Archive | April, 2012

5 projects from this knitter’s queue

27 Apr

Like many knitters, my eyes are often bigger than my stash. I have a huge collection of patterns – downloaded online and purchased in magazines and books – that I desperately want to knit for myself, but I just don’t have the time/yarn/money. Here are five of my favorite queued items just waiting for me to get my stuff together. I’ll start with the head and work my way down:

#1 Year of the Rabbit Hat, Betsy Farquhar


As the proud adopted mother of a house rabbit, I love all things bunny-related. This hat pattern came out in 2011 (the Chinese year of the rabbit) and has been in my queue ever since. It would only cost $16 for the yarn, but the problem here is that I need two sets of needles I don’t have, which would cost an additional $16. That makes this a $32 hat, which is just a bit steep for one small project. As I gradually acquire the right needles, this will move from my queue to my current projects. Link to pattern.

#2 Stripe Study Shawl, Veera Välimäki


Here’s another project that wouldn’t cost too much to make. I already have the needles and the yarn would only run me about $12. The problem here is time and commitment. Shawls are beautiful and cushy, and I love nothing more than having something to snuggle with, but they require A LOT of knitting. It’s a big undertaking to start a shawl, especially one that is entirely garter stitch. This beauty is 63″ across at it’s longest point, and with fingering-weight yarn those rows are a bit longer than I can bring myself to think about right now. I will definitely make this shawl, but I need to work up to it and come to terms with the idea that it may be a long-term project. Link to pattern.

#3 Larch Cardigan, Amy Christoffers


Isn’t it beautiful? I adore cardigans, and the simple design and structure of this pattern gets me daydreaming about crisp fall afternoons with crunchy leaves under my feet and a warm chai in my hand. Perfection. The only problem is I have a 40″ chest circumference, and that lovely drapey design of the cardigan doesn’t transfer so well onto my busty frame. Years of experience have taught me to be wary of anything with a roomy look, because I’ll fill that extra space out and be miserable. Since I’ve started running again I hope I can slim down a little and maybe lose a couple of inches around my bust line, which would make this cardigan a more realistic design for my frame. Here’s to hoping. Link to pattern.

#4 Dimorphous Mittens, Miriam L. Felton


These neat little mittens actually have two parts: The inner mitten, knit in fingering-weight yarn, and the outer, button-on mitten, knit in sport or DK-weight yarn. This means I could knit a single inner mitten and several outer mittens to change the color combinations and overall look. I don’t have a good reason to explain why I haven’t knit these yet. They’ve been in my queue forever, I don’t really want any mittens more than I want these, and they wouldn’t be expensive to make. This project just keeps taking the back burner to my other knitting whimsies. Poor mittens. I’ll make them someday. Maybe. Link to pattern.

#5 Ellington Socks, Cookie A


The Ellington Socks is one of the first sock patterns I bought after I knit my very first pair of socks last year. I quickly realized I had bit off more than I could chew. Cookie A is a sock genius, and just like you need to know more than basic addition to understand what Einstein was talking about, I needed to log several more hours learning how to knit socks before I could understand Cookie A’s charts. The thing about Cookie A is that there are several things going on all at once with her patterns, so you really need to be vigilant and have a firm grasp of basic sock construction to identify if you’ve taken a wrong step somewhere. Now that I have developed those skills and even knit another of her patterns (Cusp), I’m just waiting for the perfect yarn for these Ellington Socks. I want something with that hand-dyed look in a brilliant raspberry (like pictured), peacock blue, or grass-green color. The selection of vegan sock yarns is pretty dismal, so I’ll continue to keep my eyes peeled. I know I wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than spectacular yarn for this spectacular pattern. I’ve definitely held it on a pedestal for that past year, and I’m not ready to pull it down just yet. Link to pattern.

What patterns are in your queue? I’m always looking to get distracted from my plans.

Knitting up my love

26 Apr

In the past year, I have knit myself five pairs of socks and two half-pairs.

A year is not a long time, and that number seems high, considering that I also work, have a family, and knit other things. I could easily polish off those last two pairs in a solid week of concentrated knitting and give myself a pair of handknit socks for each day of the week, but somehow that feels a bit selfish.

