Prevention is better than cure

I’m having a very productive bank holiday weekend indeed. There has been bread baking, spinning, plying and erm, *cough* sock mending.

I’m quite, completely and utterly rubbish at the sock mending malarkey. Socks tend to sit ignored for a while in my craft box while I procrastinate for an age or three before reluctantly attempting to mend them. I think my lack of darning skills has a lot to do with the procrastination. I did think that buying my nifty little vintage darning loom might help but I found the instructions quite baffling. One day I hope to do a course with Tom Van Deijnen and then magically it might all click into place but I fear I might soon run out of socks in the meantime.

While I was botching mending one of my socks it occurred to me that perhaps the answer lie in reinforcing the socks before the yarn wore too far. So once the hole was kind of darned I checked my other socks to look for ones that were getting threadbare. My Orangina socks that I knit for the Richmond Knitters 2010 Socktober KAL fit that bill perfectly. I have to say that these socks have worn extremely well.

So a few rows before The threadbare bit I started duplicate stitching up the row. I left quite a bit of tail at the bottom though because I find duplicate stitching down a bit problematic and I’d formed a cunning plan.

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I was particularly careful to ensure that the stitch was properly duplicated in order to maintain functional integrity. Once I gone beyond the height of the threadbare patch I took the needle off leaving that tail long at the top because cunning plan. I then threaded the tail of yarn at the start of the row and started to duplicate stitch the next row.

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Once I reached the top of the second row I threaded the tail of yarn I previously left at the top. Now my thinking was that I currently have two rows of duplicate stitch sitting side by side. However, to increase the strength of the mend the two rows should be connected like in knitting. To do this I used the technique for weaving in ends and wove the yarn tail down connecting the right hand leg of the first row with the left hand leg of the second row.

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Cunning yes? Now I worked out this method this morning but that doesn’t mean it’s new in any way. I don’t think that there is much more one can invent in knitting, after all it’s been going on for centuries. I’m sure there are lots of really clever people out there who’ve done this before. I thought I’d post how I reinforced these socks because I’d never seen it before but then on the scale of things I’m a knitting ignoramus and should probably read more. I’d love to know if anyone has seen this technique before or has any other interesting suggestions for mending or preventing holes.

The finished fix is nicer than any previous attempt I’ve made at darning proper.

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The back looks quite tidy too, compared to my previous attempts at fixing my socks.

ps. Sorry for crappiness of photography. My bad ūüėē

Crafty update

It’s Good Friday and I am loving the Spring weather and the new foliage on the trees so much as peopple who follow me on instagram will know. ¬†I have Good Friday and Easter Monday off work but they are sandwiching 2 very long days at work so I am cramming as much crafting as I can into today. I have a loaf of bread proving in the kitchen and while it does it’s thang woolly crafts beckon.

I currently have  3 projects on the needles, a pair of handspun socks for my sister Teresa, a pair of socks for my son Elliott and my Follow Your Arrow shawl which has been stalled due to lack of yarn.


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I’ve done both clue 3’s with 3 repeats of 3a and I’m planning to do both clue 4’s so I have clue 4a and then 5a to do. The yarn is a 2ply, fingering weight, woollen spun yarn grown and spun on the island of North Ronaldsay where the beach dwelling ¬†sheep feed on seaweed for most of the year. It is a very special yarn and has a wonderful rustic quality that I adore. I wanted this shawl to be huge, because I’m loving the yarn and the pattern, hence running out. As I couldn’t get any more yarn in the light grey colourway I decided to purchase 200g of the roving in the light grey and spin a replica-ish 2ply yarn to finish my shawl.

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It smells so wonderfully sheepy and feels so divine I will have to get more and make an entire jumper.

The idea of spinning a replica yarn is making me a bit nervous so whilst the roving was in transit I decided to spin the second braid of a Thylacine BFL top to practice. I had finished the first yarn towards the end of last year and I’m currently spinning the 2nd of the 3 singles. The finished yarns will become socks for me.

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I’m hoping to have this yarn finished by the end of next weekend so I can start spinning my North Ronaldsay yarn. Better crack on then! (Appalling egg pun totally intended) ūüėČ

WiP update

I’m over 1/3 through my ginormasquish blanket and still in love with the project. ¬†I’m making steady progress and I can’t wait to be able to snuggle underneath it. However, the thing with big projects like this, is that you really do have to be completely monogamous and diligently knit away at it otherwise it will loiter on the needles FOREVER!

Monogamous that is, with the exception of a portable project because let’s face it, this blanket is sooo not portable and PT without knitting just doesn’t bear thinking about. ¬†So, in time honoured tradition I cast on a sock.

