Forty-Seven Handknit Socks

I have 47 handknit socks currently drying on a rack in my basement.

Just for a moment, let’s overlook the sheer number of handknit socks in my house. In addition to the 47 (socks, not pairs of socks, just to be clear) drying, there are currently 2 freshly dirty ones to wash up, one on each of my feet, and who knows how many currently residing in my cedar chest still clean. So yeah, let’s set the fact of the sock largesse aside for a moment and consider this:

I have forty-seven socks currently drying.

Not 46. Not 48.

47 

Something is not quite right with this picture.

After counting them last night and then re-counting them, I just kind of tilted my head, confused, and then I started chuckling a bit to myself. The 48th sock is here somewhere, of that I’m sure. I just don’t know exactly where right now. There’s a metaphor for my life in there somewhere — everything is good, the holiday is going to be great, I just happen to be temporarily one sock short.

I especially feel “a sock short” at the moment as I’m coming down with a cold or fighting a low-level one or something and my head is a little foggy. But I’m persevering nonetheless, as we do this time of year.

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I’m forging into sock number two of Mr Knitting Sarah’s Christmas socks. I’m feeling confidant enough in finishing on time, in fact, that I spent the better part of last night plying…

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This is pretty much as full as this bobbin can get. In fact, the wheel did a bit of disagreeing with me as we got toward the end, so the last bits are a little unevenly plied. It’s not perfect, but perfect enough that washing and setting it should even things out well enough. For those curious, this is Granite from Three Waters Farm on a 60/40 Polwarth + Silk base and it’s one of the prettiest neutrals I’ve had the pleasure to spin.

For good measure, I pulled this off the wheel straight away and got the next plying project started…

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This is also from Three Waters Farm, called Moving in Circles and this is a Merino/Superwash Merino/Tussah Silk blend — the colorway link will take you to a 60/40 Polwarth + Silk blend. It is pretty breathtaking and it’s definitely going to be hard to step away from.

On a very happy, holiday-y note, I did receive a couple treats in the mail yesterday. I’ve been on the fence about Fringe Supply Co bags for a very long time. I know they’re very nice, but they are pricey and I’ve just never been able to justify the purchase. Over the weekend I noted that Firefly Fibers — my once-upon another lifetime LYS — was offering them at a 10% discount, so I jumped.

Yesterday I received my black Porter Bin…

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I imagine using this to hold prepped fiber for upcoming projects. I have an extra special plan for this, but the second part of it is still en route. Updates to come when part two arrives, of course.

I also got one of the new Waxed Canvas Plaid Field Bags

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I love waxed canvas — it’s so practical for my lifestyle, just like the size and design of the bag, and these colors are just me.

It also just so happens that once I finished Mr. Knitting Sarah’s socks, even though I have other WIPs to attend to, I’m hoping to cast on this…

img_9146A gift from a good friend, this was also the last knitalong from Firefly Fibers. I’m too late to participate, but I’m excited to work on it nonetheless. I have a laundry list of projects that I want to get to in the new year, but this one — because it’s a gift and such a pretty blue tweed — it just feels like pure luxury.

And this lady, with 47 handknit socks drying — not 46 or 48 — could use a little something that is just a treat, pure and simple.

Riverbend + Quarry

Egged on by stunning photography and super stylish pattern collections, it’s hard to resist the temptation that is Brooklyn Tweed. Seeing all the pretty photos of Quarry that started popping up when the yarn launched last year I made the fateful click that took me to the BT website. When I realized I could knit a sweater with this new-to-me yarn for a relatively good price, I splurged and decided to knit the very relaxed Riverbend with Quarry in Slate.

It arrived and the color was gorgeous. I knew the basics of this yarn — the chunky relative of Loft & Shelter — and I’ve knit for many years with a lot of different types of yarns and I never thought to go in and read reviews of it before I started knitting. I dutifully knit & washed my swatch & checked my gauge.

And I started knitting, ecstatic that the tweedy colors were everything I hoped they would be.

img_2336And at this point, I went and looked for reviews.

The thing about Quarry is that its made to act & look like a single, but it is a barely spun 3ply meant to be reminiscent of ‘unspun’ yarns. In action, this means that if you tug on it it comes apart very easily. I, of course, learned this the hard way. Once it’s knit it seems pretty sturdy, but if you pull on your working yarn it will most likely break unless you are very careful. I read a number of reviews where knitters were very unhappy and frustrated with this attribute. I can imagine that any knitter that grips the yarn firmly or has a habit of pulling on their working yarn or knitting with a lot of tension on their yarn might really struggle with Quarry. To their credit, Brooklyn Tweed has provided a PDF with “tips for happy knitting with Quarry” and it did indeed help me to better understand the material with which I was working. It did, however, leave me pondering how I feel about yarn that needs special instructions for use. I’m certainly on the esoteric side of the yarn consumer scale, but even I am left questioning the larger implications of needing to explain a yarn.

