HerStory Sock Club: January

Well, that was fast — in just under a week, I have managed to knit an entire pair of socks.

This retina-searing-in-a-good-way colourway is everything you could want to help beat the winter blahs; it certainly lives up to its name of Radioactive Rainbow. Inspired by the work of Marie Curie, January’s HerStory Sock Club offering from Knitted Wit was just the thing to counter the overcast skies, rain, and snow.

Since I wasn’t sure how the different colours were going to play together when knit up, I opted for Shannon Squire‘s Otherwise Engaged socks pattern. Tried and true, this is one of my favourite patterns for multi-coloured yarn because it seems to break up some of the larger blocks of colour. In this case, the rainbows only pooled and spiralled once I started knitting the legs, which is fine with me!

I can’t say enough good things about Victory Sock, the yarn base for the HerStory Sock Club. It’s got great yardage and the yarn is smooth and tightly plied — even the socks I knit for Adam seem to last until he outgrows them (and that’s saying something). Already I’m looking forward to seeing the February colourway — only a few weeks till it’s revealed!

January Socks: Mingus

So far, this year’s plan for Operation Sock Drawer is 100% successful — it’s only January 24 and I’ve already got this month’s pair of socks knit.

Oh my goodness, I love everything about these socks. This was the perfect pair with which to kick off the year: I ended up with the perfect combination of yarn and pattern. I’ve knit several pairs of Mingus socks over the years but I think this might just be my favourite. It’s the first pair I’ve knit with Super Sock 4-Ply from Twisted Owl Fiber Studio in this amazing Pirate Ship colourway. Really, anything teal immediately earns super high marks from me, but the saturation of colour in this yarn makes it even more special.

The pattern is written cuff-down, but anyone who knows me knows that there was no way that was happening — I’m a toe-up-or-not-at-all kind of sock knitter. Thankfully, I don’t think the pattern suffers from being turned upside down.

I’m glad to have finished these so quickly because tomorrow I begin hosting the HerStory Sock Club Knitalong with Knitted Wit and I need to get my yarn wound and ready to cast on.

Yeah, in a highly caffeinated state of feeling like I could definitely take over the world given enough coffee, I decided that in addition to my personal sock-of-the-month club, I would also knit an additional 12 pairs of socks in colourways inspired by women whose contributions to STEM should be celebrated. How could I say no to such an amazing club? And really, when I have let the laws of time and space dictate what I can do? Perish the thought!

The Log Cabin Lap Blanket

Way back at the end of last summer, I managed to snag a set of National Park mini skeins from Knitted Wit (I fell in love with the whole palette of colours even though I have no real attachment to any of the Parks that served as inspiration for the yarn series) — then I was stuck trying to figure out how best to make use of 16 45-yard skeins.

Since I didn’t want to waste any of the yarn, I eventually figured out that my best plan would be to pair the minis with a solid, neutral colour and attempt some sort of knit-from-the-centre-till-all-the-yarn-runs-out kind of lap blanket. Armed with 16 tiny little yarn cakes and three full-sized skeins of Victory Fingering in Stellar, I had two false starts before I settled on a log cabin blanket. Third time’s the charm, I suppose!

In between Christmas knitting and a few other must-knit projects, I still managed to knit nearly two sections per week — and yesterday I finally bound off the border. Of course, there were still all the ends to weave in. I always say that I will do the responsible thing and weave in the ends as I go but that never happens — leaving me with a rather impressive pile of bits this morning.

This is definitely a lap-sized blanket, measuring just 30 x 38 inches. Endless amounts of garter stitch tend to eat up massive quantities of yarn but the finished blanket is super squishy and just the right size for chilly evenings. Or for Leah to use with her dolls, if she manages to get her way.

After knitting three blankets in the last five months, I’m ready to take a break from them for a bit. It’s back to shawls and socks and sweaters for me!

Cookie Baking with Adam

Not to be outdone by Leah and her chocolate chip cookies from last week, Adam decided to up the cookie game chez Roy by baking Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies* today.

And because I’m happy to let Adam flex his baking muscles pretty much any time he likes, I suggested he make his way into the kitchen before he lost interest (and the rest of us lost out on the chance of fresh-from-the-oven homemade cookies).

It’s hard to believe there was a time that he couldn’t do all of this on his own. He’s pretty much a pro when it comes to baking now — and if there’s anything he’s unsure of, he asks. Even more impressive is that he completely understands that washing all the dishes and leaving the kitchen as he found it is paramount to ever being allowed to bake on his own again.

And although there were a couple oopses (like a little extra salt and a forgotten tablespoon of peanut butter that was supposed to be stirred in at the end), the cookies turned out remarkably well. Adam and Leah both thought the batter was yummy enough that they weren’t sure we even needed to bother with the whole baking thing, but two dozen cookies did manage to make it into the oven.

Success! An afternoon snack of cookies is a delicious way to mark the midpoint of the week — they pair particularly well with my sixth mug of coffee today (though Leah tells me that almond milk is possibly a better choice).

* This recipe is from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, my most favourite cookie recipe book ever. Seriously, I don’t think a single recipe I’ve tried from this book has been anything less than fabulous.

Stripy Socks!

We’re not even two weeks into the new year and I’ve already got a new pair of socks. Well, actually, Adam has a new pair of socks. It’s kind of funny the way that works, but since our feet are roughly the same size (at least for the moment), many of the pairs originally knit for me somehow end up in his sock drawer.

