Category Archives: Five for Friday

Favorite Past Posts

For the final day of Wool Durham Reader Appreciation Week, I thought I’d list a few of the posts from the blog’s first year that have attracted the most interest. Some of these are from the very early days of the blog and many of you who are reading it now may have missed them.

1. Cool Tools: Accordion File as Circular Needle Case

I discuss and show pictures of how to use your label maker and a simple store-bought file to make a circular needle organizer.

2. Classic Knitting Books I Never Tire Of

A few of my favorite books. I think I could add a lot more to this!

3. Five Great Craft Store Yarns

Because you can’t always make it to the LYS. This post is US-focused.

4. Five Ways to Get Craft Books Cheap or Free

Self-explanatory from title. :)

5. Places to Get Yarn Cheap

I guess my bargain hunting tendency is starting to show, no?

I hope you enjoy these links! Have a great weekend and don’t forget to enter the giveaway drawing by Monday.

Sock Fail (and a yarn identity crisis)

Sometimes in life you just have to know when to quit.  I find many of the toughest decisions I face in this regard on a day-to-day basis surface in my knitting, and my latest sock project is no exception.

With the Black Socks all wrapped up, I eagerly cast on for a new bright sock in some Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 yarn that I’ve had for awhile.  I love the color and the yarn feels great in the skein. What could go wrong? I should have known, however, that you can’t really know what fabric a yarn will produce until you’re looking at the product or, in this case, touching the product.

It turns out that Merino 2/6 is some pretty dense stuff. Though it is very smooth and silky, it is NOT lofty. The fibers are tightly packed. For my sock project, this meant two things: the sock seemed to be knitting up at much too big a gauge, despite sizing down my needles twice, and it seemed much heavier than a sock should.  None of this is apparent by looking at the few inches of sock cuff I worked, but were you here to feel it, you would notice right away what I am talking about.

"Don't judge me by appearance alone."

After noodling this issue about in my mind during the weekend, it is clear to me that this yarn does not want to become socks.  The question remains, however, what would be the right project for this stuff?

Keeping in mind that the yardage here is a shortish 382 yds, here are the contenders so far:

  • Annis – a crescent-shaped lace shawlette
  • Ginkgo Shoulderette - a triangle shawlette
  • EZ’s baby surprise sweater to be set aside for use as a gift

I’m leaning toward the Annis shawl. I think the density of this yarn might give the Annis a really nice drape.  While I weigh this important decision, I’m working instead on a different new sock that is working out perfectly. I’ll show you tomorrow.

Five for Friday: Indispensible Tools

My knitting habits go through lots of phases. Sometimes I only want to knit lace. Or cables. Or colors. There was a period in the early 1990s when I only wanted to knit intarsia (whew! glad that passed!). In all this change that fashions and fads bring about, however, the tools I find useful for my knitting project stay fairly consistent.  Here’s a look at the five constants in my knitting toolkit that I would have a hard time going without.

1. Ruler/Gauge Checker/Needle Sizer

It wasn’t easy, but I long ago learned my lesson(s) about checking gauge. This inexpensive plastic gauge checker admittedly isn’t much to look at, but I like that it has a little two-inch window in the corner that helps you see the stitches. And I’m constantly rechecking the size of my small gauge dpns, which often have no printed size due to their narrowness (or the fact that it wore off years ago).

2. Muji Rounded Point Scissors

I love these little scissors so much I even blogged about them once already!  This is my second pair, the first having been confiscated by a particularly zealous airport security staffperson at the Hong Kong airport a few years back. Lesson learned: Do not try to carry these on a plane in Asia.

3. Sticky Notes

I picked up these pretty blue ones as part of a set at Anthropologie.  I find sticky notes to be quite useful for making notes about pattern mods, keeping tally of pattern repeats, marking rows in charts and so on.

4. Hand Cream

Knitting with dry, chapped hands is no fun. I look for travel size hand creams I can keep right in my little toolbag with the knitting stuff so it’s always accessible. This one is from Lollia in the scent called Wish. According to my husband, it is “stinky” when applied in the car, but generally I think it smells like oranges and vanilla.

5. Crochet Hook

These have quite a few uses that have nothing to do with crocheting!  Of course, you can use them for the world’s best provisional cast on method. They are also handy for picking up dropped stitches and weaving in ends.

I keep these five things, along with a little skein of scrap yarn, a pen, some safety pins, and a few stitch markers in the silver mesh zipper case pictured, which makes them easy to find in my knitting bag.  Just these few objects go such a long way toward improving my knitting experience!

So, readers, what tools do you have to have in your knitting bags?

Five for Friday: Spring Sock Fever

I’m not sure how this happened, but I’m on a total sock knitting bender lately!

