Self-striping socks, I never tire of you.

Say what? More self-striping socks? What a shock. I bought this yarn back in December, intending to make Matt another pair of socks. They’ve been hiding out on the needles, moving at a glacial pace for a few months. I keep putting them down for something more interesting, but I thought I should haul them out and make note of them so they don’t fall into a UFO (unfinished object) black hole in my closet. I don’t consider something a true UFO in hiding until it’s been stuck in a drawer for about 6 months or more without me remembering that it exists. The blog keeps me accountable.

matt opal socks

The yarn is Opal Sport in color 5103. It’s 60% wool, 15% nylon, and 25% polypropylene. The polypropylene is supposed to provide temperature and moisture control. I thought it might be a nice feature.

This time I did make the socks match. After winding the skein into two balls I only had to remove about a yard of yarn to make the repeats match up. Too easy to resist.

I knit a LOT of plain stockinette socks from the toe-up. I have so many self-striping or patterned yarns in my stash (or I go looking for them) that I usually have one or more pairs going at a time. I know there are patterns that work with variegated yarns pretty well, but I have to have some project going that I could work on without looking at all times. I’ll save the patterns for some luscious Malabrigo I have hiding in my stash.

I don’t get to the movies as often as I would like, but I try to make sure I have at least one stockinette project going in case I need to take it to the movies. Optimistic, right? Really, I will fidget like a maniac and be antsy for the end of the movie, no matter how brilliant it is, unless I am able to knit on something while I watch it. I know I’m not the only one out there that feels this way.

If you want to know the basic recipe for my stockinette socks, take any of my sock patterns, subtract the lace or cables, and knit away. My Earlybird socks on Knitty even have the heel short rows written out line-by-line, which is something I don’t typically do on my sock patterns. You can do them both at once, or one at a time. Most of my patterns are written to do both at once. The trickiest part is the heel turn and gusset pickup, where I urge you to read, and reread, and then read carefully as you knit. That’s also the most interesting part of a plain sock, in my opinion.

I really want to finish this pair or these  before I start new socks. I never used to hesitate to have four or five pairs of socks on the needles at a time, but realistically, neither pair are getting worked on because they’re too simple, they’re both for other people, and I’d rather finish up my Citron or Matt’s sweater. Casting on another pair right now won’t move these any faster. I probably need a break from vanilla socks. I think when I get myself to finish one pair, I’ll cast on some Ivy Trellis Socks. At least I’m doing these pairs two at a time, because I’d definitely be experiencing some second sock syndrome otherwise.

The End (after I weave in all those damn ends).

delancey blockingDelancey has been washed and blocked. I finished her Saturday afternoon and immediately bathed her in some warm water with lavender Eucalan. Now I have about 40+ ends to weave in. Ah hahah. I think I’d rather seam all day than weave in this many ends.

As predicted, she grew with blocking. The size is good, the length could be a teeny bit shorter. I might use my test swatch and see how the yarn fares with a bit of drying. I’ll be satisfied either way.

You can see a few more details here. I ended up with a spare ball of each yarn, plus just a very few yards of the last balls I used. I’ll probably exchange the remaining balls for something else delicious one of these days.

Can I count this as finished on Ravelry if I haven’t woven in ends and sewn on buttons? I probably shouldn’t.

Fraternal twins.

I have had these socks on the needles since the beginning of December. I was perusing WEBS for some hard-wearing self-striping yarn for another pair of socks for Matt, and I stumbled upon (or went looking, rather) for more yarns for me, since the yarn I found for him was half price. That’s a reason to buy more, right?

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This hasty phone pic doesn’t do the colors justice.

I had never knitted with Zauberball Crazy yarn before, but I’ve seen it in a few yarn stores and I’ve been tempted. When you see a whole page of gorgeous colors staring you in the face, it’s really hard not to resist. I got the skein for this pair of socks, and color 1660 (Brown, Green, Blue) as well.

This yarn has long stripe repeats. I intended on trying to make them match up when I wound the skein into two balls, but it seemed like I would have to cut out a large chunk to be able to do so. You can see from the picture that it would have been about 2 inches of knitting lost. The yarn has generous yardage (460 yds), but I just couldn’t bring myself to cut it down.

