Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Winter WIPs


The hat has grown a little in the past few days. Since two layers are being worked at the same time, progress feels slow. Finishing the lattice pattern on the outside of the hat feels like a mini milestone though, since the rest of the the outside is plain grey. It means the chart pattern now becomes much simpler, and I should be able to remember it by heart. Yay for not being shackled to a chart any more! The stitches look a little messy at the moment, but I’m hoping that after blocking and some gentle pulling into place of stitches, it’ll look much neater.


Remember the mystery socks? Well, they’ve kind of stalled slightly. I started the gusset decreases at the weekend, but after realising how quickly Christmas is rushing up I decided I’d better concentrate on knitting some Christmas gifts instead of finishing socks for me! I still have a couple of pairs of socks to knit, some French Press felted slippers, and a couple of scarves/shawls, none of which have actually been started yet! Eek. Is anyone else as disorganised as me for Christmas!?


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P1070824 I can’t believe it’s December already!


Yikes, not many knitting days left until Christmas. I have a lot of knitting to catch up with.

Of course, the upshot is that I get to break out my Advent calendar again!

P1070777 Chocolate first thing in the morning is always a winner.



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Monday, November 29, 2010


The icicles I wrote about yesterday have pretty much all gone now, but it’s still snowing so I’m hoping some new ones might form! Last night and this morning, we even had thundersnow – snowfall with thunder and lightning! Apparently it’s rather rare, but it was so exciting! It’s like all my favourite things are happening at once :)


Anyway, I hinted at my latest project in my last post, and here it is again.



‘Tis a surprise hat for my other half, and also my first foray into double knitting. The two white lines are life lines, as I’m making things up as I go along, and don’t entirely know what I’m doing!

Double knitting is essentially knitting two layers of fabric simultaneously, and is almost like working a 1x1 rib, as you work the front and then the back layer. In normal circumstances, the idea of knitting inch upon inch of 1x1 rib would be like knitting hell to me, but I’m actually finding it quite meditative in double knitting, and am enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. P1070645

I’m attempting to knit a lattice design on the outside and a check pattern on the inside, and it did take me quite a while to get my head around the concept of how it worked, but as with most things, now that I’ve started it’s actually relatively straight forward.

I didn’t start out to make a double knitted hat. I was swatching away trying to find a nice manly colourwork pattern that wasn’t stripes and wasn’t too fussy, when I came across the stitch pattern that I’m now using, and decided to try and give it a try. In fact I frogged and reknit my poor little swatch a few times before I gave up, threw caution to the wind, and decided to cast on anyway (I did the old Norwegian/twisted German cast on for this – love it!) and deal with it when I came to it.


After a little false start that thankfully only involved a couple of stitches, I got the hang of it. I think what was confusing me slightly is that there are two different methods of double knitting:

Single pass, where both strands of yarn have to be carried together at the same time; and

Double pass, where you knit one round with one colour, slipping the stitches that you want to work in the other colour, and then knit the second round, knitting the slipped stitches in the new colour and slipping the stitches that you worked in the previous round.

Sounds confusing, but it's much easier to actually do and the resulting fabric is double layered, satisfyingly thick and squishy, and should be extra warm!

I’ve actually used both methods in this hat so far. I started off with a few rounds of single pass and then moved on to the double.

I’m considering writing up the pattern when I’m done, but I’ve never really written a pattern before and this seems like a tricky one to start with. I guess I’ll just wait and see. P1070664

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Snow days.

It’s been snowing since Wednesday night in the north east, and I couldn’t be happier!

I also love icicles. They always looks so pure and pretty, and they remind me of my favourite joke as a child:

How does Jack Frost get around? By icicle.

Ho ho. I vividly remember walking up the school path aged about six, with my black and white panda ear muffs (I wish I still had them!) and my hands thrust inside the pockets of my school duffel coat, reciting that joke to myself and giggling.

I was a strange child.

You can imagine my excitement then, when I woke up on Friday morning to find this outside my bedroom window:


It fell to the ground and shattered after I’d opened the window to take this picture, but fast forward to this morning and I find this:


A whole family of icicles! So pretty, especially in morning sunlight!

