It’s All For Virtual Points

Cheviot Handspun

Some of my Handspun yarn modeled by Pooh

There have been many times when I found it difficult to motivate myself to craft. What was I going to make? Who would want it? Who would care? Ravelry helped as I had the opportunity to see what other people were making. Podcasts – audio and video – help as I get to learn what other people were doing and hear them get excited about it. But still I would end up with times when I didn’t have any idea what to make.

Now .. that happens a lot less often.  I have found the fandom competition groups on Ravelry.  I admit, making numbers go up can be a strong motivator, and I am a bit of a geek for organizing things (and fandoms). In all of these groups, prompts are given with ideas for crafting and we earn points for completing a craft that works for the prompt. The prompts are oven incredibly flexible – for instance one recent prompt was to create something yellow or representing a duck – so that you have a lot of range in options. But there are prompts, and ideas. Because Ravelry is such an easy place to chat and socialize, there’s also great groups of folks who are urging you on, suggesting ideas and helping you out when you get stuck.

Having people around and having a reason to create is really motivating.  It doesn’t matter if the people are only online and the points are all for nothing, we still have folks supporting each other and the numbers keep going up!

In case you are also yarn-crafters who are fans of Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, I invite you to join us on Ravelry at Hogwarts at Ravelry, HP Kitting/Crochet House Cup, or the Lord of the Rings groups. You’ll find friends and support for all sorts of needle- and yarn-crafting!

It’s an EPP Party

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m getting into English Paper Piecing.

It’s fun and relaxing, but there’s no online community that I’ve found so far. There’s a bunch of folks on Instagram though, and quite a few bloggers. A few weeks ago, I came across the EPP Party sew-along that’s hosted by Mister Domestic and Pat Bravo.  They are releasing a new EPP 12″ x 12″ block design every 2 weeks for 24 weeks. In the end, we’ll have 12 blocks to sew into a small quilt.

I’ve been watching the party on Instagram and finally decided to join.

Here’s the first block that I’ve made (it’s block #3 for the ‘along)

Podcasts to keep you company

300px-Podcast-iconOver the years, I’ve become a fan of podcasts. I started out listening to audio casts, and recently I’ve become enamored of video podcasts!
With all of the travel and waiting that I experience in the holidays, I love having my podcasts to watch and listen to.
Here are some of my favorites:
Audio podcasts
Knitmore Girls – a mother-daughter pair share their crafty lives with us. The give book reviews, outline new techniques and talk about knitting, spinning and sewing.
A Playful Day – Join Kate as she talks about creativity and creation with us. This podcast covers a wide range of really interesting topics through a series of interviews and conversations.
Video podcasts
The Knitting Broomstick – Jilly is a lot of fun as she shares her crafting life and acquisitions with us
Andre Sue Knits – Andi is a yarn dyer and podcaster. She talks about all different kinds of things from knitting to crochet to spinning to machine knitting.
Love.Sock.Wool – Sara is a lot of fun and a big fan of socks!
The Yarn Hoarder – One of the newer podcasts that I watch. Her laugh is wonderful and she seems to have so much fun with her crafting. Every episode includes an educational section where she focuses on a craft or technique.
Do you listen to or watch any podcasts?
Image from Wikipedia user Yagraph

Madness in Socks

Dropping Madness

If you’re an avid sock knitter like myself, you may have heard about Sock Madness over on Ravelry. This year, one of my friends convinced me to sign up for the crazy event.

Sock Madness is a friendly competition where sock knitters (new and experienced) compete to be the fastest sock knitter. Designers make new patterns for this event, and you get to see some fun new techniques and approaches to knitting socks. Knitters are divided up into teams based on the speed at which they complete the qualifying socks.  If a knitter has signed up for the Madness but only completes one sock, or two socks to the heel, then they can be on the Cheerleader team!  Cheerleaders get all the sock patterns but aren’t competing with each other.  The rest of the teams compete with each other to advance to the next round.  Every round the slowest knitters are dropped from the competition – but they still get all the patterns.

Twisted Madness

This year, I entered, made the full pair of socks for the qualifying round and was assigned to a team!  It was fun to knit along with all those other individuals. We even had some in-person meetups for knitters in the area!  I did not, however, advance to the second round .. but I’m still very happy with the fact that I made 3 pairs of socks in 6 weeks!! That was so much faster than I’ve knit socks before.  All of the patterns are cool too, and I’ve learned a lot so far – a new method of color-work, new heels, new toes, a new way to transition from ribbed cuffs to stockinette legs, and some new increases.

Invitation to the Dance

I’m having a blast watching everyone else finish these complex socks and knitting along (although much slower) with them – it’s great!

If you’re a sock knitter and want to learn new stuff and stretch your knitting skills … mark your calendar for February 2018 and sign up for Sock Madness!
(pictures are all mine, of the socks that I’ve knit so far for Sock Madness)

The Cerri Shawl

cerrishawl1_mediumPresenting my newest shawl … the Cerri Shawl!

The pattern is the Dreambird shawl and renamed for the Welsh goddess Cerridwen because she turns into a bird in one of the myths about her.  Due to lack of yardage, I did the scarf with with a lot less feathers (11 as opposed to the 22 the pattern has)! Started in 2014, this shawl has taken me most of 3 years to make!! It really didn’t take that long to knit, but I kept getting distracted from it.

The yarn is 100% handspun made of fiber from The Painted Tiger. The yarn really reflects how my spinning has changed over the years! It’s somewhat thick and thin, but I like how it worked up overall.

