Posts tagged ‘socks’
I blogged about Melissa at Single Handed Knits a couple of weeks ago. And I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed that little ravelry community. Melissa has a talent for organizing some very cool Knit Alongs (KALs) and other events, and the KAL that’s coming up is no exception! This next KAL will run during the last month of the election which nicely coincides with socktober. She’s organizing us into knitting “parties”. Everyone participating will order one of three different kits, and when you order one you’re committing to a “party”, the Toe-Up party, the Cuff-Down party, or the “Undecided”. You should totally go check out the KAL at her site and join! It’s going to be barrels of fun during a season that would probably be pretty irritating, no matter what your political philosophies are. That’s all I’m going to say about real politics since NO political chatter is allowed at all in this KAL!
Here’s where the contest comes in. I need help deciding which party to join. Here’s how you’re gonna help me out:
1.) Place your vote for which party I should join in the poll box below.
2.) Comment on this blog post with your Ravelry name and a link to the sock pattern you recommend. This is important, I can’t enter you in the give-away if you don’t comment. I’d prefer if it was a paid pattern since I’d like to take the opportunity to support an indy sock designer.
This is going to be a super quick contest. Since the kits go on sale Friday 6pm ET (noon hawaiian time), that’s when the EE polls will close. I’ll randomly select a winner from the comments and they’ll receive a sock pattern of their choice from Ravelry.
A couple thoughts to help you decide how to vote. Traditionally, I’m a cuff-downer, but I’m also up for broadening my horizons by doing something toe-up. Also, undecided can also mean a totally different, non-traditional sock knitting method. So if you want to suggest something totally crazy-pants, I’m all up for that too!
The race is on!
So I guess I sorta left the topic hanging yesterday. I gave all these criteria for my favorite yarns, now lets discuss what those favorites are!
Classic Elite Liberty Wool – $7.50/50g – 100% Superwash Merino Wool – Worsted
Ever since I first used this yarn about a year and a half ago this has been my favorite yarn to work with for any project requiring a smooth worsted wool. It has phenomenal stitch definition, is wonderfully soft, and has great memory. It was originally released in a pretty broad spectrum of colors, but it wasn’t until this year that they added some beautiful neutrals, thus solidifying it as my top favorite yarn.
Knit Picks Swish – $4.69/50g – 100% Superwash Wool – Worsted
Swish comes in at a close second. It has all the same features as Liberty Wool, but doesn’t seem to have quite the same quality. Which, as you can see, is reflected in the price. However, since it is cheaper, I do frequently consider it if I’m working with a smaller budget than usual.
Knit Picks Stroll – $4.69/50g – 25% Nylon, 75% Superwash Wool – Fingering
I haven’t found even a close competitor for this yarn. While there are other yarns that give stroll a run for its money either in the quality or luxurious feel of the yarn, none of them come close to the price. Every other sock yarn I’ve been tempted by is at least twice the price, and I really have a hard time spending $25 for a pair of socks on a regular basis. It does seem like there’s room in the market for a medium priced sock yarn. Knit picks will set you back around $10/100g, while every other brand costs $20-$25. I’d love to find some reasonably high quality sock yarn for around $15. If you know of any I missed, please let me know!
Knit Picks Gloss – $5.99/50g – 70% Wool, 30% Silk – Fingering
I love, love this yarn with no complaints. well, maybe one. It really should be made available in the stroll tonal colorways.
Knit Picks Wool of the Andes – $2.69/50g – 100% Peruvian Wool – Worsted
My favorite for any felting project. I haven’t tried Cascade 220 yet, so I can’t offer a good comparison. Anyone want to jump in on this one?
Berroco Lustra – $12/100g – 50% Wool, 50% Tencel – Single Ply – Worsted
This one is a bit different, but a lot of fun to work with. It has great stitch definition and the Tencel gives it a wonderful sheen.
Spud and Chloe Sweater – $15/100g – 50% Cotton, 50% Wool – Worsted
I like this one for baby knits that are intended to be a bit more heirloom quality. it’s incredibly soft, spun to be a bit hardwearing, and is thoroughly washable.
Berroco Remix – $10/100g – 30% Nylon, 27% Cotton, 24% Acrylic, 10% Silk, 9% Linen – Worsted
I was really surprised that I liked this one as much as I did. But I’ve now used it in three projects, and I always love the result!
I got a comment yesterday, but I’d love some other folks to jump in too. What are you favorite yarns? Why?
