Done, done, and done.

FINALLY, PROGRESS!

The next week will be superbusy, but I am glad that I did get a lot done this weekend, and a good part of it is knitting.

After the blanket desaster, Philipp and me had a look at our friends’ wishlist, searching for a gift that would allow me to knit them at least something, however small. We debated several items and settled on some fancy kitchen equipment in the end, and I decided that I’d make them potholders.

Fancy, eh? I’m not really sure how well they’d serve as potholders, to be honest, because of the lacey parts, but at least the motif is suitable for a wedding. The pattern is Heart Dishcloth: Knit version by Lily / Sugar’n Cream, a freebie on ravelry, and it knit up in no time. 54 grams, 91.4 metres (or 100.4 yards). Done.

To make it easier to store the potholders, I bound off all stitches knitwise, until there was only one loop on the needle – instead of snipping the threat, I crocheted 10 chain stitches and secured it on the left with a … single crochet or double crochet, depending on where you live. I still have to wash them and pat them into shape, and of course they do not hold a candle to a blanket, but at least it’s something handmade, and Laura will get socks for her birthday, after all.

Made from this yarn, to be precise (it’s a little too dark in the photograph; the original yarn is brighter and happier).

Before I made the wedding potholders, I decided to swatch for once (usually, I don’t bother for stuff like potholders), and make a simple dishcloth to use up my orange cotton. Of course I didn’t get the gauge I needed for the Heart Dishcloth pattern (that would’ve been 21sts and 28 rows to 10cm/4″, and of course I got 18.6sts and 25.3 rows on 4,0mm needles, so I switched to 3,5mm ones for the heart potholders), but the yarn is used up now, and that is all that counts.

The project was easy and fast – I basically cast on 34 stitches, knit 2 ridges of garter and then proceeded in stockinette stitch, with a garter border of three stitches per side. After 39 rows, I did another 2 ridges of garter, bound of and wham! Done. 19 grams out of the stash. Funnily enough, Lenka (who had asked to see the dishcloth when it was done) was so enthusiastic about the colour that I will wrap this little buddy up and send it to her. Sometimes it’s so easy to make somebody happy! 🙂

Last but not last … I finally made myself a pair of socks again.

I love them. A few weeks ago, when the stress was really getting to me, I found a website that had older Opal collections for sale (they also have other brands), and after debating whether or not to get some (my stash has grown to over 13(!) kg of yarn. Plus fiber), I gave in and treated myself to these three beauties:

All of them are from an older “Schafpate” collection – the blue one is “Huetehund” (shepherd’s dog), the rainbow yarn is called “Blickfang” (eye-catcher), and the green was is “Ruhezeit” (downtime). I love them all and was wondering if I should snag what’s left of the collection as well …

I knit the socks top-down, 64 stitches on 2,0mm DPNs (gauge is 32sts and 50rows to 10cm/4″ – I never get anything above 8sts/inch, and I am not willing to go below 2,0mm needles for it). The pattern I used is Heather Sebastian’s Chain Drive Socks, another freebie. I already knit it once, to make my mum socks for Christmas, but it worked fine this time.

As you can see, I repeated the pattern on the back of the leg, and I have to say that I absolutely love it. The cables put enough interest in knitting to prevent it from being boring, but, in my humble opinion, are not too busy for the absolutely beautiful colours.

This is the second pair of socks I have made for me this year (not counting the lavender ones, which are still hibernating), and I am totally smitten with them. They are everything I hoped for, and I am really glad I bought this yarn. I used exactly 75grams, and the leftovers will probably be used in the neverending blanket – we’ll see. So these are done as well.

Done, done, and done.

And now? What now? What shall I knit next?

Well, for one, I started another Curl:

This is Perfidy, another pattern taken from Hunter Hammersen’s Curls 2, knit from some of the Merino yarn that was intended for the blanket (I dubbed the ravelry project “Perfidy à l’orange”, and I find this très chic), knit on 4,0mm needles …

I wanted to make AJ (E’s daughter) a Little Sister’s Dress (I have to frog this, though, I made a mistake and can’t seem to find it) …

And then, I really wanted to get a headstart on granddad’s socks. He’s turning 88, after all.
Have a really great week, my friends! Take care!
All the love,

Julia 😀

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The Epic Fail-Relief

Wow.

These last months were somewhat hard. I was pretty stressed in February already (that was why the last posting was really cheery – not), and then, at the end of March, something (a cold?) hit me so hard that I spent two weeks (2 weeks!) on sickleave, in bed, running a fever(!) and not doing much (except munching my way through two kinds of antibiotics. The second brand worked wonders, but left me stoned for half the day).

