A little hiya and wips before disappearing for round 2 of Sock Madness

Hi there, how are you today? I’m a day later than usual to post but I just wasn’t feeling very inspired yesterday so thought I’d rather hold off and write today:)

I’m doing fine these days and the weather here is slowly changing to spring. Today it is super nice outside, sunny and warm and they are even predicting up to 23°C for this Sunday! The nice weather makes working a little harder than usual, even if I’m not much of a sun bather. It just makes me want to take my knitting to the beach or out in the garden with an audiobook and a cool drink…. Oh if only…

But now onto more serious things! As you can see from the title, I’m getting ready for round 2 of Sock Madness. If you are wondering (or participating yourself) I’m in team Amaranth Zebu (don’t ask me what those words mean) which is the fastest team in the competition. This team has some seriously fast knitters and people who do not hesitate to do an all nighter in order to get their socks done at lightning speed. Somewhat worrying for those of us who have a full time job and 3 kids! But I’m still hoping to be able to make it to round 7 like last year although I do, deep down, realize that might not be realistic. A few hours ago we got a notification about the yarn and needles for the upcoming round. It will be a stranded pattern on size 2 mm needles! Yep, not an easy one but then Sock Madness is not for the faint of heart. We’ll see. After talking to you, I’ll be getting my project bag all ready to go. I have already chosen all my yarns (we get a list of all the materials needed for all the rounds) but I’m thinking I will split each cake of yarn into two so that I can do my socks concurrently, maybe that is a good idea. Don’t know… So once the pattern is out (within the next 36 hours or so) I will most likely disappear from social media until I’m all done!

Now onto what I have been working on since finishing round 1 of Sock Madness. I have of course been working on more socks.

I purchased some self striping sock yarn from a new to me, Swedish indie dyer that goes by the name Asfaltflikan (I think) on Etsy and I cast on for those this past weekend.

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I love all the bright colors and as always, self striping socks always seem to knit up way faster than when using any other kind of yarn.

I also purchased Kay Jones’s latest pattern, the Incantation socks, and cast on for those using my first ever La Bien Aimée yarns. I splurged on a sock set in gorgeous colors. Its an 80/20 BFL/nylon yarn. It feels sturdy and woolly but I’m sure it will soften up once washed. I’m not far on sock one and I think I will let it wait and knit on it while I’m on vacation in Iceland next week.

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The stitch pattern is a 4 round repeat and easily memorizable. I think these will be lovely once done.

I have finished my secret test knit cardigan and I LOVE IT! The pattern should be released soon so I should be able to share the pictures with you later this month.

I’m currently working on two larger projects. One shawl and one cardigan. The shawl is the Ramble shawl by Andrea Mowry. This, like the Briochealicious shawl, is part garter stitch and part brioche. I have finished the garter portion and am now working on the brioche pattern. For some reason my gauge is way looser than my garter stitch and I’m wondering if the end result will be ok. I think I may need to knit a bit further before deciding if I need to rip back and maybe go down a needle size or just try to knit at a tighter gauge. Not quite sure. This is a two color shawl and I’m using yarn from Dream in Color and as a contrast yarn, I’m using my own handspun gradient yarn in pinks. I really like how the two yarns work up together and using handspun is always very rewarding. Here are some pictures both from afar and close up, front and back.

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What do you think?

And then there is my big handspun, sweater spin project. I joined André Sue and Sue of Legazy Fibre Arts for a sweater spin and I have spun up a 50/50 blend of merino and silk. Gorgeous fibre that I then dyed a light grey. This is my biggest handspun project so far and i’m really enjoying knitting my cardigan and I think I will be so very proud once it’s done because I will really have done it from start to finish. My yarn is of course not perfectly even like commercially spun yarns are but because the pattern is textured all over, the uneven parts are hidden and really don’t show (I think). I’m not very far in but so far I’m really enjoying it. I’m debating if I should take it with me to Iceland or if I should leave it at home. I would have to bring a few skeins of yarn if I intend to knit on it there so I don’t know just yet what I will do. But here are some pictures to show you my progress so far. Oh and before I forget, I’m knitting the Sammal  cardigan by Joji Locatelli.IMG_7581

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My swatch

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this will be a very warm cardigan and a pleasure to wear in winter I’m sure. Have you knit a garment with your handspun yarn? I’d love to hear and see pictures:)

That’s it for today I think. I need to prep my project bag for Round 2 and I also need to think about what knits to bring on my trip to Iceland. I’ll be sure to take pictures and share my adventures when I’m back. So next week I might not blog, not sure yet as I’ll be away from home. So until next time, have a wonderful time and happy knitting:)

Hi there, how are you? It’s been two weeks since my last post. I’m sorry I didn’t write anything last week and I’m sure you wondered what that was all about. Well it was all about Sock Madness!

