Baby Hat/Scrapdown

Recently I’ve turned to my bag of sock yarn leftovers for instant gratification knitting. I tend to have a lot of yarn leftover after knititng a pair of socks or a shawl, and I’ve found it’s enough to make a baby hat. This go-round I didn’t even have to use stripes, which means there was a lot of yarn leftover. You may recognize the hat on the left from these socks and the hat on the right from this shawl.  It was a lot of fun to play with these yarns again in a completely new way.

I improvised both these hats, with no set recipients in mind (though there are a few friends with babies coming soon).  Random yarn, random pattern…it all added up to some seriously relaxing knitting!  And it feels really good to use up those 1/4 skeins of yarn.

How do you like to use your leftover bits of yarn?  Let us know in the comments!

Yarn Along:: Skinny and Dirty

There’s something about knitting with skinny yarn in the summer for me; the two go together like ice cream and swimming pools, strawberries and chocolate.  Mmm….  Fingering weight yarn has a strong hold over me in general, most likely because it’s easy for me to commit to a single skein of sock yarn with seemingly infinite potential than to a sweater’s worth of a heavier yarn.  I know it’s not just about socks.  There’s a whole host of other projects to create with sock yarn: shawls, scarves, gloves, mitts, hats, baby items, and even garments.

This summer I seem to be sticking to knitting socks and shawls, and that is just fine with me.  I’m working through my stash and some patterns that have been on my knitting wish list.  The red and blue shawl is Chadwick, and it has grown quite a bit since you last saw it.  The green and purple socks are the Sunday Swing socks, my new take-anywhere autopilot knitting project.  And bringing up the rear is sock #2 of Haleakala.  I finished its mate about 2 weeks ago, and as usual am struggling to stay focused on the project.  I thought I could finish them before Sock Summit, although why I would want a new pair of wool and cashmere socks in July is beyond me.  So I decided to pay more attention to the shawl, which is much more likely to get used this summer in drafty air-conditioned rooms and on cooler evening spent outside.

On the nightstand is The Dirty Life, a book one of my lovely readers recommended recently.  Great pick!  In the author’s words:

This book is the story of the two love affairs that interrupted the trajectory of my life: one with farming—that dirty, concupiscent art—and the other with a complicated and exasperating farmer.

This is the perfect read for anyone who daydreams of chucking it all to farm full time, or even those of us backyard farmers who enjoy getting dirty then scrubbing up and going out for sushi.  I’m loving Kimball’s writing style; it’s descriptive and insightful, and it flows together so nicely that I’ve been staying up way past my bedtime reading.  It’s just as well, though, as I’m working against that 14-day library checkout deadline!

What’s on your nightstand or in your project bag this week?  How do you feel about skinny yarn and living dirty on a farm?

Thanks, as ever, to Ginny for inspiring us all to join in her weekly Yarn Alongs to share our mutual loves of reading and knitting!

The Care of Socks

Hey, it’s more than halfway through Socktoberfest, and I realize I haven’t been talking much about socks.  There has been sock knitting of course, but also some sock wearing as the weather slowly turns cooler.  Each week as I am doing laundry, I notice the pops of color from the hand-knit socks in the mix.  That tells me a few things:

  • I like to knit socks.
  • The socks I knit are being worn.
  • The socks I knit haven’t worn out yet.

Socks in use.

I thought I’d quickly share my Care of Socks routine, in case anyone is interested.

I buy a variety of sock yarns to knit with, but most tend to be either superwash merino or a blend of wool and nylon.  I wash all of my socks in the washing machine.  I know!  The good news is, I have found a reasonably gentle process that has allowed me to not be too fussy with my socks, and they still look great.

First, I turn the socks inside out.  I figure this will help prevent any unsightly pilling or felting on the outside pattern while they are being churned about in the wash.  I used to then put all my socks in a mesh lingerie bag, but that step got omitted sometime ago and there doesn’t seem to be much difference.  They all go in with like colors on a cold water cycle.  The last step is that I put them on a drying rack.  Easy peasy!

Behold, my new sock drawer.  This is a shallow drawer in my dresser that used to be where I stored my jewelry.  While unpacking a few weeks ago, I had the idea to use it for my hand-knit socks instead.  There seems to be room for a few more pairs…

How do you care for your hand-knit socks?

Sock Yarn Swap

I joined a sock yarn round robin swap on Ravelry back in May, and to  make a long story shorter, I just got it a little over a week ago.  There were some ups and downs, a swap stealer, and many fun and cooperative swappers to get things back on track.  And since I organized this round and sent off the first box, I got to keep the completed box and all it contents. Yipeeee!

