New Pattern: Squadron Socks

So I've released my first pattern, Squadron Socks.  Knit from Georgian Bay Fibre Co.'s Kilcoursie Fingering, this pattern is a great for guys, the pattern is engaging for the knitter but subtle for the wearing. 

I did a post over on the Georgian Bay Fibre Co. blog about the story behind the socks, and I'm sharing it here for you.  I would suggest you follow Carla, she is a great knitter and dyer and takes much better photos than I do.

But I didn't want you to miss out the story behind my first published design

This all started out so innocently, I just wanted to knit my brother-in-law, Jim, a pair of Birthday Socks.  For those who read my blog, you know that I don’t do Christmas Knitting, but for a few close family members I make Birthday Socks.

So Jim’s birthday is at the end of January, however it was the middle of the month and I was home for a visit and I hadn’t started Jim’s socks yet.  I was in a bit of a rut and I hadn’t found a pattern I loved, most of the pattern’s designed for men can be a smidge dull for the knitter. 

However, right at the end of the weekend as I was about to head out, something incredible came out of Carla’s dyepots.  It was golden yellow, rusty orange and just beautiful.  It was the first skein of the colorway we now know as Franklin Island Lichen. 

Well the skein was yelling at me to take it home and knit it into socks for Jim.  Before I knew it I was diving into my Barbara Walker stitch dictionary and coming up with the pattern. 

My blurry iPhone photos don't do this pattern, or the yarn justice, (and it doesn't help that my feet are much smaller than Jim's)

I was inspired by the pennants that are flown on many of the boats out on Georgian Bay.  The most decorative of which can usually be found on the member boats of the Sail & Power Squadron. The group, who encourage safe boating, are quite active in the Parry Sound region.

With the shifting k4/p4 patterning, this sock is engaging to knit and easily memorized, but subtle for both men and women who don’t want flashy socks. This pattern works best with tonal colorways as the textured fabric can get swallowed up by a more multicolored skein.

So happy belated birthday Jim, with your socks finally photographed and the pattern released, you can finally wear them, two months later.

Gotta love a busy weekend

I'm getting organized to head out and give my Ravelry 101 talk to the Pinecone Treadlers Guild here in Bracebridge today.  I'm excited to share Ravelry with the amazing ladies in the guild.  I'm a firm believer that anyone can use Ravelry, but I know it can be overwhelming for those folks who aren't as comfortable with web applications as I am.   So I'm hoping today I will be able to give these ladies a few tips and tricks to help make Ravelry work for them.

Ravelry 101 is just one of the talks I have in my ever-growing roster of classes, you can see more about them on my Workshops page.

However, that's not what was keeping me busy this weekend.  I managed to finish off two projects over the weekend.  My Rainbowllenics Socks and a scarf woven on a rigid heddle loom, which I'm calling my Olympics Medal Scarf.


I did get my Rainbowllenics Socks doing during the Olympics, which I ended up watching more of than expected.  I don't have cable, just internet and AppleTV, so watching the Olympics wasn't super easy, however with the Men's and Women's Hockey games being ubiquitous here in Canada I ended up doing some streaming.


I'm really quite pleased with these socks, they fit perfectly and I got to do my first afterthought heel.  


I can't see myself switching over to all afterthought heel, however the fit is good for me so I will probably use it on striped socks to preserve the striping. If you have't done one before and a short-row heel fits you fine, consider an afterthought heel.  I followed the video by The Knit Girlls and found it to be helpful and correct. 


The other project I started, and finished this past weekend is a woven scarf.  I wove it out of a single skein of fingering weight yarn, and I have to say it is the PERFECT use for those high-contrast multis I just don't like to knit with.


I ended up screwing up my calculations so my weft ran out well before my warp, but the scarf is still a nice length.


While I did take nice pictures of it on my lady, the scarf isn't quite finished yet.  I still need to trim and twist the fringe and then do a wet blocking.  When I taught  rigid heddle class back in November the group was shocked, shocked when I said to "block" your scarf after finishing your weaving.  I know there is some disagreement out there around the words, particularly what is involved with blocking.  However, for me, every finished object needs to go for a swim before it is done. 

