Thursday, 7 February 2019

Once Upon a Sock: February

Each month I come here to write about socks and think 'I really must blog more' - and then put that thought to bed, until the following month.

However, this month - I have socks to share.

The candy cane socks got completed:

Yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners, in colourway Candy Cane.

I've completed my first pair of socks for 2019:

My plan was to alternate 'normal' socks with Christmas socks throughout the year, so I would end up with at least six Christmas pairs, come December.  With that in mind, I started my second pair of socks for 2019:

Yarn is from London House Yarns, in the colourway Baubles

It was only when I came to turn the heel, that I realised I'd dropped a stitch - which I found about three rows above the end of the toe.  I'm too much of a perfectionist to leave it is or try and fudge a repair - so out came eighty-something rows!  At the moment, I can't bring myself to pick it back up and sort out a repair - but I think I need to, before I forget what I did on the first sock. 

I'm taking part in the UK Sock Knitters' periodic table KAL this year, so a couple of days ago, I started my socks for February.  The chosen element for this month is iodine - so I've decided to knit the seaweed socks by Wendy D Johnson.  It's the first pair of lace socks I've ever knit, and at the beginning of today, they looked like this:

It's times like this, that stitch markers are your friend!  I've already made at least three mistakes, which have been easy (if fiddly) to repair.  The pattern is starting to show a bit better after a couple of repeats.  I think it's going to look good, but will be slow.  I'm knitting it in dark red, with white contrasting heels, toes and cuff - to look like a Christmas stocking.  I still want a simple vanilla, self-striping sock that I don't need to think about, which is a motivation to sort out the Baubles socks.

If you knit or crochet socks and would like to join in our sock-knitting chat, it would be lovely to have you join us.  On the first Thursday of each month, we all blog about our sock knitting progress (even if that's only a couple of rows since the previous month) and then share them on a link, hosted by Paula at Spin a Yarn.  The link up for February is here - please come and join us! 

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Once Upon a Sock - January 2019

Well hello!  Not only is it a new month, it is a New Year.  I missed Once Upon a Sock in December, because I was attempting Vlogmas and did not have enough hours in the day , or mental energy to blog as well.  It was a project worth doing, but it took up more time than I was expecting.

For those who do not know, a group of us who knit socks all meet up and blog about socks on the first Thursday of every month.  If you wish to join us, you are more than welcome.  All you need to do is add a link to your blog at the link up found here, hosted by Paula of Spin a Yarn

Since I last posted, we had a new member of the family join us; my sister's second son.  Of course, proud auntie that I am, I knit him some hats - which was an excellent way of getting rid of spare scraps of sock yarn.

Three hand knitted hats - one in blue and turquoise stripes, one with an orange brim blue hat and the third is mottled red, yellow and blue stripes.
Baby hats for my nephew

So, casting a brief eye over 2018 and looking forward to 2019:

I attempted the box of socks challenge, hosted by Voolenvine and didn't complete it.  (The challenge was to knit at least 12 pairs of socks over the year, ready to be worn this year).  On New Year's Eve, I had three pairs of socks (which would have completed my 12) yet to be completed.  What was waiting for a pair of afterthought heels, one had a dropped stitch which needed dealing with and the last needed its heels turned.

My incomplete Box o' Socks - with only nine pairs of the twelve finished

In my eagerness to get everything finished by midnight (and after messing up the heel three times from not properly concentrating), I ripped back one of this pair with the aim of doing a fish lips kiss heel instead.  I then realised that would mean knitting with kinked wool, which I would only do if my life depended on it.  So, in an attempt to get everything finished on time, I actually made more work for myself by messing up what had already done.

Messing up was a theme with my December socks, after inadvertently increasing a stitch, then dropping the stitch back to where the error was, so that I could pick it back up again.

A hand knit sock in red, white and green stripes, with a very wide ladder down one side.  At the bottom of the ladder is a crochet hook, holding one stitch.  The ladder is wider than the one stitch on the crochet hook.

