Archive for ‘January, 2011’

Handspun Sock Obsession

Red Stripe

It started before Christmas, when a couple of skeins of handspun yarn I got as a gift caught my eye and I started a pair of socks to show the yarn off as simply as possible. The result was so beautiful that when I finished the first pair, I immediately cast on for another. I’m still going strong, with the pair above in the works and singles on the wheel (to be chain plied) for more. I’ve been experimenting a bit with different ways of spinning for color. The sock above is from fractal-spun yarn, for which I split the top lengthwise in half, spinning one half from the end onto one bobbin, and splitting the other half lengthwise into four equal pieces and spinning them from the end onto another bobbin, starting at the same end each time. I then plied the bobbins together, producing a yarn that has big fat shifting stripes, some barberpoled and some solid, where a color meets itself. Other yarns I used are scrappy skeins made from bits of two or more colorways or are spun from fibers that were dyed in similar colors. They produce different, if equally beautiful, results. The mismatched pairs bring me a special joy, though I love them all.

All of these socks are toe-up, using the figure-8 cast-on and a short row heel. I used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off (video) for all of these and will never use anything else! I’ve got it all memorized- 48 sts. in worsted on size 2 needles, 56 for sport on 1s, and 64 or 68 on 0s for fingering. I move two stitches from each side of the heel into the heel section (4 from each side for fingering) for the short-rowing, so the heel is deeper. All these socks are knit at a very tight gauge so they last and last and last. Almost every pair came in under 4 oz. It’s great to know that something so useful and beautiful can be made from one itty bitty bag of wool. I can take a ball of wool and the appropriate needles with me anywhere and have the perfect small project to work on.

Vera Socks

These are made from Merino sport weight yarn spun by the lovely Vera. The color shifts in this yarn make me far too happy.

Green Vera Socks

Vera also spun this 2 ply 80/20 Merino/silk worsted weight yarn of awesomness. I used about 3.3 oz./220 yards to make this pair of mens size 10.5 socks.

David Socks

David spun some of my fiber (“Faded” merino) into a 3 ply sport weight of gorgeousness.

Ore & Crag Socks

These socks were knit from a combination of my Ore and Crag colorways (yarn seen here, lower left), spun for Tour de Fleece last year into a worsted weight 2 ply. I used about 4 oz., 220 yards for this pair of mens 10.5 socks.

Rising Moon Striped Socks

The feet of these socks are done in Rising Moon Farm’s 3 ply wool with the legs done in stripes of a mystery grey tweed and this yarn. These used 4 oz. of the yarns, total. It’s a fantastic way to get the most from just a little handspun.

Handspun Monster Socks

These are the heavy ones, 4.8 oz., full of Romney, made from a patchwork 2 ply worsted weight yarn I spun from scraps of old colorways.

Isn’t Mr. HelloYarn the best sock model ever?

Things I Love This Week:

* knitted mushrooms
* Werner Herzog’s Conquest of the Useless: Reflections from the Making of Fitzcarraldo – He notices and writes down the things I think I would notice, so it feels like I’m there.
* rugged, old-fashioned sweaters– am plotting one for Mr. HelloYarn
* the TV show Trauma, which is available streaming online – so cheesy, but I have a TV crush on Cliff Curtis. (Werner Herzog would call me a vapid twit, but what can I do?)
* the project bag in the first photo, because it is the cutest ever – It’s made by Jessalu and I got it at Spunky Eclectic.


Revisiting Projects + Good Yarn

Last week, I posted a photo of Mark on Flickr to show off Steven‘s lovely Clockwork Scarf, which visited us for a bit. Some people mentioned Mark’s natty jumper and hat, and I got to thinking about how old they are on how well they’ve held up. No doubt it’s due to the fact that they were made from wonderful yarns.

The gansey with skull cables was knit way back in January of 2006 using Cascade Ecological wool, which I was unsure about at the time. I’d gotten it in a trade and it didn’t feel so great in the skein, but seemed better when knit, and was FANTASTIC when washed. Mark wears this sweater an awful lot and we’ve never even had to de-pill it! The cables are plump and soft, the sweater is toasty warm. The whole thing is a success.

Eco Wool turned out to be very sturdy when knit at 4 sts. per inch, but I don’t like it any looser than that. The fabric at 4 sts. per inch is soft, supple, and has a lovely cohesive quality. I found that at their suggested gauge of down to 3 sts. per inch, the holes in the fabric were far too large.