Think about it.  That project in your hands, the fleece was shorn from a sheep, then cleaned, combed/carded, spun into singles, plyed into yarn and then wound into a skein, where it was wound into a ball and then tied in knots by your needles and hooks or stretched half to death on your loom.  If you had been through that wouldn't you need a bath to get yourself right with the world.  Also, I don't know about you all, but I don't only knit after having washed my hands and always sit in a clean sterile space to work.  I have a cat, he LOVES yarn, my projects are FILTHY by the time they fall off the needles, they need a good washing just so they aren't gross anymore. Even my weaving projects aren't safe from the cat.


So no matter if your item needs pinning/stretching or not, a bath is a very, very important of finishing every project.  Also, if you ever plan on washing it, you are going to be blocking it, might as well know whats join to happen when you get it wet.

With weaving the project "plumps" up, and all those little gaps you saw in the weave will disappear and I will have a perfect, plain weave scarf.

So block your knits, I remember my terror the first time I wet blocked an item, now I can't imagine not sending my finished objects for a swim.

Project Details:

Rainbowllenics Socks
Pattern: Jaywalker Socks by Grumperina
Yarn: KnitPicks Felici Fingering in Rainbow (sady both the colorway and yarn are discontinued)
Previous Blogged: February 7th, 2014 - Rainbowllenics Socks

Olympics Medal Scarf
Pattern: Plain Weave @ 10dpi  - 9.5" warped
Yarn: Fleece Artist Sea Wool in Fire Opal


What I Love Wednesday: PLY Magazine

What I Love Wednesday is a new feature I'm trying out on the blog.  This is where I share with  you the tools and toys I love to use.  All the items featured on What I Love Wednesday have been purchased, used and loved by me. 


The first item I'm featuring for What I Love Wednesday should not come as a surprise if you have been following me this week.  PLY Magazine is a fantastic new magazine masterminded and published by Jacey Boggs.  Currently on its third issue, this magazine approaches spinning in a whole new way. 


Each issue of the magazine covers a discreet topic, and that approaches that topic from many different directions.  The first three issues have been focused on Firsts, Color and Woolen, respectively.


I must confess when I got the "Firsts" magazine I was less than thrilled with my purchase (subscriptions are not inexpensive, but well worth it if you can find room in your fiber budget).  I found the articles un-interesting and the design lacking. However, with the arrival of the "Color" issue in October (or so) my feelings changed.  I felt more engaged by the articles and more eager to pull out my wheel to try out some of the tricks they were teaching me.  

With the arrival of "Woolen" just after Christmas, I'm sold.  With numerous articles on how to spin Woolen yarns approach the issue from a different angle, it would be hard NOT to be able to spin woolen by the time you finished all the different articles, and exercises in the magazine.

The next few issues will be "Silk" (Spring 2014), "Twist" (Summer 2014), "Community" (Fall 2014) and "Worsted" (Winter 2014).  I'm very much looking forward to these issues and I will certainly be renewing for the year to make sure I don't miss an issue. 


If you are interested in subscribing you can do it on their website, and you will start with the "Woolen" issue, however the subscriptions will be switching over next week.  If you want to get back issues, "First" is currently out of print, I know it's been mentioned on Ravelry that Jacey is planning on doing another run so keep your eyes peeled for that.  You can get your hands on Issues 2 and 3 "Color" and "Woolen" and I would strongly recommend you doing so, and soon, there are limited copies of "Color" and "Woolen" left.

All I can say is I Love PLY Magazine and if you haven't had a chance to get your hands on it yet, now is as good a time as any.

Birthday Socks ... all caught up

Two weeks ago I shared the idea of Birthday Socks, you can read it here, but the punchline was, rather than clumping up all my knitting gifts around Christmas, I would spread them out with people's birthdays.

The other thing I mentioned in that post is that I had a pair due on January 24th for Jim's (my brother-in-law) birthday, and a way past overdue pair for my mother.

Well this weekend I managed to finish up both pairs!


My mom's socks are a tad bittersweet, KnitPicks decided to discontinue the Felici sock line, however, they never communicated this to their buyers, so most of us thought new colors would be coming out this spring.  Well Felici sport was discontinued a year ago, but now the fingering is going too. As the current year colors didn't really hit me, the way they have in past years, so I didn't really buy much from this year, however I did buy 2 balls (enough for a pair of socks) of each of the remaining colors that I didn't have in my stash already.  Now, I am way over stashed in Felici, but I expect my current stash will last me long enough to be willing to shell out for hand-dyed self striping yarn (which is not nearly as cost effective as Felici is).

