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?

Monday, June 23, 2014

TdS 2014: stage 3, days 3 & 4

You'd think I'd be able to squeeze more knitting time out of a weekend.

Day 3 saw me get to here:

Day 4 saw me get to here:

Unlikely that I'll finish today, but I'm thinking probably tomorrow!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

TdS 2014: stage 3, days 1 & 2

Oh man. I should have done some stranded stuff before this, to get some experience under my belt.

The pattern was released at 7 PM local time - right smack in my dinnertime - and I cast on a little before 8, I think. I managed to get probably 2 or 2.5 hours in before the lights were turned off for sleepytime, and I had this:

No, that's not very much.

Then yesterday, I probably managed to put in 7 or 8 hours total, spread throughout the day, never more than 2 hours continuous. That got me this far:

I'm hopeful that I'll get my first sock done today. But I wouldn't hold my breath, if I were you.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ready, make waiting

The next stage of the Tour de Sock starts tonight.

Right when I'll be eating dinner.

Today my plan is to do laundry like a crazy person - I've been procrastinating a bit, and there's a bit of a backlog that I should address. I'm about to get a crockpot dinner going soon, and then I'll nip out to the grocery store to pick up some things for the next few days. Once I figure out what our dinners over the next few days are going to be. I think one night I'll try a new soup recipe.

The weather is cold and dreary and drizzly here today - which might explain why I'm feeling keen on soup. That sweater I knit for my sister before the Tour kicked off is soaking in the sink as I type, and I'll lay it out to block. Then it will only need buttons.

I want tonight's pattern release to hurry up and come already, but there's a fair bit I should really do before it, so I guess it can take its time.

Monday, June 16, 2014

K'done: Kam Chu Socks

Whoops, did it again. At least the finish is better this time!

Pattern: Kam Chu, by Adrienne Fong
Yarn: Invictus Yarns Master of My Feet, in Decadent
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1

Rank: #44

It's been a while since I've worked a pair of lacy socks. It's, um, been a while since I worked anything that wasn't mostly stockinette, actually, which is something I've become aware of as the Tour goes on. I'm out of practice with anything that isn't a straight shot of knits or purls, so I'm kind of slow. (It's not the yos that get me, it's the decreases.) I managed to score some points this time, but I'd still like to do better on the next round. (We'll see though. It looks like some colourwork. I have almost zero experience with colourwork. Gleep.)

My slowness notwithstanding, this was a very nice pattern - well written, requiring no guess work. The chart was big, but by the foot of the second sock, I had it in my head - hey, I'll take it. I like the detail of the rings at the edges of the legs carrying down the heel flap. In the end, I got a pair of socks that I am quite pleased with.

Check out my sturdy ankles. Sigh.

The yarn is gorgeous, and pleasant to work with - though I did find that it's got a tiny bit of a halo to it, and I would sometimes end up grabbing fibres from the halo of the next as I worked, which would pull the stitch off the needle as I completed the previous stitch. There was also a tendency for me to pick up plies of adjacent strands or not all plies of the intended strands when working the decreases. This may be entirely due to the fact that I was using my super sharp Sigs. I'll have to try again with slightly blunter needles (my Knit Picks Sunstrucks or Harmonies). Don't get me wrong - I still think this is great yarn, and I would absolutely buy tons more and recommend it to anyone who asked. But when you're racing, those little fouls start to annoy more quickly than they would otherwise!

Okay. Stage 3 starts Thursday evening. In the meantime? Maybe I can get another sweater knocked out. More stockinette. Not exactly the sort of training I need, but whatevs.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

TdS 2014: stage 2, day 1

Yesterday's sock efforts, lounging in a sunbeam:

If all goes well, I'll be able to cast on for sock #2 tonight! Here's hoping - the first finishers have already trickled in!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

K'done: Wye Socks

Um. The past few days have not gone the way I wanted them to. Hey, look! Completed socks!