At the beginning of today, that sock looked liked this:

Two pairs of socks, with red, white and greens stripes.  The toes at the bottom and cuffs at the top are red.
Add caption

I ended up sorting out the unintentional increase by ripping back 17 rows, then somehow managed to drop a stitch just before the ribbing!

A hand knit sock in red, green and white, still on the needles.  To the left of the photo is a hand holding a loop of red yarn from behind the top of the sock.
And again, oops!

So, that was that.  I accepted the challenge; whilst I did not complete it, I still have some lovely socks to show for it.  I had decided this year, but I was not going to do the box of socks challenge again.  There are more things that I want to knit than socks, and socks I would like to knit for more people than me.  

Then I saw Amy Florence's video on 25 Days of Christmas Socks (and the associated discussion on her Ravelry group), and then somebody pointed me towards the UK sock knitters group on Ravelry, who are doing a year long KAL based on the periodic table of the elements - and suddenly I want to knit all the socks again!

Some of the socks I knit this year

To help me on my way, I have some very nice yarn for Christmas.

The first is some red and white striped yarn from Twinkly Knits on Etsy.  I bought this before seeing Amy's video, but after seeing a pair of red and white socks with a contrasting green toes, heels and cuffs.

The next was a gift from Mr Knitty; London House YarnsLondon House Yarns in the colourway Baubles

The last one was bought in the sales from Giddy Yarns in the colourway Christmas Tree Fairy.  The suggested contrast colour was pink, however, I preferred a more vibrant red.

Whatever happens, I will be knitting Christmas socks at some point before December this year.

At the moment, I don't have any socks on the needles.  Well OK, I have a pair for Mr Knitty, which are a belated Christmas present/ very early birthday present and the mosaic socks which need some work.  Apart from that, I don't have any socks on the needles and have a mass of yarns to choose for socks to get on the train when I visit my dad and his wife tomorrow.

And the candy cane socks?  I finished them whilst watching a film this evening .....

They may be The Wrong Trousers - but Gromit has certainly chosen the right craft! 

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Once Upon a (Southwark) sock - November

I think this is the first time that Once Upon a Sock and the first of the month have coincided for quite a while.  (Having checked, it was back in March).  Today is also the first day of Wovember - a celebration of all things wool.

A drainpipe outside the main cathedral

On Thursday of last week, Mr Knitty and I spent an evening at Southwark Cathedral, to see a talk on the book that goes alongside the All The Stations project, by Geoff Marshall and Vicki Pipe.  For those who don't know the project - Geoff and Vicki did a trip last summer, where they visited every single train station in the mainland UK.  (The full documentary is here )

The cathedral is gorgeous.  There was a monument to Shakespeare (given that he worked in the parish when he was at The Globe Theatre.

Of course, I had a pair of socks on the needles, which I worked on during the talk.  I'd decided that if anybody complained, I'd be prepared to stop.  Luckily, I was sitting at the back and nobody was paying attention to me, as they were listening to the talk and taking part in the Q&As. 

The socks at the beginning of the Q&A
When it came to the book signing afterwards, it made perfect sense to knit in the queue.  I think we were waiting about 90 minutes, so it was a good distraction and more work towards this year's box o' socks.  (Please can we ignore the dropped stitch somewhere round the toe which I found a couple of days ago).  Geoff could not get over the fact that I was knitting whilst waiting, to the extent that he asked if he could write it in the book.

The Candy socks are finally finished.  After messing up the heel at least three times, I told the socks that I didn't want them languishing in the project bag; I didn't think that it wanted to be languishing in the project bag - so could we please work together to get the heel turn sorted.  

Yarn - Regia Pairfect, in the colourway Candy.
Pattern is Sockmatician's toe-ups. 

These are knit in Regia Pairfect - designed to be knit from the cuff down.  I chose to knit it toe up, so the pink on the toe should be the cuff, and the thick stripes on the feet should be on the legs.  If I were to knit them again, I'd either try cuff down (gulp) or knit the toes and heels in orange and re-jig the yarn so that the pink cuff and thick stripes are in the right place. 

