Cast-On Monday: Pretty Ginger Socks, Chateau Clapotis

I finished a pair of socks for myself last week, so it’s back to the “socks for mom” project. I cast on for pair #4 on Saturday, using Sock Tosh in Ginger and following Fosco’s Pret-Pret-Pretties pattern (by Heather Ordover). I’m looking forward to learning the Welsh Heel!

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I also bought three skeins of Chateau in a lovely soft pink. I’m making a scarf-width Clapotis for my MIL for Christmas. Don’t tell! 😉

FO Friday: Olive Medallion Socks

More socks for my mom!  This is pair 3 of 5 that I’ve promised her.

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Project: Olive Medallion Lace Socks

Pattern: Medallion Lace Socks

Designer: Andrea Fox

Available: FREE on Ravelry!

Yarn: Claudia Hand-Painted Yarns Fingering in “Moss”

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This was a great little pattern! Love the eye-of-patridge heel.

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FO Friday: Raspberry Wristers

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Project: Raspberry Wristers

Pattern: Garter Cable Wristlets

Designer: Amy Loberg

Available: FREE! from Classic Elite’s Web-Letter 

Yarn: CEY Fresco in #5332 (Plum)

I saw this pattern go by in a web-letter, and knew I had to make them. Any excuse to work with Fresco! So soft and dreamy :).  I have big peasant hands, so I ended up needing five repeats of the pattern (instead of just four).  I was afraid I’d run out of yarn, but I had just barely enough.  I’ve worn them frequently, and they are stashed in my purse for chilly rooms.

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FO Friday: Red Devonian

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Project: Red Devonian

Pattern: Devonian

Designer: Laura Kanemori

Available: $6 on Ravelry, or $16 for “The Sock Report vol 1” (16 total patterns)

Yarn: Malabrigo Sock in “Tiziano Red”

 

I’m making 5 pairs of socks for my mom, of which this is the first finished pair.  She chose the yarn to match outfits she already has, and I’m choosing the patterns. I have had Devonian in my queue for a while — so pretty! It suits a tonal colorway perfectly. I did change the “start of round” in the leg so that the holes would be paired (instead of offset by a round) and the sk2p would take place at the beginning of the round (instead of spread over two rounds). Also, I used a sewn bind off instead of Jenny’s etc. Other that that — these are exactly as written.

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FREE Mystery KAL: Lace Shawlette

I am very excited to announce my very first Mystery Knit-Along: Crushed.

As I have mentioned, I am working on a three-pattern collection of lace shawlettes.  Each one is made from a single skein of sock-weight yarn.  I’ve finished the samples and written the patterns for the first two, and I’m in the process of testing them. The third will be done soon.  I will be offering one of the patterns FREE as part of a Mystery KAL during the month of November.

I would like to invite all my readers to join this KAL.  I will be hosting it in the Remily Knits forum on Ravelry.

Mystery KAL icon (300)

Here’s a rough schedule:

  • available now: Pre-Clue (a swatch pattern)
  • Nov 8th: Clue #1 (setup and first few rows)
  • Nov 15th: Clue #2 (main body pattern)
  • Nov 22nd: Clue #3 (border)

CO Monday: Emperor’s New Mitts, March 2012 RSC Socks, and Tute Catkin

Last week I received the latest shipment from the BMFA Rockin’ Sock Club! The March 2012 yarn is to DIE for.  Can’t share photos yet, of course, but I will soon!  I’ve decided to make the sock pattern this month — it’s perfect for the yarn.

I also cast on for my very own Catkin! I’ve loved this pattern for quite some time, and I think it will be stunning in Mad Tosh Light in “French Grey” and “Byzantine.”

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I hope everyone in the knitting world took time to cast on yesterday for Louise Zass-Bangham‘s new design, The Emperor’s New Mitts. I did, and I don’t regret it one little bit! I elected to use the recommended yarn, Rumplestiltskin (100% pure spun gold), Unicorn (100% rainbow), and Jason (golden fun fur).  Of course it took extra care and time to place the 3000 gold beads, but I think you would agree that the results are worth it!

Here is Julian modelling my new mitts — very pretty, no?

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Zombies Heart Brains: Mini-Skein Swap

I have succumbed to hexipuffs!

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My goal for 2012 is to make one hexipuff each day … but of course I started in February, and sometimes I miss a day, so my tally so far is a mere 20 of 366. I was also hampered by a distinct lack of the right kind of sock yarn.  I have a scrap blankie also in the works, and for that one I am restricting myself to yarn from socks/shawls/etc. that I have actually knit — it is more of a memory blanket, and I love looking at the squares and remembering the projects I made with that yarn.  But, for my beekeeper’s quilt, I’m being a bit snobby — I want to use “fancy” sock yarn only, and have no repeating colors.  It says something about my knitting habits that I was able to make 20 little puffs that meet this requirement, using only what I had lying around. But aren’t they pretty?

