Category Archives: finished object: socks

And all I got was this really nice skein of yarn

This past weekend I visited the annual Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter’s Fair, which is usually a pretty good time and once again did not disappoint in the knitterly festivities. This time I was pretty good at browsing for new things and chatting with familiar faces (and new ones – you can’t help but bump into people in some of those corridors between vendor stalls), but remarkably sedate in my shopping. I emerged with just one skein of yarn. Mind you, it was a pretty great skein – 1000 yds of silk/merino laceweight from Fyberspates, purveyed by Feather Your Nest. It’s always nice to shop the stalls from the folks I wouldn’t normally visit otherwise, plus I found myself waiting for my sister or mother at some point and just staring at their shiny display, and in a matter of minutes it became not a matter of whether I would buy some but which colour I would buy. It’s great and I already know what I want to make with it.

Sept10-LaceYarn

And speaking of yarn and colour decisions at knitter’s fairs, I do sort of love how all of that unfolds. You can find yourself standing in front of a yarn display and picking up a skein and just holding it and suddenly be in conversation with the person next to you about how great the yarn is – and for all you know you have no chance of ever talking to that person again and have never seen them before in your life, but hey, let’s absolutely stop what we’re doing and have a chat about yarns and colours. Makes total sense.

The other nice part of the day was getting to see Stephanie’s talk on ‘This Is Your Brain On Knitting’ (highly recommendable), which in addition to being completely hilarious is extremely informative and validating about why knitters get so much out of knitting. I spent much of that lecture and the rest of the weekend knitting my then-current now-complete pair of ribbed socks, which was made even more satisfying by the knowledge that knitting as a repetitive visual-spatial pattern does, in fact, make our brains better and our selves more relaxed.

Sept12-BackstabberSocks

These are my latest Nice Ribbed Socks, in Socks That Rock Mediumweight, ‘Backstabber’ colourway. They really are that pink. So wonderfully, aggressively magenta-pink-and-purple that I sort of want to cast on five more things in this colour, but instead…

Sept12-TlingitSocks

…I cast on another pair of ribbed socks in an entirely different colour. (More Socks That Rock, in Lightweight this time, ‘Tlingit’ colourway). There will come a day soon when I do talk to you about other projects besides ribbed socks, but today my friends, today is not that day. Ribbed socks are awesome, fall is coming, and it turns out repetitive visual-spatial motion (aka knitting ribbing) is super awesome for my brain and therefore I have prescribed myself more of it. Onwards with September knitting!

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Filed under finished object: socks, socks

Sticking to the deal

I’ve been doing enough designing and deadline work over the last year or so that I’ve started to develop a couple of rules for myself about managing it. It’s consuming work sometimes, and the sort that easily overruns any sense of weekday vs weekend, daytime vs evening sort of boundaries, so I’m gradually realizing that I have to create some of those myself. One deal I made with myself is that between finishing one design project and moving onto a new knitting project of any kind, there must be a) at least one meal, and b) a night’s sleep. It’s a good deal, not just for my own rest but to resist that immediate urge to cast on something new as a reward for finishing up something else. The temptation to do that can be extremely strong, but if you’re going to give yourself another project to work on, I figure that might as well be a decision made with at least a partially clear mind.

Aug8-CarbonSTR

I have a similar deal with myself about socks. I always have a pair of plain ribbed socks on the needles – usually for carrying around in my handbag – and it’s pretty unpredictable how long one pair will take me to complete. If I’ve got a lot of transit time or waiting-around-time, or if they’re in thicker sock yarn that allows me to use fewer stitches, a pair of socks could easily fall off the needles in a couple of weeks or less. But then, if I don’t have any of those variables to work with or if I’ve just gotten side-tracked by all the non-sock-knitting or let non-sock projects sneak in as portable knitting (sleeves work well this way in particular), then the socks can end up sitting there for months. When that happens the temptation to just cast on a new pair of socks in a new skein of yarn from the stash is pretty big. Let’s face it, sock yarn is like candy and a gal wouldn’t keep bringing it home to wait in the sock yarn part of the yarn stash if it didn’t look cheerful and tempting.