And then I went down to breakfast and found these beauties in the garden:



These textured ones are stunning, wish my amateur photography skills could have captured them better!

I love snow, it gives me an excuse to bundle up and pile on my cosy woolly hand knits. I’m really hoping this snow lasts til Christmas, or at least until my birthday in 2 weeks! It’d be such a shame to have all this snow and then not have a white Christmas.

And just to keep things knitting related, here’s a sneaky peak of my latest project:


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Monday, November 22, 2010

Completing the set

P1070432 The postman brought me a lovely little surprise from Amazon this afternoon: the latest in the Stitch ‘n Bitch series, Superstar Knitting. I’d actually forgotten that I’d pre-ordered this a few months ago when it seemed like November would never arrive!

I think the Stitch ‘n Bitch series has now been established as a knitting cult favourite. I was taught to knit as a child, but soon tired of creating a tangled mess of multi-coloured knots. I was only just starting to get myself back into knitting not long after the first book came out, and it was indispensable in helping me to relearn the basics. Even now, I still refer back to it every so often!

I really can’t remember what piqued my interest in knitting again, but I do remember ordering the book an Amazon and poring through the pages with renewed vigour when it arrived. I feel like this book has been a friendly companion to me throughout my knitting journey, and every time a new one is published I feel compelled to add it to my collection. I always like to have complete sets of things.

Ok, so strictly speaking this isn’t the whole set since I never bothered with Son of Stitch ‘n Bitch, but that’s a mere foible. P1070438
I’ve only managed to flick through it so far, but it does look as fun and informative as the previous volumes. It has the same format, with the “theory” and information at the front of the book, and the patterns at the back. I am however, somewhat peeved and perplexed that whilst they have chosen to retain so much of the style and layout of the previous books, they’ve made this one bigger/taller. This annoys the OCD in me as it means that it’s going to look weird on my shelf, sticking up an inch or so above the others.

On a different subject altogether, I did a little blog layout rejigging this weekend. I’ve been contemplating moving across to Wordpress for some time now, because as straight forward as blogger is, and for all its merits, I hate hate hate the blogger commenting system and am sick of waiting for them to introduce nested comments.

Moving blog hosts is a bit of a hassle though, so after a bit of google searching I installed IntenseDebate so I can finally have the nested comments that I’ve been coveting. I’ve been trialling it on a test blog for a couple of days and haven’t had any problems. I think it’s pretty self explanatory, you don’t have to sign up to anything to leave a comment unless you really want to, but if anyone does have any problems with it or wants to know more then please let me know!
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Socktoberfest FO 2

They are f i n a l l y off the needles! I’m so glad they’re finished, they were becoming a complete albatross. They weren’t started during socktoberfest, they weren’t finished during socktoerfest, but they did consume an awful lot of socktoberfest knitting time, ergo I classify them as socktoberfest socks.

Sliding Leaves by Jeannie Cartmel

Yarn: Woolcraft Superwash Sock Yarn, hand dyed

Ravelled here

My first finished toe up socks. And just to complicate matters I also decided to make them 2 at a time. It was a little faff-tastic, especially to start with, but to be honest I don’t know how long it would have taken me finish these if I hadn’t done them 2 at a time. I have a feeling that a fatal case of Second Sock Syndrome would have struck them down.

I mirrored the pattern because otherwise it would have just annoyed me. It’s not a particularly difficult pattern, it just takes a lot of concentration. More than I generally like to give! I managed to knit 2 full repeats of the chart up the leg before I finished the cuff off with 2x2 rib and a picot edge (one row of YO, k2tog followed by several rows of knit using a smaller needle, folded over and tacked the live stitches to the inside of the cuff). I wish I’d used a picot cast off instead because this is far too bulky, but I was so desperate to have these socks done with that I just ploughed on. I might try and find the end one day to rip back and redo, but not in the forseeable future. Overall, these are just OK. They look quite nice, but I never want to make them again!

Verdicts on toe up: I’m glad I’ve finished a pair this way. I love how the toe is constructed, and I love the way you can use up as much yarn as you have on hand, but I would hands down prefer to knit top down. That may be because I’m not as familiar with the toe up construction, so I’m willing to give it a few more chances before I categorically decide that it’s top down for me all the way, but at the very least I’m glad to be mastering another technique. In fact, I’ve already cast on for another pair of toe up socks which I mentioned here, but that’s for another day and another post!

