Socks to brighten the doomiest day

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So we headed up to the Blue Mountains hoping to see some autumn colour but the day was wet and misty.

trees in mist

This photo shows part of the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah. We had a walk, sticking to the tarred and woodchip paths.

There was some colour – two beds of lovely dahlias.dahlias foreground trees in mist backgroundAnd here’s another splash of colour

bright striped socks on feet

These are my Socks to Brighten the Doomiest Day, knitted from Lana Grossa’s Meilenweit 6-Fach. This was given to me as part of a leaving present by my dear friend A. The pattern is Wendy D Johnson’s Sport Weight Toe-Up Socks with Gusset Heel.

Since the colours repeat back on themselves before moving on, I decided to knit the second one so that I’d have one of the centre colours (blue and purple) across each foot.  bright striped socks on feet - side view

The fit is not quite perfect but my Ravelry project page has notes to remind me of changes for next time!

 

Yarn today, sock tomorrow

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A slight exaggeration… but not much of one.ball of bright striped yarn

I can see why people enjoy knitting socks out of 6-ply/sport weight sock yarn. It makes for very satisfying and speedy results!

This is Meilenweit 6-Fach from Lana Grossa. It’s a typical wool and nylon blend for knitting socks.

And here’s a sock. I’m using Wendy D Johnson’s pattern, Sport Weight Toe-Up Socks with Gusset Heel (Ravelry link to free pattern).

 

sock of bright striped yarn

A bit of a sock as light relief

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Sometimes you need something a little simpler. This sock has been knitted on at knit night, and on buses. I’ve even knitted a bit at home, too, when the lights were dimmed and I didn’t want to concentrate on lace work in a dark lace weight yarn.

This is my upside down Primavera Sock. The pattern is written cuff-down but I started at the toe. Why? I like knitting socks toe-up. When I first began knitting socks I was drawn to the idea of being able to try them on as you go. This has turned out to be a good thing. I knit socks on skinny 2mm (US 0) needles and only need 60 stitches to get a snug but not tight sock. Sometimes I have to fiddle with a pattern. Here I switched the decreases and increases to keep the directional shape of the design as it kind of grows up your foot.

The greenish section came as a bit of a surprise.

stripy textured sock close-up

I thought I was knitting something similar to the pale lilac but lo and behold in daylight it looks quite different. I’ve been knitting from the centre of the ball and from the outside it looks like this:wool ball red orange lilac

Its partner clearly shows this green and I had looked inside both balls to check that they were the same colours when I bought them.wool ball red orange green

It appears, too, that the colour sequence is now reversing. This could be a very interestingly striped pair of socks!

stripy textured sock on needles

Knit – tink – frog … but lace is still lovely

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Cast on
Knit knit count
Knit knit count count
Tink* count
Tink tink count count
Frog**

Cast on
Knit knit count
Knit knit count
Knit knit count
Tink count
Knit knit knit knit
Count
Knit knit knit knit
Knit …

I like charts when I’m knitting lace patterns. Once you’ve done a few rows, it’s easy to spot any mistakes since your knitting doesn’t match the image. Usually. For some reason this time, I really struggled to get going with this straightforward pattern. Unpicking lace stitch-by-stitch is a challenge. The yarnover loops often mess with your stitch counts. I think that’s what happened to me here. The best thing to do? Begin again. I’ve now done five repeats of the pattern and it’s looking quite splendid.

bue lace wave pattern

This is Magic Waves by Kieran Foley knitted in Manos del Uruguay Lace yarn.

*Tink means to undo your knitting stitch-by-stitch (it is literally the word knit backwards).

**Frog is a word adopted by knitters to define ripping out row after row of knitting (‘rip-it, rip it’).

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Casting off – the whole story

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The preschool children I taught in Singapore often used same same to describe identical objects and same for similar ones. I think that sums up this cardigan perfectly.

front view of pale blue lightweight cardigan The pattern is “Same Same but different (contiguous Walnuss)” by ANKESTRiCK (Ravelry user name Fallmasche) and by my standards I made a heck of a lot of changes to the design:

  • I wanted the fronts and the back to be the same length so I ignored all the directions for making side pleats.
  • The cardigan is longer so I increased the spaces between the shaping rows.
  • The sleeves are wider than in the pattern. I picked up extra stitches under the arm, which is what many knitters do to avoid holes, but instead of decreasing them away, I followed the pattern’s system of decreases.
  • My sleeves are a little longer than in the pattern.
  • Button placement – I made more buttonholes to prevent the fronts from gaping.
  • I made changes to the i-cord bind off/cast off for the sleeves and the neckline; mine is one stitch narrower than in the pattern.

Why did I choose this pattern?

