A Quick Knit

After knitting a gorgeous pair of knee socks for the boy’s sock-worthy GF in a gorgeous Knit Picks Stroll tonal colorway called Blue Yonder, I found myself with to little left-over yarn to knit a pair of regular socks for myself, but plenty of yarn to knit a pair of fingerless mitts for the boy’s GF. So off I went on a Ravelry search to find just the right pattern for this yarn.

I found several attractive patterns, but I settled on Mitt Envy, a free download on Ravelry, because I thought the cable would show up well on the tonal yarn.

The pattern may be free, but the designer went out of her way to write the pattern out in great detail. The instructions are all in written form–there is no chart for the cable–but they are clear and detailed, and there are three pictures that show the mitts to great advantage.

I have completed the left mitt and will be casting on the right mitt later today.

Back of the left Blue Yonder fingerless mitt

Back of the left Blue Yonder fingerless mitt


Palm of the left Blue Yonder fingerless mitt

These mitts are a quick and easy knit, but I did have to make several modifications to the pattern to get a mitt that fits well. The pattern calls for a gauge of 7 stitches per inch and 11 rows per inch in stocking stitch. I cast on using 2.75 mm double-pointed needles and knit to about half-way through the thumb gusset increases, then put the mitt on a circular needle and tried it on. It was too small because my gauge was 8 stitches per inch. So I ripped it out and started over, this time using 3 mm double-pointed needles. I completed all the thumb gusset increases and knitted a few rounds beyond that before putting the stitches on a circular needle and trying the mitt on. On the second try the circumference of the mitt was perfect. My gauge was 7 stitches per inch, and the fit was snug without being tight, just the way it should be. But the ribbed cuff of the mitt barely reached my wrist even though my row gauge was 10 rows per inch. I decided to knit another cable pattern repeat before starting the thumb gusset, so I ripped back to round 7 of the first pattern repeat, knitted round 8 without doing the M1 increase, knitted rounds 1-7 again, then made the increase on round 8.

The pattern calls for using a M1 increase for all the gusset increases, but I’m just a little anal about things like increases and decreases and wanted the paired decreases to mirror each other, so I worked a M1R at the beginning of the gusset and a M1L at the end of the gusset. (M1R–lift the thread between the stitches from back to front and knit through the front of the stitch to twist it. This stitch will lean toward the right. M1L–life the thread between the stitches from front to back and knit through the back of the stitch to twist it. This stitch will lean toward the left.)

I continued with the pattern until I had completed all the cable repeats, then tried the mitt on. It didn’t quite cover the palm of my hand, so I knew that even after knitting the 7 rounds of ribbing for the top cuff the mitt would be too short. So I knitted one more repeat of the cable pattern before knitting the ribbing, and as you can see from the picture, I hit the Goldilocks zone. The mitt is just right. Whereas the pattern has 5 total repeats of the cable stitch, I ended up with 7 total repeats.

Because everything I had knitted according to the instructions up to this point had been too short, when I knitted the thumb, I first knitted two plain rounds, then did the 7 rounds of 2 x 2 ribbing. I think the results are awesome. I wanted the top part of the mitt to be a little longer than she made hers. Hers appear to extend to the bottom of the second knuckle of the index finger, and I prefer mitts to extend to the bottom of the second knuckle of the middle finger. With the adjustments I made to add length before the thumb gussets and before the top cuff, I ended up with a mitt that is 7 inches long cuff to cuff instead of the 5.5 inches of the original model.

All things considered, I think this is a brilliant pattern for fingerless mitts and I would definitely recommend it to other knitters, but with the caveat that you might need to make a few adjustments to get a good fit for your hand.

Another Finished Object Friday

Friday is here, and it’s time to unveil another finished object on FO Friday. Today’s FO–Emily’s Boot Socks.

The finished socks

These are my very first attempt at knitting knee socks, so I went with plain vanilla. The only difference between knitting regular socks and knee socks, besides the obvious fact that the leg of a knee socks is much longer than the leg of a regular sock, is that the knitter has to change the number of stitches to shape the leg of the sock to fit the contours of the calf.

An aside–the picture above is a very good illustration of what happens to handpainted and patterned yarns when the stitch count changes. There’s a name for the effect that occurs in the middle of the calf that looks kind of like oak wood grain, but I cannot remember it for the life of me. I think it starts with an eff. No, not that f-word, although I would imagine the effect has elicited an f-bomb or two from many a knitter who is unhappy that the pricey hand painted yarn she bought that looked so gorgeous in the skein looks like shit when knitted up.

