Category: Inspiration

sock knitter survey no. 1 | Christine MacGillivray

You guys! I can hardly contain my excitement. I was overwhelmed by the response to my first completed box o’ sox when I shared it on Instagram. Some people were saying that I inspired them to knit socks, which is absolutely crazy to me! A year ago, I had knit a pair of socks, but I wasn’t enchanted by the process. So I resolved to knit socks all different ways to figure out what works for me! Twelve months and as many pairs of socks later, I can confidently say that I like knitting socks all kinds of ways! Anyway, after seeing comments that I was inspiring other knitters to make socks, I decided to share some of the sock-knitting ladies that have inspired me so much on my little journey. Some knit cuff down, some toe up. A few prefer two-at-a-time, while the rest knit one sock at a time. Whatever their preferences, they have each inspired me in their own way to try different techniques, play with color, and step out of my comfort zone.

Enter… the Sock Knitter Survey! I designed this survey to introduce you to amazing knitters you may not know about, or help you learn more about people you already follow! The idea of the survey is to showcase some of my favorite sock knitters and how they like to knit their socks. I hope you find it as fun and interesting as I do!

First up is one of the first friends I made on Instagram when I started my account four years ago… Christine @christine.knits! Christine is one of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. She has always been willing to answer my (sometimes stupid) knitting questions and I love everything she makes! We’ve done a few swaps via mail (she’s in Canada and I’m in Tennessee!) and she always sends the most thoughtful gifts. Oh, and her little family – including two sweet pups – is the cutest! I’ve sprinkled a few photos of Christine’s socks throughout the post. So… here we go!

Sock Knitter Survey No. 1

Tell us a little about yourself!
Hi!  My name is Christine and I’m an avid crafter and home body from Wabush, Labrador on the East Coast of Canada.  I’m a first time mom to my son, Ian, wife to my husband, Jordan, and proud, over-bearing dog mom to my two babies, Rhubarb and Honey.   I simply adore knitting and there isn’t a day that goes by without picking up a project and working away.  I also love spinning yarn, and I’ve recently been bitten by the cross stitch bug and am swiftly falling down that rabbit hole!  Other things that take up my free time are reading and baking!

 

When/how did you start knitting?
I don’t remember what age I was exactly, but I was around 12 or 13.  Knitting is something I remember my mom always doing when I was growing up.  She learned from my Dad’s Mother back when her and Dad were just dating.   It stuck with her and she continued to knit (and still does).  My brother and I always had gorgeous, handknit sweaters growing up and I asked one day if she could teach me.  She would cast on and knit a few rows to get me established, and then I would knit and knit and knit until the square I was aiming for was more of a wonky rectangle with dropped stitches and some very interesting increase techniques that you probably won’t find in any stitch dictionary!  But I liked it, and I continued to pick at it all through middle and high school.  It really stuck and became part of my every day like when I turned 18, and now, 11 years later, I’m still going strong!

What are your favorite things to knit?
Socks.  Socks hands down for so many reasons!  First, they are SO easy.  I can knit a sock doing anything.  I turn heels in waiting rooms, I cast on running errands, and I pick away at textured lovelies while playing with my son.  They are so portable, so easy, and so meditative.  Secondly, I’m kind of a neutral gal when it comes to dressing, but I love knitting with colour!  So sock knitting is the perfect excuse to pick up bright, vibrant colours to work with.  Lastly, and maybe the biggest reason for me, is that I was looking for something to knit that would get worn.  I really wanted a project I can rely on and not knit simply for the sake of knitting.  I wanted to have something that would one day be so worn down and loved that I would need to mend it, and I could look back on that project and think how much love was put into it and how much love I got from wearing it.  Socks seemed like the best fit!

Favorite sock yarn base? I really love an 80/20 superwash merino/nylon blend, but I also have a soft spot for BFL and bases that incorporate tweed, cashmere or bamboo.  I tend to like plumper sock yarn, on the side closer to Sport than Lace.

Preferred neeldes? I am all about wooden needles.  I love how warm and flexible they are!  It took me a long time and a lot of trial and error to find my perfect sock needle.  I’m a bit weird with needles because while I am not a tight knitter, I am SUPER hard on needles and tend to wear grooves into the tips.  I destroyed many a pair of Knit Picks wooden needles, Lykke needles, and even a pair of Karbonz.  The only needles I’ve found that can hold up to my special kind of knitting are Deborah Norville needles.  I like a US 1.5, 2.5 mm, 32” circular for magic looping.

Toe up or cuff down? Cuff down!  I get the appeal of toe up, and I like the idea of maximizing your yarn and getting those socks as long as possible, but I just love cuff down.  It’s how I originally learned socks and it stuck!

