Sad sock failed fair isle

Fair Isle Don'ts

Beware the Fair Isle, ye beginner knitters. The rain and gloomy weather in central Virginia today are particularly fitting for this little knitting fail. Having knit so many pairs of socks from patterns, I wanted to draft my own pattern. I had visions of brown and tan and red stripes with contrasting toes and heels and snowflakes around the ankles. I found the right yarn and started knitting on Christmas day. The knitting was long and included much ripping out of rows of knitting.

Fair Isle fail

Joy of joys! They came out looking exactly like I imagined. Except for the minor detail that I can’t get them on my feet. Because the Fair Isle knitted snowflakes are really tight, despite the long, long floaters I left behind each stitch. I should not have attempted Fair Isle knitting for the first time on the part of the sock that needs to be really stretchy.  Now I know. Next time I will do better. But aren’t they so pretty?

The most depressing part is that I really wanted to have these finished by the end of January. I’ve been mourning for three days now, so I think it is time to finally rip the snowflakes out and get on with finishing these socks. Wish me luck. I’ll be back with the finished pair soon.

Fair Isle fail

Hermione’s Everyday Socks: Toe-Up Instructions

Hermione's Everyday socks

The sock saga continues, combining one of the most popular sock patterns on Ravelry with my love of toe-up sock knitting. I reversed the Hermione’s Everyday Socks free pattern (instructions below) and proceeded to knit these socks toe-up and two-at-a-time. I used the Beekeeper Self-Striping Yarn from Turtlepurl (it is designed for striped socks and comes in two little skeins. I also used a 32″ long, US size 0 circular needle. This made for some dense (but not bulky) socks that are warm but still fit into regular shoes comfortably.

Hermione's Everyday Socks Toe-Up

Hermione’s Everyday Socks, Toe-up version

design credit to Erica Lueder, original sock pattern can be found here

Using JMCO, CO 24 sts (if you want to do two socks at the same time, here’s how to start). There will be 12 stitches to start on each needle for one sock. If you’re knitting two at the same time, remember to drop your yarn at the end of one sock and pick up the yarn for the other.
Row 1: knit all on both needles
Row 2: needle 1- K1, make 1 (M1), Knit to last st, M1, K1
needle 2- repeat needle 1
Continue to alternate rows 1 and 2 until you have 32 sts on each needle (64 sts total).

texture pattern
Work in texture pattern across needle 1 (the top of the sock), and knit across needle 2 (the bottom of the sock). Continue until you have knit the desired length of the foot (three inches less than the finished length of the sock).

Hermione's Everyday Socks Toe-Up
Begin gusset increases as follows
Row 1: needle 1- work across in texture pattern
needle 2- K1, M1, place marker, knit to last stitch, place marker, M1, K1
Row 2: needle 1- work across in pattern
needle 2- knit across
continue repeating rows 1 and 2 until you have knit 12 gusset increases on each end of needle 2, for 56 stitches total on needle 2. There will still be 32 stitches on needle 1.

Hermione's Everyday Socks Toe-Up
Heel turn
*knit the entire heel turn and heel flap for one sock before moving on to the second sock*
Knit to the first marker, wrap stitch, turn. Then begin to knit in short rows.
Knit to the next marker, wrap stitch, turn. Purl to the first marker, wrap stitch, turn.
Knit to wrapped stitch, wrap stitch, turn. Purl to wrapped stitch, wrap next stitch, turn.
Continue to knit in short rows, wrapping a stitch at the end of each row until you have 7 wrapped stitches on each side of the heel turn (this makes a trapezoid shape with wrapped stitches on the sides).
Heel flap
After the last row of purls, turn and [slip 1, knit 1] to 1 stitch before the marker, continuing to knit through the wrapped stitches. At the last wrapped stitch, remove the marker and knit the last wrapped stitch together with the first gusset stitch. Turn. Purl across the heel and down the other side of the turned heel (through the wrapped stitches). Remove marker and purl the last wrapped stitch with the first gusset stitch through the back loop.
Right side: [Slip 1, knit 1] to one before the last stitch, and then knit two together (the last heel flap stitch with the next gusset stitch.
Wrong side: slip 1, purl across to the last stitch, purl two together through the back loop.
Repeat these two rows  (right and wrong sides) until you have 32 stitches left on needle 2 (you may not use all of the gusset increases).
Knit around both needles in texture pattern. When you have reached the desired leg length, knit 2 inches of ribbing (K1 through the back loop, purl 1). Cast off and weave ends in.

