Category Archives: Knitting

Just say no to poppy socks

I totally owned my sock obsession.  Dove in with gusto and both feet (oooh a pun).  With it has come hours (more than I want to admit) on ravelry looking for fun socks to help make my 12 pairs in 12 months goal.  I came accross the Poppy Socks pattern and went nuts over it.  Such a great pattern it immediately went to the top of my queue.  The first challenge was to find the right gauge yarn – it was almost laughable that with all the sock yarn I’m accumulating of late that there was not ONE 9 stitches to the inch.  Supposedly it’s fingering weight but I think its really more toward lace weight.  A trip down to Knit-Purl in sudbury and I found the most beautiful Ella Rae Lace Merino.

I’m always telling people at SnB to do a gauge swatch – as much as a pain in the royal ass as it is.  So I diligently gauged this one and was happy to find that I was on target with size 2 needles.  Looking through the pattern I knew there would be a ton to learn with these socks.  So armed with my laptop I set out to tackle my poppy socks!

Hitting row 2 was the first challenge – k2 cc, p2 mc – swapping back and forth between contrast and main colors.  I’ve had a tiny bit of experience with this when I did my cuff on the watergarden shrug, and set out to tackle 2 handed knitting.  Holding the contrast color in one hand and the main color in the other – I knit the stitches in English method using my right hand and purled using Continental method using my left hand.  Actually this is pretty simple and I got right into the swing of it and quickly through the 5 rows calle for.Poppy Socks Bobble Row

Now onto the Bobble row – ok so the last time I did bobbles they were a miserable failure.  (Even the felting didnt eliminate that failure!)  These made more sense and I’m a bit more daring now so I was convinced I could handle them.  After a few bobbles which include k5, turn, p5, turn, k5 I figured it was a great time to learn backwards knitting and try and eliminate all of the juggling and yarn tangles that were showing up.  I found several tutorials that made sense, but I think the best one was Knitting Backwards on my old standby of knittinghelp.com

Bobble row completed I started on the pattern.  Yet another learning opportunity – how to deal with the strands.  I found two great tutorials online one step by step:  http://deepspaceknit.blogspot.com/2007/11/tutorial-woven-fair-isle.html and this awesome video: http://www.philosopherswool.com/Pages/Twohandedvideo.htm. Knitting in hand, laptop in front of me, I managed to really get the whole two handed two color thing and was on my way.

About half a poppy pattern through I started to worry about size – would this really fit?  I swatched – but that sneaking feeling that they werent quite right.  Trying to get the inch or so over my foot confirmed that gauge or no gauge these socks would be too tight… I fought being discouraged and went about the big frog.  I told myself that it was ok because I could just practice all that I had learned again and really get it right.  Once more I start on bigger needles.  I actually surprise myself and get back to where I was in only a few hours (over two days).  Onward!Poppy Socks

I’m motivated and moving along at a really good clip – these socks are so so pretty.  I’ve got the hang of the two colors, carefully not making my strands too long, and not pulling too tight.  I try the sock on and its fitting well.  The heel went really well – and the pattern was easily managed.  Still fitting as I go…I feel like I’m sailing through the pattern and am thrilled to get to the toe.  Everything still fits great.

How hard can the toe be?  The toe is a series of more popies.  Not difficult pattern wise, and I didnt think I was pulling too tight – but I get about half way through the toe and decide to try – my suspicions again correct the toe just feels funny and too tight.  Frog frog frog…at least it was only a half of the toe.  Lets adjust once more, the pattern calls to go to a smaller needle on the toe – I opt not to and reknit…I get to the end and try again…nope still dreadful.  Hmmm pattern modification again – instead of the stranding which seems to be choking my toes, I continue the pretty pattern of the heel all the way through until the end.  Beautiful sock…finally finished and ready to try…gotta tell you…this is probably one of the most beautiful socks I’ve ever seen…but it is also the most uncomfortable sock I’ve ever tried on!

