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Almost two pattern repeats in, and I wasn’t really happy with that cabled sock design I started last summer and tossed aside in despair. I spent quite some time ignoring it, hoping it would somehow fix itself. (This never works.)

the first few repeats of the cable pattern on the purple sock, displayed on a sock blocker

It’s all too close together and the pattern isn’t really showing up very well. If it had more room between the cables, more of a purl background for them to stand out against, and more vertical space between the crossings, then it would be closer to the image I have in mind.

Ah well, live and learn – I’ll be re-working this so it comes out the way I want. (What’s the point in going on knitting a sock that I don’t like?) After a bunch of reading and research, I’ve got a new set of cables charted out, and I decided to knit a swatch in some heavier yarn to see if it looks right. It seems like it’s going to work this time!

a knitted swatch of cable pattern in worsted weight burgundy yarn

I think the pattern would make a nifty scarf or hat, too.

For 2018, Ravelry has started a “challenge” where you can set how many projects you want to finish in the year. Adding a deadline date on queued patterns or projects you’ve already started will make them show up on your challenge page! Mine is here if you want to see what else is on my list besides these cabled socks. (I’m not able to add it to the challenge, but part of my goal with these is to write the pattern up for sale!)

Do you have any knitting, crochet, spinning, or other artsy-crafts goals for 2018?

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I really wanted to get this pair off the needles before going on vacation, and here it is! Tiger-Striped Socks for Michael, which look exactly like mine except for the white trim at the cuff and the duplicate stitch “claws”.

I’d just started the toe when I noticed a split stitch quite a way down. It didn’t seem like it would be too troublesome to fix, so I got out my tiny crochet hook, dropped the stitch down to the split, caught it properly, and picked all the stitches up again. You can barely tell where the repair was made, and once the socks have been through the wash, any looseness remaining in that column will all work out.

A long column of dropped stitches

All the stitches have been picked up again with this crochet hook.

Then I miscounted on the toe stitches and had to rip back four rounds to start the toe over. Of course.

Figuring out how to duplicate stitch the “toes” was pretty easy, but figuring out the “claws” took me a little longer. Eventually I went for a slightly thicker yarn and embroidered them on, rather than duplicate stitching. Hopefully they aren’t too thick.

Embroidered 'claws' on the white toe of a tiger-striped sock

Now, here’s the weird thing. These are plain stockinette socks. The only purl stitches are in the cuff’s ribbing and in the heel. So what was I thinking here? What even happened?

A red circle shows a mistake of a purl stitch that should be a knit stitch.

Anyway, they’re done and they look really cool. Next up… a new pair for myself!

A pair of tiger-striped socks with white toes and embroidered claws, laid smoothly on a black leather couch

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At Thanksgiving, the annual family reunion, one of my cousins mentioned the rainbow pillow I knit last summer. “Can you make me two of those?” he asked. I tried to explain that just the one had taken me nearly two months of crafting time. “I’ll PAY you,” he said. I asked if I could maybe sew pillows for him instead. “What’s the difference?” he asked – and with that, I knew that sewing would be just fine.

I bought pre-cut strips of fabric from Amazon:

First I pressed them flat…

…then sewed the strips together in rainbow order, and pressed the seams down. (True, pressing them all in one direction rather than open/flat might not have been the best decision. But it worked.)

From each long rainbow, I cut two squares and sewed them together all the way around, and I even managed to set in mostly-invisible zippers on the purple sides, which seem like they’d be the bottom and therefore the most hidden.

(I’m pretty pleased about the zipper.)

My cousin will be buying the inserts, because it’s way easier for me to bring him pillow cases than actual pillows. But even unstuffed, I think they look pretty good!

I usually curse and grumble a lot when I’m sewing, but this project went surprisingly well. Both pillows were done in an afternoon (I’m sure if I were better at this, it would take even less time) and I only had to rip out one super-crooked seam and try again. I even have some leftovers to play around with – not enough for a third pillow, but enough for a piece of wall-art or something. Hmmm, if I cut them on angles… and then turn one upside-down… and sew it all back together… that sounds fun, doesn’t it?

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This is the official end of 2017 tallying-up post! It wasn’t a bad year at all…


Incoming fibre in 2017:
Greenwood Fiberworks merino, souvenir fibre from Utah (4 oz.)
Ashland Bay merino/silk (8 oz.)
FatCatKnits merino swirl (4 oz.)
Greenwood Fiberworks merino/bamboo/silk (4 oz.)
Bee Mice Elf BFL (4 oz.)

