Sunday, March 30, 2008

Noro Socks! Eeee!


A plain and simple sock in colour #185. Cannot WAIT to get to the orange. I decided to work the heel from the centre of the ball, so that the flow of the colouring didn't break at the ankle. Depending on how the colouring looks by the time I get to the toe, I may or may not change it up there, too.
(I'm using my own sock recipe, on 56 sts, with k2 p2 ribbing at the cuff. The gauge is marginally heavier than the usual for sock yarn, so I might even go down 2 or 4 sts next time.)

The stretches of colour are longer than I expected, but I like it. It means that the two of the pair could be radically different. Having lots of fun with it so far.

This is colour #95. I'm playing with stitch patterns on this one, to take advantage of the lovely, lovely colours. It's tulip-y. Stay tuned. This pattern will be available for sale.

The knitting is going slowly as it takes more attention, and I've had more phone and car (and therefore easy knitting) time than I have focused sit 'n' knit time.

I anticipate having more focused time over the next few days, so I'm looking forward to making some serious progress.

Friday, March 28, 2008

That Design Project I Needed to Finish Up: Coffee Morning Shawl

A month or two ago, Lorena at the Sheep told me about a very interesting new yarn she's carrying... Rosario's Sole Latte. It's made of milk fibre. (Seems to be entirely lactose free, for those that worry about that sort of thing... ;-))

I played with it for a while, swatched, blocked, tried it on different size needles, worked a few different stitch patterns, and I was very pleasantly surprised with the results.

It holds a block very well, and the variegation is enough to add visual interest to a lace pattern without overwhelming it.

The idea for the Coffee Morning Shawl was born. I chose a stitch pattern that reminded me of a coffee bean....

And I knew I wanted something not too overwhelming in size, something that wouldn't dangle in my coffee cup. I decided to think differently about the shape. I've remarked on this before, but I'm not very tall. I do like a good triangle shawl, but they're often big and unwieldy on me.

I noodled on a semi-circular concept, but then ended up with a square. An open square.

It wears like a "proper" triangle shawl at the back, coming to a nice point

but not so long that it overwhelms me.

And then because of the shape, you get good drape around the shoulders and the front, but it's not too long.

And it wraps nicely, too.

Pattern available on Patternfish and Ravelry.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Noro Sock Yarn is in the country. Two confirmed sightings so far.

Dear God I have to focus and finish up my design project so I can reward myself with an orgy of sock knitting.

I'm fooling myself if I don't think I'm going to indulge in some serious stashing.

Monday, March 24, 2008

FO: Feeling Kerchief

This is the one-skein luxury kerchief design worked in a lovely, springy shade of green Needful Feeling. The yarn is delicious -- a wool/silk/cashmere blend.

I had a single ball of it in my stash -- it was left over from a swatching exercise for some technical editing I'm doing -- and I couldn't let it go to waste. It's about 140m of a DK weight, and I get a scarf about 130 cm/50 ins wide and 30 cm/12 ins long after a light blocking. (Where "light blocking" means handwash in the sink, roll out in a towel, stretch it out a bit and leave it to dry overnight draped casually over the railing above the stairs.)

The idea behind the design -- other than making the most of a luxurious and perhaps budget-busting yarn -- was a light scarf to go with spring coats. Because we're lying to ourselves here in Canada if we think we won't need to wear scarves for a while longer.

It was also, frankly, a nice break from a lot of the other knitting I'm doing. I'm doing stuff for a book, and for some technical editing, and working on a design of my own, and I needed a change.

A quickie one-skein project was just the thing I needed. Far be it from me to complain about knitting as work, but sometimes it's hard to stay focused on a project that you're not really enjoying knitting. I just finished up something that's great, that turned out really well, but I wasn't a fan of the yarn colour that had been chosen, and that was a surprising barrier for me.

Hence a cheerful green scarf that I'll likely never wear -- but hey, I didn't pay for the yarn and it's not like it was hours and hours of work.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Just 20 Million More Stitches....

A commenter recently posted a link to this lovely cartoon...

Oh, we've all been there. When a project gets boring, or when you're knitting to a deadline, you start doing the math. I look at the clock on the DVD player/TV box and start figuring out how many minutes it takes me to knit a row/round. And then I start estimating how many rows/rounds I have left. And how many hours of knitting it will be.

That way lies madness.

If we really thought about the time it takes to knit something, we'd be horrified. 8 hours a sock?! That's just ONE sock.

