sock yarn


Back down the sock knitting rabbit hole

I’m grown up enough to be able to admit when I was wrong, or at least to admit that maybe I was a bit hasty coming to a particular conclusion. Back in February I declared that I did not like knitting socks and that it wasn’t something I had any interest in doing ever again, and at the time I suppose that was correct, but lately I’ve been rethinking this.

HaveAYarn.ca

image courtesy of HaveAYarn.ca

When I was in Nova Scotia visiting family my mother-in-law and I went on a little day trip to Mahone Bay and visited “Have A Yarn” yarn shop. Not my first time visiting this yarn shop – last summer my husband took me there as a special treat. They have a fantastic selection of different sock yarns and have a little knit swatch of all the different yarns so that you can get a sense of what the self-patterning yarn will knit up to be like. I actually had to laugh – when my mother in law was looking at the sock yarns with me she made the comment “Oh, what beautiful and detailed colourwork!”. It took me a second to realize that she didn’t know the yarns were all self patterning, and that the “detailed colourwork” was just the yarn! I explained it to her and she thought it was pretty nifty how the yarns do that. I have to agree – it is awesome knitting with a self patterning yarn because it oftentimes makes it look like you’re way better and meticulous than you actually are! Instant knitting swagger. ūüėČ

But I digress! On the Wall ‘o SockYarn I saw one particular swatch… Anyone remember Wayne’s World when he saw his dream guitar? Here, let me refresh your memory…

 

Regia 4-ply Design Line by Arne & Carlos "summer night"

Regia 4-ply Design Line by Arne & Carlos “summer night”

Yeah, that was me when I saw this one particular yarn. It is Regia Design Line by Arne & Carlos in the Summer Night colourway. I don’t really get where the name came from, it looks FAR from “summer night”-y to me. More “Christmas at the Ski Chalet”. Seriously, the swatch had a real 70’s ski lodge vibe that was (to me) super campy but still really beautiful. To me it was/is too nice to use only in my sock yarn blanket, and I didn’t think the awesomeness of the yarn would really come through in one little square, so there was nothing for it…

Time to try knitting socks again!

I’m cheap and didn’t want to buy two balls of the Regia¬†so I bought one ball of the patterned and one (less expensive) ball of grey to go with it, the plan being to make the toe box, heel, and upper cuff of the sock in the complimentary grey. In general I like to do a contrasting toe/heel colour when using self patterning yarns, just to break it up a bit and add a bit of contrast.

Well, I don’t know if it is because I have gotten VERY comfortable using teeny tiny sock needles thanks to my sock yarn blanket, but knitting these socks is going very well and turning out awesome! The yarn is exactly as awesome as I hoped it would be, and the actual knitting of the sock is way more fun and way faster than I remembered. The heel is already turned in the first one and is pretty solid too. Over all this sock is going great!

Oh, and I may have bought another fancier more expensive skein of hand dyed sock yarn as well, but that is the subject of a later post… ūüôā

 


I made a fancy block… not sure why…

Despite this blanket being buckets of busy and in no way a “subtle” or “boring”, I went and upped the¬†ante and added some extra interest to a¬†square. It isn’t that exciting frankly, all I did was add¬†some extra texture by not sticking to just garter stitch. For one block I switched to stockinette stitch for different colours in the self-striping yarn. If you look at the picture you can see the yellow is in stockinette and the purple is in garter stitch. I think it looks kind of neat, and it does add a bit of je ne sais quoi to the block. However, I wish I had thought of doing this earlier into the blanket. I’m almost 200 blocks in, and NOW I decide to add design elements? Yeah, not so brilliant, so this square may remain an only child. A bit of an easter egg in the blanket. It isn’t hugely noticeable, nor is it especially distracting when the blanket is viewed in its entirety.


Outdoor knitting can be terrifying

I’ve had a truly lovely Victoria Day weekend (once I stopped being sick as hell). Lots of time spent outdoors enjoying the summery weather, my husband and I had our monthly at-home date night (SCHMOOP!), I planted my herb garden (basil, tarragon, dill, and mint), and of course I did a lot of knitting.While my husband worked on resurfacing our driveway (and doing one hell of an awesome job if you ask me) I sat on the deck and knit. I did try to help him some, but he quickly scooted me back to the deck to knit, telling me that I was sick and supposed to be resting up. I suspect it was more that I wasn’t doing it “right” and he was happier to just do it himself.

This is how I look on my deck knitting. Notice the two fans. They are there not to cool me down but to blow away the bugs. Jury is out whether it actually helps.

So, I did lots of deck knitting this weekend. HOWEVER…

I have learned today that knitting outdoors comes with risks.

