a year of socks

Towards the end of last year, knitting slowly crept back into my life. I was enjoying this resurgence of my old passion, so as I packed my suitcases for a week off at my parents’, I was eager to bring some knitting along as well. What’s easily transportable (my suitcase already bursting at the seams with xmas gifts) and easy to work on (i.e. won’t distract me from participating in all the family chatter going on), I thought? Socks, of course.

So I pulled out a ball of sock yarn from my stash, checked my trusty reference books, and did the fiddly part of casting on, so that in the midst of the family hubbub I could simply dive in to some mindless knitting. I saw this as a sort of experiment for my hands, which had struggled with RSI for a long time, but seemed to be doing ok lately. If they could handle a week of almost daily knitting on teeny tiny needles, we might be getting somewhere. I approached it cautiously, but enthusiastically.

And it worked just fine. Not only did my hands not complain too much, but I also rediscovered that funny thing about socks. You know, that thing about how they seem sooo scary (the fine yarn, the small needles, the complex construction elements), but then you knit one and remember that it’s mostly just knitting a rather small tube of stockinette, with a little shaping in the beginning (toe) and middle (heel). It’s what I love about socks.

And so, having come back home in the last days of 2016 with two socks almost finished in one week, somehow the decision was already half formed in my mind before I even articulated it. 2017 would be my year of socks. I would work from my stash, experiment with patterns, and see where it got me. Mostly, I would have fun.

So here we are. Two pairs are already off the needles, and will be making an appearance here soon. But if I was to have a year of socks, well, then surely I deserved a little treat to properly show them off when they were done. And I’m even knitting from stash so I’m not spending any money on yarn. Surely that should be rewarded, I reasoned. A few clicks around Etsy and I ended up with these beauties. I absolutely luuuuurve them and I’ll be putting them to good use this year.

Stay tuned :)

blocking-in-progress Thursday

On my recent trip home, I finally bought myself a “blocking board”. When I was getting it, the friend who came with me to the shop asked which kid in the family it was for…

Well, I guess I count as a kid… :)

I’m very happy with how it’s working out so far. I might improve it by drawing lines with inches on it, though, it would make blocking to measurements easier. But I’m worried the marker lines might smear on the wet yarn… Do you have any experience with such things? Perhaps there is a type of marker that wouldn’t smudge?

second mitten syndrome

Tonight at knit group, one of the ladies who hadn’t attended in a while glanced at my knitting and went: “You’re still knitting those mittens?!” And she was right, though only partially. Yes, the last time she had been there, about two months ago, I was working on my Fiddleheads. But where she was wrong was that I’m not working on them still – I am working on them again. Oh yeah, after I finished the first one, I got me some of that good ol’ second mitten syndrome! Funny how I don’t get that with socks… Well, I better not say that twice! ;)

Anyway, yes, I am working on the second Fiddlehead. And as I navigate the troubled waters of colourwork again, I’d like to say two heartfelt thankyous.

Firstly, to Adrian Bizilia, the designer, for having the brilliance and the foresight to divide the chart into 5×5 squares. It is indescribable how much easier it is to read and follow a chart that is presented like that. So great that it should be made obligatory, by knitterly law, for all charts. Ever.

Secondly, to the several people (both here and in real life) who advised me to try turning my colourwork inside out while I knit. At first the idea baffled me, but since I’ve tried it I haven’t gone back. I am now best friends with my floats and my tension.

And I think there might just be a finished pair of mittens soon. Maybe even in time to wear this winter… :)

WIP week: blocking mittens

I finished the colourwork on my first Fiddlehead mitten a few weeks ago, but given the fact that the mittens come with a lining (which I haven’t knit yet), I was unsure about the size and wanted to see how they would react to blocking. And since colourwork, especially by inexperienced colourworkers, requires heavy blocking, I found myself in a kerfuffle. How to block this thing and make sure everything is stretched well and stays like that until dried and set? I thought and thought and thought, and then I remembered this tutorial.

So I went and found some plastic placemats. I bought three because I thought they were kind of thin and wouldn’t be sturdy enough to resist the pull of the knitted item. I was wrong, one was more than enough. Turns out that wool is not that strong in the end! ;)

I didn’t exactly bother to pull up the tutorial before I started cutting, but worked from memory (and of course forgot some things). I also thought I’d be a smartass and go “why on earth should the thumb be separate?” (and of course found out exactly why when trying to put the mitten on the blocker). In retrospect, holes (which I forgot) would’ve made the drying much faster, and a separate thumb (which I ignored), would have resolved the issue of plastic being slightly less flexible than human fingers. I guess what I’m saying is: follow the freakin’ tutorial, if you’re smarter than me.

