Let’s Get Worsted, in Kettle Valley!

This year, I finally felt ready to hunt for local hand-dyed yarns and patterns to sell in my store. I believe strongly in supporting local small business whenever possible. Now that I have built up my inventory of staple yarns I really wanted to offer something a bit more luxurious. I had a small selection of hand-dyed yarns in solid colours, but I wanted something with really interesting colourways. I found it.

Black Cat Custom Yarn is located in Chilliwack, BC (Canada).

I was excited to have the opportunity to meet the owners this fall and to see and feel their yarns in person. A customer told me about them and I was not disappointed. I brought in a modest selection of two weights of Black Cat yarn. It has been a hit.

I have already placed another order and they are dying it now. Once it arrives it will expand the selection to 17 colourways of “Let’s Get Worsted” and 15 colourways of “Everyday Sock”. The price point is typical of hand dyed yarn.

I recently made up a project using the “Damsel” colourway of  Black Cat’s “Let’s Get Worsted”. The pattern was the Kettle Valley Shawl from Knox Mountain Knit Company out of Kelowna, BC.

So first of all, I should have done a gauge check. I didn’t and my gauge was a bit soft. I ended up using three and a half skeins rather than the three that the pattern called for. That was definitely on me. I’m confident that it could be done with three if the gauge is matched.

The Pattern: Kettle Valley Shawl by Knox Mountain Knit Co.

knox-mountain-knit-coKnox Mountain Knit Co. patterns are inspired by landmarks of the Okanagan Valley in the interior of British Columbia, Canada. I love that each has a short write-up describing what inspired the pattern. They are beautifully printed on sturdy paper and priced reasonably. They all come with a Ravelry code that allows you to have both the hard copy and a Ravelry download to access on your devices. I now have hard copies of all their designs for sale in my store. (The patterns are displayed in two binders; if you’re in the store ask me where to find them. You can also view them on Ravelry.) The photographs are beautiful. They offer sets (hats, mittens and cowls) that are sold separately but made to coordinate. This is a wonderful option if you are making gifts… especially for those individuals whose birthdays land near Christmas.

The instructions were clear and easy to follow. I loved the twisted stitch method used. The first few times I did it, I had to check the instructions but once I comprehended what was happening and why it worked, I was off to the races. It’s a nice big shawl without being so large as to feel like a blanket. It was my first worsted weight shawl and I had my doubts because I like lace shawls and I love to knit with sock weight yarn. I think I may have been converted. Yes, by the final row I was knitting 357 stitches. However, I finished this, knitting leisurely in front of the TV in the evenings over the course of 10 days. I didn’t even knit every evening. It is made up of sections that when viewed as a whole mimic the trestles of the historic Kettle Valley Railway in the vicinity of Kelowna, British Columbia. I found that with each section, it took very little time to get a sense of the pattern so I could just knit away without checking the reference. That’s how I like it! I’m delighted with the outcome and so is the person who received it as a gift.

The Yarn: Black Cat Custom Yarn; Damsel; weight “Let’s Get Worsted”

This yarn was an absolute pleasure to knit. It was soft and smooth. The stitch definition is fantastic. All the effort I put into creating those trestles stood out and made the pattern proud. It reminds me of Malabrigo yarn. Sometimes when I make a larger project I get a little bored of looking at the yarn by the end of the project. Not with this yarn! There is just no getting bored of this yarn. The colourways are so fun and the names are nerdy and sometimes a bit cheeky. It definitely has personality. I washed it with Eucalan and blocked it. I thought it was soft before I washed it. Washing it softened it even more. I sat there squishing it between my hands and against my face for ages! I guess you figured out that I highly recommend this yarn.

Because it is dyed to order, it takes some time from when I order it until it arrives. That’s probably the only real drawback to this yarn. Once I get a sense of how much and how frequently I need to reorder, that will be less of an issue.

I encourage you to take the time to check out Black Cat Custom Yarn and Knox Mountain Knit Co. Both of these small BC businesses offer a high quality product for a reasonable price. If you want to make a special gift for someone you care about, I recommend combining the two for something truly memorable.