After knitting the qualifying pair of socks, I ended up in THE fastest team! I immediately got a lump in my stomach and regretted having been so ultra competitive. I should have taken more time to finish but hey! So I’m in a team called Amaranth Zebu – don’t ask me what that means, I have no idea 🙂

So the pattern for round 1 came last Monday and I was sure, for some reason, it wouldn’t arrive until later that week so I spent Monday morning knitting on other things. At noon I discovered the pattern was there and I panicked! I immediately cast on and there was no stopping me! I knit like crazy and finished my pair in 4 days! The round is open for 14 days but just knowing that I’m with some crazy speedy knitters made me worried and I could not imagine dropping out after only one round! And so I made it to round 2!

Now only “problem” there is that I’m going to Iceland with my kids beginning of April and I’m crossing fingers and toes and hoping that the second pattern will arrive BEFORE I leave so I can work on them there. If it doesn’t, it means it will arrive while I’m away from home and if I want to stay in the game, I will have to bring a ton of yarn with me because you never know which pattern is coming next! Before the start of the competition we get a list of materials needed for each pattern so we can prepare and have everything ready to go. But if I’m not home when the pattern comes, well that’s complicated!

So I’m stressing about that now. Hopefully it will arrive before I leave and all will be good! But here’s my finished pair for round 1

The pattern repeat is easily memorizable. It is knit using two contrasting colored yarns. I chose two different bases also, the burgundy one is on my Sox base and the yellow one is on the same base as my POP only it has black nepps instead of the colored ones. I think these go together really well.

The stitch pattern is quite stretchy. Also the heel construction was totally new to me and I think it makes for a “bigger” heel, that is more rows so when I finished the socks ended up being a little big for me. But the colours aren’t “manly” enough for me to give them to my son so I’m going to keep them anyway.

These were knit toe up with an afterthought heel, but not the typical afterthought heel but a version with a small heel flap. A new to me way of knitting a heel.

So once the socks were off my needles I went back to knitting on my secret test knit cardigan. I’m only 6 rows from casting off the body now and I hope to do that today and start on sleeve one. I’m supposed to finish early next week and I’ll do my best to keep the deadline although I think I may need a few more extra days. Also I’m not able to just knit on one thing so of course I cast on for a shawl! I’m doing the Ramble shawl by Andrea Mowry. It’s half garter and half brioche. At the moment I’m on the garter portion. It’s knit using two yarns and I’m using a gradient yarn I handspun and then a hand dyed yarn. I originally chose Chai Latte from Knit Cosmic Strings which is a beige and brown yarn but it ended up being too close in color to the lightest color of my gradient so the two color stripes in the garter section didn’t show up. It was all just sort of one color so I ripped back and chose another yarn I had wound up and works really nice. It’s Smooshy from Dream in Color in the Beach Fog colorway and this time the two yarns really contrast each other. I haven’t knit much so far so no picture of my progress yet but here is my handspun yarn and a picture of the pattern with the two yarns I originally chose.

I really love the brioche portion of this shawl and look forward to getting there in my knitting.

Another project I’m preparing is the Sammal cardigan by Joji Locatelli. I’m going to knit it with my handspun yarn that I spun as part of the sweater spin organized by Andre Sue Knits and Sue of Legazy Fibre Arts. It’s been awhile since I finished the yarn and I was holding of dyeing it. It felt a bit overwhelming because the yarn was so special. I’d spent so much time making it and I had chosen a gorgeous pattern and so the dyeing had to be just so. Also I didn’t know what color to dye and then this weekend I finally took a decision. It would be grey! And so I dyed my yarn in a light grey color and luckily the weather here in Normandy was glorious this past weekend so the yarn dried up nicely in my garden and last night I wound one of the skeins into a  ball to swatch.

Now swatching is not an everyday occurrence for me. I rarely swatch for anything. But as I’m using handspun yarn which is not 100% even like commercially spun yarn, I felt swatching was a must. Not to mention the fact that knitting an intricate cardigan in handspun yarn only to find out it doesn’t fit…well that was just not an option.

So I knit up a swatch last night and washed it before going to bed so today I’m going to check the gauge and if it doesn’t fit then redo my swatch. I didn’t cut the yarn because I don’t know how many swatches I may need to do and I’m afraid I might run out of yarn which would be a catastrophe!

So this is going to be my next cast on, after I finish my test knit cardigan. I’m planning on taking this with me on Easter vacation to Iceland and knit on this and the future Sock Madness socks while I’m there.

