My current work in progress:

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

Archives for October 2006

Socks, Randomly Speaking

Becky asked about my Trekking socks:
1) does the randomness of the colors bother you or are you ok with them not matching? 2) I am working on my first pair of Trekking socks (and only me second pair of socks ever). I am going toe-up (your pattern!)and have turned the heel and started the leg. I was planning to do the leg in stockinette, but when I tried them on, I think it is going to be too loose around my ankle and leg to stay up. Do you usually decrease stitches after turning the heel? Should I just start ribbing to solve the problem? I feel like you are one of the only people who I see making socks with stockinette legs so I am curious what your secret is.

In answer to number 1 — I am totally okay with the socks not matching. Some may consider this a flaw in my character, but I am surprisingly laissez-faire (for me) about randomness in socks. I am a perfectionist about a lot of stuff (some may call me picky), but matching socks is not one of them. I only wear socks with pants and shoes (not sandals) so no one really sees them anyway, so why should I care if they match?

I also don’t mind pooling and flashing in handknit yarns. Though I’ll admit that I admire people who go to great lengths to keep handpainted yarns from pooling as they knit socks. Me? I’m happy to just let the yarn do its thing.


As for number 2 . . .

What is my secret for making socks with stockinette legs that stay up? Fat ankles. Seriously. As a matter of fact, I often increase 4 stitches for the leg after turning the heel. I have sprained both ankles — and one of them very badly — so that they are now, sadly, permanently swollen to a certain extent. Gone are the days of seeing my ankle bone nicely defined.

Although I have knit a number of pairs of socks with a feather and fan leg, the ones that fit me best and feel the most comfortable are plain stockinette with the picot edge top.

Blue, Blue, My Needles Are Blue

But (perhaps surprisingly) my fingers are not. The indigo dye from the denim yarn comes off on the needle tips but not on my hands.

Wendy T. commented:
You mentioned cleaning your bamboo needles with Murphy’s Oil Soap. Just last night I went into my knitting needle holder and was disgusted to find some of my bamboo knitting needles and crochet hooks were MOLDY! All of my rosewoods seemed fine.

Does this ever happen to you? Do you suggest cleaning them with the Murphy’s Oil Soap? And, is there a better way for me to store my needles?

Someone in the comments or in an email recommended Murphy’s Oil Soap for cleaning dye off needles. This was a few months back, when I was knitting with sock yarn that was bleeding dye on my needles. I’ve not actually tried it yet, but I did get as far as buying the Murphy’s Oil Soap. Baby steps. πŸ™‚ Anyone actually used Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean needles?

Vanessa suggested in the comments cleaning needles by wiping them with a little bleach and a paper towel, then rinsing several times with water. finished with a coat of butcher wax. And Deni commented “Try the Mr Clean Erasable Pad – gently – to remove the dye from those needles. I was amazed how it took pink dye off mine.”

So there are a couple of other options for you.

Here’s a question for you denim knitting veterans — the ball band on the yarn recommends washing the pieces and then sewing the garment together. Can anyone tell me if the dye will stain other items in the wash, should I choose to wash a piece of denim knitting with, say, a beige bath towel?

Now, I washed the swatch with a dark green bath towel, so who knows if any dye came off.

Marlene commented:
There has been quite the discussion lately on the Master Knitter’s list about prewashing commercial yarn before knitting with it. I wonder if this would eliminate the shrinkage and dye transfer problems with the denim yarns. It sure would be nice to knit with that yarn if it was already soft, shrunken, and de-dyed, hmmmm?

It’s a great idea in theory. Actually, when I washed my denim gauge swatch, I skeined up on my swift the rest of the yarn from the ball I used for the swatch. I tied it carefully in several places, and washed and dried the skein along with the swatch.

But that washed skein was a total bitch to untangle and wind into a ball (even given the precautions I took tying it up before winding it) — it took me forever. I’d not enjoy doing that with all my yarn.


I’ll use that washed yarn for sewing the sweater together and knitting the neckband. That way, all the pieces and the yarn will have the same degree of fading and shrinking, as they’ll all have gone through one wash at that point.

Lucy sez


My daddy’s new video on YouTube is my new favorite movie! It just looks so . . . tasty. πŸ˜‰

Knitting With String

That’s what knitting with this denim yarn feels like: Knitting with string. Bleah.


