Looking at my projects piled in a basket after taking pictures from my last post, I decided that I needed to prioritize and diligently work to start finishing some of this stuff. If you've been reading here for a while, you already know that I'm a multiple-project-at-a-time kind of gal. But the number of projects I have going right now has become a little overwhelming, even for me. I made a mental list, and started with the project that was the closest to being finished.
May I present...
Gentleman's Fancy Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush
Knit with my own hand-dyed wool/nylon blend sock yarn in Harvest, on 2.5mm Knitpicks DPN.
I started these socks a few weeks ago, even though I already had so many other things on the needles, because I really wanted to test out this new base yarn. As much as I love 100% wool sock yarns, I've come to realize that they just don't hold up as well to wear as the wool/nylon blends do. A couple of weeks ago, I wore a hole through the heel of a sock. I figured that since there are so many socks in my drawer that make it through the rotation on my feet, I shouldn't have to worry much about holes. Wrong. There is a giant hole in the bottom of one of my Friday Harbor socks. This incident led me to inspect the heels of the rest of my socks, and what I found is that there are actually several pairs showing signs of heavy wear. What interested me the most about this is that each and every pair that is thinning out at the heel was knit from 100% wool sock yarn. On the other hand (or should that be foot?) the ones knit from Opal, Regia, and the like, are wearing like iron. Not a sign of weakness in the yarn. In any case, this led me to look into using a wool/nylon blend as a base yarn for my dyeing. Naturally, this yarn isn't as soft as 100% wool, but it does take the dye beautifully, and knits up very well.
This pattern knit up very quickly, and I really like how they turned out. There is slight variegation in the colors of the yarn, but not enough to obscure the pattern stitches. Since the pattern is written for a man's foot, I changed the cast on number to 64, and omitted the calf decreases. I knit the leg for 7" before starting the heel flap, which is a modified eye of partridge heel. I also used my preferred round toe, because I like the way that it fits my foot. Overall, these socks are lovely, if I do say so myself.
I know that many of you are frantically trying to finish up handknit gifts for the holidays. I've learned the hard way that handknit gifts are not always appreciated or well-received, and have given up making gifts unless there is a specific request. This year, however, I made an exception. When I got the book Knitting Classic Style several months ago, I was immediately drawn to one of the patterns. It's not the most technical or beautiful, but it had some sentimental meaning. My husband is a lifelong Montreal Canadiens fan. His grandfather, who is from Montreal, instilled in him a great love for the team early on. To this day, he pledges his allegiance to the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots (we're both from Maine), but when it comes to hockey, the Canadiens are his team. Needless to say, when I saw the Montreal Tuque in Knitting Classic Style, I knew I had to make it for Travis. Since he is deployed (for a second Christmas in a row, but we won't go there right now), and living in tight quarters, there isn't a whole lot that I could send to him for Christmas. I thought that this hat would be perfect. The gift really isn't about the hat itself, but the time and love put into it, as well as the story behind it.
Pattern: Montreal Tuque from Knitting Classic Style by Veronik Avery
Yarn: my hand-dyed, handspun superwash merino
Needles: 3.75mm Addi circulars (40 cm)
The pattern calls for cashmere yarn, which is lovely, but a little too delicate for life in a war zone. Instead, I dyed up 50 grams each of superwash merino roving in navy blue and deep red, then spun each color up, along with 50 grams of undyed roving. So, he may have only gotten a hat for Christmas, but it's a special hat, and I know he'll appreciate that.