Knitting Handspun Socks Part 2

I’m knitting a sock inside out! | withwool.com

I’m still knitting my first pair of socks from handspun (you can read part 1 of the tale here). It’s also the first time I’ve tried adding a princess sole - the smooth side of stockinette stitch is against the sole of the foot instead of the bumps - to a pair of socks. The socks have been great purse knitting, but the making the first sock was slow going because off all the purling on the sole and gusset increases. 

I’m knitting a sock inside out! | withwool.com

Why is so easy to overlook the simplest solution to a problem and instead go with a more complicated fix? After I turned the heel and knit the heel flap, a light bulb went off in my head. I could knit the second sock inside out! The only purling I’d have to do would be for the top half of the toe and the ribbing. I used the same cast on at the toe and the same increases. Instead of purling the sole, I purled the top half of the toe. I reversed the rib pattern from *k2, p2* to *p2, k2*. I’m glad I went with a simple stitch pattern over the foot otherwise knitting the sock inside out would be a little more complicated. 

I’m knitting a sock inside out! | withwool.com

The little bit of effort I put in upfront has been worth it because the second sock is zooming along. It’s almost time to knit the gusset which will actually be easier to work inside out. The combination of purled increases and marled yarn made it really hard to tell if I’d correctly worked an increase row on the first sock. Or if I was even on an increase row. Happy to have solved that problem this time around.

Okay, now it’s time to double check my gusset math and get back to the gift knitting. 

With Wool Winter Sale!

With-Wool-Winter-Sale-2016.jpg

Clockwise: Odd Couple Shawl, Mosaic Sisters, Sapling, and Diagonal Socks

Working through your holiday gift knitting? Just getting started? Or knitting something for yourself? All With Wool patterns are on sale! $2 off all patterns, no coupon code required. Add the patterns to your Ravelry cart (no account required) and the discount will be applied automatically. Happy Knitting and Happy Holidays! 

The sale runs through Tuesday, November 22 to Wednesday, November 30 midnight MST.  

For The Red Scarf Project

I’m knitting a cushy scarf in red and grey for the Red Scarf Project. | withwool.com

Better late than never. One of the first things to go on the holiday knitting list this year was a scarf for the Red Scarf Project. The project, run by Foster Care to Success, sends college bound foster youth red scarves as part of a Valentine’s Day care package. I first read about the project years ago when I was cooped up in my own college dorm room, so the project struck a nerve. It’s been a few years since I made a red scarf and it was time to fix that.

I found the perfect red in Yarn Fort, a ball of Patons Classic Wool in Bright Red. The problem was that I only had 1 ball which isn’t enough for a scarf.  Thankfully, the stash provided another ball of matching Classic Wool in Mercury. One problem solved. Second problem was the pattern. I couldn’t find a striped scarf pattern that I liked and fit the project criteria.  So I put on my designer hat and got to swatching…and frogging. Seriously, my design process involves a lot of swatching and a lot of frogging. How else can I can be sure that my idea will actually work? I came up with a design and an idea that I loved, and still do, but it turned out to be way more complicated than I originally thought. I kept putting off the last construction swatch. Then other holiday knitting came calling - specifically a pair of matching baby hats. Spoiler: I couldn’t find a pattern I like for those either. Rinse and repeat with the swatching and frogging. I finished the hats and a rough draft of that pattern last week, but that’s another blog post.  

So, back to the scarf. The deadline to send in the scarf is December 15 which is exactly a month from now. The time for complicated, half-written patterns passed weeks ago. Back to the drawing board. I’m keeping things simple this time which is more of a struggle for me than I’d like to admit. Going with the tried and true 1x1 rib scarf which is reversible, cushy, and good lucking. It’s also a fast knit that my fingers could do in their sleep. I’ll be changing up the stripe pattern to keep the scarf both interesting to knit and wear. Once it’s done, I’ll be sharing the pattern. That’s about 43 inches from now. Back to knitting with me and a whole lot of Netflix. 

Fell Off The Sheep

I fell off the sheep, but I bought yarn and fiber with a plan. | withwool.com

I fell off the sheep last week after 36 days of not buying yarn or spinning fiber. It’s not my longest streak - that would be 44 days - nor my shortest streak - 3 days - since I started Cold Sheeping in June. Ahem. Yarn Fort is definitely still a looming tower that I can hide behind. But I still bought 8 ounces of spinning fiber on Thursday and 2 balls of yarn on Friday. 

I don’t feel at all guilty that I fell off the sheep and then took 2 days to track the wooly critter down again. Yarn Fort got to be the size it is because I bought pretty yarn without knowing quite what I wanted to do with it. There were vague ideas that a skein of fingering weight yarn would make fun socks or that I would like a sweater out of this yarn. Or there was a really good sale. Or I felt like walking around a new yarn shop. Buying yarn with a particular pattern in mind didn’t happen as often. 

