Thursday, January 27, 2011


Yikes, socks on 2.75mm needles go a little too fast. I had barely started knitting these when all of a sudden they were finished.

blue socks

The pattern looks like it might be a little complicated, but it isn't particularly; the pattern on the leg and instep has twelve rounds in it, of which six are just knitted, and the others are the same three rows staggered by half a repeat. There aren't even any double decreases in there, which might have something to do with how fast they are to knit.

They've got nice ripply cuffs with garter stitch welts that prevent rolling. The lace pattern on the cuff pulls in quite a bit, but also has some widthwise stretch to it; I have been wearing these all morning and they haven't sagged down around my ankles yet, which bodes well for their future.

cuffs comparison

One of these is a lot chunkier than the other, but it's what I was thinking about.

The pattern is $4.50 on ravelry, right over here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I am a pretty big fan of sportweight socks.

blue sock

I feel like these are a little too clunky to be delicate, really; they look pretty lacy, but the zigzags made by the decreases stand out more than their corresponding yarnovers do, in the final analysis.

Compare with a swatch of the same pattern in much finer yarn at a much looser gauge:

blue sock and green swatch

where the yarnovers and the way they shape the fabric into ripples are what's most obvious. It's hard to notice, in the sock, the way the single stitch in between the paired yarn overs gets stretched out at the base of each leaf; that distortion is front and centre in the swatch. None of this is to say that lace patterns knitted at tight gauges for socks are bad or lesser. They're just pretty in different ways. It's interesting to see what changes about the character of a pattern when you adjust the gauge.

(This pattern is adapted from one in the leafy section of The Haapsalu Shawl, which is the most inspiring book if you like lace patterns where the yarnovers tend to be placed a few stitches away from their decreases. My adaptation was to replace some purled stitches with knitted ones in order to emphasize those zigzags.)

This sock has a mate on the needles, almost half-finished, and its pattern is nearly finished too. (I actually wrote it months ago and just didn't get around to actually knitting it until now.) They'll only come up to the mid-calf, but they have a bit of a stocking feel to them, or at least I think so. There's some secret calf shaping that's barely noticeable in the finished sock when it's laid out flat, but very noticeable when you put it on and it flares out to fit your calf. All of the decreases are lumped together into a single round in the narrow garter welt that divides the cuff from the leg, so no pattern element is interrupted; the cuff pattern tends to draw in enough that the decreases don't make too dramatic a change to the width even though they all happen at the same time. It's a nice balance.

I am pleased with how the pattern on the back of the leg flows into the heel flap.

blue heel

Also with how the lace pattern on the instep goes nearly all the way to the tip of the toe. I think there are about four rounds that escape being patterned before the toe gets grafted closed. Toe cleavage is the new hotness, right?

blue toe

Also also, is it dorky to kind of want a lace scarf that matches my lace socks? Because I am seriously considering it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Warm hands, warm heart

This was my response to a sudden onslaught of cold, wet weather.

furry hands

Hey, do you want to make shaggy, woolly fingerless mittens, too? Do you have a cake of plötulopi hanging around, and 2.75mm double-pointed needles (or circulars for magic looping or 2-circ methods), and some sort of scrubbing or brushing implement? I don't recommend substituting a different yarn because the finishing stage of this project sort of relies on the qualities of unspun Icelandic wool—the fabric gets fulled a little bit, then brushed vigorously with a flick carder, wire brush, or plastic scrub brush. Icelandic wool is great for this purpose because the sheep are double-coated: there's a very soft, very fine undercoat (thel), then progressively coarser, longer hairs (tog). They're blended together in this yarn. It's pretty easy to raise the nap; the yarn is so loosely structured that it doesn't offer much resistance.

Mohair or a mohair blend would work, too. Look for long, hair-like fibres in the yarn that want to work loose. Not merino, not superwash.

Bonus: close-fitting fingerless gloves make a great base layer for wearing underneath bulkier mittens, like long underwear for your hands! Double bonus: oh man, do my sore wrists feel better when they're swathed in warm, fuzzy wool.

furry cuff

This barely qualifies as a pattern, it's so simple, but I've named it Poilu.


Istex plötulopi (100% Icelandic wool; approx. 300m/100g cake); 1 cake (you'll use about a third of it)
set of 5 US #2/2.75mm double-pointed needles, or a long circular needle for magic looping
scrap yarn
tapestry needle
flick carder, wire dog/cat brush, or plastic scrub brush


… is actually not that important for this project, since the finished mitts can be fulled down to size and can be tried on during the process. Pre-fulling gauge for the sample pair was 26 sts and 36 rnds = 4" in stockinette.

Finished size

Sample mitts measure 7.5" around. Since there's no pattern to interrupt, these are the easiest thing to resize; cast on more stitches for bigger mitts and fewer for smaller mitts, and work as many thumb gusset increases as you need to fit your hand.

