December 2010 Archives


Pattern: Skew (Knitty, Winter 2009)
Yarn: A Zauberball... Not sure of colorway
Needles: AddiTurbo, 2.25 mm

Every now and again I get the bug to try out a new sock construction.  That bug gets stronger when I see a lot of folks trying it out and vouching for it's interestingness.  And so it was with these socks.  This pattern has a huge following (over 1800 pairs of socks in Ravely!) of enthusiastic knitters.

This pattern is well written and clearly there is no way not to be impressed with the effort and engineering that went into designing them.  I never, in a million years, would have come up with these socks on my own. The angle of the stockinette does neat things for many many yarns.   I really really wanted to like these socks. But you know what? Even when I finished this pair of socks, all I was left with was a "meh". 


First off, bad yarn choice for the pattern.  This pattern clearly does better with yarns that feature regular narrower stripes of color, at least to my eye.  The wide stripes don't show off the angled stockinette very well, and really do nothing to demonstrate the cool thing you did at the heel.  So after all the complicated sock knitting gymnastics, you can't really even look at this pair and really see it in a way that stands out.

Secondly... well, it's all about me and why/how I knit socks.  I used to knit them for the challenge, I used to be in search of my perfect sock construction.  The perfect heel, the perfect toe, the perfect direction for knitting, the perfect cast on, the perfect cast off -- the perfect elements that made knitting socks a smooth, streamlined relaxed experience for me.  The right combination of process I enjoyed and fast production.  And I've found those things... my ideal sock is a toe up sock that uses a magic cast on, features a short row heel, and is bound off using a lovely stretchy bind-off published by Grumperina.  I know it so well I can incorporate patterns without thinking, can knit in the dark or while watching a movie, know exactly what needles, what size, etc.  There's no Kitchenering, and when I'm done with the sock, I weave in two ends and try it on.

Which is a long winded way of saying that while these socks were interesting, I had to pay too much attention to them.  I had to carry the instructions around with me, I had to go back at the end to seal up a hole (which is an expected thing).  They weren't something I could enjoy on autopilot.  I think it took me so long to get the second one done because I just didn't want to have to focus that much on a sock. 

This pattern does get a big thumbs up for cool construction described in a very accessible way.   But if you tackle it, be sure to browse through Ravelry and make sure that the yarn you picked for it gives you a look that you really like.

Stained Glass Scarf

Project: Stained Glass Scarf from Handknit Holidays
Yarn: Artyarns Ultramerino

I started this project sometime before I got pregnant with Z.  Probably not too long after the book came out in 2005.  At the time, I had to source some of the yarn with the help of a Canadian blog friend.  John liked the scarf exactly. as. pictured -- so I mounted a search for exactly those yarns.  It is not easy to get my engineer to admit to liking something handknit.

Five years later, he finally has a scarf.  While I love the texture, pattern and design of this scarf, double knitting on small needles is a time consuming process.  I got very little done on it until 2007 when I had Z and would work on the scarf while she was nursing.  It kept me sane through some long nursing sessions.  Then the project came out here and there when we traveled in the car.  Finally, it landed on my list of projects that MUST BE FINISHED THIS YEAR!  And while John played Half Life 2 and Fallout 3 I worked and worked and worked on this scarf. 

20101212_StainedGlassScarf.jpgI think he looks quite dashing in it and with all that thick squooshy double knit fabric, I know it will be both soft and warm.  He is vaguely skeptical of the red in the scarf (he calls it pink, I call it "light red"), but it goes well with the brown and the green, and since one side is more brown, he's willing to live with it.

This pattern is easy to follow and execute, but it's definitely not something you're going to knit in a weekend -- unless you can knit with both hands and can knit with one and purl with the other.  It's also a little pricey since it takes two skeins of each yarn color.  That said, the result is wonderful and the scarf would be a special gift for any special person on your list.

Super Cupcake Cowl

Pattern: ChicKnits Super Cupcake Cowl
Yarn: The Fiber Company, Terra

I've been wandering through my favorite retail stores looking for winter gear and come across so many cowls.  Even though I've been sorely tempted, the knitter in me refuses to let my material girl just pull one off the rack and take it home, especially since the ones that I have liked best have been simple ribbed rings and I have no end of yarn that would be perfect companions for a cowl scarf.

After a bit of looking, I decided it was hard to go wrong with Bonne Marie's Super Cupcake pattern. I liked that the brioche stitch created a ribbed look but was a bit more interesting and a bit more slouchy than simple K1P1 ribbing.  I combined her pattern with the left over Terra yarn that I had from John's Aspinwall sweater (sadly, still waiting for me to find some maroon thread to sew the zipper in with) to create my first cowl of the season.  It's super simple to knit and super soft and super slouchy and I couldn't be happier with the result. 

20101219_SuperCupcakeCowlUp.jpgI decided to skip the gauge swatch for this project, which probably was a no no, because I believe the cowl is supposed to be a bit more fitted.  However, I like that in cold weather this cowl can be pulled up over my head to keep my ears warm.  Terra is a silk/wool blend, making it soft and warm and not too heavy (I love silk for winter garments -- it's an excellent insulator that doesn't have the weight of wool).  And there's nothing like stash diving and using oddments of yarn to create something  fun and unique to ward off the winter chill.

This was such a quick knit that I'm considering another cowl project.  There's plenty of winter ahead and a Chicago girl can never have too many winter neck warmers!


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