Happy Knitting!

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Wow! Too Easy! More Gift Ideas

Anyone who crafts or sews will likely own a rotary cutter. These handy tools come in a few different sizes ranging from 28mm to 60mm. The size I find most popular is 45mm. The round blades are razor sharp and allow for nice clean cutting of fabrics and other craft materials. The newest style of blade opens up a whole vista of crafting possibilities.

The regular rotary cutter blade is simply a razor sharp disc that makes a solid clean and straight cut. You can also purchase wave blades that give a gently zig-zagged edge, like you would expect from pinking shears.

What I am excited to tell you about is the new skip cut blade. The skip cut blade has gaps around the cutting edge of the disc. It has many short cutting edges with equal spaces between them. When you use this blade, it gives you small cuts at regular intervals. For the creative individual, the possibilities for this blade are exciting. I just want to talk about two applications.

Quick and Easy Fleece Blanket with a Crochet Border

You start with a piece of Nordic/Polar Fleece fabric. With the edges cleanly cut, corners rounded off and the selvedges removed, use a ruler and rotary cutter fitted with the skip blade and cut an inch in from the outside edge all around the piece of fabric. It’s important to do this in one pass. Press firmly so that you are sure you are cutting all the way through. You now have a series of holes evenly spaced an inch in from the edge of the fabric. This gives you a place to easily crochet into so you can create a crocheted border all around your blanket. The edge folds in half, so you have a double layer of fabric contained within the first round of your crochet edge. I found two different links that show how to do this. Both are relatively long, however they give the necessary information well. The second one is more thorough a demonstration than the first.

 

Fleece Lined Blanket

The next project I want to share with you is a fleece lined blanket.

You can start with either a crocheted or a knitted blanket that you have already completed. You can either measure your blanket and use those measurements as a guide, or you can lay the blanket on the fleece to mark its size instead. Either way, you want to end up with a full inch all the way around the blanket. In other words, if your blanket is 45″ x 60″, you will want to cut a piece of fleece that is 47″ x 62″. As with the example above, you will use the skip cut rotary blade to make your nice tidy row of holes around the edge. You will have to take some liberties with how you align what you are crocheting with the existing stitches in the crocheted or knitted blanket. I would personally pin the edge profusely before beginning the process of crocheting the fleece to the edge of the blanket. Below is a link to a video in which this technique is demonstrated. This video is very thorough and assumes that you are a beginner.

I was introduced to skip cut blades by a customer who was traveling through Revelstoke. She stopped in my yarn shop and asked whether I carried them. I had never heard of them. While we chatted, I looked it up online through my supplier and found them. I brought them in for her and mailed them to her when they arrived. At the time, I brought in the packs of 5 as they are more cost effective than the individual blades. I have a couple packs still in stock. My next notions order will include some singles, so that if people want to try one out without committing to 5 of them, they have that option. I have a variety of solid colours of fleece in stock and many options for yarn that could be combined with it to make it special. What a great, easy gift to make someone’s life just a little more cozy.

As always, if you like the videos I have linked to and you want to see more from the folks who took the time, effort and care to create them, show them some love. Give them your likes, share the link or subscribe to their channel. Let’s support those amazing creative people in our world. 🙂

Happy Crocheting!

6 Gift-Making Tips

Many knitters and crocheters, sewing enthusiasts and other crafters use their creative skills to fashion gifts for their friends and family.

Whatever the project, crafters put their hearts into every step that goes into making those gifts. From choosing just the right yarn or other materials and the pattern, to all the hours carefully constructing the project stitch by stitch. If you are lucky enough to be considered knit, crochet or craft worthy, know that you are loved. I have some tips to offer Makers when they are planning out the gifts they want to create.

Depending on what your focus is, your priorities for each project can change.

Focus on Budget – Time:

When we think about a budget, we usually think about money. The reality is that we have a budget of time every bit as much as we have a financial budget. As someone who knits gifts, I’m always looking for projects that won’t become centennial jobs. There are all sorts of things I’d love to make for the people I care about. But there’s only so much time to do it. If I had unlimited hours to knit, I would be making lace shawls and 4-ply cardigans and other elaborate things for the people I love. But I don’t have unlimited time. Gosh, that’s such an understatement! I am a pretty quick knitter, but there’s a limit to what I can make in the precious time I have available.

