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I’m so pleased with the colour and patterning in these socks. Now that I have had my vision corrected properly, I’m knitting and sewing so much faster. Imagine! It only took a few days before I adapted to the progressive lenses. Sometimes I still feel like I’m looking through a tunnel (like when I’m in a large store trying to take in the entire space), but detail work is so easy. I’ve already started another sock, in a cashmere-blend yarn that feels like knitting with whipped cream. Heavenly.

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What finally motivated me to get the second sock done? I have another pattern I want to cast on, and I need the needles!  Can’t wait to wear these, though, they feel so soft on the feet.

I’m going to slowly work my way through the socks in Cookie A’s new book, knit.sock.love. Hedera is the first design featured in the book, and I had a skein of Wollmeise 80/20 in Mistelzwieg  already wound and ready to knit. I have finished the first sock. It was a simple knit, and the fit is  wonderful. I have finally learned to knit the heel flap longer so that the sock doesn’t stretch so much over my high instep. I also cast on 70 stitches, which is more than my usual 58-66. Since I use 00 needles (1.75 mm), I get a good tight gauge that will hopefully translate to a pair of socks that will last through a lot of wear.

Wishing you a holiday full of family, friends, good food, and happiness.

One of the first of my fabric-covered box experiments was this one:

The design of the box came about because I had a number of old/useless CDs lying around, and I wanted to make something useful, but pretty, instead of throwing them away. This was years ago, when AOL was bombarding people’s mailboxes with CDs for “free dial-up access for 3 months”. It is really hard to cut a circle out of cardboard by hand, so I used a couple of CDs as the round lid and base for this box. It was easy to lace fabric over them, and once I figured out the dimensions for the other cardboard pieces, it came together fairly quickly.

I make my boxes in the 19th century way–no glue. I use strong thread to lace the fabric to the cardboard (or CD). The pieces are stitched together using a lighter weight thread and a curved needle. Usually, I have to use a 60-weight cotton or a polyester bobbin thread to stitch the edges together, because my curved needles have a tiny eye that won’t accommodate thicker threads. The curved needle is necessary, at least for me, to avoid crazy and painful contortions of the hand when trying to sew box lid to sides without the stitches showing.

This is the way that fabric boxes were made in the Victorian era, when ladies of leisure took to fancy needlework to pass the time. Apparently, it was a popular hobby in France in the late 1800s. Nowadays it is more common to see the practitioners of “cartonnage” using gummed Kraft paper and glue to construct fabric boxes. Contemporary needleworkers like Jane Lemon and Jackie Woolsey (both from the UK, I think) have published books about the traditional hand-sewn techniques of box-making. I have Jane Lemon’s “Embroidered Boxes” and Jackie Woolsey’s book, which I believe is called “Making Hand Sewn Fabric Boxes” (I don’t have it nearby at the moment). I think Jackie’s book is out of print, but it is well worth searching for if you want to learn to make sewn boxes.

There are several books out there for people who want to learn the gummed-paper-and-glue methods, too. Unfortunately, most of them are not in English! If you read French, you’re golden. I have found one English language book on the subject, but it is out of print and somewhat expensive to buy secondhand:

By the way, if a bookseller in the UK tells you that surface mail to Canada will take 3 months, he’s not kidding.

If you’re looking for inspiration for any type of fabric box, and other fabric accessories, there are several Japanese books about cartonnage. Japanese craft books are full of amazingly beautiful photographs, and once you know the basics of box construction, that may be all you need. This is one of my favourites:

There are several vendors of Japanese craft books on eBay, and that’s where I get mine. Do some comparison of prices before you buy. Most vendors are fair in their pricing, but a few are outrageous!

I love my little round box. I used my favourite Hoffman floral print on it, and I keep bobbins for my vintage Singer Featherweight in it because it deserves to hold special things. Box lids are full of possibilities for embellishment. They are perfect for crazy patchwork, scraps of vintage embroidery, canvaswork and stumpwork. The possibilities are endless.

Since I pinched a nerve in my neck in November, I haven’t been able to knit very much. It’s improving, thank goodness, but I am still an honourary member of the “sock a month” club. That’s about how long it took to get through this one:

The pattern is “Socks for Veronik”, from the Holiday 2007 issue of Interweave Knits. I used 2mm needles (2 circulars) and Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in “South Shore”. I had hoped the colours would blend together a bit more. The stripey look is not what I was expecting. It’s the first time I’ve used this yarn, and I really like it. Not splitty, and quite soft even though it is 25% nylon. I will definitely use it again.

I’m being sorely tempted to cast on another pair before I get to the second Veronik sock. On Ravelry, the “Socks From the Toe Up” Knit ALong group is starting the “I Heart Toe Up Socks” pattern for January, and I have the perfect yarn to knit them!

Alchemy’s Juniper sock yarn (100% merino), in the Cherry Tart colourway. Yep, it’s really that screamin’ pink. I love it. Usually, though, if I don’t cast on the 2nd sock of a pair as soon as I finish the first, I am infected by the dreaded “Second Sock Syndrome”. And how long will it be before I have a new pair of socks if I keep knitting alternate singles? I guess I’d better do some laundry.

I love reading what other people are blogging for the New Year. Some have chosen a word or phrase to use as a theme for the year. Others are making the usual resolutions about living more healthfully and learning to say “no”, all admirable ambitions.

I’ve probably mentioned before that I don’t make resolutions in January because I find September is more a time for making new plans and starting new projects. This year, I feel like there needs to be some kind of a pause for reflection, though. All in all, 2009 was an unsatisfying year and I am glad it is over. I can’t explain it, but it’s like something is in the air today. I just have this feeling that 2010 is going to be a  happy and creative and surprising (in a good way) year.

So I will make a resolution this year…I am going to do a little something that is creative every day. It will keep me cheerful, and maybe give me some fun stuff to blog about.

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