Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Schooner Socks

Who else is ready for spring? This skein of Baah Savannah fingering yarn in the colorway Queen of Roses has been calling to me to brighten these late winter days. Since the yarn is made from 80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon, I expect it to be as strong as it is soft and cozy.

It took me a while to decide on the right project for this yarn. The color differences are so pronounced that I worried about either obvious pooling or impossible-to-see stitches.

After paging through the book “Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn” by Carol Sulcoski, I chose the Schooner Socks pattern by Charlene Schurch. The foot of the sock is basic stockinette stitch. The pattern on the leg incorporates a combination of increases, decreases and bobbles. The bobbles remind me of little flowers; I found myself humming about painting the roses red from “Alice in Wonderland.”

Since starting the socks, I’ve been noticing bobbles on designer knitwear. I’m going to savor this brief moment in time that my knitting taste coincides with a fashion trend!

The timing while working on these socks overlapped with chaperoning a school trip for one of my children. During the 10 hours of student practice time before the main event, I was able to knit about three-quarters of a sock. While I was knitting, I noticed two crocheters in other parts of the room. I ended up spending a good amount of time chatting with one of them while we worked on our projects.

In case you’re wondering, she was making the Josefina and Jeffery Elephant Pillow by Ira Rott for a friend’s child. It looked adorable.

Back to the socks, the pattern was easy to make. Yes, the bobbles took a little extra effort, but they weren’t difficult. According to the instructions, the top three-quarters of the leg should be knit in a needle size larger than the rest of the sock for a better fit between calf and ankle. I used my new knowledge from my last sock project, and knit with US-1 needles in 2.5 mm followed by 2.25 mm. My gauge was a little tighter than the pattern specifications; I followed the 9-inch (about 23 cm) size instructions, which is about 1/2 inch (1.27 cm) larger than my foot measurement, and the socks fit perfectly.

Until the weather warms up and flowers begin to bloom in earnest, I’ll have my own bright rose garden with me whenever I wear these socks.

How do you use your projects to brighten dreary days?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Lining a Knit Bag

Last May, I blogged about a knit skirt that I had converted into a tote bag. I wanted to line the bag but needed to wait until after we moved and I had my sewing area set up again.

Felted Knit Wool Tote Bag

This week, I pulled some quilting cotton from my stash and set to work making a lining for the bag. The fabric has a yellow background with a delicate blue-violet batik leaf print. The light background should make it easier for me to find items that fall to the bottom of the bag, and the print complements the denim blue of the bag exterior.

The opening at the top of the tote bag is about 30 inches (76 cm) in circumference. The bag is about 14 inches (35.6 cm) tall, with a base that is about three inches (7.6 cm) deep. Between the depth from the base and sides that flare toward bottom, the circumference at the base is around 42 inches (106.7 cm).

The shape of the lining needed to reflect the shape of the tote bag, so stitching together two simple rectangles wasn’t an option. Visualizing then mapping out the three-dimensional trapezoid/triangle combination took more time than I expected!

Zipper Pocket in the Woven Cotton Lining of a Felted Knit Wool Tote Bag

I wanted to add some pockets to the lining for better organization. On one side, I sewed on an open pocket that is about seven inches (17.8 cm) square. On the other side, I inserted a seven-inch (17.8 cm) zipper over a pocket that is about six inches (15 cm) tall and eight inches (20 cm) wide.

Heat Resistant Hot Ruler

A new-to-me tool that I found very helpful was my hot ruler, which is a small heat-resistant ruler. (No affiliation.) I was able to fold the seam allowances for the zipper opening and pockets over the ruler, aligning the fabric edges with the correct measurements. After an initial press, I removed the ruler and pressed one more time to be sure that I had a crisp fold. Pressing those seam allowances down made it easy to sew them in place.

Sewing the lining into the bag was a challenge. I wanted to attach the lining just below the top ribbing, but the felting made it difficult to tell exactly where that was as I was maneuvering the bag and lining under the sewing machine’s presser foot. In addition, the wool wanted to stretch and move whereas the woven cotton lining did not. In the end, close enough was good enough.

Top View Looking into Lined Felted Wool Tote Bag

The tote bag is too large for daily use. However, it will be excellent for those times when I want to carry a little extra in a bag that looks nicer than a standard canvas tote bag. I have a few occasions in mind already!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Lesson in Measurements

I was excited to write about a pair of socks that I just finished knitting, but I’ve discovered a mistake. I’m tempted to call it a “rookie mistake,” but that may be too harsh. It’s more of a communication mistake.

