A Tale of Three Socks

Toe-up socks knit in Estelle Sock Twins by Deborah CookeSocks, socks, socks. I need socks this fall and have been casting them on for myself, but my efforts have been disappointing. Here’s the first one – I’m sufficiently unimpressed by it that it doesn’t have a partner yet.

The yarn is Estelle’s Sock Twins and I bought it because of the gradient colour. This colourway is called Sunset. It’s packaged with two balls like the one shown – the second (obviously) has been knitted into that sock. I knit it toe-up because I wanted to use the whole gradient. I cast on with the yellow in the middle of the ball, then began alternating stripes with the navy from the other end.

I didn’t love the yarn as it was splitty. And I remembered that I really don’t enjoy knitting socks toe-up. (Actually, what I like about knitting socks is that I don’t have to think about my familiar pattern. In contrast, I have to follow the instructions for toe-up socks.) I knit the sock first without stripes and didn’t love how it looked, so I frogged it back and started again. The pattern I was using had a short-row heel, which I didn’t love either, so I frogged it back after I’d turned that heel. I feel like I’ve already knitted a pair of socks in this yarn and I probably have.

Because I did four rows of yellow before starting the navy, it worked out that the heel would be navy instead of yellow. Hmm. I’m not sure I love that.

Now I have to decide whether to make the second sock the same, or the other way around, with a navy toe and yellow-orange heel.

Cuff-down socks knit in Fleece Artist Cottage Socks by Deborah CookeIn the meantime, I treated myself to a skein of nice squishy Fleece Artist yarn. This is my usual cuff-down sock pattern, the one I have memorized. The yarn is Cottage Sock and the colourway is Vintage. I love Fleece Artist yarns and colours—the hardest thing is always making a choice!—and even better, they’re in Canada. (This isn’t the 100-mile yarn diet because the Maritimes are farther away from me than that, but it’s still kind of buying local.) The colourway did a spiralling pooling thing, but since both socks are the same, I’m good with that. I love these socks!

I also indulged in some sock yarn from Biscotte Yarns in Quebec. Mini-Metamorph is a gradient-dyed sock yarn, which comes in two balls, much like the Sock Twins above. The colours are gorgeous—you can see them on their website here. I ordered Tropical Lavender. The yarn is squishy soft.

My plan was to knit this pattern, the Meta-Morph sock, which has a chevron pattern. I kept mucking up the pattern stitch and having to pick it back, only to discover that after I turned the heel, the sock was too snug for me. I wish I’d taken a picture. It was a pretty sock. It just didn’t fit me.

Sock knit in Biscotte Yarns Mini-Metamorph by Deborah CookeYou know what happened next. I frogged it back and cast on again in my usual cuff-down pattern. I added a stripe, an unbalanced one this time to try to keep the contrast high for the whole sock. I guessed when to turn the heel, hoping to use most or all of the yarn, but it’s clear now that I turned too soon for that. I’m not frogging it again. I’ll just figure out what to do with the yummy leftover (red) bit.

Here’s the first sock:

I have the same question again: should I make a matching pair, or should I knit the second one in reverse? It would start with deep red with purple stripes which would look good. Hmm.

At least I have one new pair of finished socks!

Koigu Navelli

I’ve been knitting a sweater, too, and even though it’s not done, I wanted to show it to you. The pattern is called Navelli (that’s a Ravelry link) and it’s designed by Caitlin Hunter. I’ve never knit a cropped wide sweater before (or worn one) but I really like this design. I’ve also been admiring sweaters lately that use a variegated or gradient dyed yarn along with solids in fair isle work. When I found several skeins of a really pretty colourway at the Koigu tent sale, I wanted to work with that.

The colourway that started me off is P528, a mix of teal and pink and blues, even with a bit of purple.

I found one contrast colour at Koigu: a teal in KPM, 5513. It looks kettle dyed, in that there’s variation in the tone, but not additional colours. There was only one skein so it had to take the place of the light pink in the original pattern.

When I got home and checked the stash, I discovered that I had three skeins of Shibui Knits Sock in purple. It was a perfect match, so that became my “brown”. The variegated colourway is my main colour for the body of the sweater. (This yarn is discontinued. I’d bought it originally to knit these opera gloves from Vogue Knitting Winter 2008/2009. Since then, I’ve realized that I’m unlikely to ever wear long knitted gloves, so the yarn has aged in the stash. It’s good to see it being put to work.)