I fell off the sheep, but I bought yarn and fiber with a plan. | withwool.com

These recent purchases were different because I had a plan. Now I actually have to follow through with it in a reasonable time frame. I’m not sure what a reasonable time frame is though. Anyway, I bought 4 ounces of Corriedale locks because I want to practice making batts on my drum carder. I could practically see the green fiber mixed together with a bit of copper-colored Firestar that I’ve got stashed away. The 4 ounces of Hummingbird Moon Fiber came home with me because of its mottled dye job. The top shares a lot of similarities with fiber that turned into a skein of my own personal dream yarn: superwash, mottled dye pattern, and few colors. I’m curious to see if I can turn this fiber into more dream yarn. 

Friday’s purchases, 2 balls of Cascade 220 Superwash, came home with me because the yarn I picked for another project, a WIP hat design, wasn’t working out. I’ve already cast on and knit several inches so I’ll only be stashing the leftovers. 

I fell off the sheep, but I bought yarn and fiber with a plan. | withwool.com

It’s been 3 days and counting since I got back on the sheep. I’m not regretting my purchases nor feeling the urge to buy more yarn. I am glad that I haven’t added a lot of extra, complicated rules to my Cold Sheep. The three I have are enough and give me a little leeway when needed.

  1. Don’t buy yarn just because it’s pretty.
  2. Work from the stash.
  3. If you must by yarn or fiber, buy with a pattern or project in mind.

Swamp Thing Plied

Stepped outside my comfort zone, and spun my dream yarn. Swamp Thing Plied| withwool.com

I’ve made a lot of handspun over the years and have a bin full of the stuff. There are skeins I’m intensely proud of. There are beautiful skeins that I have no idea what to do with. There are skeins I made because I wanted to spin. There are skeins I learned a lot from. Then there are skeins that I want to keep on my desk and pet when the urge strikes. Swamp Thing turned out to be one of those. 

Stepped outside my comfort zone, and spun my dream yarn. Swamp Thing Plied| withwool.com

I finished plying this yarn and the leftovers over a week ago, but was lazy about getting it off the bobbins. I was smitten with it then and when I wound the skein, but it wasn’t until I set the twist that Swamp Thing transformed into my dream yarn. If I saw this at a yarn shop, it would be coming home with me - Cold Sheep be damned. The yarn has body and drape. It’s just the right amount of softness, but still seems sturdy. It has a smooth, lustrous surface with just a bit of uneven texture. And it’s deliciously plump with a pleasant wooly smell. Plus, I’m a complete sucker for grays and earthy greens. I know most this description seems contradictory but that’s my dream yarn. 

A video posted by April Klich (@aprilklich) on

Stepped outside my comfort zone, and spun my dream yarn. Swamp Thing Plied| withwool.com

And now I’m rethinking my fiber buying preferences. I usually go for hand dyed fiber with distinct, matching colors. The Swamp Thing roving was different. The fiber was dyed with a few similar shades of color and small pops of contrast colors. The colors were mottled across the width of the roving instead of taking up long sections. The end result is a yarn that looks more like a semi-solid than the 2-ply barber pole that it is. I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for roving dyed in a mottled style in the future. 

Stepped outside my comfort zone, and spun my dream yarn. Swamp Thing Plied| withwool.com

There’s one other good thing about this yarn. The roving was 100% superwash BFL which I’ve never spun before this skein. Spinning it was the aggravation the internet lead me to believe. Now I’m not afraid of the other superwash fibers I’ve got tucked away in the #YarnFort. So long as I stick with a short forward draw that I used with Swamp Thing, I might end up with more dream yarn.  

Stepped outside my comfort zone, and spun my dream yarn. Swamp Thing Plied| withwool.com

Now that the yarn is ready for knitting, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’m going to do with all 386 yards of swampy goodness. It’s going to be a hat and mitt set. I haven’t decided on a pattern for either yet. Only that the hat is going to be slouchy and on the simple side. I have to finish my holiday gift knitting first though. At least I can pet the yarn for the next couple of months.  

Knitting A Handspun Sock

I’m knitting my first pair of handspun socks. It was a nervous cast on, but the first sock is going really well even though I ripped out the gusset. Knitting A Handspun Sock | withwool.com

On one of the rare occasions when The Bearded One went into a yarn shop with me, he found a half pound of spinning fiber that he liked. Second to me, he has the greatest appreciation for my fiber goodness, so I was all to happy to promise him something made from handspun. We eventually decided on a pair of socks. Tour de Fleece came along this year and I got spinning. 8 oz of Louet Northern Lights turned into 2 matching skeins of opposing 3-ply sock yarn

The yarn didn’t turn out like I’d planned. Instead of solid stripes, the yarn marled. Instead of fingering weight, I got sport weight. Instead of a smooth 3-ply, the opposing ply made a kinked up and uneven yarn. Plus, I didn’t get anything close to the yardage I was expecting. Ugh. 

