Forgive me, for I am a selfish knitter…

I try to be a good person, but…

I am actually a terrible person. I have all these plans to knit Christmas gifts for other people (e.g. a vintage Mary Maxim reindeer sweater for The Girl, cowls and fingerless mitts for various and sundry friends and/or relatives, a hat and socks for my husband, etc. etc.), but I keep getting distracted by stuff for me. Plus, I’m having trouble using my copious stash for these urgently required items so I keep buying things.  For instance, this Spud & Chloe Fine that I just bought for the husband’s Chili Pepper Hat, which I’m almost finished:

Spud & Chloe Fine in Hippo and Pavement

In fact, I was recently busted by the aforementioned spouse when he asked me “Hey, I once heard you say that you have more yarn than you’ll ever use in your lifetime, so why did you just buy more?” Naturally, I had no answer for this so pretended I hadn’t heard the question. How can I possibly make him understand that, yes, I have a veritable mountain of perfectly good fingering weight yarn stored under every bed and in every closet in the house, but none in the exact colour needed for the hat I’m making you with all the love in my heart.

Um, yeah…. I’m keeping that

An example of an object tricot initially meant for someone else that I have subsequently selfishly appropriated is Jane Richmond‘s Rae, which I made using SweetGeorgia’s Tough Love Sock in a custom colourway from Knit City. I think you’ll agree that the pattern and the yarn were born for each other. Just look how stripey it is without being pool-y:

Rae Scarf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, my idea was that this will be a gift for someone as-yet-undetermined, but the more I look at it and wrap it around my neck, the more I realize that I need to just accept that the only way someone else will have this is if it’s pried from my cold dead hands.

Also, I just finished Veronik Avery’s beautiful Lace Weekend Socks, which I cast on with every intention to gift them, but once finished, I put them on and, Bingo!, suddenly they were mine. Veronik’s (very sadly discontinued) St-Denis Boreale yarn is absolutely divine for socks. So woolly and cozy, it’s impossible to imagine giving them away. In fact, just the thought of parting with them made me a little weepy. (BTW, go to stdenisyarns.com now – all the yarn (Boreale, Nordique and Sommet) plus her lovely patterns are on clearance.)

Lace Weekend Socks

 

More distraction

And now, after digesting Jane’s exquisite new book Island and favouriting every single pattern, I’ve just placed an order from Quince & Co. for two skeins of their Sparrow linen yarn in Juniper to make her Strathcona scarf. (Update: I just received notification that it has shipped. Wheee!!)  And this time, I’m not even bothering to pretend that it’s for anyone but me. I mean seriously, this colour has me written all over it.

Sparrow in “Juniper” (photo from Quince & Co.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The good news as far as my Christmas knitting goes is that the aforementioned Sparrow won’t arrive for a few weeks (shipping from Maine) so I’ll have plenty of time to cast on the reindeer sweater and maybe even get most of it finished before the end of November.  Providing, of course, that my inner magpie can resist becoming distracted by other shiny projects in the meantime. (Yarn gods give me strength!)

Something I plan to focus on after my Christmas work is done is plowing through Pacific Knits, the other book I bought at Knit City. I love every single pattern in it. My niece is expecting again in a few months and I’ll need some wee woolies for him/her and a tiny-sized Antler Cardigan would be a perfect.. Happily, I may have stash yarn for this – which of course pretty much cancels out the cost of the Quince & Co purchase. It’s like getting free yarn! Right? Right? (Just nod in agreement.) That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  🙂

Antler Cardigan (photo by Tin Can Knits)

Happy knitting y’all!

 

Terpander Socks and Vintage Reindeer Sweater

Look, Melissa Morgan-Oakes’ Terpander socks!

Terpander Socks

If you’ve read my recent review of Ann Budd’s Sock Knitting Master Class, you’ll know that my favourite pattern from that book is Terpander.  I’ve cast on those beautiful socks with the Trish Moon’s Indigo Moon 100% merino sock yarn in her new Goldfinch colour that I bought at her stall at the Harmony Arts Festival this summer.  Just look at these socks – the cables are simply delicious and the yellowy-green-yellow yarn is just gorgeous – it has to be seen in person to be fully appreciated.