Last month, I also cast on an orange pair.  This was meant to be my socks for last June, then this June and then whenever-I-could-get-round-to-knit it. 

I've recently started using this progress keeper, because it's gorgeous.  I think it came with a yarn purchase...

Yarn: Opal 20 Years, colourway 9285 - Candle

The final pair, which still need a heel are my third time lucky socks.  This was the yarn I used in my first attempt at socks over four years ago.  The next attempt was over three years ago where I got halfway through the heel and no further.  (My friend Jane was telling me how to turn the heel with wraps and turns.  The lesson finished before the heel did).  They're now nearly finished - pending an afterthought heel.  

Yarn is Sirdar Heart and Sole.  I cannot remember the colourway.

There are a group of us who blog about socks on the first Thursday of the month.  If you knit socks and want to join us, you would be most welcome.  Each month we have a live link-up, hosted by Paula at Spin a Yarn.  If you want to join us, all you need to do is post your blog entry, add your link to the link up and link back to Paula's blog.  It doesn't matter if you crank out a pair of socks a week, or just manage a couple of rows a month - if you knit socks, you're part of our gang and it would be lovely to share your projects!   

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

I Need to Knit a Sweater

It's starting to get chilly.   Like,  properly Autumnal chilly.   It's almost as if the weather is trying to convince me to knit more  The clocks going back this weekend hasn't helped with the 'let's pretend it's not getting into Winter'. 

A lot of people I follow on Instagram were at Rhinebeck earlier this month.  (Of the 29 knitting people I follow, eleven were at Rhinebeck; only two of which appeared not to be posting).  It surprised me how difficult I was finding it watching their stories.  There is something about the knitting community getting together, which is amazing.  Knitters understand knitters in a way that non-knitters never will, and I feel in need of a bit of understanding at the moment. 

Counting down! 

However, I did stay up until the early hours to watch Kristy Glass' Tell Me About Your Rhinebeck Sweater.  YouTube have a new feature called Premiere, so for the first time any recording is played, the people watching it, can interact via a chat window.  The premiere happened at 0100 UK time.  Mr Knitty was on a night shift, so his place in the bed was taken by my laptop.  So, in my own little way I was part of this year's Rhinebeck story.  I did cast on a pair of socks to knit whilst watching, but with keeping up with the sweaters and the commenting, there wasn't time for knitting as well.

Just check the time on the laptop
If you've not watched any of the 'Tell Me About Your Rhinebeck Sweater' videos on Youtube, I'd highly recommend it.  It gives you a change to indulge in other people's creativity and find new patterns and yarns you've never heard of.  The only risk is an increase in your Ravelry queued items!  The videos can be found on Youtube for 20162017 and 2018. 

I'm starting to think about Christmas knitting - both for this year and for next.  Between now and Santa, my sister is due a second baby - so I also want to do some hats for him/her.  (Older brother who was born in October got hats for his first Christmas.  Bump is going to get hats for being born and something else for Christmas.

This may, or may not, have been bought for Bump's Christmas present. 

I've also decided that I really, really, REALLY need to knit a sweater.  There's something about Christmas knitting that's got me wanting to knit everything but what I actually need to get sorted.  I'm also getting a bit bored of knitting socks; the needles are small and my shoulders hurt after too much knitting.  I've been inspired by the Rhinebeck sweaters and I want to get on and knit my own - even if I don't get to New York State until 2020 at the earliest.

Of course, extra yarn for Christmas gifts means that the stash is getting even more out of control than it was to start with.  That's even more reason to knit a sweater; a sweater worth of yarn will clear more space than a pair of socks worth of yarn.  Of course, if I actually start a sweater now - then there won't be time to knit Christmas gifts.  It's the first year I've done gift knitting, so I want to at least try and get it right.

I guess I need to start by casting on....

Friday, 5 October 2018

Once Upon a Sock: October

So, I didn't forget to post yesterday.  It just got late, and I got tired...

I have three pairs of socks currently on the needles, one of which I don't have photos of.

