Something to Aspire to. Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

Author: Jacqueline

Four letters, four needles, four inches. For a girl who can knit sweaters and cables, there is one short word that scares the needles right out of my hands: sock.


For no apparent reason, I am terrified of knitting socks. I’m not sure if it is the really fine yarn, the skinny needles, my long fingers or lack of experience on double points, but I just haven’t convinced myself to conquer socks.

On the other hand, I am a great admirer of fancily designed and beautifully executed knit socks. When we launched Heel- our foot cream for feet worthy of hand-knit socks, we asked our good friend Amy Singer of Knitty.com to recommend a fantastic local sock designer to work with for our label photography. We not only love working with great designers, but also love finding them locally. Kate Atherley was our go-to girl for socks, patterns and perfectly executed samples.  

I took great pleasure guarding the sock stash, sorting through colours and designs, matching them to Heel labels and graphic designs. We photographed toes, heels, feet from the bottom and socks from the top. The only downside to the sock experience was that Kate’s samples don’t fit my big feet! Luckily, Shannon Okey’s publishing company Cooperative Press is launching a book by Big Foot Knits this summer by sock designer Andi Smith, of Knit Brit. Maybe her larger patterns will inspire me to tackle other couple four letter words, just knit.


How to Block a Knit Lace Scarf. Knitting and Crochet Blog week

Author: Jacqueline

As part of the Knitting and Crochet blog week, they’ve encouraged us to try something a little different for April Fools.


Today’s assignment was to make a posting on our blog that was different from our typical day to day content. We’ve often had customers ask us for tips on how to block their finished projects, so we’ve decided to make a video to show the process of blocking a lace scarf. We’re new to this world of video so if you have some tips and tricks for beginners, please share!


Skill + 1UP. From Scarves to cupcakes.

Author: Esther

I vaguely recall having learned to knit as a child when I used to sit beside my mom as she knit. She was a great knitter. I on the other hand was not and haven’t touched a pair of needles until I started working at Soak.


I’ve been interning at Soak for almost 7 months now and it’s hard not to pick up knitting while you are here. Jacqueline, Chris and Ngoc all know how to knit and they often bring in their projects to work on during lunch. Seeing their fun projects, as well as seeing all the beautiful colourful yarns laying around the office made me wonder if I could actually learn again and maybe even finish one project.

I grabbed some Louet Riverstone yarn and a pair of borrowed needles from Jacqueline and started to knit a simple scarf. I learned how to knit and purl. I finished in about a week. Even though it was a very simple pattern, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment as I wrapped my finished scarf around my neck.

I moved onto my next project right away after being inspired by a cupcake on Jacqueline’s office desk that was knitted by Chris. The instructions I found for cupcakes all suggested crocheting so I tried my hand at crochet. My first cupcake was horribly big; perhaps I didn’t pull the stitches tight enough. My next one was much better. It was so adorable that I gave to my friend as a present. I made one last cupcake before my interest started to subside.  I looked through our library to see what I could make for my next project. I decided on a cute little yarn cactus.

I took a break from knitting until I went with Ngoc to a Heel testing/review at the Purple Purl, lead by Amy Singer. That was the first time I went to Purple Purl. I just loved the entire store and the people within it. Everyone was so friendly and made me feel so comfortable and relaxed. I decided that I had to buy some yarn and start my next project. I had initially picked up some black yarn but put it back once I saw Ngoc shaking her head in disapproval. She persuaded me to be a little wild and pick a beautiful raspberry pink yarn instead.

 

I went from not knowing how to knit or crochet to making 2 scarves, 3 cupcakes, and a cactus this winter. Not bad. For my next project, I might even try cables or even entrelac. Do you have any suggestions for a project for a pretty beginner knitter?


A Tale of Two Yarns – Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

Author: Chris

At the end of January 2010, just as I felt the cold weather would never leave us and the Olympics were set to begin in Vancouver, I decided my home needed a new blanket.  I rarely knit for myself.  I have a niece and nephew and lots of friends having children.  Small projects are my preference.  Big projects, such as a blanket, tend to lose my attention before they’re done and end up forgotten in the UFO bin.