And looky here, a finished object! – Vintage Reindeer Sweater


As for finished objects, I (finally) finished DH’s Vintage Reindeer Sweater which I made from an original Mary Maxim 1950s pattern I found on eBay for $7.
I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky which was the most economical 100% wool yarn I could find that even came close the to required gauge.  The gauge didn’t match the pattern exactly so I did a little monkeying with needles and by knitting a size bigger than he usually wears but it still came out a little snug under the arms and across the chest.  After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I found redemption with TECHknitter and her ingenious gussets and now the sweater fits DH perfectly.  The knitting itself was pretty quick but I became a little bogged down by the incredibly time-sucking process of inserting the zipper.  (N.B. I used another tip from TECHknitter to prepare the zipper for insertion – see the Winter 2010 issue of Interweave Knitsfor a full explanation of the process.  It doesn’t make the process any quicker but it’s pretty easy, looks great and no actual sewing is required.  Win-win-win.  Bonus:  check out Eunny Jang explaining the process:

 

BOOK REVIEW – SOCK KNITTING MASTER CLASS

 

The sock-knitting book you’ve been dreaming of

It’s finally here: Sock Knitting Master Class, Innovative Techniques + Patterns from Top Designers published by Interweave Press. It’s another instant classic by best-selling author Ann Budd and it’s definitely worth the wait. This time around she has collaborated with 15 other top designers to produce 17 stunning new sock patterns, all of which beautifully incorporate the signature elements and techniques each designer is famous for.

Contributing Designers

Devoted knitters will recognize the work of these master knitters:

  • Cookie A.
  • Kathryn Alexander
  • Véronik Avery
  • Cat Bordhi
  • Nancy Bush
  • Evelyn A. Clark
  • Chrissy Gardiner
  • Priscilla Gibson-Roberts
  • Anne Hanson
  • Eunny Jang
  • Melissa Morgan-Oakes
  • Deborah Newton
  • Clara Parks
  • Meg Swanson
  • Anna Zilboorg
  • and of course, Ann Budd herself

The patterns in Sock Knitting Master Class are divided into two main categories:

  • top-down
  • toe-up

Within each construction type, you’ll find:

  • lace
  • cables
  • stranded colourwork
  • slip stitches and
  • twisted or travelling stitches.
I’m drawn to squishy textures like cables and lace and my personal faves from the book are Melissa Morgan-Oakes’ Terpander (which I’ve cast on already), Cookie A.’s Asymmetrical Cables and Ann Budd’s Mock Cables and Lace:
Cookie A’s Asymmetrical Cables

Terpander socks by Melissa Morgan-Oates

Mock Cables and Lace – Ann Budd

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything you need to know about sock knitting

In addition to how-tos for the various cast-ons/bind-offs (including the brilliant Judy’s Magic Cast-On and Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off), there are chapters on mastering the elements of good design: fit, comfort, yarn and gauge, needle choice, heels, toes and aesthetics. To borrow a quote from a recent KnitPicks podcast, this book makes me want to drop everything and knit something from it right now!

Why should you buy it?

What sets Sock Knitting Master Class apart from other knitting books is that it’s perfect for newbies or intermediate knitters and anyone in between. If all you want are gorgeous new patterns, look no further. If you want knitting instruction, that’s here too.  Beginners can learn about socks from the ground up and the adventurous will be inspired to pull up their socks and take their knitting to the next level. Everything you could possibly want to know about knitting and designing socks is in Sock Knitting Master Class. Helpful insider design tips and notes accompany each pattern, including yarn suggestions and tips on how to customize to suit your preferences.

Oooh, there’s even a DVD included!

The book includes a bonus 95-minute instructional DVD in which Ann Budd brings Sock Knitting Master Class to life by discussing and demonstrating tips and techniques, including cast-ons and bind-offs, which can be difficult to learn “off the page”. It’s very easy to skip ahead chapter-by-chapter on the DVD if you want to pick and choose topics. It’s not necessary to watch the entire presentation if you only want to see a specific technique demonstrated.

To paraphrase Knitty.com, this is the best sock book that has been published so far. That is all. Go buy it.  I couldn’t agree more. After all, it’s what you’ve been dreaming of.

Happy New Socks, er, New Year!

I [finally!] finished DH’s Don Draper Wants Me socks. They were a toe-up pattern with a classic heel and I finished the cuff edge with a Russian bind-off. I think next time I do a toe-up, I’m going to try a sewn cast-off. The Russian edge is a little wavy-ish but of course, when worn, the edge is smooth but I’m just not crazy about the slight ruffle-y look.

