Time flies….when you’re not having fun

We are now in our peak daily cases of the pandemic. Spring has sprung but it all feels grim and scary right now. Our public health officials are rolling out vaccine as fast as possible, but of course it isn’t fast enough. I would be ecstatic if I could get an appointment right now, but I still have a few weeks to wait. It has been draining and depressing.

On top of that, my other work called to me and I became buried in a blizzard of papers and receipts and attempting to create order from chaos. This meant 6 day weeks and working till at least 11pm every night. Contributing to draining and depressing.

Then the socks. They look amazing. The pattern is great and I’m unhappy. I haven’t pulled the trigger to publish because the pattern isn’t perfect. I didn’t have an eye of partridge heel standard section so had to write one (to create the standard section). It was hard, my way of doing it requires knowledge, I ellide over instructions, and all in all make it inpenetrable for a beginner sock maker or for someone who doesn’t do heels frequently and feels super confident with them. Now I am noodling and procrastinating. So today is the day. I’m just going to publish, with all my irritations about heels still there. Because pursuit of perfection is actually putting me off achieving anything right now.

The Fireweed socks are beautiful – look at that heel! I hope you enjoy the pattern! The delay was solely due to me getting in my own way. You can find the links to download on my pattern page.

Weekly update 15 March 2021

yarn on a bed of eucalyptus

It’s been a lovely week of daffodils and springtime and hope. Our public health officer is letting groups of up to 10 (has to be the same people each time) gather on back decks and in parks. My Mum had her first shot moved up and got her first dose yesterday. Our vaccination schedule is moving a little faster than anticipated. All in all a time of great hope and excitement. The fly in the ointment is the clocks going back. But for once it has lined up beautifully and it is spring break so we didn’t have to get up at truly unpleasant o’clock.

Today’s spring break activity is creating stories based on the vast Lego Hogwarts that was been built over the Winter on a table downstairs. Nutmeg and her friend are hard at work spinning tales of magic and mystery while the two cats look on bemused. There will be french toast and raspberries for lunch and it will be a good day.

Knitting wise I’m expecting to finish the fireweed sock today or tomorrow and publish the pattern by the end of the week. Then it’s on to the Bad Hair Day Hat and Mme Vastra’s gloves. Then two more socks and a wrap. The big project coming up for publication later in the year (September/October) is a Minoan inspired sweater. But March is a month of taxes and being buried in work from my other life and sometimes I want to do a pattern that I don’t have to work out and write and plan. The pattern that I’ll be starting for March and posting updates on as I work through it is the Rheinlust shawl by Melanie Berg. I’m doing it in a lovely colourway from Songbird fibres called European Starling. This one is going to be exciting!

No time for knitting

knitted patchwork blanket in progress

I’ve had no time to knit and I hate it. It affects everything.

I put on tomato soup in our instant pot for dinner and was making a much bigger batch than I’d ever made before. Somehow I set the delayed start but thought it was actually going to take 6 hours to cook! Mad panic while I searched around for another meal to make. Finished that, realised the mistake and made tomato soup as well. Utterly exhausted from it. No time for knitting.

Boxes of client paperwork, confusion over allocations of expenses and trying to get people up to date for tax filings. A day of zoom meetings. Exhausted. Collapse into a bath and then bed. No time for knitting.

Wake up this morning, appalling headache right behind my right eye. Drugs, back to bed, get to a place where I can function. I still have lots of paperwork.

Will there be time for knitting?

There needs to be. I need to read books and I need to knit for my own well being. It is the cheapest most enjoyable form of therapy for me. Not just the designing a pattern or poring over websites and books looking at other people’s patterns and finished works. The physical act of knitting, of moving my hands, of feeling yarn move through my fingers and watching something come together is incredibly rewarding. Like reading where I am escaping into another world in a book, I find knitting restorative. So even if I can’t get a good long stretch of an hour or three in, I need to knit for twenty minutes (a meditation time) just to maintain.

I’m sure other people have this problem too. No time for knitting, especially if it is complex lace repeats where one repeat might take an hour to do. Or a large jumper where you aren’t really moving forward on and don’t want to stop at a funny point.

Even worse are the smaller projects. I think of socks in sections and can’t put them down until a section is finished – top, leg, heel, foot, toe. Most of which are going to take more that twenty minutes when knitting time is scarce.

Solutions!

Leftover sock yarn dragon scales blankets. This has two benefits. You can make a single scale and feel like you achieved something, you are using up little bits of leftover sock yarn and tidying your stash while making something. I have a whole bag where little bits of sock yarn go just for this purpose.

The other solution I have is granny squares. Make a crochet granny square and move on with the rest of your busy life.

Eventually you’ll have finished a large project that kept you sane while you were making it.

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
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.