Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Knitting Socks with Planning and Experience

Arriving at our new home last week was only the first hurdle. We spent a week in the house with only the items we packed in the car — yes, we planned ahead by including sleeping bags and pillows. Our furniture and the rest of our belongings made it here a few days ago. We’re thrilled to be sleeping in beds and sitting on chairs again! The unpacking and reorganizing has been progressing more quickly and smoothly than we expected, but it’s still mentally and physically tiring.

Needless to say, the main living spaces have been our top priority. My shelves and sewing table have been set up, but they’re still surrounded by sealed boxes and will likely remain that way for at least a few more days.

I planned ahead for this situation also — sort of. In our road trip bags, I packed yarn and needles for two pairs of socks. I didn’t pack any patterns; I was hoping I could find something online that would work.

I also didn’t check my gauge before starting. The two yarns that I packed are both fingering weight by Regia, which I’ve used before with US-1/2.25 mm needles. I know from past projects that socks with about 80–85 stitches per round on US-1 needles typically fit my feet well.

With that information in mind, I searched Ravelry for a sock pattern. One of the first to come up that I already had in my pattern library was Jaywalker by Grumperina. This pattern came out more than ten years ago and was one of those must-knit patterns at the time. Somehow I never got around to knitting it.

Of the two yarns I packed, I decided to use Regia Blitz Color in colorway 02527, which is a bright purple with short stretches of red, orange, yellow, and a deeper purple. I cast on for the 9” size, which calls for 84 stitches. The ball band photo shows a very regular self-striping effect; I knew the variation in the pattern could change that, but I hoped the zigzagging stitches would still be apparent.

Purple Hand Knit Socks in Progress with Regia Yarn

I’m so happy with this combination of pattern and yarn. I like the way the colors form loose stripes, sometimes pooling and sometimes not, showcasing the zigzags either way. I like that the zigzags are strong enough to make the ribbing on the leg shift along with them just enough to be noticeable. I love the diagonal and vertical stripes that formed on the heel; I can’t wait to see if the same pattern emerges on the second sock.

The sock fits perfectly. Although I was quite confident they would, there was that little part of my brain that kept reminding me that I didn’t knit a gauge swatch. Sometimes experience pays off!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Moving & Making

The past week has been a crazy one, filled with unexpected challenges as we packed and loaded everything from one house then drove across the country to our new home. Our furniture and most of our belongings aren’t here yet, but our family is together again and we’re working on settling in.

With just about 2,500 miles to travel and an estimated drive time of around 34 hours (completed in 60 hours), I had some projects ready to keep my hands busy when it was my turn to be a passenger.

The first project I planned for was the free Infinity Houndstooth Scarf pattern by Kathy Lashley. The pattern calls for two skeins of Aran weight yarn, one each in black and white, and a US-I (5.5 mm) crochet hook. I packed Patons North America Classic Wool Worsted in 202 Aran and 226 Black. My US-I hook is 5.25 mm so I opted for my US-J (5.75 mm) hook instead.

The pattern was perfect for a road trip. It’s essentially alternating two stitches throughout while switching colors after each row. It was easy to work by feel while enjoying the scenery and talking. Some of the reviews on Ravelry said the project is quick, while other said it takes a long time; I finished it within 48 hours. I connected the ends with a single twist for a Moebius cowl that I look forward to wearing this autumn.

Crocheted Wool Houndstooth Moebius Cowl

Next up was some mending. One of my go-to pairs of jeans developed a hole above the knee shortly before we moved. I couldn’t iron on a patch because my iron was already packed, but I had some denim scraps, thread, and a hand needle available for a more traditional patch.

Jeans with Hole and Mending Supplies

This project took a little more concentration, but was ideal for a stretch when we were stuck in barely moving traffic. I had a plan in mind initially, then a new plan, and ended up basically doodling with thread. Doodle interpretations are probably not very reliable, but I had time so I looked mine up. The circles represent a need to find unity and peace, while the zigzags represent a desire to get on with things. That sounds about right!