  • It is a lightweight cardigan that should serve me well in Sydney winters and Cologne and Edinburgh springs/summers.
  • It was one of very few lightweight patterns that showed projects with people wearing blouses underneath and not just a tee-shirt or skimpy vest/camisole top, increasing its versatility.
  • The only negative comments on Ravelry were to do with button placement (and this was easily fixed). The few projects that have been ripped back or abandoned seem to be because the knitters were bored or the fit wasn’t right (tension!).
  • I liked the idea of knitting the button bands at the same time.

How did I proceed?

  • I never jump in blindfold. I chose this pattern for its practicality as part of my wardrobe as well as its appearance.
  • I checked the projects on Ravelry for useful comments. There are currently 378 projects on Ravelry. Please don’t think I checked through each and every one. There are filters like ‘helpful’  which can draw your attention to any critical aspects (like the button placement here). You can, of course, also search specific criteria like buttonholes or sleeves.
  • I looked at the photos of women wearing the cardigan. Regardless of how poor the photo shot, I actually appreciate seeing real women in real garments rather than just perfect photos of lovely cardigans on dressmakers’ dummies or clothes hangers!
  • I had a very good (knitting) friend, M, measure across my shoulders, as stated in the pattern, to determine size. This was a smart idea as Same Same but different is knitted with saddle shoulders and using the contiguous sleeve method so the back and shoulders need to fit well.
  • I knitted two tension squares (aka gauge swatches). Why two? Because the first one didn’t give me the exact measurements stated and I wanted to be very sure before committing myself. Just half a stitch in difference doesn’t sound like much but expand that over each of your four-inch repeats and suddenly your card end up being bigger or smaller than you were hoping for!
  • I made a lot of notes on the pattern. I tend to count in ‘garden gates’ with dots above for shaping, which is helpful when it comes to knitting the second sleeve, for instance. I highlighted the instructions for the button and buttonhole bands. I could not remember them for the life of me (there are slipped knit and slipped purl stitches) and at least this way I always knew what to do.
  • I followed good suggestions on Ravelry for having more buttons and for marking each buttonhole row as I went along. This is actually a bit  ‘duh’ / slap head / why didn’t I think of this before. It made sewing on the buttons so much easier as there was no counting involved afterwards. I sewed on the buttons prior to blocking and then buttoned the cardigan shut for its bath.

Pattern notes

Same-2     Same-1

Criticism?

  • None bar what I knew already – knitting a seamless cardigan means each row of knitting is very long! Yes, you alternate plain and purl but it is still dull. I had a bit of a mental block after I’d separated the sleeves from the body. The rows were still so long and it seemed as if I would be knitting for ever. I abandoned this for a while but with a touch of regret. I loved the feel of the yarn, its tactility, but those loooong rows were so off-putting.

Yarn used?

  • I made my cardigan from Holst Garn’s Coast. It’s a lovely blend of cotton and wool and feels very soft. If you’ve knitted with Holst yarns, you’ll appreciate the colour range available. Coast is softer than Supersoft. It blooms a bit on contact with water (which is another reason for checking tension upfront!) so what feels a tad skinny on your needles works out to be perfect in your finished garment.
  • I bought my yarn at Be Inspired Fibres*. This isn’t my LYS but it is my LYS when I visit my parents and long may that remain so! Mei’s shop is literally a ten-minute walk from my parents’. Mei is always so wonderfully helpful. If you want to know more you can find her here: shop details on Ravelry, on Facebook and Mei’s online shop is here. You can also follow Mei’s Be Inspired Fibres blog here on WordPress.
    and I’ve mentioned her in SmittenBe Inspired and Be Inspired – Edinburgh Delights posts, too.

The 60 million dollar question: would I make this again?

  • Yes I would. I’m really pleased with the fit.
  • The pattern was easy to follow. It’s broken down into sections which make instructions like ‘continue with saddle increases on every row and add front edge increases on every second row’ straightforward.
  • I love the yarn. My cardigan is so light and airy and weighs just 127g.
  • There is one but, however – the button bands! I would increase their width and probably use even more buttons.

And because I’m so happy here are a few photos – with even more on Ravelry. I couldn’t help myself!

back view of pale blue lightweight cardigan
full front view of pale blue lightweight cardigan
half-front view pale blue lightweight cardigan worn open
side view pale blue lightweight cardigan arms up
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Casting off… and casting on!

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I’ve finally finished my cardigan but it deserves a post of its own so here’s a little picture in the meantime.

close-up pale blue lightweight cardigan

And because a pair of socks is not enough to have on the needles at any one time, here’s a little peek at a project that I’ve just cast on. I’m making a wrap using Manos del Uruguay yarn. It’s not for me and I already know that I’ll be loath to part with it. The colour so suits the pattern but more of that later…

beginning rows of waves wrap and ball of yarn

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Knitting in Sydney … but not mine

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Isn’t this just a great piece of knitting?

knitted lampshade in cafe in Sydney

You can see it in all its glory hanging from the ceiling in the Coogee Pavilion. (The Pavilion is an 1880’s building that started life as an aquarium and swimming pool and now houses a restaurant, café and more. Coogee is a beach suburb situated to the south-east of Sydney.)

