Archive | March, 2012

River Ripple Hat Pattern

20 Mar

I’m happy to announce that I’ve added a new free pattern to my site! The River Ripple Hat pattern (available by clicking on the image to the left or visiting the Patterns page) is finally complete!

The idea for this hat has been brewing for a long time. I knew I wanted something featuring garter stitch and cables with a brim worked flat then picked up along the edge.

This yarn was originally meant for a TARDIS hat, but after staring at it for months and using my successful Rose Red hat (knit in the same yarn) as an inspiration, I decided to knit a water-inspired hat for Spring.

This pattern is simple to work if you can knit cables, in-the-round, and take the initiative to find the length and fit that works best for your head. Because the pattern only includes instructions for a standard adult women’s size, a knitter looking to make a smaller or larger version will need to use their own judgement to adjust the gauge. That being said, any intermediate knitter should have not problem following the instructions and chart.

One of my favorite details of this hat, other than the way the simple four-stitch cable *pops* out of the garter-stitch background of the brim, is the fancy rhinestone buckle.

This buckle comes from a vintage sample card my mom bought me at an estate sale years ago. I’ve been looking for reasons to use it forever, and although my husband favored a simple button for the tab, I couldn’t resist adding some sparkle. Besides, this is a classy buckle. In 1951, this buckle cost $8. Calculate inflation into that and I put a shiny, $70 buckle on my hat, which is a testament to just how much I love this hat.

The pattern specifies that you can use any large buckle or button, but I’m so pleased that my hat features a classic detail that has some history. If I weren’t already married I could wear this as my something old and something blue!

I recommend using Blue Sky Alpaca Worsted Cotton in the Mediterranean colorway for this pattern, but any soft worsted-weight yarn with good stitch definition will work.

I hope you enjoy the pattern, and please visit the Ravelry pattern page to post any comments or questions.

I’m still here

19 Mar

I know I’ve been missing for awhile, but that’s because I’ve been knitting some socks and a shawl, and also designing this delightful blue hat. More posts and a pattern coming soon!

Cat Bordhi Syndrome

4 Mar

My new socks are quite plain, but they feature Cat Bordhi's sweet tomato heel technique.

As I made my way through the Spring 2012 issue of Sockupied, I was struck by an illness: Cat Bordhi Syndrome. This affliction – characterized by the immediate casting on of a new project to test one of Bordhi’s ingenious techniques – can derail even the most committed monogamous knitter from their project at hand. As was the case with my Gansey Clock Socks (not pictured because they’re not done.)

The technique that sent me digging through my stash for some unspoken-for sock yarn is the new Sweet Tomato Heel. This is a short-row technique that uses multiple gentle sloping wedges with no wraps – rather than the standard two steep wedges with wrapped stitches – to create a fat, round heel. I hate wrapping stitches, and I don’t care much for the way short-row heels don’t shape the gusset, but the Sweet Tomato Heels were a spark of inspiration. I had to try them. Immediately.

So, right before Parks and Recreation started on NBC Thursday night I found my Blue Moon Fiber Arts Hand Painted Sock Candy. This yarn was a gift from my mom about a year ago, and I used its mate to make her some socks this Christmas, but in a different colorway. This bout of Cat Bordhi Syndrome was also the motivation I needed to finally locate my US 1.5 Addi Turbo 32″ circulars that have been missing for months and holding up other, less innovative projects.

I cast on 58 stitches (I have small feet, the yarn is sport-weight, and the needles are fatter than usual) and started working a twisted rib cuff. I know the ktbl1, p1 cuff isn’t as snug as the k2, p2, but I’ve been holding off on using this yarn for a great pattern and I wanted them to be pretty, not just functional.

When it came to the leg, I just went with plain old stockinette. Did you know that I don’t have a single pair of plain stockinette socks? I was really charmed with the simplicity, ease and the way the color of the yarn really shined with the basic stitches.

I turned the first heel before the end of the evening, and after a 7″ leg I thought that was pretty good. I was highly motivated by my Cat Bordhi Syndrome. I had to watch the tutorial video in Sockupied again as I worked the first wedge of the Sweet Tomato Heel, but then I had it down pat. The way the color swirled to a point for each wedge is amazing. I’m so happy I used a hand-painted yarn for this pattern!

I finished my first sock the next day, and as Cat Bordhi Syndrome is stronger than Second Sock Syndrome, I immediately cast on for the other. Unprecedented!

As it went, I finished my second sock last night at about midnight, including weaving in ends from attaching a new ball of yarn and grafting the toe. I couldn’t even wait until morning to model them, and went downstairs in the horrible light to take some final shots.

Essentially, I love these socks. Like Elizabeth Bennet to Mr. Darcy, they have bewitched me. Okay, not nearly that romantic, but you get the point. They fit wonderfully, the yarn is soft and thick, and the colors only pooled in the best ways. Obviously Cat Bordhi Syndrome is accompanied by a great deal of luck.

I will definitely use this heel again when possible. It could easily be incorporated into any pattern where the heel doesn’t require some stitch pattern. I will continue to play with the number of wedges I use. I think these socks might have fit a teeny bit better if I’d added another half a wedge, but since they fit great now, I won’t dwell on it.

As I recover from my Cat Bordhi Syndrome (and cope with my real-life cold) I encourage you all to take a look at the Sweet Tomato Heel Socks e-book and explore this awesome new technique!

Blue Moon Fiber Arts Hand Painted Sock Candy is unavailable right now.

Project Details

Simple Sweet Tomato Heel Socks

Pattern: Improvised plain stockinette with Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel

Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Hand Painted Sock Candy, sport-weight, 400 yds (I have 120 yds left!), colorway: Autumn

Needles: US 1.2 Addi Turbo 32″ circular

5 Things This Knitter Wants

3 Mar

For the most part I am very pleased with my knitting supplies. Over the past few years I have accumulated all the must-haves for my projects. However, there are always a few nagging things that would just make my project planning, knitting and garment care so much easier.