I’m knitting my first pair of handspun socks. It was a nervous cast on, but the first sock is going really well even though I ripped out the gusset. Knitting A Handspun Sock | withwool.com

I wasn’t sure what would happen when I cast on. To be completely honest, I didn’t think the yarn would work as a pair of socks. Happy to say I was wrong though. I only ripped out once and that was because I messed up the gusset increases. The marl is beautiful with subtle stripes. Knitting with sport weight means even a US 14 sized sock works up fast. There’s enough yardage too - my fingers are crossed though just to make sure. Of everything that that could have gone wrong, I was worried the most about the yarn making a bumpy, uncomfortable sole. That would have a deal breaker for sure. So I’m working a princess sole, and it seems smooth and comfy. Definitely worth all that purling. 

I’m knitting my first pair of handspun socks. It was a nervous cast on, but the first sock is going really well even though I ripped out the gusset. Knitting A Handspun Sock | withwool.com

After being nervous that my handspun sock yarn wouldn’t make a good pair of socks, I’m relieved thateverything is working out better than I planned. Here’s hoping the second sock and the second skein do as well together. 

New Socks For Winter

There’s a new pair of socks tucked away and waiting for a snowy Winter.  New Socks For Winter | withwool.com

Yesterday was an autumn day when the wind didn’t stop. It roared outside my walls and took all but the most stubborn leaves off the trees. I’m going to miss waking up and seeing branches covered in red and yellow.

There’s a new pair of socks tucked away and waiting for a snowy Winter.  New Socks For Winter | withwool.com

When I started these socks, it was summer and and they were good travel project. When I bound off the cuffs, the weather still felt like summer. I washed them and tucked them away in my sock drawer for winter. Now that the days are getting chilly I’m glad I didn’t slack off and keep putting these aside for more interesting projects. This pair is another of my basic ribbed vanilla sock pattern. To keep them from feeling like a complete slog since my last pair of socks had a 2x2 rib, I went with a 3x1 rib. It’s not as stretchy, but shows off the random patterning of the colors much better. Also, I’m really glad I don’t have to make all my socks match perfectly. It would have been impossible with this yarn and would have driven me up a wall. 

There’s a new pair of socks tucked away and waiting for a snowy Winter.  New Socks For Winter | withwool.com

Ya know, knitting socks is an awesome thing to do any time of year. They were one of the things I wanted to make when I first learned how to knit. Even my rage-inducing first attempts with DPN’s could not persuade me otherwise. I’ve lost count of how many pairs I’ve knit over the years and in climates where wool socks weren’t exactly a necessity. Now that I live in the land of snow, wind, and really cold winters, all these wool socks I’ve made seem even better than they did before. 

There’s a new pair of socks tucked away and waiting for a snowy Winter.  New Socks For Winter | withwool.com

Spinning Swamp Thing

Back to spinning Swamp Thing. | withwool.com

My back of the envelope plan for this superwash BFL, very appropriately named Swamp Thing, was to spin both the plies, put them together, and then set the twist by last weekend. If I hadn’t gotten a cold, that’s precisely what would have happened. I’d have new handspun to show you too. Instead I’m still spinning the second ply. The good news is that I’m mostly over my cold and back at the wheel. 

The second ply has been a little harder to spin than the first. Even though the fiber was listed as superwash, the roving seems felted in spots. I’ve had to work a little slower to get the surface and thickness to match the first ply. Double drafting has been a very good friend of mine the last couple of days. Next up is plying, and I can’t wait to see how this yarn comes together.  

Back to spinning Swamp Thing. | withwool.com

Spinning for the Joy of Spinning

Spinning something new for the joy of it, and not worrying about yardage. | withwool.com

Registration for Spinzilla was last month, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to participate this year. I’ve participated every year since Spinzilla began in 2013. Two days before registration closed, I finally decided that I might as well keep the streak going. But I didn’t actually remember to sign up until the afternoon of the last day, and missed the deadline. Frustrating? Yes, but I’m spinning anyway. Not for Spinzilla though.

Spinning something new for the joy of it, and not worrying about yardage. | withwool.com

I didn’t spend any time at my wheel during September. I had packed it up to go to a spin-in at a local yarn shop only for my allergies to knock me out of commission. Then other projects and deadlines kept coming up, and my wheel never made it back out of the bag. I’d also packed 4 oz of superwash BFL, an Akerworks flat pack bobbin, and notions. It turned out to be a nice kit when I was ready to spin again. 

Spinning something new for the joy of it, and not worrying about yardage. | withwool.com

After the wheel was set up and oiled, it was time to finish prepping the fiber. I’m aiming for a heavy fingering weight yarn which is hard for me to achieve when I working from the full bulk of the roving. I split the roving lengthwise into 16 more or less equal sections. 8 for each ply. Then there was nothing left to do but start spinning. 

