squares


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.


How do you knit a sock yarn blanket? One square at a time.

174 blocks!

174 blocks!

Slow going. Sweet mercy, is it ever slow going! And it isn’t for any reason other than I haven’t been spending much time knitting lately (as I said previously), and when I have done some knitting it has been mostly on dinky little filler projects, like my dishcloths or a knitted headband thing I threw together to keep my bangs back when the humidity was making my hair frizz and tickle my face. I have done some work on my sock yarn blanket, though, and I am creeping ever closer to the 200 square mark. Since I’m now thinking it will be about 800 blocks to finish this blanket at the size I want, crossing 200 squares and hitting the 25% done mark will be significant.

Yarn Chicken 
Noun
Knitting with a very limited amount of yarn and risking that you won’t be able to finish it before the yarn runs out.

  • 174 blocks! 26 more and I’ll be at 200!! Whee!
  • I still continue to be way too hung up on yarn randomness, and spend way too much time choosing the yarn for the next block. On one hand I think taking the time to ensure the yarns are well randomized and ensuring I don’t create pockets of similarly coloured blocks is well worth it. But then, on the other hand this is a SOCK YARN BLANKET, not some sort of oeuvre d’art upon which I shall be forever judged against. But then back to the first hand I know that if I DO end up creating too-closely repeating pockets of colour/yarn I will forever see it and it will drive me absolutely bonkers and I will be angry with myself for allowing it to happen while I was making it.
  • I played yarn chicken this week and lost. See that big square at the top of the blanket, going from chocolate brown to pink to a greeny yellow? Yeah, I started knitting that big block from one of my small balls hoping that it would be enough for a big one. About half way through I started getting very worried, my little ball of yarn was dwindling quickly. Sure enough, with only a handful of rows left, the ball was done. I finished the square off with some beige (trying to keep with the earthy tones), and I think it looks alright. I don’t think you’d know it was a different yarn unless I pointed it out.
  • My step son (who out of the blue picked me a super pretty bouquet this evening) continues to be impressed to hell by this blanket. He thinks it looks really “tricky”, and I totally blew his mind when I explained that the stripes and patterns in all of the squares were super easy to do, that the yarn did all the work by changing colours. I showed him one of the balls of yarn and how the colour changed, and then showed him a block I had done in that yarn. He was pretty shocked (for lack of a better description). He did the whole mouth agape scrunch eyed “WTF!” expression and everything. ha ha

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.

Sock yarn blankets and insane looking hats

My sunny knitting spot for today

You know that whole thing about how it is always cold in Canada? Yeah, not so much. Today, on May 4th, 2015, it is 28° Celsius. And it isn’t like we’re in Vancouver or something – This is New Brunswick, and our weather is FAR from temperate and nice. We had meters and meters of snow this winter, and just a month ago we still had well over a meter of snow on the ground. For it to be this warm right now is just sort of magical. This is downright hot weather by pretty much any standard. The weather is actually so nice that my husband and I decided to use one of our vacations days to be able to enjoy this weather. So very very worth it. Blue sky, nice breeze, no bugs (but they’re coming… or lord they’re coming…), cold refreshing margarita in the glass beside me… Yup, it is awesome.

I’m over halfway through the Aragorn section in my Fellowship of the Shawl, but man…I needed a break! Lacework requires THINKING and BRAIN USAGE, two things I can’t be bothered to engage, so I have gone back to my Sock Yarn Blanket. Weirdly relieving to get back to this super simple mindless knit after all that lacework. The very reasons why I needed a break from it (ex. the super repetitive nature of it, endless garter stitch, super simplicity, etc) are exactly the things that are making is so nice to knit right now. Those stupid little squares are like candy for god’s sake, each one a quick little treat to satisfy some hedonistic part of me.

I don’t know how many blocks there are now. 135ish? Hold on I’ll count…. Holy crap, I’m at 151 blocks! WOOOOO! That is awesome!!

053

It really is looking great, right? You don’t have to say anything, I know it is awesome. 😉 I’m really impressed/surprised I am over 150 blocks. That feels like a benchmark. And you know, the more I look at this stupid thing the more I love it. And finishing a couple squares has really rekindled my love of this project. I really can’t wait to get it done, I think if I can just make it to the end this will end up being one of my all time favourite projects.

 

On an unrelated note, I had a sober hit of reality today. I have this ENORMOUS floppy summer hat that I love so hard I can hardly breathe. It is ridiculous in how large it is, and the brim was long since crumpled and broken, so when I wear it it is all crumply and every which way. This amazing hat of mine has been mocked many a time by people (usually my best friend who thinks I should burn it to rid the world of its fashion sins) but I just loved it too much. I genuinely love wearing this hat. I feel sassy and fun wearing my hat.

Then there is the other reality… I am the whitest white girl that ever whited (ie. super pale) and I burn intensely easily. I never tan, just burn. And burn badly. I have had a bunch of truly severe sunburns, and I usually have at least one “so badly sunburned that I blister” burn a year. This hat of mine is so big that it protects my head, chest, shoulders, neck, and top of my back! Amazing protection!