The sweater is still a favorite, no doubt because of all the lovely details. The chain cable is from Barbara Walker’s Fourth Treasury of Knitting patterns. Here’s a swatch. I remember it requiring 2 cable needles and perseverance, since I never did manage to memorize the pattern, which is not usually a problem! The skull cable is my own invention and available as a chart. The design of the sweater, itself, is my own, following methods described by Alice Starmore and Gladys Thompson in their fisherman sweater writings.

The hat was such an accident and turned out to be his favorite. My friend Michelle sent me some scraps of Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky way back when and I knit them into this hat, inspired by a hat I’d seen in a photograph somewhere, in November 2005. It’s knit flat and seamed and it was supposed to be for me, but ended up being too big. Mark snatched it and has been wearing it faithfully ever since. It looks brand new! Unfortunately, the yarn was discontinued in 2006. Fortunately, I still have a bunch of it (ha!) and it can be found kicking around for sale on Ravelry.

What Else is Awesome This Week:
* making your own lotion– This turned out so well! Just like making mayo. It looks a bit like mayo, too, but thankfully doesn’t smell like it.
* watching old movies – It is so so cold out (-21 last night!) and there’s so much snow down (feet of it) that we are staying in most of the time. Last night was Close Encounters night. I feel some Jaws coming on soon. I do so love a young Richard Dreyfuss.
* If Pippa could talk, I’m sure she’d love to tell you about her Pawz booties. They keep the ice and salt from irritating her paws, plus they’re really comfy. They’re also pretty cute. I mean, seriously!


New Pattern: Flocked Mittens

Flocked Mittens

PATTERN: Flocked Mittens(also on Ravelry)
SIZE: S (M, L)
TO FIT: 7.5” (8.25”, 9”) 19 cm (21 cm, 23 cm) palm circumference. If you are between sizes, knit
the closer size. If you wish to forgo the lining, choose the size that is approximately 1/2” larger in circumference
than your hand.
ACTUAL MEASUREMENT: 8.5” (9.25”, 10”) 21.5 cm (23.5 cm, 25.5 cm) circumference, and
9.5” (10”, 11”) 24 cm (25.5 cm, 28 cm) long.
GAUGE: 28 (26, 24) sts. and 30 (28, 26) rows = 4” 10cm in colorwork pattern. Gauge is critical for
proper fit!
NEEDLES: 3 (4, 5) US 3.25 (3.5, 3.75) mm, or size needed to get gauge. Pattern may be knit on
double points, a long circular for magic loop, or on 2 circulars.
NOTIONS: stitch marker, scrap yarn for holding stitches, darning needle.
YARN: Outer for blue/brown mittens – Quince & Co. Lark, 134 yards 123 meters / 50g, MC – 2 skeins in Glacier, CC – 1
skein in Bark. Lining – Quince & Co. Tern in Kelp, 221 yards 201 meters / 50g, 1 skein. Swiss
darned stitches – 10” worsted weight for each stitch Cascade 220 in dark red is shown.

Outer for gold/blue mittens – Quince & Co. Lark, 134 yards 123 meters / 50g, MC – 2 skeins in Honey, CC – 1
skein in Glacier. Lining – Quince & Co. Tern in Kelp, 221 yards 201 meters / 50g, 1 skein. Swiss
darned stitches – 10” worsted weight for each stitch Cascade 220 in burnt orange is shown.

Lark is a wonderful yarn to work with that comes in some seriously heart-stopping colors. I have taken photos of some really lovely Lark color combinations, grouped here in a Flickr set. This is not, by any means, all of the beautiful color combinations possible.

Flocked Mittens

I’ve created a thread in the Hello Yarn group on Ravelry for discussing the pattern.

These mittens were originally created for Mitten School, so I filled them with fun little bits that make mitten knitting exciting to me. The are hemmed, have a picot edge, a stranded braid, gusset, Swiss darning (duplicate stitch) and a gorgeous soft lining. Once you’ve knit these, you’ll be fearless! This is a charted pattern with written instructions and full color photos.

For best results, please know how to knit in the round and are familiar with placement of stitches on your needles of choice. Be familiar with the long-tail and backward loop cast–ons, increasing and decreasing, picking up stitches, working from charts in the round, and stranded knitting.


I’ll be back soon with handspun socks!