Happy New Year! How was your New Year’s Eve? Mine was very blizzardy.
And not the delicious Dairy Queen kind
Rather than attending the party we had planned to go to my husband and I were snowbound in our apartment. So we played video games and at midnight shared a kiss and the only booze we had in the house (vodka).
Shortly after the start of 2011 I started my first new project of the year. It’s part of a year-long amigurumi project I’m calling Amigurumi-A-Month. I’ll make twelve new amigurumis so at the end of the year I’ll have a cute little decoration for every month! I’ll do it a month ahead, so since it’s January 1st I’ve started the February project – Love Bunnies for Valentine’s Day. I’ll be using my favorite amigurumi yarn (Berroco Comfort) and hook (Addi Comfort Grip, size E) throughout the year. Odds are I won’t have to buy any more yarn for this year-long project. Maybe more fiber fill and safety eyes.
I also started a knitting project. New socks! The pattern is called Viking Socks. I love anything to do with vikings. Ninjas? Pirates? Psssh. Vikings are the best. I shall make the socks of my people! I’ll be using Knit Picks Stroll in Blue Topaz for the Viking Socks.
(I sincerely doubt any of my Scandinavian ancestors were actually vikings, but I will pretend because that would be epic.)
It’s starting to get a bit chilly outside! Fall is prime knitting time. Warm woollies are perfect when the air gets frosty and you start thinking about mittens, scarves, hats…
This week I finished three projects. I also bought yarn – I know, I’m not supposed to be buying yarn! But this was for something very, very special and dear to my heart.
Here are the finished Yellow Seaweed Socks.
On sock blockers. I use these to help “set” the lace pattern evenly.
I’ve already worn them out of the house once. They’re not very warm, unfortunately. But boy, wool socks do feel great and they keep moisture away from your skin.
I originally said I used a Turkish cast-on for these socks – that was an error. A Turkish cast-on with size 0 double-pointed needles would be almost impossibly difficult for me to do. I’m not that skilled yet. I used Judy’s Magic Cast-On, which is similar but a lot more stable. I needed a very stretchy bind-off for these babies so I used Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Sewn Bind-Off (whenever you see a knitter call something EZ it means “Elizabeth Zimmerman,” not “easy”).
Today I finished the End of Summer Cardigan. Once it was done and all the edges were woven in I did not want to take it off. I am in love with angora.
I made this planning to wear it with camisoles and tank tops. It feels amazing next to the skin.
It also dresses up plain shirts nicely!
The third project I finished was the button clasp for the cardigan. I made it with two buttons and some beads. When I was finishing the collar of the cardigan I made buttonholes on either side for the clasp to go through.
On Thursday my husband and I went to Prairie Yarns (conveniently located two blocks from our apartment) and picked out some yarn for his winter gloves. Last winter I made him gloves with Lamb’s Pride wool which I love but he later admitted hurt his hands. He has eczema on his hands and it gets quite painful in the winter. This year I’ll give it another try but we’re going with some smoother fibers. I’m going to line the gloves so they’re extra toasty. The lining will be made of Bristol Yarn Gallery Buckingham in brown.
80% Alpaca, 20% Silk
The Buckingham is an alpaca/silk blend and is so astoundingly soft. I am having a great time knitting with it. I was surprised at how reasonably priced it was ($8 per skein). I’m very pleased so far. Of course, I’m only ten rows in.
The outside of the glove will be in Cascade Venezia in green.
70% Merino, 30% Silk
Cascade is a brand I have had very good luck with in the past, although the Venezia is new to me. It’s a merino/silk blend which gives it softness and warmth. Merino is great – it’s like knitting with butter. It’s really smooth and has a kind of “squishiness” to it.
The pattern I’m using for the gloves is the same one they handed out to volunteer knitters during WWI and WWII for servicemen. It’s interesting to read the old pattern. It doesn’t list yarn weights or needle sizes – just the number of stitches and rows per square inch. Add to the mix a lining that’s a completely different yarn weight from the outside and I’m sure there will be a lot of trial and error. I hope I can finish them before it gets cold!
Summer’s almost over! Some people get sad, but not me! I am not a warm-weather person. It makes me sluggish and uncomfortable. And I have an easily upset-able stomach. Too much heat makes me nauseated, the smell of air conditioning makes me nauseated, drastic temperature changes (i.e. going from a 65 degree office to 98 degrees and humid outside) make me nauseated. Summer is not my favorite, so I’m glad fall is within sight.
Last weekend I went to the lakes (specifically Leaf Lake in Lake Park, MN) for one last time before the cabin was closed up and winterized. The Yellow Seaweed socks were only seven rows away from completion so I chose to bring a new project for crafting at the lakes.
