My current work in progress:

Tawney Sweater,by Jenni Barrett, knit from MadelineTosh Tosh Sock, using 3.25mm and 3.5mm needles.

Archives for July 2006

Knit Status

Just in case you wondered why I haven’t posted any progress photos of Keelan (well, you probably haven’t wondered, but I’m telling you anyway), the reason is because there is no progress.

I appear to have sustained an injury to one of my dainty fingers. Said dainty finger is integral to my cabling process, so knitting on Keelan, where cabling occurs on nearly every right-side row, is not comfy. This has been going on for several days now with no appreciable improvement. I am hoping it is indeed just a bruise, and not something more permanent, like arthritis. We live in hope.

Seriously though, it’s no big deal. It’s simply that it is pleasanter not to be knitting cables just now. If the pain persists too many more days, I’ll see the doctor about it.

So, some information about the log cabin blanket. Yeah, I could have told you all this stuff yesterday, but I was busy being all cutsie with my open letter to Ann & Kay.

I am knitting this using a 3.25mm needle — sized way up from my 2.0mm needle that I use with this yarn when I’m knitting socks, eh? I’m using a single strand of sock yarn, and I am very happy with the way it looks. There are variatons in the sock yarn, of course. Some are finer than others. But so far, I think the blanket is looking good.


Mary asked:
Wendy, do you have any advice as to how to pick up the stitches on the log cabin? Are you picking up between the ridges? Single strand? I’ve been working on one square and keep ripping out because the back looks so sloppy. Thanks!

I am picking up on the ridges themselves, in the “bumps” created by the garter ridge. I pick up a stitch by inserting the tip of my needle into the bump and wiggling it under a single strand of the yarn. So far, I like the way this looks.


And look what I got in the mail today from L-B!


Socks That Rock in the Rainforest Jasper colorway. Oh, man — those leftovers are gonna look awesome in the blanket!

I did stop working on my log cabin blanket yesterday evening to put some time in on my current sock-in-progress.

I turned the heel:


And then I started a simple lace pattern for the leg:


Brigitte asked in the comments:
Do you increase the stitches for feather & fan for any other reason than to make the repeats match up? Or does it need it for size reasons around the ankle? I’m pretty small boned, and I’m thinking if I up it 12 stitches it might sag around my feet. Dunno.

I increase the stitches partially to make the repeats work. And partly because at my gauge and with my ankles, I like 72 stitches around for the leg of my socks. If you have small ankles, you very well might find 72 stitches around to be too many. Unless you are knitting to the gauge of 10st/inch or something. 😉


Hey, guess what? It’s hot outside. It’s on days like this when I com straggling home, hot, sweaty, hair damp and stringy, that I envy Lucy, who has spent the day basking in the comfort of the a/c.


“Sheesh! If it’s hot outside, stay home with me!”

An Open Letter to Ann & Kay

Dear Ann & Kay

You guys know that I love you, right? Your blog is one of my favorite reads. I’ve watched with rapt attention while Ann was on bluebird watch. I’ve felt sympathetic pangs while Kay packed up all her knitting paraphenalia in the face of home renovation.

And Ann & Kay? I love your book! I enjoyed my first read-through immensely, and have gone back to thumb through it on a number of occasions.

But Ann & Kay? I blame you. Oh, how I blame you! Before I bought your book, I would have just happily tossed those bits of leftover sock yarn in a bag and forgotten about them. But then I had to go buy your book.

And now look at me. I am knitting a log cabin blanket out of sock yarn.


Oh, dear Ann & Kay, I am obsessed. And it is your fault. (Well, actually, I blame Cara too. All those lovely photos of pretty little log cabin squares. Really, you guys just don’t play fair.)


Now, I am obsessed. Obsessed, I tell you. I cannot put this stupid thing down. I have to stop at the end of each row to admire it. Worse, I make the KOARC admire it at the end of every row too. I have threatened the KOARC with a log cabin sweater. (KOARC says that’ll be fine — he’ll wear it when he hangs out with Bill Cosby.)

