Friday, May 27, 2005

More ruminants!

So now I'm knitting a llama for a friend. She got wind of the alpaca I made last week, and now she wants her own ruminant. I should start advertising soon.

In other news, I finally got past the gusset on fair isle sock #2, and while I still think I may have messed it up a bit, it's close enough. In retrospect, I think the salt-and-pepper heel was more trouble than it was worth. Next time, I think I will definitely do heel stitch, too. The plain stockinette version doesn't scrunch up at all, which leaves you either with a heel flap that's too long or a 3-stitch gusset on either side that's difficult to get your foot through.

I think I will fix my toe-up sock after I finish the fair isles to get that out of the way. Then the Columbine Peak socks, then the entrelac socks that I can't seem to get into my head in a satisfactory manner. Or perhaps the entrelac sock will simply be an "art" sock, without a buddy.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

frustrations abound

For some reason, this second fair-isle sock is just killing me. This is now the third time I'm turning the heel. The first time I was having a lot of trouble using both colors, so the second time I just used the brown... but I should have done it on 1s instead of 2s, so the join on the side of the heel is really loose. A little bit of wear on any one of those exposed bars and the whole sock would be done for! So now I'm re-doing it on 1s. The heel flap as a bit too long, so I pulled a few rows off of that while I was at it. So the deadline is shot, but hey... stuff happens.

The last of my entrelac sock class was last night. I think the sock is going to be too tight, and I really don't care for the way I did the heel flap. Grr. The sock just isn't turning out the way I expected, maybe because I didn't know what to expect. I may end up ripping out back to the entrelac portion and adding a few stitches.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

My type of knitting needles...


You are interchangeable. Fun, free, and into everything, you've got every eventuality covered and every opportunity just has to be taken. Every fiber is wonderful, and every day is a new beginning. You are good at so many things, it's amazing, but you can easily lose your place and forget to show up. They have row counters for people like you!

What kind of knitting needles are you?

So that's what I did!

I recently commented that my first fair-isle sock heel flap had abnormally large pickup loops? I figured out why. I was doing a salt-and-pepper heel, and the yarn that was included as part of the slipped stitch on either end also included the small float. So when I went to pick these stitches up, the floats pulled through and I ended up with abhorrently large pick up loops. The remedy, I think, is to stop the salt-and-pepper coloring a few stitches before the end so that you don't get a float in there as part of your slipped stitch.

There were almost no guidelines about how to do a salt-and-pepper heel flap on the cyberclass web site, and I was unable to find a whole lot of suggestions on the web relating to this issue. So my recommendation, if you're going to do a salt-and-pepper heel flap, would be to always make sure that there are at least 2 stitches of the same color on either end of the flap rows. That way, the heel flap pick up should behave as with any other heel flap. Perhaps another way would be to tack down the float behind the second to last stitch, but I don't know if that would work as well.

So, the result is that I will have slightly fraternal socks... but oh well. It's not a big deal. :)

Monday, May 23, 2005

an alpaca

My wife and I were perusing through several yarn stores over the weekend, and we came across a pattern to knit a felted alpaca / llama. In my excitement, I purchased the pattern and almost immediately started working on it. Now we have a little stuffed, felted alpaca drying on the dining room table.

So it's not a sock, and you can't wear it on your feet... but it is dang cute.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Second fair-isle sock started

After a false start this morning, I have now successfully cast on the second fair isle sock. The target date is next Thursday.

10 Reasons I like to knit socks

  1. Knitting-in-the-round. The continuity of motion along with ease of reading patterns in the round provides me with endless enjoyment.
  2. No piecing, sewing or blocking required. I prefer knitting to these activities anyway. And no, Kitchener stitch isn't sewing; it's grafting! :-) And some may call me masochistic, but I actually enjoy it.
  3. Approach the same project from two angles. I like the contrast between figuring out the pattern and being creative on sock #1, then timing myself and setting deadlines for sock #2. I also like to take away lessons learned from doing sock #1 so that I have a second chance to fix it.
  4. Doing the math to tailor the pattern to fit. I guess this goes for most garment projects, but I feel really comfortable altering stitch counts with socks.
  5. Brevity. Knitting a pair of socks, even on small needles, is not a huge time commitment. I would say I've been averaging a pair every 3-4 weeks or so.
  6. Subtlety. I can wear them and make a statement, but I'm making more of a subtle statement than if I knit a sweater. (This also means that my mistakes are more subtle, too!)
  7. Most patterns are easy to memorize. I'm not a huge fan of really complicated, 72-row pattern repeats that I have no hope of memorizing. Socks lend themselves very well to short, repetitious patterns which I can easily remember and therefore knit anywhere (and probably carry on a perfectly good conversation).
  8. Plug-N-Play components. I can mix and match just about every part of a sock with a different one. If I don't like heel stitch, I can change it to something else, or shape the heel to something different on a whim. Same with the toe, the leg instep, the gusset, the ribbing, and the cast on.
  9. Self-striping yarns. I can get an amazing amount of color with no effort at all. Yes, you can knit other things with self-striping yarns, but for the striping to be a decent-sized stripe, it pretty much has to be the width of an average sock.
  10. No slippers needed in the winter. I used to be a slipper person, but ever since I discovered the joy of hand-knit socks, I don't need them at all!

