Quick Knits & Crafts

Scrappy Socktober!

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

2018-09-21 18.43.15

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.

2018-09-21 18.45.35

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.

2018-09-21 18.44.57

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!

Nerdy Knits & Crafts

Three blue knits…including a TARDIS pillow!

I’ve been working on two big knitting projects and one small one in the last few months. It just so happens that all of them were gifts, and all of them were blue. Now that they are all completed, I can share them with you!

A different kind of blue box: the TARDIS pillow!

Time And Relative Dimension In Space

I started watching Doctor Who at the beginning of November and I got totally into it (yes I realize I’m a little late to the party). My brother is also a fan and when I was home for Thanksgiving, he suggested I could knit him something Whovian for Christmas. I showed him the myriad of free patterns on ravelry and he chose this one by Rebecca Norton, a tiny tardis print. Interestingly, the only project on ravelry was the original, so I was going into uncharted (ha!) territory. But as the pattern says…Allons-y!

just a little blue box

This was one of the funnest swatches to knit. If you aren’t familiar with colorwork, this is not a bad pattern to learn on. The pattern was pretty easy to remember after a while, and even when I messed up the window placement on one row and didn’t notice it till the end, it was easily fixed with duplicate stitches to get the proper colors. The pillow uses the intarsia technique for each TARDIS, so I had a short bobbin of blue yarn for each. However, after knitting one side of the pillow, I realized I was going to run out of white yarn. It was stash yarn and I had no idea what it was or where it came from. So I improvised…

bigger on the OTHER side!

And came up with this pattern for the reverse side. I didn’t get too detailed here—no public notice, no “police box” lettering—but I think it came out really well for a TARDIS pattern I wrote on the fly! I used  garter stitch to create the illusion of doors, and each grouping of six windows only used a small bobbin of white yarn. I would write up the pattern but I didn’t save all my notes on it, but I did write down what I could remember on my ravelry project page. If you try to do it and it doesn’t work out,  trust me, there are like six million patterns on ravelry for some version of the TARDIS if you want it.

(EDIT: If you want another blue Doctor Who knit, check out my Tenth-Doctor’s-Sonic-Screwdriver-as-Chapstick-Holder knitting project!)

Baby blues: Newborn booties!

tiny feats for tiny feets

My cousin and his wife had a baby in December, and so over Christmas break I decided to whip up some of my favorite baby booties in the newborn size. Baby items are great because they knit up so quick. I also like making them in colors other than the traditional pastels. Previously, I have made them in a bright purple tweed:

Lelly's booties!

The booties are constructed with short row shaping, so they are knit on straight needles. In the past I sewed them up so that only garter stitch was showing, but this time I decided that having the stockinette part on the outside actually gave it a better shape.

no pastel colors allowed

I highly recommend this pattern, but I should point out that I have always modified the increases to be “knit front and back” because I’m more used to that. I don’t think it changes the pattern, just putting that out there.

Socktober blues: Magic loop toe-up socks!2013-11-24 13.58.18

Way back in October, I started making socks for my friend’s November birthday. I had this really cool sock yarn, the self striping kind, and I was eager to use it. And I also wanted to knit these socks at the same time. So I decided to learn the magic loop method for small diameter circular knitting.

Ever year I try to do a new knitting technique—it’s a slow learning process but it works. I could probably devote a whole post to what I learned and didn’t learn doing magic loop. First of all, you should NOT do what I did, which was 1) switch patterns more than once when I was part way through, so I was constantly readjusting. I initially started out using the free Knit Picks pattern  Two at once, toe up socks but I quickly discovered that it was going to be tough to follow for someone who was new to magic loop. Another thing you should NOT do is 2) connect several interchangeable needles to get the long circular needle needed for this technique, because the metal connecting piece will be a constant pain when you have to slide it through a bunch of stitches. Bite the bullet and buy the exact size circular needles you need.

harder than it looks

What I DO recommend you do if you are learning this technique is watch videos on how to do magic loop. My favorites were from KnitFreedom— Liat Gat’s 2-at-a-time toe-up socks video series. I’m sure it would be best if you were using her pattern, but I found them helpful regardless, especially the videos for casting on and the first increase round. I also suggest practicing magic loop with larger needles and yarn than you’d use for socks, because starting the toe is a bit challenging at first. Ok, a lot challenging.

socks in the sink

I wish I took photos at the start, because it would show you what looked like some pretty bad laddering at the sides that ended up being ok in the end. The Knit Picks pattern has an afterthought heel, and KnitFreedom’s pattern has a fleegle heel, but I wanted I heel I was familiar with, so I did short row heels using the technique described by HeidBears in part 1 and part 2 on her blog. Not a video, but I have done short row heels before and the illustrations were all I needed to translate it to magic loop socks.

2013-11-24 12.38.16

After blocking, you could still see the ladders on the sides of the socks (especially at the heel) and the loose part of the toe where I almost made the socks too big when I switched patterns (thankfully my friend has the same size feet as me and I tried them on and discovered the problem early). BUT despite all the problems and irregularities, I am really proud of these socks. The blue stripes are so cool! And most importantly, their recipient was happy with them.2013-11-24 13.58.02