Friday, August 30, 2013

Hardship

So, I recently knit myself six brand spanking new pairs of socks in the Tour de Sock.

My sister, who is dependent on my goodwill for her handknit socks, watched me crank those puppies out, knowing that none of them were for her. She has a little stash of yarns for her - some were gifts from me, others she bought then handed over for safe keeping - and before the Tour began, I asked if she might be interested in having one of the pairs of Tour socks. She declined, because she wasn't keen on the whole committing to a pattern without having seen it first that goes with the Tour, and she also is deeply suspicious of lace in socks - she suspects those holes will allow heat to escape and cold to enter.

So the Tour socks are all mine, and my sock drawer is well stocked for the coming sock season.

Her drawer, however, has suffered some losses. So I've decided I should try to bolster her sock collection.

While waiting for one stage of the Tour to start - no longer remember which one - I cast on for a set of Owlie Socks for her. I set them aside again once sockracing took off again, and picked them up for a couple of weeks after, but I had less knitting time, so they're still not done. One is done, the other has about half a leg. I got a little weary of cables, and a lot weary of working cables in the Stroll that I was using.

So I consulted with her, and dug up some more stash for something different - Carousel, in some Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock. I worked on those for a little while.

And then I noticed a problem.

See, because of the way this pattern is worked, you can't rely on negative ease to get a good fit on the sock. So, the pattern advises you to measure your leg circumference at the height you want your sock to reach, and then knit to fit that with zero ease. No problem, I grabbed a measuring tape and measured sister's leg, then was off and running.

My sister and I share structural characteristics when it comes to our foot-ankle-lower leg areas. We have smallish feet - we both wear size 6 shoes. We both have low arches. We both have fairly, um, sturdy ankles - they're not fleshy, but they're definitely not slender - and the parts of our legs that connect to the ankles are also sturdy. So we rely quite a lot on the stretchiness of knit fabric with our socks - the sock has to accommodate a rather large circumference to go over our heels. Normally this isn't a problem - if a sock will stretch to fit around the leg, it will also stretch enough to go over the heel.

But when there's no lateral stretch? Sure, the sock will still go over the heel. But how will the rest of the sock fit?

I snapped some really quick pictures to try and illustrate the badness here, but I was in a hurry and didn't realize these mostly suck. By the time I figured it out, it was too late to try again.

I present: a no-ease sock cuff that will fit on the leg.



But if I continue to knit the entire sock at that circumference, here's how the fabric will look at the ankle:



And on the foot?



Now, to further illustrate how badly that tube fits my foot:



Gross. No one would ever wear socks that fit that poorly.

I started thinking about how I might be able to make it work. Trying to somehow narrow the circumference in the joining process seemed like it was likely to cause puckers. Trying to narrow the circumference using gauge would work, except that I'd want to do it to make the ankle fit better, which would simultaneously make the sock impossible to pull on over the heel. So the ankle would have to stay loose, and again, no one would ever wear socks that bagged around the ankles but fit decently everywhere else.

So after some consultation with the sister, that bit of cuff was ripped out (which is why there couldn't be a second attempt at pictures). She'll pick a different pattern for this yarn.

My poor sister. I've been dangling the promise of new socks in front of her face for over a month now.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

K'done: Beithe Shawl Cowl

An experiment. I think it worked out pretty well.



Pattern: Beithe, by Susanna IC
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Sock, in Wren
Needles: 4.5 mm / US 7



As you can plainly see from that shot there, this is not the shawl the pattern promises. I had started to wonder what it might be like to make a cowl that wasn't a straight-up tube - one that uses short rows to add length to one area but not the whole thing. (I have had more thoughts on that, but more on that later. Another experiment is blocking as I type.) Since this shawl is already shaped using short rows, I thought it might be interesting to try it out, but join to work in the round instead of knitting it flat to convert it into a cowl.

I did alter the number of stitches I cast on - otherwise it would have been huge! I cast on 191 stitches, worked the lace/cable chart, then when I got to the short rows, I had a problem - the shawl has you close the gaps left by the short rows using decreases, but doing that with this cowl made the thing rather funnely. So I undid my short rows and started that bit again using the shadow wrap technique to close the gaps. No more funnel effect. In an effort to use more of my precious yarn, I kept working in plain stockinette once all the shaping was done. At the time, I wondered if I should find some lace motif to smack in along the top before the top edge. As it is, I think it looks a bit odd when it's laid out on the floor there like that, but I like the look when it's worn.



Still, something to keep in mind for future experiments.

Some tech specs: I used the Chinese Waitress cast on, and I added two extra rounds of seed stitch before doing the I-cord bind off. That, by the way, is a super firm bind off! I like it - a very tidy finish - but don't use it on anything that needs lateral stretch!

I really like Tosh Sock. The colours are incredible, and the yarn just feels really good in the hands. I've now used up two skeins of my mini-stash of Tosh Sock, but I'm not screaming for more, because I may have picked up some Tosh DK a little while back, and on Monday a box was placed on my front doorstep that contained some Pashmina - some sweater-sized batches, two for me, three for my sister. Plus there's a bit of Tosh Vintage kicking about in the stash too. I have plenty of Madelinetosh yarn to keep me happy for a while.