Today I actually got a nap AND some knitting time! These last few weeks, it seems I’ve had to pick one or the other if I have any time to myself at all! But as I was working on little Elsie’s summer dress and listening to the Knit Picks podcast from last week about cotton yarns, I started mulling over my favorite yarns, the yarns I keep in my stash, and how I tend to choose yarn for projects. At one of my little brainstorming sessions for this blog, I envisioned doing monthly yarn reviews, discussing the pros and cons of a new favorite and exploring how it may or may not further ones desire to knit beautifully and frugally. But that idea fell flat in a hurry, and as I was sitting mulling over my yarn choosing practices, I finally put my finger on why. I am a really boring knitter when it comes to choosing yarn, I have a very short list of favorites, and it’s those favorites that tend to get revisited over and over again for whatever project I happen to be dreaming up.
All that being true, I find myself consistently trolling my LYS and the internet for yarns that have the potential to add to that short list, so maybe in time, it won’t be quite that short. So what criteria do I use? I thought you’d never ask. 🙂
1) Sensible Fiber Blends
I don’t tend to like super luxury blends. I like wool/silk blends, but that’s about as luxurious as I get. I have never owned a gram of cashmere, though if the right project/yarn combo came along I’d be open to making an exception, but I’m not likely to put that yarn on the Elegant Economy short list. I tend to favor your classic superwash wools as well as your merino blends and cotton blends.
2) Sensible Yarn Weights
I’m not a big fan of thick and thin, or other funky weights, much as I may drool slightly while in the store or at a festival. The projects that those yarns work well in are just too few and far between, so I don’t tend to buy a lot of it. Not to mention, if you’ve followed me for very long, you’ll know that I like the classics, and most of your funky yarn doesn’t produce classic results. I tend to stick mostly with fingering, sport, and worsted weight yarns. Fingering and sport for sock and baby knitting, and worsted for your hats, mittens, cowls, and sweaters.
3) Sensible Pricing
This is a very relative category. As I hope I’ve made clear in other frugally focused posts, I’m not really about knitting on a shoestring, I’m more about knitting with high-quality yarn, that doesn’t have an excessive price tag. Now admittedly, that still is pretty vague. What might be more concrete is how much I like to spend for different types of projects, and then I fit in whatever yarn matches that budget. So for a baby sweater, I like to spend between $10-$20. I think all the sweaters I made for the twins matched that budget. Accessories like hats, cowls, mittens and socks have a similar budget. For a sweater for me, I prefer the $60-$80 range. So depending on what the yarn is for, you’ll usually find me recoiling from a price tag if it’s more than about $15 for a 100g skein.
4) Good Color Selection
So a yarn may meet all the above criteria and make it into a single project. However, if it doesn’t have a broad selection of colors, it doesn’t really make my list of favorites, because I won’t find myself coming back to it for other projects. Also, it’s probably fair to say, that unless it has a good grey, a good beige, cream or other warm neutral, and a black, I probably won’t be putting it on my favorites list either. I LOVE my neutrals, and while a pretty purple, pink, or teal may catch my eye for a baby sweater or cowl, I probably won’t be using it for my socks or sweaters, since I like those to blend a bit more with what I would buy if I was shopping at NY&Co, or Gap, and I would never drop over $40 on an article of clothing that didn’t go with at least 40-50% of my wardrobe. So neutrals are an absolute must when I count a particular yarn line as a favorite.
So what about you? How do you decide what your favorite yarns are?
The interesting thing and probably the obvious thing about twins is that you need double of almost everything. It makes knitting interesting. You can’t just scrounge in your stash for one little baby sweater’s worth of yarn, you have to have enough for two! I’m shocked at how many baby sweaters I could make from my stash, yet not have enough to make a matching set. Not gonna lie, it’s been frustrating.
But the other thing that makes it interesting is that if you’re going to make a matching set of sweaters, hats, or anything else, is that when you reach the fun accomplishment of finishing, you have to go and cast the exact same project right back on again. The degree of how thrilled I am with the result of the first item can have dramatic impacts on how easy it is to cast on the second. It’s basically the same thing as the second sock syndrome that is widely discussed in the knitting blogosphere.
Thankfully, this little Baby FO, was very motivating for me to cast on a second immediately.
I think I know one thing that sorta overcomes the monotany of knitting the exact same thing twice. Changing up the yarn. I had so much fun with this Garden Gate Felici, but I’m a little sick of that color repeat, so now I get to delve into the bright repeats of Groovy Felici.
I’m ashamed to say the first sweater took me a month to finish, but I can already tell the second is going to go faster.
I must say I’m thouroughly enjoying the self stripping yarn. I’ve always looked at it admiringly, yet never really having a good project for it. I really didn’t like the harsh color changes and the complete lack of control over when those color changes occurred. This slip stitch pattern does a gorgeous job of blending the color changes. It reminds me of the way you blend oil pastels together while messing around seeing how the colors play together.
