Saturday, June 30, 2012

goodness knows I love a slouchy hat

Well there's no denying I love a slouchy hat. I'm not a big beret fan so I'm loving the slouchy beanie trend. This one is super easy, but it's just a perfect simple pattern that works really well. 
The hat's called the rikke hat. It's garter stitch in the round which is a little painful. And the only tricky thing is the twisted german cast-on but there are you tube clips of course and if you can handle a long tail cast-on this isn't too much of a stretch. Although it is super stretchy :-P

I made this hat to go with some fingerless mitts that I'm keen to make. Since knitting mitts are quite similar to socks and coming off a complex sock pattern I thought I'd do the hat first. I also had some yarn that coordinated with my prospective mitt yarn in my stash so I could get started immediately. Perfect.

I also have a little guy who loves getting in the middle of our knitting photography. The following photo is a bit of a favourite.

Now to get started on those mitts...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

socking it to London

So my lovely brother and his wife have birthdays on consecutive days and are currently living in London so these socks were completed some time ago. They did however arrive safely and were unwrapped over the weekend.

For my SIL I revisited one of my favourite patterns which I've also made for my mum, see here. This however is the alternative version with the lace pattern continuing all the way down the foot (straight laced). The cables are mirror images of each other which adds a little interest.

The pattern: Haleakala by Cookie A
Yarn: Caper Sock by String Theory
Colour way: Charcoal
And can I say this yarn is really fabulous. As well as a sensible nylon component for durability it also has 10% cashmere for sheer delightfulness.

For my brother, I knitted my new favourite sock pattern for blokes. I think I might be knitting this one again. It's a kind of faux argyle sock pattern using travelling cable stitches which really 'pop'.

I also think the eye of partridge heel looks really good with a variegated yarn.

The pattern: Business Casual by Tanis Lavallee
Yarn: Caper Sock by String Theory
Colourway: Peacock
And can I just say that I was a little disappointed that the colours weren't a bit more lurid - I think my brother can really pull off a cheeky business sock :-)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

payment in kind

I made another norie which I was very tempted to keep but was in thanks for a friend who baby sat for us. I so love this pattern.

Monday, June 25, 2012

bootee business

Well the past week has been a whirl with knitting - maybe that's why there are still boxes, to be unpacked or stored, piled along the hallway - anyway, I managed to complete 5 knitting projects, 2 of which were already under way and 3 from scratch!!! Some of these are still to be gifted and so are under wraps but there's plenty that are for public consumption...

These are Saartje's Bootees which must be about the single most knitted pattern in the world. There are 12071 individual projects entered on ravelry alone. They are a quick knit and super cute. They use sock wool so I'm loving using some of my beautiful sock yarn remnants for other worthy projects. These bootees are for some lovely new Melbourne friends who have also been journeying down the curacy path.

Those were actually the 3rd pair of Saartje's bootees I'd attempted. The 2nd had lain incomplete for some time but are now done. In fact I cast-on the first bootee 4 years and 2 days before the second. I'd played around up-sizing them for Giggi when he was 9mo but they turned out way too big and I couldn't be bothered to complete the pair. Now, however at 19mo they fit badger perfectly! I didn't have enough of the main colour for the 2nd one so I swapped around the main and contrasting colours. And of course I can't find the matching buttons... but it all lends to a haphazard, rustic vibe.

The only draw back to these cute bootees is that there's so much finishing to do after you've finished all the knitting which is a little frustrating. You have quite a number of ends to weave in because of the way that the straps are done and a bit of seaming which needs to be done quite carefully so that you don't get an irritating ridge down the centre of the sole. Anyway, I decided to try knitting the 2nd one in the round to at least save on the seaming and a few less ends to weave in. It worked! My modifications are outlined on my ravelry project page, here.

Here's one happy customer.

Friday, June 15, 2012

sock knitting success: my tips and tricks

Here is my real first ever sock which never got completed in to a pair but which I've kept just to remind myself. Sorry it's not even a good photo. And I haven't located our camera in the move yet.

Anyway the major issues with this sock were that it was too loose and the place where I changed between needles was very loose - you can see the ladder on the very left of the sock. Also, I think a heel flap is a bit neater for me than this short row heel.

The things that I think help the most are:
1) using a long-tail cast-on cast on the number of stitches directed in your pattern onto one needle.
Check out the video here
It's a very neat cast-on. It's stretchy which is good for socks. Also you end up with a cast-on plus your first row done which helps you to figure out which is the right and wrong side and keep it untwisted when you come to join your work in the round.

