Monday, July 28, 2014

Yoga Socks

Probably the weirdest thing I've knit thus far (actually maybe not [thinking about the yoda hat, diva cozy, and doggy poop bag dispenser]) but a quick and fun knit! Okay, after making hyperlinks to these other knits I've realized I've made a lot of very odd things. Anyways....

Yoga Socks!  

Started: June 14, 2014
Finished: June 16, 2014
Yarn: Cascade Fixation (98% cotton, 2% elastic)

This yarn drove me nuts! 

We had a knitted sample sock at the shop and I couldn't stop stretching it. I would pick up the sock and walk around the store stretching it. You know those stress balls that you squeeze? Similar to that, except I would stretch it because this cotton yarn is so stretchy (so sorry to my shop peep who knit this!!).

After making fun of the yarn and saying how gross cotton yarn is you know I had to buy it right?

I knit a small square swatch and brought it to work so I could stretch it when feeling stressed. But that took up less than a quarter of the ball. So I started to look around a different projects and settled on making yoga socks. I liked this particular pattern because i figured the thong-sock would actually stay put rather than rolling or moving up my foot as I tried to do a yoga pose.

The project itself is easy. The pattern was a little rough... HOWEVER, the pattern was originally written in German (I think) and was translated into English by I'm assuming an ESL. But it's all good because it was a simple enough pattern that one could easily wing it and figure it out from some of the pattern instructions. I did have to change the number of CO sts and decrease rows because this Fixation yarn is a DK whereas the original pattern is written for a fingering weight yarn.

Pattern Mods:
Using a provisional CO - 20 stitches
Decreased until 3 stitches left (one decrease both ends of RS, one decrease on WS)
Worked i-cord for 4 rows
Increased until 20 stitches (one increase both ends of RS, one increase on WS)
Picked up 20 stitches from the provisional CO, worked 1 row in sts.

On the heel I worked a couple of rows of 2x2 ribbing so it would hug the heel area.

After using the socks once I think they are okay. Fine for during a warm up, or if I wanted to just do some simple yoga stretching at home. I might use some puffy paint and make some "grippys" on the bottom. We'll see.

Overall, another fun and functional knit!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How Much Yarn?

Recently I helped a student calculate the amount of yarn she had leftover. She had worked a scarf from two balls of yarn and had no idea how much yarn was used and was hoping to have enough for a matching hat. I told her it would be no problem to calculate approximate yarn amounts based on the weight and I was met by others in the class looking confused or with wonder.

So here's a quick little tutorial on how I calculated the approximate left over yardage.

Materials Needed: 

  • Left over yarn
  • Yarn information (weight and amounts started with) 
  • Basic Kitchen scale
  • Calculator (because although I love math, I can't do calculations in my head, no matter how easy!)


Start with your left-over yarn. If you have the original ball band that is great, you can use the numbers from there. If you don't have the ball band but you know the name of the yarn, manufaturer or anything that can be used to figure out the yarn specs plug it into Ravelry (first shot), Yarndex (second shot) or Google (third shot). Hopefully you can find the original amounts (weight and yardage/meters) the skein was.

In this situation we were lucky and we had the ball band:

So we started with approximately (notice this approx!) 138 yards (126 meters) and 3.5 oz (100 grams).

I typically work in metrics -- except (for some reason) when I talk about yards of yarn. Very odd, I know. But here I'll show the calculations for both metric and US system.

Next step is to weigh the yarn. If you have a basic kitchen scale you can do this.

When you turn it on make sure you notice if it is in grams or oz. Typically (depending on the scale) you can change to your preferred system by pushing a "units" button.

Next you will need to make sure to "tare" the scale so it reads "0". If you find that your yarn does not sit properly on the scale put a light bowl (or another container) onto the scale and hit "tare." Now we have the scale set to 0.

Now is the easy part. Put your skein on the scale and see how much your leftover yarn weighs.

Here you can see we have 95 grams. If we wanted to see that in oz we can just change the units on the scale to oz (we have 3 3/8 oz).