Focus on Budget – Money:

It can be easy to let the cost of projects get away from us when we want to make something particularly wonderful for someone dear to us. Most of us have to work within a budget. Most of us also make gifts for multiple people. Even if you are not a “planner”, it’s good to be methodical about all the bits and pieces that you’ll have to buy, with money, for the projects you plan to make. And you know as well as I do, that those materials can really add up. Most crafters of all shape and size have a stash of supplies for their favourite making discipline. If money is tight, dig into that stash and see what you can use.

Focus on the Materials:

You can focus on the yarn or other materials and choose something absolutely scrumptious. There are so many gorgeous yarns (fabrics etc.) out there. Make the project a showcase for the materials by keeping your pattern selection simple. Put a little more resources into the purchase of the yarn or fabric and less into the work of the project. You might use silk embroidery thread instead of cotton. Of course there is a caveat with this. If it requires special care, you want to be sure that the recipient will apply that special care and not throw it in the washer and dryer with their jeans or towels… SHUDDER! If you think they will treat it right, but just need to know how to look after it, you could always include a travel size bottle of a “Delicates No-rinse Wash” like Eucalan with their gift. Pop in a card with the url to a demo of the product and brief, hand written care instructions.

Focus on an Artful Pattern:

There are many knitting and crochet designs that feature beautiful patterned stitches. There are sewing patterns that are true and complex works of art. When you choose one of these patterns, it’s best to back off with the materials and keep them simple. You don’t want to set up a competition between the yarn or fabric and the intricate pattern you create with it. This sort of design takes more focus to make. The more focus you need, the more time you need to allow. You may not be able to do a lot in a sitting. And you really don’t want to leave a project like this to the last minute. In my experience, that’s when you make silly mistakes that sit there like neon signs, screaming to be picked out and rebuilt.

Focus on the Practical:

There are many practical items that you can make as gifts. The nice thing about practical hand-made gifts is that you can be pretty certain that they are going to get some use. My family members love to receive hand-knit socks, for instance.

Focus on the Special:

You know that person who really likes things to be fancy? This is when you pull out those projects that you couldn’t resist pinning. Beaded projects, projects with felted accents or embroidered touches, personalized projects… add that little something extra that says “Oh yeah!”

Keep a record:

It’s easy to forget what you did for whom and when. I encourage you to keep a notebook. I love those small binders that hold paper that is basically a letter sized sheet cut in half. You can either buy the pages punched and ready to go or you can take normal paper and cut it in half and hole punch it. You can create sections; you can move the pages around. This is great for organizing what you have made for people. I tried keeping track on my phone; it was too frustrating. Between phones that die, upgrades and apps that don’t allow you to effectively back up your data when you do get a new phone… ugh! Well, “old school” works. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You can staple the label from the yarn or a snip of the fabric onto the page, write down the name of the pattern and whether you modified it at all. If you ran into any trouble with the pattern, you could make a note of what it was and how you resolved it as well. You don’t have to worry about running out of pages, because it’s a binder! The main thing is that you want to jot down just enough so that you don’t accidentally make them the same thing twice… or for that matter so that if someone else sees it and wants one, that you can remember what you did.

And there you go. However you choose to focus on the gift projects you have on your making list, I hope you have fun with them.

Happy Making!

 

Well it Ought to be Obvious…

I love to design. Whether I have a ready-to-go idea in my head that is easily executed, or a vague sense of what I want to express in a design, the creative act of designing fills me up. Sometimes, exploration leads to some fun and interesting outcomes that I would never have thought of. And sometimes, a design is accidental.

I haven’t done a whole lot of knitting since Tour-de-Sock finished. I still have the same projects on the needles, though my Whoopsie shawl is very close to completion and my Plan A (Take 2) second sock is now on the needle. Legolas is still in hibernation along with my Alecia Beth cardigan and my watermelon shawl. They are all waiting patiently at the back of the store. I knitted up a couple doll cardigans to test out some yarn samples that my rep sent me to try. The work in my store ramps up once summer is over and the number of sewing jobs increases. Often by the end of the day, I’m too tired to knit. (It takes a lot for me to be too tired to knit!) So progress has ground to a slow crawl.

