Thursday, June 13, 2013

Madtosh Socks

Earlier this year I approached Mr. SpiderKate and gave him a choice of yarns that I could use to knit him a pair of socks.  I don't remember exactly what choices I gave him, but I do know what he picked out.  A man after my own heart, he picked out the Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in the colorway Stovepipe. I debated retracting giving him that choice.  I mean this is Madelinetosh yarn we are talking about.  I was going to use this to knit a shawl or socks for me!  I questioned him a bit to find out his commitment to wearing the socks "are you going to wear these?" and "are you sure you want this one?".  He didn't relent and assured me he would wear the socks because he loves socks and because they would be made by me.  What a sweetie.  

Next came the search for a pattern.  I wanted to knit something that wouldn't be too boring, but not too much of a crazy pattern that he wouldn't wear it.  I showed him this pattern and that pattern, on and on.  I heard a lot of that "that is okay" or "not that one".  But nothing either of us was really crazy over.  Then I found a pattern by Hunter Hammersen called Whippersnapper.  I knew that this was the pattern for Mr. SpiderKate's socks.  Just enough interest/detail without being boring but not too much pattern that it's too overwhelming for him to wear.  

I started these socks back in February and got through the leg, heel, gusset, & decreases pretty quickly.  In fact, I finished all of that within about a week of starting the socks.  Then came the never ending knitting that comes with knitting a sock for someone with a size 14 shoe.  The foot.  You can guess what I did next - these went on the back burner for a bit.  Well, I've picked them back up and plan on working a few rows on them when I can.  

A few notes on this pattern: I love how Hunter does her sock patterns.  She doesn't give a gauge in the traditional sense you see gauge listed for socks.  She gives gauge listed at stitches per inch (spi) and what size that correlates with knitting.  This gives you the flexible to pick what size needles you want to  use to knit your socks.  All you need to do is make a gauge swatch to determine your stitches per inch in your needle size & yarn weight and then follow the appropriate directions.  Such a good way to list gauge since it essentially forces you do to a gauge swatch (at least it forces you if you don't already know your spi for your chosen needle size & yarn).  

I'm knitting mine in the round using two circular needles.  I picked US 2 (2.75 mm) Karbonz needles.  My main reason for picking these needles & size is that I really wanted to try out the Karbonz and I didn't already own size US 2  twenty-four inch circular needles.  My gauge swatch gave 6.5-7 spi per inch.  I knew I needed a sock with approx. 9" circumference and with my gauge that meant I needed to cast on for the large size.  I'm really loving knitting with the Karbonz needles.  They are lightweight like wood and the steel tip gives them a nice, sharp point.  I keep describing them as a perfect hybrid of wood & metal needles.  If you haven't had a chance to give them a try, then I definitely recommend you do.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

It's a baby blanket!

I've never really had the urge to knit a baby blanket.  In face, I've said countless times that knitting a blanket wasn't something that ever really appealed to me.  I know that sounds a little harsh, but it's true. I just never got the urge to knit one.  Then along came every knitter I currently know and it just seemed like they were all knitting blankets.  Some were knitting larger blankets and others knitting baby blankets.  I thought, I can do this!  I'm going to knit a baby blanket for my newest nephew!

You might be thinking that this was the first opportunity I've had to knit a baby blanket.  You'd be wrong, but I love you for thinking that all the same.  This blanket is slated for my youngest nephew aka my brother's third child.  Yup, babies #1 & #2 came and went without receiving a hand knit blanket.  I was knitting then, but I wasn't knitting like I am now or at least not like I've been knitting in the last three years.  It's a pretty bad excuse, but my excuse nonetheless.  I did knit baby #2 a cardigan and both babies #1 & #2 hats for Christmas gifts.  That's something at least!

The pattern I knit was the knitted pattern featured in Mollie Makes Issue #22 called Summer Sky Blanket by Nikki Van de Car.  I didn't realize this about the patterns in Mollie Makes, but all the patterns featured in the magazine are patterns from books.  Now, I knew that some of them were patterns from books, but I didn't realize that they all were.  I think that is a unique take on putting patterns in a magazine, but I digress.  In case you missed out on picking up this issues of Mollie Makes, this particular pattern comes from a book called What To Knit When You're Expecting.  On to the details....

The body of the blanket is all stockinette.  Which I simultaneously loved and hated.  I loved it for its simplicity and hated it because a blanket knit all in stockinette takes FOREVER.  Or it felt like it took me forever.  The border is then picked up and knit in what the patterns calls "rice stitch".  The rice stitch pattern is cute and reminds me of seed stitch, but with a twist.  The border knits up quick - each side is only 12 rows!  Loved knitting the border.

My blanket was knit using Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton in colors 632 (blue) for body and 619 (red) for border.  The body used a little under 3 skeins of yarn and I almost got away using one skein of yarn for the border.  I only needed the second skein to finish the very last row of border and then for the  final bind off.  Why blue & red? I picked blue & red in these particular shades because it's really close to the colors for KU, where my brother went to college.

This was my first time knitting with BSA's Worsted Cotton and I really enjoyed knitting with it.  It's a very nice cotton to knit with and what I recommend most at the store for baby blankets.  It also washes and dries well.  Oh! Needles!  I knit mine using Knitter's Pride Dreamz US 8/5.0 mm 32" circular needle.  Loved knitting with these needles & the worsted cotton.  I was a little worried that the cotton might not "move" as well on the wooden needles, but it was very smooth on the Dreamz.  Last but not least, here is the link to my Ravelry project page: Baby Blanket for nephew.