Friday, October 21, 2011

Stash issues

So this weekend is Stitches East. In all my years in Harrisburg I never made it down to Baltimore for Stitches. But then it moved to Hartford just before I did, so I went to market place last year, and plan to go to marketplace this year.

This brings something to mind. I do believe I've failed miserably on my 2011 plans to control increases to my STASH! In 2011 there were a few large contributors to this - two of them heavily tied to Ravelry.

1. Twisted Limone on etsy. I think I first saw TL looking at a friends activity on Ravelry. Its really pretty ironic because she was talking about how she loves striping sock yarn, and I was a bit appalled. But as I looked, some of these gorgeous striping yarns, like the TL, are VERY different from the self striping yarns I would see early on in my knitting life. And they are BEAUTIFUL! I've gotten several stripes from a few different yarn companies, but the major increase in my stash in the form of self striping yarn has been Twisted Limone.

2. The Completely Pointless and Arbitrary Swap Group on Ravelry. I kind of knew about this group long before I really did...because of seeing various Rav friends magic link pretty yarns in my friend activity feed. But I noticed the pretty magic links were occuring more and more often. Finally that lead me to actually take a look at this group. We had done some swaps in our Harrisburg Sock Knitters group, but what I liked about this group - is you can see something you like and claim it - and then offer up your own swap. You don't have to agree with someone else about a direct trade. You claim something you like, you put up something you like in return. But anyone can claim, and then THEY put something up. There are tons of different threads with different rules. But most of my swapping has been in the Wollmeise/Stripey thread. Now you may ask - if its a swap group why does that increase my stash? Well..because to HAVE good stuff to trade I have made some purchases to get stuff TO trade. increase in my stash.

3. Madelinetosh yarn clubs. Lord I have a lot of madelinetosh in my stash that needs knitting! I first discovered this in the form of tosh sock. I picked up a pretty skein while first exploring the CT yarn shops, and then was gifted a skein by my yarn store owner friend who wanted my opinion as she was thinking of carrying. I fell in love immediately. Then I went with a couple friends to visit Webs and found and fell in love with Madelinetosh Merino Light. I don't know what it is, other than incredible colors and amazing feeling yarn. But I do love madelinetosh. And this has lead to me joining some of their clubs (regular shipments of yarn, yes please!). Really need to attach the few sweaters worth I have......

So....what to do at Stitches this weekend....Webs will have a booth. Claudia Hand Painted will have a booth (how great would Claudias fingering be for hexapuffs?). Lisa Souza will have a booth. And hundreds more. I did pretty good last year. Just two skeins of Bugga, a pair of sock blockers, and a bag of Debbie Bliss Como. But I thinking I was doing a better job of not adding to stash in 2010 than I seem to be doing in 2011. And last year I was alone at stitches..this year I'll be there with friends. Peer pressure....oh dear.

Friday, August 12, 2011

My knitting mojo has returned!

So earlier this year I was really feeling like I had lost my knitting mojo. I know if you read some current posts you may ask "really?". But really!!!! I wasn't all that motivated. I think in part its because I was working on things that were taking so much time I wasn't having much fun. Plus as much as I said I wanted to curb the casting on of new projects - that is part of what keeps me motivated!

My mojo started to return when when I knit up a couple of sweaters for Elphaba. They were small projects that I could start and finish in a matter of a few hours. That had me feeling like I could ACCOMPLISH something again!

Next, I signed up for Camp Loopy with The Loopy Ewe. Camp Loopy is a series of one month long knit alongs. The first was June 15 to July 15. We had to knit a scarf or shawl - something to keep us warm at night. I went with a heavier weight yarn because I was terrified of not finishing in time. And I decided to knit Terra by Brooklyn Tweed. Can I just say - I should not have been worried since I knocked this baby out in a week! No joke. One week! Crazy!

