Friday, 27 April 2012

Sock frenzy update, and yarn club joy

So after my sock frenzy of the last few weeks, I'm almost ready to publish my toe-up 'bedsock' pattern, I've conquered the Rosebud socks, and I was sure I was making progress when uh-oh, my pregnant friend's feet grew an inch.

So those proud little peachy socks I was showing off? All undone. Too tight. The pattern was a bit on the clutchy side anyway, and with a bit of water-retaining suddenly all bets are off for her shoe size in the next few weeks.

By the way, when I say 'making progress' with socks, I'm not sure what I mean. My feet, and the feet of everyone around me, are all fully covered. There is no major drive for knitted foot-coverings anywhere nearby. So progress towards...well, I suppose my ultimate goal will have to be 'to have knitted all the socks ever' which is going to be tough. But I can but give it a go!

More on the sock front, I'm joining the May 2012 Sockdown on the Sock Knitters Anonymous group on Ravelry - this month's challenge is lace, and there's a mystery sock (or 'mock'; isn't that cute?) which I may knit. I don't know how I feel about mystery. Too unknown-y. Yes, I'm aware that's the point. But still!

Talking of unknown-y, I've joined a yarn club (or two...) in an effort to bribe myself into curbing the Stashbeast. (Back! Back, I say!) So the point of the yarn clubs is to get yarn sent to you on specific dates in the year, or six months, or whatever period it's running for, and you just get...mysterious yarn Not Of Your Picking. I tend to pick some rather samey yarn - you know, you think 'that's the colour!' and get home and find you have three other skeins in the same colour? Anyway, this avoids that. Someone picks for me.

I've gone with an indy dyer and all-round Fibre Person, Alison of Yarnscape, who blogs and does good things here , for the Wheel of the Year Yarn Club. It's based around the old pagan festivals, sending out yarn on significant points in the old solstice-based calender. Each month's shipment is themed around things happening during that particular season, an idea I love to distraction.

So my first shipment, for May Day (or Beltaine) arrived today. I can't show you pictures yet in case someone also in the club hasn't had the packet yet and gets all surprise-ruined. But can I say it's awesome? I'm in the sock yarn club (all sock yarn all the time) so needless to say, this is a case of right skein, right time. I'll blog about it Monday though so you will get to see the utter loveliness!

The other yarn club I'm going to join is the Lunar Yarn Club by Woolenhorse, who you can find on Etsy. Another pagan yarn club, or paganish anyway. they ship out once a month to co-incide with the full moon, and each package is themed around that moon's events. If you join up for a year you get a thirteenth yarn - the 'blue moon', which is very exciting. Anyway, still hesitating over whether to go for sock yarn and lace yarn on alternate months, or all sock.

I guess it depends on how serious I am about knitting all the socks ever.

Maybe I need another yarnclub....

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Fantastic free pattern resource

Just a quick one - I've just come accross a great list of free patterns collected at Boogie Socks - I'm a great beleiver in 'for free, for everyone' and there is loads collected together in this blog.

Hop on over there and say Hi!

Boogie Socks

Socks from the Toe Up

I've been on a bit of a sock binge since I got a copy of Wendy Johnson's Toe Up Socks for Every Body, and I've been really pleased with the results. Here's the Rosebud socks;

They look very complex but the stitches are very straight forward, and because it's a 20-stitch wide repeat the sock goes really fast. Have a look at the twisted stitches on the lace - it makes for a really stretchy, comfy sock as well as a beautifully defined lace pattern;

I particularly like the shape it forms at the edge of the toe;

I may be a sucker, but boy, that's pleasing.

The yarn is a cashmere/merino/nylon (10% / 80% / 10%) mix with a lovely soft handle but a tendency to shed, at least on first wearing - I'll have to see if it settles a bit after a few washes. I picked it up from yarn undyed in a pack of five skeins, one of which I've dyed a medley of pale blues for some gloves, and they've certainly worn well. I dyed this skein specifically for the sock pattern - there's a really nice photo of these socks on the front of the book which I absolutely fell in love with, the colour is so right for the pattern and I had to have a pair. You know what it's like, you get the bit between your teeth and the next thing you know you're mixing up six different flavours of kool aid in the kitchen. It came out pretty close! I used dip-dyeing and a microwave, then rinsed it cold fairly brutally which gave it a nice, subtle variation between the deep rich read and the little paler patches.

