Warm Feet

There’s nothing I appreciate more in winter than having warm and dry feet. It’s the time of the year that I go back to thinking about hand knitted socks and regret having just a few pairs. After knitting a pair of Van Dyke socks for my mother, I new I needed a pair for my myself, and the Malabrigo Rios I had in my stash was very tempting.

I knitted them exactly like the ones for my mother, but adding an extra repeat on the leg portion, making a total of eleven, four of them just before the gusset.

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They took a little longer than my mother’s pair just because we were moving and there was a lot to be done around the house.

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I wore them a couple of times and they are very comfortable and extra soft, but the wool looks like it’s going to wear out quite quick and easily. It’s a pity because I usually have problems with itchy yarns on my feet, and this one felt wonderful.

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Despite making the smallest size the socks have grown a little and there’s not much negative ease anymore, it could be that even after fixing my gauge issues, I still knit too loose.

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I’m always careful, but somehow I screwed up the cuffs binding off, since they are tighter than usual and it takes me some effort to take these socks on and off, but at least I can do it 😉

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And you, are you knitting socks this winter?

Completed: Margot Pajama Bottoms

I bought this cotton flannel sheet in Retales Lidia by the kilo. I don’t remember the price, but it was ridiculously cheap and I still have tons left. First I wanted to make the Tofino pants, but I was not 100% convinced about the leg width and I wanted a quick project. If we’re going to fret about pajamas, then what are we going to do about trousers or a fitted dress. No, I’ve learn just to put my energy where it’s required, and pajama bottoms is not the task for that. Am I right?

This pattern is from Tilly‘s book Love at First Stitch. The construction of these pajama bottoms was very easy and the only mods were chopping 5 cm from the bottom (exactly like my Thurlows) and adding en elastic to the waist, just exactly like Lauren did. I examined the pair of pajama bottoms I was wearing while sewing this and the construction was different. They have a closed elastic band and a drawstring on top. I thought of mimicking this but I saw Lauren’s idea more convenient. I just took some elastic I had left from the Prefontaine Shorts (ugh, unblogged), and when comfortable stretched it was almost the length of my waist. I sewed then twill tape to both ends. This way is more convenient than my RTW pants because if I need to change the elastic one day, I can just do it through the hole on the front.

This pink giraffe is my proposal for Jungle January. I’m not usually too keen on animal prints, but once I saw this one I had to have it. The socks are the Maria Denmark socks I made last October.

I cut a size 3 but I was really in between size 2 and 3. When I finished them I thought they were too loose, or at least looser than other pajama bottoms I own, but you know, they are all right, very comfortable, and I can even do a martelo of Capoeira while wearing them. I could shorten the front crotch by 3 or 4 cm next time though.

This t-shirt was one of the two t-shirts that I bought during my first Rockabilly Day in Belgium in 2007.

Fall plans: Coziness and stashbusting

Summer came and went fast and my knitting and sewing plans more or less fell into pieces. I stopped knitting to make sure wool was not causing the eczema on my hands. Anyway, I was not very motivated at all to invest time doing things that I enjoy. I preferred to invest it reading about histamine, angioedemas and immune diseases. This didn’t make me closer to the truth but knowledge is power. So I’m now a powerful ill person.

I had lots of plans for sewing, including making Gertie’s bombshell dress, which course I purchased already last year. I even had the fabric, but I didn’t have the heart… nor the weight. I finally recovered 3 out of my 10 lost kilos and I’m more or less stable, so that means I can start sewing for myself again. Another factor is that we moved to a bigger apartment in August, and now I have a dedicated sewing space and a large living room where I can cut fabric, tape patterns and leave things to be able to work on them the day after. Before this was unthinkable. Our tiny living room served as dining room, office, living room and sewing room. If I started sewing, cutting or tracing, I had to remove everything if I didn’t have time to finish at that moment. I also got an ironing board and my creases are a lot more crispy.

As I said, last year was full of plans but I didn’t have the infrastructure to make all happen. That didn’t stop me from dreaming, purchasing fabric or refraining myself from any wonderful bargain I happened to stumble upon. Luckily we had planned a good stash storage for our new apartment, and I stopped feeling that my wool and fabric were going to eat us.

