FINISHED: Building Block Socks

They’re so finished that he’s even worn them to church already.

Details:

Pattern: #216 Beginner’s Lightweight Socks, by Diane Soucy of Knitting Pure & Simple (my favorite sock pattern!)

Yarn: Knit Picks Felici Fingering Weight in “Building Blocks” colorway (colorway discontinued), 2 skeins with very little leftover.

Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm)

Modifications: I used the wrong needle size somehow. It should have been a US 2 (2.75 mm).

These were supposed to be done in time for Christmas, so I had to enact the “public shaming” method of pressure to get myself to work through to the end despite missing my original deadline. I will say that this method definitely works for me.

I did use the wrong needle size somehow. The last pair of socks that I made for him, I didn’t write down what size needles I used, and just looked at the picture of them to guess what needles they were and then hunted down a similar-looking set and got knitting. I think I may have a set of gold-colored US 2s and a set of gold-colored US 0s, and…there you go, mistake made. As a result, these are a dense fabric and a little on the snug side, but he says they work well in his church shoes, which are a snug fit, as most church shoes are.

He likes that they’re bold and peppy. I wasn’t expecting that. He’s more of a “dark, monochrome colors” for his socks kind of guy. I was trying to use up stash and I’d had this yarn since 2013.

On Second Thought: A Case of the Februaries Might Not Need New Projects

I wrote a few days ago about how I’ve been hit by the February ennui that tackles me every year, and how I’d decided to just give in to every new project that flitted across my radar in an attempt to give myself some happy chemical boosts and weather out the rest of this gray month. I published my post, went off to continue working on the new Linen Stitch scarf, and as I was knitting away the day, my mind wandered and I remembered something I read about in the The Twelve Week Year called the “Emotional Cycle of Change,” which comes with a handy little visual in the book:

I recalled the first time I worked The Twelve Week Year system, way back in the summer of 2020, and how much impact that little image had on me because I absolutely identified with it. When I was putting in the work on that cycle’s goals, I hit that nasty wall of despair right around Week Five and it stuck with me for a good two or three weeks where all I wanted to do was give up, give up, give up. But, thankfully, I was aware of it, I had people to talk to about it who encouraged me to keep going, and yep, I kept at it and eventually pulled up and out of that funk because I didn’t give up and I didn’t shift my focus onto something else. I got to experience the high of sticking with that project until the end, even though I really wanted to just die for a few weeks whenever I thought about another stupid day of doing this.

And I think that’s what’s going on right now. I started the new year with the idea of doing good on crafty goals, and I’ve been going forward with all the energy and zeal of an optimistic goal-getter, and it’s now hitting really hard that progress isn’t an overnight thing and I am smack dab in the Boring Middle of it all. The answer isn’t to quit or switch focus, because when I get to the end of this twelve week cycle (in the last week of March), I don’t want to look back and regret that I stopped working on these goals. Honestly, it’s a bit of a weird goal cycle because I don’t have anything huge going on because I just couldn’t come up with anything except “take a break from striving all the time,” because I’ve been striving hard for eighteen months straight and just felt like I needed a break. So I’m only doing some low-key stuff to help prep me to do bigger things come April, but it is important to me to tie up a lot of these loose crafty ends, if only to “close the circuit” on these open/unfinished projects.

So the answer right now is that I’m having a normal reaction to change. I’ve been really good at showing up to work on these crafty goals; it’s become my routine and it’s no longer a new, exciting thing, and I’m jonesing for the high of a new project…but that’s what gets me into this mess of having eighty-seven UFOs cluttering up my craft room and driving me crazy all the time. The answer is to just keep showing up and doing the work, even if I need to grit my teeth somedays, and remind myself of how good it’s going to feel to get that pile of quilt tops completed. In a few weeks’ time I’ll start seeing the results of that consistency and I’ll start getting excited about the dash to the finish line, and the high of finishing a big goal is way bigger than the high of starting a new project. Lasts longer, too.

