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WIPs & FOs | socks on socks on socks

While gathering my items to film our latest podcast episode, I realized I had finished four pairs of socks in the last four weeks… let’s jump in!

First, I finished the Solstice Sunset socks by Flock Fibre Studio, which I had started right before Christmas. If you’ve been reading my blog for a year or so, you’ll know I set out last January to decide whether or not I’m a sock knitter (turns out, I am)! I aimed to try different constructions, heels, toes, and methods… and I tried most of them last year. One thing I hadn’t attempted yet was two-at-a-time socks. So when I saw the pattern Flock Fibre Studio published, I immediately bought it. What I didn’t realize is that it would mean often juggling (that is, keeping untangled) 4 balls of yarn due to the fading of each color into the next. For this reason, it took me well over a month to knit them – and even then, they’re shorties! I couldn’t bear to keep going, so I forwent the final color of the fade and bound off after only a couple inches of leg. My dislike of knitting them has nothing to do with the pattern. It was very well-written and I really like the way they look! My issue was entirely due to lack of planning. The texture on these is so pretty, but also contributed to the tediousness of knitting them two-at-a-time. I highly recommend the pattern, though I definitely suggest you knit them one at a time! If I try two-at-a-time again – and I’m not sure I will – I’ll just do a plain, vanilla sock. I also don’t often knit an afterthought heel, but did enjoy the process on this pattern.

Next up was an impulsive cast-on with some Patons Kroy my friend Christine sent me! I did my normal vanilla sock pattern, but made them shorter because I only had 63 grams of this yarn. I knit these on my Addi Turbo Sock Rocket size US 1. The join on them isn’t smooth and I don’t like them much, but use them when my ChiaoGoo Red Lace 32-inch circulars (aff. link) are otherwise engaged. These are super simple but I think the colorway, Mexicala Stripes, is really fun! This is the second pair for my Box o’ Sox this year!

 

Next is possibly my favorite pair ever. My talented friend Christine sent me a skein of her gorgeous bamboo-blend handspun, which totally spoiled me! Another vanilla sock, the only issue I had with these is that I decided to try 9″ circulars for the first time. Let me tell you… it’s not for me! I have pretty small hands, but they still got so cramped while knitting. Because I didn’t want tension to change, I forged ahead and knit them both on these needles. I do see a use for them (for example, they might work well for colorwork), so I’ll keep them around… but I won’t be reaching for them!

My last finished pair are knit with Mockingbird Fiber Co. Staple Sock in A Little Less Conversation. This is yet another vanilla sock, but I loved every stitch of this gorgeous color! The contrast heel/toe is also Mockingbird Fiber Co. and was part of a sock set we had in February. I’ve never knit a sock so fast – I finished the first one in two days! My go-to vanilla socks include a Fish Lips Kiss Heel, my absolute favorite. Would you be interested in seeing what I do for my version of a “vanilla sock”? I’m thinking of writing it up (it would be free!)… let me know what you think!

So that wraps up my four newest pairs, including 3 for my Box o’ Sox… and I’ve already started another (super secret) one! I’m really ready to get back into knitting some textured socks. I think The Shallow is going to be next. What’s your go-to sock pattern right now?!

xoxo – Andrea

book review | seamless knit sweaters in 2 weeks by Marie Greene

Last week, my friend Jen of Webster Street Knittery (websterstreetknittery on Instagram) posted about her friend Marie Greene of Olive Knits’ (oliveknits) new book, Seamless Knit Sweaters in 2 Weeks. I was struck by the beautiful image of Marie in a mustard cardigan and I thought, “if that pattern is in the book, I have to have it.” A few clicks later, my order was confirmed on Amazon. A few days after that, the book was on my doorstep! I’ve never written a book review, but thought it might be time to start. So here goes nothing!

First off, my copy cost me $14.57 USD on Amazon (aff. link) before tax and with free shipping thanks to Amazon Prime. That’s an absolute steal for 20 sweater patterns, which can easily cost upwards of $6 each. Granted, I wouldn’t likely buy every pattern at that price, but I love books for the flexibility they allow. I often purchase a pattern only to realize I don’t like a stitch pattern or construction element, and never end up knitting it. When I have a book, I can comb through every detail of the patterns and find the ones I’m really going to enjoy knitting. So, on price, this book gets an A+. By the way, all the patterns are also available on Ravelry and I will link each of the ones I talk about, but I don’t think they’re available for individual sale. Some of the sweaters already have several projects on Rav and I love that you can see what yarn people are using and read their notes. There’s also a page for errata – found here.

