one week socks

This is a story about the time I accidentally knit socks in a week.

You have to understand – I know that my goal for 2014 was to knit more socks, and knit down my sock yarn stash, but I haven’t been doing too well at it. I’m a pretty slow sock knitter. I tend to see socks as ‘portable’ knitting, more than things to work on at home. My commute is usually active (either driving a car or biking), and so I’m not able to knit while I get to and from work, and when I’m home in the evenings I tend to prioritize bigger projects. My socks just don’t get much love.

I wound this yarn in March, as one of those just-in-case-I-finish-my-giant-sweater-project-I’d-better-bring-another packing decisions for a weekend trip to Montreal. I didn’t end up casting on during that trip, unfortunately. (Although, I did finish my big purple cardigan – it just needs photographs!)

I really loved the yarn all wound, though. Especially with the prolonged dark, wintery weather we’ve been having. The pinks and purples and brightess of this colourway seemed like such a refreshing break, and I knew I wanted to get to it as my next knit.

Future socks

This month, I’ve been spending most of my ‘free’ time studying for a big exam coming up in early May. The exam is a big deal/necessary evil for work, and so most of my weekends and days off are either at study group with coworkers or at my desk at home, supervised by the cats.

Whenever I get down to study crunch time like this, I tend to craft a lot more, but in unusual ways. My brain wants to find ways to be creative, so I end up being really, really efficient with how I fit making into my schedule. I use my ten-minute study breaks to spin or knit, or knit while I’m reading or cooking, and I end up being inspired to make things I wouldn’t ordinarily gravitate towards.

Like socks.

I cast on for these during a study break at the beginning of the month, and something just clicked. I tried a new set of DPNs that were very pleasing to my hands (Hiya Hiya! So incredibly sharp, but fast), and figured out a stitch count to get this yarn to self-stripe, and everything was wonderful.

Hermione's everyday socks

Now, to be fair – I did end up travelling with these, and brought them on two fairly long airplane trips while I visited a friend for her wedding. But still. This was one quick pair of socks.

Hermione's everyday socks

The pattern is Hermione’s Everyday Socks, although I really just used my usual sock method and poached the stitch pattern instructions. I also experimented with the Fish Lips Kiss heel for these socks. The yarn is Socks that Rock Lightweight, in “Girl Crush.”

Hermione's everyday socks

Hermione's everyday socks

I’m not sure how I feel about the heel directions, to be honest. I like that the short-row-style heel didn’t interfere with the pooling pattern I had going on the top of the sock, and it is a clever way to do short rows. I think my foot shape needs a wider heel than this pattern gives. I’d like to have a good short-row heel in my knitting toolkit, though, so I’m planning to give this technique another go worked over a few more stitches, to see if that helps.

In knitting these socks, I also got bitten by the Socks that Rock bug. Like, really hard. I’ve already found the one skein I have in my stash and wound it for a second pair.

finished knit: cheshire cat shawl

Cheshire Shawl

This is an older project – I had a post all ready to go about this shawl in the fall, believe it or not. It sat in my to-finish pile for a while, taunting me, and ended up being one of the knitting projects I brought with me when I went away for a couple of months earlier this year.

This is my secret confession: I got stuck because I was scared of the lace.

Not that it’s a complicated lace pattern – it’s not – but I’ve been gravitating to very simple patterns for the last couple of years. Lots of stockinette, ribbing, clever uses of garter stitch. Part of this is personal taste, but at least part of the change has been due to the change in my real-life workload. It’s been hard to find the mental free-time energy to do knitting patterns where I have to read the pattern every single row, especially at the end of a busy day. I haven’t really been in the mood for it, even with the incentive of a beautiful finished result.

So, after motoring through the garter stitch body of this shawl, which didn’t take long at all, I let this project languish. It sat in my knitting corner for months, one row before the start of the lace pattern. Waiting for a time when I’d be interested in working on something complex.

Cheshire Shawl

That time finally came last month, while I was away and off work with a nasty bug. I picked this up again, and started in on the charts. Which, after all of that putting them off – turns out they were astoundingly easy. The lace repeat is only a eighteen stitches, repeated several dozen times over the length of the edging, and I fell back into the rhythm of keeping track of where I was in the chart without much trouble at all.

Really, it was a bit silly of me not to start right away.

Of course, now it’s done and I’m completely smitten. This shawl is a bit of an unusual shape – the increases are done at the edges and paired at two points in the centre of the shawl, creating a curved ‘smile’ shape that sits really nicely. It’s easy to wear, and because of the curve, the ends don’t want to ‘fall off’ my shoulders the way triangular shawls sometimes do.

Cheshire Shawl

Julie Asselin Piccolo, her merino/nylon fingering-weight base. It was good fun to work with, and the two colours I chose played together quite nicely!

All in all, I’m glad I eventually got around to this shawl. I don’t know that I’m quite ready to tackle a big, complicated chart just yet, but this project was a good lesson for me – lace is easier than I remember it being.

the most orangey handspun

Grapefruity Handspun

My trip away from home has finally ended. I’m so, so happy to be back in my city, with my C and my cats and my house just the way I like it. I’m such a nester, and it was really, really rough being away for two full months even with visits. I’m glad that I got through, and now that I’m here, I’m super excited to start being creative again.

Before I get to all the new stuff I’m excited about, though, I wanted to share one last spinning project.

Grapefruity Handspun

This is my latest handspun yarn, and I have to say I love everything about it. The fibre is an indigodragonfly club shipment, polwarth wool in this gorgeous red/pink/yellow/orange colourway called “Grapefruit: The Franklin Expedition of Diets.”

Polwarth is one of my all-time favourite breeds to spin, so it was such a treat to get this in my mailbox! This base spun up beautifully – I hardly had to pre-draft at all – and was such fun to play with.

I also didn’t have nearly the issues with the colour that I did with my last orange yarn. I knew this was going to spin up as reds and oranges going in, so I wasn’t surprised when my finished yarn turned out in those colours. In fact, I love it – it’s so punchy, and I love the way the red bits in the dyed fibre turned out looking pink in the final yarn.

I spun it by splitting the fibre lengthwise into strips, then spinning each strip end-to-end. I chain-plied the singles, which left me with a 3-ply yarn that preserves longish colour repeats. I don’t think the repeats are long enough that this will self-stripe – probably it’ll knit up more like a variegated yarn with long runs of colour.

Grapefruity Handspun

I’ve only got about 250m of a heavy fingering-weight/light sport-weight yarn. I think the poor yardage is due to a couple of things – the first being an ‘incident’ my fiber had with the spinning wheel oil. I came home and found that my oil bottle had fallen over, open, and soaked oil all over the handful of fiber I had waiting to spin next. I tried washing it, but after two washes it was still so saturated I figured it probably wasn’t worth saving. I think I only lost about 5g, but I don’t think it helped.

The other is that this is a three-ply yarn – I think if I’d been willing to split this and make a two-ply, I would have been able to get a lot more yardage per gram. But I like the bounciness of the yarn as it is, and I like that it’s a little on the heavier side. I have a specific non-sock project in mind for this wool, and I don’t think working it in a fatter yarn will be a bad thing.