Friday, July 31, 2015

Adventures in Sock Making - The Well-Heeled Edition

So far in my knitting adventure I have only knit socks cuff down.  Some day I may try toe-up, but for now, I'm happy as a cuff down knitter.  I have been testing out different heels though.  So far I have tried a standard heel flap and gusset using Susan B. Anderson's tutorial, an afterthought heel (with modifications), and am almost finished a pair with a strong heel.  

My very first socks were large, worsted weight and knit based on this awesome tutorial from Staci Perry (she has, by far, some of THE best tutorial videos).  This was my first introduction to the heel flap and gusset.

For my next two pairs, I went to smaller needles and sock weight yarn but stuck with the heel flap and gusset using Susan B. Anderson's tutorial for stitch counts.

Wanting to change it up a bit, I then tried an afterthought heel.  I researched it a bit and found this fantastic post which provided excellent guidance and instructions on adding lifelines to make adding the heel easier.  The heel didn't look as nice as the standard heel flap and gusset so I'm not completely sold on this one just yet.

I also misjudged the sizing and these socks were quite large...they fit my husbands size 10 rather than my size 8.  If I use this heel in the future I'll have to adjust my "sock before adding the heel" length.

My current in-progress sock has an intriguing "strong" heel.  This heel doesn't require picking up stitches and reminds me a lot of the thumb gusset in mittens.  The heel is increased forming a gusset, then you turn the heel and rejoin, continuing on in the round.  It is the most convenient of heels so far.

As I enjoy knitting mittens, the paired increases were familiar too.  The only thing I don't like is the tiny hole when you begin working in the round after the heel turn.  It's small, but annoying (you can see it in the picture below in the skinny brown coloured row that comes across the heel).  I did try picking up the stitch between but its not ideal.  I'll have to work on that.

I might take a small sock making break when this pair is finished but I think the strong heel may be my go to from now on.  I may experiment with adding slipped stitches in the heel gusset (similar to a heel flap) to strengthen it...I'll keep you posted :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

WIP Anxiety

I am discovering that multi-tasking knitting projects is not my thing.

Up until about a month or so ago, I sailed along completing one project before starting another. Then, halfway through a sock project, I started a second so I could "mix -it-up".  Then I started a MKAL, and another, and suddenly I had 5 projects underway.  There were 2 pairs of socks, a pair of fingerless mittens, a softie, and a cowl.  I was stressing over neglecting one while working on another, and trying to budget time for them much for my relaxing hobby.

So, I prioritized.  One pair of socks and the fingerless mittens were MKALs and I really wasn't enjoying them so I frogged both.  The designs were more complicated and labour intensive than I wanted and I knew I would probably never wear either.  I was also HATING the yarn I used for the socks....TANGENT TIME!!

Loops and Threads Pizzazz (Rav link) is not a pleasant yarn to work with.  I tried...I really did.  
The yarn is very scratchy and the metallic thread is really rough.  I have other metallic yarns which are similar sock weight make with wool and nylon (such as Red Heart Stardust) which are not scratchy at all.  Even the pure acrylics with metallic are softer and nicer to work with (i.e. Red Heart Holiday).  
I attempted the MKAL for Bovary:
I then tried the Baktus scarf (it was horrible, I didn't even take a picture).  I've since re-started this pattern for the third time (this time I'm using Paton's Blue Ragg) so you'll see that on here in the future I'm sure.
This yarn was not for me and will probably stay at the bottom of my stash until I give it away.
Ok, back to the projects.  I was now down to a pair of socks,  a cowl, and a softie.  I finished the MKAL Softie, Cecile. She turned out lovely.  I was quite proud of my first knit toy.

I still have the socks (just half a foot and the toe to go!), the cowl (which I haven't touched in 2 weeks), and restarted the Karius verision of Baktus (Karius is stockinette, Baktus is garter).  I also have some recycled yarn drying from a recent Value Village haul to start a test knit for an infinity scarf.

The plan: I will have the socks done before the end of the month...or die trying.  Then its the infinity scarf, then the Baktus, and then the other cowl.  Hopefully.  Wish me luck.