Hermione's Everyday Socks Toe up

Pussy Willow Stockings


Pussy Willow Stockings

Another pair of socks! The pattern is Cat Bordhi’s Pussy Willow Stocking pattern from the Sock Knitting Master Class book. The yarn is more of the Bugga yarn from the Verdant Gryphon in my stash. These were a late birthday and early Hanukkah present for my mom. Each sock features a simple lace pattern that mimics a pussy willow branch curving up the sock. This pattern is full of simple-yet-interesting details, like the moccasin toe and how the gusset is formed by the lace pattern. Classic Cat Bordhi.

Pussy Willow Stockings

I mistakenly knit these two-at-a-time on one long needle, rather than one at at time on two needles (as the instructions specified). With moccasin toes, you knit them and then you do some tricky rearranging of the stitches on the needles (very difficult on a circular needle with two socks on it). If you want to knit these socks two-at-a time, I would recommend knitting the toes separately and then transferring them to the same needle after you’ve rearranged the stitches. Other than the toe snafu, it’s a nice, simple pattern with pretty details.

Pussy Willow Stockings

In other news, you may have noticed that the blog has been slowing down…  I recently moved to an intentional community in Virginia, where my busy life has whisked me away from my blog and all my favorite readers and friends. I’m living on a beautiful 450-acre farm with about 100 residents- life is good! I spend time gardening, making tofu, being a nurse, and cooking big community meals. I’ve also been veeery social, which has led me to sew and blog less. Knitting has replaced the lion’s portion of sewing, since it is easier to bring to social events. I anticipate that my blogging schedule may only be once a month (at most) from here on out.  Bear with me! I’m making an effort to stay alive in the blogosphere.

I’ll leave you with some more sock pictures. Till next time!

DSC_1129 (2) Pussy Willow Stockings

Cabernet Cardigan


Cabernet cardigan

Oh look I sewed something again! Finally fall is in the air, the weather is cooling off and I just happened to have the Cabernet Cardigan in my stash. I had been planning to make it in a black and white striped sweater knit, but as I was going through my stash I realized I had something better. This fabric is from a trip to the LA fabric district (years ago). It’s sort of a lightweight fuzzy sweatshirt (knit) material.

Let me sing the praises of this pattern- the drafting is absolutely perfect. Between FBA, swayback, and petite adjustments I’m usually up to my elbows in modifications. But the ONLY modification I had to make to the Cabernet was to slim down the arms (and then only for personal preference). I made version A, which is long and boxy. I wanted the body to be boxy but the arms to be slim so I pinched the excess fabric out, pinned and serged a new seam along each sleeve once I tried it on.

Buttons are from a huge pack of buttons from the thrift store. I flipped the fabric and put the wrong side facing out for the cuffs and neckline. The neckline piece is interfaced with a medium-weight fusible interfacing.  I matched stripes using this method from Workroom Social.

Cabernet Cardigan

I didn’t add pockets but I think I might in the future. The other thing I would change about construction would be to lengthen the neckline piece- I shortened it and didn’t need to. There are some diagonal whiskers from the bust down to the bottom band but they would go away if the neckline piece was the correct length.

But ERMAGERD this is a great pattern. I’ll probably make it again once I find fabric I like. And I’m going to keep SBCC patterns in mind for the next time I’m looking for a pattern. Not having to make petite modifications to the pattern made this project go so so smoothly and amped up my sewing mojo. It feels empowering to have something to show for my creative time lately. Sewing is still on the slow track as knitting has taken the forefront of my attention.

Cabernet cardigan

Cabernet cardigan

Blue Half-Circle Skirt with Pockets



Easy DIY Half Circle Skirt

I’m going too long without posting. It’s not that I have a shortage of projects to show, or  not enough time to blog, but somehow… time slips by. And Wilbur the cat keeps chewing on all my projects…

This skirt happened because I was in love with the brown linen skirt I made last month and wanted another. I wear my brown skirt at least once a week and wanted another midi skirt for summer/fall. I made it the same way I made Denver’s Guitar Playing Skirt and used BHL Circle Skirt App to draft the pattern. It’s a half circle with a straight waistband (although I should start making the back of my waistbands slightly curved- you can see I took a wedge out of the back of this one).  The only downfall of the brown skirt is no pockets, so I added pockets to this one. The pockets and waistband (size M) are from Megan Nielsen’s free Veronika Skirt pattern. I slimmed down the pocket pattern to make it fit better on a half-circle skirt (the original pattern is for a whole circle skirt). The pockets are lined with white cotton and topstitched to the skirt.

