Tuesdays are for knitting

I’m still working on the same sock, and it’s still a subway project! I’m using Happy Feet yarn on size 0 (2.0mm) needles.

I’m about halfway done with the first sock, and well into the part of a sock that is the least interesting to me: the endless march down the foot. Unlike the cuff, you don’t have turning the heel to look forward to, and the toe isn’t interesting enough to make me excited about getting to it.


Thankfully, the pattern for this sock is enough to keep me engaged. I altered it slightly to fit my larger-than-average feet.

This pattern, Monkey, calls for you to cast on only 64 stitches: 4×16 = 4 pattern repeats. Well, I happen to know that my feet and ankles (not to mention my very high arches and deep heels) just don’t fit into a 64-stitch sock, unless I knit it with thicker yarn on larger needles. And we’re not talking about a “slightly bulky” sock, here — we’re talking about slippers. So I had to find a way to expand the sock to make it fit, without making it look really odd.

I know that about 80 stitches makes a ribbed sock that fits me nicely, and that the Monkey pattern doesn’t have a huge amount of stretch to it: it’s knitted, so there’s some, and there are purl sections, which help, but it’s not super springy.

I considered adding a fifth repeat of the Monkey pattern, to put me at exactly 80 stitches, but that would get awkward when it came time to do the heel and would be difficult to space out over the top of the sock when the time came for the foot: two and a half repeats? Three repeats? It didn’t seem like a great plan.

So instead I cast on an extra ten stitches, and knit p2, k2, p2, k2, p2 ribbing between the first and fourth repeats of the pattern, along the back of the leg.

If I had been thinking more clearly, I would have added fourteen stitches, because while this sock fits, it’s snug, and it’s a near thing: any smaller, and I wouldn’t exactly be eager to wear it. As it is, it fits, though getting it up over my heels can be a bit of an endeavor.

In any case, it’s certainly better than my worst sock ever. In college, I went through a phase of knitting on VERY SMALL NEEDLES. Let’s just say that if you knit a sock on 000 needles, with a normal sock yarn, and you pull the yarn as tight as I do? Well, I could wear it and have one very bullet-proof foot. It is SO uncomfortable, it lives in the back of a drawer and gets used to clean dust from my computer screen and that’s about it.

What about your disasters? Any funny mistakes that you look back on now and laugh?

Tuesdays are for knitting

Given my schedule this summer — which is class & work on Mondays and Wednesdays — I get a lot of knitting done on Mondays and Wednesdays. Wait, you might say, didn’t you just say you’re busy those days? Yes! But I also have an hour-and-a-half commute each way from home to school/work, and I tend to knit on the subway.

Last week, I finished these socks, which are a simple toe-up 2×2 rib.

The yarn is Claudia Hand-Paint, which I love for its sproing. It just squishes so nicely once it’s knit up: there’s so much life to the yarn! The colors are fabulous, too, which doesn’t hurt.

I don’t particularly love knitting toe up socks — I don’t hate it, but it’s not my default sock pattern — but this yarn comes in such small skeins that I feel like I have to do it toe-up to be sure I make the most of it. I do, after all, have pretty big feet (~size 10 US, which is British 7.5/8 and European 41/42). The only thing worse than making socks for me is making socks for the rest of my family — my sister’s feet are larger than mine, and my father’s feet are 12″ long. That’s a LOT of foot! These socks look longer off the foot than they do on:

Having finished those, and woven the ends in on Sunday, Monday I started a new pair! These are Plymouth Happy Feet yarn, which I’ve never knit with before.

The yardage on the Happy Feet is only about 192 yards, which may sound like a lot — but remember, big-footed family. My default assumption for a pair of socks is that it will take about 200 yards of yarn. So it was a bit of a surprise when I decided that, no, I wouldn’t be knitting these socks toe-up — I’d be knitting a pair of Monkey Socks from the cuff down, and if I have to add in a different-colored toe, I’ll add on a different-colored toe.

Conferencing is tiring!

Things have been quiet because I’ve spent the last four days at the RBMS pre-conference, which is the annual conference of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the American Library Association. (I’m in grad school for medieval history right now, but I just finished library school, and I want to be a librarian, not a professor.)

There were panels and discussions and round-tables and plenary sessions and a technology petting zoo and a booksellers’ display and receptions and time to go out for lunch and dinner with colleagues, and almost 400 other people who think that rare books and special collections libraries and materials are the best thing ever. It was a blast.

