Tag Archive: crafts


It’s official! I finished knitting my first raglan sweater! After receiving the book, New England Knits by Cecily Glowik Macdonald and Melissa LaBarre, I fell in love with the pattern for the Derry Raglan and Cowl. This didn’t surprise me in the least as MacDonald was the designer of the pattern for the first sweater I ever made, (See Knit, Purl, Knit …). I just love her designs! They highlight simplicity with just the right touch of intricate detail.

The Derry Raglan has a plain front, but a beautiful lace pattern runs down the sleeve. Seeing as I live in a mild climate, the idea of ventilated sleeves on a sweater made this the perfect project for me. Plus, it had the added bonus of learning the raglan technique for the yoke and shoulders of a garment. I’m always ready to try something new.

Before doing anything I had to learn how to do a Right-lifted Increase and a Left-lifed increase. Luckily, I found two great videos on youtube for both stitches. It’s rare to find a knitting video that clearly explains every step and takes the time to visually go through those steps slowly and repeatedly. If you need to learn these stitches, follow the links!

Pyrrha Designs: Right Lifted Increase

Pyrrha Designs: Left Lifted Increase

Aside from lifted stitch increases, the hardest part of this sweater was the first round. After casting on, the pattern stipulated lifted increases with only the cast on stitches to pick up.  I had to start over at least four times before I found the right tension!  Once I got that first round, everything fell into place.

The finished project turned out great!

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A little magic math on the gauge lead to a perfect fit!

The yarn is Berroco Remix in Red. Made from recycled fibers and cotton, this yarn is not only soft, but also earth friendly!

When I bound off the final stitch, it was 80 degrees outside. There’s nothing worse than finishing a beautiful sweater and knowing you’ll have to wait more than six months to wear it. However, as luck would have it, a cold front swept through my area for one day this week. I got to wear my new sweater after all!

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014

After avoiding it and putting it off for more than a year, I finally made socks using the traditional method of double-pointed needles. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but I’m still not a fan of maneuvering around so many needles.

The pattern that inspired me to overcome my aversion to double-pointed needles came from The Knitter’s Book of Socks by Clara Parkes. This book is full of amazing sock patterns ranging from beautiful lace socks to simple ribbed socks. I highly recommend picking it up to any fan of sock knitting!

I love a good ribbed sock, so I chose a pattern called Stepping Stones. A total of three different ribs are used throughout the sock and I loved the texture. The cuff is a simple K1, P1 rib, the leg is a textured rib using a variety of knit and purl stitches, and the foot has three small ribs tucked into a basic stockinette stitch.

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Check out my awesome socks!

I made one small modification on the heel. The pattern called for a double-strand reinforced heel, but I’ve never had a problem with holes in my socks so I opted to knit the more traditional slip stitch heel flap. It’s easier to do and it fit right into the pattern without a problem.

While the ribbed pattern is fantastic, the yarn is my favorite thing about these socks. I am in love with the hombre stripes and earthy colors of Paton’s Kroy Socks FX, Clover Colours. It reminds me of fall leaves and sunsets!

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Beautiful yarn always makes a beautiful pair of socks!

This pair of socks also marks the first time I’ve used the Kitchener stitch to close the toe. I’ve heard knitters grumble about this grafting method before, so I was a little nervous to take it on. What got me through it was Ann Budd’s book, Getting Started Knitting Socks. She has excellent and easy to follow instructions on the kitchener that are the best I’ve seen.

As much as I love these socks, I’m still a hardcore believer in the sock loom.  It makes the best fitting socks, mainly because it implements the short row heel.  Above all else, nothing beats the ease of a sock loom.

That being said, I know I’ll likely pick up double-pointed needles again because there are far more patterns available for traditional sock knitting. Learning this method opened up a whole new realm of design elements and styles. Seeing as I’m addicted to sock knitting, this is pretty darn exciting!

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014

Another Great Book Sale Adventure

Every February I look forward to the annual VNSA Book Sale. Thousands of books fill table after table and they are all up for grabs! Better yet, on Sunday the already low prices are slashed in half. The bargain hunter and book lover in me can’t resist such a perfect combination.

This year I headed to the craft section first to see if I could nab some knitting books. While I found a few books, I found a treasure trove of 10 Interweave Knits magazines hiding in a box. This is my absolute favorite knitting magazine so I grabbed all of them! At 50 cents a piece, they were a steal!

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Interweave Knits galore!

I was hoping to find sock books and I did. Both were also only 50 cents, along with a stray Knit Simple magazine and chunky sweater pattern book. All in all, I’d say I got a nice haul out of the knitting section!

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Sock and Sweater books.

