Socks never go out of style

matt socksSocks never go out of fashion because winter is inevitable, and unlike items made for expandable body parts, socks will usually always fit. Despite their unfailing utility, socks are also often a background project for me, taking the main stage when I’m tired of thinking, or I need something to keep me company on a walk, in the movie theater, or during a meeting when I need to keep my hands busy to focus. As soon as I finish one pair I cast another on almost immediately. Socks are the unsung heroes of the knitting world.

matt socks-3These are simple stockinette for the foot, made from the toe-up and using a heel flap that goes across the bottom of the heel and wraps around the back of the heel, as shown in the top picture. I finished with 1×1 ribbing for the cuff. If you’re looking for a pattern that incorporates this kind of sock heel, see my Girl with the Purled Toes or read more about it in my tutorialmatt socks-2The yarn was sent to me from Germany by Carina, so it feels like an extra special pair of socks. It’s Schachenmayr Regia Strata Color in the colorway Kiwi. Frequent readers know that I’m a bit Regia obsessed. The yarn has a 10 year guarantee on the label. That’s very appealing when socks are an item that have a finite life span. I have Regia socks I’ve been wearing since 2006, so I think their guarantee is pretty legit. I especially try to make Matt socks in durable yarn since he has fewer pairs than me (higher rotation in the wearing) and he’s pretty hard on his socks. Sometimes I feel I should make him more pairs, but I’m so in love with my sock stash it’s very hard to part with socks for others. I try to buy some sock yarn specifically for him to help myself be more generous when knitting socks, but it’s very rare that I don’t fall head over heels for a project intended for someone else.

I’m very excited to say that I have a new pattern coming soon! I am finalizing the photo edits and pattern organization. I was without my computer for most of July, so the process has been slower than anticipated, but I can’t wait to share the results. Stay tuned for more.

Hello.

riftMost of the time I wait and make a blog post when I’ve started a new project, or when I’ve reached a significant point of progress. I thought I would wait until I had one side of this Rift finished up to the top of the neck before writing about it again, but my knitting time has dwindled, and I don’t want to wait to say hello. So, hello.

This project has gotten much more enjoyable with the armhole shaping. It has a chart. I tried to explain charts to Zooey yesterday and I’d like to think she got it a little bit. The picture makes sense with the actual item. rift-2I took these photos in the bathtub. In the late afternoon that’s the only place in the house that gets great lighting, so that’s where the sweater got it’s second photoshoot. If you want more details about the project, take a peek on my Ravelry project page.

Whatcha swatchin’

Whatcha swatchin’

I wasn’t feeling inspired by many men’s knits recently. I knit Matt a sweater every year (sometimes two) but this year I wasn’t feeling the sweater mojo when it came to a guy sweater till about a week and a half ago. I love my LYS and the knitters that often frequent it. One of these knitters is a college senior named Levi, whose fingers fly and conquer Kaffe Fassett intarsia blankets and deliciously cabled sweaters like they’re no big deal. We have a similar love of Brooklyn Tweed patterns and recently I saw him knitting a Rift. I feel in love with that pattern instantly and went home excited to tell Matt that I was ready to knit for him again.

whelter-3I decided it was time to try Shelter. It comes in so many amazing colors. Matt and I settled on this gorgeous Faded Quilt, a grey-blue with little teal flecks. So far I have been pleasantly surprised.swatch

While I had heard that Shelter is more delicate, it’s not like it falls apart while you are knitting it. If you pull on it to break a strand it breaks easily, but I had no issues while knitting my swatches. It felt fluffy and bouncy while knitting the swatches. Before washing my swatches it seemed like I was going to have to go down two needle sizes to a US 5 to make gauge, but somehow after washing and letting them dry unpinned the size US 6 swatch came out perfectly. I will be casting on very soon, but I can’t forget about Z’s “wing sweater” because we talk about it often.