That’s about all I think for now. The weather here is beautiful today and it is supposed to be gorgeous all the time until the weekend of course! But then bad weather on weekends is never all bad for us knitters as it’s just ideal for cozy knitting inside:)

I wish you a wonderful and productive week. I hope you will have nice weather and lots of quality knitting time. I’ll be back next week for more news on my knitting and soon ( in April) there will be another Maker of the Month feature and April’s maker is a yarn dyer so lots to look forward to!

My big March plans

Hi there how are you today? it’s raining cats and dogs here in Normandy this morning. It almost feels like winter is coming back and they have predicted this kind of weather for the rest of the week I think. Funny how gloomy weather can sometimes affect your mood at least on weekdays. Because yesterday, Sunday, it was the same and I wasn’t bothered at all! In fact I spent almost the entire day knitting! Maybe a little too much time to be quite honest because my hands felt a bit sore by the time I went to bed.

But March is a very heavily busy month knitwise. It hadn’t started  out as such but as we got closer to the end of February, beginning of March the projects just piled on.

But before I share those with you let me show you my two Fos.

First off is a pair of socks that I was test knitting for my friend and designer Dana Gervais. The pattern is called Good Karma and will be a for sale pattern on Ravelry in the near future.

The pattern is fun to knit and quite intuitive. It’s a mirrored pattern which means that the pattern is placed differently on each sock so that they mirror each other. I managed to knit them quite quickly as I had big plans coming up and absolutely wanted and needed to get them done in time.

I used one of my newer bases which I call POP. It’s a merino/donegal nepp tweed yarn. And what is especially fun with this tweed yarn is that the nepps are multi colored instead of just plain black as usually. I have knit socks out of this yarn before and I really love both knitting with it and the finished project. So here are some pictures of my finished socks.

 

They look really nice even if I say so myself! I’m taking a break from test knitting socks this month due to my heavy workload but I really look forward to doing it again.

My second finished object is a shawl that I started on January 1st 2017. This was part of the brioche challenge hosted by Louise Tilbrook Designs. I did choose a pattern that was not all brioche thinking it would go quicker although just from looking at the pattern pictures, I could see that it is quite big. Well, I got sidetracked needless to say and I only just finished last week. I knit this using two of my yarns in my SOX base and two other yarns. And it is huge! I haven’t blocked the shawl yet and frankly I don’t know if I will. Maybe I’ll just lightly steam block it before giving it away because yes I’m going to gift it to someone special. Shh not saying just in case she reads my blog.

The shawl I’m babbling about is the Briochealicious shawl by Andrea Mowry. It is a mix of brioche and garter stitch so quite a relaxing knit and I really did enjoy knitting on it. I can even see myself knitting a second one that I would keep. But here’s a picture – although you can’t see it in its entirety because of the size.

Yes that’s me modelling the shawl 🙂

And now onto current works in progress. I can show you two but one is a secret test knit. I was contacted by a relatively new designer that I love. I have knit one of her sweaters, the Kitsune sweater. And I already have a cardigan of hers on the needles although I’m still at the very beginning there. Well so she contacted me and asked I was willing to test knit a new cardigan and once I saw the picture there was no turning back! So of course I said yes please! It is gorgeous! However she has asked us test knitters not to share any pictures until the pattern has been released so I won’t be able to show you anything for the moment. I’m knitting it on my SPARKLES base in a teal colorway and I think it will be amazing. I have one month to finish so that is part of the reason why I say March is a heavily busy knit month.

The first wip I can share, is the Snowmelt shawl by Helen Stewart of the Curious Handmade. This is a mystery kal and the last clue came out last Thursday. I have begun knitting on that clue but I won’t be able to continue until I finish my all consuming wip that I’ll tell you all about in a moment. So I’m knitting this shawl out of a new base of mine that I call Back to Basics. It’s a non superwash merino fingering yarn and it is gorgeous. I was hesitant to order non superwash fingering but I do not regret it. In fact I want to order much more. I love the fact that non superwash items do not grow so I think it will be perfect for garment knitting and I have a ton of sweaters and cardigans I want to knit using this base. But back to the shawl. I had heard Helen’s recommendations on the yarn before hand and so I dyed up 3 skeins just for this project and I’m really happy with the outcome and how they work together. This is a half pi shawl and I think it is the first time I knit one of those or if I have before, then it was ages ago because I don’t remember it. Here’s a picture of where I’m at now – I do want to finish soon so I can enter it into the FO thread in her Ravelry group for a giveaway.