Can you hear me screaming from where you read?  This sock has pretty much done me in.  What would normally be just second sock syndrome for this pair is instead a F*ck the second sock syndrome.  There is absolutely no reason on this earth that I will ever even consider making the mate to this sock.  Not only that – it has pretty much killed my pair of socks a month goal –

I admit that I learned TONS making this sock – and thats always a good thing.  But color me (nice pun huh) totally unenthused with socks for the moment – the poppy socks were a total buzz kill.  Now the question of what to do with just one sock other than admire it every once in a while hangs.

Finished Poppy Sock

Oh well…next project please!

Love the sweater…hate the pattern

I think the last time I knit something for my oldest daughter she was probably 4, about the same time she fell in love with the purple leather skirt I bought her and became a fashion diva (in the cutest sense of the word), but as she grew and loved her fashion trends knit garmets weren’t usually part of the formula.  It’s become quite the joke between us.  Finally,  to my delight, she asked me to knit her a sweater.

Wrapped CardiganWe spent hours going through photos and magazines and patterns until she picked the one she she wanted. Of course like everything I knit, we needed a few modifications – a little longer and dont attach the tie – actually less modifications than I usually wind up making in a lot of things I knit.  Then it became a matter of finding the perfect yarn.  The goal was a true navy, finally found in Adrienne Vittadini at Sakonnet Purls – on sale no less!  Fantastic!

So other than a random cable here and there I’ve never taken on a “cable knit” sweater, let alone one that was entirely cables – ahhh the combination of mothers love and aspirations of being a totally fearless knitter threw me right over the edge.  For the record, I toyed with the idea of learning how to knit cables without the cable needle on this project and quickly gave up on that whole notion…that having stitches off the neede as an actual part of the process was just too much!  Once I got the hang of the pattern it actually went fairly quickly and I was thrilled by the way the yarn knit up.  The stitches really show and the garmet is going to be amazingly soft.

Cardigan BackThe back went pretty well and everything seemed to fall right into place.  The bonus was it knit up pretty fast considering that my usual other project is a pair of socks on tiny needles!  So on to the front sides.  For the life of me I dont understand how some of the patterns are written! Why can’t it just be straight forward. I’m pretty good at interpreting patterns, but this was just confusing from the start.  I’m totally struggling with it – every time I think I make sense of how it should work, it doesnt stay that way!

I’ve managed to keep to keep the pattern going, but I hate feeling like the first and last few stitches of every row may or may not be right!   Arrgh so much for “incorporate each stitch into the pattern as you add it” or something like that.   Usually most patterns make sense to me even if you take it row by row as you go…Knitters frustration at its worst!  I love the way the sweater is coming out, but I am just hating the pattern!!!

So on a visit home this weekend Steph poked fun at me asking why her sweater wasnt finished – and that of course it would be challenging, after all it was for her!  I held up the back and it really will be a beautiful fit.  She really likes the way its coming out – Motivated I jumped right back in and finished the right front, but there was definite swearing under my breath!  So at this point I’m moving onto the sleeves hoping that this part of the pattern will make more sense!

Left and Right Fronts

Left and Right Fronts

I’m waiting for that fantastic sense of accomplishment at finishing a garmet that realy challenges me, especially on this sweater because I will have totally earned it!

My Mojo has returned!

I promised myself I wouldn’t get discouraged. I’d just knit through the wierdness that was coming out on my needles, and finally my mojo has found its way back to me!

I moved down a size and went to smaller needles and started out again. In an effort not to overwhelm myself, and perhaps for a bit of amusement, I frogged only one skein of yarn at a time from my massive Juliet Cardigan as I knit the new one. I immediately fell in love with the sweater all over again and actually liked it more with its tighter stitches. It was knitting up pretty fast and I was starting to feel much better about the whole fiasco. Especially when I compared the two tops and could see I was on the right track.


As usual it became a bit of an obsession – I was off work for a few vacation days and knitting so much that I actually had to take a break to give my hands a rest! Of course I went yarn store exploring – but by then I had a reason – I needed to find the perfect buttons! Knit Purl in Providence came through with these fantastic wooden buttons with pink in them.