In this case, Adam saw the socks in progress and was immediately smitten with both the colours and the stripes — and since I didn’t feel like I needed to keep these, I told him they’d be his. Adam has always loved anything handmade, but now that he’s started knitting, I think he has a newfound appreciation for the effort involved.

The yarn is from Canon Hand Dyes and the colourway is Tiger Lily (part of the Peter Pan club) — this was my first time knitting with Amy’s Bruce Yak Fingering yarn and it definitely takes a bit of knitting to get used to it. It’s thinner and slightly more slippery than my usual sock yarn choices so I will definitely go down a needle size next time I use this yarn (I’ve got two more skeins tucked away). I love all of Amy’s self-striping yarns; the stripes match up almost perfectly between the two socks and the contrasting heels and toes make for an extra-special pair.

And I’ve actually got enough yarn left that I could probably knit a pair of socks for Leah as well — but right now I need to knit the other two pairs of socks I have on the go before I possibly contemplate socks for her. Besides, these days she likes to go through my stash on her own to find what she considers Leah-worthy colourways — I see some sparkly unicorn-inspired sock-knitting in my future!

Is It Friday Yet?

Two days into the post-Christmas stretch of school and I’m ready for a vacation. Or at least a long weekend. Seriously, I’m not sure how I’m going to make it to Friday — coffee can only do so much.

Adam and Leah, on the other hand, are full of energy and enthusiasm and a strong desire to check off everything on their daily lists. In fact, at 9:30 last night, Adam asked if he could work ahead on math and Leah had already finished her math for both today and tomorrow before I’d even woken up this morning. Ah, to be young!

To be fair, Leah was focused on getting to her favourite part of the day and nothing was going to stand in the way of her spending some time in the kitchen this afternoon. Life Skills is one of my favourite things to do with Adam and Leah — but usually not with both of them at the same time because our kitchen apparently isn’t big enough for two aspiring chefs at once.

I’m pretty sure that at this point we’ve baked chocolate chip cookies at least eleventy billion times but it’s Leah’s absolute favourite thing to bake so we baked yet another batch today. Leah can do most of the work herself — she is confident reading the recipe and following the directions. And since I think being able to bake a decent chocolate chip cookie is indeed an important life skill, I’m happy to let Leah perfect it!

As for Adam, I’ve been feeling desperate to get him to spend a little less time on Minecraft and a little more time on something — anything, really — that doesn’t involve the computer. So I’ve added Non-Computer-Based Hobby to his list of things to work on during the week; he decided to pick up his abandoned knitting project and has committed to knitting five rows at a time.

I’ll take what I can get. Adam’s actually quite keen to finish this scarf and move on to another project but he’s also a perfectionist and can’t stand the thought that his tension isn’t yet even and he’s picked up an extra stitch somewhere along the way. Ideally, he would like to rip the whole thing and start over but I think there’s a huge lesson in continuing and seeing his progress as he improves over time. So he knits five rows at a time and I consider it progress that he doesn’t give up.

And that really is a life skill.

Fine-Tuning Homeschool Plans

The best thing about my three-week holiday from homeschooling is that I have had time to plan out the next next several months. It’s been a great opportunity to assess where we are and where we hope to be 21 weeks from now when I close the books on the 2017/18 school year.

For the most part, we’re on track (at least the way I loosely define being “on track” — we’re miles ahead in some subjects and trailing behind in others) but it’s a good exercise for me to take stock of how things are progressing and where we might need to make adjustments.

Since more than half of Adam’s schoolwork is done independently, it’s easy for me to lose sight of exactly where he is — so it was gratifying to see that he’s accomplished almost exactly what I had expected him to at this point in the year. It seems that we need to spend a little more time on science (and possibly a little less time on literature studies) but by my calculations, he’s actually ahead of schedule. Being flexible and following his interests has resulted in focusing a lot on creative writing and math while putting formal science lessons on the back burner, so now we need to switch gears a little to ensure that we check off all the boxes by the time June comes around.

Back in November, Leah and I decided to concentrate on just reading and math for a bit to cement some of the concepts needed to move forwards; now I think she’s ready to add back in most of the other subjects. It was a good plan and I’m glad we had the option to spend lots of time on just a few things; since Leah wasn’t bouncing from subject to subject all day, she was able to slow down, focus her energy, and make significant progress.

And now that I’ve got our plans laid out for the next little while, I can sit back and enjoy these last few days of unscheduled time before we’re back to our regular routine on Monday.

New Year, New Socks

While I’m not a huge fan of new year’s resolutions (too much pressure!), I do love new year’s traditions — and my favourite tradition is the do-it-yourself sock-of-the-month club. In fact, I think this is the fourth year in a row that I’ve put together a basketful of a dozen skeins of yarn to keep me motivated to knit socks all year long (and after several years, I think this has now reached tradition status).

Tucked inside my basket are skeins from Knitted Wit, Canon Hand Dyes, Twisted Owl Fiber Studio, and Mountain Colors: I’ve got lots of great options for socks (some for me but I’ve got a few skeins earmarked for gifts over the year as well).

Some years I’ve managed to match up skeins with patterns ahead of time, but I didn’t bother this year; instead, these are a few of the ones I’m hoping to knit over the next 12 months:

I’ve actually got two other pairs of socks on the needles right now, but I think I’m going to wind that luscious teal yarn at the front of the basket from TOFS (it’s called Pirate Ship!) and knit up a pair of Mingus socks. For me. Really, I figure I’ve got all year to knit for other people but after two straight months of Christmas knitting, it’s time for a little selfish crafting!