Let me explain. I am a total wuss when it comes to bugs. I loath all bugs, which I know is cliche girl stuff, but it is what it is. My great tragedy is that the mosquitoes at my house are insanely bad. Like, I’m thinking god is punishing us or something because this is divine retribution level mosquitoes. This is why when I am on the deck I have multiple fans blowing on me to (hypothetically) blow the mosquitoes away. Today, however, the problem wasn’t mosquitoes… it was a mother effing spider. What happened was that I dropped my little ball of yarn under my deck chair and when I reached under my chair to get it an effing spider effing crawled on my effing hand! When I saw it I screamed bloody murder and flailed trying to get it off me, throwing my knitting clear across the deck in the process. My husband, used to my occasional bug freak outs, looked calmly up at me, and then looked at my knitting that I threw, and then back at me sort of questioningly, as if to say “What minor thing was it that made you freak out this time?.” I just defensively¬†said, “There was a spider on my hand….” and he expressionlessly blinked a couple times, and then went back to whatever he was doing. I think he believes I overreacted but there was a SPIDER ON ¬†MY HAND for heaven’s sake! That is terrifying and absolutely warrants screams and knitting tossings.

Aside from that horror, knitting has been going well. Maaaan I am all about the sock yarn blanket again. I am just hammering out squares like a machine, and it feels gooooooooood. I do feel sort of guilty for putting my Fellowship of the Shawl aside for now, but at the moment I just want to work on the blissfully mindless sock yarn blanket. It is scratching all sorts of happy knitting itches – lots of pretty yarns, mindless, fun, lots of mini-completions/victories, etc.

Current state of my blanket, all 163 blocks of it!

As always, I have some notes:

  • I’m up to 163 blocks which is frankly awesome.
  • Current dimensions are 48×20 inches.
  • I don’t know why I didn’t do this earlier, but I took the 8 seconds to count how many squares there are in each row (alternating rows of 14 and 13 squares) so now counting how many blocks I am at is stupid fast and easy. The only thing that it sort of requires is knitting in even rows (ie. knit squares across an entire row), rather than all whack a doo uneven lumpy. In case I decide to go all nutsy and start knitting whack a doo uneven again, I put a little marker at the row that represents 162 blocks, so at least I won’t have to count those any more.
  • I still don’t know how big I want this thing. Right now it is currently the perfect width for a couch blanket, and would also work okay¬†for a twin size bed. I still kind of want to make this mofo queen size, but honestly that just feels…. overly ambitious.
  • OPERATION: Never Weave In Ends is going well. Basically, I am “cheating” to ensure I have no ends to weave in. When I start a new square I pick up and knit the first stitch as normal, and then pick up the next half of the stitches (ie. one side of a square I am picking up stitches from) using the working yarn AND the tail. It results in a “double” stitch to knit into when I do my second row, but that is pretty minor. So there is that end sorted out. The other ends that need handling are the top of the square, finishing end. I grab that end as well and pick up the stitches using the working yarn, the yarn tail, and that tip yarn. Does that make sense? If you look at the adjacent picture it should be more clear. The red lines are where the end tail was used (along with the new yarn) when I picked up the new stitches. You can juuuuuuuust see the pink end there knit in to the edge of the blue square. And you can juuuuuuuuust see the blue end knit into the side of the burgundy square. And I kid you not, I had to really look through my blanket to find this example where it is noticeable. This actually is working fabulously and is pretty invisible. I mean, just take a gander at the above picture of my blanket’s current state and tell me if you can see where I did this! I’ll bet if I hadn’t told you you wouldn’t have known. I can’t see it at all. I was a bit worried it would be noticeable, giving a weird edge to the squares, but nope! Looks fine and works great. And I have no ends to weave in! I just periodically go back and snip off any loose ends and voila! Done! The back looks super tidy too. I’m sure there are people who would be horrified that I am doing this, but whatever. If the knitting police want to arrest me they know where I live.
    • I knit most/all of the tails in because that’s just how I roll, but you could easily just pick up a couple stitches using the tails and then drop them and pick up the rest of the stitches only using the working yarn. You don’t need to knit the tails into very many stitches for it to be secure. Me, I just do the whole thing because why not.

126 blocks down, about a squillion left to go!

Mission Accomplished (I think). The weekend visit with my in-laws was a great one, really fantastic to see them and get some quality time in with them, AND I was able to get in some knitting. Obviously not as much as I normally do on weekends, but I did make some progress. I did a proper count last night, and I am up to 126 blocks done (102 small ones, and six big ones I’m counting as 4). 126 blocks. That is a lot! How much? Well, lets do some math! (I know, I’m a nerd…)

Approx. 3g of yarn per block x 126 blocks = 378g of fingering weight yarn = roughly 1500 meters of yarn used so far

20 minutes per block x 126 blocks = 2560 minutes = 42 hours of knitting

44 total days since starting (2015-02-23 to 2015-04-08) / 42 hours of knitting = an average of 58 minutes per day spent working on this project

 

The box of some of the mini-skeins I have rewound into center pull balls. Not pictured is the bucket of additional sock yarns I have rewound, nor can you see the big sack of yarn waiting to be rewound.