Spinning something new for the joy of it, and not worrying about yardage. | withwool.com

The roving was dyed in mottled pattern without a color repeat, so I joined the sections at random. Working from the smaller pieces really helped keep clearer colors. There’s black, brown, dark green, light green, blue, and acid yellow which would be so easy muddy. The colorway is called Swamp Thing after all.  Plus, not having to work type-writer style across the top of a big chunk of roving helped me draft a fine and consistent yarn. 

Spinning something new for the joy of it, and not worrying about yardage. | withwool.com

I’ve been trying to be more adventurous with my spinning this year, and work with new fibers. This is the first time that I’ve spun with superwash fiber of any kind. I went in expecting the fibers to be slippery and hard to work with. While the fibers definitely weren’t as grabby as regular wool, they weren’t any harder to spin than a well carded merino. I’m glad I finally tried spinning a superwash yarn since it no where as difficult as I’d built it up to be in my head. 

Spinning something new for the joy of it, and not worrying about yardage. | withwool.com

Not being able to register for Spinzilla was a bummer at first, but I’m not aggravated about it anymore.  Just the thought of Spinzilla was a good kick in the pants to sit down at my wheel again. I’m working at my own pace without worrying about trying to beat my numbers from 2015. Plus, it’s nice just to spin for the joy of it. 

New Pattern: The Odd Couple Shawl

Tame wild, variegated yarn with slip stitches and the Odd Couple Shawl. | withwool.com

Odd Couple combines simple auto-pilot knitting with slip stitches and texture to tame wild, variegated yarns.

The shawl can be worked with any weight of yarn, be it sock yarn, bulky, or anything in between. The pattern starts with a small number of stitches and keeps increasing so you can make a shawl as big or small as you please.

Tame wild, variegated yarn with slip stitches and the Odd Couple Shawl. | withwool.com

I’m absolutely thrilled to finally share the Odd Couple shawl! It’s been many months in the making, so it’s great to have it off the needles, blocked, and ready to wear. The inspiration for this shawl was a beautiful skein of hand dyed Corrie Sock by Happy Fuzzy Yarn in a few of my favorite colors. The yarn matched my favorite coat, so it was destined to be a shawl. But what kind? I had a few ideas. It had to be asymmetrical with a little texture, and nip pooling colors in the bud. Oh, and if it were auto-pilot knitting, things would be even better. 

Mixing all those things together turned out to be a tall order. Even with an idea in my head and sketches on paper, I spent way to long frogging to figure out the shape and construction. The time was well spent though, and lead to a shawl that had every thing I wanted. 

Tame wild, variegated yarn with slip stitches and the Odd Couple Shawl. | withwool.com

Odd Couple starts at the bottom with a tiny number of stitches and keeps on growing. You can make it big or small, and bind off when you’re ready. Use any yarn that you like - it doesn’t even have to be variegated. A solid color would beautifully show the texture from the slip stitches. 

To celebrate the release, Odd Couple will be on sale through Sunday, October 2. Use coupon code ODD to get $1 off. Put Odd Couple in your Ravelry cart (no account required), click add coupon, and type in the code. Happy knitting!

Tame wild, variegated yarn with slip stitches and the Odd Couple Shawl. | withwool.com

Odd Couple

Yarn: Your pick of yarn in any weight. 

  • Fingering Weight: 400 - 800 yds
  • Sport Weight: 450 - 750 yds
  • Worsted Weight: 400 - 600 yds
  • Bulky Weight: 350 - 570 yds

Needles: Circular Needle 32” or longer to match yarn

Notions: 1 stitch marker, and a tapestry needle

Odd Couple Tutorial: How to Pick Up + Knit(kfb)

Odd Couple shawl tutorial: How to "Pick Up + Knit(kfb)" | withwool.com

When I was in the early in the design process for the Odd Couple shawl - aka ripping back to nothing most of the time - I was trying to figure out how to work in increases that were invisible, but easy. Finicky and auto-pilot knitting don't really go together after all. The answer turned out to be pairing "pick up + knit" with the shawl's center spine of decreases.  The result is a lovely line with none of the aggravation that usually comes from picking up stitches. I'm no fan of picking up dozens and dozens of stitches myself, but this is different because you're only picking up one stitch at a time. Check out the video to see how it's done!

FO: Vertigo Scarf

This scarf and cowl combo is fun and well worth the wait. FO: Vertigo Scarf | withwool.com

How long it took me to fall in love with the pattern: 5 seconds. 

How long it took to buy the yarn: 3 years

How long it took to knit the scarf: 4 months

How long it took to block and sew on the buttons: 3 weeks

I think it’s safe to say that this scarf has been a long time in the making. Mostly because it took me years to get the yarn even though I knew exactly what yarn and what color I wanted. I’ve got absolutely no excuse for that. The yarn would probably still be sitting on my shopping list if I hadn’t ended up winning enough store credit at Eat.Sleep.Knit to cover a couple of skeins. Plus I wanted to treat myself after not being able to knit for a month. 