Motivation, the return of my mojo, and rested fingers – yep I was ready for the home stretch. I breezed through the last few inches and sailed through making the button loops and sewing the buttons on – I was weaving ends as I went so that was done too. What do you know a perfect fit and a sweater that I’m thrilled with!

I’m back to loving knitting again. Of course now there are about a dozen projects I want to take on – but at least I have the confidence to do them now!

Sock Obsession

While surfing I came across the new issue of Knitter’s, which had Cat Bordhi’s Spring Thaw Socks pattern in it. I have absolutely no idea why, but I became totally obsessed with knitting a pair. Knowing I would be traveling, I figured a pair of socks would be more portable and I just couldn’t put these in the queue – they had to be knit NOW!

Here’s when you know that you are ridiculously obsessed with a project. I started to knit my gauge swatch on Wednesday night – I was way over. Even moving down a size needle I was still way off. I had selected a yarn that I thought was the correct weight, but turns out it was double strand…oh well…off to the stash it goes. Most normal people would just put the project aside and wait until they got back to find the right yarn. Remember though, I’m obsessed, and these socks were screaming “make me” to me. I ran to KG Krafts in the morning as soon as I was finished packing so I could get replacement yarn and smaller needles to ensure I could get gauge. I make it back just in time to get my bags in the car and head to the airport (congrats to my boyfriend for not uttering a single word and just smiling as if he understood that I couldnt get on the plane without the correct knitting project).

Armed with some Red Heart Luster Sheen and a pair of size two circular needles I made yet another swatch – still too big. Down to the size ones, but luckily I had planned ahead and had them with me! Swatch complete its time to take on these socks. Turns out they are challenging me at every step!

These socks are made on 2 circular needles – new concept to me but hey I’ll try anything once (except maybe colorwork!) The cast on is “Judy’s Magic Cast on” similar to a turkish cast on I had pretty good success with before. It involves wrapping the yarn around both needles then knitting one side than the other. The instructions in the magazine are actually pretty detailed. Maybe it would have been easier if I had not been trying to cast on in the airport next to two small children whose mother had evidently never taught them about using their “indoor voices”, but if I want to be honest I’d just admit I was over thinking it…once I just “did it” it fit into place.

Onto to the next challenge – a chart! I have avoided charts since I started knitting – all those small boxes. Amazing that lines and lines of computer code dont phase me; I don’t blink and eye at complex recipes for intricate cooking dishes…but a simple knitting chart – well total fear to the point of walking away…until these socks! I’m all ready to take on the chart and wouldnt you know it I cant figure out the first stupid stitch – [k1 tbl, yo, k1 tbl in st]. Seriously – what is this? This is the part once again where I thank my lucky stitches for Ravelry! I put up a post, head out for a few hours and come back to find posts with interpretations and explanations – sure enough, one made perfect sense and I was over the hurdle. Remebering to knit through the back loop and a few more stitches to learn but I’m getting into this sock. I got more and more excited as my first leaf pattern started to appear – and looking like the photo no less!

I’m in the groove at this point, knitting my way back home just in time to start the second leaf which begins before the first one is done. Armed with two row counters I continue on my way.

Next challenge – turning the heel with wrap and turns – one more new thing to learn. Wrap and turn – seems so simple – and once again I have to stop over thinking it!

At this point I’m sighing a sigh of relief and still psyched to keep going. I’m understanding why socks become their own addiction.

Fred Still Hates String

When choosing my name for Ravelry (which of course led to this blog) – I went to my oldest daughter who works in advertising and marketing to come up with something catchy and fun – it took her about a minute to come up with “FredHatesString” which still makes me laugh.

Fred is our black cat – he was a stray that found us about 3 weeks after we moved into our new place. It started out that he would come up and tentatively eat the tuna or cat food that I put out for him while keeping a safe distance. Eventually he let me pat him after he ate, and then soon enough he was sitting on my lap as we took in the view of the lake each evening. We didnt bring him in the house at first, that would go against our deciding not to have pets in the new place. However, I admit it – I’m a sap – I’m a total sucker for a cute cat face – and having the best boyfriend in the world, he let me be a sucker. So now we have Fred the indoor cat, who being an former all outside kitty really has no use for those bright shiny cat toys or yarn, or string of any kind.

