Pattern: Committee Socks

We’ve done it, guys!  We’ve finished our socks.  The ones we started talking about way back in March.

You picked out the item, the style and even the colors.  And, over the last couple months, we’ve been knitting up the socks piece by piece.

And, here’s the day we’ve been waiting for!  It’s Finished Sock Day!

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They are the perfect comfy-cozy everyday socks. Featuring a classic ribbed leg with bold stripes of contrasting color and a slip-stitch reinforced heel, these socks are perfect for hiking up to your mountain cabin, beachcombing on the Puget Sound or lounging in front of the fireplace. Simple, classic, cozy and perfect.

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Thanks, everyone for your input!  I hope you had fun working on these socks together… I know I did.

Want a nice copy of the finished pattern?  Get it here:

Committee Socks.docx

 

Blocking: Socks

I think my favorite thing to block might be socks.  This is pretty silly, since you really don’t have to block socks.  (I suppose, technically, you don’t have to block anything, really.  But some projects, like lace, you kind of have to block.)

Since socks are worn skin-tight, they look like they’ve been blocked while you’re wearing them.  But, if you’re giving someone a pair of socks as a gift (or you’re just making them for yourself), there is nothing prettier than a nicely blocked pair of brand-new hand-knit socks.

And the process couldn’t be easier.

Just soak your finished socks in clean, warm water for 10 or 20 minutes (like usual), and slip them onto your sock blockers and let them dry.  (Mine hang dry from the ugly chandelier in my kitchen.) Easy!

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What’s that?  You haven’t heard of sock blockers?  Well, let me tell you about them, because they’re basically magical, especially if you make a lot of socks.

Sock blockers are rigid, sock-shaped frames that will produce professionally-finished and identically-shaped socks every time.  They come in lots of sizes and are made with many different kinds of materials (wood, acrylic, and metal are common.  Mine are made from wire).  You can even make your own, though I think they’re totally worth the 15 or so bucks they cost.

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You’re not convinced?  OK, I get that.  Why spend money on a unitasker that you’ll only use now and then?  If you don’t have sock blockers, and don’t plan on buying them, you can always block with foam and pins, just like normal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATwo things are very important to keep in mind.  First: make sure you are blocking both socks to the same dimensions.  You wouldn’t believe the number of lopsided pairs of socks I made before I got my sock blockers.

And second:  Do your best to avoid puckers and points from your pins.  They’re really obvious on socks.  To avoid points, I use lots and lots of pins to spread out the tension around the edge of the sock, and I stick the pins in away from the edge.

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Not good

Good

Better

Either way you do it, blocking socks takes something that looks like a lame, wrinkly snake, and changes it into a beautiful, professional-looking accessory.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow do you block your socks?

Design Process Series: Twinkle Toes

We’re almost done!  These socks that we started talking about months and months ago, are almost finished!  Whee!!

(Can you tell I’m excited?)

OK.  Down to business.  We finished the main part of the foot last week, ending at the middle of the bottom of the foot.  We cut the MC yarn, and now we’ll work the toe.  This is my favorite, classic, simple toe.

Here’s what we’ll do:

Join the Contrast Color and work as follows:

  • Knit 1 round even.
  • *K to 2 before end of the needle, k2tog.  On the next needle, ssk, then knit to end. Repeat from * for the next two needles.  You will decrease 4 sts per decrease row.

Repeat these two rows, alternating even and decrease rows, until you have 20 stitches on your needles (5 stitches per needle).  Finish with a decrease row.  K 5 more stitches (your yarn will now be at the side of the toe, instead of at the bottom of the sole).

Then use the Kitchener stitch to close up the toe.  If you need more detailed instructions, this should help.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWeave in your ends, give yourself a pat on the back and make a second sock!

Inspiration: Marriage Equality!

I do my best to keep this blog as politics- and opinion- free as possible (except my opinions on socks, which are varied and many).  But, sometimes, something happens in the news that is so amazing, so life-changing, so fantastic that you can’t help but celebrate it!

The Supreme Court, just this morning, ruled that same-sex marriage is a right covered by the constitution!  That means that same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states!  It makes me so happy that I’m literally tearing up writing this.  It’s an amazing day, and, in my opinion 100% the right decision.

Read this paragraph from their decision (it’s the last paragraph on page 28, if you’re interested):

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.  As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death.  It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves.  Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law.

The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered

Oh my god.  It’s so beautiful and moving.  Let me go find a Kleenex.

I have friends and relatives in the LGBT community, and I couldn’t be happier for them.  And, frankly, even if I didn’t know anyone in that community, I would still remember this day as a great day for human rights in our country.

(And it’s Seattle Pride this weekend!  What a great week!)

I want to celebrate this historic decision by breaking out the happiest, most Pride-y projects I could find!