Last weekend I had the good fortune to meet Kim of Black Cat Custom Yarn in Chilliwack.

I had heard about her from a few customers that passed through Revelstoke and recommended her.

Kim is a talented yarn dyer.

Her partner wasn’t feeling well on the day that I was at her studio, so I didn’t officially meet him. The two of them work together and their colourways reflect the joy they have in what they do. I have placed an order with them.

The quality of the yarn and the nature of their colourways make Black Cat Custom yarns a worthy replacement for Malabrigo yarns in my store.

I’ll be carrying their basic sock yarn and “Let’s get Worsted” weights to start with. It was really tough to limit the order!

In a basket, she had a whole bunch of mini skeins of seconds. On the top were two skeins of red sock yarn. They came home with me to become a pair of socks for one of my grand-daughters. (That was her only request, that they be red socks.) When I got home, I cast on the socks toe up. I wanted to do a fun pattern in them but I didn’t want to put in a lot of effort. I didn’t want to fuss. I thought,

“hey, I could use a mock cable pattern on these”.

So I pulled it out and mindlessly began knitting the pattern.

The pattern that developed was lovely, but it definitely was not the mock cable pattern. I sat there staring at my three pattern repeats like a dunce, wondering what I had done. Are you laughing at me yet? Good heavens. Honestly, Judy! The mock cable pattern is knitted back and forth. Socks are knitted in the round. It should have been obvious! I was working off written instructions for each row as opposed to a chart. If it had been a chart, I would have adapted without even thinking about it. But because it was written out, the wrong side rows were written assuming you turned the work and knitted it flat.

It came out looking like corn rows.

I decided to call it Rapunzel’s Ladder. How fun is that? It just goes to show you. Sometimes, you don’t even mean to be creative and yet something completely new and wonderful emerges in spite of you. Creativity is a magical thing.

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I’m a pretty smart person, but there are times when I can be a bit dense or oblivious. I don’t mean to, obviously… but yeah… human condition and all that. This was definitely one of those times. And yet! Eureka! I have a pair of socks developing that are absolutely lovely. My GD will adore them. They remind me of my first pair of Dirndl socks from when I was a girl. The two skeins were not exactly the same, but because they have the mottled hand-dyed look, it works. I am excited to see her face when she opens up the package at her birthday party. And incidentally, I get to pick up my Black Cat Custom Yarn order when we travel to the Coast for GD’s birthday Tea Party.

It will feel like it’s my birthday too.

Can’t get better than that! ETA for the Black Cat Yarns at Judy’s Designs is November 1, 2018.

Happy Knitting!

 

Satisfaction!

Satisfaction. Say it slowly, emphatically: Satisfaction! There’s just something wonderful about that word. Something, well, satisfying! Every time I hear it, I can hear Mick Jagger singing in my head. I suppose that dates me, but oh well! Satisfaction is the word for today.

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I am always busy. I’m always doing, or making, or fixing, or designing something. I really like being productive. It’s very satisfying to me.

Years ago, I designed, assembled and sold cross stitch kits.

As such, I had a large supply of DMC 6-strand embroidery floss on hand. When I opened my store, I added those to the many things I sell. For a while, the hanks of floss sat patiently waiting to be wanted. Then this past summer, suddenly everyone was looking for floss.

I had around 70 or 80 colours and for anyone who knows about these things… that is a drop in the bucket of what is available. I told people that if they gave me a list of the colours they  knew they would need, I could bring them in. But often, I see people who are traveling through and can’t wait for the special order to arrive. I didn’t think about it much until one day when I actually opened the drawers and realized that they looked barren!

I pulled out the DMC shade card and began cross referencing the colours that I have against the card so I could undertake an expansion of my stock. That was a long and tedious task. Then, feeling somewhat overwhelmed, I logged onto my supplier’s website. That was when I discovered that the shade card is only a fraction of the available colours.

