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The latest

The latest pair of Jaywalker socks came off my needles a week or so ago, filling a bit of the ‘neutrals’ gap in my sock drawer. This is Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in ‘mineshaft’, which I’ve had in my stash for several years now and am glad to have in sock form now. They’re going to be great to add to next season’s sock refreshments.

May Jaywalkers

This is actually a pattern I have knitted so many times that I’ve lost track of how many Jaywalkers I’ve knitted. It’s certainly more than a dozen, but beyond that I’m not sure. At first my goal (a few years ago) was to have a week’s worth of them in my sock drawer, but of course after a while there is a certain amount of attrition and pairs need replacing. I might even be on my ‘third week’ of Jaywalkers by now, which is sort of amazing yet unfathomable.

It is pretty comforting to be able to go back to the same sock patterns over and over again, but when I stop and think about it…nothing else in my wardrobe has had anything near this level of repetition. I’ve knitted a couple of my own sweater designs twice, as well as a couple of scarves, but socks really seem like one of the few items you can repeat as many times as you want without any real concern, am I wrong?

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I do like the repetition, anyway. Socks are one of those things you just need to be able to slip on and know how they’re going to feel on your feet, so I’m definitely in favour of sticking with a good pattern & yarn combo once you know you’ve found one you like.

What’s your favourite sock pattern & yarn combination? Have you got multiple pairs of the same sock in your dresser drawer at home? If so then I know I’m in good company. Happy knitting this fine Thursday!

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Pattern: Jaywalkers (Ravelry link), pattern by Grumperina originally featured on Magknits, now free on Ravelry
Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, in ‘mineshaft’

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Socks for springtime

So, it’s sock knitting season, am I right? It always does seem to hit me around this time of year, even before the warm weather starts to make tiny, smaller-lap-real-estate projects seem appealing. Partly because it’s nice to have less obtrusive projects to carry around but also I think coming to the end of a winter season draws the state of one’s sock drawer and all the wear and tear of the latest sock-wearing season into sharper relief. Quick, knit a zillion more pairs before September comes around again. It’ll be like last winter never happened.

Sock stash

Plus, sock yarn is just so darned cheerful and colourful.

STR ribbed socks

Since March I’ve been diligently keeping an active sock project in my handbag, to fit in a few rounds when there’s time. (Over the winter I’d been letting sweater sleeves take up that job). Helpfully, a couple of months ago when I was rifling around looking for empty project bags, I happened upon a small cache of unfinished sock projects – three, to be exact. All 3 only had part of the first sock knitted, needles still waiting. (So that’s where all my sets of 2.5mm double-pointed needles went.) I finished one of them, then cast on a new pair of Jaywalkers afterwards.

STR ribbed socks

When I finished those, before I immediately went to my sock yarn stash for a new pair, I decided to muster up some resilience and go back to one of the remaining unfinished pairs. Going back to resume unfinished projects is always a little harder, since they’re less new and exciting, but it’s also so worth it to make progress and get closer to freeing up a few more needles and project bags. Plus, it’s almost like having a project pre-started for you, when you’ve had time to forget that you were the one that started it in the first place.

Sock stash.

I’ve definitely got my eye on my sock yarn stash again, too. I’ve added to it over several years and I like the collection. I’d sure love to turn more of it into actual socks, though, so I’m going to ride the spring sock knitting momentum as long as I can.

Onwards – Sock knitting season ahoy!

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Pattern: A Nice Ribbed Sock (by me)
Yarn: Socks That Rock lightweight from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, ‘Ms Larock’ colourway
Needles: 2.5mm double-pointed needles (plastic-coated metal, probably Unique brand from several years ago!).

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Pi Shawls R Us

We have probably most likely been experiencing spring over the past few weeks. This should be both a) unremarkable and b) more certainly stated, but winter just kicked the snot out of us this year and I’m pretty sure most people in southern Ontario still have one eye on the winter coat, just in case. (Constant vigilance.) It’s that in-between time when daytime temps are well above freezing and the daylight hours are longer, and it’s not quite warm enough for tee shirts and sandals but it’s probably too warm to get away with a wool sweater, so…that’s spring, right?

My commuter schedule has me dashing out of the house just after dawn, and returning in the evenings a little after most normal people have probably already eaten dinner, and those are the chilliest times of the day. And lo, I discovered this is the true destiny of my Pi Shawl.

Pi Shawl in action

I’ve had my Malabrigo Pi Shawl with me most days for the past few weeks, and it’s great. If you need more coverage on a chilly train you can drape it more widely around your shoulders, and for bustling around town it bundles up great around your neck. Breeze be gone! (And if I may say, having taken a few terrible selfies lately, that a good selfie is a lot harder than it looks. Dangit if the internet isn’t probably flooded with way too many of them, but maybe it’s because it takes stupid amounts of practice.)