Rainbow Dress by Georgie Hallam

Does this come in my size?

sagesrainbow_medium2[1]Rainbow Child by Rebecca Newman

Just kidding… I think I want this hoodie instead!IMG_4996_medium2[1]Monstermitts by Julia Allen

Although, if I wanted to finish a project before this weekend… I might be able to whip up a pair of these.

IMGP8512_medium2[1]Contagious by Deborah Frank

But, no,  I think what I really want is one of these.

contagious_1_medium2[1]Yay, SCOTUS!  You rock (especially Kennedy, Kagan, Sotomayor, Breyer, and my girl, the Notorious RBG).  Keep doing what you’re doing!

Pattern: Baby Weasley Sweater

A new pattern!  And this one’s the perfect center of the venn diagram of knitting, cute things, and everything Harry Potter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMrs. Weasley (my favorite character from the Harry Potter books)is known for showing her love for her children through her knitting.  So I can’t think of a better way to welcome a new baby to the world than with a personalized sweater based on Mrs. Weasley’s classic design.  This charming pullover sweater is knit at a slightly large gauge, so it works up in no time into a warm and cozy sweater.  Knit flat, with very simple shaping, the Baby Weasley Sweater is ideal for newer knitters.  And, the letter embellishment is added with the duplicate stitch after the sweater is finished (perfect if you don’t know the baby’s name until after they’re born).  The Baby Weasley Sweater will become a favorite of both the baby and their parents.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGet the pattern for free here!

Baby Weasley Sweater

Inspiration: Fast Projects

I’ve been so busy- I have a half-dozen patterns in various levels of done-ness and with various deadlines (some of which are coming up faster than I would like).

So, with all these deadlines, my knitting has become a bit of a chore.  (Which is lame.  I want knitting to be fun.  Obviously.)

What can I do to make knitting more fun?  Quick, little, projects I can do in an hour or two with a couple dozen yards of yarn.   Want to join me?

These bunnies are so adorable and would be a great way of using up little bits of leftover yarn.  Look at their tiny faces!

Bunny Nuggets by Rebecca Danger

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These little gnomies are so super fun.  (I’ve actually made a few for friends with matching baby sweaters for fantastic new-baby presents.)

Gnome Baby by Tonya L Gunn

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I don’t need this crown, but I think I might need this crown.

A Very Regal Crown by Kayleigh LeBlanc

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Look at these fantastic little fish!  How amazing would a  school of these be hanging from a mobile?

My Little Goldfish by Sara Elizabeth Kellner015_medium2[1]Aah… I can feel the inspiration washing back over me! Yay!

Inspiration: (My) Father’s Day

It’s Father’s Day this weekend.  (If you’ve forgot, you’ve got until Sunday!)  So, in honor of my dad, I thought I’d use this blog post to try to figure out what to get him for the holiday.

My dad is a history buff, especially American History.  Want to know who ran against James Pollk in 1844?  Dad knows.  Wondering what the second biggest civil war battle to take place in South Carolina?  Dad could tell you.   Honestly, I don’t know how he can keep all those dates and names straight.  I have trouble remembering when I need to get to work unless I write it down.

Maybe Dad would like a pair of authentic Civil War socks.  He lives in Chicago, after all, and a nice pair of woolen socks is always useful in the Great White North.

Union Civil War Socks by Robin Stokes

IMG_2452_medium2[1]Dad likes kayaking in the little lakes and rivers that dot Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin.  If you haven’t had a chance to try kayaking along a slow-moving river, it’s totally worth it.  You can sneak up on herons and other critters.  It’s lovely and relaxing, and a lot of fun.

Maybe he would like a little knit kayaking-dude.

Kayak athlete by Sue Mcbride

ethereal_shawl_024_medium2[1]My dad, when he isn’t reading about the Civil War or kayaking down the Illinois River, likes to play the bass. He’s been playing since before I was born in a series of bands- rock, jazz, country and everything in-between.  We even played together a few times when I was in high school (me on the piano and him on the bass).

Even though I don’t think he’d actually wear them, I think these fingerless mittens with bass clefs are kind of cool.

Fingerless Gloves “Musica” by Anne Neumann

2391762103_aaa624eecf_z[1]Dad, you’re very hard to find gifts for, but I won’t hold that against you.  I hope you have a fantastic Father’s Day!  I love you!

Blocking: Sweaters

You understand how to block something simple (a scarf, a coaster, or maybe even a blanket).  Now, it’s time to do something more complicated.  Something with sleeves.

Let’s block a sweater!  (In this case, a baby sweater, but the same process works for a grown-up sweater, too.)

We’ll start by soaking the sweater in a bowl of warm water for 10-20 minutes.  Make sure it’s nice and soaked through.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen, just like last time, roll it up in a nice clean towel and squeeze out most of the moisture.  Put out your foam tiles and cover them up with a new clean, dry towel.

Lay out your sweater as best you can  to roughly the right proportions.  When you’re working with a grown-up sized sweater, it can be kind of tricky.  Don’t worry if you don’t get it right away-we’ll rejigger everything in a minute.  Just eyeball it.

