Baah Humbug!

Exactly 10 days ago I cast-on a project I’d been planning on casting-on quite literally for years: Christmas socks for my family. I started with the most intimidating pair, my son’s. He’s 12 and wears size 11.5 men’s shoes and I had fingering weight yarn and I knew I needed to work from the toe-up. Most of you are probably unfazed by that last part, but  historically nothing sucks the knitting mojo out of me quite like toe-up socks. GIANT toe-up socks in fingering weight yarn seemed like a fool’s errand for me. Resigned to the fact that I was not going to find a more appropriate colorway for my son and hopeful that the stripes would do their thing to help propel me forward, I was equal parts determined and motivated to get them done.

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The yarn is from Turtlepurl Yarns. While I’ve been stockpiling particularly lovely single skeins of Christmas themed yarns over the past few years I was still short one skein when I decided on this project. I’ve had my eye on Turtlepurl Yarns for a while and when I saw a knitting friend’s Instagram post of one of their Christmas colorways, I popped over to see their offerings. This one, called Baah Humbug, struck me as red enough for my red-loving boy, and yet subdued enough that he’d probably be kind to his mum and wear them more than once before he grows out of them.

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I’ll say that the yarn is really freaking awesome. It feels great in my hands and the colors are exactly what I was hoping. And the most amazing part — and I know I mentioned it last time I talked about them — is that the yarn comes divided into 2 identical skeins. I honestly didn’t realize how much of an impact dividing the yarn & working from separate balls would have on my state of mind throughout the process. I feel like I’ve seriously cracked my own personal the code on this whole toe-up thing!

For a pattern, I used Jennifer Donze’s Custom Toe-Up Socks pattern to calculate a good custom fit and then followed the Fish Lips Kiss Heel pattern for the heel. You can see my notes (which I did take!) on my Ravelry project page here. If you need to pick yourself up off the floor now from the disbelief that I managed to take notes and posted them on Ravelry, please take your time and be safe. I still can’t believe it either.

In any case, after 9 days of knitting I was about here when I sat down to knit yesterday evening…

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And I won’t lie, I was feeling a bit daunted knowing I was so close, but still had about 4″ to go. Weird or not, my method to combat this was to unwind all the yarn I needed to knit to get to the ribbing. Normally I would never do something like this because the resulting knots usually do more harm than good, but I was desperate to have that constant visual confirmation that I was making progress. When I got to the ribbing, I did the same thing.

And somehow, it worked and just 9 shorts days after starting, I finished.

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They are a little baggy on my LARGE sock blockers because, you know, GIANT socks for GIANT feet. And please pardon the lack of washing for these socks — I may or may not be washing before they are gifted. Since we’re all family here, I may just let give them ‘as is’. I’ll be honest, I don’t usually wash my socks before I wear them and I’m 100% sure he won’t know the difference and if he did, he wouldn’t care. But I digress. Don’t they look awesome?

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It’s my first FLK heel with striped socks and I’m very happy with how they turned out. I’m the first to admit that the FLK really is as good as all the hype. Such a fun, well constructed sock.

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I’ve experimented with a number of different increases on the toe as well and I don’t think I like any as much as the lifted increase. It’s a really nice, snug increase that I think holds up well and looks nice on a sock.

My favorite part of these socks, however, is this little big of green on the bind-off of one of them.

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I don’t know why, but those little ‘imperfections’ are my favorite parts of knitting. That ‘not-quite-perfect’ feels so right to me.

You know, I’ve knit a lot of socks in my day, but these have really stood out in my mind as significant. I usually shy away from customized projects, especially fitted ones like socks with proper heels (as opposed to tube socks), but this one I really embraced and enjoyed. And for the cherry on the figurative sundae, I just had my boy try them on and the fit is perfect. It seems Baah Humbug — aside from the embedded sheep humor — couldn’t be farther from the feelings I have for these socks. I simply could not be happier with or feel more empowered by a knitting result. Onward to the next pair!

Kansas, Just At The Horizon

Last week, my family & I escaped the chill of Wisconsin for the relative warmth of Middle America. My husband’s parents live in Southern Missouri and it was time for a visit, so we packed up our little car and on Saturday after my husband was done with work we headed out. As I may have mentioned here before, unlike most humans my husband doesn’t like to wait for morning to leave on trips. To him, vacation starts when you leave home so he likes to leave immediately. Door to door it’s roughly a 10hour drive, so by leaving at 5:30pm we were expecting to arrive in the vicinity of 3:30 in the morning. This, of course, is barring delays (like a gas station’s register not working for 15minutes which did happen this time around) and the distinct possibility that we’d be too tired to make it straight through and have to stop (which we didn’t). We pulled into their driveway at about 3:45 in the morning and went straight to bed.

The rest of the week was pretty full of quiet family down-time. We took a few hikes…

img_5766In some rather scenic places…

img_5725Including a new-to-use state park, Prairie State Park in Mindenmines, MO or about 5miles from the border with Kansas.

img_5732It’s not a huge park, but it has big views and will definitely fill the gap in your heart that longs for the prairie.

There was a fair bit of mud on the relatively warm day we were there which was kind of great because along with the free range bison in the park which we could easily see signs of other animals present.

img_5733Coyotes, the bison…

img_5734(quite a few of them, actually), deer, and another which we think was a fox.

img_5738I looked very hard to see one of the coyotes, but no luck.

After a good long hike and a drive around the park in which we saw more bluebrids than I’ve ever seen in one spot in my life and what might have been a short-eared owl — he flew off before we could ID him for sure and sadly, we couldn’t relocate him — we headed to a restaurant my hubby’s dad recommended…

img_5737Cooky’s Cafe in Golden City, MO. With a population of 756, don’t blink or you might miss Golden City and Cooky’s, too, but I will say after being out in the brisk prairie air all afternoon, the fried chicken was delicious. It was so delicious, in fact, that I didn’t even have room for their famous pie.

