Self-administered Knitting Therapy

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Enough wallowing, dear reader. Time for me to stop dwelling on my varied and frequent fair isle mistakes and take part in some quick and simple, super gratifying knitting. Time for another self-indulgent post, only this time the message is infinitely more positive!

Yesterday I visited Mosman Needlecraft for the first time. It was 15 minutes to closing time, so I didn’t get to have as good a look at everything as I would have hoped, but it was super fun. And it has provided me with much to show you, and vicariously provided a resurrection of the ‘visual feast’ search tag.

Have I ever told you what my favourite colour is? Here’s a clue…

L to R: Madelinetosh Tosh Sock, Koigu Painter’s Palette Premium Merino, Shibui, and KPPPM again.

(To anyone colourblind, I apologise that I gave a visual clue. The answer was green.)

I realised that the most gratifying project I could undertake was lurking right on my Ravelry queue: The Beekeeper’s Quilt by Tiny Owl Knits (or as it is often quaintly and endearingly typeset, the beekeeper’s quilt by tiny owl knits). You just have to read Stephanie from TOK’s motivational little blurb about how individual hexipuffs are like a satisfying little project in themselves, and that just squishing them makes you feel happy and lovely and wonderful and all things good and nice and… ah.

I started making hexipuffs a few days ago, but I wasn’t that happy with them. I’d seen a few quilts go wrong with poor colour-planning, and I realised that the hexis I’d made didn’t relate in colour, nor through the duplicate stitch embroidery I’d done on them. I’ll take a photo some time and show you what I mean. Individually, the hexis were adorable, but I just didn’t feel that in the end it was going to look very cohesive. Or attractive. At all.

My genius idea was to make the quilt in the loveliest sock yarns I could find in shades of green. Then I would balance that out with other hexis made from my 4-ply stash in shades of brown, cream and green, with maybe a pop of blue. I had a lovely stash-rummaging session and this is what I found to match…

Okay, so not as much green in the stash as I would have liked, but it did give me a use for the stray ball of wrong-dyelot Beluga I introduced you all to last Friday. At work this week we got a new colour in Empire called ‘Absinthe’ that I’ve been searching for an excuse to buy. I think it will tone beautifully with the Tosh Sock. Which, by the way, is called ‘Malachite’. Gah. Malachite. Gorgeous. The photo does not do it any justice.

I then had a glorious time playing around with some colour combinations so that I would have an idea of what my layout will be.

I decided I needed some further knitting gratification. Something I could churn out before embarking on my quilt. A knitting pick-me-up. Something super simple, super easy, super fast, and that made me feel super good about the fact that it was simple, easy and fast. So I bought some cashmere (just casually, for a ridiculous amount of money) and I made a cowl.

I knitted it in the round, doing 5 rows of k1, p1 on 4mm, changing to 6mm and working in what I call “oatmeat stitch” (sort of an extended seed stitch). I weighed it after doing the rib so I knew how many grams to leave for finishing with another 5 rows of rib and for binding off.

My gosh, this cashmere deserves its 5 star rating on Ravelry, for sure. It was worth every single dollar. This was hands down the loveliest, most resilient and compliant yarn I’ve ever had the pleasure to knit. It’s an aran weight by Jade Sapphire in the colourway ‘Rockaway Beach’.

I have finished the cowl, but I took these photos not anticipating I would finish it today. But it did. Like I said, super simple and super fast. Have you got any go-to project you know you can churn out quickly and feel awesome about it?

I read this fabulous post by feelgoodknitting. And you should too. It helped me get out of my knitting-funk, and I reckon it will be open in my browser’s tabs for a good long time yet. So, new yarns acquired, self-confidence boosted, enthusiasm at an all time high.

All is well. Goal achieved. Gold star.

As soon as I hit the publish button, I’m going straight to my needles and yarn to start. I’m having so much trouble focusing to write this because of the anticipation. Unbearably obsessive, I realise, but I hope you can understand that when you’ve got a freshly-balled skein of Tosh Sock in Malachite in your peripheral vision it is very hard to concentrate on anything else.

Here’s some oatmeal stitch to tide you over until tomorrow’s fair isle update…

Fractious Fair Isle Friday #1

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In the hope of getting some more regularity and structure into my posting, I’ve had the genius idea of coining this Friday, and every subsequent Friday until I goshdarn finish this goshdarn sweater, as ‘Fractious Fair Isle Friday’.

