barcelona cabled mustard socks

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One of the first pairs of socks I ever knitted (the second pair, I think?) were these mustard ribbed socks. I made them in the fall of 2007, and probably used them every week – sometimes every day – until they were falling apart beyond repair and I retired them in my pre-move tidying frenzy. They served me so very well, and while visiting Barcelona last October with my teacher-study-friends, a skein of mustard yarn came home with me. It was time for the second generation of mustard socks!

Yarn: Discontinued Greta and the Fibers Socks, fingering weight and hand dyed, color 45
Pattern: “No slouch socks” by Elinor Brown. Ravelry project page here.
Techniques: Knits and purls and tiny cables. Also, kitchener stitch for grafting the toes.

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This yarn smells really, really good. Not strong, just.. fresh and flowery and wooly. Like really good wool-wash. It’s not lofty, and has a lot less give than I would expect from a wool blend. It feels smooth and has some luster, and a density that reminds me of a single ply rather than the 4-ply it is. At the same time the yarn feels sort of hard, I think due to the lack of give, and I ended up knitting quite tightly with high tension. Still, the finished socks don’t have much spring or bounce to them – they almost feel kind of flat.

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The heels were an interesting adventure! I spent more than three months on these socks from start to finish, and a lot of it was procrastinating about how to solve the heel and toe. You see, the pattern I chose – “No Slouch Socks” – assumes you have your own preferred heel and toe solution. The pattern mentions this up front, so I don’t feel deceived, but it was a lot more work on my end when I decided not to go for the easy solutions. I thought the undulating cables and neat rhythm of the ribbing + cables deserved something more than my usual heel flap and plain toe, so I took to researching.

There is something called a Welsh heel, which sounded interesting to me. I’m pretty sure that is not what I ended up knitting, but it inspired me to try decreasing and increasing in a different way. All the details or on my ravelry project page – I  won’t even try to make sense of it here. It made sense to me in the moment, and now almost a year later, I’m baffled. I really like the diagonal lines though, and the making of stitches along a “back seam”.

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The toe was equally an experiment, as I wanted to continue the pattern all the way. The first few pictures also sort of show that I did a really narrow saddle of 6 stitches across the front of the toe. I remembered using the technique on the Seamless hybrid sweaters I’ve made, and it worked reasonably well. Very fiddly! The toe area is a little looser than I’d like. I could (should?) have done down a needle size and ended up with a stiffer fabric, but I think this kind of yarn just won’t plump up regardless.

Like the first pair, I’ve had these socks in pretty constant rotation. They are pretty! The good thing about them being so thin is that I can wear them with a lot of my booties, like the ones (well, the one) in my previous post. These socks have also brightened up my post-surgery plastic sandal wearing days, and are peeking out from the hiking boots I wear every day now – still the only decent outdoor shoes my swollen toe can fit into.

While I am practicing patience regarding the shoe situation, the remainder of this pretty-colored, lovely-smelling yarn is being made up into gorgeous colorwork mittens in this pattern, paired with some scrumptious brown alpaca. I am most definitely getting enjoyment out of my souvenir skein!

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chicago cowl

I guess I’m continuing the trend of city names and travel themes in recent blog post titles! My previous post was about the Sydney jacket (of which I have one more cut out of charcoal wool felt, ready to get assembled, yey!), and now the cowl I knit from the souvenir yarn I treated myself to this summer, visiting Chicago.

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Yarn: Malabrigo Arroyo yarn, sports weight and hand dyed, color 048 Glitter
Pattern: None. Ravelry project page here.
Techniques: Knits and purls

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As cliched as it is, I have to start with mentioning that the weather here has been *amazing* lately. We’ve had weeks and weeks of almost all sunshine and blue skies, and for a city that might just out-rain Seattle, that should be saying something! It also meant I could take advantage today of my mid-day stroll to the university campus for an essay feedback meeting, and take some pictures in the university museum garden. I absolutely love that this garden is in my neighbourhood, and I absolutely love walking through it every chance I get!

If you’re wondering what the deal with the singular shoe is, I had toe surgery a few days ago. Scheduled, and successful, and now recovering nicely. It also explains why I’m not at work in the middle of a Wednesday! I’ll be clunking along with the open sandal for a few weeks, and I’m taking the opportunity to show off some gems from my knitted sock collection. These are the socks I knit with souvenir yarn from my Barcelona-trip last year, which is probably a good project to share next. Oh, and my souvenir knits match. I guess I’m consistent! :)

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chicago_cowl-9The cowl kind of matches my eyes!

