A Sock Story

The first pair of socks I ever knit I made for Mr. Cleaver and to the joy of any crafter who gives a handmade gift, over the last 4 1/2 years he has loved them to death. I mean, look at these things.


I've darned them twice, and tried to appease him with a new pair of socks, but to no avail.The new socks were nice socks, he wanted another pair of house socks.

So in the past month or so he has taken to wearing that first pair over another pair of socks, just to keep wearing them.

As touched as I am by this, decided that a suitable replacement must be made.

I mean, look at these things!


For the past few months, I had been on the lookout for a suitably thick and suitably manly sock yarn, but didn't find anything just right. Then Quince released their winter heathers and I though"bingo!" and picked up a skein of kumelien's gull and kittiwake in chicakdee at Knitwit, with a plan to do some kind of stripe.

Eventually I decided on this salt and pepper pattern, which had the added bonus of making the insides double-cozy because of the floats and I ended with up just enough of main color to finish two man-sized socks.


Technically, I knit three socks, but sock #1 didn't fit right, so  I ripped it out. Fortunately try #2 and its mate received full husband approval.

And since I am the nicest of wives (particularly with grateful recipients such as these), I let Mr. Cleaver have this Christmas gift a whole month early.


He's worth it. And a girl can hope these last over 4 years too!


PS: Did you know you can get 20% of any the patterns in my shop through the end of the day Monday (November 28 at Midnight EST) Just use the code "smallbiz."

PPS: And did you know you can find out about pattern releases and sales right as they happen by signing up for the mailing list or following me on Twitter?

PPPS: And did you know that if you sign up for the mailing list by Dec 15th, you'll get access to an exclusive free pattern? I'm knitting it up right now and it's going to be pretty awesome. Just sayin'  :)

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Mr. Cleaver's Christmas Shirt

The Mr. In his new shirt

Last year for Christmas, I  secretly knit Mr. Cleaver a sweater. This year, I secretly sewed him a shirt.


Secret sewing is much more difficult than secret knitting, especially when your sewing machine lives in your bedroom! But I squeezed the project in on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, when Mr. Cleaver left for work early (except for one when we lost power!).  I did kick him out of the house for an hour and a half on the 22nd or 23rd so I could do the buttons and buttonholes, and I thought for sure he was onto me.


But Christmas morning came and he opened his shirt and I had to tell him I made it, even though I stitched something inside one of the cuffs,  which I guess is a good thing. I did work really hard to make it the shirt as professional as possible, including doing flat-felled seams throughout and matching the plaids wherever possible.  You could practically wear this thing inside out!

Falt-felled seam

A flat-felled seam.

My biggest worry was that it wouldn't fit, even though I kept comparing it to shirts in his closet, but it fit great and he wore it all Christmas day. The fabric is a lovely light-weight wool  from the Pendleton wool mills that irons and wears like a dream. My family has a long-history with Pendleton wool button-downs, so I was glad I could bring Mr. Cleaver into the tradition.

You made it?!

Pattern: McCalls' M6044 - View C

Fabric: Pendleton Lightweight Wool from Gorgeous Fabrics

Flat-Felled Seam Tutorial: sewneau.com

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Christmas in California...

...or you really can't go home again.

Mr. Cleaver and I just returned from an almost week spent at my Mother's in Napa, California. Our flight out was delayed (canceled and re-booked, really) by two days due to a huge snowstorm on the east coast, but our actual travel was fairly uneventful.

The Red Hen

It'd been two and half years since I'd last been back and it was the first time I was truly hit by the fact that I didn't live there anymore. Though in general Napa has gotten more touristy, with large hotels and tourist-aimed shopping centers being the most noticeable changes, not all that much was different (the Uptown Theatre is still closed, the flood abatement project still isn't completed, the Cinedome still stands tall, my mother's favorite restaurant is still the Red Hen, and Butter Cream still makes the best doughnuts in town).

But it wasn't home - I didn't remember my way around the roads, my childhood bedroom was filled with boxes of things that weren't mine, all the art seemed lower on the walls, I couldn't recall where the pots went in the kitchen, the bakery I once worked in was now a hair salon. I not longer had any ownership of the place as it is, only as it was and it was a sobering feeling.

That said, the weather was beautiful and it was nice to see family (Mr. Cleaver got to meet a lot of my mother's side of the family for the first time) and friends (shout out to Angie & Steve, Sean, Heatherly & Angelina!). I love that there will always be people in my life that no matter how long it's been since we've talked or seen each other (which is regrettably often too long), we can always pick back up right where we left off - and that's a comforting feeling.