Here is my Navelli before I split for the underarms:

Navelli knit in Koigu by Deborah Cooke, in progress

The variegated yarn is a bit more emphatic than I’d expected. The tips of the fair isle in the purple kind of disappear into the pattern of the yarn, but what really surprised me was the pooling—and the big swirl. It looks a bit like the way hard candy swirls – like this image to the right. (That’s a stock image with its watermark intact.) The left lollipop really looks like this sweater to me!hard candy swirls

The strange thing is that I am knitting from alternate skeins (two rows from one, then two rows from the other) which should (theoretically) break up any pooling. This yarn, though, is determined to pool. I wondered what would happen when I split the sweater for the underarms – with half as many stitches being worked, I thought maybe the swirl would break up. It did, but it’s worse:

Navelli knit by Deborah Cooke in Koigu KPPPM

It’s actually making vertical blobs now. Ugh. That decided it. The patterning in the yarn is distracting from the fair isle – and I think it’s ugly.  I’m going to frog back to the fair isle and reknit the stockinette with the colour that’s in the skeins at the top. It’s closer to a semi-solid than a variegated yarn, so should pattern like my Koigu Lunenberg. There’s purple in this colourway, too, but the blue in the fair isle might end up looking a bit off. I think it’s in there, but it’s not the dominant blue. This gives me a chance to make another measure of my gauge – it looks like I might need to stay on the smaller needles for the plain stockinette as well as the fair isle.

R-r-r-r-r-r-r-rip it! I’m sad to do this, especially as I bought this variegated colourway specifically for this sweater, but that’s the way it goes.

Here’s my project page on Ravelry.

 

Koigu Nightshift

Dragon's Kiss, book two of the DragonFate novels, a series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeI haven’t posted about my knitting for a while. I like to show you finished knits, but right now, I’m in the middle of a lot of projects, and casting on more. This is typical of me when I’m beginning a new series – in this case, it’s the DragonFate Novels – and both doing more research and making series plans. I tend to end up with a lot of new projects on the needles when I’m in that phase of writing, and that’s certainly the case right now. So, rather than remaining silent for the next few months 🙂 while I catch up with my knitting ambitions, I’ll show you a few projects that are in the works.

The first is my Koigu Nightshift. Nightshift is a shawl pattern by Andrea Mowry, designed to be knit with six colours of a gradient yarn. Two colourways are used at any time, resulting in bands of colour with dots and dashes in the contrasting colour. It’s a striking piece, and quite substantial since the yarn is worsted weight. I cast on with worsted weight yarn but felt that the result was too thick for me to actually wear. I dove into the stash and came up with an alternative – Koigu KPPPM.

Here are my colours:

Koigu KPPM for Deborah Cooke's Nightshift shawl

This photo was taken in bright sunlight. The colours are a little deeper than they appear here, and a little less pinky. The red is the leftover from my Koigu Lunenberg cardigan – there are almost four balls (just over 600 yards) of 329P left. This will use it up. (This is one colourway I bought the first year I went to the Koigu tent sale in 2016: the second was the grey mix I’m using in my Juicy Gloss cardigan. If I ever knit the sleeves on that, there probably won’t be much of that colour left.)

Charlotte's Web shawl, knit by Deborah Cooke in KoiguFor my contrast for the Nightshift shawl, I chose four purple colourways. In 2017 at the Koigu tent sale, I bought a pack of ten different shades of purple. I knit Charlotte’s Web with five of them – there it is, in progress on the right, but still have the other five. You can see all of the colours in this photo: two are already knit up in the shawl, with the three balls that I planned to use (and did) lined up on the right. The five skeins below are the ones I have left now. One of them – the far right one – doesn’t go as well with the others, to my thinking, especially when combined with the red. I chose the other four to use with the red for my Nightshift.

This (inevitably) reminds me of the Jenny Joseph poem:
“When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple,
with a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me.”

I’ve never understood why anyone had to wait to wear red and purple together.

This stash-dive gives me (4 x 160) 640 yards of purples and about 610 yards of red. I’ll knit until it’s gone. The pattern calls for 6 skeins that are 150 yards each, so I have more yardage. This yarn is thinner, though, so I’m hoping the shawl still comes out a good size.

Because Koigu KPPPM is fingering weight, not worsted, as specified in the pattern, I also cast on with smaller needles than specified in the pattern. I’m using 3.75mm. It’s a bit loose, which gives the yarn room to bloom, but I could have used 3.5mm.

Also, the red will appear in every band of colour in my shawl, although it will switch from being the main colour to being the contrast.

