Alive & Knitting on the Move

As mentioned previously, I’m in the process of dividing my blog posts. All the knitting, sewing and Fibre Friday posts will now live on their own blog, Alive & Knitting. Book stuff will remain here.

All the posts aren’t moved yet, but there are enough to make it worth having the new blog public. I’ll delete posts from here as they move over there. I still want to build some other parts of that site, but moving the posts (and pictures) is my first priority. Unfortunately, comments can’t be moved, so I apologize if your comments have vanished. Please feel free to post them again!

Visit Alive & Knitting!

Disappearing Posts

If you like to cruise my posts about knitting and quilting, you’ll start to find some bad links. I’ve decided to move all of my crafty posts to their own blog, to improve the SEO of this site. Pictures of my knitting don’t, after all, have much to do with my books.

There’s a lot to transfer so I’ll give you the new url of the new blog after the transition is done. I’m also deleting posts after they’re moved, so I can keep track of my progress, so posts will be disappearing here, too. They’ll all turn up over there once I’m done. I’m starting with the oldest posts and am up to 2009 so it might be a while before you notice any missing posts.

I’m also correcting the blog links on my Ravelry project pages as I go, since some of them haven’t been fixed since the last time I moved the blog – the whole thing was moved from delacroix.net to this site about ten years ago. Pam helped me do that automatically, which I think was possible because it was the whole blog. This time, it’s all by hand, cherrypicking through it all.

The disappointing thing about moving blog posts is that the comments don’t transfer. I apologize to you for that. I’ll let you know when it’s done. 🙂

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!

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?

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!