Sunday, May 31, 2020

Braided Gem Socks

Once again, I have a project to share but not much to say.

Casually posed feet wearing hand knit wool socks in shades of gray with spots of purple against a white background.

The yarn is new to me: Wonderland Yarns & Frabjous Fibers Mary Ann in colorway 299 Moonbeams. It’s a soft yarn with a little bit of fuzziness that I hope won’t pill. The hand-dyed colors are gorgeous splashes of purples, blues and pinks against shades of gray. I had absolutely no problems with pooling.

Toes of feet wearing hand knit wool socks in shades of gray with spots of purple against a white background.

The pattern is Braided Gem Socks by Elizabeth Ravenwood, from the book “Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn” by Carol Sulcoski. It’s easy to understand and I memorized the pattern repeat early on, but I had a few issues with the stitch count when I reached the toes. I’m not sure whether the fault lies with me or the pattern, but I was able to make it work without much effort so it wouldn’t prevent me from knitting the pattern again.

Temperatures here are now consistently high enough that my toenails are painted and my sandals are seeing regular use. But there’s still so much going on in the world right now that I’m continuing to use sock knitting as a form of therapeutic stress relief. At this rate, I’ll have a lot of happy surprises when I revisit my sock drawer in the fall.

Take care out there.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Baby Cable Rib Socks

I don’t have much to say right now except that knitting socks really soothes my nerves.

Feet in a casual pose against a white background, wearing hand knit multi-colored socks with a subtle cable rib pattern.

With a skein of Dream in Color Smooshy in the colorway 901 Cabaret, I knit the Baby Cable Rib pattern by Charlene Schurch in her book “Sensational Knitted Socks.”

Close-up of the cuffs and legs on a pair of hand knit multi-colored socks with a subtle cable rib pattern against a white background.

The stitch pattern was easy to remember. I’ve worked with Smooshy before and still love that the texture is true to the name. It was fun to see how the hand-dyed colors played out in the knitting.

Close-up of the toes and feet on a pair of hand knit multi-colored socks with a subtle cable rib pattern against a white background.

I have plans for at least two more pairs of socks in the near future. It’s not the most practical project choice considering we’ve already had temperatures in the 90s F (30s C), but they’ll get plenty of wear in time.

For now, they’re excellent therapy.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Springtime Table Runner

It’s been a long couple of months, hasn’t it?

With our lives in such a strange state of upheaval and sameness, my mental energy seems to be constantly changing. I move from one thing to another as my attention span and brain power allow.

I had been wanting to do some sewing, but I just wanted to sew. I pulled out a set of five quilt block kits from a long-ago quilt shop hop. I think I was supposed to end up with enough blocks to make a full quilt; clearly, I didn’t do quite enough hopping.

A neatly folded quilted table runner made from pastel floral cotton fabrics, resting dark wood.

Each kit included instructions and enough fabric to make a twelve-inch finished block. The fabrics were all from the same line and were pre-cut into strips. I was disappointed to learn that some of the strips were short or crooked, which left me with some pieces that were a little shy of the sizes they needed to be.

Four of the patterns were straightforward. The fifth, however, spanned multiple pages and required cutting out templates that were printed onto the backs of the instructions — at the time, I'm sure that shop would have been more than happy to sell me a set of templates to simplify the process.

I sewed the first four blocks together, and decided the fabric for the fifth block would be better used elsewhere. Because the fabric pieces weren’t cut precisely, the blocks ended up a little wavy and uneven.

After running through a few different ideas for what to make with the blocks, I decided on a table runner. In my stash, I found an off-white for the sashing and border, and a delicate flower bud print for the backing. There was just enough fabric from that fifth block to make a scrappy binding.

Loosely folded quilted table runner made from pastel floral cotton fabrics, resting on dark wood.

As far as the quilting, I wanted to stay in my comfort zone with simple straight lines but three of the blocks were made on a 6x6 grid while the fourth was made on an 8x8 grid. I could sew around the edges of the blocks or through their middles, but beyond that I wouldn’t be able to keep the quilting lines evenly spaced while also aligning with the block patterns.

I devised a pattern of diagonals that worked with the 6x6 grids and overlapped onto the 8x8 grid. Some areas have diagonals going in the same direction, some areas have diagonals crossing in opposite directions, and one section on the 8x8 grid ended up with no quilting. I quilted a series of horizontal lines (or vertical lines, depending on how you look at it) in that area. I like the result; it’s a sort of irregular regularity that works well with my current state of mind!

As is every quilter’s dream, the waves in the blocks have quilted out. The table runner a nice spot of brightness and cheer in these days that somewhat run together. Now that learn-from-home is done for this school year, I’m looking forward to this table runner replacing notebooks and computers on the dining room table.