The cat truly amuses me – especially last night when with his choice of one knitting project on dangling circular needles, one crochet project have in a state of unravel, and one crochet project in progress with an attached dancing ball of yarn, Fred decides that the Hamburger on the Bon Appetit Magazine is just way more to his liking….

My Watergarden Shrug

After a few starts and stops, a rip here and there, a challenge or two… I finished my shrug! Even with all the small issues, this was so much fun to make. There was a certain freedom in this project – choosing which yarn to use when and what stitch to use with it. Not that I couldnt do that on any project, but this one actually required it!

We were talking about those patterns that are fun but you only do once – I definitely want to try this one again –

On to the next project

Life lines and scissors

So I’m having a great time with my shrug – mixing fibers – feels like free form knitting. This is knit in all one piece cuff to cuff. As I get closer to finishing the “back” I’m just having that feeling that something isnt making sense. Its beautiful but its just not looking like the diagram.

I decided to go right to the source and email Jane Thornley with my need for clarification. Can I just say that not only was she quick to respond, but she was really supportive and helpful.

I sent Jane this photo for diagnosis:

Turns out that I dont have enough width – therefore I didnt make enough increases which is why the sleeve looks funny. I’d rant about my inability to properly measure width but I’ve already kicked myself over and over for this – stupid really stretchy knitting! Jane explained this wasnt catostrophic or anything – I just needed to work around it. I particularly love the part that says that it looks like I have about 23 inches between the two dark purple stripes so I can make that my back – ok I’m impressed – there was exactly 23 inches between the stripes.

So the plan is to rip back to the stripe on one side and from the cuff up to the first stripe. Then start both sleeves and space my decreases along the 18 inches I need for the sleeves. I’ve never had to rip from the cuff up – I know I’ve had discussions with people about how impossible it was, but the cuff was knit in art yarns silk and I really didnt want to lose it. So I sat down at the dining room table and snipped to start unraveling the cuff. Not so easy – it was done with 2 yarns. I set out to save the silk and not worry about the glace. Talk about an excercise in patience…no lie it took 3 hours to pull out the cuff, and when I wound the little bit of art yarns silk I really wondered if it was worth it.

I then started on the task of ripping out the other yarns back to the stripe we decided marked the body – lets just say between trying to rip backwards, combined with all the crazy fibers this is made with I spent a futile hour and threw my hands up in the air. I ran a life line by the body stripe and pulled out my scissors. I then sat in utter terror for at least 20 minutes deciding if I could really take a scissors to this project. I built myself up – I have a lifeline; I can’t possibly finish it the way that it is; certainly this is better than ripping the whole thing and starting again…still…that little voice was screaming in horror as I started to snip threads. After the first 5 were cut I just gave it up and went at it to get the whole process over with. When I was done I immediately went to get the stitches back on the needles in hopes that the cold sweat would stop and I could breath again….phew…it did and I could. sat in post trauma for about another 10 minutes and finally went about ripping the remnants of my sleeve the “normal” way – which of course took all of 5 minutes. I carefully wound each ball of each yarn and got myself re-organized.

I’m back to knitting, every row taking me further away from the terrifying fix and closer to finishing.

Shouldn’t be long now…stay tuned!

OK So I’m a fiberholic

Part of finishing projects is that emptieness I’m left with when I only have one substantial project on the needles – a far cry from when I thought the only way to knit was to do one thing at a time – seriously where’s the fun in that!

I found a really cute sweater pattern I wanted to start on, and while I was considering using a yarn from my stash I figured it was a good time to go explore the yarn stores I hadnt been to in a while. I also took the opportunity to bring my daughter who has finally decided that knitting may just be fun after all.

