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.

 

 

 

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. “

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.

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

 

 

 

McWalker Yarns Sweater Party NaKniSweMo 2019

Saturday afternoon the November sweater knitters gathered in Millvale Pennsylvania.  McWalker Yarns was the place to celebrate participation in the National Knit a Sweater in a Month Challenge.  50,000 Stitches, cast on just after midnight on November first.   The sweater was to be completed (ends woven in and blocked) by midnight November 30th.

If you follow me on IG you know my sweater was 24 hours and 15 minutes over the cut off.

Here is Clarissa,  the Grand Prize Winner of NaKniSweMo 2019 holding her prizes- a generous gift card to McWalker Yarns to buy yarn for the NEXT sweater and a very cool magnet/bottle opener.

 Trove by designer Emma Durcher.  Yarn is BC Garn Semilla Melange Sport Weight

Detail below of Trove.  PomPom Magazine Autumn 2019

Jes sporting her very fine knitting SC1 by Allison Brookbanks design  Yarn Neighborhood Fiber Co Loft

 

Robin designed her sweater.  The design name is Hauplande  Yarn Loch Lomond by BC Garn worsted weight.  I think she has 150,000 stitches in her design. WOW!

IMG_2041
Hauplande designed by Robin

 

Jes photographed me wearing The Purl Code Sweater Designer Isabell Kraemer. Yarn- Baa Ram Ewe Winterburn DK weight in Rhubarb colorway,  Using the Morse Code Alphabet provided in the pattern there are phrases, words, place names, favorite movies and books, song lyrics and people I love,  knit right into the sweater.


Christine is holding a gift bag with the sweater she crocheted as a surprise gift.

Her sweater (which she translated into Crochet from Knitting) will be added after the holiday season.  Christine brought cheese ball and crackers and spinach dip to round out the party fare.  McWalker Yarns Shop owner Amy McCall baked a delicious and moist chocolate cake with sweater decoration.

 

Below see Shop Owner, Hostess, Sponsor and Chief of Inspiration for the NaKniSweMo 2019 Challenge, Amy McCall.  Making the Local Yarn Store a welcoming community for all.

 

Spruce Point Pullover designer Amy Herzog               Baa Ram Ewe Winterburn yarn

 

Feistywoman Knit Hanefjed Sweater  click for details 

BC Garn Loch Lomond Bio GOTS certified  and Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool

 

https://www.ravelry.com/projects/feistywoman/hanefjed-womens-version

 

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.

A Patient St. Bernard

I’d parked and was walking to McWalker Yarns Sunday afternoon to knit. Took a quick snap. Then I turned back to try to get the face of this sweet and patient St Bernard waiting for his or her master.

 

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 

Philadelphia’s Primrose Yarn Arrives in Millvale PA

Monday afternoon, McWalker Yarns in Millvale unveiled the beautiful line of Primrose Yarn Co, an Indi-dyed yarn company featuring a variety of weights and fiber content.  A huge box bursting with softness and luscious colors was just shipped from Philadelphia and is now displayed at McWalker Yarns.

Joanna had seen the yarn at Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival and has used Primrose Yarn Co for many sweaters,  She’s an ardent fan of it. See her model one of her creations below.

It was a great Primrose Premier Party at the yarn store, with a spread of spanakopita, hummus, carrots, fruit flavored Italian sodas, cheese and crackers, topped off with chocolate covered marshmallows and Peanut Butter Cups. Mmmmmmmmm.

Each attendee received a gift of a colorful mini skein of Primrose Yarn. Christine got right to work on a crocheted octopus and was borrowing some fiber fill to stuff it, right as we partied.

I’m not sure why I didn’t photograph her eight legged creature but am kicking myself now.

One skein of colorway Forbidden Forest ( 100% Superwash Merino Single)  makes this gorgeous Storm Shawl pattern by Joji Locatelli available at McWalker Yarns via Ravelry

Timbre Hat designed by Meghan Fernandes from current issue of Pom Pom Magazine knit by Amy using a skein of Classy DK with the addition of a strand of Primrose Plume Mohair yarn

Yanr

Steel Valley Yarn Crawl 2019 is Complete

Saturday my friend Vincie and I got an early start and made our way to Harmony PA to

Darn Yarn Needles and Thread Shop.  

Owner Lisa Krack introduced us to  Naturally Nazareth yarn

_____________________________________________________________________________________RaggZ  Fiber  Art in the village of Forbes Road

 

We hit the turnpike and went about an hour’s drive to Forbes Road PA where we met Toni at RaggZ Fiber Art  Vincie spotted these giant knitting needles and the welcoming archway.

Here is an article about RaggZ Fiber Art by Deborah Weisberg

 

Toni showed me Living Pelts  Felted on the back   The sheep (which she keeps) are ALIVE and the backs of the pelts are Felted.

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We called Dyed in the Wool in the North Hills from RaggZ because they were going to close at 4 PM and weren’t open on Sunday and in order to finish the Yarn Crawl and get their pin and stamp I needed to hightail it out of the village of Forbes Road and get to Babcock Boulevard. We skipped lunch and made it in plenty of time to meet “….Carol Briggs Dragos and Lynda Bowen.  We love yarn in all its glorious phases, fleece, roving and yarn.  We love to spin, weave, knit and crochet with it.    Join us in our fiber journey.  All we can promise is fiber, fun and friendship” from the website

Dyed in the Wool shop Owner Carol

Lynda waits on customers

 


A new knitter’s first project from taking a class at Dyed in the Wool

So three stores in a day and pins and stamps collected but ONE more pin and stamp needed to complete the crawl.

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SUNDAY at Noon Sewickley Yarns Opened and I got there close to their opening.

A beautiful summer day to drive down Ohio River Boulevard to the town of Sewickley.

Owner Robin welcomed me, assisted by her daughter Clair. Store hours are going to be changing soon -Tues Thurs and Sat- 10-4 with a late knit night open on Wednesday 10-8 PM. Friday 10-7 with Knitting Happy Hour 5-7

I asked Robin what Sewickley Yarns sells that is unique to the area and she showed me Koigu, Baa yarn and Shibui.

The Yarn Crawlers who complete the eleven store crawl are put into a random drawing to win a prize basket with yarn and accessories from all of the stores

The Grand Prize Baskets waiting for a random number to be drawn 

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After I completed the crawl I went to knit a bit with a nice group at McWalker Yarns in Millvale and photographed Jennifer and Joanna in the Photo Spot.

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Support your independent local yarn stores so they don’t disappear. Take a class and learn  something new.  Click the shop links for more information.

*The first post of the Steel Valley Yarn Crawl featuring Kathy’s Kreations in Ligonier and McWalker Yarns in Millvale is here

*Pittsburgh Yarn Company and Yarns by Design in Oakmont are on this post

*If you missed a post of the Yarn Crawl you can click here for 3 Yarn Stores in a Day Oakdale, Bridgeville and Washington