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Posts Tagged ‘knit all the things’

As previously mentioned, sock knitting is my happy place, and I tend to do more knitting than finishing. So far this year I have cast off eight pairs of socks. I have completely finished — woven in the ends and washed — one pair. Last year I think I got to thirteen pairs before I did any finishing.

Finishing almost happened this weekend, but the opposite of finishing — startitis — kicked in instead. I don’t know that I can really blame this urge to start many new projects on spring because it can happen (and has happened) at any time of year. I think that there was one December where I cast on a new project pretty much every single day.

The cause varies, but this time around I am pretty sure that I can credit casting off a couple of pairs of socks in March and making significant progress on a third pair which inspired me to keep up the momentum, ignoring the fact that there are plenty of partially finished projects to which I could apply that momentum. Another cause is that while the projects which have already been started are not terribly complex, they do require some amount of focus, and it is nice to have a few projects which are simply meditative and soothing and can be knit while listening to music or watching a video.

I cast off one pair of socks made from Noro Silk Garden sock, and I have one more skein left, so I wanted to start another pair right away. I cast on a pattern called If You Know Where to Go (link goes to Ravelry).

The toe of a handknit sock resting on a cake of yarn.  The sock is knit with the magic loop method in striping yarn.
If You Know Where to Go in Noro Silk Garden Sock

This is one of those patterns which is not difficult — knits and purls — but the pattern is a 14-row repeat, so you do have to keep track of which row you just knit and which row to knit next. As I said, not difficult, and having a slightly more involved pattern can make the knitting feel as if it moves along more quickly than, say, knitting every row. The color changes in the Noro yarn as motivating, too. Right now, I am in a dark section of the yarn, so the pattern doesn’t show up too well. It will in other parts, and even if it didn’t, the process is still enjoyable.

Deciding that I needed something even simpler (and that I could knit on a slightly larger needle), I then cast on Seedy Ribbed Socks (Ravelry link). This pattern is a two-row repeat — much easier to keep track of. No notes or row counting required. I just have to read the stitches of the previous row to know that I need to knit the other row next. Also, for some reason this yarn just called to me and insisted on being knit right away (nevermind that it has been in my stash for about six years). Its time had come.

The toe of a handknit sock resting on a cake of yarn.  The sock is knit with the magic loop method in variegated blue, black, and coral colored yarn.

I am only two rows past the toe, so there is really nothing to see here but pretty colors.

Those two really should have been enough to keep me occupied for a while, but my mind wandered to some leftovers from previous projects, and for some reason it made sense that if I were starting projects with new, unused skeins of yarn, I should also make sure that the leftovers didn’t get left too far behind. Is it a good justification? Probably not, but it is what I have. Plus I had all of these empty needles just waiting for projects.

Before I knew it, I had cast on Vanilla Latte (Ravelry link) socks and Crunkled Socks (Ravelry link). I am knitting both patterns with double-stranded yarn on size two needles.

The toe of a handknit sock resting on two messy cakes of yarn -- one is blue and the other olive green.  The sock is knit with the magic loop method.
Vanilla Latte Socks in Samite and Noro Silk Garden Sock
The toe of a handknit sock leaning against two cakes of yarn.  The sock is knit with the magic loop method and has a black toe.  The foot is a marl of orange and green.
Crunkled Socks knit with leftovers from a cowl project

There had been a brief shining moment when I was focused on finishing existing sock projects. I had cast off a pair of socks which I started about five years ago, and I had been making progress on another pair which had been started at least three years ago but possibly four. Great! I could just keep going and get some other the other projects finished.

Alas, it was not to be, and I am once again awash in a sea of in progress sock projects. Do I regret it? No, no I do not. Having a variety of colors, patterns, and yarns from which to choose when I sit down to knit makes for a happy knitter.

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My knitting for at least the last year and a half has been almost exclusively socks and sweaters. I discovered what I call my magic formula for socks in terms of yarn weight, needle size, and stitch count, and I can just knit at will. The great thing about it is that the stitch count is 48, which is divisible by lots of numbers, so it works with lots of different stitch patterns. I have lots of choices. Knitting socks has been relaxing.

Knitting sweaters is generally relaxing as well, but they have a lot more stitches and take longer to knit, so my output isn’t as prolific. They do use up more yarn which is good when I am motivated to knit down the stash.

One exception has been a corner-to-corner blanket pattern. I would cast on a few stitches, increase until I had used up half of the yarn, and then decrease. It’s fun, meditative, and uses up a pile of yarn. The slight drawback, which isn’t really a drawback, is that they all turn out as squares, and for some reason my brain wasn’t realizing what I needed to do to make a rectangle.