I learned so much making this shawl .. including the fact that focusing really helps with completing WIPs! No surprise there I’m sure 🙂 The first part of the shawl used the same short row technique from the Fish Lips Kiss Heel, and then the later couple of feathers used the German Short Row techniques.  Both short row techniques have their advantages, but I was knitting on needles that would normally be a bit large for the yarn and I didn’t manage to minimize all the holes.

Still … I’m happy with it.

Crochet Sock Reviews

img_0629-copy_medium2NOTE that I’m a US crocheter, so the stitches mentioned are using US terminology.

Recently, Andi from Andre Sue Knits podcast mentioned that she was interested in exploring Crochet Socks.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ve seen some crochet socks that I’ve done.  The socks photographed here are a design that I made up – as are a number of the crochet socks that I’ve made.  I still wear most of my crochet socks and have darned them when needed. When I’m looking for warm socks, I love my crochet socks!

Crochet socks have different challenges in their construction.  Crochet stitches, for example, tend to be more textural (aka bumpy) than knit stitches – and the fabric stretches in different directions. In addition, crochet fabric is traditionally thicker than knit fabric with the same yarn – so they don’t work well in tight shoes.

I don’t have particularly sensitive feet, so the bumps on the soles don’t bother me.  If you are the kind of person who feels the purl bumps in knit socks, then I’d suggest that you only try the slip stitch style of crochet socks shown above.

For me, I like the slip stitch or extended single crochet stitches on the sole of the sock, with some kind of lace on the leg and top of the foot to help with sideways stretch.  I’ve tried a few different heels, and I find that so far that the the heel flap style works the best for me.  You can see an example on the Ultimate Crocheted Socks by Dorothy Hardy.

I haven’t made crochet socks in a while – I’ve been distracted with knitting socks, but thanks to Andi’s mention of crochet socks I think I’m going to try another pair again – and see how my improved understanding of sock construction, including heel construction, helps.

If you’re interested in creating your own crochet socks, I’ve created a bundle of my crochet socks and other interesting patterns to try on Ravelry.

Afterthought Heels

Afterthought Heels



Undines sock pattern with the heel from Fork in the Road Socks

Socks … if you know me, you know that I love to make socks. My most recent pair of socks uses and afterthought heel.

I love the way the heel looks in these socks – the stripes bend around the heel instead of going across the heel.  For self-striping yarn, this is definitely my preferred heel!

The idea of an afterthought heel is to stitch the tube of the sock then insert the heel afterwards. Some people will put in some scrap yarn where they want to put the heel.  They rip out the scrap yarn and pick up the loose stitches to start building their heel off of. Other people will cut the sock where they want the heel, pick up the stitches and start the heel.

For me, one of the advantages of using an afterthought heel is that I don’t have to pay much attention to exactly how long my socks are – this does work better when you’re doing them two at a time! So I prefer the “cut your knitting” variety. It was a bit scary the first time, but now I have two pairs of socks with afterthought heels and it gets easier!

If you’d like to try an afterthought heel yourself, here’s some links to get you started:

  • has a well illustrated tutorial on how to use scrap yarn for your afterthought heel.
  • Yarn Harlot has a tutorial on how to cut your socks to put your heels in.
  • has a page on how to adjust the afterthought heel for higher insteps, but I found that I didn’t need any adjustment with the heel from the Fork in the Road Socks.

Pattern Notes:

The socks shown are my Undines on Holiday with the heel from Fork in the Road Socks.

Darn those socks

img_3765 I spend all that time making handmade socks, it seems to be a shame to toss them out when they get holes in them.  I don’t wear store purchased socks anymore – so my handmade socks get a bit of a workout (and they go working out with me!)

Socks wear mostly on the toes and heels, so that’s where the holes come in.  You can see in these socks that I’ve patched them a few times!

I use a number of different techniques for darning depending on what the hole is like – and if it’s actually a hole yet.

The light patches in the photo are areas where I caught it before more than one or two stitches blew out – there I used duplicate stitch, or swiss darning, to reinforce the worn stitches.

The dark blue square use a technique that I got from the Twist Collective called “Reknit and Graft” where you knit a square over the hole and attach it to the sides as you go. This is great for flat areas with larger holes, but it’s a bit fiddly.

For larger holes, I prefer to use the woven darning method. In this method (not pictured) you weave a dense square over the hole with the warp and weft tied into the sock. It’s the easiest way that I know to darn larger holes. The tutorial from Twist collective talks about using sewing thread to stabilize the hole first, but I rarely do that.

However you do it, darning is a great way to extend the life of your handmade items!

Socks on Short needles

2016-11-06-08-02-24I recently have been interested in knitting socks on 9″ needles – one at a time in the round – due to comments on various podcasts.  So I purchased a pair of 9″ Hiya Hiya Sharps and am testing them out. For comparison, I normally knit socks two-at-a-time using magic loop on a 32″ or larger circular needle.

The needles feel so tiny! They’re just a couple of inches long and it’s a bit tricky to feel comfortable using them. I do like the idea that we just keep going round and round and not having to stop at the edges of the top and bottom of the socks.

It took about an inch of sock for me to start to feel comfortable with these tiny needles. You can see from the photo how small the needles are!  I have to use fewer fingers than I normally do.  I’m a little concerned about doing long term knitting with them and if they’ll tire out my hands, but so far it’s working out just fine and the socks are smoking along!