At least, that's what I'm telling myself.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The stripes have it

I order various items of clothing from Victoria's Secret at fairly regular intervals - about twice a year, not-so-coincidentally timed with their Semi-Annual Sales. Consequently, I get a regular stream of catalogues from them - at times, it feels like they're sending me two a week, but realistically I probably get one every two weeks or so. Since I've had positive results shopping with them - and doing so affords me the luxury of browsing the catalogue at any odd hour I choose in whatever mode of dress happens to be happening at that moment - I diligently scour each and every page of browse through the catalogues and make mental notes of what I might like to include in my next order.

The night before last, I was carefully reading casually browsing through the latest catalogue to land in my mailbox, and something occurred to me - I was seeing stripes. Lots of stripes. Not wee pinstripes - great big bold stripes.

And I remembered that back in late February, I started a sweater with reasonably bold stripes - caramel, by Isabell Kraemer.

Now, while I try to be a fashion conscious sort of person, I've had limited success with it - any time I try to be on trend, I end up a few months too late, so most of my efforts go towards acquiring more pieces that would be described as timeless.

But if stripes are in, and I've got a striped sweater on the needles, with the body about two thirds of the way done? Maybe I can bust a move and get it done in time for fall.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Le Tour, c'est fini!

And I have six fab new pairs of socks to stuff into my drawer:



I placed beads in my knitting for the first time ever. I did actual stranded colourwork for the first time ever. I did intarsia for the first time ever. I did mosaic stitch for the first time ever. I worked a non-traditionally constructed sock for the first time ever.

I finished my first Tour de Sock well within the specified time frame - though one stage was a bit of a close call. My final position in the grand scheme of things is #42 (out of 257 who completed at least one stage in the Tour). Not too shabby - but I have lofty aspirations for next year. I'd like to be one of the first 20 finishers in at least one of the rounds.

Guess I better put in my practice time, to nudge my speed ever upward.

As for right this moment? I'm sort of wondering how to make my new socks fit into my drawer. It's gonna be a tight squeeze.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

K'done: Euclid Socks

Huzzah! Another round of the Tour de Sock completed!



Pattern: Euclid, by General Hogbuffer
Yarn: Remnant odds and ends - some Yummy Yarn Studio (mid and light purple), some Lorna's Laces (dark purple)
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1



I did finish these on time - in fact, I was finisher #40. I just got busy and never had a chance to blog them. For, well, nearly two weeks. But here they are now!

This pattern is really clever - rather than make a tube with a bend in it, you create and join together several triangles that wrap around the foot and leg. I suppose it could be called modular, since you only work a single triangle at any given point, but you don't work all the triangles first and then seam them together. Instead, you work the cuff, then work the first triangle off that cuff, then pick up some stitches from that triangle to create the second triangle, then pick up some more stitches...and so on and so forth.

If you don't like picking up stitches, you will hate this pattern with a fiery passion rivaled only by twin suns.

Or you'll just use a provisional crochet cast on. I don't know how to do that, so I picked up. I don't hate picking up stitches anymore though (for a while I thought it was the fiddliest thing ever), so it was all just fine. (In fact, I sort of like picking up stitches now.)

It's very neat to watch the sock develop as you create ever more triangles. The heel flap is longer than one would expect, in order to match up, stitch-count wise, with the triangles that are adjacent to the heel flap, and the heel turn ends up rather pointy, as it is yet another triangle:



Furthermore, if one has sensi-soles, you may want to skip the triangles on the foot portion of the sock - I haven't worn mine out into the world yet, but I did walk around a tiny bit in my house when I was wearing them to take these pictures, and you can totally feel the double decreases underfoot. It didn't bother me at the time - we'll see how I feel about them after I've been out and about in them for a day.

This pattern also produces a rather large number of ends to weave in - two for each triangle, plus the cuff and toe. (The heel flap on mine doesn't get counted because I used that same length of yarn to do the heel triangle - if you were to do your heel turn and heel flap in different yarns, then you'd have two more ends.) A quick count of my socks gives me 14 pieces per sock, yielding 28 ends to weave in. That's a lot of ends for socks. Plus, you can't really weave the ends in as you knit - the way each triangle finishes demands the use of a tapestry needle, and the tails from the beginnings of each triangle need to be left dangling so that you can use them to neaten up the points where several pieces meet - otherwise you'd end up with holes there.

I didn't find these particularly quick to work up, but they are fun, and I'm quite pleased with the results - I think there may be more of these in my future to burn up some more of my sock yarn odds and ends. Each triangle took roughly 3 g of yarn for me.

That being said, each time I finished a triangle, I thought: Yay, I'm done! Oh, wait, not really. It does sort of wear on a person after a while. I think, though, that maybe it wouldn't be so discouraging if one weren't in a race.