I’ve almost finished the blanket I wrote about a few posts ago. It’s taken me all autumn, but I’ve had to put it down, otherwise I wouldn’t get any Xmas knitting done (which isn’t going well, by the way!) I scrimped on the motifs, doing only 15 of the large ones instead of 20, cos it was doing my head in. Seriously, I couldn’t bear to do anymore! So it’s a narrower blanket than it should have been – I figured I’d just work a bigger border.
It’s large enough that I can use it on my bed, and I was very glad of it when we had snow recently. I know, I know, when Britain has snow, we make a song and a dance about a few inches, compared with places that have feet of the stuff! But my bedroom is north facing and can get quite chilly. With its aran yarn and folded over rounds, this is one toasty blankie!
This is the closest I’ve ever come to finishing a blanket, and it did take a concerted effort! I think that, although I’ve paused the completing of it, I will finish it in the not too distant future. (Shh… I’ll need to get some more yarn first..)
A few years ago, I made some figgy pudding Xmas decorations, and gave one to everyone I knew as a gift. I made too many, and had at least eight left over. What can I say, I got carried away in the making! They’d been sitting in my Xmas-Things box, languishing…
I thought of selling them at the cafe in my local woodland, to help raise funds for the community kitchen garden I volunteer in. Well, these sold quickly, so I decided to crochet a few more, and do some stash-busting in the process. How annoying that to get rid of stash, I had to get hold of some more yarn! Does anyone else ever have that problem?? I’d run out of white and now have a surplus of that – at least I have a lot less of the brown. And I had to get more toy stuffing, but I’m thinking of making a toy for my friend’s three year old anyway, so it will come in handy..
Oh boy, did these puds take me longer than I’d remembered! I was up until 1am trying to finish them, and still had to put in a few extra hours worth this morning – good thing I’d had a job cancellation!
Hope they all sell, and rake in some pounds and pennies for the garden!
Blankets are not a WIP that have ever become a FO for me. For some reason, I never complete. Why then, have I just started a new one??
Well, I’ve had my eye on this pattern for a while, a few years in fact. It’s called Ringtoss Afghan, designed by Barbara Worn-Wurtz, from Crochet World August 2012. As I had some yarn in the right weight to stash-bust, I thought I’d finally get started on it. Except I’ve had to get more of that yarn… So much for stash-busting. I’ll probably end up with the same amount left over again!
I love the texture of this blanket, but I didn’t fancy faffing around changing yarn colours all the time, so I’ve opted for a monochrome of blue. I’ve been trying to work out what kind of blue this is – the photo makes it look too bright. It’s darker, and greener.. Perhaps a woad blue..?
Apart from this blankie, I have a handful of motifs which are nowhere near enough in number to make a blanket yet. I took these out of their storage place recently and Hmm-ed a bit. The problem is, I was whipping up these motifs in DK but I haven’t used that weight yarn in a while, and I’ve more or less used up my DK stash – at least in decent yarn and colours that I’d want in a blanket. (Anything else will be for toys or something.)
One way or another, I am definitely aiming to finish at least one blanket by the time the colder months arrive..
The path to sock enlightenment is not proving an easy one. My first pair – years in the making – shrunk in the wash.. Oops! I put them in the ordinary wash at 40 degrees, and I can’t even get them on my feet anymore (now I know what Cinderella’s ugly sisters felt like if they were trying on her socks rather than her glass slipper!) Maybe I’ll use them as dusters..
I wanted to make another pair quickly before I forgot the process, so I went to good ol’ Ravelry and found this freebie pattern: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/rye-4 As the design calls for worsted yarn and chunkier needles than the first sock pattern I attempted, they worked up more quickly. The only hiccup was grafting the toe – this time I tried the proper Kitchener stitch instead of the crocheted graft I used before. The only thing I would change if I made these socks again would be to use a different sized needle for the cuff: the pattern called for 2.25mm needles compared to 2.75 for the rest of the sock, but I reckon I would either use the same size as the main body, or 2.5mm if I went smaller for the cuff, as I thought 2.25mm was a teeny bit on the tight side..
Cuff down socks: Seersucker stitch and Rye Pattern
I then decided I wanted to try a toe up sock pattern, and went for a basic pattern from the book Socks From The Toe Up by Wendy D Johnson. But I made a couple of idiotic decisions. To begin with, the pattern specified 2mm needles – eek! Titchy takes too long! And the yarn I chose was not great for the ripping back which is inevitable when learning new techniques (i.e. Turkish cast on, fleegle heel and I was rusty on M1 increases). The yarn in question was Debbie Bliss Rialto Luxury Sock. It has a haze, and this tends to catch on itself when ripping back, especially as 2mm needles create small stitches which knot up easily. Eventually I reached the leg of the first sock and managed to accidentally break the yarn (even though I was doing plain stocking stitch at that point, my brain sometimes rebels at repetitiveness, and I did something wrong, so had to unravel..) At which point I got so exasperated, I lost the will to continue, and decided that pattern in this yarn on those needles was too much trouble! So I went large again. Far more sensible to learn on chunkier yarn and thicker needles. The pattern was another freeby from Ravelry http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/toe-up-worsted-socks and it went a lot more smoothly.
