Monthly Archives: January 2011

Ten Days

That’s all it took for me to knit an entire pair of socks, using the Magic Loop method! I finished the second sock tonight and can’t wait to wear them tomorrow. :)

The second sock was definitely easier than the first – although I still tend to lose a stitch when I join the round, so I need to work on that some more to figure out what I’m doing wrong.  Or I’ll just have to cast on an extra stitch each time, I guess – but I’d rather figure out why I’m losing the one and fix it.

Here’s the second sock:

Winter Sock #2 001

Winter Sock #2 002

Winter Sock #2 004

And here are both socks together:

Winter Socks 002

And up close with more detail of the ‘beaded rib’ pattern on the top:

Winter Socks 004

As much as I love this pattern, I think I want to try something else next – still socks and still Magic Loop, but I’m going to look for a different pattern. I promised my 8-year-old that my next project would be for her, so I need to find a good pattern for kid-sized socks. I looked around on Ravelry today but didn’t find much. I know that any sock pattern can be adapted to Magic Loop, but I don’t think I’m quite to that point yet. I still want someone to tell me how many stitches and how to maneuver them for the heel and gusset. Once I get more comfortable with Magic Loop, then I’ll probably try converting a pattern on my own, but we’ll see.

So right now I have no project on the needles – which is going to drive me bonkers. I guess I need to find a pattern soon! :)

I’m in love!

With the ‘Magic Loop’ method for knitting in circles, that is.  :)

Not that I’m about to throw out every single pair of my dpns… But wow, is it ever so much easier. I had a feeling that I would feel this way from everything that I’d heard and read from other knitters, but I was curious if I would really like it that much more, or if it would be too confusing to easily understand. I just figured that I had to give it a try for myself and see what I thought.

I’d originally considered both Magic Loop (1 long circular needle) and the other methods I’ve seen that involve knitting socks on 2 long circular needles. I’d bought books detailing each of those methods last fall, but hung onto them until I was comfortable enough with the ‘traditional’ sock-making method using dpns. And I think that really helped – knowing how socks are structured and what the different terms (gusset, inseam, etc.) meant helped when it came time to adapt to a new way of going round, and round.

I decided to try Magic Loop specifically because I figured that keeping track of one needle would probably be easier than multiple ones, and because I was able to find a couple of videos that gave me the general idea beforehand too. And the book that I’d bought really helped as well – it was recommended to me at the LYS (local yarn store) and even though it’s a very short, simple book, it was very clear and easily understandable. The book is called ‘The Magic Loop’ and can be found here: http://www.knitpicks.com/books/The_Magic_Loop__D30340.html.

There’s a basic sock pattern in the book – called ‘Winter Socks’ so that’s what I decided to try first. But before that, I simply cast on a bunch of stitches and worked on getting the hang of the method in general. The only problem I had (and still have) is figuring out exactly how to join the round to begin with, without twisting the stitches. Every time I’ve managed to figure it out, I end up losing the very beginning stitch once I get back around to the last stitch before the join and have to try and cast it back on in the middle of everything. Somehow when I’m maneuvering the needles to untwist the stitches as I join the two ends, it untwists something in that final stitch I’d cast on. But once I get the round joined, it’s amazing how easy and quick it is to knit in the round this way.

WinterSock#1 002

My biggest astonishment was that there truly is no issue at all with laddering in Magic Loop! I’d struggled with that so much when making socks and such on dpns, no matter how tightly I pulled the first and last stitches before switching needles. In fact, by the time I’d finished the last pair of socks, my hands were hurting so much that I was beginning to become really concerned as to whether or not I’d be able to keep knitting so much.

With Magic Loop however, I’ve had almost NO hand pain at all when knitting. Other than a twinge or two, there’s been nothing! I’ve actually been enjoying knitting so much more again – and I finished the first sock in a record 5 days!! It is knitted on worsted weight yarn with size 5 needles (versus sock yarn and size 2 needles), so that makes a difference too, but wow. Five days!

WinterSock#1 003

I really like this pattern – it’s prettier than just straight stockinette and it’s just a simple k1 p1 for the ‘beaded rib’ design. It was very interesting to see how the sock went together in Magic Loop – and I found it a lot easier to knit the heel flap without juggling extra needles hanging below, and it was so much easier to pick up the inseam stitches and knit the gusset section this way too. There was a lot less maneuvering around of the hands, and I think that helped with the hand pain too.