And this is the story about how I started sewing and knitting again. I was working on two sweaters when my life stopped. I recently finished an Owls sweater but I still have no pictures because I need to add buttons. The other one is Armande, from Andi Satterlund. I resumed this one when half of my brain was still busy with medical concepts and had to unravel a section a couple of times. Yes, I know, this is a very simple design, but as I’ve said, half of my brain was focused on my health and the other half was simply tired.

Things are going now better knitwise and I hope I will finish this cardigan very soon.

And about sewing, I finished a couple of things when my health issues started but I haven’t shared them with you. Honestly I didn’t even took pictures and I don’t feel like wearing the bikini I made to show it here. Probably for next summer, I promise. I have a couple of blouses and a skirt that I could show you but I haven’t found yet the perfect location for pictures in the new house. To be honest, I haven’t worked on it, I still need to unpack my tripod. Please bear with me.

What I did was sewing accessories. The weather is a bit warm again, but there were some very cold days that caught us completely by surprise. I even turned the heating on since the pain in my finger joints was starting to be unbearable (and that for knitting is a no-no). So I decided that, even I wanted to sew wonderful dresses, I needed some basic warm garments and accessories to survive the coming winter.

And I’ve made slippers! I’d toyed with the idea of making them for a long while. I even bought the insoles last year and they were there, waiting to be used. I used this tutorial but made my own pattern using some scraps of paper. It’s the same idea that’s explained here, but I didn’t have this site in front of me since I felt lazy while measuring my foot and sitting on the floor.

And they fit like a glove.

Please excuse the sock marks on my feet. I was wearing something else before taking these pictures and I was in a hurry to make them with natural light. I’ve used faux leather for the sole, an old fleece scarf for the lining and some remnants of my first Thurlow trousers (I’m scared of trying them on because I know they won’t fit anymore). The faux leather was on sale because it was a small piece with some stains. It cost around €2 and I don’t mind the stains at all when they are going to face the floor all the time. Anyway, they are almost invisible.

The fleece scarf was a present many years ago from one of my aunts. I never quite liked this scarf and it was in the back of my closets in all the apartments where I lived since then (Vigo, Leuven 1, Leuven 2, Brussels, Madrid 1, Madrid 2). I don’t know why but I was attached to it because it had been a present, so I’m glad that it finally started to have a useful life. It has a vibrant yellow color with some pink and blue flowers. Beautiful for slippers lining but not so much for a scarf.

I really like how they came out, but if I were to make them again, I should probably design them slightly larger if I plan to wear thick socks with them.

And then Gerry joined the fun. See how beautiful his wings are. I see lots of birds on Instagram, and most of them have clipped wings. It makes me very sad because if birds should do just one thing, this is flying. Their metabolism, lungs, bones and digestive system are designed to facilitate this. Why do people clip their wings? They are birds, they should fly. Clipping their wings to make them obey better is cruel, coward and lazy. And if it’s done when they are very young, it prevents them from developing normal muscles. When we took Gerry to the vet last month (for a check up) she congratulated us because he is a very healthy and strong bird.

Another pattern that I had my eye set on was Maria Denmark’s SuperSocks. This is a very easy and quick project, and you can use leftovers since it takes very little fabric. I’ve used a piece from my Skull Fleece Renfrew and still have a lot left.

It’s an easy and straightforward pattern. It’s true that it fits quite well, but next time I would probably make left and right slightly different to have the toe fitting more closely and being actually able to use them inside shoes.

They are very nice and cozy though, and ideal to hang out on the sofa while knitting and watching an episode of our favorite series. I’m actually watching “Call the Midwife“, and I’m really enjoying it. It’s truly beautiful, you should see it.

 

It was not on purpose, but as I cut both pieces together, there’s almost continuity on the design. You can almost see the complete skulls if I place my feet together.

If the sole is substituted for a different material (faux leather) or if we use some non-slip glue, then they could become more versatile and be also used as slippers.

I’m thinking that this could make a quick Christmas present. I still have some Winnie the Pooh pink fleece from my niece’s hoodie, I’m sure she’ll love it.