Pi Shawl

It was only a matter of time, then, before I remembered the Pi Shawl that’s still on my needles, and has been since last September. It’s been such good company for movie theatre knitting, but I think it’s time it saw some real action on the final third of the knitting. There’s something to be said for the round-and-around knitting action – repetitive though it may be, it’s also reassuring in its own way. I’m still deciding what projects to move forward with in the next couple of months, so I might as well get a few more rounds in on this while I decide. The Pi Shawl is just darned helpful that way.

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Happy Wednesday!

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Pattern: Pi Shawl (July shawl), directions in Knitter’s Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock, in ‘ivy’ (completed) and ‘eggplant’ (in progress)

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Neutrality

Recently I have been trying to spend more time paying attention to neutrals as part of my knitting colour palette. Although I very much enjoy wearing neutral colours – oatmeal grey, chocolate brown, demin blue, and cream white in particular – I much less frequently enjoy knitting with them. When I’m choosing yarn from a store or my stash I have a much easier time reaching for a colour – being particularly fond of reds, greens, and purples – than I do for a neutral. I know this is entirely because if I’m going to be spending sometimes several weeks (or even months) looking at a project, its going to be much more fun to look at a colour than a (relative) absence of colour.

Mineshaft Jaywalkers

I’m trying, though. Neutrals are super versatile in one’s wardrobe, and I actually think they feel very foundational and comforting to wear, so it probably makes no sense that the actual knitting of them makes me hesitate. So, yea verily, when I finished my last pair of Jaywalker socks last week and it was time to pluck another bit of yarn from the stash for the next one (my sock yarn stash is ample, that’s how I roll), I actively made myself pay attention to the neutral options. There are greens and reds waiting ever so nicely, but no no, not this time – this time we go with the greys and browns.

Mineshaft Jaywalkers

I won’t lie, it is less fun than looking at greens or reds, but I’m cranking out the rows gradually and I know that once I get these done they are going to be one of the busiest pairs of socks in my drawer. They’ll be great with jeans. Is this the real secret of product knitting vs. process knitting? I always figured it had to do with skill level and stitches or garment style but maybe it’s actually about the colour. Who knew.

Have an awesome weekend, knitter friends – and pet some nice grey yarn for me while you’re at it. Over and out!

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Pattern: Jaywalkers (Ravelry link), pattern by Grumperina originally featured on Magknits, now free on Ravelry
Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, in ‘mineshaft’

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I scribble things

This past winter I was working on a couple of different sweater projects that didn’t come from my own brain, which I love to do – because despite having practice at designing things it is always preferable to spend creative time with the results of other people’s creative brains at least some of the time. Also you get to make things, which is after all the reason to do anything creative if you ask me.

Anyhoo, both of the sweaters, Joist and Lempicka (which are I still haven’t quite finished, but I’ll just blow past that for the moment, lalalalaaaa) make good use of “at the same time” instructions for the sake of efficiency. Because when you have simultaneous armhole shaping decreases, neckline decreases, and cable pattern work all going on at once (as is the case with Joist, at the yoke), it becomes just too unwieldy to write that out row by row. The designer/publisher typically writes each piece of instructions on its own, tells you to work them “at the same time”, and then lets you figure out how to track that.

Joist notes

This, really, is the true essence of the difficulty level of “at the same time” instructions. Each individual piece – working a few decrease rounds to shape an armhole, for example – may not be very difficult on its own, but how you figure out simultaneous tracking for this is totally up to you. It’s not something that a pattern will typically do for you, and it’s a levelling-up experience for a lot of knitters. Ultimately, this is a moment where nobody else’s brain can replace yours. You can use row counter devices, make a visual schematic, find an old-school peg-board, whatever you want.

Personally, if it’s a more simple combination of steps, I tend to rely on a combination of visual reference of the pattern itself, and of the knitting work itself. (i.e. – being able to visually recognize what a decrease looks like, so I can count how many I’ve done). Otherwise, I scribble things. Above you can see my post-it note tacked to my Joist pattern notes, where I’m tracking (at the seamless yoke) armhole shaping decreases, sleeve-cap shaping decreases, and neckline decreases, and still need to be able to glance at the chart. So I made myself a post-it sized cheat sheet that I could keep right there. I use a combination of scribbled notes and ticky-boxes.

I’ve also come to realize that this is one of the things holding me back from fully committing to purchasing a tablet device (despite ooh-ing and aaaah-ing over them for several months now). I love being able to read patterns on PDFs, but haven’t yet learned how to replace the pen/ink/post-it-note scribbling that I do as a part of my knitting and designing processes. My brain still needs the scribbles, as it turns out. Can you scribble on a tablet? I look forward to discovering these things, now that we live in the future.