So. A log cabin blanket. It ain’t gonna be pretty. Because I am just randomly adding sock yarn. Willy-nilly. Without thinking about whether the colors clash or not.


The up-side to that? If Lucy barfs on it, no one will notice.


I’m thinking this will be a never-ending work in progress. Well, as long as I am knitting socks, it will be never-ending. I plan to make just one square, and let it just grow as it will.


In aid of this endeavor, I finished my Fleece Artist socks.


More odds and ends to add to the blanket!


And I started a new sock.


This is knit from Schaeffer Anne, which is a wool/mohair/nylon blend. Very nice sock yarn — the mohair adds a lovely silkiness.

But the one thought in my mind?


That red is gonna look wicked cool in my log cabin blanket.

Ann & Kay, you have a lot to answer for.


A Quick One

Just a quick entry here, because there is little progress on which I can report. Knitting time last night was sucked into the black hole of a migraine, so all I’ve got is a wee bit of sock progress.


But . . .

I did think of something fun I could do with those leftover bits of sock yarn.


Care to hazard a guess as to what I’m startng here?

Have a good weekend!


For a Change . . . A Book Review


I just finished reading the book pictured above:Hit By a Farm: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barn by Catherine Friend.

I stumbled upon the author’s blog a couple of weeks ago — can’t remember how — and that led me to the website for the book. I immediately sent the link to L-B, who kindly sent me the book as a gift. I’ve been reading it at lunchtime while I knit, and just finished it yesterday. I recommend it highly — it’s a non-romanticized tale about how two women left city life to start a farm.

Okay, I keep thinking “Green Acres.” One partner is gung-ho about farm living (like Oliver Wendell Douglas), and the other has doubts (like Lisa Douglas). But there the similarity ends.

It’s just a really really good, entertaining read. If you are a bleeding-heart animal-lover like me, you’ll enjoy it. Be forewarned — you’ll cry in places, too. But, as I said, it’s a great read. I was sorry it ended — I want more!

Sproingy Squishy Sock Yarn

Reader Liz in NoWhere PA commented:
“Some of the ones I’ve found easiest to work with are Socks That Rock lightweight, Fleece Artist, Claudia Handpaint — you know, all the nice sproingy squishy yarns. I’ve not had any problem with splitting on any of those.”

If you’re ordering off the internet or from a catalogue, how do you know if you’ll be getting a sproingy yarn? How do you know if a pattern in a book requires a sproingy yarn? Living without a LYS, I can’t really touch all the yarns mentioned to know if they’re stretchy. Do I assume that a 100% wool superwash is stretchy and that a 75/25 blend won’t be?

I’ve just donated two pairs of patterned socks to the Dulaan Project because the yarn I used wasn’t stretchy enough and I can’t rip a perfectly good sock. (But two girls with size 3 feet will be really happy.)

First off, I like the name of your town. 😉 My Great-Uncle Chester often spoke of a town — NorthAxeHandle, MA. I wonder if that town and your town are similar?

So. How do you know without fondling it that you are getting a Spriong Squishy Sock Yarn? I guess you can’t really know until you give it a good fondle.

Though it does seem in my experience of sock yarns, the 100% wool superwash ones are sproinger than the wool/nylon blends.

In my last incarnation as a sock knitter, I used the wool/nylon blends exclusively. This time around (current obsession started in March of this year) I’ve experimented with a lot more 100% wool sock yarns, and discovered that I like them much better than the blends. I’ve also decided that I’m not too crazy about self-striping yarns, though they do have their place. I’m all about the handpainted variegated stuff now.

I’ve been busily knitting my way through as many different sock yarns as I can — have you noticed? I’ve got several in my stash that I’ve not flung a needle into yet, but I’m looking forward to doing so. I’ve not bought the Austermann Step yet, btw.

So many sock yarns! So little time!


Cable Talk

Ann Rose commented:
I notice that you knit a great many highly textured garments (Keelan looks like a nice blend of cables and seed stitch — elegant simplicity), and I’m wondering if you would choose a jumperweight yarn over a worsted or Aran weight for something like a full-on traditional Aran sweater. It’s always been a fantasy of mine to design and knit an Aran, so I could have the cable designs I love most AND have the sleeves fit my short arms, but I don’t yet have the necessary experience to know what weight yarn would be best.

