Saturday, 31 January 2009

Presents in the post

Today, a few of my sock purchases arrived in the post. From the top. One ball of Opal's Harry Potter sock yarn - Tonks. Well, it's pink and stripey so that is perfect for me. The second ball is Zitron's XXL trekking in shade 401. Lovely green variations but not obvious stripes or fairisle like the Opal. Both are 4 ply. Next up, the free patterns that came with the yarn - sock pattern and stripey gloves pattern. I know I bought these yarns for socks but aren't those gloves nice?! Next are the two different types of 2.5mm sock dpn's. ( I had no sock needles!) I got two pairs of 15cm metal ones as I know I'll probably have more than one project on the go, and the other needles are lovely wooden ones from Knitpiks - now knitpro - and they give you 6 just in case you accidentally break one so you can carry on knitting - aww. Aren't they nice people! I like how they think - knitting first and foremost:-)

In a previous post I was concerned I had bought the wrong base sock yarn for dyeing as it seemed thinner than others. So I decided to buy a few different brands to see and feel them for myself. The fact that I get some yummy yarn to knit is a major bonus:-)

What I found - so far - is that my yarn is exactly the same thickness as the Zitron and very close to the Opal. So now I know where I am. I was also very particular in my choice of yarns too. I wanted to get an example of fairisle with stripes (Tonks), subtle colour changes in small sections (green trekking) and a stripey one - the Zitron trekking still to come. If I can work out the repeats in each, I can get a basic recipe to start dyeing more yarns to knit. I'll be curious to see if they really use all of those 12 metres in the skein for their pattern! If not, then maybe I can be more flexible/creative in the lengths of skein I use to pattern dye.

Another totally-obvious-but-hadn't-quite-dawned-on-me thing I need is a niddy noddy.

I used to use this at college for spinning but never got around to getting one myself. If I want to return these huge dyed skeins back to normal size, I'll need this to do the job. Why I hadn't thought of this is just beyond me but, hey, at least I got there in the end! The first one is the Ashford model but I decided not to get this one as knowing me I'll keep letting it slide off the ends. So I went for the traditional one I know works for me.

If you look at the bottom right corner, that end doesn't have a stopper so you can slide the skein off there when you're finished but all the others anchor the yarn so nothing slips off. Cool. (I got this one at forestfibres on ebay if you are interested)

So, now back to the sock knitting. Black Opal is progressing slowly hampered by my foggy brain. Two steps back and only one forward but we're getting there. I knitted too much foot length and the heel before I noticed it was rather a long shape for a sock and had to rip it right back to before the short row heel. Ah well. At least I'm getting a lot of practice at turning a heel. Maybe if I manage to get going today I'll have something to show you tomorrow!

Friday, 30 January 2009

Socks and sniffles

The black opal is knitting up at around 6 sts per inch so I can use the same sock pattern as before. Yay! The yarn has nice subtle blending which I like a lot and so far is knitting up well in the sock. I've also decided to try adding a 3x1 rib to the front of the foot and all around the top to see how that works. I'm afraid you'll have to wait on photos as it is so dark and miserable here that I'd be wasting my time even trying to get a colour match today. Sun, sun, where have you gone?!

I've also managed to catch a stinky cold which is making me a bit woolly headed and foggy brained. I may only be able to work on something mindless today. I think a 3x1 rib and st stitch is mindless enough! I may stop at the heel though - I'll see how I feel. It is definitely a snuggle up and watch a film day today with my knitting.

Now, I've got to decide what to watch........

Wednesday, 28 January 2009


Ummm, I was reading my book on how to paint all the lovely patterns for socks and I noticed something important. Remember a few posts ago I said something about needing skeins that were 12 feet long? Well... I kinda got that wrong. It says 12 metres long!! Or 40 foot long, to be precise.

I don't think I could manage that measuring from the front door, all the way though the house and up to the top of the garden!! Okay, maybe just, but it isn't a working solution, people!

