Adventures in Sock Knitting
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Knitting Vintage


A few weeks ago while working at Bad Woman Yarn, I had the chance to peruse some old knitting pattern books. One of them was Beehive for Bairns, which I just found is actually available online via Project Gutenberg here! They don’t have a publication date, nor did the book itself, but I’m guessing sometime in the 40s.

While looking for something to knit for my niece, I came across the Girl’s Flared Coat (B in the picture here) and thought it would be cute. It also happens to go up to a size 2, which is just right for my niece right now. So I embarked on this project in some nice charcoal grey yarn (coincidentally it’s Berroco Vintage).

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Unfortunately, grey sweater pieces do not make the most interesting projects to photograph, but I did snap a quick picture while meeting with my knitting group last week.

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Sweaters for a person this small are pretty speedy to knit, so I’m hoping to have it finished soon. Then I can ask my sister for super cute modeled pictures!

FO Friday #6 – Mrs. Watson


Another Bad Woman Yarn project was Mrs. Watson – a really fun pattern by Martina Behm which I knit in Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light.

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This project was a little tricky. You start out and you’re thinking “Hey, I know how this goes!” and then it all changes.

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Suddenly the pattern that you’ve been following turns a corner – literally – and you start knitting a new shape!

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It was a fun project, and I love the finished shawl. I’m thinking I might have to make one in fingering weight, which would be a bit more scarf-like. You know, in all my free knitting time. 😉

FO Friday #5 – Wendel


The Wendel socks already got their own post, but I’m including them to make my FO series complete. I didn’t really enjoy knitting the socks, though the finished project turned out well. At least I got one of my favorite knitting pictures out of it!

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That was taken quickly and without a lot of planning as I finished up the toes at a local coffee shop, but it turned out really well!

FO Friday #4 – Bubbles Sock


My friend Stephania from Three Fates Yarns and I met up at Madrona. She gave me some of this new sock base and asked if I could knit a quick sample sock. Of course I could! The pattern is Bubbles by Cookie A.

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We met up a few weeks later for the Rose City Yarn Crawl (in Portland, OR). I took the train down and used my knitting time wisely.

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We had a great time visiting all 11 stores, seeing a lot of familiar faces, and battling with huge knitting needles.

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I had the sock done by the end of the day. I believe I even did the Kitchener stitch at a sushi restaurant.

 

FO Friday #3 – Tricolor Twist Cowl


It seems to be a bit of a trend this year that much of the knitting I can share on the blog is from working at Bad Woman Yarn. This was an idea I had to use three colors of Super Lamb – a simple but neat striped cowl.

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It’s a knit tube pairing three colors in all possible combinations of two.

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I even used it to make a little knitting video for Instagram:

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Then at the end, I grafted it all together. Cute and easy!

FO Friday #2 – Pairfect Socks


When I saw the Pairfect yarn at Bad Woman Yarn, where I work, I knew I had to get some. I am a sucker for perfect stripe matching, and when I use self-striping yarn I spend a lot of time and energy making sure I cast on at the exact same point in the color sequence for both socks.

At midnight on January 1st, I cast on a new pair of New Year socks:

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I made quite a bit of progress on them in January when I took them as one of my few projects on a week-long ski trip.

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And by February 12th, I was doing the kitchener stitch at Madrona.

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I really enjoyed working with this yarn, although the stripe sequence was not quite what I had imagined. The yarn starts off dark grey, then switches to the stripes, and finishes with a bit more grey. The foot of the sock is navy. I think it would make more sense to have the “main” color on the leg be the same as the foot, but that’s just me.

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Also, it may have been my tension or it may have been the yarn, but my stripes didn’t match exactly to the stitch. By mid-sock I was almost exactly 1/2 a round off. I know that matching exactly is probably not an attainable goal, but my Type A brain would really like it if it were. At least it’s easier to set up than traditional self-striping yarn!

Overall I’m quite happy with the yarn and the socks.

FO Friday #1 – Gather


Hi all, we’re back! I came to post and realized that there was an issue with the hosting, so the site was down for a bit. But we’re back in action!

Now, on to your scheduled post:

FO Friday

Last year I did WIP Wednesday and went through all the WIPs from the beginning of the year. This year I haven’t been focused as much on WIPs and I’ve been neglecting to post my FOs. Now through the end of the year, I’ll be sharing some projects that were finished in the past year or so.

The first FO of 2016 was this cute baby hat – Gather by tincanknits. I whipped it up for a baby shower for a coworker, and it’s knit in some really lovely Malabrigo Rios. The pattern includes several sizes for the hat, and also a cowl pattern.

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This was a quick knit, and turned out really cute! I knit it one evening while watching a bunch of Psych on Netflix, and it was really well-received at the baby shower.

Washing Handknits


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When you’re a sock knitter, you wash your handknits quite a bit! At my house I like to call this “sock laundry”.

If you’re mostly knitting scarves, they probably don’t require frequent washing, but after I’ve been walking around all day in a pair of handknit socks, I think they could probably use a wash. I’m going to discuss a few options here for washing your handknits.

Washing Methods

Option 1: Handwashing

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Handwashing is my preferred option, especially when I only have a few things to wash. It’s probably the most gentle way to wash your handknits, and the ONLY way I would recommend washing wool items that are not superwash.

Fill the sink with lukewarm water and a bit of wool wash – be sure to use a wash designed for wool, and not regular laundry detergent. Submerge your knitted item and gently swish it around a bit. Most wool washes will give instructions, in my experience most tell you to soak for 10-15 minutes.