Another thing I might to watch out for is the impulse to indulge in retail therapy–it might be one of the first signs that I’m approaching Stage 2 or Stage 3 of this cycle. That being said, there is a still an ungodly amount of yarn currently making its way to me in the mail because…well, I didn’t figure this out until after I’d already ordered it. Guess I’ll be making a lot of socks and fingerless mittens for the foreseeable future, even though I know I’m only capable of about seven pairs a year, given my “comfortable knitting” calculations I just figured out.

How many skeins of sock yarn did I order? Nine. *sigh*

I’ll do better the next time.

My kids are punks

I’ve been working away on the Rainbow Coin Strip quilt, spurred on by the, frankly, heartwarming reception my kids have been giving it whenever they wander through the craft room. Everyone loves to look for fabrics they remember, and oh my goodness, have I been feeling like a Winner.

I finally got all the borders attached and laid out the quilt on a bed so it wouldn’t wrinkle while I prepared the backing. I mentioned to Emms that the quilt was pieced in its entirety and laid out on the bed if they wanted to see it in its full glory, and they headed off to the room. Moments later they shrieked and then started laughing, which piqued my curiosity and Nathaniel’s, so I went into the room after he ran in and saw this:

So I walked around the end of the bed to see what was so interesting, and saw it:

And those little punks squealed with glee, took pictures of it, and texted it to their friends for a laugh.

And you know how people say, “Will it matter in ten years?” I decided that yes, it would still matter in ten years and they would probably still be making fun of me, so I decided to fix it:

I don’t think it will matter much, jokes about snipers and presidential assassinations are going pretty strong in our house at the moment.

And it’s no longer the “Rainbow Coin Strip quilt” to my kids, it’s now called the “Kennedy Sniper quilt.” Which is not a name you want people to adopt for anything you make, ever.

Seriously, who OK’d the decision to put that on fabric?!?! Why?!?! What quilt would be elevated with that headline?!?!

I imagine it was one of the fat quarters included in a low volume or text only bundle, and when I was cutting fabric for the border I just grabbed white fabrics with black on them, no reading necessary, stacked them in a pile and did a batch cut. And then I sewed them together, right sides facing, so I missed it again. Ugh.

Oh well, the hexagons are cute, and it allowed me to use up a little bit of canvas that’s been sitting in the stash since I made the original Storybook Hexagons quilt with it. It was nice to revisit memories of that quilt, which is still to this day the most popular quilt on this blog.

And now that adorable fabric is covering up a presidential assassination headline. Lovely.

A Case of the Februaries Demands More Knitting

I do have a finished project post to show you, but I also keep procrastinating driving to the post office and actually mailing it off to its intended recipient, so…I could spin it to sound like the USPS is sucking at its job, but it would be an absolute lie because it’s really just me.

Although, the USPS is taking its sweet time getting a package of yarny goodness to me that was supposed to be delivered last Monday, but then it disappeared from their radar for a couple of days, and magically popped up at a regional distribution center yesterday. Hmph.

As predicted, February has cast a grayish pallor on everything in sight, and I’m feeling it, hard. I keep telling myself that it is a temporary feeling, that life really isn’t just cold and dreariness, and that spring will be here soon with sunshine and birds twittering and flowers, but then you have to stop thinking about spring and re-focus on what’s in front of you and…it’s February. Usually there’s some crazy weather going on to distract me, but not this year. Just cold and drizzly rain, and a lot of fog, which is just unsettling. There’s not supposed to be fog when you’re driving to the school to pick up your kids in the afternoon. It gives me the heebie jeebies.

We are having a couple of nice days right now, but I absolutely do not trust them at all and I refuse to allow them to get my optimism engaged, only to have it crushed and ground into the asphalt next week. No. This is fake spring. I’ll try to get outside and soak up some desperately needed sun, but I’m not going to let my heart get carried away. It would be a great time to do some clean-up in the garden, though…

I think the fabric and yarn companies have figured out this February sloggy feeling, because geez, the sales and deals coming out of ’em right now are incessant. It’s been bad, people. But oh so good. But I may need to set up a temporary email filter on any incoming messages from the crafty stores because this past week has shown that I have no known defenses against their February sales. Dear goodness. Cara, it doesn’t count for much if you’re trying to reduce your stash and UFOs, only to then gorge yourself and bring in more stash.