One- or two-at-a-time? One at a time.  I recently did a pair of socks in tandem on two different needles and I can see doing that again, but my default is one at a time.

Go-to heel? Heel flap.  I love heel flaps!  That moment when the whole heel comes together and you’ve magically changed direction – it’s the best!

Rounded toe or square toe? Rounded toe!  In particular I use the rounded toe in Sock Architecture by Lara Neel every single time.  It’s a great toe!  On another note, that is a killer book and a fantastic reference material to have if you are even remotely interested in sock knitting.

Shorties or longer legs? The longer the better!  I like my socks to go up as far as possible to keep me as toasty as possible!

Favorite yarn brands/indie dyers for sock yarn? For commercial yarn, it’s no surprise that I love Patons Kroy if you’ve ever visited my Instagram feed.  For indie dyers, I love Flock Fibre Studio, Lichen and Lace, Raven Wood Fibre Co., and The Fawn and the Fox (also, all amazing Canadian dyers).

Socks for yourself or for others? I am typically a selfish knitter!  I love knitting socks for myself, but I also love knitting socks for my very knit-worthy husband.  I’m also excited to knit socks for my son when he gets older!  Right now he’s still in the phase of kicking all of his socks off so the socks I have knit for him haven’t gotten a lot of wear!

What’s a sock knitting notion you can’t knit without? A progress keeper!  It’s actually the only notion I use when knitting socks!  But I do really really love a progress keeper.  Who doesn’t like a piece of jewelry for your knitting?

Are there any techniques you haven’t tried but would like to? I would like to explore knitting two-at-a-time and doing a toe-up sock pattern!

Any favorite sock patterns or sock pattern designers? I love Blueberry Waffle socks – I have so many pairs now!  In all honestly, I haven’t knit a lot of textured socks but this is a personal goal of mine for my sock knitting in 2019!  I’m currently knitting Snowfall socks by Tabitha Gandee and loving them!  Every sock she designs is so gorgeous, so she would be my favorite sock pattern designer right now.  I’m hoping to have a little collection of Tabitha Gandee socks at the end of the year!

Why do you love knitting socks?
They are just so therapeutic!  I love the simplicity of a vanilla sock, but also how easily you can switch things up with a patterned sock and have a little bit more interest.  With a 7 month old, knitting time can be a little hard to find, but socks make it easy to knit whenever you get a minute of two.  It’s not uncommon for me to walk around my house with a sock project in my pocket for any free moment I get!   I also love knitting socks for my husband because he simply loves them so much!  I get so much joy giving him socks and seeing him get truly exciting about them and hauling them on straight away.  It’s a fantastic feeling to share them with others!

Who else would you love to see do this survey?
Danaraeknits on Instagram is SUCH an amazing sock knitter!  Her feed in constantly inspiring me and she is such an uplifting, positive person.  My friend Julie just recently starting designing some beautiful sock patterns and they are gorgeous (julieannknitter on Instagram)!  I’ve had the pleasure of knowing her for since I started knitting socks and we’ve done a couple little KALs where we’ve knit socks together and it was great fun!

You can find Christine on Instagram at @christine.knits and Ravelry @winterbirdknits! Thank you so much to Christine for agreeing to participate in my inaugural survey!

finally fading + #knitlifesurvey

finally fading!

Guys! I think I’m the last knitter in the world to start a Find Your Fade, but I’ve finally done it! I bought the pattern way back when it was released in December 2016, but I had a hard time finding my perfect fade. During madelinetosh’s annual sale in January, I spotted the Lamplighter Fade set on Tosh Merino Light and snatched it up! It’s only 5 colors, so I’m modifying the pattern a bit to accommodate this and also make it a bit smaller. It’s not turning out as “fade-y” as I was hoping, but I still really like it so far! Here’s what I’ve completed!

 

The colorways don’t have names as far as I can tell, so I can’t list them. Here are the next 3 color I’ll be melting into:

I’m finding this knit to be very meditative, which I’ve needed lately. I have a laundry list of things I want to make, but for some reason I wasn’t feeling anything but this. So I put needles to yarn and I’m really happy I did! You can see my notes and follow my progress on my project page!

#knitlifesurvey

I’m not into watching all the podcasts like a lot of knitters seem to be. Nothing against them, I just get a bit overloaded with content. But I do watch a few, and wool needles hands is one of them! I just love Tayler’s laid back style, the amazing info she gives, and the gorgeous yarn she dyes! Tayler recently did a Knit Life Survey vlog, which I loved, and I really wanted to fill one out myself! So here goes!