  
Shoreline Textured Cardigan, mentioned above

In the well-written intro, Marie explains the premise of the book. My takeaway is this: knitting sweaters should be easy, fun, and relatively quick. Gone is fussy construction and in its place are seamless, efficient methods to get a sweater that fits and that you want to wear. Honestly, this is a novel idea. I have a few precious handknit sweaters I love and wear all the time. The rest… well, we won’t talk about them. Keeping in mind I haven’t knit any of the patterns yet, I’m totally on board with Marie’s proposition.

Next are the more technical aspects of sweater knitting: swatching, measuring, information on ease, and measuring your speed. The last one is new to me and something I may explore, although I think I read that you have to knit a gauge swatch, and… you know me. I haven’t dug into this section too much yet, but totally appreciate that it’s there.

Marie divides the book into sections based on how relaxing the knit is, with names like Staycation Knits (super relaxing knits with little texture) and Binge Knits (richer texture and more details to focus on). I think this is a clever way to set up the book! On my count, here’s a breakdown of the yarn weights used: 2 sport, 10 DK, 7 worsted/heavyworsted/aran, and 1 bulky. I was surprised to see so much DK weight in a book that touts 2 week sweaters! Surprised in a good way, that is. I honestly expected more worsted and bulky designs, but I think DK sweaters provide warmth and comfort without being too heavy. I was very pleased that it wasn’t a book full of bulky sweaters. I wasn’t surprised to see no fingering weight sweaters, because anyone but Marie might struggle to knit one up that fast!

Four of the designs are tees, one cocoon wrap (super cute!), four cardigans, and the rest are pullovers. That’s a nice mix, in my opinion. There aren’t too many tees, which is another thing I was wary of with “quick knits”. Most of the yarns she uses are luxury wool (merino) or wool blends and she offer tips on substitution.

Though I think all the designs are lovely, I flipped through the book and made notes of the ones that really stood out to me. Other than the Shoreline Textured Cardigan, here are the ones I want to knit first:


Pebble Bay Simple Pullover


Stowaway Chevron Pullover


Meridian Striped Pullover (I think this is my very favorite!)


Cape Creek Minimalist Pullover


Shelter Cove V-Neck Pullover

I love that all the designs in the book are simple enough to be wardrobe staples, but have beautiful elements that make them special. I can see myself wearing many of them and am already stash diving to see if I have the yarn to start one!

Obviously, having not knit them, I can’t give a review of the patterns themselves, but they are laid out very well with notes on a timeline for each one, clearly defined sections, and an excellent schematic for each sweater. There’s also a helpful section at the end of the book for basic techniques like picking up stitches around a neckline. The book itself is beautiful, detailed, and well-thought out. So far, I give it two thumbs up!

I can’t think of anything the book doesn’t cover and can hardly wait to really dive into one of the patterns! I’d love to know which is your favorite… tell me below!

stash-less | month one

January is long gone (and half of February, too) and I’ve been contemplating my resolve to not buy yarn in 2019. In December, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about going a whole year without adding to my stash (my one caveat being that I can buy yarn from my own hand-dyed yarn business, Mockingbird Fiber Co.). Surprisingly, I have actually found it kind of liberating. Even typing that it sounds odd… shouldn’t I feel more freedom to knit what I want if I can have all the yarn I want? For me, the short answer is “no.” See, I’m the type of person that buys yarn just to buy yarn. Over the last several years, I often impulsively purchased beautiful yarn without thinking about what I was going to use it for. I enjoyed growing my stash, but I now have several skeins that I have no clue what to do with and no plans to take the time to figure it out.