The Yarn Harlot wrote up a blog post in recent days that echoes my sentiments about February, and she admitted that she’s just giving in to every “start a new project” impulse that rises in her heart. And I kinda sorta love that idea, because I am in desperate need of dopamine hits at the moment and indulging in some Startitis to achieve the effect is far friendlier to my bank account than retail therapy.

So I’ve started making wild promises to my kids about knitting them things and I will probably regret it in a month’s time, but whatevs. Michael’s socks are finished, and I was looking through my Ravelry project page to figure out which family member has gone the longest without receiving a handknit from me, and it turns out I’ve not knit a thing for my boy since he was in the first grade. (That’s five years for those of you who are also experiencing the Februaries and don’t want to do the math.) I called him over and we perused the Ravelry pattern database, and he finally decided that what he wanted his dear ol’ mum to knit him was a pig hat. Because he’s sad that his monkey hat doesn’t fit anymore.

ca. 2010

Guys, I knit that monkey hat for his first winter of his life. He’s worn it ever since, and would probably still be wearing it except that I outlawed it because it’s simply too small. I don’t care that he can technically stretch it over his noggin…it’s too small. The boy is knitworthy, to say the least…but only if it’s an animal hat, apparently, because I made him a fair isle hat in the first grade, and he dutifully wore it that year, but then reverted back to the monkey hat in the second grade and I don’t think I’ve seen the fair isle hat on his head ever since.

ca. 2015

The pink yarn listed in the pattern for the pig hat? I ALREADY OWNED IT. Can the Universe be any more clear on what a great idea this project was?!?!

Except, when I went to go unearth it from the stash, I couldn’t find it. I scoured the stash from top to bottom three times, went through the knitting UFO bin twice, and then looked around in every other UFO bin just in case it randomly got put in them when we moved, but alas, none of the perfect pink yarn could be found. I think I got rid of it when we moved? It’d been sitting in a partially-knitted state for years because I bought it to make a vest for Nathaniel when he was little, but it turns out that he gets heat rashes from wearing vests, so I never finished it, and I was trying to cull crafty supplies and it wasn’t a shade of pink I particularly liked to begin with…so, I think I got rid of it. There’s no notes in my stash listing on Ravelry, but I can’t find the stuff, so I’ve now marked it as “given away.” But I honestly have no idea what I did with it.

Undaunted, I hunted down various shades of pink bulky-weight yarn, screenshotted them all and cropped them into a grid, then texted the image to Nathaniel and asked him to pick one, and he picked one of the most brightest shades of bubble gum pink and he is thrilled that it will be adorning his head in a few weeks’ time. I love it that he loves pink, it’s adorable.

Since I was paying for shipping anyways, I figured I’d throw in some more yarn to my order and looked up which family member was next due for a handknit, and it turned out it was Renaissance, who I last crafted for three years ago. She wasn’t terribly interested in anything, but then I had a bold flash of inspiration and reminded her that football season will be back all-too-soon, and wouldn’t a pair of fingerless gloves with fold-over tops just be amazing during the outdoors flute-playing season? She immediately agreed, and I added in some maroon superwash merino to my order. I did also add two more projects’ worth of yarn for things for myself, but then got rid of them because knitting season will inevitably wind down come spring and gardening and English paper piecing time, and most of my stash is comprised of these kinds of orders–the extra skeins I buy because I was paying for shipping anyway. If I’m still interested in the projects for myself come autumn, I’ll buy the yarn for them then.

