Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sock Madness!

Well, the brackets are going up. It's official. I'm in Sock Madness 2. This does solve my "problem" of figuring out what sock pattern to knit next rather neatly. I'll have to finish up my blue sock this weekend and get it out of the way. I don't expect to survive past the first round, with my current amount of knitting time, but it'll be fun anyway. I already had the materials for one of the patterns in my stash. I'll try to substitute the rest. Perhaps I'll sit down this weekend and sort that out.

Peacock Shawl
Still nothing going on with the swatch. I think I've lost interest in this project for the moment. With relatively small amounts of knitting time at the moment, it might be a better idea to work on something not quite so time intensive. I don't want this project to take two years to finish. Perhaps after Sock Madness ends I'll re-consider. I also still have the Freedom Sweater to rip out as well.

Spinning Spinning Spinning
I have been working on the Blue Moon merino/tencel roving in Sea. It is spinning up very very fine, which I think is at least partly due to the amount of pre-drafting I did and partly due to the fiber itself. The tencel tends to not draft as easily as the merino, but I can get it to spin up evenly if I pay attention to what I'm doing. I had intended to make a 2-ply sock weight yarn, but this will probably have to be 3-ply to be sock weight. Then again, I may decide to make a 2-ply lace weight yarn for a stole or shawl. In any event, I've got plenty of time to decide what the yarn wants to be. It's going to take a loooooong time to spin my way through all of the roving.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Other Sock

I ended up working on these socks last night. They're knit in Froelich Special Blauband, which has, of course, been discontinued. I'm just re-knitting the end of one of them, fixing a hole and I'm just about to start the toe shaping. The yarn from these socks was fairly fuzzy after I washed them and the fuzz subsequently felted, so the patterning is a bit obscured. I will have to try this pattern again in a different yarn.

I'll have to find another audiobook to listen to. I finished Shadow of the Hegemon last night. I have several other choices already loaded, but they're not sparking my interest at the moment. Maybe I'll just pick one at random and give it a whirl anyway.

Still no progress with the Peacock swatch. Just a few more rows added on the fuschia socks. I haven't done anything with the Freedom Sweater. It's just hanging out on the back of the sofa.

The Periodicity of Knitting
I think I'm approaching a lull in my knitting interest. I'm still making progress, but it's not nearly as fast as it was a month ago. This isn't a bad thing. Just different. I've gone through periods where I didn't do any knitting at all for months, due to time constraints and lack of interest. Eventually, I come back to it. I have noticed that lots of knitters experience similar changes in their knitting activity levels. Usually it's due to non-knitting live intruding and taking away the time or energy to knit. For me, I think a bigger factor is having other interests. Some weekends or evenings I prefer to read or bake instead of knit. Or I'll work on the computer. That doesn't mean I'm not interested in knitting at all, just more interested in something else at the time. I do think I'm getting better at periodically touching base with active knitting projects and at least making tiny bits of progress each week. That teeny bit of progress keeps the motivation up and keeps things moving forward.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Broken Needle!

I was merrily knitting away at my new sock last night, when suddenly the DPN in my left hand snapped in half. I don't know what happened. It just folded in half on me. I didn't think I had been gripping it particularly firmly. Fortunately I have plenty of size 2 needles from the same company, so it didn't interrupt my progress. I've got about 2 1/2 inches of sock cuff done now.

I still haven't gotten very far with my Peacock Shawl. I think I got about 4 rows into the swatch. I need to just make myself sit down and finish the swatch, then figure out if I want to use size 4 needles or not. I might go a bit smaller.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The New Sock is Chosen!

It's the plain ribbed sock pattern I posted about yesterday, knitted in a yarn whose name escapes me. It's fuschia, red, purple and mustard colored. Not my favorite bunch of colors now, but I'm sure I thought it was spectacular when I bought it years ago. I wound it into a ball some time ago and have lost the label, so I have no idea what it is. It is a wool/nylon blend and it is definitely not Mountain Colors yarn. Mystery yarn socks. *Warm* mystery yarn socks. And just the obnoxiously bright colors to wear on a rainy icky day.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Plain Ribbed Sock Pattern

This is the sock pattern I fall back upon when I haven't a clue what I want to knit for a sock or when I'm looking for something basic. It's a simple K2, P2 ribbed sock in which I carry the ribbing down the instep.

Yarn: ~400 yards of your favorite sock-weight yarn. I've used Socka, Sockotta and Marks and Kattens Clown with this pattern.

Needles: For me, I use a US size 2 needle and I use double points, not circular(s). I also like sets of five needles rather than sets of four needles, but that's just my preference. You should pick the appropriate needle size you need to meet the gauge.

Gauge: 7 1/2-8 stitches to the inch in stockinette stitch.