Verdicts on 2 at a time: Again, glad I’ve tried it, but goodness it’s fiddly. Great for the fact that you know your 2 socks/sleeves/whatever will be an identical length etc and when you’re done, you’re done, but I feel like to much knitting time is wasted untangling balls of yarn and moving stitches around the needles. My preferred method of knitting simultaneous socks is having each on its own needle and working each one in chunks. Having said that, I am knitting my current mystery socks 2 at a time because I didn’t have 2 sets of 2mm needles. If this tells me anything, it’s that I need more circulars! It’s handy to know, but not my preferred method.

More FOs over at Tami's Amis blog :)
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Friday, November 12, 2010

Socktoberfest FO 1

I’m really missing socktoberfest! It went faaar too quickly. I made better progress than last year, but think I need to get organised so that I can do even better next year!

I did manage to finish one pair within the socktoberfest month…


TTL Mystery Sock 2010 by Kirsten Kapur

Yarn: Zettl Valbella

Ravelled here

I knit last years TTL Mystery Sock, but it took me about 6 months to finish the pair, so I’m pretty chuffed that I managed to finish these within the month this time! Of course, I didn’t have hours of all consuming uni work holding me back this year, but still…

I’m sure most of you have guessed by now, but I love the process of knitting mystery socks. The textures in this sock are lovely. The little squiggly cables in the cuff are adorable, and the pattern is so easy to remember which makes it great mindless knitting without the monotony.


If I was going to knit these again, the only mods I would make would be to the heel. ©

To be honest, I find it a little dull after all the textures in the rest of the sock. Someone on Ravelry did a great heel mod that I reeeeally wished I’d seen before starting my heel. I’m far too lazy to rip and knit unless it’s absolutely essential, so I let it go for this one but I would definitely use it if I was to make these socks again. If anyone is interested, the mod details are linked in my project page.

As far as the yarn goes, I’m so pleased with it! It was incredibly cheap 75% wool 25% nylon sock yarn from Lidl (£2.99 for 200g – bargain!), and I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it at first, but now I think it’s fantastic. It’s quite thin 4ply, but it feels so silky and is absolutely lovely to knit with. It’s certainly soft enough to use for scarves and shawls as well as socks, so it’s a good job I hoarded several packs of it! Lidl brought out some sock wool last year as well, so I’m hoping that this is yearly regular for them and I will definitely be looking out for it next year. I’ve only worn these twice so far and they felt gorgeous and but there was some pilling! Still, so far I’m liking this yarn so much better than the Woolcraft Superwash Sock Yarn.

If you really want some it does pop up on ebay here and there for around the retail price, or slightly over. Be careful though, because I did see someone selling it for £9.99 plus postage a few weeks ago! Blatant rip off!!

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

WIP Wednesday AKA my new favourite sock cuff

The latest on the needles for WIP Wednesday is yet another mystery sock from the Solid Socks Ravelry group… what can I say. It’s addictive.

©http://elephantjuice-allmadeup.blogspot.comI’m a week behind on the clues though, so I’m slacking slightly at the moment. This is halfway through Clue 1.

I have to say, I’m loving the cuff. It’s nothing particularly special, just a 2x1 rib, but it is suuuper squishy and s t r e t c h y .

And in case anyone is in any doubt – photographic proof:


From 3 inches to 6 and back again.

The Montse Stanley book calls this a two stranded thumb cast on, or something to that effect, but I’m pretty sure it’s just a good old basic long tail cast on. I went through a phase where I loved long tail cast on, but for some reason it faded from my repertoire. I say “for some reason” but I know that it’s probably because I’m always too lazy to figure out the correct length to leave for the tail. Too short, infuriating. Too long, equally infuriating. I think I think I may consider myself re-converted to this cast on though, it’s worth the bit of extra effort. My standard cable cast on just doesn’t cut it in comparison!

