Xmas Socks

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Sure, February may seem a little late to be showing you my Xmas knitting, but I’m waaaay behind — there’s stuff from fall and even late summer that you haven’t seen yet! These are the socks I knit for Pat; the pattern is Jeeves by Sarah Wolf. I discovered a couple of years ago that DK-weight socks are a great way to make knitting for his giant feet go significantly faster, and it also allows me to provide him with heavier-weight socks than he can buy at a store. His Blackberry Waffle Socks wore out this year, and while I can darn them, I haven’t gotten around to it yet — knitting a new pair is more fun!

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It turns out there aren’t very many patterns for DK-weight socks out there at all — I may have to write one next year! This one worked well, though — it has a simple, unisex design that’s visually interesting. I ended up making some of the same mods that I did to the original Blueberry Waffle pattern to accommodate both my desire to knit at a tighter gauge and Pat’s wide feet — I knit these on US 2s, not US 4s, and I added a stitch repeat, which I believe was 8 extra stitches.

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What is that delicious red yarn, you say? Why, it’s Madelinetosh Tosh DK, in the Tart colorway! I’ve always loved this rich, dark red — I’ve actually been working on a sweater in it, but I had a sleeve disaster at some point over the summer and put it aside. I suppose I ought to pick it up and finish it before the end of the cold weather, but first I have to finish a project for a friend, and then I have a rather large wedding present for my brother to work on. Shh, don’t tell! Anyway, I bought some additional Tart for this project rather than dip into my sweater supply, because I still have faith that I’m going to finish that sweater someday. I thought this red was an inspired choice for ManSocks, because it’s a very colorful departure from the usual grays and browns, while still being pretty manly. Pat has a bright red bathrobe that matches these, and I actually got him the pajama pants you see here pretty recently — dark blue and dark red are some of his favorites. As you can see, these socks are fitting in his sleepwear wardrobe perfectly.

There will be more before long, I hope! I have a lot of catching up to do!

Long Time, No Blog!

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Sorry it’s been so long since I posted here — my new job has kept me too busy to document my projects, but rest assured that I’ve been knitting! This is the first in what will hopefully be a series of catch-up posts, but once the new semester gets underway it may be difficult for me to post again. But that’s what summer break is for, right? That and margaritas.

Above I’ve showing off a shawl called The Way from Brighton designed by Joji Locatelli. It’s the sort of simple, geometric, textured design that appeals to me a lot these days, but this was in fact a yarn-driven project from the start.

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I was down in San Diego getting trained to teach AP Language & Composition over the summer, and in my free time I did what I tend to do when traveling by myself: hit up local breweries, vegetarian restaurants, and yarn stores. I visited both the Stone and Ballast Point breweries on that trip, which were both pretty epic! I forget the name of the place I got this yarn from — it was pretty tiny and out-of-the-way. The yarn is Swans Island Organic Washable DK in “Aubergine,” a dark, warm purple shade that I’ve been into lately and that turns out to be pretty close to Marsala, the newly-unveiled Pantone Color of the Year for 2015 — that’s right, I’ve apparently got my finger on the pulse of color-trends! (See matching skirt, purchased entirely independently, in the photo below.)

I was so captivated by the color and squish of this yarn that on the spot in the store I whipped out my smartphone and looked through my Ravelry queue for patterns calling for DK-weight yarn, and The Way From Brighton jumped out as a match made in heaven. And so it was!

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This is a pretty easy project once you get the hang of the bobbles, and it goes really quick after the first row (which is nothing but bobbles!). I highly recommend it!

While we’re here, let’s talk a minute about another accomplishment — this autumn, I finally taught myself to Navajo-ply! Like most knitting- & spinning-related things, it turns out to not be nearly as difficult as it looks. I was very puzzled by the youtube videos I watched at first, but once I started actually doing it I realized that it’s in fact very easy: you’re just making giant, arm-length chain stitches and twisting them up. Here’s the result:

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The fiber is from Capistrano Fiber Arts, a handpainted merino/silk blend that I picked up years ago at the Torrance Fiber Festival. It had such high variegation that I thought normal plying would muddy up the colors too much; I didn’t want the barber-pole effect, but long repeats of single-colored strands, and that’s just what Navajo plying does for you, as you can hopefully see here!

I’ll try my best to catch up with posting some of my other autumn projects here soon! I’ve actually gotten behind on blocking as well as blogging, so I’m excited to see my projects finally get all the way finished and come to life!

