Marled Magic Mystery Shawl!

Clearly updating my blog is low on the priority list! A lot has been going on, but I thought I’d share a few thoughts and a project.

I started the year pretty exhausted from the busy holiday season. To say I overextended myself would be an understatement. I won’t go in to the whole woe is me story, but I quickly realized that I needed to shift my focus to something I really wanted to do and something that was just for me. So I picked up some knitting projects.

I hadn’t really done much knitting throughout the autumn – I knit a shawl and a few socks, but most of my knitting time was snuck in during the wee hours of the morning in front of an episode of True Blood, at my weekly stitch & bitch group, or while I was at markets (I have a hard time just sitting there doing nothing, it’s awkward, I’m awkward).

So I decided to dedicate some major time towards some knitting projects after the holidays. I knit the NEVER ENDING Find Your Fade shawl (it did eventually end), a cute little toque for myself, and a few stray socks (still in need of twins). But my favorite project was definitely the Marled Magic Mystery shawl by West Knits!

I signed up for this on a complete whim. I know myself well enough to know that if I’d have stopped and thought about what I was doing, I wouldn’t have signed up. First of all, YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE KNITTING. Well, you mostly don’t know. You know it’s a shawl and you need a bunch of yarn, but you have no idea what the shawl will look like until it’s finished. You may be given a few hints, like what types of stitches will be in the pattern, but you’re pretty much going in to the project blindly. You have to give up control and you have to knit the project knowing that it may just end up a total pile of garbage¬†that you hate. But that’s the fun, right? Second, you have to be able to go with the flow and be flexible. If you’re a control freak, this is difficult. I had a hard time.

The way this project worked is that a new part of the pattern was released every week for 4 weeks. So the idea was you would knit each part in a week and then add on to it the following week with the new clue until all of the clues were released. And then you find out whether or not you hate what you just spent a month knitting. Or love – depending on your level of natural optimism/pessimism.

Lucky for me, I ended up really loving the finished project. But with that said, I will most likely never participate in a mystery knit-a-long again. It was stressful. There were many times throughout the project that I thought it looked like garbage, but I powered through and trusted my choices. Luckily everything came together!

And so now the finished project! I’m lucky to have a husband that will model for me (his model face is very serious, but he was actually having a blast).

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If you’re interested in the color explosion details, I used primarily Hedgehog Fibres sock yarn – some of the colorways were: Boombox, Teacup, Bramble, a few club colors (Witching Hour and minis without names), some potlucks, and the icord bind-off was in skinny dip. I also used some Kidsilk in Oracle, and knit the rest of the body holding a strand of cream Rowan kidsilk or Drops mohair/silk.

Always Knitting Socks

When I first started knitting, the idea of knitting a sock was not even a thought in my mind. I wanted to knit simple things like cowls and fingerless mitts, but I always thought that socks would be way too difficult for me.

While I was taking knitting classes a few years ago, the instructor asked us some of the things we’d like to make. One of my peers said she’d always wanted to knit socks. So a few weeks later we were all casting on our first socks. Eek! I think my first pair took me almost two months to complete, but it was probably the most satisfying project I’d finished up to that point. And I guess that first pair of socks was the beginning of my sock knitting obsession.

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“Teacup” merino sock yarn by Hedgehog Fibres

I’ve joined a few stitch & bitches this past year and most other knitters tell me that they can’t imagine knitting socks, but my response is always to tell them that it’s very easy.

Knit socks, it’s a good thing:

– Knitting socks is actually very simple, you just need to understand the anatomy of a sock. I find that knitting patterns make a million times more sense to me if I know what part I’m knitting at any given time – and how everything is going to come together. Knitty has a good sock anatomy chart here.
– I like knitting socks from the toe up, using the magic loop method (if you’re not a knitter, this will make no sense at all). I’ve tried other methods before (DPNs, working from the cuff down), but I just don’t enjoy it as much. Knitting in this method does not require picking up stitches or having to graft your toe together at the end (both of which I hate).
– I knit one sock at a time, but I would like to try knitting both at once. It is amazing that knitting two socks at once is a thing!
– Custom fit. I know my size perfectly so my socks always fit like…a sock? Ensuring proper foot measurement before you begin is a good idea. My first pair is a bit loose because I thought I was a tighter knitter than I actually am. I ended up going down two needle sizes in order to get my fit just right. I still wear the original pair though! In case you’re wondering, I use a 2.25mm Addi Turbo lace in 40″.
– Sock yarn! I love love love sock yarn. And you can justify spending a bit more on some fun indie dyed sock yarn as you only need one skein to knit a pair (and you’ll usually have a bit left over that you can save for another project). I really, really want to sign up for the Hedgehog Fibres sock of the month club because their sock yarn is a dream. It’s a bit pricey, so I’m thinking it would be a nice “treat yo’ self” thing after a big accomplishment or something.
– You can carry sock knitting around in your bag! I almost always have an in-progress sock in my bag, especially if I know I’m going to be going somewhere that I’ll be bored (appointment waiting rooms, standing in line for a big antiques show to open, sitting in the car for whatever reason, waiting at a coffee shop for a friend).

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“Boombox” merino sock yarn by Hedgehog Fibres

There are some downsides to knitting socks, like good sock yarn can be expensive (I’ve spend around $35 for a skein a couple of times…but damn it was nice sock yarn!). And sock knitting is time consuming. Even though it is a physically small project, those tiny little stitches take a long time to knit! On average, I can knit a sock in about a week – spending around an hour or so a day knitting. So with those two things combined, you probably don’t want to think about how much sock knitting actually costs. When people ask me to knit them socks, I always have to laugh and say “well, if you’re willing to pay about $250 for a pair of socks, sure!”. My knit socks are for me, and occasionally as a gift item for someone special. The only other downside to sock knitting is that once you’re finished knitting the first sock, it is very tempting to not finish the second sock (we call this #secondsocksyndrome). Not because you don’t want a matching pair of socks, but because you’ve purchased all the beautiful sock yarn and you NEED to know how that next skein will look knitted up. Try to resist the temptation (this is where knitting two socks at the same time could come in handy!).

I hope I’ve inspired you to pick up some sock knitting. If you’d rather live vicariously through my sock knitting, you can always follow me on Instagram @meganborg (I always post photos of my completed sock projects!).

Happy sock knitting!

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“Graffiti” and “bright aqua” superwash sock yarn by Rain City Knits.

P.S. If you’re interested in a good basic toe-up sock pattern, I highly suggest Socks From The Toe Up by Wendy D. Johnson.