Early Christmas

Early Christmas

Sometimes I just can’t wait until Christmas to give a gift, especially a knit one. I managed to knit this Graham hat for Matt completely in secret, but about 10 minutes after I finished it yesterday I wrapped it and gave it to him. graham-2 The yarn is Blue Moon Fiber Arts Gaea Sport in Everyday Grey. This yarn is definitely not sport weight. Keep that in mind if you ever order it with a sport weight project in mind. I originally used it for this skirt and had to alter the pattern to make it work. It’s close to a heavy DK or light worsted weight, much like Cascade 220 Superwash. grahamThis time I knit the pattern as written, casting on 96 stitches as prescribed, and knitting for 7.5″ before making decreases. I added about an extra 1.5″ of slouch to the one I made for myself. I like the slouch in mine, but sometimes it just folds in half and looks a bit weird. graham-3Matt has absconded with mine a few times, so I decided he needed his own. He likes it and I’m happy that mine will remain for my use. Maybe I’ll even borrow his a few times…

Proof of sweater

Proof of sweater

I wanted to get pictures of my brother in his finished Hugo, but I gave him the sweater when I saw him over the weekend and it just didn’t work out. It does fit, though it has some negative ease in the chest and arms I wasn’t quite anticipating. All in all my brother is happy with it and I got to hand it off before he goes back to the soon-to-be-tundra Minnesota. Fortunately, as a precaution for the upcoming busy weekend, I took some shots of Matt in the sweater. Here he is looking a bit like a Sad Etsy Boyfriend.

 

Hugo-3 The yarn is Cascade 220 in Japanese Maple. I used about 6.5 skeins of it for this sweater. This time I used snaps instead of buttons as I did for Matt’s. I like the snaps. I think I’d stick with that if I made this sweater a third time (but I probably won’t).  Hugo-2 I love this color on Matt. See how much he loves modeling for me when he’d rather be drinking coffee on a Saturday morning? HugoI’m glad this is off my knitting plate. I’m thisclose to finishing Carpino and I think I shall be starting something new soon. I keep thinking about doing some baby knits for Charlotte, but I haven’t really been inspired by something I have to make right this minute (which is about as long as a knit for a 5 month old takes compared to adult stuff) so I’m waiting to be struck by a gorgeous piece of pattern inspiration. Or maybe I’ll dream something up.

Much ado about blocking.

Much ado about blocking.

If you don’t block sweaters…why the hell not? Nothing makes a piece look as professional and finished. I almost always block a sweater before seaming, like I’m doing with this Hugohugo-2Blocking before seaming lets you make sure you get the pieces to the exact measurements you want and it smooths out all of the slight imperfections in the stitches. Pre-seaming blocking also allows the sweater to dry faster since it’s still in pieces. You need to block the pieces to get it to the gauge of the swatch you washed and blocked, right?

hugoI know, I know. It’s a pain. You need to soak it in some wool wash, like Eucalan, and squeeze out the water gently, then roll it up in a dry towel and smoosh the water out with your feet. Then you finesse the pieces into the finished measurements and maybe you pin it lightly. Maybe you pin it aggressively if it’s lace. I think the sweater pieces should be fairly relaxed when you pin them because if you’re getting aggressive at this point you might not have made the correct gauge or size in the first place. I’ve learned that lesson a couple of times.

But seriously, if you’re not a dedicated blocker, try it next time you do a sweater. It’s well worth the effort and I know you can hold on just a little longer on the finishing. Just cast on something new while you wait for it to dry. Read this Knitty article for more specific tips, especially for dealing with different fibers.

This sweater is now so close to being finished! After seaming it just needs the ribbed collar and some buttons. It’s for my brother and I’ll see him next weekend for our little sister’s wedding. Then he can cart it home to Minnesota where it will surely get lots of use. I should probably send him home with some wool wash and washing instructions. I made this out of Cascade 220 (non-superwash).

Slow Sleeves

Slow Sleeves

Part of me was pie-eyed enough to think I might finish this Hugo sweater before this coming weekend when I’ll see my brother. Ha! I’m wildly optimistic about my knitting abilities sometimes. I thought I would do this in the midst of a move to a new house across town, no less. Well, I have most of two sleeves and a back so far. That’s pretty good for now. 
sleevesThis color is a much more accurate representation than my previous post about the back. It’s a nice deep rust. My brother has long monkey arms and I had to add three inches to them before the sleeve cap shaping. That probably helps him be such a great drummer. To be fair, I too have to add about three inches to my sweater sleeves for them to fit me the way I want.

As for our move, we are 95 percent unpacked and settled in our new place and I love it immensely. We got rid of SO MUCH STUFF before we moved. I highly recommend the Konmari Method if you need to declutter your life.

Now I can finally sit down and knit. I think my hands didn’t touch yarn for about three days, and that makes a gal kind of twitchy.