Friday, April 30, 2010

Various Temptations

Right now, I am tempted to work on my Aqua Jacquard Socks.
The are so close to being finished! But if I do—What will I have to knit tonight on the subway?

On the way to work this morning, I added a 3 round stripe of the grey; now the foot is slightly longer than usual. The solution will be a round toe, worked in a similar style to a hat—in this case, 6 spiraling decreases every other round. This toe, with 6, (not 4) decreases every other round is shorter than usual and will be fine with the longer foot.

I did the first round of decreases already; 60 stitches are now 54. From 60 to 6, will be 9 decrease rounds, with 9 more no decrease rounds between them. Less then 18 more rounds (and each one getting smaller!) till they are finished. No sweat to having them completed today! And I can finish them on the subway because the finish will be a drawstring, not grafting.

A quick review of the month--A month of socks for sure!
The Cross Purposes Socks (Patons Kroy Stripes Socks were started in the evening of March 31st—and finished on April 3rd. And unconventionally, already worn once.

The Beaded Beauties –(Zircon's Trekking (XXL)) are almost the identical pattern, with the addition of beads. They were knit starting April 3, and finished 7 days later, (the 10th).

These socks are part of my contribution to the fund raising efforts of my DD for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer (research).

Next up the Ripple Socks--(JoAnne's Sensations Soles and More) These socks got started before the Beaded Beauties were finished (April 7th) and weren't finished till the 22nd. They were knit on a much finer gauge than I usually work. I love how the simple twisted stitch pattern changes the look of the stripes.

Finishing up the month, the soon to be finished Aqua stripes.
Certainly, it really as been the month of socks!

And I have been holding out—earlier this week, I was looking for something, and managed to pick up (and was unable to put down) some old Lion Brand Magic stripe yarn—in the Denim stripe color way. 2 half skeins—left overs from a lazy pair! The LB Magic stripe (and the current Lion Brand Sock Ease) are 100gm skeins, and I had 2 skeins to start. So rather than divide one skein, I knit a pair using half a skein of each, and left behind 2 half skeins.

Each of these 2 half skeins are enough for 1 sock--together, another pair. And because I matched up the skeins to start, I ended up with the 2 half skeins already matched up.

The Denim stripe is a very long repeat; the 6 inches knit so far hasn't repeated the pattern once! This makes it perfect stripe for a flap/turned/gusseted heel. There is no noticeable break in the pattern--since there isn't a noticeable pattern of stripes to begin with!

The colors are bright and clear, and good 'go with's'. Certainly good go with's denims—and I (doesn't everybody?) have a good deal of denim in my casual wardrobe.

The first pair—at least 7 years old, are getting worn looking—but are still free of holes; which is pretty remarkable. Now, with 40 odd pairs of socks, I have enough socks that I don't wear any single pair often enough in a month to wear them out in years. But back when I knit the first pair of Denim stripes, I was just returning to sock knitting—after a 20 year break. In that first year, I don't think I knit a half dozen pairs. Those socks got worn, washed, and worn, time and time again.
And –I almost forgot! I repaired (re knit) the toe on my swap socks from 2 years ago! So these socks--worn just once--are now part of the mix.

Earlier this month--I heard a twist on the old adage: If wishes were horses, beggers would ride.
The new version:
If wishes were horses, she'd have stable.

In my case, if hand knit socks represent wealth, I have a fortune--this month alone has added 10% to my stock!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sock Hop.

In which we hop over the subject of sock, for the moment, and blog about something else.

Like, I dunno, a Clown Barf Scarf? Still not done (redone!) but getting there. Part of the cause –for the lack of progress is, well, been there, done that. It was fun to knit the first time round, now, it's a chore.

Books, and other distractions have been more appealing. But it will be a nice summer scarf. So I worked on it a bit again, (finally!) last night.

It will be a big V. The almost M fold is to squeeze the image into a compact shape. The V can (and will be) worn in front, with the long ends wrapped in back and brought forward again. And the V can (and will be)worn in back, with the front ends crossed and loosely tied or pinned.

That's it—there isn't much to this scarf; not progress or enthusiasm or dramatic design or anything else. Just some knitting.

The aqua stripe socks? 4 inches done, 3 more inches, a stripe and toes. I think I will finish by the end of the month (Friday Evening!) —and will have to plan something for next month--something not NOT aqua, or teal, of turquoise.

Maybe blue, or more likely some thing red violet (but not the newest sock yarn!)or peachy orange, or maybe even some pink!

At the end of May, Lion Brand Studio is having a Socktacular--and a sock photo contest. They don't say what the prize is; but, Gee, I like the red/red hots and the yellow/lemon drops colorways of their Sock Ease yarn, —though I would be quite happy with an other set of Hiya Hiya circular needles in some under represented size—like 1.5 (2.5mm)-- in my stock of circ's.
I have lots of socks knit with Lion Brand Sock yarns to photograph and enter.

First, I have almost a dozen pairs socks knit with the (old) Lion Brand Magic Stripes, (and I still have a few more skein of the stuff!)--I got 20 skeins some 5 years ago—some damaged, some in really ugly color ways, several in duplicate colorways—each skein was $0.50—yes, you heard that right, fifty cents! I swapped some of the yarn, and gifted some of it, and I still have more!

I only have one pair knit with the new Sock Ease—my simple grey (rock candy color way) ones.
So maybe a new pair of socks from Sock Ease for the event. I am going to be knitting socks anyway!

I have 3 more skeins of the Sock Ease, in 3 different color ways;—pink/cotton candy, taupe/toffee, and bluish/taffy. The pink is already divided into 2 skeins—making it the most likely candidate.

Saturday, May 1st, (my birthday) I'll be knitting on the Q train. Heading first from Queens to midtown, then joining up with a bunch of other knitter and taking over most of a single car of the subway, knitting our way to Coney Island—and then back again.

Do you want to come too? You can! There is more info in the SUBWAY knitters thread over on Ravelry. I haven't been to Coney Island for years—and the weather is promising to co-operate.

It should be a nice sunny day—and almost 80°. Time to break out the sunscreen, shades and a sun hat! I don't know if I will walk down to the waters edge and tuck my toes in –for the first time this season, or I will spend my time enjoying the sights and other attracations (Nathan's, anyone?) of Coney Island.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Downward Spiral

Most of the time, my socks fold evenly at the heel. It is my preferred length for socks.