I keep looking at my washed swatch and fondling it to remind myself what the finished sweater will be like.

I am knitting this with bamboo needles. When I started the gauge swatch I used an Addi turbo. But I quickly abandoned that and started over with a bamboo needle because the denim yarn on the metal needle was just too slippery for me to deal with.

The only problem — the indigo dye does stain the needles a bit. I’m hoping I can clean the needles up a bit with some Murphy’s Oil Soap when I’m done with the knitting.


I’m coming along nicely on the Trekking socks.


No staining of the needles. Heh.


Denise asked:
Do you like the delta orifice that comes with the Gem? I had a less-than-enjoyable time spinning on it and was considering selling it, but after I swapped the delta orifice for a WooLee Winder it worked much better for me.


No, I don’t like the Delta orifice. Roseann suggested I might get another flyer for the Gem and recommended the Majacraft Fine Fiber Flyer — it’s item Maj-3002 on this page from the Woolery. Roseann, I ordered it this morning. πŸ™‚

So I’ll continue to practice on the Majacraft Gem to get more comfortable with it, because I’ll be taking it on the road in a few weeks time. πŸ™‚

Speaking of “on the road” I’m not going to be going to Rhinebeck this weekend — but I’ll be thinking about it! I’m going out of town the following two weekends though, and both are trips for fun, so don’t pity me too much. πŸ˜‰

Lucy sez:


“Huh? You’re going out of town? Parrrrrrr-tay!”

Awwwwwww . . . You Guys . . .

Well, I sure did get a lot of entries in the Sock Yarn Giveaway. 968, to be exact.

I did read every single email, but there’s just not enough time to send a personal response to each one. But thank you all for entering. I recognize some old friends, and it’s lovely to meet so many of you lurkers. While I did not ask you to write a personal note in your email, I loved reading the ones that some of you wrote. So . . . a big blanket thank-you to you all!

The winners are . . .

Well, before I announce the winners, I have to admit that I’m sending a skein of sock yarn (not one of the six set aside for the contest, but a lovely skein of handpainted blues from Cabin Cove Mercantile) to one of my blog readers without making her enter the contest. But she gets special treatment because she is my mom. See, my mom made the mistake of mentioning that she’d like to try making toe-up socks (she’s made top-down ones). So naturally, loving toe-up socks the way I do, I’m enabling as best I can. Heh heh heh.

Where was I? Oh, right. The winners. The winners were chosen entirely at random, using a random number generator. They are:

Shelagh in Manitoba, Canada
Mandella in the U.K.
Heidi in Oregon
Mimi in Maryland
Becky in Texas
Helene in Norway

Thank you all for entering. I’ve emailed each of you winners to alert you of your status. πŸ™‚

Didn’t win anything? You’re gonna get more big chances for fabulous prizes in the near future. I’m cooking up some fun and will be announcing it in early November. I’ll give you a hint: it involves doing good for a great cause. And the prizes are going to be great, I guarantee.

But before that, Lucy is going to announce her own charitable cause. She’s been working on a project for a while now and can’t wait to show you. I think she’s planning on making her announcement a week from today, so be sure to watch this space.

Speaking of Excellent Causes

I ordered this calendar last Friday. πŸ™‚

Speaking of Excellent Causes, Part Deux

If you haven’t already, check out Rabbitch’s project to knit hats for the homeless of Vancouver. I happen to know that she’s offering some fabulous prizes. Deadline to knit a hat is December 1. The address for sending your hats is on Rabbitch’s blog here.

I know I’m gonna make at least one. πŸ™‚

Lucy Sez


Thank you for all the nice comments about my movie debut. I’ll try not to let it go to my head!

The little video of Lucy was done spontaneously by the KOARC with no thoughts about sharing it. But I suggested we put it up on YouTube, so one thing led to another . . .

We’ll try to plan out our next video a bit more. πŸ™‚

Me? I’ve got miles of stockinette to deal with.


But I didn’t knit on it this afternoon. Roseann and her husband Al came over for a couple of hours. Roseann had very kindly offered to help me figure out my Majacraft Gem spinning wheel, which I’ve always had a bit of trouble using. Al came along to play with Lucy.

While Roseann fiddled with the Majacraft, I finished spinning half my Lisa Souza Blue-Faced Leicester singles on my Lendrum.