I noticed one or two other people knitting, but mine never made its way out of the hotel room: there was just too much going on!

Now that I’m waiting in the airport, I’m knitting armwarmers for a friend. When I finish those (and I will) I’ll go back to a second sock for myself. Both projects were selected on the basis of being very small and portable, and easy enough to knit on a plane without needing a pattern.

What kinds of projects do you bring with you when you travel?

Knitting WiPs, or, sock roundup.

Apologies for the silence here! I was wrapping up the semester and then at the medieval congress in Kalamazoo, and that all added up to not very much getting accomplished, craft-wise.

Today’s post is a knitting round-up. I tend to have a few projects going on at a time (this is probably evident in how I’m going about starting quilts right and left) and I have a couple too many knitting projects going on right now. Hopefully this will incentivise my finishing one or two of them.

There are socks for my mother, which are this close to being done:

They’re actually a lot of fun: the yarn is Malabrigo sock, which I’d never knit with before – it’s a joy. The pattern is 2k-2p-inside-out, and I really like the way it forms little ribbed chevrons down the foot.

Then there are the blue socks for me, which are the only socks I’ve knit for myself in at least a year (what can I say, I have a family that appreciates hand-knit socks!). I”ve just started the second one, and I have about three inches of it — it’s slow going, but it’s good subway knitting.

They’re in Claudia Hand-Paints, which I love knitting with, but always knit from toe-up, because its skeins are on the small side, and my feet? Well, they’re on the large side. Better safe than sorry, no matter how easy it is to call different-colored toes a “design feature.”

There’s also a red sweater that I started two Novembers ago as an attempt at National Sweater Knitting Month — I got almost all of it done, realized my gauge on the bottom half of it was wrong, ripped it all out, and haven’t picked it up again for ages because it’s so disappointing to have to re-do so much work. It doesn’t get to have a picture, because I don’t love it enough right now. Also because the red yarn photographs really badly in artificial light.

I have two projects that are so close to being done that, apparently, they have encountered Zeno’s Paradox and will now never be finished. I started to teach myself how to knit entrelac last summer, got almost to the point where I’d have to bind off the scarf, and completely lost interest. I also knit a baby sweater for my little cousin (the same one who got the ladybug quilt) and didn’t finish it in time for her to still be small enough to wear it. Hopefully I’ll finish at least one of them over the weekend, and be able to post them next week. I figure someone I know has to have another baby eventually, so the sweater can just lay in wait for that. The scarf, though, is probably going to be re-purposed as a pillow, since it’s too wide and short to make a reasonable scarf.

Finally, there’s the “I have the brainpower of a really small rock right now” project:

It’s the Log Cabin Baby Blanket from Mason-Dixon Knits, done in Cascade Eco Wool and Cascade Eco Plus (which is the same thing, only dyed all kinds of colors). It’s great for watching television or sitting in the car, because it’s all garter stitch, and there’s no thinking other than stopping once in a while to find out you still have way more ridges to knit before you’re done with that block. I love that the blocks are asymmetrical and the pattern doesn’t expand in a traditional log cabin fashion: I can’t wait to have this finished and be able to curl up under it, though at the rate I’m knitting, I’ll finish it sometime in June.

I think that’s all the projects I have going at the moment. Wednesday, back to quilting!

Knitting stash mini-tour

I tend to acquire things and hang onto them. With books, okay, that’s fine. I just finished my MLS, I’m in graduate school in medieval history: books are easy to justify. With yarn and fiber, however… well, I’ve been knitting for about eight or nine years now, and spinning just a couple fewer. And in that time I’ve gone to Rhinebeck and a couple of local fiber fairs in Indiana and lived near lovely, wonderful, friendly LYSes that had great sales. Turns out, that all adds up. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, right?

That’s all the yarn and fiber I own, all in one place. There was a time when I would have looked at a photograph like that and thought “Man, is she nuts, or what?” Now I look at it and think that, but I also sometimes think “but there’s nothing I want to work on!”

In case it’s hard to see what’s going on in that enormous set of wire racks, here’s a mini-tour of the yarn. (I’ll do fiber and fabric on another day.)

Today we’ll start with the lower half, which is all yarn.