Here I was I'd been freaking about not finishing in a month, and I finished in a week. Which meant I had 3 weeks until I could cast on for project 2 (which I wasn't even sure what it WAS yet). you may have noticed if you've read my blog...I've been bit by the stripey sock yarn bug. One of my friends caught it first..and as I watch her favoriting of different yarns on Ravelry (gotta love that friend activity feed) I was getting intrigued. See most of my socks of late have been patterned. And I love them. But its more work to knit a patterned sock. One must learn or read the pattern and that slows me down. Part of what was intriguing me about the striped sock yarn, is getting fun, interesting to look at socks without having to worry about a pattern. So I stalked Twisted Limone on Etsy one of the stripey's I was most intrigued by, and scored 2 balls on my first try - pretty good considering she only puts up like 10 balls once a week. Problem is, Twisted Limone is in the UK. I am not. And I had 3 weeks to play with before my next Camp Loopy project. Enter Knit Picks and their Felici Self Striping Sock yarn at a FANTASTIC price! I ordered that in 4 colorways, and it arrived in lighting fast time. So I cast on. And made 2 pairs before my first order of Twisted Limone showed up.

Vanilla Goth Socks
Vanilla Rainbow Socks

Then my Twisted Limone arrived and I was SOOOOO excited so I got right to work on those.
Summer Breeze Vanilla Socks

In case you weren't paying attention, I only had 3 weeks, until July 15 to work on all these socks. Yes you heard me. I knit 3 pairs of socks in 3 weeks! I love this new way of knitting them, toe up, afterthought heel. It requires so little thinking you can just KNIT!

So, then July 15 rolls around and I need to start my Camp Loopy Project 2. Project 2 was from July 15 to August 15 and has to be socks or mittens or gloves and has to have cables. I went with socks (naturally!) and decided that I wanted to make sure I got myself done on time. So rather than pick a pattern that could be overly complicated, why not use my new style of sock knitting and design my own pattern! And I did!
These socks are what I call "Cabled Yumminess". My ravelry project pages is here but I've also loaded the pattern into Ravelry and once my test knitters complete it I plan to make the pattern available. Not sure yet if I'll do it for free or try to make a little money. But it sure has been fun watching the people favorite and queue up my pattern!

Okay, so finished the Camp Loopy Project 2 socks August 4. What's a girl to do? 11 more days before I can cast on for Project 3 (something with at least 800 yards). Enter Stephen West and his mystery shawl KAL which started August 1. Here's the idea - a bunch of people knit a pattern at the same time with NO idea of what the finished project will look like and we only get pieces of the pattern at a time. YIKES! I've never done a mystery KAL before - and if I had to do one, Stephen West is probably the one to do because I find most of his patterns BEAUTIFUL! He did give some suggestions early on for how to pick out your three colors. Some have gone with some solids mixed with a varigated. Some of gone with 3 different shades of a similar color. I went with three very different shades of yarn. We were told one of them should be considered the "anchor" so I went with something dark for that. Here's my yarn:
I don't want to share what the shawl is looking like because it is a mystery and don't want to spoil the surprise for someone accidentally. But if you WANT to see it, my project pages is here. I finished both Clue 1 and Clue 2 the first day I worked on them. Clue 3 just got released early, so I may try and do a little of that tonight but I'm headed out of town this weekend so we'll see. Plus this project may end up taking a back seat since I need to cast on for Camp Loopy Project 3 Monday and that is going to take me a while...the pattern I picked out is more like 1500 yards, not the required 800. Yikes!

Oh yeah, and in between all that I've started using sock yarn scraps for the Beekeepers Quilt. I think it will be fabulous for little quick things when I'm bored. Or purse knitting! And lord knows I have LOTS of sock yarn scraps!

So there it is, my mojo is back. Thank goodness I love knitting since I'm doing a LOT of it these days!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Orchid Cabled Yumminess

As part of my sock craze of late, I've designed my first sock pattern! I needed something with cables for a knit a long I was in. But I still wanted something simple and quick. The answer: my Orchid Cabled Yumminess!

Okay, so the pattern itself I'm just calling Cabled Yumminess. The Orchid comes from the Sundown Orchid Dream in Color Smooshy I used.

Here's a picture. I'm hoping to get a few people to do a test knit for me and then to publish the pattern!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Socks, socks, and more socks!

I've seriously been a sock knitting fool lately! I've always enjoyed socks. And did have a January back around 2007 where I made 2 pairs in a month. But now I've made three pairs in three weeks. And I need to cast on my Camp Loopy #2 project - which may well be socks (need to hurry and decide since I need to get knitting!).

So why is it I've been knitting so many socks so quickly? That crazy afterthought heel makes it super easy. And the striped yarn makes it fun looking without the added work of the cable or lace patterns I've been doing. Not much to remember on the afterthought heel. Just knit!

