Embracing the Sock Blank

Last month I went to the Estes Park Wool Market and scored some great additions for the stash; most intriguing were the sock blanks that I found in the Bonkers Handmade Originals booth. They were single stranded, so suitable for mismatched mitts and socks, or maybe for a little shawl. Hmm…  I bought two of them.

Sock Blank and Mitt
You know that I had to cast on right away. Look, look: a mitt! I started knitting right off the blank and thought that the kink in the yarn would contribute to the funkiness. OK, the fabric is wonky, but I like it. It’s rustic, right?

I have to be honest here. As soon as I had satisfied my burning curiosity about how the yarn would knit up I stuffed the project into a bag where it languished out of sight for a few weeks.

Then I went up to Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins in Boulder Colorado three weeks ago to get some more bobbins for my current weaving project and I saw these stacked in a pile of yumminess right by the front door:

Sock Blanks
Oh, my goodness. Look at those colors! These babies are from The Hummingbird Moon. You know that I was unable to resist casting on a sock right away since I am completely lacking in will power. Luckily I have several pairs of 2.25mm needles hanging out in my knitting bag.
Sock Blank
This sock blank was single stranded, so I knew that my pair of socks wouldn’t be an exact match, but after the first rush of knitting had worn off I took a better look at the blank to see if I could understand the dyeing pattern.  Hey, look at that! The blank had been folded lengthwise at the midpoint and the two halves are mirror images of each other. There must be a way to get two matching socks from this blank.
Cutting the sock blank.
I cut the blank at the midpoint, pulled out a long runner, cut it off and I had the two halves separated. Easy, peasy. I wound the bottom half into a ball using my ball winder.  Because of the way the blank was dyed the yarn that I wanted to start the new sock with (the bottom of the blank) was on the outside of the ball of wound yarn.
Ball of yarn and the blank.
Since I had already started one sock from the blank I had to cast on the second sock off the ball of yarn onto ANOTHER set of needles (hey, I’m an addict. I have lots and lots of needles…) and as soon as I had the second sock (from the ball of yarn) the same length as the first one I transferred it to the needles the first sock was on.
TAAT socks and patient cat.
Bam! I now had TAAT socks going on one set of needles. As always, MacKenzie was supervising my work.
Socks
From then on I worked off the ball and my half-blank. Look at how well the socks are matching up. I want to mention that if I had figured out the dye pattern sooner I could have wound both halves of the blank into balls; to make matching socks the trick would have been to knit from the outside of one ball and the inside of the other.

I did run into some issues when I got to the heel gussets; I had to use an extra needle (one for each sock heel) to handle all of the stitches during the gusset decreases. Once the stitch number was down to a reasonable number I was able to transfer stitches back to the original needles and finished up with no problems.

Finished Socks.
These are the first TAAT socks that I have ever done. I just love them! This simple vanilla sock pattern is Dave by Rachel Coopey. My Ravelry notes are here.

Flush with the success of the socks I pulled back out the mitts that I had started with the first sock blank that I got from Bonkers. This blank didn’t have a reversed dye pattern so I just went ahead and made mitts that are complementary but not identical.

Mitts
Here they are. These two will play well together but aren’t perfect matches. The fabric is a little funky so I put them into the sink this afternoon to soak for a while to see if the knitting will even out. They fit well when I try them on, so I’m sure all will be well after blocking. I haven’t woven in the ends yet as I thought that might be better done after blocking. My Ravelry notes are here.

I still have two blanks to play with, but as of today I have absolutely no projects on my needles at all; MacKenzie’s WIP basket is empty again. It’s kind of crushing. I have the yarn for three sweaters all lined up, but I’m torn about which one to start on. Should I start the artsy Stephen West Marled Magic sweater that will be very labor intensive, or should I just go for the easy knitting of another drijfhout in a single color? Then there is the crazy colored yarn that I bought for that I See Spring sweater by Joji Locatelli…

Time to start winding yarn. Good thing I am a knitting addict with a lot of needles on hand!

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Update: Knits, Quilts, a New Book and Cold Cats

It has been just crazy hectic here the last two weeks. I have been driving to doctor appointments, cleaning the house, running errands, and staying pretty darn busy getting stuff ready for Christmas. This week I’ve been chipping away on several Christmas makes (with lots of cat help), and while the list of things I’m making seems endless, I finally got several things done all at once in the last couple of days. Finally, some progress! Check it out.