Happy knitting this fine Wednesday!

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Rounding up

1. This weekend I finished a pair of socks. They were a pair of Jaywalkers I started last summer and put aside for months, and were knitted from stashed sock yarn purchased almost 5 years ago at the first Sock Summit. It was a limited edition Lorna’s Laces sock colourway called ‘vampire tea party.’ I like them a lot.

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2. I started another pair of Lorna’s Laces Jaywalkers right away.

3. My sweater momentum from the last gasps of winter (now mercifully ending) has slowed down considerably, and I am torn between wanting to just move on with new projects and the guilt that would accompany the abandonment of almost-done winter sweaters. My Lempicka cardigan is now just 3/4 of one sleeve and a hood away from being finished, and I’m going to keep going until it’s done. I’ll be glad to have a new sweater waiting for me for next fall.

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4. The new spring/summer issue of Twist Collective went live last week, and it is just delightful, and I even have a sweater pattern in the issue – Brightwood is a comfy spring cardigan (OR pullover!) for your classic knitted wardrobe additions.

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5. Now that it’s spring I’m finally allowing myself to think thoughts about lacy things, which is such a refreshing change of pace from winter I can’t even fully describe.

Happy Spring! Hope it’s nice weather in your neck of the woods.

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There’s always something new in knitting world

It’s April, the layers of snow and ice are finally starting to melt, and lo, the good people of southern Ontario are starting to remember what the world was like before winter came. Birds are chirping! Sunshine hours are longer! A person can un-ironically leave the house without a hat! (Okay, maybe still with a hat, but definitely the scarf is worth re-thinking). Knitting-wise, it’s an interesting spot to be in because I’m still knitting the same things I was knitting on in March, albeit a little closer to the finish line than I was a month ago. Right now I feel like these couple of sweaters are my de-hibernation projects. My knitting brain wants to think about sweet spring DK cardis, and socks, and a nice lacy little cowl – and all of those are probably going to get on the needles some time before the end of April, let’s face it – but before I can do those things I need to finish a thing from the winter to fully put that season away.

A little while ago I cast on for Lempicka, in a fit of “I need something new on the needles” start-itis. It was a highly covetous project for me, one that I wanted to make purely because I liked the way it looked and I wanted to wear it. (Sometimes I start projects because I know the making of it will be fun no matter what. This one, this one I wanted to wear. Shut up and get in my wardrobe, sweater.) Naturally, because the universe works that way, it has turned out to be a project that has Interesting Construction and might be Teaching Me Things or even gasp Making Me Learn Something New.

Apr6-Lempicka2

I saw this cardigan at the Twist Collective fashion show in September and it rung a lot of my bells. It’s a cardigan with a hoodie (so practical and cozy), fun looking cables (I do love me some cables), has art deco inspiration (who doesn’t love art deco) and done in worsted weight (so versatile and so well represented in my stash), and I wanted it and bought a copy of the pattern to happily wait to cast on for it when I had the time.

I also have to give the tip of my hat to Christa Giles for designing it, because I appreciate a pattern like this that could so easily have been discarded in the conception phase purely for being to difficult to write down for other people. It’s a top-down seamless sweater that creates pictorial converging cables for a chevron, art deco kind of look, and there are a lot of instructions, many of the “at the same time” variety. I think at one point there are three or four different at the same time instructions going on, because the top-down construction means that for a while, you’re all at once establishing cable patterns, increasing for the v-neck, increasing for raglan sleeves, and then maybe doing some other tricky cabley thing to create the visual pattern. Most of the brain effort (read: the most numerous and frequent opportunities for something to go wrong) occur within the first 15% of the project.

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I am 100% sure that at some point, probably a couple of places, I have outright been doing something wrong. I definitely had at least one moment of ripping-back and re-knitting and probably more than one drop-down-to-re-do-a-bunch-of-stitches (while on a commuter train! Bonus points) Do I care? I DO NOT. I like the way this is coming out, I think it’s looking like it’s supposed to so far (thank you, pattern photographer), and I’ve gotten my measuring tape out a few times to check for length just to put my mind at ease. By the time I finish the body I’ll have only the smaller bits to deal with (hood and sleeves), which will require a bit less brain effort as compared to the body. I’m looking forward to gaining a bit of project momentum as a result, and then I’ll have a finished hoodie!

Er, just in time for warm weather to arrive. As is traditional? Let’s go with yes.

Happy knitting this spring Monday!

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Pattern: Lempicka , from Twist Collective by Christa Giles
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca, pea soup mix

 

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