November 2006 Archives

Sheepy Entertainment

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Thank you very much to everyone who left such kind comments about my Dad and his knitting project and about my new sock. I did want to let everyone know that Dad has been reading all the comments (I was trying to get him to leave a comment, too, but I guess he was feeling a little shy) and I think he was just as touched as I was by all the nice things people had to say. And to know that he had inspired a few people to participate in the Red Scarf Project.

It's also my hope that in the future I will be able to convince Dad to post on his own. It probably won't always be about knitting. It could be about spinning or woodworking or something else entirely. He comes at things from a very different perspective than I often do (i.e. he loves the mechanics of things) and I think it would be a lot of fun to see that come out in the blog. I bet we'd be the first father-daughter knitting-themed blog around!

As to the sock, y'all make me blush. Thank you for being so kind. It's definitely a motivating factor for me in terms of getting the second sock done and getting everything ready to publish. Although I showed you most everything there is to see, there are still a few more little surprises in these socks, that I won't reveal until I have a complete pair.

One question that did come up in the comments, was about how stretchy these socks are if they have that stranded stitch. The answer is that they are not as stretchy as total stockinette, but that they do have a lot of give because of the lacework "paw print". It's part of why I wanted to pair them together. I knitted the stranded Crusoe sock pattern that was in Knitty and I got a little frustrated because they didn't have much give and I had to rip and reknit a bit to get something that would fit over my ankle. I wanted these socks not to give too much of a fight that way, so the stranded stitch with the lace is a nice compromise.

Finally, since most of my day has been spent getting ready for a business trip to Montana (don't feel too bad for me, I am going to the Bitterroot Valley (home of Mountain Colors yarn) and it's usually pretty lovely this time of year, even if it is cold and a bit isolated) I'm afraid I don't have much new to talk about, but I thought I'd leave to you this link to a little sheepy entertainment. Sheep on pogo sticks, my friends. And funny sheep noises. All in a Flash game. So pick up your shepherd's crook and Poke a Sheep

Progress

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I am not going to rant about about airlines, or weather delays or running around airports. Or about the fact that 4 out of the last 5 flights I have been supposed to be on with Chicago's "hometown" airline have been delayed by an hour or more. I could. But I won't. I suspect my annoyance wouldn't be all that entertaining. But I must say, I am extremely tired of hearing about weather delays, and I am particularly intolerant of this when it occurs on a day where there has been no truly bad weather throughout the country.

Ahem. Perhaps I did need to do just a little bit of ranting. I feel much better now.

From a fiber processing perspective, I'm actually feeling quite productive. I've made progress on John's grey socks (one finished, the second started) and I've plied up the second skein of moorit CVM. The second skein is just under 400 yards, so I'm right about at the 800 yard total mark. And now it's time to start spinning up more singles. Good thing I have a couple of fun audio books to listen to while I spin.

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More Oatmeal 3-Ply and Sloopy 2--Ply

But before I got back to the business of spinning up more CVM, I took a little break that I had promised myself and spun up the last 4 ounces of Hang on Sloopy superwash merino from Crown Mountain Farms. I did something a bit different with the second half. In stead of splitting the roving into pieces vertically, like I did for the first skein, I decided just to tear off a couple of feet, pre-draft a little bit, and spin the roving without dividing so I could get longer stretches of color that would, hopefully, also lead to wider stripes in the socks. In the picture above, the orange skein on the left is the original skein, and the skein on the right is the new skein. Hard to tell much difference this way (or unhanked) so I guess I won't have my experiental results until after I do some knitting. One thing did come as a big surprise however.

Skein 1:
Finish Date: 7/25/06
Yardage: 320 yards
Weight: 110 g/3.9 oz
Grist: 1312 YPP (yards per pound)

Skein 2:
Finish Date: 10/31/06
Yardage: 340 yds
Weight: 108 g/3.8 oz
Grist: 1431 YPP

To me, this seemed remarkably consistant for someone who put 3 months between spinning up each batch. During my next "CVM break" I'm going to start on the 8 ounces of "My Boyfriend's Back" that's destined to be socks for John. Funny, how when you're working away at 2 lbs of fiber, spinning up 4-8 ounces of anything just seems like a little breather project!

Provisional Crochet Cast On in the Round

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I spent most of Saturday afternoon working on writing up the pattern for my "Wiskers and Paw Prints" Socks. Generally speaking, I like to work up one sock, write out the pattern, and then follow the pattern for the second sock so that I can revise the instructions by reading through them and using them. Little by little I am developing a rhythm for putting patterns together in a way that is both aesthetically pleasing and organizationally useful, so the process takes less time than it used to for me, but it still takes a reasonable amount of concentrated effort to make sure the text makes sense and that the charts are legible, sensible and mistake-free.

The process of writing up the pattern also helps me identify what special techniques are used in the pattern that might need more explanation than makes sense for a short sock pattern. For instance, how do you execute a provisional crochet cast-on in the round for a sock? Does everyone understand the general instructions for making a picot edge on a sock top? What about doing wraps for a short-row heel?

With that in mind, I decided that I would do something I haven't done in a while and add to my "Techknit" section. Today I will have a discussion of how to do a provisional crochet cast-on in the round. This is the way I start my picot edged socks. Tomorrow I'll complete the with information about how to go from the cast-on to the picot edge.

To start with, when you do a provisional crochet cast on you need to have a knitting needle (for socks it's best if this is a double pointed needle) and a crochet hook of similar diameters. You also will need a yard or two of waste yarn that is a contrasting color to the yarn you are going to use for the main body of your sock. For a picot edge start, I usually use a double pointed needle about 2 sizes smaller than the one that the main body of the sock will be knit on.

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Step 1: Getting Started

The first step is to create a slip knot and put it over your crochet hook. This slip knot should be close to the end of your waste yarn. This is the same thing you would do if you were going to start a crochet chain. Then you want to get your double pointed needle ready.

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Step 2: Creating the First Cast On Loop

The second step is to take the end of the waste yarn connected to the yarn source and put it underneath the double pointed needle. Then, you put the crochet hook over the top of the needle and grab the working yarn and pull it through the loop on the crochet hook. The first stitch can be a little fiddly, but otherwise, it's not too hard to get started.

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Step 3: Pull the First Stitch Through and Start the Next Stitch

This image shows one stitch cast on, with the needle and hook set up to create the second cast on stitch. You repeat this process until you have as many stitches on the needle as you need to have for your cast on edge.

