Monday, May 31, 2010

Going Stir Crazy/Sock Crazy

Since this month has been RAINY, I feel like my spring is slipping away and the heat of summer will break out in full force. I had to have a new distraction to brighten the gray days. Knitting socks has provided the perfect mental focus. I always thought they were way out of my league. All those little needles sticking out and tiny yarn tangling on the tips, how could that be fun?

This whole thing started with a question from my SIL on Mother's Day, "Have you ever knit socks?" My answer was, "No, because sock yarn is usually wool." But, I got to thinking with all the new fibers, surely knitters had more choices, like bamboo and cotton blends. So I went on a quest to find the best circular needles, the best sock method/book (no local yarn shops with classes), and sock yarn in blends less than 50% wool (I have allergies to wool fibers).

I posted an off topic question about circular needles on the treadle owners' list and it just sort of evolved from needles to books on knitting socks. One lady said the best book was The Crazy Toes and Heels Sock Book by Mary Ann Beattie. Her claim that I could knit socks with any yarn in my own gauge and two circular needles, no little needles sliding out and dropping tiny stitches; sold me. I joined the Yahoo help list and ordered the book.

Well, I must say, Mary Ann's method is easy. If you can knit and read instructions, socks are a moderate challenge with a worsted weight yarn. I now feel confident to try my second pair with finer yarn. And, yes, they will match this time. ;)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Digital Swatching

This tip came to me when I was knitting the swatch above for my next pair of socks. As a sock newbie, I wasn't totally sure how much yarn to buy and I didn't want to break my budget adding new yarns to the stash. Worrying that I may have purchased too little, I didn't want to waste yarn by cutting off my swatch, so I have it on a stitch holder, hooked to the sleeve of the yarn. If I run out of yarn, I can tear it out and use it without having to splice.

The picture of the swatch with the gauge will be added to my digital file on my projects. I am going to make a panoramic shot with a picture of the yarn sleeve, as well.

By the way, the yarn is Blackberry Comfy in worsted weight from Knit Picks. I am knitting on US 2 needles yielding a gauge of 6.5 - 7 stitches per inch. The yarn seems to be a bit finer than some worsted weight yarns and it is a bit less resilient because it is a cotton blend. Knitting on the US 2 needles makes it easy to get a good gauge for socks without knitting too tight on the needles. I just love the feel of the Comfy and it has a nice twist so it isn't spitting easily.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tribbles and Bits

You read right! It is Tribbles and bits and not dog food. I have been trying to use up my bits of scrap yarn. Tawashis (Japanese for scrubbie) caught my eye in a Threads blog newsletter. Their instructions were for crocheted tawashis. Since my knitting skills surpass my humble attempts to crochet, I googled for knitted versions. The Tribbles version appealed to me.

If you like the Tribbles, find the complete instructions here:

If you like to crochet, find that version for the Tribble here:

Now, if you take up using these fun little kitchen sponges, you might like to keep them free of germs. Research shows that zapping a wet cellulose sponge in the microwave for 2 minutes is most effective without using any chemical germ killers. Wet cotton and acrylic fibers can take the heat of the microwave but my sister-in-law tried a plastic sponge and it melted. She now uses only cellulose. Read the about the research here:

M'Lady's MP3 Player Bag

My MP3 player was residing in an odd sport sock, definitely not a classy case. With my new fascination with sock knitting, I was practicing the Aloha cast-on on circular knitting needles. Using a scrap ball of worsted weight yarn and 10 1/2 US circs, this little bottom up bag sort of magically grew on my needles. It is about 6 inches tall by 5 inches wide.

Here are the general instructions for worsted weight yarn and 10 1/2 US circular needles. Change them as necessary to get the gauge or size bag you desire. Note that an even number of stitches on each needle are required for the decreases and eyelets to distribute evenly.
  1. Using the Aloha cast-on, cast on 8 stitches on each needle. Knit the first round.
  2. Next round and those remaining until you have a total of 22 stitches on each needle: Knit 1, increase one in the next stitch and the next to the last stitch, knit last stitch on each needle.
  3. Then knit even for about 3 inches.
  4. Decrease: Knit one, knit 2 together every stitch then knit last stitch on each needle (12 stitches remaining on each needle).
  5. Knit even 4 rounds.
  6. Eyelet row: Knit 1, *YO (yarn over), knit 2 together* repeating until last stitch, YO then knit last stitch.
  7. Knit even 4 rounds or so then bind off with the Stretch Armstrong sewn bind-off.
  8. Make 2 twisted cords and thread through the eyelets for drawstrings. I started with 3 yards of yarn folded in half for each cord (each cord has 4 strands of yarn).
Let me know if you make a bag! I would love to see it!