Tag Archives: Dream in Color

Fixing the fit: my cable back shell

Cable back shell in Dream in Color Baby (Ruby River)

Cable back shell in Dream in Color Baby (Ruby River)

I’ve been knitting more sweaters and tops than usual lately, but have often found myself a little disappointed with the finished product.  This is most often an issue of fit, so I’m really happy to show off my latest finished top: the Purl Bee’s Cable Back Shell.

I was reluctant to shell out (no pun intended) for the recommended cashmere, but fortunately, I had this lovely Dream in Color Baby from a long frogged pullover.  I like the yarn even better for this top, since the slight varigation in the colour works really well given how basic the front is.  What drew me to this top was the cabled back, that almost looks like a spine and gives a very subtle, almost sexy tension to the back.

The simple but interesting cable back

The simple but interesting cable back

A top like this needs to fit perfectly, so I was really happy to try on the sample at Purl Soho in August.  Like the other Laura’s Loop pattern I knit, this one fits a bit short and boxy.  To add to the confusion, the pattern calls for 2 inches of positive ease (it should be 2 inches bigger than your body), but the photo clearly shows a sweater with negative ease. It’s a perfect illustraion of how even with careful gauge and measuring, fit can be an issue  To achieve the look I wanted, I knit the extra small (about 0.5 inches negative ease) and added 2 repeats (or 5 inches) to the length.

I didn’t pick up and cast off at the armholes (yet).  Doing so will stop the armholes from stretching and rolling, but I’m still considering adding elbow length sleeves, so I’ll hold onto a little scrap, while I wear it a couple of times and consider my options…. What do you think, would it look better with little sleeves?

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Once More With Feeling: Completed Argyle Socks

My husband in his Sneaky Argyle socks by Wendy Johnson in Dream in Color Smooshy

My husband in his Sneaky Argyle socks by Wendy Johnson in Dream in Color Smooshy

After my struggles with these, I’m really happy to have finished them in time to give to my husband for his birthday!  The finished product was well worth the frustration, these are among my favourite handknit socks.  Something about this colour combination feels just conservative enough for his job at a bank, without being too boring or expected.

_AWN3894It’s a real struggle to find good sock patterns for men; I bought Wendy Johnson’s Toe Up Socks For Everybody because it included so many great manly socks.  I look forward to trying out some of the other great patterns in this book: I think the Basket Case socks will make another great pair of husband socks, and I’m toying with the idea of some Belle Epoque thighhighs for me.

I’m usually really pleased with Johnson’s instructions, and I’m a big fan of the clarity and simplicity of her first book, but be forewarned: these Sneaky Argyle Socks are described as a great beginner project, but there are some really long floats, and you will have to be very careful about making them too tight (as I learnt to my great dismay!).  I sized up 2 needle sizes (to 2.5mm) and knit the colour section inside out to ensure that they would fit over my husband’s feet. Now to find a great anniversary pair…

I think I found the best use EVER for leftover sock yarn!

My hexipuffs (or 1.3% of a quilt)

My hexipuffs (or 1.3% of a quilt)

I’ve struggled with what to do with all my leftover sock yarn.  Each pair of socks results in smallish balls of lovely scrap, and it didn’t take long for me to develop a pretty major stash.  I’ve made newborn hats and contemplated wild striped socks, but I’ve never found a really satisfying use for these leftovers.  To add to the urgency, we’re looking for a house, and the upcoming move has motivated me to deal with every bit of clutter that I will otherwise have to eventually pack up and move.

Tiny Owl's beekeeper's quilt (photo copied from the pattern website)

Tiny Owl’s beekeeper’s quilt (photo copied from the pattern website)

So imagine my delight when I came upon this gorgeous Tiny Owl Knits pattern, The Beekeeper’s Quilt.  It’s a pretty popular pattern with over 5000 projects on ravelry, and at least 5 how-to videos on youtube.

The pattern reccommends 384 of these tiny little “hexipuffs” for a full size quilt, so I may be working on this one for the forseeable future. However, each little puff knits up in less than an hour, so they’re perfect in between projects.  So far I have 5 puffs (or 1.3% of a full size blanket!), but I’ll keep you posted as I work my way through my stash. I’ve made

A hexipuff in madelinetosh merino

A hexipuff in madelinetosh merino

hexipuffs with ONline suppersocke (from my Wedge socks), white Dream in Colour Starry, and pink and black madelinetosh merino (from my Hederas, and the Monas I made for my husband at Christmas), and they all look lovely. I’m so happy to be converting clutter into something beautiful for our new home, what a great pattern!


How NOT to knit a hat

DSC_3874I often feel like I’m the only who has knitting projects flop, so I was relieved to read this blog post on frayed at the edges, about a project gone meh.  It turns out I’m not the only one who is sometimes disappointed by my projects… this weekend, I definitely suffered one such disappointments (or in this case, one such totally frustrating wastes of time).