Easy DIY Half Circle Skirt

The fabric is a heavy, slubby, loosely woven fabric that my aunt found at the thrift store and sent to me. It’s heavy but gives the skirt great motion. It’s shifty so I had to lock the cat in the kitchen so I could get the fabric on grain before I cut it (cat jumps on fabric, fabric slides across the floor, fabric no longer on grain, Claire annoyed at cat. Claire locks cat in kitchen, problem solved).

Easy DIY Half Circle Skirt

The other reason I made this skirt is because I wanted a skirt I could easily ride my bike in. This is NOT it. The half-circle shape works to cover my knees, but the skirt is too long. The hem rubs against the wheel and sometimes catches in the brake pads. A note to the wise: photograph your makes before you go bike riding in them. Or, you could do what I did and spend a long afternoon soaking your skirt in oxyclean and scrubbing at the the hem every hour. When (if) the grease comes out, breathe a long sigh of relief and promptly photograph it. I think it would be better for biking in if I made another version about 6″ shorter.

Easy DIY Half Circle Skirt
not a good bike-riding skirt

I let the skirt hang for a good 4 days before evening out the hem, serging it, turning it under 1/2″ and topstitching it. The loose weave of the fabric made it stretch out quite a bit along the bias. At the widest point of stretch I cut 4″ from the hem. And I should have changed that serger thread color… Next time lazy lady.

Despite the weird black serged hem, I love it and wear it about as much as the brown one.

Easy DIY Half Circle Skirt

E-upside down cat

Karree Socks


Karree socks

In case you haven’t heard, this endless Virginia summer sucked me into a bottomless pit of knitting. I’ve talked about how knitting is “addictively zen,” but I don’t think I truly understood how deep my knitting obsession could become until I experienced the intersection of knitting and Netflix. I’ve rationalized watching season upon season of Twin Peaks, Alias, Scandal, and Agents of Shield because knitting allowed me to be creatively productive during screen time. There is no end in sight. Beware all ye who enter here. On the plus side, I’ve gotten to see a bunch of shows I wanted to watch and I’ve become a much better knitter.  Sometimes I even take the knitting basket outside and sit on my balcony to watch the people running, the futile parallel parking attempts on Richmond’s city streets, the trees in the meridian waving in the breeze.

karree colorwork socks

For my third pair of socks (see one and two here) I wanted to learn to use multiple colors of yarn together. These socks utilize the mosaic method of colorwork knitting, which is a slip-stitch technique using two different colors of yarn. At the beginning of each row you switch to the other color of yarn, and some stitches are skipped to create the pattern. The pattern (Karree pattern here) is free on Ravelry.  Yarn is fingering weight wool/nylon blend from the Verdant Gryphon. I knit these socks between July 10 and August 18 (5 weeks and 4 days is a new record for me). I like how the variegated green and brown yarns create a subtle diamond pattern. I didn’t put too much thought into how the final socks would look, I just liked the two colors of yarn together. I knit the socks starting at the toe and working up, as the pattern suggests. I also knit both socks at the same time- constantly detangling 4 balls of yarn (one green and one brown for each sock) was easier once I put them all in a basket instead of letting them roll around on the floor.


Karree socks in green and brown

I nervous about figuring out how to start a new color of yarn, but it is simple- you simply drop the old color and knit the next stitch with the new color. When you’re done with the sock you go back and weave the ends into the sock with a tapestry needle.

Karree socks

I also love the solid color toe and heel. It makes the color of the sock much warmer and richer and highlights the contrast between the green and gold. Verdant Gryphon doesn’t have much fingering weight yarn in stock right now, but they do have tons of sport weight sock yarn. It is super high quality, a pleasure to knit with, and wonderfully comfortable to wear. One more neat feature of this sock pattern is the is gusset knitted at the bottom of the heel instead of the sides. I’ll leave you with a picture of the bottom of the socks so you can see the stripey triangular gussets.

