Monday, April 25, 2011

{Kai-Mei: Complete}

Kai Mei is another Cookie A pattern that has been fabulously popular on Ravelry.  And really, why wouldn't it be?  They're fabulous!  I knit them in a sock yarn with 10% Cashmere so they are like HEAVEN on my feet. They haven't come off my feet since they've been off the needles yesterday.  Well... except for sleeping.

I decided I'd had enough socks for a while and promptly cast on for  The Lydia Cardigan.  Mine's in cream and white and I'm LOVING it so far.  I think I was jonesin' for a stockinette project. Pictures to come.

Friday, April 22, 2011

{Alright Folks - I need your help with homework!}

As the title not-so-subtly implies, I need your help with a homework project.  For my E-Commerce class I need to design an online store of my choosing, and of course I chose a yarn store.  I need to be able to describe everything about it - the navigation, how I'm going to attract customers, how I'm going to keep customers, how it looks (with a little bit of web design to go with it, though this is not a web design class), Is there any kind of online community? Search Engine Optimization... like...everything.  And I have an unlimited budget for my imaginary store.

So hit me with it!  What are all your favorites things about your favorite online stores of any kind?  If you're an online yarn shopper, specifically, how do you like to shop for your yarn and knitting goodies? like, how are they organized on the store.   What are your favorites stores and why do you keep going back to them?  Hook me up with a link so I can check out what they look like!

I basically need to do this over the weekend.  ANY help you can offer I would be SO GRATEFUL!  Thank you, Online Hommies!


Desperate, The Student Knitter

Monday, April 18, 2011

{The Great Sock Wash Experiment}

These are almost every pair of socks that I have knit (and kept) to date.  Yesterday I decided to wash them all at once, more for convenience than any master plan.  Afterward,  I noticed how differently each pair of socks handled the process and a light went on in my head!  I should document this for SCIENCE!  

The Great Sock Wash Experiment

Method:  All socks went in to one load of laundry in my washing machine along with a little bit of detergent.  The wash was set to the gentle cycle in cold water along with some other cottons.  After, they were all laid flat until dry.

Observations:  I am going to base my observations on the feel (content) of the yarn and try to rate each pair on a scale of 1-10 for how much they felted, pilled, bled, fuzzed or otherwise lost stitch definition, with 10 being absolutely no damage from washing.  All socks were originally knit on a US size 1 needle.

Socks #1: Vanilla Sock Pattern  out of Sock It To Me, 75% Wool, 25% Nylon (discontinued)


Construction:  Toe-up stockinette sock with short row heel and toe and a small amount of ribbed at the ankle.
Hand before washing: a sturdy yarn that, while not scratchy, isn't very soft either.  The yarn has little give.
Hand After Washing: slightly softer.  Almost no pilling, only a slight amount of fuzz.
Grade: 9 out of 10

Sock #2:  Sprucy Lucy knit from Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Multi , 80% Wool, 20% Nylon

Construction: Toe-up with a heel with a heel flap, extensive lace and some ribbing at the top.
Hand Before Washing:  wonderfully soft hand.  This yarn is a joy to knit with.
Hand After Washing: still very soft, but with quite a lot of felting on the heel flap and toe.  Lace pattern seems to have survived very well.
Grade: 5 out of 10 - you can definitely tell they were washed improperly.

Sock #3: Stockinette Toe-up sock, knit in Gaia's Colours Umaj Sock, 70& Merino, 20% Bamboo, 10% Nylon (discontinued)

Construction:  Knit with two strands held together with this wonderfully soft yarn, Short row heel and toe, twisted rib at the top.
Hand Before Washing:  very soft and the fabric has a very sturdy feel.
Hand After Washing: exactly the same!  perhaps a tad softer, no stitch definition lost.
Grade: 10 out of 10

Sock #4: Mock Cable Sock knit from Pagewood Farms  Yukon, 70% merino, 20% bamboo, 10% nylon

Construction: Toe-up construction with short row toe and slipped-stitch heel flap.  All over rib with a cable every 4th row only on the knit stitches.
Hand Before Washing: Super Duper soft, maybe the softest of all the yarns I've used.  Maybe a little bit of a halo.
Hand After Washing:  some extra fuzziness and some stitch definition lost, especially on the heel.
Grade:7 out of 10.

Sock #5:  Hermoine's Everyday Socks knit in Knit Picks Stroll Tonal75% Superwash Merino Wool, 25% Nylon

 Construction:  Toe-up with a slipped-stitch heel, an all over offset knit-purl pattern and some ribbing at the top and on the sole of the feet for a better fit.
Hand Before Washing:  Stroll has a very hearty hand when you're knitting with it, but it's not uncomfortable.  Not as hard as the Sock-It-to-Me, but not super soft. It's very comfortable to wear.
Hand After Washing:  softened up a tad, a little bit of felting on the heel but fuzzing otherwise.
Grade: 8 out of 10

Sock #6:  Glynis in DROPS Fabel,  75% Wool, 25% Nylon

Construction: Top down, all over lace pattern, with ribbing at the top and a slipped stitch heel. Double decreases at the toes.
Hand Before Washing:  fabel is a very stiff almost scratchy yarn but I found it comfortable to wear.  The lace pattern was consequently easily seen because of this.
Hand After Washing: excellent performance in the washing machine, almost no fuzz or felting, slight loss of stitch definition in the heel.
 Grade: 9 out of 10.