Bear in mind two factors when resizing: fulling will shrink them a bit, and you'll be brushing the insides, too. Too-large mitts are easier to fix at the finishing stage than too-small ones.


k: knit
p: purl
rnd: round
st: stitch
m1: make one
p3tog: purl 3 together
CO: cast on
BO: bind off

Stitch guide

Garter stitch (worked in the round):
Rnd 1: K.
Rnd 2: P.
Repeat rnds 1-2 for garter stitch.

Mitt (make 2 alike)


With a single strand of plötulopi, cast on 52 sts, being careful not to break the yarn (it's fragile!). Divide sts between needles and join for working in the round. Mark or note beginning of rnd.

Work garter stitch for 20 rnds.

K 20 rnds.

Thumb gusset and hand

Next rnd: K25, place marker, m1, k1, m1, place marker, k to end.
K 2 rnds.
Next rnd: K to first marker, slip marker, m1, k to next marker, m1, slip marker, k to end of rnd.
Repeat previous 3 rnds until there are 15 sts between markers. K 2 more rnds.
Next rnd: K to first marker, remove marker, slip next 15 sts to scrap yarn, remove next marker, CO 1 st using the backwards loop method, k to end of rnd.
K 5 rnds.
Work garter stitch for 10 rnds.
BO loosely.


Transfer held thumb sts to needles, dividing for working in the round as you go. Join yarn and k across these sts, then pick up and k 3 sts from CO edge of hand.
Next rnd: P to last 3 sts, p3tog.
Work garter stitch for 8 rnds.
BO loosely.


Weave in and cut off all ends. Full the gloves by agitating them first in hot water, then in cold water, until the stitches are slightly obscured and the mitts are a little smaller. (Squeeze out excess water and try them on to make sure they’re the right size for you before calling it quits.) Pat mitts into shape, then lay flat to dry. When the mitts are completely dry, brush their surface with a scrub brush or flick carder until a furry, shaggy nap appears. Brush more for a shaggier appearance. When the outside of each glove is sufficiently shaggy, turn them inside-out and brush the wrong sides, too.

If at some point in the future you decide they aren't shaggy enough after all, brush some more!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Eyes on the prize

The red thing proceeds apace:

the first ninth

The project is a stole made out of Yubina laceweight cashmere on 2.75mm needles. This is a little more than the first 1/9, so I am on track to finish by my self-imposed deadline of the end of March. The finished shawl will have 18 repeats of the central pattern, and this here has two. It looks blocked because it is: I can't stand not knowing what something will look like when it's finished, so I frequently block things in progress.

I'm pretty happy with the edging:


I like the reinforced look of double yarnover zigzags, especially when they're surrounded by zigzagging rows of single yarnovers worked on every row. The very edge is my beloved lacy edge stitch, a yo-k2tog worked at the beginning of every even-numbered row.

For some reason I thought the central would not be this densely lacy, looking at the chart I made, even after swatching. Looking too hard at the knitting while I'm knitting it makes me go a bit cross-eyed.

densely lacy

The bigger motifs are supposed to look like eyes! I think they mostly do.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I got Margaret Stove's new book Wrapped in Lace last week, while my partner and I were killing time before a movie. The movie (True Grit) was excellent, but I kind of wished that I didn't have to wait three hours before I got to bring the book home and read it.

There are beautiful patterns, but I don't get the impression that it's intended to be a book of patterns. There is a lot of discussion about why Stove made this or that decision about a particular design, and then the pattern itself is the proof of concept or one example of knitting ideas put to work. I think this is an interesting vibe for a knitting book to have, not least because I am usually more interested in process stories than in finished objects. The result is that it's a very encouraging and emboldening book.

In that spirit of boldness:

the thing

This is one end of THE THING that I was chattering about a few months ago. (Also, this is what lace knitting looks like if you block it, then crumple it up and shove it in the bottom of your purse and leave it there for a month.) I had felt a bit strange about deploying Shetland lace motifs in vertical stripes of different widths, but one of the lessons I took away from Margaret Stove's book is that I should get over myself and just implement the knitting ideas I have, so here we are.

I like the wickedly pointed edging I came up with.

pointed edge

This is what happens when you increase with kfb and decrease with k2tog at the very edge of the scallop on every row. It comes to a very sharp point and the scallops seem deeper than ones accomplished with yarn overs a few stitches in from the edge. The kfb edge looks dangerously fragile while knitting compared to the k2tog part, but it all seems to come out in the wash.

I also swatched another thing:


I noticed that most of the lace knitting I've been doing has resembled fields of blank, staring eyes. The new year is for knitting boldly, so I'm going to knit a thing that is self-consciously and evidently a field of eyes. I like how the diamond outlining the spider motif in the centre of the swatch looks like lashes. (The motif will be tiled in the border of a rectangular something. Not sure what the centre will look like just yet.)