With another FO done, I’m forging ahead with my Lacy Cable Socks (above) from Veronik Avery’s brilliant Knitting 24/7. The yarn is Ripples Craft Hand Dyed Yarns Sock Yarn and a really beautiful semi-solid in a sweet heathery lilac wool/nylon blend. It’s nice and squishy but a teeny bit rough-ish feeling. I’m sure it will soften up with washing. In the meantime, this super-easy 8-row lacy pattern is very easy to do.

I recently learned that my niece and her new hubby are expecting in June (they didn’t waste any time – they are due pretty much exactly 9 months from the date of their wedding!) so I’m getting revved up thinking about baby knits again. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE Veronik Avery’s Lullaby Blanket from her St-Denis Magazine Issue 2 and have set my mind to thinking about what yarn to use. I want a soft washable wool in a nice creamy ivory or pale grey.

I also adore classic baby wear like Knitting Pure & Simple’s hooded jacket and matching Baby Bottoms. I may whip up another Duck Soup Cardigan in something soft and heathery. I love the classic look of that one and it was so fast and easy to make. That’s the beauty of baby knits – they’re nice, small projects that knit up quickly so I’m hoping to make several things for her.

Speaking of babies, this brings me to something that totally perplexes me. It’s not really a pet peeve but I just don’t understand why expectant parents feel compelled to know the sex of their baby and name it before it’s born. To me, whether you’re having a boy or girl is the last great surprise in our modern world. I’ve asked people at work about this and invariably they say they are “planners” and like to know what to expect so they can be prepared. I’m just the old broad with near-grown children so it’s no surprise that the latest wave of parents don’t listen to me, but seriously, I know for a fact that no amount of pre-planning prepares you for anything when it comes to children. Knowing the sex of your baby in advance doesn’t make a whit of difference when it comes to what’s important. Kitting out the nursery in “boy” or “girl” colours doesn’t prepare you for sleepless nights, seemingly endless crying (oh, and the baby’s crying too) and the never-ending worry about whether they’re still breathing. And don’t get me started about teenagers. I seriously doubt that obsessive pre-planning and pre-naming has any bearing on how your child develops. It makes me a little sad to think that so many parents are willingly depriving themselves of the joyful surprise of whether you’ve brought a tiny girl or boy into the world. I will never forget how during my first pregnancy I felt convinced I was carrying a boy and had become accustomed to that idea and when finally, 12 days late and after endless labour, boom! it was over and I asked “What is it?” The doctor [hilariously] said “It’s a baby!” and I said “I know that – what is it?” and he said “It’s a girl”. Time stopped, I started crying and was overwhelmed with an all-consuming happiness. When I finally held my little treasure in my arms, the surprise of her identity made the moment so special. We had a shortlist of names but after spending several days peering into her eyes wondering “who are you, what is your name?” and watching her find her way in the big world, we tossed out those names and decided on one that suited her to a T. It was great fun. But that’s just me, I guess. No one has ever accused me of being Type-A.

Order up! and Honey-bee Socks

The Poffertjesblankie is a little slow and I must pick up the pace since the intended recipient is great with child and due to deliver very soon. Knitting around and around and around can be a little mesmerizing and I sometimes find my eyes involuntarily drooping after about 20 minutes. It’s not boring at all, it’s just sort of hypnotizing. So I’m trying to shake things up and stay awake by alternating making a couple of circles and then connecting them together. That way I can watch the blanket grow, which is quite exciting. Watching a stack of pancakes grow is a little tedious by comparison, although they do look scrumptious. Pass the maple syrup please!

The blankie isn’t the best commuting project (what with all the casting on and snipping and putting stitches on waste yarn). Socks are my preferred knit for the trip to and fro the office every day. So I’ve cast on bumble-bee covered Netherfield from Twist Collective in luscious Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in a rich Gold. These will be a Christmas present for a friend. She loves bees and this yarn looks like spun honey.

The very helpful gal at Urban Yarns in Edgemont helped me find this. It’s sold with 400 m of Fleece Artist Angel Hair in the more semi-solid version of gold. It’s the spitting image of Kidsilk Haze and I’ll probably use it for a scarf or shawlette thingy. It was on sale for only $20 for the two yarns. Bargain of the week!