I took a picture of me wearing my hat today and I was all “Look! That is totally cute! What a great hat!!” and then my husband showed me the picture he took of me knitting on the deck yesterday wearing my hat…. You can see both below…

 

 045  
 SASSY! FANCY! Paris, here I come! Woo!  Maximum Dork Achieved (+2pts for knitting while wearing this hat)

Yeah, maybe my hat is a sassy piece of cuteness when I pose, but in reality… oh god, I look insane…

I refuse to retire my enormous hat. I just may wear it out in public a little less….

 

 


Dyeing yarn using a sock blank is both awesome as well as HUGELY annoying 5

20150411_190221I had some incredibly generous Ravellers donate some of their sock yarn scraps towards my sock yarn blanket which has been a tremendous help. Seriously, I went from a very lacking variety of sock yarns to now having dozens of different bits of yarn. Lovely lovely lovely people. Then, on top of that, one women even gave me sock blank! (For those who don’t know, a sock blank is a knitted panel of undyed sock yarn that you can use to easily make your own colourways and self-patterning yarn.) When I discovered the sock blank in the box of yarns she sent me I was extremely excited since I had looked into purchasing them myself in the past. I have been waiting to use this sock blank until I had a good opportunity to venture into dyeing, preferably without interruption or husband sighs while I inevitably get dye all over myself and the kitchen. He is a bit of a Tidy McCleanerson, and my inclination towards chaos and messiness can be stressful for him from time to time, and my having gotten dye EVERYWHERE (including on the front door somehow) has made him less than thrilled over the prospect of my doing any more hand dyeing of yarn.

My husband was away from the house for a full 36 hours this weekend. I seized the opportunity!

The same as last time, I didn’t go in to it with a particular plan or knowledge, I just winged it. Why I never go in to these things with a set plan is beyond me. Perhaps I secretly believe myself to be some sort of savant or natural genius when it comes to this type of thing and that I will just magically be awesome at it without trying.

Yeah… right…

Anyway, like I said I just winged this. So, what did I do?

  1. I soaked/saturated the blank in water. I don’t entirely know why, it just felt like the thing to do.
  2. I got out a 9×9 glass baking dish and created a sort of separated bowl and divider using tinfoil.
  3. I laid out the blank in the dish, putting half in the separated tinfoil bowl. Because I wanted short colour repeats I didn’t lay the blank out top half in the dish, bottom in the tinfoil bowl because that would have resulted in one long section of one colour and then one long section of another colour. To get the shorter colour repeats I put the blank in the dish dividing it left to right instead.
  4. I dissolved some blue Wilton’s food colouring in some hot water and a bit of vinegar and poured it into the dish, keeping it out of the tinfoil bowl divider.
  5. I dissolved some yellow Wilton’s food colouring in some hot water and a bit of vinegar and poured it into the tinfoil bowl side.
  6. I added some blotches of red and green along the center section that was held up by the divider out of the two main colours.
  7. I put the dish in the oven at 200°F for about an hour.
  8. Drain, rinse, leave it to dry fully.
  9. Once dry I unravelled it from the blank on to my swift.
  10. I unwound it from the swift, dividing the two strands into two separate balls
  11. I rewound one ball back on to the swift and then rewound it into a center pull ball using my nostepinne. Repeat for second ball.

sockblank

I am super excited for how it ended up, but I do have some notes:

  • The colours are a little more easter-ish than I intended, mostly because I dropped a bit of pink dye around in splotches on both sides. I think I was intending for it to result in a more mottled look, which did work kind of. Mostly the pink just dispersed throughout making the yellow look orange and the blue look more mauve. Ah well.
  • What a colossal pain in the ass it was unraveling this yarn and reballing it. Holy crap. Now, in fairness part of the problem was that I sort of screwed up when I was unwinding the blank on to my swift. The blank itself unraveled really smoothly and easily, that wasn’t the issue. I started with the swift in a weirdly unexpanded state and then it just got worse and, well, you can see the disaster I created in the first panel of the above picture. (What was that about my secretly believing myself to be a natural genius when it comes to this kind of thing?)square
  • The blank was a double knit one, and reballing those two strands into two separate balls was irritating to put it mildly. I don’t know if there is some magical easier way of doing it, but it took me a long time. I may have to put this question to the actual geniuses on the Ravelry forums to see if maybe they can enlighten me because seriously… it was a pain in the ass.
  • I have knit one square (so far) using this yarn and I think it is pretty fantastic. Turned out basically how I was hoping in terms of the self striping within my tiny block. This yarn would probably look more varigated if I used it for a larger item (like a sock) but the stripes work out perfectly in my little squares. WIN!
  • Despite the huge annoyance I suffered while unwinding and reballing the blank, I still LOVED dying using the sock blank. It was a great way of creating a really cool colour way, really simplified the whole process. No tangles or shenanigans. I also love that it resulted in two identically dyed balls, and I can absolutely see how that would be fabulous if I were going to use this yarn for socks.

 

So, in summary, I loved using a sock blank for dyeing. I loved dyeing it and loved the end result, so I can overlook the unballing/reballing annoyances.

 

Oh, and as for my husband’s reaction to my having dyed while he was away? I made a point of cleaning everything up before he got back home so that he would have no reason to be grumpy over any future dye projects, and he was totally fine with it, until he saw the distinctly blue staining on our wooden cutting board… oopsie….