She Knits: Denim Shawl

This is not one of the three projects I brought into the new year from 2018. It was born out of boredom with the two remaining knits I had on the needles after I finished the Speckled Space Socks were completed.

Progression Info
Started – January 16
Completed – January 29
1.9 weeks

Pattern Info
Basic Instincts Shawl by Zhenya Lavy

I chose this pattern because of the yarn, which is a denim blue with a casual feel. I wanted a shawl I could wear as a scarf or cowl very casually with jeans and a T-shirt. This design is lightweight, but not lacy or frilly, which fit into my plans for how it will be worn.

I enjoyed this pattern The main body is done in a faggot stitch and there are garter stitch bands to break it up. I also find the garter bands to provide some structure where the more open stitching wants to stretch considerably. The pattern is not difficult and is easy to memorize. It is worked from one tip toward the center then to the other tip. With the yarn divided in half, it allows great usage of the yarn — simply work the center band when nearing the end of the first ball.

Yarn Info
Hand Dyed Fingering Sock Weight by XrayAnn
50% merino wool, 25% rayon from bamboo, 25% nylon
Colorway – semi solid blue
1.86 skeins = 409.2 yds used

This yarn was the second I received in a holiday swap last December (along with the yarn I used in the Speckled Space Socks). The yarn came already caked in two 50 gram balls, so it was ready to knit right away.

The yarn is soft. I can’t tell how sturdy it will be, but I’m hopeful the nylon helps it hold up well. It definitely has a more casual feel, so fits the overall look of the shawl nicely.



She Knits: Speckled Space Socks

I was given this sock yarn as part of a 2018 holiday swap. I was excited because I haven’t been buying sock yarn for myself lately, but have missed knitting socks. This gave me a great excuse — especially because this color wouldn’t be appropriate anywhere else on me (as a shawl, for example)!

Progression Info
Started – December 19
Completed – January 11

I have some interesting statistics for this pair of socks. I’ve wondered for a long time how much knitting time a pair of socks actually requires. When I knit the second sock for this pair, I decided to find out for sure. This sock pattern is mildly patterned, which serves as a good middle-ground for timing. I timed myself knitting the second sock, and here’s what I found:

Total Time: about 7.5 hours
toe – 17 mins; foot – 2 hrs; gusset – 1.5 hrs; heel – 55 mins; leg – 2.25 hrs; cuff – 25 mins; bind off – 8 mins; finishing – 4 mins

I was most intrigued that the foot, gusset, and leg all take nearly the same amount of time. I expected the heel to be less time than it was, as it always feels like it works up quickly.

So, it appears I can knit a pair of socks in roughly 15 hours. 🙂 That’s definitely manageable over a long three-day weekend, if I don’t have anything else happening. But is more realistically about a week of knitting time for me, if I knit exclusively on that one pattern.

Pattern Info
Speckled Space Socks by Amanda Stephens

As promised, this is a great pattern for speckled sock yarns like this one. The design is interesting and still shows through all the color variegation, but is also easy to memorize.

These socks fit better than any other pair I’ve knit myself. 🙂 That’s very exciting to me! I knit it at a tighter gauge than called for in the pattern (the foot of my socks are 9 stitches per inch; the pattern is written for 8). In the pattern notes, the designer mentions that some of her test knitters found the leg too tight because of the cables reaching all the way around versus on the foot where the cables are only on the instep. Her suggestion was to increase needle size for just the leg. I took the advice and used a bigger needle on the leg, which gave me 8 stitches per inch. The gauge difference isn’t very noticeable by sight, but the fit is much better this way.

The only thing that could make them fit absolutely perfectly would be about 2 more gusset rounds. I need just a bit more width around the widest point of my foot. But I don’t think I need a taller heel flap. So I would need to decrease out those extra gusset stitches somewhere. That’s the piece I haven’t figured out — maybe at the top center of the heel flap/back of the heel? Or somewhere in the heel turn? I’m not sure.

Yarn Info
Southern Skeins Merino Nylon Fingering sock yarn
75% wool, 25% nylon
Colorway – speckled sprout
0.65 skeins = 283.4 yds used

such a fun color!

As I mentioned, this yarn was given to me as part of a swap I participated in recently. It is so bright! and cheerful! and fun! But it definitely needed to be socks.

The yarn bled quite a lot in the wash and rinse, but the color didn’t fade noticeably, so I think it was just excess dye. That’s not a problem for a one-skein/one-color project, but could be an issue if I paired this with a really light color in a two-color project. I’m only noting it so that I remember to not wash these socks alongside something white or pale!


A Year of Crafting: 2018

It’s been yet another busy year. Squirt joined our family in April. And a few months later, I discovered I was carrying yet another new life. 🙂 Busy and wonderful. We expect our new little boy, number four, next May.

Project Totals

Projects: 20
crochet: 1 (5%)
embroidery: 1 (5%)
knit: 15 (75%)
quilting: 1 (5%)
sewing: 2 (10%)

gifted: 5 (25%)
designed: 6 (30%)

I knit about as many projects as last year. I gifted fewer but designed/improvised more. I knit a smaller percentage of my projects than last year.

