Hand knit socks, using My First Toe Up Sock pattern by Susan B. Anderson
I hope your August is going well. It’s been such a difficult year, hasn’t it?! It’s been a challenging one to navigate as a family and as a small business. I think part of why knitting has jumped back on my queue is because of the uncertainty of everything. I’ve been wanting to knit socks for a very long time and just never made the commitment to myself to get started. I had gotten a skein of sock yarn from my local knitting shop a couple of years ago and it just sat in a drawer.
Well, I finally dug up the motivation to just start! It’s tough to be a beginner at anything, but it is a very very good reminder for me. I don’t think I’ll ever consider myself an advanced sewist, even though I’ve been sewing almost daily for more than 12 years now (and had been sewing many years before that!). But knitting has been a skill that intrigues me so much. And although I’ve got a few years of knitting under my belt, it’s been infrequent and gets pushed aside for whatever life throws at us. Socks always seemed much more difficult than my usual cowl or mitten. So, my family and I got to go camping for a few days in June and I wound my skein and grabbed a pattern (after so.much.research.) and was determined. I think I cast on one hundred times! Seriously, I messed up royally over and over again. Even though it was frustrating I just kept at it! I needed to figure it out and I knew eventually things would click. And they did!
My first sock took me over a month to complete. My second sock took a week and half I think? Even though there are many flaws, I am so happy with how these turned out. They’re socks after all! They look like a sock and can be worn so I call that a win! I gave them to my youngest daughter (because they fit her!) and promptly went shopping for a second skein of sock yarn. I’m excited to learn even more on my next pair.
I hope that if you’re new to sewing, that you stick with things. I know there’s a huge learning curve, but even if you can grab a friend and work through things together I think it can give you such a feeling of accomplishment. And I think we all need to feel that in times like these!
Yarn: Abacus Dyeworks (color is Secret Garden) purchased from Yarn Cakes
Pattern: My First Toe-Up Socks by Susan B. Anderson
So, believe it or not, I do knit from time to time. It’s been a long time since I’ve finished anything though. I did manage a pair of mittens at the end of 2017, but other than that, no time for knitting in 2018 until right before Christmas. I figured it was the perfect time to pick up a project that I had started months before, my Range Shawl. I checked back on my Instagram and I had picked out the yarn for the Range Shawl pattern back in 2016. It was a lofty goal for me back then anyway, but there were quite a few obstacles I needed to jump before working on this project in earnest.
Once I felt that most of the studio stuff was taken care of, I felt a bit of time in the evenings open up. Especially in winter it was where I had time to sit down and work on this shawl. I hadn’t ever made a shawl before. In fact, I hadn’t knit anything flat before either. The big leap for me though was learning brioche. It seemed pretty insurmountable to me with only having a few years and a handful of finished knit projects under my belt. I was determined though, ever since the pattern was released I’ve been dying to make it. So I sat down one Saturday with a winter storm and tried and tried figuring it out! My friend Jeni recommended this video which really helped get a visual on things. The pattern is so clearly written though, too. I look back now and think that it was so much easier than what I had built it up to be. So once I got one brioche section under my belt it felt really great! I did have quite a few times where I made mistakes and had to go back and try and fix. I kept using life lines after each section which was necessary for me!
This was a great project to start learning brioche! Because the shawl is worked corner-t0-corner it helped me by knowing there was only a small section to work on at first. Of course I could have tried using some scrap yarn and practiced, but I jumped right in. I will say though that for the two color brioche it is much easier to see what you’re doing when you have yarns that have more contrast. My first section of brioche didn’t have as much contrast so it was a bit harder to learn that way. I do love the way the colors transition though.
I ran out of my one color of yarn, but luckily it was enough to do one repeat in the tweed section. I don’t think it’s too noticeable and I really could care less that it doesn’t follow the pattern exactly. I ended up doing an extra repeat of the other tweed section instead.
I feel so excited and proud about finishing this shawl! It feels like such a big accomplishment in my knitting. It took me from the end of December until the end of February to knit, just a bit of time each night with a few longer spurts in between.
Pattern: Range Shawl by Andrea Mowry of Drea Renee Knits
Yarn: Tosh DK in Celadon and Silver Fox by Madelinetosh, Trusty in Overcoat by Plucky Knitter, CFC Merino Worsted in Cenote by Camellia Fibers Co.
I did it! I finished my first arm knit pillow. I’m very happy that it’s done, the supplies sat for so long. Until now, that pretty yarn sat on my shelf and looked at me every time I sat down to make something. I had purchased the yarn a couple of years ago, so now there’s a nice big empty spot on my shelf – score! The biggest thing that held me back from getting started was that I didn’t know how to arm knit. I thought it might be sort of easy because I do occasionally knit, but in my mind I made it much harder than it actually ended up being. Of course stumbling upon a chunky knit pillow at Target one day made me almost weep. I thought about giving the yarn away and just buying the pillow.
I ended up using all three skeins of Cascade Yarns Magnum in Ecru (purchased from Jimmy Beans Wool) and followed along with Anne Weil’s Creativebug class with my most focused attention. I watched the main parts of the class at least twice through, and I don’t think I would have finished had I not done the online class. Anne is a great instructor, you can definitely tell she’s taught many people how to arm knit! For me, once I got the basics down, I was able to knit the pillow in maybe an hour? It was hardly any time. Knitting the swatch was super helpful. And the weaving in and stitching up the last parts of the pillow took maybe a half hour more. Pretty spiffy.
My pillow ended up being perfect for a 22″ square pillow form. I just kept knitting until the size felt right. It’s something I’ll keep out during the winter because it adds so much coziness to the room.
I just looked up the link for Anne’s class and she’s got so many fun looking ones! If you’re looking for a high impact project that’s quick, too, check them out. Or her lovely book, too, Knitting Without Needles.
Lately I’ve been trying to think objectively when picking my next projects to sew or knit or make. I’ve been working this first part of the year on a couple of new patterns, YESSS!!! One will be coming out this fall and the other will be a FREE pattern coming out sort of soon I think. So just recently I’ve been able to take a better look at my personal sewing projects a bit more. Anyway, since I’m anticipating moving all my work items to my studio this fall, I’ve been trying to clear out some of the older supplies and works in progress that I can finish up before the move. I honestly really dislike this part, some projects are abandoned that I’ve simply lost interest in. I hope to sort through them and move them along to someone who might be able to use them. So all that to say I’m glad this project is done! yay!