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Step 4: Complete Cast On and Secure Cast On Tail

Once you have cast on all the stitches you need, chain several stitches through the working loop on the crochet hook without wrapping the yarn around the knitting needle, cut the yarn and pull the tail through the final loop just as you would if you were ending a crochet chain. Don't pull the end too tightly, because you will be using that end to undo the provisional cast on later on.

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Step 5: Knitting on the Main Yarn

It really doesn't matter what side you start knitting your main color on with, but I usually start with the edge that has the crochet chain tail to help me keep myself oriented. Pick up your main color yarn and start knitting across.

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Step 6: Complete the First Row in the Main Yarn

I think it's easiest to knit across the entire row of provisionally cast on stitches before joining things in the round. This is the way things look for me before I set up knitting in the round.

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Step 7: Setup for Knitting in the Round, Divide the Stitches in Half Across 2 Needles

The next thing I do is transfer half of the cast stitches to a second double pointed needle and then "fold" the line of stitches so that the ends are adjacent to each other, as shown in this picture. The needle in the back should be the one which has the yarn connected to the yarn source, while the needle in the front is the one that has the free tail of the main yarn color.

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Step 8: Using Working Yarn, Knit First Quarter of the Stitches onto a Third Needle

To get things started, make sure that you have not twisted any stitches where they bend to extend across the second needle. Twisted stitches = mobius sock, which is not an easy to wear article of clothing. Pick up a third double pointed needle and start knitting in the first stitch of the front needle with the working yarn. Knit the first half of the stitches on the first needle. Be sure to pull the first couple of stitches tightly so as to prevent a gap between the first and last stitches.

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Step 9: Knitting Up the Second Quarter of the Stitches

Now pick up a fourth double pointed needle and knit across the second half of the stitches on the first needle. You'll end up with three needles with stitches on them and two free needles (from a package of 5).

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Step 10: Knitting Up the Third Quarter of the Stitches

Pick up one of your remaining free needles and knit across the first half of the stitches on the second needle. You'll end up with 4 needles with stitches on them, and you'll finally have something that looks like you're used to if you knit in the round with 5 double points.

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Step 11: Knitting up the Final Quarter of the Cast On Stitches

It's a cake walk from here. Now just pick up that last free needle and knit across the last section of stitches from the needle in the back. When you complete this you'll have freed up another needle and you'll be ready to start knitting in the round for what ever pattern you want to get started with.

I just love using this general method to set up knitting in the round for socks. If you're knitting socks on two circs or on magic loop, you don't need to do anything but do the part that involves dividing the stitches in half. If you prefer to work in the round on 4 needles instead of 5, just knit a third of the stitches on to each needle you add in. I've found this method really helps keep me out of trouble with regards to twisting the cast on.

Tomorrow: How to turn this into a picot edge.

Picot Sock Cuff

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So you've gotten that provisional cast on taken care of, your yarn is joined in the round, and you want to start your sock with a picot cuff. Where do you go next?

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Step 1: Join Stitches in the Round

I'm starting with a repeat of yesterday's last photo just so we're all at the same place and there's a visual reference for how things start. To get to this point, please check out my post on the provisional crochet cast-on in the round. As a side note, I cast this cuff on using needles two sizes smaller than I am going to use for the body of the sock. This is not absolutely necessary, but I'll explain my rationale for doing it in the next step.

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Step 2: Do Some Knitting, Don't Forget that YO, K2Tog Row!

The knitting for a picot edge is simple, you knit the number of rows you want to give you a cuff height that you like, knit the fold over row -- which means repeating the YO,K2Tog stitch pair all the way around the round until you return to the beginning. Then you knit the same number of rows that you knit before the turning row. The photo above shows what things look like after that is complete. The provisionally cast-on edge is at the bottom of the picture to help orient you.

A couple of notes about how I do picot edges. First of all, they are not a stretchy edging like a ribbed cuff. Because of that, you can't really count on a picot edge to really help hold a sock up unless it is relatively tight and/or a bit stiffer than the rest of the sock fabric. One way to make this happen is to knit the first set of rows before the turning row on a smaller needle than the rows after the turning row. Thus, for this demonstration, the first 7 rows were knit on 2.0 mm needles, and the turning row and the next 6 rows were knit on 2.75 mm needles.

Now, if you look back at my original instructions, you might notice that they don't seem to jibe with what I just wrote, since I am doing fewer rows after the turning row than before. The reason for this is that the length of the fabric after you do the turning row is longer than before the turning row because the needles are bigger and, thus, the stitches are bigger. If you join the edges at this point, the outside edge of the picot edge will bulge and you will have to rip out the join and that last row and go at it again. Ask me how I know this...

So my general feeling is that the formula you should use if you change needles at the turning row is to knit one less row than you knit before the turning row. Another way to say this is that you should knit an equal number of rows on each needle size, and count the turning row as the first row on the larger needles.

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Step 3: Removing The Provisional Cast On

So now you get to the point where you're going to be happy you didn't pull too tightly on that end after finishing your crochet cast on. Find the end of the waste yarn with the crochet chains and gently undo the chains and start to pull the waste yarn out and put the free stitches on a set of double pointed needles, matching the number of stitches on each needle with the number you have on each of the working needles. In order to prevent dropped stitches, I like to use a smaller set of needles than my working needles, even if I didn't change needle size at the turning row. I also like to insert the needle in the soon-to-be freed edge stitch before I pull out the waste yarn. It helps me maintain the correct stitch orientation (I poke the needle in from the top) and dimishes my angst over dropping stitches.

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Step 4: Pick Up Free Edge Stitches on Smaller Double Pointed Needles

After you transfer all the cast on edge stitches to double pointed needles, you should have something that looks like this. In this image, the cast on edge stitches on the smaller needles are at the bottom of the picture and the working edge is at the top of the picture.

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Step 5: Fold Tube At the Turning Edge

This next part is probably the fiddly-est part of the whole operation. You need to fold the tube so that the wrong sides on either side of the turning edge are touching and the right sides of the fabric are facing towards you and into the center of the tube. This will involve moving those needles around and about each other to get them where you want them to go. When you're done, each working needle should be paired with a needle holding stitches from the cast on edge. In the picture above, you can also see that the smaller(cast on edge) needle is on the inside of the tube, and the larger (working) needle is on the exterior.

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Step 6: Knit the Working Edge and Cast On Edge Together

The next thing you are going to do is a Japanese three needle bind off. If you've ever done a regular three needle bind off, the idea is conceptually similar, except you're going to end up with a set of working stitches left after you're done. Which is important, otherwise you'd just have a sock cuff and no easy way to proceed on your sock.