Cast on 64 stitches and K2, P2 around for 6".
Knit heel flap on 32 stitches. Sl1, K1 on right side rows. Sl1, purl across on wrong side rows. I make my heel flaps 2 to 2 1/2 inches long. I also center the heel flap so that there is one purl stitch on each end. This causes the ribbing on the instep to be centered on the foot. It's a minor detail, but I'm really picky about having designs centered. My eye picks it up when they're off-center and it bugs me.

To turn the heel, knit to the center plus one more stitch, SSK, K1. Turn.
On row 2, slip 1, then purl across until 31 stitches remain on the left needle, P2tog, P1. Turn.
Sl1, knit until 1 stitch before the gap, SSK, K1. Turn.
Continue until all the stitches are used up, knitting or purling the stitch before and the stitch after the gap together and slipping the first stitch of each row. You should end having just completed a right side row, even if you have to knit back across.

When I pick up the gusset stitches, I pick up only one leg of the edge stitch and I don't count how many stitches I pick up on each side. I pick up each slip stitch and an additional stitch between the heel flap and the instep. When I pick up and knit the stitches, I twist them. In my opinion I think it looks neater to twist the stitches. Try it untwisted too and see what you like best. It's your sock.

Pick up the stitches along the first side of the gusset/heel flap, then K2, P2 across the instep and pick up the stitches on the second side of the gusset/heel flap. At this point, I start to think of the center of the heel as the beginning of a round. Oddly enough, I usually put all of the heel stitches on a single needle, instead of dividing them, and I think of the heel stitches as the beginning of the round. The other three needles hold the first set of gusset stitches, the instep stitches and the second set of gusset stitches, respectively. I decrease the gusset stitches every other round, knitting to three stitches before the end of the first gusset needle and K2tog, K1. Then P1, *K2, P2 across the instep*, ending K2, P1. On the 2nd gusset needle, K1, SSK, then knit to the end. For the 2nd round, knit even with no decreases. Continue until you're back to 64 total stitches. Once you're back to 64 total stitches, continue knitting the sole of the foot in stockinette and the instep in K2, P2 ribbing.

Knit even down the foot until about 1 1/2 inches shorter than your foot length. On my foot, this is at the base of my big toe. Divide the stitches into the top and bottom of the foot. There should be 32 stitches in each half. Knit one round plain. Remember, the heel (or the middle of the bottom of the foot) is the beginning of the round.

Toe Decreases:
Round 1:
Knit to three stitches before the end of the sole stitches. K2tog, K1.
On next needle: Knit 1, SSK, knit to end. (approx partway across instep)
On third needle: Knit to 3 stitches before the end. K2tog, K1.
On fourth needle: K1, SSK, knit to end. You should now be back at the beginning of the round, in the middle of the sole.

Round 2:
Knit all the way around plain.

Continue alternating these rounds until approximately 12-16 stitches remain. Either graft the toe or turn sock inside out (with needles in place) and do a three-needle bind-off. As tricky as it sounds, I find it easier to turn the sock inside out and do a 3 needle bind off than to graft the toe closed. It looks nicer too and if I need to re-knit the toe, it is incredibly simple to pull it out and re-do.

Weave in the ends and you've got a finished sock! Now you just have to go make a second one.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Rae, of Rae Knits in WA fame, has kindly picked my little fiber blog here for an award. The Make My Day Award is given to blogs that "bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel happy about blogland." Wow! I don't know what to say. Thank you, Rae! I'm glad you like my ramblings. Thank you for your encouraging comments!

Holiday Knitting
No work today thanks to President's Day. I got very little knitting done. I spent half the day puttering around on the computer, mostly cleaning up my bookmarks list(s), and the second half of the day cleaning up my home office and cleaning out my desk drawers. I may do a bit more cleaning out since there were three desk drawers left when I stopped.

Last night I watched Cast Away while working on my Mountain Colors sock. I remembered today what the name of the colorway is: Crazy Woman. I really like the colors, but I must confess that I bought this yarn mostly for the name. Who can resist Crazy Woman socks?! Anyway, I'm down to the toe shaping on the second sock. I could have stayed up to finish it, but decided I didn't really want to stay up too late and get my sleep schedule goofed up. So I have about half an hour of knitting to do and then all the ends to weave in. And there's the re-thinking of the first sock's toe. You'll remember that I have discovered that it doesn't fit quite right. I still haven't figured out just what is wrong with it. I'll put it on while I finish the second sock and see if the magic answer comes to me. (Of course now that I put it on my right foot, it fits just fine. Go figure.)

Update: the socks are done! Well, except for the weaving in of the ends.

Now the big question is what socks to knit next!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mission Accomplished!

