Advanced stashbusting - doubling up that sock yarn

If, like me, you have a well curated stash of leftover sock yarn it is only a matter of time before you find yourself contemplating it with a slightly overwhelmed expression and a distinct lack of storage space. There are, after all, only so many sock yarn blankets one can have on the needles at any one time.

If you haven't already tried it, may I suggest working with two strands of sock yarn held together - as the ultimate stashbuster.

Holding two strands together generally gives a weight of yarn somewhere between a DK and aran weight - I usually get a gauge of around 20st to 4" - making it comparable toa worsted weight, although obviously this does depend on the relative thicknesses of your chosen 4ply yarns. Working on a 4.5mm needle the two strands of yarn combine to give a pleasing bounce and loft to the fabric and the ability to play with colour and introduce gradual ombre-style effects is an added bonus. Pairing a super bright skein with a more sombre one might also be a good way to tone down some of the more exuberant skeins that we all have hiding in our stash.

Assisted Hatching baby sweater

Assisted Hatching baby sweater

For those of us with a well endowed stash of leftover sock yarn, an added highlight is that this type of project really does eat up yarn. Making a worsted weight baby sweater - here I used the Assisted Hatching sweater pattern by Elizabeth Ditchburn Dew - which used up practically all of a 400m (100g) skein of 4ply Zitron Trekking XL. Obviously you do have to take a little bit of time at the beginning of the project to wind 2 equal sized balls of yarn, and some people find that they get better results if they wind these two strands together into a single, larger ball from which to work. But this is a simple job that just needs a pair of kitchen scales and a bit of company from Netflix.

The possibilities of this type of yarn combining are endless, and I often find myself dreaming about an ombre style blanket - baby sized or bigger - starting with the lighter shades of yarn from my sock stash and progressing towards the darker ones. Maybe one day...I might just need a bit more sock yarn first though.



Thoughts on Baby Knitting

When it comes to baby knits I have a few essential criteria that have served me well in the past. I tend to knit items in advance and keep them ready for the inevitable 'surprise baby' from a co-workers spouse or when several new arrivals happen within weeks of each other.
I like to keep a well stocked baby box with enough choice so that I can match item to recipient, rather than gifting a handwash-only item to a dear friend who I know can shrink laundry just by looking at it.
I do knit the occasional girly cardigan on impulse such as Autumn Leaves if I have suitable yarn but mostly I tend to favour unisex knits in fairly neutral colours to maximise gift-giving potential. Otherwise it is bound to happen that there will be 4 baby boys born in a row and all I have in the gift box is a pastel pink Liesl.
One of the reasons that I prefer a plain and simple knit like my Fuss Free Baby cardigan is that it is endlessly adaptable. Short or long sleeves, plain or striped, frugal stashbuster or blow-the-budget cashmere it can be adapted to suit any requirements.
I tend to have several in the gift box in neutral colours and then when the gender is known I can add some cute and funky buttons. Gender stereotypes can be a social minefield but I do love adding pretty flower buttons to a plain cardigan for a girl, not least because (with having two boys) my opportunities for girly knitting are strictly limited.

For added ease and adaptability I knit both button bands plain and then, using small buttons (knitting police - look away now) sew them onto the appropriate side and then just poke them through the band on the other side to create little buttonholes. I'm sure the local WI would faint at the thought but I don't imagine that the baby or sleep-deprived mother for that matter would give it a second thought.
I have never been clear on which side buttons go for a boy or a girl and I'm not sure that it matters anymore but for the record the buttons for a girl traditionally go on the right of the garment.

WIP: Sock Yarn Blankie

Just a quick update on my Sock Yarn blankie which is rumbling on quietly in the background.

Sometimes I don't pick it up for a few day or even a week, but that's fine.

It's always there and it's quite nice to greet it as an old friend and work on it for some peaceful, quiet knitting when I'm need of something calm.

I love looking at the blocks of colour and seeing how they play against each other - I am easily amused, clearly :)

Sock yarn blankie

Don't worry, I won't bore you too much with photos of a mitered square blanket growing at a snails pace but once I month I will post a tally of how many squares I have completed. More as a means of keeping the project 'front and centre'. otherwise, I know what I'm like. It will slide to the bottom of my WIPs basket and then further into dusty oblivion before being rescued during a marathon cleaning attempt.

So In April I did a grand total of 40 squares - it has grown a little since this photo was taken - and I'm really enjoying it.

I am trying to stick to mainly UK indie dyers yarn - fortunately I have many (many) leftovers and am loving how all the different colours and tones come together.

Very addictive. Just need to keep reminding myself to pick it up at least every other day to keep the momentum going.