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!

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…

Cusp

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Lisa and I started knitting these socks together back in March, when I was in the mood for bright emerald green because of St. Patrick’s Day — but the colorway is actually called “Christmas Green,” so I guess it’s fitting that I finally got around to finishing them in the holiday season. The yarn is Cascade Heritage, which retails at about $11 for a 400+ yard skein and is an excellent sock yarn for the price, soft and stretchy, with a wide color palette of true solids good for showing off lacework. It was also the yarn called for by the pattern, and since the price was so right I figured I’d go for it.

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The pattern is Cusp by Cookie A. Lisa and I selected it since we both have copies of Knit.Sock.Love. that we wanted to get our money’s worth from. I don’t know about you, but I definitely have some pattern books that I’ve knit literally nothing from — I buy them when they have stuff I’m interested in, and/or when I want to support a particular designer’s work, but when you have an 800-item Ravelry queue like I do, it can take awhile to get around to everything!

This pattern isn’t especially difficult, but like a lot of Cookie’s more architectural designs there are a lot of things to keep track of at once, and there are a few transitional moments where things can potentially get a little confusing. Lisa had to start over once, and I had to do significant ripping on the second sock when I forgot to stop decreasing for the gusset and the foot got stupidly narrow. But Knit.Sock.Love. is full of genius diagrams to help you understand the construction of the sock and the way your various stitch patterns fit together, and the finished socks are quite lovely! I also think they’re faster to knit than an allover-patterned sock would be.

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I’ve fallen behind in my blogging again —  I did finish that mystery KAL I was working on, though not quite by the Halloween deadline, but my pile of essays to grade has kept me away from the blog. I have a bit of a grading respite between now and the end of the semester, so I’ll try to get in an FO post for that mystery shawl, as well as a process-post about what I’m working on these days! See you again soon.

Zeldaphant

IMG_5688We photographed a new shawl today, but looking at the pictures in my camera I remembered that I never blogged about this little guy, who I finished knitting a few weeks ago. So the shawl post will come later in the week; for now: Zeldaphant!

I call him that because I knit him for my friends’ little girl’s first birthday, and said little girl is named Zelda. The pattern is Elijah by Ysolda, and it’s as good as everybody says it is. It’s one of the most popular toy patterns on Ravelry, and while I don’t have a huge amount of experience with knitting toys, I’d definitely say this was the clearest, most sensible, least annoying pattern for a toy I’ve knit so far. The key to getting the trunk to curl for me was to stuff the whole head pretty densely, because you need the trunk to be very densely stuffed so you can pose it, and if the head isn’t packed very tightly then the trunk stuffing will migrate into the head.

The yarn I used was Caron Simply Soft from my stash — it’s the softest, cuddliest acrylic I’ve found so far, and since this is a gift for a one-year-old I wanted it to be as thoroughly machine-washable as possible. I figure if Zelda likes it, this toy is likely to be both dragged through dirt AND chewed on, and ain’t no mama of a one-year-old got time to lovingly handwash her toys. Like many Ravelers, I decided to make the feet in a contrasting color. And I am INSANELY PROUD of how pretty my embroidered french-knot eyes came out. Check it:

IMG_5687I actually suck at embroidery; my secret weapon was this tutorial. It’s steps 5 and 6 that really set this apart from other french-knot instructions on the internet; pushing the knot down to the fabric before pushing the needle through is the key to making it not come out crappy.

I’ve been meaning to do more WIP-blogging — I feel like a lot of finished objects (like this one) crop up on this blog without you having even seen them on the needles. I also think that more WIP blogging will allow me to talk a little more about knitting as a process, and to share some of my techniques and approaches in more detail. I’m eventually going to try to do more WIP-only posts, but I actually have a backlog of FOs to show you at the moment, because the start of the school year has crowded out most other things in my life for the past few weeks. In addition to this guy and the shawl I’m going to show you later this week, I have another finished shawl that I’m going to put on the blocking board today!

