don’t ask, it’s secret

lambs pride bulky

I love Lamb’s Pride (bulky, in this case, but I love the worsted, too). I remember when I first started knitting, there was always TONS of it around the yarn stores. It’s still there, of course, but so many other yarns jump out at me lately. Plied, sport-weight yarns, for example. But there’s always a place in my stash for this great woolly, mohairy, bulky yarn.

I’m using the stuff above for some **** for ** ****** for *********.

It’s secret Christmas knitting time, so sorry for the *’s.

Here’s another snap of a secret project. It might be clear what it is, but I will offer no details, other than that it is a fun, fun, fun and addicting knit.

secret knitting

The past few years, I haven’t knit many Christmas projects, but this year I’m feeling it. Are you knitting gifts? Who gets ‘em? How do you decide on a pattern for gift knitting? Just curious!

I’m popping in to say hi, but also to give you a heads up. Watch this space over the next few days for a big announcement! Hint: I am feeling the Christmas spirit big time and want to pass it along! (you will benefit even if you don’t celebrate Christmas – I promise!).

SAFF 2009

This tweet sums up my first Fiber Fair experience. SAFF (Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair) was awesome. Did you know it was my first time going to a regional fiber fest?  And my first time teaching at a regional fiber fest? And my first time away from both my kids overnight?

I think the best part – the very best – was teaching a class. It’s so great to meet friendly knitters who are interested in learning colorwork. Since colorwork is my favorite kind of knitting, I get so eager to pass on the knowledge and hopefully show folks how easy and fun it can be.  I feel safe in saying that everyone in the class “got it” and I just hope they find the joy in the technique (after they get over that awkward feeling of carrying one yarn in each hand). Here they are, working hard.

My workshop peeps

My workshop peeps

My other favorite part was traveling with my knitting buddy Denise and having a class with my knitting/spinning buddy Anne.  No, I didn’t take pictures of either of them. Yes, I was too busy laughing and talking and shopping and spinning to take silly pictures.  Camnesia! It’s a real disorder!

But I can take pictures of my haul, which leads me to another favorite part of SAFF: The Loot.

SAFF 2009 Haul

I’ve read many “Fiber Festival Survival Guides” and had a plan going in.  I made a list and took cash and mostly I stuck to that.  I wanted sport weight wool in natural colors: CHECK (and it’s Shetland)! I wanted a darning mushroom: CHECK (and it’s antique! but not pictured)! And, ahem, that was all that was on my list.  I suppose I knew deep within my soul that if I saw a gorgeous skein of handdyed yarn I would allow myself to buy it.  I found The Sanguine Gryphon booth and pretty much died from the exquisite, breathtaking colors. The red Skinny Bugga in Tomato Frog jumped into my arms, so I bought it.

And the purse handles? Totally an impulse buy and totally purchased with my credit card. I’m making the time today to cast on (or swatch, perhaps) a felted bag (the handles came with a free pattern, but I think I might try some fair isle). The Homestead Heirlooms booth was very, very enticing and they had samples of felted bags to try on and the 30″ handles are the perfect length for me. If you are looking for leather handles for a knitted, crocheted or sewn bag, I’m not kidding, these women have what you want.

Another favorite part of SAFF was my workshop with Rita Buchanan*, Nice Fat Yarn.  I learned SO MUCH in three short hours that I wish I could have taken every one of Rita’s workshops.  I spun some nice fat yarn.

*Interweave is offering some of Rita Buchanan’s past articles as  e-books. I don’t have them but I hear they’re worth checking out.

Nice Fat Yarn

And even though I had to literally dust off my spinning wheel in preparation for taking this class, I think I’m inspired to spin up some more fat yarn. It’s challenging and fun, not to mention fast, and the yarn is light as a feather.  Here’s a closer look at one of the activities we did.

Nice Fat Yarn

In this exercise we started by spinning a normal-to-us weight of yarn (on the left). The we attempted a fatter yarn (middle) and an even fatter yarn (right). It was so awesome and fun. I am almost embarrassed to admit that this was the first time I ever measured wraps per inch. Now that I see how easy it is, and how much you can learn by checking wraps per inch throughout a spinning project, I think I might actually do it.

Lastly, I had a blast and the Fiber-In meet up at the Holiday Inn.  The hosts, Carrie and Lyn, did a wonderful job of organizing the event.  I even won a prize!

SAFF 2009 Haul

I think this is Paca-Peds from The Alpaca Yarn Co.  Love the turquoise and brown combo, even if my camera revolts when it’s time for a picture.

Okay, okay, I said everything was my favorite part.  But it really was!  I can’t wait for next year!