24 ounces

Outgoing fibre in 2017:
8 ounces of BFL from Three Waters Farm became 580 yards of two-ply yarn
4 ounces of BFL/Silk sold to a fellow member of the ComboSpin team for Tour de Fleece
10 ounces of Corriedale in a rainbow of colours spun up into 368 yards of two-ply yarn

22 ounces (if I hadn’t derailed during the Tour de Fleece, I’d’ve really had a lot more out than in. NEXT YEAR.)

Plus I carded some batts:

Incoming yarn in 2017:
1 skein Cascade Heritage Paints, souvenir yarn from Utah (437)
1 skein Malabrigo Sock, souvenir yarn from Utah (440)
1 ball Sugar ‘n Cream for a washcloth (95)

3 balls / 972 yards

Outgoing yarn in 2017:
1 skein Socks that Rock, for the Textured Socks (360)
3 skeins Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted, sold (570)
4 half-balls Jo Sharp DK Wool Classic, for the Moorefield Hat (214)
1 ball mystery pink yarn for a kitty-ear hat (150? best estimate…)
1 ball Sugar ‘n Cream for the Scrubbing Nubbles washcloth (95)
6 half-balls of Red Heart Soft went to Sam (768)
Rainbow and grey handspun for a couch-pillow (368)

12 balls / 2,555 yards


The Year in Crafting:
I feel really good about my projects this year! I got a lot done. They’re all together on a 2017 Projects page.

Favourite project:
The Moorefield Hat, for sure. I love the colourwork – and how warm it is!


Patterns Published:

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I’ve had the idea for these cabled socks in my notebook for a while, and with the imminent completion of the Textured Socks, I wanted to start something new. I sketched out the overs and unders, decided which round would be the first one, and had a moment of pride for remembering that cables take up some of the fabric and make the socks fit more tightly. The general rule is to look at the row or round with the most cable crossovers, and add one stitch per crossover to the total amount. Since my usual socks are knit at 64 stitches, and these will have one round with eight crosses, I decided to start with 72.

Step One: Cast on 72 stitches, using the stretchy slipknot cast-on. Discover that the yarn is frayed to breaking. Slide 72 stitches off the needle; discard yarn.

Step Two: Grumble a little.

Step Three: Cast on 57 stitches before discovering another frayed spot. Slide 57 stitches off the needle; discard yarn. Inspect frayed end and decide that it doesn’t look nibbled, at least.

Step Four: Grumble a little more, using slightly stronger language. Ponder the options of either throwing the ball of yarn across the room, or bringing it home so that it can be rewound into a centre-pull ball, looking for more frayed spots along the way.

Step Five: Decide to try it once again. Cast on 72 stitches. Slide the next ten yards of yarn through fingers. Determine that there are no further frayed spots, and that the ball of yarn must have gotten pinched in a tote or something.

Step Six: Knit twenty rounds of k2, p2 ribbing. (Take some time, twelve rounds in, to wonder if a 1×1 twisted rib might not look better with the planned 3×1 ribbing for the sock. Decide that 2×2 is stretchier, anyway. Keep going.)

Step Seven: Ask boyfriend to mix a drink that matches the sock.

Step Eight: Choose a name for the new design. (It’s “Cabled Violets” for the moment, but it won’t stay that way forever. Suggestions are welcome!)

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A very kind Raveler sent me a bit of their leftover yarn so that I could finish the Textured Socks. So finally, almost a year after I started them, they are done! Hooray!

I used the free Stanton pattern and just over one skein of Socks that Rock Lightweight in the Smokey Mountain Morn colourway. The pattern was well-written and easy to follow, though I made a few adjustments: lengthening the toe slightly and widening the heel turn. I chose to keep the stitch pattern down the back of the heel flap, but slipped the first stitch on every row to make picking up the gusset easier. The stitch pattern is quickly memorized, and gives a good all-over texture that adds interest to the spirals of this variegated yarn. It draws in a bit like ribbing, so these socks should fit snugly.

Apparently Socks that Rock Lightweight now comes in a larger skein than when I bought this yarn – 405 yards instead of 360. The price has gone up to match, but at least if I decide to use the yarn again, I’ll have a better chance of getting a whole pair of socks out of one skein.

One of the older, smaller skeins is still in my stash, in the “Moss Agate” colourway. If anyone wants to buy it from me, I’ll send it on. $23 includes shipping anywhere in the continental United States; I’ll have to do the math on postage to other countries. It’s quite pretty but now I know from experience that it just won’t make socks big enough for me.

