Thursday, July 31, 2008

Spiral Socks

I'm still catching up on designs I made for Schaefer Yarns and never posted, here, so here's another one:

Difficulty: Intermediate

Finished Measurements:
Sock circumference, relaxed: 7" (Note: the stitch pattern is very stretchy, and easily fits a 9" inch circumference foot)
Sock length and cuff height are easily adjusted

About 300 yards light fingering weight yarn. Sample knit from less than 1
skein Anne from Schaefer Yarn (60% merino wool SUPERWASH, 25% mohair, 15% nylon; 4 oz. / 560 yds)
Size 1 (2.5 mm) US circular needle (or size needed to obtain gauge), at least
40” long with flexible cord,
Tapestry needle

Gauge: 40 sts / 44 rows = 4 inches in pattern, relaxed

Price: $4.00

(Through Ravelry, although you don't need to be a member.)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mirror, Mirror

At long last, I've formatted the pattern for the colorwork socks I knit in the spring. And here it is:

Difficulty: Intermediate

To fit an average woman’s foot

Finished Measurements:
Circumference: 8 inches (unstretched)
Length: adjustable

Main Color (MC): about 300 yards fingering weight yarn
Contrast Color (CC) about 100 yards fingering weight yarn
Sample knit from 2 colorways of Schaefer Yarn Heather (55% superwash merino, 30% silk, 15% nylon, 4 oz [113 g] / 400 yds [365 m])
Set of US size 1 [2.25 mm] double pointed needles
Tapestry needle

Note: You can make two pair of socks from two skeins of Heather by reversing MC and CC in the second pair.

Gauge: 36 sts/48 rows: 4 inches in stst

Price: $4.00

(I'm calling them Mirror Socks because the second half of the chart is a mirror image of the first.)

Friday, July 25, 2008


Since it's been so hot, I am naturally thinking about cowls, wrist warmers and sweaters.

I made the wrist warmers from Last Minute Knited Gifts a couple of weeks ago (but can't remember if I blogged about them), and was mentally knitting a sort of cowl thing with short rows that allow it to transform into a hood (until I got distracted...). In my head, the short rows created enough extra fabric to cover the head and mouth if it's especially chilly, but not so much that it seems weirdly bulky when worn just around the neck. I have no idea if this will work in practice, but I was all set to try (using some turquoise-y and purple-y handspun I made a few months ago), when I discovered the Dragon Scarf by Vilma Vuori (on Ravelry and on her blog).

In her version, the ridges/tabs are all knitted individually. I think I'm too lazy to weave in all those ends, but I wonder how it would work if you knit that section end to end (so you'd cast on and bind off stitches to form the tabs, without cutting the yarn), then picked up stitches along the straight edge and knit the ribbed portion? You'd be knitting the ribs reverse (she started with the straight edge and worked towards the tabs), but I think that would be okay. But what stitch would I want to use in the tab portion?

And sweaters: I bought a gigantic skein of laceweight from Spunky Eclectic at the MA Sheep and Wool Festival. I'd planned to make a gigantic shawl, of course, but then I noticed that it coordinates very well with some solid laceweight I also have. I swatched them together, on size 6 needles, and I really like the fabric. So they may become a sweater together, instead of 2 shawls separately.

Or, I may just knit more socks.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


So, here's the last pair from my flurry of (previously) undocumented sock productivity:

I used some handspun merino, and a size 4 needle. They're kind of a medium-size child's size--the pattern (International Sock of Doom) is stretchy, so they fit me circumference-wise, but not length-wise. Hopefully, there are children with feet that size, somewhere in the world (I'm donating them to charity).

I tried and tried to use this yarn, plus 2 other skeins of handspun in a somewhat similar weight and vaguely related colors, to make a top down raglan, but it barely got past the yoke. In the skeins, the yarns looked fine together, but once I stared knitting them up this one stood out too much--I'd imagine a kind of rich, berry colored sweater (possibly with some grey in the body and lower sleeves, if I ran out?) but I was getting pink and purple stripes and I was not amused.