Next to the knitting books, there was the sewing section. I glanced over and found an incredible little book – a guide for left-handed stitching. As a lefty, I am constantly frustrated by right-hand only directions in embroidery books and patterns. Thank you Sally Cowen for this fantastic reference!

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Fifty cents well spent!

Then, I ran over to the cookbook and gardening sections to see if I could find some books on vegetable canning. I didn’t find a single one, but I did manage to find some handy recipe pamphlets including a way cool booklet on Amish Cooking. It turns out this little gem had a few pages on some basic canning recipes, so I didn’t totally fail on the canning front. Again, at 50 cents a piece, these were all a great deal!

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Mmmm! I foresee some yummy dinners and desserts in the future.

While rummaging through the home and garden section, I found a book on a subject I’ve been researching for a while – natural cleaning recipes. It’s pretty tough to buy any cleaning product that is totally free of chemicals and harmful toxins, so I’m trying to learn how make my own cleansers using all natural ingredients. This book is pure gold in that it has recipes for an all-purpose cleaner, laundry soap, glass cleaner, and floor cleaner. And it was only $1.

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I will never buy cleaning products, again!

Always a teacher, (even on the weekends), I went to the art section hoping to find some Art History textbooks and/or color plate compilations. To my great surprise, I actually found the missing volume to an Art History textbook I bought a few months ago, (I had Volume 2 and I needed Volume 1 of Marilyn Stokstad’s Art History). Seriously, what are the odds of that happening!? For $2, I now have another resource to teach my Art History course.

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Teaching on a budget!

In addition, I found a quote canvas to hang in my classroom. It’s a quote I use a lot with my students, so I’m thrilled to have a larger version of it, (and for only $1.50!). Finally, I picked up a couple free maps! You read that right, they were free.

There was a huge box of street and history maps with a sign that said, “Free Maps – Limit 10 per person.” The dorky teacher and crafter in me decided to comb through the box of maps. I saw a neat idea on Pinterest that involved making ornaments out of maps.  The maps I got should do pretty well for that project!

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These are about to become super cute ornaments.

Last, but not least, I perused the fiction section. Unfortunately, I didn’t find much. Most of the available books just didn’t fit my tastes. However, I did manage to pick up a couple titles I’ve had on my list for a while. Neither cost more than $2.

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Can’t wait to dig into those novels!

My last stop was to the travel section, where I found a great little book on walks through the English countryside. Now, I have yet another reason to return to the U.K.

Aside from an awesome haul of books, I look forward to this day because it’s a family event. Without a holiday in sight, we come together and simply enjoy the day. After the sale we went out for a nice breakfast filled with good food and laughter.

Only 365 days until the next book sale!

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c.b.w. 2014

My sock knitting adventure continues with another pair of straight needle socks. After surviving the disaster of a totally failed attempt at straight needle socks, it was to nice jump in again and find success. In order to start fresh, I selected a new pattern, new yarn, and bought new knitting needles. Apparently, all that “new” paid off because I ended up with a super cute pair of socks!

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Fireside Straight Needle Socks
Photo by: c.b.w. 2014

For these socks, I used my favorite yarn, Paton’s Kroy in Aqua Jacqaurd. Lucky me, I got this yarn on sale for only $2 a skein. The pattern is called Fireside and comes from Knit Your Socks on Straight by Alice Curtis.

The pattern for these socks put up a fight right from the start as I realized it was riddled with errors. I loved the texture of the pattern so much, I decided not to give up. After doing some research online, I found the errata and was able to correct all the mistakes. Anyone else who attempts these socks should do the same. Trust me, you’ll end up with great socks if you put in the time to fix the pattern.

I hit a milestone with these socks as they are the first straight needle socks I’ve made where I had to knit a texture over the top of the foot while maintaining a smooth stockinette stitch on the instep. This can be a bit a tricky as straight needle socks split the pattern into two sections with the instep in between. Knitting even in pattern, while also working an instep takes a good memory and a lot of patience! But, I did it!

The success of these socks has pushed me to try something I’ve avoided up to this point. It’s no secret that I hate knitting on double pointed needles, but I’ve decided to try knitting a pair of socks using those cursed needles. We’ll see how it goes!

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014

When I posted I Made Socks and You Can, Too! I had no idea it would garner so much attention. People from all over the world stopped by to leave comments about their projects, but also to ask questions. A lot of questions. Over the last couple of months, the comments section has turned into a full-scale conversation forum about troubleshooting everything from wide cuffs to gauge issues.

Loom knitting is very different from traditional needle knitting, so of course, it has its own set of issues. However, after working with my loom on more than 20 projects, I’ve figured out a few things that makes the process much easier. Some of the common questions that have popped up on my post are listed below along with some tips and tricks.