I’ve already started the second sock of the pair and after that will probably try this method with regular sock yarn for a pair of socks for one of my girls. I’m curious how that will go. Eventually I’d like to learn to do two socks at a time this way, but I’m finding that going in baby steps and learning these things incrementally is helping a lot.

Here’s the final product for Winter Sock #1 – the yarn I used is Paton’s Décor – a mixed wool and acrylic that’s machine washable. I love the colors!

WinterSock#1 005

WinterSock#1 007WinterSock#1 006

Let’s see if I can beat the 5-day record with Winter Sock #2…  :)

Embellishments

This time of year I really struggle with being stuck in the house so much and feeling cooped up. It’s gray and cold and snowy outside, and especially after all of the holiday decorations are down and put away, every place just looks dull.

I posted earlier about how I decided to try making flowers to spice up my daughters’ winter hats a little bit – I think it was as much a way to brighten up this wintertime existence as anything else.

Tonight I finished my oldest daughter’s new hat – the same basic roll-brim pattern that I’ve used before. But I did two things to it afterward that I think really make a huge difference and turn it from just a ‘hat’ into a ‘really cute hat’.

Only a couple of days before my daughter lost her previous hat, I’d taken a few minutes and fashioned a simple pom-pom to adorn the top of it. I never even took a picture of the hat afterward, and it was gone so soon that I never had the chance to. But it added a lot of personality to the hat and my daughter loved the addition. So tonight as soon as her new hat was finished she asked for a pom-pom for this hat – as well as a flower, like the ones I’d made for her sisters’ hats.

Abbys2ndHat 002

Not 30 seconds after I’d finished the pom-pom, my youngest daughter decided that she just had to have one for her hat too (never mind that I’d asked her weeks ago, only to get firmly turned d0wn). So I spent a few minutes making her one too. It really doesn’t take very long to make a pom-pom or to crochet a simple flower – but it makes such a difference when adding these things to a project!

PomPomOnBeccasHat 002

Yes, it is a gigantic pom-pom – I had ‘just enough’ but also slightly ‘too much’ yarn left over so figured I’d just use it all up. If nothing else, I’ll be able to pick her out in a crowd, lol…  I may take the scissors to it and give it a bit more of a trim after I see how it looks on her tomorrow.

For the previous hat flowers, I’d used buttons for the center – just ones that I dug up in my jewelry box. My own mom always had a ‘button box’ – she sewed a lot, and her button collection had some of the most unique and fun buttons I’d ever seen. I only have about a half-dozen, collected from who knows where – but I’d managed to find two that worked perfectly with the flowers. Not so much this time though – so I found myself off to the only store open late into the evening that might hopefully sell some kind of interesting buttons. I had no luck in their small sewing section – but did find a package of sparkly flower-shaped ones with the scrapbooking supplies. And I think this button was the perfect addition to the flower and the hat!

Abbys2ndHat 003

I have no pictures (yet) of the girls in their new (and newly embellished) hats, because they were both in bed by the time the hats were done. But I’m sure I’ll get more than few in the morning and will share them after that.

Now I just have to figure out what to work on next – I hate not having a project to pick up at any given time. I know some knitters have many (many) projects all on the needles at once, but I seem to work best one at a time, at least right now. I’m thinking I’d like to get at least one more pair of socks done this winter – but I’m ready to try a different method this time. Whether that entails magic loop, 2 circulars or what, I have no idea yet. I’ll have to see what seems interesting and what needles I have on hand – I’m really intrigued by the idea of interchangeable needle sets, but that’s going to have to wait a while. Or even though I’m out of hats to embellish – I can still make a few more crocheted flowers to brighten up my mood and my day.  :)

Wintertime ‘flowers’

So I’ve been working along on the new hat for my oldest daughter (I’ll post an update on that soon) and that brought something to mind that I’d thought of a while back and then never acted on. I like the hats that I’ve made – but they’re fairly basic and simple. I’ve been going for warmth here, not style. But I’ve seen a lot of girls’ hats that have cute embellishments and such on them, so I’d been wanting for a while to find a pattern to be able to make flowers to put on the girls hats.

I went on Ravelry a few days ago and decided that I would look around on there – with so many free patterns available, I knew there was bound to be something I could use. What I discovered – is that flowers are apparently something that are much easier to crochet than knit, at least judging by the number and types of patterns I was seeing. So I figured that maybe it was about time to bring the crochet hooks back out and give crocheting another try. Flowers are small, so I thought maybe I could manage one or two without the pain I’d had before.