This scarf and cowl combo is fun and well worth the wait. FO: Vertigo Scarf | withwool.com

The pattern was pretty fun to knit, and I even got used to working “purl 2 together through the back loop” several times a row. And the Malabrigo was it’s usual lovely self to work with, but I still got stuck with knitting ennui halfway through. The thought of have a big, cosy new scarf to wear through the winter got me to finish the rest of it. Binge watching tv helped too.  

This scarf and cowl combo is fun and well worth the wait. FO: Vertigo Scarf | withwool.com

Binding off that last row was pretty awesome. Blocking the scarf and seeing the pattern open up was even better. It went from smooshed and rippled to the large and beautiful vision I had in my head. I didn’t have as sure an idea of the buttons though, and it took some time to decide. Contrasting blue was definitely the right decision.

This scarf and cowl combo is fun and well worth the wait. FO: Vertigo Scarf | withwool.com

It may have taken me a few years but I’m just glad that I finally knit this scarf. And I’m going to wear at the first sign of cold weather because I am not waiting for snow. 

Pattern: Vertigo by Jamie Thomas

Yarn: 287 yds Malabrigo Yarn Chunky - Frank Ochre

Needles: 7.0 mm circulars

Dates: May 3 - September 15, 2016

@Ravelry

Very Green Garterlac

This kitchen towel was worth the wait. Very Green Garterlac | withwool.com

The last lingering work in progress* is finished! I cast on for this kitchen towel way back in April, knit a good chunk of it, and put it down to work on other things. Part of the reason I stopped working on it was because I wasn’t sure if I liked the extra square and width I’d added. Turns out, yes. The other reason was that I had other things I wanted to knit and do over the summer. So garterlac, as addicting as it is to knit, went on the back burner for awhile. 

When I eventually did start knitting the towel again, I was hooked. I was sneaking in squares any time I could, and keeping my hands busy during tv shows and movies. Now that the Very Green Garterlac is finished, it’s become one of my favorites. From cast on to bind off, it's 17" and 9" wide. The yarn and the pattern are the perfect pair. The fabric is thick and textured which makes it excellent for drying hands and picking up hot pans. Plus, I really like the colors.

This kitchen towel was worth the wait. Very Green Garterlac | withwool.com

I’ve got plenty more cotton stashed away in a lot more colors. At least a few yards are going to turn into more garterlac. Probably going to stick with washcloth sized versions though. But don’t hold me to that. In the mean time, I’m enjoying knitting scarves, shawls, and socks for colder weather. 

Pattern: Garterlac Dishcloth by Criminy Jickets

Yarn: 191 yds Peaches & Creme Ombres - Ivy League

Needles: US 6 - 4mm straights

Dates: April 8 - September 2, 2016

Full Mods @Ravelry

*Well, there are other lingering WIPs, but they’ve been hanging around for years. 

This kitchen towel was worth the wait. Very Green Garterlac | withwool.com

Free Pattern: Show Off Boomerang

Show Off Boomerang - A free pattern for that one special skein of yarn, handspun or hand dyed, that’s a show off all by itself. | withwool.com

I finally finished a couple of long-term works in progress last week, and decided to reward myself by casting on for something new. The yarn I spun during this year’s Tour de Fleece has been taunting me, specifically a wild combination of dark grey merino and random mini batts. I may or may not have wound the yarn at 11 PM. Okay, I definitely wound the yarn that late. I stayed up watching movies and cast on for a beautiful shawl. Unfortunately, the yarn obscured the yarn overs, increases, and details that made the shawl what it is. Simple, reversible, garter stitch was the only option. 

Show Off Boomerang - A free pattern for that one special skein of yarn, handspun or hand dyed, that’s a show off all by itself. | withwool.com

I love the look of asymmetrical triangle shawls. And I love the fact that I could knit every inch of that precious skein without worrying when to bind off. So, I experimented with and frogged a few different versions of bias knit boomerang shapes before I found one I liked. Then I made sure that all the action happened on one row of the pattern repeat for easy auto-pilot knitting.  

Thanks to plenty of down time, I knit the shawl in one day and blocked it the next. Blocking smoothed out the curves - the yarn had it’s thick and thin spots - and added a few more inches of depth. I’m so happy I didn’t let the yarn linger in the stash or try to force it into a complicated pattern. This shawl will be the perfect pop of color on a dreary winter day. 

Show Off Boomerang - A free pattern for that one special skein of yarn, handspun or hand dyed, that’s a show off all by itself. | withwool.com

If you’ve got one precious skein of handspun or hand dyed indie goodness that wants to do it’s own thing, the Show Off Boomerang might be just the pattern you’re looking for. 

Size: Your Choice

Yarn & Needles: 200+ yards of any weight yarn and needles to match

Show Off Boomerang - A free pattern for that one special skein of yarn, handspun or hand dyed, that’s a show off all by itself. | withwool.com

WIP Parade

Scarves, socks, and kitchen towels! Oh my! I’m finishing up a bunch of projects so I can start new ones. WIP Parade | withwool.com

Finishing the Turtle Purl socks a couple of weeks ago has put me in the mood to finish the rest of my lingering works in progress. Add on plenty of nights spent watching movies and catching up on tv, and I’ve been a very busy knitter. 