 

 

Road trip

I haven’t been here for some days. You know, sometimes life gets in the way and one can’t find time to blog. Last week we had some days off and decided to take a road trip to the south. The plan was reaching Cádiz, but that was all. We still needed to get there, find hotels, come back and get lost in the way. Our first stop was Mérida, where we visited an old Roman theater which is still being used nowadays for its original purpose:

After that we continued South and visited Seville. It was getting warmer and warmer, but I’m always a cold girl and still needed my Bliss on.

The poor thing is peeling horribly, but it’s so soft, warm and comfy that I can’t stop wearing it. Well, I have to confess that I’m not wearing it right now because the temperatures raised a bit, which means I’m constantly wearing Freija, made from a bit thinner and also more durable yarn. It’s amazing how different Malabrigo Worsted and Rios can be. And talking about Malabrigo Rios, during the trip I had a chance to finish my Scroll Lace Scarf with Malabrigo Rios leftovers from Freija:

I was having doubts about either following literally the pattern or making it it in garter stitch. The border is clearly garter stitch, so after a couple of tests I decided that it would look more consistent just continuing like this. It also prevents it from rolling and I didn’t need to block it. In fact, after I finished it I couldn’t stop wearing it, admiring it, stroking it.

Yeah, and also making stupid pictures with my phone while it was Koen’s driving turn.

The whole point of this trip was visiting Cádiz, but I have to say that we felt a bit disappointed.  The coastline is completely ruined, since they built almost at the sea shore.

You cannot see it on the picture, but we were waking on a normal sidewalk, and just at the other side of the road there were ugly tall buildings.

The old part is a bit more beautiful, but it looks it was not really taken care of for a very long time.

The trip highlight was Tarifa, such a beautiful city at the most South of Spain and just across Africa:

You can see Africa behind us, and you can also see my beautiful Scroll Lace Scarf that I was not able to take off my shoulders. And also my very full and ragged handbag, but please, pay no attention to it. Koen is wearing a very strong sunscreen on his chin because of an accident he had some month ago with his bike, after which he got some stitches here and there. Luckily nothing too serious.

It was very windy there, and we learned it’s a location that attracts wind surfers. You can see Koen’s long hair blowing with the air. He really needs a haircut, but we recently heard that Maxi, the local vintage hairdresser died last January of a motorbike accident. He’s really missed by the rock community here.

Tarifa was not only beautiful and blindly bright, but it gave the impression of receiving a different tourism than the other cities we visited. It’s definitely more taken care of, with its beautiful fountains, gardens and white buildings.

And also funny street names 😉

We continued the drive and expected to visit Córdoba, but they were having the local festivities and it was so crowded that we couldn’t do anything but escaping from there.

And I continued with my knitting, this time working on a pair of Hermione’s everyday socks. I made this pattern so many times that the next one will be just plain vanilla socks. I swear it!

You can find more pictures of our journey in my Flickr.

Weekend

This past weekend was going to be a calm one. There were neither swing parties nor any kind of workshop announced. Time for ourselves and our things. One of the urgent projects for me was modifying Koen’s respro cycling mask. He goes to work by bike almost everyday. It’s a nearly 20 Km ride each way, and even some of the journey is outside the city, some part takes place amongst cars, with the big amount of pollution that this entails. He recently bought a pollution mask which looked something like this:

You can notice the band that goes under your ears and attaches with a velcro on the high part of your back neck. The mask is great but this attachment is quite uncomfortable for Koen, since it creates pressure on his nose and then he can only use his mouth for breathing. He asked me if I could attach a second stripe higher to be able to attach it over his ears. Since I recently got a new sewing machine and Koen was with me, I got down to work this Saturday afternoon.

I made two tapered stripes in the most similar material I could find and sewed on some velcro to the thin end. I had to cut the velcro sides a bit since it was a bit wider than the stripe. The result was good and Koen is happy to be able to use his nose again while cycling on the streets of Madrid.

