Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A New Sock.... maybe

So I started a new sock. It's a twisted stitch pattern I got out of Barbara Walker 2, and I'm knitting it up with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn. I've done a few repetitions of the pattern, and the problem is that it doesn't look anything like what it's supposed to look like. I thought the problem might be in the variegation, so I tested out a separate sample using a solid color. It still looks really wrong. So... I don't know. Perhaps I'm not knitting correctly or something. I might scrap the sock, or I might keep it and change pattern somewhere, or maybe I'll just knit the whole thing like this and hope it doesn't look too strange.

Taking a break from this sock has given me a bit of time to continue on the heel and foot of my argyle sock. I have decided to employ Cat Bordhi's suggestion to use a smaller needle for the heel and sole stitches. She swears that it doesn't make the sock smaller, so that must mean it stretches the sock out somewhat in both directions.

So for the argyle sock, I needed an Addi 1 and an Addi 2. Since I didn't want to give up my Lorna's Laces sock just yet, I decided to do the new LL sock on an Addi 1 using the Magic Loop technique, thus freeing up a needle. It's only a 24" needle, which is shorter than recommended, but it has given me no trouble. I could use a slightly longer needle, but certainly 24" is enough to get by.

In other news, I finished the Entrelac Sock pattern and submitted it to MenKnit for their upcoming magazine. Yes, this means that I owe some of you the pattern. Don't worry, as I will be e-mailing it out within a couple of days.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Bowtie Socks

Pattern: None
Needles: 2 24" Addi Turbos (US 1)
Yarn: Sockotta
Techniques: Knitting into the stitch below, Balbriggan heel
Started: August 10, 2005
Completed: August 27, 2005
Recipient: Me

I knit these for my feet because I realized I didn't own any pairs of hand-knit cotton socks. I also really liked the color. I based the bowties off of something I found in Barbara Walker's Second Treasury of Stitches (submitted by a lady in Oak Park!). I adapted it for round knitting and so that it would work well in a sock. Unfortunately, it's really hard to see the bowties in the finished product, but it doesn't bother me so much, as it gave my hands something new to figure out!

Here's a camera angle I could never pull off by myself. Many thanks to my wife for this one! These heels are what Nancy Bush calls Balbriggan heels in Folk Socks. It requires grafting when you turn the heel, so I imagine that's why many folks don't bother. It gives a cool effect with this yarn, though. I would definitely apply it to a self-striping project in the future.

Drunken Rib Socks

These were a pair I knit for a friend as part of a barter. He built me a wooden footboard I could go ticky-tack on when I play fiddle (it's a Quebecois thing), and in turn I knitted him these socks. It features a few degrees of drunken ribbing (10 stitch offset on the leg, 2 stitch offset on the foot), done up in a Regia stripe on Addi 1s. They feature the band heel from Nancy Bush's Folk Socks, which is a heel shaping that results in no gusset stitches. The feet were originally knitted a little too small for the recipient, so I had to back them out and correct it.

I did these both at the same time from different ends of the same ball of yarn. It actually worked quite well, though the feet seemed to take forever. I guess I prefer mixing up the techniques when I do one sock at a time over two socks at once.

Here's the profile shot.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Channel Island Cast On

I decided for my next pair I would start with a Channel Island Cast On. "Why?" my wife inquired. Well, I hadn't done it before, it looks kind of neat, and most importantly I was up for a challenge. So I opened up Lucy Neatby's Cool Socks, Warm Feet while watching a few episodes of Northern Exposure and went at it. Two hours later, I still was without success. A little frustrated (but not put off), I went online to see what I could find. Several guides and a few false starts later, I finally got it. This guide was the only one which really helped me. Some of the sites wanted me to put a doubled slip knot onto the loop, but this proved unnecessary.

Since I generally only allow myself to have three pairs of socks going at once, you may be wondering why I was casting on for a new pair. Well, both the Barter Socks and the Bowtie Socks are complete! I will post pictures tomorrow, since it's 2:30 a.m. now.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Bowtie Socks Update

Well, here is the first bowtie sock that I finished on the plane. I like the colors quite a bit and am looking forward to wearing these soon.

