Tuesday, August 19, 2014

K'done: Plain Socks

I finished these ages ago. Ages ago.

Pattern: None, just a plain ol' stockinette sock, cobbled together from my experience
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, in Blackwatch Plaid
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1

Honest, according to my Rav notes, I finished them in May - on her birthday, actually, and I do have a vague memory of flinging them at her or tucking them into the gift bag her actual gift was in. (I did say the memory was vague.) I just never blogged them until now because I only took that picture of her wearing them last week, while we were out on Vancouver Island.

There's not actually much for me to say about these socks - I wanted to try out my new Sigs when they arrived, and plain stockinette seemed a good first run, which meant I could reach for a crazier colourway. She added this yarn to an online order I was placing based primarily off the name, and neither of us was quite sure what to do with it when it arrived. Plain socks seemed a good match, and once she was on board, I was off and running. Well, off and knitting.

Not in any super zippy way, though. Just a round here, a few stitches there, most of the knitting was accomplished as I waited in the car. But that's the great thing about this craft - a little here, a little there, and you'll get to a finished object.

I know I've been silent for a while. We were away. Again. I've got more stuff to show you. It needs blocking, though. So, you know. It might be a little while.

Monday, August 4, 2014

DNF: Tour de Sock 2014

The Tour is over, the dust has settled, and I am here to sheepishly confess that I did not finish. I didn't knit the last pair, a pair of double knit socks.

What happened? Well, timing was the major player. The sixth pattern was released while I was on holiday with my parents and siblings in London, England. I had taken all my supplies with me, fully intending to knit during our down moments, with the plane ride home and the last day of the Tour available for a mad sprint to the finish line as needed.

The thing is, there weren't many down moments on this particular vacation - which is sort of unusual for my family, we usually holiday as a pretty laid-back bunch - and I've never done double knitting before. I cast on, worked the first toe, and realized that there was no way. No way I would ever finish by the deadline. I was too slow with it, and there weren't enough moments for me to make much headway before the flight and the final sprint day, which would mean the best case scenario would have me knitting the second sock in a single day - and I have yet to do that with non-double knitting (single knitting?).

I considered persevering, as a learning experience. Then I fiddled with the doubly thick fabric I was getting, and considered that I wouldn't be able to wear these socks with shoes, which means I'd hardly wear them, and did I really want to use up two skeins of precious sponsor yarn on a single pair of socks that wouldn't see much use?

So I heaved a sigh, and pulled out what I'd done.

In fact, once the haze of the race had cleared, I had to face the fact that I'm not wild about the way my Wye socks were fitting, so once we were home again, I pulled those apart too.

So this year's Tour has me in a three-way tie for 82nd place, and I have four pairs of socks to show for it.

I have a glint in my eye to do better next year.

Until then? I have other things to turn my attention to. Like this:

That there is an Owlie sock, the second in a pair I started for my sister last summer, flailing about between stages of Tour 2013. I got the first one done, and about half of the leg of the second, and then I put them down for rather a long time. Knitting them rapidly became rather chore-like - the needles are the 'new' Knit Picks Sunstruck DPNs, a batch of the made in China ones, and wow I do not like them. They feel sort of plasticky, and the stitches seem to stick more than with my other KP needles - all of which were from made in India batches. I could have switched the needles, but at the time when I set the sock aside, I was thoroughly sick of the whole thing, and when I finally picked it back up again to take as in-flight knitting to London, I was a bit worried about needle confiscation at the airport, particularly leaving Heathrow to come back, and left these ones in, reasoning that I wouldn't be terribly upset if they were taken from me. As an aside, there was no problem at all in either direction. (I didn't really expect to lose them departing from Canada.)

Anyway. They're nearly done now, I'm just playing a bit of yarn chicken. I've only got a few rounds left of the foot before starting the toe decreases. Will the yarn hold out?

Admittedly, this is not a particularly high-stakes game of yarn chicken - I have more, there's a remnant cake of this yarn from the first sock...somewhere. I have a pretty good idea of where it is, but I could be wrong. Either way, my life will be easier if this yarn makes it to the end.

Which would be good, because my sister wants these socks, and running out of yarn just before Kitchenering will force me to put the sock down while I search out that remnant cake, and if I am feeling frustrated, who knows how long it will be before I pick it up again...

