Star Wars Spectacular Handknit Socks

Monday afternoon I popped over to McWalker Yarns store in Millvale.   Robin was working and helped me get a pattern and some Rowan Felted Tweed yarn to make a sweater for the NaKniSweMo Challenge -to knit a sweater in the month of November.  I’ve seen Robin on Zoom Stitch meetings for several months but it was great to see her in person.  AND lucky for me she had the Star Wars socks with her, the ones we’ve been watching the progress on as she knit them during our virtual meetings.

All I can say is WOW. They are something to see.  She is an advanced knitter, clearly.

Meet Robin, attorney by day, knitter extraordinaire on her days off.  Here she is showing her pair of hand knit Star Wars socks.  Amazing work. She says they are a true labor of love and the recipient is a real SW fan so they are going to be thrilled when they unwrap them at Christmas.  Don’t think the recipient will  be seeing the blogpost but want to keep the details vague.  Look at her expert knitting letters with tiny stitches May the Force Be With You. Alas, she created the designs herself by finding a multitude of charts on the internet and adapting them for the scale of socks but perhaps they will inspire you to design your own Star Wars socks.


Posted with gracious consent. Thank you.

 

 

 

Doll Hair Gone Wild

I heard from a friend a couple of weeks ago that her daughter’s doll was having some wild hair and could I possibly knit a doll hat?  Of course. They came to the front porch, masked,  the other morning and brought the dolls so I got to take a before and after photo.  We even had an impromptu knitting lesson with some worsted and those kid needles, where one needle is red and one blue.  I am sure a followup lesson in is our future.

Our favorite hairstylist Lauren suggested a good Dawn Liquid shampoo and a drop of conditioner MIGHT help revive the doll hair.

 

Purchased My First Sock Blank

Wednesday afternoon, Amy at McWalker Yarns in Millvale PA, unboxed several Pittsburgh designs and also Rainbow Sock Blanks created exclusively for McWalker Yarns by Yarn over New York. 

I bought this one- Pittsburgh Skyline with Landmark Bridges snd Buildings 
Will I hang it up as ART or unravel and knit a pair of Pittsburghy Socks?  If you are a knitter, have you knit from a sock blank before?  

From Bluprint Website

“What is a sock blank?”

“A sock blank is a long, rectangular piece of knitted fabric created by a knitting machine and then dyed or stamped with color. The edge of the sock blank isn’t bound off — it’s loose so that you can knit from it, pulling the stitches out as you go. The basic idea behind the sock blank is that you’ll get an amazing yet unpredictable colorway when you knit with it. “

Socks in a Basket

As I folded the pairs, I realized all the hand knit socks I’d made (plus one spring green pair knit my Sabine Bornemann at Die Wollnerin in Berlin) were clean at the same time. It’s the second time I’ve washed all of them since shelter in place started. I read that Sabine’s hand dyed yarn store in Berlin has now reopened, allowing two customers at a time

Lots of places and friends represented by the different yarns from Alaska, Germany, Norway, Arizona, New Zealand, Florida. Can you find the yarn I received for my July 4th birthday? (thanks Joanne). The sock monkey pair? There’s the desert plant dyed yarn and gifts from woolswappers halfway across the globe.

A sense of accomplishment

My new method is the hand wash setting on the machine and hung out to air dry in my bathroom. I used to hand wash them and roll in a towel.

My daughter’s sock drawer she texted me pic a year ago. I see Wonder Woman and Good and Plenty

So You’ve Always Wanted to Knit a Sock? or Not.

So you’ve always wanted to knit a sock?  or not. If not, I hope you’ll return to the blog tomorrow.

A math teacher friend and former colleague is preparing to knit her first pair of socks.  She inspired this hand knit sock post. My friend in Florida who is finishing a pair of socks she started knitting for her son about five years ago and now she has the time to knit the second sock.  I think she is on the toe already.

When I first thought of knitting a pair of socks, I thought it looked too difficult. Now I average a pair a month.   My friends say” it’s too much trouble” but the way I see it, I’d be in trouble if I didn’t have sock knitting in my life.  Especially now as we are staying at home.

A blog post by knitter, author and designer Susan B. Anderson describes in detail  How I Make My Socks and is a great start. There are patterns on Ravelry and videos on YouTube.

These striped socks are knit with some very smart yarn that knows how to stripe all by itself, it’s the way the yarn is dyed.  Looks complicated, doesn’t it? The following 4 pairs of socks are knit in West Yorkshire Spinners Signature Yarn from UK bought at McWalker Yarns in Millvale PA.  Although their physical store is closed you can still order online.  (and if you are out of work you can apply for a $50 mini-grant for yarn to knit a project during isolation due to COVID-19 click name of store to get details or order knitting supplies, sock or otherwise)

This first pair is knit by a friend and neighbor who just started knitting in December.  Her first pair of socks.  She knit them on 2- 16″ circulars, one at a time.  She is a very tidy knitter.  I helped her along the way and she watched a couple of videos but she is now finishing her third pair.  Every once in awhile she needs reassurance she is doing the knitting correctly but she’s got it all by herself now.  I am proud of my excellent student and I think her socks look great!

