FO! Matt’s Socks

I love when I finish something, especially when it’s a project that involves knitting 2 of something. Matt’s socks are finally finished, and his sweater is much-loved. Pictures of him in it are a bit tricky since it still gets dark early. He loves it and it looks nice, but I think I made it too short even though I added a few repeats. He is 6’4″, but good grief. The only thing I can think to do is to cut the ribbing off, slip the stitches to a spare needle, knit a new bottom ribbing with a few more repeats and graft. However, I don’t have that much yarn left, and I don’t want to knit any more of that cable patter. It’s a lovely sweater and pattern, but I will burn it if I have to knit any more.

The socks aren’t giving me any trouble, though.

He isn’t wearing them to work. He’s actually never worn hand-knit socks out of the house. He says that he feels fancy when he wears them and wants to save that feeling for home, so he wears them like slippers. Fair enough. That should ensure that they’ll last a while. In the meantime, I can knit up my sock stash and work on #operationsockdrawer2015.

Every couple of years, I get on a sock knitting kick and start plugging away at a few pairs at a time. I can’t explain the feeling, but I just can’t get enough of sock yarn, and not just to hoard, but to knit and finish pairs. It’s great to load up the sock drawer and I know that as soon as I get the burned out feeling, it’s time to put the DPNs away and get back to sweaters or hats. I have project cycles it seems.

Crocheting blanket pieces is another cycle I go through. I got a few hanks (baby-sized bundles) of Lion Brand Pound of Love from Matt’s grandmother and I added a few more colors to see what I could come up with. The swatching was a great exercise in how to figure out what not to make. The Jan Eaton 200 Crochet Blocks book had some great ideas, and this block stuck. That’s when you know it’s the one, when you can’t shake the idea of a whole blanket in the swatch. I tried a few other patterns, but kept coming back to this one and I’m so glad that I did.

Each square is about 7 1/2″ wide, so 9 squares wide and 11 squares long is a good size for a queen-sized bed, with some extra width & length. I’ve still got to finish a quilt top, half of a quilt, and I have a Bartlett yarns/Felted Tweed blanket I began crocheting. I just need one more cone of the Bartlett in Light Heather and I can finish that sucker. We have free heat where we live (yesssssss), but obviously I’m subconsciously preparing for when we have to pay for heat. Matt teases me by calling me a lizard and asks if I need a hot rock to lie on. Cold hands (and legs and body), warm heart! #blanketfort2014 has become #blanketfort2015.

Doing it my way

I finished the biscornu a couple of weeks ago, so I laid out my quilt after my craft compass swung from cross stitch to quilting. I pieced the top by machine, but I’m doing the quilting by hand. I wanted to have this finished before S came, but that last trimester kicked my butt and my brain shut down.

photo (3)

Progress halted on this because I got intimidated by the task of quilting, and doing it without the backing puckering anywhere. Our living room isn’t tiny, but I could have used a little more room and a huge table or some other hard & flat surface to pin the layers together. I got it as smooth as I could on a futon with my rotary mat underneath it. I pinned carefully and went in small sections, but there was still puckering when I started from the middle with my quilting.

I started from the middle because that’s what I read when it came to hand quilting. Following that method lets you smooth the quilt layers (top, batting, backing) from the center in an outward direction and minimizes the chances of puckering and bubbles in the backing. That’d be nice if I had the proper area to pin the thing in the first place. Some places will do this for you, or let you utilize their space, but I wasnt going to pay for it. It can get pricey, and for my first quilt I wanted to be involved in each step and learn. I know now that starting with a corner would’ve worked way better for me, but I thought that would be “doing it wrong”.

There are certain things in life that have hard rules, but I should have known better to remember that when it comes to crafts, you have to do what works for you. In knitting, crochet, spinning, sewing, etc., there are so many different ways to achieve the same results in most instances. It’s all up to the style & learning ability of the crafter themselves.

I have grey and pink Gutermann thread (4507 and 2346, respectively), but I only used the grey on a few squares in the middle so far. I was initially following the rectangles that make up each square, but I didn’t get do anything that can’t be (carefully) picked out. I’ll think of a new design, begin from the corner, and maybe I’ll have a new quilt before it gets cold enough to use it!

(Side note: Because I can never keep one craft on my mind, I also pulled the yarn I had set aside for a blanket for S, and have been brainstorming about a new color scheme and another shape for the motifs. No idle hands here.)

Blanket mania

It’s been blankets and more blankets being made in these parts. M’s grandmother gave me a huge bundle of Lion Brand Pound of Love in aqua for the baby. I haven’t used acrylic in quite some time, but I figured I could get a lot out of just the one ball or I could throw in other colors and make a few more (million) things.

crochet octagons

At first I thought that this yarn has gotten softer or something since I’ve last encountered it, but I think I’m confusing it with my beginner-knitter experiences with Caron One Pound. That stuff will take off your top layer of skin. Oof.

Since I wanted something colorful, I started off by adding pink to the mix, then later on I threw in the white, blue, and yellow. A hexagon blanket was something I’d done before and it works up pretty quickly due to quick memorization of the rounds. I don’t like to make the same thing twice, but I still wanted something pretty mindless to crochet and piece together, so I decided to go with octagons and mini squares. I might not finish this one before the kid comes, but it can be a play mat for her later on I suppose.

The blanket parade didn’t stop there. I knew I wanted the “coming home” blanket to be something warm and squishy, so I took the Rowan British Sheep Breeds in Bluefaced Leicester from my stash, picked a stitch pattern, and got busy.

shb knit blanket2

I recovered most of this from a too-small owls sweater I made a few years ago (which I loved and will consider re-knitting later), and my experience with this is that it’ll definitely be warm and squishy enough. I just have to finish it! Carpal tunnel got the best of my right wrist, but it seems to have subsided so it’s back to work!

Other baby knits I’m working on:

Basil by Courtney Kelley, Kelbourne Woolens Baby Collection

Whit’s Knits: Baby Bonnet from Purl Bee

Laura’s Loop: Infant Mittens also from Purl Bee

Wish me luck that I finish everything in good time!