100% pima cotton, colorway: 3713, purchased at Loopy Knit/Crochet in Missoula, Mont.

Needles: US 3 40″ circular (magic-loop for brim), US 5 16″ circular, US 5 40″ circular (magic-loop for crown)

Other: 360 size 6/0 Czech glass seed beads, color: black diamond, purchased at Jo-Ann Fabrics

Farmer’s Market Beret

Pattern: Early Morning Beret, Hannah Fettig, knitbot

Yarn: Berroco Comfort, 210 yards, 50% acrylic / 50% nylon, colorway: Honeyberry Heather

Needles: US 7 40″ circular needles (magic loop method)

Other: 1″ vintage button, mother-of-pearl color

Scent of Lavender Socks

Pattern: The Scent of Lavender, Stephanie van der Linden, Around the World in Knitted Socks

Yarn: Quo Vadis Handspun San Bamboo, 328 yards, 75% bamboo / 25% nylon, colorway: The Lost City

Needles: US 1 32″ circular (magic loop method)

Sorry for the short post, but as you can see, I’ve been busy knitting.

Knitting: A beginner’s guide

6 Feb

Franklin Habit creates hilarious knitting cartoons and posts them to his blog: http://the-panopticon.blogspot.com/

So, you want to learn how to knit?

Your knitter friends parading about in their handmade hats, socks and sweaters has finally gotten to you, and just like teenagers drawn in by the pure sex appeal of cigarettes, you too are about to embark down a road toward addiction. You are about to pick up for first set of needles, your first ball of yarn, and learn how to knit.

Speaking as a yarn addict, I can’t whole-heartedly caution you away from this lifestyle. The idea of having another person to chat to about new patterns and seek emotional support from when the same patterns take a horrible turn is irresistible, but it seems only fair to warn you that your life will likely take a turn for the fuzzy in the coming months. Here are some things to look forward to as you begin your descent down the knitter’s path:

  1. You may begin to lay awake at night, trying to decide between succumbing to much-needed sleep, or trying to bang out a few more rows on that washcloth you’re practicing with.
  2. You will begin to notice just how many things in your life are knitted. Suddenly the careful examination of your favorite T-shirts, sweaters and curtains will have people around you convinced that you must be trying to find microscopic bugs on your clothes.
  3. Once you understand the stitch-work behind all of your own clothes, you will begin to grab the clothing of the same people who thought you were covered in bugs. On the plus side, when you encounter another knitter, they won’t mind at all that you stroke their sweater while you talk. Everyone else will likely have a problem with this habit.
  4. You’ll begin to lose a bit of control with your beginner yarn/supply budget. The worst thing about learning to knit is accumulating all of the necessary supplies. Once you have the right stockpile you can tackle just about any project, but in the first year it will seem you are constantly buying yet another pair of slightly different needles (or your fifth measuring tape).
  5. Your significant other will announce a moratorium on yarn-speak at the dinner table. They aren’t doing this because they don’t love you, they’re doing it because they have no idea what you’re talking about and they really just wanted to know about your day at work.

Knitting will gradually begin to invade different parts of your life. You’ll find yourself knitting while watching television, knitting while waiting at the doctor’s office, knitting while waiting for the water to boil even though you should actually be chopping vegetables.

This initial push may seem like a bit much, and there will be plenty of times when you want to just put down your damn needles and declare knitting a failed experiment. But I entreat you, don’t. The reason you want to knit all of the time is because you are excited. You’re excited that your fingers are developing the muscle memory associated with each stitch. You’re excited because you are investing hours of your life into something, and you have an item to show for it! You’re excited because with every stitch you’re a fraction of an inch closer to being that girl (or guy) that knits her own hats, and they look so much cooler than everyone else’s store-bought hats.

Getting started with knitting is a big undertaking. You can launch off like a rocket straight into garment making, or you can be like me and take two years to master the knit and purl stitches, then snowball out of control into advanced techniques.

