Mystery Solved :: Through the Loops Mystery Socks Knitalong 2014

Hey look, I broke out of my purple/gold color rut:

Through the Loops Mystery Socks 2014

Through the Loops Mystery Socks 2014

And went with another combo I adore: purple+red!

TTL MKAL

TTL MKAL

These are the Through the Loops Mystery Socks, a knit-along I joined in January. I made these with The Plucky Knitter Plucky Feet in “French Twist” (the red) and “Dancing Queen” (the purple). As usual, TTL+TPK=total win.

TTL+TPK=happy feet

TTL+TPK=happy feet

As usual, Kirsten’s pattern was a joy to knit – always straightforward, always beautiful. I just love the lace and twisted stitches of this pattern, not to mention the striped toes and picot cuff. And of course working with TPK yarn is always a pleasure, too. None of my photographs really captured the depth of color in the red (or in the purple for that matter). (Capturing the color red accurately is my photography holy grail, it seems.)

I shortened the socks by about 20 rounds (basically an entire lace motif). I have narrow heels and narrow feet, and I find that handknit socks tend to slouch on me if I don’t make some accommodations. As it is, these socks are still a wee bit slouchy on me – but I couldn’t go down in needle size, as I was already making them on size 0s. I probably could’ve gone with fewer stitches, but that’s hard to do when the pattern is a mystery.

I love how these turned out, and it’s fun to have some red socks to wear on grey days.

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raveled

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Three years later, a sock

It’s actually a little astonishing how many works-in-progress I have languishing in nooks and crannies around my house. And I never know what might actually motivate me to pick an old project up. It’s sort of a nice surprise to find myself suddenly finishing up a very old project.

In October of 2010, I participated in one of Kirsten’s wonderful Mystery Sock Knit-alongs. A lot of stuff happened that month, and I never actually finished the pair of socks. I conveniently solved Second Sock Syndrome for myself though, by breaking my ankle:

solved: Second Sock Syndrome

(not how I would recommend getting yourself out of finishing a pair of socks)

By the time I was out of my aircast, I had moved on to other projects, and I never managed to pick those socks back up. In the meantime, the yarn got terribly tangled, so every time I considered the project, I was daunted by the untangling that would ensue.

Then all of a sudden this past Friday night, I wanted to finish those suckers up. I was ready to cast on for this year’s Through the Loops Mystery Sock Knitalong, and I guess I wanted to clear the decks, so to speak (though in all honesty, I also still have my 2012 TTL Mystery Sock still in progress as well!). So I picked it up and was stunned to discover that I was totally done with the gusset – all I had left was the foot and the toe. You know, basically four inches of knitting. Yes, there was untangling to be done, but even that took less time than I had expected. And before the weekend was up, I had a new pair of socks.

TTL Mystery Sock 2010

TTL Mystery Sock 2010

I love the texture of the socks – the cable pattern is fun to knit and so pretty to wear.

sock toes

sock toes

And the cables flow into a beautiful toe, too.

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The yarn was great, too – Kitchen Sink Dyeworks Luxe Merino Fine, in “Dram.” I mean look at the lovely depth of color:
in progress :: TTL Mystery Sock 2010
Kitchen Sink Dyeworks, by Mercedes Tarasovich, is now closed, sadly. This is a Merino/Cashmere/Nylon blend, so it definitely is a little “luxe.” But the truth is, I’ve decided I prefer to work with just straight-up wool. Cashmere-blend yarn is just a little too drapey and soft for my taste, at least for socks.

a little slouchy

a little slouchy

And I had trouble with gauge. I’m a loose knitter, so I always knit my socks on size 0s (unless I’m knitting with worsted weight yarn, in which case I typically knit them with 3s). I made the size Medium but probably should’ve made the size Small, because these are actually quite loose and slouchy on me. In fact, they fit my husband perfectly, but he felt they were a bit too feminine for him. So I will happily wear them. The color is perfect and the pattern is glorious, and if the worst thing I have to deal with in a day is slightly loose socks, then I have a pretty good life.

Now I am moving forward with this year’s Mystery Sock Knitalong with an almost clear conscience!

raveled

a thing I love about knitting :: the fix

No matter what you mess up with knitting, you can almost always fix it. I know there are times when things seem too far gone for a fix, and sometimes you could fix it but the knit just doesn’t seem worth the time and effort involved. But if you have enough patience, enough motivation, enough stubbornness, and enough yarn – you can fix almost any problem.

