Baa Baa Purple Sheep

Friends, I searched high and low for a pattern that would allow me to maintain my self-respect more than did the Gap-tastic Cowl. It’s a Gap knockoff, it has a stupid name, and it’s just mindless seed stitch — surely there was something out there that was a little more interesting and less corporate. But for this amount and type of yarn, it was hard to deny that this was basically the perfect pattern. And evidently 4,961 Ravelers agree — this pattern is super-popular.

It turns out that there are a lot of cowl patterns out there for about 120 yards of super-bulky yarn, and a lot of cowl patterns out there for 300+ yards of super-bulky yarn, but I had 220 yards and I wanted to use every last scrap. The Gap-tastic Cowl’s simplicity allowed me to just cast on and knit in seed stitch until I was done, and though I was a little short of their recommended yardage I still ended up with plenty of cowl. And it’s fabulous — squishy, textured, snuggly, and everything I was looking for.

Speaking of using every last scrap, this project and I achieved serious mind-melding when it came time to bind off. I guesstimated when the time was right, and when I was done binding off I had four inches left over. Four inches! Just enough to (painstakingly) weave in — it was magic.

The yarn, to remind you, is Catskill Merino’s Super-Bulky yarn, which is evidently called “The Big Easy.” I bought it at the Union Square market in the snow, when I was experiencing serious cowl envy. I don’t anticipate wearing a cowl this bulky very much in southern California, but it’s what I wished I had this winter when I was visiting my family back east, and I expect it and I will be inseparable on next year’s holiday trip. We’ll all still be wearing cowls then, right? Right? Guys?

Blackberry Waffle Socks

My, what handsome socks! I finished these last night, and Pat was sad that I wouldn’t allow him to wear them to bed because I wanted to photograph them in their pristine condition this afternoon. But now he is happily wearing them in the living room while playing the new Spiderman videogame, which he was actually doing while I was taking this picture — I kind of had to climb into his lap.

Here they are sans feet:

The yarn is Madelinetosh Tosh DK in the “Cosmos” colorway, which both of us love — the flecks of turquoise keep it interesting, but it’s still decidedly manly. The pattern is, nominally, the venerable old Blueberry Waffle Socks. But I knit them on much smaller needles (US 2s) to get a denser fabric, and I added some extra stitches to accommodate Pat’s wide feet, and I knit them using the magic loop method instead of with DPNs, and I completely changed the heel because the pattern didn’t make any sense to me as written, and I also altered the toe a bit. The end result is that I felt like a sock ninja by the time I was done with these — basically the only thing I took from the original pattern was the dirt-simple textured stitch, and the rest of their construction was designed on the fly to fit Pat’s feet and my sensibilities.

I have a surprising amount of yarn left over — equivalent to about 3/4 of a full skein. I might turn it into a little cowl, but I’m thinking seriously about just knitting another pair of these — in a smaller size, and a little shorter in the leg — for myself. I like the idea of the two of us snuggling up on the couch in matching handknit socks!

Port Ludlow

While I was waiting for the needles I needed to finish my Leaves of Grass blanket, I worked on these socks over the holidays. Once the needles arrived, the blanket had my undivided knitting attention, so I didn’t finish these up until earlier this week. But I couldn’t be happier with them!

They’re Anne Hanson’s Port Ludlow socks, knit in String Theory Caper Sock in a discontinued colorway (but “Laguna,” which they’re currently offering, looks pretty close). I’m a big fan of this yarn: it’s dense and springy and reminds me a lot of the Sanguine Gryphon’s Bugga! yarn. This is the second pair of socks that I’ve knit with this yarn; the first were Cookie A’s Rick socks.

I forgive you if you weren’t terribly excited about these socks when they were in the WIP-stage — it’s hard to fully appreciate the stitch pattern until they’re finished and on a pair of feet:

When Anne was designing these I wasn’t particularly interested in them either, until she posted the finished photos of them on her feet and I was immediately smitten. This is a great beginner-to-intermediate sock pattern; the lace is very easy and intuitive, and it was lovely to zoom along through these while chatting with family over the holidays.

Here’s another angle:

Here you can perhaps tell that one of the cuffs is about a half an inch longer than the other one. That’s because I was also working on Pat’s socks over the holidays, and I mixed up the instructions for the cuffs in my head — the Port Ludlow socks want you to knit in 2×2 rib for an inch and a half, while the Blueberry Waffle socks want you to knit in 2×2 rib for 12 rounds. A smart person might have double-checked her pattern or at least looked at sock #1 for reference when she cast on for sock #2, but I am apparently not that person. I had “12 rounds” firmly in my head — because I’d just cast on Pat’s socks a few days earlier — and it wasn’t until I’d knit halfway down the leg of the sock that I realized my error. I decided it wasn’t worth ripping back to fix. I generally just wear my knitted socks around the house anyway — but if they ever did leave the house, and somebody looked at them closely enough to notice the error, and they were impolite enough to comment on it, I think I’d be within my rights to just smack them upside the head.

It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

Behold: my finished Leaves of Grass blanket. It was a crazy plan, but it was actually a pretty good plan if you looked past the crazy. The two main bits of crazy were: (1) this is a shawl pattern with no yardage suggestions for scaling it up to a blanket, and a brand-new shawl pattern at that, so there were no other people on Ravelry yet who had attempted to blanket-ify it, and (2) I mailed it to my parents’ house while in progress so that I could finish it there over winter break and block it in their spacious basement, and then I shipped it back to my tiny California apartment. But Crazy Bit #1 wasn’t so bad, because I’d already made Girasole, another pi-shawl/blanket from Jared Flood, and I had a pretty good idea of the yardage I’d need. Plus I chose to use Cascade Eco+ for the yarn, which comes in enormous 478-yard skeins, so I figured that buying 4 of them would be more than enough. And it was — barely. I ended up with only 20% of my last skein left over. (All in all, it took 1,816 yards. Yowza!) And Crazy Bit #2, while definitely having some red flags for craziness, was actually a thoroughly reasonable plan. What would have been really crazy would have been to knit this here in California and then having to rearrange our furniture to get a space big enough to block it, rendering our living room useless for days. Also, knitting a big wooly blanket over the (admittedly tame) midwinter weeks that I was visiting the east coast was thoroughly delightful.

Another part of the plan that was arguably crazy was that it involved a hard deadline on an enormous project — and things like edging always take three times longer than you think they will. I was actually a little amazed at how well I estimated how long it would take me to knit this thing — and it would have worked out perfectly… if I had remembered to pack the ultra-long Knitpicks cables that I would need once the blanket got to its full hugeness. But since I forgot them and didn’t realize this until the in-progress blanket arrived at my parents’ house, I lost four or five days to ordering new cables and waiting for them to arrive. So for my last few days in New Jersey, I was lugging the blanket around in a giant department-store shopping bag everywhere I went, insisting on knitting at friends’ houses and veterinary waiting rooms. On my second-to-last night in town, I stayed up until 4:30 in the morning, shotgunning episodes of Dr. Who and working furiously to finish the edging. But I did finish, and I soaked the blanket in the bathtub, and I pinned it out before going to bed. Here’s a slightly-crappy blocking shot:

I had fantasized that if I pinned it out on Wednesday night, then I might be able to unpin it and ship it myself on Friday before I left. But on Friday morning it was still a little damp, so I ended up entrusting my parents with the unpinning and shipping. And today, the finished blanket finally arrived!

One of the reasons I was making this blanket is because Pat always complains that my Girasole seems deliberately designed to not allow him to cover his toes and his shoulders at the same time. I told him that I couldn’t make any promises about this one, but I was optimistic. And behold: