It Was About Time

Back in July, I shared a finished sock with Three Waters Farm Storm’s End Merino + Nylon Self-Striping Yarn. I finished sock #1 in time to coordinate with the Three Waters Farm launch of the yarn and share my project here. I cast-on sock # 2 straight away, but courtesy of a busy summer, it was set aside, languishing while I did other things. I know a lot of people suffer from second sock syndrome regularly, but I generally do not so this stood out in my world. A very pretty thorn in my side, waiting not so quietly for its turn to be finished.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. A very good knitting friend, who had recently traveled from Texas to Wisconsin in the Friends of Knitting Sarah Ravelry Group‘s real life meet-up at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool festival, was knitting away on her Rainbow Warrior shawl and realized she was in danger of running out of this same Three Waters Farm yarn. Knowing how much yarn I usually use for socks, I had a feeling that I would have yarn leftover when I finished that second sock. I went over to the finished sock, weighed it, did the math, and sure enough, I would have quite a bit leftover.  She was less than a week from binding off at that point, so I got the lead out and finished that second sock in a couple of days.

 

It’s amazing what you can do when you have a finite deadline on something!

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In fact, you can finish up a sock that’s been sitting idle for months in just a couple of days!

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And in the process, you can be reminded why you loved this project to begin with — awesome yarn, fun pattern, it’s got it all!

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I put this squarely in the “unfortunately/fortunately” category — unfortunately my friend found herself playing yarn chicken and yet fortunately it inspired me to get that sock finished. It was about time!

And while I’m knitting a hush-hush project on those needles at the moment, I’ve got a new sock project all picked out for when I get the hush-hush project finished up (I’m halfway there, btw).

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This beautiful 100% Organic Polwarth handspun that I spun up at the end of the Tour de Fleece earlier this year…

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And I am going to make some stunning socks with it, I think.

img_8392I’ve been slow to share these skeins because they are a bit over-twisted in spots as I attempted to ply them on my Schacht Reeves. For a while I didn’t quite understand what was going wrong, why I was struggling, and therefore why the skeins has extra twist. I’ve finally gotten to the point that I wholly understand that I’ve not yet mastered plying on the whole double drive thing and that’s ok. And I don’t need to be shy about that. I don’t have to know how to make it all work right away and I can take the time I need to learn new things. Considering this yarn will be destined for socks and high twist on socks generally lends itself to durability, the over-twisted spots shouldn’t hurt the project at all.

While it’s true that this handspun yarn would have been enough motivation for me to get those Zigzagular Socks finished eventually, knowing I could potentially help a friend definitely helped to spur me along. It just goes to show that when it comes to motivation, it comes in many forms. As knitters, I think we just have to learn to grab on to those powerful motivators when they arise and let it drive our projects from the WIP column over to the FO one. At the end of the day, whatever gets the job done, right?! I’m sorry that my friend had to deal with the stress of yarn chicken, but at the same time I’m thankful because she gave me the motivation I needed to get those socks done sooner than later. She inspired me to forge onward and upward & thus helped me put a new pair of socks in my sock drawer and another pair of socks on the horizon. It was about time!

Socks Flambe

I’ve been a busy bee the past week! We started school with half days and I’ve been prepping for WI Sheep & Wool next week because of course I’ve set my sights on doing all sort of things BEFORE that. My favorite moment was when I woke up yesterday and thought, “Hey, I think I’ll re-caulk the upstairs tub!” Because that’s exactly what you do when you’re getting ready for an event away from home.

In any case, today I’m finally going to share my FO from our vacation — my handspun socks! They started over a year ago as the special Three Waters Farm Tour de Fleece colorway, Summer Jubilee.

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Photo courtesy of Three Waters Farm

This was the Superwash Merino + Nylon base — it’s not currently available, but at of the time of this post, there is one braid of this colorway on the fab Cashmere/Superwash Merino/Nylon base available. You can find it here if you’re so inclined.

In any case, I spun it up during the Tour de Fleece 2016

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And then I chain plied it into a 3oo yard (or thereabouts) skein.

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And I was all set to knit up some socks… but the skein sat for about a year because life has a habit of happening. A lot. And all over the place.

When the Three Waters Farm Ravelry group decided to have it’s Sock-along post Tour de Fleece this year though, I knew it was time and I cast on. Originally I had decided to do the toes & heels in a commercial yarn I’d purchase for the task, but unfortunately/fortunately the gauge wasn’t close enough.

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So I just went for it, even though I knew I was a little lighter on yardage than I’d like to be. I kind of winged the pattern using some combinations of pattern calculations and trying them on as I went to get a good fit. And I went with a simple Fish Lips Kiss heel (my latest little discovery, even though it’s not a new thing). Simple! I worked them two-at-a-time magic loop in order to work from opposing ends of the center-pull ball. I knew they would be on the road with me during vacation and weighing to know when I hit halfway was just not an option. And I’m way too lazy to measure & weight in the winding process — sorry, folks! That’s just never going to happen! Besides, I don’t mind fraternal twin socks and I also kind of prefer to knit socks toe-up two-at-a-time magic loop when I’ve got a potential yarn shortage. I always feel like this method gives me the most options when flying by the seat of my pants.

In any case, I knit away on them during vacation…

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And I kept going as long as I dared. In the end, I probably had about 3-5 yards leftover. I can live with that.

And the resulting socks are nothing short of… magical. From the toes…

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To the foot…

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To the Fish Lips Kiss heels…img_8059

Every last bit of these socks makes me happy.

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They are far and away my happiest socks to date. And because I’m a nerd, as I was writing about them here, I had to look up the word “jubilee.” As a noun, it’s a special anniversary or event. They certainly are special, aren’t they! A year in the making and oh so worth the time! Jubilee is also listed as an adjective though, “(of desserts) flambé.” Well I think that’s accurate, too. My summer socks, a year in the making and set alight with the magic that is handspun. They are indeed, my Socks Flambé!

Sometimes… You Just Wing It.

I have a hard time with moderation sometimes. If I’m going to schedule my time, I want to stick to my schedule. And that’s what I’ve been trying to do lately. Take notes, have a plan, make a schedule, use a planner. I mentioned recently that I was having issues with mismanaging time. Consequently, Mr KS & I had a long talk about that last week and how I can better handle my time and make the most of achieving my personal goals as well as the jobs I need to make happen within our family.

Sometimes though… things don’t go according to plan.

Sometimes… you have to create a new plan.

Sometimes… you just wing it.

And this whole juggling act of scheduling and being flexible… well, I’m kind of terrible at it.

My latest sock project has become quite the test because things have devolved a little bit into me winging it. It’s out of character for me. Usually I am the quintessential pattern follower. I love the order of following the step-by-step of a pattern — just like I like my schedule neatly written into my planner in its appropriately boxed off time. And, of course, that was my original plan here.

summer jubilee

During last year’s Tour de Fleece, I spun this skein of Three Waters Farm “Summer Jubilee.” It’s about 300yards of roughly sport weight 3-ply and from the start I wanted to knit socks with it. I was worried, however, about the low yardage. Sometime in the last couple of months, I noticed that the Dyeabolical’s shop had a mini-skein of the Grayson colorway so I snapped it up to use for toes and heels. Sure, it was fingering weight, but I was hopeful the two would be close enough. Fingering can be kind of fickle in its weight, after all.

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I mean, don’t they look super nice together?!

Well, friends, they were not.

Last week while at the pool with the kids, I clicked away on the toes, all the while thinking, “this is too light to go with the Summer Jubilee skein,” but knowing full-well I was going to knit through the toes and try it anyway.

Yeah, they were just totally not the right combination. Because I need to work them 2aat to get the most from my handspun, that was a couple of hours I’d burned only to ultimately end up scrapping the toes and starting over, deciding to throw caution to the wind (because that’s working so well for me thus far in this project) and use handspun for the entire sock now despite the low yardage.

I did a quick gauge test and did some math to try to figure out a custom fit for these toe-up socks, again, to get the most from the handspun.

I knitted along for a good long while thinking, “These seem too big,” “I think these are going to be too big,” “This is just seems not right.” I trusted my math though.

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And it was right about here that I finally admitted defeat, my math was faulty. These socks were too big.

So I ripped them back. Again.

I grabbed two different custom patterns. Remeasured all my measurements and then cast-on once again. I’ll say — if you ever want to conquer a cast-on that maybe you hadn’t commit to memory before, this method of starting over 3 or 4 times is a great way to do so! Judy’s Magic Cast-On is a part of my very being now.

img_7559 In any case, this attempt has me content with the gauge and density of the fabric and so far the fit feels right to me. I’ll know for sure in another inch or two, but I have a good feeling about this one. Those caution signals aren’t going off in my head either, so based on past experience, I’m taking this as a good sign.