Another thing that I tried to do, after reading Mamatronic’s last post, was organizing my wool stash but I miserably failed. The good thing is that I found a sock yarn (Jawoll Magic) that I bought last year, and that I’m planning to use soon, since I’ve recently gifted two of my new pairs of hand knitted socks to my mother. I say that I failed because I fished out lots of old acrylic that I’ve never used and that I’m not planning to. I bought a lot when I started to crochet some years ago since it was very cheap and I didn’t know better. Later on I started to knit and I learned to love fancy fibers and honestly I don’t know what to do with the crappy acrylic that I’ve accumulated over time.

I also found leftovers of good yarn: two skeins of cascade yarns 220 (red and grey), almost two skeins of malabrigo rios (orange), one skein of malabrigo worsted (blue), half a skein of malabrigo silky merino (green) and almost one skein of malabrigo chunky (pink). It’s nice to have something left of these lovely yarns, but it always bothers me to have such small quantities. I guess I’ll have to check the Ravelry groups One skein projects and Only half a skein.

Another thing that I’ve found was an almost finished summer dress from last year. It has a nice and fresh cotton fabric. I’ve cut it in the bias so I expect a nice drape to it. I will give more details as soon as I finish it.

The spring has finally kicked in and it feels more like the beginning summer, at least how summer is in other areas. People were outside just sunbathing and drinking with high spirits. We had 27 ºC (80ºF) this weekend, but we expect to have even a bit more than 40ºC (104ºC)  during the real summer. This late start means that the sycamore maple pollen season was delayed until this weekend, so we’ll have this and the grass together for a small a period of time. My allergies are also blooming. My asthma has gotten slightly worse (I expect it to get even worse in one month) and I have rashes appearing everywhere. Saturday I had a bit of my chest, Sunday the right side of my back and today the left side. I also have rashes in my hands and arms, but it’s still not too bad. I remember when I was living in Belgium, during the birch season. I had to sleep almost siting with several pillows because I had problems breathing, I had to use special soap and shampoo and my face looked like a map during times of war. My face is mostly untouched until now, let’s see in one month.

With the weather improvement we need to reorganize our clothes and put back at the bottom of the closet the ones for winter. I’ve already mentioned ours is a very small apartment and one of the difficulties we had when we arrived was the space for clothes. Nowadays it’s still a challenge that has only one way out: decluttering. So we’ve been doing a bit of that. Old clothes and shoes, and even not so old but that haven’t been worn in ages, have been put in bags to be donated.

I’ve discovered a software called Dress Assistant, which I’m currently testing. With such a small place, lots of clothes and my crazy head I always end up wearing the same clothes and most of the time I forget about those at the end of the drawer. Let’s see if I finally like the program and it helps me with this to finally buy the license.

What about you? How was your weekend? How do you organize your clothes? Do you declutter often?

Barswingona

This past long weekend was not very productive regarding knitting. We assisted to an international Lindy-Hop event in Barcelona. With four hours of class per day and then the parties where we could continue dancing and watching the teachers’ showcases, we had no much energy left in our bodies the rest of the day but just to nap.

I did a bit of knitting in the train and during one of the lazy afternoons while we were watching Downton Abbey. I started a pair of socks for my mother with a yarn I recently got, and I see that what you pay is what you get. It was rather cheap, but see what came from inside the ball after I pulled some yarn to find the end:

The festival was great, and even we came back home exhausted, it was worth it. We watched a super exciting Jack and Jill that was an absolute adrenaline shot. Lindy-Hop is just such a happy dance,being there felt like being at the Savoy during the 30’s: nice dresses, lots of make up, smart suits, sweat and swing music. You could feel the floor vibrating under your feet at the rhythm of the music, just pure energy coming from the dancers. And I could finally wear one of the dresses I’ve made last year. This picture was taken at the hotel, just before leaving for the party. I have to confess that I polished my nails with my coat already on to be able to let them dry on our way to the ballroom. The pictures quality is not great, since they were taken with our phones. We did not want to pack with us the SLR camera, since we had already a lot of stuff. It’s not easy to pack for a dance festival. You need lots of t-shirts, towels for the sweat during classes, two or three pairs of shoes, pants, a dress for each party, make up, …

At the party on Friday we met a couple of friends of ours from Brussels. We used to attend the same Lindy-Hop classes. It was a great surprise meeting them there and being able to dance with them again.