As you embark on this exciting and dangerous path, here are some items I think you’ll need to get started properly:

  • One set of size US 8 bamboo straight knitting needles (yarn fibers cling to bamboo, making your stitches less likely to slip off the needle as you learn the proper hand motions. As you gain more control, you can graduate to metal needles for speed, or stick with wood.)
  • A couple of skeins (or balls) of worsted-weight yarn. This is the most common weight of yarn and what many beginner projects require. Wool is a very forgiving fiber and a favorite of beginners. Cotton is not as flexible, though it is softer on your hands. As a vegan, I would recommend Berroco Comfort. This is a nylon/acrylic blend that is stretchy, affordable, soft and machine washable.
  • Scissors (any kind will do, but small crafting pairs are very convenient)
  • A knitting bag. There are many companies that produce bags specifically for knitters. I personally have a Namaste Vintage Knitting Bag (discontinued), along with many other small project bags and some large handmade bags from my mom. What’s important in a bag is that you can hold a variety of items in it. Until you know exactly what you need in a bag, consider using a simple canvas tote.
  • Tapestry needles. These look like large sewing needles, and are used to weave in loose yarn ends when you finish a project.
  • A stitch dictionary with visual aids. I recommend Super Stitches Knitting, but there are many stitch dictionaries available and they will all be helpful as you get started and expand into new techniques.
  • A ruler. Any ruler will do to begin with, but eventually you will need to buy a 60-inch measuring tape to track your progress on projects.

With your supplies compiled, you’re ready to begin. There are many ways to learn how to knit. I tried using books and videos, but it took sitting down with a friend to really wrap my head around the basic techniques. You may have friends who would be willing to teach you for a small bribe of yarn or some beer. Check into your local yarn shop (LYS) as well. It’s important to support these local businesses, because they offer a lot of personal assistance, classes, and camaraderie in the knitting community that you can’t get at a big-box crafting store. This is also where you’ll find the good yarn, needles and other supplies as you expand your collection. (Keep in mind that there are two ways to knit: English and Continental. This all has to do with which hand you hold your yarn in, and if you learn some techniques from one person, there’s no guarantee the next knitter you talk to will knit the same way. I personally knit in the Continental method and I love it, but you hear compelling arguments for both techniques.)

Cotton washcloths are a popular beginner's project. You can practice your new techniques with inexpensive yarn and gift washcloths to your friends and loved ones.

Another invaluable tool for the new knitter is the Internet. There are more websites offering patterns, assistance, tutorials and support than you can imagine. Here are some of my essential knitting-related websites:

  • Ravelry. This amazing, free, social-networking site offers personal profiles, the ability to connect with friends, thousands of patterns (free and paid), forums and so much more. I use Ravelry for every knitting project I start, and I’ve learned a lot from the new friends I’ve found there.
  • KnitPicks. KnitPicks is a shopping website that offers quality, affordable yarn, books and knitting supplies. I bought my interchangeable circular needle set from KnitPicks, which is an essential item for any knitter these days. KnitPicks also offers a great podcast with reviews of books, yarns, supplies and tips on techniques.
  • Knitty. Knitty.com is a free online knitting magazine. You’d be amazed at the quality of some of the patterns on this site, and you can also explore technique tutorials and read articles and product reviews.
  • The Yarn Harlot’s blog. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (The Yarn Harlot) writes knitting- and feminism-themed humor essays. She is a knitter extraordinaire and pattern designer in her own right, who has put out several New York Times Bestseller essay collections and other knitting books. You can keep track of her exploits many days of the week on her blog.
  • Knitting Daily. This site offers great eBooks, patterns and a useful newsletter.
  • YouTube. Just about any knitting technique I’ve had trouble with has a video tutorial posted on YouTube. This is such a great tool to use when you hit a rough patch in a pattern.

These lists may seem overwhelming, but keep in mind that there’s about $50 worth of supplies that will help you get started, and all of those websites are free! As you expand into more complicated patterns and techniques, you’ll certainly need to pick up more supplies, like my interchangeable needle set. But for now, you’ll have everything you need to make some awesome garter-stitch scarves.

As you start down this path toward yarn addiction and good fashion sense, don’t forget to check your local library to find knitting books and other materials.

It can be hard to get going at first, but learning to knit is a series of baby steps toward a very steep hill. Once you hit that downslope there will be no turning back, but I’ll be waiting for you at the bottom, all tangled up in my yarn.

This post is dedicated to my good friend, Courtney. See you at the bottom.