I keep hearing good things about the Estonian cast on so I might have to investigate that for my next pair…

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

WIP Wednesday

WIP Wednesday again and guess what’s still on the needles…


I’m thinking that if I really push myself with these today, they’ll finally be off the needles by bedtime. I seriously hope so, because I am getting sick.of.this.chart. I’ve only got about 5 more rows of the chart and then a ribbed cuff to do – that can’t be that hard, right?!

I also finally cast on for some Christmas gift socks (they have been in mental motion for weeks)


I’m making the pattern up as I go… so far it’s just a short row toe, but I promise it’ll get more interesting! As soon as I get those blasted orange socks finished!

51 sleeps til Christmas, and I’m only just realising how much knitting I have to do!

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

WIP Wednesday

I can believe it’s time for another WIP Wednesday. This week has flown by and I don’t really have much progress to show for it!

The Sliding Leaves socks I was working on last week are still on the needles…


I was working on the heels last week, so I’ve only managed about an inch since then. It’s a nice pattern, and I like the socks, but to be honest I’m a little tired of knitting them! I usually manage to memorise most of a pattern by the time I’ve knit this much, but this one doesn’t seem to want to stick and I’m getting rather tired of having to read every line of 2 different charts. I’ll certainly be glad to finish these and have them on my feet rather than on my needles! It’s probably a good thing that I’m making them 2 at a time, otherwise I’m fairly certain that they’d be victim to the dreaded second sock syndrome…

I’ve also started spinning my hand dyed berry fibre from my last post.


I’m quite pleased with the way it’s turning out. I split it in half lengthways so I could preserve the colour changes as much as possible. It is a bit felted so I’m having to prep it quite a lot which is resulting in a very well pre drafted fibre which is spinning up to be very fine. I’m somehow managing to spin it fairly evenly, so I’m hopeful about the resulting yarn. I think plied it might be somewhere between a laceweight and a 4ply. I’ve got no idea what the yardage will be, but I’m hoping there’ll be enough for a small triangular scarf.

And just to finish, a little mystery sock spoiler alert– if you’re doing the Through the Loops 2010 Mystery KAL then look away now!

We’re up to Clue 3 and the penultimate clue is due for release tomorrow, but here’s how the sock looks so far, just past the heel turn…


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Monday, October 18, 2010

Fat berry braid

I’m going to class my second attempt at dyeing wool tops a semi success. I l o v e the colours here. They came out darker than I expected, gorgeous deep berry and purple with the odd splash of lavender hidden here and there. It’s perfect for autumn. I’m a little sad that it’s only a wee 20 grams.

However, I seem to have (yet again) lightly fulled the merino. I am almost positive that it’s down to my complete inability to Leave The Wool Alone. Last time I prodded it too much during the dyeing. This time I managed to not poke it whilst was dyeing, it was the cool down I had problems with. My eagerness to see what magic the dyes had worked on the wool led me to do bad things. I know heat + alkaline + wool = felt-o-rama. I know I should leave the wool to cool down in the pot. I know all this, but it’s oh-so-hard. I don’t seem to have had this problem when dyeing yarn, so I’m not sure what it is about fibre that brings this insatiable impishness and impatience out of me, so that I sneak the fibre out of its bath before it’s ready.

I don’t think it’s completely irredeemable, it’s just going to take a little bit more prep than I’d like. I’m very much looking forward to spinning this up on my wheel.

And next time, I will have to Walk Away.

Or buy superwash fibre.
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Friday, October 15, 2010

FO: McCafferty

This is a long overdue FO post! I've managed to post in time for Tami's FO Friday though, so yay for that at least.


McCafferty by Lily Kate France

Yarn: Forsell Botany

Ravelled here

This was the test knit for Lily Kate that I knit back in August, and I love love love it. I think I have worn it practically every time I have left the house since I finished it and I’ve had several lovely comments on it. It is by far my favourite knit of the year.


This thing is big. I haven’t got a picture of it stretched out yet, I really should take one or at least measure the dimensions. I used 4 strands of Forsell Botany 1 ply held together as one (2 strands Sovereign, 2 strands Sienna) and I couldn’t be happier with it! It’s incredibly warm, but so light and airy too.