With some of my other pairs of projects for these little ones, I’ve definitely had to push through that second sweater syndrome, but these little girl sweaters have been totally inspiring.
When I first started designing, I swore I’d never design socks. No particular reason, other than I felt like there were lots of other designers that were doing a phenomenal job in that section of the pattern industry, and I didn’t feel like I had anything interesting or exciting to add.
Well this winter found me with like two pair of hand knit socks and they didn’t even fit very well. I had a mountain of baby knitting to work on and I wanted these socks fast. You may also remember my eureka moment with the centered increase in December. That little discovery has oppened the door to a lot of creative stitch patterns that I was just aching to try. So inspiration met practicality and the result was these amazing socks, that were fun and interesting to knit, and were finished in two days.
If your interested in knitting them too, here are the details.
Sizes – Designed to fit a foot measuring 8.5” (21.5cm) around the ball. Size can be slightly adjusted by going up or down a needle size or two.
• 1 skein of Plymouth Galway Worsted (100% Wool) – 210 yds. / 100g. Colorway: 722
• Size US 6/4.00mm circular needle(s) or DPNs depending on your preferred method of knitting socks.
• Stitch markers (A minimum of 1 is required as well as any others you prefer to keep track of the stitch pattern)
• Tapestry Needle
So, the other night, I decided I didn’t have nearly enough hand knit socks. But, with all the baby knits and other WIPs, I was just not up to the 8-10sts/in gauge, so I threw these on the needles and was completely done in just 2 days! I’m thrilled with how they turned out!
This was an original design, made out of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes. It’s a bit scratchy for my taste, but since the yarn was leftover from another project, it made the whole affair supper cheap. I used the new increase I “discovered” in my last post. I really like the effect. I think I’m smitten with worsted weight socks in a 5 sts/in gauge, and my brain is exploding with other 2-day-sock ideas. There is just something magical about sitting down to watch TV and in two episodes, you’ve made it through the leg and part of the heel. I also just got some super cute mary janes from Crocs, that will show of handknit socks very well. It’s time to do some stocking up!
Pattern to follow in a week or so!
I’ve been swatching for days. As much as designing a new sweater can sound all exciting. There is a reality after that first completed sketch that sets in when you reallize how much thought needs to go into getting that sweater from the back of a napkin to cozily wrapped around you. The biggest hurdle is the one all knitters dread. Swatching.
The controversy over swatching is up there with continental vs. english and magic loop vs. DPNs, There is a lot of articles, books, chapters of books, and blog posts written on this topic. Many knitters argue that it’s one of the most important techniques of knitting. Others avoid it like a plauge.
Now, personally I don’t hate swatching categorically. Sometimes I love it. But sometimes it seems downright unnecessary. So as I’ve spent hours and hours working on little bits of knitting that will never turn into anything besides good math, I’ve been thinking a lot about my position on swatching.
When I Love it:
- When I’m feeling noncommittal. It’s an excellent way to feel if I like certain yarn or stitch pattern without feeling like I’m getting married to it for the next chunk of time. Sometimes if I’m really nervous about starting, I’ll do two or three swatches before actually casting on. I heard someone call it the dating phase of the knitting relationship
- It’s the one your knitting teacher/tudor will whack you over the head with every time you have a sweater that doesn’t fit, but it’s absolutely true. If you have a good swatch, your sweater will fit. I love sweaters that fit, therefore I love swatching. A good gauge swatch really is the magic that makes all the math that goes into a design work. If you’re thinking about investing a few weeks or months of your life into something, a few extra hours really is worth it.
- This kinda goes with number 1, but when I’m bored, and don’t have any big knitting to sink my teeth into. A swatch makes me feel like I might start a sweater, or I might come up with something I like better, in either case, my hands were busy, and all I lost was a few yards of yarn.
- As a designer, I LOVE getting to touch the fabric that will make up my next creation, it’s very inspiring. 🙂
- If size doesn’t matter, like a blanket or shawl, no reason to swatch.
- If I’m knitting something small like socks or mittens, it’s just as easy to rip out my work as it is to do a swatch. So why bother knitting a little swatch when the sock or mitten itself could be your swatch. AND you just might get lucky and not need to rip out, in that case a swatch would have actually been a waste of time.
- If I’ve knit with the exact same yarn and needles. Yes, I know stress levels is a big factor in getting gauge, but I like to think I’m relatively predictable. (Full disclosure, I have been burned by this before, but it was a pair of socks, see #2).
- Hats are ambiguous, due to how little time they take, I tend to use the yarn and needles suggested and hope for the best. I do check my gauge along the way.