I have people in my life – family and friends – who mean a great deal to me, and it’s important that I find ways to share my love with them, and give back the support they give me. This includes cooking, letters and cards, keeping in close touch, etc. But the best way I can think to show my love is to knit.

I have knit myself the better part of seven pairs of socks in the last year, and I have knit a complete nine pairs for people I love, not to mention sweaters, hats, scarves and mittens. When I cast on a new project, or I’m just about to finish an item for myself, I get the itch to create something full of love and then let it go. It’s not always socks, but most often it is.

What better way to tell someone how much you care about them than to give them not one, but two coordinating handknit items? Tens of thousands of teeny stitches, each one filled with love, and they get to wrap it around their feet, and have that love carry them. For their comfort, you are giving them 20-40 hours of time, attention and skill, and saying, “Here, please walk on these. Stick them in your boots, scoot them across your floor, stretch them, tear them, wear them until they fall apart. And don’t worry, I’ll make you more.”

I never feel sad about letting go of a pair of socks, but I do feel sad when the recipient doesn’t wear them. As sock knitters, we put our love into yarn and form it to the shape of a foot, and when it doesn’t go anywhere, all that love just hangs out in the universe with nothing to do and no one to support. We guard ourselves against letting that much love go without a purpose again, and some people don’t get more pairs of socks. It isn’t that we don’t love them anymore, it’s that we love them too much to let it go to waste, and maybe we need to build more trust and security before we can expect them to wear our love on their feet.

But the people who do walk around on their handknit love are rewarded with so much more. That’s why there haven’t been many updates on Sockilism in the past week. I’m putting my love into something new. My needles are busy and my heart is full, which is good because I have a long ways to go.

I want to leave you with a quote that has been on my mind a lot lately, and will hopefully carry me through this project and back to my own two half-pairs of socks:

“Let me think about the people that I care about the most, and how when they fail or disappoint me I still love them, I still give them chances, and I still see the best in them. Let me extend that generosity to myself.” – Ze Frank

Little Coffee Bean Cardigan

14 Apr

Grosgrain ribbon reinforces the back of the button band, keeping the fabric from puckering.

This week I continued my baby-knitting fever and made Elizabeth Smith’s Little Coffee Bean Cardigan. This sweater is meant to feature stripes, but I love the look of the simple brown cardigan with classic buttons.

The sweater is sized for a 6-month old, and is very soft and cushy, knit with about 300 yards of Berroco Comfort Worsted in Coffeeberry.

The buttons are plastic and machine washable, just like the sweater, but look like traditional leather buttons. The button band is reinforced on the back with 7/8″ grograin ribbon to keep the fabric from puckering due to pulling on the button shanks.

This was a fun, sweet project to work on all week. Every day I had another big chunk of it done (the joy of baby knitting!) and it’s so exciting to see a sweater bloom from a pattern that quickly.

The pattern is free and I’ll definitely keep it in mind for future projects. You can easily experiment with stripes and colorwork on the blank-slate stockinette of the body and sleeves.

I purchased the yarn on clearance months ago at Loopy Knit/Crochet in Missoula and the ribbon and buttons were less than $5 at my local Jo-Ann Fabrics.

I think I’m officially over my baby craze (for awhile) and I’m back to working on my stripy socks – a project that was delayed by misplaced Addi Turbos.

The yarn is Berroco Comfort Sock in the Dunedin colorway. This yarn is only $8 per skein, and each skein is 447 yards. It's an amazing deal for soft, durable yarn.

I have some yarn coming in the mail this week for a gift. Yes, we’re entering that long birthday season in my family, so many of my big projects can’t be revealed on this blog until after they are gifted. I will try to keep up some little projects and write about knitting-related topics during this time, and I definitely won’t let the blog go dormant this year!

Right now, though, I’m headed outside because it is GORGEOUS and I have a vintage Schwinn cruiser with my name on it.

Happy Easter!

8 Apr

Vegan cashew "goat cheese" with chives and poppy-thyme crackers.

Vegan hot cross buns from http://www.vegandad.blogspot.com.

My Easter shawl is 38" long across the shoulders and 19" down the center back.

The main part of the shawl is knit with 100% sugarcane yarn, and the border is organic cotton.

