Two New Cast-Ons

When I first started knitting, documenting every stage of the project and its progress was almost as important to me as the actual stitches. As life grew more complex, I became complacent about knit-blogging (perhaps you’ve noticed) and considered it quite a feat if I got the cursory details slapped up on Ravelry, let alone took a photo. I’d like for that tendency to change, and I’m giving myself permission to enjoy this part of the process again too.



During a lengthy stay at my parents’ house this winter, I was buying new yarn for a pair of socks I’m knitting for my brother when I had an irresistible hankering to knit a sweater. Drawn in by the allure of free shipping and a Valentine’s Day sale that made this yarn shockingly affordable, I found a pattern for the Olwen Sweater, a beautiful seamless cabled pullover with a lovely yoked raglan-sleeve construction. In a cushy worsted-weight yarn, with this delectable purply-magenta color, it has been an absolute delight.

When I got back to my apartment in April, I found a few places where I’d flubbed the pattern (I started it when I had a fever, after all), so I ripped back to the ribbing, and it’s been smooth sailing since. I’m now past yoking the sleeves to the body, which was way easier than I’ve always imagined it would be, and I’m cruising toward the finish just in time for what promises to be a sweltering hot summer. Fortunately, this sweater is in a style, color, and quality I foresee myself enjoying for many years to come, so it will keep.



As I was returning to the shore this Memorial Day weekend, it seemed impractical to try to squeeze a nearly-finished wool sweater into the already overstuffed backpack I was bringing, so I tried to think of a good traveling project. I landed on a new cast-on for Kieran Foley’s Seascape Stole, a gorgeous undulating pattern that’s been tempting me since it was published in the summer 2008 Knitty, and for which I’ve had this yarn earmarked since June of 2009 (yikes – that feels like it just happened).

As I am working it on a 16-inch circular needle and only using one page of the chart from the 2015 revised version, this project currently fits in a small sandwich bag, making it ultra portable and quite a pleasure to knit on the go.

I hope to share a lot more this summer, as I am coming back to the surface in many areas of my life.

FO – Eleanor in Blue Socks

Another pair of long-finished socks, these were such a treat during last spring’s trip to Italy.

Like broken-in jeans and a cushy sweater, these were instantly comfortable and felt familiar.

Pattern: Eleanor by Gigi Silva/Monkey Toes; available as a free pattern on Ravelry; my project is here
Size: US women’s 9
Yarn: Regia Havanna Color 4-ply fingering weight, in color 4182, 75% new wool / 25% nylon; I used 80.4 grams, which was approximately 367.5 yards/ 336 meters
Needles: Clover size 2 (2.75 mm) bamboo DPNs, set of 5
Modifications: worked toe-up, with a short-row heel

Started: February 5, 2009
Finished: March 31, 2009

I’ve knit a pair of Eleanor socks before, but I was dissatisfied with the eyelets on those (I really should reknit one and finish that pair). For this pair, I followed the pattern and I’m so glad I did.

I felt a weird tenderness toward these socks, partly as a consequence of working them slowly on bamboo DPNs. These were my refuge after long, cold days working outside, and later, my little bit of warmth and relaxation tucked in my bag while doing thesis research in Venice. I knit these while waiting for, and then riding trains, and I vividly remember one frustrating afternoon where I actually wrote in my journal “I just want to sit outside and knit my socks in the sunshine, the hell with thesis research.”

This pattern is great – I’ve really enjoyed it immensely both times I’ve worked on it, and I’m surprised that it doesn’t get boring from something so repetitive. I knit 8 repeats up the legs, and though I had enough yarn, I didn’t feel like figuring out calf increases. Still, I imagine they’d look smashing as knee socks.

I knit the majority of the second sock on the plane home, when I was utterly exhausted and couldn’t wait to be with my family and sleep in my own bed. My seat-mate, a college-aged guy from the UK, seemed genuinely perplexed by me, but I was completely unconcerned. At one point a woman walking by knocked my working yarn on the ground in front of the flight attendant’s drink cart, and it was a bit of a disaster as they rolled it over, pulling my sock and DPNs and all out of my hands and dragging it down the aisle. There is a break in the yarn, and even those little woven in ends elicit a fond smile whenever I see them.

The yarn is sturdy and was very pleasant to knit with. I’ve always loved Regia and found it to be an excellent yarn at a great price. The subtly blended colors are delightful in person and they sustained my interest throughout knitting. The rich blues and warm, gentle browns and tans remind me of corduroy pants and flannel shirts, of the beach where the ocean and sand meet, and of mud flats at low tide with wind-bent cattails and a brilliant blue sky.

In short, they feel like home.

Previous Entries on this Project:
Also Blue

FO – Spring Forward Socks

These are a bit of a flashback, since I finished them more than a year ago, but I still really love my Spring Forward Socks.

These are probably the pinkest, most feminine, girliest socks I’ve ever made, and I just adore them.