First, I figured I could give it to charity (Afghans for Afghans is starting to collect kids' stuff to ship in a few months), but then I started worrying that I'd run out of yarn, or end up needing to use a completely random color on just one cuff. I know the charities often say that doesn't really matter, but it was driving me crazy--and I still wasn't crazy about the pink and purple together. So I ripped, and went back to socks.

I really like how the yarn looks in the pattern stitch, see?

And even though I'm now officially ahead of schedule (9 pairs done at the end of 7 weeks, if my calculations are correct), it appears that I have cast on another pair of socks:

The Embossed Leaves Socks from Interweave Knits (Winter 2005, maybe?). The yarn is Leili from the Unique Sheep (part of last year's Woolgirl sock club), and I'm using 2.5 mm needles.

In other news, yesterday I noticed a little problem in the shawl I'm working on--I'd dropped a stitch and the (100% silk) yarn was cheerfully unraveling down from it. Oops. I got it semi-contained at break, then fought with it some more at lunch (poor Kevin--I'm such good company when I have a knitting crisis!), but didn't really get things back on track till after dinner. I needed spare needles, and the unfolded paper clips I tried at lunch just weren't good enough. But it's fixed now (I think)!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Picture Ketchup

Hey, you'll never guess what I have! Pictures of socks!

So, these are the ones I knit 2-at-a-time, using 2 balls of yarn for each (to make the stripes). The ones I complained about a lot, you remember?

I really like the colors (one skein was nearly solid purple and the other looks like the heels), but the obsessive part of my nature is not happy with the tension--I don't know if you can see it here (but go see the big picture in Flickr, if you're so inclined), but there's a line along the side of each foot where the tension shifts. Off the foot, it makes the sock look like someone who needs some more hobbies ironed a crease along that side. On the foot, the stitches on the tops of the foot are visibly looser than those on the bottom (this shows up especially well on the left sock). I'd me more worried about it, but I had the same issue with another pair of socks and I can't see the line anymore, so I'm hopeful that some trips through the washer will even things out.

And here's the Rushing Rivulet socks from New Pathways, funny sole and all (I think it gaps a little at the arch). They were knit toe-up, and you can just barely see the increases coming from the center of the sole to the side of the heel (instead of all on the side of the foot, like in usual socks). These are the ones I mostly knit at sculling camp.

And last but not least (for today--I'm saving 1.125 pairs for next time), some basic to-up socks (with a little garter st rib), knit from my handspun. The fiber (coopworth wool from Sojourner Designs, purchased at the Franklin Country Fiber Twist) isn't especially soft, but it's the finest I've ever spun, and I'm really excited that it's light enough for regular socks (rather than house socks or slippers). One foot really is stripier than the other--although the yarn didn't look stripy at all till I started knitting. They were mostly knit on the train, car, and plane during last week's travels.

In case you're wondering about my progress towards knitting 52 pairs, counting the 1 completed pair I'm saving for next time, I've knit 9 pairs and it's only the beginning of the 8th week. We'll see how long this lasts.

Although it may last quite a long time--I tried and tried to knit a sweater with the yarn I ended up using for the 9th pair (it was going to be part of the yoke), and I couldn't get it right: the colors were weird, then I worried I'd run out of yarn, then I changed my mind again about the colors, then I ripped. And then it turned into socks, all on its own!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Back home!

Gosh, have I gotten out of the habit of blogging while I was gone!

I had a wonderful time--sculling camp was really fun (after the first couple of sessions, which were overwhelming), and seeing my family and then Kevin's family afterwards was great. And Moppet enjoyed the peace and quiet of the house, with visits from MissAliceFaye (spaces? no spaces?). So much so that she was annoyed to see me... perhaps because I immediately started brushing her?

Kevin took some incredibly flattering pictures of me rowing (I look especially stunning when I have to r e a c h w a a a a y out across the boat to reach the far oarlock!). For some reason, they're in reverse order, so it looks like I materialize on the water, approach the dock, set up the boat, practice rowing on land, carry my oars to the docks, then stand around. But the standing around was actually first.