2) using a bigger needle to cast-on then you'll be using to knit with. I use a 3.5mm need.

3) distribute your stitches evenly onto 3 or 4 double pointed needles. It usually depends for me how many needles I have available in the correct size and also if there's a pattern whether it works better over 3 or 4 needles.

4) join your knitting in the round making sure you don't twist the stitches. So, if you've used the long-tail cast-on make sure all the purl ridges are oriented to the middle. And then use this neat trick to make sure you have a tight join between the beginning and end of the row.
Slip the first stitch of the row onto the needle holding the last stitch of the row. Then slip the last stitch of the row over the first stitch and onto the needle that had been holding the first stitch. Knit that last stitch which has the yarn attached first and go clockwise.  
Clear as mud? Check here for another explanation.

5) make sure you keep the knitting pretty tight when you're moving between needles.

6) if you start getting holes at the top of the gusset (the area where you join between the heel flap and the top of the foot try this nifty trick.

7) you usually need to graft the stitches at the tip of the toe using the kitchener stitch. See this tutorial for instructions.

8) if you like a more rounded toe see this pattern for instructions.

9) you can follow this tutorial and make a small sock with thick yarn, a quick way to try out all the techniques...

I hope this helps. I'm happy to answer specific questions or another good option is to find your local stitch n bitch group (you can locate these through there's bound to be some avid sock knitters among the group.

Here's a sneak peak of my latest project.

Happy sock knitting!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

my 'so you're thinking about knitting socks' advice...

I haven't quite reached my one year sock anniversary but am currently working on my 19th pair so I think I've well and truly smitten with the whole process.

my first successful sock September 2011

The whole idea of sock knitting was quite intimidating to me so it took a while to get up the nerve to give it a go. So for those who have some experience knitting but have been reluctant to give socks a go here are the things I've learnt that really made it an enjoyable experience.

1) choose your yarn. You probably want to do this in conjunction with all the other steps below (and the pattern will give you the guidelines you need) but if you're ordering your yarn from overseas you want to do this first :-)

If possible get some yarn with some nylon in it. This means the wool will wear better and hopefully last longer after all your hard work. You'll need around 100-120g of 4ply also called fingering weight yarn to make one pair. It really depends on what size you're making but even making a pair of large men's socks if you have 360m you should be fine.

A cost effective choice is cascade heritage yarn which you can get shipped in and purchase on line. I haven't used it myself I only recently found out about it but it gets good reviews.
The colours can be seen here. One on line retailer who seems to have quite a wide variety is

Some of my favourite more luxury yarns are:
* hazel knits artisan sock
* string theory yarn caper sock
these ones have more colour differentiation even within the solids and are visually interesting without being too busy.

You can also go in to your local yarn store and see what they have. Unfortunately in Australian stores there usually isn't that much variety to choose from.

2) check your foot size. If you have a standard medium ladies foot there are heaps of free patterns to choose from. It depends on the designer but roughly: measure the circumference of the ball of your foot and the circumference of your ankle and if it's around 9 inches then you're a medium. The length of your foot can be more variable the pattern will usually specify that you knit to a certain length usually 2 inches less than the length of your foot before shaping the toe.

Also be careful because usually the designers specify the size of the sock rather than the size of your foot. So a good sock size is about an inch smaller in circumference than your foot. So for a medium this would be an 8 inch sock. If you have a different circumference foot you might want to buy a pattern, the designer usually provides multiple sizes. Otherwise you can play around with yarn thickness and needle sizes but this gets a little complicated.

3) choose your pattern. There is of course a huge variety. If you have a 9 inch foot you have heaps to choose from. You just need to decide on
- the method: cuff down or toe up
- the texture: vanilla (plain stockinette), ribbed, lace, cables and combinations thereof
- there are also heaps of different options regarding types of heel and toe, and whether you use double pointed needles, 2 circular needles, or 1 circular needle (magic loop). I suggest starting with the double pointed needles... you may need a couple of different sizes. I've used 2, 2.25, 2.5, 2.75 and 3mm needles at various times. I knit tightly so I mainly use 2.75mm. The suggested size is usually 2.25mm.