As you can see, these socks will be fraternal twins, not identical. Thanks to how I spun the yarn and how I want to use the yarn, it’s just easier this way. Rather than winding 2 center-pull balls that match, I’m just pulling from the inside and the outside of the single center-pull ball. I have an easier time not making a twisty mess this way and I’m not the sort that needs my socks to match. Actually, I kind of prefer the fraternal twins look. So this method works perfectly for me.

It’s been kind of an ‘as the crow flies’ kind of path I’ve been on with this project and it’s really tested whatever goes off in my head telling me that either there is no schedule or there is a rigid schedule. I’m happy to say that it’s been going surprisingly well. Just as I moved some things around last week when the day I’d scheduled to take the kids to the pool had rainy weather and I — hold onto your hats — rescheduled it for two days later when the weather was nicer. It sounds ridiculous, but I have a weirdly hard time adapting to this type of thing when I have the plan set in my mind. I want to just plow ahead in the face of any challenges, but sometimes… you just have to wing it a little bit. Move things around. Be flexible.

I recently read a quote that really struck me and has stuck with me over the last few weeks.

There’s more to life than increasing its speed.

Attributed to Ghandi, I’m not sure how perfectly accurate the quotation is, but I like what it’s saying. Being intentional, working hard, striving to achieve goals — they are all worthy objectives. I just think that personally I need to work toward understanding that sometimes traveling as the crow flies to achieve these goals isn’t all bad. I don’t have to use the fastest route from point a to point b. And perhaps most importantly, just because you can’t accomplish something at the date and time you have it penciled in your planner, doesn’t mean you just don’t do it. There really is nothing wrong with starting over when something isn’t working quite right, to change tacks when we are on the wrong path. Sometimes we learn a lot about ourselves… and our foot size… and our pattern formulas along the way when we allow ourselves the room to make changes to the plan. And sometimes… when we have the fundamentals down, we have to be brave enough to fall back on and trust that knowledge, readjust the pattern, and just  wing it.

Handspun Socks, For the Win!

 Handspun socks have long been on my bucket list of spinning + knitting goals and yet I’ve been loath to commit to the undertaking. It always felt like there were just so many things that had to work out just so in order for socks to really spring forth from fiber. I tend to get overwhelmed by complex plans and spinning for socks seemed exactly that: complicated and overwhelming. There was a 70/30 chance it would take me 20years to work up to attempting this feat.

Enter my February installment of the Three Waters Farm Top of the Month Club. I really didn’t know exactly what I wanted to make with it…

littBut I knew I loved the blues and browns with the pop of yellow. I had no choice, but to just start spinning and see where it took me.

img_2414-1It took me here.

img_2417And then here.

the pretty pileAnd then here.

When I realized that I’d actually achieved a mostly even fingering weight 3-ply yarn with almost 400yards on the skein, I knew it was time to make that handspun sock dream a reality.

Logically, I knew the 390yards I measured out would be more than enough to make myself a pair of socks. I didn’t want to take any chances though, so the fact that I had a commercial brown yarn that matched pretty well helped to spur me along and as soon as I had a window of time to work on it, I cast-on.

img_2922I worried a lot about how that brown looked. As in, I worried way more than any normal human should. You can ask my mom, while at her house I probably asked her 30times if she thought it looked ok. But I kept the faith and kept on knitting, wholly enamored with how the handspun was knitting up.

img_2914As I mentioned a while back, I did some campfire knitting & vacation knitting on these. I hesitantly added the commercial yarn at the heel and that’s where it really started to take shape for me. I knew that not only was I going to have plenty of yarn, but I’d had the (hopefully) added strength of the commercial yarn at the heel & toe.

img_2920I whipped through down to the toe. And I knew it was all going to work. I just knew it.

And work it did.

just toeThe brown is somewhere between the more reddish brown and the more chocolate brown in the handspun and I think it’s just perfect.

toeI adore these socks in every possible way.

heelFor the record, I didn’t intend for there to be stripes in these socks at all — that was just a happy accident.

whole sockAnd oh what a happy accident indeed!

I’ve knitted quite a lot of socks in my day, but these are by far my absolute favorites. I loved every single stitch of these socks. Seeing my handspun pass through my fingers and into my stitches was such incredible affirmation – I’d really taken a big step and it was working. It was really and truly working. This was one goal that in my own eyes I truly knocked it out of the park. For someone who has been talking about this goal for upwards of 2 or 3 years, this was a huge win.

It’s no surprise that I’ve already got plans to spin up another yarn for socks. And after writing that last sentence I wondered into my Ravelry fiber stash to browse potential fibers for more socks still (that’s a true story!). Yes, I think this is the start of something seriously wonderful.