Changes!

Picture of a cake of sock yarn

So much change around here!

The Obvious

I installed a new theme for the site.  Changing the furniture around here is so much easier than in my actual house.  Also, WordPress is getting easier to use all the time and more and more functionality is trickling down to those of us who mostly use the free themes and plugins.  Woohoo!

The Big

I started a new part time job working for Riin Gill at Happy Fuzzy Yarn in October.  Turns out we’re neighbors and her need for a studio assistant and my additional availability this fall with both kids in school coincided nicely. I’ll write more about the inside life of a artisanal fiber arts studio because it is FASCINATING, but for now suffice to say I wash and skein dyed yarn, package up orders, talk to new local yarn stores about carrying our yarns and combed tops, share studio shots on Instagram, tweet about sales and news on Twitter, and keep the couches warm in our Ravelry forum.

You should totally come join us.  For January and February I am hosting a knit-along for socks and a spin-along for the Local Wool Project (both run for two months).  There will be prizes at the end!

The Best

I am feeling better.  My health was poor last year and it took me forever to figure it out.  I have so much more energy for everything now.  I’m going to be a total ass and not go into details here, but instead reassure you that all is well now.

What’cha Makin’?

Well, there’s the socks for the knit-along that I mentioned above.  I’m using a gorgeous colorway of HFY Corrie Sock called “Heliotrope”.  I started off making the February Lady Socks by Kate Atherley, hoping beyond reason that the lace was simple enough and the variegation wasn’t so strong that it would overwhelm the patterning.  Alas, I was proved wrong.  So now I am doing a simple knit-and-purl pattern that provides interest while remaining stretchy.

HFY American Worsted "Wine"

I’m also knitting a hat in HFY American Worsted “Wine”, trying out a simple but attractive cable design.  I love the cables in the semi-solid colorway!  I’m on my second attempt; I needed to go up a couple needle sizes because it turns out this is a heavy worsted yarn.  This ain’t no Cascade 220.  And, truth be told, the crown decreases are kicking my butt.

And… there’s more, but that’s all I’m going to confess to at this time!

What have you been working on?

Dressing Up the Holidays

Close-up of Abby's stocking

My brother, Noah, was the catalyst for the other holiday gift knitting experience.

Last summer Noah asked me if I could secretly knit a pair of Christmas stockings for himself and his fiancée, Abby.  He likes the set of handknit colorwork stockings I made for my house.

My family's handknit Christmas stockings

 

These stockings are knit from Nancy Bush‘s pattern, Christmas in Tallinn, published several places, but the only souce that matters is her excellent book Knitting on the Road.  I made the first one, the red one, in 2005 for my infant son; Matt’s green stocking was made in 2006; my blue one was made in 2007; and then I had a year reprieve until our daughter came along in 2009.  She got a purple stocking.  I substituted the yarn Bush’s pattern calls for, Dalegarn Tiur, for Dalegarn Heilo simply because I liked the Heilo palette better.  (This was, by the way, the first time I was bit in the ass by yarn substitution.  Tiur is 109 yards.  Heilo is 126 yards.)

E's Christmas stocking

Noah left me in full creative control, so I of course immediate sought out ways to make this project as difficult as possible.  First, I had to design my own.  Second, if one design was fun, then two new designs were twice as fun!  (Right?!)  Third, the yarn (O!  The yarn!).

Abby's Christmas stocking, designed by me

I really enjoyed picking out colorwork patterns for these designs.  I found everything I wanted, and pretty quickly, in Sheila McGregor’s Traditional Scandinavian Knitting.  For the top of Abby’s stocking (green), I chose a boy-and-girl motif; for Noah’s stocking (orange), I chose reindeer.  The body patterns on each of their stockings come from the same 19th-century sweater: one was the pattern on the back and the other was the pattern on the front.

Noah's Christmas stocking

Can you imagine knitting that sweater?  Maybe…

There was some math to work out to make these motifs go together, resulting in Noah’s stocking being noticeably larger.  Noah has no problem with this.

As for the yarn, Cascade 220 Superwash Sport, it wasn’t my favorite.  Noah and I chose it based on wide color palette and affordable price, but it has just about put me off superwash yarn for the rest of my life.  It did not hold up well to repeated ripping and reknitting, coming un-plied and… for lack of a better descriptor, flacid.

Of course then my friend pointed out that many of the high-end end yarns, like Mashtosh and Tanis and Plucky Knitter, are superwash now so never say die.