But I digress.

img_2348I knit along, more easily now that I was equipped with more knowledge of the yarn and made my way through Riverbend which is a very well-done pattern. The fabric, a beautiful slate-y blue with gorgeous pops of tweedy goodness, I knew would be a wonderful addition to my wardrobe. It’s a color I love to wear. As it’s a bulky weight sweater, of course, the knitting really didn’t take long at all.

I washed and blocked and seamed (with a different yarn, as directed) and added the button bands. Then I found the backer buttons I needed to complete the project.

img_2552-1And I selected the ‘right side’ buttons which I ended up picking from Balwen Woodworks. I’ll admit I was a little pokey getting the buttons on for no better reason that I’m not a huge fan of sewing on buttons. It’s weird, I know, but that’s me.

Looking at the pretty finished fabric though…

stitch detailI finally got to it and got it done.

with buttonsI really love the finished look (please excuse the white spots — again — it’s snow!). You’ll notice, perhaps, that the buttonholes & buttons are opposite where they should be on a ladies’ sweater. Somehow, somewhere in the button band process I managed to confuse the RS/WS which landed the buttonholes on the wrong side. This has never happened to me before, so I’m not quite sure how I did it, but there it is. It really doesn’t matter, it still looks lovely. I just kind of look like a kindergartner trying to button this sweater and every time I do button it I have a renewed respect for lefties everywhere.

on

Pardon my lack of head in this picture — it was cold and windy and snowy and I was too cold to retake them when I saw the weird faces I was making. I’d have left them in the photo, but I wanted you to be able to see the sweater and not just my ‘I’m freezing‘ and ‘What are you doing?‘ faces. In any case, I made the 39″ which gives me about 2.5-3″ of ease and it is really a very comfortable fit and a nice, cozy sweater. It’s great just casually thrown on over a t-shirt for around the house or for running errands. I think it looks nicest slouching off my shoulders a bit.

All in all, this project turned out wonderfully. I’ve already been wearing my Riverbend quite a bit and as I said it is very comfy & cozy. I’ve warmed to the entity that is Quarry, too, but I certainly think about the fragility of the yarn every time I put the sweater on. Considering its quirks when being knit, it’s hard to not wonder how it will hold up to the test of time. Since I always buy an extra skein when I’m planning on a sweater, I do have some leftovers. The yarn is pretty enough that I’ll definitely knit up a hat or something with it to use it up and it most likely won’t sit in my stash for long. And that’s the key for Quarry – I think it’s a good fit for accessories and light-wear items. Along with a lovely sweater, my takeaway from this project is that one should select a good pattern, approach it with a gentle hand and patience and Quarry will be good to you.

A Tale of Two Hats

Once upon a time there was a knitter who loved hats. She wore hats pretty much every day regardless of the season. She’d wear them oustide, inside, around the house, while shopping, even — in the coldest months — to bed. Because she loved hats so, she was always making them — for herself, her family, her friends… you name the person, she had probably knit them a hat. Aside from her darling husband and children, there was no one she knit more hats for though than for herself. It was a guilty pleasure, but one that she reveled in.

One long winter, she added some very special hats to her wardrobe.

First, a pattern & kit from the esteemed Churchmouse Yarns & Teas: The Loft Beret.

Using the interwebs, she purchased a kit in the spring of 2012 directly from Churchmouse’s website. She worked on it on and off for months.CM beret in bt

She posted photos on her blog multiple times of the work in progress. She actually completed it once and then ripped back all the way to the portion worked even — her gauge was ever so slightly tight & the hat was just unrealistically small for winter use in her very chilly homeland. So she ripped back & doubled the length. She was happy with the results.close-upShe loved the tweed…

top viewespecially the flecks of bright red.

The Brooklyn Tweed Loft was very lovely to work with — trying it out was her main reason for making this hat. The yarn was well made and beautiful and of course she loved that it was American wool. She had a thing for local things, so domestic wool was always a special treat.

The second hat she made using a tried and true and beloved pattern: Hannah Fettig’s Simple Beret.

top viewShe made it using Malabrigo Rios in — you guessed it — the Paris Night colorway. Paris Night was her favourite, if you didn’t know it.

close-upShe just loved the simple little details that make this pattern great.

It was also the first time she’d worked with Malabrigo Rios — it was every bit as amazing as she knew it would be.

She washed and blocked her hats. She broke them in. She wore them every day. She loved them.

From that day forward, the knitter never had a chilly head or icy ears. She enjoyed even the coldest seasons without catching a cold.  She played with her sweet puppy & darling children in the snow for hours without complaint. One might say that she lived hat-fully ever after.

The End.