Here’s a close-up of my progress so far.

Deborah Cooke's Koigu Nightshift Shawl in progress

The first repeat had a red background and contrast in the lightest purple. The second repeat was inverted – lightest purple background with red contrast. The third repeat, which is almost half done in this picture, has the darkest purple as background and the red as the contrast colour. My project page on Ravelry for this shawl is right here.

How do you like the beginning of my red and purple Nightshift?

The Red Cardigan Completed

I finished my red Lunenberg cardigan (that’s a Ravelry link) and I just love it. This is a basic cardigan but using the Koigu KPPPM really made it spectacular.

Lunenberg Cardigan knit in Koigu KPPPM by Deborah Cooke

Once again, the colour isn’t true in the pictures. It’s a cherry red, but seems to photograph pink.

I was really pleased that the colours didn’t pool at all. The sleeve caps ended up looking a bit lighter than everything else, but it was just the way the colour worked out.

I showed this sweater to you earlier, without the sleeves, in this post.

I changed out the ribbing for garter stitch, because I really like how KPPPM looks in garter stitch. I used just over 8 skeins of KPPPM, so there could be another of these in my future. Here’s the link to my project page on Ravelry.

What do you think?

The Wingspan Shawl

It’s finally finished and here it is:

Wingspan shawl knit by Deborah Cooke

It’s so big that it was hard to take a picture!

Wingspan Shawl knit by Deborah Cooke

This is the Wingspan shawl, a pattern that was released this past spring. I substituted a yarn from my stash – Briar Rose Fibers Sea Pearl – because I thought it had a shine like raven’s wings. One skein was also the right quantity for the shawl. This stash-busting plan went awry, though, because I ran out of yarn and bought another skein to finish the wing tips. So, now, instead of having one skein of Sea Pearl in my stash, I have .9 skein in another colourway. C’est la vie.

I also went up a needle size, because I thought the fabric was too tight. That might be why the shawl is so big. I blocked it hard in a slight V and it’s 78″ from wingtip to wingtip.

Although it’s an amazing and unusual shawl design, it’s was less difficult to knit than I’d expected. If you’ve ever knit a chevron stitch, this is similar. I found it a little tricky at the beginning to get my bearings, but stitch markers were a big help. Once I got the hang of the pattern and could read my knitting, it became a bit repetitive (but not a TV knit for me.) The transitions – between each tier of feathers – were the challenging part for me and I had to follow them very closely. I don’t love the transitions, btw, and wish the spine of each feather started sooner in the transition, as soon as the stitches are available instead of all feathers beginning at the end of the transition, but it would be a lot more complicated that way. The transitions blocked out better.

Here’s a detail shot. It’s hard to capture the subtlety of the colours in this yarn. It really is lovely.

Detail of Wingspan shawl knit by Deborah Cooke

You can see the transitions I’m talking about, below the tier of feathers on the left and before the ones that hem the shawl (and fall to the right). They’re triangles of stockinette stitch, filling the space between each feather on the previous tier.

You can see that I added some beads, too. I really should have used a lot more of them.

Phew. I’m glad to have that one off the needles! What do you think?

The Red Cardigan

I haven’t had any knitting to show you for a while, because I’ve been knitting away on a couple of big projects. I’ve almost finished the Wingspan shawl – I’ve knit the wing tips and cast off half of the shawl width. I have to do the other side, then block it, so I should have that to show you soon.

Here’s a progress report on my red cardigan in Koigu KPPPM. I’m working on the collar right now – you can see my needle in the stitches – then have just the sleeves to knit.

Lunenberg Cardigan knit in Koigu KPPPM by Deborah Cooke

Once again, the colour looks a lot more pink in this image than it actually is. The yarn is a wonderful rich red and not very pink at all. (I talked about that in my last post about this project.) It actually matches the currant jelly I made this week. 🙂

The pattern is the Lunenberg cardiganhere’s a Ravelry link. The pattern is included in By Hand Serial #9 – you can see more about that publication on their website, here.

I’ve made some changes. Instead of ribbing on the hem, button bands and collar, I’m using garter stitch – mostly because I love how garter stitch shows off the colours of Koigu. I made a mistake in my calculations for the button band – there are supposed to be 8 buttons on the button band and one in the collar, but the way I figured it out, there are 9, plus the one in the collar. I’m not going to rip it back because I have another card of these buttons. Here’s my project page on Ravelry.

I am loving the softness and the colours of this yarn – which means, yes, we’ll be making another trip to the Koigu tent sale this August.