Sooo…not exactly “knitting from the stash,” but I am excited about two new projects. And while I was rifling through the stash, trying to find the perfect pink yarn, I noticed that I had a lot of blue & green sock yarn leftovers in the yarn scrap bin, and I thought they’d probably go together fabulously in a linen stitch scarf. And since my yarny goodness package fell off the radar for half a week and I finished Michael’s socks and I think I may have knit them on the wrong size needles but won’t know until he finally tries them on but it’s a busy week and we’ve really only seen each other as we turn off the light to go to sleep, that hasn’t happened yet…and I don’t want to start another pair of socks for him from the stash because I don’t know what size needle to use anymore, but it’s February and darn it I need a project, so I cast on for a linen stitch scarf with those sock yarn scraps:

I think the scraps go together a little too well, actually, so it will lack that fun contrast that I like in this pattern when you use colorways that don’t match perfectly, but it’ll still be a pretty, analogous scarf. It took me a year to knit the last linen stitch scarf I made, so I’m not expecting a quick finish with this. I think it will be my couch knitting project.

And, just for fun, I’ll finish with another picture of the Monkey Hat of Yore:

Hopefully he’ll love his pig hat just as much, minus the yarn-chewing. Good luck surviving the rest of February, however you choose to do it.

Scrappy Thursday: Clementine Quilt Month #3

It only occurred to me now, as I sat down to write this blog post, that this isn’t actually a scrap project. BUT…it was in my scrappy project bins for some reason; I’m thinking I threw the blocks into whatever bin was handy as I packed up my craft room three years ago, and I didn’t think beyond “What’s in the scrappy project bins?” when deciding what projects to put into the Scrappy Thursday rotation. Oh well. It’s been a long time that this has been waiting, and this is the way I’ll be able to get it done the fastest, so I’ll just go forward with it.

Of course, just because I put some of the fabrics into the project bin didn’t mean I put all of the fabrics into the bin, so I spent a large portion of my sewing time trying to locate the background fabric for this quilt. It was tucked away with a completely different quilt I was working on when we had to pack up, and those two quilts were jammed into the back of a Christmas drawer, despite not being Christmas-related quilts whatsoever. (I never want to move again.)

Alright, Month #3 is the Peaches & Plenty block, and geez…these blocks took forever to make! I don’t know if I’ve gotten extremely slow or what, but I think I put at least six hours into these. Not my favorite pattern, but it doesn’t matter anymore because they’re DONE and now I’ll move on with my life. Woo hoo!

It was nice to revisit this project and look through it again and start getting excited. It’s an interesting-looking finished quilt that is different from anything else I’ve ever made, and I’m looking forward to the completed project…which should hopefully happen in May. Slow and steady…

Month 3 blocks are the ones on the right. Building up a collection!

I was supposed to get these done last month, but it didn’t work out that way. I’m hoping to get onto the Month 4 blocks this month as well, but we’ll see how well that pans out.

Progress: Building Block Socks, and Notes on How Long it Takes to Knit a Pair of Socks

Getting close to the end of these, which is good because I may or may not have fallen prey to a yarn store-closing sale that is now shipping seven new skeins of sock yarn to me as we speak…sorry/notsorry.

As I’ve been knitting on these, my brain keeps trying to make me feel bad about how far behind I am on these, and it occurred to me that I might have a faulty sense of how long it actually takes to knit a pair of socks, thereby dooming myself to always feeling like a failure whenever I knit a pair of socks. As it stands, it feels very comfortable to knit a stripe’s worth of yarn each day on these, and so I counted up the stripes in the completed sock, and it’s 23 stripes. That’s a little over three weeks’ worth of knitting at a comfortable pace. Multiply that by two (because two socks in a pair) and you get 46 days, which equals 6.5 weeks to make a pair of socks for Michael.

In my head…I thought it took four weeks. So of course I always feel like I’m behind when I’m knitting socks for him. It’s good to figure out the numbers on stuff, because numbers generally don’t lie, and I like knowing exactly how things are going to go and numbers are the way to figure that stuff out. It takes seven weeks to knit up a pair of socks for Michael. No wonder I can never finish the “started in December” pairs I always try to make for Christmas. This timetable has been noted in my Christmas preparation notes.

“Introducing” the Rainbow Coin Strip Quilt

Since I never formally introduced you, let me redress my errors: Meet the Rainbow Coin Strip quilt:

You all know that I’ve been more than a little obsessed with working through my scrap bins for quite a few years now, and this was an effort to push forward on that goal back in 2019. I came across a quilt block in Electric Quilt that just erupted into a full quilt in my mind’s eye and looked like it would do a very good job at handling the little skinny strips of leftover fabric/strings that I found myself drowning in at that moment. So I went ahead and got pretty far on the quilt before 2020 arrived and everything went off the rails.