All West Yorkshire Spinners Signature Yarn

 

You have a smart phone? a smart TV?  Here’s some other smart yarn. And you can wash these socks in the washing machine. There is a handwash setting on my machine  I air dry mine.

There is Regia Yarn by Schachenmayr and cotton yarn Tutti Fruiti II,Regia Design Line or Regia Pairfect by ARNE & CARLOS 4-ply (fingering weight). 75% Virgin Wool and 25% Polyamide. I finished both pairs that are shown  completed. Kid socks (in the middle photos)_are fun to knit and take less time.

 

Allergic to wool?  Here are two skeins of cotton sock yarn and a pair I knit for a friend

If you’re a blog follower, you might remember my poem The Satisfaction of Sock Knitting on an April post four years ago.  

A Handknit Sock

There’s a math to it. The cast on. Count
the multiples of four.
Last year it was hats and cowls.
This year, socks.
I want to try the fish lips kiss heel.

It’s a simple thing. How a sock is knit.
You start with yarn.
Needles as slim as toothpicks.
Terms like toe and gusset and cuff.
My friend says, "it’s too much work."

There’s a rhythm in the repetition.
The making. Clockwise circles.
Some throw, some pick.
Row after row after row.
In time you get length and warmth.

There’s the calm you long for,
around and around and around.
Turn heel for a path to Zen.
You think of those you love.
The grandmother who taught you.

The wet squeezed out,
pairs hang to dry. Later fold
their softness, admire the colors,
ignore imperfections.
Find comfort, hidden in shoes.
My squishy hand knit socks.

or my page on the Comparative Analysis of Knitting Socks when I started six pairs before Christmas using all different methods- two at a time on a  long corded (32″) single circular needle – Magic Loop, there was a single sock on an 8″ circular (that took a few inches to master) a single sock on two 16″ circulars, the set of sharp double point needles- one at a time, and then wooden and metal needles to add to the mix. Toe up, cuff down.  Fish Lips Kiss Heel, Flap and Gusset, Afterthought Heel and Eye of Partridge.

Maybe someone reading this blog post will get some needles and sock yarn and give it a go. If you decide to try it, please share your photos and experience as you start knitting socks.

Virtual Knitting Assistance

As it turned out, my friend had her heel flap stitches picked up perfectly for the start of the sock’s gusset. She’s on her third pair of socks. The question was – which needle to knit with as she knit up the side. She’d been making the sock with two 16” circulars. She’d been picking up the heel flap stitches onto a separate double point needle, thanks to Roxanne Richardson’s method on YouTube. I had to see it to understand what she was asking me.

We’d tried to solve it on the phone, with words. So difficult to visualize.

A month ago she would have popped up to my house and I would have been able to do hands-on help. With social distancing and isolating that wasn’t possible.

I’m in my living room, she’s at her house. She was able to show me what the issue was. And with some camera work and focus help (thanks Jack). we found the solution?

A Face Time call.

She really would have been okay with what she was doing, just needed the reassurance what she was doing was correct. It came out just fine!

Famous knitter Elizabeth Zimmerman said

“Knit on with confidence and hope through all crises.”

Elizabeth Zimmermann, Knitting Without Tears: Basic Techniques and Easy-to-Follow Directions for Garments to Fit All Sizes

 

Arne and Carlos Quarantine Knitting from Norway

Remember when I traveled to Norway for the Arne and Carlos Knitting Cruise in September 2018?  That’s where I met Arne and Carlos, who are well known knitwear designers and authors of creative books. During these difficult and anxious times of COVID-19, they are videoing daily from their home  Quarantine Knitting with Arne and Carlos. It’s on their YouTube Channel 

Even if you aren’t a knitter or crocheter they are entertaining and fun to listen to. They are generous and kind.  There will some cooking on the episodes, too.  Their neighbors will deliver the ingredients to their porch. Because they had just travelled out of the country, they are in quarantine in their home.

We are all having to “shelter in place” as the brave nurses, doctors and medical workers have to go to help others.  Grocery and pharmacy workers and other essential services are at risk as they continue to work with the public every day. Challenging is an understatement.

Join their public Facebook Group Quarantine Knitting with Arne and Carlos They are welcoming dialogue, comments and engagement from viewers. Joining in can help you feel less isolated and anxious.  They are encouraging knitters and crocheters to continue to support their local yarn stores during this shutdown of small businesses. Because social distancing is necessary and the physical stores in Pittsburgh are closed, McWalker Yarns in Millvale is offering creative options for yarn delivery and Yarns by Design in Oakmont is offering Free Shipping through Apr 15th. Knitting groups and classes are cancelled but they’re even trying to have a virtual knitting circle, stay tuned.

Here are the links to Episodes one and two

 

 

 

Size Makes a Difference

If you are going to knit a pair of slippers you plan to felt after knitting, it’s imperative you use the same size knitting needle.  Hmmmm.