To get started, you're going to hold a pair of needles together, and put your working needle knitwise through the first stitch on the front needle and on the back needle. Then you're going to wrap your yarn as if to knit and draw the stitch through. You've now bound a cast on edge stitch with a working stitch to create one stitch.

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Step 7: Knit Stitches From Both Needles All the Way Around the Tube

All that remains to do be done now is to work your way all around the tube, knitting one stitch from each needle together. The picture above shows two needles completed, the third needle half-way through and the last needle pair left to be done. The only thing you need to worry about is making sure that your working needle is always the same size as the outer needle of the pair.

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Step 8: Admire your Lovely Picot Edge

After you've made it all the way around, it's time to flip it over and admire your work. Picot edges should be stiff enough to stand up on their own most of the time and should have a reasonably nice solid structure. If you look on the inside, you'll also see what I think is a very neat and lovely joined edge that becomes almost invisible against the inside of the sock if the rest of the sock is based in stockinette.

Now you're ready to knit the rest of the sock, or whatever other tubular structure has captured your fancy!

Before I end this post, I'd like to point out another excellent guide to working a picot edge and one that I most certainly referred to when I was trying this technique out for the first time. I would also like to recommend Nancie Wiseman's Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques which also provides very helpful information about executing crochet-cast ons, provisional cast ons and picot edges.

VOTE

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If you are a registered voter in the US, please vote. Be you Democrat or Republican, conservative or progressive, it's important that we all participate in the political process on which our country is founded. If you're not registered, find out how to do it today, and get it taken care of so that you can participate in the next election.

And if you have a child, take them with you to the polls and let them know that voting is one of the most important responsibilities a citizen has. Talk to them about voting and the political process. Create a family tradition.

If you're in Illinois, the Independent Voters of Illinois, Illinois Precinct Organization has a list of endorsements that also includes questionaires returned by the candidates on their stands on local and state issues.

A New Sweater and a Conundrum

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Let in never be said that I am too hasty in the use of my stash yarn. I bought Jenna's Rogue pattern in early 2004 like many people in the knitting blogiverse, but didn't really have the right yarn in my stash for it. In October of 2004 I found yarn at ThreadBear in Lansing that I both liked and felt was in the right price range. I brought it home with the best of intentions -- it was October, after all, and a perfect time for contemplating a new sweater -- and promptly buried it, lured by several other projects that have turned out to be wardrobe staples, including Cerys,Butterfly and the Fitzgerald sweater I knit for John. So at least Rogue wasn't ignored for regrettable projects.

Now it's two years later, and I am once again thinking about making a new sweater. I want a warm outerwear sweater that can go shopping with me or hang out in a bar. Something that's comfortable and casual but does not resemble a formless sweatshirt. And that's when I remembered Rogue. And the stash of yarn I already had set aside for it. Perfect, no?

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A Pile of Bartlett Yarns 2-ply, Color Larkspur

The more I spin my own yarn, the more I appreciate a good tweedy wool. This yarn from Bartlett Yarns of Maine is a 2-ply yarn that reads purplish-blue from a distance, but when you get up close to it, shows off some prominent red and turquoise highlights. Knit up it reads out an almost denimy color.

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Swatching with the Bartlett

Now that I've done some spinning and know more about yarn construction and what types of yarn do best in which kinds of projects, I probably wouldn't select a 2 ply for a sweater that was going to feature cables. But this yarn is surprisingly lofty for something that feels relatively scratchy right out of the skein. And it gets much better after it gets a bath. Certainly not against the skin soft, but it's at least as soft as Kureyon or softer, and it lacks the VM that I usually am constantly picking out of Kureyon or Silk Garden. Definitely fine for the outerwear garment that I want Rogue to be. And lofty enough that I think it will still make cables stand out pretty well.

So what's my problem?

Gauge.

Rogue's gauge is 4.5 stitches/inch and 6 rows/inch. When I started knitting on 5.0 mm needles (US 8) it became clear that I was getting 4 stitches/inch or less, so I switched to 4.5 mm (US 7) needles. Before a good soak, I got about 4.3 stitches/inch and 6.3 rows/inch. Not perfect, but I liked the fabric density.

And then I washed my swatch. I've learned from experience not to trust a swatch that hasn't had a bath. And I checked my gauge again...

4.2 stitches/inch and 6.8 rows per inch. Sigh.*

Going down another needle size would probably get me closer to stitch gauge I needed, but it would get me farther away from the row gauge I needed. Going up a needle size gets me better row gauge, but doesn't improve the stitch gauge situation. And I still like the fabric density on the 4.5 mm needles.

If you think .2 stitches/inch can't possibly make any difference... well, Rogue at 4.5 stitches per inch is 35.5" in the smallest size. Rogue at 4.2 sitches/inch is 38" around. As it turns out, this is probably not a bad thing for me. Rogue's smallest size at guage is a little too fitted for me (I've got a 34" bustline measurement), but the medium at gauge (39") is a little too loose. But since most of the pattern is written out using numbers of rows instead of actual measurements, it means that I'm going to have to do some refactoring before I can get started. And I haven't even done my in-the-round gauge swatch yet.

And I was so hoping that I could start this project quickly and without having to use my calculator. Clearly some delayed gratification is going to be required in order to ensure a succesful outcome. Good thing I bought that extra skein of yarn...

* Right now Claudia is probably thinking to herself, something like: "See, I told you, swatches lie... don't make the mistake of thinking that the gauge of that swatch will bear any resemblence to the gauge the yarn will knit up with when you get to the sweater. Some sacrifices to the knitting gods are going to be necessary, especially since you have no hope of finding more yarn in the same dyelot as you bought two years ago." Only she would have expressed this in a much wittier way than I.

The Grey Socks Continue

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Very Fraternal Grey Striped Socks

Election nights are always good for knitting. For once, I enjoyed watching the election results, too. I apologize to anyone who might not share my opinion, but I am totally excited by the fact that a woman will likely be Speaker of the House. There are only a very few offices of government left where women have not had the chance to make a mark. I do hope that in my lifetime we will see a "Madam President".

Politics aside, John's socks progress. I am a bit concerned that they may be so fraternal as to have rejection potential. I've also made one small change in the second sock. The first sock was a bit loose in the foot. Not so loose as to require ripping, but loose enough that I thought it wouldn't hurt to take a few stitches out on the second one. So for the first sock, I did 76 stitches all the way from top to bottom. For the second sock, I did 76 stitches on the top and have decreased to 72 stitches on the foot. John has rather narrow feet, and I don't want the socks to be too baggy -- even if he did tell me that it wouldn't be so bad because then he could wear this pair over another pair, one of his favorite things to do in the winter.