Aug8-CarbonSTR2

All of this is a long way of saying that, yesterday I finished off my second-to-last deadline knit project of the summer, and to celebrate, I sat right down last night and ended up finishing my ribbed socks on the needles. Now I have a new pair of socks waiting to join its other new friends come fall (sock weather does come again, I hear, though it might not seem like it now), in Socks That Rock Mediumweight, ‘Carbon’ colourway (in my standby ribbed sock pattern). And to celebrate that

Aug8-TurtlepurlSocks

…I cast on a new pair of ribbed socks. In Turtlepurl yarns self-striping sock yarn ‘Poisoned Apple’ colourway, that I treated myself to at the Purple Purl last month. Only half an inch in and they already look fun. Here’s hoping they don’t turn into a pair that languishes in my handbag for too long – I want to see what these will look like.

What’s on your needles this fine Wednesday? More summer knitting time awaits, but fall is just around the corner.

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I’ve heard that sometimes people also eat popcorn

Last night I caught a late-run showing of ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’, which aside from being extremely delightful (will happily watch Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt doing cute any time they want to repeat), gave me the chance to get most of the way through my second sock of the pair that has been my travelling-around-in-my-handbag socks for the last couple of months. These are Socks That Rock Mediumweight, in ‘Amelie’, which turns out to look just as nice in sock form as it does in the skein.

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I did my usual 3×1 ribbed sock pattern, but on 60 sts instead of 64 to accommodate the heavier weight of yarn, since STR Mediumweight is closer to a sport than a fingering weight. I suspect I could probably get away with 56 sts, even, but these turned out nice and cozily and there was yardage to spare, so I like ‘em. I have started to enjoy adding a few pairs of slightly heavier socks to my collection, because there are some days in the winter or just when hanging out around the house when I want a little extra comfort. Plus, there is the added advantage that the heavier yarn you use, the quicker they are to knit.

June22-Socks1

These are also my favourite thing to have on hand for the movie theatre (provided I’m not on the heel, which I like to be able to see when I’m doing it), because it’s approachable for working in the dark. People often ask how I could possibly knit in the dark (generally, I do still watch the movie screen unless I really need to check something – in such situations it’s handy to be watching something with bright explosions or sunny deserts, just a tip from me to you), and I promise you it really is as simple as just knitting in the dark. If you’ve been knitting for some length of time and are comfortable working plain stockinette or ribbing, you can knit in the dark.

Trust me, your hands know what they’re doing because they have done this probably thousands and thousands of times already. Give it a shot and see what happens – chances are you’ll find yourself becoming more aware of what a knit stitch feels like underneath your fingers as compared to a purl stitch, and you’ll be able to tell which is coming next. Probably, if you regularly watch television while you knit, you’ve practiced this already many times, just with the advantage of sitting in a well-lit room. But the more you practice knitting while not looking at your knitting, the more likely you are to avoid things like accidental dropped stitches, because your hands will register the mistake before your eyes do, and you’ll catch things like that sooner.

Of course, mistakes do still happen sometimes. Inevitably my movie-theatre socks end up with a few mis-matched moments where the ribbing doesn’t line up because I was actually, say, paying attention to the movie more than the knitting (go figure), and I get little blips like this. I always leave them there. Then I can think, “oh yeah, that’s from when I was sitting in ‘The Avengers.’ That sure was a fun movie.”

June22-Socks4

The nice part about being finished with a pair of socks is that I get to pull out yarn for the next pair. I might just slide another Socks That Rock pair onto the needles, or dig a little bit in my stash. It’s always great to end the summer with some new pairs of socks that are ready and waiting for you in the fall.

Since we’ve past the solstice I suppose we can officially say summer is here. What are your grand (or not so grand?) knitting plans for the summer? A person can accomplish quite a few projects in two or three months – no time like the present to get cracking!

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Filed under finished object: socks, knitting in public

Sock momentum

The other evening I allowed myself a bit of a break from current projects to go back to a long-suffering Work in Progress, thinking it was still probably a long ways off from being finished, but I figured just doing a few simple rows on a simple project would be just the thing to give my mind a break. As it turns out, as is so often the case with projects I think are light years away from being finished – these socks were just a few rows and a toe away from being finished.

And so, I finished them.

Jan12-STRCoppertree2

You might surmise from the colour of these socks when exactly it was that I started them. I cast on for them during Rhinebeck weekend back in October, and had reached for this particular skein (Socks That Rock, mediumweight, in ‘Coppertree’) because it was fall at the time and this colourway seemed pretty fall-ish. They’ve been my handbag knitting since then, but sadly have only seen very sporadic knitting time.

Jan12-STRCoppertree

I’m happy that they’re done now, though, since having a finished project is often enough of a boost to keep going with the ones that are still on the needles.