Handspun Starshower

IMG_5958Sometimes a pattern comes along at exactly the right time. Hilary Smith Callis published Starshower in February, right around the time I was finishing spinning up a batch of yarn that I quickly realized was perfect for it!

IMG_5526The yarn was spindle-spun from a gorgeous undyed 60% merino / 20% yak / 20% silk blend from A Verb for Keeping Warm – I picked up a bundle of it the last time I was in their store, and found myself completely unable to put it down. I ended up buying 4 oz, and spinning it into roughly 500 yards of a light fingering weight. Here’s one 2-oz hank:

IMG_5856Starshower and this yarn seemed like a match made in heaven — the nubbly texture of the cowl works with rather than against the texture of handspun yarn, and it has some drape and shine because of the yak and silk. I’m thrilled with the final product!

IMG_5954I’m a fan of this cowl-concept that Callis has been exploring lately, where they drape in the front like a shawl, but are joined in back like a cowl, so they stay put much better than shawls worn scarfwise like this. Here’s the back:

IMG_5966This also adds some different wear options, as you can see here:

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Lovely!

Gaea’s Wrap

IMG_5927Hello, and sorry for the long absence! Work got crazy for a couple of months there, but now I have the summer off and I can catch up on posting my backlog of projects! What you see here is a freeform wrap that I knit for my friend Gaea for her wedding in April. Gaea is very much a free spirit, and it came to me in a flash about a month before the wedding that (a) I ought to knit something for her, and (b) it ought to be something out of my brain and heart and intuition rather than something from a pattern. So I went to my stash and pulled out all the greens and blues, since those are the colors that come to mind when I think of her:

IMG_5857Not quite all of these made the cut — sorry, lime-green Fun Fur — but most of them ended up in there somewhere. I cast on an unholy number of stitches — north of 300, I’m pretty sure — and went to town. The wrap is mostly garter stitch, seed stitch, bird’s-eye lace, and shell stitch (or whatever that wavy drop-stitch thing is called — I don’t have my stitch dictionary in front of me). The result was a ginormous wrap that I loved to pieces and managed to remember to model before wrapping it up for gift-giving:

IMG_5941SO HUGE. SO AWESOME.

And here it is in another configuration with me looking a little drunk, which it’s entirely possible that I was:

IMG_5938That dress is the one I wore to the wedding, by the way. It was a fantastically freaky potluck Burning Man wedding at a park in San Francisco. So much fun!

Over the next few days / weeks I’ll fill you in on what else I’ve been knitting since February — stay tuned!

Deflect

IMG_5827I’m sorry — unlike knitting magazines, I can’t take my sock pictures on scenic outdoor rocks, so you’ll have to settle for my scenic indoor couch. I’d never let Pat go for a walk on the beach in his handknit socks, anyway! These are his Christmas socks, a little belatedly blogged. The pattern is Deflect by Hunter Hammersen, from Knitty’s Deep Fall 2013 issue. The yarn is Oink Pigments Sock in “Misplaced Marbles.” I got it at the Torrance Fiber Festival this year — I guess I never did a post about my haul, but it was quite small: just this, bought expressly for these socks, and a skein of gorgeous laceweight purple that you’ll see pretty soon when I make it into a spring lace project of some kind. I was on a mission to buy yarn for this pattern when I was there, and I bought this one because the color was good for ManSocks(TM), and because it felt and looked very similar to Dream in Color Everlasting Sock, which is what the pattern actually calls for. When I got it home and compared it to the skein of Everlasting Sock that I had at home, it was so identical that I think they might even actually be the same yarn base! Even the colorway was pretty similar, though I’d judged the skein I had as “too girly” — more on that later.

IMG_5826This yarn looks a little darker and bluer here than it actually is — in person it’s closer to photo #1, though that one’s a tiny bit washed out. I enjoyed knitting these socks, though I think I ran into a minor problem with the numbers on the heel in the large size. It’s been awhile, so I don’t remember the specifics, but it was just very clearly a mistake in the number of stitches that I should have ended up with or something. Easy to spot and ignore. I just love the way the cables are arranged in this sock! And the toe is gorgeous — I was a little skeptical as I was knitting it, since it seemed like the decreases were happening in unorthodox places, but it looked great when it was done and on the foot.