I suspect a couple more nights will bring this pair to completion, and then it will be time to let him pick again. Although I may rig the election process and make the selection process for him.

I've had a couple of people ask me to go into more detail about why I would pick a three-ply yarn instead of a two-ply yarn for Rogue if I were to do it again. So, since I am without an exciting knitting progress picture for the post, and I think it's something that I never would have thought about if I hadn't taken up spinning, I thought I'd revisit this topic.

The best thing I can do to start the discussion is to point you to a post I made in April, wherein I discuss the geometry of two and three ply yarns. I'd recommend clicking on it and taking a look, at least at the pictures, because it's something of a long discussion, and I'm far to lazy to repeat it tonight. And I'm going to assume, going forward, that you understand the geometry of 2 and 3 ply yarns.

OK, so now you know that 2-ply yarns are two dimensional and 3-ply yarns ar three dimensional. So how does that factor into deciding what kinds of yarn to use for certain kinds of knitting projects? Well, let's take Rogue. Rogue has a bunch of lovely cabling in it. Cabling is a three dimensional knitting technique. The idea is to create a raised area of stitches that you can look at from multiple angles and see a defined, rounded, shaped structure. When you choose a three dimensional yarn to work with a three-dimensional structure, you end up emphasizing that texture and rounding it out. It brings the texture work to life better. Three-ply yarns have a rounder quality to them as well, and that also helps to pop out that cable.

So does that mean that 2-ply yarns are inappropriate for cabling? Not at all. 2-ply yarns can still be excellent for cables and designs. But they give you a different look. For instance, do you remember my Pearl Buck Swing Jacket? I made Pearl out of Silky Wool which is a two ply yarn. The textured stitches lay flatter against the fabric, creating a more subtle patterning. Now take a look at Sigil, a cardigan I made with a bulky weight 3-ply yarn. See how those cables jump right out at you? That has a lot to do with the extra dimensionality of the three-ply yarn.

Two-ply yarns, on the other hand, are wonderful for lace work. Lace is meant to lie flat. With lace, you're not interested in a 3-dimensional fabric, you're interested in being able to have beautiful stitch definition that will lay flat and show off all the open work, making 2-ply yarn a perfect selection for lace-based projects. Compare this short scarf knit in a two ply yarn that I spun with my Flower Basket Shawl which I knit out of a 3-ply handspun. Notice how the two ply scarf shows off the pattern better than the three-ply shawl? The extra-dimensionality of the yarn in the shawl obscures a bit of the pattern work in the shawl. It's still a shawl that makes me perfectly happy (and keeps me a bit warmer), but it's a different look than if I'd chosen a two-ply yarn.

Of course, it is not solely the number of plys that determine the final look of cables and lace in your project. You still have to consider the loft of the yarn that results from the fiber the yarn was spun from. For instance, wools from Merino, Targhee, Cormo and CVM sheep are all springier and crimpier and pack a lot of poof into a yarn. That's one of the reasons why two-ply 100% merino Koigu PPM has the three-dimensional look of a 3-ply yarn. Yarns from sheep like the Blue Faced Leicester tend to have less springiness and the yarn looks a bit flatter. Spinnning technique makes a big difference too, if you spin woolen, you get a loftier yarn than if you spin worsted. And then you have to factor in gauge. Knitting a poofy yarn on smaller needles yields a different fabric than if it is knit on big needles. For instance, I probably would have gotten better resolution on my Flower Basket Shawl if I'd gone up a needle size or two.

This is why I say that if I were to buy yarn for another Rogue I'd probably try to start with a three ply, but I'm happy with the Bartlett. The Bartlett has a reasonable amount of dimensionality that comes in from the wool that it's made of, and the way the singles that make up the two plys in the yarn are spun. To my eye, it looks like the singles were spun semi-woolen (or semi-worsted, depending on your perspective) so they have some extra loft to bring to the party once plied. So while I don't expect the cables to pop quite like they did for Sigil, knit at the gauge that I'm going to knit it in, I should still get nice resolution and dimensionality with the cabling in Rogue. My Rogue will be a little reserved, but those cables will still show up well and let people know they're there. Which seems about right for a sweater that gets it's name from a stealthy sort of character.*

*At least if you're playing a Rogue a la D&D -- which I have on my brain right now, since I've been digging into the last two major add-on for Neverwinter Nights before I charge into Neverwinter Nights 2... yes, I am a geek on so very many levels!

Grey Socks for Winter's Grey Days

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Trekking 102 Socks on the Feets of the Recipient

The grey weather and descent into chilly temperatures we had this weekend went pretty well with the completion of the socks on John's feet. My sweetie now has another pair of grey socks in his collection. He's quite happy with them, and after we did our photo shoot on Sunday morning, they pretty much stayed on his feet the rest of the day. He might not like a lot of color, but he does like his hand knit socks. Almost as soon as it gets cold, he starts wearing his handknit wool socks and he'll pick them over anything else in his drawer.

Well, except for yesterday when we were at Costco and he purchased some boot socks. He gave me a sheepish look as he put them in the cart. I have to get these because I don't have any really thick socks that I can wear in my boots in the winter, he said. I forgave him because he definitely is correct on this account. He doesn't have any good thick boot socks.

So now I need some yarn recommendations. John is definitely not a handwash wool sock kind of guy. I need something that is superwash at the very least, a bit of nylon in the best case, and has some subdued colorways that a Chicago boot wearing guy in the winter will give his seal of approval to. My first thought is Socks that Rock Heavyweight (and I know where to find a good supply of that) in a semi-solid color. I have also heard/seen the Opal DK weight, but it doesn't (or at least didn't when I last checked) come in colorways that John will wear. Clearly I could also consider spinning some, but that means that he might not see these socks for a year or two. Any other suggestions for goot boot weight sock yarn?

Arctic Lace

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Today I have a special treat! Almost two years ago I first came in contact with Donna Druchunas' work through the book The Knitted Rug. This was one of the first books knitting books that I added to my collection that specifically focused on knitted items that were not garments. I loved the fact that Donna took relatively simple techniques and used them to create interesting, clever and functional decorations for a home -- and encouraged other knitters to use them as a jumping off point for their own imaginations. In fact, I completed one of the patterns from this book not too long ago: the Handspun Spiral Rug -- a project that I loved to see come together, even if I still cannot bear to put it on my floor.