With my current pair of handspun Cut & Paste Socks, I started the contrast cuff with Louet Gems Fingering held double. I liked the color but didn’t like the feel of how it was knitting up when held double. So I ordered some Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Solid in “Blackberry,” which I overdyed with Dharma Acid Dye in “Deep Maroon.” I am very, very happy with how the overdyeing turned out. So when it was time to knit the second cuff, I happily finished off the tube with that yarn.

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(old yarn in top cuff, new yarn in bottom cuff)

So what to do about the original cuff?

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Cut it, baby!

Wooo! It’s so gratifying to snip into my kniting.

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A few snips later, and I’m ready to unravel the little bit of purple yarn left, put the exposed stitches back on needles, and then knit with the new yarn.

If only problems in regular life could be unraveled and redone so easily!

Dyeing to knit (contrast yarn for Cut & Paste socks)

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So my Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport, in “Blackberry,” arrived on Friday, less than 48 hours after I’d ordered it from Angelika’s Yarn Shop. Like I said, y’all, Angelika has lightning-fast shipping!

As I mentioned last week, I was ordering this yarn to use as contrast cuffs, heels, and toes for my latest pair of Cut & Paste Socks.

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The thing is, the color of the yarn is softer than what I thought it would be. I think in terms of color “value” it is more of a medium value, when what I’d really like is a darker value, more like the yarn I originally was using for contrast. (The original yarn I had to hold double, and I’m just not crazy about how it looks/feels like that).

In these pictures, the new yarn looks brighter/deeper than it actually is. I contemplated just moving ahead with it, but I decided instead to try something new. So I’ve ordered some acid dyes and am going to give overdyeing a whirl. I ordered Dharma dyes in “Plum Dandy,” “Deep Maroon,” and “Teddy Bear Brown.” I’m not sure which one (or ones) I’ll use yet – we’ll see!

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The socks are all done except for the cutting and “pasting,” so I’m eager to get on with the dyeing. I have a great book about dyeing (Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece), but I’m still interested in learning anything anyone wants to share about doing this, especially about overdyeing. For those of you who have done it, what tips do you have? If you wanted a soft medium purple to dye up into a deep brownish plum, what combination of dyes might you use? Anything else you want to share about dyeing? Hit me with your tips!

I figure if this doesn’t work out, I’ll just order more Shepherd Sport, this time in “Chocolate.”

Meanwhile, I’ve got 1.2 ounces of this handspun left, and I was hesitant to keep knitting my sock tube – it really didn’t need to be a whole 42% longer than it already is (as it is, it’s already the length of my original Cut & Paste socks). So I think I’m just going to store the rest of this yarn with the rest of my left over handspun bits, for another long-term project I have in mind.

yarns I have loved :: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd (Sock, Sport, Worsted)

In the middle of making my second pair of Cut&Paste socks, I decided that I wasn’t wild about my contrast yarn (Louet Gem Fingering, held double). So I popped over to Angelika’s Yarn Store to pick up some Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport (in “Blackberry” – yum!) instead. As I have mentioned many many many many many times before, Angelika’s can’t be beat when it comes to quick shipping and personal customer service. She is my go-to shop for Lorna’s Laces in particular.

It’s been awhile since I’ve sung the praises of Lorna’s Laces. But I do still love it. Whenever I want a great commercially-available semisolid superwash, it’s the one I go for, especially for baby knits and socks. According to Ravelry, fully 25 of my projects have been made, in part of in full, in some weight of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd (that’s roughly 10% of my projects, y’all). The yarn, especially in the Sock and the Sport, has the perfect sproing factor (what? you don’t judge yarn by sproing factor? I do! I’m very scientific that way).

I’m especially excited about the Sport I’ve ordered in “Blackberry”:

blackberry yarn

Gorgeous, right? I made some lace socks out of this color (in Sock) years ago, for my first ever sock swap:
Fancy Silk Socks
Fancy Silk Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks.

That project was the first I really fell in love with the richness and depth of a good semisolid.