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Ten years ago on a motorcycle ride through the countryside with my ex, we stopped at a little yarn shop called Needles in the Haymarket, and I bought a ball of pink and gray Austermann Step yarn. I didn’t know, then, that less than a year after that ride I would be moving to Haymarket, and that shop would become my LYS for years!

Four years ago I cast on for another pair of Jaywalkers. I liked the yarn well enough, but for some reason I never felt the urge to knit on the socks. I’d take the project out from time to time and put a few rounds onto it, but didn’t fall in love with it. When I was traveling last fall, I thought of bringing it – but no, I started something else instead.

At the end of the weekend I said to myself, “Self, it’s time to finish that sock. Or something.” So I tried it on to see how much more I’d need to knit before the toe and… it didn’t fit. My feet have grown. I’ve put on some muscle in my legs since I started biking and running. And this sock is never going to fit.

Farewell, Pink Jaywalker. It was nice almost knowing you.

Hello, Austermann Step in pinks and grays. What kind of sock do you think you’d like to be?

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The pillow form arrived during the first weekend of the Tour, and I used some leftover handspun Jacob in a medium gray shade to crochet the two sides together. I’m really pleased with the finished product! My original thought had been to make a felted pillow, but I liked the feel of the fabric – and the size – so I just left it alone. It’s heavy and squooshy and comfortable, and looks great on the black leather couch – though its final home will probably be on the futon in my office. This project was fun from start to finish; I got a lot better at longdraw spinning and then it was such a good feeling to knit a quick and easy project with my own handspun yarn on big needles.

The first week of the Tour went well, and then I crashed – but I’ll write about that next time. Meanwhile, I’m playing yarn chicken with the socks I started last fall, and I think it’s a losing game. I’d anticipated this, so when I grafted the first toe shut I didn’t pull the stitches tight. If I have to rip out that toe for the extra yarn I will, and then both socks will be given contrasting purple toes. Not what I’d hoped for, but that’s how it goes sometimes.

The safety pins on each sock are keeping the rows lined up, so I don’t have to count over and over again to get my socks the same length. This is Socks that Rock lightweight in the Smokey Mountain Morn colourway, and it’s the second STR pair I’ve made that isn’t going to cover my toes. (I made these shorter though! and with fewer stitches around! Hrmph.) I have one more skein of the yarn and I’ll remember next time to just make contrasting cuffs/heels/toes…

Meanwhile, I’ve been super busy! I bought a new (slightly used, but new to me) car and sold my old car last weekend, then started a new job on Monday, and I’m excited about both those things – but so drained from having two adventures in one week. Last night when it was still too early to go to bed, but I was too tired to do anything that required any mental effort, I pulled out some Lang Jawoll sock yarn that a friend sent me. She’d somehow made a tangled mess of the skeins without ever knitting any of it… but now they’re all detangled, wound into loose cakes, and added to my Ravelry stash.

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I’d set myself the goal of finishing both sides of this rainbow pillow before the Tour de Fleece begins, and I made it by just a few hours – and a few yards of yarn short, which is totally okay. I slipped in a few rows of gray, also handspun, that I plan to use to edge and seam up the sides anyway.

A pillow form has been ordered and it shouldn’t take too long to finish this up once it arrives. Meanwhile, I can start the Tour tomorrow morning with a clean conscience!

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How many divisions to make? In what direction? How do I get that small amount of aqua spread out as much as possible without losing it? The irony of considering, for more than a minute or two, where to draw the line between “thinking” and “overthinking” wasn’t lost on me. So I cast aside all those thoughts and split each four-ounce piece of fibre into 16 pieces. Here they all are:

(That yellow one towards the left side sure does confuse my camera.) Now I’ll take one piece from each of those piles to make sixteen little bundles from which to spin, in order to evenly distribute the different fibres around the whole project. The plan is to spin a worsted weight yarn, but to help me decide whether to go for a two-ply or three-ply, I wrote up the pros and cons:

Pros of a two-ply: more yardage, more distinct colours
Cons of a two-ply: possibly less even, kind of bumpy

Pros of a three-ply: more blended colours, more rounded/even yarn
Cons of a three-ply: less yardage

Once I realized that “more blended colours” meant “less likely to get splotches or pools of bright yellow” the decision was pretty clear: three-ply it is!

I just have to try to resist starting this project until the beginning of the Tour…

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Comments Comments Off on In Which the Pirate Splits it Up.