Enter Purl Soho, specifically the Colorful Corner Blanket. The version I initially came across was made in worsted weight cotton. That link goes to a bulky version. That is the beauty of a pattern this simple. You can use any weight of yarn you want with a needle that gives you a fabric you like.

The increase and decrease sections use a slightly different technique than I used on my square blankets, but what I needed was the addition of the bias section in between the increase and decrease sections. It was obvious once I read the pattern. I have knit shawls and scarves on the bias. It is a delightfully simple technique. You just have to increase a stitch on one end of the row and decrease a stitch on the other end of the row.

Spending 10 or 15 minutes rummaging around in my yarn stash yielded three potential projects. I started with this pile of yarn:

Two shades of green, one mutli-colored yarn, and one shade of brown (not visible)

I am quite a bit further along than what is pictured, but I haven’t taken a more recent picture, and it is too dark right now to get a good one. There was a stitch count issue once I got to the bias section, so I had to pull out a bunch of rows and reknit them, but otherwise, it is going swimmingly.

The only problem is that I keep thinking about other color and yarn combinations in my stash, and I also keep thinking that I want to make one on a bigger needle and hold the yarn double so that the blanket is extra squishy and cozy. Yesterday, I finally gave in and started a second blanket.

Double-stranded yarn and a big needle make for quick work. I am completely hooked on this project. Since I am using up some odds and ends as well as different yarns with slightly different weights and yardages, I am figuring out the striping sequence and widths as I go along. I am also weighing each ball of yarn and keeping track of stitch counts at the end of each section so that I can figure out how much I need to reserve to work the decrease section at the end.

It is so much fun!! You can use leftovers or a bunch of single skeins or a combination. I keep eyeing the stash of fingering weight yarn, mentally trying out triple-strand combinations. That could put a serious dent in the stash.

The only dilemma is what to do with the blankets once they are finished. I will have to see if I can find some of them good homes. Who doesn’t need a nice, snuggly blanket, right?

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I am not big on New Year’s Resolutions.  The way I see it is that any day is a good day to make a change for the better, make new plans, start something new, finish something old, make a habit, break a habit, whatever strikes your fancy.

I did have a thought that “more life, less work” would be a good plan.  It went right out the window on January 2nd.  So much for that idea.  January 3rd fared even worse in that regard.  Third time was apparently the charm because I managed to stop working fairly close to five o’clock.

Will I now magically stop working on time every day from now on?  No.  Of course not.  But I will keep trying, and maybe eventually I will come out on the plus side.

In addition to increasing the ratio of life to work, there is the matter of quality of life.  What do I want to do with all of this time I will have once I stop working so much?  I will strive to live my creative life, pursuing activities which support my knitting and spinning hobbies, with potential to expand into photography and return to writing.

In addition to continuing to follow my passion for knitting, spinning, and things fibery in general, I want to read more, for certain.  I used to read voraciously when I was younger and didn’t have grown up responsibilities or the great time drain the Internet.  My reading appetite increased and decreased over time, and my tastes changed.  I moved into a house I had to share with another person, so I got rid of a lot of my books.  Then I started knitting with greater focus and frequency which led to greater skill and the discovery of fabulous yarns, so my disposable income went into yarn rather than books.

Last year, and it may have started in 2017, I started to rediscover books and their enchanting possibilities.  What I have not as yet rediscovered is my reading attention span.  I worry that reading takes away from my knitting (and now spinning, which I picked up last year), which it does because I can’t really knit and read at the same time, but I need to not worry about it.  I knit for pleasure and to learn and create and as meditation, but I read for those same reasons, too.

I used to read almost exclusively fiction, but now I find myself interested in the stories of people who were or are participants in and observers of history, as well as novels by and about people who are different than me — live in a different part of the world, speak a different language, or have experiences I will never have (for good or ill).  I want to learn more about my chosen hobbies of knitting and spinning, try new techniques and improve overall.  To that end, I have set myself the goal of knitting my way through Milarrochy Heids by Kate Davies.  She has also written a memoir, Handywoman, which is on my reading list, as is the memoir of Jane Hawking, who was married to Stephen Hawking for thirty years.  If the film The Theory of Everything is to be believed, without her there would have been no Brief History of Time.  I am embarrassed to say that it never occurred to me that he had been married and that his wife would have been his primary caretaker, facing all of the challenges that responsibility would entail.

There are plenty more titles I could add to the list, along with movies to see, podcasts to explore, and music to hear, but they could (and probably should) merit posts of their own.  Or I will post sidebar lists.  Or both.

How this writing thing is going to work is still a mystery, but I am to keep writing because writing is writing.

 

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