The only solution is to use my warping frame for my loom, which isn't here as it's with the loom in its shed a bit down the road - remember no car, either. On a good note, I have found a car and take happy possession this monday but since I had to use a van to get everything there in the first place, having my car won't help get the warping stakes here. (And they are a little on the big side and wouldn't be an attractive addition to the kitchen:-) I'll have to take a trip to the shed with my yarn, scales, and measuring tape and warp up the skeins there. But it is at my friends house so maybe I can pop in for a cup of tea! - if I pick a weekend!!

Don't you think dyed sock yarn would weave up beautifully? If the skeins are going to be that long I could get some lovely single or double ikat weaving done. Haven't really done a lot of that but it may be worth reading up on.

Anyway, I've no new knitting or dyeing to show you as the last few days have been spent car hunting but now that's done, tomorrow is clear for knitting a yummy sock. I'll have to start with my bought sport weight yarn - remember black opal? - as I want to wait on my new 2.5mm needles first so I can get a better gauge with the fingering yarns. But it is lovely and has knitted up well as a sample - will show you tomorrow. But for now, I'll leave you with a pic of black opal to whet your appetite:-)

Monday, 26 January 2009


Just a very quick post to show you my knitted sample of the plum yarn. It's knitting to about 9sts per inch on 2.25mm needles. Once I got over the shock of such small needles - and how sharp the tips of my bamboo dpn's are - I got into a good rhythm and I'm looking forward to knitting these up now for real. I love watching how the colours meet and alter tone. This really is a deep and rich mix - love it!

If you look closely on the sample's right hand edge, you can see the plum - green - plum - green stripey repeat happening but with very subtle differences each time. This sample is about 26sts wide and the sock should be at least twice that if not more so the striping will be a bit more stretched out than this. Interesting to see what happens. Now, I'd better find a good sock pattern to be knitting!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Dyeing to knit socks!

Well, I have taken a lot of photos today of these yarns - in the light, out of direct daylight, in the kitchen and the bedroom and still I can't seem to capture the true depth and richness of these yarns. I know my camera is capable of the quality I'm looking for so that leaves just me and the poor light:-)

Anyway, the first is a rich mixture of bright oranges with some burnt orangey brown tints. This one was my second attempt at purer tones once I got the knack of steaming the yarn for long enough and remembering to turn it to get all sides fixed before washing the dye out.

This more subtle yarn was the result of my first attempt, not steaming long enough and realising most of the dye was washing out. So I had to redye and as a result of overdyeing the initial colours, I got more muted browns and red tones as well as some deeper orange tints. I really like this one.

I particularly like the fact it makes it look like I mixed up and painted all those subtle variations:-) This yarn is quite dense in the chunky parts of the slub yarn and absorbed a lot of dye. It also took a long time to paint the individual areas of graduating colour. But I think it was worth it and it'll be very interesting to see what my mum makes out of these.

The supersock yarn was completely different to paint and a lot quicker. The same oranges and plums look cleaner and brighter although they are exactly the same mix. For some reason, I had it in my head - never having knitted socks up til now - that when people talked of sock yarn it was about 4ply or sport weight and would knit up on 3.5mm or around there. So when I ordered sock yarn, this is what I expected to receive. The sad thing is I didn't even notice when it arrived, I've only just noticed after dyeing when trying to knit up a sample to check my gauge. No wonder it takes people a long time to knit socks on 2 - 2.5 mm needles!!

But there is something precise and satisfying about such a small, neat stitch. And the socks won't look that chunky hand knit way which could be offputting for some recipients, maybe.

Thinking on this I've just checked out my sock yarn I bought from Yarn dyenasty last year and it is sport/dk in weight. So maybe that was where I got it from. So you can get it all different weights. I'll just have to be careful what I order next time round! Sock knitters out there, what do you prefer to knit with? Is the trend thinner or sport weight yarns for socks? There are a lot of fine guage patterns on Knitty but it would be interesting to hear what you prefer.

I've started this plum/green yarn as a gauge swatch and it is still vibrant and yummy looking. Although it won't knit up in the sample proportions, it will still be nice, I think. I have a feeling that my stripes may have to be a bit more generous next time if I want a good stripey effect. This may be a been broken up. But I'll have to wait and see.

