Subjectively Necessary Yarn-Accumulation Procedure

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There’s a segment on Andrew Denton’s new show ‘Randling’ called ‘Double Speak’. Contestants have to come up with euphemisms for unfortunate occurrences. For example, a more innocuous term for bombing would be ‘high-altitude aerial persuasion’ or ‘gravity-assisted terrain reshaping device’.

Inspired by this display of witty wordplay, I’ve begun referring to my stash as my subjectively necessary yarn-accumulation procedure. And by those means of justification, here is my haul from my work’s winter sale.

These balls of Country 8ply will probably go towards making a seamless top-down jumper. I’ve been wanting to try that out for a while now. Something like this, but maybe with a bit more shaping.

I also bought some Totem DK to make crochet blankets for 107.

The blankets will just be a single colour. I’ve decided that for the green blanket I will make one square per ball, in total 20 squares to make a 4X5 square blanket. Obviously with all of the projects I already have going, and then the ones in my queue, I won’t get around to making those for a while. I did let myself do some experimenting though.
This is the kind of square I’m thinking of using. Its dimensions are roughly 25X25cm.

I got the pattern for this lovely square from the Japanese crochet book I bought from Kinokuniya a few weeks ago. I absolutely love this pattern.

I decided to work on it while catching the train home from work last week. The train was packed and everyone was off in their own little world. But as soon as I put hook to yarn, the woman next to me started asking me all these great questions about crochet and knitting. Once we started talking, all the other people around us joined in. It really made my day. They were all such nice people. None of them were crafters, but it was really awesome that they were interested in what I was doing.
This sort of thing keeps happening to me actually. For example, a woman on the train yesterday was watching me knit using the magic loop method and wanted to know how it worked. She was sick of not being able to knit socks on public transport for fear of someone bumping her and dislodging a DPN from her work. The conversation was cut short because I was only on for one more stop, but she was a genuinely lovely person and I only wish we could have chatted for longer…

I mentioned last time that I bought some cashmere-merino blend to dye naturally. Here it is in all its undyed, soft and abundant glory! Isn’t it grand?

Oh, the effort exerted by carrying all of these on the peak-hour bus home! Mind you, for every sale pack of wool, I received a free pattern book. Eight free pattern books! I felt like one of those insane Boxing Day Sale shoppers who carries home their own weight in post-Christmas bargains. And in my own very special way, I suppose I was.

In other news, I finished the contrast socks! Woo hoo! They were so much fun to make. I’m decidedly a toe-up convert. I’ll definitely be stocking up on Greystone before the sale is over so I can keep making these little beauties.

Today, I’ll leave you with this: While I was snapping away with my camera, Timmy became entranced by the carry bags I’d used to get the wool home. I managed to quickly catch a couple of blurry, but still adorable, photos of him investigating before he decided they weren’t as entertaining as first anticipated.

Until next time.

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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?

Just a sporadic mess of everything and anything…

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There are so many things I have to show you! There’s a backlog of photos of new acquisitions, works in progress, finished objects… Should I do this show and tell chronologically? Probably, but I can’t remember the order in which I made them. I’ll just start.

Here’s an earflap hat I concocted for 107, although it’s now been sold.

I knitted the earflaps first, leaving them on stitch holders. Then I cast on the stitches for the front of the brim, knitted the live stitches from one earflap, cast on the stitches for the back, knitted the live stitches from the other earflap and then joined the round.
From there I constructed a basic sort of beanie. A lady at work recommended that when I pull the yarn tail at the top through the last live stitches I should do it twice. I must say it makes the top look a whole lot neater. I can’t believe I’d never considered it before – it seems so obvious now.
I single crocheted around the edge just to even it out a little, hide the holes where I joined in the flaps, and prevent curling. Afterwards I had a look at an earflap hat my grandmother made for me. Turns out she did the same to finish hers off as well. Great minds think alike.