Thread Doodling to Mend Hole in Jeans

And, finally, just before we left we made a trip to a bookstore because books are good for any occasion. I found the book New Tatting by Tomoko Morimoto. I’ve never tatted before, but it seems like it would be ideal while travelling because it would take up so little space; all that’s needed is thread, a shuttle, and scissors. The projects in the book are beautifully photographed, and the instructions seem simple enough. I’m trying to resist buying thread because I know I have a lot on the moving truck, but I already picked up a shuttle so I’ll be ready to go once we’re unpacked.

New Tatting Book by Tomoko Morimoto and Shuttle

What are your favorite travel projects?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Completed Chromatic

Our moving day is almost here. I’m sharing this week’s blog post a little early because our internet service will be turned off by my usual Tuesday morning posting time.

Two weeks ago, I posted about knitting a sweater. I had eight skeins of Cascade Yarns Cascade 220® Fingering in various colors, and had started on the Chromatic pattern by Tin Can Knits.

I’m happy to say that the sweater is now complete. After some early questioning of so many colors, I think the combination worked well.

Folded Colorful Knit Chromatic Sweater Before Blocking
Chromatic, prior to blocking.

My initial impression of the pattern was that it was easy to follow and knit up quickly, and that impression did not change. This is a pattern that I would knit again.

Colorful Knit Chromatic Sweater Front View

The instructions are to aggressively block the sweater, and aggressive is right! I tried it on straight from the needles and it hugged every curve to the point that I was considering whether it should go to our 13-year-old or 11-year-old. After aggressively blocking the sweater, the fit is much better on me although not perfect.

Based on my measurements and how I wanted the sweater to fit, my size was between ML and L. Considering my gauge, the amount of yarn I had available and how I wanted the colors to stripe, I opted for the ML but went up one needle size. Normally, I would have lengthened the body of the sweater, but I was afraid of running out of the black and gray yarns. I went as long as I dared, and barely made it with the black yarn. On the next go-roundfor myself, I’ll either make the L or lengthen the body of the sweater. Possibly both.

Colorful Knit Chromatic Sweater Back View

The sweater is already packed as I type. My next post will be made from our new home across the country. The past few weeks — OK, months — have been crazy, and I expect the next few weeks will be as well. Here’s to colorful new beginnings!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Bobbin Lace Revisited

Our moving day is almost upon us. This spring, I wrote about discovering, and subsequently finishing, a forgotten bookmark project on my bobbin lace pillow. Once again, I found a partially finished project pinned down. Knowing that packing up the pillow would leave the bobbins a tangled mess, I felt compelled to finish this bookmark as well.

Beginning of Torchon Lace Bookmark on Bobbin Lace Pillow

The pattern is the same Half-Stitch Rose Ground bookmark, but this time I used brighter colors. For a smooth edge at the beginning of the bookmark, I wanted to work from the center point of the thread between two bobbins rather than knotting individual bobbins of thread together. I experimented with this once before and the result was successful despite the fact that I was told I guessed wrong on how to do it. This time I guessed differently.

Close Up of Torchon Lace Bookmark in Progress on Bobbin Lace Pillow

And this time I most definitely guessed wrong. When I took the pins out of the bookmark, the beginning edge was a series of loose loops. Running a single strand of one of the threads through the loops secured the edge to solve that dilemma. I need to look up the correct way to make a smooth beginning edge before I make my next bookmark.

Torchon Bobbin Lace Bookmark with Fringe

The greater dilemma is my apparent inability to master this basic stitch. You’ll notice in the above photo that the color pattern in the two “roses” on the left is very different from that of the three on the right. They should all be the same because the pairs of colors should be moving in a consistent pattern. I can’t see any glaring mistakes in the stitches, but I can feel a texture difference between the two sections. The left is bumpier than the right, which makes me think the problem is in the first section somewhere. On a positive note, that means that my most recent lace work was correct.

Torchon Bobbin Lae Bookmark on Hardcover Book

I’ll revisit this pattern again sometime soon. For now, I’m stepping away from the bobbin lace pillow. I don’t want any more difficult-to-pack projects sneaking up on me before we move.