We spent between 3 and 4 hours a day rowing, plus stretching, videos (watching ourselves as well as famous races), some yoga, and lots of eating, but I still did a fair bit of knitting:

- I finished the socks from New Pathways and am OK with the shaping, although not thrilled. I must learn to resist the pictures in that book, and stick with the shaping methods that fit my feet (I plan to give the socks to a non-knitter, who will have no idea what about them irks me so).

- I knit a hat and sweater for my impending niece/nephew. They were meant to be a set (I used the same yarn), but instead the sweater is toddler-sized and the hat is baby-sized. It's probably just as well, since that means the sweater (which took longer to make) will fit a bit longer. However, since the baby will live outside DC, much of that time it will probably be too warm for a sweater. A and S, is there any chance you want to move to Alaska to accommodate my sweater-making? How about turning up the AC?

- I knit about 2 rows of the top-down shawl I'm starting to design, using the kimono lace pattern from Folk Shawls (I think that's the name), but adapted to fit a triangular shape better. This would be impressive, but I'd just started, so the rows were very short.

And on the way home I just missed what might have been a wool shopping spree. Someone at the general store two towns over from the camp said that the inn across the street (the Craftsbury Inn) had a wool shop! I scurried over to the Inn, but it turned out that they've closed the shop. One of the innkeepers said that they do have wool for sale (evidently, everything from raw fiber to handspun yarn), but that his wife was the one who knew about it--and she was out of town, so no wool for me. Buy some on my behalf if you're ever in Craftsbury!

But I consoled myself when we stopped for lunch in St. Johnsbury, visiting both of the town's yarn stores, Wool Away and the Rose Knitting Parlor (just down the street, at 378 Railroad Street #103 St. Johnsbury, VT--but apparently not online). I bought some lovely brown yarn from an alpaca named Gracie (excellent fine motor skills for a creature without opposable thumbs) at the Rose Knitting Parlor. I was originally thinking I'd make a lacy scarf, and I may still, but I'm also thinking about wristlets.

We swung by home for about 5 hours Friday afternoon, to unpack, launder, repack and eat, then left for part 2 of our trip: DC for a baby shower (the one for which I knit the sweater and hat), then on to NC. Naturally, I swapped my knitting, so I brought the makings of 2 new pairs of socks, as well as the neglected shawl, on that portion of the trip. That may seem excessive (especially for one who sleeps like a baby on every form of transportation!), but it's best to be prepared. I did finish 1 pair of socks and make a bit of progress on the shawl by the time I got home, but supplies for the second pair may have been over optimistic!

Ok... this is kind of boring without pictures, huh? It could be worse, though--I could start rambling about sculling (at least I know something about knitting!).

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Na Obed

which means "out to lunch" in Russian (and became an ongoing joke among the group I studied with in Russia, after the sign at Lenin's tomb suggested that Lenin himself was out to lunch. Being dead for going on 90 years is hungry work!).

Anyway--Kevin and I will be at marathon camp (Kevin) and sculling camp (me--sculling is one type of rowing) till next weekend. Cell phones aren't supposed to work there, and there's definitely no internet access. Which seems like a good idea in theory, but which may cause us to short-circuit. I have packed enough knitting for an army of octopuses.

Have a good week!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Remind Me

The next time I tell you I'm going to make socks from New Pathways for Sock Knitters, remind me that I swore I wouldn't do it ever again, ok?

I'm making (or, trying to make) the Rushing Rivulet socks (toe up, with little eyelets all over and gusset shaping on the underside of the foot, rather than the sides). I did all the measurements and math she wants, and have followed the directions, but things are going badly. I'm about halfway through the gusset increases, and already the sock seems like it's big enough around--like I should work the rest of the length I need without any more increases. And the gusset starts too close to my toe--so the extra room it makes is positioned before my foot starts to widen for the heel.

