Sock Madness: Mod Madness

The new pattern for the Sock Madness is Mod Madness by Copper Blade Designs. It’s been out for 3 days and many, many people have already completed a pair. (!!) Or at least one sock.

This is where I am:

I’ve knitted flat out for days now but I’ve only just turned the heel…

(on the screen an amazing sock in solids! She did the toe wrong though, colour stripes should flow from foot into toe, and she’s asking the mods if she should redo the toe or whether this is an honest mistake and do the next one right. Socks look great in solids eh?)

This is how they will look in the end:
 pattern pics

This one is taller than the one on the screen, in red and navy. That one meets minimum requirements. I’m doing a taller sock though, because I’d love for these to be wintersocks.

One of the things slowing me down is proper stranding technique. Usually I have one strand on the left hand (continental technique) and one on the right (English throwing technique). In the cuff however we have to alternate knit and purl stitches and it takes way too long to do that with the throwing technique.

So I’m teaching myself continental with both yarns over the left index finger. Just pick the one you need for this stitch.

This is how youtube says I should hold the yarns. Finger raised for tension and easy picking:

However, I knit Continental Combined, meaning I have a quick way of purling and picking. I run my yarn on the very tip of my finger, using my finger as a working surface. It makes for very speedy knitting, with minimum hand movements.

But with two yarns… they are too close together:

For the cuff I’ve learned to strand the yarns differently to keep them well apart on my working surface. That the tension got very different between the two was no issue.

(Gardening fingers. It’s lovely in the cabin this weekend! I’m rooting though the earth, getting rid of the long roots of Spiraea Douglasii, a.k.a. Hardhock. Such a nasty plant! Our lot is covered with it. I can manage to dig it out in the dry forest ground but in the wet, lumped together soil of the meadow and draining ditches it’s undoable. This year I’m happy if I get it out of the forest. Next year the grassland… perhaps rent a small digger and sift through all the soil.)
 Grrrr.
I can weed for about half an hour, then it’s back inside and rest and knit. All the birds are out and singing while I dig with my hands through the earth. Sun is shining. Not a bad way to spend some time 🙂

Also: gauge issues. I started the cuff at 1.75 mm because it was ribbing and I can do my colour work very loose. But it was too tight so I went up to 2 mm. Looked better. But still a bit too tight. Went up to 2,25 mm. Cuff fitted comfortably over my foot. But once the leg portion started the knitting looked way too loose.

So here  you see part of my leg, switching half way from 2,25 mm back to 2 mm:

The knitting on top looks much better now. (This picture is read bottom to top, just like knitting charts.)

Now that I’ve done the heel and am being passed by knitters left and right I’m tensioning up. Might have to go back to 2,25 mm.

I’m still knitting continental combined with two strands over left index finger. The knitting is now smooth and regular. But I’m still so slow! I knit like a child, giving attention to every stitch. I tried going back to one strand left, one strand right but I feel that’s slower now than this new technique.

As others have unlocked speed in this skill, this may be the sock that puts me out of the competition. Might just as well be, my body is starting to ache. Shoulder, hands, fingers. I’m not doing this right. So I guess I’ll be slowing down now. Taking more breaks. Remember to drop my shoulders when knitting.

Luckily I’ve been put on the right team, we are the slower knitters and in my team not too many people have already finished a sock. I can still make it… if I hurry. Which I shouldn’t. Won’t. Probably.

My sock does turn out lovely though. The grey is blueish, it’s Grey Hare by Dutch Wool Diva. The white is just regular Drops Fabel. A bit more fuzzy thread than the Diva. Should have brought one of the smoother yarns. But the combination is beautiful!

Here’s a picture from last week, when I was trying to learn stranded with two yarns on the left:

I knitted my finger to the project, took the wrong end of the strand to work with. Knitting ain’t easy.

doing the free style colourwork in de Petal Lace cardi

This is the pattern I made, freehand, for my Lace Petals Cardigan:

made with free charting program Stitchfiddle.com

Now I’m knitting stranded. Working with DK goes fast and there are only 107 stitches. Still it’s not as easy as I thought. Because the pattern has no repeat I have to look at the screen all the time and count count count. And I’m working to and fro instead of in the round. Doing stranded knitting on the WS (Wrong Side) is somehow more difficult than doing it from the RS.