There is about 9 inches from cuff to base of heel, and another 9 inches from turning to toe. When folded, the tip of the toe is just about even with the top of the cuff.

I sometimes make shorter socks, and sometimes make longer ones—but 90% of my socks are with in a round or two of being even.

So, the heel, logically is the half way point. But it never feels that way! I always feel that the foot, is faster to knit! Once I pass the heel, a sock is rapid downward spiral!

Yesterday, on the way home, I got the flaps finished, and turned both heels (and still have a few yards of grey yarn left over!) and got all the gusset stitches picked up--all of this on the subway.

The tails of the grey yarn were bothering me—so last night I wove them in. I love doing these pre-finishing details-and having socks finished when I graft the last stitch, and weave in the bind off tail.

The heel flap doesn't look like is has been worked in a slip stitch pattern, but it has. The uneven semi solid grey hides a good deal of the texture.

So, while I had them out, (and tried them on, and worked in the tails--) I petted them, and was pleased, and forced myself to get a few rounds of the gusset done. To start the downward (in stitch count to begin with) spiral to the toe.

By this morning, the gusset is 2/3rds done!

The stripe pattern is slightly more compact across the first long rounds of the gussets. The repeat there is a scant inch—where as elsewhere it is an 1.25 inches. But it is not an obvious change. No one will notice. Can you see the difference in this view? Maybe if you click on the image and enlarge it. But, as is, or from 5 feet away no one will.

Managing the stripes on self striping sock yarn is one of those details I alternately obsess over, and then totally ignore. I almost always start as close as I can to perfectly matched. These skeins, unlike most, started out at the same point of the stripe pattern when I found the inner tail-- well that is almost true. I wasted about 10 inches to get them at the same point.

The striping is slowly going off—I started at exactly the same point in the color way, and now, I am about 1 round off a perfect match. I don't think it is me—I think it is the quality of the manufacturing.

To keep the stripes perfectly even, the tension on the yarn as it runs through the dyer has to be precise. Like gauge (what, I am just ½ of a stitch off!) the effect of a small difference get magnified. 8 stitches per inch vs 8.5 becomes significant when you cast on 100 stitches! A stitch or two difference in a single row doesn't seem like much—but 80 rows later—it creates a very noticeable 80 stitch change. It is one of those quality control issues that are better managed with more expensive yarn--(but it doesn't matter enough to me to make me want to spend more money for sock yarn!)

The difference is noticeable as you knit, but it it won't be very evident in the socks until the toe shaping and grafting. And, for me, at least, that just doesn't matter at that point!

But with this sock, I might just even them up. I don't have enough grey yarn left to work the entire toe in grey, but maybe I'll add a grey stripe before I start shaping the toe. After the grey stripe, I'll start again at the same point in the repeat, and end up with matching toes.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Half a heel

Or more correctly, 2 half heel flaps. There is more to the heel than the flap, there is the turning and the gussets, too.

I don't know if I will have enough of the grey yarn to turn the heel. But I will manage.

I can, once the flap is finished, pick up the first gusset (on the right side of flap—normally the second gussets picked up) work the turning in the striping yarn, and then pick up the second gussets (on the left flap—normally the first gusset picked up) and continue! If worst comes to worst, and I run out of the grey, I can just make a slightly shorter flap--though I really hope I don't have to!

Right now, I have about 1.25 inches of flap knit—and everything looks funny—since I tucked the skeins of yarn into the leg of the sock (so as not to get them tangled with the bobbins of grey yarn) and made them puffy!

The stitch pattern in the flap is a sort of half birds eye stitch. I am slipping stitches on right side of work only, and 1 row is an AbAb pattern. The wrong side row is a standard S1, purl all.
The next right side row is a bAbA pattern. So the slip stitches are not lining up in columns as is the more usual style. The semi solid grey looks great I think with the stripes and stitch pattern. It looks almost patterned too! It is a bonus that it is such a great color match—and totally unintentionally so. I was attempting a dusty blue!

Which is a neat segue into this..
This is a 400 some odd yards of Trekking natural—bought 2.5 years ago in Imagiknits in SF—it has been waiting to become something –and the first step was taking on color.

These are not exactly the colors I hoped for.. but then, I dye very carelessly.. I almost never measure, and never pretest, (on a piece of paper toweling or something.) I mix up food coloring in disposable cups (usually washed yogurt cups) with a bit of vinegar, pour and go!

The results are always a bit of surprise—and I like that! I was hoping for a more midnight blue/purple, and while the it looks pretty purple in the image, in reality (or rather in natural light at home!) the purple is more of a reddish plum purple. (or maybe concord grape purple) than dark blue violet.

But—there are patches of blue violet.. so I have blue (a very little) blue violet (a bit more) plum /grape, (a lot,) green (a little) and blue green (a fair amount!) --and I am not disappointed with the results.

The yarn will still have to wait a while more to become something.. I like having yarn (new) or newly dyed, to sort of ferment—and let it slowly let me know what kind of sock it wants to be. It will almost certainly become socks (sometime this summer—weeks from now!)--but what style, and what stitch pattern—well-- that's still not known!

I didn't do anything on the Clown Barf Scarf—or take any photos of my lack of progress!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Flower Power

Two weeks ago, I bought a hanging basket of petunias for work.
They hang out side the small store front, blocking a small part of my view—but providing a view in and of themselves.

So far, a few people have stopped in—and commented (how lovely they are) . Some had missed the slip of store—so it is good for business—other way for people to notice us.

Others people have stopped to photograph them—I don't know if it is for personal pleasure, or if are writing a newsletter about the neighborhood.. and it doesn't matter really.

The basket was a whole of $12—and has easily given me a dollar a day worth of pleasure in the past 14 days—and can look forward to many weeks (MONTHS) more. How simple and inexpensive it is to create joy.

There is more joyful gardening just 20 feet or so up the block-- one of the newer street trees has a protective fence (repeated urination by dogs is extremely destructive to tree bark). The fence is topped with 3 planters. Saturday, they were replanted with snapdragons, and begonias and coleus and more.