This lampshade is a good metre in diameter and if I lived in the kind of home that had space for a giant chandelier I would definitely consider a lampshade like this one.

I have been knitting. I have. But nothing as spectacular as lampshades. Just chugging along with my cardigan which I’m now keen to finish so I can start the next project I have planned.

There’s another toe-up sock on my needles, too, but goes without saying and, anyway, I needed some easy and portable knitting to take to the Thursday night knitting get-together.  All will be revealed soon.

In the meantime, did you know there are 156 patterns for lampshades on Ravelry?

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FO Friday – Pink Mix Possums

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It’s far too warm for socks right now but I know I’ll enjoy wearing these pinky-red beauties in the winter. The pattern is Chain Drive Socks and it’s by Heather Sebastian (aka Joey’s House). It’s a little bit like Socks on a Plane but with a smaller cable twist down each side of the leg and foot. This means there’s no left nor right sock which will even out wear so they should last longer, too! The colour is Pink Mix and these socks mark the start of my plan to broaden my sock colour horizons for the year.

I knit socks with a fair bit of negative ease so they fit snuggly but not tightly. As a result, there’s always quite a bit left over. I think this yarn would be perfect for a pair of fingerless mitts!

pink cabled socks possum wool front

pink cabled socks possum wool side of foot

pink cabled socks possum wool feet crossed

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New Year’s resolutions – made to be broken?

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I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions for 2014. Which was good, as I probably wouldn’t have kept them. I had started off the year by taking part in a minimal-commitment knitalong: Socks with Sarah, a KAL for 2014 but even then I fell by the wayside.

I certainly took the a “it doesn’t matter how little” to heart as according to Ravelry I needed three months to complete my first pair of socks! By the end of the year, I had knitted six pairs, (as well as various other things) but had definitely abandoned the idea of knit-a-bit-every-day, while other projects were given priority.

Many of the knitters in Knitting Sarah’s Ravelry group are keen to continue in 2015 and once again, I’m tempted. It really isn’t realistic to think I will actually knit part of a sock every day, particularly as I have other knitting and crafting objectives for the year. However, while my collection of hand-knit socks covers the green-blue-purple spectrum quite well…

handknitted socks in drawer…I think I need to broaden my colour horizons.

Funnily enough, I have been knitting on a sock nearly every day since Mr Soknitsome gave me this lovely New Zealand yarn for Christmas. He’d been in a wool shop in Auckland while on a business trip and had specifically asked for wool for socks. I was most impressed! (Amusingly, he’d been offered German yarn first!) This is Waikiwi Prints from Naturally and it is beautifully soft.

pink possum wool naturally waikiwi      pink possum wool naturally waikiwi sock heel

It’s made up of 55% New Zealand Merino, 20% nylon, 15% alpaca, and 10% possum. I’ve never knitted with such luxurious sock yarn before. The colour is fantastic too and, seemingly, just what I was needing. New Year’s resolutions anyone?

This could be the start of something big…

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I’ve knitted 23 pairs of socks to date. Most of these pairs have used significantly less than 100g of yarn. I’ve been saving the remains for emergency repairs and darning but I don’t really envisage using them for such (particularly as my own pairs have had the heels reinforced prior to wear). I thought it would be nice to use the leftovers in a blanket. Ravelry has hundreds of projects, ranging from rows of stripes to patchwork squares and even stuff-as-you-go hexagons.

Before browsing too much, I drew up a shortlist of criteria that would hopefully help me decide which kind of scrap blanket would work for me:

  • Work in pieces to enable a good arrangement of colours
  • Project should be easy to carry around
  • Add in a neutral colour to balance some of the highly variegated yarns

Finally, I decided on making a Lizard Ridge blanket (pattern by Laura Aylor), using grey as one of the striping colours and all my leftovers for the contrast. Lizard Ridge is knitted in worsted-weight Noro yarn so each square is larger than one you’d get using 4-ply/fingering wool. I started off by knitting a square that was one-repeat (i.e. about a third) wider. It seemed a bit on the floppy side. I decided to knit as written and just make more squares. I was fortunate enough to sit next to Caitriona at December’s Knitters’ Guild meeting and she commented on her dislike of sewing together her Lizard Ridge blanket. It made me think. Seriously. About all the squares I would need… I recalled the fund-raising charity blanket that the Stitch ‘n’ Bitch group at the AIWCC made (I was one of the ‘lucky’ ones involved in its assembly)…

  • Should I start all over again and knit bigger squares?
  • Should I just bite the bullet and resign myself to a lot of sewing-up?

The solution is a compromise of sorts – my squares are now rectangles. They are still 43 stitches wide, as in the pattern, but they feature six not four sets of stripes.

Lizard Ridge bubble stripes blanket square grey blue Lizard Ridge bubble stripes blanket square grey green

Lizard Ridge bubble stripes blanket square grey greens Lizard Ridge bubble stripes blanket square grey red

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