Colour is such a funny thing, though. I decided to get the next pair of socks started just to have them ready at a moment’s notice, and ended up bypassing all of the multi-coloured skeins in favour of a simple yet vibrant skein of Malabrigo sock in Tiziano Red. I often reach for this shade of red in the winter, it occurs to me (more than one year in a row has passed where I’ve knitted some red accessories), and it’s a very warm and soothing colour to have on hand.

Jan12-MalabrigoSock

I hope your projects are going well – and who knows, you might have something ‘almost finished’ ready to become something for your closet or sock drawer.

Happy knitting!

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Highness

I’ve been visiting Edmonton this weekend, spending some time with relatives and also taking in the Fringe festival (both plays and the street fair – lots of fun), and even a visit to the local drop-in knitting at River City Yarns. It’s been a diverting weekend, but also with very little online connection time. And I’ve been meaning to introduce my other recent sock pattern to you, and thankfully this morning I managed to score a whole minute or two at the local Safeway’s Starbucks, so, huzzah! Blog posting time.

Back in the spring, the folks at Lorna’s Laces were so kind enough to send me a skein of their new sock yarn, ‘Solemate,’ to work on a pattern for it. It is a 100% lovely yarn to work with – same fine fingering weight as their tried and true Shepherd Sock, same beautiful colours as their other lines, and with one exceptional twist. It’s not just a merino/nylon sock yarn, but a merino/nylon/Outlast sock yarn! Apparently Outlast is the same fibre used for things like astronaut clothing. It regulates body temperature as you wear it. Well, all I can say is I would be happy to work with this again, and i’m pretty sure it’s going to make some lovely socks. Even the wound-up skein sort of felt cool to the touch on a hot day.

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This beautiful pale colourway is called “Buckingham Fountain,” one of their new 2011 colourways. Based on that name, and the fact that the Royal Wedding was still fresh in my memory, I kept thinking, “royal, royal, royal…” and this sock was the result. The pattern is called Highness, and has the right kind of regal, delicate aesthetic I was going for. All the fancy work is in the front, down the instep of the sock…

May30-Highness2

…with a relatively simple and stable pattern repeating down the back of the leg, for balance. This does feature a few more twisted stitches and small cables, as is my wont (it’s just so hard to put down the twisted stitches, I think they’re hardwired into my brain now), although actually in a more modest fashion than in some of my previous designs. I think the motif comes together sort of like a royal crest hanging outside the palace gates – or so I was thinking as I designed it.

May30-Highness6

The pattern is available in my Ravelry store for $6, and also on Patternfish. I hope you enjoy it! I can tell that Solemate is going to be one of the new yarns to look out for (I may have to stash up a couple more skeins), and I look forward to working with it again. This is certainly a time for more sock knitting on the horizon, as fall creeps closer. I mean seriously, how did it get to be August 22nd? That’s almost a month since Sock Summit started! I’m not sure i’m ready for summer to be over.

Happy knitting until next time!

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Pretty cunning, don’t you think?

I’ve been getting steadily busier the last couple of months here at Knitting to Stay Sane, with designs and designs-still-being-dreamed up. I have a list of sweater plans the length of my arm. At least two shawls. And no fewer than two Harry Potter inspired knits, now that the final film has been released and reminded me of how fun that sort of knitting is. (Neville’s cardigan, man am I ever ON IT when Sock Summit is over. Plotting has begun.)

Speaking of Sock Summit, I have the great fortune to have three designs that will be winging their way to Portland along with me. These are the Firefly-inspired knits I alluded to a week or two earlier, and I am well pleased with them. They’ll be making their debut in the Indigodragonfly booth (#1001), and then in full release online via Ravelry and Patternfish some time in early August. (In other words, when I’ve had a few days to recover from Sock Summit, and let the SS shoppers have a few days of exclusivity and glee. ;) ) So if you’re headed to Sock Summit, these can all be yours this week! If not, I’ll be sure to give the heads-up on this blog when they are available for all.

So dear readers, I am pleased to give you a sneak peek of the Firefly-inspired sock patterns that will soon be making their way out into knitting world, each showcasing a different yarn and different set of techniques.

‘O Captain My Captain’ is for Mal, and features not just noble, upright cables…but broken ones, too. Broken cables for a broken guy. These ones are intended for either men or women, and are shown in the ‘Captain Tightpants’ colourway of Indigodragonfly Merino Sock.