Another advantage of using wool wash rather than laundry detergent is that many of them are “no rinse”. I did rinse my socks a bit just to get the suds off, but not much.

Squeeze some of the water out, but be careful not to twist or wring your knitted item, which can stretch it out. For socks I usually just press them against the bowl of the sink. For something larger or more delicate I would lie it flat on a towel, carefully roll it up, and then press or step on the towel to absorb most of the water.

Option 2: Front-loading washer with “wool” or “handwash” option / Wonder Washer

If your handknit is made with superwash wool or another fiber that doesn’t felt, this may be an option. I find it especially handy when I have a large item or a large number of items to wash.

Before I had a front loading washer with a wool cycle, I bought a Wonder Washer to do my sock laundry. This little gadget is basically like a big blender with a plastic agitator instead of a blade. The motor turns it, swishing the items around in the water, but not with nearly as much force as a traditional top loading washing machine. One disadvantage is that there is no spin cycle, so you’ll still have to squeeze the water out as you did above when handwashing.

Newer HE washers will often have a wool or handwash cycle. I’ve used the wool cycle to wash superwash items several times. Once I even got brave and washed a cowl that wasn’t superwash, and with no harm to the cowl. At least in my washer it appears to be almost as gentle as handwashing – the washer basically just flops the wet items around. This option has the advantage of spinning the water out, which makes drying quicker and easier.

Option 3: Machine Wash

Personally, I don’t recommend washing your handknits in a top-loading washer, or on the normal wash cycle of a front loader. But, for some more sturdy yarns, that may be ok. I admit that I have washed some of my socks knit in Opal, Regia and Trekking in a top-loading washer with wool wash on the gentlest cycle and with cold water, and it was fine. That said, I don’t think it’s the best idea for long-term wear on the fabric.

I would NOT recommend:

  1. machine washing yarn that isn’t very sturdy
  2. washing handknits in mixed loads with other clothes
  3. using regular laundry detergent
  4. washing large or long items (like sweaters or scarves) in the washer – they may be stretched out by the center agitator

Other Info

Wool Wash

There are many commercially available washing products designed especially for wool. For the purpose of this post I used Allure fine fiber & fabric wash from Bijou Basin, which I received for free in exchange for my review.

I handwashed two pairs of socks using the Allure wash and had good results. It even came with separate instructions for use with HE washers, which was very helpful. I tried it out in the washer on several pairs of socks as well as a sweater knit in sock yarn, and got great results.

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This particular wash comes in a couple different scents as well as a fragrance free variety. I found the scented ones pleasant and not too strong.

Drying

Once you’ve washed your handknits, it’s time to dry them. Whatever you do, don’t throw them in the dryer!

I am well aware that many of the handknit socks I have given as gifts are thrown in the washer with regular laundry & detergent, and sometimes even in the dryer. I try to pretend that I don’t know that.

Large items like sweaters and tops or long items like scarves should be dried flat on a drying rack, or a towel on a flat surface. For lace items, you may want to pin out the lace to re-block it.

Since socks are small and not heavy, I will sometimes dry mine hanging over the bars on my drying rack or on a towel rack in the bathroom.

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Now your clean handknit is ready to wear!

In which I finish some hated socks


For the past few weeks, I’ve been working furiously on these socks, and declaring that I hate them to anyone who will listen.

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You see, a while back my LYS coworker Neal and I devised a trade. She would knit me the Damask Mittens from Fall 2013 Jane Austen Knits, and I would knit her the Wendel socks. The mittens were handed over ages ago, but I just hated knitting the socks.

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But, you see, the mittens were not without annoyance. Although modeled by an adult, they were sized for a child. The gauge was ridiculous. And Neal adjusted the pattern and knit them for me. But try as I might to knit the Wendel socks, they fell into a category of knitting that I really don’t like. For a while I considered asking her to pick a different pattern, but after she knit those mittens I figured that wasn’t really fair. Lately I started taking the socks as my “travel knitting” to force myself to work on them.

I’ve said it before, but I basically knit two types of projects.

1. Easy projects
2. Hard projects that look really impressive

This pattern fell somewhere in the middle – fiddly and certainly not easy, but not all that impressive. Every stitch was a purl, a twisted knit, or a decrease. (OK, the bottom of the foot is plain stockinette.)

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And then when I got to the toe, it all got confusing. The instructions weren’t very clear, and the designer used the term “knit” to mean “work in pattern”, which results in about 1/3 of the finished projects on Ravelry having a plain knit toe. But I figured it out (and then later figured out that there is a note about it in the Ravelry pattern notes). But seriously, update your pattern PDF, dude!

In any case, they’re done. Finally.

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New pattern: Interchange… in a new magazine!


Today is an exciting day. First off, because I have a new pattern, Interchange, out.

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But also because these socks are in the brand new Stranded Magazine! I heard about it nearly a year ago – my friends and fellow knitting group members Andi, Erin, and Monica were starting a knitting magazine. They invited me to submit a pattern, and I did. And today I can finally share it with all of you!

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I love this yarn, Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Beach Glass. The color is so lovely, and shows off the pattern detail really well. One of my favorite things about this pattern is that the patterned section is relatively small and the majority of the sock is plain stockinette. I love having patterning on the leg, but the plain foot makes for great movie or road trip knitting and a really comfy sock.

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There are also a bunch of other awesome patterns in the magazine by Lee Meredith, Andi Satterlund, and Erin Birnel. So check it out!