Here's pair number 1. These were knit up in knit picks felici in the "Goth" colorway. Less than $10 for a pair of socks! I made these a touch longer than I probably should have for my legs - at least without doing increases to accomodate my calves. But they are gorgeous. These babies are what I worked on from June 25 to July 2.

Pair number 2. Also knit up in Knit Picks Felici - this time in the "Rainbow" Colorway. Went for shorter with this pair, and ended up a little shorter than I'd like. These are just over ankle sock length. Thats the one bad thing about the afterthought heel. Since you can't try it on once you pass the heel portion, hard to really know how they are fitting. But they are gorgeous. And I have some leftover yarn to do something fun with! Worked on these babies from July 2 to July 9.

Finally, pair number 3. These are knit up in Twisted Limone Zingy in the "Summer Breeze" Colorway. This limited yarn is a little tricky to get a hold of. But the colorways are GORGEOUS and I really really loved knitting with the Zingy base yarn. I've got some of her Tangy base at home too so some socks in that will be coming up soon! Worked on these July 9 thru July 17. A day longer than some of the others since I went to Block Island, RI yesterday!

And there you have it! My sock knitting craziness. Now...what to work on for that camp loopy project. Here's the yarn....I need to do something cabled that is socks, gloves, or mittens. And needs to be done by Aug 15 so don't want it to be too hard!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Striped Socks with an Afterthought Heel

Though not on my original list for this year's knitting goals, I taught myself something new! You see, one of my friends has been obsessed with knitting striped socks. And the more pictures and things I see the more intrigued I get. I'm waiting on a couple of gorgeous orders from Twisted Limone. But I was getting impatient. I was on the Knit Picks site looking for new cables to replace a few coming apart in my interchangeable set and while browsing came across the Felici. At that super affordable price I ordered enough for 4 pairs of socks. :) I cast on for my first pair about, um, 10 minutes after the mailman delivering my package on Saturday June 25. I finished Saturday July 2. That MAY be a new record for me. Though the real record is I finished 1 sock in just over 24 hours!

Anyway, here are the finished product.
Vanilla Goth Socks

I did lots of reading online to get some inspiration on how to actually go about doing this. Yarn Harlot has a blog post on this, but I wasn't sure I wanted to do it her way since I'd also seen a way using waste yarn. I was hoping to post here, but my google skills are not finding that post again.

Anyway, for my sock I used Judy Magic Cast On to cast on 32 stitches, 16 per needle. This is my go two cast on for toe up socks, and I can do it without having to look it up for reference these days.

I increased every other row until I was up to 64 stitches, 32 on the top and 32 on the bottom. Then I simply knitted a long tube. Since all my socks have been patterned lately it was refreshing to just knit a plain stockinette sock. I don't know that this would have been true if it had been a solid yarn. But watching the stripes form had me racing through to see the next stripe!

When the sock measured about 1 1/2 inches less than the length of my foot (as measured by trying on, this is why I love toe up socks) I picked up a strand of waste yarn and knitted across one half of the stitches with the waste yarn. I think picked up the main yarn again and knitted over the same stitches with it. For my socks I did this in between two stripes. I've seen many people do this in the middle of a stripe and I may do that next time, not sure. Anyway, here's the row of waste yarn. This will be pulled back out later and the heel will go here.

Vanilla Goth Socks

I continued along until sock was the length I wanted. I did the last full stripe in 2 by 2 ribbing and I bound off in the beginning of the next color.

Vanilla Goth Socks

Once finished it was time to work on the heel. I used my circular (size 1 for me) and picked up one side of each stitch along the bottom side of the waste yarn.

Vanilla Goth Socks

Then going in the same direction (because I'm going to knit in the round eventually, pick up one side of each stitch on the top side of the waste yarn.

Vanilla Goth Socks

Now its time to start working in the round. I had read that you should pick up a stitch or two on the sides to help avoid a small hole. It seemed like I had LOTS of space so I picked up three stitches on each side. I still ended up with a hole on each side so I'll need to work more on my technique here on the next pair. Oh, I also studied the yarn carefully to pick up for a new stripe that was different than the stripes I had ended on.

At this point I knit in the round, decreasing on each side every other row (4 decreases total per round). I decreased down to 12 stitches on each side. Then I did the kitchener stitch to close up the heel.

And voila, my first pair of afterthought heel stripey socks. Would you believe I cast on for my next pair already? :)

Vanilla Goth Socks