Work was a lot, in both jobs, I didn’t really have time to work on my dissertation until … the middle of April, and now I am really starting to freak out, because I have been at it so long, and I’m nowhere near I’d like to be and I’m fearing all kinds of things and … I am working on one of the original texts now, the historical/political chapter is halfway done, and I have read a ton of books and articles. I should be good. But … yeah. It’s eating away at me. There was some mess with a new contract in the second job, and when somebody asked me: “What do YOU want?”, I was really close to saying: “I want to go somewhere and sit there in solitude and sleep a lot and not talk for … dunno. Two weeks. Or more.”

Sometimes, admitting that you’re screwed is somewhat relieving, isn’t it? Like, yes, you messed up, but at least the thing is out of the bag, and now you deal with the aftermath. Let me give you examples.

Exhibit A – Socks.

I had this testknit I wanted to accomplish,

but I really could not concentrate for more than five minutes straight, so I contacted the designer immediately, and was released from the testknit. The pattern is out now, it’s Leaves Changing by Penny Schumers (if you like to knit your socks toe-up, there is a toe-up version as well), and it’s absolutely wonderful. I will post decent photographs when I am done with the second sock.

Exhibit B – Socks again.

Philipp’s sock kicked my arse pretty hard as well, so these are not finished either.

Somehow, “three times the charm” was key here, because that was how often I had to start over before the fabric was okay. I am not really happy about the cuff and the heel flap and heel, but … yeah, well. That is the way it is now. The second sock is – guess what – still in yarn stadium, I’ll get to it.

Exhibit C – the best example. A blanket.

Then, friends of ours (L, who got socks for her birthday last August, and her partner) are getting married this year, and I asked them if I should knit them a blanket. They were absoluely delighted and sent me a couple of pictures of what they wanted (I told them to think about what they wanted. I thought, they’d mention colours or something. My mistake). The blankets were gorgeous, but all crochet (L. sews, but doesn’t knit or crochet), and so I sent them a  picture of EZ’s April blanket, and we settled on colours, after a few emails and I set to work.

We bought a lot of yarn.

These were the colours (the white was the border) and this was what we ended up with.

They had requested small squares, and I had a sinking gut feeling about the whole affair, to be honest. Like “I can’t do this in this time”. They told me not to worry – they could imagine it was a lot of work and if they got it in December, that would be fine – but still. Somehow, this blanket was a HUGE spot on the mental TO DO list, and it was eating away energy constantly, because whatever I was doing, I felt that I should knit on the blanket and then I fell ill (as I said) and then I entered a state in which I was constantly overwhelmed. I started to join the first squares, and then discovered that, somewhere between squares, my gauge had changed and I was making larger squares than intended.

I made more (larger) squares and joined them, and the pressure got higher and higher and I found myself getting up in the morning and being absolutely drained of energy. Small things overwhelmed me.

So I bit the bullet and when we spoke to L. on the phone earlier this week, I brought up the subject. We were chatting about what’s to come up (the next two months are going to be SO FULL at the weekends, by the way) and what has been happening, and suddenly, she said “Oh my God, and then you have the blanket to knit … DO NOT STRESS ABOUT THE BLANKET. If we get it in December or next year, that is totally fine.”

I then suggested making two cushions for the bed, and then she said: “Erm… to be honest, the bed is already full. We have a ton of cushions.”

I thought I was going to lose it, but Philipp took the phone and explained that it would be a lot of work to drag until the end of the year, and she said: “Of course, and it would be yet another constant thing on her to-do list.”

“Exactly.”

“Hey, you know what?”, she said, “forget the blanket. DON’T MAKE THE BLANKET. I’m happy to take a pair of socks like the ones you made me last year for my birthday. I love them. You know I ALWAYS have cold feet, and I love the colours, they are so, so pretty, and I am wearing them constantly.”

“For real?”, I asked, “I am really feeling I’m letting you down on this.”

“No! You are not. You’ve got so much on the plate. If I get a pair of socks, I’ll be incredibly happy.”

It was almost too good to be true. She will get a pair of socks, two pairs, to be precise (one for her birthday, and one for Christmas), and her husband will get a scarf, made out of the white merino yarn.
I know that his is a no-go. I was brought up to be true to comittment, and it was incredibly hard to step up to these two, whom I have been friends with since we were all 16, and tell them: “I am sorry. I know I promised you a blanket for your wedding, and you were really looking forward to it, but it is not going to happen. I cannot do it. I’m sorry. It’s not possible right now.” I know that some people will find this impossible, and I am still beating myself up about the whole damn thing.