When I started this project, I gave a lot of thought to how I should proceed. I decided toe up was the better method to use for this project because getting the leg to fit properly was the challenge here. I’ve knitted more than one pair of socks for Emily, so I have a pretty good handle of fitting her feet. If any adjustments would be needed, it would be in the calf-shaping and/or the length of the leg. It would be much easier to add a few rounds to the leg or add more increases if I just have to rip back a few rows. So toe up it is! I cast on my usual 20 stitches using Judy’s Magic Cast On and two 2.5mm Chiao Goo Lace circular needles and worked Chrissy Gardiner’s shaped round toe (from her book Toe Up!) until I had increased up to 72 stitches.

I continued to work the sock just like any other toe-up, short-row-heel sock until the leg was 4 inches long. Then I started doing the leg increases for the calf-shaping following a formula that I found in a knee sock pattern on the Internet. I did two increases every 10 rounds using M1R and M1L until I had completed 8 increase rounds. After all the increases were done, I had 72 + 16 = 88 stitches. I worked plain for another 40 rounds (about 3 inches), did 24 rounds of 2 x 2 rib, then cast off using the sewn bind off. If Emily decided she wants a fold-over cuff, I can undo the bind-off and just knit more ribbing.

Emily’s Boot Socks modeled by yours truly as viewed from the front

And viewed from the back

When I was ready to start this project, I purchased some Clover elastic thread which I thought I would either knit into the top ribbing or add after the knitting was done, but I think the ribbing is sufficiently stretchy that the socks will stay up without it, so I left it out. If, after wearing the socks, Emily decides the top needs some elastic, I can always add it. These aren’t those knee socks I remember from grade school and high school. The tops stretched out of shape and didn’t go back, and we used to put rubber bands around the cuffs to hold the socks up and fold the cuffs over the rubber bands to hide them. At the end of the school day, there’d be a groove around the leg just under the knee where the rubber band had been. The socks I knitted are Merino wool and nylon. Wool has memory. It will retain its shape. The ribbing will hug the leg without being too tight, and it will never lose its elasticity, even after repeated washings. Wool. Nature’s wonder fiber. 😀

The yarn is Knit Picks Stroll Tonal sock yarn in the colorway Blue Yonder. It’s a substantial fingering weight yarn that gives a firm but stretchy fabric when worked at a gauge of 9 stitches per inch, which is my preferred gauge for socks in fingering weight yarn. The 4 plies of the yarn don’t tend to separate when you are knitting, so there is no splitting, and the yarn is very round, which is a great quality for a sock yarn because it helps the stitches to pack together smoothly and evenly when knitted so that you get a nice, dense fabric that should wear well. I bought two skeins of the yarn because I knew that one skein, while plenty for a pair of regular socks, would not be enough for two knee socks. I started with 200 grams of yarn, and there are 78 grams left, enough that I could knit a pair of socks with a shorter-than-usual leg, or a pair of socks for someone who has a very small foot. Or any number of other sorts of things that combine this yarn with a contrasting or coordinating color. What possibilities!

Another WIP Wednesday–Part 1

I have a lot of WIP to show you, so I’m doing two posts, one for knitting and one for spinning. I’ll keep my yakking short and sweet and let the captions and pictures tell the story. Here’s wishing a happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Usanians. And here’s wishing peace and happiness to everyone, everywhere. We are all on this ride together; we should make the most of it for everyone.

Em’s Boot Socks sock #2 is nearing completion.

All the leg increases are done.

A close-up shot of the lovely eyelets formed by not picking up and knitting the wraps.

The sole of the sock–the heel is on the left, the toe on the right.





WIP Wednesday

Yes. WIP Wednesday is here again, and I have a lot to share with you.

As you know from reading my previous blog entry, I finally started a knitting project using some of my handspun yarn. The lovely 2-ply fingering weight yarn I spun from a 5-oz braid of BFL in the Cool Madras color way from Corgi Hill Farm is on its way to becoming a Clapotis scarf. It is knitting up very nicely, but it is quite misshapen and the sides want to curl up.

Cool Madras Clapotis Scarf in progress

As is, it looks pretty yucky. I wanted to see what the scarf would look like after blocking. Why do all that knitting only to end up with something that resembles yarn vomit? After all, the reason I didn’t jump on the Clapotis bandwagon back when every other knitter did is that the Clapotis pictured with the pattern in Knitty looks like hell. It’s just about the ugliest piece of knitting I’ve ever seen. It rivals the socks I knitted from Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock Rainbow colorway, although I don’t think there is anything uglier than Lorna’s Laces Rainbow colorway knitted up into socks.

Ugly socks from Lorna’s Laces Rainbow, perhaps the ugliest sock colorway in existence.

