Category Archives: Bumblebee Socks

WHERE DID JANUARY GO?

Here I am, resurfacing after a very hectic holiday season, and a flu-filled January.  But I haven’t been idle.  I can report on several bits of progress.

First, the annual holiday cookie bake – ten kinds, plus.  They are all long since eaten, but since I list the kinds each year (and often look back in succeeding years to remember the ones we liked best), here we go

Top row:  Chocolate crinkles (aka Earthquakes); Sugar Cookie Stars; Gingersnap/Lemon Sandwiches
Middle Row:  Raspberry Rugalach; Classic Tollhouse; Peanut Butter Suns; Coconut Macaroon, Chocolate Dipped; Buffalo Bourbon Balls
Mezzanine Row:  Both are fudge rolled around a whole roasted hazelnut
Bottom Row:  Sugar Stars with Lemon Filling (I had extra buttercream); Mexican Wedding Cakes; Hazelnut/Ganache Sandwiches (aka Oysters).

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The next accomplishment was a set of six mythical beasties crocheted placemats, which had their debut when family came to dinner for New Years Eve.

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As I described before, the designs are all from Dupeyron’s Le Filet Ancien au Point de Reprise VI, itself an on-line offering in the Antique Pattern Library’s filet crochet section.  I used a large cone of unmercerized cotton cordage, roughly worsted weight, that I bought aeons ago at the old Classic Elite Mill Ends Store, when it was in its original location, in the mill building itself.  I ended up having to unravel some experimental swatches I had knit with the stuff before, in order to have enough.  I still have one piece of the set unfinished – a small center runner to go with the mats.  I’ll pick that up again in the warmer months.  Note that the patterns for these beasties are from a matching set of squares – 35 units x 35 units.  Filet crochet with this stuff, at this gauge, using this hook, by my hand is NOT square, but the resulting rectangles are perfectly useful.  More on this project is here.

I also finished the Bee Socks, but younger daughter took them back with her to school, so no pix of both done at the same time. However, they are both complete.

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Moving closer to the present, it was freezing here in Massachusetts in January.  Although one could argue that knitting a cozy, warm, oversize sweater in the Fall would have been better timing, the weather did inspire me to knock one out in January.

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I’m quite pleased with this one, although in real life it reads more as maroon than blue-purple.  I used Melissa Leapman’s Men’s Cables and Ribs Pullover, and knit it up using most of two stashed bags of Debbie Bliss Glen. It’s a very soft merino/acrylic blend ragg single, with a soft spin.  It’s luscious stuff, but it is extremely splitty and difficult to handle, which is probably why it ended up at my late, lamented, local yarn shop’s remainder sale.  The striping effect was a surprise, but I like it.

The only thing I did to adapt the pattern was to stop knitting the sleeves after I accomplished the bulk of the increases.  At that point I sewed the front and back together, and finished out the turtleneck.  Then I tried it on.  I knew that the drop shoulders would be VERY wide, and being a men’s pattern, the sleeves – if knit to the original specifications – would be way too long.  So with the unfinished thing on, bib style, I measured the length of the run from the edge of the drop shoulder to my desired cuff termination point.  Then I completed the sleeves to that dimension for a perfect fit.

And now we are caught up to the newest project:  Octopodes for Niece Frankie – a bespoken project by special request, just started yesterday:

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The pattern is Octopus Mittens by Emily Peters.  I’m using Cascade Heritage 150, a fingering/sport weight yarn, but doubled to get the DK thickness recommended in the pattern.  And you can see, I’m using my Strickfingerhut knitting thimble/yarn guide thingy to assist with the stranding.

So far I’ve gone down a needle size from the pattern’s recommendations.  I may end up ripping back and going down another size.  We’ll see.  For the record, the solid yellow bit at the bottom is turned up and sewn in, to make a double-thick cuff.  Had I read ahead in the pattern, I would have used a provisional cast-on, then grafted the section later on.  At least I had the foresight to use a half-hitch cast-on, to allow for maximum stretch.

And a final note.  Younger Daughter is an octopus-fiend.  I suspect she will see this post, and wild with desire, demand her own pair of Octopus Mittens.  In her own colors, of course.

STARTS AND FINISHES

A couple starts and finishes here at String Central.

First – a scarf for Elder Daughter.  She favors autumn colors, and the last scarf I made her about five years ago was due for a replacement.  I had a ball of Zauberball Crazy in my stash, that was way too nice to waste on socks that won’t be seen.  Something that demonstrative is better out in the open rather than hidden away in shoes.  But she wanted a strip-style classic scarf, not an abbreviated shawl or wing-shaped piece, so one ball of fingering weight yarn wasn’t going to be enough unless the chosen stitch was very lacy.  But it’s hard to make the color gradations pop in a lace design…

The most obvious thing to do is to eke out the fancy multicolor yarn using a solid – either a component color of the multi, or something contrasting.  So I went stash-diving.  And I came up with another problematic yarn that fits the mission envelope.  Lister Lavenda fingering weight 100% wool, circa the late ‘60s.