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Snowmelt shawl by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade knit in Back to Basics by Knitting in France

I’m really happy with my choice of colors and I look forward to finishing the shawl.

And now onto the all consuming wip! I told you last time, I think, that I was participating in the Sock Madness competition for the second time this year. Well it has just began. The first pattern was released late Thursday night so I only got to cast on and do one cuff on that very first day but I have been knitting on this non stop since then. The first round is a qualifying round and we have 14 days to finish the pair. The faster you finish the better of course and that will also determine in which team you end up. The teams are composed of knitters that knit at similar speeds so although there are hundreds of knitters partaking in the competition you are only every competing against the members of your team so people of similar speed. That is great because it gives everyone a chance to participate. Last year I ended up in the second to fastest team I think which was quite stressful and makes me think maybe I should not try so hard to finish asap this time around but I can’t help myself. I really want to finish them at lightning speed and also when I browse the chatter and FO threads I realise that there are so many knitters that either are way speedier knitters than I am or have way more time because I’m not the fastes. Of course I’m not way behind either.

This first pattern, Twisted Madness, is not a complicated one but it is very time consuming and hard on the hands because it is basically an all over cable pattern. That makes progress slow and it just eats up yarn. There are minimum requirements so each time I have to knit the socks to my size or for my oldest to meet those and for this first pair one skein of fingering yarn is not enough. After knitting to the heel on the first sock I was seriously worried so one of the moderators told me to cast on for the second one and knit to the same place and then make a decision on if I had enough to finish or if I should change yarns. And so I did, I knit the second sock to the heel turn and then decided to turn the heel on both socks in my current yarn. After that I only had 40 gr left and I’m pretty sure I would not have had enough to finish and as we are not allowed to do contrasting heels, toes and cuffs I could not knit to the toe and then change yarns so I thought after the heel would be good spot to change.

I hesitated between yarns. My yarn was a turquoise with some yellow and I had another skein in only turquoise but of course not the exact same shade and I also had a skein of yellow also not the same shade. Finally I went with the yellow and I think my socks will look just fine when they are done.

This is where I’m at now:

 

This stitch pattern is basically a left leaning cable over 2 stitches and produces this nice pattern that you can  see close up on the picture on the right. What do you think about my choice of second color for the socks? I think they will be ok. When worn, people will see a yellow sock with a turquoise and yellow heel so I’m sure it will be ok.

So after I had turned the heel on both socks I decided to knit them taat magic loop. I’ll be knitting on them this afternoon but I’m taking a little break this morning and going to knit on my Snowmelt shawl and spin a little just to give my hands a little time off from the pattern. I chose to knit them on a long circular needle from the get go because just seeing the stitch pattern I realised that knitting them on a 9″ circular would be too hard on my hands.

So I need to finish these asap to qualify of course but also so that I have more time in between rounds so that I can finish my Snowmelt and make good progress on my test knit cardigan. Once the two weeks of the qualifying round are up, the organizers need a few days to set up the teams and so I have some time to finish other things. Each round thereafter is also 14 days but the objective is to always finish way before the time limit. So quite a busy month ahead. Are you also participating in Sock Madness this year? I’d love to know if you are so I can follow your progress on social media.

So planning wise the month of March is 90% Sock Madness and then my test knit cardigan. But I did fall for the Stephen West Mkal temptation and sign up for the Marled Magic Mystery Kal The first clue came out last Friday and I haven’t had the time to start and  realistically I may not be able to until the kal is actually over but anyway. I fell for this because he recommended that one use mohair yarn – this is a shawl knit holding two fingering weight yarns together and either use one constant color and only change on of the yarns throughout or to change both all the time. I had a few skeins of mohair/silk yarn in my stash of undyed yarns and I really don’t like the fuzziness of mohair and haven’t dyed or sold much of this yarn and when I saw the pattern and yarn recommendations I thought “it’s now or never”. Either I do this or these skeins will stay in my stash forever. And so I dyed all the skeins, 8 of them I think in a very pale mint green and then I went looking in my stash and my shop yarns for colors that could work with it and I’ve come up with a surprising palette. Actually very different from the colors I’m usually drawn to so I don’t even know if I’ll actually wear the shawl once it’s done. I might give it to someone or maybe I’ll find myself in love with all those new colors. Who knows!

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Only one of these yarns is not mine and I might just change it out for one of my own to make this a 100% Knitting in France shawl. Are you doing the mkal? I’d love to see your yarn choices and see your progress as I wait to be able to start mine.

Well, that’s all for now I think. I’ll be back this Thursday with a Maker of the Month feature and a giveaway so stay tuned for that. Until then, have a wonderful week and happy knitting 🙂