These are some more cotton coasters for 107. The snowflake is loosely based on a motif from a new book I bought called ‘Beyond the Square: Crochet Motifs’ by Edie Eckman. Wisest purchase decision ever.

As a matter of fact, I’ve acquired some really wonderful books lately.

The ‘Simply Crochet’ is incredible. I’ve had problems with Debbie Bliss’s knitting patterns before (right side and wrong side row jumbled, one too many or too few stitches, errata galore…), and I must say that I haven’t actually made anything from this book yet, but I have a feeling that I’m going to have a great time making things from this one. It’s full of really lovely garments, including a stunning white vest, little lacy collars, and a glorious dress (the one on the cover, and the selling point for me because the pattern is called ‘Darcey’ – my name, minus the ‘e’). It’s a shame they are all so summery, but at least I have something to look forward to post-winter.

Then there are these two. Nicky Epstein’s ‘Block by Block’ is just – actually if I try to put this into words I might do it an injustice. It’s one of those books that people tell you is amazing, but you don’t really understand the full wealth of its amazingness until you open it. There’s just so much variety. Every technique you could imagine has been adapted for use in making 6 inch square upon 6 inch square. I can’t wait to make a whole blanket from these blocks. I have made one square square from this book as a present for my godmother. The pattern is called ‘Tree Breeze’ and features cables into the back loop – a tedious but effective process. I used Fibranatura’s sportweight organic cotton.

The book next to ‘Block by Block’ is a gem I found after trawling the shelves of Kinokuniya for hour a few weeks ago. The wonderful thing about Japanese crochet books is if you can read charts you can make anything from them. There are very, very rarely any written pattern instructions, and if there are, fortunately for me, I studied Japanese for a few years and can generally understand them. Anything I don’t understand, I have a mountain of dictionaries to make sense of it. I love the idea of crocheting around the edges of cards and things like that. This book has some really inspiring images of that application of crochet. It’s like an extension of these awesome creations by lutteridyl.

I’m hoping to use the cottons below for this purpose.

Moral: country wool shops are legendary.

Check out my haul! I got these goodies, for ridiculously low prices, from the wool shop in Katoomba. I’ve struggled to find Jigsaw sock yarn for ages. The bonus was finding it so cheap. The Sirdar Escape was an impulse buy. The lovely, vibrant indigo that lurks in the centre of the ball is what caused me to purposefully overlook the high percentage of acrylic. I don’t mean to be a yarn snob, but I know that at heart I am. I’m really sorry. I am however slightly amused by the terminology “Wool Rich”. Is that a subtle way of saying 2% more wool than acrylic? Sorry, sorry, sorry. Yarn snobbery alert. Sorry.

I’ve started a sock with one of the balls of Jigsaw in these rad ’70s colours. I’ll have to take extra precautions against SSS (second sock syndrome). I’ve suffered from SSS and SGS (second glove syndrome) repeatedly in the past. These are working up fairly quickly, so it shouldn’t be too much of problem…

Oh, and I found this little gem lurking in some drawers at work a couple of weeks ago.
A surefire way to use up all those loose scraps of 8ply in our stashes that we all know and love. I now know what I’m making everyone for Christmas this year!

On another note, the back of my Paton’s Classics vest is almost complete. I have a few rows before I start the short row shaping of the neck. I was pretty pleased with how I joined in the second ball. The join is about halfway down the back. It was tricky getting the variegation to match up. Instead of joining at the edges and burying my ends I tried a new method of braiding the end of the old ball around the end of the new one. Sneaky, sneaky. I’ll definitely be using that one again.

Lastly, this is a teacosy I made for Mothers’ Day. I used Noro Kureyon that I got off eBay a year ago before I was seriously into this whole knitting thing and probably before I even understood the awesome power of Noro. I started in the round, divided for the spout and handle, and joined again. I went through four balls to try and find the same part of the colourway to make both sides match. And to no avail. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s charming.

Teacosies are going in the 107 memory bank. Yesiree.

Thanks for looking at all my projects and whatnot. Have a wonderful day friends.