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Matchy-matchy with mom

matching skirts

Remember those matching mother-daughter outfits that were popular in the 80’s and 90’s? Here’s a modern take on a blast from the past. When my mom saw the skirt I made last week, she liked it so much that she asked me to make her the exact same thing (except about 5 inches shorter). Then I picked up an almost matching crop top for her to wear. We got together for her birthday this weekend and wore matching outfits for the first time in years.  I think we’re a pretty cute pair in our ensembles.

Back in brown

brown linen skirt

As soon as I wrote my last post I realized something- I didn’t have the right fabric for the projects I wanted to make. I had been so wrapped up in my little world, obsessed with needing to finish the projects in front of me before I’d let myself start anything new. Of course knitting was appealing (and it still is… but my hands need a rest) when I wouldn’t let myself have any fun with sewing. So I went back to the drawing board, and this is what I came up with. It’s a brown linen skirt that ends just above my ankles.

brown linen skirt diy


I traced the pattern from my favorite winter skirt and came up with one slightly wonky pattern piece. Cut on the bias, the 4 panels of this skirt easily consumed 3 yards of fabric.

DSC_0094 (2)


The waistband is a simple, interfaced rectangle. The 7″ not-so-invisible zipper is sewn into the left side of the skirt. There are seams running down the center front and back of the skirt. The hem is finished with stretchy lace and topstitched (a simple way to get those bias seams to lie flat). I didn’t finish the inside seams because they are all on the bias, and therefore won’t fray.

inside details

Paired with a crop top and birkenstocks, it’s one of two skirts I’m most likely to pull out on a hot summer day. I think I just needed to take a break from tricky, lengthy projects to return to some simple, feel-good pieces. This skirt was finished in a couple afternoons with plenty of breaks, air conditioning, and iced tea.

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There is a small mistake on the center back seam- I didn’t interface it so it stretched out, and I had to take out a couple inches from the the top of the waistband and CB seam (tapering to nothing at the bum). It left me with some weird whiskers in the back, but they’re not too noticeable (I hope). Next skirt I’ll interface the waistband the entire way around.

linen skirt waistband detail

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linen skirt hem

sewing block

toe up socks

Lately I can’t seem to sew anything. I have projects in progress, and ideas of new projects to start, but my mind is too jumbled to focus on sewing. This morning I woke up like a kid on her birthday, running back into the arms of my sewing machine (after abandoning her for so many knitting needles). But then I picked up and put down several projects for hours (it’s 10:45 and I’ve been up since 7am). Collette’s Hawthorne dress sits unfinished on my dresser, and two pieces of fabric I intended to make skirts out of are spread out on the floor because I can’t decide what to do first. I can’t even make up my mind about what kind of skirt I want to make out of each fabric. Pleated? Gathered? Circle?  I can’t think about fitting shoulders or waistbands or cutting or staystitching. I admit defeat. I’m retreating to my knitting needles and netflix. Sewing, you beat me today.

I’m having no trouble knitting. Those little green socks up above are the second pair of socks I made. I knitted two socks at a time, starting at the toe and working up. They’re just practice-sized child socks, and I might unravel them later, but they turned out just like I wanted them to. I’m never going back to knitting socks one at a time. Two at a time is like building a dream house for your feet.

What do you do to get over a creative block?


Princess complex

Princess dress

Once upon a time there was a girl named Denver who really liked the color pink. One day, she came home to find her roommate complaining of boredom (not to mention 4 days of vacation from work). Denver knew how to solver her roommate’s boredom! Right away she ran off to the magical fabric store. She returned with Vogue 2960, fabric, and accompanying notions. She handed these to her roommate and asked her to make a pink princess dress for her birthday.

Though the fabric was slippery, Denver was patient as her roommate worked diligently through many dark winter days and nights, fabric spread over the floor of their tiny living room.

Princess dress

After all the cutting and fitting and sewing and ripping and re-sewing, all that was left to complete the princess dress was a prince (our Armani model friend was happy to indulge us (ok so he isn’t actually an Armani model but he certainly fits the mold)). And she lived happily ever after in her pink princess dress.

Princess Dress

Princess Dress

(It took us until the spring to coordinate our schedules for this fun and silly photoshoot but it was worth it!)

Princess Dress

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