Just in case you think it’s a fluke and only my socks in the Rainbow colorway are super ugly, take a look at this picture of socks knitted in this colorway for Arlo Guthrie. Or this picture (and these are the best looking Rainbow socks I can find). The yarn is gorgeous in the skein, but like so many Lorna’s Laces colorways, it knits up ugly.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the topic at hand, Clapotis. I really didn’t understand why any knitter would be all hot to trot to knit a Clapotis since the one pictured in the pattern is fugly beyond words. But thanks to the magic that is Ravelry, I was able to view Clapotis after Clapotis knitted in lovely yarns and properly dressed. It’s really a very lovely pattern, and once you get started, it’s pretty mindless knitting without being totally boring.

I wanted to be absolutely certain that my Clapotis scarf would look good when it’s finished, so I did the only thing I could possibly do to put an end to my doubts. I  put the live stitches on a holder, gave the scarf a good soaking, then pinned it out to dry.

Clapotis wet-blocked

The scarf looked really good pinned out. So far so good, but  will the scarf curl up once I remove the pins?

Clapotis unpinned after blocking

NO! It stayed flat. Yay!

Next step: What will happen if I pick it up?

Just look at how nicely it drapes.

Well, it has a lovely shape and beautiful drape, and the yarn is deliciously soft.

I love the effect of the diagonal stripes of the dropped stitches going in the opposite direction of the diagonal stripes of the colors.

I cannot help but get tickled pink when I am knitting along on this scarf and realize that I made the yarn myself. Knitting with your own handspun yarn is a kick! 🙂

I could stop right here. A Clapotis scarf in gorgeous handspun BFL is hard to top. But I have another project OTN to share, and it’s very striking, too. It is just a plain vanilla sock toe that is destined to become my very first knee sock, but just look at the color!

Plain vanilla toe-up knee sock in progress

The yarn is Knit Picks Stroll fingering weight in Blue Yonder Tonal. I don’t think I have ever seen a more beautiful blue yarn. It’s perfect for a plain vanilla sock because the color speaks for itself. And plain vanilla is perfect for this project because I can work the calf increases without having to figure out how to work the stitch pattern into the increases. When trying something new in knitting, it is usually better to start out simple, at least for me it is.

Both of these projects are intended for the boy’s sock-worthy GF. The knee socks are actually a special request from her, and there is little that knitters love more than knitting something for someone who specifically asks for it and really appreciates the time and effort that goes into creating a custom, hand-knit garment.

So far we have a scarf in progress and a knee sock in progress. How could our day get any better? Well, let’s add a spinning WIP. I’ve been working away on one of the braids of BFL/Sparkle that I bought from Woolgatherings.

Can you see the sparkle in this yarn?

I’m spinning this top very thin and plan to try my hand at making a 3-ply fingering weight yarn. I might end up chain-plying it instead. The way I’m spinning the fiber creates very long color repeats, so chain-plying would definitely give me a self-striping yarn. But even if I ply three singles together, the colors should stay separate for the most part because I simply divided the braid into thirds lengthwise, so the colors should match up pretty well with only small sections of barber pole. I’m thinking that a true 3-ply would be better for sock yarn than chain ply, but I’m such a newbie when it comes to spinning and knitting with handspun that I really don’t know whether it makes any difference.

So there you have it–three WIP. Three? Only three? Must. Cast. On. 🙂

Special Requests

I don’t do commissioned knitting because that turns something I love doing into work. Yuck! I like to knit what I want to knit, not what someone else wants me to knit. I’m not saying that I don’t like to knit for others. I love to knit for others. And it isn’t to say that I don’t want input from those for whom I knit. When I knit something for someone I love, I want to make something they will love, too, and, more importantly, something they will wear.

So when the DH subtly hints that he would like another pair of socks, I ask him what color he would like, then shop around for nice sock yarns in that color. When I am ready to start the knitting, I ask him to choose which yarn he would prefer. (But I choose the pattern. If I don’t like the pattern, I won’t finish the socks. Life is too short to spend time knitting a project one doesn’t like.)

And when the boy needs a new sweater, I have him choose from a selection of patterns that I am willing to knit, but I give him carte blanche when it comes to the color.

Recently I got a special request from a very special person, the boy’s sock-worthy GF. Knee socks? she queried. OMG, I’ve been wanting to try knee socks for a long time, said I. And since knee socks require more yarn than regular socks, I couldn’t dive into my stash. No, no, no! I had to buy more sock yarn. What color? asked I. Blue is always nice, replied the SWGF.