The socks are fraternal, rather than identical, twins. In a way, this is relieving and allows me to only think about the knitting (or not have to think about the knitting). Sometimes when I get really matchy matchy with the socks, like on this pair, I end up getting a wee bit obsessed about making them match perfectly and I end up thinking about the matching on almost every round, trying to knit a little looser or tighter on one sock to even out the colors. Yeah, I’m a little bit obsessive-compulsive sometimes.

I also decided that these should go to my mom, because I found out over Christmas break that she wore a hole in the heel of the first socks I ever gave her. They were out of some delicious Koigu yarn and had a short row heel. That was my first and last time to use a short row heel. I just don’t believe they will be strong enough. She repaired the socks, but I still felt like she ought to have another pair, so these will be hers. We are both size 9’s, so it’s easy to turn a pair for me into a pair for her. I’m mostly knitting these on the bus or in movie theaters, so it’s a bit slow going, but I’ll make her model them when I finish. That’s my price for gifted socks.

The kind of yarn that makes you wish you could spin.

pretty southern handspun

Handspun yarn from Pretty Southern.

One of my first knitting friends, Lynda Jo, sent me this magnificent skein of yarn in the mail last week. I’ve known LJ since about 2006 when we met at Hand Held during a knit night. I love knit night and all the people that attend. At the time, it was primarily women about 15 years or more my senior, so I was excited to meet LJ since she was much closer to my age. She also immediately pointed out that I’d been twisting all of my knitted stitches. I was still a fairly novice knitter and I had no idea. No wonder all my hats seemed too small at the time…

She spun this yarn just for me. It’s about 250 yards at 14 wpi, which I think is classified as fingering weight. I love how the plies look. I haven’t decided what to make with it.  I think it would look great as a slouchy hat, and I think the colors would compliment a lot of things in my wardrobe. I could also use some new arm warmers, because I lost my favorite pair last year and I haven’t made any new ones yet. I can’t wait to see what it looks like knit up!

She has a shop on Etsy called Pretty Southern. If you like the yarn, it looks like she’s having a sale right now. Many of her skeins are marked 40% off. I’m drooling over this one and this one too.

Stash-tastic.

Last July, I gave you all a little peek at the yarns in my stash. I’ve been trying to be good and knit lots of things out of it. Sometimes, I succeed, sometimes I fall in love with something new or see a deal too good to pass up. I think it mostly evens out over time, but that means the stash stays at a pretty stable level. I’m not at SABLE (Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy) level yet, so I’m ok.

One of the problems is that it’s all hiding in plastic containers under the bed, sealed tightly (because I have a fear of moths non-knitters might consider irrational). Every time I take it out I  fall in love all over again with the yarns. I remember why I chose them and what I thought they might be. I don’t feel guilty for having a big stash because I take pleasure in looking at my little yarn library, and I feel like my squirrel-like behaviors with yarn storage make me feel like a wealthy individual when I am not making very much money as a student.  I’ve been building up this collection slowly and steadily over the years, and I’d rather acquire yarn more than almost any other pleasurable thing. It turns out, I’m rather good at that.

Where is this going? Ok, I read Fridica’s post a little while ago, and I’ve been thinking about organizing my stash ever since. She points out the usefulness of knowing your dyelots. That is definitely useful for yarn emergencies. Last Wednesday I decided to take action and started photographing my stash like mad. For about 24 hours I didn’t knit a single stitch, but was wholly absorbed (probably in a flow moment) in cataloging my entire stash on Ravelry. Every time Zooey went down for a nap I was back at the computer, going as quickly as I could.

I did it! There are a few odd bits that I didn’t bother with, but for any partial skein that I cataloged I weighed them to calculate how many yards remained. It’s easy to calculate your remaining yarn if you know what the ball weighs at first and you divide that by what you have left. I always weigh in grams to be more exact. Then you can multiply that number by the total yards in the ball. For example, if I have 37 grams left of a 50 gram ball, I would divide 37 by 50 to get .74. If my ball originally had 230 yards, I just multiply 230 by .74 and I know I have 170.2 yards left.

There are 128 different yarns. This took me awhile. I think it’s well worth it.