Friday, August 1, 2014

K'done: Arch-Nemesis Socks


Pattern: Arch-Nemesis, by Sarah Bordelon
Yarn: Invictus Yarns Unconquerable Sole, in Grey Flannel
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1

Rank: #76

Well. I actually finished these well before the cut-off (but not early enough to score more than minimum completion points) - way back on 15 July. So why has it taken me so long to blog them? Because I finished them, took my required pictures and emailed them off to the Tour Director, then tossed some clothes in a suitcase and made a dash for the airport to catch a flight...to London, UK. I then spent two weeks doing the tourist thing with my family, with little time for Internet access, never mind blogging my socks!

So. These socks. What do I remember about them?

I remember enjoying the knit. There's a bit of cabling, but most of the patterning is accomplished using lacework techniques - yo, k2tog, ssk, and the like. The architecture involves some arch-shaping, which I'd never done before, and I quite like the result - stockinette on a bias snugs the fabric around the foot up a fair bit. The yarn is a BFL/nylon 80/20 blend, and I enjoyed working with it, though in all honesty it's a tiny bit scritchier than the Invictus merino/nylon blends - I'm not sure my neck would tolerate a scarf or cowl worked out of it. Socks should be no problemo, though. I especially heart this colourway, though it may be a tiny bit too variegated and obscure the fancy work a bit. Or maybe it just doesn't photograph well. Or maybe me using my iPhone 4 camera for FO pics really isn't the way to go. Sigh.

Still, a successful Tour leg, and another pair to restock the sock drawer.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

K'done: Dazzle Them from Behind Socks

Apologies for the radio silence on these. Things have been a bit hectic. But look! Another pair of complete socks!

Pattern: Dazzle Them from Behind, by Meagheen Ryan
Yarn: Invictus Yarns Master of My Feet, in Desire
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1
Bling: 128 8/0 Delica beads, in Garnet

Rank: #98

There is a questionable hairstyle that is sometimes described as business at the front, party at the back. These socks are a much better use for that phrase. From the front, you have demure, modest ribbed socks, with the tiniest bit of beadwork at the cuff and a cute picot trim.

From the back, however, all kinds of fancy things are going on. You've got some lace. Some cabling. Plus beading. Rock 'n roll.

This concept really appealed to me, and I thoroughly enjoyed knitting these. I just wish I had had the time to dedicate to them to get a better finishing rank on them - when I saw the pattern and how much of the sock was essentially plain ribbing, I was hopeful that I would meet my personal goal of better than 60th place on these. Life had other plans for me, however.

Ah, well. I still got a sweet pair of socks, and I finished before the stage deadline, so woot!

There were a few surprises in this pattern. I learned a new cast on - the picot edging is not like other picot edgings I've done, with a folded hem, and I like this one quite a bit, it's nice and stretchy. I learned that not all Delicas are made the same way - last year I successfully used a 1.3 mm crochet hook to add Delica beads to my Tour socks, so this year I pulled that same hook out to use again, and found it was a tad too big for some of the beads, and entirely too big for most. After fighting to add the first few beads, I dug out a smaller hook - 0.75 mm - and beading proceeded much more smoothly from that point on. (Boy was I ever glad I bought that smaller hook on a whim. Luck really does favour the prepared!) Truthfully, the smaller hook is probably a bit too fine for sock yarn - lots of separation of plies as I did the beading. No major headaches, though.

The pattern also had me work a longer heel flap than I usually do - I needed to pick up 19 gusset stitches on each side! (I usually do 16.) As is apparent in that last photo up there, this is probably more heel flap than I need. That could also be due to the pairing of the long heel flap with a riverbed gusset, with the decreases placed close together on the underside of the heel. I suspect my foot does better with gusset decreases placed further apart from each other - the heels on these are big, and I think the decrease placement encourages the fabric to fold where the decreases meet, which enhances the pouchiness of the heel.

Also, the pattern ate more yarn than I'm accustomed to, which really surprised me considering how much of these socks is plain ribbing (as opposed to, say, cables). I haven't weighed my remnants, but the little cakelets left behind are visibly smaller than what I usually have.

Still, I'll definitely do more of these, with different heel stylings. The ribbing on the foot does sort of get a bit tedious, but the end product is so worth it.

And who can't get behind the colour of this yarn? I need much more Invictus for future socks.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

TdS 2014: stage 4, days 1 & 2


I've been out of the house and unable to knit for long stretches (i.e., hours at a time) since this leg began in the wee hours (5 AM local time!) two days ago. Day 1 saw me do this:

I had a bit of a technical issue when I grabbed the crochet hook I used for last year's socks - my 1.3 mm hook - because although these beads are Delicas, ordered when I ordered the ones I used last year, their holes are smaller. I guess I got a weird batch? Luckily, I did pick up a smaller hook - 0.75 mm - at some point in the past year, so after fighting unnecessarily with the first few beads, I switched, and the beading became much smoother.

