Chiffon.

Let this be my last Cascade addendum, the last of the contents of those 40 pound boxes to be introduced: say hello to a sumptuous new fingering weight yarn from Cascade, called Heritage Silk.

A few months ago, when we first ordered Heritage Silk, Anne got a single skein for us to knit up as a shop sample. That skein was passed to me, and as soon as I had wound it into a ball, I knew that I would love this yarn for socks. It’s a smooth yarn with the kind of high twist that makes for excellent stitch definition and well-wearing socks. Made from 85% no-nonsense superwash wool and 15% shiny, glamorous silk, Cascade Heritage Silk is a nice blend of basic and indulgent. I tried to knit a sock that reflected those qualities, and this is what I came up with: meet Chiffon.


Like my first sock pattern, Interrupted, Chiffon is knit from cuff to toe with a short-row heel, but is dressed up a bit with three bands of ruching. Come by the shop to see a sample of Chiffon, which you’ll find tucked into a cubby on the sock wall with the Heritage Silk yarn. Download the pattern for free on Ravelry, and please let me know what you think!

Interrupted.

A customer and I were chatting recently about the joys of sock knitting. Specifically, we were waxing rhapsodic on the joys of simple sock knitting–not the intricate colorwork socks that I often daydream of, nor socks adorned with various combinations of cable twists and lace, but basic stockinette or ribbed socks. “Socks are friends,” she said, and by that I think she meant that socks need not be impressive to entertain and comfort the knitter. Simple socks can be worked up while watching a movie, or waiting at a doctor’s office, or any of the many other places we end up waiting, for that matter. When you reach for knitting to keep your hands busy, but not necessarily your mind, simple socks are often just the thing.

Interrupted is a sock pattern of my own design, which I hope will satisfy knitters looking for simple socks. Knit with the tempting Claudia Hand Painted Fingering yarn, these socks are simple enough to allow variegated colorways to shine and interesting enough to support a more subdued color.

The brightly-colored sock pictured above can be found at the shop, tucked into the cubby where the Claudia Hand Painted Fingering yarn lives. Come by the shop to inspect the sock in person, which should give you a good idea of how the yarn knits up: soft but sturdy. Download the pattern for free on Ravelry, and please let me know what you think!

Hello, Bearfoot.

Mountain Colors Bearfoot: here is a loveable sock yarn. It’s not a new arrival; rather, we’ve had it at the shop for quite some time. However, having recently reorganized the sock yarn display, I’ve only recently come to admire its depth of color and its unusual fiber content. Bearfoot is easily our only sock yarn with mohair.

Mohair socks may sound almost torturous in mid-July, but I’m betting that later in the year, they’ll sound cozy and comforting. Til then, perhaps Bearfoot wants to be a shawl. Come and admire these jewel-toned skeins at the shop!

Summer reading.

Last week, Anne and I unpacked two boxes of books, almost all of which were new to the shop. We quickly made space on the teacart for them, and filled it even more quickly. As I’ve explained here before and as regulars have come to expect, the teacart is reserved for the newest additions to the shop. Because of the great quantity of new titles, however, we’ve had to spread out our most recently acquired books. There are simply too many to squeeze onto one teacart. We decided instead to tuck them in wherever they would fit, which is all over the place. Let me point them out to you here.
Our books are loosely organized by theme, with similar books sharing a shelf. So our newest books on colorwork joined their friends on the colorwork shelf.
The newest sock knitting books found a home with the other sock books, with the sock yarns close at hand.

Knit Noro: 30 Designs in Living Color snagged a space with the Noro pattern booklets and other technique books that play well with Noro yarns–entrelac, brioche, etc. These books are in the Noro corner, just above the Noro yarns.
Our newest books, pictured and unpictured, in no particular order:
Sock Knitting Master Class, by Ann Budd
Socks for Sandals and Clogs, by Anna Zilboorg
The Essential Guide to Color Knitting Techniques, by Margaret Radcliffe
Norwegian Knitting Designs, by Annichen Sibbern Bohn
Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting
Aran Knitting: New and Expanded Edition, by Alice Starmore
Charts Made Simple: Understanding Knitting Charts Visually, by JC Briar
Knit Socks! : 17 Classic Patterns for Cozy Feet, by Betsy McCarthy
Sock Club: Join the Knitting Adventure, by Charlene Schurch and Beth Parrott
How to Knit Socks: Three Methods Made Easy, by Jeanne Stauffer and Diane Schmidt
Knit Noro: 30 Designs in Living Color
Knit, Swirl!, by Sandra McIver
365 Crochet Stitches a Year: a Perpetual Calendar, by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss
Armenian Knitting, by Meg Swansen and Joyce Williams
I’ve just picked up my copy of Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting, which should keep me busy for quite some time, reading, admiring, and planning. Serious, beautiful knitting tomes like this one are by far my favorite kind. If you’re seeking some knit or crochet inspiration, my recommendation is the right book–one that excites as well as educates. Come by the shop to find it!

Julia shows off.

As regulars at the shop are probably already aware, I’ve become preoccupied with knitting socks of late. Since I’m six and a half pairs into my sock knitting career, I thought it might be a good time to share my progress. Ready for some show and tell?

Cascade 220 Superwash Sport.
Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine.
Debbie Bliss Rialto 4-ply.
Debbie Bliss Rialto 4-ply.