I love how socks are a great way to try out patterns and colors that I might not attempt for bigger garments. They are *just enough* of whatever lace/cable/bright color I choose. And when the knitting is over they are a useful warm garment that I actually can’t just find a reasonable imitation of for a pittance at the local H&M or Old Navy (unlike some sweaters, I’m sorry to say).

My newest sock in progress

Fortunately, since the last time I went on a sock bender there has been a total explosion of great patterns for socks, many of them free.  Here are links to a few of my current favorites.

1. Ariana Socks by Quietish (Ravelry link)

Cables + lace + free pattern = awesome. I love the color of the sample in the photo too.

2. Honeybee Socks by Stephanie Van der Linden

This free sock pattern, available only as a free Ravelry download, is available in English and German. It features a cute openwork lace pattern, perfect for spring.

3. Paisley Socks by Verybusymonkey

I’m a sucker that has anything to do with paisley. The paisley here is mostly in name, but these have a nice looking lacy pattern to them. The pattern is a Ravelry pdf download available for the affordable (I think) price of $3.

4. Salida by Janneke Maat of Helygen Celli (Ravelry link)

These socks have a delicate and pretty cable pattern. Download the pattern free at the designer’s website or on Ravelry.

5. Sacre Du Printemps by Caoua Coffee

According to the pattern description, these socks, named after the Stravinsky ballet, picture “the cracking earth with the first sprouts emerging and at the same time you can imagine an intertwining whirlwind of dance.” They feature a feminine leafy cable and unusual ribbed toes. Get the free download via Ravelry.

If your sock yarn bin looks anything like mine (ie. it’s overflowing) then you can get started on some of these right away.  Anyone having trouble finding sock yarn?  Doubt it, but just in case, I may talk about sock yarn next Friday.

Five for Friday is a series of (mostly) weekly posts to highlight five favorite fiber-related links or items I’d like to share with my readers. Got an idea/request for a future feature? Email me or post to the comments.

Five for Friday: Fun Ravelry Features

I don’t know about the rest of you, but my knitting life completely changed with the arrival of Ravelry.  If  any of you readers are not yet members of this fantastic FREE social networking community for knitters, crocheters, and spinners, I don’t quite understand what you’re thinking. You should go sign up and then come back.

So we’re all registered then? Good. For today’s Friday list, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite little Ravelry features. If you are a true Ravelry ninja, some of these might not seem all that exciting to you. However, I’ve noticed that different people use the site in very different ways and maybe my list will lead you to something new. That is my hope.

1. Find knitters who live near you (or who think like you)

Clicking on the “People” page in your Ravelry account will automatically show you a list of other knitters in the system who share your taste in patterns—scroll down if you don’t see it right away.  As long as you have saved some favorites and rated some patterns along the way, this feature works really well! Disturbingly well!  Interested in finding others in your area who like to knit or crochet? Click on the “advanced search” link under the People page search bar and the system will find knitters in your town. Click from the search options on the left side to control the distance from your town to search.

2. Make a Pattern Wish List

This is a great feature if you like to participate in swaps, have a lot of knitting friends, or just want to keep track of patterns in Ravelry you are planning to eventually buy.  To add a pattern to your wishlist, go to the pattern page and press the button to add it to your queue.  In the dialog box that pops up, check “add to wishlist.”  The Wish List will appear as a special tab on your Queue page.

3. Find great patterns to use up odd amounts of yarn

Stumped about how to use that last 150 yards of yarn you have leftover from a big project?  Go to the “patterns” section of the advanced search page (get there by clicking on the magnifying glass icon on the far right tab of any page).  Scroll halfway down the page and select your yardage and yarn weight from the boxes. Voila! A list of patterns that take just your amount of yarn! You can even choose for the search to only show you patterns that are free and/or downloadable so neither timing nor budget will hold you back.

4. Create a spreadsheet of your stash

If you have recorded your yarn stash on the “stash” page in your account, did you know Ravelry will export the contents to a neat Excel sheet for you?  Go to your stash page and look for the green and white Excel logo button in the upper right corner.  From the sheet, it is a cinch (a very HUMBLING cinch, in my case…cough cough)  to calculate the total weight, yardage, and number of skeins in your stash.  Gulp. Might not want to do this too often…

5. Eavesdrop on the latest forum posts

Ravelry lets you watch in real time as people across the whole community post to the forums.  You never know what you might find there! You could discover a friendly new group.  To get there, click on the “Forums” tab on the top of your screen and click on the “radar” tab that appears toward the right side of the page that appears.

As you can see, if you didn’t already know, Ravelry can offer knitters nearly endless really cool diversions.  Got other interesting ways you like to use the site?  Please share in the comments so we can all try.

Five for Friday is a series of (mostly) weekly posts to highlight five favorite fiber-related links or items I’d like to share with my readers. Got an idea/request for a future feature? Email me or post to the comments.