Shawl
I finished the Jujuy Shawl that I’m making for a cousin. I was told to use bright colors; this should definitely fit the bill. Ravelry notes here.
Mitts and Book
I also got these Akiko mitts done while I was reading a book. These babies are made with Anzula Cricket yarn and the cashmere blend makes them feel really yummy. This is the second pair of these mitts that I’ve made. I wasn’t happy with the thumbs on the first pair so this time I moved them over onto the palm of the mitt. Ravelry notes here. Looking at the tops of the mitts they look misshapen and thumbless, but if you turn them over…
Back of mitts
…there they are, tucked away on the back of the mitt. I moved the gusset over 6 stitches on these; I’m still fussing about these thumbs and may do a third pair with the thumb moved 4 stitches… This is a illness, but I prefer to call it a mitt study. 🙂
Table Runner.
I also got this table runner pieced and ready to quilt. The pattern, Waffle Time,  is really fast and easy to make. I bought the fabric last year and finally got going on the stitching this month. Did I mention that I have another table runner and a quilt to get done too?
Fabric close-up
See how cute these fabrics are?

I just want to say that all this crafting wasn’t easy at all since the weather turned dangerously cold for kitties this week and I couldn’t let them go out for more than a couple of minutes at a time. MacKenzie has been especially crabby about the turn of weather events. This morning when I got up it was -10 degrees F and the ground was covered in snow! Yikes! No way could the cats go out in that!

Annoyed cat
MacKenzie: Do I look annoyed? Yes! I would like to speak with whoever is in charge of the weather. This is completely unacceptable.
cat on shawl
MacKenzie: If I can’t go outside I should be able to help with the knitting, right? Yarn chomping time!! I mean, what do you expect a bored cat to do?
Cat
Yellow Boy: Yarn chomping is so yesterday. I prefer to sit on the pattern and stare at the Mother of Cats until she gets me some chicken to eat. If I can’t chase bugs I should have chicken. Chicken, chicken, chicken!! Did I mention that I can stare for a LONG time?

When they aren’t yarn chomping and staring at me (sitting on the pattern, of course) the cats have insisted on sleeping on top of me. These are big cats! The little one is over 15 pounds, and MacKenzie is a whopping 18 pounds of dead cat weight.

Book
Luckily this new book was published this week so I can read while serving as a cat bed. Oh, my goodness. This is the latest book in my most favorite series ever, The Expanse. I watched the first season of the television show made from the books last week to warm up for the release date, and as soon as the book was available in the early hours of Tuesday morning I downloaded it to my NOOK. 

I really do love these books. I even blogged about them. I like the characters, the political/social situations created as people move onto other planets and into space, the science is good, the pacing of the plots is excellent, and did I mention that it is SPACE OPERA?!! Hello, Science Geek! Here’s the previous posts about these books:

This new book is the 6th in the series. I didn’t feel compelled to blog about the 5th book, but this latest book has really hooked me back into the story. All my favorite characters are back, the story is moving right along, and there has got to be a space battle coming soon.

Thank heavens it is cold out. What a wonderful excuse to stay inside to craft and read. I may get all of my Christmas makes done on time this year. The cats will get more attention. I will get my book finished lickety-split.

Cat
…and I will get more chicken!! 

Thanks Polar Express.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Reporting the Launch of some WIPs

Last week after getting some big projects out of the way I pulled out more craft stuff and got going on the Christmas knitting and messed with some other crafts. Now I’m rolling in the WIPs, but hey, who wants to be stuck in just one project? Boring!! Better to have several going at the same time with different features

Mitt
Detail work: these mitts are tedious with the charted lace pattern, beads and twisted ribs. Great for focused knitting during a football game. (Akiko Mitt, Ravelry page here.)
Jujuy Shawl in Progress
This shawl is all garter and a simple mesh knit. Ahh! My Netflix binge watching buddy! (Jujuy Shawl, Ravelry page here.)
Warped loom
and for the sunny mornings, what could be better than a cup of latte and time at the loom. I warped up my little table top 8 shaft loom to play around with some different ideas.
Weaving
Here’s my first effort with some old Christmas yarn for the weft…
Weaving
and this is what the same pattern looks like in a balanced weave with a tencel yarn of the same weight as the warp.