There are several of these pretty planters in the neighborhood—along with the flowers in the mall, they are part of what makes this city scape a bit softer and more natural.

And there is knitting.. and since I worked Saturday, I got some knitting done on my commute—a lot really!

Friday saw a cast on a single repeat of the color pattern. Now I have 2 more repeats completed.. and over 5 inches of leg. Before the day is over, I'll be starting on the heel flap.. and by the end of the week I'll have pair 4 of socks for this fourth month of the year.

This image is clearer and brighter than last week's—look close and you can see that the all too seemingly solid dark turquoise is, actually, just like the other colors, patterned--subtly, but patterned all the same.

The Clown Barf Cotton scarf is being worked on too, and I have reached the half way point. I'll do a bit more tonight, and show you the progress tomorrow.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Where Do I Begin?

Where I ended? No—I'll end where I ended!

I knowEveryone knows the mantra—Back it up!

And I do—My home computer has 2 hard drives—1 is smaller, and it's my back up drive.

I don't bother backing up most software—I have the CD's with all my software and key codes (and compulsively made a back up of the CD!). What I back up are my files. My patterns, my photo's, my stuff!

But for the past year and half, I have been doing a lot stuff at work. It's a perk of the job—I have a computer, and can be on it all the time I want. When not on the computer, (reading blogs, writing my blog, reading Ravelry, or other social sites (including my word nerd sites!) I can knit or read, or do the cross word puzzles--Nice work!

And the computer at work?—it has one drive (and a CD burner) and while I have backed up lots of stuff, (my blog auto backs up to my google mail, all of the photo's in the blog back up to Picasso, (and 99% are of my photos are backed up at home; both on my drive and on a CD's) I never thought to make a back up of all my files (drafts and other completed documents!) at work.

So yesterday-when the system crashed—I was stuck for 4 hours with no computer-(and I know I am addicted to the internet—I was jonesing for an email fix after 2 hours!). When the new one arrived (I was pleasantly surprised that it was only 4 hours!) I looked at it.. and cried!

All my bookmarks! All my drafts, and files, all my software (I had my camera, but no software to read the camera photofiles –(as I said, most of the photos, were backed up.. but they weren't available for use now!)

And it wasn't just my personal files—the computer had work records, (signs, and telephone lists, and time sheet and other records!) Thankfully, my boss had copies of those files, and I just needed to download them and organize them (create file folders, and pop the files into the right folder.)

I share this computer with several users (I am at work today, but I only work one day of the weekend about once a month) –and their files are gone too.. (and some of them are going to be very unhappy I suspect!)

So yesterday, from 1PM to 3 PM I was busy remembering all my favorite sites, and bookmarking them, and organizing them. And getting files from my boss, and downloading some software. I hate the newer versions of Windows Word and Excel—I love Open Office—and Gimp, and... the list goes on and on--and generally re-organizing the computer desk top!

I didn't even think about writing up a blog post!

So here is what I thought about writing yesterday—before I realised I didn't have a computer to write on!

Toes Completed—2 Pairs!
Yes, I finished the Green Ripple Sock— the toes stitches were grafted Thursday evening.

The few stitches difference in the stripe can be seen most evidently in the toe.. (one toe has just 5 rounds of blue, the other 7 rounds). But they still match up better than most sock yarns. I am pleased a punch with them!

And the Swap socks? I carefully cut the grafted stitches, and unraveled them, and got them back on needles.

I pieced in some solid turquoise yarn, and alternated rows of the solid turquoise and the hand painted, till I ran out of hand painted, and 2 rounds later, I also ran out turquoise! The toes are truncated, and boxy looking, but each sock is actually 3 rounds longer than it was, and the boxy toes, while not particularly attractive, are much more comfortable then the previous version.

So 2 more pairs of socks for me! (I am so greedy and self centered aren't I?) In a month, I have almost completely remedied by lack of turquoise/teal/aqua socks to match the same in my wardrobe.

That I have already cast on and knit almost 3 inches of the next pair of socks should come as no surprise—I had all that time yesterday to work on them!

The newest are yet another shade/color way of blue green—and the last pair in this color for a while!

A scrap of yarn, dyed last week—and never photographed—was used for the cast on. It is an almost solid grey. (I was going for dusty blue, and got too much 'dust' in the dye bath!)

The yarn is Patons Kroy—Aqua Jacquard—and it's a different pattern than some of the other jacquards. Every color in the rotation is 'patterned'. The darkest color (a dusty dark aqua) is very subtle; but it and the cream, yellow green and pastel aqua colors are all dotted with grey. There isn't a single row of solid color –except so far, the solid grey cast on band. It is very hard to see the patterning in the dark dusty aqua. They pass, in most lights, as a solid band of color—but I know they aren't.

There is enough of the grey yarn that I will use it for the heels, too. This will minimize the disruption to the stripe pattern—but otherwise, these are going to be dead plain socks. Cast on, (contrasting color) cuff,(ribs) are the fancy work.. Now I am knitting the leg in stocking knit (and eventualy will be knitting the foot in the same)--the solid grey heel flap and turning will add a bit of interest but I am letting the yarn do most of the design work.

Thoughtless and fast knitting!--it feels especially fast because I am back to size 2 needles, and 8 stitches per inch knitting too!

Next month—new colors, new ideas, new styles-- and something besides socks! But right now, what is new is the same old!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day—Recycling

First--some lovely eye candy--azaleas with morning dew.

Perhaps, instead of labeling this post Recycling, I should have said dumpster diving.
Yes, I do it. And I did it yesterday.
The local chain drug store dumpster was overflowing—and I went to look.
My score:

A (used) power strip extension cord. I use these all the time--For little LED lights (that are threaded into the ficus,) or for the accent lamps, or for the book shelf lamp, or accents lights for dark corners, or general lighting.