The heel is an adaptation of the Balbriggan Heel from Nancy Bush's Folk Socks book. It's one of those strange heels that requires grafting at the end. Since the heel ends with no stitches left on the heel needle, the gusset seam runs all the way around the foot. Therefore, the heel is putting weight on a seam. I think the heel looks a bit nobbly, but this does disappear when worn.

Another angle.

The colorway the Balbriggan Heel produces is quite stunning with this self-striping yarn. Now I just wish that those darn bowties showed up better!

I'm not sure I would do a Balbriggan Heel again, but it certainly was an interesting endeavor. I also have to stop contorting my body in positions it would rather not find itself in order to take pictures of my feet!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Vacation and progress

Well, I'm finally back from a week-long vacation in the Pacific Northwest. It all started with Stitches Midwest on Friday afternoon here in Rosemont, which was quite an experience! There were a whole bunch of vendors from across the country selling just about anything and everything related to knitting and crocheting. We picked up a whole bunch of beautiful sock yarn as well as a beautiful African basket to put it all in!

That same day, we drove down to Bloomington, Indiana for Sugar Hill 2005, put on by the Bloomington Old-Time Music and Dance Group. Sugar Hill is one of our favorite weekends because it is where we first started playing for contra dances. This year, we played a hour-long set on Friday night, and then we played another because no one had signed up for the next slot. Our fiddler friend Martha (from Stringdancer) was there and joined us on the second set. It was a great time, and we were the hit of the evening! We poked around Bloomington and Nashville on Saturday, then danced a bit Saturday evening before retiring for the 6 AM drive back to Chicago the next morning.

We managed to get back to Chicago in time to catch a cab for a noon flight out to Seattle. We had a delicious seafood dinner at Elliott's followed by a nice walk around downtown. The next morning, we headed over to the Pike Place Market to buy some produce, including some of the most delicious peaches I've ever tasted. We then drove down to Portland, had lunch with my second cousin in Hillsboro, and eventually found ourselves in Rockaway Beach on the coast, where we spent the rest of the week with friends, their two kids, and both sets of grandparents. We played games, hiked, went skim-boarding, canoed, and made s'mores, among other things. Our excursions included a trip to Tillamook for ice cream and dinner supplies (wild coho salmon was only $7 a pound!), and a drive up to Cannon Beach (for the quilt and yarn stores).

We drove back to Portland on Friday, where we took lots of pictures at the Washington Park Rose Garden, had a "pirate" dinner at Salvador Molly's, and spent the evening at historic Edgefield playing cribbage and drinking too much. On Saturday, we checked out Lint, a yarn shop in the Pearl district. It was a very nice yarn store, and I give special kudos to them for selling some solid-colored sock yarn, which is almost impossible to find without going online.

The rest of Saturday included another trip to Pike Place Market (where we picked up some salmon and crabs for Sunday's dinner back in Chicago), and contra dancing in Tacoma. It was a very nice dance, and I was impressed at the average dancing caliber and the high number of youth there. Sunday morning, we reached the airport by 4:45 AM. I've never seen so many people at an airport so early! We eventually got back and had that salmon and crab dinner at a friend's house.

Over vacation, I finished the barter socks! They are pending trial by the wearer-to-be to ensure snugness, then I will take the pictures. I also got the first of the bowtie socks completed and am now plowing through the second. Pictures to come for those, too!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

New Bowtie Socks

Okay, so I'm at the boring part of a bunch of projects. The barter socks are on the foot, and the intarsia section is done on the first argyle. Sometimes you just want to knit something interesting. So my wife handed me the second Barbara Walker's Stitch Treasury (original edition) and suggested I make up a pattern from there.

So I found a nice pattern out of there that produces little bowties. I decided to try this out on some manly-looking Sockotta, and, as I don't own any hand-knit cotton socks yet, I thought it would be nice to wear them when I finish. The pattern involves knitting into the stitch below. It took me a while to figure out that this actually meant knitting into both the stitch below and the top one. It was a few rows before I realized that the big, ugly ladder hanging off the front wasn't actually correct. I backed those out and am now on the right path.