There is more yarn and fun stuff here than I even know what to do with.  There is enough yarn to make 7 pairs of socks, buttons and beads galore, stitch markers, notepads, a project bag, a notion bag, a much-loved pattern book, and a cross-stitch kit.  Good thing I did a major destash before the move or I never would have had room for all of this.  Of course, some of the yarn is not quite in my favorite color palette, so it might get passed on in another swap.  But there’s some great treats here.  I particularly like the autumnal skein of Mountain Colors, the knitting-themed stitch markers, the brown project bag, and the bumble bee buttons.  Thanks to all my fellow Ravelry swappers for contributing.

Stash, Abridged

Over the weekend I had the inspiration and opportunity to engage in a little airing of the stash.  I rearrange my yarn from time to time, but I have never gotten it all out at once and admired it wholly.

With a 50% reduction goal in mind, I quickly pulled all of the yarn out and decided if it would stay or go.  The pile behind Peaceful Baby is the “Go” pile. It mainly contains gift, trade, and what-was-I-thinking yarn, along with a heap of leftovers.  It was crucial to make these decisions quickly and not examine each skein too closely.  It’s far too easy to talk yourself into keeping the yarn when you hold it for too long, thinking about all of its potential.  If I haven’t used it within a year or two of purchase, chances are I won’t.

I tend to knit with more recent acquisitions, when the thrill of New is strong.  Of course, I also enjoy the thrill of being able to use a yarn from my stash when the urge to knit a particular pattern smacks me over the head.  There’s nothing like seeing something on Ravelry or in a new knitting magazine and being able to get started knitting right away.  Of course, as PDX Knitterati noted in a recent comment, it’s also fun to buy the yarn as you go and not keep a stash.

Seeing all of that yarn out in the open was so much fun!  I remembered the plans I had for some skeins, or the doomed projects I had attempted with others.  My preference for bright or heavily saturated colors was glaringly obvious, as was a tendency toward merino.  I sorted, arranged by color, took photos, and managed my stash online.  This stash toss unearthed 12 skeins purchased in the last few months that were not even in my Ravelry stash yet.

Peaceful Baby was very helpful throughout the process.  She insisted I keep this merino, even though I’ve had it for two years.  There is a hat I’ve been meaning to make with it, after all.  I think I may have a budding yarn enthusiast on my hands!

Things are tidy and packed up for the move now.  This culling of the stash was a valuable process, one that I think I will be able to apply to other areas of my home: books, clothes, kitchen items, DVDs, etc.  In the end, I’m not sure I reduced my yarn collection by an exact 50%, but I was able to fit my entire stash in a Boppy bag.  Except for the sock yarn, of course.  We all know that doesn’t really count as stash.

Neon Bandit

  • Pattern: Silk Kerchief by Kate Gagnon Osborn Ravelled here
  • Yarn: ShibuiKnits sock in colors 5130 (multi) and 2955 (dark teal), 1 skein each.  I did not use the full skein of multi, but ran out of the teal (191 yds).
  • Needles: US size 4/ 3.5 mm
  • Mods: I knit the stripes until this was approximately the size of my small Ishbel shawl.  Then I switched to the teal color and made increases to form a ruffle as described here.  Although I just noticed she did hers in garter stitch where mine is in stockinette; maybe that’s why mine curls in so much?  It was my intention to knit the entire ruffle in the solid color, but I underestimated the amount of yarn needed and had to bind off with the multi.

All in all this was a breeze to knit, and a I had a lot of fun with the color combo.  On its own the multi-colored yarn is a bit bright, reminding me of Play-Doh and neon accessories from the 80s.  When tempered with this lovely, multifaceted dark teal, it takes on more of a magical quality.  I love it.

I’ve been inclined to wear this bandit-style (above), but it also turned out to be a nice shawl size.  I blocked the living daylights out of it to get a little more width, which I found was the only downfall of this pattern.  The increases are only made on the front of the scarf, which resulted in a triangle that seemed to get more deep than wide.  If I were to make this again, I would probably make increases along each edge on both sides of the work.

Lately I have been knitting up a storm, trying to finish up holiday gifts, knits for me, and anything I can get my hands on really.  Apparently I overdid it because I woke up on Wednesday with sore, swollen hands and couldn’t knit for two days.  Two days!  That’s an eternity for me under normal circumstances, but was especially alarming when I still felt the urgent need to knit and was hampered by such a silly thing as hand pain.  It sure made me hope for continued good hand health; I can’t imagine having to give up knitting!