I started using compact florescent lamps more than 20 years ago*, and now have graduated to using low voltage halogen and LED lights—they are wonderful –but so many plugs to plug in! (I have written before about how light obsessed I am)
*it is an earth day post, and I have been doing earth friendly things for a long time

I know how to calculate amps—and I don’t worry when I piggy back one power strip onto another. I have been known to load up the 15 amp circuit with a dozen sets of mini/low voltage lamps—that use less than a grand total of 2 amps—spread out over 6 or 8 or sometimes 10 fixtures. That lets me totally control the light in my huge living/dining room space—from night light level barely there lighting, to being lit up like a Christmas tree—a rare thing!—or anywhere in between.
All these small low voltage fixtures mean I need lots of outlets to be able to plug into—power strips are a must! Some of the fixtures are set up to chain—and I don’t always need an outlet for each one. But one book case and wall unit can generate a lot plugs!

I almost never have ALL those low voltage light on at once—it’s just so convenient to use the on/off switch on a power strip to turn on groups of lights at one. I label the strips, too, in my OCD way-so it’s easy to keep track of which one controls which lights or which fixtures.

I use power strips for all my rechargers too—So can turn them on (and charge phone, or battery packs)—and then turn them off—and not have a constant power drain. At this point, almost all my battery use is the rechargeable kind.

A half dozen bottles (1 oz size) of Burt’s Bees shampoo—these went immediately into my pool bag—Score one for a bit of luxury and chlorine free hair!

A hair clip—1 of 2 on a hang tag—one (the black one) was broken—one (the tortoise shell) was fine. Not my favorite style, but another item that went immediately into the pool bag—it’s always handy to have another hair clip at the pool.

An aerosol can of number 45 sun screen (expiration date 09/2012)—missing a cap. A missing cap is not a deal breaker for me—not on an aerosol can. I go through lots of sun screen—and it’s not cheap. A can like this isn’t really damaged or contaminated by missing a cap—(though I can understand, it might not be readily saleable).

The Big SCORE?

A 1 gig compact flash drive! Hermetically sealed as they are— a totally safe bet! It had a $40 price tag on the box—(chances are prices have come down on these—or remained the same—only now the CF’s are 4 gig)

Who can’t use a compact flash drive? (Well—maybe if you don’t have slots in your computer or lap top you can’t, but I do!) If nothing else, a convenient way to store photo’s (instead of clogging up my hard drive)—and I have thousand of those! I also got a second drive-- a MS –(also 1 gig) my desk top has a slot for this drive, too. It’s less useful but –hey, I’ll do my part re-cycling electronics!

And finally a pair of good quality, clip on sun glasses.
I own a pair of prescription sun glasses—and have, for going on 40 years now, had prescription sun glasses. My pale blue eyes are very sun sensitive—I always am wearing sun glasses to protect my eyes.

But I have also been known to leave my sunglasses in the pool bag—when I am heading out to knitting or somewhere else. Or to leave them in the car--when I am heading to the pool! Or leave them home (because its winter, or I’ve forgotten them.)

They aren’t perfect –my frames are a matt silvery titanium—the clip ons are gold tone. But I’ll deal with it!

Now, I have one spare pair (my old ones) in the car, and one in my purse (the new pair) and a case with the clip ons in my knitting bag! I should, in theory at least, never be with out shades.

In addition to dumpster diving, I went out to dinner—so even though I finished the knitting the toes of my Ripple socks—they still need to be grafted—something I don’t do on the subway—and something I didn’t do last night! This morning I grabbed them, and the other pair of socks.

I’ll graft the toes of the Green Ripple socks today at work, and then unravel the toes on the swap socks, and get them onto the freed up needles.

As I head home tonight, I’ll reknit the toes. Maybe I'll get the newly knit toes of the second pair grafted this evening!—Then by tomorrow, I will have 2 completed pairs of socks to share with you.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Commenced Toes

But haven’t knit enough to make a significant change—8 rounds just don’t look like much (and 56 stitches are still a lot stitches on the needles!)

I had decreased the sole stitch count to 37 (from 39) when I worked the gusset, and I decreased the instep to 37 by working a set of decreases when I changed from the ripple pattern to plain stocking knit—I was on the dark brown stripe then—and the decreases are almost impossible to see—even for me, and I know where to look!

I worked late last night (a full 8 hour day—instead of my usually part time day of 6.5 hours—but it seemed a lot longer.)

Traveling at rush hour make a big difference—normally my commute is 45 to 50 minutes (door to door)—but at rush hour—it was 70 minutes. A full 20 minutes longer. A long commute by most measures.

Later, the trains are crowded—and things are different—more pan handlers—last night it was a horn (trumpet) player. It’s times like that that make me wish I had an I-pod and head phones to block out external noise.

But I’ve had head phones, and pods and buds, and all sorts of things that go in or over my ears; I started 30 years ago with a walkman—and graduated to a disk man—and I’ve tried then all--and hate them all.

So I’ve avoided buying an I-pod—and every once in a while I am subject to being bombarded with music not of my choice.

I had planned to go to Tuesday knit night in LIC—but it was already late when I got home—and I sat down to just rest my eyes for a moment—I sat where the setting sun was shining on my face—since—the theory was—I wouldn’t actually fall asleep if I was facing the sun.

An hour later, it was too late to head out—so I stayed in, and after dinner worked on the faded clown barf cotton scarf.

The new narrow scarf is 19 inches long, and at the not half way point (the end of the skein) of version 1. When I get to the almost half way point (the end of the skein) I will reverse the increases and decreases—and end up with a gull shaped scarf (you know those open V’s that pass for birds on the wing in stick drawings!)

I started the scarf with only increases (till it was wide enough) –exactly how I started the first (unsuccessful version) so I have a built in landmark for working the end—with out running out of yarn.

If I don’t waste half the evening taking a late nap—(which left me sleepless till midnight!) again tonight—I’ll make some real progress on this.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Tale of Two Socks

It was the time to knit toes, it was the time to tink toes.

OK that is pretty tacky! Enough!

The Stripe and Ripple socks are just a round or two away from the toe shaping. I know, they still look too short—but the stocking knit rolls back, and with out the toe, there is no tension on the knitting--so the sock looks both too wide and too short. I tried them on last night to be sure.

I stopped working the pattern stitch last evening on the way home—and double checked the length once I was home. So, despite appearances, it's time to begin the toe.

I didn’t do any more work on them at home—but started a new version of the faded clown barf color way cotton scarf—a straight narrow version--But no photo yet. Same basic stitch, but a diagonal version; increasing on one edge, decreasing on the other, and working a row of beading at regular intervals in the garter stitch. I didn’t get much done—only about 8 inches—but it’s a start.

