Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The R-Word

Happy new year!
Every once in a while (like at the start of a new year) I like to step back, take stock, and set goals. I don't think of it as the R-word, which seems to add more stress than productivity. Instead, I imagine it as a fun challenge,  and if I don't meet it I can go on with a good conscience. Well, at least that's what I tell myself.

So I looked at my list of projects on the needles  (ignoring the ones that are hibernating ) and I noticed something funny. A lot of socks. Something in the ballpark of eight or nine pair, some of them with both socks started. Then I figured,  why not shoot for the one-per-month challenge?  So I took that as license to cast on a few more, bringing the total up to eleven, because I am brilliant. (I'm leaving #12 as a wild card.)

I like to think I made new knitting strides in the last year, despite feeling a lack of as much time and energy as I would like to devote to projects. I managed to knit some sweaters I am really pleased with, and some blankets. I even improvised a few items, which is a goal met in itself. The socks should have been cake by comparison. So why have they languished?  I see friends banging out great-looking socks in no time flat, and feel my lack.  Upon further inspection I noticed that I have never knit a plain, stockinette sock. Basic ribbing, yes, but the no-purl, no fancy stitching, fly-along stockinette socks? Not once. I guess I'm picky.  I love buying handpainted sock yarns, but I don't always like how they knit up without some kind of texture to break them up.  Yes, my blender socks are actually stockinette, but the frequent changes of skeins make them fiddly in their own right, so they don't count. When I cast on a new pair of socks on New Years Day, I thought this was going to be the time to cast on something easy. Something I could knit without looking at it, so I could continue multitasking with movies or socializing or--ahem--studying. When push came to shove, I opted for a pattern that is almost mindless and pleasant to work but I also find very satisfying in the finished product: Simple SKYP Socks. 

I had also opted for something quick to make up for all the socks I don't want to mend. Unfortunately, the tough yarn is not the easiest to knit at this gauge, so they are not as quick as I had hoped. Still, I like them and look forward to trying them out.

Years ago, I remember dreaming of being so comfortable with my knitting that I could improvise something I wanted to make, rather than relying on a pattern. To a degree, this has always been a factor in my knitting; rarely have I followed a pattern strictly. Even yarn substitutions have demanded creativity and flexibility in knitting projects. But this year has been a year of continuing to forge new paths, starting with yarn, dreaming up what it can be, and with nothing but years of experience and an arsenal of reference materials (and poring over other people's projects) I have been able to produce functional and, to me, beautiful pieces such as bottle cozies, hats, scarves, socks, and most recently, a colorwork cowl.

I wanted to use the full gradient that my friend had spun up in BFL fiber (colorway is "Mars," I believe). The double-sided cowl fit the bill beautifully, and I love that it gives me options to match my mood or my outfit.

By the way, the hat is improvised, too, and again, it was driven by a beautiful yarn--a skein of Quince & Co. Osprey that I picked up on a visit to Hidden River Yarns in Manayunk. This yarn is just beautiful without even trying.

More cowl pics...

I used Imperial Stock Ranch Tracie Too for the white background and grey border, and the resulting cowl is really nice to wear: soft, cushy, and surprisingly functional, if not a bit weird. 

In the very recent plummeting temperatures, both these cozy knits have held me in excellent stead. I love it when that happens!

So I don't promise to be monogamous with the socks, but I do plan to finish a pair each month... which ones do you think I'll finish for January?

1 comment:

  1. You are funny with all those unfinished socks. I like using the twelfth as a wild card. I am sure they will get knit up. I only knit plain ones and knit about 10 rounds on a sock after I knit 2 or 3 rounds on a sweater. Plain socks are good for exciting movies. I really like your cowl. Your colour work is wonderful.
    Ron in Mexico