FO Friday: Ravellenic Edition (Part II)

I finished my other two projects for the Ravellenic Games!

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Project: Blue Tiles

Pattern: Parquet Tiles

Designer: Rose Beck

Available: $5 for this pattern alone, or $12.99 for the Archi-textural Collection (on Ravelry, naturally)

Yarn: Knit Picks Capra in Celestial

I love this soft and luscious yarn!  The pattern was not my usual “type” — I’m not often drawn to plain-old knit&purl designs. Too many are poorly-rendered, overly-cutesy designs fit only for washcloths.  But, Parquet Tiles is elegant and lovely — not washcloth-like at all.  Enjoyable knit, reasonably quick, well-written pattern.  High marks!

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I worked hard throughout the Olympics on my puffs.  I’m proud to say I have officially “caught up” to my 366 in 2012 goal, and I’m currently running 4 puffs ahead of schedule! I was helped greatly by a mini-skein swap of 40 gorgeous new STR Lightweight colorways.

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Project: 40 STR Puffs

Pattern: the beekeeper’s quilt

Designer: tiny owl knits

Available: $5.50 on Ravelry

Yarn: BMFA Socks That Rock Lightweight

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FO Friday: Wavelength

This year, I am 3/3 for finishing sock-club projects for the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Notorious Sock Knitters club! 🙂  This is the not-sock pattern from March:

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Project: Wavelength

Pattern: Breaking Waves

Designer: Carson Demers

Available: sometime after March 2013

Yarn: Socks That Rock Lightweight in “Wavelength”

I am always interested to see how variegated yarn knits up.  Check out this comparison of the skeined yarn …

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…with the full shawlette:

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This pattern used an interesting technique to warp and ruffle the top part of the shawl.  The ripples are achieved by working stockinette stitch for a spell, then on a “pickup” row you knit the stitch on the needle together with a stitch from a previous row.  Very cool textural and 3-D effect!

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Although many club members chose to knit an additional repeat of the feather-and-fan bottom edging, I decided to knit the pattern as written — I like this compact scarf/shawlette size.

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Cast-On Monday: Socks That Rock (May 2012 Club Shipment)

The odd-numbered months bring YARN in the mail! Specifically, gorgeous hand-painted sock yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, from their sock club line.  Yay!  I think we’re still in the spoiler period, so I will follow rules and say only that the colorway is beautiful (stash page here), and that I’m doing the not-sock pattern (project page here).  If you click on links, that’s up to you — spoilers abound!

Sock Yarn Review: Socks That Rock

I have knit a lot of socks.  As in, there are 50 pairs of socks on my project page on Ravelry.  That’s not even counting socks that were ornaments.  A lot of these socks were gifts, but I have kept a couple dozen pairs for myself.  I wear pretty much exclusively hand-knit socks, summer and winter.  I put my socks through a LOT — they are worn in hot, sweaty sneakers at outdoor dog agility trials,  in boots on snow-tubing trips, and nearly every day in my favorite pair of black leather shoes.  About the only abuse they don’t get is being worn alone — even indoors, I usually have slippers on my feet. In the beginning, I took sock yarn at it’s word, and I used to machine wash AND dry all my socks with all the rest of the laundry.  Eventually I decided that my socks had a hard enough life already, so now my socks get medium hand-knit treatment: I machine wash them in a separate load on the “hand wash” setting (cold water, intermittent agitation), and I hang them on the banister to dry.

I’ve noticed that some brands hold up better than others, and I’ve decided to share my thoughts with you, dear reader. This post will be the first in a series of sock-yarn reviews. I will address the aspects of sock yarn that are meaningful to me: beyond the initial pleasure of creating the socks, how do the socks wear?  Propensity to felt, pill, fade, or shrink can ruin a beautiful pair of socks, and I’ve had a few brands become card-board stiff over time. Please allow that this is only my personal, unscientific opinion!  All usual disclaimers apply.

The target this week is one of my favorite brands of sock yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight and Socks That Rock Mediumweight.  For the last few years, I’ve been a member of the BMFA sock club, which ships yarn and two gorgeous full-color patterns every other month.  I adore their base yarn — a tightly spun, springy fiber — and their dyer creates vibrant, gorgeous colorways.  It is a joy to knit with, whether in plain stockinette, lace, or cables. Here are the seven pairs of socks that I’ve knit over the last few years with STR, along with the date I finished the project:

Cascadia (Feb 2010)

Still soft, mild pilling and felting (toe and heel), mild shrinkage, severe fading.

Then:

9655 Cascadia socks9630 Happy Go Lucky Cascadia

Now:

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Secret Garden (April 2010):

Still soft, mild pilling, moderate felting (toe, heel, sole), mild shrinkage, moderate fading.

Then:

9900 BMFA STR March 2010 socks

Now:

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Firecracker Corners (Jan 2011):

Mostly soft, moderate pilling, moderate felting (toe, heel, sole), no shrinkage, moderate fading.

Then:

1339 firecracker socks

Now:

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Jan 2011 RSC Socks (Jan 2011):

Still soft, mild pilling, moderate felting (toe, heel, sole), no shrinkage, severe fading.

Then:
1939 Jan 2011 STR Social Network

Now:
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Mar 2011 STR (May 2011):

Still soft, mild pilling, mild felting (toe, heel), no shrinkage, mild fading. ALSO — I had to darn a hole in the leg already, and another hole has appeared near the cuff. I think this is a fluke for this particular colorway (possibly even just this skein), as I have never had any trouble with holes/breakage with this yarn before or since.