A soon as finish the Stripes and Ripples, I am going to undo the toe on these socks, and re knit them.

The socks are really pretty –a picot hem (I never do a picot hem cast on for a sock—its way to much work!) and a pretty stitch pattern—I like the way the rows of lacy arches are separated by bands of purls and stocking knit.

But I don’t like the toe. It’s too short and too flat—(well for my feet!) the toe is worked with 4 sets of decreases every row—and that just doesn’t work for me.

I have (somewhere, but for the life of me, I can’t find it) a few yards of the yarn that was included by the knitter. But I don’t think it would be enough for the extension I want to add—so I will just use some contrasting yarn.

I have also taken a leaf from Yarn Harlots book—and have been setting up clear bags with yarn, and pattern ideas, and other miscellaneous stuff, (in some cases, a set of 2 circ’s!) as home made sock kits. I have several set up—so my choices for the next month or two have been narrowed down—and I have slightly larger bags set up for other projects.

The stripe and ripple socks are the 3rd pair for this month—and the 6th pair for the year—add the mended hand painted lace socks, and Wow! That's a lot of new socks in the drawer! Yet somehow, the stash of sock yarn remains as big as ever! And the desire to knit socks is as strong as ever!--at some point in May, there will be another pair of socks for DD's fund raiser--not a full pair, but a toe less/heel less pair of stirrup socks for yoga. but these will hardly count--they will be knit from left overs and partial skeins.

Spring is here—so soon it will be time to do some potholders and other kitchen-y stuff—some for me, some for DIL, and some for DD’s crafty fund raiser later this year. The clown barf cotton is just the appetizer for cotton knitting.

Some of these projects—the pot holder and other small items might replace socks for a week or two as subway projects. Others—(a bath mat or two!) will be at home projects.
(And there a piles of UFO waiting for me to finish or call it a day and frog them.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fail

The yarn lied. The scale lied. It’s everyone’s fault but mine.

I started with a cast on of 3—I ran out of yarn when I still had 9 stitches on the needle. (12 every decreasing rows short!)

I could undo the cast on, and shorten the other end, and maybe even graft some of the yarn onto the bind off end--but it’s cotton. I can’t count on a spit splice or Russian join. Cotton need firm weaving in. And besides it would still be short—shorter than I’d like.

I will reknit as a straight scarf—I am not going to bother un-doing and balling up—I will frog as I knit. But not right now! But soon—it really is a pretty effect knit up.

On the other hand—my socks are coming along nicely.
Now that I am working on the foot, I get to see how this yarn stripes up.

I am a big fan of self striping yarn of all sorts. I love the colors, the stripe patterns, and fun of knitting the yarns up. You only have to look at my Ravelry project pages to see—pair after pair, brand after brand—most of my socks are made with self striping yarns.

But—on the other hand—I want to have a hand in the sock design.

Sure, I knit generic socks—with no added embellishment—from self striping yarns. But more often than not, I add something; a solid contrasting cuff, a lace pattern, a cable—something of my own design. Some detail to make the socks mine, and not simply what the yarn company is serving up.

With every inch I knit, I am happier with the ripple stitch pattern. It doesn’t obscure the stripes entirely—but it dramatically changes them.

Look at the soles—folded over the leg. The stripe pattern is rather nice.

(and the quality is wonderful—I started not exactly at the same point in the color way--but about 10 stitches off of a perfect match for the pattern. Now, 70% or so done, the stripe is about 30 stitches off-- Less than half a round off a perfect match. If I look hard, I can see it—but mostly just as I am knitting.

But the leg and instep? Still striped, but so different! Muted and textured, stripe is so much more interesting!

My next pair of sock is going to be simpler—a generic sock—well a generic sock with a bit of contrast at the cuff and likely the heel flap—(so as to minimize the disruption in stripe pattern)— and I am holding off on starting them.

Before I do, I am going to do some mending. A few years ago, I got a pair of sock in a swap—and they are lovely. Full of details—a fancy arching lace stitch pattern, a picot cuff, and beautiful hand painted yarn—but the toe is too tight. I’ve worn them once (I remember the day—it was Yarn Harlot’s trip to NYC for her last book!) by the end of the day, my toes were cramped in agony.

I am going to cut the graft, un-ravel the decreases, re-do and add a bit of contrasting yarn to extend the toe a few rounds. It’s pretty silly to have a beautiful pair of sock being unworn for a few minutes effort!

I’ll take a before picture of the socks tomorrow—and get to undoing and reknitting them some time later this week.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Un-tangled Yarn?

I mentioned yesterday? It weighted 100gms—just 2 skeins (in 3 balls). I left it out, next to me, and it cried, and cried. So I was forced to pick it up and knit it.

The first skein—(in 2 balls-49 gm, not a full 50) became this—there are still a few yards left—enough for about 1 row, and then some. At this point, it’s 18 inches long—not very big—but enough. The third ball is a full 50gms.

The color way is sort of faded (like faded denim) clown barf—there is purple, blue, green, yellow, peach and pink— but the over all effect isn't too bad. The yarn is Lang Yarns Presto—a 60/40 cotton/acrylic blend. I don’t know how old it is (Ravelry notes that it is discontinued—and incorrectly says its wool and acrylic—but baumwolle is German for “tree” (baum) "wool” (wolle)—the idiom for cotton (wool that grows on trees!)

The pattern—(there is no pattern!) is simple enough—cast on 3, work some rows of garter, increasing on one edge, every other row, then work a row of eyelets (aka beading) every few rows.

The rows/ridges of garter vary—2 sets of 2 garter ridges, then one set of 3 garter ridges.
As I finish up the first 50gms (ball)—I’ll start decreasing instead of increasing.

If there is any yarn left, I’ll make a tassel or some other bit of trim for the cast on/bind off edges—but I don’t think there will be much more than a few inches left when I am done.

I have another skein—in a fingering weight—of the same colors—and a similar cotton/acrylic blend—a totally different brand of yarn—I don’t know what I am going to do with it. Should I knit a lace trip along the edges of this scarf? Or use it to make cuff (and leg) of a pair of sock? Or?!
And the Ripple socks? When photographed this AM, the flaps where just a few rows short of 2.5 inches—on my morning commute, they were finished and the first heel was turned.