 

Cold and motivated by the idea that I would sit and knit for hours each night while I watched the Olympics, I began my blanket.  I had chosen a log cabin pattern for myself in 3 colours of Cascade 220.  I chose this particular yarn because I fell in love with the colours, which does tend to be my way.  Others at the shop had tried to convince me that neutral colours would be better for a blanket in my living room but I had spied the Cascade 220 in orange and meant to have it.  Choosing the blue and green to go with it was easy.

Not long after I began the log cabin blanket, a friend announced her first pregnancy.  After a chat with her about the baby and their home renovations which included her colour choice (shades of yellow and gold) for the baby’s room, I decided I would make a blanket for their new one’s arrival.  I was clearly still in the delirium of love with the first blanket that I didn’t recognize what I was committing myself to with a second blanket while the first one was still barely begun.

I had seen a sweet basket weave baby blanket pattern that I could do in one colour.  I just needed to choose that colour.  I have a large stash of yarn at home and the office.  After digging through the bins to find something that might inspire me, I came across Louet Gems light worsted in brown.  I love brown.  It can be accented with so many other great colours.  I also thought it would be perfection in a room of yellow, especially since the happy couple was not going to find out the sex of their baby before the birth.

The patterns are quite different.  One requires no attention at all, just knit every row within each block of colour.  The other requires a small amount of attention or at least minimal internal counting.   These are different yarns to the touch, too.  Cascade isn’t soft but isn’t scratchy either.  It is thick, warm wool which is what a blanket should be. Gems is super soft and machine-washable, perfect for baby stuff.  They both have excellent stitch definition.  The colour selection with Cascade 220 was spectacular so I can see myself going back to this yarn when something sturdy and warm is required.  Gems is a yarn I will use over and over again because the varying weights and colour choices make that easy to do.

I am not what you’d call an avid knitter.  I enjoy it.  I particularly like making things for little people.  I don’t, however, knit every day.  I don’t even knit every week unless I’m working on something with a deadline.  So there I was, with two blankets on needles and my attention slowly dwindling.  You’d think a baby arriving would be enough of a deadline for me but I’d already knit two sweaters for the wee one. The blanket felt like a bonus.

Now I just need to finish at least one of these blankets.   Maybe this blog post is just the thing to capture my attention and enthusiasm for these projects again.


How to: Block a hat

We were tweeted by one of our friendly customers who had just finished knitting her very first hat and had no idea how to block it. We thought that answering her question would be a great way to start off what we hope to be a series of helpful videos about caring for the items you cherish most.

If you have any questions, requests or suggestions for videos, we’d love to hear them! Send your thoughts to ngoc@soakwash.com.


It’s Friday and I’m bagged. Week 29. Knit Nation.

Author: Jacqueline 

Grab a coffee or tea and join us each Friday, to learn how these Soak worthy bags came to be. Are you bagged? Send us your favorite bag. If we feature it here, we’ll send you a Soak gift pack, in a pretty bag, of course!


 

Last week there was a great party, with a super fantastic swag bag.  

The folks from Ravelry travelled across the ocean to host an event at Knit Nation, the UK-based knitting event. As we’ve just re-launched in the UK, we were a proud sponsor. While we haven’t got our hands on one of these decadent bags, we assure you, they are lovely! The party, as well as the entire Knit Nation event are rumored to have been fantastic!

We look forward to great success with leading yarn shops and haberdasheries in the UK market. 

 

 

If you are a UK based shop and would like some more information on Soak please contact our UK sales rep, Alice.


It’s Friday and I’m bagged. Week 21. The DryCast

Author: Chris

Grab a coffee or tea and join us each Friday, to learn how these Soak worthy bags came to be. Are you bagged? Send us your favorite bag. If we feature it here, we’ll send you a Soak gift pack, in a pretty bag, of course!


Two weeks ago today I rolled my ankle, and with nothing to hold onto, I fell.  I fell hard and broke my right ankle.  It happened suddenly and remains a blur.
castdrawing

The doctor in the emergency room said it was a clean break though I would be on crutches for 2 months. He put a plaster splint on my leg that was heavy, awkward and kept me immobile at my parents’ home. I had this monstrosity for 5 days while the swelling went down. A lot of knitting happened in those 5 days; so much knitting that my mother kindly went back to my apartment to get more yarn for me. My home is almost an hour from her home and the yarn was her only reason for going, just in case my mother’s sainthood was in question.