Of course, I have lots to do tomorrow first before I can indulge in knitting this up in a sock - sigh. Real life stuff like phone calls, chasing people up, the ever present DIY and I still haven't found a car I want to part with my money for.

The sock yarns do look nice in the ball but those photos and the photo of the gauge swatch will have to wait till tomorrow and decent light. And the time needed to edit the dodgy photos in photoshop:-) Maybe I'll have a new sock started this time tomorrow. Time to start thinking of a name.....

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Sneek peek!

Just a quick sneek peek at the yarns I have been dyeing. I didn't get back in time to photograph them properly so I scanned them in to see how they turned out. The colour is a pretty good match for the orangey based ones but slightly red on the last more purpley one. I will try the camera tomorrow and see how that goes. I'd rather not have to photoshop too much!!

These first two yarns have been dyed specifically as a present for my mum. They were meant to be her christmas present as what can you give a knitter who can knit herself what she wants? Yarn of course! So these were dyed as per colour request and I thought the slubby, chunky yarn would knit up quickly and be very interesting texturally. It was also a bit of trial and error as I hadn't quite mastered how much steaming was required for fixing so these had to be overdyed. It definitely gave the second one subtle tones I hadn't planned so that was a bonus:-)

Having run out of slubby yarn and still in the mood for dyeing, I moved onto my supersock yarn. I just played around with the remaining dyes from the first lot and had some fun. I have no idea how they will knit up but I am excited to see how they turn out! What I did discover is that the dye was far too strong for the lighter wool. I will have to compensate for that in future but I like the deep dark tones too so what will they turn out like?

I think the orangey mix will become socks for me and maybe the dark plummy/green one I can knit up for my patient partner who was very tolerant of me messing up the kitchen for days on end:-)

Hmmm, maybe a simple rib detail for the darks and a plain stocking stitch for the bright one..... What do you think?

Friday, 23 January 2009

Sundae socks

At last I've got round to taking some photos of the finished socks. Ahem, they were finished a good few days ago now but I was kind of sidetracked painting yarn. You see, the sock bug has not only bitten but it's getting me dyeing sock yarn for further experimentation. I used this yarn as it was to hand, not knowing how a printed shop bought ball of yarn would pan out. And in the self patterning aspect I like it well enough but I'm a bit put off by the colour palette and they are now stuck in my head as the sundae socks.

But finished they are and I'm now wanting to knit another pair and try some variations in the pattern - both coloured pattern or a textured pattern like cables etc. My yarn experimentation has mainly been on repeating coloured areas to see how the self patterning works. I've been reading up on it and usually the hank of yarn has to be about 12 foot long to get the variations in the repeat! I only managed a 10 foot repeat and that was a neat fit on my worktop.

It's funny the way yarns knit up. Take these two pictures, for instance. Both the same yarn, but where they meet the next row is slightly different. Is it possible to get two perfectly matching socks then? Well, other people seem to manage it so logically you try and start at the same point of the repeat for each foot. This yarn is printed with very small coloured sections and I didn't notice an obvious repeat happening but I can live with the slight differences.

Of course, if you can see the repeat then it would be much easier. So, that's why I'm dyeing yarn in repeats and in slightly more appealing colourways!!
But I've only just finished drying them so no photos yet. If I can get some tomorrow I will, but I'm going car hunting as my poor car has died and I'm pretty much stranded without it - don't you just realise how much you depend on the car when you don't have it! Anyway, sidetracked!

Some close-up details of the toe and the heel. The clever figure of eight cast on leaves a nice clean line at the toe and it looks well finished. The heel is worked in slipped stitches wrapped as you go and I was only moderately successful at not getting the holes small enough when I rejoined the sock. But plenty of practice will probably solve that problem:-)

So, the sundae socks are finished, the evangeline mitts are on hold as I think the yarn is producing a very nice self patterning subtle stripe that would be shown off better in socks but I'm holding fire ripping it back until I've tried my new dyed yarns. Sock yarn is so quick to dye that this could be a serious addiction......