Monday, July 20, 2015


A few months back I completed the Hitchhiker scarf by Martina Behm, becoming 1 of over 20,000 knitters to start this project according to Ravelry.  It was a great knit.  It's one of those scarves that immediately jazzes up an outfit without being fussy.  Here's my version knit in Special Merino Lace from (an awesome place to shop for yarn BTW).  The yarn was being discontinued so a grabbed 4 skeins (2 in a mottled purpley colour and 2 in green) at a steal of a price.  Its 100% Merino and beautifully soft and squishy.

I learned several things from this scarf.

First, this yarn is a dream to knit with.  Its soft, not splitty, and glides across the needles.  Its a shame its been discontinued.  I foresee more Merino purchases in my future.

Second, if you want the same size as the pattern, you need to swatch and match gauge.  I didn't swatch so my scarf was a bit smaller than I would have liked and the fabric a teensy bit on the dense side.  Blocking stretched things out a bit but bigger would have been nicer.

Third, and most humbling of all, sometimes math and logic will fail you if you don't look at the big picture.  I was happily knitting away and realized my scarf was coming out small so I checked the gauge and then the finished measurements and did some math.  Based on my math, things didn't add up.  I huffily kept knitting, thinking I was mislead about the size.  Then, I stretched my knitting and realized I was an idiot...the scarf stretches on a diagonal because of the construction.  I contritely continued knitting and apologized (in my head) to Martina Behm for doubting her.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Yarn Shopping - Thrift Style

I love thrift shopping. Most of the clothing I own comes from Value Village and a good chunk of my yarn stash has come from there as well. I frequently stop in and comb through the craft section. Sometimes I walk away empty handed; other days, I'm the crazy lady at the counter with 18 balls of yarn. Yup, that's how many I had last week. You have to purchase a multiple of 6 to get the best deal (don't ask why... Its cheaper to buy 6 than 4) hence the 18. Here's the round up:

1 ball Cascade Heather in green
1 ball no label pink worsted weight 100% wool (as far as I can tell) (112 grams)
1 ball Red Heart Stargazer sock yarn
1 ball no label blue sock yarn (25 grams)
3 balls no label good quality boucle cotton blend (150 grams per ball)
8 balls Cotton Fantasie in pink
1 ball Nature Spun fingering wool (50 grams)
1 ball no label mohair blend multi colour (25 gram)
1 ball Garnstudio Vivaldi in a purpley-blue (50 grams)

Total cost: ~$15.00

I always wash thrifted yarn because you never know where it's been. The yarn is frequently loose and rolling around in bins or on the floor so I always wash it before using it. That may be overkill but it works for my piece of mind.

Of my recent score, everything has been turned into hanks, washed, and is currently drying. Wooohooo for thrifted yarn.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Awestruck by Mittens

Some people are too talented for words.  Whenever I scroll through projects on Ravelry, I'm awed by the intricacies that some knitters achieve.  Then there's these mittens from Kat Lewinsky at  Size 0000 needles people!!  Amazing.  Blue ribbon worthy for sure.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Garden Knitting

Is there anything better than knitting in the sun near a beautiful fountain  with a giant lilac tree perfuming the air? You can't help but love the Halifax Public Gardens.

New Beginnings and New Found Passion

Recently I discovered I have a passion for knitting.  I know, I know, it shocked me too.  A few years ago I tried my hand at the craft but a few garter projects and one pair of seamed fingerless mitten later, I lost interest.  Fast forward to November 2014.  A friend at work suggested a lunchtime knitting group and I thought, why not.  I had a ribbed scarf that had been hibernating for more than 3 years, so I figured I'd plod through that during lunch and enjoy the company.  Then, something marvelous happened.  I finished the scarf, and tried a dishcloth; finished the dishcloth, tried some seamed stockings for ornaments; finished those and went to mittens, and more mittens, then hats and socks and scarves and more socks and OH MY GOD I'M A KNITTER!  Being entirely self taught, the internet was a Godsend.  The BEST resource I found was VeryPink Knits.  Her YouTube Channel is a treasure trove of basics, techniques, tutorials and answers to questions you never knew to ask.  Of course, Ravelry is also amazing.  I'm very data oriented so having a resource like Ravelry blows my mind.

SO, here I am, 8 months after that first lunch meeting.  I'm having so much fun and learning so many new things I wanted a way to chronicle my journey.  So it begins :)