It wasn't until I started knitting that I noticed that the pattern out of the book was submitted by a lady from Oak Park, where I am currently living. It's a small world after all! I wonder if she still lives here.

Ahhh, much better!

Some of you may have noticed the Cabled and Bobbled Hat on my unfinished project list. Well, this got put on the back burner back at the beginning of the year for several reasons. The first was that I started getting massively into socks. The second was that the directions were starting to drive me batty! It is a fiber trends pattern that is broken up into several fragments, which looks essentially like this:

Pattern A:
Row 1: blah
Row 16: blah

Pattern B:
Row 1: blah
Row 16: blah

Row 1 (WS): p5, work Pattern B over 13 stitches, k4, work Pattern A over 7 stitches, p5.
Row 2: k5, work Pattern A over 7 stitches, k4, work Pattern B over 13 stitches, k5.
Row 4: blah

Repeat rows 1-4 3 more times (16 rows each), then repeat the 16-row pattern 5 more times.

Not only was I getting frustrated from my eyes bouncing back and forth between sections on every row, I was losing tons of time. Additionally, I was counting my stitches heavily, since following pattern directions like this gives me little sense of how the stitches relate to one another, which increases my chances for mistakes.

I took about an hour last night and converted the whole thing to a chart using universal symbols. I am now amazingly fast and much less frustrated. I should've done this sooner!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Intarsia tips

I'm actually almost done with the intarsia portion of this sock! It's been quite an experience. Since I realized that I learned how to do intarsia using only Internet resources, I feel like I should list a few tips that I think could be very helpful to the beginning intarsia person.

  • Use long strands of yarn instead of bobbins. While I didn't use bobbins to compare techniques, I could see why they would function only to get in the way. Being able to pull the working yarn through the tangled dangle below has proven to be invaluable countless numbers of times.
  • Despite what some people think, you can do intarsia-in-the-round, and I would say that it is almost as easy as doing flat intarsia. You also have the added advantage of a much flatter seam, and only a seam where the intarsia work is (instead of down the entire garment).
  • You only have to cut strands of yarn for every other color change. I suppose this depends on your project, but this works perfectly for the argyles. They have color progression like this: black, orange, black, blue, black. So the orange and blue are isolated and don't ever need to be cut. You could just leave them on the ball and pull the black ends around them without fear of tangling. Granted, if you had a much more complex intarsia piece, this might not be feasible!
  • The technique of the "old" strand going over the "new" strand when you switch colors only seems to make sense half the time. If you're confused, just drop both yarns, lift up the old, and bring the new one under it. I'm not even sure if it makes a difference in these cases, but it is best to be consistent, as this gets you into good habits.
  • If you're doing intarsia-in-the-round, counting as you knit helps to make sure you have the right number of stitches. It's easy to forget to increase at the beginning of the round or decrease at the end (or accidentally increase between a stitch which had two yarns - where I was joining up a new strand).
  • If part of the pattern looks really delicate or intricate, forget about it for now. Just knit background color and duplicate stitch it in later. The Xs in my argyles will be duplicate stitched when I'm done with the sock.
  • Intarsia is slow, so understand this up front and you won't be disappointed in your rate of progress. It does seem to be getting faster now that I've done it for a bit, but I get the feeling that it's still going to be considerably slower than plain old knitting, or even stranded knitting for that matter.

That's all I can think of for now.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Argyle Socks Update

Well, I finished the first diamonds, and I'm really happy with the way it's turning out.

Here you can see a complete diamond.

The sock will look more like this from the front.

So, yeah. Intarsia is a bit fussy, and it's definitely a bit slow, but it's actually kind of fun. My wife is really impressed with how they are turning out and now wants me to knit her a pair. I figure she can pick out the yarn at Stitches Midwest, which is in just over a week's time!

It's hot here, and I just got back from my 6 A.M. group cycle class. Ergh. At work today, we're having some weird outing with my boss's boss's team over at Navy Pier. I think I was supposed to bring my family or something, but, well... that didn't happen. Anyways, it's an excuse to get out of the office for a bit.