At the fracture clinic later that week, I got my fiberglass cast. Apparently they don’t make white casts anymore so mine is orange. I could have had soccer balls but I’m not that big a fan, World Cup or not.

I had a lot of questions for the doctor at the fracture clinic. As a single girl, how was I supposed to survive at home on crutches for 2 months? It isn’t really going to be 2 months, is it? Driving was out of the question, right? (I knew the answer to this one but sometimes I like things to be reinforced.)  How was I supposed to shower?

The night before I broke my ankle, I was giving my almost 5 year old niece a bath. While I was washing her hair, I said “one day when I’m rich I’m going to have someone wash my hair for me every day”. My mother washing it in the kitchen sink isn’t exactly what I had in mind.
CastTub
I didn’t get all the questions answered to my liking though I did get told I could purchase a watertight bag for my cast so I could shower. The DryCast Waterproof Cover is pretty simple but it has made me feel so much better about the next 6 weeks. I’m back at home and feeling less dependent on others, even though Jacqueline is driving me to work every day and the girls in the office are fetching water for me.

It isn’t exactly how I’d planned to spend my summer. I’ll be well ahead of my Christmas knitting by the time it’s over, though.


The final countdown. A step by step guide to blocking.

Author: Jacqueline

TNNA t minus 4 days.


It’s early Sunday morning. Time to block and finish my wrap. The pattern casually stops after BO. I would suggest, not surprisingly, that all patterns end with Soak-ing instructions. Feel free, oh designers of the world, to use these. (Minus the personal details)

First things first, sew in all the ends. One day I’ll figure out what to do with all the ends. Lovely scraps of green.
the extra ends

Lay out all the tools you need. I have my mats (aka tradeshow floor, hence, finishing before TNNA), towels, pins and of course Soak (celebration, my favourite) and my Carrie basin. This wrap is clearly too large to be soaked in Phil. You need enough water to fully cover the garment, which, is a surprisingly large amount of water, once the yarn soaks and gets fully saturated.
tools for blocking

I also documented the wrap, pre-Soak, for comparative reasons. Something tells me that I didn’t bring enough mats home and that it is going to grow. I also went back to the original pattern for ‘finished’ length instructions, so I have a point of reference.
preSoak

I filled Carrie with luke warm water. I hate super cold water, it makes my hands uncomfortable. Definitely avoiding hot water, it is wool after all.

Once I added the wrap, as predicted, I needed to add more water. When the wrap was fully immersed, I swished it around and around, to make sure there was enough water movement to get in every cable, stitch and twist.

15 minutes to Soak. Just enough time for breakfast. Ruby guarded the pattern and the pins.
1ruby

Every few minutes I moved both the water and the wrap around.

Swish, splash, wait.

Breakfast.
breakfast

The water is slowly turning green. The overwhelming vinegar smell that lingered while knitting (probably the fixing of the colour during the dyeing process) was finally dissipating, being replaced by the clean fresh scent of Celebration.

If you haven’t swished the water for a while, make sure you do, one last time before taking the garment out. Suds settle on the top of the water and can create residue spots. One last swish and we’re coming out of the water. Oh, I’ve also realized that this is probably a multiple towel project, so I’ve gone to my stash of back-up towels.  To the tub.

moretowel

I carried Carrie to the tub (Get it? Carried, Carrie- It has been a week full of people asking why Carrie is called Carrie and why Phil is called Phil. When I filled Phil with water, he couldn’t hold enough water so I switched to Carrie. Now get it?)
using carrie for blocking

It’s important to note that a good bunch of the time spent in my messy, poorly lit bathroom was gentling squeezing the wrap while it was in Carrie to remove water. You don’t want to lift up the weight of the water in the garment. It will stretch and distort. I was once again surprised how heavy the wrap was when wet, I clearly shouldn’t be surprised, but I was. This morning I was excited that no one was home, I have the bathroom, kitchen and living room mess to myself. Now I wish I had someone else to help with the Soaking. This wrap is getting long and heavy, further reinforcing the need to properly block it. We recommend bribing a friend when soaking a quilt or vintage textiles. I further amend by including large garments.