I’m thinking of making a scarf. There are lots of different treadle patterns possible with this warp, so I’m digging in the yarn stash to see what else I can play with. I just found some lace weight grey alpaca, and there is this alpaca/silk yarn too… Gosh, this is fun. 🙂 I might even figure out how to record this on Ravelry. Other people have weaving projects recorded. Must push the boundaries and learn something new!

Snow on flowers
The only other news around here is that it finally has snowed.
Cats
Overall the cats are disgusted with the change in weather, but amazingly have become buddies again in the cool air. Ah, the circle of life. Gone are the bug hunting days of summer, and here again are the feline pile-ups of winter. 🙂

Happy Christmas crafting everyone.

Hello Autumn: Leaves, Pumpkins and Knitting

This is my favorite time of the year. What’s not to like? The trees are strutting their stuff, the heat is finally letting up, and it is time to fire up the crock pot for some long overdue comfort food. Oh, yeah. The first snowfall is right around the corner. Knitting weather for sure!!

It has been just stinking hot even though we are past the middle of October, but the trees are right on track. Check out the maple leaves in my back yard.

Maple Leaves
The leaves are all off the tree now, but I did get a great shot of the color last week before they dropped.

I’ve been just longing for fall. As soon as the pumpkin farms opened I went with my grandson and DIL for some pumpkin fun. We went on rides, chased each other on tricycles, fed goats, watched pumpkins getting fired from a cannon (!!), and of course took a wagon ride out into the fields to get our pumpkins.

Pumpkins!
Aiden and I at the pumpkin patch. There are about 30 different types of pumpkins planted in the fields; we had 15 minutes to run around to pick and drag out the ones that we wanted. Good thing there was a time limit… there were an awful lot of cute pumpkins!!
Pumpkins
The pumpkins are now hanging out in my living room adding some fall color. Don’t you love the warty one? I’m told it will make good pie, but I don’t have the heart to cook it yet.
Pumpkin and Wheat
Doesn’t this just scream fall?

The pumpkins and leaves are making me feel so happy and longing for the cooler weather.  I pulled out the yarn and patterns to start a couple of quick little projects in fall colors. I knitted like crazy all last week, and here they are:

Shawl
I liked this yarn so much that I actually bought this fig colored sweater to go with it. This pattern is the Riverbed Shawlette by Grace Akhren. 
Shawl
The shawl is knit by making a large garter stitch triangle with the lace edge along one side. I was getting a little worried about running out of yarn when the knitting suddenly turns the point at the bottom of the shawl and then the other side of lace was added to the live stitches as you worked up the other side. Plenty of yarn! The ruffle is knit last by picking up stitches on the other edge of the lace trim. I love the different directions of the color in the final shawl. Ravelry notes here.
Mitts
I started these Akiko MItts by Sivia Harding on the same day that I cast on the shawl. I couldn’t resist; Akiko is a Japanese word that stands for “Autumn” according to the pattern notes. Besides, everyone needs more than one project going at a time, right? The shawl was easy knitting to take with me, and these charted and beaded mitts were for at home knitting time. 
MItts
Check out the detail in these mitts! They fit just perfect and while following the chart was a little tedious, the twisted stitches were really pretty easy to do as the pattern included directions on how to knit them without using a cable needle. I’m making two more pairs of these for Christmas presents. Ravelry notes are here.

Suddenly I finished the little projects within a day of each other. Ugh. Knitting lapses are downright depressing. Resisting the urge to cast on several more little projects I pulled out the sweater I had started a few weeks ago that had been languishing during the heat (OK, it’s only in the 80’s, but that is hot for October!). Surely eventually it will be cold enough to wear this baby. I believe! I started knitting on it in earnest over the weekend.

Sweater
This is the Guernsey Pullover by Norah Gaughan that was in the last Vogue Knitting Magazine. The construction is pretty unusual; decreases in the middle of the front form the shaping for raglan sleeves. I think that the variation in the yarn is adding interest to the knitting, but at one point I was knitting from two skeins to keep the colors from pooling too badly. Ravelry notes here.
Cat and knitting
You know who moved in to help during the photo shoot…
Yarn and cat
and the usual yarn war with MacKenzie began. I won. Barely. He was pretty determined to have some fun this time, and he has those sharp pointy bits on his paws…

How does he know I’m out taking pictures of knitted items? He was upstairs asleep. It’s a mystery.

