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Monday, October 30, 2006

As Socktoberfest comes to a close...

You may have noticed that I haven't been around much. There's a few reasons for this... the most annoying is the lack of daylight hours I get to take photos at the moment. In the summer, when daylight was in abundence, I was happy to update post-work with pictures taken in the last few rays. But the winter leads to sad flash-ridden images like those you'll see today.

Secondly, I spent one of my two absent weeks on a press trip to Florida. I had planned to take some knitting with me, so I packed the following:

It was my latest hand dyed Opal, in what I had chosen to call the Socktoberfest colourway. It was supposed to be spicy and autumnal - the sweet orange glow of ripening pumpkins, the mossy green underfoot, the crisp red of turning maple leaves... very romantic.

I packed it into my bag along with my new Brittany DPNs and set off to Florida.

Anyone who has used these needles will see the error of my ways. You do not 'pack' Brittany DPNs. You carry them in a protective case. One had been destroyed before I made it to the airport. A second one was crushed by maid service. So I had to give up knitting in Florida, which was a shame as I had big plans for this yarn. Upon returning home, it has started to realise its potential:

Finally, a successful pair of Jaywalkers. This is my third attempt - one pair were giant, the others fell victim to my drinking. I see how poeple became addicted to this pattern.... it is a simple pleasure to knit. And those stripes came out pretty well, didn't they? These socks are paused at the moment to see if I can find some contrasting yarn to do heels and toes with. I'd like to make them very long. They're a gift - start Christmas knitting early!

And now for some true sock porn...

Norwegian Stockings. Yum.

I really wanted to show these off in some excellent pics but a busy schedule and unpleasant weather means that I just haven't had a chance. So you'll have to see the down and dirty shots of these beautiful socks...

Pattern: Norwegian Stockings from Folk Socks by Nancy Bush
Yarn: 4-ply wool/acrylic from many years ago
Needles: Trusty old 3.25mm DPNs from a charity shop
Time taken: About 1 week of on/off knitting per sock

Modifications: Not many. As you can see, I opted for a slightly shorter pair than those in the book. I only cut out a single pattern repeat in the leg but regret doing so. I ended up having loads of wool left - I could have made them in to thigh highs if I'd wanted. Mine reach the chunkiest bit of my calf. I also swapped the patterned toe for a pink one to speed things up.

I love these socks and they are toasty warm. They were my first proper fair isle project and deliciously simple. Go forth and knit yourselves a pair!


That's a just plain bad picture, but Widdershins are almost done too. This is a pattern I will use over and over again. I probably won't photograph them completed, as they too are a Christmas gift, but you can tell they're fairly lovely.

I used the sewn cast-off from EZ's Knitting Without Tears on the first one and it is a revelation - a stretchy, simple bind off. Another technique that I'll hold on to.

Now, let's do a Christmas to-knit list. I intend to make:

* 3 hats, for the men of the family
* Ysolda's cloud bolero for my sister
* More socks
* Something for Danny - he hinted at a jumper so I might try a bottom-up raglan for him

Actually, that list isn't too daunting.

Kelly [ 9:37 PM ]

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Different strokes for different folks...

Having taken a vow not to blog about single socks in the hope it'll lead to more pairs, I thought I'd instead blog about a couple of books that recently joined my book shelf - both of great merit, but for very different reasons...

Let me start with Greetings from Knit Cafe. Suzan Mischer might be the luckiest woman in the world, having made a livelihood for herself owning a beautiful cafe filled to the brim with knitters and their wares. The smug moo cow (in the nicest way) has decided to put together a book for those of us whose serene knitting stretches to a whole end of the couch, but only if the cats permit.

Valerie Pearson's photography brings the book to life - a magical world where giant alpaca stockinette shawls are appealing, affordable AND practical... and where we have the figure to pull of a lacy knitted mini dress without looking like a Greenpeace rescue mission. Actually, that makes me sound bitter.

It's a beautiful book, full of slightly quirky, if impractical, patterns, helpful anecdotes and a couple of killer recipes for things that'll make your stint into wearing a figure hugging knitted dress even less successful. None of the patterns jump out at me but they're thirty basic patterns that could help the novice knitter in a jam. But it gets me in the mood for knitting, a familiar yearning for soft silk sliding through my fingers and neat rows of multi-coloured ordered stitches...

Is it getting hot in here?

On to Knitting Without Tears. I have been lurking over at Zimmermania to see what all the fuss is about. How can this woman lead so many?

The answer is simple. She needs no lavish photography, soft focus lighting and mindless pondering over fringing. She has the skills to pay the bills - no nonsense, friendly, slightly sassy advice on how to turn out just about any knitted project you could want in a single slender volume. I am intrigued by the prospect of knitting a seamless bottom-up raglan and as soon as this ridiculous sock obsession called Socktoberfest subsides, I'll have one on the needles.

As I become more confident with my knitting, I think I begin to subscribe to Zimmerman's stitching ethos - god quality materials, a dose of common sense and confidence that you can fix most things. Yarn does not have a self-destruct mechanism.

So, two welcome additions to my groaning book shelf.

And I broke the yarn diet again today.

Two skeins of undyed Opal that'll be hitting the Kool Aid vats before this weekend is through. I was on the look out for some particular sock yarn but no one has gotten their rears in gear to create it yet. So it's up to me. The socks themselves will be Christmas presents, so I don't feel too bad about the purchase.

Also, many people have had great things to say about Brittany's birch DPNs and with the sock knitting frenzy that's going on here, I might need something to soften the blow on my delicate hands. Plus, I can probably sneak these onto a plane...

In other sock kit, I have ordered a 12" Addi turbo as well. I am not sure if I'll manage to use it but lots of people have had good things to say about them. My in-car knitting has been thwarted by the difficulty of watching stitches disappear off the end of the needle. Let's hope this will become a thing of the past.

Kelly [ 9:41 PM ]

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A little Socktoberfest meme that everyone else on my blog roll has done...

When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?

I learned all by myself, thanks to a handy leaflet with my 'How 2 Knit Socks' kit fromThe Woolly Workshop. I had put off doing it for some time - I had heard one heel-turning horror story too many and thought I'd never manage it.

What was your first pair? How have they "held up" over time?


They haven't actually changed much to be honest. I love to wear them to pad around the house but also like wearing them at work, with no shoes, waiting for someone to ask where or why I got those natty socks.

What would you have done differently?

Started them a lot earlier in my knitting career.

What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?

I am yet to push the boat out and get some lovely Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, but I think that will be my favourite. Until now, the stuff from the Natural Dye Studio on eBay is rather yummy.

Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?

Crochet? Knittah please. Have you seen the mess I make with a hook?

I have never tried using 2 circs because I actually enjoy using DPNs. I am going to treat myself to some birch ones at the weekend that should make the rest of Socktoberfest very pleasurable.

Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)

I like a heel flap but tend to make a little mess with it. Having just done my first toe-up heel flap, I think this might be the future.

How many pairs have you made?

I was very disappointed when I added this up - only four completed pairs. I have another two literally falling off the needles though and surely Socktoberfest is all about getting those numbers up?

So I'm off to cast off my first Widdershins and come back here to show y'all.

Kelly [ 9:08 PM ]