In the future, I do plan to improve my ‘prototype’ by adding the holes, making the shape smoother, and making the wrist part longer, so that it sticks out of the mitten. Ok, and maybe even separating the thumb. ;) Luckily, I have enough placemats left to experiment.

Oh, and one more thing. Consider it Fridica’s bonus advice: be careful with where you’re cutting the mat. You wouldn’t want your scalpel to slash into the surface of your desk, for example. Purely hypothetical. Purely. :/

Here’s the blocker in action.

Not bad for a placemat!

diary

Well, the computer has had an autopsy and has been pronounced dead-dead. Apparently my hard drive is physically broken. My data is most likely lost, though some people I know might give it a shot to rescue it later on… I did do a backup of all the important stuff fairly recently, so guess what is the main thing I lost? Photos! Not all of them, but a good part. (Boy am I regretting now not uploading any photos of my Amsterdam trip on Facebook…) But in any case, I choose not to dwell on this too much and get on with life. :) And until I figure out when and how to buy a new computer (or how to upload photos onto my work computer ;), I’ll just have to find ways of non-photographic expression.

Which is all to say… that I’ve started a diary! A knitting diary!

So, last Sunday, I finally started my Fiddlehead Mittens. (And when I say “finally”, I mean after a year and a half of having them in my queue and at the top of my wish list, and about 10 months after having bought the yarn). Because I want to actually wear these this winter, and because I find colourwork challenging, I decided to set myself an aim and monitor progress regularly. The aim is to knit 5 rounds each day and to write down my progress each day. In addition, I think it will be quite fun to have the story of the progress from the very beginning to the final product, which I will be able to look at even years later. I don’t get paid for my knitting, but if I write about the process in such detail, if I write down every round I make, it seems to somehow acknowledge the value of the time and effort I put into it. So here goes, my diary of knitting my very own pair of Fiddlehead mittens, first five days!

Sunday, October 9
I didn’t have a project to bring to knit group today. I searched frantically for a new project to start half an hour before leaving home, but rushing it like that didn’t work. So I just did some (long overdue) seaming at the group. But after I came home I was still in the crafting mood and suddenly inspiration hit – I would finally start my Fiddleheads! I did the I-cord cast-on (the I-cord looks decent, but the cast-on stitches are huuuuuge and unelastic, any ways to get around that? Since I’m working with a 3mm needle on DK yarn, going down a few needle sizes is not really an option) and 5 rounds of colourwork. I tried using the thimble I bought recently, but gave up very quickly (I couldn’t find a way to tension the yarn, things were just flying all over the place) and took up my method of two-handed colourwork.

Monday, October 10
15 rounds!

Tuesday, October 11
0 rounds
French class after work, then meeting former colleagues visiting from Croatia, came home at midnight and collapsed into the bed immediately.

Wednesday, October 12
Knit group, did 10 rounds with only messing up a few times and noticing it straight away, I’m quite proud of myself for that (though to be honest it was a very quiet group, only about 5-6 people showed up).

Thursday, October 13
0 rounds
I was really looking forward to some nice stitching after French class, but had forgotten that I had a dinner planned with the flatmates. After a few beers colourwork was no longer an option… But since I did a few more intensive days, I’m still averaging around 5 rounds a day, so I’m on schedule!

So, that’s the beginning. And maybe making it even more public like this will give me an additional incentive… ;) Feel free to join in with diaries of your own projects, I’d love to read about everyone’s everyday knitting habits. :)

chilly sunday

It. is. really. cold. here.

So I have no choice but to bundle up with a biiiiig mug of coffee (with some chocolate flavour added, of course) and my knitting. Before we go on to a proper FO post for the socks you glimpsed in the last post, let me show you what I’m working on now. The red socks from last week are actually my “Fourth Socks”, and I feel bad showing them off when I haven’t finished “Third Socks” yet. I’m doing my best to rectify the situation, though!

I’m working on these sort-of two at a time. I want to use up all the yarn, so I’m knitting them toe-up, one from each end of the skein (for one I’m using the centre-pull end of the skein, and for the other the outer end of the thread). I knit one section of one sock (e.g. up to the heel-flap), then leave that sock aside and knit the same section of the second sock. It’s working very nicely, I like this method! It also makes it easier to remember what I did on one sock and repeat it on the other one…

Another thing that’s been helping me remember everything properly is this little gizmo.

I know some people find row-counters to be useless, but I wanted to try one and I’ve found it really helpful (it’s also quite satisfying to look at it and go “whoa, I’ve knit eighty six rows!”)! It is tiny, though, and prone to wandering off in the recesses of my bed-slash-knitting-studio, so I decided to make it into a necklace (I must remember to take it off my neck before leaving the house though, as I can imagine it’s not quite the trendy accessory everyone’s been talking about… ;). What luck that I had some perfectly matching yarn!

Hope you all have a warm Sunday!