Socks, socks, and more socks

I promised some knitting, so here goes! First FO catchup post is all about the socks. I only finished five pairs for myself since late 2012 and don’t have too much to say about all of them, so let’s just tackle them all in one post, shall we? In order of completion:

Evening Socks for a Young Lady

Pattern: Evening Stockings for a Young Lady by Nancy Bush
Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in Navy
Needles: US0 / 2.0mm ChiaoGoo steel circular

I had neither enough yarn nor any desire to make long socks, so I just made these my preferred length in the leg, omitted the calf shaping (not that there would have been enough for me anyway), and kept the stitch pattern all around.

Sunstone

Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Silkie Socks that Rock in Sunstone
Needles: US0 / 2.00mm ChiaoGoo steel circular

No pattern. Basic top down sock, using 1×1 rib for the the cuff and 3×1 rib for the rest of the leg and the top of the foot.

Mingus

Pattern: Mingus by Cookie A
Yarn: Socks that Rock Lightweight in Aquaboy
Needles: US0 / 2.0mm Hiya Hiya steel circular

Other than making this shorter, I knit this pretty much as written. Took a while since it required more active attention than a lot of my other projects at the time (no matter how I tried I just could not memorize that chart) but I think it was worth it. I really love the result!

Plain Jane

Yarn: Handmaiden Casbah Sock in Midnight
Needles: US0 / 2.0mm Hiya Hiya steel circular

Believe it or not, I hadn’t knit a plain old stockinette sock since 2005. But this yarn didn’t really want to be anything else; the colorway wasn’t playing nicely with any of the other stitch patterns I tried. It’s just as well, I really like how these turned out! They’re way better than those first plain socks I ever made, but that’s the power of experience for you.

Angee

Pattern: Angee by Cookie A
Yarn: Elann Sock It To Me 4-Ply in color 7725
Needles: US0 / 2.0mm Hiya Hiya steel circular

Another Cookie A pattern, which I found more intuitive than Mingus. I made a tiny error in one of the feet (thankfully not visible in this photo) that I didn’t notice until, oh, six months later? Oh well. No way I’m ripping it back and fixing it now. It was great to finally use this yarn for something – I’d bought it very early on in my knitting life and it was the only yarn I had in my stash thin enough to actually use on socks for myself with this many stitches around, so it was basically the perfect match. I didn’t love working with it (and couldn’t get more if I tried anyway), but it’s standing up well to wear.

So those are all the socks I made for myself and hadn’t yet documented. There’s still a few more projects to share… but not today. Soon, though.

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Hello again, world

Hello, world! It’s been awhile. The most pertinent-to-this-blog bits of my life since my last post:

  • Not only did I get way behind on documenting my FOs, but I also took a good 10-month hiatus from knitting, mainly due to repetitive stress injury. I picked it up again a couple of months ago, but I’m not doing it anywhere near as frequently as I used to, and it’s likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
  • Some friends and I have been in a book club for nearly three years now. This is relevant because it’s helped me change my reading habits some (a topic for a future blog post, I think).
  • I’ve developed some new food allergies, which means T and I have had to rethink some of our previous healthy eating strategies, which… well, that’s more than I can discuss in a bullet point.

I can’t promise I’ll blog super-frequently about these things, or about other hobbies. But I can at least try to post more than once a year!

I’ll be starting by catching up on 2+ years’ worth of knitting – I’ve photographed about half the backlog so far, so I should have at least some to share soon!

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Recently gifted

Oh, goodness. So much for semi-regular knit blogging. But I suppose that would require some regular knitting.

Last year was fairly light on the knitting front. I can’t even blame the great Carpet Beetle Invasion of 2013, although that was certainly part of it (you can’t knit yarn while it’s in the freezer, after all). I just… wasn’t feeling it, for the most part.

But! Now I’m back in the swing of things. I do plan to go back and post my older FOs at some point, but let’s start with my latest two!

I may have been a little overambitious with this one, but… go big or go home, right?

Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton-Ease in Vanilla, Turquoise, and Cherry
Needles: US4 / 3.5mm Hiya Hiya bamboo interchangeable circulars

Yes, that is an attempt at a Captain America Shield blanket! My first knit blanket ever, actually. I was originally intending for it to be a baby blanket, but made some errors when attempting to scale up my prototype. That, combined with the weight of that much cotton/acrylic yarn, meant I ended up knitting a 55” diameter blanket. Ah well. In my head I’m calling it a belated wedding gift to the couple instead, makes me feel a little better about the sizing.

It’s certainly the largest project I’ve ever knit, dimensions-wise, and it’s tied with the Forest Path Stole for most time-consuming. But hey, at least when I eventually decide to knit my own, I don’t really have to recalculate anything and can use my notes mostly as is!

I’m pretty happy with this blanket overall. It’s not perfect – I don’t love how I did the increases, that’s something else that didn’t scale up well from my prototype. It ended up a bit more angular than I would have liked. So I’ll have to do that a bit differently, the next time I feel like knitting a large round blanket.

On another technique note, I attempted no-purl garter stitch in the round. I didn’t want a curling stockinette blanket, and I didn’t want to purl that many stitches, so… had to figure out something else. I’m pretty happy with how it looks; while the jog is still visible to me, it’s still way less noticeable than some other methods I’ve tried for garter stitch in the round. I’m not happy with the sheer amount of ends it meant I had to weave in, though.

I knit one other project for these friends. Well, for their adorable baby, rather. And this one actually is baby-sized!