The pair I want to get finished today:

Yarn - West Yorkshire Spinners, colourway Blue Lagoon

I was away over the weekend, and was hoping to finish them then, but didn't.  The other pair, which really should be next to complete:

Yarn - Regia Pairfect, colourway Candy
This is knit with Sockmatician's pattern, using German short rows.  Of the three times I've tried them on this pair of socks, I've got it to work once.   I'm liking the German short rows, but it does take a bit of concentration to turn the heel. 

Today is also my birthday, which is an excuse for more knitting time and sewing badges on to my camp blanket.  For those not in the know, it's a common tradition for Guides and Scouts to sew old badges or souvenir badges on to a blanket, which they then take on camp.  The blanket I'm working on at the moment, includes these incredibly cute badges:

Hello Kitty badges from Japan, 2015
Also my sister gave me the best gift - a poetry book about knitting.  I have no idea where she bought it, but it's amazing.  All proceeds go to Knit for Peace.  There's even one poem which references James Norbury  Be still my geeky knitters heart.  She's also sent me a video of her and my two year old nephew singing Happy Birthday. 

There are about three yarns I want to cast on for my next pair of socks, as well as the Christmas yarn I should start to think about starting on.  That's in addition to any socks I want to knit for Mr Knitty for Christmas.  The focus should be on the two currently on the needles.  If I don't, I'll just cast on a new pair once I've finished the blue stripey pair and the other two pairs will still be waiting for heels, this time next year. 

On the first Thursday of every month, there is a group of us who blog about socks.  OK, in this case - a couple of us have made it the first Friday of the month, but that's OK.  There is a monthly link up hosted by Paula at Spin a Yarn.  If you blog and knit socks, you're more than welcome to join us. 

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Once Upon a Sock: September

Remember last month when I was being a bit smug about lifelines.  I claimed that if I put them in, I wouldn't need them.  Oh dear.

I was trying to use the short row heel found on the Arne and Carlos Youtube channel.   I had the idea that if I increased stitches, then I wouldn't need to make so many stitches after knitting two together.  Whilst the logic was good, because I increased the stitch count, the rest of the maths was thrown out of whack.  In the end, I decided to use a Fleegle heel instead.  To be honest, it's not my favourite heel, but so many things had gone wrong with this pair of socks I just wanted to get them finished. 

Yarn is Schoeller und Stahl Esslinger Sockenwolle in colourway beige-orange

The next pair I completed since last month, were a pair I cast on at the end of February.  I was going to use the short row heel used in the knitting expat vanilla sock pattern.  However, she has written the pattern over 64 stitches, and I only had 60 stitches. So, instead, I used the fish lips kiss heel and worked out how to do it in a contrasting colour.

Main yarn is Regia 4ply, colourway Brazil.
Contrasting yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners 4 play, colourway Cayenne Pepper

Also completed over the last month, were the toe-up Hermione's which I cast on back in July last year.  The good thing about me having similar sized feet to Mr Knitty, is that I can get him to try on pairs of socks I have knit for me, and then work out any amendments which I need to make.  Luckily, these fit him perfectly.

Main yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners 4 ply in Rum Paradise
Contrasting yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners 4 ply in Bubblegum

I also need to be less of a slattern when it comes to weaving in my ends.

Also on the needles at the moment are the candy socks and the mosaic socks.  Both of these have been made with the Sockmatician toe-up recipe.  The last time I made these, I got into a muddle with the heel turn.  This time, I have used lifelines , just in case.  I have managed one heel turn, so I know I can do it.  The second heel has gone wrong twice, so I'm putting it to one side for the time being.  This pattern uses German short rows, which are just as easy to use as people say they are.  I think I still prefer the shadow wrap short row heel used in the fish lips kiss heel, but I would definitely use of German short rows again.

As I have a hospital appointment today, I plan to cast on a new pair of socks, so I have something to do whilst waiting.  These are going to be my May socks for the box of socks challenge.  Once I've cleared another pair of needles, I'll cast on my socks for July and September.  Even better, all of this sock knitting has given me more scraps for my memory scrap blanket! 