Next is the part that throws people... but really it's fun. Just a little Plug and Chug!

Take your Original Yardage (OY)
Multiply the New Weight (NW)

Divide that number (OY/NW) by the Original Weight (OW)

And this will give your your New Yardage (NY).

The formula:

So Plug n' Chug (first in metric) :

Original yardage (OY) = 126 meters
New Weight (NW) = 95 grams
Original Weight (OW) = 100 grams

OR Plug n' Chug in US standard:

Original yardage (OY) = 138 yards
New Weight (NW) = 3.375 oz
Original Weight (OW) = 3.5 oz


So we have approximately 119.7 meters or 133 yards of yarn left.

Discussion and Conclusions: 

Now word of caution. We are working off a LOT of approximate weights and lengths. Note that on the original ball band, it CLEARLY states that we have approximately 100 grams of yarn in each skein. And then you have the accuracy of the scale to question. We use a kitchen scale, this is not a laboratory scale where we calibrate it every couple weeks or so. So there are a lot of factors that could come to play -- so we have approximately 119 meters or 133 yards left. I would not pick a pattern that calls for 133 yards of yarn... just in case!

Yay for math!

Monday, July 14, 2014

French Press Slippers for Work

Cute and comfy. That's what I needed for work.

Recently I converted my work station into a stand-up desk. Actually I can stand or sit with a simple lever pull. But I really like being able to stand and work rather than sitting for hours at a time.

But I wear dresses and suits to work and standing in heels is rather unpleasant. Sure I could kick off my shoes but standing barefoot in my office place just seems rather odd (at least to me). So I decided to look for a pair of cute slipper type of things that I could knit up and wear while standing at my desk. Enter the famous French Press Slippers that were so popular a couple of years ago!

Yarn: Stonehedge Fiber Mill's Shepherd's Wool Worsted (100% merino wool)
Started: June 28, 2014
Finished: July 6, 2014

This was a super quick knit!

  • Two days to knit
  • Two evenings of seaming (because I'm slow and did this while watching tv!)
  • One afternoon of felting (not the whole afternoon - two cycles in my machine)
  • 3 days to dry (because it has been humid as heck here in the DC area)
  • 1 day of finishing (because I'm slow at sewing buttons and straps) 

No modifications (really!). This is a very well written pattern. I guess if I were to knit these again I might seam the heel a little different so it doesn't pucker as much. But really I think this pattern and project is perfect as is. It was my first time felting on purpose (I'm trying to forget about the last mess) and between the pattern and the support I had from peeps things went smoothly. For example, I was told to put the slippers into a pillowcase or a lingerie bag so the fibers don't clog the washing machine pipes. Something I would have never thought twice about until I was cleaning hairballs out of the drum. Another peep mentioned using an old pair of jeans for agitation but to make sure to zip up the fly so felting projects don't get caught into the teeth. Another very good tip!

After a couple of days of wearing the slippers at work (and a number of complements!) I've found that I should probably add some sort of "grippy" type of substance to the bottom. I don't walk around in these, just at my desk, but the wool on the carpet is rather slippery and having something to add to traction would help. Especially if I start doing any of these:
(check out the #4 Celebratory Split Squat Jumps)


Monday, July 7, 2014

Irish Arrow Mystery Shawl KAL

Remember I told you about a neat knit-a-long that I joined? I'm talking about the:       

Irish Arrow Mystery Shawl
Pattern: Follow Your Arrow Mystery KAL by the lovely Ysolda Teague.
Yarn: Knit-a-Licious by J. Knits, held double
Started: January 24, 2014
Completed: June 4, 2014

The mystery, knit-a-long was supposed to be for five weeks - we were sent one clue that included 2 choices (A or B) each week. Well, initially I was going strong and for weeks 1-4, I was right there knitting away and this post was a sort of "diary" that I kept adding to as I knit along. However (as you probably have and will notice) I sort of fizzled at week 5. So here's my account of my experience - week by week, clue by clue... until that week 5. 