I’ll turn the second heel today at work, and on the way home, start working my way towards the toe and completion!

The flap, because it is not worked in heel stitch was 2.5 inches long at 34 rows, (not 39—or really 40) so I worked a V (handkerchief) turning.

Different turning leave more (or fewer) stitches—this turning left me with left 21 stitches—more than half of the original. Knowing that about turning (that different style of turning leave more or fewer stitches when completed)—I can fine tune a heel and gusset ratio. So no matter how many stitches I start with—I can get a deep enough gusset to suit me. (check out Heels by number—and learn some different turning!)

I ended up picking up 17 stitches along the edge-(one per garter ridge—or one ever other row of the 34 rows) +1 in corner of flap/sock body.

With the 21 stitches left over after the turning plus 18, plus 18, plus 21 I'll have a total of 57—and since I want to work back to 39 –that will leave 18 stitches for the gussets. Not a very deep gusset (especially at the gauge I am working at!) —but enough I think.

I might—depending on the stocking knit gauge of the sole--do an extra set or two of gusset decreases—and leave the sole with 37 or maybe just 35 stitches, and let the stitch pattern wrap round the sides of the foot—and correct the stitch balance just before I work the toe.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Flapping my heels

OK once I realize I wasn’t slacking off and just need to knit more rows (and more stitches to complete a row!) to get an inch done—I got an inch done –and then some.

I started yesterday a row or two past 5 inches, ended last night with a bit over 6.5 inches of leg, and started the heel flap. With a 2.5 inch flap the total length –cuff to bottom of the heel will be 9 inches—about my standard size sock.

I am continuing the same stitch pattern into the heel—as mentioned, about half my shoes are open (or almost open) backs—and besides, this scrunchy stitch pattern gives plenty of padding for a heel and will easily work if worn with regular shoes or sneakers.

To be truthful—I don’t worry much about wearing socks out. I have over 40 pairs, and well, with an average of 30 days to the month—each pair gets worn so infrequently that wear is not a major issue. And I am not that hard on socks—some of my socks are going on 7 years old—and still going strong. And when I knit them, I didn’t have a surplus—I wore (and washed, and wore!) them more frequently.

If I continue to knit sock at the rate I have been doing—I am going to have a real problem—as it is the sock drawer is stuffed (and over stuffed) and I count on having some socks in the hamper—but soon even that won’t work! And here I am--a few rows into the heel flap –and rapidly approaching yet another pair of completed socks!

I am doing a German style flap for these socks. Instead of a slip stitch on each edge, (and heel stitch for the center) I am working the first and last 3 stitches in garter stitch. (How tiny those stitches are!)—the main stitch pattern is a 3 stitch repeat—so this works perfectly—1 repeat on each side becomes garter, and the main field stays in pattern.

When it comes time to pick up stitches for the gusset, I’ll pick up 1 stitch every garter stitch bump—just as easy as 1 stitch per chain.

I am not the least bit concerned about the striping pattern changing with this style heel—I think the stitch pattern mutes the stripes so effectively, it won’t matter in the least that the stripes are out of sequence.

Last night I untangled some very pretty cotton yarn (a destash gift)—I think I have 2 full skeins (and a partial skein) –I’ll pop the balls onto a scale and see what they collectively weigh—50gms are about 130 yards—they are asking to be turned into a summery scarf—and maybe I’ll listen to them. 250 yards won’t make a very big scarf—but a big scarf isn’t needed for the summer is it?

Actually the scarf will be more of an accessory—(a style element) than something worn for warm.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

D’oh!

(Accompanied with the sound of my palm hitting my forehead)

OK—soi have knit 5 inches—some progress has been made.

I am very happy with how these socks look and feel. I like the way the stitch pattern softens and mutes the stripe pattern. I love the way the stitch pattern is scrunched up (they way ribbing compacts and scrunches up)—even though this stitch pattern is worked entirely in knit stitches. And I like how it looks stretch out as it will be when worn.

But—not all sock yarns are created equal—I have knit several pairs of socks in quick succession with Patons Kroy—and I do really like Kroy—but this yarn is half the size! It's finer than the Trekking, too. It’s the finest sock yarn I have knit with in some time!

A 50gm skein of Kroy is a scant 166 yard—the Sensations Soles and More is a 60gm skein—and its 262 yards—maybe I’ll pull out my wraps per inch tool and measure the difference tonight—(I don’t usually care that tool with me in my knitting bag.)

I knit the Kroy yarn on size 2/2.75mm needles and it knits up to a dense 8 stitches per inch.
The Sensation yarn is being knit on size 1’s (2.25 mm needles—not even a silly millimeter difference)—and yet the needles (and stitches!) are so much smaller! –
It is just as dense a stitch-(it’s hard to measure the gauge with the pattern, but it’s finer than 9 stitches per inch—(though I don’t think its 10 or more stitches per inch—but some fraction between 9 and 10.)

Each R of these socks is 78 stitches (the un-stretched sock is about 3.75 inches per side/or about 7.5 inches –but as I said, the stitch pattern scrunches up—and they will fit my wide (EEE) feet fine –I’ve tried them on to be sure!

I always try on socks several times to make sure the cast on and fabric of the sock is stretchy enough to easily pull over my heels—occasionally, an arthritis flair up make pulling on socks difficult—so easy to pull on socks are a must.

But 78 stitches per R! That is 25 to 30% more stitches than I usually use. It takes longer to knit each round—and cumulatively, that makes a difference. And it takes more rounds to knit a inch. Instead of 8 to 10 rounds being completed on the way home, I am only getting 6 and half.. and instead of 8 rounds being an inch and faction, it takes 12 round to knit an inch!

Of course-- these socks are slow going!

The actually knitting is fast—the pattern is not hard
R1: Pattern row A, R2: plain knitting, R3: Pattern row B, R4: plain knitting and I had the 2 different pattern rows memorized in an instant—but there are so many stitches in each round, it takes so many rounds to make an inch! (And I have such big feet!—long (size 9) and wide, and high instep, too!)

But it’s not a race—and I haven’t even been working on these socks for a week yet— so its not as if they are taking forever. I am enjoying knitting them--they are a pleasing pattern and color.