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‘Kaywinnit’ is for Kaylee, and uses simple stitches and texture for a combination of practicality and frill. Our shiny gal deserves a bit of both in her life, don’t you think?

July25-Kaylee1

And finally, ‘Companion’ is for Inara, to whom I gave not just my precious twisted cables – no no, she deserves just a little bit more – but the application of a few beads. The beads are optional, but so darned gorgeous. And her yarn is the merino/nylon/cashmere, no less. Doesn’t a space geisha deserve that extra luxury?

July25-Inara2

I’m very happy to show you these socks, as they’ve been waiting patiently for a while.
And now, I’d better get back to the grind – there’s not just knitting but packing to be done!
Happy Monday!

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Things I’ve been doing

I’ve been short in the blogging this week, but not in the to-do-ings. Things I’ve been keeping busy with include:

1. Finishing up some sock designs for Indigodragonfly, to appear in her booth at Sock Summit 2011, in just 11 short days. (Note: dates on calendar may be closer than they appear). They are all Firefly-inspired, and you can catch a glimpse of Kaylee (above) and Mal (below) here. Inara is the third, to follow. I love them.

July15-KayleeMalSocks

2. Finishing up a pair of Jaywalkers that have been on the needles and in my purse since April and I had sort of almost given up hope of finishing. But slow and steady wins in the end, and now I have another pair of Lorna’s Laces Jaywalkers (9th? 10th pair?) in ‘Montrose’, to add to the sock drawer.

July15-JaywalkersMontrose

3. Being really frustrated that I’m still not running. (Yes, I’ve started physiotherapy. No, this does not make me feel much better about having to cancel a 2nd half-marathon in 3 months.)

4. Cooking up some designs for the fall. Man, I love cables. (As does this Tanis Fiber Arts DK, in garnet. Man, I love garnet.)

July15-TanisDKcardi

5. Reviving a healthy obsession with Harry Potter inspired knitwear.

6. Preparing to head off this weekend for the Great North Woods, or more accurately, the Haliburton School of the Arts, where I’ll be teaching a week long workshop starting Monday, on sweater knitting. I basically love everything about sweaters, and though I am filled with equal parts delight and anxiety over teaching a week long workshop for the first time, I think probably the delight will win, since sweaters are awesome. (And usually so are knitters).

Catch you next time! And in case I’m gone all week, as my friend Jane likes to say, kids, don’t burn down the internet while I’m away.

Happy knitting!

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It’s both, damnit

Last Saturday during my Toronto day, I met up with Austen for lunch and knitting time, and among other things the conversation drifted towards that ubiquitous question of being a process knitter or a product knitter. She came down firmly on the side of product knitting, for herself – she wants the finished thing, to wear and use and immediately integrate into her wardrobe. I agreed that I have product knitter tendencies, though often in a very different way. I always want to be able to wear the finished thing, but mostly I want to just finish the thing; I like having it done and knowing that it is complete, successful, and something to check off my list as done before being able to move onto something else. (Side note: maybe what I really love isn’t the Finished Product feeling, but the Being Able To Start A New Project feeling? Hmm.)

But at the same time, I can’t shrug off the process. I love knitting, and I especially love knitting that isn’t boring. I need to reach for something that’s going to engage my mind in some way, even if it’s a repeating 2-row pattern or a ribbed sock that makes me stop and work heels and toes every so often. I like knitting that asks a little something of me.

I mean, why else would I not only design a pattern with stabby twisty tiny cables for Kim’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer yarn, but then go on to knit the pattern not once, not twice, but three times? That’s definitely process and product working together. I love working the cables, but darn it all I want to show them off, too.

April15-Staked3b

It’s true. I did one as a test sample, one as the real sample, and then this third pair here as a variation. In the pattern instructions I let people know that one way to modify the sock is to omit the swooshy diagonal across the instep, and simply continue the leg cable chart all the way down the front of the foot. It produces a more classic look and is possible a bit more versatile for both men and women looking for some cabled sock action. So I decided to actually go ahead and do that myself, and snagged another skein of Kim’s Merino Sock (you can’t have just one), and cast on. This deep purple is lovingly named ‘Edward Discovers Wood Chippers Make Excellent Juicers.’

April15-Staked4d

Same delicious stake-through-the-heart cables as in the original pattern, just more of them to love. And they are toasty and comfy to wear. I’m glad I finally got around to sewing up the toes on these babies, because spring’s the perfect time to show off new socks – no longer buried under boots, but still cool enough to need the layer.