About two weeks ago, I took this picture of my WIPs and recently-finished-but-unblocked pieces. They’re arranged in chronological order of start date, oldest at the left. I call it “Red Shift”:

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It’s kind of amazing: all summer all I wanted to knit was blues, and then sometime in September red seems to have taken over my brain. The yarn on the right is a sweater quantity of Madelinetosh Sport in the Tart colorway that I picked up at Imagiknit in San Francisco on a weekend I was up there recently. I felt like it was a stroke of brilliance on my part to buy a sweater’s worth of Madelinetosh in person, because the skeins are so variable and there are no dye lots. Imagiknit is maybe my favorite LYS in the universe, and it manifested its wonderfulness in the salesperson who went in the back and got all 20ish skeins of Tart that they had in stock, and went through them carefully with me helping me to pick a matched set.

At this point everything on the blue side of this photo is finished, except for the color-block garter-stitch blanket in the middle there (which is going to take about a thousand years), and you’ll see the other projects soon. All the red is still underway, but it’s all been temporarily shelved in favor of two more urgent projects that are neither blue nor red:

IMG_5751They photograph poorly when they’re unblocked like this, because the ribbed gussets make them curl up all weirdly, but these are the Cusp socks that I started as a mini-KAL with my friend Lisa back in April. We knit on them for a few weeks and then stopped, because she’d made some mistakes and had to start over and wasn’t feeling up to actually doing that, which I understood. Then we decided to pick them up again in September and try to finish them in time for the October mystery KAL we both wanted to do, and we both failed at that goal — but as you can see, I’ve come pretty darn close. I figure I can probably finish these at some point in October if I finish any of the mystery KAL clues early.

That KAL is the Boo Knits “Morticia” Halloween Mystery KAL. Boo Knits is the author of Rainshine, which I knit recently, as well as many other dramatic, interesting shawl patterns, so I decided I trusted her to come up with something worthy of Morticia Addams. I also decided to go whole-hog with the “goth” theme:

IMG_5755(I don’t want to show you an in-progress pic in case any of you are doing the KAL and might have the “mystery” spoiled.) It looks kinda blue or purple here, but that yarn is in fact black — Blue Moon Fiber Arts Marine Silk Lace in the “Shadow” colorway. I really like the “Raven Clan” colorways, and thought long and hard about getting a blue-black or a green-black, but ultimately decided to go for a true black so I could wear it with red and blue equally well. The beads are 6mm Miyuki cube beads from Fusion Beads, which I had a lovely experience with & which doesn’t have minimum order sizes, unlike some other online bead vendors. This KAL is still in its first week — it’s not too late to join me!

Thelonius

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My usual photographer managed to get stuck in rush hour traffic on his way home from running some errands today, so I decided to awkwardly photograph these socks on my own feet. Hooray! They are Thelonius Socks from Cookie A’s beautiful book Knit. Sock. Love., which I was lucky enough to buy from her and get signed at VogueKnitting LA last year. (Judging from the ridiculous prices on Amazon, I guess it’s out of print now! But you can still buy the e-book or individual patterns on Ravelry.) I’m a big fan of the traveling lace-panel in this sock, and will probably knit another pair of socks with this design feature sometime in the near future — Cookie has lots of great patterns that use them!

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The yarn is Sundara Sock in the Antilles colorway, which I received in a deep-discount grab-bag sale that they ran a few months ago, where the color of the yarn you were buying was a surprise. While I’m happy with this color and generally love turquoise, I have to admit that I was hoping for a skein of something that would push me out of my color-comfort-zone a little more. But the yarn was a good match for this pattern, which called for Koigu, and Sundara Sock is very Koigu-like in its weight and texture. As you can see in this photo, there’s quite a bit of color-pooling, but I don’t mind very much since I basically just wear my hand-knit socks as super-fly slippers around the house.

I started a new project recently, seen here:

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It’s not very photogenic right now, but this is the beginning of a chuppah which I am honored to have been asked to knit for my friend Amanda’s wedding this summer. There is all of one chuppah pattern readily available on the internet and I wasn’t a big fan of it, but I found a square blanket pattern which I liked much better: Serenity. The motif looks hilariously vaginal in this picture, but trust me: once it’s stretched and blocked, these will be beautiful, intertwining, only-slightly-vaginal cables.

I have also continued to work on my sparkly Summit scarf/wrap:

ImageIt grows very quickly because of all that negative space, but it’s also been neglected for awhile. I’d say it’s about halfway done at this point. The pattern was a little mind-bending at first, but I’ve made friends with it now and it’s actually quite easy to execute.

Soon — later this week, I hope! — I’ll have not one but two new finished objects to show you. Stay tuned!

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.