Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Slow Start

I’ve been making a lot of projects from stash this year. The packing and unpacking that goes along with a move has a way of showcasing the amount of materials one has accumulated over the years. And I’ve accumulated a lot.

As I was organizing my yarn, I kept coming back to three groups of partial skeins: eleven colors of Sublime Yarns Lustrous Extra Fine Merino DK, five of Classic Elite Yarns Moorland, and one of Moda Dea Eclipse (formerly made by Coats). Each yarn has some wool and manufactured fibers such as nylon or acrylic. The Moorland also has alpaca and mohair.

Coordinating Skeins of Wool Blend Yarn

The colors work remarkably well together, considering that they were purchased at different times for different projects. A minor challenge is that Lustrous and Moorland are both DK weight while Eclipse is worsted weight. I used some Eclipse in the original Lustrous project; I know the difference will be noticeable but not off-putting.

Three Yarns Side by Side to Compare Thickness
From left: Moorland, Lustrous and Eclipse are similar in thickness.

After a search on Ravelry, I decided to make #06 Feather and Fan Dress from Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2009. I’m taking a chance with wool blends in a pattern that calls for silk.

By far, the yarn that I have the most of is the green Moorland. I started knitting the bottom of the dress in green, thinking that I would follow it up by also using it at the neckline and for the crochet trim. About a dozen rows in I started to think that because I would be moving from US-7 (4.5 mm) to US-6 (4.0 mm) needles, it would make more sense to start with the thicker Eclipse yarn. I frogged those initial rows.

As I began to reknit the dress, I came across a few broken spots in the skein. I didn’t think too much of them; I simply created joins and kept moving. After I switched to the next color, however, the Eclipse broke as I made a stitch. The Eclipse has been in my stash since 2008. I don’t know if age played into the break but I think it’s possible, as I didn’t see any evidence of bugs or other critters. In retrospect I wonder if I actually dropped a stitch but saw the yarn ends from one of the previous breaks. Not wanting to take any chances, I pulled the stitches off the needles and threw away all of the Eclipse.

Beginning of a Knit Feather and Fan Stitch Dress

I returned to my initial plan of starting with the green Moorland and am about 18 rows into my third attempt at this dress, which is my farthest so far. The bright side of the second attempt is that I had the presence of mind to check the size before I threw away the knitting. The project notes in Ravelry show some people saying the pattern runs large and others saying it runs small. Based on my early results, I think it runs large. I had started making the larger of the two sizes, but am now knitting the smaller size.

Close-Up Photo of Feather and Fan Stitch Dress

Between fewer stitches for the smaller size and staying the course with my latest yarn choices, the project is moving along much more quickly now. I hope that next week I’ll be able to report progress beyond row 18.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

So Many Socks

Last week as I was making a mental tally of projects to start in the near future, I was certain that socks wouldn’t be anywhere on that list. It’s ironic that I’ve spent the past week knitting nothing but socks — twenty-eight socks, to be exact.

Around the new year, I was tired of the self-adhesive felt disks coming off the feet of our dining room chairs. In an effort to find a better way to protect the wood floor, I made a set of chair socks for one chair as a test. Once we knew we were moving, it didn’t make sense to make them for the rest of the chairs until we knew what type of floor our new dining room would have.

Spoiler alert: It’s wood. As is the living room floor.

In time, we plan to put area rugs in the living room and dining room. But area rugs can be pricey; we want to be sure of room colors and furniture arrangements before we make any purchases. In the meantime, we need something to protect to floor from the feet of the pieces that don’t want to play nice with the felt pads.

Knit Chair Sock with Needles and Wool Yarn

I’ve knit socks for six dining room chairs and a sofa, using worsted weight wool yarn on US-5 (3.75 mm) double-point needles. Each sock is a simple K2 P2 rib in the round, with enough stitches to go around the furniture’s leg and enough length to stay put, ending with a decrease row then cinching the remaining stitches. For the last few rounds of each sock, I doubled up the yarn to reinforce the bottom.

Knit Socks on Feet of Sofa

I used yarn from stash remnants rather than buying more yarn, so the colors differ. I took apart the original set of chair socks and reused that yarn for the reinforcement of all of the dining room socks, regardless of sock color. I think it gives them all a consistent look, although that may be wishful thinking!

Knit Socks on Feet of Dining Room Chairs

With this project I was able to protect our floors without spending any extra money, while buying time before making a bigger purchase. I also used up some smaller quantities of stash yarn. It feels good when I am able to make unique items that serve such a practical purpose, but I’m still anxious to move on to the more fun projects on my list.

What sort of practical projects have you made recently?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Second Sock Syndrome

Oh, the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome. It hit me big time with this project.

For readers who are not familiar with Second Sock Syndrome, it’s when you finish knitting one item in a pair then struggle to find the motivation to finish the second item. It can happen with socks, mittens, sleeves — anything that requires a set of two.

Usually, my excitement over finishing a project overrides any lack of excitement I may feel about knitting the exact same thing a second time. And often there are little details that keep me interested, such as color changes or making a mirror image of the first item instead of a duplicate. Maybe there’s a stitch that I struggled with a little on the first go-round, and I’ve come up with a slightly different way to approach it.

With my latest pair of socks, the second sock was finished through sheer stubbornness. May I present to you my completed Jaywalker socks, which I described in my last two posts (see links at the end of this post).

Pair of Hand Knit Purple Jaywalker Socks

This time, Second Sock Syndrome had less to do with the project itself and more to do with the state of my life right now. A lot of my supplies and materials have been packed for about six months in order to minimize clutter while our house was on the market. Many of the items that weren’t packed away were essentially untouchable because we needed to have the house ready for a showing at any given time. Now I’m working on unpacking and organizing everything into our new home.

Every time I open a box, my attention is pulled by another project that I want to make. My thoughts keep returning to the idea that if I make more projects, there will be less to pack the next time we move. Yes, my brain in conveniently forgetting that stash will be replenished and finished projects still take up space.

At this point, most of the boxes are unpacked but few of the items are organized and put away. The available space isn’t necessarily smaller, but it is set up differently which requires a lot of thought to puzzle out how to make everything fit efficiently. In the meantime, I’m adding to my mental list of upcoming projects — and I don’t see socks anywhere on that list.

Have you ever been struck by Second Sock Syndrome? What helps you overcome it?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Jaywalker Socks

Last week, I posted about a new pair of socks that I had started knitting. One sock is now complete.

The yarn is Regia Blitz Color in Colorway 02527. It has been fun to watch the color patterns change as the stitch count varies.

The pattern is Jaywalker by Grumperina. Now that I’m halfway through the project, I understand why this is a popular pattern. It’s easy to remember, and it creates a pretty sock.

For sizing, the pattern suggestion is to choose a circumference that is the same as or smaller than the foot. The smallest size, 76 stitches, is supposed to fit most women’s feet. Even though my foot size fits within the parameters for the smallest size, I chose the next size up, 84 stitches, based on past sock knitting experience. I like the fit of the sock as I knit it; indeed, I think that if I went smaller I would struggle to get the sock past my heel due to the pattern’s lack of stretch.

That said, I understand why Grumperina suggests a tighter fit. The zigzags exert a strong pull on the fabric. I like the effect at the cuff of the sock, which is shifted into its own subtle zigzag. The same effect, however, is also evident along the top of the foot. Between the bend at the ankle and the straight stitches at the toe, those zigzags have nowhere else to go but up in a series of ripples. A tighter fit would pull the zigzags flat against the foot.

If I make these socks again, I'll use a sock yarn that has elastic in it. I think that would achieve the correct fit at 76 stitches while offering enough stretch to get the socks on and off easily.

I haven’t tried the first sock on with shoes yet — I’d rather wait until both socks are complete — but I don’t think the ripples will translate to bunching that makes the socks unwearable. The combination of the cheery colors and the dynamic pattern will definitely make this a pair of socks I wear often, with or without shoes.

On a different note, Tour de Fleece started on this past Saturday. I won’t be participating this year because of the simple fact that I haven’t unpacked my spinning supplies yet. I found the spindles last night, but have yet to locate the fiber. If you're spinning for Tour de Fleece, please share a link to your blog or social media in the comments so we can follow your progress.

I hope you all have a safe and happy 4th of July!