Thursday, June 22, 2017

Pattern Rerelease: Durango Socks

I'm happy to let you know that as of today, you can now buy my Durango Socks pattern in my Ravelry store. These socks originally appeared in Knitscene Handmade, which was published more than a year ago now, and I very nearly forgot I had the rights back because I actually wrote the pattern and knit up the sample closer to two years ago (time flies!).

These socks use a fairly traditional cuff-down construction -- ribbed cuff, heel flap and gusset, wide toe -- with the addition of a traveling twisted stitch pattern down the front of the sock. That stitch pattern is both written and charted.

The pattern has been graded to three average adult sizes and is easily adapted if you want to change the length of the leg or foot (just add or subtract pattern repeats). I've put it through my tech editor, too, even though it was edited for print in the magazine, just to make sure everything is good.

You'll need approximately 100 g of fingering weight sock yarn (or more, if you have very wide and/or very long feet). The yarn used for the sample is Brown Sheep Wildfoote Luxury Sock Yarn, a 75% superwash wool/25% nylon blend that, despite its name, is a fairly hardworking yarn. It's on the thicker side of fingering, I found, and knit up to a dense fabric on size 1 (2.25 mm) needles. Any fingering weight yarn that knits up at a gauge of 8 stitches per inch will work well for this pattern -- a solid or semisolid is an obvious color choice, but think of how cool these socks would look in a speckled yarn or even a self-striping! Or handspun! Hmm, might have to knit myself another pair of these just to try out these ideas.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

It's Always a Little Bit of Magic

Of all the finishing tools available to a knitter, blocking might be the most magical. Even years after my first experience of the magic that is blocking a piece of lace, I'm still completely amazed by how some water and pins can completely transform a piece of knitting.

Take, for instance, the handspun shawl design that finally came off my needles last week. I spent part of my day off on Friday giving it a fairly aggressive block, stretching it in all directions and securing it with a plethora of pins and blocking wires. It was beautiful even on the floor on top of some old towels, and I couldn't wait to get up on Saturday morning and unpin it. (There really is no better feeling than pulling out the pins and wires and having the knitting stay in exactly the same place, is there?)

The shawl is, in a word, enormous. It is wider than my wingspan, which I never would have guessed just looking at it on the needles. Even freshly bound off, it didn't seem so large, but garter stitch will stretch quite a bit, and I took full advantage of that fact. I really couldn't be more pleased with how this turned out, and that applies to the design as well as the finished size. It really did turn out as I saw it in my head, if not better. I will get some proper pictures later in the week, but for now I have to rely on my "junior photographer" to snap some shots.

I have some Neighborhood Fiber Co. Rustic Fingering all wound up and ready to be cast on for another version of this shawl (I want to check a couple of numbers, but I also feel it's important to give a commercial yarn in the pattern in addition to my handspun version). I have a feeling the second iteration will go a bit faster than the first, especially considering that I won't be designing as I knit this time around -- not to mention that I am anxious to get the pattern done and out into the world!

The second shawl would have been cast on already were it not for the fact that I seem to be addicted to knitting dishcloths. I finished another Chinese Waves on Sunday night and promptly cast on a third, which is already more than halfway done.

The second one was done in a colorway called Sunrise Ombre, and I quite like it. The current cloth (not pictured) is in a very patriotic red, white, and blue colorway. I have a feeling there will be more after it's done, too, particularly as I just stocked up on kitchen cotton and it's so easy and so satisfying to go through the relatively small skeins. I was very proud of myself for using just about every last inch of yarn on the second one -- I ended up with about two inches on each of the two tails at the end. I did encounter a knot in the middle of that skein and doubled up on the yarn for about 10 stitches or so, and frankly I don't think you can tell where it was unless you look really closely. I've found that it takes me maybe 3-4 hours of knitting to finish one of these (I knit a bit slower with cotton than with wool, as it's a bit hard on my hands), so theoretically if I keep one on the needles all the time, I should have a good stack of them done in a couple of weeks. At the moment I don't have a huge need for dishcloths (I primarily use them to wipe up splashes on the counters after I do the dishes, so they don't get dirty or worn out very quickly), but it's always good to have a stack on hand.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Long Ply

The long weekend is drawing to a close, and I'm enjoying the last few hours of leisure time before it's back to the regular crazy schedule at work tomorrow. I've spent much of the weekend at my wheel, and by the time I went to bed yesterday, all the singles of my Fibernymph Dye Works Falkland had been spun.

The multicolor singles in the top bobbin were spun pretty much entirely Friday and Saturday. The colorway is called Shetland Jellyfish -- appropriate given that for much of the time that I spent spinning them, I was watching Shetland on Netflix. I've now watched all the episodes that are available and started plying, which I think is likely to take quite a while.

What's surprised me as I've been plying is that the colors in the multicolor braid -- which appeared so vibrant as I was spinning them -- are so toned down by the semisolid single. There are even some places where both singles look almost the same color. I think the finished skein is going to be a lot more even in tone that what you'd expect from something designed to barberpole, and I quite like it. I've got a total of 6 oz. of singles to ply, so I expect it's going to take several sessions at the wheel over the course of the week. With any luck, I'll have some finished beauty shots and final specs to share with you next Sunday.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

I'm Ready for the Bind-off Party

My main knitting focus this week has been my handspun shawl, and I've been working toward the goal of getting it finished before the weekend. When I put it down last night, I decided it was big enough, so tonight I'll be knitting one more row and then binding off -- and finally getting a sense of its size (preblocking, anyway). I will weave in all the ends and be ready to block tomorrow.