We headed to Yarn it All in North Attleboro, and while I didnt find anything for my sweater pattern I did take advantage of some very awesome yarns that were marked way way down. The Water Garden shrug has me looking at all those funky fibers again with an eye on making another one – so how could I resist:

Showstopper

Sachet

We decided to head down to Sakonnet Purls. I figured my daughter would find something in the many rooms there that she liked. I love exploring all the rooms of fibers, even I get a bit overwhelmed at times but its just so much fun. They were a great help finding my daughter a book of beginner patterns that she really liked and some bright orange sheep shop yarn, trendy enough to get her even more motivated. Still no luck for me with my pattern but a consult with the staff helped me decide to use what was in my stash already – which of course left me looking just for fun. There it was, not whispering to me, not even calling to me – no it was screaming and shouting, take me home, you must have me. It was one of those times that the yarn just made me happy to look at it, and hold it. The price will remain a secret as it was a full 300 yards, I will only call it overly indulgent and totally fantastic. How can you not just love this!

Cool Stuff by Prism

I have no idea what it will become – ideas are always welcome, but whatever it will be I’m just looking forward to working with it and wearing whatever it becomes.

I am just going to own that I’m a fiberholic – as a matter of fact I’m pretty comfortable with it!

Taking the crochet edge a bit further

Seeing that I’m a fan of the quick hit here and there project wise, I’m always looking for those little projects. I’m a huge fan of the flower washcloth from weekend knitting – I’ve given tons of them as gifts over the years. They’re fun…but..

So I was given a pattern for a knit soap holder pattern to try (Thanks Kim). They were easy, very fast and cute. Made of cotton it could just hang in the shower and you avoid the soapy slippery mess wet soap makes when it sits.

My boyfriend was mildly amused by my soap holder gift that matched the shower for him, but I’m more of a shower gel kinda girl – so where does that leave me?! Anyway, these soap holders have a crochet hanging handle – crochet chain once again. I got to thinking, It seems that pretty much every piece I work on lately has a single crochet edge as part of finishing. I was always pretty comfortable with it – even more so since taking the crochet workshop a few months ago. So – why not take it one baby step further. Add the incentive of some pretty talented crocheters at the Taunton Stitch and Bitch (thanks Maria and Maggie) who I knew I could depend on to walk me through a step or two and I wanted to try something…very small…very quick.

OK probably not my best choice for clear cut and simple, but factor in that I can laugh at myself better than anyone. I started it, ripped the entire thing out, then started again – and I actually managed to get the hang of it. Crocheting is quite fun – and wow does it go fast compared to most of my knitting!

Behold the bath poof (insert your ooooo’s and ahhhh’s here)I’m actually looking at crochet patterns to try for the first time ever. How can you not have another excuse to buy yarn! Yep – the obsession expands!

Fiber mixing at its best

Having finished two projects put me right in the whats next mode – actually I started poking around ravelry as soon as I saw the completion of my projects within close reach. I came across a project that I just had to do – the Water Garden Shrug by Jane Thornley. There were a lot of things that really appealed to me about this project. First of all it was not a short little shrug its more like a cardigan in length which opens it up to all sorts of wardrobe possibilities. Second of all it was a perfect chance to dive into my stash and get at the some of the art yarns beaded silks that I had purchased.

I headed off to Black Sheep Knitting in Needham and reveled in their shared enthusiasm as we pulled every crazy purple and blue we could find out to see what would go with what. Can I just say once again how much these women rock my knitting world. It was like planning out a big canvas of art – which fiber would go well with what, and next to what, which needed to be mixed together, which would go well on their own. I was the kid in the candy store. It was the yarn purchase that dreams are made of!

The makings of my water garden shurg

So the last two projects were more about the stitches – this one is more about the textures and colors and truly its a knitting blast. It’s knitting up pretty quickly – I even found a few more yarns in my stash that I can bring in if I feel like it. There’s no way to get bored with it either – because you’re never using the same fiber long enough.

I’ve got one “sleeve” completed and am now working on the back –
How much fun is this:

Water Garden Shrug

Truly this project is a fiberholics dream!