I think I know why, maybe: my preferred ease is incompatible with Cat's gusset shaping. I do tend to make looser socks than many people (the whole 72 vs. 60 stitch thing I wrote about last time), and Cat's gusset shaping is more gradual than most other sock patterns (she has you increase 2 sts every 3 rows, instead of every 2 rows), so it has to start further from the heel (i.e., closer to the toe, in a toe-up sock). Since my socks are loose to start with, and following her shaping means adding width sooner, I end up with more extra width sooner than I need (which manifests itself as a flap of extra sock around the middle of my foot). Like cooking with someone and both adding the salt in case the other forgot, and ending up with too much salt.

There's just one small problem with this theory: her master number charts (which I followed like a good little knitter) say they include adjustments for a good (tight) fit already, so by following the directions to that point my sock should have been compatible with the rest of her directions. It's a mystery.

I'm thinking about ripping back to the beginning of the gusset shaping (maybe 3 inches) and reknitting, this time waiting till I think it's time to start gusset shaping my way. Which defeats my whole aim, which was to follow a pattern and not have to do any calculations.

And is disgruntling because knitting a pair of socks a week is much harder when you rip back!

Also, I'm deeply annoyed because I got an iPod Shuffle, with the impression that I could listed to things in an order I set by creating a playlist and loading it onto the Shuffle. But apparently that doesn't work with podcasts, which is the main thing I listen to--although you can reorder the list of podcasts in iTunes, when you go to play them (on the shuffle), they always reorder so the newest ones are first. Which would just be irritating, if I didn't regularly fall behind on podcasts where the order matters (CraftLit, mainly), and where I want to listen to the older episodes first.

I was slightly comforted to see many other people with this complaint on Apple discussion boards--but less comforted now that I haven't been able to find anyone who's solved it. (I thought I could trick the shuffle into treating my podcasts as songs by changing the genre to a music genre, but that's didn't work.)

Anyone want a slightly used iPod Shuffle and a slightly used copy of New Pathway for Sock Knitters? (Just kidding!)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Hey, guess what? I took pictures of my socks!

First up, Socks that Rocks' Lenore socks, in the Lenore colorway (the pattern and yarn are from last year's sock club).

I used a 2.5 mm needle, and since they're only 60 sts around, they seemed to go really fast. Speaking of which, how many stitches do you usually use for your socks? When I'm not following someone else's pattern, I tend to use 68 or 72, which fits fine, but 64 and now 60 also seem to be fine. Obviously, this should be explained by gauge, but here's the thing: 64- and 72-stitch socks using the same yarn, same needles, and similar stitch patterns (so, the gauge should be the same) both fit. Do you think I'm knitting more loosely on 64-stitch socks because I'm worried they'll be too tight and thereby compensating without noticing? Or is it just that wool is magic?

Moving on, we have Monkey socks for Sunflowerfairy:

These also seemed speedy, even though I knit all 6 reps of the lace pattern on the cuffs like a good little knitter. My Monkeys only have 5 reps, because I like shorter cuffs (and possibly because I got impatient).

And the infamous (to me) 2-at-a-time socks. I'm still working them both at once, and while it's going better now that I've started storing one of the yarns inside the socks to reduce tangling, I'm still not crazy about it. (I might have liked the technique better if I didn't also need 2 balls of yarn for each sock, huh?)

On the bright side, although you can't see it here, I've turned the heel on both of these, so the end is in sight.

I noticed a while back that I didn't have any yarn in my stash that had been there for more than a year (at least not any complete skeins--there are probably scraps destined for hats that have been floating around longer than that, and as I type this I also remember that I have a partial skein of Red Heart acrylic from a craft project that's 18 months old... but I many never use the rest, so it doesn't count). And of course once I noticed, I wanted to keep it that way.

Mostly, this has happened without any particular effort, but suddenly I have 500 yards of handpainted laceweight (which I never photographed--what a surprise! It's shimmery purples, blues, and greys) which will turn 1 this month. What to make? I've thought about the Shetland triangle (sorry family, that's a Ravelry link that won't work for you), Laminaria (maybe with a contrast edge, because I don't have quite enough), or maybe I should make something up?