Scarves, socks, and kitchen towels! Oh my! I’m finishing up a bunch of projects so I can start new ones. WIP Parade | withwool.com

I picked up the Vertigo scarf again thinking that it’d be nice to have a new scarf/cowl thing for the winter. Temps are still in the 80’s, but there’s going to be snow on the ground soon enough. And I will be ready. I’d probably still be working on this thing and working lots of “p2togtbl” if this weren’t knit in bulky weight yarn. I mostly work with worsted weight yarn and finer, so it’s always a pleasant surprise how fast bulky yarn knits up. 

The stitches are bound off and the ends are woven in. Blocking the scarf will be simple (and entirely necessary) which means there’s just one more difficult step before I get to wear it. Which buttons do I choose? Do I go with the earthy, neutral buttons that will blend in or the bright blue buttons that will stand out? I cannot make up my mind. 

Scarves, socks, and kitchen towels! Oh my! I’m finishing up a bunch of projects so I can start new ones. WIP Parade | withwool.com
Scarves, socks, and kitchen towels! Oh my! I’m finishing up a bunch of projects so I can start new ones. WIP Parade | withwool.com

Now that Vertigo is bound off, I’m back to adding squares to my Garterlac kitchen towel. It’s not growing as quickly as the scarf, but entrelac is addicting to knit anyway. I can’t knit just one square at a time. Plus, it’s a simple project that I can pick up and put down without loosing my place so the towel is great for keeping my hands busy. I haven’t decide how long it’s going to be yet, but I don’t think that I’m far from binding off. 

Scarves, socks, and kitchen towels! Oh my! I’m finishing up a bunch of projects so I can start new ones. WIP Parade | withwool.com

Here’s another pair of socks for purse knitting. I pulled the yarn out of deep stash, #coldsheep, and started a toe. I wanted to knit a slightly more involved pattern since the last two pairs were basic ribbed socks. The stitch pattern for the Escalator Socks caught my eye so I gave it a try. While I liked the pattern, it didn’t mesh well with the yarn. Plus, I like how the colors knit up in stockinette much better. Ripped back to the toe, and going with a 3x1 rib this time. I’m will knit a complicated pair of socks eventually. I hope.

A video posted by April Klich (@aprilklich) on

FO: TurtlePurl Socks

Self striping yarn knits up into great afterthought socks. This pair is going away to wait for cold snowy days. FO: TurtlePurl Socks | withwool.com

I rarely walk out my front door without knitting in my purse. Having a simple project to keep my hands busy while I’m in line or killing time in a waiting room is a must. Plus, I enjoy it more than playing the same game over and over on my phone. Vanilla socks are my favorite purse projects, but a pair can hang out for so long that I get incredibly bored with them. I try not to chuck the offending socks into a WIP bin never to be seen again though. Instead, I make myself finish knitting, so I can start something new guilt free. Need fewer needles that way too. That’s why I finished this pair of socks, which I cast on way back in March. Going Cold Sheep and #YarnFort definitely had something to do with it too. 

Self striping yarn knits up into great afterthought socks. This pair is going away to wait for cold snowy days. FO: TurtlePurl Socks | withwool.com

The yarn, Turtle Purl self-striping Absinthe, was a gift from a good friend of mine, and caught my eye when I was rummaging through the stash. The stripes seemed like the perfect thing to keep a pair of vanilla socks interesting. I didn’t even have to do any work to make sure the socks matched since the dyer did all that work for me. I made a lot of progress because I kept telling myself to finish just one more stripe. And when I was figuring out when to bind off, the stripes made it so easy to make sure each cuff was the same length. Self-striping yarn keeps getting better and better. 

Self striping yarn knits up into great afterthought socks. This pair is going away to wait for cold snowy days. FO: TurtlePurl Socks | withwool.com

This pair followed my default vanilla sock pattern: toe up, a simple rib, about 6.5” of leg, and Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off. I wanted the stripes to look the same over the entire socks, so I skipped the heel flap and gusset for an afterthought construction. However, instead of adding an afterthought heel, I worked an afterthought leg with instructions from the Houdini Socks by Cat Bordhi. Knitting the toe, foot, and heel in one go was so much less work than making the usual tube and adding a heel later. I didn't worry about having enough yarn for the heel or have to find the right spot in the stripes to join. The technique worked even better than I hoped too. Not only was I able to bind a ready to wear pair, the heels used enough of the stripe repeat to put me back on the green I needed to start the cuff! Adding an afterthought leg is going to be my default method to make afterthought socks from now on. 