What do you think?

Additions to the Herd

I haven’t talked about my vintage sewing machines for a while, but there are two new girls in the herd, and I thought I’d show them off today.

First, there’s a Singer Stylist 457:

Singer Stylist 457

This one was quite clean, although I want to refinish its box. It was made in St. John’s, Quebec, in 1961. Here’s a bit on that plant, which opened in 1904 and was closed in 1986. The Stylist isn’t a machine with a fabulous reputation, because its gears are plastic, as you can see on this page on the Singer UK site. Since it was in good shape, though, and a zigzag machine, and just $10, home it came to join the herd. That button in front is to drop the feed dogs, which is cool, too.

Then, I found this Pfaff 360:
This picture is from its arrival here, and you can see that it was pretty dirty. I think someone was a smoker. It ran well, though, and is very clean inside, as if it was well maintained. I like that it has a similar free arm design to my old Elnas. The serial number indicates that it was built in 1959.

This one didn’t have all the goodies with it – in fact, it needed a new bobbin case – but it ran beautifully and was only $20 so it joined the herd, too. I have another Pfaff, a Pfaff 30, which is in a wooden cabinet. It’s a sturdy machine that sews a straight stitch.

I haven’t shown you the herd for a while, so here are (most of) the girls.

First, my Elnas. The first green one is called a Grasshopper. This was the first Elna design and was in production from 1940 to 1952. It was intended to compete with the Singer Featherweight and is a light little machine. That thing coming out the front right is a knee lever.Elna Grasshopper Sewing Machine

Next is a Supermatic from 1954 and then (the taupe one) another Supermatic from 1956. These two have little doors on the top, which are for cams for decorative stitches. They both have their original cases, which can be used to create a larger sewing surface – you can see how that cut-out fits around the free arm of the machine. The taupe one has the original Bakelite box for bobbins and accessories. It slides under the free arm when you pack it all away.Elna Supermatic from 1954 Elna Supermatic from 1959
Then there’s a Hugin, which is a similar machine that was made in Sweden. This one sadly hasn’t done any sewing, because it needs a belt and I haven’t found one the right length yet. It’s also a straight stitch machine. I just like that it’s named after one of Odin’s ravens. (I blogged about it once before in this post.)Hugin sewing machine

Next are the Singer machines: first a cute little 185K. (I don’t have a picture of my Featherweight – it’s just a plain black one.) My 185 was made in Scotland in 1958. That box in front is a buttonholer. I like that the box matches the machine so well.

Singer 185K

Then there are two old Singer machines. The first has a stencil design called Venezia, and some original wiring. (Hmm.) The second one is a handcrank with decals called Victoria. I think they’re just so pretty. They’re both Scottish lasses.Singer handcrank sewing machine Singer handcrank sewing machine

Finally, there’s the treadle machine in the cabinet. This is a King Rotary, which I haven’t been able to find out much about. It was likely made in Buffalo, New York – here’s a bit about the King sewing machine company and you can see that the heraldic emblem on mine is like the one on that website. Look at those lovely iris decals:King Rotary treadle sewing machine

Do you collect anything vintage?

Red Koigu KPPPM Cardigan

It’s Fibre Friday again, and time to peek in on my knitting projects. Progress on my Wingspan shawl came to shuddering halt this week, when I realized I would run out of yarn. You might remember that I went up a needle size and wondered if I’d run out. Well, I will. So, I stopped knitting and ordered another skein of the same yarn – it’s Briar Rose Fibers Sea Pearl. The yarn is 50% merino and 50% tencel, and has a lovely sheen. I didn’t think that mixing in another yarn even for the border would look right.

The colour and dye lot aren’t marked on mine and it’s been aging in the stash for so long that there’s no way the colour would match anyway. I had a look at their website and think mine might be colour 1841. (It’s also possible that it’s a colour they don’t dye anymore.) I ordered a skein of 1901 (it’s on the second page of colour samples) which is a grey. It looks quite similar to mine but without the pink, which should make the hem look a bit darker. And the grey is probably the same dye.

While that project is on hold, I wanted to knit something other than socks. I had another poke through my needle stash and found a pair of 3.5mm circulars. Yay! They’re only 60 cm long, but that’s plenty for a cardigan knit in pieces. You know what happened next – I cast on the Lunenberg Cardigan in my red Koigu.

Here’s what it looks like so far:

Back of Lunenberg Cardigan knit in Koigu KPPPM by Deborah CookeIt’s interesting how pink this shot looks on my computer. The yarn is actually a gorgeous variegated cherry red and I just love it.