Pattern: Wye, by Hypercycloid Designs
Yarn: Invictus Adventure, in More Power
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1

Rank: #64

So I kind of forgot to do that thing I like to do where I take a picture each morning to document the previous day's progress. Whoops. I mean, I did it on Monday, and I even took the picture Tuesday morning, but never got around to editing and posting it, and then Wednesday and today I just felt like I didn't have time. See, my goal with this Tour is that I'd like to earn more than the bare minimum number of points at each stage. To do that, I have to do better than a 61st place finish.

I didn't make it this round.

So my feelings about these socks are sort of ambivalent right now, because I'm disappointed in myself. I wasn't able to squeeze enough knitting time out of the past few days to do what I wanted to do, and I'm frankly upset with myself for not doing better. I hate not meeting the goals I set for myself, particularly when they're pretty reasonable - after all, I didn't set out to win the Tour (that would require some reorganizing of my days and shifting of priorities that might make others question whether my participation in the Tour is wise in the future).

But. There's nothing to do but move forward.

When I can set aside my feelings about my performance on this leg of the Tour, I'm very pleased with these socks. Red is a ridiculously tricky colour to photograph well, particularly with an old iPhone 4. (Why yes, I am jonesing for a new phone - how could you tell?) Reds seem to sort of blow out other details, so in these pictures, you can only sort of see the cable work, which makes it look like I made a bad yarn-pattern pairing choice. In real life, the cables stand out pretty well, I think. The pattern was extremely clearly written, and easy to follow, unless you do what I did, which is put it down and pick it up a bit too frequently, so I lost my spot in the charts a couple of times, resulting in some tinking or dropping down to fix cables or lack of cables. (Of course, a simple solution would be to mark your spot in the chart in some way. I didn't print the pattern, though, just viewed it on my tablet, so no super easy way to mark.)

About the fit - these fit, but the fit is a bit close in one spot, near the top of the leg. The way the cabling and biasing of the fabric go, they end up sort of creating a pinch point there. I can get the socks on and off, but it's a bit of a careful go. The designer notes that if a person normally wears a 64 stitch sock, then they should knit the 72 stitch (medium) size. I frequently knit 64 stitch socks - in plain stockinette, they're a bit baggy, but with other stitch patterns it works out pretty well. If the fabric is particularly unstretchy - lots of cables, or 3-to-1 decreases - then I like to go up a little more still. The largest I've ever gone was 72 stitches, for the Chicane socks from last year's Tour. Those ended up being a teeny bit big on me. I wear them, no problem, but they just feel a little roomier than they need to be.

So this pattern has you start with one stitch count, chug away through the foot, and then your stitch count increases to accommodate the increased cabling of the leg motif. The medium promised to go up to 82 stitches. I saw that and freaked out a bit. That seemed like an insanely huge number of stitches, and I was sure that I'd end up with something that wouldn't fit well. So I knit the small. I reasoned with myself that only incredibly unstretchy socks won't fit at 64 stitches, and these shouldn't be that unstretchy through the 64 stitch part, and when stretch does start to decline, I'd have extra stitches to compensate.

And it is fine, except for that one spot. Like I said, I can get them on and off, but it takes a bit of work - more so getting them off than putting them on.

So while I'm not impressed with myself in the Tour? The socks are a good thing.

Monday, June 2, 2014

TdS 2014: stage 1, day 1

When I went to bed last night, I had this:

That's a complete foot with heel, and most of a toe. My original plan was not to do these concurrently - I usually finish the first sock before beginning the second. I had a question, though, about following the rules for the leg, and by the time I posted the question, the relevant answer-providers were all asleep, thanks to the magic of time zones. Rather than lose what was left of my day, I ran a lifeline, yanked my needles, and started the toe of sock #2. I also took advantage of the opportunity to try the sock on. (It fits.)

More tomorrow. Gotta go knit. Nine finishers already! And I have yet to complete a sock. While I have no illusions of winning this Tour, I would like to improve upon my performance from last year, and the points system has been rejiggered, which could make for more interesting scoring.

But not if I don't get my sock back in my hands!