My current work in progress:

Stornoway, designed by Alice Starmore from her book Fishermen’s Sweaters, knit in Frangipani 5-ply guernsey wool in the Aran colorway, on a 3.0mm needle.

Archives for October 2011


My list of works-in-progress has undergone some changes since last we spoke.

The black lace tunic has been relegated to UFO status. I can’t force myself to knit on it, so it has been put away to marinate for a while.

I am happily knitting along on both the Thin Ice and Trillian shawls.

I stopped work on the sock I was knitting from Supersocke 8, the worsted weight sock yarn. I knit it up to the gusset increases, but the voice in my head that started out by whispering “it’s not good” was by this point screaming in a loud (and unnecessarily shrill) tone “It’s wrong! It’s wrong!” The yarn was just too heavy and it did not feel soft enough for a comfy sock.

So I cast it aside and went into the stash room. There I found a skein of Trekking 6-ply and started a sock with that. Much, much better. It is nice and soft and knits up to the same gauge as Opal 6-ply. It’s the same composition: 75% wool and 25% nylon.

I’m using colorway # 1806 which is listed as greys, but they do have a bluish cast to them. I’m about an inch away from the gusset increases in this photo.

Note the book on which I have my sock-in-progress propped.

It is Clara Parkes’ The Knitter’s Book of Socks. Or, as I like to think of it, “Everything you always wanted to know about socks but were afraid to ask.”

Flipping through this book got me to thinking: I can’t imagine a book like this coming out, say, 30 years ago. In 1981 we just knit what you gave us. If you wanted to knit socks, you took some Patons Kroy and a pattern for a top-down sock with heel flap and had at it.

Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but today there are so many more choices for yarns. Handpaints!  Indie-dyed! Self-striping! Bamboo! Sea silk! Et cetera.

And there are approximately eleventy billion sock patterns available today and so many different ways to construct a sock.

With all these choices for yarns and patterns, this is a book whose time has come.

There is a lot of great information on what properties you need in a yarn for socks and a discussion of all the different fibers you can think of and their usefulness as sock yarn. Finally, information on yarn construction — what characteristics you need for a good sock yarn.

Another important element for socks is the stitch pattern — what makes it stretchy, what makes it strong, etc.

Oh, and there are patterns too. 🙂 Twenty (I think) lovely patterns from Clara and other well-known sock designers.

In the back there is an extremely useful resource section that includes, among other things, foot-length tables for men, women, and children’s shoe sizes.

So, if you are into socks and want all the information you’ll ever need about sock yarns and construction, as well as 20 great patterns, you’ll want this book!

Lucy is clearly contemplating the properties of a good sock here.


On Thin Ice

I spent yesterday on thin ice . . .

Working on my Thin Ice Shawl, that is.

I’ve made some nice progress on this. It is a very fun knit because you keep switching up what you are doing.

You have texture sections.

You have lace sections.

And you have plain stockinette sections.

Just when you start getting bored with doing one thing, it is time to switch to something else.

As a bonus for the chart-phobic, the pattern is entirely written-out. And as a bonus for lace newbies, it is very easy. 🙂

I’m less than halfway through this. It takes two skeins of Tempted Good Grrl (fingering weight) yarn and I’m still on my first skein.

I do love how the subtle color shifts of the yarn look in this pattern.

On Friday night I did do a bit on my Trillian.

But you can hardly tell the difference since the last photo, I think.

I also did a few rows on the sleeve of my lace tunic, but I have developed an extreme aversion to this project for some reason, so I’m not going to force myself to knit on it. I may just take it out of the rotation and put it away for the foreseeable future. I may return to it someday but for now I just can’t force myself to knit it. Go figure.


Thanks to everyone who left a comment to be considered for the Barbara Walker DVD. The winner is Roberta. Roberta, I have emailed you.

The weather turned nicely cool here over the weekend so Lucy retreated to the kitty bed for a nap.

Though the way she is curled up doesn’t look terribly comfortable to me!

Parade of WIPs

As I mentioned on Tuesday, I currently have four projects on the needles — a number virtually unheard-of for me.

The first one you know about. It’s my latest lace tunic, knit from Hand Maiden Swiss Silk in the Raven colorway. I have completed the front and the back and have joined them at the shoulders via a three-needle bind-off. And I crocheted around the neckline.

I did start a sleeve last night but only have an inch or so done on it.

As I was working on this project towards the end of last week, I suddenly became extremely sick of it. This is what happens when you think it is a good idea to kn it 4 lace sweaters in a row. I abandoned it on Saturday and knit up the hat I was going to work on for “Knit Whatever the Heck You Want Day” on Sunday. That left me without a new project on Sunday.

(Can you see where all this rationalization is going?)

So on Sunday I decided to knit a Trillian — a pattern so nice I bought it twice. (I bought it last week and discovered I also bought it on June 28. Whoops!)

