Fireweed socks

This pattern just took so much longer than I would have liked. But the final pair of test knits is done and I just have a pair to do for photos. This means Fireweed Socks are actually getting published in March 2021.

The final pattern includes three sizes, and some handy hints for making more sizes for extra narrow or extra wide feet. I’ve detailed two heel types, both a traditional eye of partridge heel and a German short row heel. The socks are top down with a wedge toe and kitchener stitch to finish.

Fireweed (Chamerion Angustifolium) is native to North America and you might see it if you are out hiking in British Columbia. It’s a lovely plant with very pretty pink or purple flowers. Look for it at the edges of woodland. My pattern uses the spikiness of the leaves for inspiration.

fireweed stem seed
Photo from Ediblewildfood.com

I’ve used Knit Picks Capretta Superwash and Koigu KPM wool to make these socks but you can use any sock wool that you like working with. The pattern is very textured and subtle so works best with a solid or semi solid yarn colourway. This is a great unisex sock to knit and is a very simple repeat.

Please check out the patterns page for where to purchase from. Pattern release is set for 17 March 2021

Moss or Seed stitch review

Metamorphic stone in Gros Morne Park

I love the look and feel of moss stitch. I love the drape it gives fabric. It’s amazing as and edging on blankets and is the perfect stitch for tea towels and dishcloths. Unfortunately it’s a stitch that a lot of knitters hate to use. Me too! I love everything about it except physically knitting it. In my perfect world I could hand over unfinished pieces to the knitting pixies and receive perfect moss stitch back the next morning. All for a little milk and honey. It would be a bargain I’d happily make. Sadly those pixies haven’t yet graced my house.

In the meantime I’ve been on a quest for a moss stitch fake, the mythical lichen stitch, which won’t hurt my hands. It needs to have the look and feel of moss stitch but doesn’t move the yarn back and forth, back and forth, back and forth until you are bored to tears and in pain.

Experiment No. 1 – actual moss stitch

I use a cheats moss. I cast on an uneven number of stitches and then row 1: k1, p1 repeat to end and turn work. Row2: k1, p1 repeat to end and turn work. Continue this way till the will to knit leaves you. I did 10 rows of 33 stitches in a cotton DK yarn from Paintbox on 4mm US 6 needles. Yes it looks great, yes it drapes great, yup that’s about as much of that as I care to do. If you need perfect moss stitch, then this is the technique I recommend.

Recommended when only the original will do. Coping techniques: get comfortable in a chair, put on something interesting to watch or listen to and work in short burst with frequent breaks.

Experiment No. 2 – Faux moss stitch

I was very excited to try this one. Pictures online look like moss stitch, perhaps this is the easy answer to my quest? No. It’s not. The yarn still moves back and forth, back and forth, ad nauseam. This stitch must be done over an even number of stitches. Instead of the k1, p1 repeat you are k1, slip one with yarn in front, then k1, effectively you don’t purl you slip a stitch which will be knitted on the next row. But you still need to move the yarn from the back of your work to the front and then back again. I found this stitch incredibly irritating. I think it was the disappointment of realizing it didn’t fix the problems of hand pain, but I am stuggling to understand the merits of this stitch over a traditional moss. The hand movement is the same, it’s slightly more complicated and the weave of finish product isn’t quite as good. For my money it’s all round inferior.

Not recommended.

Experiment No. 3 – Norwegian purl and Russian prul

Oooh, this looks great! Why haven’t I done it this way before? Ah, yes, continental knitting. I knit English style. Bugger! If you are a continental knitter, then this is a great way to do moss stitch. If you are an English style knitter, problems. My tension for continental knitting is all over the show and it feels peculiar, like I am a beginning knitter who doesn’t have a comfortable feel on their needles yet. If you don’t knit at all, then think about continental knitting. If you are prepared to put the work in to switch styles I can see this working really well and resolving the hand pain issue. But I found Norwegian purl a bit counterintuitive. Further research revealed the Russsian purl technique. The Russian technique worked for my brain and made me strongly consider putting some work in on continental knitting style so that I was fluent and comfortable with it.

Recommendation. Great if you already knit continental style. Look no further, your moss stitch needs have been met. If you knit English style then you can put in the work to learn fluency in continental style knitting and either switch or become fully bi-knitual in both styles. It will be personal preference as to which purl style works best for you. For me it was Russian purl all the way.