It depends. 🙂

If you really want an authentic traditional Aran, you make it from aran weight (i.e., heavy worsted) wool. Such a sweater is almost never suitable for indoor wear, however — too warm and heavy. However, if you make your traditional Aran a cardigan, it makes a great jacket for any cool/cold day but the coldest days of winter.

If you want a sweater you can wear indoors, knit it from finer yarn. A dk weight yarn woukd make a lovely cabled sweater. Of course, the more heavily cabled your sweater is, the thicker and warmer it becomes.

Keelan is knitted from the equivalent of jumperweight yarn. Because of the fineness of the yarn, I’ve done a fairly, shall we say, sparse set of cables.


I think an all-over cabled design in such a fine yarn would end up looking incredibly busy.

An example of this is Alice Starmore’s Fulmar, which is an aran design knitted in 5-ply guernsey wool. Because it is knitted at a fine gauge, there’s a lot of space for a lot of calbes, so it ends up being a really busy design. Um . . . yeah . . . I’ve knitted Fulmar twice, and I do think it’s lovely in its own way, but I also prefer slightly simpler arans.

Another factor is the size of the individual wearing the sweater. A wee tiny person would be overwhelmed by a traditional aran knitted in aran weight wool. A dk, sport, or fingering weight aran would undoubtedly look better.

So . . . it depends.


Summer Doldrums


You know you’ve hit “high summer” when the humidity is such that knitting a sock outdoors at 5:00 a.m. is unpleasant because of said humidity.

Yep, I knit socks outdoors at 5:00 a.m. Well, 5:05 a.m., if you wanna get all technical about it. Because that is the ungodly hour at which I reach the train platform for the morning commute. Go on, pity me.

(You may also envy me as I sashay outta the office at 3:00 p.m. most weekdays. I do so love me some flex-time!)

Over the past few days, a number of you have left comments or emailed asking for the pattern for the feather and fan socks I make. I’ve been emailing people individually, pointing them in the direction of the blog entry where I talked about what I do to make a feather and fan sock. But I have to search my blog archives every time because I forget which entry it is every single time.


So. Without further ado, I present to you:

Wendy’s Generic Toe-Up Feather and Fan Sock Pattern — pdf format

Don’t say I never gave you nuthin’. 😉

About socks . . . some questions from the comments!

Erika asked:
What brand of sock yarn do you find easiest to work with? The yarn I’m using right now seems to split very easily.

So . . . many . . . sock . . . yarns . . .

Some of the ones I’ve found easiest to work with are Socks That Rock lightweight, Fleece Artist, Claudia Handpaint — you know, all the nice sproingy squishy yarns. I’ve not had any problem with splitting on any of those.

April asked:
Any suggestions for a sock pattern using very dark blue variegated yarn? I think a lace pattern might get lost so perhaps cables?

If you think a lace pattern might get lost, cables might too. Just sayin’.

You might want to consider an all-over texture pattern. Check out your favorite stitch dictionary and swatchy, swatchy, swatchy whatever seems alluring to you! If you have the 365 Knitting Stitches calendar, that’s another great source for stitch patterns.

And a non-sock-related question, from Barbp:
I’m kind of wondering out loud here about why patterns or accomplished knitters (such as yourself) put stitches on “yarn” to keep them live. Would I be able to put the stitches on a stitch holder? Is the yarn just more flexible for moving the stitches around without stretching the stitches?

For me, it’s simple. Here’s a picture of the stitches threaded on yarn, along with the smallest stitch holder I have.


If it’s just one or two stitches, I’ll use one of these:


A coilless pin. But the 8 stitches would be jammed uncomfortably on the pin.

Hence the length of yarn. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond

This morning I heard that Syd Barrett died. So sad.

And at the exact moment I was over leaving a comment on Shelley’s blog to let her know, she was leaving a comment on my blog to let me know. As Shelley said in a subsequent email, “Pretty cosmic there lady!”