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Now, it’s time to measure the sweater and make sure it ends up the size you want it.  Begin with the chest measurement.  Now, since this is a baby sweater, I want the chest to be 9 inches across.

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Close enough.

Now that the chest measurement is about right, I’ll stretch out the body to the right length,  double-checking that the chest measurement doesn’t get stretched out of shape.

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(Did you notice how I’m not using pins for this sweater?  That’s on purpose.  I try not to use pins on sweaters, because they can create little points and weird bumps on a garment like this.  And, in the case of this particular sweater, I’m not far off from my desired size, so I can just stretch the sweater a little bit and count on the friction between the yarn and the towel to keep it in shape.  If I was trying to use blocking to fix something, I would use pins.  For example, if I needed to add more than an inch to the body length, I would stretch the wet sweater out with pins.)

The body is all arranged correctly, so now let’s do the same thing with the sleeves.

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These sleeves should be about 6 inches long. With the sleeves, it’s really important to make sure both sleeves match one another- no one likes lop-sided sleeves.

Once your sweater has the right measurements, stop fussing with it!  Just leave it!  (And make sure any kids/dogs/cats/gremlins you have running around your house don’t mess with it, either.)

Something small, like this baby sweater, won’t take long to dry, but big, adult sweaters can take a while (especially if you live somewhere humid).  So, to speed the process along, try pointing a fan at it for a day or two.

Once the sweater is completely finished, put it on and do a twirl in front of the mirror, admiring your awesome work!

 

Design Process Series: Heart and Sole

Our socks are nearly finished, guys!  And just in time for it to get all hot and summery.  (Nothing better than wearing big woolen socks in the July heat.  Ick!)

Let’s get started!

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With the Main Color, knit back across the heel flap, moving the marker as you go.  Using the same  needle, pick up and knit 12 (13, 14, 15) stitches along the side of the heel flap.

Knit across the next 24 (26, 28, 30) stitches normally (these are the top of the foot).

Then, with your spare needle (the one we set aside at the beginning of the heel flap), pick up another 12 (13, 14, 15) stitches along the remaining side of the heel flap and knit to the marker. Remove marker.

You’ll have the stitches arranged on 4 needles.  Two (the ones on the top of the foot) will have 12 (13, 14, 15) stitches each, and the other two (the ones on the sole of the foot) will have more.  The beginning of the row from now on will be between the two “sole of the foot” needles.  Confused?  This might help.

Now that we’re all set up for the foot, it’s time to start knitting.

  • K to 2 before the end of the first needle, k2tog.  K the next two needles even.  On the fourth needle, ssk, then knit to the end.
  • K all stitches even.

Repeat these two rows, alternating decrease and even rows, until all needles have the same number of stitches (12 (13, 14, 15) stitches each).  You’ve finished the gusset and it’s all easy sailing (er… knitting) from here.

Knit all stitches even until the sock measures 2 inches shorter than desired from heel to toe.  End at the bottom of the sole.  Break yarn and get ready for some exciting toe action next week!

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Blocking: The Basics

OK, so if you’ve blocked before, this’ll be a refresher for you.  If you haven’t tried wet blocking before, you’re in for some excitement (but maybe it’s just me that’s excited about blocking…).

I’m using a little bitty swatch for this example, but you can use this technique for just about any shape for basic blocking.  This swatch is a little piece of stockinette.  Stockinette is super curly when it’s unblocked, so I definitely need to block it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a tiny little project, so I’m just using a little cereal bowl to soak my knitting.  I’ve filled it with warm (think bathwater) water, and I let the swatch hang out for a bit (about 20 minutes) or until its completely soaked through.  If I’m in a hurry, I’ll squeeze the knitting gently to get all the air out and really soak the fibers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext, I’ll get out a clean towel and roll up my wet knitting, squeezing it to get out the extra water.  You want your knitting to be damp, but not dripping.  Sometimes, I’ll even step on the rolled-up knitting (like squishing grapes for wine), especially if it’s a really big project.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce most of the water is squeezed out, I’ll break out my foam blocks (or your carpet, if you have carpet) and lay a new, dry, clean towel on top.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen, I’ll take the damp knitting and pin out the corners to the dimensions I want.  I want this square to be nice and, well, square.  So I’ll start here.  The sides will pull in at first, but that’s OK.  We’ll fix that in the next steps.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext, I’ll grab more pins and tack down the center points of each side. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then I’ll add another pin in-between each existing pin.  Since this swatch is so small, I’ll stop here.  If I was blocking something larger (like a scarf), I’d keep adding pins until I had surrounded the whole item and gotten rid of the little swoopy edges.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou’ve finished the hard part! (If you can even call it hard.)  Let your knitting dry completely (if you’re in a hurry, point a fan at it or put it in a sunny window), and remove the pins.

And, voilà la! A perfectly finished project! (Or at least an almost perfectly finished project.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext time, we’ll talk about blocking something a little more complicated- sweaters!