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How do I come by such a superannuated yarn?  Easy.  I stole it from my mom.

To be fair, “stole” is a bit of exaggeration.  She let me have it, from her own stash.  My mom has been a prolific and talented knitter as long as I can remember.  She tried many times to teach me when I was a kid, but I didn’t actually pick up needles until after I was out of my own.  BUT I did crochet quite a bit as a kid and teen.  Mom let me stash dive on occasion.  This particular mustard color wool was part of a vest project she began for my dad, long, long ago.  I’m not sure why it was never completed, but mom had a huge bag of the stuff, well over a dozen little one-ounce pull skeins.  I adopted them and have used them slowly over the years.  Pretty much any gold/mustard yellow accent in anything I’ve knit from fingering weight has been mom’s Lavenda.

The yarn itself is quite nice, a bouncy, spongy 100% wool,, but fragile.  It fulls if you so much as look at it with damp, warm eyes.  It rubs through in socks all too quickly, even when reinforced.  So scarves and hats are the best use.  I had four skeins left, a bit over 100g, all told.  About the same amount as the one Zauberball.

I used a free pattern on Ravelry, Christy Kamm’s ZickZack Scarf.  I used 3.0mm needles (about a US 2.5), and did the recommended eight repeats of the 12-stitch garter stitch pattern. swapping the multicolor and mustard yarns every other row (each garter stripe).  Every row was the same – as such it was the perfect totally mindless piece to work in the evenings, even while watching subtitled movies.

Here are the front and back:

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Note that they are close, and both are pleasing, but they are not identical.  Nor could they be.  Garter stitch produces identical TEXTURES on front and back, but when you change colors, the appearance of the row is different front to back.  If I had knit 3 rows of multi, then 3 rows of solid, the two sides would look more alike, BUT I’d end up having a lot of long floats up or ends to work in because my other-color yarn would always be on the wrong edge of the work when I went looking for it to change.

And the finished piece:

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Lessons learned:  If I had to do it all over again, I’d only do six or seven repeats across, to make the thing just a bit narrower, but longer.  The recipient loves it, but I prefer narrower scarves.  Also, the design benefits from not being worked loosely.  If you attempt this one and are a loose knitter, go down a needle size or two for best effect.  All in all though, I’m quite happy with the piece, and offer thanks to pattern source Christy for thinking of adapting this traditional heavy-knit blanket zig-zag to a light weight scarf.

And the other start – Bumblebee Socks for Younger Daughter

This project also started off with the yarn.  Long time pal Wendy has embarked on a yarn dyeing venture.  She brews and experiments, and when she’s accumulated enough inventory, offers it up on line or at knitting festivals, via Facebook or her Etsy page, under the “Strings N’’Strands” imprint. As such it’s sporadically available but worth waiting for.

Last month she posted that she’d just finished dyeing a black/yellow combo, and posted pix.  It sang to me:

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Younger Daughter has a thing for bees.  She adores them, and advocates for bee-preservation causes.  This yarn would be perfect for a pair of socks for her. 

So, a new conundrum.  How to use a variegated to best advantage in socks?  Not every hand-dyed variegated works out well in-project.  Sometimes the colors flash in an inopportune way.   Sometimes they don’t flash at all, and end up muddy.  And how to work in the bee theme….

After some experimentation, here’s the end result:

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Entrelac!  The little entrelac segments are like a scrum of fuzzy, striped bumblebees.  And the periodicity Wendy dyed in worked out perfectly, making a nice, even self-stripe on my toe-up foot.

For the record, this is improvised as I go.  I’ve knit several entrelac projects at this point, both in the round and flat, so I’m pretty comfortable with the base concept.  It does tend to be less stretchy than flat stockinette, so some fudging of count was required, but it all worked out.

This particular pair of toe-up socks uses a Figure-8 toe, and short-rowed heel.  I am knitting on five relatively large US 0 needles (four in the work, one in hand) – on 72 stitches around (18 stitches per needle).  I worked my standard no-think sock until I was two rounds past the heel, then broke into entrelac on 6-stitch groups.  Although the math works out perfectly to have six entrelac pattern units , doing so makes a tight ankle (see above), so I fudged my start-up triangles to end up with 7.  That’s working out quite nicely, to make a comfortable, not quite slouchy sock.

I’ll continue on this ankle part until the sock, when folded in half along the heel diagonal that part is equal to the length of the foot, then I’ll do 20 rounds of K2P2 rib to finish. 

Thanks Wendy!  Your yarn made this project, and will go on to make Younger Daughter buzz with joy.