Sock #7:  Cable Socks out of Zen Yarn Garden ART WALK Sock, Bamboo, Plant fiber, Nylon, Merino (no percentages given on the website or Ravelry).

Construction:  Toe up, 3x2 cable based on the Mock Cabled Sock pattern from Wendy Johnson, just without a cable. 
Hand Before Washing: not the softest ever, but pretty soft! Great to work with.
Hand After Washing:  these have been washed many times and still look great!  have gotten softer over time.
Grade:10 out of 10.

Over all Conclusions: It seems like the fibers that aren't as soft wash up better, no matter if they're super wash, with or without nylon.  Also, the socks knit at a much tighter gauge (the pink ones) survived the best of all.  I wonder why the slip stitch heel flap has, over all, worn worse than a short row heel?  Could it be a coincidence because of the yarns I used in each case?

 As far as bleeding, I didn't notice any colour in the water and didn't notice any loss of colour in any of the socks.  I don't think I had any problem with bleeding in any of the yarns.

Do you have anything to add to this experiment?  I'd love to hear about your experiences with washing socks and how your yarns have held up!  I want to be able to find my absolute favorite sock yarns.  The ones that are a joy to knit with, wear well, feel fantastic and don't cost very much!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

{Action Packed Weekend!}

This weekend has been a ton of fun.  Last night Mr. Pie and I got a room down in the BIG CITY of Roanoke and attended the spring dance my school puts on every year.  We got all dolled up and had a great time dancin' and laughin'. :)

(it came out a tad fuzzy, so do yourself a favour and don't make it big. hehe)

The only way we could have had a better time was if the DJ had played more music we were familiar with.  I didn't think I had been out of the loop THAT long, but he really enjoyed mixing and the result was a bunch of music I didn't recognize or particularly enjoy.  But we still had a good time. 

Then this morning we woke up and headed out to the Bedford Fiber Festival.  My first one ever!  The weather didn't want to cooperate so much: 

They managed to get some hay down, but before that I may have ruined a pair of sneakers in the mud. lol  We weren't there very long because it was more of a vendor fair than a festival - but I did meet some fun people!

I met this very lovely lady: Natasha from Unplanned Peacock Studio, a local yarn dyer whose yarn I fell in love with at the LYS in Roanoke called Yarn Explosions.

and I did a little stash enhancing, of course:

some Twisty Sock in a colour called Onyx that Mr. Pie picked out for some dress socks for him.  I'm looking forward to working with it!

I also met Sonya from Studio 43 Pottery , a local pottery maker,  who had some hand built yarn bowls that were to die for.  And of course now I can't find a picture. GAH!  They were $30, and just so so so gorgeous.  She has an etsy store that's linked from her site too but expressed disappointment in it, so it may not be there for long.  She said to contact her directly if you're interested.  I'm definitely interested!  Don't you think a yarn bowl would be a wonderful birthday gift?  muwahahaha  We also saw a decorative platter that captured our heart because it had the most beautiful tree drawn right in to the pottery before firing.  Uhh! Loved it. 
I'm exhausted, but content.  I think the rest of the day will be for knitting, but then tomorrow and monday will be nothing but homework!

Monday, April 11, 2011

{My First Cookie A's!}

Ta Da!  My Glynis socks are done!

... and I LOVE them!  So comfy!  I used just over 50g of the Drops Fabel that Jenny brought me from Sweden and took me just over two weeks.   The charts were really clear and it's a very unusual pattern. Not sure if I'd knit them again, but they were a nice intro to Cookie A socks, I think.

I've already cast on my next favorite from the book: the estimable Kai-Mei!  More on those later. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

{A Great Idea plus a WIP}

I was going through my blog roll yesterday when I came across a post from Sachiko about a friend of a friend of hers who currently lives on the coast of Japan.  Here... take a look.

It's the personal stories coming out of that region that really get to me.  For some reason when I hear about a huge tragedy like the tsunami's, earth quakes, and nuclear fallout that are continuing to impact tens of thousands of people, I just can't get my head around it.   But when I hear about one person's personal struggle to help I get super teary.  I'll be sending a box over to the Monk in the link and if anyone else would like to contribute, either some items that you have around your house or would just like to help by chipping in a few dollars to help with shipping that would be greatly appreciated.  I'd like to get that box out in the next week or two.

Okay...  Maybe some knitting now?  I'm really excited about my current work in progress,  a shawl called  Fiori Di Sole by Rosemary Hill.

Having completed the first 4 charts, I'm now beginning the big repeating chart that will make up the majority of the body.  The charts aren't hard to read, there's just a lot of them (10!) but it's such a pretty shawl.  I can't wait! I'm hoping mine is going to work out to be as big as the one in the Rav picture!