At the same time, I was struck by Donna's last name. You see, if you see a last name with an 'as' or 'is' ending, it can almost only be either Greek or Lithuanian. I'm third generation Lithuanian, so, of course, when Donna left a comment on my blog while I was working on the rug, I just had to email her back to ask her a few questions about the rug book and ask her about her last name. Lo and behold, I'd found another Lithuanian knitter.

So it's a real pleasure for me to participate in Donna's book blog tour for her latest book, Arctic Lace. Donna and her husband Dominic (who took all the pictures for the book, and the pictures shown here on my blog today) headed off to Alaska to find out more about qiviut and how lace knitting and the Oomingmak Co-Operative got started. The book is special because it is part travel log, part history, part technique guide, and, like the Knitted Rug, a contains a healthy dose of encouragement to go off and try your own things.

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Donna and Dominic in Alaska

TW: Clearly this book is part introduction to lace knitting and Alaskan lace knitting forms and part fiber adventure. What do you hope people reading the book will take away from it?

DD: I'd like people to take away the simple idea that lace knitting is not hard! If you can knit, you can knit lace. Sure it takes more concentration than garter stitch, but it's not rocket science.

In addition, I'd like to instill some knowledge and appreciation of Yup'ik and Inupiat culture, especially regarding respect for the environment and making decisions that are not short sighted, but that consider the impact on future generations.

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Unalakleet in Spring

One of the things that Donna explains in the book is that each village or town usually ends up with a particular lace pattern that gets worked into the garments that they produced. Most of these patterns are based on traditional elements from Yup'ik and Inupiat art and embellished items.

TW: How were the signature patterns developed for the villages? Did the knitters in the villages participate in the designs with the Oomingmak co-op founders?

DD: The first lace designs were created by Helen Howard, Ann Schell, and Dorothy Reade. They worked together to develop the stitches and patterns for the co-op to use. After that, different knitters contributed designs. Some of the designs on the Oomingmak co-op website list the names of the designers. Most of the knitters, however, are working in the co-op knitting to make money, and they are basically production knitters. They may make different projects over time (scarves, hats, headbands, lace, colorwork), but they are really doing this to make money, so they like to memorize the patterns to improve their knitting speed. The design process is totally separate from the production knitting part of the business.

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Donna Meets a Musk Ox

TW: What was it like to be close to the musk oxen?

DD: It was like being in Jurassic Park, only a little less scary. Because I was at the Musk Ox Farm, the animals were fenced (well, so were the dinos in Jurassic Park), and they also had the tips of their horns trimmed. Although they are still strong and muscular beasts, they don't pose a threat to tourists. The animals that have been hand raised are quite docile and will come up to the fence to get a treat from the familiar farm hands. The animals that have come from other places, such as zoos, are more timid and tend to keep their distance.

When I was at the farm, I got to stick my hand into the fur of one of the animals. Oh my! It was cold and damp out that day, and I was wearing a coat and hat. But inside the animal's fur, with my hand in the qiviut underneath the long guard hairs, it was as warm and dry as sitting in front of a fire. I was completely amazed. It's one thing to read about the great insulation of the musk ox coat, it's quite another thing to actually feel the warmth.

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Spinning Qiviut

TW: Do you spin? If so, have you spun qiviut? What tips would you offere someone who wanted to try spinning this fiber to create a special yarn for a project of their own? What are the best fibers to blend with qiviut if you want to make your fiber go a little farther or want a yarn that is a little less insulating?

DD: I do spin, but I've only spun a tiny bit of qiviut. When I was in Alaska, I found an ounce of raw qiviut that was selling for $30. It is full of guard hair and flecks of skin or dander, but it is otherwise quite clean. And qiviut has no grease. So I started spinning it on a tiny drop spindle. It spun up beautifully into a fine, lace-weight yarn. But in the end, I decided to keep my qiviut fiber for show and tell at workshops, and I haven't done any more spinning with it.

Qiviut is, as you say, quite warm, which is why it is normally spun and sold in very fine weights. The heaviest qiviut yarn I've ever seen is sport weight. The yarn also has very little give or elasticity, so it drapes beautifully for scarves and shawls, but is not very good at holding its shape for ribbing or fitted garments. Qiviut is also not lustrous, as is normal for a down fiber. Merino and silk are often blended with qiviut to add elasticity and sheen. Yarns with up to 55% wool and silk still have the luxurious feel of qiviut, while being lighter in color and more lofty in the skein.

Qiviut is usually spun with a very low amount of twist for commercial yarns. I prefer it with a tighter twist, which adds more loft to the yarn and a some elasticity just because of the structure of the yarn.

Qiviut also blooms after washing, and develops a fuzzy halo that resembles mohair but is much softer. I have heard some people say that qiviut pills, but I've seen samples at the co-op store that are quite old and that have been handled by customers for a long time. They had a very pronounced furry halo, but no pills.

TW: How did you decide what kinds of projects to put in the book?

DD: There were two main considerations. First, I wanted to make projects that were reminiscent of the Co-op's designs. Second, I wanted to include a lot of small projects because qiviut is quite expensive and I knew that many knitters would not be able to afford 6 or 8 skeins to knit a vest or shawl.

TW: Given the insulating nature of qiviut, how did you identify good working gauges for your projects? One of the things I think is challenging about lace is to create something that shows off the open work, but is substantial enough to still create some warmth. But I would imagine with qiviut which has such a high insulation factor, that you also have to deal with the opposite issue: how to keep the garment from being too warm to be comfortable?

DD: Because it blooms when washed and the solid St st areas fill in with the halo, qiviut can be worked at a fairly loose gauge for lace. I preferred to work my projects at a slightly tighter gauge than some qiviut designers, because I wanted the lace patterning to stand out strongly against the solid background. My lace designs, like the co-op's were made with very strong geometric shapes that are outlined with yarn overs. The design is further emphasized by the placement and direction of the decreases, and by using twisted stitches to create very straight outlines around the shapes. This helps make the lace pattern stand out more against the background. Not all lace is designed this way, so if you want to use other stitches with qiviut, definitely make a swatch first.

If you've never knitted with qiviut before, I suggest making a small swatch and trying 3 or 4 different needle sizes. Block and wash the swatch to see what you think. You don't have to waste the yarn, however. If you leave it attached to the ball, you can always rip it out and reuse the yarn if you need it to finish your project.

The important thing is to make sure that your stitches are neat and tidy looking. If they are loose and sloppy, it spoils the texture of the fabric and might not even out when you block the item, again because qiviut does not have that forgiving texture of wool.