My current knitting wishlist looks like this:

  1. Last year I purchased my KnitPicks interchangable nickel-plated circular needle set. I love it, and use it for just about everything. However, for sock knitting I need much smaller needles, and I find myself limited in the patterns I can complete with my current collection of small circular and DPN (double-pointed needles). This set of DPNs from KnitPicks is also nickel-plated for speed, and for $34.99 contains six sets of needles in the most common sock-knitting sizes, including those pesky half sizes.
  2. I sometimes wish I could get more into lace knitting. Bamboo is vegan and works beautifully for creating lace shawls and scarves. However, to create that gorgeous openwork lace look you have to block. This means socking and pinning your knitwear down to a surface to dry in a certain shape. These $24.99 puzzle blocks will allow for 9 sq. ft. of blocking.
  3. I have cable needles. I don’t really need new ones. But aren’t these rosewood Lantern Moon needles just so pretty? They are straight, rather than the regular hook style, and they have little ridges in the middle to hold your stitches while you do intricate cable work. I don’t like to knit with wood needles in general, but for cabling wood works great because of that special way the needle grips the fibers and keeps them from slipping around. $10.50.
  4. I generally use circular needles for all of my projects. Even for flat knitting or small circular tubes, I just like the cable between the needles and will find a way to avoid using straights or DPNs if possible. Unfortunately this means I have a TON of circular needles that get all tangled up in my knitting bags. For only $26.50 the ability to organize my needles in the Namaste Circular Needle Case by size without tangling or losing any would be worth every penny.
  5. This is the biggest ticket item on my list at $99.99, but the Laundry Pod is probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. This is a small, hand-operated washing machine. It uses no electricity, 1/5 the amount of detergent as a normal load of laundry, about a gallon of water, and can hold up to three towels. I don’t think I would use this to wash towels, but it would sure earn its keep in washing the 11 (and counting) pairs of handknit socks in our house. I knit most of my socks with machine-washable yarn, but it’s still stressful to toss something you spend so much time creating into your devil-may-care washing machine. I could probably even get sweaters, hats, scarves and mittens into this thing for a good washing, but now I’m just dreaming big.

A Sockupied Appeal

1 Mar

Sockupied Spring 2012

It has recently come to my attention that a resource I value highly is not so admired across the knitting world. I speak of the sock knitting eMagazine from Interweave Knits called Sockupied.

What is an e-Mag, you say? Basically, an e-Mag is a fancy PDF that operates like a program on your computer. It contains some interactive animation, videos, downloadable documents within links, etc. It’s a truly interactive magazine. You don’t have to remember to go to a website later to check out a recommended video or tutorial, it’s simply embedded right in your e-Mag.

Sockupied is the first and only e-Mag I have ever used, and it came as a real surprise when I noticed that the patterns published in Sockupied – designed by the likes of Ann Budd, Spillyjane and Cat Bordhi – have only a handful of projects on Ravelry. This tells me that not many people read Sockupied.

The message really hit home when I went to download the newest issue (Spring 2012) and I saw that the price for Sockupied has dropped by $10. I thought $15 dollars was steep when I purchased my first issue last fall, but now I’m concerned that the drop in price to only $5 is a sign of the end.

I see this as a test by Interweave Knits. If more people still won’t download Sockupied now that its issues cost only $5, I imagine they will cancel it and call it a failed experiment.

I don’t want this to happen, and here are a few reasons why:

  1. Sockupied is a green alternative to printed magazines. Because the e-Mag is stored on my computer no trees were destroyed in printing a physical magazine. I can also download PDFs of the sock patterns to store on my eReader, saving even more paper.
  2. The ability to immediately view videos and get a sense of the personality and flair of my favorite designers has been fun and interesting.
  3. The illustrated and video tutorials included in Sockupied have taught me more about sock knitting, repair and history than I have learned from the multitude of printed sock books I own.
  4. The articles, patterns and production are top-notch. There is real quality and care behind the production of this e-Mag, and I’m so impressed by the designers that have submitted patterns for each issue.
  5. Now more than ever Sockupied is a steal. The most recent issue of Sockupied includes six patterns. Most single patterns cost about $6. That’s a $36 value in patterns for a $5 download!
  6. Reviews and recommendations included in Sockupied come with links, so I can immediately check out yarn, books and products I am interested in.
  7. The digital platform of Sockupied ties in perfectly with my techno-age, multi-tasking habits. This is the future. You can download Sockupied on a PC, Mac or iPad and take it with you wherever without having to take up extra space toting around magazines and printed patterns.

The sock patterns included in Sockupied often correspond with tutorials and feature articles.

I’m currently knitting the Gansey Clock Sock pattern designed by Ann Budd that was published in the Fall 2011 issue of Sockupied. I love that the pattern is paired with a fun article about Ms. Budd, a short video of her talking about knitting her first sock and what she loves about socks, as well as links to some of her recommended materials.

Sockupied is my favorite knitting magazine. The physical Interweave Knits publication is a close second, and I usually purchase other magazines based on my interest in a certain pattern. I’m afraid that the lack of interest from knitters will lead to the demise of this innovative publication, and there will be no more Sockupied issues for me to experience. Yes, I said experience, because with all of the interactive elements of this e-Mag (like the heel calculators in the Spring 2011 issue!) this isn’t a magazine that you just read and set aside in your pattern library. This is a magazine that engages you, encourages you to pick up your needles and try something new, and expands your understanding of the mechanics, community and history of sock knitting.

Please, help me keep Sockupied alive and consider downloading an issue to test it out. It’s only $5.