Then:
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Now:
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Problem:
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July 2011 STR Socks (Oct 2011):

Still soft, mild pilling, mild felting (toe, heel), no shrinkage, mild fading.

Then:
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Now:
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Shoreward Socks (Jan 2012):

Still soft, no pilling, mild felting (toe, heel), no shrinkage, no fading. (These socks have only been worn a handful of times, and likely will fade and pill at least a little bit.)

Then:
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Now:
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Conclusions:

Softness: 5/5

Pilling: 4/5

Felting: 4/5

Shrinking: 4.5/5 (do not wash/dry with regular laundry)

Fading: 3/5 (some colorways fade more than others — red/pink seem particularly vulnerable)

 

 

Average: 4.1/5

I will continue to buy STR yarn. I don’t think it holds up well to regular laundry treatment, despite being “superwash.”  After I switched to gentler laundering, I no longer had a problem with shrinkage.  I expect all my socks to felt a bit at the toes and heel (tennis shoes! summer!), and pilling a bit is also expected.  I have been disappointed with how faded some of the socks became — after all, the gorgeous colorways are a big part of the draw for STR yarn.  I would be hesitant to buy a lot of red/pink yarn from them (although I still love getting it in the sock club!).  I may try a vinegar bath with any future red/pink colorways.

Cast-On Monday: Parseval in the Clover, Ashton Sweet Pea, RSC Jan 2012 Not-Sock

Here I go, casting on new projects like a crazy person.  I had a good reason though! I’m sure I did. I think.

First up: Parseval in the Clover

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I finished the knitting on a sweater-for-me project, and although it was blocking and lacked three buttons, I gave myself permission to swatch for my long-planned Parseval.  Except, I wanted to swatch in the round, because the garment is worked mostly in the round … and when I decided how much to cast on, I realized that it was almost enough for a sleeve … so in a way, I’m not swatching.  I cast on for a sleeve willy-nilly with just a guess at the correct needle and garment size. I will wash & block the sleeve when it reaches 6 inches or so, but this is unsteady ground for me.  I have learned, however, that flat swatches aren’t necessarily accurate when planning in-the-round garments, so there it is.  I love the yarn (Gloss DK), and the pattern isn’t too terrible (4×1 rib, mostly).  I really want the finished sweater, and all the knitting becomes interesting towards the end, so I should be good to go.

Next up: Ashton Shawlette

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I love this KAL choice — it’s the Feb project in the Beginning Lace Knitters group. There’s nothing super-special about the pattern, but it is well balanced and extremely well written.  The designer has written a lovely tutorial that new lace knitters should find exceptionally helpful, and she’s providing it for free.  I’ve already used it to help a new-to-lace knitter get started.  For my own Ashton, I’m pleased to say it seems like my unloved ball of Sweet Pea (from the 2010 Socks that Rock sock club) has finally found its true calling as a simple lace shawlette.

Third, I also cast on the “not a sock” pattern from the first shipment of the 2012 Socks that Rock sock club.  This year, the good folks at Blue Moon Fiber Arts are providing two patterns (as they have for the last two years), but one of the two patterns is not a sock!  Due to spoilage issues, I can’t say any more about the pattern or color, except that I am IN LOVE with both. Of course I had to cast on.

New Pattern Release: Babylon Shawlette

Introducing my latest pattern: the Babylon Shawlette!

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Knit from a single skein of sock yarn, this shawlette started out life destined to be a pair of socks … but the yarn wanted more. In sock form, the colors pooled and flashed in an unacceptably foul manner. No matter what I did, the yarn would not cooperate.

 

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PatternBabylon Shawlette

DesignerRachel Henry (that’s me!)

Available: $6 on Ravelry

Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight (biggie skein)

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Design/Skills Needed: This sinuous shawlette is designed to show off unusual colorways while fighting pooling and flashing with a varying-width edging and tapered ends.  Short rows at the center back curve the shawlette into a shoulder-hugging crescent and add interest to the pattern.  Babylon is worked from tip to tip in one piece — no finishing or picking up stitches! The neck edge has a worked-as-you-go i-cord border for comfort at prevent too much curling.

The trickiest bit of the edging is the yarn-over at the beginning of each wrong-side row.  It’s important to wrap the yarn the same way you would to do a normal stitch–that way, it stays open and creates a pretty loopy edge. The extra effort is worth it: a pretty edge that doesn’t roll and isn’t garter stitch, yay!

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FO Friday: Electric Kool-Aid Acid Socks

1930 STR March 2011

The March 2011 Rockin’ Sock Club kit from Blue Moon Fiber Arts was extremely colorful, to say the least!  The colorway had a great name: Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

1932 STR March 2011

Two great patterns, as usual, made it extremely hard to choose … but ultimately I decided on one and got to work.  I love how the basic p1, k3 rib can get so excited with a slipped stitch here and there.

1956 Intrepid Traveler socks

Project: Mar 2011 RSC Socks

Pattern: Intrepid Traveler

Designer: Gail Marracci

Available: to club members now (join up! it’s fun!) and to the general public in 2012

Yarn: BMFA Socks That Rock Lightweight in Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

I’m proud to say I finished this kit’s socks *before* this month’s kit has even shipped!  Even though they weren’t a “priority” project, they trucked right along.  Inexplicably, the two socks pooled and flashed differently. This colorway is so wild, it really doesn’t matter.

2357 Electric Kool-Aid Acid Socks