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.

 

 

 

Yarn Swift, The Smartest Purchase This Year

Maybe the title of this post says it all, but trust me, if you are a knitter, crocheter, weaving, whatever, save yourself hours of frustration and swearing and just buy a yarn swift. I really don’t know how I got by until now and I have no idea why I resisted. I think it was because I just didn’t want to spend the money. Also, I’m not really into the gimmicky things. But I had a few Etsy sales in one week, so I decided to treat myself. Plus, this seemed to be a legit time saver, unlike my long gone Slap Chop. I’ve been doing a ton of weaving lately so I’m going through wool like crazy – and untangling that crap like nobody’s business. Sometimes I feel like I spend just as much time untangling my yarn as I do weaving (I’m being dramatic now).

Yarn Swift

Naturally, my next purchase should be a ball winder, but I actually don’t mind balling yarn by hand now – it is actually very relaxing (I know, I’m weird).

I bought my swift online from Knit Picks (it got good reviews, plus free shipping) and so far I have no complaints. It is sturdy and beautiful and I just want to ball yarn all day (not really).

On another note, I appear to be back from the dead and feeling somewhat normal again (I haven’t been that sick for at least a couple of years). So I’m hoping to be able to get a few things done in the yard this week, as well as get around to adding a few new items to my Etsy shop. Yay for feeling normal again!

Knitters Gonna Knit

Alright, I haven’t talked about knitting for awhile. I’ve been really busy with garden planning, cooking, and sewing. But between all of that I’ve also been doing some knitting. Where do I find the time? Well, I cloned myself. Not really. I find the time in between all of those other things, in my downtime – usually in front of the TV. Give me a pair of knitting needles, some wool and a season of Dawson’s Creek, Gilmore Girls or Downton Abbey and I’m one happy camper!

I learned how to knit just over a year ago. I’d dabbled a little bit prior to that but it was self taught and I really didn’t know what I was doing. Also, any evidence of knitting before 2013 has been destroyed (it was so, so terrible). So I decided to take some lessons, which was one of the smartest things I could do. YouTube is also a great resource (I refer to it constantly for knitting refreshers), but I would still recommend taking classes from an expert knitter who can explain the basics and help you with your first projects. Every local yarn store offers beginner knitting classes and it is well worth the expense. Anyway to get back on topic, I thought I would share some current knitting projects and encourage all the people out there thinking of taking up knitting that you can do it too!

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This one is just a sneak peak, but I’ve been working on this shrug for several months and it is going very slowly. The stitches are tiny (I’m using a sock weight yarn) and it takes forever to complete a row. I chose this project because I’d wanted to take on the challenge of knitting a sweater, but I also didn’t want to do anything too complicated. It also doesn’t hurt that the pattern was designed by my knitting instructor. I’m thinking I’ll be done this one by the end of the year?

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I’m now on to my fourth pair of socks. I love knitting socks, they are probably one of my favorite things to knit. I was actually able to knit this sock in just a week! (I was on vacation). After this pair I am going to try a pattern that is a bit more intricate than the basic toe-up sock pattern that I’ve been using (this basic pattern is great for self-patterning yarn such as the one I’ve used here).

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I started this cowl because I wanted a really easy and quick project to work on and I also wanted to use up some of the chunky yarn in my stash (I’m not allowed to buy any new yarn for awhile). I picked up the button on clearance (my favorite local sewing shop was closing its doors forever, sad face), and it really does add an element of character to a basic knit. I like these colorful cowls to wear with a neutral outfit of blacks and greys.

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I finally just finished these fingerless gloves/wrist warmers about a month ago after working on them for several months. It wasn’t that they were difficult – they weren’t. I was just busy with gardening, then home stuff, then Christmas, so I didn’t pick them up until the end of December. The original pattern was altered a bit on the recommendation of my knitting instructor – I wanted to do the pattern magic loop style and she suggested that I cross-stitch the cats on afterwards. It was an excellent suggestion and I’m so pleased with the results. Also, cats. This project required quite a bit of different colored yarns which can be very expensive, and while I usually prefer to shop for yarn at my local yarn store, I ended up trying out Knit Picks palette yarn, which worked out to about $3/ball on sale. I did need to increase the number of cast-on stitches using this yarn to ensure a proper fit, but I’m really happy with the results and the quality of this yarn. I would highly recommend the palette yarn for projects like these that require many different colors.

I’m not even going to think about any new knitting projects for the next few months – I’m going to focus solely on my shrug and finishing up the sock twin (maybe start another pair of socks as a relief project from the shrug). Are you working on any knitting projects?

An End to The Week From Hell

Things are starting to get back to normal after my terrible week of broken dishwashers (the verdict is in, it is dead forever), a migraine that wouldn’t end, and an emergency basement clean up & reorganization! I couldn’t be happier that the week from hell is over. We spent every week night cleaning, moving things around, making a big expensive trip to Ikea (with the help of my favorite little brother!), then building said Ikea, and finally putting the whole space back together in a much more organized manner. Saturday night was spent vegetating in front of the television before falling asleep about 45 minutes later (it could also have had something to do with the leftover Halloween candy binge I’d gone on earlier).

Through all the crap this week, I have been able to find some positives:

1. Yesterday morning we met some friends for an early lunch and then stopped at my favorite store in historic Inglewood, Plant, where I picked up a couple of new air plants as well as a few little vessels for my ever growing collection of cacti and succulents (if you’re ever in the area stop by my favorite knitting store too, Stash). Fall is a weird time for me because I think I start to get a bit of indoor plant fever – I’ve just gone from caring for a million plants in my garden to only caring for a few in my house so I always feel the urge to increase the indoor plant population around this time. There are truly worse things I could be doing.

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2. I’ve also been trying to make some headway on a few knitting projects. I’m officially 1/2 way through my first Xmas gift and about 1/10 of the way through my first sweater (actually a shrug, but whatever), and about 30 minutes away from finishing a pair of slippers for myself (the jury is still out on whether or not that project was a success… I think I’ll need to make some adjustments to the pattern for next time). I’m also trying to finish up a cross-stitch project I started almost a year ago (a year!!! Really Megan?!!) and I’m so close. Maybe today will be the day? I really like to take on too many projects.

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3. And then I decided to “save” another discarded item. This chair was in pretty rough shape (dirty and very rusty!) when I picked it up but I figured there was no harm in trying to bring some life back in to it – and also, I was looking for another chair! I spent a couple of hours scrubbing using some steel wool and some Barkeeper’s Friend and it is looking much better – the chrome base shined up really nice! I’m still waffling on replacing the upholstery – it is faux leather so I think adding real leather would be much nicer, as well as fairly inexpensive and would require very little time. Thoughts? It is a nice chair so I’m glad I was able to clean it up.

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Other than that, it started snowing yesterday afternoon and hasn’t really let up since (maybe not a positive thing but it is pretty!). So I haven’t had any time to work on finishing re-finishing my little sewing table (although I have no idea where I would have found time anyway). I’ve also been looking at the powder room all week dreaming about finishing sanding the drywall, so I’m hoping to get that finished by the end of the week.

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And somewhere in between all of that I’m going to work every day, eating and sleeping. I’m feeling much more optimistic about this week though, maybe next post I’ll have a finished project to share – fingers crossed!