I finished a pair of socks that have been on the needles for over six months! This is not an unusual situation for me. I always have a pair of socks on the needles that are for me. I like knitting socks. I wear hand knit socks, exclusively. Since I am obsessive about always having a knitting project in my bag, no matter where I go, having a sock on the needles is pretty much a lifestyle requirement.
Sock knitting conquered, I pulled out the ball of Reticule (Mrs. Crosby) and spent a day knitting the design-as-one-goes pi shawl. I finished the third segment (48 rows). Worked the next increase row and then contemplated a new design element for the next segment (96 rows). I wanted to add a lace element to my band of traveling stitches swirling about the shawl. I leafed through the Treasury of Knitting Patterns (volume one, by Barbara Walker) looking for inspiration. I knew I wanted a very open lace pattern. I also wanted the stitch pattern to be easily converted to knitting in the round (the majority of stitch patterns are written to be worked flat) and easy to remember. I had used a faggoting stitch when knitting a market bag several years ago but wanted something a bit more interesting. After swatching a few contenders, I decided to use the Vandyke faggoting stitch. It is a multiple of three stitches, allowing me to insert the lace as stitches open behind the traveling band. The fabric under the traveling band will stay in stockinette. I also decided to change my needle size from 2.75mm to 3.00mm. The slightly larger needle size should add to the openness of the fabric.
Christmas is past and the New Year approaches…with all the drama and guilt that entails. My Christmas knitting this year was minimal but I still could not finish on time. In fact my guilt was so intense that on the morning before Christmas day I sat down and cast on the long promised, long planned crazy stripe socks. I was careful not to promise to finish by Christmas Day, but I did sort of imply that the socks would be finished during the Christmas season. In between wrapping gifts, eating cookies and playing games I knit a few rows on those socks. I sat for over four hours on Christmas Eve knitting on those socks. One should never under estimate guilt as a motivating force! On Christmas morning I sent this photo of the socks to the recipient.
With guilt as my motivating force I have knit steadily on these socks for the last four days. These socks are plain stockinette stitch, the fun is the colors. As someone who has knit lots of socks, I have lots of tiny balls of sock yarn and am determined to mine the stash to create a crazy colorful pair of matching socks. If I can keep up the pace, I may be able to mail these socks very early in the new year!
And what has been suffering while I finish the Christmas knitting? Rueben has both fronts finished and shoulder seams are complete! Next step is to pick up stitches for the front edging. (Sigh. I do not like picking up stitches)
Sweater knitting is exciting; I like the shaping of armholes and necklines. I like seeing the body of the sweater grow under the needles. However, no matter how much I enjoy knitting garments, at some point you are slogging through twelve inches of the same thing. Knitting twelve inches of the same thing gets boring, even when I like the yarn and the pattern. So I take a little break. I knit a sock. Socks are quick, they are small, and I can revel in that satisfied feeling from finishing a knitted object. Then I go back to slogging through twelve inches of the body and it feels like I am making progress. I will be starting the armhole shaping soon, just a few more rows, or a few more inches.
As you can tell by the latest photo of Rueben, I am well into knitting the fronts. After knitting the back of the sweater in one marathon, single project dedication…I could not keep it up. I am not meant to be a dedicated one project at a time knitter. I am a multi-project knitter who enjoys flitting from project to project. When I needed to take a break from the Rueben fronts, I moved to socks.
My socks are moving quickly. I have been carrying the second sock in my bag and working a row here and there as time permits, now it is ready for the heel flap. I enjoy doing the traditional slip stitch heel flap and a turned heel. I just need to be stuck in a line and I will get that started. The other project I have been working on is a baby gift for a friend.
I always have bits of sock yarn left from various sock projects so baby socks is a quick gift that can be done with a small amount of yarn. I cast on 30 stitches and just wing my way through a plain vanilla sock with a tiny heel flap and a turned heel. I make the leg about three inches and when the foot measures 2.5 inches I begin the toe decreases. The secret to baby socks is to do an inch of K2, P2 ribbing above the heel flap. That bit of ribbing grabs the ankle and makes it harder for the baby to kick off the socks. I do love a clever knitting trick and if I remembered who told me this, I would thank them.
My adventure with Malabrigo Rios and the Rueben continues and I am enjoying the journey. I admit that I generally do not follow a pattern as written. It seems like I always need to change something to suit me. This time, I have not changed anything on this pattern. I did not obtain gauge with the suggested needle size, US8. I went down to a US7 and my gauge is still off a tiny bit, but I like the fabric so I am going with the US7.
This pattern, Rueben, from the latest book published by Malabrigo is perfect. I am currently on the back, the border is done. I am now knitting the textured stripe pattern. This is perfect knitting to pair with Olympic viewing; enough of a pattern to keep you on your toes but stretches of stockinette so that I can focus on the athletes. I admit to watching lots of gymnastics but this year I am branching out…have you ever seen water polo? And I never knew table tennis could be so exciting.
Quick sock update:
I have finished the first sock and got a start on the second sock. I admit to being partial to double point needles. However, the Chiaogoo mini twists have totally won me over to magic loop. The needles are so smooth, the stitches just fly.