I like to measure my projects not in stitches or minutes (or hours... or days...) but rather in episodes of TV. The heel turn, gusset pickup and decrease of my latest sock took two episodes of Torchwood last night (longer than usual, but I realized that my pair wasn't matching, and since they're to be photographed professionally, it actually mattered). Plus, it's entirely possible I might have been a bit distracted. Captain Jack Harkness, anyone?

Rogue, for example, took about three quarters of a season of Buffy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Fall Trends: Knitwear still rules!

I had the privilege of attending a Canadian Fashion Week event last night, thanks to my friend L.

It's a lot of fun -- and not just because of the free Orangina and nail polish (colour #580, "Stroke of Midnight"). I got to see what's going to be gracing the store shelves come September/October this year. I'm very pleased to report that there was lots of great knitwear. And interesting stuff, too. Yes, the eternal black turtleneck, but also more knitted dresses and some really great capey sorts of things.

I liked very much the chunky knit dress in a great, traditional aran colour with a single, bold cable. I was also very impressed with what they called a "sweater cape". Imagine a big, loose, long cardigan without sleeves, with cape-style slits for your arms. I am thinking about a design already...

Semi-decent pic of the cable knit dress.

(Still looking for a pic of the sweater cape thingy.)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

As I Was Saying

Really. Only sock yarn.

LK got in a new shipment of Socks that Rock, and I found myself buying two more skeins... (No alcohol involved this time, though.) Mr. Green Jeans and Grawk. Mr. Green Jeans must be a new colourway, as I can't find it on the Blue Moon site. I do love the "almost black" colourways they've done -- I've got both Grawk and Thraven in the stash now. I want to do a pair of my Basic Ribbed Socks in black, I think they'll be terrific but also subtle and very wearable.

And I've got an order in for 2 balls of the Noro Kureyon sock yarn at PP. Colours 164 and 185, if you must know.

My excuse is that I'm doing so many design samples at the moment that it's hard to take on a big project for myself. And socks are the perfect mindless rest-knitting I need. Yeah, that's it. THAT'S the reason.

Hello. My name is Kate and I love sock yarn.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Reader Mail: Another Question about Sock Knitting, A Question About Silk

Nikki asks about where to start with sock knitting. I will indulge in a bit of shameless self-promotion, and point to my "Socks 101" article on Knitty.

The article guides you through creating a mini "training sock" that teaches you all the skills you need, and then helps you create your own custom-fit basic sock pattern.

Marilyn asks about using silk for shawls. Silk is terrific for lace, it blocks very very well. I've had great success with both refined, smooth silk yarns, and rougher silk yarns. Some of the blends are just fabulous. The Feeling I mention has a relatively small silk content, and really just feels and behaves like the nicest softest wool in the world. I am a big fan of Fleece Artist's Sea Silk, I used it for my Swallowtail Shawl. I can't find that specific yarn listed on their site at the moment, but they have many other silk and silk blend yarns.

For more details on the properties of silk, take at look at Amy Singer's No Sheep for You book.

Monday, March 10, 2008

To Patti, Who Asked About Sock Knitting

Patti posted a comment to my Basic Ribbed sock pattern, and asked an important question.

She mentioned she'd didn't like the fabric she'd produced working with standard sock yarn on US size 3 needles. She said it was too loose and not stretchy.

Your yarn choice is good, it's actually the needles I'd change. Try much smaller needles -- 2.5mm (no US size equivalent), 2.25mm (US size 1) or even 2mm (US size 0).

She mentions that WoolEase sportweight works well on US size 3 -- yes, absolutely, it's heavier than standard sock yarn. Paton's Kroy is a terrific choice -- try it again, but use smaller needles.

You need to go small with sock needles, because you need a good, dense fabric that will stretch and bounce back, and will wear well. I always err on the smaller side of the recommended needles for a sock yarn, and for a yarn that's not specifically designed for socks -- the WoolEase being a good example -- I go down a couple from even the smallest recommended.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

On Stashing

In general, I'm not much of a stasher. For me, a project is as much about the design as it is about the yarn, and so I can usually resist the urge to fall in love with yarn on its own. It may look nice, but unless I know what it's for, I can't make a decision about whether it's exactly perfect or not.

This attitude has saved me on a number of occasions -- saved my bank account, that is. I do stash patterns, about which I refuse to feel guilty. They take up much less storage space, cost less, and I can consider them research -- ooh hey, look, an interesting sleeve shaping!

Sometimes, what happens is that I fall in love with a yarn and then immediately have to go out and find or create a pattern to use for it. And I like to start working it quickly, as otherwise I fear I'll lose or forget about the yarn.

Over the years, this has done me well to help me manage both money and storage space.