There are a group of us who blog about socks on the first Thursday of the month.  If you knit socks, whether one pair a year or one pair a year, you are more than welcome to join us.  All you need to do is write a blog entry and add it to the link-up page which is here.  Alternatively, you can just click on the link-up and read more about other peoples' sock knitting. 

Just for today, I'm going to leave with a song.  No idea why this one is on earworm....

Thursday, 9 August 2018

USA: The Stash

Believe it or not, I was pretty restrained.  There was one yarn shop in Washington DC, which I didn't visit, as I knew there was more to explore in New York.

On my first night, I found Knitty City

Now, because that photo was taken after the shop closed, it doesn't show the baskets outside with the yarn on sale, or the boxes of books, or even the lady sitting outside knitting and telling me that all the books were free.

Oh dear.

Clockwise, from top left: 
  • Intermix - Stacy Charles
  • Kristin Knits - Kristin Nicholas
  • Hat Couture - Theresa Silver
  • Backyard Silk Blend Collection - Manos del Uruguay
  • Vogue Knitting: Teen Knits on the Go
  • Gotham - Stacy Charles
  • Curvy Knits x 2 - Jillian Moreno
  • Funky Knits - Carol Meldrum & Julie Marchington
I wasn't completely sure if I had enough weight allowance to bring back all of these books (let alone the space), so I had to go shopping for a new suitcase to carry the extra books back.  What started off at RRP of $170, was in the sale at $85.  The cashier who ran the transaction asked if he could try a mystery coupon to see if it made a difference.  Final cost, $46.40, including taxes! 

I will admit that the constant declarations that things were made the US, or the proliferation of flags got a bit irritating.  I get it, you're proud of your country/ isolationism!  However, when it came to yarn 'made in the US' is exactly what I was looking for! 

The first skein of yarn I found:

Knitted Wit Victory Sock
Colourway - Grand Canyon

Then I saw this one:

Knitted Wit Victory Sock
Colourway - Everglades

Then I saw a third one.  I wasn't sure if I could really justify a third skein.  However, I'd been sitting in Central Park listening to a guy playing his guitar and singing, including songs by REM, so I had to get it, given their song of the same name.  

Knitted Wit Victory Sock
Colourway - Cuyahoga Valley

I had a few hours to kill on the Saturday morning, and wanted to go to Lion Brand Studios (mostly because I knew they had a sale on, and the thought of getting some of the nicer yarns for a reduced cost was a tempting one).  In the end, the shop wasn't open at the same time I was free to visit it.  I also had Purl Soho on my list.  I've seen a video of it, and it looks like nothing on earth!  I'd planned to visit on the way back from Liberty and Ellis Islands.  However, I took more time than expected, by which point the shop had closed. 

Returning from Ellis Island

I have a very bad picture of me sitting inside Knitty City, in front of the bookshelf.  I hadn't even given it a glance!  I did have a plan to go back on the penultimate day I was in New York, but I decided that I'd done enough walking on the day in question, so didn't return after all.  

After walking to find the Alice statue, I didn't have the energy to return to Knitty City

Whilst I never went back to Knitty City, a couple of people had recommended Strand Books to me - and oh boy, was it a good recommendation!  The shelves for knitting and crochet were floor to ceiling; I had to borrow a ladder to peruse the top two shelves.  There was another lady looking for crochet books; every time I found one on the knitting shelves, I'd pass it down to her, just in case. 

Clockwise, from top left: 

  • Knitting in America by Susan M. Strawn 
  • The Best of Vogue Knitting: 25 Years of Articles, Techniques and Expert Advice
  • The Knit Generation, ed. Sarah Hatton
  • Knitting from the Centre Out by Daniel Yuhas
Knitting in America is one I saw at Knitty City; after looking it up online, it seemed right up my street - so I was very pleased to see it on the shelves at Strand Books.  (Ravelry page here).  Knitting from the Centre Out looked like an interesting way of approaching patterns and The Knit Generation featured designers I liked. 