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How pretty is that yarn? The deep, deep, deep blue with it’s subtle variation of tone. It was dyed by my amazingly talented friend Ursula. If you recall, it was Ursula who helped me turn the ancient bra handspun yarn into the beautiful ocean blue yarn. She has been dyeing for a while now and selling her wares to the Richmond knitter’s who greedily buy it all up. We know beautifully dyed yarn when we see it!

Here’s a picture of my most recent episode of yarn gluttony.

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My photographic skills do not do them justice at all! They are all semi-solid BFL skeins but the red one is a BFL/nylon blend. As you know, I love knitting socks out of BFL, once washed they are every bit as soft as Merino but because BFL is a longwool it’s so much more durable and with a much better stitch definition than Merino.

Anyhoo, I need to return to blanket knitting.

ttfn x

Still here

So it’s been a while…

I’ve been kind of busy with stuff which is why I haven’t blogged for a while.

Anyhoo, some crafting has been happening but not much, I finished a pair of ankle socks yesterday.¬†They were my usual toe-up in a really beautiful Skein colour way “Industrial Age” I just cast off as soon as the heel was completed to give them a cute curled edge look. Here is the obligatory FO pic.

IMG_1527The cast off was the purl 2 together pass stitch back onto the left needle cast off, I don’t know if it has a proper name or anything. Sonia helped me pick the yarn out of my stash for them and she has excellent taste as you can tell.

I’ve also been working on a squishy blanket that’s going to take FOREVER! Actually I hope it doesn’t take forever because I might need it at some point this year if it ever gets cold. I am sooo very over this hot summer we’ve been having.

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The pattern is Stephen West’s Garter Squish Blanket and I’m knitting it in Cascade Ecological and Eco+. I seriously can’t wait for some cold weather to snuggle under it.

 

 

 

FO Friday

Yay! I have a FO to flaunt this Friday.

My Tartan socks are finally off the needles, they only took three months to complete, though I have completed a couple of other projects in between times. I’m very happy with them, they’re so snug and they are the kind of socks I imagine would be perfect for long walks in the Scottish countryside. Here they are…

They are my usual David’s toe up sock cookbook and all the details are on my Rav page. I chose to make 2 sets of increases, six increase stitches evenly around at 6 1/2 inches above the heel flap (where my calf becomes wider) and another six at even intervals at 10 inches to allow for my shapely calves. I thought it would be interesting to experiment a bit with calf increases and where to place them. Not sure how I feel yet, I kind of like it but then…

I’m hoping to spend this weekend knitting on the Noro scarf and a bit of crafty shopping, no yarn or fibre though. Maybe start some fibre prep and spinning my Corriedale ready for Owls.

But first, I shall put my feet up with a well earned Hendrick’s gin & tonic with a slice of cucumber.

Hope you all have a great weekend.

Cheers

Mx

all WIP and no FO

Well hello there, how’s your week been?

Since we last spoke I’ve become polygamous again. I’m not normally comfortable with polygamous knitting, it tends to overwhelm me with all the WIPs bearing down on me but for many reasons I seem to have not two but three projects on the needles and it’s actually ok.

So you may recall I was knitting a pair of socks and I got this far on the second sock…

Then last weekend whilst browsing Ravelry for potential patterns for a handspun birthday gift for my sister I recalled a pattern for handspun fingerless gloves that I had queued previously. I started wondering whether the mini skeins of Bond 2ply and N-ply combined would be enough to make a pair of mitts. Then before I knew it I’d cast on for one because ¬†a pair of mitts takes a day and a half to knit up tops. Happily one mitt used just less than half¬†the mini skeins in weight.

I love knitting with handspun sooo much it’s silly.

So anyway despite the fact that it takes less than a day to knit a mitt up I didn’t cast on for the second mitt because erm… *shrugs*

Instead I cast on for Ian’s birthday scarf in a bid to have it knit for the 2nd April which is his birthday. I am all impulsiveness at the moment which is so uncharacteristic but I’m quite enjoying it. I’m about half way through this scarf now and it’s ticking a number of happy boxes for me. It’s a pleasurable yet mindless knit, it is using up some stash from way back when, there are stripes and Ian loves it (he chose the yarn and the pattern).

I have decided on a pattern for Fiona’s birthday but only because I saw one of my fellow Richmond knitter’s wearing hers and I knew that it would be perfect instantly. I won’t blog about it though until it’s with it’s owner.

Sorry for the belatedness Fi but it had to be right.

The Thylacine Sock Fibre Club Feb 2012

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how I want to spin my own yarn for socks. Ever since I learned to spin I think this has been a goal of mine and so when my favourite fibre dyer, Megan from The Thylacine announced she was starting a sock fibre club I jumped at the chance. I’ve never been part of a yarn or fibre club before but I felt it would be a good idea to push my boundaries and spin fibre for a purpose and also spin fibre that maybe I wouldn’t normally choose myself.