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In order to get enough different yarns, I have jumped down the mini-skein swap rabbit hole. The basic concept is that 19 or 20 mad knitters totally sane people agree to each take a perfectly good 100-gram skein of sock yarn and chop it up into 5-gram miniature skeins, good only for hexipuffs, blankie squares, and the like.  I’ve signed up for six different swaps so far, and the first batch arrived yesterday, hooray! This swap had a “rainbow” theme — each swapper signed up for a color and went from there. Joy! I actually knit four hexipuffs last night (the last four from my own stash), so that I could give myself permission to start in on this batch.

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Which all brings me to … Zombies Heart Brains! I’m hosting a swap!  The theme, naturally, is zombies — all kinds.  As of this writing, I have filled 14 of the 19 slots — which means 5 slots are still open to you, dear reader.  Allow me to tantalize you will some of the yarns already in the swap.  Surely you want 5 grams of each?? 🙂

 

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:
2357 Electric Kool-Aid Acid Socks

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.

Ravelry Monday: Cthulhu Scarf, Ziprelaxagon, and Jardin Cardi

First Pick: Cthulhu Scarf, by Merelen (FREE!)

What’s not to love about a Cthulhu scarf? This first-time designer has produced a clear, simple pattern that captures the horror that is the Great One’s tentacled madness. The scarf is mostly garter stitch, with Cthulhu’s face in washcloth-style knits and purls.

Second Pick: Ziprelaxagon, by Kirsten Hall ($6.50)

Seriously, how OMG cool is this pattern?  Perfect for all that gorgeous hand-painted sock yarn that tempts us sock knitters, then refuses to look pretty when we knit it up.  Entrelac meets short rows and beauty results. The designer re-assures us that despite the tiled effect, the foot and leg are knit in one piece — no interminable ends to weave in.  This one is definitely a challenge … but sometimes isn’t that just what you want?

Third Pick: Jardin Ruffled Cardi, by Nitza Coto ($6.50)

This is a sweet little cardi with pretty details. It reminds me a bit of Titania, which is one of my favorite sweaters.  I would knit it in some slinky cotton/silk/bamboo yarn and wear it all spring.

FO Friday: Queen Anne Mystery Socks

1481 Family Jewels Mystery Socks

Yay, my socks are done! I have really enjoyed this mystery sock-a-long sponsored by the Knitters Brewing Company.  I talked about yarn selection and knitting style already, so instead of repeating myself, I will instead say how much I have been looking forward to having these socks done and on my feet. So pretty! I can hardly stand it. Easily my favorite detail: the heart cuff.  How charming is this?

1484 Family Jewels Mystery Socks (heart cuff)

Pattern: Mystery Socks III: the Family Jewels

Designer: Wendy Gaal

Available: free! on ravelry (kits are available with matching yarn and beads)

Yarn: Stroll Tonal in Queen Anne

1483 Family Jewels Mystery Socks (bead motif)

This pattern has a number of “new to me” features.  One of the big reasons I signed on was the opportunity to try a big bead on a sock.  When the time came, I ran off to Legacy Beads to find a 15mm-ish flat bead that worked with my yarn — no clashing colors, not so matchy as to fade into the yarn, but not too contrasty either. I settled on a “twist” Swarovski crystal bead in “Golden Shadow.”  My mad beading friend inspected the bead and determined that it had an “AB” finish on the back, but not the front, which helped it keep it’s own color while still reflecting some of the yarn color.  This makes sense to me — I had tried a clear crystal version, and it completely disappeared into the yarn.

1485 Family Jewels Mystery Socks (fleegle heel)

Another cool new-to-me thing is the Fleegle Heel. I didn’t know this was in the pattern when I signed on, so it’s pure bonus! I found it easy to do, and a nice fit.  I enjoyed it way more than a toe-up heel flap (those joins! ugh!), and it fits way better than a traditional short-row heel.  You can see a small err in my photo — the racing stripes on the gusset were supposed to blend into the leg, but I failed my “read the directions” roll and started the racing stripes one stitch too soon.  Oh well — only the designer and the 200 other people in the knit-a-long will even notice.

In general I found the pattern to be extremely well-written and mistake-free.  I prefer a charted pattern to words, but I understand the designer’s desire to “surprise” — and how a chart could potentially ruin the surprise.  I believe a complete version of the pattern will be released with full charts and so on, so chart lovers need not despair (or resort to home charting, as I did).  All unusual techniques were well-explained and/or had links to good videos.  Great fun, great community of KAL-ers!

1482 Family Jewels Mystery Socks (front and back)