The yellow accents I will embroider upon the knitting. Just like Tilly Trout showed me. Right now I’m seriously doubting if the grey has enough contrast from the green. But there’s always doubt when I knit so I’m knitting on.

In the mean time I’m waiting for the new pattern for the Sock Madness to drop. I also have two other socks on the go, one which I’m going to frog and start over in new, happier colours.

And I’m knitting on my sport weight cardigans, both Pumpkin Ale and Old Towns cardi. These finer yarns make my muscles ache so it’s good to work with thicker yarn at the moment. This is DK, handdyed by Wolop. Can’t wait to add the yellow accents.

Free style colourwork

Ahh, Spring is in the air! I have knitted my Petal Lace Cardigan towards the hem where a band of colour work will be:

Now it’s time to  decide on the colourwork and for this I’ve been playing with Stitchfiddle, the free website that lets you create knitting charts.

I’ve set out a canvas on Stitchfiddle as wide as the whole border of the cardigan and I’ve drawn vertical lines from the lace petals to the bottom. I want each line to have a petal in colourwork. Quick sketch:
Now it’s time to design the petals. Which shape? Which colour where? How to distribute the contrast? They should have little yellow accents because Lieneke has shown me they really liven up the colours:

And I need to be a bit careful with the teal because it’s also used for the button band. (Oh, the ball of teal is not in the picture). And what colour will the hem be?
Also: sleeves will have a colour band too. Use up all the remains!

So I’ve been playing around. Crudely drawing to get a feel for shapes and sizes and colour contrasts. And then I watched the new podcast by Tilly Trout (lovely podcaster, go watch here).

In it she shows a lovely bit of fair isle she’s working on. A swatch in Uradale yarn, inspired by the book Shetlandic Knitting by Marja de Haan, from Trollenwol yarnshop.
pic by Marja de Haan

Tilly Trout has added some light, mustard coloured accents.
Which are cross stitched. On knitted fabric. Because a cross stitch, in wool, gives a different “pop” than a duplicate stitch:
 still from Tilly Trout episode 33
Very interesting!

Storing this idea in my head for if I want solo yellow accents on my cardigan.

Later on Tilly talks about how embroidery nowadays is different from a few decades ago. Back then things had to be neat and tidy. Cross stitch. Count threads.

Nowadays it’s more free. Freehand. Freestyle. Go by eye, not by thread count. I feel there’s a cross pollination with the recent trend with handlettering:
 pic by Breimonster, who’s into embroidery, handlettering, sewing, knitting and the general crafty life. She’s also a Physics teacher by profession. And she’s the first Dutch person to finish the qualification sock for the Madness, she’s now in the fastest team with all the Finns and winners from previous Madnesses. She’s marvelous!!

Free style colour work? Interesting! (2)

Why should I try to make my colourwork all neat and in a 14 st repeat pattern? Stitchfiddle has already given me a chart for the whole band, should I desire so. I could knit the whole band, without a repeat, just like I sketched it!

You know, this may be just the thing I’ll do. Freehand colourwork, no rules, no symmetry! It’s what I’m staring at and thinking about on this lovely Springday, while I knit my new Dropped Madness socks very precisely to the rules.

Ah. I found my teal ball.

Spring is in the air, Spring is in the knitting:

Wolop Adventshawl pictures and charts

chart 1: https://www.stitchfiddle.com/c/sj4l72-8ly3pm/quickview
chart 2: https://www.stitchfiddle.com/c/sj4itg-6t4lyt/quickview

All charts made in free online tool StitchFiddle. A friendly site for intuitive chart making for knitting and crochet and cross-stitch. Both colour charts and symbol charts. You can also upload a picture and it’s automatically converted to a chart for stranded knitting. I played with that a year ago, for the Elementary My Dear Swap:

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 16.50.52

This year was all about patterns in small strips with the colour I was given that day of the Wolop Advent Box. Here’s my shawl this morning, after a month of wearing:

I’m not that relaxed when posing for pictures:

Then Robert says: “Smile for the cat!” and things get better:

I’m wearing my Peabody pullover in Soft Donegal, a 100% Merino in a ply with nubbs. I don’t wear it often. I knitted the pullover in 2013/2014 and knitted it too short, I’m always pulling it down. The yarn pills a lot (I’m a loose knitter and it’s merino) and the pattern is not high enough in the back of my neck causing me a chill.

Really, I should chuck this sweater out, it takes up too much space for the one time a year I wear it. But it was soooo much effort to knit it. Two years it took. With many brainfogged struggles.