This is truly a unisex sock pattern, and since I had that skein of Everlasting Sock sitting around waiting for me to do something with it, I decided to make myself a pair also! I’m right about to start the toe on the first one here:

IMG_5842I suppose it’s a little hard to tell from this picture, but I judged this yarn to be “too girly” for Pat’s socks because of the green and purple. When I got his skein home, though, I felt pretty silly — the difference is quite minimal. Here they are side-by-side:

IMG_5846His looks a little more huge than it actually is/was because he’s been wearing his socks pretty frequently for the past month and a half so they’ve stretched out a bit, and you can see there’s some wear on the sole there. But the colors, they’re not so different. I’m pretending that I meant us to have matching socks all along…

To New Adventures

IMG_5815Some news: I taught myself to embroider over winter break! Also, Pat and I got engaged! We spent the holidays apart, with our respective families, and during that time I secretly taught myself to embroider and made this pillow here as a Christmas present for Pat. He proposed shortly before we exchanged gifts, but he says that if he hadn’t been planning to propose anyway, this pillow would probably have done the trick.

Even if you’re not particularly familiar with Daniel Johnston, you’ve probably seen this frog-guy before, perhaps on Kurt Cobain’s t-shirt, or in Austin, TX. All the images here are from his artwork, and the words are lyrics from his song “Sweetheart.” I bought the pattern for the images from Sublime Stitching, though the arrangement of elements & colors are my own choices. Here’s a close-up of the frog:

IMG_5816I used split stitch on him, and satin stitch on the mouth. He was the first element I embroidered; later on I discovered vine stitch, which I used on the clouds, and I like it better than split stitch because it’s neater.

I got the idea for this whole project from knitting Totoro in December. I’d done incidental embroidery before in my knitting, but never considered myself very good at it until that project, where it was crucial that I make Totoro’s face look awesome or the whole thing would end up looking creepy. I was pleased with how well I did, and realized that embroidery is not actually very difficult — it’s basically just tracing plus patience. I’d already discovered Sublime Stitching through their french knot tutorial I used for my Zeldaphant, and in poking around again when I was working on Totoro I found the Daniel Johnston patterns, and that made the light bulb go off in my head since Pat is a big fan. Furthermore, I had a substantial collection of embroidery floss leftover from my summer-camp friendship-bracelet-making days. That’s right: with the exception of the dark green for the frog, 100% of this embroidery floss dates from the late ’80s and early ’90s.

IMG_5818The clouds here were made using vine stitch, which I ended up liking the look of better than split stitch. The sun’s rays are backstitch, and the sun itself is of course satin stitch.

One of the choices it turns out you have to make when you’re embroidering from a pattern is how to transfer that pattern to your work. I decided to buy an embroidery transfer pen (which washes out with cold water), and use my parents’ windows as a crude lightbox to trace my printed-out images onto the pillow cover (which is also from Sublime Stitching, by the way). Another choice I considered was iron-transfer pencils, but I don’t think that they wash out, which was a dealbreaker for me — I didn’t want to count on myself to make zero mistakes while tracing, not to mention zero mistakes while embroidering to cover over the lines I drew.

IMG_5822The eyeball monster here was also made using split stitch. I didn’t start experimenting with vine stitch until I made the clouds.

I now realize that I didn’t even necessarily need to buy a pattern, because a person could theoretically trace anything onto fabric and embroider it. That’s how I made the lettering at the bottom — I just found a font on my computer that I liked the look of, and printed out and traced the words I wanted to embroider. Here’s a shot of the whole design laid out flat, where it’s a little easier to see everything than when it’s on the pillow:

IMG_5810Yay! I’m sorry I’ve been gone so long — I’ve been knitting, but I also recently started a new job that’s eating up tons of my time. I hope to catch you up on some of my knitting soon!

This little bit in the corner I drew freehand, which is cool because it’s recognizably in my handwriting:

IMG_5821 So here’s to new adventures!

A Magical Adventure For You

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I knit a Totoro for my friend Amanda’s birthday! He came out so perfect and wonderful that I had serious trouble letting him out of my house. The pattern is a little complicated to obtain: the Ravelry listing is for a Norwegian pattern. One is directed to contact Ravelry user “edingburg11″ for the English translation, but this is a typo; in fact the user who has translated it is edinburg11. She’s very gracious and relatively speedy about emailing you the pattern once you get in touch with her, but it might take her a day or two to get back to you, so make sure to get in touch with her in advance if you’re knitting Totoro on a deadline!

The pattern is pretty well-done and easy to use, though I used the disappearing loop cast-on for the belly since I thought that looked a lot neater than what the pattern suggested. I’m particularly pleased with the way the face came out — I crocheted tiny flat circles for the eyes, and then used french knots for the pupils, and the rest of the face embroidery worked out pretty well.

still haven’t taken pictures of my Morticia shawl, but I swear those are coming soon, as well as pictures of my current in-progress sweater! Till next time!