The cowl is simple enough – about 90 or 100 stitches, knit in the round, until I ran out of yarn. I really wanted a slightly narrower cowl that would stay closer to my neck, but I did not like the pooling that happened at around 65-70 stitches, so I went back to a larger circumference. And man, do I love the color. The variation of the greenish-yellow burnished gold layers so beautifully that I want to climb up into a tree with the changing leaves and be one with the tree. Or something like it. The color is just the best! (and…. not a stranger to the blog. I have so many projects with this mustardy color, not to mention the very header of the blog!)

As for the stitch pattern I think it is some variation on a brioche stitch (though I’m not quite sure what a brioche stich even is, so don’t hold me to this!). When knit flat every wrong side is knit, so purl bumps appear on the right side. Then the right side is done with alternately knitting a stitch and knitting into the stitch below. For the cowls knitted in the round I’ve purled every other row to achieve the same purl bumps on the right side.

I’ve used the same stitch pattern in this yellow cowl, the sweater I made in fashion school, and while not entirely the same, this honey cowl (now lost! Sad face.) used a similar slip/skew construction that breaks up color variation in a fun way. It’s pretty stunning in plain yarn too – I just finished some unselfish knitting, making a sweater where the whole back is in this squishy yummy pattern. I look forward to sharing some better pictures than the cell phone ones on the ravelry page, but all in good time.

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Finally, a picture of a small piece of the lovely museum garden. I’m so glad I get to walk through parks every day on my way to work, or school, or downtown!

Anyone else playing camouflage with the pretty fall leaves nowadays?

i have plans… OAL-plans

I’m chipping away at my ufo-pile that I posted about last month… um, two months ago (how in the world did that happen?) – I’ve finished the Grainline Portside travel set and just need to stuff it with pillows and photograph it, tackled a few easy repairs, and gotten back into muslin making for the Robson coat. I’ve been telling myself to knock out these unfinished projects before starting anything new, but then Lauren and Andi’s Outfit Along shows up and disturbs all my plans! In the best way, of course.

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Lots of pops of pink on my sewing table! Really my family inherited dining table, but… um, covered in planned and potential sewing projects now. A lovely little corner of my lovely new apartment!

The Outfit Along is a challenge to, between June 1st and July 31st, knit one garment and sew one garment to create a complete outfit. Technically you’re meant to start from scratch, but reading Lauren’s post got me so very inspired to build an outfit around a half-finished cardigan (another Bayview Street Cardigan) that I’ve lacked the drive to finish, so I’m bending the rules as I see fit. :) It took me about ten seconds to decide on a pair of shorts, another ten to realize I had a pattern in my stash that would work well (Simplicity/Built by Wendy 3850 pants), a minute to dig out a fine-waled grey corduroy I think will be perfect, and (I will admit it) a whole day to land on a magenta crinkly chiffon underlined in dark brown-grey chiffon for a sleeveless Pattern Runway Pussy Bow Blouse.

Going through my UFO-pile made me realize I tend to abandon projects when I deviate too much from the pattern or instructions, and run into fitting issues or problems that require a bit of effort to work through. I want to finish these garments that I’m planning, not add to my pile of stuff – so I’ve decided to really hold back on alterations I make to these patterns. For the shorts I’ll raise the center front though, as I’ve seen that is a recurring comment from others who have made it, and for the blouse I want merge the ties and the collar stand instead of having a separate tie. I’ll probably also raise the underarm slightly since the blouse isn’t drafted to be sleeveless.

So, I’m going to finish a longstanding UFO, make two pieces of clothing I’ve been wanting in my wardrobe, using fabrics and patterns from the stash. Win, win, win, win, huh? I’m excited! Anyone else participating in the Outfit Along?

winter woolens

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… or “Loki mittens and the third watch-cap”. It’s winter! I made wooly stuff I can wear! Let’s have a look.

Mittens
Yarn:
 Random scraps of yarn – most of it gifted balls of Icelandic yarn from the stash of a friend who’d been there.
Pattern: Made up, based on Loki sweater pattern. (my ravelry project page)
Techniques: Stranded colorwork, ribbing.

Cabled hat
Yarn:
 Merino wool from a frogged sweater.
Pattern: Cabled watch-cap by Kristen Orme
Techniques: Ribbing, cables.

So, the mittens are a figment of my imagination. Not in the sense that they aren’t real (they must be – the keep my hands warm every day!), but the pattern is made up. I came across the Loki kid sweater on Ravelry a really long time ago, and immediately thought they would make cool Icelandic-inspired mittens with some Icelandic coarse wool I’d just been given by a friend. It took several years to make this happen, but here! Finally!

