Coastal Knits

Of course I didn’t need another knitting book. I was at Maine Fiber Frolic on June 4 and because they have a table of resale books in the used equipment barn I naturally looked through the stacks to see if there was anything I wanted. I found 2 good books on weaving (my newest passion) and this wonderful book, Coastal Knits, by Alana Dakos and Hannah Fettig.  The photos of the scenery on both coasts are gorgeous. The sweaters and shawls are stunning. coastal-knits-cover

For my initial project (which starts on page 58) I chose to work on the Rustling Leaves Beret by Alana Dakos because

a) it’s so pretty, and
b) I need a beret to keep my hair contained while riding in my husband’s ancient sports car, and
c) well, frankly I could get it done quickly and get back to working on my next weaving project, which I think is going to be a scarf.

I had some red (I hate to use the word but here it is) acrylic sock yarn that looked like a good possibility for this project. Forgive me but I no longer know what brand of yarn it is. I bought the skein in Cumming, Georgia a few years ago thinking I would use it to make socks for someone who doesn’t like to wear wool. I wish I did know what brand it is because the hat turned out beautifully. I might even have enough yarn left over for a pair of fingerless mittens. Here is my finished beret prior to washing.

Red Rustling Leaves Beret

Would I make this hat again? Yes, a resounding YES.

I hope to make other patterns from this book in the future. In the meantime I do want to try to make at least one pattern from every knitting book I own and to write about the experience, so that might not happen for a while.  It is tempting though. And I’ve never been one to consistently stick to a plan. So don’t hold me to it.


The Sock Knitter’s Handbook

The Sock Knitter’s Handbook by Charlene Schurch and Beth Parrott is a treasure trove of information about sock construction.  I use it as a resource to learn techniques that are new for me, but I also use it as a pattern book.  

I made two sock projects from this book (yes, during the time I should have been finishing the Scandinavian slippers). The first one, in the Cobalt color of MadeleineTosh sock yarn, incorporates the Ridged Feather pattern on page 119 for the cuff and leg. This is an 11 stitch repeat so I cast on 55 stitches using the Twisted German Cast on (page 33). This is my favorite cast-on. At the heel I increased one stitch to have an even stitch number for the heel and foot. I chose the French Heel on P. 54, which is a slightly different method than my “go-to” heel. These socks have a comfortable snug fit. 


Next, I wanted some short cuffed socks for a Maine Summer. I chose Purple Fleece Fleece’s hand-dyed Bamboo blend sock yarn in the  “You Red My Mind”  colorway. I  have used this yarn in many different colors for socks and shawls and I always enjoy knitting with it. The yarn for this project was left-over from an earlier project.  


 The short cuff is a standard 1:1 rib. For the heel I decided on the Strong Heel (page 58), which I had never tried before. It was very easy to make but in hind-sight I like the snug feel of the French Heel better. 

When I go on a road trip this is the sock book that always goes with me. It doesn’t take up much space and I can construct an unlimited number of variations like choosing lunch from a Chinese restaurant menu (one from column A …). 

My other favorite sock book is Ann Budd’s “Getting Started Knitting Socks”. This book usually comes with me on a road trip too. It is the first sock book I bought and it never fails to deliver.

Scandinavian Slippers Part 2

After completing the first slipper I took a very long break before starting the second one. So what happened between slippers?

I took weaving lessons at Purple Fleece. Then I bought a Schacht Baby Wolf loom,  several weaving books, subscribed to Handwoven magazine and started weaving. 

Back to the Scandinavian Slippers book. I had to make the slippers considerably longer than the pattern due to my size 10 shoe size. The slipper fits and feels great but after working on the toe of the second slipper I realized that I misunderstood the instructions for the twined decreases. So I ripped out the toe of the first slipper. Twined knitting does not rip out cleanly. The yarn needs to be untwisted from itself.  I am much happier with the remade toe.

before ripping out the toe of slipper #1

Two “tricks” I figured out working on the second sock (and maybe everyone else already knows this but I did not): 1) when twine knitting make sure you put the MC ball over the CC ball every second stitch so that you don’t have to untwist the yarn at the end of the twined section. 2) using two 16″ circular needles is not only easier to knit twine and stranded but the stitches will look more professionally knit.  And of course when strand knitting be consistent in handling the colors. 

Finally, both slippers are done! And I love them. Even the pointy elf-like toes.


Would I recommend this book? Yes. It’s a keeper. I hope to make the Scandinavian socks later this year. But first, I need to make and write about a new project from another book on my shelves. 

Scandinavian Slippers

My first blog project is the Basic Slipper pattern on page 24 in “Knitting Scandinavian Slippers and Socks” by Laura Farson.

I bought this book as a Valentine’s gift to me at Bookstacks during their Cabin Fever Reliever annual sale. They have a decent selection of knitting and craft books and magazines. And the people there are nice.

As I read through the instructions for my first project I quickly realize “basic” is clearly a misnomer. This project involves both twined knitting and stranded knitting in the same rows.  The cast on starts at the heel rather than the cuff or toe.  A half-row of knit stitches at the start of the instep using waste yarn(see red yarn in photo) will later be ripped out, and short rows will be used to work in the ankles. The author recommends using Judy Becker’s circular cast on, which is modified for two stranded-knitting. I quickly realize this is not a project for the faint of heart.

While I have done stranded-knitting (after taking a class with MaryJane Mucklestone), I have never done twined knitting. Luckily Laura Farson provides clear instructions and good illustrations. She warns that I’ll need to do a lot of un-twisting of the two balls of yarn while working the twined-knitting sections. She is not kidding.

I have some Plymouth Galway wool worsted in my stash that will work nicely for this project. The black is almost a full skein but I’m not sure if I have enough of the cream. I can get more or maybe I’ll make the toes and ankles with a different contrast color.

After getting past the unfamiliar cast on I discover I love this pattern. No, it is not easy peasy but I love the way it looks and feels.  I want to make every pattern in this book! Seriously, I may have to make a pair of Scandinavian socks next.

After knitting about 24 instep rounds I realized I had stranded when I should have twined on a few rows. It only shows on the inside but I will have major regrets if I don’t fix it now. SO I RIP IT. I did leave in two tiny mistakes but we won’t go into that as they are barely noticeable. The tricky part is doing half the row as twined-knitting and half as stranded-knitting. It will make a difference in the way the slippers shrink as the stranded and twined sections will felt a little differently when they are washed.  No big deal. My theory is that as long as I’m knitting it really doesn’t matter how long it takes. My husband thinks I save a lot of money as instead of buying more yarn I get to play with what I have more than once.

I’m going to take a break from blogging now. I want to get to work on these slippers.  I’ll post again when I finish the pair.


How many knitting books do I actually own?

I guess I have at about 40 knitting books, if I include the several Stitch Glossaries. This count does not including pamphlets, magazines, downloads or purchased patterns outside of a published book. I have a handful more spinning and weaving books. I also like to take out the library’s knitting books at some time each year so the librarians can’t weed them out.

I have decided it is time for me to make something from each book that I own.

Along with describing my progess (or lack thereof) for each project I’ll share my thoughts about the book. No rhyme or reason To my selections. I will just choose the project that most appeals to me at the moment. I hope you enjoy following me in this journey.

The Frog Queen
X-JerseyGirl on Ravelry
February 15, 2016