  1. What sparked your interest in knitting? My Nana knit beautiful afghans for her 3 grandchildren when we were babies. I used to watch her knit and became fascinated!
  2. How and when did you learn to knit? I was somewhere in the range of 7 to 9 years old when my Nana first handed me a set of (huge, awkward, metal) needles and some acrylic yarn. I knit a few lumpy, hole-riddled squares before putting it down until sometime in college (8 or so years ago), when I picked it back up… the rest is history!
  3. What is your favorite cast on method? Long-tail!
  4. What is your favorite type of knitting design element? Is garter stitch a design element? 😉 Brioche for sure!
  5. What is your favorite project you have ever knit? The sweater I knit my husband because I am so proud of it!
  6. How many projects are in your Ravelry queue? 63, but I try to keep it under 50.
  7. What is your favorite weight of yarn to work with? Worsted!
  8. What was your first knitting project? Some type of scarf, but I don’t remember exactly which one. 
  9. What is the longest time you have had a half-finished project in hibernation? What is it and when did you cast on? Do you still want to finish it? My longest project in hibernation is a tie for my husband. I cast it on in April 2016 and yes, I actually do want to finish it! Maybe for our anniversary in May! Fingers crossed 🙂
  10. What is the largest project you have ever knit? The sweater mentioned above.
  11. What is the worst and just overall bad, didn’t work out thing you ever knit? I don’t finish things that are that bad, but there were some iffy hats back when I started knitting hats (there is no longer evidence! haha)
  12. What is your favorite kind of project to make (socks, sweaters, shawls… etc)? Hats for sure!
  13. What is your favorite type of fiber to work with? Wool. I love BFL and merino most!
  14. Are you a self proclaimed yarn snob? Nope, I don’t mind a little acrylic mixed in. And I’m very conscious that not everyone can afford quality yarns and that’s okay. Knit what you like!
  15. What is your dream knitting retreat or fiber festival to attend? Edin Yarn Fest!
  16. What is the oldest yarn in your stash? Some Noro I bought probably 7-8 years ago.
  17. Are you a gifty knitter or a selfish knitter? Mostly selfish but I love knitting gifts if I want to!
  18. What do you like to watch or listen to while you knit? True crime or knitting podcasts or binge Netflix (Grey’s, Friends, The Office…)
  19. 0Do you prefer wood or metal needles? Metal for socks, wood for everything else!
  20. Is there a pattern or project that you have knit more than one time?  Garter Ear Flap Hat by Purl Soho 🙂
  21. Do you have any other hobbies? Yes! Weaving, sewing, cooking, hiking, and I just love making in general.
  22. What is your favorite snack? Chocolate or anything sweet!
  23. What is your favorite color? Grey
  24. Do you have pets? If so tell us about them… Two sweet pups – Molly & Louise! They’re both mutts from the shelter. Yin and Yang. We love them!
  25. Last but not least……coffee or tea? Both! I love a good latte or a cup of English breakfast tea with lots of milk & sugar. Also sweet tea, cause I’m from the South 😉 

variegated skeins & what to knit with them

Do you ever see a skein of gorgeous variegated yarn that you just have to have? So you buy it and get it home only to realize you have no clue what to make with it? Yeah, that’s me. I’m a total sucker for bright, multicolored yarns, but they usually sit in my stash forever while their solid counterparts cycle in and out consistently. Well, I’ve found some patterns to help you in your moment (or moments!) of weakness!

Fingering
I had a cheat day while on my yarn diet and snagged this crazy pretty skein of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in Electric Rainbow.

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Had I had the sense to grab 2 skeins, it would have become Gather by Andrea Mowry.

Gather © Andrea Mowry

But I just get so excited that I don’t think rationally. So I’m planning a Mon Sheepworks Shawl by Caitlin Hunter instead, possibly incorporating a bunch of bright Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud that I need to use up.

mon sheep
Mon Sheepworks Shawl © boylandknitworks

With either shawl, you’ll need at least one other solid yarn. So these aren’t “one skein wonder” projects, but they sure do make a statement!

A definite one skein wonder piece is Reyna by Noora Laivola. This pattern is written for fingering weight, but can easily be adpated to whatever you have! Just use the suggested needle size for your yarn (or one that creates a fabric you’re happy with). I used Miss Babs Yummy 3 ply, a sport weight, for my Reyna (see post here). Keep in mind you may have to remove a few repeats if you’re running out of yarn. The pattern is free, well written, and highly customizeable. I’m pleased with the final result of my shawl!