But it’s back, and I’m making good progress. This is a great quilt for using up pieces of fabric that you just can’t seem to use in anything else, especially those white backgrounds with colored designs prints. I’ve been specifically targeting the fabrics in my bins that I’ve hand on-hand for a long time because they’re tough to fit into quilts due to various issues, and man, does it feel good to use ’em up!

A sweet moment happened Friday evening: Emms came through the craft room and noticed the quilt on my cutting table, and squealed, “It’s the shower curtain fabric!” I laughed and said yes it was, and how fun it was sewing up all the little scraps and bits from so many projects I’d worked on in years past. Emms then took about five minutes looking at all the blocks and pointing out all the fabrics they remembered from the various things I’d made for them over the years and reminiscing about wearing and playing with said handcrafted items. Oh, it made my mama heart happy. Emms celebrated their 18th birthday this last week, and goodness is my heart sore with the pangs of knowing they’re going to be heading on out into the world soon. It was nice to hear of some of the small joys of their childhood for a few minutes. Made me feel like I’d done some things well.

I had been stewing over what to do with this quilt once it was finished; I honesty thought I was going to give it away up until Emms’ nostalgic perusal. Not anymore, this sucker is staying in the house. (Maybe it’ll need to head off to a certain college dorm room in the autumn?)

I’m hoping to get this quilted this week, we shall see…

Finished: Rachel’s Halloween Skirt

I didn’t keep it secret, and I let her have it once it was done, rather than waiting for her birthday. She wore it to church last week, minus the witch hat, which she really wanted to wear for the photos. Rachel really likes the “everyday Halloween aesthetic,” so I decided to make her happy and sew up a skirt that fits the description. When I first saw this floral print, I KNEW Rachel would love it.

Details:

Pattern: I’m surprised at how many people have been asking on Instagram what the pattern is, and I’m so sorry to report that this is a massive mishmash of patterns. The pieces are cut from the “Three-Quarter Circle Skirt” pattern found in Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book, and I modified the pocket pieces to be much larger. I’ve made this skirt before, and I think I lengthened it? I was working from my traced pattern, so I can’t remember exactly, but I’m pretty sure it’s lengthened by a few inches because Rachel is all legs. The waistband is a straight strip of fabric, and I do not know how large I cut it because that piece of paper has gone missing. And then I sewed it all up according to the directions found in Simplicity #1369.

It has pockets!

Ta…da…😬

Fabric: “Cast a Spell” floral print in the “Spooky & Sweeter” collection that Art Gallery Fabrics put out last year. I bought 4 yards of it and have a good quarter yard left, plus random big scraps.

Thread: Whatever that black thread is on my thread rack. Probably cotton/poly or straight poly.

Notions: Dark Grey invisible zipper from that poorly-chosen purchase of “invisible zippers in an assortment of colors” from Amazon, shortened to the correct length.

Miscellaneous: I bought some new hemming feet for my sewing machine so I could perhaps get through hemming this quickly. I used the foot with the 6 on it, whatever that means. I think it was a rolled hem, about 1/4-inch. I have some larger hemming ones that I’m excited to try in the future, but I figured it would be hard to go any larger on the hem of a circle skirt, so I kept it small this time.

Oh, to be a teenage girl with a mom who will sew you cute little things to further your aesthetic. Ha ha. Enjoy it, Rachie Bug.

More Progress: Michael’s Building Block Socks

I aim to knit one stripe a day if I can. I’m now about halfway through the heel flap. The plan is to have these done by the end of the month, which should be an easy goal to achieve. What are you slogging away on?

Still don’t know what hand stitching project I’m going to work on once these are finished. I’m really tempted to just keep cranking this pattern out over and over again simply because I don’t have to do a lot of thinking when I’m working on it. I like that.

In other news, today is Emms’ 18th birthday! So weird. If you don’t hear from me in the next few days, it’s because I’m still crying. 😜