City Drainage Basin

I didn't take many photos while on the trip, but I did take a series of shots on Christmas morning when Mr. Cleaver and I visited my neighborhood park (which is, yes, also a city drainage basin). I'd like to point out that Mr. Cleaver is wearing my Christmas gift to him, a Woven Bands Pullover re-imagined as an Elizabeth Zimmerman shirt-yoke seamless sweater knit in Cascade Eco-Wool.  Mr. Cleaver loves it, which makes me so happy  - you have no idea.



Balance Beam

Chin Up Dandelion

Hubby Socks

Hubby Socks II

I don't often knit for Mr. Cleaver because he's not really a hat or scarf kinda guy and after hearing about the "boyfriend curse," he's nervous about the idea of a sweater, even though we've been married for two years.

I do knit things for him from time to time, and Mr. Cleaver is appropriately grateful for the items, case in point - Hubby Socks I.

Hubby Socks I

Long before this blog began,  I knit Mr. Cleaver a pair of socks. These were the first pair of socks I ever knitted. I think I did them on size 3 needles or something ridiculously large like that. Mr. Cleaver wears them as house socks/slippers and has been wearing them almost every night for nearly three years.

Unsurprisingly, they've gotten a little worn.  Once I saw you could see the tips of his toes through some stretched stitches in the socks I decided it was time for a new pair.

Hubby Socks II

These are were knit toe up on size 1 needles in a k2, p1 rib with a short row heel, which is to say I improvised. The yarn is the particularly lovely-feeling Shibui Sock in stone from Purl Diva.  It pooled a bit oddly, but it feels so nice!

Of course Mr. Cleaver let me know that I'd pry his old socks from his cold dead toes, so we've agreed the new pair is for regular day wear.

As for the old socks? I managed to squirrel them away for a half an hour  to darned them, so  now they're good as new.  :)

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Driven to Distraction

For the most part, up until recently I was a one-project knitter. But this:

Coiled Scarf

Drove me to distraction.

I love hand-knitted scarves, I do. They're warm and cuddly and made with love. But I hate hate knitting scarves. They are generally mind-numbingly boring and so long, but never as long as you think, so they take forever to knit. Now I've never done one of those lovely lacey numbers, and maybe several months from now, when I've forgotten knitting this scarf, I'll give it a go. 

So why did I knit this scarf? The yarn. The lovely lovely yarn that is named after my old neighborhood in Chicago - Edgewater. As you may or may not know, Lorna's Lace is based in Chicago and many of her colorways are named after and inspired by Chicago neighborhoods: Argyle, Ravenswood, Devon, Lakewood, etc. When I found out she added a Edgewater colorway I leaped with joy and began haunting my LYS on a weekly basis until they got it in stock.

Geared up

I normally only pick up Lorna's in sock weight because I can never figure out what to do with multi-colored yarn on a large scale that doesn't seem too busy, but this time I went with the worsted weight. I decided I wanted to make Mr. Cleaver a scarf (knowing that he doesn't really wear them) to remember our two years in the Windy City. I picked up the yarn in early August and hoped to finish it before we moved - hah! 

I tried, I really did, but even knitting this thing while watching TV was boring. And I decided to do the whole thing in seed stitch, which gave it a great texture and made me a great big fool. And if you can't tell, it's actually two yarns- Edgewater & Black Purl, alternated every 16 rows: which is my I call this my Sextuple S Scarf: Seed-Stitch Self-Striping Striped Scarf.

Windy City Winter set

So while I was trying to finish this scarf I started and finished a cardigan, a hat to match the unfinished scarf, an identical hat for a friend who liked the hat that matched the unfinished scarf, and a beret I designed. I'll post about the other projects after I get a chance to photograph them, but Mr. Cleaver was gracious enough to model his new gear for me.

Turn a Square

The hat is Brooklyn Tweed's Turn a Square. It's super simple  and a quick knit. A great beginning hat pattern for those wanting to try knitting in the round. I really liked the way the multi-colored yarn worked with the grey and since I have a good chunk of the Black Purl yarn left, I think I'd like to do a similarly toned vest and give steeking a try.

Walking in the Woods

Oh, and for a guy who doesn't really like hats or scarves, Mr. Cleaver gave both of these his stamp of approval.


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