Sunday, July 31, 2016

Self-sabotaged socks

I have self-sabotaged my latest pair of crochet socks - July's Bluebell from Rohn Strong's 2016 Sock Club by carefully swatching but then putting the wrong sized, too large, but similarly colored hook in the project bag and then getting on a plane from Edinburgh to Chicago and making almost a whole sock without realizing my mistake. Arrgggh! Here is the resulting still wearable, extremely cozy but tad too large sock #1.

I was introduced to a brand new stitch - linked double crochet which seems to lend itself well to sock construction. It's as stretchy as double crochet but dense like single crochet and makes quite an attractive horizontal ridge. The yarn is WSK Western Sky Knits - another wonderful hand-dyed marvel purchased at the Houston Fiber Fest. How I do love scrummy yarn from indie dyers!

And fantastic news - I actually managed to finish TWO pairs of socks since I wrote about my serious case of crochet sock startitis. Writing that article somehow spurred me onwards to completion.

My FIRST ever pair of completed crochet socks are Cabled Socks by Karen Whooley.  As a crochet sock newbie her extremely clear instructions helped me get my head around sock construction for the first time. Thank you Karen for showing me the way!


My second completed socks are Ribbed Socks by Rohn Strong, a crochet sockalong for July in his Facebook group Crochet Sock Addicts. Being part of a Crochet Along (CAL) motivated me to keep going.

I've written more notes about my completed crocheted Socks on Ravelry: Cabled Socks and Ribbed Socks if this is of interest.

I have now developed quite an addiction to crochet socks and I'm feeling ready to start asking family members for their foot measurements! I remember joining the sock club thinking - "one sock a month, surely I won't feel like making them as often as that..." but I've found crochet socks to have just the right amount of challenge, to be the most portable of projects, quick to complete and the resulting handmade sock is so pleasing!

I started the summer looking for the ultimate crochet sock pattern and have discovered there isn't just one pattern but many and perhaps the ultimate crochet project is a sock, well for me anyway!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

How to locate a yarn store while away

I get rather agitated when I'm packing to go on holiday. I panic about being separated from my stash and running out of yarn. It takes me several days to decide on what projects to take whereas the clothes are decided upon in a stress-free half an hour. Of course I am NOT going to run out of yarn. I don't sit around crocheting all day long on holiday. There are other holiday activities taking place. And I also assume I will crochet at ten times my normal rate which I don't. But just in case, it's good to be able to locate a nearby yarn store and it's also fascinating to have a little nosy around the different yarns that they sell. 

  • Ravelry is my usual go to place to locate a yarn store. Once you've logged in, click on the "yarn" tab and on the left hand side half way down there is a search box entitled "local yarn shop directory". 
  • Knit Map is a second searchable database for locating yarn stores worldwide which allows readers to rate, review and update yarn store information. 
  • Find a yarn shop on the UK Hand Knitting Association website is another site for UK shops.
Marie Segares on her Underground Crafter blog has a great article on How to find great yarn stores on your next trip with lots more tips and two more sites to search for stores in the US: 
I managed to persuade my family to do a city tour of Norwich which included visits to two yarn stores Crafty EweNorfolk Yarn AND the haberdashery department of the John Lewis store. Restocked!

Hope these resources are helpful if you are travelling this summer. Craft on everyone!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Discovering Rare Breeds

I'm writing this post from the UK on our annual summer jaunt to visit friends and family. Even on our holidays I still can't help looking out for all things yarn related. We visited Gressenhall Farm in Norfolk this week and I was delighted to find that they had rare breed animals including Norfolk Blackfaced Horn and Leicester Longwool sheep. Lovely! 

It's always hard not to splurge in the museum gift shop and I bought a book Rare Breeds by Lawrence Alderson and have been educating myself further. The author writes that Great Britain has been known as the "stud farm of the world" and last month I was talking to two vendors at the Houston Fiber Fest about their British sheep exports.

The owner of Lazy Cat Yarns showed me her wonderful Infinity yarn, a blue faced Leicester blend yarn from the UK, telling me that it had more shine and drape than Merino. Lynda the farmer from Foggy Hollow Ranch spoke to me at length about her cherished fine Shetland sheep while I looked and felt fantastic raw fleece from her flock.

My dreams of living on a farm someday continue..... We are traveling around the UK by train partly  because I love looking up from my crochet at the fields of fluffy sheep. 

There is so much to learn about sheep breeds. Here are further resources if you're interested in reading more:

A comparison of merino vs blue face Leicester  on the Can't talk, I'm dying blog.