We had two classes with the wonderful William and Maeva. When watching their videos, she looks like an impressive woman, and I was surprised to find such a cute little girl.

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I have some more news related to crafting, but it’s been quite hectic since we came back so it’ll have to wait a little bit.

Summer knitting

It is my first real Summer in 5 years. I started knitting last August and crochetting in September of 2009. I’d heard before that during the Summer one doesn’t feel like knitting. At that moment I did not completely understand that statement because it never happened to me… until I knew how Summer was in Madrid: almost 40 degrees, sweaty hands just touching the wool, tighter stitches, …

The last two Summers in Belgium (and this one I’ve heard) were simply non-existing. Jokes like this one were very popular and one could see them almost everyday circulating over the internet:

We moved to Madrid in mid January and we realized soon the difference of climate. We even had lunch on a terrace in February!

Here I started to attend two SnB meetings: Madrid Knits and la Tertulia Madrileña de Punto. But when Summer got more hot, suddenly I didn’t feel like going. Not only that, but after finishing a couple of projects, I did not feel like starting a new one. And not because my queue was clean!

I started crochetting something in cotton but it ended up at the bottom of a bag, waiting for better times.

Until two weeks ago, that I went with my mum, my sister and my niece to Algarve, in the South of Portugal. We went there chasing the good weather (this Summer is being also quite bad in Vigo) and also to fulfil my mother’s need for a laying-under-the-sun vacation. A complete week of sun, beach, swimming pool and food. I was starting to panic thinking of all those hours of nothingness so I decided to go for a last minute visit to La Guerra de los Botones and buy some yarn to make two pairs of socks during those slow hours while my mum and my sister were working on their tan. I finally made one and just started the other one, but it really helped me to kill the time (reading is not an option if you need to keep up with your family’s conversations).

I chose Hermione’s Everyday socks again because it’s an easy pattern, for which no mental focussing is needed and because the socks come out very stretchy and it’s almost impossible they don’t fit greatly. This pair came out beautiful and just as I expected. Real good Winter socks, on a discrete colour to wear any day.

Luckily at least one of us really enjoyed the swimming pool 🙂

Socks: Challenge Accepted!

Since I started knitting I used to admire with envy the beautiful socks other Raverlers posted on their profiles: plain, laced, multicolored, unicolored, …. I confess that I absolutely LOVE Dona‘s socks, and my wish is, one day, to knit beautiful socks like her. I was really looking forward to imitating this people and showing pictures of my feet wrapped in adorable socks. When I was living in Brussels I bought three sock yarns and I even started two different toe-up socks that stayed unfinished for months. I never completed those two projects.

But I continued faving socks and queueing up patterns, until I decided to take action. I’m in the group Free Pattern Testers and whenever I see an interesting project and I feel I have time I offer myself to test the pattern. It’s a very good way of getting patterns for free, helping the designer and also a way of committing yourself and being sure that you will finish a project in a reasonable lapse of time (a bit of pressure is always good).

I saw a pair of socks that looked reasonable easy on that group and I decided to give them a try, they were the Fruit Lace Socks. I had to finish that pair! There was no excuse, I was going to finish my first pair of socks! Challenge accepted!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekeELle5g-o]

These were cuff-down socks featuring a lace pattern and there was only one size available, so I knew from the beginning that those socks were going to come out way too large for me. Never mind. I wanted so badly to finish a pair of socks and get out of the jinx that I just continued doggedly. There was not a specified foot length so I adapted it to my feet and the result was a lovely pair of socks to wear at home over another pair when my feet are cold (yes, that happens even in Spring).

The reason for this success was not only a clear pattern and the pressure, but also a good election of needles. Just before starting this project I remembered one of Dona‘s favorite needle brands: Addi. By chance I have a friend who has an online shop that sells this brand of needles, and she is also one of the knitters that come every Friday to our Madrid Knits meetings, so bought two circular needles from her (2mm and 2.5 mm). I have to say that I absolutely love this needles. They meant a big change in knitting socks because the joint of the needle and the cable is so smooth and it makes the magic loop so much fluid and painless. I remember my first time with Prym needles and how much I suffered moving my stitches from the cable to the needle. It also didn’t help that at that moment I was an English and a much tighter knitter, but that’s another story that deserves its own post.