Sunday, 18 January 2009


I had actually made a start on these lovely mitts before I got the sock bug. You can knit them wrist or elbow length so naturally I'm going for elbow. I like how you get more pattern to appreciate and it will keep my whole arm warm when I'm typing:-) My mouse hand/arm always gets particularly cold after a while so this is an elegant solution, don't you think?

The yarn I'm using is one of the hand dyed balls of merino I've been saving specifically for this pattern. I thought it would knit up in a more subtle variegation but it looks like it's settling into faint stripes - not quite what I intended or really wanted. But I will knit a bit more and see if I like it enough to keep. It may look better in a SOCK!! Being 100% merino, how long would these realistically last as socks? I'd have to hand wash them every time or they'd shrink, wouldn't they? Best hope the dye is well and truly fixed or I'll end up with purple feet:-) Maybe I should stick to mitts before I borrow any trouble....

Anyway, I want to finish the second sock first before I carry on with the mitts so I have plenty time to decide. I'll still have loads of time to wear them the way the weather is going this winter - brrrr. I may have to adapt a pair of these with fingers!

Friday, 16 January 2009

Socks a go-go!

Okay, so I intended to get another Gretel on the go as well as the Evangeline mitts but I seem to have been bitten by the sock bug. I'm not really sure how it suddenly seemed urgent to finally crack knitting a sock but somehow, that's exactly what I'm doing. And it seems a really easy and quick process overall. Okay the speed thing may be down to the forced speed knitting I did on the run up to christmas that hasn't worn off yet, but it does seem a quicker knit than all those fingers on a pair of gloves.

Okay, down to details. I picked a toe-up pattern to try as I liked the idea that I could try it on as I went and I could alter the height of the sock to suit before I cast off. Okay so far. I understand that the heel is basically extra shaped rows on one side of the sock tube to get a triangular point in which the heel can sit - short row knitting - and the toe will be increases up to a set number of stitches which shall hopefully fit my foot and ultimately go round my ankle and calf comfortably. Okay for the theory.

The pattern I am using is the toe up DK socks from the wiseneedle site. A lot of the sock patterns are for fingering weight or 4 ply yarns but this knits as DK and as that is what I want to use, this is perfect. The cast on is clever using a figure of eight wrap around two needles - effectively the kitchner stitch at the beginning - and makes a good basis for the increases. Steady increases till the right number of stitches for your size. A note here - I'm a UK size 5 /US 7.5 and have wide feet, and I went for the woman's large size. It fits okay, a tad loose maybe but my yarn is Acrylic and has less stretch than wool. If this was wool I think I would knit the smaller size. There's only 4 stitches of difference in it. Either that or knit a slightly finer yarn at the woman's large size (ideas for next pair!)

Everything was going fine till I got to the heel. I think I was expecting something harder than it was but I couldn't 'see' the instructions and they seemed unclear and confusing. Eventually I went online and found another toe-up sock pattern to try and get a feel for what should be happening and once I had that sorted in my head, I managed to decipher my original pattern. I think if this hadn't been my first sock it would have been clearer but I needed more signposts than there were! I think this pattern has some very helpful tips and advice for sock knitting - especially the cast on and working out how long to make the foot and the height of the sock.

Overall, I am happy with the results and I have one sock finished and another on the way - yes, I started straight away 'cause you know what I'm like with two's of things! (and no, I still haven't got round to finishing the matching pair for that poor lonely fingerless glove from last year.... ahem.)

So, thumbs up for socks! I think I will be quite content exploring the world of socks for a while, the patterns and the self patterning yarns:-) I think my choice of yarn may have to be a bit more discerning though - the peach, pinks and white look a little ice cream sundae for most tastes!

Next, either something more subtle or a plain yarn with a textured pattern. Any recommendations for an interesting or challenging knit?