I have acquired the size 4 circular needle! I thought I was going to be stymied at first when I perused the rather woefully empty knitting needle section of the local Hobby Lobby. Then I spied the Balene circulars and found a 29" long size 4. Technically the pattern asks for a 32" needle, but I think I can probably squish all the stitches together into 29 inches.

Although I bought the exact yarn called for in the pattern (Jaggerspun Zephyr), I'm terrified I won't have enough yarn. I didn't get individual skeins, you see. I am interested in avoiding the weaving in of ends in lace projects, so I purchased my yarn on a cone. I ordered the same weight as the two skeins would be (4 ounces), which should get me 1260 yards according to the vendor's website. Inside the cone, however, the number 1246 is written. I really really hope that a) this number isn't the actual yardage I received or else is an underestimate or that b) the yarn requirement in the pattern is an overestimate rounding to the next whole skein.

I will also have to learn how to crochet a little bit by the time I get to the end of the pattern. The shawl is finished with a crocheted cast-off, which is what makes those loops on the bottom edge. I'm ok making a crochet chain for a provisional knitted cast on. For something like that, it doesn't really matter how even the crocheting is. For the border of this shawl, I'm going to be a lot more picky about it, since it will be very noticeable if it's uneven. I predict there may be some crochet practice in my future. Fortunately I have my grandma's collection of crochet patterns as well as her knitting patterns.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Casting On!

Today is the day to cast on the Peacock Feathers Shawl with the informal KAL group. I'll actually just start my swatch. That counts as casting on *something*, right? I guess that means I need to get out of my comfy chair now and go find a size 4 needle. (Update: It would appear that I don't *have* any size 4 circular needles available at the moment. Looks like I'll be going shopping in the morning.)

Sock Status
I am about 2/3 of the way through the foot of the 2nd sock. Barring any distractions or disasters, I should have a new pair of socks this weekend.

Last weekend I also started re-knitting part of the foot of a separate pair of socks. I don't know what I did to these poor socks, but I ended up with a hole on the top of the foot one day after I wore them to work. I didn't think there was anything sharp in my shoe and those shoes have never put holes in any other socks, so I'm not entirely certain what happened. Anyway, the socks were knit with a German sock yarn whose name escapes me. (No, it was not Regia or Opal.) I used Sword Queen's Elegant Ribbing sock pattern. Her site is now gone, but the stitch pattern can be found on page 45 of Barbara Walker's Charted Patterns book. It's based on 2x2 ribbing, but the ribs cross over each other periodically, making a lattice effect. I'll take a picture when I get the sock done.

Speaking of Socks.....
I have sent e-mail signing up for Sock Madness 2. I don't know if I'll get in. I know I probably won't survive much past the first round of the "competition", but this will certainly be motivating me to knit more socks.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

More Sock Annoyances

I fixed the goofed up pattern row and kept on going. I'm now about halfway down the foot. Yay! I might actually have the pair finished this week!

Now for the annoyance: the toe of the first sock fits funny. It's plenty long enough, but it feels too narrow and my toes feel squished sideways. I can't decide if I started the toe decreases in the wrong spot and that has contributed to it feeling too narrow or if it's somehow twisted a bit. In pulling on it to make it fit better, it seems as though I may have started the toe later than usual which makes the overall length greater, but my toes end up wiggling into the end of the sock, which somehow results in the squished feeling. I haven't woven in the end yet, so it would be easy enough to rip back a bit and shorten the toe.

The Freedom Sweater is still watching me and waiting to die. I haven't tried a new swatch yet and, without a swatch I like better than the current sweater, I'm not going to start ripping it out. I'm so far into procrastination about this decision that I folded all my laundry instead. I also waxed my car. I did not get to the vacuuming, but it was close.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Sock Annoyances

For two, count them TWO, rounds now I have failed to actually make the twisted stitches on my braided toeholder socks. Grrr. I just fixed one round and then promptly made the very same mistake on the next round. Grrrr. The sock is now sitting in its little basket thinking about what its done. Maybe tomorrow I'll rip out the last round and re-do it.

Maybe I'll start the Peacock Feathers Shawl instead. Someone whose name escapes me is going to cast on this project in a week or so and asked if anybody was interested in knitting along with her. I figured I might as well join in since I've had the pattern and yarn for two years.

I've decided to frog the Freedom Sweater, but I can't bring myself to actually rip it out quite yet. It's hanging out on the coffee table enjoying its last few days in this iteration. I suppose I ought to just rip it out and start in again, seeing how far I get in a week. We'll see....

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

tornado news

yes, an F4 tornado hit my town. no, it didn't damage my house but it destroyed the fire station a mile away. I just got power back a few minutes ago but no cable modem so i'm posting from my phone. more later.