Experiment No. 4 – Granite stitch

Oh help! I think I’ve run out of knitting stitches to try and I really want a replacement. Let’s think a bit outside the box. Bear with me. Crochet. Granite stitch. Yes, it looks great and very much like moss stitch and provides a similar drape. Bonus, easy on the hands and will work perfectly for a piece that is purely moss stitch or in this case granite stitch such as a tea towel or a dish cloth.

Recommendation. If you knit English style and don’t want to do continental style then this is the perfect solution for the tea towel, dish cloth needs. It will also work for blanket borders. Finish the knit and then add a granite stitch crochet border.

I haven’t yet tried a project that has some moss stitch throughout and using the granite stitch interspersed with my knitted stitches. I suspect that with a small amount of moss stitch I would just do the traditional moss rather than switch crafts and needles for hooks etc.

If anyone out there has a suggestion or a recommendation on an alternative to moss stitch, let me know! Email me alexandra@kororaknits.ca or hit me up on twitter @KororaK and I’ll happily try out your suggestion and report back.

In the meantime happy crocheting as a solution to your knitting needs!

New yarn

yarn

Serendipity!

My beautiful yarn from The Blue Brick arrived today. I bought it on pre-order as a total impulse buy and I’m so pleased I did.

The colourway is called Ireland and it is intended as a shawl for my mother. Having the yarn arrive on the day that we find out she is getting her vaccine dose on St Patrick’s Day is just perfect.

This yarn is a blend of merino, cashmere and silk and has been hand painted to get the amazing tones you can see. I’ve got 1000 yards in a fingering weight. This will be a late spring/early summer 2021 knit.

I know it will be a lace wrap, but shape and design are currently up in the air!

It’s going to be a lovely spring!

Garden of snowdrops

It’s March 2021 and it is definitely going better than last year. Lots of good news today and a whole lot of stuff going on. Here’s a quick update from me on what to expect this month.

My mum is now booked for her first dose of a vaccine. It’s on March 17th. We’re taking it as an auspicious date for someone of Irish descent. It’s going to be a grand St Patrick’s Day.

Meanwhile the very lovely Hanna Germander has put me down as the featured designer of the month on her blog. I’m dead chuffed. Check it out below!

https://www.germandercottagecrafts.co.uk/www.germandercottagecrafts.co.uk/blog

Unfortunately I’m super busy with some other work and so my knitting is on a full back burner for the month of March. I do expect to have a couple of interesting posts up though.

First up: I’ve been trying out a bunch of faux moss stitches and will have a full report on those. I’m thinking of calling them lichen stitches. I love moss stitch but it does hurt my hands and I know it hurts other people as well. So anything that gives the appearance without the pain is a good thing!

Then I’m doing a long post or two on sock heels. Only two kinds, traditional heel using either eye of partridge or slip stitches and my beloved German short rows. I’m going to look at the math behind them and how you can adjust the basic formula to a sock of any size. Even a giant Christmas stocking if you want!

Finally I’m determined to get my Fireweed sock pattern out this month after a couple of false starts.

Check back in every couple of days for updates. Send me ideas for things you’d like to see in the coming months!

Getting my knitting mojo back

Today the wood duck socks fly away to their forever home, where I know they will be treasured.

I’ve been in a bit of funk throughout the winter. COVID distancing, plus grey skies and wet make me take a bunch of duvets days. I felt uninspired to work on any knitting and certainly not on any patterns that I have in development. My only bright spot was I had the crochet Persian Blanket keeping me going.

But….I needed to get my knitting mojo back. The answer was plain vanilla socks in a riot of colours. They are mismatched/matched and I love them. There’s an order to songbirdfibres in my near future for more yarn. I’m loving the matched/mismatched nature of these socks and they were great fun to knit. Taking them off after the photos was hard!

If you need to get your knitting mojo or any crafting mojo back, maybe do a simple project that is just fun and makes you smile when you pick it up.

Persian tiles completed!

Detail on crochet tile

The Persian Tiles crochet blanket is finally done.

By the numbers:

  • 1 false start with wrong colours
  • 10 days waiting because I misjudged the amount of teal and blue wool needed
  • 2 seasons of The Mentalist watched
  • Approx 100 hours of time spent
  • Approx 3000 yards of wool
  • At least 6 new skills learnt
  • 3 errors n the final piece. Which I am happy about. 1 will never be noticed, 1 was deliberate (I like an error that shows it is homemade) and 1 that was a genuine error. Non of them detract from the final piece at all.
  • Enormous satisfaction in finished product.