I find it interesting seeing¬†these values, though it is¬†rather disturbing on some levels. 42 hours of knitting on just this one project and I’m not even a a quarter of the way finished? Geeze Louise! Still really enjoying the project though. Very easy, fun, almost soothing knit. I have made it a big wider, and that was a pain in the ass to do, but that was pretty minor. The pictures also aren’t doing it justice, it really is quite a thing to behold. A little ugly, yes, but pretty damn cool. I’m not totally happy with the randomness of my block colours – I feel like the top left corner is too dark/orange – but over all it is looking great. Speaking of math, though.. I really should calculate how many blocks I am going to need in order to have it be the size I want.

The other thing I have been working on is making all my many many skeins of sock yarn into center pull balls. Holy crap, what a ton of work that is, but I am DETERMINED. I should have kept track of how much time I have spent doing this because it would be a lot. Frankly, more time lately has been spent balling yarn than knitting! However, I am taking a break from making center pull balls for a while because the motion in making the balls using my nostepinne was starting to make my wrists ache.

 

Something else occurred to me the other day. I am knitting this project in fingering weight yarn using size 1US needles and is done in garter stitch which sort of accordions on to itself. My Stripes Gone Crazy sweater is done using fingering weight yarn but using size 3US needles AND it is in stockinette stitch which gives you a slightly larger knit for your work.

I am pretty sure that if I had been working on my sweater instead of this blanket I would have been done it by now.

No regrets, though. I will get back to the sweater eventually, but for now I’m going to continue to rock out to my sock yarn blanket.


Flowers aren’t the only things that grow in the springtime

My sock yarn blanket is really starting to take on a blanket-y appearance! It keeps growing and growing and growing. I can see the progress and that makes me want to keep working on it, which is good because damn this is going to take a lot of work to finish.

People’s reaction to this project continues to amuse me. This is actually an incredibly easy project to do in terms of skill required to knit it. It is just garter stitch with a decrease, nothing at all fancy going on here. The only “hard” part is just the sheer volume of knitting required. It apparently looks like some sort of knitting rocket science because people generally react with awe and make “I could never do that!” type comments. I keep saying “You could! It is actually really easy!” because seriously, it is REALLY EASY, but no one believes me. I fear I may come off as being falsely modest or something along those lines.

Aside from that¬†I have some notes…

  • My poor worn out needles.

    I’m at ~92 blocks now (still counting the big blocks as four) and inching ever closer to the 100 block mark. I know that this blanket is going to be a LOT more than 100 blocks (probably closer to 600) but the first hundred feels like a benchmark. I feel like if I can cross the 100 blocks mark I will have gotten far enough into the project to have to finish it.

  • I know last update I said how I was doing my decreases by slipping the two stitches purlwise and that the difference was negligible. Yeah,… changed my mind. I have switched to¬†slipping the stitches correctly knitwise and yeah, alright, the “spine” of each block is more snug and defined now. It just looks a bit tidier, especially with the lighter weight yarns. So that is twice now that I have deviated from the pattern and twice that I have learned that it was that way in the pattern for a reason. Lesson learned (I hope).
  • My needles are in rough damn shape. This project is the only thing I ever used these needles on and already I have worn the coating right off of them, mostly from where the needles rub against my palm of my right hand. Don’t quite know what to do about that.
  • This is a scrap blanket. It is supposed to look scrappy and chaotic and a bit rustic (a word I hate, but it applies). I really really don’t think fussing about and edging the blanket or (worse) knitting the little triangles to square up the blanket honours the spirit of the blanket. Bygones to people who have done a clean edge on their scrap blankets, I¬†understand why people would want to, but it just doesn’t follow what I envision for my version of this blanket. I have every intention of leaving it all saw-toothed and the edge “unfinished”. However, I still want the edge to be… tidy. I have found that using some of the heavier weight sockyarns that I have for the edge blocks give me the snappiest and cleanest edge while still maintaining the spirit of the blanket. I wish I had done this for the initial bottom edge because a couple of the blocks at the bottom are in some of the lighter yarns and are a bit looser and floppier than I’d like for an edge. Very tempted to knit a new bottom row of blocks.
  • I am getting really obsessive about block randomization. Before starting a new block I take time to inspect the blanket and make sure I don’t make a block using a yarn that occurred too close to the intended new block. I don’t have a set rule, I don’t enforce something strict like “blocks of the same yarn cannot be closer than 4 blocks away”, it is entirely just my eyeballing it. But I am getting pretty obsessive about it. I am also getting really obsessive about colour variance. I keep ending up with little pockets of similarly coloured blocks which drives me bonkers. Part of the problem is that I feel like I don’t have enough variety of sock yarns right now, which is hard to believe since I have an entire bucket of different sock yarns!
  • I still really love this project. I have basically set aside every other project I had in the works (including my Stripes Gone Crazy sweater) and am working exclusively on this. This may not be so smart.¬†20150323_074540