I finished a pair of socks that have been on the needles for over six months! This is not an unusual situation for me. I always have a pair of socks on the needles that are for me. I like knitting socks. I wear hand knit socks, exclusively. Since I am obsessive about always having a knitting project in my bag, no matter where I go, having a sock on the needles is pretty much a lifestyle requirement.
Sock knitting conquered, I pulled out the ball of Reticule (Mrs. Crosby) and spent a day knitting the design-as-one-goes pi shawl. I finished the third segment (48 rows). Worked the next increase row and then contemplated a new design element for the next segment (96 rows). I wanted to add a lace element to my band of traveling stitches swirling about the shawl. I leafed through the Treasury of Knitting Patterns (volume one, by Barbara Walker) looking for inspiration. I knew I wanted a very open lace pattern. I also wanted the stitch pattern to be easily converted to knitting in the round (the majority of stitch patterns are written to be worked flat) and easy to remember. I had used a faggoting stitch when knitting a market bag several years ago but wanted something a bit more interesting. After swatching a few contenders, I decided to use the Vandyke faggoting stitch. It is a multiple of three stitches, allowing me to insert the lace as stitches open behind the traveling band. The fabric under the traveling band will stay in stockinette. I also decided to change my needle size from 2.75mm to 3.00mm. The slightly larger needle size should add to the openness of the fabric.
Christmas is past and the New Year approaches…with all the drama and guilt that entails. My Christmas knitting this year was minimal but I still could not finish on time. In fact my guilt was so intense that on the morning before Christmas day I sat down and cast on the long promised, long planned crazy stripe socks. I was careful not to promise to finish by Christmas Day, but I did sort of imply that the socks would be finished during the Christmas season. In between wrapping gifts, eating cookies and playing games I knit a few rows on those socks. I sat for over four hours on Christmas Eve knitting on those socks. One should never under estimate guilt as a motivating force! On Christmas morning I sent this photo of the socks to the recipient.
With guilt as my motivating force I have knit steadily on these socks for the last four days. These socks are plain stockinette stitch, the fun is the colors. As someone who has knit lots of socks, I have lots of tiny balls of sock yarn and am determined to mine the stash to create a crazy colorful pair of matching socks. If I can keep up the pace, I may be able to mail these socks very early in the new year!
And what has been suffering while I finish the Christmas knitting? Rueben has both fronts finished and shoulder seams are complete! Next step is to pick up stitches for the front edging. (Sigh. I do not like picking up stitches)
Sweater knitting is exciting; I like the shaping of armholes and necklines. I like seeing the body of the sweater grow under the needles. However, no matter how much I enjoy knitting garments, at some point you are slogging through twelve inches of the same thing. Knitting twelve inches of the same thing gets boring, even when I like the yarn and the pattern. So I take a little break. I knit a sock. Socks are quick, they are small, and I can revel in that satisfied feeling from finishing a knitted object. Then I go back to slogging through twelve inches of the body and it feels like I am making progress. I will be starting the armhole shaping soon, just a few more rows, or a few more inches.
As you can tell by the latest photo of Rueben, I am well into knitting the fronts. After knitting the back of the sweater in one marathon, single project dedication…I could not keep it up. I am not meant to be a dedicated one project at a time knitter. I am a multi-project knitter who enjoys flitting from project to project. When I needed to take a break from the Rueben fronts, I moved to socks.
My socks are moving quickly. I have been carrying the second sock in my bag and working a row here and there as time permits, now it is ready for the heel flap. I enjoy doing the traditional slip stitch heel flap and a turned heel. I just need to be stuck in a line and I will get that started. The other project I have been working on is a baby gift for a friend.
I always have bits of sock yarn left from various sock projects so baby socks is a quick gift that can be done with a small amount of yarn. I cast on 30 stitches and just wing my way through a plain vanilla sock with a tiny heel flap and a turned heel. I make the leg about three inches and when the foot measures 2.5 inches I begin the toe decreases. The secret to baby socks is to do an inch of K2, P2 ribbing above the heel flap. That bit of ribbing grabs the ankle and makes it harder for the baby to kick off the socks. I do love a clever knitting trick and if I remembered who told me this, I would thank them.
I swear, I had already chosen the Clapotis as the “Throwback Thursday” KAL, when I saw a post by Malabrigo showing a Clapotis in a Malabrigo yarn and talking about the popularity of the pattern. I learned about the Clapotis from Chandra soon after we met, which was not long after the pattern appeared in the 2004 Fall edition of Knitty. I remember Chandra was knitting the pattern in a fingering weight yarn and I was intrigued by the dropped stitches. I eventually cast on the project in 2007 using a worsted wool/silk blend. I love the finished shawl, but it is big. The pattern calls for an aran weight yarn. But the pattern is one that one can use any yarn and an appropriate needle. On Ravelry there are over 22,000 projects for Clapotis. A wide variety of yarns have been used. This time, I am using a fingering weight yarn; an 8 ply superwash merino from Nadezhda’s Crayon Box, color is Midnight Stroll. I did swatch with three different needle sizes before deciding on a US5 (3.75mm)
This is a great pattern, perfect for knitting while watching a movie, but having to do the knit through back loop at every stitch marker keeps one on ones toes.
