Tag Archives: socktopus

Better than Ever, I’m Back

15 Oct

So I realize I just broke my arm and then went away for, like, two months. But I forgive myself, because, you know, the broken arm turned out to be both a more and less dramatic experience than I had expected. Then I went to London for three weeks, alone, and that was something. When I came home, I and the boy packed up and moved house. Then I started writing a graduate thesis.

I am also the type of person for whom something like finding a secondhand couch on the local equivalent of Craigslist (except less seedy), arranging for transportation for said couch and then going to get it is a whole-day affair requiring all of my energy and concentration. And since moving house entails many such a stressful occasion, overly complicated by yours truly with fun things like being afraid of talking to people over the phone, I’ve had my hands kind of full.

This doesn’t mean I haven’t done any crafts, no sirree bob. I have my priorities straight.

Admittedly the three weeks in London went by without a moment for knitting or crochet – oops, no, I tell a lie: I did cast on for a pair of socks from the Socktopus books while sitting in a cafe waiting for my  silver ring making course to start (I’ll get to that). I guess those ten minutes spent knitting ribbing totally justified three weeks of carrying needles and yarn with me all around London.

I was crafty and cunning, and packed two easily portable projects for my trip. I decided to pick things that would be interesting enough to keep me entertained for a whole three weeks while still being easy enough not to require total devotion. I think I failed on that a little bit.

The sock pattern was fine. It’s a crossed stitches type of cabled sock pattern called Farmer McGregor from the Socktopus book I’m knitting through (that’s a great book o ‘ socks, btw).  I just had other things to do while I was there. I’ve since finished one sock of the pair (apart from grafting the toe), one weekend when nothing much else was on.

We can blame the wonky rib stitches on Pret getting me over-caffeinated at that point. (Honestly it’s fine.)

The bigger fail was the crochet shawl pattern I chose because it was gorgeous: Venus. When I read the pattern, I noticed that it would require I learn a completely new crochet technique, but instead of putting off doing the pattern (perhaps appreciating the extra challenge I was already facing crocheting with lace weight yarn) I congratulated myself on noticing this before I actually left on my trip. So I kind of learned the new thing (Tunisian crochet I believe it’s called, maybe).

There was a clear need to get a wooden crochet hook just so I could crochet on the plane, so in my pre-trip shopping frenzy I bought a pretty one disregarding both the price tag and the fact that I had a plastic one that would be just as acceptable to the airline. This was before I admitted that leaving at the damned crack of dawn would probably mean I wouldn’t have the energy to even think about crochet for the whole duration of my flight, anyway.

Turns out I was too busy fearing for my life on the first flight and then running through the whole Helsinki-Vantaa airport to catch my next flight to give too much thought to crochet. When I was safely seated on the next plane, I was barely able to keep awake until a nice lady brought me the best sandwich and cup of coffee I had ever eaten in my life (until I found the sandwiches at Eat – we Finns really don’t know anything about proper sandwiches), and then I slept until the plane was nearing Heathrow.

When I got there I was promptly so completely freaked out and overwhelmed by a city, which has a population of 1,5 times that of my entire friggin country, that I spent my first afternoon not acknowledging what lay outside my window, and also not feeling up to facing Tunisian crochet. It only got worse for the shawl from then on, but for very pleasant reasons. No regrets!

Later on I saw that the four rows I had crocheted at the airport here were entirely wrong anyway, ripped back and forgot about the whole thing for a few weeks.

I’ve since then gone back to it, but my results aren’t all that fantastic. Still, I’ll probably get this done at some point. Maybe.

So that’s me, back with a bang.


Mince Pie Mayhem

21 May

I finished my first pair of socks out of Socktopus: 17 pairs of socks worth showing off by Alice Yu: the Mince Pie Mayhem socks. Actually I finished them a couple of weeks ago, but anyway.

