Quick Knits & Crafts

Scrappy Socktober!

Oh hey, I made a pair of socks from scrap yarn!

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I made these ankle socks for Andrew out of leftover wool blend sock yarn from several different projects. I used my “go to” sock pattern, the Universal Toe up Sock Formula, and switched to magic loop after completing the toes.

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I worked hard to make the self-striping blue yarn look the same on each sock, but these twins are definitely fraternal, not identical. Each yarn ended up creating a unique little stripe just before the ribbing! The striped yarn is leftover from my earliest sock gift back in 2013, which I blogged about in a blue-themed post.

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The teal toes are probably my favorite part of these. I made a pair of fern-patterned socks out of the teal yarn back in 2012, which I blogged about here. I also made a really cool Halloween costume piece that used this yarn, which I still need to blog about someday.

2018-09-21 18.46.00.jpg I think 2018 is the first year that I’ve ever finished two pairs of socks! And just in time for Socktober. I mean, technically I finished them in September, but with highs in the 80s, it as been too warm for them to get any wear.  Yet. So these are Socktober socks for sure.

Here’s to cooler days and warm socky nights.



blue stripes close up
Yarn Dyeing

The sock blues: green and blue striped socks

I’ve bean just dyeing to share my latest project: Green and blue striped socks, featuring blue yarn created with black bean dye!

green and blue striped socks

I won’t tip-toe around the facts: sometimes, these socks gave me the blues. They have been in-progress for 8 months, and I dyed the blue yarn almost 4 years ago. If I was hoping to get them done in a timely fashion, I really blue it.

But on the plus side, they’re beautiful, they fit, and they’re done! Here’s what went into making them.

The Sock Blues

blue yarn from black bean dye

Back in the fall 2014, I used my blue dye from black beans tutorial to dye several sock yarns. (I also made black bean soup at the same time—perhaps a story for another post).

As seen drying on the laundry rack, the yarn on the left is a commercially prepared white wool yarn that I  bought at a second-hand store. The yarns on the right were wool yarns I hand spun on a spinning wheel!

As lovely as they are, my hand spun yarns do not absorb dye that well. They took on pale, grey blue hues. But my second-hand yarn became a rich, almost periwinkle blue. The difference was striking once I made them into hanks and set them in a basket.

handspun blue yarn skeins

Fast forward several years, to the summer of 2017.

green toe up socksI had started a pair of socks using the free Universal Toe-Up Sock Formula from Knitty, casting on to a very long, size 1 circular needle to knit them both at the same time. I was hoping to use up some forest green wool blend sock yarn I originally intended for another project. But I realized my socks would be quite short with only the green yarn. So I decided to add the blue yarn in as stripes to make them longer.

Let me pause here to say that I have knit 4 pairs of toe-up socks, and I still find them REALLY HARD to make. The needles are so small, it feels like they take forever even when they are going quickly. I struggle with yarn amount, pattern selection, loose stitches, and foot fit—basically everything. The fact that I love to improvise doesn’t always help.

But I just keep trying! This time, I decided to concentrate on getting a nice snug fit. What could possibly go wrong?

I thought I had the whole project wrapped up when I got these off the needles in January 2018. But then I tried to put the socks on and they Would. Not. Fit.

Turns out, when I did the bind off, I made it far too tight. And instead of redoing them straight away, I let them sit there for a few more months.

Which brings us to April 2018: Finished striped socks!

striped knit socks green and blue hand dyed

I am perfectly content with these socks, but I’ll be the first to admit their flaws. They have yarn carried up over the stripes on the outside (didn’t pre-plan the stripes). There’s a gap in the join of the circular knitting  (I am a loose knitter). And sadly, the second-hand, blue-dyed yarn is prone to breakage.

blue striped socksblue striped socks

But despite these issues, I still think there’s a lot to love about my socks!

For one, the color. Even after four years and a bit of fading, the blue yarn is a great color. I love the contrast with the forest green. It’s exactly what I had hoped it would look like. It’s a color combination I don’t often see, but really enjoy.

blue stripes close up

For another thing, once I re-did the bind off to make it more stretchy, they became a great fit! I have small, high-arched feet, and loose socks can be a real drag. I did my calculations right on these. Probably my best fitting knit sock to date. They even fit well before blocking, as shown here:sock on one foot

Finally, I expect to get a few good wears out of these socks before the warm spring weather really kicks in! In fact, I am wearing them right now.

blue and green striped socks

Hope you enjoyed seeing another blue dye project. Here’s to many more!

Botanical Knits & Crafts, Quick Knits & Crafts, Tweaks & Alterations

Socks, Bows and Cuffs


I finally finished my fern lace socks! Just in time for Autumn too. Of course, it’s still in the 90s here, so it’s not quite sock weather. I’m hoping that will change soon.

It is really difficult to photograph one’s own feet wearing socks…let’s just say you need some flexibility. Anyway, I’m quite happy with how they turned out. It’s difficult to do justice to this color, which a fellow knitter described as “peacock.” It is quite vibrant, and looks either more green or more blue depending on the light.