I think this is going to be the perfect contrast for my handspun Pigeonroof Fiber Studios in “Bridle,” and I can’t wait to get it in my hot little hands. Thanks to Angelika’s lightning-quick shipping, I won’t have to!

I love Lorna’s Shepherd in Sock (shown above). I love it in Sport:
knitted :: yoked baby cardigan
(Yoked Cardigan in “Whisper”)

I love it in Worsted:
One Skein Wonder
(One Skein Wonder in “Chocolate”)

When it comes to commercially-available semisolid superwash, I really don’t think it can be beat.

What about you? What is your go-to superwash?

back in town, back on the needles :: more handspun Cut & Paste Socks

I’m home from a very fun, very full trip to New York City, during which I managed not to knit a single stitch. Though I have many, many things currently on the needles (natch), I needed to get something going that I could take camping with me this weekend, to work on in low-light or no-light conditions. More Cut&Paste Socks it is!

handspun purply goodness

handspun purply goodness

This yarn is some of my truly early handspun, from four years ago (I had been spinning about five months or so when I made it). It’s Pigeonroof Studios BFL in “Bridle,” a delicious mix of purples and browns.
for Rav: Pigeonroof Studios BFL

The unevenness of it doesn’t bother me, but it is spun and plied very tightly (pretty different from my spinning now, which, if anything, tends more towards looseness). This means the socks are coming out a little dense, even going up a needle size than what I’d thought, but I think they’ll be okay. I am LOVING how the colors are playing out.

No Fashion Friday today (though I’m getting ready to order another Stitch Fix, yeah!). Just playing catch-up in all things related to work, home, and knitting. The only fashion you will see me in today is my Detroit Tigers gear. Yeah, yeah!

designed :: Cut & Paste Socks

Handspun Cut & Paste Kneesocks

Handspun Cut & Paste Kneesocks

Just in time for Socktober, a fun, free, and fully-customizable sock worksheet for you. Make your feet happy!

ready for fall!

ready for fall!

So about three years ago, I spun up this yummy autumnal yarn:
spun :: Hello Yarn August Fiber
Hello Yarn Wensleydale in “Heirloom” (August 2010 Fiber Club)
4 oz., 184 yards light worsted 2-ply

My hope at the time had been kneesocks, but I figured with the little yardage I got, I would need to spin another 4 oz., which I never did.

The thing about handspun yarn is, I always want to use every last precious ounce of it – I don’t want any of it to go to waste – and that can be difficult to manage when knitting socks. If you overestimate your yardage for the first sock, you end up not having enough yarn to finish the second; if you play it safe, you can end up having yarn left over. Which, like I said, I like not to do.

So I had this idea. Why not just knit all the yarn? Just knit it ALL UP till I’m done, and then make it socks? Find some yarn that would make nice contrast heels and toes, and knit a cuff out of it. Then start knitting with the handspun and just keep knitting till done. Then knit another cuff. That should work, right? So that’s what I did.

one loooong tube sock

one loooong tube sock

All 184 yards of handspun are there, along with cuffs made from Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport (held double) in “Chocolate.”

a very long sock

that’s a long sock, yo

The afterthought heels I made last January (my first) went so successfully, why not try it again? Only this time, I would do afterthought toes, too. So I got out my scissors and went to work.

measure twice, cut once

measure twice, cut once

And I unraveled the tube until I had two tubes.

Tube socks! Only not.

Tube socks! Only not.

I put the live stitches on dpns and knit a pair of toes.

two toes, no heels

two toes, no heels

And then I got out the scissors again and cut a place to add the heels, added them, did a little weaving in of ends, blocked the socks, and then BLAMMO! Handspun socks. And not only that, turned out I had enough for kneesocks after all!
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Yeah, they’re fraternal:

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That’s part of the fun of handspun!

I’ve written all the details, including tutorial pictures, and made it into a free downloadable pdf on Ravelry, just in time for Socktober. It’s more of a worksheet than a pattern – fully customizable, you just take your own measurements, fill in your numbers, and get to it! I’ve also made a video tutorial to walk you through the process. It really is as easy as it sounds, but sometimes it helps to see these things in action.

happy feet!

I swear these socks took less time to make than an ordinary pair, though perhaps it only seems that way because they were so darn fun and easy.

Socks for fall

Happy Socktober, y’all!

Find the free worksheet here. As always, I’m happy to answer any questions.