If I thought I was overwhelmed before, then I’m not sure how to describe what I felt after this realization set in.

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As always when I’m at a loss, I messaged my daughter (the one who makes my blog posts look fantastic every week). She suggested that there must be a list of the top 100 colours somewhere. Ummmm, why didn’t I think of that? Oh yeah, I was feeling overwhelmed and the frontal lobe of my brain was in shut-down mode. LOL

I contacted my supplier and asked whether it would be difficult for them to send me such a list. Much to my delight, Mari emailed me the details the next day. I printed it out and began crossing off the colours that I already have to determine what I should order. That was a long tedious process. The colour card where I had marked in my stock was not in numerical order; the top 100 list was clearly in a completely different order. But I got it done. Next was to go onto the website and place my order.

Did I mention that the top 100 is a drop in the bucket of the colours available?

I started filling in the order online. I was about half way through and was interrupted. By the time I returned to it, the site had timed out. ARGH!!! (Not the actual word I used, but well… you know.) So I started over. I was interrupted yet again. I got back to it in time and got another 20 or so colours in. I was interrupted again. It timed out again. DOUBLE ARRRRGGGGGGHHHHH! This whole starting over was a nuisance! I was determined that I was not going to let anything stop me from completing my task. I had a near interruption, but I explained that I would spontaneously combust if I allowed my page to time out one more time, and my very understanding customer happily browsed the store until I was done. I completed the order and all was good. Satisfaction achieved!

Knowing I would need some place to store all these gorgeous hanks of floss once they arrived, we headed to IKEA.

I found the perfect cabinet in “Alex”. Thanks, IKEA.

My supplier called me and informed me that a few of the colours were out of stock. I told them I really didn’t care as long as there were lots of them on their way to me when the time came. She laughed and assured me that there would indeed be lots of them. I felt a little bad for the person who got stuck with picking my order in the warehouse… but not that bad.

When the parcel came in there were a dozen each of 75 happy, pretty new colours that all needed to be entered into the inventory. WOOHOO! That was a long and tedious task.

But I got it done! That was very satisfying.

As the computers were updating my point-of-sale software, I set to constructing my cabinet. I’m not sure what time it was when my husband dragged me away and said it was time to stop.

After much pondering, I came up with a design for drawer dividers. I used a cool new product called Kraftex (which I’ll tell you about another day). I sewed one for each drawer. Then came the sorting of the rows and rows of boxes by colour families and sequences. We organized them all into the trays (and one of my old 3-drawer DMC cabinets). Then mom made a list of how all the colours were organized into each drawer. We printed out labels and stuck them onto the tops of the drawer fronts for reference. I ran out of label tape before I got the colour family names onto all the drawers, but other than that, it’s all done.

This took place over a span of about 3 weeks. Each and every step of this process felt like a big accomplishment. Often I could only get things done a few minutes here and there between customers. Throughout, I was viscerally aware of the sense of satisfaction that came with finishing each step. And now, I have a beautiful cabinet with around 144 colours of DMC floss for my customers to choose from.

Satisfaction achieved!

And the Tour is Done!

Tour de Sock is all done for 2018. What a whirlwind of sock knitting! I thought I’d sum my 2018 Tour experience today. It’s been a lot of fun, a bit of frustration and a whole lot of learning.

Warm up: Miriam by Eeva Kesäkuu

We started it off with a warm up sock called Miriam. This stranded colourwork sock was a really fun knit. It had an unusual heel construction that made it just a little different and interesting. The combination of the colourwork with the style of heel was cool. It was important to carefully follow the instructions so the stripes were correct. I was concerned that the fit might be a little strange when I first did them. However, they fit beautifully.

 

Stage 1: Plan A by Adrienne Fong

Oh my, these were such a delightful knit! I have generally always used 2.5mm needles to knit socks. This pattern called for light fingering and I used fingering weight on 2.5’s; they came out huge. I ended up submitting my photos for the stage and then frogging them back to take out as much as necessary to make them fit. I reknit the toes and “Ta Dah!” they fit. I’m actually knitting another pair (on 2.25mm needles this time) and they are perfectly to gauge. I love this pattern. On my second pair I left out the twisted cast on. I found it just a little binding. Other than that, I think this might be my new go-to for a while. (Sorry, “Hermione’s Everyday Socks“; you’re in second place…. even though I still love you.)