Blue it is. On my next trip to the Burgh I will be accompanied by two skeins of sock yarn and the SWGF can choose between squishy Knit Picks Stroll Blue Yonder Tonal (75% superwash Merino/25% Nylon) and super-soft Knit Picks Imagination Looking Glass (50% Merino/25% alpaca/25% Nylon).

Stroll and Imagination


A Finished Object

Last time, I talked about knitting acronyms and elaborated on some of my UFOs (UnFinished Objects). But today, I’m going to do the happy dance and share an FO (Finished Object) with you. I’m not certain whether this really qualifies as a finished object because it is just a single sock, and I have another one to complete before the project is finished. But, hey, a finished sock deserves a happy dance, so I’m counting it as an FO.

I’m making this pair of socks for my DH, and knitting socks for the DH requires some extra planning. First off, I have to make sure I have enough yarn. A 100-gram ball of sock yarn is sufficient to knit a pair of socks for my 10-inch-long puppies with a little to spare. I can count on 50 grams of yarn per foot to be more than enough to complete a pair of socks for me. But when I knit socks for the DH, I need at least 55 grams per foot because I have to cast on more stitches, knit a longer cuff, knit a bigger heel, and knit a longer foot. This means that I cannot knit a pair of socks for my better half from my stash on a whim. I have to purchase yarn specifically for him. Oh, darn! I have to purchase yarn! 😀

The current man-sock project, a pair of garter rib socks in a lovely Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in the Kindling colorway, is a little more than half-way finished. Sock #1 was finally completed last night, but not without a battle. The first time I finished the sock, I had the DH try it on before finishing off the toe, just to make sure it would fit. Alas, the sock was about an inch too long. No big deal, really. Just rip back and reknit the toe. Toes don’t take long to knit. I can easily complete a toe during a hockey game.

So, I ripped out the toe and ripped the foot of the sock back about an inch. The next night I reknit the toe while watching hockey. Being a cautious knitter, having learned some lessons the hard way, I once again had the DH try on the sock before finishing it off. I was certain it would be a perfect fit. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The darned thing was still too long. So, once again, I ripped out the toe, ripped back some more of the foot, and set the sock aside for the next night’s hockey viewing.

So, last night, while I watched the New Jersey Devils deliciously destroy the hated Philadelphia F%^ers in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, I once again knitted the toe. And once again I had the DH try the sock on before finishing it off. Happy, happy! Joy, joy! to quote Ren and Stimpy. Like Cinderella and the glass slipper after the ball, the sock fit! I gathered up the live stitches, fastened them off, wove in the ends, and voilà!

Garter Rib Sock #1 finished

Take that, sock! You think you can defeat Pinko Knitter? Why, projects far more difficult than you have tried to get the better of me and cried “Uncle!” in defeat. There’s no project the great Pinko Knitter can’t handle. Except EZ’s Adult Surprise Jacket. But that’s a battle that isn’t worth fighting.

I’m happy with the way this colorway knitted up. Although there is a little spiraling when worked over 80 stitches, it isn’t unattractive. And the yarn is very soft and cushy. The important thing is that the DH loves it, so sock #2 is already OTN (On The Needles).

Hockey Sticks And Knitting Needles

The first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs is in full swing. While things are not going well for my beloved Pittsburgh Penguins, who are currently down 0-3 games to the hated F%^ers due to horrendous defensive play and so-so goaltending, the other series are serving up a lot of exciting games. While the hockey sticks are flying, so are my knitting needles. I currently have two playoff projects OTN–Blue Teardrops, a beaded lace scarf about which I wrote earlier, and Garter Rib Socks.

Although Blue Teardrops requires a bit of attention when placing the beads, it’s still pretty simple knitting that is well adapted to hockey knitting. Garter Rib Socks, on the other hand, are totally mindless knitting and work well when I’m watching a game that totally engrosses me. The yarn is Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Kindling, which is a heavy fingering weight. The socks are intended for the DH, so I cast on 80 stitches using 2.5mm Chiao Goo stainless steel 6-inch double-pointed needles, which are absolutely fabulous needles. After completing 20 rounds of 2 x 2 ribbing, I began the garter rib pattern–alternating rounds of k2, p2, and plain knit. The result is a ribbed sock cuff that is less plain and more interesting to knit than simple 2 x 2 ribbing, but that is plain enough to please a male. When the leg attained a length of 8 inches, I worked a 3-inch-long heel flap in EOP (eye of partridge) stitch on 50% of the stitches. The heel has been turned, and now I’m ready to pick up gusset stitches.

Garter Rib Socks

I hope to have sock # 1 completed before the end of the week. I could get it done sooner than that if I wasn’t alternating with Blue Teardrops. Sorry, I just find it very difficult to maintain knitting project monogamy.