It is the middle of May. Students are getting irritable. Either suffering from lack of sleep as project papers come due or anxiety as final exams loom ever nearer. My lack of sleep has more mundane causes. I am nearly finished with the summer top knit in Monticello. One sleeve is more then done. I want to end with an edging. I swatched the edging and it is larger than anticipated so I will rip back the sleeve so that even with the edging it lands at the desired point. I ripped out my swatch of the edging and then cast on four inches of stitches and knit a few rows. I want a pretend sleeve so that I can knit the edging on and see if it will lay flat. This is why I stay up late, just a few more rows.
I have become a bit fascinated with the different types of heels. Having done the Fish Lips Kiss Heel, I decided to go back and try the Sweet Tomato Heel, again. I was not satisfied with my first attempt. I have only completed the first wedge (of three) but this time I don’t see any glaring differences…..
I have been knitting on the beret, everything going very smoothly. I finished the band and was about to begin the increases for the body of the hat when I saw: “change to size 5 circular needle”. Good thing I reviewed the pattern instructions. So I look at the needle I am using, US6. It seemed odd to go down a size when beginning increases, so I pulled up the first page of the pattern. The pattern says cast on with size 4 circular needle. I am using a US6 needle. I look at the needle totally perplexed.
I know I read the pattern instructions. I printed out the second page. There is even a penciled note scrawled at the top of the page, “cast on 112 with US4”. Why am I using a US6? A US6 is 4mm; maybe I saw 4 and translated that as 4mm. Just ignore the fact that there is a penciled note, in my handwriting, saying cast on with a US4.
I tried on the band and it fits my head, does not fall down around my ears. I am not tearing the band out and starting over. That is not happening. I decided to carry on with the increases. For a very short minute I thought about moving up to a US7 for the increases. It was a short minute, I am already using a needle two sizes bigger then what I am suppose to be using, no point in increasing the error.
I spent time this afternoon working on the Fish Lips Kiss heel just to see what it was all about. I knit a few rows to mimic the leg of the sock and then followed the directions for a top down version of the Fish Lips Kiss heel. The heel has a basic short row construction; however, there is no wrap and turn. Instead the designer of this heel uses a modified version of a lifted increase, (called twin stitch), that is done before each turn. It is a different method of creating a short row heel. Do I like it better? Do not know yet. But always good to experiment.
I have a bit of a problem with socks. I like knitting socks. Socks are small, I can drop sock in my bag and pull it out and knit a few rounds while standing at the bus stop or waiting in line at the post office. And socks are never boring; there are different types of construction. I first learned to knit socks top down on dpns and it is still my favorite method of knitting socks. However, it is also fun to knit socks toe up, different perspective, uses different skills. And while dpns are my go to for knitting socks, occasionally I will use a 40 inch circular and knit socks using the magic loop. If you force me to admit it, I think I knit socks a bit faster using the magic loop method. I always knit my socks one at a time, easier to whip it out of my bag for a quick round or two, and I have never had “second sock” syndrome.
The Baby Surprise Jacket (bsj) is nearly finished. I decided to do the optional icord bind off. The icord bind off is a very nice smooth finish. However, it takes forever. Ok, maybe it just seems to take forever. Now that the bind off is complete, I am going to try to take the applied icord along the upper edge. I may even try to use the applied icord on the seam. That may be too much work. I think I will just do the usual invisible seam.
While working the bsj I have also been working on socks. I have been having a lot of fun with the Cotton Pairfect yarn. I love self- patterning yarn. This skein is especially cool because there is a yellow section that tells you when the pattern begins and you can cast on for the second sock.
I am always slow on trying new things and am the last person to pick up the latest trend. I have been hearing about the Sweet Tomato Heel by Cat Bordi for quite some time. This week I was knitting a toe up sock and had planned to do a short row heel. Then I remembered the Sweet Tomato Heel. This seemed like a good time to try it out. The Sweet Tomato Heel uses short rows, but the method is different. The heel is created in a wedge and one does three wedges to create the heel. I found the video very easy to follow. The construction of the heel is logical.
I am going to try this again, I am not quite happy with my construction. One side of the heel is smooth (photo above) but the other half is a bit choppy (the half in the photo to the right). I do not know how I managed to make each half so differently.
Click below to see Cat Bordhi demonstrate how to construct the Sweet Tomato Heel.
The work on the Clapotis is past the half way point. I have finished blending the two skeins. Actually, when I looked at the photo, I thought “merging” is a better description of how the two different colors came together. I did save a very small amount of the first skein which I plan to “merge” into the last few inches of the work.
This sock (photo below) is waiting for a fitting. I do not want to Kitchener the toe until I am certain that the foot is long enough, but not too long. The only way I can know for certain is to have the foot in here for a fitting. I decided to pull off enough yarn to do a few rows and close (hence the butterfly). I then had to pull yarn out of the skein until I found the same stripe I began the first sock with….it was trickier then expected, but task accomplished and the second sock is on the needles.