I'm knitting it in Malabrigo Lace that's been in my stash forever from when Hope gifted me with a TON of yarn.  It's HEAVEN to knit with, but I wasn't very happy when I found 4 breaks in the skein as I was caking it.  Oh... and the tangling? Is that seriously a problem with EVERY malabrigo skein?  Has everyone else had a horrible time with tangling in their Mal yarns?  It feels so good and the colours are so so pretty but dang.  It's almost not worth it for the amount of cursing that comes out of my mouth as I have to take the yarn OFF the ball winder and feed it through the tangles on my yarn umbrella thingy. grr.

Monday, April 4, 2011

{New Cast-on}

Yes! I started another new project!  Too many gorgeous yarns - I think it might be time for some startitis.    I decided on this one for my Berroco Softtwist in the deep orange colour.  It's called Metro, by Connie Chang Chinchio.  Isn't it lovely?

It's bottom up seamless.  You knit back and forth to the armpits, then divide for the top as you would expect.  The arms are picked up and knit down to the cuff.  Pretty cool!   So I decided to cast on after my first sock was done.  There's 173 stitches in the size I'm making (37") and I thought I'd just dive right in without swatching.  I also decided on an i-cord cast-on because to me it looks like the bottom would roll like crazy.

So I cast on 173 stitches with an i-cord cast on with the suggested size 8 needle, knit about 2" and then checked gauge. I was WAY.  OFF.  It wants it knit at 4.5 stitches to the inch, I was at something like 5.  I tore it out.  Now, I'm typically a tight knitter, so don't ask me why my next swatch (yes, actual swatch) was on a size 7.  I got confused.  This one came out 5.25 stitches per inch.  What?!?  Yeah.  So then I swatched for real with an 8 again, and got more like 4.75 stitches.  Sigh.    I settled on the 8 and started casting on again like regular, figuring I'd do a few rows of garder like some other projects on ravelry because the i-cord cast on is so tedious.

But you see, I suck at gauging how much yarn I need for a cast on.  I tried casting on 173 stitches 4 TIMES and came up short on yarn each time! GAH! The last time I made it 168 before I had to rip it out. This is why I was casting on with the I-cord, because you don't need to guess at how much yarn, you cast on three stitches, and away you go. 

It's all ripped out. Again.  I have no idea what I need to do. Should I go up to a size 9 , do my i-cord cast on again, and just be happy?  I think I need to knit another swatch. Gah.  I hate swatching.  

Meanwhile, I'm back with my Glynis sock.

Friday, April 1, 2011

{Stress Knitting is Productive Too!}

 First of all, thank you do everyone who sent me well wishes about my calculus test. I did pass, but not by much.  I got a 69%, which is a D.  My first D EVER.  It pains me just to write it.  I know it's not the end of the world and I'm still working hard. Finals start May 10th! eep!

A TON has happened since my last post.  Jenny (of Jenny's Blog on Knitting fame) and her hubby Thomas came to visit during my spring break and the it was amazing and wonderful and I can't wait to get to Sweden next year.   She's got tons of awesome pictures and the stories from her WHOLE trip over on her blog here:

Jenny's Blog on Knitting - The Vacation Edition

This is my favorite pick of us, knitting at the cabin at Douthat State Park.

Did I mention that Jenny arrived with yarn?  YAY! It was so sweet of her!  I got all of these!

So much yarn!!  The purple, red and green are sock yarns from Drops.  I'm knitting with the purple right now and I'm loving the stitch definition on it! Totally enjoyable to knit with.  The top right is yarn from Swedish Alpacas, no dyes, which I adore.  The pink and yellow ones are from a Swedish hand dyer called  "Handfargat sockgarn" (I guess "hand dyed sock yarn?")  and the big one in the middle is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE.  

During her stay we of course made a stop at the local yarn shop "Yarn Explosions" in Roanoke.  I found some really pretty burnt orange yarn for a cardigan on clearance.  1000 yards of worsted weight wool/rayon for $32!  I couldn't resist. It's really pretty.  I need to find JUST the right cardigan now!  It's a discontinued yarn, so I need to be absolutely sure I have enough for whatever I pick.

And just because of these yarns (yeah right. hehe)  I also bought this book here:  I'm knitting my first Cookie A socks!

During the cabin stay(before the book purchase) I managed to finish a pair of beautiful vanilla socks in Gaias's Colours yarn.  I love the yarn so much that I held it double to get a gorgeous squishy pair of house socks!

Those were done too quickly and with much driving left to do, so I picked up a scarf I had been working on called Cinnamon Grace in some  Madelinetosh Light.  OH my gosh I love this yarn.

 Can you see how pretty the reds and golds and bronzes are in this yarn? love!  This was pre-blocked too.  I'll have to get a new one once it's dry.

 I'll post picks of my first Cookie A experience once those are done.  I'm about 75% of the way through my first top down sock in AGES.  Meanwhile... homework. As usual.