So… yeah. It’s kind of freeing. and I love that! Knowing that I have to use what I have, I have majorly narrowed down my queue, which previously consisted of a lot of projects I wanted to knit, but didn’t have the yarn for yet. It now comprises only projects that I have the yarn for, which makes it so easy to select a pattern, knowing I have everything I need. Another bonus is not feeling the guilt of buying yarn I don’t need when I have so much un-loved yarn in stash! I’m even looking at de-stashing several skeins that don’t fit into my plan. My goal is that, at the end of the year, all my yarn fits into my cube storage system, and that I never outgrow that.

Recently, I was listening to the Yarniacs podcast and they were talking about not believing in “yarn diets” – that if you see beautiful yarn and you want it, you should buy it. And honestly, I kind of agree. However, this is a more personal goal centered around setting intentions and following through with them. First, I need to spend less on yarn. But really I just feel wasteful to have all that yarn and not use it! So although “knit from stash” was a general goal of mine last year, I didn’t really stick with it. This year, I’m committed. So far, I’ve had fun shopping my stash to knit The Peaks Beanie by Ria Plachutin, a few pairs of socks, and even a test knit!

Speaking of test knitting, I often waffle on whether or not to agree to a test knit because I don’t have the yarn I need. Not buying yarn makes that a very simple decision! Overall, I haven’t wanted even to buy yarn (okay, I cheated because I had to buy yarn for my husband’s sweater… but I took no pleasure in buying it)! I have plenty of yarn for socks, a couple good sweaters’ quantities, and let’s not even mention the mounds of leftovers and scraps that need love. I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out, but… so far, so good!

How about you? Are you a yarn-stashing fiend or do you buy for specific projects?

make nine 2019 | the one with the grid

Curating a Make Nine photo grid feels so official. It screams I’m going to make this stuff no matter what! But for me, it’s more of a general “I want to make this stuff, but if I don’t, that’s okay.” I’m using it as a pared-down version of my queue, the things I want to make first. These are the top-priority knits for 2019. But if I change my mind and no longer want to knit something, I won’t force myself to make it for the sake of the challenge. That’s just silly.

Quick note before I get started: my only rule for this challenge was that I have to already have everything for each knit (see this post) because I’m not buying any yarns or patterns this year.

Let’s get into the grid!

I’m going to start in the very middle, because I’m SO excited about this sweater! This is the Cottonwood Sweater by Tayler Harris. It’s the exact sweater I’ve been looking for. I actually contemplated designing one when I stumbled upon this one on Instagram. I immediately bought the pattern and, knowing I didn’t have the appropriate yarn, ordered a sweater’s quantity of Purl Soho Good Wool, which is what Tayler used in the pattern! They were having a sale so I got the whole shebang for under $50! I cannot wait to knit this and I’m so glad I don’t have to take a stab at designing a sweater!

Clockwise from top left:

  • Solstice Sunset by Flock Fiber Studio – These just called to me and I want to make my first pair of scrappy socks, so here we are! I have a bunch of minis I plan on using for these… I’ve actually already cast on!
  • Birds and Ships by Caitlin Hunter – There’s something about this pattern that I was immediately drawn to. I have a gorgeous skein of 100% merino from Woolberry Fiber Co. to use for this one.
  • Tied Knots by Justyna Lorkowska – I’ve never knit an intricate cabled hat and I’m not great at knitting cables, so I want to try to sharpen my skills in that area. This hat seems like the perfect way to do that!
  • Glacier Park by Caitlin Hunter – I swear I tried not to fill my grid with Caitlin Hunter patterns, but I’ve wanted to knit this for so long. I ordered a kit from Woolen Boon for this knit.
  • Tamitik by Shannon Cook – It’s a chunky hat. Need I say more? I love Shannon and this hat looks perfect.
  • Fox Isle Socks by Life is Cozy – This is a carryover from last year’s Make Nine that I didn’t get around to, but still want to knit.
  • Zweig by Caitlin Hunter – This didn’t immediately strike me when it was published, but after seeing thousands of gorgeous projects, I bought a kit from Machete Shoppe and I’m ready to cast on!
  • Cornflower Mittens by Paige Buursma – Finally, this is another carryover from last year. I realized how much I needed them when we got nearly a foot of snow a few weeks ago and I had to pull on my husband’s gloves (which were horrendously too long in the fingers). So back on the list they go.