The pattern is perfect for 1 skein of  Wollmeise sock yarn, I went into the stash room and stood before The Wollmeise Wall of Shame. I decided on a 100% merino skein in “Im dunklen Wald” so plucked that from the shelf, wound it up and started in.

After an hour of knitting I ripped it all out because I did not like the way the increases looked on the long straight edge. I started again, moving the increases in one stitch. Much happier with how it looks now.

Since Sunday, I’ve knit a couple of rows per evening on this.

But wait, there’s more.

I have no rational explanation for why I did this, but on Sunday afternoon I wound up one of my skeins of Tempted Good Grrl in “Moondance” and started Thin Ice.

I spent the remainder of Sunday knitting and enjoying Thin Ice. Since then, I’ve done one or two rows per evening.

That’s three WIPs. The fourth one is this:

This is a really big sock, being knit from Online Supersocke 8, a worsted weight sock yarn. This is commuter knitting only: it gets knit on the train to work and sometimes a bit during my lunch break.

The reason I’m using a worsted weight sock yarn is because this sock is destined for someone with a very large foot. But I’m on the fence about this yarn. I’m knitting it at a pretty firm gauge (5.75 st/inch on a U.S. size 2 needle) because I want it to wear well. I guess it’s okay, but for thick socks I do prefer DK weight. But it seems to be getting harder and harder to find a DK weight sock yarn that has a good amount of nylon in it. I see that Opal is allegedly coming out with a 6-ply line called Polar Lights, but it doesn’t seem  to be available yet. I’ve got a decent-sized stash of 6-ply sock yarn w/ nylon in “guy” colors, but it is dwindling.

Anyhow, those are my four WIPs. I have been working on all of them this week and haven’t yet gotten too twitchy, so there is hope for me yet. Still, I think I’ll be going back to project monogamy once this experiment is over.

Lucy is nonplussed by my behavior. So much so that she has deviated from her normal behavior of ignoring my yarn. The other day I came home to this:

She claims it was not her. She looks so innocent, doesn’t she?

“Who, me?”

Stitch Along With Barbara

I recently received a review copy of the following:

Stitch Heaven Salutes Barbara Walker is a DVD with several hours of content. Here is the main menu:

I took photos of the DVD in progress on my iMac, by the way. I could use my mouse to select a menu item, but you could also use your remote control for a DVD player connected to your tv.

There are 18 different pattern stitches demo-ed on this DVD.

That’s the first page of the stitches menu — there are three pages of stitch pattern menus: lace, texture, and colorwork. When you select an item, you first get an overview.

And there is a video demonstrating each stitch!

The DVD also contains a great reference section:

And a video of Barbara Walker!

The same company has also released a knitting eBook, with videos embedded in the eBook. This is available in the iTunes store and is the first of a series of eBooks.

I think both the DVD and the eBook would be great for beginner or intermediate knitters looking to increase their skills.

So I’m giving away the review DVD I received. It has been opened and played once.

If you’d like to be entered in the drawing for this DVD, leave a comment on this blog post by noon, Eastern Time, on Sunday, October 16. I’ll use the random number generator at that time to pick a winner from the comments submitted.

I spent the weekend doing alarming things, knitting-wise. At this moment I have four projects on the needles. Those of you who know me know that this is virtually unheard-of. I can’t remember the last time I had more than two projects in progress at the same time.

Stop by on Thursday to see if I have maintained my sanity in these troubled times.

Lucy sez:

“Who are you and what have you done to my Momma?”


I might have jumped the gun a bit on “Knit Whatever the Heck You Want” day. Here is what I was planning to knit today:

This is yet another variation (the fourth one) of my Super Slouch hat. I knit this with one skein of MadelineTosh Vintage in the “Ms Taylor” colorway, using the entire skein, save a few yards.

I have proven to myself that I can knit a Super Slouch in on day. I wound the yarn into a ball at around 10:00am and cast on (using a provisional cast-on and tubular ribbing) shortly there after.

I knit on it on and off all day yesterday, and finished it at about 11:00pm.

I will add this variation to the Super Slouch pattern in my Ravelry store in the next couple of days. Those of you who have already bought the pattern will receive notification from Ravelry that there is an update to the pattern and you will be able to download a new version. So y’all will have 4 variations on the one pattern. Such a deal.

Interestingly, I think I have received more questions about this pattern than any other. It’s because of the tubular ribbing. If you have never done tubular ribbing before, the instructions might look a little odd to you. It’s something that is hard to visualize just be reading the instructions. You just have to trust me on this and knit exactly as instructed! In answer to the top two questions about this pattern:

Yes, it does not seem like you are casting on enough stitches: your provisional cast-on is half the total number of stitches needed (if you read ahead in the pattern you will see this). And no, you do not have to pick up any stitches after pulling out the provisional cast-on.

Lucy sez:

“I’m set for the day.”

Goldfish Wanda sez:

“Who is that mysterious but lovely fishie I keep seeing outside my tank?”