‘What sweater?’ you might ask.

‘This sweater!’ I will respond.

‘But why would you even subject yourself to making that?’ you might ask.

‘I don’t even know.’ I will respond.

Actually, it’s ’cause a friend at work and I are making “matching twinsy sweaters” using this pattern from the Debbie Bliss F/W 2011 magazine. There were many weeks of very important deliberation before I could begin; 4 ply or 8 ply? And which colours? And I can’t get any Rialto! Will I use Empire instead? Oh, the life-changing decisions! What ever will I do?! (You know, solving problems like that.) I finally decided on dark green in Empire 4ply for the body, defying DB’s whole theme of “ebony, ivory, and all notes in between”. Rebellious, I know.
Also, I mixed it up a little for the contrast colour. I’m using two colours instead of just white. The bulk of the contrast will be in “seascape twist”, which is a kind of soft grey with a single strand of baby blue spun in. The snowflakes across the bust will be in off-white, just to break up the really dense band of hearts above it.
I’m not sure if my colleague’s decided on her colours yet. It is a hard decision.

I completed my gauge swatch three days ago, with much difficulty. The first two balls of dark green I started to use were overspun and too thin. Fortunately I’d bought all the wool beforehand and the third ball I unraveled was the charm. So I did get the swatch done. My tension was spot on too, so things were looking up.

The next day I was hoping to exchange the faulty wool after work, but the first customer of the day bought every last ball. I nearly cried.
Fortunately she came back later in the day and returned it as she decided she’d prefer something else. I nearly cried again, only this time it was from sheer jubilation.

Here’s the progress I’ve made over the last two days.

I swear that DB has some weird sizing Juju going on. I’m making the smallest size, but the ribbing is about an inch and a half bigger than what I would expect for a small hip size. My tension is right, so I suppose it’s just how it’s meant to be. I can’t find a Ravelry page for it to double check so I’m hoping at all works out. I don’t really mind it being a little loose.

I won’t go into how many times I’ve had to rip back and fix mistakes. I keep reading the chart in the wrong direction. It’s so difficult to refrain from ragequitting.

Aside from that, isn’t this suitcase perfect for holding this project?! A little sleeve for my pattern, a perfect size for all the wool. It’s really light too, which means I can carry it around with me. I bought it today from a super nice couple I met through eBay. I bought two luggage trunks from them yesterday. I walked to their place to collect them, and not only did they drop both me and the trunks home, but they offered to come around to my place today and let me have first pick of all the new suitcases they’d acquired before they photographed and listed them. Result!

We laid them all out on the kerb, with the husband remarking how much it must’ve looked like we were doing some kind of dodgy deal, and I went through all of them. I ended up with 8 suitcases of various sizes. Some were old Globite school cases – exactly what I need for transporting and storing all my projects on the go. The others were more trunk-sized – perfect for storing my ever-expanding stash.

I’m really curious as to how other people store their stash. How do you go about it? If you’ve any photos, I’d love to see them.

Here’s the lining in my favourite case. It’s a big ol’ blue trunk with gorgeous plaid linen on the inside. Ahh, it makes my insides sing with happiness. It seems a shame to keep it closed!

Most of the others have the original name tags, novelty stickers and wrapping paper lining just as they had been when they were probably used as school cases decades ago. The light faded too soon afterwards for me to get any decent pictures of those. I’ll try and take a couple of photos in the coming weeks. There’s so much history in those little suitcases and I’d love to share it with you.

Until next time!

There’s a party in my shoe…

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So, I had this genius idea to try and make some toe-up socks. I’ve only ever made cuff-down and I always had this fear that to do it the other way would be confusing, difficult, tedious, messy, you get the picture… And despite my manager at work telling me that she could teach me the cast on, and that it’s not really that hard, I’ve just had it stuck in my head that it was always going to be tricky, and frankly a bit traumatic. And I wasn’t kidding myself. It was hard. But I think if I’d taken her up on her offer for help it would have been a lot smoother sailing.

The advantage of toe up socks is because you’re knitting the foot first you don’t have to worry about running out of yarn because you can adjust the leg length last of all. I always fudge the ribbing and have to pick up and re-knit the leg after finishing the foot. I never learn. For example, the Jigsaw socks I started (and have now finished one) feature the same corner-cutting, awkwardly slightly loose ribbing that seems to plague a lot of my socks.