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I used the repeat pattern from the original kid sweater and repeated it eight times, following the decreases from the chart exactly. It made a sort of funny cone-like shape that isn’t the best for.. you know, hand-shapes. I’m on to the second pair (this time for a friend), and making improvements to get a proper hand shape instead. Meanwhile, I washed, blocked and stretched this pair, and it works just fine. It is very rustic looking – both in yarn and stitch quality! In my defense I will claim that the gorgeously colored green yarn (which a burn test revealed to be some sort of acrylic I think, though oddly stiff) was really hard to work with. I didn’t make it easier on myself either by choosing to combine three different weights of yarn! Especially in the middle section where all three colors are in play at once – it got thick and dense real fast. Surprisingly though, for being a stranded pattern *and* real sticky Icelandic wool, these mittens are not very warm. On their own they are barely good for a crisp fall day, which doesn’t quite describe the season we’re in. I wonder if the gauge might be too loose to get a real dense fabric? Regardless – a pair of thin gloves underneath and it’s all ok. Plus, I love how well these mittens match my woolen hats, and my winter jacket, and generally the rest of my wardrobe. I’ve decided they are kind of charming in their rustic-ness!

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I had a lot of fun knitting these mittens – I’ve forgotten how much I love doing colorwork! It is a fairly small project, and with changes to pretty much every row it is excellent entertainment… Just one more row! I have two more of this type planned out/started, and another fingering weight colorwork pair of mittens  at the top of my ravelry queue (this one). I’m thinking of using my Barcelona souvenir yarn and some thin brown alpacca yarn. It will be sumptuous!

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Ok, and now the hat. It might look familiar. It’s the third time I’ve knit the exact same hat in the exact same yarn. I posted about the first time I knit this hat here (it ended up being to big and I gave it to a friend), and here is the post for the second one (which apparently I’ve lost).

I’m not quite sure what to say about this hat other than 1. I obviously love it since I’ve knit it three times, 2. I actually finally almost used up the rest of this merino wool! It came from a thrifted sweater and the yarn is so fine I’ve been knitting with four strands, 3. I like the wider ribbing of the second version the best, and 4. I’m particularly pleased with how I did the increases between the ribbing and the cabled pattern in such a way that the pattern grows naturally from the rib pattern.

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Oh, I wanted to talk a little about photo editing! That was a topic on Katie’s blog in connection with her Better Pictures post on indoor photography, as well as Gillian’s post on using Lightroom. Personally I use a combination of Bridge and Photoshop, which I have since I got a really great deal on the Adobe CS-package while still a student at an art college. Sidenote – there at school I took a digital photography class where we used Lightroom, and I thought it was really good, and easy to use. When my current set-up is outdated beyond repair, Lightroom would be my dream choice for blog photo editing.

The set-up I’ve got going now is pretty much a substitute to the Lightroom setup in many ways. I use a Nikon D600, and I have it set up to save in both RAW and jpeg formats. I got used to working with RAW-files in the digital photography class, and I’m just not going back if I can help it! There is so much information in the unprocessed files, which in many ways makes photo editing much easier, since there is more you can do before your photos look… you know, really edited. Anyways, I open my photoshoot folder in Bridge, and look through what I have. As I go along I label the pictures I like (you can use a star rating, or different colors). Then I filter to show only labeled photos, and start comparing and deselecting the good but not great ones. Once I have my selection I mark them all and open with Photoshop, which will go straight into RAW-editing mode. From there I can play with temperature, exposure, black level, brightness, recovery and fill light (the last two are great for overexposed white areas, and those times when the light source is behind me or not strong enough). Those are the things I pretty consistently adjust. I have set up an action to save my photos, so a keyboard shortcut will resize the photo optimized for web, into a folder I’ve specified, and close out the photo from Photoshop so I know I’m done with it. It works really well. I’m very in favor of actions – once you’ve taken the trouble of setting them up!

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I thought about all of this because while editing the photos I hit the auto-option for color temperature and general exposure (like I always do – at the very least I want to see what the program thinks I should do!), and it made the colors really warm, and it made for a nice-looking photo. My first thought however was “This is all wrong! It was a really cold day, with the sun setting early in the afternoon and I had a pale, low sun as the source of light. It should look cold!”. So I left the pictures looking a little cold. I’m not entirely sure what my point is, other than maybe that I edit the pictures to reflect how I think it looked or felt that day. Which this day was pretty damn chilly. I think maybe my frosty breath is visible in some of the pictures!