The small shawl rests nicely on my shoulders or can be work as a neckerchief.

Project Details

Easter Shawl

Pattern: Boneyard Shawl by Stephen West

Yarn: Araucania Ruca Multy, 100% sugarcane, colorway: 19 (peach); Knit Picks Simply Cotton Sport, 100% organic cotton, colorway: Bittersweet (dark brown)

Needles: US 7 32″ circular

 

Prep Time

7 Apr

The day before a holiday I’m often in the kitchen most of the day. I like to prepare as much of the special food as I can so that I get to relax a bit on the actual holiday.

Here are some of the things I have preparing right now:

Cashew cheese logs are resting for 12 hours before they can be baked.

Hot cross buns are on their second rise of the day before baking.

My Easter shawl is soaking in some Soak rinseless wash before blocking.

Sock Label Tutorial

4 Apr

Cusp by Cookie A features a lace detail that swoops down and around the foot.

My aunt received her Easter socks in the mail today, so I can finally post photos! I present Cusp by designer Cookie A from her book Knit. Sock. Love.

I sent these socks off with their own special label, which has become my preferred method for gifting socks. I think it adds something special to the presentation. (It’s also a great way to include the fiber content and washing instructions.)

You can display a lot of information on a sock label, including washing/drying instructions.

I knew that my aunt would love her socks any way I sent them, but doesn’t the label just add that something special? I’ve used a label once before – for my mom’s Christmas socks – and I’ve received a lot of comments and questions about them.

I originally got the idea for a sock label from the Knitmore Girls blog (which I’m not linking to because I don’t care for it). I thought the idea was good, but the label example on their site was a bit bland, so I decided to spice things up with my own take on it.

I think it’s important to convey something about the socks or the occasion with your label, and include special images or information, as well as anything helpful for the recipient, like the name of the sock and how to care for them.

The only thing you need to design your own sock label is a word-processing program like Microsoft Word or Apple Pages (which I use). You can use your own images or find pictures and art online.

Print your labels on cardstock paper to give them a professional feel and maintain their structure. I use a large paper cutter to trim mine down to size, but if you have a steady hand you can use scissors.

To create your own sock label based on my examples, you can download the template here.This is a Microsoft Word (.doc) file, which you should be able to open in a number of computer programs.

Play around with the design, line styles, images and layout of the label. This template is only meant to serve as a guide for people who have asked how I create mine.

I hope you have fun creating your own sock labels! Knitters are creative people, and this simple project is a great way to add character to gift socks.

Project Details

Coral Cusp Socks

Pattern: Cusp by Cookie A, Knit. Sock. Love.

Yarn: Kraemer Yarns Saucon Sock, 430 yds, 44% cotton / 43% acrylic / 13% nylon, colorway: Coral

Needles: US 1

Itsy Bitsy Knitwear

3 Apr

Tiny Pants and baby socks are a low-commitment project. Side note: This reminds me of sushi!

After I finished socks this weekend I fully intended to wrap up my Easter shawl. However, I sometimes get sidetracked and just can’t focus on my current projects.

The solution for this problem is simple: Baby stuff!

Baby knitwear is quick and easy to knit and a great way to bust stash yarn. I started with a teeny pair of socks – which I finished in less than a day – so I cast on some Tiny Pants by Megan Goodacre.

The Tiny Pants are a little set of soakers (to cover a diaper) of newborn to 1-month old baby. The socks are also quite tiny, so they’ll make a great baby shower gift someday.

I’ll get back on track with my grown-up knitting soon, but I really had a lot of fun adding to my baby stash this week. Having baby knitwear on hand is a great insurance plan for last-minute baby shower invites or general babies-in-need.

The main yarn for the soakers is Knit Picks CotLin in the Loden colorway. Wool is highly absorbent and the fiber generally used for soakers, but this DK-weight yarn is a great vegan alternative because linen and cotton are also highly absorbent fibers. This yarn is a bit rough due to the linen content, though it does soften with washing. To protect sensitive baby bellies and legs, I used the extremely soft Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima DK-weight cotton in Olive for the bands.

The tiny socks are knit with some leftover Kraemer Saucon Sock in Coral.