My End of Summer Cardigan will use up my stash of Cloud 9 wool/angora in Aqua. I had hoped to do it in black but I didn’t have enough. Everyone tells me the aqua looks very nice on me, though, so it worked out. And it’s angora – yummy!
The fabric design of the cardigan.
I’ve never crocheted a garment before. I’ve done afghans, amigurumi and the haekelbeutel. Reading a crochet pattern for something with a collar and sleeve divides was a learning experience for me. There was a significant amount of ripping back as I tried to get things to work out. I kept ending up with extra stitches here, there and everywhere (especially on the sleeve increases). This is one project I would not have been able to do had I not done some reading on the Ravelry threads first. Other crocheters had posted photos of their WIPs (works in progress) that demonstrated how to mark the sleeves.
The yellow thread shows where the sleeves start and end. When it came time to join the body those yellow threads were a lifesaver. I got about halfway through my cardigan during my weekend at the lakes. Crocheting moves a lot faster than knitting, but it does use quite a bit more yarn. However, when the goal is to use up your stash this is a good thing.
During our weekend we made a trip to the thrift store in Detroit Lakes. I found yarn!
This gorgeous skein was in a bag with two other balls of yarn for $3. At first glance I thought it was Silk Garden Sock by Noro which typically goes for $20 – $30 a skein. It has the same handspun quality, but with a single-ply construction. After a bit of research I’m now pretty sure it’s not Silk Garden or any other Noro yarn (based on the colorway and the size of the skein), but with the help of some folks on the Ravelry forums we have come up with a list of facts:
The skein is abmormally large (over 200 grams – that’s as high as my little scale goes!) and obviously commercially wound. This leads us to believe it’s probably a mill-end creation (several thought of Fame Trend by Marks & Kattens) and may not have been largely available.
Winding it around a ruler gave me 19 wraps per inch. This means it is a fingering-weight yarn.
The yarn is very strong, a little shiny, has no stretch or give at all, and when burned exhibits the quality of silk. However, it doesn’t smell like silk yarn. This leads us to believe it’s some sort of silk blend. Probably silk/wool.
Silk is known for being very warm, so I’d like to make a large scarf or shawl with it. I’ve browsed a few patterns and have a short-list ready. I probably won’t get to it for awhile, though. I’ve got some winter gloves in mind for my next projects.
Aside from the trip to the thrift store we spent most of the weekend hunkered down in the cabin working on various crafts.
My friend Kim cross-stitched
My mom worked on tile magnets
My sister scrapbooked her recent vacation to South Africa
And everyone discovered that if there’s music on I will, without exception, start chair-dancing.
Now it’s time to knit something with my other purchase from the Fiber Arts Fest – the Blackthorn needles!
OK, I love these needles. I’ve been knitting for like, a day and a half straight by now and my hands aren’t the least bit tired. They’re amazing.
The only real problem I had was finding the right pattern. I knew what yarn I wanted to use, so I had to find a pattern that I already had or was available for free online that used fingering weight yarn and size 0 needles. Ravelry has an amazing search function so I put in what I had and they found patterns for me to choose from. I selected Seaweed Socks from WendyKnits.net.
It seems like every time I start a project I learn something new. This time it was a Turkish cast-on. Since the socks are knit toe up you need to start by casting on stitches that are joined but will continue up in opposite directions. It’s kind of tricky on DPNs. I can imagine using two circular needles works much better. But I think it looks very nice.
Even my tiniest stitch markers look huge on size 0 needles, ha!
Part of my continued stashdown project is finally getting to use the skein of Dream in Color Starry I’ve had for months. I bought it when I was first teaching myself sock knitting. I went into my favorite LYS and asked the lady to help me find yarn that I could use to make my first pair of socks. Inexplicably, she suggested a $25 skein of merino.
So I started on my first pair of socks. It wasn’t til I finished one sock that I realized this beautiful yarn was totally wasted on a “learner” pair of socks. They were boring, there were random holes and some mistakes. Obviously I wouldn’t ever wear these. I learned a lot, but did not produce a wearable garment. I decided to not finish the socks and instead set the finished one and leftover yarn aside to be used later when I had the skill to make something worthy of $25 merino wool.
Now that I have three pairs of socks under my belt I feel confident to make use of the Starry. The colorway is Butter Peeps and there are strands of glitter woven throughout. The lace pattern of the Seaweed Socks combines with the subtle variegation of color in the yarn for a very pleasing visual. I frogged the completed sock and rewound it into a new skein.
Start with one old sock > Unravel > Wind > Make new sock!
I LOVE this pattern! And this yarn! And these needles! It’s no wonder I’ve hardly set it down in the last two days.