If you want to read more of the interviews from Donna's blog tour, or find out about the knit-a-long for Arctic Lace, you can check out her website Sheep To Shawl

Commitment

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Why was it so hard for me to go from this:

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Handspun Sock Yarn

to this?

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Handspun Sock Yarn in Center Pull Ball

When I finished up John's simple grey socks, I knew I wanted to tackle some socks for myself. That seems fair, after all, a pair for him, a pair for me. I know, I have a couple of other pairs on the needles that are more complicated. But these are not projects that can easily be worked on in the car, in front of the TV, at KIP or while wandering around the Home Depot waiting for John to select just the right part for the gas regulation system that supports the beer taps in the basement.* I really do like to have one pair going that is just simple stockinette in-the-round.

But what yarn to use? I have so many good ones waiting to be tried out, including my handspun Hang on Sloopy. But every time I would go into my fiber room to think about putting it on my swift and making that center pull ball, I would pick up the skein, squeeze it, and get this angstful feeling. I'd put it back down and the cycle would start all over again. It took a good many repeats of this cycle before I actually overcame my anxiety and put the skein (on the right in the first picture) on the swift.

As I write, I am still not sure why. I have knit with my handspun before, and the feeling of moving it into a form I could knit from was exciting rather than filled with trepidation. The only thing I can think of is that I consider this to be the best yarn I have ever spun. It is balanced and even, both in twist and in ply. It has a delightful color, and in the second skein (the one that became the ball) I know it will have pleasantly long stripes. And I am about to turn it into socks. Something that will be loved, but will ultimately wear out. I am committing my best spinning effort to date, a milestone yarn, to an imperminant garment. And not even a complicated garment, but just a simple pair of stockinette socks.

One thing I've come to learn about knitting with my own handspun is that I feel a much stronger committment to this yarn than to the yarn I buy at a store. It has become very important to me to turn my handspun yarns into garments that are well made and meaningful. And as I started to cast on for my simple socks, I realized that sometimes the perfect way to highlight striping is simple stockinette. And who could possibly appreciate a slipping into a pair of my handknit handspun happy orange socks on a cold Chicago morning more than I could? So while the garment may not be permanent, the memories and good feelings of having something from my own hands will be.

And what better excuse could I have for learning how to darn socks?


*Yes, you heard me correctly, beer taps in the basement. My home brewing husband has taken his hobby to new levels, and now the Den of Great Manliness includes not only popcorn and hot dog poppers and an impressive home theatre, but taps for 5 brews. All of which he has filled with a home brew right now. Who would have thought that his birthday present in June would lead to 25 gallons of decent homebrewed beer in my basement?

My Boyfriend's Back

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Don't tell John, but I've been hanging out with my Boyfriend quite a bit lately.

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Crown Mountain Farms Superwash Merino in "My Boyfriend's Back"

I'm a little over halfway through my first bobbin of "My Boyfriend's Back", another batch of superwash roving from Crown Mountain Farms. This picture is not entirely representative of the roving, because the bit I had just spun had a lot of white areas in it. I don't know if Teyani does this intentionally, but in both batches I have spun so far, half of the roving has a good deal more open white area than the other half. For stripey sock yarn, this is an excellent thing, because those white areas help to set up a lot of nice contrasty stripes.

What makes me most happy is that while this area has lighter red areas, it really doesn't veer into the land of pink. It maintains a sort of stately and sedate deep red color (I know, I know, the photo reads pink, but that is because the color defiition is a bit poor in this flash picture).. So far, this color has been mostly acceptable to the male for whom the yarn is being spun. Because he has bigger feet than I do, I decided that rather than spinning it up in 4 ounce batches, I would divide the roving in half and spin it all up as one batch (I mean one batch made up of two plys, not one single ply) so as to have one solid continuous yarn. I still have a lot of spinning to go, but I am already at that place where I can't wait to ply and see what shows up!

Big thanks to everyone who left supportive words for me yesterday. I am working on the socks, and the more I knit, the happier I get with what I see. My Sloopy yarn is like knitting with sunshine, and the fabric is firm but soft, so I think I will have a good and durable sock. Good therapy for the grey rainy weather we are getting in Chicago right now.

Knitted Sunshine

| 33 Comments

It's pretty much been the epitome of cold, grey and dreary here in Chicago for the past week or so. We've had cold weather mixed with rain or cold weather mixed with grey clouds that, were it just a touch colder, I would swear were snow clouds. If you've ever lived in a place that gets snow, you'll know that the clouds just get this sort of look about them when they plan to drop snow. And the clouds I see lately, they have that look.

Good thing I've made my own sunshine.

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Knitted Sunshine in a Sock

Here's the beginning of the first Sloopy sock. It's a soft, dense fabric, and the striping is what I'd hoped it would be -- wide and well defined. I've got half an inch or so before I turn the heel. I can't wait to have happy orange feet!

I got so many comments Friday on my sock yarn. Thank you all for being so encouraging and positive. With Thanksgiving coming up and a bunch of things at home and at work to take care of, I'm not sure I'll get the chance to email very many people personally, so I did want to express my appreciation on the blog. Thank you so much.

Today I have my dad's first guest entry. It's not about knitting, but it is about an extraordinary "FO". Rather than just post a picture, I thought I would ask my dad to tell its story in his own words. I hope even if you only show up here for the knitting, that you'll at least scroll down to see the completed item. It's extraordinary and truly a beautiful thing.

I'd like to start the rocking chair story by fat fingering or attempting to paraphrase a statement from the book I'm currently "reading". The book is The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. A excellent book by the way. The phrase is.... the beginning of an auto biography ( building a rocking chair) doesn't start at the birth of the individual in question (buying wood) but at ...... There is much more to the statement but that is as far as I can go with it. The rocker story really starts in 1987 when Bobbi and I are starting to build our house and I mean build our house. We started the build in October of 87 with a foundation in the ground and the purchase of a trailer so that we could live and work on site 24 7. From that moment until completion (???.... completion defined as a home occupancy permit because I'm still working on the house) Bobbi and I worked every day after work until 11 or 12 at night and on weekends from 8 am to 10 pm. This routine went on without interuption until the home occupancy permit was issued 10 months later in July of 88. In May of 88 I was phyically and emotionally running on empty. It is at this time the Keyboard Biologist returns from college. She saw the state of affairs instantly and said "I can't live in this trailer we are going to move into the new house now!" and we did move in that very day never to go back to the trailer. The energy and spirit she brought re energized and motivated Bobbi and I to complete the project and you know what she is still providing that motivatonal service today. Thank you T. So when I was in a bit of the dull drums during the early part of my retirement I heard that familar voice say " I would like a special rocking chair" and the fire was lit again. But now I hear the other significant female voice in my life say "why don't you make the first rocking chair for me so that you can debug the process for T's chair ?". So now the building of the rocking chair story can begin. I went on the internet and finally found the right rocker to build. Hal Taylor builds this rockers for a living and also teaches others how to build them. If you would like to see some of his rockers you can go to his website.

