Thursday, July 18, 2013

Of Socks & Sacks....

I love project bags... there is something so satisfying about a line of little bags stuffed full of knitting-in-progress lined up beside my favorite chair..... I like them with handles...... I like them with drawstrings... and I like them with zippers..... but my NEW favorite project bag is kind of a cross between all three...


This little beauty has a drawstring top that doubles as a handle when you are knitting on the go... and a cute little zippered pocket on the front for stashing your notions, pattern, and doo dads (and keeping them secure).  And the best part?  There's a free pattern for it, only a click away, by Terry Atkinson.

All you need are 2 fat quarters (1 print, & 1 main color) and one 9" zipper (or longer).  NOTE:  This particular pattern DOES HAVE A ZIPPER (I want to make this very clear for all of you zipper-phobic sewers out there), but because of the way the bag is constructed, it is very simple to put in.  The only modifications I made to this pattern were to add an inner lining to the bag (I like my bags to look "finished" on the inside) as well as an inner lining to the pocket. 

So far, these little bags have held up great for protecting my 2-at-a-time magic loop socks plus any needed notions... and they are just so cute and fun (I'm pretty sure every knitter needs one, or two... or three :) !!)

And if this little bag doesn't suit your needs... why not try one of my other favorite bag patterns; A Bevy of Project Bags, a Triangle Bag, or try an embroidered bag like "Baa Baa Black Sheep", "Got Yarn?" or "Here Kitty Kitty?".  So many bags... sew little time!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Colorful Patchwork Socks & A Free Pattern!

Some time ago, I knit my son up some colorful, crazy, scrappy socks (in his chosen colors, of course)... and they have been well loved. 

We are going to define well-loved here as worn for days at a time, worn outside in a pinch to retrieve forgotten objects, worn over other socks for added warmth... bascially the important word here is WORN.  As in.... worn completely through.  I thought about trying to darn them.. I really did!  But after watching countles You-Tube videos on the art of the darning... and then looking at these poor socks, it occured to me that it would be faster (and MUCH more time efficient) to simply knit him another pair.  And thus the "Colorful Patchwork Sock Pattern" was born.

I've always been a fan of the Blender Sock recipe on Ravelry (more here), but I've been on a color work kick lately, and I wanted to incorporate some random color work into the whole blended scrappy look.  My go-to cast on amount for the 2-at-a-time magic loop socks I prefer is about 64 stitches, so I designed some simple 4 stitch repeat color work patterns in Excel (here is a great tutorial about this process, in case you care to try it yourself) to work into the new socks.

Apparently, the key when adding in color work sections is to be careful not to pull the floats too tight (I was only doing a 4 stitch repeat pattern, so each float was well secured), and to be careful to keep any complicated color work out of the "instep area" on the sock... as this can make it a challenge to pull them over your foot!

I let my son dive through my bag of sock yarn mini's (I always wind and label my leftover sock yarn so that I have mini's ready for swaps, projects, etc) - and he picked out all of his chosen colors.  After about 3 days, I had his new scrappy socks ready for a test drive!  They only needed a steam treatment on the sock blockers to help even out the blended areas, and the slight puckering from the colorwork.

If you enjoy scrappy socks, and want to knit up a couple pairs of your own, I've written a simple pattern for these socks that you are free to download!  This pattern is appropriate for someone who is already comfortable with sock basics (try this pattern or this magic loop tutorial if you need a refresher course on how to knit a pair of simple top-down socks), and includes the color work charts I drew up as well as suggestions for touches like afterthought heels, etc.  I hope you enjoy knitting up some scrappy socks as much as I did :)