Most of our time, however, was just spent hanging out with an occasional super short hike in the area right around my in-law’s home, oftentimes including gratuitous views of red shouldered hawks. You know, family time as it should be — low-key, relaxed, and with an occasional treat.

I didn’t take my spinning wheel. I took my spindles along, but with two curious cats in my in-laws’ house I didn’t take them out. I did knit up a sock…

 img_5813And then earlier this week I started the second. I’ve discovered that I’m a much faster sock knitter than I remember. It could be the fun yarn from Junkyarn speeding things along, too. I took notice of this dyer last year when for reasons out in the world I was feeling the desire to go out of my way to celebrate strong women. With the tagline, ‘Hand dyed yarn inspired by women’ — each colorway from Junkyarn is inspired by and named for a woman. This one is named ‘Rey’ after the leading lady in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I love the colors, the character, and I adore that it reminds me of my kiddos with whom I went to the theater (a big deal in our house) to see the movie. I’m not sure if these will go into my regular sock rotation or my stockpile for the future, but I do know that I think they are utterly fantastic.

I also started and finished a shawl in the last week.

img_5812This is Prairie Skies and I knit it in the handspun I spun during our vacation at the end of last year to Door County. I meant to weave in ends and give it a spa day yesterday, but ran out of time. Hopefully that’ll be done by the end of the weekend because I am 1,000,000% in love with it.

And because my wheel had been empty and still since before we left on that Saturday evening…

img_5808A new spin was in order last night. This is Three Waters Farm Radicchio on Polwarth + Silk. There is some in the shop here on a BFL base if you can’t live without the colorway. I’m hoping to knit up a version of Susan Ashcroft’s Winterplay hopefully before the month is out. I should be being more disciplined with the weight of the singles, but I really just need something relaxing right now so I just have it on the smallest whorl of my fast flyer and I’m going with it. It’ll be what it is and I think the colors will make it just fine no matter what.

Obviously, we’ve made it home since I mentioned I didn’t bring my wheel and I just showed you a photo of my wheel. It’s been a busy week of getting back into the swing of just being home — school, cooking, laundry, cleaning, etc. I’ll admit that I returned home inspired — whether it was the quiet family week or the humbling prairie views toward Kansas — to forge ahead with some simple pleasures to enrich our daily lives. Baking bread from scratch, both our signature french bread with our new demi-baguette pan, but also a long forgotten ‘Dakota Bread’ I made regularly until the kids came and I simply ran out of time and energy. I awoke Monday and whipped up a small batch of Blondies just because I had the ingredients and I’d never made a Blondie before. I was also reminded of a good granola recipe that I used to make. You see where I’m going here… Suffice to say, there is a small truckload of bulk ingredients headed my way shortly. I see a lot of kitchen spindling in my future to go with all this baking, don’t you?!

Sign-Ups Open for Summer Sock Club!

It’s official!

Sign-ups for the Feel Good Yarn Company Summer Sock Club are open!

In case you don’t remember, I was lucky enough to host this group in the Friends of Knitting Sarah Ravelry Group last summer. What a treat it was to work with a lovely bunch of knitters to create some truly fantastic socks.

Like these…

And these…

And these…

Not to mention a couple pairs of fantastic Turkish Bed Socks

These have proven to be some of my favorite socks for spring and summer — to keep my toes warm on cool mornings and wear on long, beautiful walks & hikes with my family. I cannot wait to get started with this year’s club!

Once again, I’m humbled and excited to be hosting this fabulous club in the Friends of Knitting Sarah Ravelry Group — you can find us here! We’ll knit, we’ll laugh, we’ll troubleshoot, and encourage each other — it was be a blast! Feel Good Yarn Company has really leveled-up this year, too. Not only will club members receive their 3 shipments — 1 each in June, July, & August — of hand-dyed SilverSpun Sock yarn in exclusive club colorways, there are club patterns, too! Acclaimed knitwear designer Kate Atherley has created 3 brand new, exclusive sock patterns just for the group. The author of the much lauded Custom Socks: Knit to Fit your Feet, Kate’s talents are no secret — we’re truly in for a treat! Oh, and did I mention Kate will be stopping by in the Ravelry group from time to time to say hello & check out our sock knitting progress? How fun!

For those interested in joining us, you can find the registration here. Since these yarns are hand-dyed, spots are very limited and going fast so sign-up today!

I hope you’ll join us!

Socks with Sarah: Shape the Toe

As promised, today is the day I am sharing a video tutorial walking you through shaping the toe of the Churchmouse Yarns & Teas Basic Sock in 2 Gauges. One thing I love about the toe shaping is that when you arrive at this portion of your top-down sock, you are really & truly in the home stretch. From here on out, you are decreasing stitches until you are ready to Kitchener stitch the very last stitches. You are so close!

Having made it through the gusset shaping, the toe shaping will come very easily to you. You will actually be doing the exact same decreases you used for the gusset shaping, while at the same time adding in decreases on either side of needle two. Also, just like the gusset shaping, you will work one decrease round then one even round and continue in the 2-round repeat until you have 16stitches total remaining. This will give you a nice tapered toe.

I know when I was first learning how to knit socks, the most confusing thing to me was which decrease to use in which spot. It’s easy, though — as you work your way around the decrease round the decreases you use will alternate: k2tog, ssk, k2tog, ssk. Easy, peasy!

Without further ado, though, here’s the video link so you can watch me work a couple rounds to help get you on your way.

Have questions? Pop on over to the Ravelry thread where I’ll be happy to help!

The next video tutorial will be live on February 3rdt when I walk you through Kitchener stitch. Until then, happy knitting!