 

Stage 2: Odensjön by Suzanne Sjögren

These cabled socks were an absolute joy to knit. The pattern was complex enough to be interesting, yet simple enough that you could memorize it and just sit back and watch the pattern unfold. I knit these in CoBaSi yarn. It was my first experience with this yarn and it was the perfect combination. I’ll be looking for more patterns from this designer.

 

Stage 3: Bicycle Race by Heidi Nick

Wowzers! Heidi Nick sock patterns are intricate works of art. Her charts are gorgeous and in full colour. You cannot let your attention flag on any of her patterns. Heidi’s trademark interweaving traveling stitches make for a stimulating project. They are so worth the effort. I made these with CoBaSi yarn as well. I adore them. If you are looking for a challenge, I encourage you to check out her designs on Ravelry.

 

Stage 4: Arctic Blizzard by Katrine Birkenwasser

The challenge continued with stranded colourwork socks. They are stunning! The random snowflakes mean that you can’t really predict or memorize any part of the pattern. It took tremendous focus and determination to complete these. They took me almost to the deadline to finish these. They are beautiful. It’s an unusual choice to use a short-row heel on a stranded colourwork sock. I actually changed to a larger needle for 10 rows above the heel to make it just a little easier to put them on.

Stage 5: Flibbertigibbet by Lisa K. Ross

I have to say that the predictability of the chart on this round was a huge relief after the previous two stages. I thoroughly enjoyed knitting these socks. I plan to these again to give as gifts this Christmas. I love the combination of lace and cables. I see butterflies in this pattern. I hadn’t heard of this designer before, but I’ll be looking for more of her work. There is enough to sink your teeth into without it being too much.

 

Stage 6: Sidetracked by Kirsten Hall

Oh my! Kirsten Hall is so innovative. I love her creativity. This pattern is so very “out of the box”. These look like a ribbon wrapping around your foot. They are so interesting. The toe is done as a round toe. Once you wrap your brain around the chevron it’s easy and fun to knit. I did one spiral too many and then misread the heel instructions. I ended up with a ginormous heel. I kept going. I was away without internet access so I missed some pattern updates. Let’s just say, my sock didn’t turn out well. With work getting busier, I was feeling a bit burnt out. I was so disappointed, I set it aside and decided not to try meet the deadline. I still plan to complete this pattern. It really is very cool. I think I’ll knit sock 2 (which mirrors sock 1) first. Now that I know what to watch out for, I should be able to have success with that. Once I finish that, I’ll frog sock 1 back to the end of the fourth spiral and reknit the heel properly and finish them. I want to get them done before the end of this year. I am absolutely determined to finish them though. They look like they would be uncomfortable but they are actually very cozy and the “braids” don’t feel bumpy under your foot. Last year I got the cuffs of the final stage done and then threw in the towel completely. I may not have met the deadline to get points on Stage 6, but I will definitely complete it this year. I am not going to put a photo of mine up at this time because I am not happy with how it looks at all.

What a wonderful challenge the tour has been this year. It was so worth the effort. I learned so much and I have 6 completed pairs of socks (and am on my way to having a 7th pair) to show for it. My hat is off to the organizers, the moderators, the designers and all the folks that knit in this competition. Without all of them, I wouldn’t have had this fantastic experience. What a fun way to support Doctors without Borders! I’m excited to do it all again next year!

…I’ll be honest, last night I started a doll sweater, not socks.

Happy knitting!

Needles: Old, New, and Different

The final stage of Tour-de-sock features a very unusual sock pattern by Kirsten Hall called Sidetracked. I am determined to complete this round, despite my flagging motivation. I have tried a number of different needle combinations hoping to stumble on the ideal combination. I’ve tried some old, some new and some very different.

To put it into perspective, here’s a picture of this round’s socks.