Pattern: Spring Forward by Linda Welch, free pattern from summer 2008 Knitty; my project is here on Ravelry
Size: US women’s 9
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy fingering weight, in Petal Shower, 100% Merino wool; I used 90.9 grams, which was approximately 360 yards/ 329.2 meters
Needles: Knit Picks size 1.5 (2.5 mm) nickel-plated double-pointed needles, set of 5
Modifications: worked toe-up, with a short-row heel

Started: January 3, 2009
Finished: April 5, 2009

As you may have surmised, these socks are practically perfect in every way. The fit is wonderfully comfortable. Because I had so much yarn (seriously – the yardage for Smooshy is so generous already, and I still have 20 grams leftover!), I was able to make the leg as long as I wanted.

The lace pattern was wonderfully easy, and fun, and I love the way it looks. The springy shapes are playful and move the yarn in pleasing ways, while still maintaining an almost solid fabric, so they’re not too open to wear as trouser socks or what have you. When I actually worked on these socks, they moved as quickly as, say, Monkeys, which made them very satisfying.

I still haven’t found a heel I love as much as a short-row heel (which is probably not a bad thing), and these were worked with 10 stitches on each side and 13 in the middle.

Apart from a wonderful pattern, I think what really made these socks for me is the yarn. I love this yarn so much I want to sing songs about it – the springy quality of the heavenly soft Merino is ideally suited for this bouncy lace, the colors are just variegated enough to stay interesting without getting distracting, the colors are lovely blends of pinks and creams so beautiful that I love every one, and the finished sock feels downright decadent on my feet. For the time it takes to make a pair of hand knit socks, it is very rewarding for them to feel so cushy and refined, like the luxury they really are. I will definitely be using as much Smooshy as possible in the future!

As for these socks, I can tell I will be getting a lot of wear out of them, starting right away.

Previous Entries on this Project:
Pink

Wakame Lace Tunic progress

When last we checked in on the Wakame Lace Tunic, it was a scarf-like band of lace that was taking me forever to knit.

Since then, I’ve finished the bottom band and joined it with a three-needle bind-off, picked up stitches, and begun working the body in the round.

I’m happy with the way the lace looks (would be nice if I could photograph it in focus), and I enjoy knitting it in the round much more than I did knitting back and forth on straights. I’m sure a lot of it is to do with being able to read the lace better now, as well as having memorized the chart.

The three-needle bind-off doesn’t look as terrible as I thought it would. Actually when it’s stretched out (as it will be when it’s blocked), it looks pretty neat and clean. I’m learning a lot of new construction techniques with this project, so it’s quite interesting and enjoyable.

Since taking these photos I knit another body repeat and am getting close to where I would cast on for the sleeves. I’m looking forward to seeing how that works.

I want to have this tunic finished by the end of March (for a KAL, yes), and while I know it’s hypothetically possible, I don’t know if it’s likely. I guess the only thing to do is knit and see.

Neue Socken

When I first started knitting, casting on a new project was an event. I put so much time and thought and energy into it, and I was so excited by the time I started that I couldn’t wait to take photos and document it, even if all I had to show was a few rows of a sock toe or the beginning of a sweater back.

I was worried that I was getting blasé about it, that starting a new pair of socks when I had so many already on the needles was becoming old hat (I’ll address my rather alarming WIP problem in another post).

The typical prompt for me to cast on new socks is the Sock Knitters Anonymous Sockdown challenges on Ravelry. This is such a fun, vibrant, and active group that it makes it utterly compelling to participate, and it’s extraordinarily satisfying to finish a pair within the group’s (very generous) timeframe.

The February Sockdown challenge included an option for Underappreciated Patterns, which of course intrigues me, as a big fan of the obscure and less recognized. I kept wondering what makes one particular pattern skyrocket in popularity while another equally beautiful (or perhaps even more beautiful) one gets overlooked.

In most cases, I realized that I personally overlook patterns which are photographed in a way that obscures the details (blurry, too dark or light, too far away to see the pattern etc) or, far more commonly, where an overly busy yarn is used. I think some hand-painted yarns are truly works of art, but not all yarns are suited for all patterns, and it drives me nuts when a great pattern is completely obscured by a high-contrast, crazy variegated yarn. Or, when such a yarn is forced to fight with a pattern rather than used in a simpler way that showcases its unique qualities.

All these obsessive issues of mine aside, I am pretty confident that the reason this pattern is underappreciated is because it is written in German. I of course don’t know any German, but I found the photos of this pattern so lovely that I really needed to make a pair of these socks, and I had this green Gloss yarn just begging to become fern lace.

It turns out it’s rather remarkably easy to figure out a German pattern, especially one such as this, which has the lace charted out. I found this super-helpful website which translates common German knitting symbols, and combining this with Google Translator, I pieced together the stitch count and instructions.

I’ve finished the first sock already, and I’m pretty stoked with the way they are coming out. More to the point, I’m actually enjoying the process, each component, and the whole experience of knitting. It’s a lovely change of perspective.