Would have been good to follow this important advice.    Oops.   One knit on size 11s  (8mm) and one knit on size13s (9mm)    Plan to knit another mismatched pair so I’ll gave two pairs to gift.  Maybe for next Christmas?

I used double strands of 100% wool by Shepherd’s  Wool  from Michigan Bought in Millvale at my LYS – McWalker Yarns.

Put slippers in a pillowcase or mesh bag.

 

Throw in a pair of blue jeans to help agitate the slipper in the machine.

And here’s the result

 

Multiple Factors Affect the Size of Your Knitting

One Week to Go – an inch of ribbing and two sleeves

One week to go in the NaKniSweMo challenge. Sponsored by McWalker Yarns of Millvale PA.

At least 50,000 stitches total in your completed sweater-  Bound off, blocked, all ends woven in. Cast on was November first to be finished by midnight November 30th. The sweater party will be held at McWalker Yarns Saturday December 7th at 2PM.

You can check out last year’s sweater fashion show here 

I’m a little behind this year. A lot behind.

An inch of ribbing and two sleeves. My arms are pretty long. I’d better stop blogging and knit.

With houseguests, touring the city and travel to Ohio I didn’t knit the past five days.   Uh-oh.

Rhubarb colorway of Winterburn Yarn by Baa Ram Ewe spun and dyed in Yorkshire. The pattern is Purl Code Sweater by favorite knitwear designer Isabell Kraemer.

I’ve knit lots of words into my sweater using  Morse Code alphabet.

No names of aristocrats for the guillotine, as the memorable character Madame DeFarge knits in Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities. We had to read it in high school but fifty years later I still remember.

The knitted messages I knit into the sweater are the people I love, place names, favorite lyrics and favorite books from childhood.

All you need is love.

Arachne and NaKniSweMo2019- You Need Fifty Thousand Stitches

In Greek mythology (and later Roman mythology), Arachne (/əˈrækniː/; from Greek: ἀράχνη “spider”, cognate with Latin araneus) was a talented mortal weaver who challenged Athena, goddess of wisdom and crafts, to a weaving contest; this hubris resulted in her being transformed into a spider.” Wikipedia

Sunday afternoon you can get together and work on holiday (or other projects). The stitch circle is open to all.   It’s a lively and creative group, talented, too.  I dropped by to get some help on achieving gauge for a sweater project. I knew it was off. Proper gauge is important, (just ask my friend Deb in this Previous blog post illustrating the multiple factors that affect gauge) 

After being advised by Jes and another master knitter, it was clear that even after the second opinion, I needed to rip out and start again. It was barely an inch of knitting I had on the needles.  Perhaps an hour’s work.   After reluctant deliberation and a bit of consternation I ripped out the one inch I’d started Saturday night. Jes had advised me to make the next size or it would be a form fitting tube on me which is never a good look on my body.

Here is Jes.  If she is not teaching Choral Music or Band, you could find her working out at the gym or working at McWalker Yarns in Millvale.   She is a prolific knitter of garments. Perhaps you saw the hat I knit with hearts  last winter?  Love Actually Hat. Jes taught that Knit Along (KAL)

Jes is wearing her recently completed Arachne Sweater by Untangling Knots.

Lauren knit an identical sweater and was on McWalker Yarns Facebook post here 

The yarn Jes used is BC Garn Semilla. 

See below Jes’ photo for information on NaKniSweMo

Jes in her handknit Arachne Sweater

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE SWEATER IN a MONTH FASHION SHOW FROM LAST YEAR’S BLOG POST

November is National Knit-a-Sweater-In-A-Month   NaKniSweMo 2019

An Excerpt from McWalker Yarns Latest Newsletter by Amy  –

Are you ready for NaKniSweMo?

As I mentioned in an earlier newsletter, we are going to do another NaKniSweMo challenge at the shop.  We had so much fun last year, we’d love to have more of you join us.  As a reminder, NaKniSweMo is a challenge to knit or crochet a sweater of at least 50,000 stitches in November. You can cast on no earlier than 12:01 a.m. on November 1, 2018 and must be completely done (including weaving in ends, sewing on buttons, etc.) by midnight, November 30, 2019.  To be eligible for prizes here at the shop, you must be stitching using yarns from McWalker Yarns.  

We are meeting here at the shop on Saturdays in November (except Small Business Saturday, 11/30) from 2-4 p.m. to work on our projects.  Those who are participating and attend each Saturday will be eligible for weekly prizes drawn at random from those who attend.  Those who complete their sweater within the parameters will be eligible for grand prizes, including a $50 gift certificate to McWalker Yarns, to be drawn at random from those who complete the challenge.  Official national rules are here:  https://www.ravelry.com/groups/nakniswemo-kal/pages/NaKniSweMo-Rules-FAQ.  If you can come on November 2nd at 2 p.m., then you can sign up in person.  If not, just shoot an e-mail to yarns@mcwalker.us with the subject “NaKniSweMo” letting me know you are participating

There’s still time to stop in the shop to purchase yarns, supplies or finalize your plans so you are ready to go on the 1st!  #MYnakniswemo2019

And don’t forget to tune in and watch the 1990 film Arachnophobia