It’s essentially a garter stitch triangle scarf with a yarn over lace mesh border. I absolutely love the simplicity of the pattern, it’s so effective. It is a quick knit too. Despite me taking over a month to sit down and write this post (shameful!), I actually finished knitting it in under 15 days. Some may find endless rows of knit stitches tiresome, but I find it quite therapeutic. Anything that allows me to shut off my brain and run on auto-pilot is a win in my book.

In fact, my only project irk has nothing to do with the pattern and everything to do with my choice of yarn. Don’t get me wrong, I’m about 99% happy with the yarn that I used. The 1% is more to do with how I’ve used the yarn, and comes down to the fact that 4 completely un-plied strands are tricky to keep track of, especially when knitting fast and not paying attention. There is more than one stitch where I haven’t quite caught all 4 strands, leaving an errant loop here and there. Nothing serious and barely noticeable, but ever so slightly tedious. Oh well, lesson learnt.

I absolutely adore Lily Kate’s designs and I really can’t wait to see what she comes up with next! She’s such a talented designer and I’m thrilled to have been able to test knit for her.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

WIP Wednesday

I’m giving toe up socks another try.

I’ve tried knitting socks from the toe up before, but 9 months later, they’re still on the needles. I’m not quite ready to resurrect my first attempt from hibernation yet, so here are toe up socks v.2: The Sliding Leaves socks.

I hand-dyed the yarn for these in an autumnal russet-y orange a few weeks ago, and cast on the night before the Boy and I set off for Scotland, intending them to be my holiday knit. Alas, my aversion to gauge swatching reared it’s ugly head, and about 2 and a half inches in I was forced to admit that they were in fact too big. I couldn’t quite convince the boy to wear lacy orange socks, and having only printed off the chart for the size I thought I needed they were sadly abandoned for the rest of the trip.

I couldn’t quite bring myself to frog them all the way and start from scratch, but luckily the next size down used the same number of cast on stitches with just one fewer increase row, so I managed (by some minor miracle) to frog back to the right row on both socks, and knit on afresh. Big improvement. My feet are no longer swimming in russet orange wool :)

I'm up to the heels now, so I probably should have taken an updated progress post, but I really wanted to get this post up in time for WIP Wednesday!
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Friday, October 08, 2010

FO: more mystery socks


Mystery Socks by Claudia Eisenkolb

Yarn: Woolcraft Superwash Sock Yarn

Ravelled here

I love these socks! I’ve raved about the heel flap before, so I’ll refrain from repeating myself again, but I do love this heel. I also absolutely love the toe on these socks, it wraps around the edge of the foot and is so unusual and pretty!


I think I’m addicted to mystery socks now.


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Sunday, October 03, 2010

Catching up

I have no real excuse for my blogging absence other than I was away in Scotland for a wee week, and then came back and felt incredibly lazy!

However, the realisation that it is now Socktoberfest season has spurred me into action.

I do have finished objects and knits in progress to post about, but for now I have the yarn, I have the clue, and I shall spend a lazy Sunday snuggled up and casting on for the Through the Loops Socktoberfest Mystery Sock for 2010 in delicious chocolate brown wool.


Colour me happy :)

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Monday, September 13, 2010

WIP: more mystery socks

I love the idea of mystery socks: not knowing what you’re knitting, getting clues every week and seeing the pattern unfold. All good reasons for me to jump into my second mystery KAL with the SolidSocks group on Ravelry.


It’s 2 weeks in, and I am absolutely loving this pattern so far. I am completely enamoured with the heel flap.


I’ve waxed lyrical before about how I love thick cushiony heel flaps, and this one settles itself firmly into that category. 32 rows of alternating twisted stitches results in this fantastic heel, which is a tad more tricksy and time consuming than a slipped stitch heel flap, but it is so pretty and so worth it.

I have to wait until Wednesday now, for the next clue. For the meantime though, this heel flap is truly y u m.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thick and thin


A couple of weeks ago, the Boyfriend bought me a lovely Ashford Traditional spinning wheel for a very early combined birthday Christmas present.

I’d forgotten how fun spinning can be, and I’ve been a little obsessed since, trying to spin a little every day. Finally, on Friday I finished plying my first wheel spun yarn!