Day 2 saw this:

Not much beyond day 1, because I only really got some time in the morning, and it wasn't super effective time - I kept stopping to do something or check something.

Today I really really want to finish the first sock and start in on the second. Plenty of folks are already done, and if I'm going to meet my goal of top 60, then I really need to bust a move. Maybe life will cooperate better today?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

K'done: Roll the Bones Socks

Presenting: my very first pair of truly stranded socks!

Pattern: Roll the Bones, by Kirsten Hall
Yarn: Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock, in Black Plum (dark) and Pomegranate (light)
Needles: 2.5 mm / US 1.5 for stranded sections, 2.25 mm / US 1 for cuff, heel, and toe

Rank: #77

I should really try to retake that first photo with better focus. But, lazy.

So, stranded socks. I've been aware of them and sort of thinking I'd like to try for a while now. A couple of things kept holding me back:

1) You need two different yarns to make stranded socks, which in my mind meant doubling the amount of yarn that went into a pair. That makes for a pretty hefty yarn bill for a pair of socks.

2) The resulting fabric would be doubly thick compared to socks knit with a single strand, which might make it a bit of a tight squeeze in shoes - or downright impossible, depending on how closely the shoes fit.

Leave it to the Tour to force me to try it out, despite my doubts.


I think these might be my new favourite socks. Sure, I wasn't super fast with them - after all, limited experience with stranded knitting makes for slow, careful progress, especially when you're me and you stop frequently to futz about with the fabric, trying to assess how stretchy it is and checking that the floats are loose enough. (By the way - is it possible for floats to be too loose? There are some areas where if I didn't have floats behind keeping everything in check, I'd have crazy loose stitches and wild ladders. I'm guessing this will even out once I wash the socks, but I am wondering about it a little.) My speed did pick up with the second sock - in part because I knit that one right side out, and had a better time managing the DPNs. (I knit the first one inside out for better float management, and it messed with the way the needles wanted to position themselves, which made things a bit awkward and slowed me down.)

Now, admittedly, I haven't tried on shoes while wearing these, so that concern might still be valid. (But then again, I live in Canada, particularly in a part of Canada that sees a significant winter season with pretty significant snowfall, which means boots, which typically have a bit more room in them, and also, thicker socks in winter sounds like a good idea anyway.) But the yarn usage concern? I've learned it's not a problem. I have plenty of yarn left over in both colours that I used - 64 g of the darker colour, and 90 g (!!) of the lighter colour. Now, these were bigger skeins to begin with - Tough Love Sock comes in 115 g hanks - but still, I can absolutely get another pair of socks out of the light colour, and I think I could even do a pair in the darker colour.

I could especially do another pair of stranded, pairing the darker remnants with something else. Oh, the possibilities that opens!

So yes, I believe there will be more stranded socks in my future.

Particularly using this pattern. It was such a fun pattern to knit, and the concept behind it helps keep things fresh. (Unless you're getting sick of stranded knitting itself.) See those little cubes in that shot there? Those cubes are the stranded pattern. You roll them like dice - or, well, toss them around to randomize the sections - and then work a ten round repeat using whatever pattern you rolled. Then, you do it again to rerandomize the sections. The result is a swirly, unique colourwork pattern - a bit like a yarny fingerprint.

Want your socks to match precisely? Just keep track of what you rolled for the second sock, or work them concurrently.

Want non-random patterning? Fiddle with the dice until you get an arrangement you like, then use that.

This pattern provides so much fun flexibility. I'm sure I'll do it again. For one thing, my sister has expressed a desire to have some socks like this of her own. For another, I want to play with the possibilities. I want to see what happens if I flip the colours around - not as dramatically as a complete reversal, but I think it could be fun/interesting to flip the light and dark sections in the colourwork. I think it could be fun to have one of the colours be a really variegated one, or a gradient one, with the other being a solid neutral.

I'm sure there are other colour pairings in my sock stash that would be great for this pattern.

Will I ever knit another sock pattern?

Well, sure. There are three more stages left to the Tour, after all.

And the yarn? This is great stuff. I am totally buying more of this when I see it on sale. Or when I see it at a shop. Or just online. Must. Have. More.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

TdS 2014: stage 3, day 5

So, yesterday was not so much with the knitting time. I got this far:

There's a few gusset decreases left, then the foot and the toe. Think I can make it today?