 

The pattern dropped last Saturday at 4:00 am, my local time. I was printing off the pattern and had my first sock underway by 4:20. We planned a trip to visit grandchildren for the long weekend. I was determined to get as much done as possible before we hit the road around 11:00 am. I was grateful that the construction, although strange, was actually pretty fun.

I had the sock on a 60cm circular needle to start and worked the 12 active stitches with a DPN. It was awkward. I ended up with one circular and 4 DPN’s at one point. It was a very strong reminder of why I really prefer not to knit with DPN’s. It’s so easy to drop stitches off them. You don’t want to drop stitches on this pattern! By 4pm, I was feeling pretty done. With one sock barely half way done, I set the project aside and watched the scenery go by until we arrived.

I really struggled to determine how far to knit before beginning the heel and I have to say that I should have stopped a full wrap earlier than I did… which I couldn’t have known until after the heel was complete. By then, there was absolutely no way I was frogging anything. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t take the wind out of my sails. They’ll take longer to finish but they’ll fit my very tall son when they are done.

 

I came home to a big pile of work. I’ve been plugging away in the evenings. I still haven’t finished the first one. I’m ready to begin the cuff, so I’m on the home stretch and the second sock will go easier since I’ll know what to expect. I have until Thursday at 10:00 am to finish.

So yesterday, I was feeling pretty desperate to come up with some way to infuse some fun back into this project. I had a shipment of needles come in and in that order were 25cm circular needles. My supplier was a bit short on numbers and there was one lonely 2.25mm needle among them. That’s the size I’m using for these socks. I’ve had customers tell me that these teenie tiny circulars are God’s gift to sock knitters. (I wasn’t convinced.) What with all the new stock, I had to rearrange the wall in the store to accommodate all the new stuff. In the process I stumbled on the sets of curved DPN’s I had all but forgot I brought in. I figured I’d try these out too.

I pulled out the Neko curved DPN’s. I was immediately disappointed. They are plastic. Sigh. So bendy! I am not crazy about bendy needles. I took a deep breath. I was determined to give them a fair shake despite my initial feeling. I looked at my Sidetracked sock-to-be: didn’t even pick it up. My daughter had requested a pair of socks out of some Lana Grossa Scandic yarn and I had that ball handy. I figured I’d cast one on to try the bendy needles out. These needles look like someone took their DPN’s and tried to bend them to 90 degrees. They are definitely different.

I began my Twisted German cast on, over two of the three needles; I usually cast on over two needles. It was awkward, although in all fairness, it takes getting used to something that is this unusual. By the time I had 15 or 20 stitches cast on, it got easier. It was challenging to get started on these. I found that no matter what I did I kept jabbing myself in the palms of my hands with one end or another. I’ve been knitting long enough to know that the first few rounds are always a bit of a pain and then it’s fine after that. So I continued. My yarn kept getting caught on one of the ends. I really don’t like bendy needles and found that the flexibility of these really irritated me. I assume that the point of these needles is to be an improvement on DPN’s. I’m not convinced. But bear in mind that I abandoned DPN’s for sock knitting a long time ago in favour of circulars. I got about 4 rounds of twisted rib knitted and I had to set it aside. I tried having the tips of the passive needle above the active needle, then below; I tried flipping it toward the back. I don’t know. I didn’t see any videos with continental knitting on curved DPN’s. Perhaps that’s the issue. I will pick it up again after the Tour is finished and see if they’ll grow on me. For now, the jury is out on these.

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I then picked up the Knitter’s Pride Dreamz 25cm circular and transfered my Sidetracked sock onto it. The sock fits nicely. The needle tips are short. I thought they’d put up resistance as I’d knit with them because the cord is so short, but honestly I didn’t notice once I started to knit. This needle is a huge improvement over what I was doing. Heavens! What a relief. I like a longer needle tip so I can use my pinkies to anchor my movements against the needles. These tips are too small to do that without scootching my fingers close together. That will take a bit of getting used to. But you know,  I was quite surprised, but I really do like these… a lot. The only downside is that they’re too small to try the sock on, unless you were to use two of them.

Happy Knitting!