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Some balls were more of a mystery. I definitely didn’t have tags for a lot of my partial balls, so I couldn’t put in the dye lots, but I tried my best to get in the correct color names or numbers while working quickly.  I had a skein with no label that I was a mystery for years until I did a little weighing and detecting. It’s Alpaca Sox by Classic Elite Yarns in Celadon. It’s a green/grey color that is gorgeous. Now that I know what it is, it’s easier to make something fabulous out of it.

I have also wound many balls thinking I would be knitting with them right away, but they’re still waiting. You can see a couple of items that are partially knit. I plan to rip those out and use the yarn for something else.

Besides knowing the dyelots on as many different balls as possible, I think there are many advantages to having these cataloged. Now, I can search within my stash when I’m looking at patterns on Ravelry. If I start a new project and choose to use a yarn from my stash, when I put in how much I used at the end it automatically subtracts what I used from the amount in my stash. That’s pretty awesome.

Also, I was thinking about bigger disasters. In the case of a fire, I have almost every scrap of yarn and project that I care about, as well as my knitting books (because I added those too) on Ravelry. That would help in a claims process much more than trying to remember everything.

I have a few that I’m willing to sell or trade, so take a look if you feel like enhancing your stash.

Ah, the mental relief of a documented stash.

Heading on the Oak Trail

I forget how immensely satisfying hats can be since they knit up so quickly. I received Botanical Knits as another Valentine’s gift from Matt. That man really spoils me, and I love it.

I knew I would have to make Oak Trail immediately.

I don’t wear a lot of fitted hats, but I definitely like the leafy cables, as you can see here and here, and this hat seems so lady-like, so I decided to try it.

The brim was rolling a bit more than I’d like. I don’t usually block hats much, but I decided to give this a wet block to tame it a bit.

I’d been eyeing the yarn for this at my LYS for quite awhile. I don’t make a lot of red knits, but the red-oranges definitely appeal to me more than blue reds. This one cried out for me to take it home. It’s Ella Rae Lace Merino Worsted in Russet (104). Ella Rae is a dream to work with for it’s bounce and softness, and it comes in a wide range of amazing colors. It’s so gorgeous in the skein.

Wouldn't you take me home?

Wouldn’t you take me home?

Also, if you’re thinking about buying Botanical Knits, it’s very well done. It has gorgeous photos, elegant and well-written patterns, and it’s the first knitting e-book I’ve seen that has links to each pattern’s Ravelry pages. I think that’s pretty impressive. It includes 13 patterns and is 18 dollars for the e-book only or 22 for the e-book and print version. I went with just the e-book because I live in a postage stamp of a house and it’s best if I don’t add to the collection. I own many knitting books that I don’t make enough out of, but I can see myself making another 6 of the patterns in this book, so it’s a definite steal in my opinion.

What’s wrong with this picture?

delancey prog-3I am chugging along at the Delancey Cardigan at a decent pace. The yarn is so wonderful to knit, and I love that Alexis Winslow provides detailed instructions.

However, there have been a few moments of user error. I sometimes forget to click the row counter and then have to count some rows to catch up. I have been speedily knitting and then I realize I was supposed to start the stripes about 10 rows back. I have also forgotten to decrease many times on the shoulder sections or back section and I ripped back for those because I don’t mind a little reknitting, and I’m a sucker for perfect decreases and increases. If it’s too difficult to just drop down a stitch and fix the mistake I riiiiiiiiiiiippppppppp with abandon. I have ripped back small sections at least 10 times now.

One night I was staring at the pattern, counting my stitches and decreases, and I should have had about 8 less stitches. I stared, I counted, I stared. Then I realized I was looking at the row for the smaller size. Um, highlighting or circling your size in the pattern is most useful for overly tired baby-doesn’t-sleep-enough-at-night-so-I-don’t-either brains.

One evening, after I had ripped back one of the shoulder sections at least 3 times that day, I put it down for about 24 hours. I started some plain stockinette socks to soothe myself. Many sites and books talk about the importance of babies learning to self-soothe. I don’t know how I did it as an infant, but as an adult it often involves some stockinette.

As you can see in the picture above, I managed to finish both shoulders and pin them to seam up until I noticed that I forgot to make the last set of stripes.

I may or may not be able to wear this sweater this season, but I will finish it and not abandon it until it starts to get cold next year, like I have with several other sweaters. But right now, I must frog a bit.