The result is pretty cool 🙂

I actually had some trouble knitting these because there was smaaall typo in the pattern. These are knitted leg down and you’re supposed to increase stitches for a gusset. The pattern says to turn the work, which makes no sense at all and doesn’t work – mostly because it’s supposed to be done in the round. Heh. Actually this got figured out just as soon as I went on Ravelry and asked about it in the group for the book. Someone suggested it was a typo and then the author herself came on and gave me advice! How awesome is that. When I get help so easily and the author herself is around to take care of her customers, as it were, I don’t even mind the typos.

 Also, now that I’m knitting another pair of socks from the book (Rumpled, Ravelry link) I just assume that if there’s anything I can’t figure out, it’s probably a typo. Nothing like that’s come up yet, though.

I used 1,5 balls of Garnstudio Drops Fabel with 2,5 mm needles for these socks, and it worked pretty well. I’m glad the stitch definition came out good even though the yarn is very soft and a bit fuzzy.

So far the book has been just as amazing as I had hoped. The patterns are different and interesting but not tedious. Even though there are a bajillion crossed stitches in these socks, for instance, these were a quick knit. The pattern was so easy to memorize and crossing stitches is easy and quick when done without a cabling needle.


17 Apr

My birthday present to me was a new pattern book ( Socktopus: 17 pairs of socks worth showing off by Alice Yu) – ok fine, it was late at night on a Friday, I was up too late on the internet, I got it in my head that a sock pattern book is simply what I need right now, and look, how convenient, it’s my birthday-ish.

Buying knitting books is not like it used to be for me. Used to be, I went to the bookstore and flipped through the half a dozen of books they had and if something looked half nice and I could afford it (I swear English books cost so much less back then) I got it. That’s how I ended up with several books I haven’t knitted anything out of.

Now I can’t justify getting a book unless I at first look through the patterns on Ravelry and love most of them (their absence there is in itself a bad sign for a book, unless it was just published and even then… meh). And then I read user reviews. In short, I now have to research this stuff.

xkcd has it right

Maybe that’s part of growing up, at least with the internet.

Well anyway, the good thing is this means that with more frequency than before, I now end up with The Perfect Book, like Socktopus.

Admittedly I only got my greedy paws on it earlier today, but having read through the general sections and eyed some of the patterns, I’m completely in love with this book.

I enjoyed the section on types of yarn and fiber in sock knitting, although failed to see the point of pages devoted to pictures of swatches.

However, I like that this book is clearly and bravely not aimed at someone who doesn’t yet know how to knit. Too often books for “advanced” knitters still have a tiny section about the basics of knitting, which always strikes me as odd. It seems like the authors or editors or someone doesn’t realize or believe that there is no such thing as hard knitting. I believe that just as soon as you know how to knit and purl, and maybe read your knitting, you can knit anything. But when they write a book for “advanced” knitters, they first market it as “a masterclass” or some such, but then add the technique section on knitting and purling in a feeble attempt to not scare off the more timid knitters.

I don’t think that works. That short an explanation is just useless if you don’t know how to knit at all, seems to take up room from other things which can frustrate those who didn’t want a technique book, and probably fails to convince the new or scared knitters to actually give the patterns a go if up until that point all they saw was “this is scary hard knitting but you, my superstar knitter, can do it!!1”. Seems to me to be useless, or worse, for everyone. So I’m glad this book skipped that entirely, and also doesn’t try to woo experienced knitters by choice of words. It does that by containing cool patterns that use (at least to me) new techniques.

The pictures are, on the whole, beautifully done. There were one or two patterns where I wished there were close up pictures of details like heels and toes, but then I figure, this sock may not have anything special going on in those sections. I guess I’ll find that out once I get ’round to knitting those patterns. Other than that, both the photography and the technique illustrations (for the new and/or rarer techniques that is) were clear and very helpful.

The weird thing about this book is that it’s apparently been published twice: I got this edition, published by Guild of Master Craftsman, while for some reason, this other edition, published a few weeks later, has all the reviews on Amazon. Maybe one was for the UK, one for the US, or it was first self-published and then picked up by a publishing company or whatever – the important bit is that as far as I can tell, the patterns are the same.

I look forward to learning many new techniques while getting to knit all these beautiful socks!

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