Saturday, November 21, 2015

Socks will be the death of me

I don't know why I am having so much trouble knitting socks this season. I have reknit as much as I have knit. One plus of reknitting is, after ripping back one heel turn and two gussets, I decided to preserve the yarn striping from the foot to the leg by knitting a short row heel in a contrasting solid color. One of the worker bees at Simply Sock Yarn recommended the Silver Lining colorway, and I am quite pleased with it.

I'm using a set of square DPNs (by Kollage) that are adding to my misery. It's not the shape but the fact they are the sharpest needles I have ever worked with. They pierce the yarn plies, making the yarn seem splitty when it really isn't. The needles also pierce my finger tips on occasion. I'm sticking with them for this pair of socks because I'm afraid to change needles midstream.

Since I have another set of US1 DPNs, I started a second pair of socks for Big Foot, aka my son. I'm using Silver Lining for not only the heels but the toes and maybe some stripes on the leg if I seem to be running short on yardage. The first toe has been knit twice, but the second toe required only two rows of reknitting.

Maybe I am finally getting the hang of sock knitting? (Knock on wood.)

Monday, November 09, 2015

Two steps forward, three steps back

The xmas sock knitting efforts have not been going well. First, I thought I would knit plain ordinary socks with ribbing for the instep and leg. That just didn't seem to be going very well, so then I got the idea to knit Jaywalkers, a very good pattern for self-striping yarn, but toe up, so I didn't have to worry about running out of yarn. I ripped back to the toes, and the knitting went well, but the socks seemed HUGE. I kept telling myself that it would be okay, but after reaching the heels, I could lie to myself no longer. I ripped all the way back to the beginning, switched from US2 to US1 DPNs, and reverted to plain ordinary socks but without the instep ribbing; I plan to rib the legs.

I blame all this back and forth on Irish cottage knitting, aka lever knitting. A while back, I switched to this style from continental and was very pleased with the resulting fabric. However, initially my knitting was tighter than usual, so developed the habit of upsizing the needles. Well, my Irish cottage knitting must be more relaxed these days, as one needle size up is one needle size too far. I suspected this might be the case, as I knit the bathroom curtain on US6 needles because upsizing to US7 felt too floppy, but at the time I blamed the cotton yarn.

There is something hinky about gauge and my knitting, though. Sometimes my gauge is spot on, as with the Jaywalkers, but the resulting fabric feels unsatisfactorily loose. This is particularly troublesome with socks, where the fit should be snug and the fabric dense. I'm wondering if, instead of aiming for the pattern gauge, I should figure out what gauge produces the fabric I want, then work the pattern according to that. There is some sweater knitting in my future, so I may have to experiment with this idea.

And now I am also wondering if my dissatisfaction with continental knitting might have been resolved with a similar strategy. Hmmm.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

What to do with all that leftover yarn

I picked up a copy of Mini Skein Knits from the library as it looked interesting and useful. While I probably will not directly knit any of the patterns, they do give a knitter lots of ideas for small skeins and leftovers.

One oddity about the book is it provides instructions on how to make a knit stitch, a purl stitch, an increase, a decrease, how to cast on and bind off, etc. But nowhere are there instructions about colorwork, which abounds in the patterns. I don't find Fair Isle to be all that intuitive, but hey, maybe that is just me.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Don't do this at home

Knitting a curtain is about the dumbest thing I can think to make out of yarn. Blankets are larger, but at least they are cozy on cold winter nights. A curtain could be sewn from cloth in about an hour, max. This thing took *forever*. BUT it is an excellent stash buster of a project.

Pattern: My own concoction (using chart A from Hybrid Vigour Shawl on
Yarn: Dem-N-Nit Pure Indigo Cotton, about 9.5 skeins
Needles: US6

It shrank about two inches when washed, which I planned for (although the rod pocket is a bit tight). The indigo is kind of dark for my decor, but I expect it to fade as time goes by. I learned from another curtain project to make it wide enough, so it provides excellent coverage. All and all, I am satisfied. And *relieved* that it is finished.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The race is on

Breaking with a relatively new tradition, last year I did not knit xmas socks. To make up for it this year, I am not only knitting socks as xmas gifts, they will be knit from xmas-themed colorways. Unlike the Yarn Harlot, who can knit a couple of pairs over a weekend, socks take me much longer. Before I retired, I might complete a pair over the course of a month. There aren't enough months between now and xmas, though, so I'd better double up that effort.

I'm fairly dedicated to toe-up socks these days, but discovered the hard way that self-striping yarn is not conducive to short row toes.

Then I had what I call a stupid day, one of those days when I can't seem to do anything right. In this case, despite have executed a Turkish cast on multiple times in the past, I simply could not get it to work; after a couple of rows, I consistently came up one stitch short and was unable to figure out where that stitch went. So I tried some other toe-up cast ons, each a big FAIL. I wasted HOURS on this fruitless task. ARGH!

Fortunately, the stupid day was followed by a better one, and I figured out that I needed to hold onto the tail to keep from losing that stitch. Two Turkish cast on sock toes coming right up.

To avoid the dreaded second sock syndrome, I knit both socks in parallel. To complete my xmas mission, I need a schedule to tell me how many inches to knit per day. Ordinarily, I do not set knitting deadlines, but between the desire to return to tradition AND to knit these gifts in xmas-themed yarn, I am making an exception. We'll see how that works out.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Who needs Rhinebeck?

I have yet to make it to the mecca of all things wooly, the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival that comes to Rhinebeck each October. Through various bloggers, I visit vicariously, so I know what I am missing. Some day I will make that journey.

Meanwhile, that doesn't mean I can't buy me some yarn now and then.

From Simply Socks Yarn Co, some of their own Poste yarn, destined to become socks for xmas giving:

From Hancock Fabrics, lots of this Fisherman's Wool (it was on sale!), that will become a poncho (which are back in style!), most likely this one, although I have been recently distracted by this pattern:

From The Fifth Stitch, Defiance, OH, comes some Cascade Heritage Prints sock yarn, that will be for moi:

And that is my reward for finishing the black lacy socks.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Black socks are done

The almost-most-boring-socks-in-the-world are done. The only thing that might have made them more tedious was to knit them in plain stockinette. I didn't want to use a pattern that was too fancy - these eyes are old - so this one fit the bill.

Can't see the lacework, can you?

  • Pattern: Dead Simple Lace Socks, by Wendy D. Johnson (in Socks from the Toe Up)
  • Yarn: Lang Yarns Jawoll Superwash Solids, colorway 8304 (black)
  • Needles: US2
  • Modifications: Used Turkish cast on - 16 stitches total - then increased *every* round (to make toe more rounded) until up to 32 stitches , then started alternating a knit round with an increase round, up to 64 stitches. Used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy bind off.

Now can you see the lacework?

Side note: I hate-hate-HATE it when toe-up sock patterns end with "bind off loosely". Using a standard bind off, I have never been able to bind off loose enough for socks. For a while, I used EZ's sewn bind off, which worked well, but now I am a devoted fan of Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy bind off. Well done, Jeny, well done.

Now. NOW. I get to knit some colorful socks.