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Red stripey scarf

This is the stripey crocheted scarf I did as a tester for a friend's present. I was to make either gloves or lengthwise stripey scarves. I decided due to the dwindling time I had left that three scarves would take me longer than three pairs of gloves. In hindsight I may have been wrong:-)

I also felt the cast on row was too tight - I always seem to do that on long chains of crochet - and didn't think my friend would consider it high quality enough for her to use as a present for her family. I'm probably nitpicking and she probably would have, in reality, not have even noticed but I suppose I'm a perfectionist. Next time I'll use a larger needle size for the cast on row, if I remember!

It's a very simple stripe with a solid cream and red marble I used for the recent slouchy beret. So the red yarn appears to change but with no effort on my part! It uses a raised stitch that I got from the 'Soft waves' ripple blanket by only crocheting into the back of the stitch on the front side (every second row) so it's smooth one side and raised the other. It gives it a nice finish so I thought I'd use it again here. I still look at it and think of 'White Christmas' though:-) Threading all the tassles singing 'Snow, snow, snow' and eating nibbles that were meant to be for christmas.

Even better is the fact that although this wasn't eventually chosen, it meant I could keep it to give to my partner who had said how much he liked it. Bonus! Especially as I'd run out of red marble yarn and couldn't have crocheted another the same.

Update on knitting progress:

Evangeline mitts already on the needles - about 4"/10cm done so far.

First ever toe-up sock on the go - about 5.5"/14cm done so far.

Photos tomorrow for you if the light is okay. I'm quite enjoying knitting in a finer guage after all the chunky berets and gloves. It may be slower but it feels more refined somehow and suits my mood right now. Some slow leisurely projects to enjoy and not race through. Aaahh, just what I need!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

mittens galore!

Well, that was a longer holiday break from blogging than I intended. Once I get out of the routine, all those everyday things suddenly shout for my attention and my good blogging intentions go totally out the window. Christmas knitting took a large chunk out of blogging time last month but when the clock is ticking then a girl has to do what a girl has to do.... Sit down, watch lots of tv and exclusively knit - with a genuine excuse!

Then there is the recovery period when you can't knit as your hand hasn't quite recovered from the last push and cramps at the thought of holding another knitting needle. Then we move into the withdrawal phase where you find your hands twitching as you get progressively bored without something to do when you are sitting down.

So that is just about where I am now, thinking about what projects I could start next. No more mittens though - unless they are very special.... I do wish I had had more time to try out more complex patterns for the gloves and mittens but time kind of prevented that. I'll either have to start now for next Christmas or limit myself to who would really want something made and choose very special patterns.

The christmas distractions from knitting, blogging and generally doing anything crafty wasn't wild parties and living the high life I'm afraid. It was much more mundane things like painting, decorating, DIY and fixing leaky toilets, having your fridge die a death when you're skint, newly painted walls peeling - let's not go there. Just seal it all into a small box, tape it up thoroughly and kick it to touch and call it a bad week! Moving swiftly on and back to knitting!!

Some of these mittens are using subtly variegated dyed yarns so if you're thinking those dark green mittens look different at the top, you're right, they're meant to be like that. I must admit I was a bit rushed to take photos before posting so some have suffered from poor light. And some things I completely forgot to take photos of at all. Three pairs of mens chunky gloves and some stripey scarves all gone without any record of them ever existing. Ah well.

But I do intend to finish another pair as I adapted the pattern myself as I couldn't find anything online. So if you are looking for a chunky gloves pattern for men or a larger womans hand then hopefully I'll get around to posting it for you. I would like to put it into a PDF and list it on Ravelry but I haven't got the foggiest how to even start yet - if anyone has any helpful tips, I'd be grateful!

Soon, the rest of the christmas knits - some more star berets and a crocheted stripey scarf (knitted while watching 'white christmas', aaah). But on the new knit list? I feel a pair of Evangeline fingerless mitts coming on and possibly another Gretel beret. I've suddenly fallen in love with how it looks on all over again so I think I need another one. Maybe in something a little more subtle than the previous pink though. A nice subtle hand spun would be lovely.

Mmmm. Where's the spinning wheel and the fleece?! Time to get going!


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