Rock ’em Sock ’em

Extermely Fitted Socks

Many times, I’ve said, that socks are my least favorite to knit. And yet…

Socks are the first to mind when I cast on these days. Partly, its demand pull (Nick is a sock fiend) and partly it’s what’s in the stash (READ: went on a MASSIVE sock yarn buying spree). Mostly, it is the need for a traveling project.

With a commute like mine from Orcas Island to Seattle (a once a week round trip), I need the packable project. And I must admit, socks are growing on me. They can be hard or easy, depending on the level of sophistication. I’d say, other than extremely custom fitting of Nick’s funny foot, I’m still in the “plain” sock mode as an “intermediate” sock knitter.

I envy the beautiful projects by experienced sockers, with all the intricacies of lace, braids and such. I also started with patterned socks. These days I tend to be more plain and practical, with the exception of fitting. And I must be getting better because this final pair, still on the needles, is my own pattern. Not only is there lots of fitting, it’s got a Turkish cast-on and a German short-row heel.

In the future, I’ll try and make it a download, but with a new job, long commute and very little free time (even for knitting and blogging) that might be a while. Certainly not until they are finished.

For now, I’ll just have to be happy about the Blacktop Ferry Socks I just finished. This happy accident is because I ran out of the Yarnachy Liberty sock wool I started with.

Now you see the blacktop, now you don’t. 🙂

Hibernation Over–I hope!

You know you have them. Those UFOs waiting in the closet—sometimes for months and years. You know why you started them and there is even the hope that you’ll come back to them. Yes?

I’ve only once met someone who didn’t have any unfinished objects (UFOs) or a stash because she only crocheted one project at a time. Now she’s a normal person with both. I sometimes have phases of no UFOs. It feels both exhilaratingly hopeful and strangely empty.

This past week, we were doing the usual 3-hour weekly car commute and I needed a project FAST. I couldn’t find my “traveling” project—usually a pair of socks for my air travel carryon. For the car, a big project would have been fine, but I couldn’t lay my hands on the UFO I wanted, an easy and time-consuming afghan at the end of the commute. And given we were up against a ferry crossing, there wasn’t time to dither.

With husband a-foot tapping, there was no time to find a pattern, yarn, notions etc. so I grabbed a hibernating project. You might recognize it from this blog from February of last year, where I was stuck (sleeves). I skipped onto the button band collar where I felt more secure. But this got me to thinking about the different reasons for hibernating projects. Because there are a complex set of reasons for it—and they aren’t always the same!

So why do projects hibernate? I listed a few of my reasons below:

  1. Got bored (did you really want a project this easy?)
  2. Got tired (happens with LONG projects, small yarns, small needles)
  3. Got stuck (happens at transitions)
  4. Made a fixable mistake and will have to tear it back (otherwise you’d just frog it, no?)
  5. Got interrupted (the “shiny object” syndrome)
  6. Lost a key notion
  7. Didn’t get enough yarn, buttons, etc.…
  8. Can’t find the pattern
  9. Can’t find it

Though I’m a fairly organized person with lots of online patterns, the  last two happen more than I care to admit. My primary ones are 3, 4 and 5—probably in that order.

Which if these seems to be your most common? Are there others?

UFO Sister- and Brotherhood

Aliens? No. Not that kind of UFO. There is, sadly, no abduction involved. Though sometimes I feel like my ever increasing stash of wool might carry me off.

Last time I talked about giving myself permission to have more than one project going at the same time. And I’ve done it—gotten over my head in projects. And as I look around at these works in progress (WIPs), I feel a little weighed down. It is as if they are all staring down at me saying, “Do you really think you’ll get back to me?”

If it isn’t obvious, I’m a perfectionist. Everyone that knows me, knows this is true. Whether I’m preparing a lecture or I’m knitting a pair of socks, I can literarily give myself an ulcer worrying if it isn’t just so. And this is, by and large, the only source of unhappiness for me, given my life is busy, full, and downright good!

Body image, learning new skills, investment for retirement, these are all sources of my endless frustration of coming up short of an unrealistic ideal—heaven forbid I read the news! And Nick, my dearest love, even posted a photo of me and my parents (the Joneses) with the tagline “Are you keeping up?” for most people that wouldn’t be an accusation. For me…? Hmm.

Unless it is a competition to have more WIPs than anyone else, I’m just keeping my head above water. And you know? I like it that way. That jolt of tension? It’s a good thing.

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My little surprise of joy today was finding that I’m just a couple of inches of easy knitting away from Nick having another pair of socks. The trip to Santa Fe with my parents, well, I must have gotten in more knitting time than I remember. If all goes well, he’ll be taking two pairs of my “lurid” hand knit hoof covers on his UK trip to “inspect” Margaret and Peter (his parents).

