Monday, June 29, 2015

Knitting socks

Hello everyone,

I know I have told this story maybe too many times, but here it comes again ;)
Last October, my family and I traveled to Finland to meet Veera and her family.  We had to do a photoshoot for our second collection, Interpretations 2, and we decided to get to know their country and do the photos there.

We had a wonderfully amazing time.  Just imagine and Argentine family living for a week in Finland's countryside.  Everything was just magical.  And so one day Veera told me she and I were signed up for a sock class one of her friends was teaching in town.  We drove to this sweet cottage (or villas, I don't know the exact term for their beautiful wooden houses) in the middle of the woods, and we enjoyed a wonderful evening learning how to make socks by the candle lights.

I had learned previously how to make them (like 9 years ago I made 2 pairs), but I had no idea what I was doing when I took this short class.  I took some notes in a tiny notebook I was carrying with me, and I started to make my so-called first pair of socks.  

For these ones, I don't have many notes...  I just wrote down that I CO 56 st, and I think I should have CO 48 or even maybe less than that.   But I adored them.  SO MUCH!  They were really special to me.  For the 'body' of the sock, I used Cascade 220 in a heathered gray colorway that Veera kindly 'borrowed' me (like I was going to give it back to her, right?)... And for the toes I went bright and I used Madelinetosh Tosh DK in Chamomile colorway.

OK, and these were my notes, check it out: they are very impressive ;)

It's the evening already, so the colors are home are tinted by winter lights...

So (if anyone is interested to know), what I think I did with these ones was:
Using 3.5mm needles, I CO (using a cable CO probably?) 56 st, and then worked for about an inch in 2x2 ribbing.  Then I continued with the 'leg' pattern, which was the same ribbing, but interrupted by a 'purl to end' row every... maybe 4 or 5 rows.
When the leg was long enough (and this is where the notes came in handy) I worked the heel flap:
1 (RS): K 28 (and kept working only over half the stitches)
2 (WS): (Sl1, p1) 14 times.
And then repeated rows 1 and 2 13 more times (so I needed to have as many rows as stitches I had on my heel flap).
Then I had to do the short-row thingy you do to shape the bottom of the heel flap correctly.  So:
1 (RS): K20, ssk, turn work.
So, let's see what I understand happened here (remember my teacher was Finnish and she spoke Finnish most of the time, so I felt a bit embarrassed to ask too many questions).  I think you need to leave 25% of the stitches unworked before getting to the end of the row, right? So that would be 7 stitches.  But then I have to knit the first of these 7 stitches together with the last stitch from the row I am working (if that makes sense).  So let's say I had to knit 21 st and leave 7 st unworked, I worked a ssk and joined together the st number 21 and the 1st st of the remaining 7 st.
2 (WS): P1, (sl1, p1) 6 times (13 st worked), p2tog, turn work.
Here happens the same thing.  I need to leave 7 st unworked on the other end of the heel flap.  I have 21 st on my needle after turning on the previous row, so I will join st number 14 with the 1st of the remaining 7 st.
3 (RS): Knit until you find that ssk you had work on row 1, remember?  Do not knit it!  Work a ssk with the following st from that segment you had left unworked.
4 (WS): P1 (sl1, p1) until you find that p2tog you had worked on row 2 and purl it with the following st.
And then continue to repeat rows 3 and 4 until you have used up all st from the segments at each end.
When I finished my heel, I worked a RS row, and then I picked up 1 st from every 2 rows of the side of the heel flap, then I worked over the st of the lef I had put on hold, and then I picked up the same amount of stitches from the other side.  This brought me to a total of stitches I don't really remember, but I think I had to decrease about 6 st on each side to get back to my original 56 st count to work the rest of the foot.

Yeah, they were really big...
So then I worked the foot until I considered it long enough, changed colors, and then divided the stitches in 2 halves.  I worked one decrease on each side of each half until I had left about 10 st on each half.  Then I grafted both halves together and voilá!
I am proud to say that I gave my first pair of socks as a gift to the person who introduced me to this lovely technique again: Veera.  Hope she's enjoying them!  (See?  I did give the yarn back to her!)