How many pegs should I use?

The instructions that come with the KB Sock Loom are quite good, but they might scare those who are bit squeamish around math. For my first pair of socks, I bugged my husband and his calculator brain instead of doing it myself. Then, I realized there was an easier way to “calculate” pegs: know your shoe size and check out sock loom patterns. They will tell you how many pegs to use for various sizes.

When I bought my sock loom, I bought a pattern book that turned out to be my lifeline, Sock Loom Basics (Leisure Arts #5651).  Inside, there are fantastic visuals for casting on, and turning the heel, but what makes it golden is the fact that it has patterns for various sizes of socks that include specific peg counts.

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Ahhhh! How many pegs do I need? Don’t worry – it’s easy!
Photo by: c.b.w. 2014

My ideal peg count is 52, but I’ve also realized different yarns and patterns call for different peg counts. This isn’t an exact science!  When it comes to socks you just have to get close enough. When I’m using thicker yarn like Paton’s Kroy, I know I’m going to get a bigger sock, so I can go down to 50 or 48 pegs. If I’m using a thinner yarn like Premier sock yarn, I know the stitches will be smaller, so I need to go up to 54 or 56 pegs.

Another thing to keep in mind is elasticity. More elasticity means your socks will stretch more and therefore can accommodate various sizes. When using a plain flat stitch, there will be little or no elasticity, so that means a couple pegs more might come in handy. When knitting a rib pattern, there will be more elasticity, so subtracting a couple of pegs will create a more ideal fit.

Ultimately, it all comes down to trial and error. My first pair of socks were knit on 48 pegs. They fit snugly and I liked them, but I realized I wanted a little more ease, so for my next pair I added four pegs, to arrive at 52. The trick is remembering it doesn’t have to be perfect. Most socks will stretch enough to fit, so erring on the side of a bit too small is best.

The bottom line: Don’t be afraid to experiment and try a count that’s a little bigger or smaller than you calculated.

Why is the cuff so wide?

Cuffs are tricky business on a sock loom! Everything from gauge, yarn, tension, and peg count can effect the overall size and elasticity of a cuff. Despite all the variables, I have one simple answer to this question. In my experience, the K2,P2 rib pattern creates the best cuff in that it is simple and has fantastic elasticity. It works on multiple weights of yarn and compliments just about every pattern.

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The ideal cuff “tucks in” a bit, but don’t expect it to be tight without a little help from elastic!

In my humble opinion, the K1,P1 pattern that is often called for in knitting pattern does not work on the loom. I’ve tried on multiple occasions and I always end up with a wide-mouth cuff that never shrinks down with any sort of elasticity. I rip it out every time and reknit with a k2,p2 pattern instead.

That being said, for bulkier yarn (Weight 3), I’ve found a k3,p1 rib creates a nice, elastic rib. For anything thicker, upgrade to the KB Sock Loom 2 and revert to a k2,p2 rib.

Another simple fix involves a trip to the craft store. In the knitting aisle, look for a spool of elastic yarn thread. For those who like a tighter cuff than average yarn can provide (no matter how stretchy the rib), this super thin elastic is knit right into the sock via the working yarn and blends in completely.

What yarn should I use?

Yarn labeled as sock yarn will work 99% of time. I typically stick to Weights 1 and 2, but will go as high as 3. Just remember thicker yarn (in terms of gauge or ply) will create larger stitches and thinner yarn will create smaller stitches. Some of my favorite brands include:

  • Paton’s Kroy Sock
  • Premier Yarns Serenity Sock
  • Plymouth Yarn Happy Feet
  • Misti Alpaca Hand Paint

How do I make the toe longer?

You don’t. The KB sock loom uses the short row method to create both the heel and the toe. Once both circuits of wrapping stitches have been worked, the toes is complete. Adding more rows will create a bubble on the seam of the toe that can’t be fixed. Instead, think about adding length to the foot. The toe typically adds 1.5 to 2″ to the length, so always knit the foot about 2″ shorter than the desired length. I’ve gone as far as trying on the sock while it’s still on the loom. When the last row reaches the base of my big toe, I know it’s time to start working those short rows!

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Ultimately, loom knitting and knitting in general is a lesson in patience and experimentation. A failed project is frustrating, but it always leads to a project that succeeds. Just remember, if something doesn’t work, so what! Rip it all out and start again. That’s the beauty of knitting – mistakes disappear into a ball of yarn and nothing is wasted.

Got more questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below. Next time, I’ll have some other helpful tips to help knitters get great socks while using the KB Sock Loom.

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c.b.w. 2014

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