Self striping yarn knits up into great afterthought socks. This pair is going away to wait for cold snowy days. FO: TurtlePurl Socks | withwool.com

Before I get started on the next pair of socks, I’m stepping on my soapbox to talk about blocking for a moment. Blocking works wonders for knitting, even on a basic pair of socks. I soaked the socks in cold water - the water turned a little blue, but the color didn’t fade in the slightest - with a little Eucalan and hung them up to dry. That’s it. I didn’t worry with sock blockers or shaping the socks at all. Once dry the stitches were much more even, and the yarn had relaxed and softened. The socks look better, fell better, and fit better. Okay. Getting off the soapbox now, and putting this pair in the drawer to wait for a cold snowy day. 

A video posted by April Klich (@aprilklich) on

Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park

Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com

The Bearded One and I went on adventure to Rocky Mountain National Park over the weekend. We got a late start to the day but still had time to stop in Estes Park for caramel corn and a visit to The Stitchin’ Den. The weather was absolutely perfect for driving the Trail Ridge Road and making frequent stops to enjoy the view. I probably could have finished knitting the pair of socks I brought with me, but the mountains and sky ruled the day. We even got lucky enough to see a herd of elk. 

P.S. Caramel corn is the perfect snack to munch on a mountain top.

Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com
Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com
Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com
Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com
Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com
Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com
Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com
Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com
Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com
Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com
Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com

Knitting For Cold Sheep

The second rule of Cold Sheep: Knit and spin from the stash. No feeling guilty about the stuff you don’t like anymore either. Knitting For Cold Sheep | withwool.com

Since I went Cold Sheep in June, I’ve only had one rule: Don’t buy yarn or spinning fiber. I’ve mostly followed that rule with the exception of 88 yards of t-shirt yarn joining the stash 18 days later. I made it another 30 days before buying 6 oz of fiber to play with on my new-to-me drum carder. I don’t feel guilty about either of these purchases because, while they were impulse buys, there was a project waiting for them. I’m going to use the t-shirt yarn to make a basket. And that fiber is for my first attempt at making blended roving/batts on my new-to-me drum carder. I haven’t used the carder yet so my new bundles of goodness won’t be sitting around for long. 

It’s a month and half later I’m adding another rule to my Cold Sheep: You actually have to knit and spin with the stuff you have in stash. Yarn Fort isn’t going to get any smaller if all I do is look at it and I look at it a lot. It’s a looming presence in my studio that is impossible to miss. That means I actually have to finish the projects I cast on. On the top of the WIP list is the Vertigo Scarf and the TurtlePurl Socks. Don’t worry, I’m not forcing myself to knit these things. I’m enjoying the process of knitting just as much as I want to wear them. So I’m knitting instead of playing time suck games on my phone. I’m knitting instead of aimlessly scrolling through Instagram. I’m knitting instead of looking down at my phone in general. Seems to be working too since the socks are getting closer and closer to the bind off. 

The second rule of Cold Sheep: Knit and spin from the stash. No feeling guilty about the stuff you don’t like anymore either. Knitting For Cold Sheep | withwool.com

There’s one other project on the current WIP list, this Garterlac Kitchen Towel. It’s an upsized version of the Garterlac Dishcloth with a few other mods for easy knitting. I couldn’t decide if I liked the size 7.5 rows in and promptly ignored it for a couple of months. I even stole the needles for another project. A knit the stash rule also means that I don’t have to finish WIP’s that I don’t love anymore. Garterlac ended up making the list and will be perfect for tv knitting.  

There’s one other benefit to the knit/spin the stash rule. If I’m not going to use it, I don’t have to keep it or guilt myself into working with yarn I don’t like. I haven’t gone through the stash in years and I’m sure there’s more than a few skeins that won’t make the cut. Maybe even more then I expect. I’m not looking forward to culling the stash, but I do want a 100% knit-worthy one. 

Now I’m Really Finished With Tour de Fleece

I finished plying the last of my handspun and set the twist the week after the Tour ended. Now I’m Really Finished With Tour de Fleece | withwool.com

My spinning wheel and I spent a lot of time together last week as I finished plying my Tour de Fleece yarn. Glad I did too because, not only did I free up all my bobbins, I added some lovely new yarn to my stash. This Tour de Fleece handspun has really taken the edge off going Cold Sheep last month. 23 days and counting…

After the plying, it was time to set the twist for every skein. All the yarn got the same treatment. First, a 15+ minute soak in cool water with Eucalan. Second, squeezing out as much water by hand as possible and snapping the skeins over my forearms. Third, wrapping the yarn in a towel and squishing out even more water. Next time I’ll snap the yarns after the towel step because I was uniformly damp after finishing 9 skeins. I skipped thwacking them against the wall this time to keep a smooth surface. The last step was hanging them up to dry. The wait is usually the hardest part of the whole process, but washing before bed meant the yarn was dry and squish-able when I woke up the next day. 