The project begins with the wood. Cherry is the wood of choice for the first chair. Well actually it was the only choice at the time because the mill only had cherry in the thickness appropriate for the rocker but as you can see by the following pic it wasn't a bad choice.

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The next and perhaps the most significant step is laying out the pieces to take best advantage of the grain and general characteristics of the wood. Since the head board and seat are the two pieces which catch your eye first they get first choice of grain patterns. This effort can be seen in the next pic of the seat and head board wood before any gluing or shaping is done.

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This same process is done with all the other parts which are the arms, legs, and rockers. The rockers are the lowest priority bescause they are made of laminations so only the very top of the rocker is visible. Once you've made your best shot at this effort the next step is to start machining the various parts of the rocker. The following pic shows the seat with the leg joints machined in.

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The next pic shows the seat with the roughed out legs fit into the seat but not glued yet. The joining of the legs to the seat is the most sophisticated part of the wood working in this project but not the biggiest part of the project. I did not appreciate this but the lion share of work on this chair isn't the joinery but the shaping of the wood through grinding, filing, planning, carving, and sanding.

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Speaking of shaping the wood the next pic shows the amount of sawdust I had on the table next to where I ground out the seat shape. (disclaimer) Whenever I do any of this type of work I wear a dust mask and I have a powered air filtering machines filtering the workshop air because in most cases when I am working in the shop my fathful companion Ufer is resting on his bed just 10 feet away. I can't get the Rottweiler to wear a dust mask though.

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Moving on the next pic shows the previous image but with the somewhat shaped arms. The arms still have to be chamfered and sanded yet but you can get a sense of the grain with respect to the seat.

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The last pic before the finished chair pics is of the seat, legs, and head board. At this point the legs are glued to the seat but the head board is just fit into its position. One of the techniques of this project is to do all of the shaping before a part is attached to another part. In this pic the head board fits the opening but does not have its finished shape yet. Once the part is fit then it is disassembled, shaped, and is given a semi final sand.

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Once all parts are shaped and sanded then they are glued together. Then the whole chair is sanded with a 320 grit, a 500 grit, and finally a 1000 grit sand. After the 1000 sand the wood has a glossy look which appears like it has already been finished. The next pic is the finished chair as viewed from the chair's left.

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The next pics are of the head board, then a top view, then a front view, and the last pic is of the joint of the front right leg to the seat.

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That is what the finished chair looks like and Bobbi tells me it feel very good, rocks real nice, and it would be very appropriate for................... oops but that is another story. Since T and I already picked out the walnut wood for her chair that project will begin right after the Thanksgiving holiday. If there is any interest I can give progress reports.

There will certainly be some interest from me in hearing more about his chairs! Dad and I are also thinking about developing a special spinning chair. More on that as it progresses, as well!

Following Directions

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My Dad can be a hard act to follow. He messaged me this morning to tell me he enjoyed reading the comments so much that he might have to adopt some new children. Just remember... the line forms behind me. Grin.

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Rogue Sleeve

This bit of sleeve is my testimony to the fact that I am not very good at following directions. Oh, there's nothing wrong with it, but I had almost the entire cable motif knitted up before it became clear that I was leaving out one set of increases. Yes, reading all the instructions for a particular section, not just the first paragraph, is an important knitting skill.

I decided to start with a sleeve for Rogue because, in reality, a sleeve is just a really large swatch. It seemed like the easiest way to see how my row and stitch guage issues would play out in a larger piece of knitting. I think it's a bit to early to say anything about that (it wouldn't be, of course, if I had read the freaking instructions), but I do find myself rather enamored of the cable and how it shows up in this yarn. I don't really consider myself someone who loves to take on aran sweaters, but I do like the visual and general knitting interest from having a bold cable detail that is easy to understand and read.

I've made another decision as well. I'm going to knit Rogue as a cardigan instead of a pullover. I must admit to having zipper trepidation, but as I look through my wardrobe, it becomes clearer and clearer that my cardigans get more wear than my pullovers. In no way should this be seen as circular swatch knitting avoidance....

Finished but not Finished

| 13 Comments
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Socks Take a Break in the Sun

The Whiskers & Pawprints socks, they are finito! The pattern awaits some airplane time and some Thanksgiving cranberry sauce and a view of my brother's new house. Happy Thanksgiving to those of you celebrating the holiday. This biologist will be back on Monday.

Whiskers & Paw Prints Sock Pattern

| 15 Comments
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The Beazle Gives His Seal of Approval

I got almost no knitting done over the holiday, but I did put the finishing touches on my Whiskers and Paw Prints Sock Pattern and it is now ready for purchase and download.

This pattern is what I would consider an "intermediate" level sock pattern. It includes a picot cuff, short row heel, and an overall pattern stitch that includes both a stranded stitch and simple lace work. You'll need to know how to do a provisional cast on, knit and purl, yarn over, and perform mirrored decreases. Nothing is terribly difficult, but you may encounter a few new things. I've created a tutorial for the provisional cast on and picot cuff to help anyone who may not have seen these techniques before. The heel and toe details are fun surprises that you can choose to include or leave out, depending on the recipient.

The pattern has full color detail pictures, is fully charted and includes two sizes, one for a medium sized woman's foot (about 8" circumference) and one for a large sized woman's foot (about 9" circumference). It also includes suggestions for downsizing and upsizing the pattern for smaller and larger feet. The yarn I used is Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock in Medium weight, but many other yarns, such as Koigu KPPM, would be perfectly acceptable.

I'm setting the price of the pattern at $5.75. Because these socks are meant to honor a person who cares a great deal about animals, I will donate one dollar from every pattern sale to the Anti-Cruelty Society of Chicago. The ACS does excellent work in Chicago finding homes for dogs and cats and providing affordable veterinary care for those in need. Over my time in Chicago, I've adopted a number of animals from them and I've always been impressed by the volunteers and the staff.

To order, just click on the button below, or on the button in my side bar under the picture of the sock pattern. I use PayPal and it will take a direct PayPal transfer, credit card or eCheck. You will be provided with download instructions as soon as your payment has cleared.