The colour number is 329. I had a look at the colours on Koigu’s site, and it looks even more vividly pink there. It looks more like #859 on this page.

This cardigan is knit top down but in pieces – this is the back from the shoulders down. I have a few more inches to go before doing the ribbing (which will give me time to decide whether to knit ribbing or another edge) but I’m very happy with how it’s coming out.

What do you think?

Sunny Socks

We’ve been having so much rain here that Mr. Math and I have been discussing the merit of building an ark. It’s a bit frustrating as far as the garden goes – the weeds keep growing, but the weather isn’t very conducive to getting out there and cleaning up the beds. I did a lot of work in April but have been kind of stalled since then, and the thistles are taking advantage of their moment.

Rain is good weather for writing, though, and it’s also good for knitting. I’ve been working away on my Wingspan shawl and am getting down to the feather tips. It’s all bunched up on the needles though so I can’t take a good picture. I’ve added some beads, which I really like, and currently am playing yarn chicken. Will I run out? (I think it likely.) What yarn will I use for the wingtips if I do run out of this yarn? That’s a really interesting question and I haven’t decided yet. I’ll take some pix when it’s finished and blocked.

In the meantime, I’ve knit myself a pair of socks. Wingspan isn’t TV knitting at all. Socks are. These socks are very bright, which is welcome this year.

Socks knit in Sugar Bush Itty-Bitty by Deborah Cooke

The pattern is my usual one, but the yarn is a new for me. It’s Sugar Bush Itty-Bitty, which I found in the mill ends bin at Spinrite. The colourway is Sailor’s Sky Delight. The yarn is a blend of merino and nylon with a bit of cashmere. It’s a lot thicker than I thought it was, and these socks are both thick and big. I should have used 64 sts instead of my usual 72. I used just over two balls.

Sock Twins socks knit toe-up by Deborah Cooke

I’ve cast on another pair of sunny socks for myself. I bought this yarn at Spinrite, too. It’s called Sock Twins and includes two balls of yarn that are gradient dyed. The idea is that you easily knit socks that match. I want to use it all so I’m knitting this pair toe-up, starting with the yellow. I like the colours but am not loving the yarn so much – it feels thin and splitty – but maybe it will full when it’s washed. They’re not showing all the colours on the website – you can see mine, which is called Sunset, on Ravelry right here.

I also found the loveliest magazine this week. It’s called By Hand Serial, and the issue I found is number nine. It features a region and the makers in that region, with lovely photographs, interview and projects. Number nine is about Nova Scotia. You can see a preview on their website, right here. As a bonus, I’m not really motivated to finish my Wingspan, because I need those 3.5mm needles to make the Lunenberg Cardigan!

The Wingspan Shawl

If you’ve been conscious over the past two weeks in the knitting world, you’ve probably seen the Wingspan shawl. This is an incredible design that looks like a bird’s wings. The original is very striking because it’s knit in a hand-dyed ombré yarn that shades once over a colour progression in 800 yds or so. The kit went on sale last Saturday at the Knitter’s Frolic in Toronto, and the pattern went on sale on Ravelry the same day.

You know I bought both. 🙂

Here’s the Wingspan pattern on Ravelry.

Here’s the kit at Blue Brick Yarns.

There’s (predictably) a backlog on yarn orders – this pattern has gone viral – so I cast on the shawl in Briar Rose Sea Pearl, a yarn in my stash which comes in an 800 yd skein of fingering, just like the specified yarn. This is a handpaint, not an ombré, so the wings won’t shade. Sea Pearl is 50% merino and 50% tencel, so it has a shine. This skein has always made me think of a bird’s feathers, so it seemed the perfect choice. I’m not sure what colourway mine is as it’s not marked on the tag and there seem to be a few contenders on the Briar Rose site – if they even dye this colourway anymore. My skein has been well-aged in the stash.

Here’s the skein before I caked it up:Briar Rose Sea Pearl

And here’s my progress on the shawl.

Wingspan shawl knit by Deborah CookeYou can see that I’ve finished the second row of feathers. (There are four rows altogether.) I’m really pleased that there’s no pooling of the colour. My beads have arrived (they’re pewter with silver linings) so I’ll be adding them to the rest of the shawl.

This is a really lovely knit. It’s quite addictive. Although the instructions are written, not charted, once I got the hang of what is going on, I didn’t need to read every line anymore. (I’m not sure that this pattern could have been charted.)

What do you think?