I think I’ve realized something… When I crocheted before, I never knew how to correctly hold the yarn to get tension. One of the convoluted things I used to do was to stop after each stitch and tighten the yarn – I would actually pretty much drop it in  between stitches. I never had the yarn running through my fingers until I started knitting. But now, when I crochet – I simply hold the yarn the same way I do when I knit, in my left hand, which works perfectly for crocheting right-handed.

I can’t believe how much easier it is to crochet this way! I still don’t hold the hook the way I’ve seen other people hold it, but my method is a lot more streamlined now – and so far I haven’t had any hand pain at all. I’ve only made two small flowers, mind you – but that’s still amazing to me.

So yes, I’m strange. I crochet right-handed, knit left-handed – and well, am pretty much ambidextrous in most other things, including writing. ;)

I started off with a flower to embellish my youngest daughter’s hat, which is in a variegated yarn in shades of pink, purple and white. I chose a couple of pink yarns that I had left over from making bunnies last spring and made a simple flower. I liked the look of the flower in general, but thought it needed something just a little – more – on the hat, so I went digging through my jewelry box and found an off-white button to put in the middle. I used the tail end of the yarn from beginning the flower to connect the button and flower to the hat – and I think it turned out really cute!

It may also look familiar – I used the photo below as a main ingredient in re-designing this site tonight… And the flower is featured prominently as well. I love how the site looks – and hope you do too! :)

FlowerOnBeccasHat 001

Here it is on my daughter:

FlowerOnBeccasHat 004

Tonight I made a second flower -this time I found a cool antique-ish looking gold button to put in the middle. And you can’t tell in the photos, but the white yarn is some of what I had left over from making the girls’ shrugs last year – it has a strand of glittery stuff going through it too.

This flower is for another hat that I made a while back for my 8-year-old. She hasn’t been wearing it lately – instead my oldest daughter has been wearing this hat while I get her new one made. But I have the feeling that my 8-year-old will reclaim the hat once she sees the cute flower I added to it tonight, lol!

FlowerForHannahsHat 004FlowerForHannahsHat 003

It’s a very simple pattern – called Flower Magnets. I can see a lot of other uses for these too – I’m already scheming on ways I can attach them to ponytail holders or hair clips. :)

She’ll be able to wear them – barely

So let’s just say that I’m not exactly an expert at knitting socks. And apparently I’m even less of an expert at sizing them correctly. Next time I’ll make sure to measure the feet and knit the socks to the correct length – I was pretty much just excited to get them done at this point. And done they are – my first pair of kids knitted socks. :)

I finished the second one up over the New Year’s weekend while we were visiting friends – I tend to get to a certain point and have a hard time stopping until the project is done. My hands were killing me when I finished the sock – but it was worth it.

Here’s the second sock by itself – it looks pretty much just like the first one did, which is the point I guess:

KidSock#2 002KidSock#2 001

And here are the two socks together. I think there may be a smidgen of a difference in size – but the stripes made it very easy to count and compare rows, so they’re not too far off.

KidSocksDone 001KidSocksDone 002

My 4-year-old was extremely excited to get these socks and she wore them the next day. And to bed that night. She would have worn them the following day as well, if I hadn’t removed them myself, under protest from a very irritated preschooler. I think that means that they’re a hit. And comfortable too, I’d guess. ;)

BeccasKnitSocks 002

I did make one fairly noticeable mistake on the second sock – again, I was in a hurry when I finished it and not paying close enough attention. Can you see it? Here’s a picture where it’s a little more apparent:

BeccasKnitSocks 001

Yep, I somehow grafted the toe of the second sock in the wrong direction – vertically instead of horizontally. It really doesn’t make much of a difference when the socks are worn – and I guess I’ll always be able to tell the two socks apart this way. But still… Sigh.

The socks are only going to fit my daughter for a short while – her heel’s already pushing past the ‘turned’ part. They’ll work for now though – at least until her feet grown again. The way they’ve been going lately, that could be as soon as next week! But at least she’ll get some chances to wear them before she outgrows them.

BeccasKnitSocks 003

Both she and I wore our hand-knitted socks on the same day – she was pretty proud of them.

KnitSocks 002

And so am I.  :)

Next up OTN: I apparently need to make a new hat for my oldest daughter as hers was lost in a McDonalds away from home. On the plus side? The fact that someone seemed to have thought well enough of my knitting to decide to walk off with the hat. But it’s still frustrating to have put the work and time into something and then have it disappear… Oh well – at least it’s a chance to work on a quick, easy project before I decide how to tackle the next pair of socks.