Want to see a little of the detail work on these socks?

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W & P Socks Are Mirror Images of Each Other
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Mirror Image Heels: These Socks are Directional
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Short Row Heel and Instep Detail
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Cat Paw Detail on the Top of the Toe
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Paw Print Detail on the Bottom of the Toe

Boot Sock Yarn

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A couple of weeks back I posted about the need to find some yarn that would be good for boot socks for a man who gets cold feet on his daily downtown commute. I got a lot of great responses and I used some of those suggestions to make some initial purchases to help me get started.

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Boot Sock Yarn: Regia 6-Ply Marokko Color, Socks that Rock Heavyweight, and Regia Silk

1. Regia 6-Ply Marokko Color, Colorway #5497. This yarn is advertised as a DK weight yarn. Like most Regia yarns its 75% superwash wool and 25% nylon. After doing a recent survey of my handknitted socks, I can, indeed, say that Regia wears like iron and that even my Regia socks that are several years old look great, and I received a number of suggestions about looking into their 6 ply yarns. This yarn is a marled yarn that will have white, beige and blue stripes. When I found it, I didn't think John would want anything to do with it because of the stripes. But he actually liked it and picked this colorway over a more subdued one. I purchased this yarn from Carodan Farm

2. Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Heavyweight, Colorway "Mudslide". This yarn has about half the yardage per unit of weight (i.e. it's heavier weight) than the Regia so warmth and thickness shouldn't be an issue. The color has also been determined to be man-acceptable. I haven't told him yet that it's likely to pool and create some striping... I'm hoping that the "all brown" thing will win out. This yarn is 100% merino superwash, but it's a tightly plied three ply, and my experience with other Blue Moon Products suggests that it will have good durability. I purchased this yarn from Toni Neil at the Fold -- she has a very nice selection of STR heavyweight colors right now.

3. Regia Silk Color, Colorway 190. Clearly this yarn is not for John. However, given that it has 20% silk content, I figured it was possible that I might get the warmth of a boot sock from a thinner sock due to silk's superior insulating properties. However, I've heard rumors that this yarn doesn't wash well, so I wanted to try it out in a pair for myself before using it for John. One excellent thing about this yarn? It comes in solid colors. So if I like the socks I knit for me, there's a good option for John as well. This yarn is also from Carodan Farm.

Since there were some other very good suggestions for boot sock yarn in the comments to the post where I asked for suggestions, if you're looking for some similar yarn options, here's the link to the post. Given all the interesting comments, I'm sure that if you're looking for the same thing you can probably find some useful information to help you on your way.

Log Cabin Blanket Ideas

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I've mentioned on several occasions that I don't knit for babies. Babies are really too young to appreciate hand knit gifts. I do, on the other hand, knit for their mothers if they are special friends and I think they would appreciate it. Some people like hand made things, some do not. I try to match the gift with the friend.

I have a very special knitting friend who's baby is due in in April. I'd been trying to think of the right thing to do for her since I found out she was pregnant. Nothing really struck me until I saw Cara's finished Log Cabin Blanket. It seemed like a perfect idea. Stylish, handmade and something that I could try playing with color on. Made even better by the fact that I could make it out of machine washable yarn. It seems to me a bit of a cruel thing to give a new mom a hand-wash only baby blanket. So I took a trip out to the Fold to look for some good colors.

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Tanzanite, Stonewash and Jade Socks that Rock, Heavyweight

At the time, I didn't know the sex of the baby, and my friend hadn't started on the nursery, so I wanted to pick relatively gender neutral colors. When Toni pulled out that Stonewash (it is so much faded denimy goodness and the photo doesn't enitrely do it justice) I knew that was the color I wanted to start with. Somehow, the other two colors were the ones that I thought just needed to be part of the assembly.

Since then, I've been thinking about what kind of blanket pattern I want to construct. Cara's blanket is beautiful, but I wanted to use the opportunity to be come up with my own creative ideas. I looked around at the web a bit and even found a cool tool to help me experiment. But in the end, Excel turned out to be the best tool. Here are a few of the ideas I came up with:

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Design 1: T Keys
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Design 2: Lightening
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Design 3: Random Boxes
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Design 4: Waves

Except the first one, they're all pretty much based on existing traditional patterns (the first one could be, too, for all I know... there's so little new under the sun when it comes to quilting). They would all end up being about the same size (about 3' x 4' or 3' x 3'), I'll just alter the starting sizes of the center square to get where I need to go. Since I only have 2 skeins of each color yarn, I wanted to be as color balanced as possible, which may mean that Design #2 is not entirely an option. The idea behind the images in Design 4 was to see a couple of different wave color permuatations and also to see what happened when it became a 3 block by 4 block blanket instead of a 3 block by 3 block blanket.

My current favorite is the first design, but I don't know if I will have the stamina for 20 blocks, and I am a bit worried that it is a little too abstract for a baby blanket. At any rate, you know this is the part where I open it up to get other opinions. Which one do you like best? If it was going to be for your baby's room, which one would you pick? Or should I consider going back to the drawing board altogether?

Rogue Sleeve

| 23 Comments
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Rogue Sleeve Finished

It's been so long since I worked on a sweater project that I've sort of forgotten that completed sleeves do not always make for an exciting blog post. This is my first sleeve for Rogue, really meant as a big swatch. It is also confirmation that my original swatch was telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. My gauge for the swatch and my gauge for the sleeve are pretty much the same thing.

Since I'm knitting the smallest size, that meant that the sleeves were just about the right size in terms fo circumference. I added a few extra rows after the final increases to get them to be the length I thought they should be. And my skein of yarn ended just after the sleeve cap did. So at this point, all's well with the Rogue.

I really do like doing cables this way... a simple but stunning motif set off by a good deal of stockinette. I can respect all over cabled sweaters, but I don't have the patience to actually knit them. Sweaters like Rogue give me a few good moments of cable goodness without delaying the "wearing the sweater" gratification too much.

For anyone else considering using the Bartlett yarn, I highly recommend giving this yarn a bath before you start knitting with it. I was commenting to Bonne Marie that while I liked the color, the stuff was almost painful to work with because the yarn felt so rough against my skin, but that my bathed swatch was respectably soft. Bonne Marie suggested what should have been obvious to me on my own (especially since I would never knit with handspun that I hadn't given a bath): why don't you soak the hanks before you knit with them? It worked like a charm. The yarn poofed out and gave up a good deal of dusty gunk. I expect the remaining hanks will be much more pleasant to work with.

Onto the next sleeve!

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