FO: Rye Socks for Toddlers

Yes, within two days my pair of Rye Socks are finished and off the needles. Okay they’re toddler sized and knitted using worsted weight yarn which is why they knit up so quickly.

To be honest, it took me a little bit extra time to finish them because I realized only once I’d kitchener stitched the toe and was preparing to bury the threads that I’d knit the second sock longer than the first one. Luckily the difference was only in the toebox so this morning I unravelled it and reknit it to match its pair. It took maybe twenty minutes at most and now I have two fairly identical socks. I was shocked to realize I had six feet of yarn left over which shows just how off I’d been in knitting that second toe-box. Guess that goes to show me that I need to put down my knitting earlier in the evening to prevent screw-ups. It also reaffirmed why I prefer knitting socks two at a time and toe-up.

Will I knit more from this pattern? I’m not a beginning sock knitter and I don’t care for socks this thick so I probably wouldn’t make any for myself or other adults but I might for the twins. (You can’t give a pair to only one twin, right?) But I need to figure out a way to knit them from the toe-up and two-at-a-time (though this pattern should be fairly easy to adjust.) After that, we’ll see how the twins like them, and how they fit, before I cast on any more.

Pattern: RYE socks. (Link if you prefer to use Ravelry)

Designer: Tin Can Knits

Yarn: Caron Simply Soft (Worsted/Aran) – colour is 9747–Iris

Needles: 3.25 mm (#3 US) and 3.75 mm (#5 US)

Cast-On: Rye Socks for Toddlers

Yesterday I got a phone call from the friend who, when we started watching Outlander back around 2014 and saw all the beautiful knitted patterns appearing on FB, suggested we take knitting lessons so we could make those patterns too. She phoned the local yarn store and arranged the lessons and we spent lots of hours knitting and chatting as we learned. (I miss those pre-Covid days) Well, as I said, she phoned yesterday and said that she wanted to try knitting her first pair of socks. She’d visited the store where we took our lessons and they’d sold her a $35 skein of sock yarn and #1 (US) circular needles and sent her on her way. She told me how she sat down to knit them but that she hated working with such tiny needles and was having trouble with laddering even on magic loop. Could I help?

I told her that during our lessons our instructor had started me off with a pattern that used worsted wool, and suggested she try the RYE pattern by Tin Can Knits. (Link if you prefer to use Ravelry) By the time I rang off, she was calmer and had plans to a) cast on the Rye pattern using a worsted weight yarn, and b) for us to meet one day next week so we could sit down in person in her backyard, especially since the fall weather is so lovely and we both need human and adult company. Yes, we will be social distancing, no worries.

Since it had been a while since I’d knitted that pattern, I figured I should cast on a pair myself so if she phoned or texted in the meantime I could refer to my own pair. I printed off the pattern, with the idea that I would knit a pair for my grandsons using some Caron Simply Soft (which should be perfect for their parents to throw in the washing machine and not have to worry about felting) I’ve never made toddler-sized socks before, so it was an new experience for me too.

Toddler sock vs iPad Mini

I love making socks with worsted weight yarn–they work up so quickly. And with toddler sized socks I finished the first one in a single day. Except as I worked on the foot (which the pattern says should be at least 5″ before starting the toe box) I thought, “no way, this is too big for either of the twins. This thing is huge!”

I mean look how big that sock is in comparison to my iPad Mini! So I texted my DIL and asked her to measure the twins’ feet. She got back to me this morning and confirmed (also in shock) that their feet are indeed five inches long. So this sock should fit. Wow!

When I’d put the single sock down I wasn’t sure I’d cast on a second one, but just use this as an example when I meet with my friend next week. But now I know it will fit the twins, I plan on making its mate. And another set for the other twin. And more! I have so many plans for toddler socks now I think I’ve found a new obsession. Though I think I may add some puffy paint to the bottom of socks as the toddlers need to not have their feet slipping out from under them on hardwood or vinyl floors.

Updating our 1970s brick fireplace

One of the things I was really looking forward to when we moved into this house was the fireplace. I loved the idea of being able to turn it on in the winter, of having a mantel to decorate for Christmas. And it’s great, especially once we added the gas insert. Except I really despise the brick they used for the fireplace surround. It is the same brick as on the outside of the house and it’s butt-ugly. Which has really bothered me from day one. I mean, I don’t mind it on the outside, but not for the fireplace.

After eighteen YEARS of saying “one day, I’ll do something about it” I finally got fed up and researched what I could do to update its look, and one that wouldn’t break the bank. (Why it took me so long to actually attempt this, I have no clue.) Anyway, after lots of googling home improvement websites, Pinterest and YouTube videos, I narrowed it down to three choices:

  1. whitewash the brick
  2. paint the brick
  3. tile over the brick with a porcelain or ceramic tile

I’ve listed them in the order of perceived difficulty, by the way. Whitewashing is simply mixing paint with water and brushing over the brick. Which sounded like something easy enough to do. So we decided to try that first and then if we don’t like it, we will go to step two and paint the bricks solid white. Now I’m not a fan of painted brick, but at this stage I figure anything is better than the god-awful brown brick I’ve lived with for too long. To be honest, I’d prefer to go with option three–tiling–which would class up the fireplace and make it look much fancier, but it would also cost a bit more. (Though probably only between $100 – $200) Except tiling is a skill I’ve never tried before, and it means I’d need to cut the tile which means buying more tools. While I find the process intriguing I mainly find it intimidating. Which is why it’s #3 on the list.

So with our “Try 1, if not 1 then 2, and if that still looks like crap then we’ll try #3” plan in mind, we braved going into a Lowes to purchase some paint and chip brushes (they’re the cheapest brushes as they get worn out by the brick). Except the only brushes our local Lowes had in stock cost $30 apiece. Yeah, no. So the next day we went to Home Depot across town where we found some cheap chip brushes at 5 for $7 along with a quart of white latex paint. (I was divided about whether to use a brush or a really thickly napped roller but 90% of the YouTube videos I watched said to use a brush, so there you go. However, if I did it again, or if I paint the brick, I’d definitely use a thick roller mainly because our brick is heavily textured and I’d get a more even coverage from a roller.)

The photo above was taken before I scrubbed the soot off as best I could but I wanted to give you an idea of “here’s where I started.” Then I taped down the drop sheets and around the brickwork up the wall and set to work. First I painted the grouting — boy did it suck up the paint, which was a clue for how the bricks sucked up the whitewashing later. Then I poured out a mixture of 1 part latex paint to two parts water. As I said earlier, these bricks are heavily textured, far more than any of the YouTube videos I’d watched, so it gave me a different effect than what I’d seen accomplished on YouTube or Pinterest. My youngest son mentioned as I finished that the bricks looked like someone had dusted them with icing sugar, and now I can’t get that image out of my mind.

It’s an improvement from the original and at first we weren’t sure if we liked it or not, but it’s growing on us. Especially when we’ve walked out of the room for a few minutes and return. We’ve decided to give it a day before we give it a second coat of white wash or go straight to full-on paint. Or just leave it be. As I suspect we will.

I’ve informed my hubby that after we finish fiddling with the brick I want (him) to make a wooden box to cover/hide that ugly concrete mantel. I promised him that from what I’ve seen on YouTube, it shouldn’t be too difficult. (Yeah I predict that one will come back and bite me!) So expect future posts to cover that project. 😉