Overall I’m happy with the way the pattern turned out. I already wrote about the sock pattern(s) I used in an earlier post, so I don’t have a lot to add. It did take a while for me to get the hang of lace knitting, but even with the few errors I know are in there, I think it looks great.

For me, the key to lace knitting was a) lots of stitch markers and b) patience. I broke two of my double pointed bamboo needles while making these socks before I figured out that second point.

As you may have noticed, I changed the top banner of my blog to knitted pumpkins in honor of Fall (free ravelry pattern here; I also wrote about making them last November). Since it is my favorite season, I  figured I would include two other smaller knitting projects that I’ve made in appropriately autumnal colors.


Around this time last year, I saw the pattern for this moss stitch bow headband on A Common Thread and decided it was the perfect quick project. I also liked that it would give me a chance to use the very small amount of burnt orange yarn I had in my stash.

I think if I made it again I’d make it a little smaller—I have short hair and this is a big bow. But I do like that I can shape the bow to have it either lay flat against my head or stand up a bit.

The band does not show up as well with wavy hair, but there are actually three individual strands made with a crochet hook. You can either scrunch them together or separate them out depending on your preference.


I really thought I posted this project before, but it looks like I didn’t —which is fine, because the colors are the most fall like of all.

This is the Pretty Twisted pattern  from Knitty’s first fall 2011 issue (free, of course). I made the “framed” version (the light teal one in their photo) and finished it with a two-toned wooden button.

This was a great way to use up a small bit of sock yarn in colors I liked. The linen stitch does a great job of lying flat and looking bracelet-like. However, I think next time I would use a yarn that is not so marled, because that kind of detail seems to get lost in the stitch.

I think the idea of a twisted loop pulled through a hole and then over the button is quite clever. It’s a nice detail without a lot of added work.

Sometime soon, I will post photos of other fall knitting projects—my leaves scarf (75% done), my custom fit raglan sweater (100% done, it’s just too hot to wear!) and my blue ombre cowl made from the black bean dyed yarn (95% done—it was finished but blocking it messed up the shape so I need to make a few adjustments)!









Botanical Knits & Crafts, Nerdy Knits & Crafts, Quick Knits & Crafts, Tweaks & Alterations

Olympics knitting: ferns, leaves, and a pirate mouse

I have been watching the 2012 London Summer Olympics most nights these past two weeks, and despite the annoyances of the NBC selective and delayed broadcasts, it’s been pretty riveting. It’s also been a good time to get a crap ton knitting done.

Some people do this officially—on Ravelry  there’s the “Ravellenic Games” group, knitters who start and finish complete projects during the Olympics. It has over 12,000 members. I do my knitting a lot more haphazardly and unofficially, but I do get some stitches done. Let me to show you.

Fern Lace Socks (50% done)


These were flying off my (admittedly tiny) needles in June and July. I’m using the Custom Toe Up Sock Generator from knitty because if there’s one thing I have learned about knitting, it’s this—when fit counts, use maths. Lots of maths. If you don’t want to do the calculations, there’s even a toe up sock pattern generator that will do it for you. All you have to do is input your foot measurements, needle size, and stitches per inch. The result of a customized pattern is a really well fit sock:

And yes, I know, I have ridiculously high arches—I have dancer feet. Anyway, the trouble with this pattern actually came when I tried to add a fern lace stitch to the top part. After about five attempts I realized two things—the pattern was really confusing, and it almost certainly contained errors. It was from a 1970s booklet after all. So I looked around and found this alternative fern lace pattern that happened to be for a sock of the exact same number of stitches as my custom pattern. It’s not as cool looking as the original one but it is straightforward and error free:


Leafy Scarf (30% done)

This tapered scarf is called Saroyan. It’s a really excellent pattern so far—quite adaptable, simple but pretty, and an unusual shape for a scarf. I did not intend to start yet another knitting project, but I found that the lace socks were too difficult to knit while talking to anyone. Since I do work on my projects at knitting groups, I need to have something I can knit while I interact with humans. The only part where I really have to pay attention is the edge of leaves. I have a thing for leaves.

Pirate Mouse Cat Toy (100% done)

As if these two patterns weren’t enough, yesterday I had the urge to knit a cat toy. And so I did. An awesome one:

This is Captain Cat Battler, a pirate mouse cat toy. I do not know what possessed me, but when I saw it, I had to make it. It’s a quick project to knit, though sewing it up takes a little bit more time. The pattern writers have exactly the sense of humor you’d expect from people who like pirates and cats. The pattern is free, but it was designed for the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, an animal rescue charity in London, and you can donate your knitted mouse (or your pounds sterling) to help their cats. The only change I made was to add an I-Cord tail (the original tail was just a strand of yarn…which I figured would be destroyed instantly).

I loved this pattern. But what did the resident cat, Josephine, think of it? Let’s see…

I’d say they’re pretty much best friends now. Yarrr.