Roseann made some adjustments to the Gem, and advised taking the spring off the Scotch tension and replacing it with a rubber band. Great idea, because now I am spinning much better on it.


See? I tried several different fibers and actually made yarn. πŸ™‚

Thanks, Roseann!


Famed director Cecil B. De KOARC has just released his new short feature starring Lucy Garbo, entitled Lucy at Home With Her Humans.

How Much Yarn Do You Really Need?

Spaazlicious left an interesting comment about my Peapod Sweater:
I looked at those pattern yarn requirements. Looked at the baby. Looked at the pattern yarn requirements. And said, “No freakin’ way it takes that much yarn for that.” I’m a smug bastard to see your experience bearing that out.

I’ve been noticing that lately though–my bicolor cardi from Annie Modesitt took just over half of the yarn “required.” I know that patterns are made to sell yarn, but it seems a little much, especially most people buy extra over the stated requirements for “just in case.” Just making me think.

And here I thought it was just me. πŸ™‚ I always seem to use wa-a-ay less yarn than a pattern calls for. With a few exceptions.

I discovered early on that I almost always ran short of yarn on Dale of Norway designs. A long time ago I emailed their customer service about this and received a nice response. Apparently, they knit up each design in one size, and then guess-timate how much yarn the other sizes will take based on the yarn requirements for the one size knitted. Not an unreasonable way of doing things, but methinks their guess-timator needs a fine tuning.

Disclaimer here — I haven’t made a Dale sweater in quite a while so I don’t know if the yarn amounts for their patterns are more realistic these days.

I’ve noticed that some Starmore designs I’ve made were skimpy on yarn requirements. I’ve run short on a couple of fair isles and on one cabled design. Not by much, though. And I’ve always had plenty of yarn in the kits I’ve received from them at Virtual Yarns.

But most of the time I have yarn left over. I do tend to buy a “just in case” extra skein, but I’ll often have a couple of skeins left over.

The smallest size of the Peapod Jacket called for 4 skeins of Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere, and I made mine using three skeins, with about a quarter of the third skein left over. But I do think I (for whatever reason) tend to use less yarn to knit something than others. I wonder why that is? That has puzzled me from time to time — how is it that two knitters who knit to the same gauge will use varying amounts of yarn to complete the exact same amount of knitting?

I think that if I were the designer and had knitted the Peapod using the 2.75 skeins, I would list the yarn requirement as 4 skeins. I could see someone knitting it and needing just slightly more than 3 skeins.

And in the interests of full disclosure, I do this for my own patterns — I do pad the yarn requirements slightly to try to guard against anyone running out of yarn. I generally up the yarn requirements by 50 – 100 yards. I’m not trying to push a particular yarn — it’s not like I make any money off that. I just really, really hate running out of yarn and know that others do too!

What do you all think? Should designers do this? Do you think most designers do?

Speaking of design, katomliz asked:
I checked your sweater software program .Looks helpful. I see they have software for socks too. Have you your used that one?

You know, I think I do have a copy of the Sock Wizard software. I believe I bought it a few years ago when I first embarked on sock knitting. Used it to do my first pair of socks. A nice little program, if I remember correctly. Check out the link to read all about it. There’s a demo there you can download.

Denim Sweater

Slowly it grows, millimeter by millimeter.


This is the start of the back. I’m doing a seed stitch border. I do so love seed stitch! And miles of stockinette. Yawn. But . . .

Ooh, Look! A Giveaway!

Wanna win some sock yarn? Send an email to: blogcontestATcomcastDOTnet by noon (Eastern time), Sunday, October 15, 2006 to be entered in a drawing for some sock yarn.

I’ve got some sock yarn that I discovered when cleaning out my stash room (ahem) that was overlooked in the Great Sock Yarn Giveaway of ’06. Since October is clearly sock month (Socktoberfest! / Sock Hop!) it seems like a good idea to give some away. I’ll send enough yarn for a pair of socks to six lucky contestants, drawn at random.


So send an email to the address above. That’s all you need to do — just send me an email. Sock-knitters outside the U.S. are welcome to enter too.

P.S. to Liz — That’s not linoleum in my kitchen — it’s Armstrong floor tiles circa 1999 that I had put down to replace a truly heinous one-piece sheet of vinyl flooring! Does the fact that I like it and chose it make me retro? πŸ˜‰ My appliances are beige and black — honest!