But then, there is – relief. Relief that I am free from this, that I have one HUGE thing less to constantly worry about, one thing less I have to drag myself to do, and free to choose yarn for a really beautiful pair of socks for her, and a gorgeous scarf pattern for him, and knitting these gifts freely, and with a happy heart, knowing that knitting brings me relaxation again, and picking up the needles is a way to let go after a hard and draining day.

So, for everybody who is experiencing a lot of stress right now, for whatever reason: Be wise about what you promise. But, please, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and admit that you have bitten off more than you can chew, and that, if you’re not allowed to spit it out, you’re probably going to choke.
Take care, my friends, and all the love! The next posting will be happier.
Julia. 🙂

Against the stress.

I will take a deep breath now and focus on writing a nice, calm post about knitting. And yarn. And planning presents for wonderful people. Because I just read another news article (this time about the upcoming French election), and the nationalism shown in the comments make my guts turn. I cannot escape politics right now. I check the news several times a day and in 90% of the time, something new comes up. Some of it is good, but most of it leaves me sitting in front of the screen with disbelief and worry.

I could write more about this, but I won’t. Enough. I need some space to breathe and to relax. There are other things, good things, important things. I think it is wonderful that in times like these, act of kindness still happen, and we should show them more, and use them to remind us and others that not everything has gone down the drain.

Here we go.

1. Look at this.

geschenk-von-stacey-januar-2017

Last year, I found Stacey from weekendknitter on tumblr (or rather: We found that tumblr was another way to connect for us, as I have been reading her blog for ages, and she, as I am happy to say, reads mine, occasionally), and it’s wonderful to see her short postings about spinning and spindling and doing all things yarny there, and to be in touch. Stacey is a mother of two, a wonderful, strong person, an incredibly talented (fiber-) artist, and she is all kinds of awesome. We updated our addresses, and she spotted this at Joann’s and send it to me. It’s absolutely terrific. Not only are the articles interesting (what awaits you at a fiber festival, how do you spin batts, how can you play with colourful fiber and spin it up the way you want to knit it later), but the patterns in this magazine are great. Simply wonderful. Stacey, I love you, and you’re one of the best people! 🙂

2. The mittens are done.

raucherhandschuhe-07 raucherhandschuhe-04
Knitting them was really interesting – I have only knit fingerless mittens before, and while I didn’t find knitting the fingers hard (it wasn’t even as fiddly, because I was knitting with aran weight yarn and 3.0mm needles), I changed the pattern a bit and measured my father’s hands thoroughly. I am really happy about the stripes (the original pattern has two, which looks nice as well), and, what is most important – my father loves them, and they fit him fine.

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3. I bought yarn.

250grams of aran weight, to be precise.

shawl-fur-monika

As you may know (or not know – well, you know now), Little Church Knits (link to designer page on ravelry) has a Free Pattern Friday every week – this week, it’s The Big Skinny. (link to her blogpost, where you will get the code for this pattern).

Little M.’s grandmother will celebrate her birthday next month, and she wears mostly cold colours, so I thought that a nice garter stitch shawl would be a wonderful present for her. I am not 100% secure about the colour combination, but I like it, it reminds me of art deco somehow, and something else I cannot quite lay my finger on. But I hope she will love it as well.

4. I knit myself a new pair of socks.

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Last year, we were doing a Secret Santa at work. Quite a few colleagues joined us (we were ten people in the end), and the coworker who drew me got me – yarn. While I probably wasn’t the hardest candidate to get a present for (everybody at the office knows I love to knit), she really put a lot of thought into it, went to a LYS, asked whether the ball of yarn she selected would get me a pair of identical socks, because she was sure I’d prefer that (!), and made sure that one ball of yarn would be enough for a pair of socks at all. I was over the moon with joy, and at once decided that this would be the first sock project of the year for me.

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This was my travel project for January, so I put an afterthought heel in and did them in simple stockinette stitch. I love them! Yarn is Schoeller+Stahl Fortissima Color, knit on 2,0mm needles (64 sts). (Yes, I have worn them at work and showed her the socks. 😉 ‘Course I did.)

5. Philipp is getting scrap socks.

When I weighed my “leftover” stash last year, I discovered that I had about 750grams of “leftover” sock yarn. This is quite a lot, particularly, because some of the balls are about 30grams. I put three colours together (the little ball at the top of the picture might not be used, I haven’t decided yet) and, after asking Philipp whether he approved of them (he did), cast on.

wolle-f-restesocken

The toe was knit in Opal Sweet & Spicey 2 “Weintraube” (the bright blue yarn), and now I am alternating the green yarn and the Regia yarn. Actually, I am on the second version … the first sock had really big ladders at the sides, but it’s better now.