So I finished Rosebud a little while ago, then played around with my own sock pattern for a bit. You'll see more of that soon! But then I was sockless and bored, so I found myself volunteering to make a pregnant friend a pair of socks. Her feet have swollen a lot, she's in the last nine weeks and she's reduced to flip-flops in some not very summery weather! I played around with a few patterns before deciding on these, from the interweave book Favourite Socks; Meida's Socks, super-stretchy, good firm heel, really odd pattern and finally a use for a very awkward pink merino;

Here's a close up of that odd cable-lace;

I'm pretty pleased with them. I wouldn't wear a pair this pink, I don't think, but my friend likes the colour. All I have to hope now is that her feet don't swell any more!

That pair are three-quarters done now, leaving me with a sock succession crisis. And this yarn;

I defy you, Yarn!
Now, I love this yarn. it's merino, tightly spun and the colour is amazing, it looks like birch leaves. But somehow it defies all attempts to be made into something. I am determined to make some socks with it because I love it so and it's that or wear it in a skein around my neck, so I've started looking seriously at the Laurel socks from Toe-Up Socks for Everybody.

All I can hope now is that the lace isn't obscured by the occasional flashes of mouse-brown in the yarn. I'm hoping the reverse stst will tame it, but this yarn has defeated me before...

The yarn, by the way, is a Woolhunter colourway called Willow. I love her yarns but some of the colourways I just can't find the right pattern for. I think I love them too much, it's a rare pattern that makes them look as good as I think they should look!

Anyway, I'm off to cast on for Laurel socks. Wish me luck. 

Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Bag that nearly was'nt

So, it's my sister's birthday today. I decided that this year I'd make her a gift, something I usually avoid because she's really particular.

For my birthday, my sister bought me 'No Sheep for You by Amy Singer', an otherwise unimpeachable book that concentrates on non-wool knitting. I'm allergic/sensitive to lots of yarns, and she is very allergic to most, so it was a really nice gift and opened up lots of new things I could knit for her. I picked a lovely bag made in linen and cotton, really practical and pretty, with a lovely reflected zig-zag design. I'm a sucker for symmetry, so I knew I'd enjoy knitting it.

But I did'nt.

Hmm. It started out with a cast-on that I could get inside. That's not an exaggeration. I tried it. I understand that slip-sticth patterns make things a bit smaller but this beast kept getting BIGGER!

And then there was the slip stitch pattern itself.

Imagine, if you will, a really sadistic maths teacher who would like you to count to 180, in increments of three twelve times, then increments of five twice, then three increments of twelve, etc. Then imagine that your hands hurt and they want you to tapdance at the same time. That's what this felt like. I had so many markers my knitting looked like some sort of big baggy temple dancer.

After one more rage-filled marker-moving nightmare I flung the thing from me and raced to my computer, where I spent about two minutes figuring out a better way of doing this damn pattern. 4 x 38 stitch panels, one repeat of two stitches (two!) over four rows. Four marker. The end.

My mind cleared, the burst blood vessels in my eyes healed, and it worked out beautifully.

I lined it in calico and a fabric I got on sale from John Lewis, a very pale green, and gave it one of those magnetic bag snaps - I was so pleased I nearly kept it. I love the long colour repeats and the heaviness it had - it felt really strong and sturdy.

Isn't it good? But I beg you please, don't look up the pattern. Never. Just do it yourself, your doctor will thank you.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

That's really...bespoke

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages, roll up! View the world's cheapest niddy-noddy!

Using only a postage tube and two pencils, this niddy-noddy stands proud at nearly a metre tall.
Gape in awe at the soaring beauty of the slightly blunt pencils!

Feast your eyes, my friends. Feast your eyes.