How to do it: Darn Socks

When I posted the poll about sock darning, 37% of respondents said they keep their holey socks stuffed at the back of the drawer because they don’t know how to darn.  I used to do the same with my handknit socks. But now I’m a darning maniac. You can be one, too.  It’ll be awesome.

large hole in handknit sock

The socks I am mending today are an odd choice.  They are EZ’s Moccasin Socks; it would be ideal to re-sole them completely instead of repairing the hole.  But because I am a darning maniac these are the last of my holey socks.  Besides, a hole is a hole is a hole.

Gather your supplies.

  • Holey sock.
  • Matching leftover sock yarn.  If you no longer have any leftovers, choose a close match.
  • Long darning needle, blunt tip if possible.
  • Scissors.
  • Darning egg or mushroom. As you can see, I do not own a tool specifically for darning.  I have used a softball but this plastic football is my current favorite.  You could also try a lightbulb, or a baseball, or anything round with a hard surface.

tools for darning

Before you begin darning, turn the sock inside out and pull off any fuzz balls that are in the sock.

inside out - get out the fuzzies

Begin now.

Turn the sock right side out again.  We’re going to darn from the right side.  With 3 or 4 yards of matching yarn (I’m using contrasting yarn so you can see what I’m doing), thread your darning needle.  The thread should be double — the needle is at the center, and the ends of the threads meet.

oops, missed one

A very long thread is used because the darn will be stronger if you have fewer breaks in the yarn.  Ideally, you would mend the entire hole with one length of yarn.

Insert your darning football, er, mushroom.

insert your "darning football"

Pull the sock tight, and center the hole over your darning tool.  Hold it with your non-sewing hand at the back.

how to hold while you darn

And here we are ready to begin.

darning football

The patch of darning will go beyond the edges of the hole, and it will be square (my personal preference – round is good, too).  Begin by sewing the needle through the knitted fabric in a running stitch.

how to put the needle in

Pull the thread through, leaving just 1/2″ – 1″ of a tail.  This will be trimmed later.  Insert the needle again, parallel and close to the first line of stitches, and work back down over the hole.

just the beginning

Continue in this manner, working up and down over the hole.

back and forth...

At the edges of the hole, the knitted fabric is very thin.  Keep this flap of fabric on the outside of the work by keeping the sewing needle under it as you prepare to cover the distance of the hole.  Like this:

keep the edge of the hole to the outside

Continue until these parallel running stitches completely cover the hole.

step one complete

Now sew the running stitches perpendicular to the first stitches.  I have changed my thread, but that is only for demonstration.  You will continue on with the same length of thread.

ready to weave

Continue back and forth, weaving the running stitch up and down through the fabric.

starting the perpendicular weaving

When you come to the hole, with no knitted fabric to sew through, weave the yarn over and under the threads that cover the hole.

beginning to weave over the hole

I never knew it, but when you darn a sock, you’re creating a woven patch to cover the hole.  Simple, really.

darning is weaving

When you’ve covered the hole with weaving, you’re done!  Well, almost.

darning complete!

All that’s left to do is neaten things up.  With scissors, trim the flap of fabric close to the work.

trimming the flap

Also trim the ends of thread close to the work.

trimming the extra yarn

Now you really are done!

darning complete - outside view

Admittedly, a darn is not the prettiest thing, especially in my garish colors here.  But the point is that a sock on the foot is a hundred times better than a sock at the back of your drawer.

A few thoughts.

  • Using a doubled thread is optional.  I prefer it because the repair is Very Strong.  Stronger than the original sock, in fact.
  • Darning a big hole takes about 30 minutes.  A smaller hole will take less time to mend.
  • You can use this same method to reinforce a weak spot even before a hole appears.
  • After wearing your mended socks the patch will begin to felt together.  It will even out and look pretty.  I promise.

RS or WS?

When you darn from the right side, the wrong of the sock is very, very neat and tidy.  Much prettier than the right side.

darning complete - inside view

Then why do we darn from the right side?  Wouldn’t we rather have the lovely, smooth surface on the outside?  No.  The smoothness of the inside is perfect for next-to-skin wear, and the outside will soon mat down with wear.

On the other hand, if a few bumps on the inside of the sock don’t bother you, then by all means, darn from the WS.

Thanks

Big shout out to my mother-in-law, Noreen, for teaching me how to do this.  Also, I should thank Cindy for bringing up the whole darning issue in the first place.

And dudes, in the poll I mentioned at the beginning,  33% of respondents answered the question “Do you darn socks” with , “Yes, of course I darn.  Doesn’t everybody?”  That made me pretty happy.  If you are an experienced darner, I’d love your input!

Phew, a whole post about mending socks with not a single “darn” pun.  Score!