Toe up socks
By then I had thought of a title for this blog post I wanted to write so I knew I wanted to make another pair of cuff down socks. I thought I’d have a go a go at designing my own sock. I’d seen several stitch patterns I liked and I opted for the Seersucker stitch, which was written for flat knitting but was easy enough to convert to circular knitting. I had to look up what a seersucker was – sounds like some sort of leech to me! But it actually means “a lightweight fabric with a crimped or puckered surface”. In green yarn, it brings to mind dragon scales..
The final test is how comfy they are in my gardening boots and, of course, if I can wash them without shrinking them. Dusters anyone..?
That floral motif from the Isla cloche which I wrote about a couple of posts ago… Y’know, I liked it so much that when I was asked by my cousin to make her a phone cosy for Xmas, I decided to whittle out the motif from the hat pattern and incorporate it accordingly. I’m only writing about it now, over a month later, because we finally met to exchange gifts on Friday. My cuz does sometimes read this blog and, of course, I didn’t want to ruin the surprise. She beamed with delight when she ripped open the wrapping paper.
I used the leftover yarn (Malabrigo Rios) from the Isla cloche I made for a friend, and I chose a moss stitch for the base of the cosy to represent the crumb structure of a good soil that the flower might be growing in. The reverse side of the cosy is in plain knit stitch. I decided against an envelope flap and button like on my phone sock. Instead I opted for ribbing using a smaller needle, and thought the result was much better.
In return, cuz gave me a stitch dictionary for knitting in the round. Just right for plotting designs for socks. I’ve got several ideas brewing and don’t know which one to go for first, like a kid in a sweetshop. (I usually went for rhubarb and custard in the end. Wonder what that suggests about my sock knitting future..)
There is a poem I like by Robert Frost in which he addresses an orchard, saying:
“How often already you’ve had to be told,
Keep cold, young orchard. Good-by and keep cold.
Dread fifty above more than fifty below.”
Well, the same can’t be said for us gardeners! Earlier in the autumn I heard various reports that this is going to be a gelid winter, so I figured I’d better make me a hat for work, as I lost the plastic-fleece one I had before. And having read that plastic-fleece is bad for the environment¹ (even though it’s a creative way of recycling), I decided against getting another one like it.
My first attempt was the Twisted Toque designed by Helen Sharp in the book 60 Quick Knits (20 hats, 20 scarves, 20 mittens in Cascade 220) which I didn’t end up liking when I finished it. It made me look like Compo from Last of the Summer Wine! I made a hat for a friend as a Christmas gift which I liked so much I nearly kept it.. but then I decided to make one for myself, in Purpuras rather than Jupiter. I didn’t want to write about it until after Christmas, incase the friend in question saw the post and knew what I was giving her. The pattern is Tanis Gray’s Isla Cloche available free from tanisknits.com. I added a few extra rows to make the hats slouchier. All three hats were made using Malabrigo Rios.
Apart from a brief frosty spell in November, it’s been too mild for a woolly hat so far this winter. Needless to say, when Jack Frost was about (and “after our fingers and toes”) I hadn’t finished my hat! Still, there’s a couple of months left before spring, time enough for the snow that fell in the Sahara to migrate to London!
¹ I first read about this in the following post:
I’ve written previously about the faff of DPNs, and how this drove me to pick up the hook to fulfil my desire to make socks. Having sported the pair I crocheted a couple of times, I’m not convinced they wear comfortably. The structure of crochet stitches is more bumpy than knitted stitches and though I’ve read methods to lessen this, I’ve returned to attempts to knit socks. And I’m pleased to report I’ve had success…
More importantly, I don’t need thick-soled hobbit feet to don them with a smile.
It’s taken me a while to get to this point. I got as far as decreasing for the toe on one sock, and put it down as I was quite busy and felt I shouldn’t rush it. I didn’t pick it up again for ages and by then had forgotten how I did things. So in the interest of making socks that match, I ripped back to the beginning… and lost my way again somehow. So my sock yarn looked like this for a time..
My successful attempt happened after the decision to work two socks simultaneously – or as synchronously as possible with DPNs. This meant knitting part of one sock, stopping, then knitting the same part of the second sock before continuing. In this way, the process of each section remained fresh in my mind and I was more likely to match tension etc. Things went quite smoothly… but I misread the heel flap instructions: on each row, I did sl1 K1 (or P1) across, rather than alternate a row of sl1 K1 with a row of purl across. It made the heel shorter and tighter than it should’ve been, but I only noticed when I reached the toe of the second sock. Well of course there was no way I was going back and re-doing the heels! Grafting the toe was a bit of a problem too. It didn’t help that I was venturing this late in the evening (never a good time to try something new!) and I ended up crocheting a graft rather than use Kitchener stitch. It worked okay, but each graft had an ‘ear’ on the left hand side.
Despite the heel mishap, this first completed pair of knitted socks has proved comfy – definitely more so than those I hooked up. I’ve now got a long list of socks I want to make. I’m close to completing a top down pair in aran, and I think I will try a toe-up pair next…