I learnt a great deal about crochet in this project. I also learnt a lot about pattern writing for someone who doesn’t necessarily have all the skills but wants to learn and just needs a little extra explanation in the pattern. I can definitely use this in my knitting patterns going forward.

I liked the project so much that there’s going to be more crochet in my future. Even if it’s only a border on a knitted shawl. The finished blanket is shown below after being steamed and blocked and is everything I hoped it would be. Prior to this I’d only ever done a crochet dishcloth! So feel free to try a ‘harder’ pattern. It is perfectly possible to create something amazing with a little patience and willingness to learn the new skills.

It’s so close (Persian Tiles)

My crochet experiment is nearly over. In the above photo you can see all the tiles laid out to double check everything was done. I am tickled that the Persian Tiles afghan is lying on my Turkish rug, but it is a busy photo! You’re seeing the afghan before blocking, borders and the crocheting together.

I’ve seen tiles in mosques in Turkey and Jordan. When the afghan is laid out I am transported to those buildings with their extraordinary and intricately tiled walls. I’m delighted with the way it has turned out.

Now I have a crochet pattern percolating in my head, which has come as a huge surprise to me. I love that I’ve been inspired by someone else’s pattern to create my own. It’s what makes doing fiber arts so fulfilling for me. I’m always hopeful that my own work will inspire someone else to think that they can give knitting a go and take them in a new direction.

In the next and final installment of Persian Tiles, I’ll be able to show the finished product, which will also show exactly how vital blocking your work is.

Plain Vanilla socks

Sometimes when I’m designing a sock I get all up in the complexity of something new or different. But when you start knitting socks a basic sock with a stocking stitch is a really good place to start and also provides you with a great hardwearing sock.

I have been trying to finish my Persian Tiles afghan but have been stymied while I wait for a little bit of additional wool. It’s been frustrating as all I want to do is finish the afghan and put it together and then be gleeful about it. Instead I’m looking at a half finished triangle mournfully. So I tried to pick up a different project. But nothing was appealing to me. I have 5 projects on needles and not one was speaking to me. I needed something I wanted to do that wouldn’t take very long. Vanilla socks to the rescue!

I petted the yarn in my stash and found some lovebird yarn. Two small skeins dyed in wood duck colours. One male (so bright, so colourful!) one female (muted browns) but with brilliant pops of pink and blue. Aha! So I am doing two socks. One female with a male heel and one male with a female heel. As I’m knitting I’m remembering that sometimes you want a plain pattern that shows your yarn off to amazing effect.

The yarn is from the amazing Songbird Fibres. I’m halfway through sock 1 and can’t wait to see what happens with sock 2.

Far over the misty mountains cold

I got this beautiful yarn for Christmas from Dragon Hoard Yarns as an advent calendar. It took me this long to take a photo and stop admiring them. I’ve added them to the hoard while I work out what will show these glorious skeins off to their best advantages. In the meantime I’ll just take them out of hoard and murmur my precious over them occasionally.

For yarn dyers out there. Please do yarn advent calendars. I am ready to impulse buy all of them (budget allowing).

Persian Tiles #2

I’m really enjoying this piece of work. It is finally coming together and I can see the end. I worked the first tile through and learnt along the way. Then 15 tiles with each round done at the same time. Here’s the progress breakdown.

You can see the first 4 rounds completed here. It looks pretty messy, but I was just happy that I’d worked out how to do the triple crochet. New skills! After this, things slowed down. The rounds got bigger and those fans take a lot longer than I thought they would.

Next blue and another new skill with the triple crochet together. Look at all those yarn ends though.

Once I’d done the fan section I was drowning in yarn ends. So I spent New Years Eve happily with a glass or two of wine and sewing them in and snipping them off. The final pile was very satisfying and I say this a someone who hates the instruction weave in ends. Worst part of a project always. But practically painless for this one.

And here’s where I’ve gotten to.  Too bright you say – hah!  Just wait.  It’ll be glorious. At the top is the 1 finished tile. In the middle the tiles with the darkest teal and at the bottom the tiles awaiting darkest teal. Will update once I get to the navy and white rounds. So close!