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Anyone else have a system or agenda with their photo editing? Or, use the “I’m just adjusting my hat/scarf/hair-pose to avoid awkward idle hands in photos? Or, have knitted some warm wintry goodness lately? It’s the season! (Or maybe… it’s the season for having them finished already so they can be put to use!)

dino-hood

This will seem a little out of season, I’ll admit, especially since I had bare arms in the last post, but the interwebs is telling me that Chicago is still having cool enough temperatures to warrant wolly things.

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Yarn: Super bulky weight “Drops Eskimo” from “Garnstudio” in the yellowish green colorway 29, about 2 skeins (ravelry project page).
Pattern: Burton Bear Cowl
Techniques: Kitchener graft, crocheted details.

Here is the dino-hood I referenced as something I was making for not myself! It’s for the coolest little 5-year old kid in Chicago, and it’s because I came across this pattern, which is one of the most adorable things I’ve seen on a kid. I got to choose colors, and this green just called out to me. Which isn’t very surprising since I’ve actually made a cowl and hat from this exact yarn and exact color before! I’m so predictable. A trip to my mom offered the blue colored yarn to make a contrast binding and ears from – trying to think like a kid and not myself, I realized a bit of bold was a good thing.

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I dragged my feet on this one a bit. I really wanted to get this kiddo his hood before spring set in, but man… I did not like the pattern. It irritated me by being incomplete in instructions and measurements – in one place it tells you to knit a certain amount of rows (no length indicated), and in another place to knit a certain length (no rows indicated). Add the fact that no row gauge or finished hood measurements is listed in the pattern (really? Basic stuff to include!) meant that it was hard to figure out what was going on. I’m also skeptical of a pattern that includes a size range of newborn to adult across 5 sizes, with 5 different needle sizes, but still only the one stitch gauge offered. This is a paid pattern, and I expect more info, more details, more instructions and better construction from my paid patterns.

There, I’m done being critical! Excpet for the changes I made to the pattern. First off I bound off some stitches at the center front of the hood to allow the button flap to lie better, and to avoid a weak spot from sideways strain. I, along with a lot of people making this I think, opted for a kitchener graft of the top of the hood instead of the crocheted binding in the pattern. Finally, I could not get my made-up ears to look remotely as cute as the pattern pictures. While watching the Eurovision semifinals on tv, my friend suggested I made some jagged points-thingies instead, and of course! A dinosour-like ridge of triangles was a *much* better fit for the cool kiddo than the ears, so jagged pieces it is!

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The feedback is he loves it. Best result I could have hoped for!

working on…

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… Wendel socks! They are red, they are bright, they are for John, and they have a really cool geometric pattern (ravelry project page here). I had several false starts with this pair. My yarn isn’t quite right, so everything was turning out way too big. I ended up trying four or five different things before settling on a stitch count and combination that worked. John picked the color and approved the pattern, and I’m really liking the shapes that are emerging. I didn’t quite believe all the comments that the stitchpattern was easy to memorize – but it really is!

green & tweedy seamless sweater

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Yarn: DK weight “Felted Tweed” from “Rowan” in the turquoise green #152, about 4,5 skeins worth of it (ravelry project page).
Pattern: Another Seamless hybrid by Elizabeth Zimmermann. I’ve made one earlier for John, and after borrowing it a few (ahem) times, I thought I should make one for myself.
Techniques: Contrast band on inside of hem, raglan sleeves, yoke.

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Isn’t the church in the background great? It’s right next to the bus stop where we take the airport express to Rome, so the morning of heading back from olive picking we snapped some pictures while waiting for the bus. It feels like this sweater belongs to Italy somewhat now, since I’ve been working on it the last two times I’ve been there! To me it also feels like a sitting-outside-around-an-open-fire-sweater, so it fits right in there.

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It’s the second seamless hybrid I’ve made, the first one being this black cotton/wool one for John – actually the first sweater I ever made! The only construction note I have for this most recent version is that I should have knit the top of shoulders a little shorter since the neck opening ended up a little small.

The underarm picture is a reference to the first sweater I knit – John so much liked the orange yarn I’d used to hold the live stitches while finishing the knitting, that he wanted it to stay! So I grafted the underarm with that orange yarn, and he was very satisfied with the “flash of color”. With this sweater, when I grabbed the closest yarn to place the underarm stitches on hold, I realized it would be a nice little touch to leave it, and a bit of a signature move.

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Apparently I’ve already forgotten about the trials and tribulations of not having matching dyelots of the yarn (which led to a whole lot of ripping out, and subsequent striping), but I really can’t tell the difference at this point! I’d all but forgotten about it, but if you look closely you should be able to see the cuffs and hem a different color. Anyways, another sweater completed, yey!

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