Pattern: Minion Hat by Maura Houston
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton-Ease in Banana Cream, Licorice, Vanilla, and Stone
Needles: US2 / 2.75mm and US4 / 3.5mm Hiya Hiya bamboo interchangeables, US4 / 3.5mm and US5 / 3.75 Plymouth bamboo DPNs

I don’t have as much to say about it from a knitting/finishing standpoint, since it was so quick and easy. The eyes are slightly crooked because I made the rookie mistake of not actually pinning them in place before I sewed them on, and I also think I should have sewn them on a little closer together, but other than that I’m pretty happy with it.

These were by far the best received gifts I’ve ever knit (not that I’ve made all that many), and the blanket in particular was a good challenge, so yay, I win!

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Carpet beetles are bastards

So, it’s been awhile since I blogged, and I was planning on a more cheerful return. However, this blog post is brought to you by… carpet beetles.

Compared to my last residence, our current home is ridiculously easily accessible to bugs and other critters. Our front door is at ground level, mere feet away from shrubs and hedges (aka adult beetle food), so it’s easy for something to sneak in when T or I enter and exit the house. We have wall-to-wall carpeting, so there’s lots of little crevices where a bug could theoretically lay eggs. And I have a lot of hair, and tend to shed a lot. Left unchecked, our home is prime breeding ground for bugs, even without my knitting hobby and all the wool (aka baby beetle food) kept in the house.

So we aim to keep it checked. We vacuum regularly. I inspect the stash every few months and keep it in sealed containers, store the handknits in airtight containers during the off-season (upstairs, as far from the front door as possible), put all yarn through a freeze/thaw/freeze cycle every year, etc. And as long we didn’t do something utterly stupid, all our natural fibers have stayed safe.

However – you knew that word was coming, didn’t you? – we did do something stupid. Some things, rather:

  1. Neither of us stored our Felted Clogs properly in the off-season. We just left them out in the open, right on the shoe rack. Which is right by the front door.
  2. T and I vacuumed all the easily accessible areas regularly, but – as embarrassing as this is to admit – neither of us was always good about moving the shoe racks to vacuum behind and under them.

So of course, both pairs Felted Clogs ended up infested with beetle larvae. Grooooss. At least those are the two projects I am least sad about losing (let’s be honest, each pair took all of 2-3 days to make, and that’s including felting time), rather than something like my Forest Path Stole, but still. Boo.

Once I tossed the clogs out, I then launched into full inspection mode. Thankfully, the beetle invasion was limited – no larvae anywhere else, and every single one of my properly-stored knits was completely fine. (A SmartWool shirt – that I did not think to store properly, because I’m dumb – did have some tiny holes in it.) But, you know, I’m paranoid, so I laundered every article again, even though I’d washed everything before storing it. (And then stupidly introduced a couple of holes in my Aeolian Shawl, by washing it with my Arm Candy and its non-smooth buttons. Whoops. Another lesson learned.)

And all the FOs and SmartWool clothing are going through a freeze/thaw/freeze cycle anyway. I have never been so grateful for our excessive amount of freezer space before!

Yarn’s next up for another freeze/thaw/freeze cycle. A couple of months early – remember, I do this regularly – but better safe than sorry. I’ve never lost yarn to bugs before, and I’m not about to start now.

And we’re basically vacuuming every part of the house much more frequently, until I feel better about the whole thing.

It could have been worse. And would have been worse, had I not already been paranoid about infestations and taken some preventative measures with yarn and clothing. Thank you, past Kris, for doing something right at least. (Okay, fine, past Kris and T – fibery storage may be mostly my responsibility, but general cleaning is up to both of us)

What have I learned from this? That we’ve been on the right track, but our housekeeping could still use some improvements.

Oh, and that carpet beetles are bastards.

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The perils of yarn substitution

Hi! Long time no blog, because [reasons]. But I’m back for the moment. I have several FOs to post about at some point, as well as a couple of WIPs to talk about. The latter have been, well, full of hiccups, but I think I’m finally ready to deal with all of those. So! Let talk about one of those troublesome WIPs today.

I had a little less than a full skein of Baruffa Cashwool when I started the Chamomile Tunic. Which is less yarn than the pattern calls for in my size. But I figured I’d be fine, since I often knit sweaters with significantly less yarn than called for.

Except this time around, I made a couple of fairly boneheaded mistakes. While my math did include calculations for a different gauge and for my desired waist shaping, I completely forgot to account for two things:

  1. I wanted LONGER sleeves than those of the pattern (as opposed to shorter, which is my usual modification).
  2. There’s crochet in this pattern. Which uses more yarn than knitting. How much more? I had no idea, because I had never seriously crocheted in my life, which meant I had no point of personal reference.

So, as you’ve probably figured out, I ran out of yarn. After I’d already attached the sleeves and knit 18 rows with 550+ stitches. And cannibalized my swatch. Whooooooops. What’s a knitter using a discontinued yarn to do?

Well, I figured I’d lower the neckline a bit, so I calculated how much more yarn I’d need to finish the shorter version (thank you, yarn scale!). And then I removed the sleeves and unravelled them (down to about as long as the original pattern called for!), before unkinking the frogged bits and winding them up for reknitting.

And now, here’s what it looks like, with the yoke but without any sleeves.

I haven’t reattached the sleeves yet because I wanted to wait until I was done with the neckline, just in case I needed to cannibalize even more yarn. As far as I can tell, I’ve got two options, neither of which I particularly like the prospect of:

  1. Graft the sleeves back on.
  2. Pick up stitches around the armhole and knit/crochet back down.

I’m actually leaning toward the first one, as daunting as that sounds, because I think it might take less time than unravelling the sleeves entirely, picking up stitches around the armhole, and then knitting and crocheting rounds and rounds of 150+ stitches. But we’ll see.

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