But I think I’ll wear it another day today. It looks great with the Advent Shawl.

finished: Wolop Advent Shawl!

It’s blocking and drying:

Here are some of the final motives:

Cats with Paw Peerie by Sandra Jäger and also hedgehogs from her. I didn’t have enough brown/mauve for the final row but they still look like hedgehogs to me.

My golden embroidery scissors.

The purple shirts I never sew.

A ribbon of flowing water; hedgehogs; mushrooms; something that may or may not be square eggs or daisies in the only multicolour I put in the shawl.

Cat paw prints; “Advent 2016”; new stars to replace the ones from December first and December nineteenth ; some geometric design in which I ran out of dark purple and finally: some fish (using different shades of the pastel greys. The purple one, the blue one and the lilac I dyed myself. Ran out of that one at the final fish and inserted some white.)

Kitchener stitched everything together, with the fish right underneath the polar bears:

The geometric design is a prelude to next year’s project. I want to do another one of these Adventsboxes!

Next time I’d love an overall design flowing through the whole cowl, with only the colours changing, following the wisdom of Fair Isle knitting when it comes to colours, colour families and contrast.

For the pattern I’m leaning towards Art Nouveau. Leaves. Curls. Smoke rings. A pattern which I’ll probably design myself, using StitchFiddle, the free online charting tool.

Advent shawl 2016 was made entirely on Stitchfiddle. It took two charts of 200 rows high each. I’ll clean them up and share them publicly. In a post with pictures of me wearing the cowl. Right now it’s still wet.

24 dec: chunk of knitting and a friendly reminder

The last colour of the Wolop Advent box is a beautiful icy blue:

I used it for a secret kind of bird house/WIP bag that I will receive next week. The bag is greenish with ice blue top/roof. Can’t say much more about it 🙂

Underneath I knitted the purple anti gobble food bowl. Our cats have one too now. It works really well.

Underneath that is a ribbon of sea gulls. They are always near, making strange noises over the harbour.

These birds are from a chart by Sandra Jäger. It’s free. I love how there’s a darker blue middle section. Lots of Fair Isle patterns have that. I should play more with that.

This is what I knitted yesterday. I wanted to do a large chunk:

Do you like those fox faces? I designed them myself, on Stitchfiddle.com. I wanted to incorporate foxes in my shawl because Wolop Lieneke loves foxes and this particular colour of yarn is beautiful for foxes and next week I will also receive a bag with foxes on it ….*eyebrow wiggle*

The next few days I’m trying to knit as much as possible so that the shawl can go around my neck twice. I want it finished before the new year begins.

I’ll end this post with the x-mas card our cats received:

Untitled
A personal card, from the vet!

It had an PS.
“Remember that it’s about time to renew your vaccinations.”

Have a nice x-mas evening.

23 dec: digging it.

Once upon a time I had a great afternoon:

And today my new x-mas cookie cutter arrived:
digger cookie cutter
Ahh, it’s the season to be joyous!

X-mas cookies and bombyx x-mas balls:
digger cookie cutter

Me in the digger was about ten years ago, when we had just bought the cabin. We were clearing the rich top soil of the meadow next to it. In the poorer under-soil native herbs have more of a chance to grow. The rich soil got shoveled into man-high ridges, on top of which we planted apple trees.

In between the ridges there are now sheltered micro climates and the amount of dragon flies is absurd. Lots of herbs too, with lots of different bees and bumble bees on them.

Diggers made it into my Advent shawl:

And I learned that in plain rows I should knit a little tighter because ruffles.

Today’s colour is a green blue:

It’s in a small band above the diggers.

22 dec: gnomes in StitchFiddle and rebellious hotdogs in nativity play.

Today’s Wolop Advent colour for me is some sort of coral:

I’m going to knit it into gnome’s faces:

knitting chart gnome

These three I sketched in Stitchfiddle. I really like this program. By now I’ve added all the particular colours of my box to the palet:

stitchfiddle.com It works really neat. If I change the shade of one colour in this palet, for example because I didn’t value it well enough next to a new colour I receive, than the colour in the chart changes with it.

The program is filled with all these neat things. I read about some of them in the Ravelry group but most of them I discovered myself, StitchFiddle’s desingers are really big on intuitive usage of the site.
If I ever do have a question the programmer, Sander, is very fast to answer in the Rav group.