Yarn Totals

Total Yardage: 5,387.0 yards (That’s 3.06 miles!)
acrylic: 603.9 (11.2%)
cotton: 301.7 (5.6%)
linen: 1,574.7 (29.2%)
nylon: 218.3 (4.1%)
wool: 2,688.3 (49.9%)

I finished a project using a new fiber this year — linen for my Asagi blouse. I used less yarn than last year (about 520 yards less). I used a greater percentage of natural fibers this year (about 15% compared to 28%). I think this reflects somewhat from the fewer gifts I knit this year. I tend to knit gifts in machine washable, nearly indestructible fibers, whereas I don’t mind handwashing the items that I or my family wear.

Looking Back

I am pleased to say I accomplished most of my goals going into this year. I finished my blouse before summer and the vest for Squirt. I also knit her a newborn hat. I knit a hat and stuffed toy for my expectant friend’s baby. I did end up knitting a baby dress for Squirt using some of the linen left from my blouse.

I did not make a hat to match Squirt’s bubbly vest, a quilt for her, or a dress or cardigan for my expectant friend.

I’m really happy with everything I did make this year. Each of the three kids has a handmade sweater and hat as we go into a rather mild winter. All three may still fit next year as well! I’m also very glad I made the quilt for JB. It makes me smile every time I make his bed; it is just perfect!

I made things for myself — the blouse, a pair of socks, and a piece of embroidery.

And I made things for friends — the items for my friend’s new baby plus some handknit fabric for her to make a stocking with (waiting to see if the stocking turns out before I blog about that one!), a hat for my sister’s beau, and sewn Christmas ornaments for my Polish friend.

Into the New Year

I don’t have many expectations for the year at large, again, and for the same reason as last year! A new baby just brings so much newness to a family that it’s hard to predict what my crafting life will be like in the coming months.

However, I do have three works in progress entering the new year with me.

The first is a baby blanket for new brother. It is a lovely wool dyed in a bright navy blue, and I’m knitting him a blanket with sailboat and anchor motifs. It is my afternoon nap time project, which guarantees I get a little time almost every day to work on it in peace.

The second is a pair of socks using a brightly dyed speckled blue and green yarn from a Christmas swap I participated in. I have the foot and heel of the first sock knit, so I’m about 30% finished on the pair.

And the third is a cowl I’m knitting for myself out of a lovely wool-nylon blend I bought last year that has a long color repeat. The cowl has four small sections: I-cord, garter stitch, a simple cable, and a bit of lace. It is interesting to knit, but as it’s for myself, it’s a long-term project.

I hope to finish those three before the baby is born in May. I am also in the middle of a book I’ve been reading for over a year and would like to finish that before he is born, too!

She Cooks: Stovetop Southern Biscuits Recipe

I’m still without an oven, but that hasn’t stopped me making old-fashioned Southern American biscuits. I don’t know if anything could stop me making these!


2 cups all-purpose flour (may need up to 1/4 cup extra)

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

2 tsp sugar

1/2 cup cold butter, diced

3/4 cup cold milk


Place a cast iron skillet (or other pan; oven-safe if intending to brown the tops under the broiler) over low heat on the stove while making biscuit dough. Grease thoroughly with bacon fat, butter, or lard.

Combine the dry ingredients. Add the diced butter. Use a pastry blender, fork, or your fingertips to cut in the butter until it is pea-sized.

Add the milk and stir to combine. If dough is too sticky, add small amounts of flour. The dough will be shaggy, but should not be very sticky or crumbly. Knead it in the bowl a few times to combine well.

Portion into 8 pieces. Roll each into a ball and then slightly flatten. Place into preheated skillet.

Return to the stove over low heat. Cover and cook 15-20 minutes. Do not raise the heat or the bottoms will burn before the biscuits are cooked through. Begin checking after 15 minutes. When touched, biscuits should be firm and not sticky. Use a fork or spatula to lift and check the bottoms which should be lightly browned.

Biscuits may be served as is. If desired, put them uncovered under a hot broiler to brown the tops.

She Knits: Squirt’s Aneira Hat

I made this hat to go with Squirt’s Aneira Minikins sweater.

Progression Info
Started – November 26
Completed – November 28
Duration – 2 days = 0.3 weeks

Pattern Info
Basic Hat by Ann Budd
The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns (Amazon)
Size 6-18 months at 6 spi

I used Ann Budd’s basic pattern for the stitch counts. The colorwork section was going to be about 2″ in my gauge, so I started it about 2″ from the beginning of the crown shaping. I used the chart from the Aneira Minikins pattern, working it top to bottom (because the hat is bottom-up whereas the sweater yoke was top-down).

I think it turned out great. I had just enough of the tan to make this work. It would look nicer with the colorwork lower on the hat, maybe by 1-2″, but I wouldn’t have had enough tan to finish up the top if I had started the colorwork any sooner.

Yarn Info
Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Sport
100% wool
Rouge (pink) – 0.62 skeins = 84.8 yds used
Oyster Heather (tan) – 0.14 skeins = 19.1 yds used
Bramble Heather (brown) – 0.08 skeins = 10.9 yds used
Total – 0.84 skeins = 114.8 yds used

I used the leftovers from her sweater to make this hat.