And what am I working on now? But of course:
Debbie Bliss Rialto 4-ply.

I have designs on a Zilboorg-style cabled cardigan out of the Shenandoe Farm yarn, but that’s only if I can peel myself away from my #2 double points. If you’re in need of some sock-knitting enthusiasm, I have plenty to spare: come by the shop and we’ll talk socks. Many thanks for enduring all those pictures of my feet! 

Reading material.

It hasn’t been a huge week-or-so for new yarns, though I do have a few to share in the coming days. There have been new books arriving, though, in their trademark smaller, heavier boxes. New yarn is exciting, of course, but I must say, I get a particular thrill opening a box of knitting books. My fondness for resource-type knitting books having already been expressed, this may come as no surprise. Join me, then, in welcoming a smattering of the latest books.

60 Quick Baby Knits: Blankets, Booties, Sweaters & More in Cascade 220 Superwash, from Sixth & Spring Books. But why, you might ask, do we carry this book, when we don’t carry Cascade 220 Superwash (at least, not in the worsted weight–we’ve got sport weight)? The answer: we are all about yarn substitution. We have at least eight worsted weight washable wools that I can think of off the top of my head, not to mention worsted weight cottons, which are also popular for baby things. A good pattern is a good pattern, and there is no one right yarn for any given pattern. Confused about how to substitute yarn? Just ask. Figuring out which yarn to use for a pattern is one of my favorite pastimes. 

The Knitting Answer Book, by Margaret Radcliffe. A small but thorough reference guide, perfect for a new knitter, or anyone who has ever wanted a knitting reference right in their knitting bag.

Fresh Vests to Knit, by Edie Eckman. A booklet for those knitters that seek only vest patterns.

A trio of toe-up sock books came in to join the other sock books: Socks From the Toe Up and Toe Up Socks For Every Body, both by Wendy Johnson, and Toe-Up 2-at-a-Time Socks, by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. Marion’s magic loop sock class has inspired many knitters to work socks from the toe up, rather than cuff-down, and our growing collection of toe-up sock books reflects this. If you’re looking to choose between these titles, Marion is a wonderful source, as I’m pretty sure she’s read and knit from nearly every one. As of now, there are still three spaces in Marion’s next magic loop sock class, by the way. Interested?

I’m a copycat.

Remember my sock-crazed friend, Andrea? Well, I copied her. After the baggy gray socks, I was ready for a pair that would fit correctly. Hence, these copycat socks, knit, like Andrea’s, in Berroco’s Ultra Alpaca Fine, and embellished with contrasting reenforcement thread at the heels and toes.

Now I am completely obsessed with knitting socks. I’m halfway through the first sock of my next pair already. Look for me at the shop, wearing the copycat socks two, three, maybe four days in a row… because handknit socks are exactly as comfortable as sock knitters like to insist they are.

Andrea knits socks.

My friend Andrea has been a sometime knitter for a few years now, completing a scarf here, a patchwork blanket there, but focusing primarily on her animation projects (a subject worthy of an entire blog; go there and see this if animated wool peaks your curiosity). Recently, however, she has taken up knitting in a more serious, dare I say, obsessive way. Since October, she has produced a handful of hats, a pair of colorwork mittens, two sweaters, a pair of self-designed fingerless gloves, and now she’s knitting socks, too. First, she made these, with Lang Jawoll sock yarn:
Which warmed her feet while she made these, from Berroco’s Ultra Alpaca Fine:

Only a handful of days later, those socks, too, were completed, making room for the next pair:

These socks are made from two shades of gray Jawoll yarn, made sporty with stripes of reenforcement thread in contrasting colors. All three pairs of socks are riffs on a simple Ann Norling pattern for beginner sock-knitters. I’d never been particularly interested in knitting socks until Andrea made it look so easy, and so good. For those of you feeling similarly inspired, we still have a couple of copies of that Ann Norling pattern, and plenty of sock yarn. Come by the shop and check it out.

Cascade 220 Superwash Sport.

********* As of December 15th, 2015, we no longer have any Cascade 220 Superwash Sport in stock. *********
Allow me to introduce you to my favorite yarn of the moment. Simple, sturdy, yet soft, and suitable for most any project: Cascade 220 Superwash Sport. A few weeks ago, we had only a handful of colors. I’d just begun a pair of socks in a light heathered gray when I overheard Anne on the phone, saying, “Yes, I’d like a bag of every color. Except gray.” Every color?
Oh yes. Every color. To me, this yarn suggests complicated fair isle sweaters, striped socks, many-colored hats and mittens… first, though, I had to finish my gray socks.

 

The completion of these socks brings mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s a success to have finished a pair of socks, where before I’ve been plagued by second sock syndrome. On the other hand, it’s impossible to ignore that they are simply too big. Looks are deceiving: the socks appear to be the right size, yet they lack the negative ease that makes socks fit snugly, and so they feel oddly loose. I thought I’d try to shrink them in the wash, because, hey, it’s machine washable yarn, but it’s probably not machine dry-able. Bad news for my socks, good news for consumers of Cascade 220 Superwash Sport: the socks emerged from the dryer in exactly the same state they had entered it. This yarn is superwash, indeed.
Back to daydreaming about colorwork, then. Also, trying my hand at fingering-weight socks, which I’ll show off here soon…