I am getting closer to the heel—and then, after the heel—things just pick up speed!--Its just right now, I feel I am knitting row after row, and have nothing to show for it!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Stalled-

Well-- not really—just so little progress (an inch) that it not worth speaking about.

But—last night instead of knitting –I skein’d, and unskein’d, and dyed.

The hank of Moose Manor Hand Paints sock yarn got made into a single big skein—I’ll divide it before I start knitting socks. The color is a lovely blend of white, blue and blue violet—Blue Iris- is the name of the color way.

Betty (the dyer behind Moose Manor) is a member of the West Babylon Panera’s knitting group—and every once in a while brings some of her yarns to Panera’s—It’s easy to resolve not to go into yarn stores, but when the yarn comes to you… well resistance is futile!

After a long winter, her Etsy shop is just about empty—but now that spring has sprung—stock will be replenished. Watch out for her chameleon colors--they are magical! The colors changes almost as if they are polarized. In different lights, (natural, florescent, incandescent) different colors (not shade of the same color—but dramatically different colors! So far she has only done the chameleon colors in roving –so I haven’t been tempted.

But if she ever does a yarn--Oh, that will be my downfall. The colors change—Dramatically--From a wine red to moss green!—and sometimes to a sort of reddish-green brown—think of the colors of a leaf on a rose bush—wild!

Once the swift was free, I took a ball (50gm) of Red Heart’s Heart and Sole --Ivory color—and changed it into a hank, then made it green—not a perfectly even solid—but nearly so.
So now, when ever I am ready, I have R(ed) O(range) Y(ellow), G(reen) B(lue) I(ndio) P(urple) for a pair of Roy G Biv socks.

They won’t need much of any color—if half the stripes are a neutral (White? Grey? Black? Taupe? –I haven’t decided which one), and the other half of the stripes that are made up of 1 of 7 colors—a pair of socks won’t even need 10 gms of any one color of yarn—leaving lots of left over’s for other projects. The red is spoken for—but the other colors – they are still awaiting their fates.

I love having a range of colors to work with—and bit of this color and that color to make contrasting cuffs (and heels and toes) , or a bit of bit of pattern work—or even just a contrasting trim in the cast on.

I love self striping yarns—with their built in patterns and stripes--but sometime, I want to put a personal stamp on sock—and a solid contrasting color is just the thing. I can never have too many different colors of yarn!

I also experimented with a few yards of left over yarn—I was looking for a silver grey—I got a nice grey—it will trim some pair of sock—but not exactly what I was looking for.

Next—some, some other colors—but not likely tonight—(Knit Night!)—but I’ll have some progress to report if I spend the night knitting.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sock it to me.


Ok, it’s not yet the ides, (and yes, I know the ides of March falls on the 15, but the ides of April doesn’t!)—and here I am, 3 inches (of, all in all, about 18 inches) into my forth pair of sock for the month—even if these socks take twice as long as the Beaded Beauties—they will still be finished before the month is out.

3 inches isn’t a lot of progress—there are things to do(there are?!) besides knitting—you know dusting, and cleaning, and all sorts of normal everyday chores. And this past weekend I did some-(not nearly enough, but...)

When I finally got around to checking the cuff—which looked right—it was—as I expected 1.5 inches. I don’t always make a 1.5 inch cuff—but most often-- 1.5 inch cuffs just looks right to me.

I’ve gone beyond the first few rounds—and doubled the length(more than 3 inches, but not quite 4) —and I am loving the results. I have skipped over this stitch pattern I don’t know how many times--and now—I think I am going to use it for my next few socks—or if not the NEXT few—again—(and again!)

I love how it breaks up the lines of the stripes—and softens them. But I think it would be very pretty in a solid or near solid—when the rippling waves of the stitch pattern would predominate—and then there is the skein of hand painted sock yarn that I have–a riot of colors that could end looking like clown barf—I think this pattern would work with that yarn, too.

I wasn’t lucky enough to get dozens of remaindered egg dying kits--but I did get a few—and some skeins of near white (ivory/muslin) yarn are going to become more colorful this week too.

1 skein will become a solid green—some of which will be used as the G of Roy G Biv socks I plan to knit. And then the remainder? Who knows! Mixed with other left over bits in a stripe or for a cuff or something.

Another skein will be a turquoise/purple color way –a hot combo for this season—and one I particularly like—and already own some outfits in.

The 3rd skein will be a –I dunno! Maybe a deep teal, or maybe an other shade of purple—maybe a solid, or maybe a semi solid.. (maybe I need another skein of near white—and a skein of each color!)--something to mix with the turquoise/purple color way in stripes or slip stitch pattern.

I'll end up with several full or partial skeins of various purple--stripes or cuffs, or some bit of contrast for some other color.. (Oh and there is the skein of hand painted sock yarn in the Iris color way--it's on my swift now--waiting to be wound into cake (or more likely 2 cakes!) of yarn--Yet more sock yarn!)

One of my 4 (FOUR!) skeins of orange sock yarn (2 purchased for under a $1—a price too good to pass up no matter what the color!) will be over-dyed with a rose—and say a prayer for a beautiful shade of coral—I am not going to try for an even color, but rather work at an uneven semi solid shade—some areas deep rose, some areas coral, some almost the base orange. Coral is a color that I love (and that loves me) I have nothing against orange—but not a becoming color on me—and I just don’t wear it!
And sometime soon—(I feel it coming!) I am going to take a break from sock knitting and do something else!--I don't know what--but even I get socked out!

These flowering trees are this weeks treat--they are in the Broadway Mall--this image is looking uptown from 101 Street.

Last week's tree with its dark pinks blossoms, have faded away and been replaced with newly emerging leaves.

These trees (I have no idea what they are) had buds of a deep cherry pink--when closed. Now, open, they are almost white and there are tulips everywhere, in every color.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Just off the Needles—Done-- but Not Finished

Oh they are beauties aren't they? What a happy pair of socks to knit! I am going to insist on an high price (way below what they are worth!) for these when my DD has her craft fair fund raiser—These are special socks.

I did the same square toe as I did with the Cross Purpose socks.--and while the color patterned strayed from perfect (drat that knot!) they are just a round or two away from identical; and since they end in the same pink—it's hardly noticeable.