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Reyna © theknitpicky

If you’re a sock lover, I highly recommend Whiskey and Rye by Audry Nicklin. (I also recommend whiskey and rye in general, but that’s another post!) I knit a sock from this pattern, but was having trouble converting the pattern for sport weight (totally my bad, not the pattern’s!). Before I frogged the sock, it was visually one of my favorite things I’ve knit. The slipped stitches just make variegated yarns sing! I have some more Miss Babs in my stash I think will be perfect for these and can’t wait to give them another go!

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Whiskey and Rye © Audry Nicklin

 Sport/DK
Hats can also be a great way to show off that beautiful hank in your stash! I recently knit 2 lovely hats using a skein of Malabrigo Arroyo in the colorway Lotus. I fell in love with this yarn and brought it home about 6 months ago, where it stayed in my stash until I ran across Cabito by Gabriella Calderini. Like the sample, I decided to pair it with black (I used the same yarn in the Black colorway) to make the variegated yarn pop. This pattern really delivered! I didn’t want mine slouchy, so I started the decreases after 8″. I really like the brioche & broken brioche stitches in this hat, and would definitely knit it again. Bonus: it’s a free pattern!

cabito
Cabito © theknitpicky

I had also been in search of the perfect yarn for the Rudbeckia Hat by Andrea Mowry, when it dawned on me that I could use the leftovers from my Cabito! Rudbeckia calls for light DK or sport, so this worked out just right. Mine isn’t quite as slouchy as Andrea’s, so I would probably knit the Large size if I had to do it over. But I’m still really happy with this hat and love how the pattern breaks up the variegated yarn (yay for no pooling)! I even have enough yarn left to make another hat… I’m thinking another Rudbeckia, but switching the MC and CC. Dreamy!

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Rudbeckia Hat © theknitpicky

Another idea for DK weight are the Tinsel Mitts by Andrea Mowry. I haven’t had a chance to knit these yet, but if Andrea’s other designs are any indication, this one will be awesome! Using less than 250 yards for the largest size, you may be able to get more than one pair out a skein! (Matching mama/baby mitts, anyone?! Swoon!) I love how these mitts make the yarn look like confetti… or sprinkles? Either way, they’re a party on your hands! Versatile with 3 options – classic, convertible, or fingerless – and sized for the whole family. What’s not to love?!


Tinsel Mitts © Andrea Mowry

Worsted
Before I became really active on Ravelry, I knit my mom a Barley hat by tincanknits, a simple and attractive pattern. Though I don’t remember the brand (nor do I have photos), the yarn I used was wonderfully variegated and earthy. I love how this pattern alternates between stockinette and garter, bringing out the uniqueness of each skein. By looking at the over 10,600 projects (holy cow!) made from this pattern, it’s obvious that it’s a great match for highly variegated yarns. Bonus: (besides being free!) it has instructions for all sizes – from baby all the way up to adult large.

barley
Barley © Tin Can Knits

Andrea Mowry’s North Country Mitts, which I have knit and love, are another great option for worsted. Plus they use under 75 yards so you can whip up 3 pairs with just one skein… or make a matching hat! So many possibilities. Just look at this Electric Rainbow pair – so fun!

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Electric Rainbow Mitts © sarahjoannee

Bulky
This is for lovers of those big, squishy skeins of Malabrigo Mecha and other bulky yarns. The popular free pattern Chicakdee Cowl is an excellent one-skein project. I haven’t knit this myself, but I have plenty of experience with bulky yarns. The advantage is that these projects knit up super fast and are super cozy! This cowl would be just perfect for a last minute gift! Check out the nearly 2,000 projects on this pattern and see if this one might work for that lovely bulky skein in your stash.

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Chickadee by throughtheloops

In general, when looking for patterns for that variegated yarn lurking in your stash, I recommend knitting a quick gauge swatch in stockinette. If there’s any pooling, try to find patterns that incorporates slipped stitches, brioche, or some kind of texture like seed stitch. Many variegated yarns also look great in stockinette! If you like the way your swatch looks, a basic pattern might be just what you’re looking for! Whether you choose a delicate shawl, simple hat, bulky cowl, intricate socks, or fun mitts, there are so many great patterns out there for your lonely yarn!

What are your favorite patterns for these gorgeous skeins?

things I can’t knit without | #whatsinyournotionspouch

I posted a photo on Instagram with tag #whatsinyournotionspouch and was inspired to write a post expanding on the things I can’t knit without!

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First up, the pouch itself was a gift from my darling Nana. She picked it up for me on her most recent trip home (England, that is). I love the images of the Queen’s Guard, Big Ben, and sweet little terriers… it makes my heart happy! It’s also the perfect size to house my various notions.

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