Stripe it like there’s no tomorrow

You can't knit just two!

In my experience, creation falls into two categories: quick and slow.  Whether one is writing a story or building a piece of furniture, some things come together in a flash of frenzied inspiration, while others must cook for a long, long time.  This sock pattern falls into the latter category.  I have noodled out and knit up versions of it since December 2008 when it made it’s debut as a multicolor striped slipper sock for my brother’s girlfriend.

The organizing principle: what tiny balls of leftover yarn are in the bottom of my Wool-Ease basket?

Although I love the funky multicolor stripey-ness, this early sock needed to be knit at a tighter gauge to be more durable.

First I had a detour into some Harry Potter themed House Socks, which gave me the name, but were still too loose.

Slytherin or Gryffindor?

 

A few years later, I got around to reworking the numbers and quickly had these!

This combo of green and blue makes my eyes happy.

 

Before giving them over to the whole wide world, I had some friends test it out.  Thank you, friends!

Alison Denomme

 

Allison Phelps

 

Casey Braun -- her first socks ever! Wow!

 

Melissa White

 

Heidi Lemon

 

Abbey Buckley

More views and more socks are available on the pattern’s Ravelry page!  It is with great pleasure that I give you House Socks!  Enjoy! Please be in touch if you have any questions.  Via Ravelry is best way to contact me.

From my needles to yours

This mistake rib cowl was my comfort project of the winter of 2010-11.  I made the first one with some precious bulky weight handspun merino from my friend Jenny, which she and I later dyed a deep deep emerald green.

Mmmmmm…  I love this color, love this cowl.

I loved it so much I couldn’t stop there.  This one is made with Lamb’s Pride Bulky in “Oatmeal.”  Lamb’s Pride was my first yarn-crush back when I was a noob (is this becoming a belated yarnie Valentine post?). I remember when Lamb’s Pride was really popular and easy to find.  I miss those days.

Then I foisted my cowl pattern on my friends and family.  Dennay made it in Lanaloft Bulky “Autumn Run”:

My mom made it with Lion Brand Homespun in a colorway known only to the stash-gods:

And now it is your turn!  You can find the free pattern on my website here.  The Ravelry project page is here.

Enjoy and stay warm.

 

Sleepy

Baby Talk

Three weeks on and Elinor is still a new baby every day.

Our latest struggle is that she doesn’t like to go to sleep.  She fights it.  She is very active, alert; she wants to hang out, not miss a thing.  Once she is asleep, she is fine, so long as she is clean and her arms are covered so she doesn’t startle herself awake.  It’s the journey to the Land of La that she resists.

This is tiresome to deal with all the live-long day but at night…. Well.

Knit on

The two front halves of the Urban Aran Cardigan are underway.  I’m on the home stretch!  (Of the knitting!  The sewing up shall kick my butt later.)

The Zauberball sock hit a knot in the road today:

Can you see in the photo above where the working yarn suddenly changes from fuschia to purple?  Yeah, there’s no “suddenly” about this yarn.  I’m really irritated – this skein should not have left the mill! – granted, I have a short fuse these days thanks to sleep deprivation.  If they were my own socks, I’d throw them in a corner and ignore them for 6 months.  No, actually, I’d sigh, cut out the knot, and keep knitting.  But for my friend, who has been an immense help to our family recently, I will problem solve, see if I can resplice with the correct color change.

Also on my plate, almost entirely ignored:

A dishcloth.  The first in a series.  I’ve ordered some awesome colors from Peaches & Creme (their online prices are good; they have ALL the colors; and they ship fast).  This was supposed to be my brainless postpartum knitting but then I didn’t finish my nearly brainless prenatal knitting so here we are.  The eventual plan is to release my notes (one might say “patterns”) on the various dishcloths I’ve been churning out and giving away these past seven years.  Meanwhile, I really need some new dishcloths; mine are falling apart.

Then there was this bit of pretty, started on a whim two days ago.

Just a bit more and it will be finished, whereupon I will reveal to you what it is.

Gardenwatch

I planted peas…. Then came the squirrels, the rain, and the snow.  I think I will be replanting those peas.  I also still need to plant spinach, lettuce, and other spring crops.  Inside, things look a little more promising:

Onions!  Also parsley, monarda, cutting celery, and peppers!  (Shh, the kale and broccoli raab got leggy and need a do-over, oops.)