Post soaking, pre-drying and blocking. Finished measurements 18” x 68”. Any bets on whether I’ll get there?
post soak, pre block

Towel sandwich. First round of removing water.
towel sandwich
As I start to lay out the wrap, my first thought is that it’s never going to end up the size it is supposed to. Then, suddenly, as I begin to line up ribs and tighten up cables, the oscillating forms of the cables start to come to life. Corny, I know, but it’s true. The blocking process is revealing the cables as they rise above the surface of the double seed stitch, turning at every twist. When the cables are cabling, the wrap suddenly becomes narrower, shorter and closer to its desired finished size.
1postsoak2
Back to blocking. It is a lovely textured surface, mountains of green, rising in my living room. I can honestly say that I’m both shocked and thrilled as I discover the smooth curves and valleys of the cables I’ve made. At the time, I had no idea what I was doing (which I’m sure you’ve gathered) and I can’t believe how beautifully the garment is taking shape.

It’s obvious that I’m an advocate of Soak-ing and properly finishing knits. It’s not only about the shaping but also about respecting the process and allowing the fibers and the stitches to blossom to their fullest.

drying

As the scent of Celebration Soak fills the air, it’s almost lunch time, and I should go probably give myself a rewarding morning soak, while my wrap gently dries.

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Week 9 – Binding off

Author: Ngoc
Every day at the Soak office, some time between 11:30 and 1:00, we all gather our lunches and sit around our big white table together. Our lunch breaks are usually full of talk about our lives outside of Soak whether it be a new restaurant we frequented, a new love interest, or a funny story about our families or the kids in our lives.


This particular lunch was all about knitting as we ate and watched Jacqueline finish the last few rows of her shawl that she has ambitiously taken on as her first big hand knitting project.

Wrap Week 8

8 weeks after she has started, she was able to bind off the last stitch and put down her needles. Of course we all wanted her to put it on and showoff all her hard work.

Wrap week 8

Doesn’t it look just absolutely fantastic and extremely warm? Now all she needs to do is sew in the ends, give it a good soak to remove the lingering vinegar smell, and block.

The Goal: to complete the Oscillation wrap before TNNA. I’d say Jacqueline is going to reach her goal way ahead of schedule.
Next project? Perhaps a delicate lace scarf?


Week 7 | Finished or frogged?

Author: Jacqueline

I was hoping to feature a finished wrap before this post. Alas, I think my next session of knitting time will be spent frogging.


I knew the wrap was coming out too long as I was knitting, but as a novice knitter I didn’t want to take it upon myself to redesign mid-pattern. I finished the wrap, late last week, leaving only the collar when I realized, with no uncertainty, that it was just too long. I contacted the designer to just check in on my situation, in case it was supposed to be long and then somehow magically becomes shorter when the collar was added, but sadly, my wrap is just too long. FYI, I am Captain of team ‘follow the pattern and keep knitting’.

Week 7 Wrap

Chris, our resident knitter (and Captain of team ‘frog it’), pointed out the simple fact that if it doesn’t fit right, I wouldn’t wear it. She also said that there was no way the collar, no matter how tight, would bring in the wrap as short as I need it. ‘Sorry Jacqueline, wishful thinking’ was how she put it. Actually, she’s a colourful talker but we can’t use those words here.

After measuring, stretching, thinking, pinning, measuring again and having some coffee before work Tuesday morning, I decided that giving the collar a fair shot to do its thing was the right thing to do (Go team, ‘keep knitting’). I figured that three rows in and 45 minutes later I would know if it was in fact lifting up the collar enough to continue on. Last night, sitting in the car off Dundas street, before a 7pm meeting, I added the collar and knit three rows. Sadly, while the collar did life the wrap and bring in the top side, it was not enough to avoid the dreaded frogging festivities that will occur at lunch today (2 points to team ‘frog it’).

Week 7 Wrap

Let the record show that I did complete the wrap and begin the collar, just in case I don’t finish it a second time before TNNA. While I’m okay and on board with the idea of making the wrap fit so it gets the wearing and love it deserves, I have no idea where I am going to find the four hours of knitting time to redo what I’m about to rip out. Wish me luck.


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