The first instalment was 55%superwash alpaca/25%superwas merino and 20%nylon, I chose 150g because I like longer socks and more is better.

I certainly wouldn’t have chosen to spin alpaca because during my learn to spin classes we were given some alpaca to try and I failed so dismally that I vowed never to spin alpaca again. This top however, I found stupidly easy to spin, happily so.

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Did I mention green was one of my favourite colours?

So I spun 3 singles using my spinners’ control card¬†which is a nifty little tool. Basically you multiply the wpi you require (so for sock weight 14) by the number of plies (3) and then the gauge from the card shows you how fine you need to spin (42) except it only goes up to 40 but I just tried to spin 40 or less.

I managed to 3ply 265 yards/130g which is more yardage than I normally get and is more or less 14wpi and the finest I’ve ever spun so I am really happy with it. I would like to get more yardage in future, tips on how to do this would be greatly appreciated.

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The remainder of the singles became 50 yards of 2ply and then 6 yards of N-plied.

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I want to knit this yarn up into socks immediately but as I’ve only just started the second Zauberball sock it might be a while. Obviously when I do I shall be using David’s toe up sock cookbook because I am a creature of habit. Come to think of it this pattern may also be big a reason for my hand-spun sock obsession.

Although March’s instalment is due soon I have been going through my growing fibre stash (I also succumbed to the regular The Thylacine fibre club, my bad!) and I have quite a few BFL tops that are now destined to become sock yarn. However, currently on the wheel is the second Skein singles, the first one was transferred from spindle to bobbin and looks like this…

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A shawl in the making perhaps?

Rare Beauty

My favourite online spinning store Spun Out has reopened, since the owner moved from Perth to Melbourne.  So to celebrate I felt I aught to make a purchase or two. This was purely a selfless show of support of course, not at all because I am a greedy addict when it comes to beautiful fibre.

Amongst my purchases were three Skein merino/silk tops in the Wasabi colour-way. I love these colours so much.

I am a huge fan of Skein yarns as you know but sadly Kristen has stopped dyeing fibre so these tops are indeed a rare thing. They are 50% merino and 50% silk and so fine and slippery that I struggled to spin it on a wheel. This is probably my fault as I am a fast treadler, I am therefore spindling and enjoying every moment. I haven’t decided whether to 2ply or 3 ply yet but I definitely know I want to make a shawl with the yarn when it’s done.

Knitting is also very enjoyable at the moment, I’m up to mid-calf on the first sock.

ttfn x

Restorative

My knitting joy is all restored, thanks to my favourite toe up vanilla sock pattern and beautiful yarn.

I know a lot of knitters would be bored knitting vanilla socks over and over but not me.  These socks are like toasted sourdough and freshly churned cold butter, truly magical and at the same time, utterly simple.  The pattern is intuitive and familiar, the colours remind me of Tartan and Harris Tweed and the slightly rustic, woolly feel of the yarn and the fabric they are creating is heaven to me.

Their job is to restore my faith in my ability to complete a project. I am absolutely certain that there will be no frogging of these socks. They are going to be knee high and both balls start at the same colour, though 100% matchy-matchiness is not a necessity.  I am completely in love with them, so much that I spend every free moment knitting and admiring them.

Happy knitting x

to the frog pond contiguous jumper!

The contiguous jumper landed firmly in the frog pond last night, even though I had made promises to Katie that there would be no frogging in 2012. ¬†It just had to be done on the grounds of insufficient yardage. I knit on it for most of yesterday after lunch and evening past this point…

…to the point where the sleeve was nearly done bar the ribbing and then the denial I had been comforting myself with vanished and the horrible truth hit me with all of it’s clout.

In desperation I did suggest to Ian that perhaps I could finish it for him but he had to choose between possibly a cropped jumper or 3/4 length sleeves, but more than likely both. Of course he declined this offer despite being more than a little bit tipsy after a day at the cricket. So much for alcohol affecting your reasoning and judgement!

So, to thwart any possible frog induced melancholy, I got the needles out straight away and cast on for a comforting pair of colourful toe up vanilla socks in one of the Zauberball colour ways (Herbstwind, the red and teal one). As for the Zarina, it will probably become a Folded for me, at some stage in the future when the pain has eased.

Because I’m not completely mean I have promised to knit a scarf for Ian and a pair of fingerless mitts for Sam. In the meantime I will continue to search for¬†10ply yarn for Brooklyn Tweed’s Brownstone for Sam and Cobblestone for Ian.

Things that I have learned from this episode are that

1) I am no pattern designer!

2) If you’re going to knit a jumper without a pattern make sure that you have way more yarn than you think you might need or easy access to more of the same dye lot.

3) Knitting a man sized jumper in 5ply is just plain silly!

ttfn x