Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Socks for All

I’m happily wearing a freshly knit pair of socks today. The pastel socks that I’ve written about over the last two weeks are done!

Pink and Multi-Colored Pastel Hand Knit Socks on Feet

They fit perfectly and make me smile when I see them. It was an enjoyable and relaxing project, which was exactly what I needed for this busy time of year.

I also started another quick project this week:

A Set of Four Green Wool Hand Knit Chair Socks

Seeing the pieces like that makes me giggle. Can you guess what they are?

Our dining room has a wooden floor, so we have self-adhesive felt disks on the feet of the chairs. With one chair in particular, the disks continually come off. Tired of the hassle, I made a set of chair socks!

A Set of Green Hand Knit Socks on a Chair

Most patterns that you can find online call for chair socks to be only about three inches long, but the feet on our chairs have wide shapes that are a little trickier to fit. The socks for the narrower back feet are about 4.5 inches long, while the bulkier front feet needed socks that are about 5 1/2 inches long. I used some wool from my stash, Full o’ Sheep from Stitch Nation by Debbie Stoller in the colorway Meadow (now discontinued), on US-5 (3.75 mm) double point needles. Each sock is a simple K2, P2 rib worked in the round with enough stitches to snugly fit on the chair legs.

Top View of Socks on Back Legs of Dining Chair

So far, the chair socks are doing the trick; they’re staying on and preventing the floor from being scuffed. Although it was a quick project for one chair, I want to give it a few weeks before I decide whether to make socks for the other five dining room chairs. I want to be sure that the yarn holds up relatively well so knitting chair socks doesn’t become my new ongoing hassle.

I wish you all a safe and happy New Year. Here's to a wonderful 2017!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Warm Socks, Warm Heart

I was expecting to write about the progress I made at Quilt Night, hand-stitching the binding onto my queen-sized quilt, but the weather delayed us again. We didn’t have freezing rain this time, but there was enough ice already on the roads to make driving treacherous. We’ve rescheduled our holiday-themed get-together for well into January.

Meanwhile, I have been working slowly on the binding at home. I’m about a quarter of the way around the quilt. It feels good to make progress, but it doesn’t make for exciting photos or blog posts.

In Progress Binding a Quilt

I’ve also been making headway on the pastel-colored socks that I started last week. The first sock is complete and I’m on to sock number two! The pattern is simple, which makes for quick knitting and generally error-free progress. And after all of the back-and-forth on colors last week, I’m still happy with my decision for the final color combination.

Pink Knit Sock on Foot with Knitting in Background

If you look closely, you may notice that the pink yarn has more of a texture to it than the multi-colored yarn does. In 2009, I used the pink yarn to make socks for my daughter.

Pink Hand Knit Lace Socks on the Feet of a Child

By 2013, the socks were outgrown but the yarn was still in excellent shape, so I frogged the socks to reuse the yarn — and this is that yarn. Despite a few good soaks, it’s still holding some of the shape from the previous stitches. The color has also dulled a bit with use and washing.

The history of the pink yarn makes the new socks a little extra-special for me. I’ll remember the yarn on those little feet every time I wear the socks.

I hope you all have a warm and wonderful holiday season!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Change of Plans

Last week was busy, with a lot of time spent in front of the computer. That translated to not a lot of time hand-stitching; my eyes can’t handle that much concentrated work. I was counting on getting a lot of the binding done on my quilt at Quilt Night, but the weather had other plans. Freezing rain moved our get-together to this coming Friday instead.

That change led to another change, and I decided to start a knitting project. For the most part, knitting doesn’t require as much from my eyes as hand-stitching does. And I recently came across some yarn in my stash that's been calling my name ever since.

Four skeins of wool sock yarn on a white background: yellow, pink, multi-colored pastel, and ivory.

I love this combination of yarn colors. The yellow is Cascade Yarns Cascade 220 Fingering in 7827 Goldenrod, the pink is Shibui Knits Sock in 1765 Blossom, and the white is Heart & Sole with Aloe by Red Heart in 3115 Ivory. The mutli-colored yarn — the yarn that I couldn’t get out of my head once I rediscovered it — is Anne by Schaefer Yarn Company, although the label is long gone so I don’t know the colorway. I envisioned the colors coming together playfully.

My first thought was to make socks, but the light colors gave me pause. There’s so much potential for socks to get dirty! My next thought was gloves or mittens, but I would end up with the same problem of the light colors showing dirt. I toyed with a few other ideas and ultimately came back to the socks.

I wanted to keep it simple, so I started knitting the socks with a basic horizontal stripe, alternating colors every two rows. The yellow, which I thought would add a bright pop of color, became very mustard-like in the knitting; it was surprising how much the yellow dulled down the whole project and sucked out the playfulness. Once again, I was so intent on moving on that I forgot to take a picture to share; I need to remember to do that more often!

Hand knit socks in progress with multi-colored pastel wool yarn on bamboo double point needles in front of a white background.

Time for yet another change; I frogged the sock and started over with just two yarns. The pink will be the cuff, heel and toe of the sock, and the multicolored yarn will be the leg and the foot. The pattern is Garter Rib by Charlene Schurch in the book “Sensational Knitted Socks.”

I haven’t gotten very far yet after all of those changes, but I’m happy with this combination. I’m excited to see how the socks turn out!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Quilts and Tree Skirts

This week, I have been busy hand-quilting the queen-sized quilt that I’ve mentioned before. The binding is machine-stitched on, and I hope to finish hand-stitching the other side of the binding at Quilt Night this Friday. No pictures for now because there should be a "ta-da" post very soon!

Handquilting hasn’t been my only project this week, but the other project comes with a backstory.

Years ago, I sewed a tree skirt for our Christmas tree. At the time, we had a hand-me-down tree stand for a real tree, and I made the skirt to fit over that stand. A year later, the stand decided it didn’t want to hold trees upright any longer. The new tree stand was taller to give the tree more support; it pulled the original tree skirt up so high that there wasn’t much “skirt” left so I made another one in a different pattern. A few years later, as the price of real trees skyrocketed in our area, we switched to an artificial tree and I made our third tree skirt. The pattern is an adapted version of Crazy Heart Tree Skirt from the book “Merry Christmas Quilts.” (I'm not affiliated with any companies linked in this post, by the way.)

Top view of crazy quilt tree skirt with green print center and red-outlined light gold print hearts on a light wood background.

The stand for the artificial tree has a motor inside for some subtle fiber optics, which means that the tree skirt cannot cover the stand due to the risk of fire. After making so many tree skirts I was happy to finally make one that would fit any tree and stand combination; the current tree skirt doesn’t have a hole in the middle and it sits under the tree stand.

Detail of hand embroidery on crazy quilt tree skirt with light gold prints and red edging on a light wood background.

As our children were born, I embroidered each of their names by hand onto the tree skirt. Last year, I decided that my name and my husband’s name should be on there as well. This week, I hand-stitched our names. Now it's truly ready to go under the tree.

Elephant Abstractions quilt pattern on a white background.

I also picked up a new quilting pattern recently. My husband is a big fan of University of Alabama football, whose mascot is an elephant. I couldn’t resist the Elephant Abstractions quilt pattern by Violet Craft.

Next up will be searching out just the right gray fabrics. I also have a fun idea for another version of this quilt, but I’ll need to get through it once first before I commit to a second round.

Frayed red baseball cap with the words "Makers Gonna Make" on the front surrounded by sparkles.

As a final note, I was at a holiday market this weekend and this baseball cap made me smile. I love the contrast of the frayed hat and the bling inside the oval. This could almost turn me into a hat person!