Week 1: 1B - I chose clue 1B although after seeing other A's I really, really thought about ripping back to start over with A. But I stuck out and I'm glad I did.Clue A looked like an isosceles triangle, kind-of? It was different and I think that if I ever decide to make another of this shawl I'll pick A!  

Week 2: 2A - After realizing that I have cobweb yarn (?!?!) I realized I should probably do more open-type stitch patterns. So it was a no-brainer that I chose A.This week's clue was nice an repetitive, perfect for completing while watching football on Sunday.  

Week 3: 3B - This week started great and I actually finished early! Typically start the clue on Sunday (clues are released on Mondays) and frantically try to finish and converse with peeps before the next release.

Week 3 Update (later in the same week) - As I looked at my shawl and looked at the pretty 3B chart I realized I wanted to do more! SO I ended up knitting not a second... 

But also a THIRD repeat of Clue 3B! I thought it came out rather pretty.  I cannot wait for Clues 4 and 5! 

LOVING my BAB(3) Shawl!
[future Suzy comment here.... this is where I realized I'm an idiot]

Week 4: 4B - Okay. I don't know where I learned to do math! Actually I'm really good at math and logic and puzzles too. But for some strange reason I sometimes forget to use those skills when attempting to do things in my life. 

Take this shawl for example. 

The original pattern calls for 680 yards. 
My yarn has 1200 yards. And because it's cobweb I decided, to hold it double. Do you see a problem yet? Yep, Suzy is now down to 600 yards. 

Well clearly I didn't recognize this problem until now... oh on week 4.5?! 

Oh yeah and what about the fact that I decided to knit Clue 3B in TRIPLICATE?!!? 

I've decided to only knit the first 1/2 of clue 4B and wait to see what Clue 5 brings. Clearly I needed to bind-off sooner rather than later. 

Week 5: [Future Suzy here... weeks go by and this entry is still blank]

Week 5: 5A(ish) - After weeks (okay months) of this project sitting on the needles I decided it was time to tackle the drama and figure out how to finish it. I knew I'd have to cut out some bits of the pattern - so heavy modifications were in store. After looking at it and stressing for a while I decided to complete the second half of 5A clue and then just bind off. That's it. Just called it a day. 

And I'm proud to say... it's done! And it doesn't look that bad! 

If I could jump into a time machine and do it over I would not hold the yarn double and would have done a number of section repeats. I think this would make a BEAUTIFUL large shawl. But really, I'm happy with the results. 

So Lessons Learned -- Always take a moment to THINK before starting something. You'd think I would have learned THAT by now.... 

A comment about the yarn - it was was interesting....  I had never worked with cobweb yarn before and I'm not sure if I ever will again. Honestly if it had not been a mystery/KAL/Choose your own adventure type of pattern I'm sure I would have frogged and thrown the yarn back into my stash, never to be seen again. (BTW I'm talking about the yarn and NOT the pattern). The yarn was nice (100% alpaca). But even held double and I just know that cobweb weight is not for me.  

And as I've mentioned it was my first KAL so I wasn't sure what to expect (if I'd feel awkward joining in or what). Come to find out -- it was a LOT of fun! It was all virtual - via Twitter #irisharrowkal or on the Ravelry group, Follow Your Arrow. The forum allowed for assistance when needed, spoiler photos when you couldn't make a decision and just a good place to find other knitters experience the same thing. Convos via twitter were fun and exciting. I frequently conversed with a couple of knitters in Ireland and Wales and even though the time difference we had a blast bantering back and forth about this KAL and other knitting thoughts.    

And finally, this was simply a fun knit and beautiful design by Ysolda. How she comes up with a shawl design that can be knit into 32 different shawls just blows my mind. This lady is inspiring. 

Overall, a fun (albeit frustrating user error) knit! I think I'd do another Ysolda pattern, KAL, or mystery KAL in a heartbeat! It would have been nice to finish the project at the same time as the others. But it all worked out in the end. And I'm happy to say I actually like the shawl quite a bit.