I’ll start with the yarn. I was gifted a skein of Zen Yarn Garden Serenity Glitter Sock in the colorway Ooak Armada. The yarn is an amazingly soft and springy blend of 80% merino wool, 10% cashmere and 10% metallic fibers. The color could probably be best described as a rusty lead pipe with flecks of glitter, and I don’t think there’s a colorway that suits me more.

Skein of Zen Yarn Garden Serenity Glitter Sock in the colorway Ooak Armada

I was also gifted a set of Skacel Addi FlexiFlips, which are a new line of knitting needles that are a cross between double points and circulars. They come in a set of three, perfect for knitting smaller items in the round. I’ve heard other knitters say it took them a while to adjust to these needles, but they felt comfortable to me right away.

A Set of Skacel Addi FlexiFlips Knitting Needles

In addition, I received some Miss Babs Mood Bead Stitch Markers. Do you remember mood rings, which changed color depending on the heat of your hand? That's what these are, but in stitch marker form. How fun is that?

Three Sets of Miss Bags Mood Bead Stitch Markers for Knitting

I chose the pattern Small Capitals from the book “Sensational Knitted Socks” by Charlene Schurch — my go-to sock pattern source. Bringing these together should have been a perfect storm of happy, indulgent knitting.

Partway through, I started to have my usual FORO (Fear Of Running Out). Because this pattern happens to be constructed from the toe upward and the yarn doesn’t have a noticeable color repeat, I pulled the yarn end from the center of the ball and started knitting the second sock on another set of needles. By knitting both socks at the same time, it was easier to see how much yarn remained as I knit the leg of each sock.

Can you see where this is going? Both sets of needles are labeled as US-1. I didn’t swatch again because the needles are the same size.

Except they’re not the same size.

The second set of needles are the standard 2.25 mm but the FlexiFlips are 2.5 mm. By rights, the FlexiFlips should be labeled as US-1.5.

Hand Knit Sock on Foot

I finished knitting the socks, noting only that the stitches seemed a little tighter on one sock as I wove the ends. Then I tried the socks on and noticed that they felt a little different. Upon closer inspection, they also looked a little different.

The socks are definitely different. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more in favor of the metric system.

Casual Pose of Feet Wearing Hand Knit Socks

I was able to shrink the larger sock somewhat with a spin through the dryer. While I already have a couple sets of 2.25 mm knitting needles, this is my first set of 2.5 mm needles. And I am now more keenly aware of the variations in US knitting needle sizing conventions so I can avoid mistakes like this in the future.

Have you ever been snagged by an unexpected US/metric conversion?

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Handspun Malabrigo Nube Roving

One fun aspect of writing this blog is revisiting the origins of older projects. It’s a joy to rediscover details that I had all but forgotten over the years.

For Mother’s Day in 2014, one of the gifts from my husband was four ounces (about 113 grams) of Malabrigo Nube 100% merino wool roving in the colorway Cereza 33. The cherry reds in Cereza range from a light pinkish-gray to a deep red-black.

With my most recent spinning projects, my default thickness has been yielding a two-ply fingering weight yarn. I’ve noticed those same projects are often overspun, giving them a tight rope-like feel. I think this is due, in part, to fear that such thin yarn will break if I don’t add plenty of twist.

When I started finally spinning my Malabrigo Nube a few weeks ago, I challenged myself to spin thicker singles with less twist. There is definitely some variation in the size of each strand, but the final two-ply yarn is a lofty and relatively consistent bulky weight.

You may notice different color variations between the skeins. The roving was thick; sometimes I pulled long strips of fiber from the length and other times I pulled clumps across the end. The strips kept the original color variations intact, while the clumps blended the shades for a more even midtone yarn.

The fiber for the skein in front was pulled from the length of the roving. The fiber for the skein just behind it was pulled in clumps.

As I was preparing to write this post, I pulled up various pages on my Ravelry profile to collect details about the fiber. Lo and behold, I really began spinning it in 2016 during Tour de Fleece! Sure enough, I found one more skein of yarn in a cabinet. Surprisingly, it’s the same weight as the yarn I just finished spinning.

If I hadn’t been writing this blog post, would I have noticed the old skein of yarn before making something from the new skeins? Probably not.

Cheers to the joy of rediscovery!