You can’t tell from the photo, so I guess if I’d just not told you about it you wouldn’t have known or cared. Damn. Oh well, I’ll just pick up and re-knit the cuffs. I’ll have to match the part of the colourway though so both socks match.

I also really like the heel of a toe-up sock. No nasty heel-flap or holes to darn around the instep – that’s my kind of sock. My genius plan was to make socks of 107 in a medium grey with fluorescent, neon or just brightly coloured contrast toes and heels. Ever since I got this idea in my head I couldn’t get it out. All I could think about was when I would have the time to sit down and just give it a go. I leave home in the mornings only an hour after it becomes light and I don’t leave work until it’s dark again. That’s just the nature of winter I suppose, but I guess it also explains why I post so infrequently. There’s just very little light to take photos. (I apologise for the crummy use of flash in the one of the photos. Grrr, daylight savings, grumble, grrr, whinge, grumble, sob, complain.)

I found time the other night after work. This is roughly what happened…

17:45 – Leaving work. Gonna make some socks. Gonna make some socks. Gonna make some socks. Gonna make some…

17:50 – … socks. Gonna make some socks. Gonna make some socks. Gonna make some socks. Gonna make some socks.

18:00 – Train is slow, train is slow. Oh CityRail have mercy, why is the train so slow?

18:15 – My leg hurts from so much impatient foot tapping.

19:00 – HOME! YEAH! PUMPED! YEAH! GO TEAM GO! Let’s do this! Gonna make some socks, gonna make some socks!

20:00 – So I’ve watched every video I can find on toe-up socks, read, re-read, and re-re-read the section on toe-up socks in my Vogue Ultimate Sock Book, and I have all my necessary bit and bobs. GO TEAM GO! Let’s really do this! Let’s make some socks!

20:15 – I’ve done my provisional cast-on. Now what?

20:45 – There’s an asterix! What the hell does the asterix mean?!

20:46 – It says to ‘WT’! What the hell does ‘WT’ mean?!

20:47 – Oh… okay. ‘WT’ is creating a wrapped stitch. I think I can do that…

20:48 – I wrapped a stitch!

20:49 – I wrapped another stitch! Go me! Yea-ohhhh no! No, no, no! I dropped it.

20:49:30 –  Wrapped it again! Hail me! Queen of the wraps!

20:55 – Now to work my wraps. I think I can do that…

21:05 – This looks wrong. Very, very wrong.

21:05:30 – I don’t think I’m wrapping the wrong side row properly. That must be it. I’ll look online.

21:20 – It’s all the book’s fault. They’ve only shown how to wrap and work on the right side rows. No wonder it looks funky. Hmm.

21:20:03 – Wait… Nooooooooooooo! That means I have to start again!!!!

22:00 – First toe done. Well, that was the most disheartening knitting experience of my life.

And so, I fell asleep marred by the fact it took me so long to ‘get’ working the short row toe. Really I should have just used Judy’s magic cast-on, but I knew that I was going to have to work a short row heel, so I figured I better get some practice in on the toes before I tried that.

The second toe was much easier and faster. I shouldn’t’ve been so hard on myself about it the first time. I know it’s cliched to say that you learn from your mistakes, but I really think that after messing up my toe the first time I understood it a lot better the second time I did it. I’m knitting a little bit of both of the socks so they get finished together. It also means that I’m really consolidating the action of wrapping and working wraps.
Here’s where I’m up to…

I must say, it’s a nice change making socks in 8ply instead of 4ply.

Once I’ve made these, I’m thinking about mixing it up a bit and making some with the heel and toe different colours from one another, or even coloured cuffs. I’m already planning the next few colour combinations using little bits of Estate 8ply from my stash. Here’s what I’ve got to choose from!

The main foot colour will be Greystone…

The premise, I suppose, is that you can wear socks that look plain and normal to others, but you secretly know that inside your shoe is a sensational colour party for your feet.

I’d love to make different contrast coloured ones for each day of the week and instarsia M, T, W, Th, F, Sa, S (or alternatively 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) onto the soles.
Ambitious, I know. We’ll see how this fares for the moment.

Have you ever made, or wanted to make socks? Are you a toe-up or a cuff-down kinda person?