That’s it! What’s on your Make Nine 2019 list?! Are you committed to sticking with it or are you gonna go with the flow?

I hope your year is full of love, happiness, and lots of knitting!

shifting focus & getting serious | a look at 2019

Oh hey! It’s been a minute since I’ve blogged. And by “minute” I mean over 2 months! And really, unbelievably, it’s been more like 6 months since I’ve blogged about something I’ve knit. Geez Louise.

In that time, my sister and I have started a hand-dyed yarn business, Mockingbird Fiber Co., and a podcast (Mockingbird Fiber Podcast on YouTube), plus I’ve been knitting a lot, so the blog has fallen by the wayside. But Michelle of My So Called Handmade Life, whose blog I’ve been reading for years, has inspired me to write more in this space.

So here I am, once again looking back at a year of knitting and contemplating what’s to come. One year ago, I resolved to make 8 sweaters in 2018. Umm… yeah. I made 2 of those sweaters and made hardly any progress on the one WIP that was in there. The truth is, my body isn’t exactly where it used to be and I haven’t wanted to make all the sweaters.

So, I didn’t finish my #2018yearofthesweater resolution – not even close! I also didn’t finish my Make Nine 2018 (or 2018 Make Nine or whatever it was called). Five out of nine ain’t bad right?! Honestly, I’m not upset that I failed. Actually I don’t really see it as failure. Goals change and gears shift.

Instead, I am on track to finish my first ever Box o’ Sox, which is possibly an even bigger accomplishment, since (as I’ve lamented more than once) I used to hate knitting socks. I’m officially a sock knitting convert! But my goal for next year isn’t necessarily another box full of socks. What are my goals, then? you might ask.

Well, they’re more lofty than ever. Mainly because I am resolving to not buy yarn (except for the business or as a gift/to make a gift) for the entirety of 2019. That’s a big one for me. But if I’m being honest, my stash is bigger than I ever imagined, and it feels so wasteful to let it all sit there while I covet the new and shiny. So knitting from stash (really this time) is my main goal. To that point, I also have loads of patterns in my library – more than I could ever knit. So no patterns for me either. This one is kind of a big deal too, because I find myself purchasing a pattern at least weekly. But patterns aren’t going anywhere. Sales will come around again. So I’m swearing off buying new patterns, too.

Since that combination will so narrow down what I’m actually able to knit, it will allow me to truly focus on finishing or frogging WIPs (didn’t get much of that done this year either, though I did frog a couple of things). I also want to focus on weaving more of my yarn and if Santa brings me the sewing machine I asked for, I want to learn to quilt!

Basically, I’m kind of sick of “stuff”. Stuff that just sits around without a purpose, taunting me and clouding my brain. Knit the yarn you like; destash what you no longer love. Use the patterns you’ve purchased. Find renewed inspiration in the things you possess. That’s going to be me in 2019.

This appreciation for what I have has also brought about change in how I view my queue. At one time, I had over 50 things in it. Every time I looked at my queue, I saw it as a daunting to-do list. It still has over 30 items, but they’re sorted by socks, sweaters, shawls, etc. and I won’t be adding anything I don’t have yarn for. I may add to and take away from my list, but the goal is to keep patterns in my queue that I actually intend to knit.

And speaking of intention, 2019 is going to be chock-full of it. I recently dug out all my hats and took a photo, only to count them and realize I have over 20 that I have no plans on giving away. Twenty hats. I live in Tennessee and it does get cold in the winter, but even I admit that may be too many hats for one person. I want to focus on knitting things that loved ones or I will get good use out of. I actually love gift knitting for the knit-worthy in my life, so I’ll be doing more of that too.

And I plan on showing up here more. A lot of times I make modifications to a pattern, type in a quick note on Ravelry, and never really explain what I did or why. I want to pick up my camera (for which I just got a new lens) more and explore the world of photography as it relates to my knitting. Exciting stuff (to me at least)! Hah! I hope you’ll keep coming back. Honestly, I hope I keep coming back. The written word is lost so much in the fast-paced world of social media. I want to slow down here, to have a space that is mine in which I don’t have to worry about followers and likes.

Merry Christmas to you, friend! Here’s to the coming year! See you soon 🙂

xoxo,
Andrea