Some of my favourite free patterns are:
monkey socks by Cookie A: my all time favourite sock designer and an easy lace pattern
hedgerow socks by Jane Cochran: love the texture and the toe
on-your-toes socks by Ann Budd: try the toe-up method and also has a knee-hi option
business casual by Tanis Lavallee: my favourite male sock pattern at the moment (also comes in 2 sizes: sock circumference size 8 or 10 inches)
* blackrose socks by Suzi Anvin: cute lace pattern, different left and right foot socks, and 4 sizes!

These aren't free or particularly easy but see what you could work towards :-) Check out Cookie A.

4) check the gauge... boring I know. But unless you're knitting socks with dk or some other thicker wool, when you're working with smaller size needles whether you knit loosely or tightly is going to have a significant impact. Most sock patterns have a recommended gauge of 8 stitches per inch, but check your pattern.

This post was longer than I expected so part 2 will include the tips and tricks which can really help you get good results once you're getting started.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

a do-over for another reason

I was recently knitting for another dear friend whose birthday it was recently. She however had indicated that she'd be more interested in a shawl/scarf type ensemble rather than socks. No problem.

I have really been wanting to knit some of Martina Behm's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy one skein shawls. I love both Magrathea and Lintilla. You can view both here

I used this supposedly 4ply 200g yarn that I'd bought at a certain guild day yarn type thing. I personally do not think it's 4 ply, it certainly wasn't 200g and the yardage wasn't great. Anyway I got 75% through Magrathea and had used too much of my yarn. Most 4 ply skeins are between 100 and 150g so I thought with my 200g I would have plenty. Because the yarn wasn't properly labelled I had no idea what the yardage was so was just going by weight. Bad idea. Anyway for the weight of the yarn I would have had to keep going beyond the minimum repeats and I wasn't even going to get that far. So 6 days before her birthday I completely frogged the project.

Fortunately one of my richmond knitter compatriots inadvertently came to the rescue. I had admired this scarf IRL recently and saw from her project page that she'd made it using a dk yarn (much as I suspect this yarn is).

So early that Friday morning after frogging my previous attempt I downloaded the pattern Scroll Lace Scarf by Ysolda Teague. You can check out her amazing stuff at After looking at the issues regarding the stockinette sections rolling too much I brazenly adopted all my compatriot's modifications and did the crescent in garter stitch - and thus echoing the magrathea as well...

It was fascinating coming up with something that visually had quite a few similarities but with such different construction. With the scroll lace scarf you knit all the lace to begin with, pick up stitches along the edge and then using short rows you create the crescent shape. As you can see above with the magrathea you knit the lace concurrently with the garter stitch section and then recreate the other lace side along the final edge when the scarf is deep enough.

Anyway I was thrilled with the final result and loved how the lace came out.

It did need a bit of blocking. And this was my first real inexpert attempt. (I have since acquired some blocking wires so expect it might get easier). Anyway, I used a cheap yoga mat overlaid with gingham which was had one inch squares - made measurements easier. And then used whatever pins I could get hold of. It worked out all right.

And amazingly I managed to get it in the post and it arrived on the day. Win.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

delightful do-over

Here's a trap for young players. When reading a sock pattern for sizes you need to distinguish whether the measurements are for your foot or the finished sock. Because of the delightful stretchiness of wool on most socks the finished product is about an inch smaller than your foot - unless you like your socks slouchy.

Anyway, earlier this year it was one of my very good friend's birthdays and I thought I'd make her some socks too - even though she's not a relation. I loved the look of clandestine by Cookie A. It's available here. They came out great. See here for more info.

But they were too big. Aaaarrrggghhh. The socks were 8 inches not for a foot of circumference 8 inches, so for my friend's petite foot they were no good. On a side note they fit me perfectly and I'm not that disappointed to have them back.

Because the lace repeat is so large I didn't think I could size them down. So I went looking for another pattern. I settled on Blackrose Socks by Suzi Anvin available here. Part of the appeal of these socks was that the pattern came with multiple sizes including a sufficiently small small.

So here are the do-over socks which thankfully do fit this time :-)

I love that once again there's a left and a right sock. I love the lace pattern - it wasn't too hard to memorise. I wouldn't mind making these again with a darker yarn to really show off the lace pattern.

I also love the clever construction on the gusset - how the decreases are worked into the edge of the pattern.

And a big shout out to String Theory and their Caper sock yarn: so delightful to knit with. It has nylon for durability and cashmere for squishyness. Fantastic. You can try for yourself - go here.

Love it.