So after these were done I was kind of hooked with it, so I decided to make a second pair ❤️.

These socks are so dear to me. They took a while to make cause they were on hold for several months, but they are also reminder of my trip to Finland.
The yarn I used is made by one of Finland’s most famous dyers, Knitlob's Lair, and it is called Väinämöinen Sport.  The colorway is called Tammi.
It was gifted by my friend Tiina, who owns a yarn store in Jyväskylä called Titityy. As soon as I arrived home I felt this urge to keep the memories of Finland alive by knitting with this extraordinary colorway something cheerful and totally not related to work. The socks were put on hold during my Argentine summer (and fall, which is also really warm), but winter stroke a couple of weeks ago and I quickly finished them in order to wear them as soon as possible. 
For these, I more or less did the same (I am so damn original)...  I CO 48 st on 3 mm needles (see?  they fit a tiny bit better, hehe), and I work for about 4 cm of 2x2 ribbing.
Then I decided to work a faux cable, which is done by breaking the ribbing: work 4 rows in regular ribbing.  On the 5th row: K1, yo, k1, p2.  On the 6th row: K3, slip the 1st st over the other 2, p2.  And then you just repeat that..
When I got to the heel, I worked it over half the stitches (so that's 24).  And for the short row thingy, since I had to leave 25% of the st unworked at each side: k17, ssk, turn... and on the WS row: P1, (sl1, p1) 5 times, p2tog.  Then everything else I did exactly as for the previous one, only using fewer stitches.  
I just love them.  I know, socks?  Really Joji?  Are you just going to knit socks?  Well no, I am going to knit socks only every now and then, but I am thoroughly enjoying these!

So what happens when you finish a pair of socks?  Apparently you feel compelled to start another one.  Who would've guessed...
In Argentina, people don’t usually take their shoes off when they get into their homes. We stay with our shoes on all day long, while working, cleaning, cooking, chilling, studying… It’s just the costum here, and the way we were all brought up.
I have been thinking lately, however, that everyone at my house gets really annoyed with shoes. I personally struggle to find shoes that are comfortable, and I have such chubby feet that everything is usually tight. And so do my children. The moment they get inside and take a break from whatever they are doing to chill… They just take their shoes off and kick them anywhere.
So today we were talking about it, and we decided we are going to start taking our shoes off as soon as we get inside too, like most other people do around the world. I have a feeling that will help my kids be happier and keep their shoes always at the door (which will make their mother happy too).
Anyway! As first step I tell Nano ‘Look, see? Mommy has hand-knit socks, so it’s alright. I can do it too’… And he sais ‘Oh! Those look so cozy and warm!’
So here I am, casting on a pair of hand-knit socks for my boy, to wear and tear while barefoot around the house ;)

I am using a beautiful yarn my friend Vero gifted me years and years ago!  It's called Merisock, (it used to be made by Punta yarns, from Uruguay) and it's a blend of merino and nylon.  Very sturdy looking.

I tried knitting this with a single thread of yarn, but it was just too skinny, these socks would never be finished!  So I am using the yarn held double.  Nano wears a shoe size Eur 35 (Wait, what??? Where did my baby go?), and I CO 40 st onto 3mm needles. I will probably make the same recipe, you know...  It is a bit intimidating to search Ravelry for sock patterns, there are millions of them!  So I will just make him what I call the Finnish sock, made with Uruguayan yarn ;)
So this goes a bit off topic from the regular content of the blog, but I am having so much fun with these that I thought I'd write about them.

Hope you are having a great week!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Work in progress and some other thoughts

It has taken a big effort to get the time to do things like write on the blog...  I have so many thoughts I need to put into words, and even though I am very happy with my knowledge of English, when I come to this space and try to put everything I feel into words... It's just not good enough.  It's funny, I blame my English, I wonder if I'd be able to put everything I think into words if I tried to do it in Spanish...