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There is more to share, I knit so many things for Christmas I didn’t get around to blog about, and I took pictures of my stash as well – guess I am going to write one big post about all the projects and show them off in one go. Meanwhile, keep your heads up, my friends, and your hearts open! We will get through this, I know it.

All the love!
Julia 😀

Colour Explosion Sneakers

I have said it once, I have said it twice: I don’t think that knitting heavily-patterned socks while using colourful yarn is a good idea.

You just won’t get anything out of it. Every once in a while, I see folks using commercial-dyed sock yarn (say, Regia or Opal) and knitting intricate, complicated patterns, mostly with really fancy cables.

And all I can think of: “It’s naught.” You can’t see the cables properly, because the colours get in the way and the stripes (which are a big part of Opal yarns, usually) don’t work into each other harmoniously, so you cannot appreciate the pretty colourway either. It’s simply not worth the effort.

Now look at this:

Colour Explosion Sneakers 05

These socks were knit of a Regia yarn that is simply called “Regia 4-ply color”, and obviously, I didn’t stick to my own rule. I bought this yarn in June, after having bought two balls of it for last year’s Julklapp in our knitting group, and eyeing it ever since then. The yarn is really pretty:

Regia 4-fädig 01

It’s also really busy, changing the colour of the barberpoled-yarn every centimetre or so.

I took it to my sister’s birthday (which is at the beginning of August) and cast on 20 sts for a pair of sneaker socks after coffee (and cake).

Colour Explosion Sneakers 01

After finishing the toe, I started with the  Hermione’s Everyday Socks pattern, and, after a few rounds, showed my grandmother what I had done. She eyed the sock suspiciously.

“I don’t think it’s worth the effort”, she finally said. “Frankly, I wouldn’t bother, and knit it in stockinette stitch.”

Of course, I didn’t listen, and when I came to the point where I had to start the gusset increases (which for me is after 12,6cm), I added a bit of texture:

Colour Explosion Sneakers 07

I know that this is nowhere original, I have seen socks with garter stitch gussets a couple of times, but I have always found them to be very pretty. The fun fact about garter stitch gussets is that they look very fancy, but are easy to knit: Simply increase your stitches as you normally would, and purl all your gusset stitches when it comes to the second row (“knit all stitches”). I increased until I had 14 gusset stitches, but kept the first and the last stitch before and after the instep as a knit stitch, to have a smarter edge.

Colour Explosion Sneakers 02

The heel flap was knit with slipped stitches (I find that they make the sock really comfortable and sturdy – none of my socks had ever any problem with the heel flap) and then I continued the leg for about 7 rounds (6 on the second, because what the heck, the sock was long enough), and topped it off with 10 rounds of 1/1 ribbing for the cuff. I bound off using Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind off, and wow.

Colour Explosion Sneakers 06

I’m in love. The socks are colourful, the texture is lovely, and I really love the look of them, although you can’t spot a damn thing unless you’re near enough to see all the small details. They made a great travel project when I went to and from work, and the pattern, while keeping me interested, was not complicated at all, which allowed me to knit a few rows in between writing a huge crack-fic (a “crack fic” is a crazy, funny story, a crazy fanfiction story in particular) with a friend of mine in the evenings (yes, we are over 700 pages. After about 2-3 months of writing. We’re bonkers). Today, I bound off, sewed in the ends, and weighed the remaining yarn.

Regia 4-fädig 02

1 gram is left. I am a happy camper.
Have a great start into next week, my friends! Take care!

All the best,
Julia 😀
P.S.: OH, by the way? Last night, we went to Duesseldorf to celebrate L.’s birthday, and she got the pair of socks I knit for her:

Summerchild Socks 07

She wasn’t as enthusiastic as I would have hoped (she didn’t squee or say anything about the pretty colourway), but the socks fit and she was opening presents in front of all the guests. I’m biding my time, and hope that she will love them. 😉

More Socks, I say! More Socks!

This summer is bewitched. For lots of folks, it’s the bad weather (we have had lots and lots of rain or very high humidity), but for me, it’s hard to keep balance right now. There is so much stuff I have to DO …

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I have made a couple of socks over the past few weeks! 🙂 The baby blanket I showed you here is almost finished (I need to knit the border and then I only have to sew in the ends and wait for the baby), but sometimes, you need something quicker.

Let’s start with a pair of sneaker socks! I had been circling this yarn for a while – I still want to stashbust, but this was a 50gram-ball of Regia Color, and I thought it wouldn’t do much harm to the stash. It didn’t by the way, since I used up everything except 8grams of yarn. 😉

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This is a very simple “k3,p1” sock, and I bound off in ribbing, so they do look a bit weird from the front, but they are warm enough for the colder days and short enough for the hotter ones.