I do have a massive blind spot, however. An exception to the stash rule.

Sock yarn.

It's cheap, you see, and it doesn't take up a lot of storage room, and I'm always knitting socks....

There's a dangerous strip of stores on Queen West, near Palmerston. Second Cup coffee shop, Comrags, my favourite dress shop, Romni wools, my hairdresser, and a truly excellent vintage shop, Cabaret. I can't get a haircut without spending at least the same again at one of the other stores.

This time, I got away pretty lightly -- only a couple of balls of sock yarn from the bargain basement of wonders at Romni. How on earth could I resist this wonder -- on sale and everything?

Part of the Regia Nation Colours line. The staff in the shop said that it's not selling because no-one likes this colour combo. Except me! For someone who rarely wears one colour, let alone two, I do have a soft spot for insane sock yarn.

Without further ado, this is my stash of sock yarn. Unused balls, anyway. 2 Socks that Rock -- one insane, one very quiet and tasteful. 2 sets of other insane coloured yarn (bee stripe as above, and a good old Paton's Kroy), and a single 50gm ball of a black and white blend that I want to (i.e. will have to, because I only have one ball) work with plain black cuffs, heels and toes.

See, reasonably restrained? None of these purchases were required -- they were all shameless stashing. I will even admit that the Socks that Rock Pirate's Booty, was bought after a few drinks. (This is the problem with your LYS is on the way home from your local bar.)

Of course, there's this other pair underway right now that I keep putting down. The yarn is Estelle Arequipa -- a great wool, angora and nylon blend. It's not stash if it's on my needles, right? Ok, so they're on one of three sets of sock needles, so it's not like I need to finish them anytime soon.

And then there's the partial balls. The leftovers. Although I don't think they count as stash, they do require storage.

Of course, after I'd taken this picture, I realized I had a whole other bag of sock leftovers. The leftovers from all the hand-dyed sock yarns -- the Fleece Artist, The Shepherd Sock, Jitterbug, Socks that Rock, etc., etc.

But otherwise, no, I'm not a stasher. Really.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Cabled Bag Design & Class

Excellent new photos courtesy of Sarah.

I'm rather proud of this design, if I do say so myself.

I'm a big fan of smaller, structured bags. I'm not very tall, as I've probably mentioned before, and the oversized slouchy bags so popular at the moment look silly on my arm.

It works up quickly, in a nice thick yarn, on needles slightly smaller than usual to create a good solid fabric.

The pattern is available at The Naked Sheep, and I'm also teaching a class on it in April. The class is two sessions -- the first teaches everything you need to know about cables of all kinds , including reading of both written instructions and charts. And the second focuses on this bag, and the complex and sophisticated cable it features.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Once More, With Feeling

(I couldn't resist, sorry.)

The Bunny kerchief again, this time for me... in a lovely, springy shade of green Feeling. Feeling is a terrific yarn, a smooth and fabulously soft wool/silk/cashmere blend from Needful Yarns. A single ball is 140m, which is enough to provide a nice little kerchief to go with my spring coats.

I rather like this design, if I do say so myself. This design solves two problems at once: a nice little showcase for a fabulous little yarn, and a quick and interesting-but-not-too-challenging project.

Don't tell me you haven't fallen in love with an luxurious (and expensive) yarn and craved a single-skein project for it? Don't tell me you haven't wished for a bit of light relief in the middle or a larger project? The bunny kerchief is a delicious distraction.

I've got several other things on the go at the moment -- and two of them have deadlines. So I'm trying not to be distracted with my own distraction project. To make it less tempting, I put it onto straight needles....

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Sock Ness Monster/"Good for you"

Finished! 1 pair plain and simple socks in Socks that Rock Loch Ness.

Loving the yarn so far. Great hand, with a nice bit of squishiness for comfort. I look forward to wearing them... once I've woven in the ends, of course.

I was knitting on the subway the other day, as I am wont to do. I could see, out of the corner of my eye, an older man watching me. I was well into this second sock, at the stage where it was clearly identifiable as a sock. After a few minutes, he came up to me.

"If you don't mind me asking, how long does it take to make a pair?"

"About six hours a sock." An educated guess on my part, but a reasonable one.

"Huh." He paused.

I attempted to keep the conversation going... "I enjoy it. They're my design, my choice of colour, and they fit like they're made for me."

"They are made for you..."

I just smiled. I guess I shouldn't try to be poetic on the subway.

He took a good look at the sock one more time, nodded, and said simply "good for you."

I'm honestly not sure what he was trying to say, but whatever it was, it was nice.