Also, I feel like I've come full circle.  The very first pair of socks I attempted were with Felici Sport and using the Jaywalker pattern. They were completely the wrong size so they got frogged and I made different pair from the yarn, but this pattern has stuck with me as one I wanted to knit.


Jim's pair represent much more excitement for me, I designed them myself.  I'm currently working on getting them written up, (and as the Queen of the run on sentence this is a bit of a challenge for me) and then tested and then hopefully published in the spring.  With their simple knit/purl patterning they are plain enough for most guys (and to make them easy to memorize) but complex enough to keep the knitter engaged. 

So with those to obligations knits done, and a shawl I've been (not) working on since summer frogged, I have a clean knitting slate.  As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I was feeling guilty about embroidering instead of knitting, and now that I'm free to go back to embroidery I have regained my knitting mojo and just want to keeping on knitting.  

I've cast on a new hat, using the Sweet Georgia pattern North Wind Hat.  I made one of these last winter, and I LOVE it, however I made it from a doubled up silk/merino fingering weight yarn and so while it is nice and warm the band has all sacked out and despite a reblocking last weekend I can't make it tight enough around my ears for deep winter.  So I have a skein of aran weight yarn in my stash in a one-off color that is getting tagged in for this project.

I have also started a new embroidery sampler, Satin Stitches.  I'm terrible at satin stitch so this will be great practice, although I don't think it will go as quickly as the last two.

My color palette for my next embroidery project

My color palette for my next embroidery project

So hat, embroidery, and a short wait for some awesome new yarn that I hope to get by the weekend for a pair of socks for me and a new shawl.

Birthday Socks

I know many knitters punish themselves between October and December 24th to make Christmas gifts for the knit worthy (and not so knit worthy) friends and relatives.  While I have many family members who would welcome a knit gift, I'm terrible at deadline knitting.

So instead of making all my knit gifts due at once, I've switched over to the Birthday Sock system, where those who have earned the right for knitted socks get a pair around their birthdays.

I started doing birthday socks for my mom in 2011.  Not only were they the first pair of birthday socks, they were only the third pair of socks I had ever knit.They were not a success. I'm not sure if it was the yarn or the gauge or the knitting, but she always found the socks really bumpy on the soles of her feet.

The next year was more successful.  This may have something to do with the fact that it was the 11th pair of socks I had knit in 2012.  She quite likes this pair and I get some joy out of knowing that my mom has a pair of stripey hand knit socks in her drawer.

Sokka Socks (Ravelry)

This year's pair was not what I had planned. I had planned on making her a pair of Jaywalker's in Felici Cochineal (a yarn she had spotted in my stash and called dibs on), however when it got to be Christmas and I hadn't even turned the first heel, I went to plan B and gave her one of my Felici Sport pairs.  For those who didn't get to enjoy the wonder that was KnitPicks Felici Sport, this is a magic yarn.  It self-stripes but is a heavier weight yarn which makes for warmer, socks (and if you knit it at fingering gauge makes socks that don't show any wear after dozens of machine washings and dryings).

I'm not as self sacrificing to use up on of my few remaining skeins of Felici Sport on my mother (who is a rock-star who I love greatly), but it also happened that I managed to make the feet a tad too long and they fit her perfectly.

Her other pair are still on the go. I'm currently working on reducing the gusset on the second sock, so I have just two feet and toes left to knit on that pair, so I'm thinking she might get them for Mother's Day and I will do another pair for her for her birthday in October.

Now, onto the reason I'm talking about this, my brother-in-law Jim's birthday is this Friday and I think he is only going to be getting one sock.  I gave it a good go to have a pair done for him, but a few changes (including me designing my very first pair of socks for him using a new-to-me yarn) have held me up.  

However, I still think the birthday socks idea has merit.  I get to knit socks, something I love deeply, without causing my sock drawer to overflow and because my knit-worthy family members have the decency of spreading their birthdays around the year (January, May and October) I have a fighting chance of getting all the pairs made without making myself miserable.

I already have Carla's birthday pair all lined up. Also, because she likes an afterthought heel on her socks, I will have an excuse to try a very cool technique I haven't used before and know that they will fit the recipient reasonable well.

So what about you?  Do you try to do the Christmas knitting thing or do you spread your gift knitting out over the year?  Or are you one of those who is always knitting for Christmas so when it comes time to give gifts you just have to dive into your gift box and the knitting is all there waiting for you?