In the lower-right-hand corner, there’s all the yarn that is destined to become sweaters. The brown will be the Indigo Playmate sweater from Wendy Bernard’s Custom Knits. The blue and purple will both be cabled cardigans, though I haven’t settled on a pattern or design for either of them. The red are balls that go with a cabled cardigan I’ve got on the shelf for now: it’s about halfway finished, and I’ll love it when it’s done, but right now it’s driving me crazy.
The other main collection of commercial yarn is my stash of sock yarn:

The purpley-grey in the top right does not want to be socks, so I’m planning on making it into some kind of wrap or scarf. The Lorna’s Laces below it (light blue and black) pools like crazy if I knit it into socks my size, so I’ll have to find someone with small feet whom I like enough to give hand-knit socks. (Sadly, this rules out absolutely every member of my immediate family. We all have huge feet.) The ones I’m looking forward to knitting with the most are the two greens. (Well, and the second skein of Claudia hand-painted, because it’s so sproingy!)

The majority of the rest of my yarn stash is handspun. There are the natural-colored yarns:

The lighter yarn is for a sweater: probably the Tangled Yoke Cardigan, if I got the yardage and weight of the yarn right. The darker is for colorwork with a lighter yarn that I haven’t finished yet.

There are the dyed yarns:

The enormous green skeins are enough for a sweater for someone else, but not for me — there is a downside to being 5’11” with long arms and a long torso, and it’s that spinning up for a sweater takes a little longer. The white-pink-green-yellow is probably going to be socks for a child: I dyed the fiber with easter egg dyes and it ended up a little too pastel for my taste. The rest mostly tend toward lace-weight, so I’ll be knitting a good number of light, lace pieces in the future.

Overall, I love spinning with color, but I find it hard to get enough fiber to make any particularly sizable project — and I only need so many hats and mittens, even in the Northeast.

If you happen to spin, what do you do with small quantities of handspun yarn? If you don’t spin, what would you like to do with it, if you had a couple hundred yards of handspun colorful yarn?

Links, but still no pictures.

If there’s anything I learned from the Knitting Olympics it’s this:

1) I am a better knitter than I think I am. I am a better knitter than I was a few months ago. My goal was one pair of socks: I finished them in a week.

2) I am so bad at knitting only one thing at a time. I always have at least three things going on at once.

These two dovetail to mean that when I knit only on one project – my Olympic socks – I finished them insanely fast. Seven days, Saturday to Saturday, and I was done. I kinda stared at myself and wondered what happened, because I’ve never knit something that fast before.

How’d I pick my sock pattern? I started off thinking I’d do Aran Braid socks, and could not get gauge for the life of me. I knit a pair of Broadripple socks instead — they’re a lace pattern, but still doable, and not too terribly difficult, right? I’d started a pair of Broadripples last fall and could not figure out how to make the k2tog and ssk decreases look different: I was twisting all of my stitches and didn’t realise it. This time around it made sense right away, and I didn’t get any pesky laddering next to each yarn over. I need to give myself more credit.

Of course, I felt like I had to keep knitting during the Olympics, so in the past few weeks I finished my bottom-up striped raglan sweater and started a pair of socks for my dad. Since getting home for spring break, I’ve also made two stuffed bears for Bay Window Bears.

I started a pair of Norwegian Stockings from Nancy Bush’s Folk Socks, and am working on another stuffed bear. I’ve got to finish my dad’s ribbed socks (the most boring things in the entire world, I swear) and only an insane effort of will is keeping me from casting on for the Print O’ The Wave Stole with my new determination. I can knit it, so why not start now? But I’m going to finish something else first.


These are the second socks I’ve ever knit: Jaywalkers. I finished them last weekend, and just wove in the ends tonight. They’re for my sister, whose feet are a size bigger than mine, so they look floppy and loose on my feet.

The color isn’t very true in either of these: they’re closer to the first one in general, but the red is brighter, closer to the second one, though neither is quite right. Teach me to take pictures in dorm lighting, eh?

The pattern is great: I could see how it was meant to work, and I was able to fiddle with it to make sure it’d fit sis’s feet just right. The patterning keeps it from sagging down your legs when you’re wearing them, and the only thing I’d change about them would be knitting the ribbing at the top on a smaller size needle: as it is it’s mostly decorative, not tight enough to make a difference. Thankfully they don’t need it to stay up!