Sneakers for the Summer I 04
The next pair of socks were for Philipp – surprise – and, funnily enough, they are made from Regia yarn as well (omg, I just realised that all the socks shown in this blogpost are made from Regia yarn. Who’d’ve known!)

Dress Socks 04

I love these ones a lot … We bought the yarn on a whim, I really liked the colours in the ball, and the store we were in had a sample sock to show (VERY clever selling strategy, in my opinion!). Philipp was really smitten with the yarn, and so I knit the socks as they were; I only did the “crossed” heel flap (meaning that you alternate between “sl1, k1 – purl back” and “sl2, k1,sl1 until the last 2 sts, k2 – purl back” on the heel flap). That was all.

Dress Socks 03
These socks didn’t use up as much yarn as I thought – there are still 30 grams left, enough to mix this yarn with something else for leftover socks! 🙂

Next thing on the calendar, now that my sister celebrated her 27th birthday yesterday, is the birthday of a friend of ours …
Summerchild Socks 06
We have known her for YEARS (she went to school with us) and although I have no idea whether she’d like to get a pair of handknit socks, I know that she DOES love sewing, so it MIGHT be a hit (and no, this doesn’t have to make sense. 😉 ). If not, it’s NOT because of the yarn. It can’t be the yarn.

Summerchild Socks 07

This is the first “Arne and Carlos” design line in the “Twilight” Colourway, and it’s GORGEOUS. GORGEOUS. Really. Hach … I didn’t manage to match the socks (as you can see from the picture above, the pattern repeat is incredibly long), but I don’t mind it and hopefully, she won’t, either. These were knit on 2,5mm needles (by accident, I only noticed it when I measured my gauge after finishing the first sock (I am so quick on the uptake ….) and realised that I was at my trusted 30sts/40rws = 4″/10cm again.

Summerchild Socks 08
Since our friend has small feet (European 36/37, the socks could be modelled by me nevertheless), so these socks only used up 59grams which means … LEFTOVER SOCKS! (And YES, this is an afterthought heel, because I didn’t want to break up the colour repeat).

Last, but not least …

Colour Explosion Sneakers 01
… another pair of sneaker socks for me, in the most beautiful, dazzling Regia Color. I only bought 50 grams of this, so it will become – guess what? Yeah. Sneaker socks.

Oh, and this is the “Hermione’s Everyday Socks” pattern I’m using here. Can’t spot it? Doesn’t matter.

I don’t think it will make much difference anyway. 😉

 

Have the most beautiful day, my friends!
All the love!

Julia 😀

Hearts of Ice

Did you ever see a pattern on ravelry and thought: “Yes, I am going to make this. I am going to use [this] yarn in [that] colour, and it will look beautiful and amazing and I will be very, very proud when I have finished it.”

Polly Jean 01

Polly Jean was such a pattern.

I queued it about two years ago, I think, when I was still newer to sock knitting and deemed heavily-patterned socks like these too complicated to be ever knit by me. But although I never knew whether I would make them at all – I definitely knew that I wanted to knit them in a soft light blue.

Polly Jean 02

Well, May 2016 rolled around, and I found myself sitting down with two 50gram balls of light blue sock yarn by Wolle Roedel and a set of 2,0mm DPNs, casting on the first sock of a pair of Polly Jeans.

Polly Jean 06

Now, I have found that there is a special magic to heavily-patterned socks. As you proceed from the cuff to the leg, you find yourself wanting to knit “one more pattern repeat”, or “another half of a pattern repeat”, and then, quicker than you thought possible, it’s time to divide your stitches for the heel flap, and before you know it, you have turned the heel and are working your way through the gusset decreases.

Polly Jean 05

I knit these socks exactly as the pattern stated. I even knit the cuff shorter than I usually do – normally, I go for about 5cm of cuff, because that’s what my grandmother taught me when she taught me how to knit socks, and that’s how I like them.

Polly Jean 04
The toe instructions of these beauties held an interesting surprise for me as well: While you decrease as you normally would on the bottom half of the stitchs, the top half sets the decreases within the pattern, shaping the last heart (or leaf, depending on how you see them), and thus making the socks a great fit.
Polly Jean 03
And so, after two years of falling in love with this pattern and putting it into my queue, I can proudly say that I knit these socks in the colour that I wanted and that they look beautiful and amazing and that I am very, very proud. 🙂


All the love, my friends! Take care.
Julia 😀