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!

Forward Progress Through Frogging

I awoke to a winter wonderland again this morning, with soft snowflakes falling gently to the ground. With 2-3″ of fresh snow, it’s so much fun to watch the birds fly into our beautiful snowy yard. Bird nerds that we are, we’re loving the much wider variety of birds that come in to our feeders in the new yard. I’m hoping to add a heated bird bath soon as the water source is a major plus for the wildlife. Mr Knitting Sarah has claimed the bird feeder acquisition and design as his domain though, so I am waiting for expertise to pick the right one.

In any case, in addition to the new snow, this week we saw our first really chilly days with highs not getting out of the teens. My girl, who has been bitten by the baking bug, has been baking up a storm and we’ve been enjoying warming the house with lots of home-cooked meals. You can also imagine the cold temps make the fiber artist in me go a little bananas. So when the kids and I aren’t digging into our school work or out on field days and we’re not cooking and baking, I’ve been sneaking in a lot of quality time with my needles and wheel.

I finished the first Christmas sock for my son…

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I’m a total convert to dividing yarn into separate balls of yarn for toe-up socks. This Turtlepurl Yarns Baah Humbug yarn came in two equal skeins, so I just hand wound them and started knitting. It’s made all the difference! I used to get super bogged down in toe-up socks, but having that one little ball shrinking noticeably as I go is like a magical addiction that just propels me forward. I will absolutely work this way from now on with toe-up socks.

I also finished the singles of a spinning project…

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The plan here is to ply each colorway into a 2-ply and then weave them together.

Currently my thought is that the Granite will be the warp…

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And Moving in Circles will be the weft…

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We’ll see how the yardages come out in the end though.

In other knitting news, I ripped out my handspun Brillig last night. It’s going to sound more than a little crazy, but there was this really simple direction I misread through probably the first 20% of the project…

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See how the edge on the left 2 “teeth” look different than the one on the right? I was slipping the stitch with the working yarn in the front instead of the back. I realized it, saw the difference, and then set the project aside in a little time-out while I considered if I could live with it as is or not.

Turns out, I couldn’t. I frogged it last night.

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And I started over this morning. I don’t mind. In fact, I’m really happy and relieved that I did and that I can knit this up and just love it and enjoy the knit. I may not hit the end of the month deadline as I still may need to spin more of the blue colorway to finish, but I am happily plugging along on it.

I also opted to start another spinning project rather than stopping to ply the one above. This month’s Top of the Month Club from Three Waters Farm inspired a larger scale weaving project (yes, I kind of have weaving on the brain at the moment).

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A little hard to see for the plastic bags and the lighting, but the colorway on the right will be spun and plied into a 2-ply for the warp and the colorways on the left will be spun and plied together to be the weft. I think it’s going to be wonderfully moody.

I started the Mercurial Light warp yarn…

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And it is gorgeous. Add in that it’s on one of my favorite bases, BFL + Tussah Silk and I’m in heaven. What a joy to spin!

So did I make forward progress this week? It’s not a sure thing, I don’t think. I’m thinking that even with the total tear back of my Brillig, though, that I did finish a sock, start another sock, re-start Brillig, and spin through maybe 8oz of fiber. That’s not bad. I will need to pick up the pace a bit if I want to hit my Christmas goals, but even those are flexible — I’m just never going to be someone who stresses about hitting holiday knitting deadlines. But I digress. The important thing, for me at least, is enjoying the process and continuing to move forward. So in some ways, I suppose all progress is forward progress, even when it involves ripping back. That makes perfect sense, right? That’s forward progress through frogging!