As luck and timing would have it, the pattern is now available not just to Indigodragonfly club members (I did this pattern for the October 2010 installment), but in the form of a kit. (The pattern will be available individually through wide release in my Ravelry and Patternfish stores, as of June 15th.)

No matter what you’re knitting on this weekend, I hope you enjoy both product and process! Happy Friday.

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Filed under cables, design, finished object: socks

Catch-all

1. A few days after working up all the finishing on the Dusseldorf Aran, I finally gave it a bath and laid it out for drying/blocking. But it is still a wool/alpaca sweater drying in a basement apartment, and is thusly taking approximately twelve thousand years to do this. (Or, possibly, 2 days instead of just 1.)

2. Now that the club members have had a couple of weeks head start in getting their packages in the mail, it’s safe to blog about the sock design I did for the Tanis Fiber Arts ‘year in colour’ yarn club. And in fact, Tanis lovingly beat me to the punch!

April14-MarchingOn2

It’s her Purple Label cashmere sock, in a club colourway called ‘Clover’. At the time that she handed the skein off to me, though, it was simply labelled as ‘March’, as that was its calendar designation. It’s funny how the yarn name works in combination with the colour, though, because as I pondered the colour during the winter months I just kept thinking March March March March, green Marchy goodness… And I knew the idea I wanted to bring to it, it was just a matter of fine-tuning in execution until I got what I wanted. Bright, leafy, viney, knotty socks were just the ticket – and a reminder that spring does return, and winter does in fact, recede. I called them ‘Marching On’.

April14-MarchingOn

3. Not that I’m enabling you or anything, but you can sign up for Tanis’ yarn club at any time in 2011, and you’ll get all the past subscription installments of the year when you sign up. (In 2012, all the patterns revert to designers and you can still have a crack at them even if you weren’t in the club).

4. At the very moment that Tanis was blogging about the socks on Saturday, I was in fact, going 2-for-2 on Saturday knitter encounters in Toronto. As I breezed through the Eaton Centre, Natalie was doing the same thing and we chatted and laughed for a bit. She was even in the presence of cute hand-knits, though believe me it was actually warm enough (finally) that we could genuinely consider ditching them. Hard to believe that time of year is on the horizon!

April9-Natalie

5. Speaking of yarn clubs, if you’re looking for snarky smart-ass yarn clubs, there’s still time to sign up for Kim’s over at Indigodragonfly Yarns. I can personally verify the quality of said snark content is 100%.

Happy Thursday! And happy knitting.

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Filed under accessories, design, finished object: socks

Thank goodness for yarn

You know, the more I knit the more I am grateful to be a knitter in the spring. It has nothing to do with needing to produce a bunch of warm garments (although given weather reports for the near future around southern Ontario I don’t think we’ll be giving up the sweaters or gloves any time soon). In the fall transition, it is definitely about knitting the stuff. You get the whiff of chill in the air and suddenly you find yourself casting on five sweaters. No, for me in spring it’s mostly about the yarn. I get to carve out a half hour in the morning, or an hour or two in the evening, or whenever it is the knitting suits me, and spend that time staring at a colour that in no way resembles greying half-melted snowbanks, and the thought that non-knitters don’t get to do this makes me wonder how they survive waiting for spring.

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The Dusseldorf Aran, while slightly sidelined, is coming along gradually, and the bright magenta is helping. It’ll be a little while yet before that colour shows up in nature anywhere around here. (And oh yeah? Pleats. Pleats, man. This sweater has pleated cuffs. It’s the first time I’ve gotten the chance to do pleats on anything knitted, and I dig it. Bit of folding here, bit of DPN knit-3-stitches-at-once action there, and then you have pleats.)

Mar6-RibbedSocksSTR

My project of adding a few more pairs of socks to the sock drawer is also coming along well, and last weekend I finished up another pair of 3×1 ribbed socks (from my basic ribbed sock pattern, in this post), in another Socks That Rock mill end colourway. (I’ve got to start making more dents in my Sock Summit stash, for serious.) And the best part of finishing a pair of socks (well, aside from wearing them)? Now, I get to walk over to my stash, look at all the yarn in all the colours, and pick out a new skein to knit with.

Mar11-SockStash

Yarn pretty much rules. I hope you’ve got some waiting for you today! Have an awesome weekend.

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Filed under finished object: socks, socks, stash, sweaters