100% pure merino wool. It’s a little uneven and running thick and thin in places, drifting between a lace weight and a heavy DK, but it’s wonderfully smooshy and I love all 290 yards of it. Strangely, I think the first single I spun was more even than the second. I weighed both singles before plying, and although they were the exact same weight, I had quite a bit of the first single left over.

Overall I think I’ve found it a little easier to spin on a wheel compared to using my drop spindle. I certainly spin faster on the wheel, although I have found it harder to gauge how much twist I’m putting into the fibre with the wheel. I suppose (I hope!) that that’s something that comes with practice. I don’t know what this skein is destined to be yet. I’m a little in love with the natural colour of the wool, so I’m going to leave this undyed, but I’ll be experimenting more with the next one. I haven’t decided whether to dye up some fibre to spin, or spin the undyed fibre and dye the spun skein. I’m leaning towards dye first, then spin. I also want to give navajo plying a try. So much to do!

©http://elephantjuice-allmadeup.blogspot.comwheel spun and spindle spun

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Finito: Qianer’s Mystery Socks


I have finally finished the SolidSocks July/August mystery sock project!©

Qianer's first Mystery Socks by Qianer Huang

Yarn: Woolcraft Superwash Sock Yarn

Ravelled here© 

I hated the colour I initially dyed this yarn, but was too eager to start knitting to re-dye. I ended up re-dying the finished socks with more blue dye, and now have teal socks. Big improvement :)

It’s been a while since I knit cables, and this was a fun little re-introduction. The only change to the pattern I made was to knit two repeats of the seed stitch fairy wings instead of three, as I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t have enough yarn. Turns out I needn’t have worried, I have plenty left over! If I was to knit this project again though, there are a couple of other changes I’d make. For one, I’d definitely make a slipped stitch selvedge for the heel flap to make life easier when picking up the stitches! I also thought about mirror-ing the cables, but in the end decided that I was far too lazy for that kind of mental effort!


I should probably get a start on knitting Christmas presents, but I’ve a feeling I’m going to spend the Bank Holiday weekend selfishly knitting for me. And maybe going to the pub. :)

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

WIP Wednesday

I’m currently working on a test knit for the talented lilykate.
I’m using 4 strands of 1ply wool knit together as one in a wonderfully autumnal golden colour. It’s been pretty straight forward garter stitch so far, but I’m nearly at the lace sections! Can’t wait to start wearing this as soon as the weather starts to get crisper :)

More work-in-progress Wednesday posts over at Tami's blog!
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Monday, August 16, 2010



One down, one to go on the mystery socks for the SolidSocks Ravelry group. I’m almost to the heel on the second sock now!

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Sunday, August 08, 2010


Late summer is usually the time when my knitting mojo makes a comeback. The realisation that we’ve pretty much had all the British summer that we’re going to have usually beings on a hankering for bundling up in cozy hand knits.

True to form, the needles have been clicking away these past few weeks.


sleepy hollow socks by Lori Law

Yarn: Regia Stretch Color

Ravelled here

I’ve had this pattern in my Rav queue ever since the Yarn Harlot enticingly blogged about them and their clever heel construction. Eventually, after hearing other knitters rave about the heel, I decided I had to give it a go for myself, and yes, the heel construction is fabulous.

I actually love heel flaps with picked up gusset stitches. I have it down pat.  A lovely thick, cushiony slipped stitch flap sandwiched between a teensy bit of garter and a slipped stitch selvedge. There is something deliciously satisfying about making a slipped stitch selvedge and then picking up the exact same number of gusset stitches on both sides of the flap, and then slowly seeing them decrease away. But there is also something deliciously simple about the sleepy hollow heel. No picking up, no working back and forth on that heel flap. It’s in the round all the way, increasing for the gussets. And at the end of it, a lovely slim, shaped heel. Me likey.

The toe is a little pointy for me, but that is something that would be very easily rectified.

And yes, this yarn is probably starting to look a little familiar :) I bought an ungodly amount of it from Kemps earlier this year, so there is quite a sizeable amount currently sitting in my stash. Cue a glut of projects featuring dark grey Regia Stretch! I do love it, but I think that this is the third project in a row I'’ve used this yarn for, so I think it’s definitely time to give it a break and mix things up a bit :)

I have a few other things on the needles now, but I’ll leave that for another day.

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