And with a glass of house Chardonnay from the Lower Tavern—I raise my glass in a toast to all of you with UFOs (unfinished objects) of all crafts and kinds.

Satisfying Simple Home Knits

After more than a year of one-project-at-a-time knitting, I now have four(!) WIPs with several others in the ideation phase. And though I’ve always been told that more projects can create time slicing and delayed gratification of finishing, I’m going for it

I  realize, I’m putting at risk, the prickly one that made me rethink my serial knitting rule. But it had me so frustrated, I didn’t want to pick it up, which meant NO KNITTING AT ALL. So it was time to dig into my growing queue of items that were easier to tackle–some quick, some not so quick.

My guest bath has long needed a bathmat. So, I found a simple and free pattern called Tender Foot Spa Bathmat. And I’m finding the 100% vintage Bernat yarn Cajun Cotton is soft cuddly and absorbent—just perfect for the pattern! The spot for it is fairly small, so I’m narrowing the pattern a bit.

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I love my modified simple Squares Throw from the Erika Knight’s Comforts of Home. Erika’s pattern alternates between stockinette and reverse stockinette, but I like having an edge that lets it lay flat.

The last time I made this throw I used a seed stitch border and worsted weight yarn. This time I’m matching the yarn to the pattern (bulky) with a garter edge. The thing that will be the same is to knit it as one piece, so I don’t have to sew it together.

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And though this is not a weekend project or all that portable, it’s easy and I know that the final project will be beautiful. And the Trivoli I got on sale—60% wool and 40% silk—looks rough, but is actually very soft to the touch. And I love the chocolate color with bright flecks of blue in this nubby yarn.

I’m really loving the diversity and ease of these home projects. And when I finally come out the other side with work and teaching, I’ll have more room in my brain for trickier projects. Then I’ll go back to the sweater that was making me have kittens.

Meanwhile, my house is getting “dressed” with simple, home-crafted knits.

Give Yourself Permission

I’m feeling very stressed at the moment. Everything seems due all at once. Knitting is usually a relief from the fray, but I found myself feeling guilty about that too. First, because I’m still doing it when I’ve so little time. Second, because I’m hankering for an easy project.

Lately I’ve been limiting myself to “good girl” projects; knitting for others, using up stash, learning a new technique, etc. I was also limiting myself to finish projects before starting another–because I’m trying to stick to a “no UFOs” rule.

I’d planned a trip to San Diego months ago to visit dear friends and escape from winter for this past weekend. I hadn’t realized that so many things would be so pressing. And rather than try to catch up, skip the trip, and push through, I realized the best thing for me was to go, have fun, and see the sun.

But what to take along for knitting? The current project that has hit a thorny spot? It was stressful just thinking about packing it.

Instead I told myself to take a simpler and more portable one–a  pair of stockinette socks. And since socks are not a favorite project, on my return I cast on another—a simple squares throw—mindless and easy.

I don’t know what order I’ll finish, which I’ll pick up or whether I’ll cast something else on. And that feels… amazing, freeing and joyous!

Go ahead!

Give yourself permission to just do a project you’d love to do. A fun dishcloth or baby booties or whatever you might enjoy. Pick up that special yarn you are craving to knit. Make something for yourself just for the pleasure of it.

And until the pressure lets off… that’s just what I’m going to do.

Summer Knitting in Winter

The not so new job is still keeping me very busy. So much so that it was really starting to be Fall before I started my summer knitting. And I’m thinking, it is this sort of thing that creates so many UFOs. You scheme and plan and get things gathered and before you know it *POOF* Summer is gone.

I managed in September to whip up a Sleeveless Mock Turtleneck Tube Vest by Stefanie Japel in a dreamy Bernat Panama Natural Flax (AKA oatmeal) color from some of grandma’s stash. So yes, I’m still “shopping” mostly from home, but that hasn’t stopped the buying new yarns. :-/

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It took two tries. The one I made in August was HUGE due to a brain fart I had on sizing. I swatched and fixed the gauge with the different yarn, but somehow I thought what stitches per side was just the stitches for the center pattern. Needless to say I was off by several inches (12 stitches each side of the center stockinette panel).

Try 2 in September was a winner, but it was already getting a bit to chilly to wear it. Don’t be fooled by the photos–it was a cool breezy day and my jacket was close at hand.

And what of the Smitten Tee I was planning to do next? *sigh*

Well, I cast it on with another grandma stash yarn, Lane Borgesesia, Cotone del Borgo in navy, when it was still warmish, but then I started to feel the pressure of Christmas knitting. So now after working so hard last year to punt UFOs and getting down to a project or two in progress. Smitten, is now firmly on my “to-do” list.

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Anyone else run out of time to finish their summer knitting plans? Did you carry on, frog or just tuck it away?