They were also selling the famous Vogue Knitting Book - both the old and new editions.  I really wanted to get one of them, but didn't know if it was cheaper than in the UK, nor whether I'd have enough space in my luggage.  Despite the extra suitcase, books are heavy!  There was one by Amy Herzog which also had to go on the 'maybe later' pile.  

The last book from Strand Books, was one that is mostly intended for my very good friend and knitting mentor who had a baby, whilst I was in West Virginia.  If she likes the book, it's hers.  If she doesn't, I'll keep it.  Either way it works out, and some of the dresses are adorable

Also, in the knitting related purchases:

I first read about Kool Aid as a dye in Stitch and Bitch.  I couldn't quite get my head around the idea of using a drink powder to create a permanent colour to yarn.  I'm still not sure I've got my head around it, but with some packets of dye, space in the kitchen and an internet tutorial or two, I'm sure I can work something out.  

The final thing were a couple of bracelet charms which were on reduction at Girl Scout Central - the Manhattan shop for the Girl Scouts.  I thought they'd do quite nicely as stitch markers.  The one on the left is to celebrate 100 years of selling cookies; the one on the right is a Brownie elf.  

I'm due to go back to the US next year for a Scout camp, with Mr Knitty joining me afterwards for a holiday.  I'll either be going back to places I visited this year, or go somewhere new, with new yarn shops to explore.  It's a win-win.

What have you been up to this summer?

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Going Away, Coming Back & Tidying Up

The problem with trying to maintain a blog, is writing when you don't feel like it.  Current lack of job, combined with the outstanding complaint raised against my former employers has lead me into the mood of not wanting to do very much at all.  Nothing productive, at least.  

In June, we went to Germany and at the end of last month, I came back from the US.  Both trips have been bookended with me trying to impose order on our flat.

Earlier on in the year, I saw a post on Facebook, for an allotment somewhere in Scotland, who were looking for yarn to decorate their allotment for an open day in August.  Given the number of free kits I've collected from the front of magazines, I was more than happy to oblige.  I ended up sending a massive parcel of leftover or unwanted acrylic yarn, and in the process I found yarn in the stash that I'd either forgotten about, or didn't know I'd bought in the first place.  

One of the best things about tidying up, was finding this:

Happy yarn!
My First Regia in colourway 0184

This is a ball of My First Regia that I've been trying to find online, but everywhere was out of stock.  The colourway name is Dominik, and I really wanted it as a square on my patchwork blanket.  I have no memory of buying this yarn, but I've very, very happy to have found it in the stash!  

Somewhere in the video I made (but never uploaded) about Woolinn, I made a comment about knitting a uterus.  In the clear-out, I also managed to collate all my pink yarn and sew-on pin attachments, to do just that.  

What is the correct plural of uterus?  Uteruses?  Uteri? 

I'm starting on the Kon-Marie process of tidying up; the theory is that you decide on what to keep - and only keep that which sparks joy.  I'm currently part-way through sorting out a couple of bookshelves.  

The knitting bookshelf in its first incantation

The theatre bookshelf has been downsized, and has swapped places with the knitting bookshelf, which has got considerably bigger.  

The knitting bookshelf in it second incantation - this is now the theatre bookshelf

My plan is to have all my knitting related stuff on the one bookshelf; books, folders of patterns, my swift and ball winder, the tin of sock needles, etc. etc. etc. 

The bookshelf in its current incantation

Isn't that just beautiful?  I can't stop looking at it.  My socks books are together; my lace books are together; my stitch dictionaries are together; multiple books from one author are together.  There's space for the yarn swift (on the top shelf in the picture).  There's a bit more space, should when I buy any more books.  What can't be seen is the very top shelf, which is currently housing all the clutter I've moved to get the books in.  There are a couple of other boxes to go on, including my Box O Socks  I don't think I'm going to manage 12 pairs of socks - especially as I've lost the March socks - but that's not going to stop me knitting.

At some point, I'm going to have to do exactly the same with the yarn stash.  Please send chocolate in preparation.....

Once Upon a Sock: February

Each month I come here to write about socks and think 'I really must blog more' - and then put that thought to bed, until the follow...