Monday, September 9, 2019

Open Twisted Ribbing Socks

I think my tastes are changing. For years, socks have been my favorite knitting project. No matter what else I was working on, I always had a pair of socks on the needles. It might take me as little as two days or as much as two weeks to knit a pair of socks.

The pair I just completed took a month. And that required a lot of willpower.

Feet standing casually wearing socks knit in autumn colors on a white background.

It’s possible that the yarn wasn’t holding my interest. It’s Berroco Sox Metallic in colorway 1375, which is a self-striping wool and nylon blend in orange, green, brown, and purple with flecks of metallic gold.

The yarn itself is fine. In fact, I used it to knit a pair of socks for my children about ten years ago. The socks were outgrown long before they showed any signs of wearing out, so I had frogged them and set aside the yarn to reuse.

I think my original plan was to reuse the same stitch pattern — Little Shell Rib by Charlene Schurch in her book “Sensational Knitted Socks” — but somehow that idea didn’t make it to casting on. Instead, I chose the Open Twisted Ribbing pattern by Charlene Schurch in her book “More Sensational Knitted Socks.”

Feet wearing wool socks knit in autumn colors on a white background.

Working top down, the instructions for the heel turn came out noticeably off-center. I adjusted the stitches to center them, and then my stitch count on the sole was off by one stitch. I preferred the one-stitch difference, so I kept my adjustments to the heel turn.

When picking up the stitches along the side of the heel flap, I used the “Perfect Pick-Up” technique that I learned and shared last month. With that last pair of socks, knit stitches made up both edges of the heel flap and I found the technique to be easy and pretty. With this pair, the edges are garter stitch; it was more difficult for me to pick up the correct stitches, and it didn’t turn out quite so pretty on one sock.

Otherwise, the pattern was easy to memorize and to knit. I really like that the stitch pattern creates strong vertical lines in contrast to the horizontal stripes of color.

So why didn’t this project hold my interest? Maybe it was because I already made a pair of socks with this yarn. The colors are ideal for autumn, but maybe they don’t hold the same appeal ten years later. Or maybe — gasp! — I’m losing interest in knitting socks.

With more than 25 pairs of hand knit socks in my drawer, time is on my side until the desire to knit a pair of socks strikes again.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Teal T-Shirt Pillow

Over the summer, we’ve been slowly going through our youngest’s clothes to determine what still fits and what doesn’t. We have a 13-gallon (50 liter) trash bag full of items that are ready to be donated.

As the one who receives all of the hand-me downs, many of the items aren’t to our daughter’s taste; it’s almost a relief to have them no longer taking up drawer space. And, of course, there are some pieces with designs that are too childish for her now. But a few still hold some appeal, if only they were her size.

Detail of teal t-shirt throw pillow with sequins set in horizontal stripes on a white background.

I set aside a few tops to upcycle. Since my sewing background is mainly in quilting, you’d probably expect a memory quilt. While she likes the shirts, they’re not quite at the level of holding special memories.

They are, however, strong enough designs in their own right to become stand-alone projects.

T-Shirt to Pillow

First up was a long-sleeved T-shirt with sequins set in horizontal stripes across the front. It really wanted to become a throw pillow.

Teal t-shirt throw pillow with sequins set in horizontal stripes, on a white background.

I cut the shirt along the seams, then ironed 13-inch (33 cm) squares of non-woven fusible interfacing to the wrong sides of the front and back shirt pieces. After cutting the shirt pieces down to the size of the interfacing, I marked the corners to make them rounded.

With right sides together, I machine-sewed most of the perimeter with a 1/2-inch (1 cm) seam allowance. I left about 5 inches (13 cm) unsewn on one side, to turn the pillow right-side out and insert a 12-inch (30.5 cm) pillow form, then closed the opening with a hand-sewn ladder stitch.

The entire project took no more than two hours — most of that was spent steaming the interfacing onto the fabric. I’m looking forward to making similar projects from the other saved T-shirts.

What I'm not looking forward to is phase two in my daughter’s room: going through the old toys.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Live Oak Shawlette


A friend once told me that their team motto at work is simply the word pivot. They even had t-shirts made up with this verb that means to turn around a central point. They have one primary goal in their department, but they often find themselves taking that goal in different directions.

I was reminded of her story as I worked on my most recent project.

Details of wool hand knit lace shawl edge in gray with colorful flecks on dark wood.

In the spring, I bought a skein of Skinny Singles by Hedgehog Fibres in the colorway Juniper. I was so taken by the overall look — gray speckled with an assortment of bright colors — that I missed that little detail about the singles construction.

I was all set to cast on for a pair of socks when I realized my oversight. Singles yarns aren’t as durable as plied yarns, and therefore not ideal for the abuse that socks need to be able to withstand.

It was time to pivot.

After going through my pattern library, I decided to make the Live Oak Shawlette by Romi Hill. It seemed to have just the right balance of simplicity and detail to play well with my flecked yarn.

Details of wool hand knit lace shawlette edge in gray with colorful flecks on dark wood.

The cast-on was new to me, but overall the pattern is simple and straightforward. I thoroughly enjoyed knitting this shawlette, watching the colors come together as the center stockinette took the shape of a semicircle while the outer lace moved the design into straight lines and angles.

Although I’ve made plenty of scarves, I rarely make shawls. When I wear one, I feel like I may as well be wrapped in a blanket. But at about 40 inches across (102 cm) and 13 inches high (33 cm), this shawlette feels more like a playful scarf. (And the pattern includes instructions for a larger version, for those of you who prefer a full shawl.)

Wool hand knit lace scarf in gray with colorful flecks draped on a metal ladder in front of a blue wall.

This is one pivot that I’m glad I made.

How have your unexpected turns worked out recently?