This toque was supposed to save me time.  About a week ago, I realized that I had not allowed myself time to finish my ambitious holiday gift knitting (which, at the time included 6 pairs of light weight socks and a couple of toddler sweaters).  I flipped through my pattern library and rifled through my stash, hoping to find a lovely, faster gift that I could make with yarn I already have.

I landed on the Chunky Dean Street hat, which is available as a free ravelry download.  I’ve

My son in his chunky Dean Street hat, in Dream in Color Groovy

made the hat twice before, for myself and for my son, and I knew I could complete it quickly.  It’s warm and cuddly, and I had a gorgeous little ball of leftover Dream in Color Groovy in purple. I even had a touch of the Dream in Color in a complementary pink, if the purple didn’t make it.

Of course, I ran out of yarn, just before starting the crown decreases, so I went back, unravelled several rows of the hat and started to add pink stripes.  Everything seemed to be going well, and as we sat and watched a movie this weekend, I finished about half of the crown decreases before looking down at my ball of yarn.  I ran out of yarn 9 rows from the top.  At this point, I had to declare defeat.  Sure, I could have pulled out some random wool and completed the tip of the hat in a different colour, but this was a gift – it’s supposed to make the recipient feel special, not lead to awkward “Umm, gee, thanks. I love it?”s around the Christmas tree.

Fortunately, this clever little hat was there to help me out of a knitting jam. I had stashed the blue-green Dream in Color Classy years ago for a sweater I never made, so it also helped me fulfill my promise to my husband to work on those bins of yarn under the bed.  Now that I have a toddler, who outgrows shoes every 3 months, I rarely buy this wonderful $20/skein yarn, so knitting with it felt decadent.

The hat is based on an eighty stitch repeat, across eighty-one stitches, so the lines of purls twist becomingly around the hat.  I can’t wait to experiment with this idea (perhaps with some cables?) after I work through the rest of my holiday knitting.  Until then five gift projects down, four to go – next year, I’m starting in August!

I’ll be knitting socks for Christmas

My husband in last year’s Christmas present (Traditional Gansey Socks in Dream in Color Smooshy)

Socks are my absolute favourite knitting project, especially for the holidays.  On a practical level, every adult needs more socks, and they are less vulnerable to issues with sizing and personal style than other articles of clothing. Yet, the appeal of knitting socks for my loved ones runs a lot deeper than that; there is something really significant about putting that much time and love into a mundane object.  Socks are among the most mass produced and disposable items of clothing in our society.  We are really seperated from their production, they are the type of thing we buy in bulk at drug stores and Wal-Marts. As such, socks are something that we rarely give much thought to.  As a result, knitting socks becomes a little eccentric. After all, who would devote 10 (or 20 or 40) hours to making something as humble as a sock? Someone who wants to transform an object as quotidian as a sock into something beautiful and meaningful.

I’ve been reading Matthew Crawford’s Shop Class as Soulcraft, and his polemic on the significance of manual work has helped me to really understand why knitting socks, particularly as gifts, means so much to me.  He writes that “The satisfications of manifesting oneself concretely in the world through manual competence have been known to make a man quiet and easy.  They seem to relieve him of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of himself to vindicate his worth. He can simply point.”  I would say the intimacy of creating an article of clothing for someone takes the act of knitting socks one step further – it’s not a simply a statement of competency or worth, but a statement of love.  They not only relieve the knitter of the need to offer interpretations of herself (or himself), but they also relieve the knitter of the need to offer explanations of her love and appreciation.  Handknit socks are so different from mass produced socks, because of the care that is required to produce them.  When I take out my toothpick thin size 0 needles and begin a pair of socks, I hope that the wearer will feel the time and care required for each stitch as a  testament of the love, appreciation and respect that I bear them.  I hope the socks will say what I cannot.

One glance at a pair of handknit socks distinguishes them as something that has taken someone a lot of time, care and competence to produce.  This is especially true of some of the more complex patterns available  (like those in Cookie A’s Knit. Sock. Love. and Hunter Hammersen’s Silk Road Socks – 2 books that I recently picked up and have yet to try out).  To own a pair of these socks is to be really loved by a knitter.

Serpentine socks in Dream in Color Smooshy

It is at this point that I should admit, I think I have bitten off more than I can chew this holiday season.  My list of holiday gifts includes six pairs of handknit socks.  For the sake of time, so far, I have stuck to the familiar, choosing patterns from Wendy Johnson’s excellent Socks from the Toe Up.  I’ve used this book countless times, knitting multiple pairs of the Dead Simple Lace, Traditional Gansey, Diamond Gansey, Mock Cable, Van Dyke, and Serpentine Socks.  For my first holiday socks, I chose her flat gusset heel basic socks, letting this beautiful stash yarn speak for itself (truth be told, I bought it so long ago, I don’t even remember what it is).  Given that I have only finished one pair so far, it may be time to scale back my plans. I’d love to hear some of your favourite (quick) knitted gifts.

My first holiday socks this year (gusset heel toe-up socks in unidentified stash yarn)