I finished plying the last of my handspun and set the twist the week after the Tour ended. Now I’m Really Finished With Tour de Fleece | withwool.com
I finished plying the last of my handspun and set the twist the week after the Tour ended. Now I’m Really Finished With Tour de Fleece | withwool.com

What started as 5 oz of BFL from Greenwood Fiberworks turned into ~500 yards of sport weight yarn. I put a lot of Z twist into these singles and plied them with S twist to match. Fresh off the bobbins, all 5 skeins were closer to fingering weight. Soaking during finishing gave them a good plump body that I can’t wait to use for a hat. 

I finished plying the last of my handspun and set the twist the week after the Tour ended. Now I’m Really Finished With Tour de Fleece | withwool.com
I finished plying the last of my handspun and set the twist the week after the Tour ended. Now I’m Really Finished With Tour de Fleece | withwool.com

The 2-ply grey and mini batt yarn changed too. It bulked up to about 8 WPI and is firmly in the aran - bulky range after finishing. There are a few thick and thin in spots but those only add to its charm. Before going into the water, this yarn could have been described as lustrous. Washing the yarn relaxed the wool and gave the yarn a more rustic matte surface. All the glorious, out-of-my-comfort-zone color is still there though.

I finished plying the last of my handspun and set the twist the week after the Tour ended. Now I’m Really Finished With Tour de Fleece | withwool.com

It’s been years since I’ve worried about screwing up my spinning. When you spin without an end project in mind, you get awesome yarn no matter how you spin. The other Tour de Fleece yarns only had loose goals attached to them - they’d a success no matter how they turned out. These two skeins of sock yarn were different. They needed to match, have stripes, be fingering weight, and have at least 500 yards between them. The skeins do match and I’ll probably see some mottled stripes when I start knitting. Instead of 500+ yards of opposing ply fingering weight, I’ve got about 330 yards of sport weight. I really need to start sampling before spinning half a pound of fiber. Live and learn. 

I finished plying the last of my handspun and set the twist the week after the Tour ended. Now I’m Really Finished With Tour de Fleece | withwool.com

I can accept those differences and still make the knitting work. What I was really worried about was mucking up the plying. It was so hard to evenly tension the yarn because of the opposing ply. I wasn’t sure if the yarn had too much twist or too little. I couldn’t tell if the S twist ply was joining well with the 2 Z twisted plies. Setting the twist was the only way to know for sure. 

I was definitely relieved when I got my hands on the dry yarn. Both skeins are still kinked up with twist, but much less after going in the water. All the plies seem to be working well together too. Still, these skeins definitely weren’t my best attempt at plying, nor did they meet all my goals. I can still knit with the yarn though which counts as a successful spin to me.       

I finished plying the last of my handspun and set the twist the week after the Tour ended. Now I’m Really Finished With Tour de Fleece | withwool.com

Frustration aside, I’m happy with everything that I spun during Tour de Fleece and the next week. All the yarn is beautiful and oh so tempting. There is, however, one difference between this Tour de Fleece and previous years. I have plans and projects for everything I’ve spun. The ombre bundle is going to be a stocking hat. The colorful, bulky 2-ply is going to be a Myndie shawl. The sock yarn is going to be socks of course. Feels good to have a plan for this 1000+ yards that I’ve spun. Also feels pretty good to know that I can spin that much in a month when I want to. Now I’m off to knit and start my next spinning project.

Another Successful Tour de Fleece

I didn’t finish all of Tour de Fleece spinning, but the past 3 weeks have been a great success. Plus I got great yarn out of it. Another Successful Tour de Fleece | withwool.com

I started Tour de Fleece this summer after a long spinning drought. I had set up my wheel and cleaned it, but never picked out anything to spin. Something else always came up. The daily spinning challenge that is Tour de Fleece turned out to be just what I needed to get moving again. I’ve spun for the Tour every year since 2012 and I wasn’t going to skip this one. Three weeks later I’d spun a pound of fiber into 3 skeins of yarn - with leftover minis - and drafted the plies for 5 more skeins. I won’t have a tallied yardage count until after the plying is done, but I’ve got at least 500 yards. Might even have another 500 by the time I’m done.

I picked three projects to spin. A set of mini batts, 2 matching skeins of sock yarn, and an ombre bundle. I didn’t spin every riding day of the Tour, but I finished everything except for plying the bundle. And here I thought I was going to have to pull more stuff out of the stash. Even though I didn’t finish everything on my list, I’m calling Tour de Fleece a success simply because it got me spinning again. The dry spell is over and I’m ready for making yarn to be a regular part of routine again. 

I didn’t finish all of Tour de Fleece spinning, but the past 3 weeks have been a great success. Plus I got great yarn out of it. Another Successful Tour de Fleece | withwool.com

First up is finishing the ombre bundle from Greenwood Fiberworks. When I bought the kit, I thought I’d make one long striped single. Instead, I’m making my own mini-skein kit. I love the colors and will get exactly the kind of yarn I want. I’m aiming for a fingering to sport weight 2-ply and enough yardage to make an extra long stocking cap. Let the winding and plying begin. Then it’ll be time to set the twist on all this yarn with one big washing party.