Tonight? (Tomorrow for sure!) I'll undo the cast on edge, pick up and bind the cuffs--(and some beading will be included—but not to many beads!--an no fanciness beyond the beads!)

And as I mentioned—new socks were started even before these were finished –knitting.

I almost past up this color way of Sensation Soles & More (JoAnne's Fabric own line of sock yarn).
Why? Because I sometime can be a total idiot!

Look how well they match this skirt--(a dozen or so years old—but still going strong)

Okay, so the green is a bit darker, and the color balance isn't identical—but both—green/blue/2 shades of taupe, and cream. A perfect match with out being too matchy-matchy. And I have several other skirts with green and blue, or green and taupe and cream (and 2 pairs of green shoes!) and several green tops, --in silk, in rayon, in cotton! --and again in blue--and almost again in taupe. D'oh—these are just the colors I need--(why am I drawn to bright pinks or rose, or bright orange –from burnt umbers to true orange to peaches and corals sock yarns? Sure those colors are pretty—but greens and blues and taupes—those are the colors I wear!

I am working a different stitch pattern than I first envisioned—I cast on late at night—and planned on casting on 72—and using a traveling (cable) stitch. (And the yarn is very fine—and I am knitting on size 1's/2.25mm)

The cast on is tubular, the ribbing (un measured, but I am sure it is within a round or two of 1.5 inches!) is 1 X 1, --but when I started to place markers to start the stitch pattern—um, I discovered I can't count.

One sock had 78 stitches –the other, 76--(When will I learn how to count!?--or at least double check before I start knitting!)
I looked and looked and found something I thought might work (I was worried it would be too tight!) -I needed to add 2 stitches (78 it is for both socks/ 39 stitches per needle/side)—since the pattern is a multiple of 3. The stitch pattern is dead easy—it biases--(that's ok for a sock) and it's so soft and stretchy—not at all what I expected!

Well that is today's report—you'll have to wait till Monday to see the finished beauties and the progress on the green ripples.

Friday, April 09, 2010

More of the same

2 stripes past the gusset this AM when I took the photo—(pink, lilac)
3 stripes past the gusset this AM by the time I got to work--(pink, lilac, pink)
Closing in on 6 inches of foot—

I’ll be starting the toe in not too many rounds—likely on the commute home this afternoon. I will easily been done knitting them by tomorrow (day 7!) –though I still will need an extra day to finish them off!

Not the fastest socks I’ve knit—but I generally get about 1 pair completed a month—this is pair 5 for this year!—I am ahead of the curve—and there are still 20 more days to work on pair 6! Last night—pair 6 for this year asserted them selves—and have been cast on. More about them tomorrow! (I can’t find on line info about the yarn, and don’t have any pictures…)

This morning, just as I approached the station—I hit a snag—or rather, a KNOT.

I untied it; and it’s clear the yarn was knotted, then dyed—so there is no disruption of the stripe—but untying also meant sliding off the remaining beads.

Now—if I want a fancy bead edge to the cuff—I have to restring a bunch of beads. I think I will undo the cast on, and just finish off with a tubular bind off--a fancy cuff is never NOT NEEDED--but these socks are quite pretty even with just a plain one.

I’ll keep the beads for something else!

I am sort of surprised by this sock knitting jag that I have been on—I have been knitting sock pretty steadily (about a pair a month) for the past 5 7 years or so.

But I am usually knitting A (something) and B (something—a hat or pair of socks)—and now it’s been a few months since I knit a hat (the last one was back in January!) and I haven’t been knitting anything else—No A (something)

There are things I want to knit (but…) and there are socks—that I don’t really want to own or wear–but want to knit! Every time I see a pair of color work socks (I only have to look at the cover of the Interweave’s special edition of Knitting Traditions) I want to knit a pair of toe up color work socks.

I've knit one pair (never wear them!) --and another pair of left over yarns-and a mish-mash of patterns.
I know that color work socks, no matter how finely knit –just don’t fit comfortable into my shoes (well they fit into 1 pair—but I own 70 or so pairs.) but… I keep looking, and thinking, how beautiful!—and I covet them.

I don’t covet my neighbors socks—I want my own—I want to make them myself—
And then—I think—well I could make mittens (but I never wear mittens either!) Oh Dear!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Gussets Done, And a Bit More

It’s day 6 and they are still not done—but they are moving along. Now that I am back to the base count, and the pattern (simple as it is) is confined to the instep –it’s a matter of hours till they are done.

They still will need to be finished. I have the cast on to undo—and a something to do at the top edge—but—that will be fun and fast to do.

I mentioned yesterday—these socks are perfect—and in so many little ways, they are so much better than the first pair of this design—so much so that next month—I will be making another pair of the Cross Purpose socks (in another color way of the Kroy Stripes)—and I will be perfecting and documenting the process.

I rarely knit socks from established pattern—Right from the start—(when I was 9) I thought I could design knitting as good (or Better!) than anyone else. I couldn't then--but it didn't stop me from thinking it! I still think that is true--and at this point it is often is.

Usually I don’t make the effort to knit and re-knit and get all the details right—and I only document a few of my designs.. This pattern is so simple and such a pleasurable to knit; and results in a such a pleasing sock—well—enough said—the pattern is going to be documented.

The first pair worked—but there were minor details—(I SEE THEM, even if you don’t!) that were just—not failures--but also not perfection. I did more pre planning and gave a bit more thought to Beaded Beauties—The efforts paid off. The details work—the socks are actually easier to knit—and look better.

So –when not knitting—I am detailing the directions.

I am going to roll the two versions of the pattern together—and offer a few options—choices in the details--cast ons, yarns, sizes, gauges, with beads, or with eyelets—a host of options! These details, and the placement and positioning of the ribs perfected—it will be a nice package.

As a knitter who knits 2 socks at a time (so as to avoid second sock syndrome!) that I have knit the same basic design twice—back to back--And I am already looking forward to knitting another pair!—well that just amazes me!

And as a bonus—cause really seeing just another image of the same socks you saw yesterday(Okay a few inches more knitting, but boring!) some floral eye candy—not the neon lights parts of Broadway is known for—but every bit as eye catching.