It’s snowing in the mountains of Colorado today, but was quite warm again today. I knit on the sweater all afternoon anyway. Someday soon the snow will come down here and I’ll be glad for the sweater.

The trees know. Winter is coming.

Sorry, MacKenzie.

 

 

 

 

 

Hey, what happened to all of my knitting needles?

Having dyed the most scrumptious yarn ever, I began the hunt for the correct size needles to cast on and knit a cowl to dye for. Little problem, people: I seem to be missing the correct size tips for the project in mind. In fact, there seem to quite a few needles and tips missing… you know what happened next. I went on a UFO hunt.

OK, if you are reading this blog post looking for information on extra-terrestrials, go away. Once I posted an article titled “UFO Hunt” to this blog and generated a lot of activity and even a couple of messages signaling how disappointed people were with the “click-bait” false advertising. Go away right now. I’m not saying that I don’t believe in life out there in the universe, I just want to find the black hole UFO’s that have sucked down those needles!

Oh dear. After about a half hour of tossing the stash and going through baskets, bags, and looking in the car (Hey, you can’t expect me to be caught without something to knit. I always travel with a project!), the following UFO’s were located.

Unfinished Mitts
These mitts came out of one of my project bags. The pink mitts just need their thumbs and finishing, and it looks like I hated thumbs so much I cast on another pair of mitts. Don’t ask. There were two pairs of needles here. 
Unfinished Cowl
and out of another bag came this cowl. OK, it was in the car. Under a blanket. Sorry little guy, I’ll finish you up too. Another needle found, but not the size I’m looking for.
Unfinished Shawl
Wow, I totally forgot about this shawl. This is a Benevolence Shawl that I was knitting in a cotton and alpaca mix yarn for summer. Technically, I still have a week of summer left. Don’t think I’ll make it…
Unfinished Sweater
More needles! This is the start of the Guernsey Pullover from the latest issue of Vogue Knitting. I started it in a rush of longing for fall color during a rainy afternoon. There were several needles in the bin with the sweater, including the size that I needed. Gee, this is going to be a great sweater. It would be nice to get it done before the snow arrives…
Unfinished Shawl
I’m still cranking away on the Jujuy Shawl too. I’m just getting to a wedge that will be all pink… I can’t wait to see what that will look like. 

Well, no wonder I seem to be missing needles. Here they are, all hard at work supporting fiber art life forms struggling to get born.  I need a new queue just to decide which UFO to knit first. I thought about putting the names of the projects on slips of paper in a jar, and then I would just pull out the name of the next project that would get finished. Maybe I should have two jars; one for large projects (sweaters and shawls) and one for small ones (mitts and cowl). Hey, that actually might be a good idea. I could knit small projects on sunny days and large ones on rainy days. It could be a plan. I could even have a jar with the names of projects waiting to be started. Oops. I suddenly had a visual of slips jar hopping from the “waiting” to the “UFO” jars. Might be a problem.

Forget the jars. Don’t you want to know what did I did? I cast on the new alpaca cowl onto those size 6 needles I was hunting for, of course. I have knit for three days like a demon and I’m now coming down the home stretch. Doesn’t it look nice?

Unfinished Cowl
This is the cowl that I was just starting in my last post about crock pot dyeing. Last one started, it will be the first one finished. Typical. Isn’t that why we all have UFOs?

OK, this isn’t a queue, but it is a list of all these poor, neglected UFOs. Here are their project notes on Ravelry:

  1. Scleroderma Mitts – my notes include the pattern.
  2. Hawkshaw Cowl
  3. Benevolence Shawl
  4.  Guernsey Pullover
  5. Alpaca Berry Cowl – my notes include the pattern

Have a good weekend everyone. Hope you all get some knitting done!

Alpaca Days

My friends at Alta Vida Alpacas have gotten the first mill run of yarn made from their animals back. Woohoo!! It is Christmas in May! Cari Corley (of AVA) gave me samples to be knit up to help establish some critical characteristics of the yarn: mostly she is concerned with how the knitted fabric will wear, its gauge and the hand of the knitted fabric. They have two types of alpaca on the ranch, Suri and Huacaya, and the sample packages that she passed over the Starbuck’s table to me contained undyed yarn made from both alpaca types. Knit some stuff with this, she said. Like I said, Christmas in May. I quickly stuffed the bags into my knitting tote before she could take them back.