My next pair of socks were custom made. I wanted to reuse the yarn of one of my unfinished projects and I was afraid of running out of yarn. I had only 50 grams that I purchased in Brussels and it was going to be extremely difficult to get more. I was on a hurry, I was on track, I was not going to look for similar yarn. I have small feet and I was going to make my save-yarn socks. I thought that a lace pattern could save some yarn and I really liked Dona’s socks for Barbara, so I decided to try something similar, but toe-up not to run out of yarn in the middle of the foot. I was also afraid of SSS and I felt lazy to weigh my yarn (although I have a scale!) so my final decision was to make toe-up socks two at a time. I was a bit worried that that could make things difficult, but now, looking backwards, I can say that it was one the best decisions I made related to knitting: No SSS, no need to weigh yarn and both socks will come of exactly the same size. No row counting, no uneven tension due to stress (that sometimes happens), dry hands, sweaty hands, … This was going to be the definitive recipe. To be able to accommodate a pattern similar to the one of Dona, taking into account that I have much smaller feet (she has a 40 size and I have a 36), I needed 48 stitches in total. I used 48 stitches also in later projects and it’s what works for me. It’s a bit tight but some negative ease when making socks is desired, since then tend to stretch a bit with the use and we don’t want wrinkles inside our shoes.

Feather & Fan pattern:

  1. K
  2. k2tog x 2 + k1,yo x 4 + k2tog x 2
  3. K
  4. K

For the sock I used the pattern You’re putting me on socks with a flap heel. I just need to say that these came out lovely, a bit too multicolored, and with a too short heel and low instep. I decided that I was going to modify that for the next time. But I had enough yarn and even some left.

My next pair of socks was also custom made. I was again inspired by one of Dona’s pair of socks but I added something extra to make them less boring (I already mastered the sock technique and I wanted more!): two cables on the sides plus the cable on the back of the leg. This yarn also came from Brussels. I added two extra repetitions to the instep. This heel is longer it fits much better my feet.

My fourth pair of socks was made from the same yarn of the second pair. I had 300 gr, enough for two pairs and it was thick and warm, perfect for winter socks. This time I wanted to make Hermione’s everyday socks since it was a big hit in Ravelry. The original pattern is a cuff-down design, so I adapted it to my own needs: toe-up and 48 stitches. I finished this socks in one of my visits to Vigo at my mother’s place and she loved them. She chose a color and I promised to make a pair for her.

So my fifth pair was again Hermione’s everyday socks in pink for my mum. I got the yarn at La Guerra de los botones and it’s very very soft. My mother uses the same shoe size so things are easy, it’s exactly the same pattern. These came out so soft, so comfy, so wonderful that I’m sad to give them away, but happy because I know my mum will love them.

I got some variegated yarn for the future, but I will probably make plain socks from that one. I also want to get from La Guerra de los botones yarn in dark brown and bottle green to make more Hermione’s everyday socks since I love them. It’s a nice pattern and the socks come out very stretchy and comfy.

After this I can conclude that I finally fulfilled my challenge, that I found my perfect personal sock recipe and that I made five pairs of socks in less than two months. Before it was madness to me, but I think I can go for the 12 pair of socks in one year challenge.

***

Note: My personal recipe:

  • Cast on 10 stitches following Judy’s magic cast on (2 times, one after the other in the same needles, don’t be afraid).
  • Increase with M1L and M1R every 2 rows until you have 48 stitches.
  • Work st by st in pattern until  when your ankle starts.
  • Work 9 increases on sides with M1L and M1R every 2 rows.
  • Unmount socks, the heel is worked one by one.
  • Work heel as desired. I do a flap heel with heel stitch.
  • Mount socks again. For the leg you can work 2 at a time again.
  • Knit the leg.
  • Change to a smaller needle and do 1 x 1 ribbing.
  • Do an Elisabeth Zimmerman’s sewn bind off.