For some reason, I see the space of the blog as a more serious space... A place where one is expected to elaborate things more in depth, right?  That's why the immediateness of Instagram and Facebook is always so tempting, and I end up communicating with my readers in a shorter way.  But then, it seems that all is joy, all is knitting, and all I do is sit down on the couch and create this bunch of patterns out of nowhere... With perfect smiles and perfect skin... Well, you see, I have a very imperfect skin ;)

Life has been sort of stressful on this side of the computer...  I have been blessed with many opportunities and with many offers to work with my all time idols.  To try the finest and most exquisite yarns.  Who would say no?   I have made many friends, I have met the most amazing people over the last couple of years.  I have travelled to places I never thought I would go to.  But of course, it also meant an amount of work that maybe I was not prepared to do so quickly.  I always say this: I work slowly.  Many people on the are amazed at my speed, but the truth is that this is my day job, I knit and write for a living, and sometimes I just work too many hours a day.  I love my job so much that it's even harder to put things down and take short breaks.  That means that many times I've had to ask loving friends to lend me their helping hands to finish things in time.

I started to realize I was feeling a bit stressed towards the end of last year.  I kept seeing people meeting all around the world, and in my head there was this need to be part of everything that was happening.  As Helen from Curious Handmade cleverly called it: FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).  It stressed me not to be part of anything cool or awesome happening, I wanted to know more and possibly work towards it.  But it also stressed me to do so.

I told myself it was time to slow down last year, and I am still working with projects I committed to before that day.  I am starting to see the end of this pile of knits and patterns I had to work on, and it is finally looking like soon I'll be able to go back to my old pace, calm and quiet.  I am, after all, too far away from where most of the knitting world is, and I think I still need to learn a lot to work in such rhythm.  I am certain I am not prepared to do many of the things I've already done...  And when I look at myself with objective eyes, I am an Argentine mother, who one day decided to write a pattern and see how it goes. ❤️

gratuitous kid photo ;)

But! This doesn't mean I don't have anything new or exciting coming up.  In fact, I do believe that all I have in the works is super fabulous, and I am still partnering and collaborating with the most awesome people in the world, and still getting to know new friends and still taking some opportunities!  I just wanted to share with you that I do feel sometimes the social media give this false impression that we can grow indefinitely and work on countless projects with no effect on how we feel....

I am currently working on a few things I thought I'd show you.  The first one is a design for Madelinetosh, and it's currently waiting for the final editions of the pattern.  I don't know many details about how or where this will be released, but I wanted to show you how amazing the yarn I got to work with is:

On the top one, I used their Tosh Merino Light, one of the most versatile yarns I've worked with, and definitely one of my favorite.  I do enjoy working with single ply fingering weight yarns A LOT.  They make super lofty garments, and I do feel these sweaters are ones that I could wear in Buenos Aires, where the temperature never goes below 0ºC.  The colorway I used is called Kitten.  I didn't know this color (not that I know all of their colors anyway), and it surprised me in such a lovely way. It's the perfect mix between brown and gray.  Really, you need to try it.  I don't think it can look bad on anyone ;)
Also, it was a surprise to realize, when I swatched for this, that even though I am a huge fan of Madelinetosh's yarns, I had never worked with their Vintage base before.  Again, I loved it, and it's a problem, cause now I need to go buy more...  The color I used is called Moonglow, and icy blue with some gray base.  Just... perfection, I do love these colors for myself so much.  :)
The top sample took 4 skeins of fingering weight, and the bottom sample took 6 skeins of plied worsted weight.
So yes!  I am currently immersed in some serious pattern writing.

Particularly today I am knitting a shawl.  This is a design for Sundara's luxury yarn club for 2015, called The Petals Collection.  My design is for the November installment, and the yarn Sundara sent is blissful.  I can't show you the color, since it's an exclusive colorway, and I am pretty sure she'll want her customers to be surprised, but I don't think she'll matter if I show you a peek of the texture in my project.