Huacaya alpaca
Look at this guy! The fiber he (she?) produces is to dye for. That’s right, this  fiber will take dye like a charm. The yarn is white right now, but it won’t stay that way for long now that the yarn has arrived.

She gave me some unbelievable Huacaya yarn in a light bulky weight. We decided to knit it into a hat, and the pattern that her husband Dan chose is the Man Hat by Haven Ashley. I knitted it up in a jiffy (OK, it took an evening…) and this is what I got.

As soon as I finished the hat I shot off a selfie of the finished product to Cari. Poor light, yummy hat.

The light isn’t great on this shot because it was late at night (Hello…Midnight Knitter here!) but you can see the details of the hat. I added four rows of K1, P1 ribbing at the bottom as I wasn’t too sure about the elasticity of the yarn. As it turns out, it was not a problem at all. The yarn maintains shape really well and shows the stitch definition through a slight halo. On my head it feels like a cloud of soft warmth. Forget Man Hat; I want this hat. How about dyed a nice red? Should I add a pom pom? A crocheted flower?

There was enough yarn left over from the hat make a mitt (one, only one…) using the same stitch pattern and gauge. Here is the finished set:

Hat and MItt
I need to talk Cari out of enough yarn to make the second mitt… The mitt that I have is like heaven on my hand. 🙂 Ravelry notes are here for the hat and the mitt.

Once I had made the hat (actually, I made a second hat of another run of the bulky yarn that was processed a little differently so that the two yarns could be compared to each other) and the mitt it was time to take on the other yarn that was given to me, a sport weight silky and shiny yarn made from Suri alpaca.

Lace
I decided that this yarn cried out to be made into lace. Since the ranch has pines on the hill by the house I chose the stitch pattern “Fir Cone”. Cool pattern, huh!
Scarf
The yarn is turning into a 7 inch wide scarf that is a joy to knit; once again I’m coming up short on yarn and will have to talk to Cari to get some more so that it can be finished. How long should this scarf be? I’m thinking 60″, but I would love some input.

I steamed the lace to block it a little for the pictures and an amazing thing happened: the yarn bloomed, lost some shine, bulked out a little as it fluffed, and moved way up the softness chart.

Maybe Cari won’t make me give this stuff back.

What color should I dye my new set of alpaca accessories?

 

Snowfling Mitts are done!!

…and for the first time in quite a while it isn’t going to snow this weekend. Figures, but who am I to complain. Check these babies out!

Snowfling Mitts
These mitts fit perfectly, are very cushy and warm, and I am so happy with how they came out!
Lining of mitts
and they are lined!! I used superwash merino sock yarn for the lining. 

These mitts are the Snowfling Mitts by Tanis Lavallee. The MJ Yarns American Worsted (the purple painted yarn) was just a little bit smaller in diameter then the Malabrigo Rios (black), so I carried the black yarn in my right hand and the purple in my left while I was knitting the pattern. Since the stitches knit with the left hand are a little larger it all worked out to make a balanced fabric. The American Worsted yarn had a little more twist to it and seemed to be denser, which helped make these mitts really nice and cushy inside where the stands are located. So happy with how it came out. There is just enough room for me to slip a hand warmer into the mitt if I need it.

Here are my project details and notes on Ravelry.

In the middle of the week I mowed my lawn for the very first time this year and took out the lawn furniture. This is a major event; spring has arrived!!

Back yard
Doesn’t this look promising? You wouldn’t know it to look at it but two days before this there was snow all over the grass…  Tomorrow I may go to the nursery to buy some hanging plants for the deck. I’m hopeful that we are done with the snow, but it could still happen. I’m keeping those mittens out for a few weeks before I pack them away to wait the the fall’s first snow.
Drum Carder
Since it was so nice outside I set my drum carder up on the patio table and began working on an alpaca fleece that I’ve been wanting to spin. This fleece is just wonderful. It is sooo soft and the locks opened like a dream. It was a joy to feed it into the carder. 
Cat asleep in alpaca fleece
MacKenzie likes it too!

I’m so happy carding this alpaca I was motivated today to go digging in the fleece stash and found two different wool fleeces that are just amazing grey colors. Wow, my spinning wheel is going to be really, really happy. There is some serious spinning coming his way. I hope that the nice weather holds so I can do most of this carding outside.

Have a great weekend everyone. Happy Mother’s Day!