I’m ready for some gnomes now:

I put in some abstract version of “herring”, as I didn’t manage to design a nice fish. I like the blue and white, it talks to me of Holland and Delft and of Delft pottery. I studied architecture in Delft and did some ceramics there 🙂

On top of it is a band of what was supposed to be mistletoe but as I changed the back ground colour from grey to this purple, nearly Wollmeise Fliederbusch purple, it now reminds me of the Elderberry and of Frau Holle.

A knitter friend of mine, Tineke from Atelier Het Groene Schaep, is also thinking of Frau Holle today. She’s performing as a hot dog in a x-mas play as we speak.

The play is a Frau Holle story for children and I think Tineke is a hot dog that doesn’t want to leave the oven because the girl is not doing her best. Although I’m not sure if these kind of moral messages are still advocated to children nowadays. Tineke might just be a rebel hotdog in its own right. She’s a rebel in real life, a proper wool rebel.

 Fritz Kunz

I’m gearing up for Frau Holle too. Soon I’ll be spinning.

14 dec: Succesfull living at 60%

Today I’m up to date with the revealing of my Wolop Advent colours again 🙂 For the next few days the little bags go into my owl suitcase and will travel with me to Midwinterwol, the wool fair in the north of the Netherlands.

wolop.nl
I’ll be assisting Lieneke from Wolop in her booth. Surely there’ll be some time to knit?

I can knit on it again because the white yarn is here! Send with a lovely x-mas card and the new issue of Ashford’s magazine the Wheel. Thank you, Textielwerk Wol En Zo!

My next pattern will be the x-mas trees! I’ve been looking forward to them since day 2 of this Advent adventure.
knitting chart x-mas tree stitchfiddle.com
This is the chart I eventually made. You can copy it freely, if you like. I think it’s publicly shared over at StitchFiddle.com, with this link.

Not sure when I will get to knitting the trees, I’m travelling to Midwinterwol tomorrow with Wolop and there may not be any time for knitting until late at night. And I’m not good with charts when I’m tired…

I baked myself some cookies for encouragement:
Untitled
And to play out stories. The little deer is called Bambo. He’s all sweet now and looking for a new friend, preferably a rabbit. But he’ll grow up to be a famous boxer and actor.
The squirrel isn’t buying it.

To make the transition from the soft contrasts of the past week the the distinctive white and x-massy green I inserted a line with “harsh” blue diamonds with white centres:

For this I had to do 3 colour knitting!
There’s also a row like this in the orange crown chart, which you can see better now.

3 colour knitting goes like this:
1. have a cat insist on sitting in the way
2. have one colour on the left and knit it continental. Have one colour on the right and knit it English style (flicking). Have one colour on the right and knit it Dutch style (throwing).
3. have a cookie.
UntitledUntitled

Then I finished two things today!
The stranded owls have indeed become a kidneywarmer:

The bottom border flips…. there’s nothing I can do about that. I’ll see how much it annoys me when using this. Besides it still needs blocking, that might bring some good no?
At the top I did 5 rows of 2×2 ribbing and cast off with JSSBO, Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off.

And the handspun Blue Texel/ Shetland thing is finished!

Ooh, how I wanted this shawl/ blanket to be stylish. To be city like. Sophisticated. To go with my fancy clothes and fancy jewellery and fancy bag.
But all this time I was very worried I wouldn’t have enough yarn for a nice border. And I had no idea how to ration the uptake of stitches to the diagonal knitting. You know that when you’re picking up stitches on a right angle, the ratio is 3 stitches for every 4 rows. But what is it for diagonals? That and the not-enough-yarn was enough hindrance to stop me in my tracks. For months. And that’s a pity. Such a pity.

This week I once again reminded myself that at 60% life is easy. Or maybe not easy but certainly life at 60% is doable. Living life at 60% makes you not sweat the small stuff. And even though you may not be proud of the things you do, you can do a lot in a day when you perform at 60%.

In terms of result, 60% is all right too. 60% results is not bad, not bad at all. You can work with 60% results. It’s better than 50% and way better than zero.

So I took my Blue Texel Shetland yesterday and I just crocheted a border around it. Any border. Just double crochets on hook 5 mm and that’s it.
Job done, shawl usable (it already was in use, just not outside of the house) and now not looking too shabby.