Remember I said this was a luxury yarn club?  Well, I think the description runs short, since the yarn I am working with is a sport-weight blend of 65% white cashmere and 35% silk.  On top of this, Sundara's dyeing always makes yarn look even finer.
The club features also Veera Välimäki, Kirsten Kapur and Thea Colman, as designers for the other 3 installments.

Hmmm, let's see, what else am I working on?
This is one project that is not related to work, even though I designed myself.  And it's one that fills me with joy.  My friend Nash, from Fiber Crafts with Nash, finally gave the news that she is expecting a baby!
I almost never take knitting time to work on projects for others, but this girl and their baby are too special to me, so I decided to make them something with my hands (cause I never do anything with my hands, right?).

I decided to make them a shawl/blanket following my own design So Close.  I love this design so much, it's one of my all time favorite knitted garments, so I wanted Nash to have one too.  I didn't use mine as a baby blanket (since my boys where grown already when I designed this), but I did use it as a scarf, as a shawl for knitting during the cold evenings, and also as a blanket for myself when watching TV.  I thought such a project would be useful for nursing, and Mom can wear it after the baby doesn't need it any more.  So yes!  I am quite excited about this gift.

I am going to try to make it with just one color, but my yarn might not be enough and there's no chance of getting more of it, so we'll see...  I am using Juno Alice in Goldmine colorway, but sadly Asti (the dyer) is not making yarn any more.

I am working on 2 projects that require buttons:

The one in the left was finished, but I tried it on and realized that the front is actually 4 rows longer than the back (???), so I need to undo the bind off and fix that.  I wouldn't have mind if it was the other way around... Oh well.
This is a super quick project that was inspired just because I wanted to play with the yarn: the beautiful ASAP from Madelinetosh, in the most playful colorway: Holi Festival, hehehe... I love it!
The project itself is so silly and simple, that I am not sure I should write a pattern for it... What do you guys think?

The one in the right has me completely crazy in love.  It is, again, a collaboration.  This one is with The Uncommon Thread, another of my love affairs with yarn.  The yarn I am using is another example of single ply fingering weight yarn, and the colorway is called... Baby Elephant Walk.  Seriously, you just want to knit with this yarn because of the name!  Lots of texture for this one, but hopefully it will turn out super flattering too ;)

So what's next?...

As I said, there are a few things coming up (there should be a new pattern of mine out there next week, hopefully), but I have been thinking of doing some designs on my own for the next couple of months.  I have been dreaming of using up some great yarns I have in my stash to make a little collection... like I used to make in the past.  
I even went ahead and put together a color scheme.  This is how excited I am about having some creative time!

I have also been trying to go back to my camera and take proper pictures of things...  Take TIME to make things better, or at least in the way I was used to... slowly and carefully.

All this traveling I've been doing has inspired me to bring some of the ideas and yarns from the Northern Hemisphere and mix them with my own colors and make something with a Southern spirit. I want to use more South American yarns, so you might see some Malabrigo popping up in this collection (if it ever comes to be true), and I might also get some Manos, both from Uruguay.

But the surprise in this mix is my best friend Ale, who launched this year her own hand-dyed yarns, Pura Hilados, using minimally processed merino wool from Patagonia (in Argentina).  Her yarns are super amazing, but I was waiting for her to create the perfect colors for me to work with.  And she came home with these precious a couple of days ago:

Pura Fina: sombra (top) and petalo (bottom)
This, folks, is 100% merino fiber of 18 microns, in a weight that is somewhere between sport and DK.  Super super beautiful, and non-superwash yarns are exquisite and buttery soft as cashmere.
This is my next project!  Pura Fina in colorways Sombra (charcoal) and Petalo (nude), ready to become a striped wrap.  I decided that I have had too many secret projects going on already, so whenever I work for this collection, I might show you some of the projects and not wait until all of them are done...  Hope it doesn't get me in trouble! ;)

What I do know is that I am going to take my time with it, and it might take a loooong time.  I won't stop working on other things to favor this project, it has to grow organically, and when it's ready, it will be ready!

I would really love to hear from you if you are reading this... it makes me feel I wrote all morning for someone out there ❤️

Thank you for reading,