I'm really excited for this project to be done, even though I'm planning to cast on a second shawl in commercial yarn almost right away to double-check my numbers. It feels like this particular project has been on the needles for a really long time, and to be honest I've felt a little guilty about neglecting it the past couple of months. It will be interesting to see how long it takes me to knit the second shawl, assuming I can continue to knit it uninterrupted until it's done!

The only other project on my needles at present is my Impressionist Spring socks, which are about 75% complete (I just finished the gusset decreases on the second sock). These will be done in short order.

I think that thus far I've totally neglected to mention that I'm hosting a stranded colorwork knitalong in my Ravelry group (though if you follow me on social media or are signed up for my newsletter, you already know about it). All of my stranded colorwork patterns are eligible, and they're all currently on sale for 20% off with the code COLORWORK until 11:59 p.m. Eastern tonight. I hope you'll join us!

Tomorrow, I am taking the day off from work (I had a use-it-or-lose-it day I needed to take), and I plan on spending it relaxing. If the weather cooperates, I'm hoping to take a long walk in the morning and then spend time with my knitting and at my spinning wheel. The Mister and I are going to a fancy schmancy black tie event in the evening, so I won't have a ton of time, but it will be nice to sleep in a bit and not have to be in the office for the day. Whatever you have planned for your weekend, I hope it includes some fiber time!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Small Victories

After finishing so much in May, I feel a bit like I've been a knitting slacker this month. Thus far, all that's been finished has been small things, like this sock:

I am nearly halfway done with the second sock of the pair as well and hope to have both wrapped up by the end of the week.

Last night I also finished a dishcloth, which is something that's small enough that it hardly merits a real FO post.

This is the Chinese Waves Dishcloth in Lily Sugar'n Cream Ombres in Moondance. I used a size 6 (4.0 mm) needle and cast on 51 stitches, and I ended up using all but a few inches of the entire skein of yarn (I'll admit I did an extra-long weaving in of the end after I bound off to use up as much of the tail as I could). I didn't have time to start it last night, but I already pulled out another ball of kitchen cotton to start another one -- ideally, I'd like to get a stack of these knit up before SSK, as they count toward an SSK knitalong because the designer is a teacher this year.

The other project that's still on the needles (though I hope not for long) is the handspun shawl. It had been seeing a lot of attention during the Stanley Cup Finals, as long rows of garter stitch proved to be perfect for nervous hockey watching, but now that the season is over, I'm anxious to get it wrapped up. I only have a handful of rows left to work before I'm ready to bind off, and I have to say that I'm really pleased with how it's turning out. Here's a peek at it (though once again it's hard to get the full effect when it's all bunched up on the needles):

It will be fun to bind this off and block it if only to get a sense for how large it actually is. To be perfectly honest, I've been kind of designing this as I go, so I really haven't planned for it to be a particular size -- it is what it is. Given that my stitch count is approaching 500, I imagine that it's going to be pretty sizable -- and that's rather impressive considering that I'll have yarn leftover!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Shades of Sand

This past week, I've been working on spinning up the first half of the singles for the first shipment of the Fibernymph Dye Works Barberpole Fiber Club. I started with the semisolid of the pair, figuring that it would be the less exciting of the two colors to spin. What surprised me is that it had much more depth to the color than first appeared, with tones of white and even pink appearing. I spent several hours on it yesterday so that I could finish the bobbin.

This is three ounces of singles, and now I have three ounces of the multicolored fiber left to spin. With any luck, I'll be able to do that this week.

The BFL skein I finished last week has been washed and dried, and I have its final yardage. It ended up being about 366 yards, less than I hoped for but not surprising -- I always seem to get lower yardage with BFL compared to other breeds. It and the Corriedale skein from two weeks ago are now up in the shop, if you're interested.

I'm posting this early because it's hot and sunny today, and temperatures are supposed to be pushing 90, so we're headed to the pool for the rest of the day. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Pattern Rerelease: Kerameia Cowl

I know I've talked about this design relatively recently, but I'm bringing it up again today because it's now available for everyone to purchase after previously being available only as part of a kit. My Kerameia Cowl is a quick, fun stranded colorwork cowl worked in two colors of DK or light worsted yarn with an ancient Greek pottery-inspired design.

This pattern was originally available as a kit through Fibernymph Dye Works using two exclusive colorways that Lisa of FDW created for the pattern. While those colorways have since sold out, I will mention that Lisa has some semisolids currently in her shop and is always happy to dye custom orders (and her DK-weight Bona Fide base is a delight to work with, too). If you'd rather work from your stash, no problem! The pattern uses about 205 yards total, and any two DK or light worsted weight yarns will work.

I'm also using this pattern rerelease to launch a colorwork knitalong in my Ravelry group! All of my stranded colorwork patterns will be eligible for the KAL, with prizes and an initial discount offered. I'll be sending out special editions of my e-mail newsletter with some tips and tricks to help you be successful in your stranded knitting, and we'll do a lot of chatting in the group about matching yarn to project, how to hold the yarn, finishing, and so forth. If you're not yet subscribed to my newsletter, you can sign up here. I myself am going to be knitting up two more Kerameia Cowls with the leftovers from the original samples (and the colors reversed). I hope you'll join us!