Alright, it does look shabby… with the loose ends dangling and the borders flipping and I probably could have crocheted a better number of stitches and also in another size hook and a wider border because I have pleeeeeenty yarn left. A knitted border would use even less yarn and with some kind of ribbing I could counteract the flipping.
Aaaaaaand… that’s thinking at 85% and that will ruin my day.

I’m glad it’s finished. I get to use it officially now! Once again I’ve felt how utterly comfortable this piece is, it really is a joy to touch. Way more sympathetic than my acrylic blanket, I must say.

Lillepoes certainly knows it. She knows when living at 60% is a gateway to 100% satisfaction:
cat under knittingcat under knittingcat under knittingcat under knitting

cat under knittingcat under knitting

11 dec: the need for order & control

So today’s Advent colour is actually tomorrow’s colour. And the colour of two days later. The missing white is really making me stressed and I solved it by peeking at the days to come and finding two very light colours I can use to bring some light contrast into the shawl.


Yes, it’s cheating.
No, I don’t mind one bit.

This Advent Shawl is a game of pleasure and I want to enjoy my knitting.
I really like knitting stranded every day for a bit, thinking up patterns, trying them out in StitchFiddle, enjoying the flow of the quality yarn through my fingers.

And although I do like working within a pre-set frame of rules -it invites you to be creative- I’m not going to let one of the rules hamper my knitting pleasure.

Besides, I’m pretty stressed these days, feeling overwhelmed and incompetent with all the things on the to-do list that I’m not getting done. I don’t need the extra aggrevation of colour contrast troubles.

As an illustration of my need for order & control today I knitted little pink squares:

The next part are reindeer. Today’s the Swedish Julemarket in Groningen, a 3 hour train ride from here. I would have loved to have gone so much! But really I can’t.
So reindeer 🙂

Hopefully tuesday the white skein comes. I was contacted by the webshop owner late last night that she had read my mail and she would send the skein monday asap!
Until then she’s at the Swedish Julemarket, lucky her.

For the rest of my stress I’m telling myself: “Calm down already!”
Which is a useless phrase to throw at someone who’s stressed.

Useless, unless they’ve been handed the tools to calm down. Which I have. So here I go, calming down:

1. I’m safe, warm and nurtured. If I connect to my body and ask if we have any reason to be stressed it will respond: “noooo?”.
If I connect to my body I can enjoy some time with it and experience how happy it is, being safe, warm and nurtured. This will lower my stress levels fast.

This is what Mindfullness or a hot bath or Reverse Therapy or sitting in the garden with a cup of tea all do. Very important life skills to have.

If you do them a couple of times a day, let’s say two times a day, the calming down becomes a habit and you can enter that state with just one breath, anytime. No more “Fight or Flight”.

I myself was amused to discover there’s a whole other way time can pass. Not in seconds. Different.
I suspect this is what cats and cows experience when they’re peacefully resting.
just relax pic by Christian Pichler

2. Soooo….all stress I perceive today is mental stress, every subject brought on by myself, chosen to deem important.
That means I can pick and choose from this list. Ban some of them to the back of my mind, or even just ignore them. My husband proposes the need for making and sending x-mas cards as the first item to scrap. I’m not there yet, I want to create things.
Another one is not subjecting myself to the way news is reported. It’s all so manipulative and fear mongering and enticing. This one has been pushed out long ago. I follow investigative journalism and documentaries instead.
Subjecting yourself to the emotional format a Disney film follows is another one. I don’t need an orchestrated cry 45 minutes into a movie.

Other to-do items I can lump together and allow a time slot: “Tomorrow morning, 20 minutes, to do some of those administrative things that have been looming.”

3. Thirdly I chose two things each day to put on top of my to-do list. A useful, grown up thing such as reviewing the painters’ offers or health assurance reassessment. And a thing that makes me happy, such as sewing or taking a bath. There’s not much time for anything else really, with the time it takes to maintain my body and my household. So if (any of) these two things get done I’m glad and accomplished for the day.

And that’s how I handle stress.
In theory.
In reality I don’t do the “sit still for five minutes and notice how your body is safe and happy”, not even once a day. But I will today. Sit still. Except for hands, let them move, holding yarn.

Yeah, that’s what I’m doing today. Sit in my living room and knit for a bit, enjoy the advent things on display, the tree, the moose, the snoring cats. Have a cup of tea. Five minutes of not having to do anything in particular. Just breathing and noticing my body is safe, warm and nurtured.


internet meme from comic Gunshow by artist K.C. Green