Photos and descriptions of Rare and Native Breed Sheep on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust website.

A marvelous list of places to buy British Yarn on the Woolsack website.

Apologies for posting initially without embedding my links.The blogger app doesn't give me that feature - I'm traveling light(ish) and left my laptop back in Texas. Update - I now have access to a laptop so all sorted. Until next week, craft on!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A serious case of crochet sock startitis

I have developed a serious case of sock startisis. In case you're not familiar with the term here's the Urban Dictionary definition:

Startitis: noun - Repeatedly starting new projects while still having multiple uncompleted projects.
Melanie is plagued by startitis. She frequently starts knitting something new rather than finish her other incomplete projects.

I am definitely making great progress on my summer mission to find the ultimate crochet sock pattern and I'm learning SO MUCH about socks but I now have five socks started but not completed. It feels a little excessive.

Sock #1 is the Survival Socks pattern that appear in an earlier post of mine The Hunt for the Ultimate Crochet Sock Begins and I'm working on this with one of my students in the weekly workshop I run on a Friday at my local yarn store. And I'm almost there. It's a toe up design and I'm just finishing off the cuff ahead of my student so that's fine. 

Sock #2 is the current most popular sock on Ravelry coincidentally called the Ultimate Crocheted Sock (with an -ed) by Dorothy Hardy. This time the pattern called for an extended single crochet stitch and I just LOVE how stretchy this stitch makes my sock compared to single crochet. However, still being the sock novice I need photos really and there was an error in the pattern which threw me a bit. And something odd happened with my gauge - the sock is huge. (I have since discovered that I need to make the sock 1/2 inch to 1 inch smaller than my foot circumference because this stitch will stretch.) #2 has been abandoned.
Sock #3 is above. It's from Karen Ratto-Whooley's absolutely super book I Can't Believe I'm Crocheting Socks which I bought recently. It's the cabled sock and I'm using Premier Yarns Wool-Free Sock Stripes yarn in the Phoenix colorway purchased from Hobby Lobby. I had intended to make a basic sock from Karen's book. She has both cuff-down and toe-up basic sock patterns in the books. But all of my sock stash is in fingering / sock weight and the patterns call for DK weight. It would be more sensible to start with thicker yarn and a bigger hook and work down to fine yarn so I can see the reason for the yarn weight choice. The basic sock patterns have extremely good photo tutorials with differently color coded parts of the sock. Looking at these I was able to visualize exactly what happens at different parts of a sock. For the cuff down pattern there is the cuff, leg, heel flap, heel turning, gusset, foot and toe. SO helpful!

The most recent socks that I've started #4 and #5 are not entirely my fault because I am working to someone else's deadline - Rohn Strong has a July sock crochetalong (sock #4) and also started a sock club this month (sock #5) which I couldn't really resist.

Well better get back to the socks..... Hope your week is going wonderfully!!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

I'm going to be on a podcast...!

Yay! I'm going to appear on the sixth episode of British podcast The Crochet Circle out on the first Friday of August. It all started when I wrote a review of the podcast back in May. Lynne and Fay the wonderful hosts found my review hilarious and read out part of it in episode four (at around two minutes). I was extremely surprised to hear my name on air as you can imagine! And then we discovered we were attending a fiber fest the same weekend and Fay suggested we do a Shore to Shore Fibre / Fiber Fest comparison. I couldn't say no. How fun!

                          Lovely local podcasters Katie, Jeanette, Somer, Dianne, Heidi & Darcy at Houston Fiber Fest

And it has been a very interesting insight into how a podcast is created. There is A LOT of work involved and I am feeling a greater appreciation for the many podcasters who get me through my daily chores and accompany me while I craft. You rock podcasters!!

Still on topic, I met up with some local fiber podcasters in person at the Houston Fiber Fest on Saturday June 25th. The event had meet-up tables for different interest groups ranging from "stitch marker swaps" to "crochet" and Saturday 3pm was "podcasters". I already know Darcy, Somer and Katie from Kitchen Stitches and met three more lovely local podcasters for the first time: Jeanette from Bookish Stitcher, Heidi from Undead Yarn and Dianne from Suburban Stitcher. I felt like a total groupie!

And here are the links for y'all if you love your crafty podcasts like me:

The Crochet Circle audio podcast
Kitchen Stitches audio podcast
BookishStitcher video podcast
Undead Yarn video podcast
Suburban Stitcher video podcast

Have a wonderful week everyone!