I hope you have an enjoyable weekend, full of all the knitting you (and your hands) desire.

Fresh

It’s that time again, folks…Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin’ Sock Club time, that is!

After 3 shipments, I have felt mixed emotions over the idea of the sock club.  There have been highs: the first shipment was a perfect harmony of yarn, pattern, and challenges.  There have been lows: the next two shipments were both partial misses. Shipment 2 was a great pattern but I was underwhelmed with the yarn, and shipment 3 had great yarn, but much too dark for the season and the pattern.

As for this month’s shipment, I am still undecided.  We’ve only known each other an hour or two, and first impressions can be a bit off sometimes.  I’ll let you decide for yourselves, after a buffer photo, of course.

Shoshone Falls, Idaho

Shoshone Falls, Idaho

After receiving a dark mauve/purple yarn in the last shipment, I wasn’t sure if I could count on summery colors this time.  Fortunately, they are as hot and bright as summer.

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  • Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock lightweight in Garden Daze

With colors ranging from neon yellow, celery green and fuchsia to a more sober forest green and violet red this has all the heat of a July afternoon.  And in case you can’t quite picture how all those seemingly disparate colors will knit up, there’s the mini skein and pattern photo to ponder.

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So far I am loving this yarn and feel just so so about the pattern.  The best thing about it for me at this point in time is that it’s a relatively straightforward anklet.  That means I might actually finish them in a reasonable amount of time.  There’s an interesting cast on and some funky cables at the cuff to keep things fresh.  But then I feel sort of “Bleh” when I look at it.  Perhaps this yarn might be better suited for some funky Monkey socks, or a pair of Leyburns?  What do you think?

At The End of the Rainbow

At the end of a rainbow, you typically find a Leprechaun and a pot o’ gold, right?  Well in my fantasy land, it’s a pirate chest full of sock yarn and finished socks!

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  • Pattern: The Yarn Harlot’s Basic Sock Recipe (free here)

  • Yarn: Noro Kureyon Sock Yarn in color 182, 250 yards

  • Needles: US size 1 32-inch Addi Turbos (holla, Magic Loop!)

  • Mods: None.  This is a choose-your-own-adventure sock recipe that urges you to knit to your own guidelines.  It’s my go-to pattern for plain socks.

I was really excited to try my hand at knitting up some Noro socks.  I love the colors, and was particularly enchanted with this colorway.  Who doesn’t love a little rainbow on a rainy spring day?  The colors were magically blended together, and it was a joy to watch them mingle and change over the course of 2 socks.

If you have heard that this yarn is scratchy, it is.  Not unbearably so, but it’s no merino to be sure.  That said, I didn’t mind knitting with it one bit.  My problem came later, after I finished the first sock and tried it on over and over again.  It stretched out and stayed that way.  There is hardly any elasticity to the yarn, and I fear that over time the socks will become malformed, better suited to an animal with stump legs than to a human with flat feet.

But I’m wearing them anyway, because they’re just so darn cheery.

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They are a little itchy, though.  A long soak in some Eucalin and a blocking softened them up slightly, and I hear that the yarn really blooms and softens after a proper washing.  We’ll see….

My other note is that the skein is fairly generous at 462 yards.  I could have easily made a pair of knee socks from this.  Instead, I think I’ll make wrist warmers with the leftovers.

Enjoy your weekend!

Twee Bootees

I recently whipped up these wee & twee bootees out of leftover sock yarn.  I had two little balls left over from my Spring Forward socks, and figured it would take the whole lot to make these little bootees.  Not true.  I only used up one ball!  Great way to use up tiny bits of leftovers.

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There were so many good button choices!  These booties are for a babe of unknown gender, so my strategy was to make them as fun and bright as possible.  I am not one to tote a basketful of pastel to a baby shower; in fact, if you invite me to your shower, be prepared to get shocking colors and hand knits!

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There was a fair amount of finishing to be done after the knitting was complete.  They’re so small though, that the time spent sewing them up was nominal.  I used the yarn tail from each strap to make a button loop.  Simply tack the yarn to the opposite edge of the strap to create a loop, then secure by weaving the tail into the strap.

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  • Pattern:  Saartje’s Bootees, Ravelled here

  • Yarn: Shibui Knits sock yarn, color 4201, 10 or so yards

  • Needles: US 1 1/2, 2.5mm dpns

  • Mods: Used one color instead of two.

To block, I lightly dampened each bootie and then stuffed it full of plastic wrap.  This evened out the shape and straps nicely.

The only trouble with this little stash-busting project is that I still have leftovers!