As I may have mentioned earlier, I got a little behind in my Christmas knitting, so, I wrapped up a skein of yarn and gave it to my son. When he opened it, I told him I would knit him a pair of socks. He did say he liked the colors. I love self striping sock yarn. These socks are flying along, folded cuff with just a simple pattern (Cane Road #7) to keep the instep interesting. I did a partridge eye heel flap and a half handkerchief heel turn, just so I could say I did it.
The year is almost over. I am nearly finished with the last fingerless mitt. I will be done in time to mail off the last Christmas gift before the year has ended! I admit many people may not view this as successful Christmas knitting, but for me this is way above the curve. ( I still owe daughter #1 a cardigan, I gave her a gift certificate for one hand knit cardigan last Christmas. She promptly turned in the certificate, but we are still wrangling on type of yarn and design. )
Now that the fingerless mitts are nearly a thing of the past, I can have fun knitting. I started playing around with the Cima (merino/alpaca blend in lace weight) and the Silk Cloud (mohair). I have been using two strands of Cima and one strand of Silk Cloud and developing an airy shawl. I am using some of the same techniques used in the Fibonacci by Two shawl that I knit last year. But this time I am playing around with the shape, beginning very narrow and gradually widening. It is fun to play with ones knitting.
I am also working on a pair of socks. This year I gave a ball of yarn to my son with a note that said I would knit him socks. He laughed. I admit the last pair of socks I knit him did take over a year to finish but they were black! (Click below to read the entire saga!)
This yarn is self striping and very colorful, it will go much faster!
Yarn is Palermo. Pattern is being developed as I go....it will be an anklet style sock with folded cuff, there may be a little patterning on the instep....
So…are you one of the people who plan out their Christmas knitting on graph paper and make lists of what yarn to buy when? One of those organized knitters who begin knitting Christmas gifts in July and have everything finished, blocked and in the mail by the 20th of December? Do those people actually exist? I think it might be an urban legend.
I began my Christmas knitting two weeks ago. I found this super easy, super fast fingerless mitts pattern. How easy is that? I can whip out a pair of fingerless mitts in a few hours, right? Yea, not so much, it would help if I did not keep running out of yarn and then have to rip the mitts out. I finally got the yarn right, a nice brown wool and hand dyed stripes. Then I realized that the “pair” of mitts I knit were not the same size. I very carefully knit a fingerless mitt to match each of the mitts I had. Voila! Two pairs of fingerless mitts that are actually look like pairs. Except for the stripes, all the stripes are in different places. None of the mitts match. I thought it would be funny. My daughter pointed out that it will only reinforce the crazy auntie image.
I knit a half size pair for the younger brother (paying attention so that both were the same size). I got those mitts in the mail and they will receive the package before Christmas! Don’t ask me about the line at the post office.
I delved in the stash again and came up with a skein of bulky wool. I modified the fingerless mitt pattern, I went up to a US9 and decided to cast on less stitches. I admit I broke my rule and did not swatch. It is a fingerless mitt, if it is too small I can rip it out. Luckily, I tried it on and the wrist is fine. I am about to leave the shop and I look at the big skein of wool and the small fingerless mitt and decide I am not carrying that huge skein of yarn. I decide to ball up enough to finish the mitt and do the second. It was not enough yarn. It is the evening of the 21st and one mitt is finished, the second is halfway done and I am out of yarn. The huge skein of yarn that I did not want to carry, there is a lesson in here, somewhere.
These mitts are not going to arrive by Christmas. I ate a few Christmas cookies. Decided New Year’s is an excellent time to receive a gift. I can finish two more pairs of mitts by New Year’s, no problem.
NaKnitSweMo is over and I am still working on the hempton top down raglan. But with Christmas drawing nearer I have become totally obsessed with fingerless mitts. Ravelry ( http://www.ravelry.com ) introduced me to the 75 yard Malabrigo Fingerless Mitts. This woman devised the best fingerless mitts pattern and she is willing to share it with the world! http://www.lifeincleveland.com/2008/03/mmmalabrigo-glovies.html At first I began knitting the fingerless mitts in the hand dyed yarn. Well, there was only enough yarn for one and a half fingerless mitts, not very practical. So, I ripped those mitts out and dug through the stash for yarn that would enhance the hand dyed yarn. I came out of the deep stash with a reddish brown worsted weight wool that did not clash with the hand dyed yarn, one might even say it was a delightful contrast.
I quickly knit two fingerless mitts and each mitt has three stripes. I purposely began the stripe sequence slightly differently. I have six nieces, I though it would be cool to give them all fingerless mitts with the same color yarn and slightly different stripe sequences. However, when I looked at the photo I saw something that I had not intended. The two fingerless mitts are slightly different sizes. I swear I was following the pattern.
No panic, I have six nieces….I will knit a matching fingerless mitt for the two mismatched mitts and I will be two gifts down. And Christmas is still weeks away. Ok, it is over a week away and these knit up fast.