Weird Brain Phenomenon

So yesterday, it occurred to me that I probably knitted about 5 hours. Here's how I reckon it: an hour on the commute, a half-hour walking to lunch, another half-hour scattered about through the workday, fifteen minutes while walking to the knitting class, two hours during the knitting class, and an hour at home after the knitting class (maybe more).

I have found that prolonged activity doing something very specific and intense causes my brain to go into "drunk" mode. This first occurred to me several years ago, when my wife (then girlfriend) came over for a visit immediately after I had spent the past three hours fiddling along with Louis Boudreault recordings (without a break). About ten minutes before she arrived, my brain had had enough and sent me into a stimulation overflow, so I put down the fiddle, collapsed onto the couch, and stared at the ceiling. When she came over, we walked over to the grocery store, and it was very obvious to her that I was acting as if I were drunk. Slurred speech, stumbly steps, random comments... the whole bit.

So, this happened to me again last night, only it wasn't quite as pronounced as was the fiddling episode. She thought I was drunk again, and I told her that I wasn't drunk but rather had knitted too much. It was more of a dazed feeling than anything else, and it wasn't really unpleasant. I wonder if this is a common phenomenon among knitters.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Columbine Peak Socks started

I started Cat Bordhi's Columbine Peak socks today. It features a 12-stitch lace pattern whose shapes resemble mountain tops. I'm using a Regia 4-ply stretch yarn which is dyed kind of psychidelically, not resulting in anything as definitive as stripes, but rather more of a color wash. Very neat looking.

I finished the entrelac portion of the entrelac socks yesterday, in time for class 2 of 3 tonight. I have some questions to ask about the color patterning that happens in the rest of the socks.

I'm not really sold on entrelac. Yes, it's addictive, but it's annoyingly addictive... kind of like The Hampster Dance. It's a cool concept, but it's finicky, slow, and a bit kludgy. Not to mention all of those annoying picked up stitches you have to sort of fudge at the corners. It also takes forever to finish a round, and I think my mind likes speed when it comes to rounds per unit of time. I don't know if all of that is worth the look, (which is, admittedly, pretty cool). I'll comment on this when I do the second sock.

I took the liberty of substituting SSK for Sl1 K1 PSSO, which I've gathered is a pretty universal substitute. I wasn't really sure what to substitute for Sl1 K2tog PSSO... (SSSK?), so, that being only at the last stitch on the last row of triangles, I just left it.

The outstanding projects are starting to pile up: the toe-up sock I have to fix, the second stranded sock, the second entrelac sock, and now that I've started the columbine peaks... that's 4 unpaired socks! I have my work cut out for me.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

First stranded sock done, entrelac socks started

So the first stranded sock is done. It was all knitted by Thursday morning, but it's grafted and off the needles now. I had to drop the needle size down to 1s to make the toe fit correctly (after having first done it on 2s... argh, frogging). There's also a small hole at the gusset, and the part between the 2 circulars puckers a bit more noticeably than elsewhere, but maybe if I block the heck out of it, it will be fine. Maybe I don't need to block at all, though, as the pucker disappears when I put it on.

The entrelac sock is coming along pretty well. The colors weren't quite what I was hoping for, but I had very little solid-colored sock yarn stash, so I was kind of at the mercy of what was available in the shop. I wanted to do autumnal colors, but it didn't quite turn out that way. I ended up with three different shades of green, the brown (same yarn from the stranded sock), the red from the Superman sock, and this rust-colored yellow wool/silk blend (I was hoping for a brighter yellow, but that really wasn't possible unless I wanted to go pastel... bleah). Of the three greens, my favorite is the dark-green 100% alpaca yarn. It's so soft and feels so wonderful on the needles. The other green is a blackish-green / white cotton blend that I think is going to end up being the main color. And the last green is this olivey-green felted tweed yarn that I'm not sure I like in this context.

It's really interesting to knit with so many different types of raw materials in the same sock. I hope my feet don't get confused about how much heat to trap. The striping work is interesting, too. I learned a few good tips about that from the class and ways to avoid the purl lines on the new color bleeding when you're doing ribbing.

So now I understand why entrelac can't be done on 2 circs. You have to work "between" the joints where the needles are so often, and knitting stitches from needle A onto needle B is impossible when you've only got 2 needles. You need the angle that a third can provide you to do that. Even if you could figure out a way to do it on 2 circs, it wouldn't buy you anything, as the needle transfer time isn't really the factor slowing you down. I guess some things are best knitted with traditional dpns.

Well, it's getting late, and it's definitely time to tear myself away from the entrelac rectangles.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Closing in on the toe

Okay, so this is taking some calculation. I have 78 sts on the sock currently (40 instep, 38 heel). Since 78 is not a multiple of 4, I'm guessing that I need to do the first round as a 2 st decrease instead of a 4 st decrease. Do I decrease on the instep or the sole side?

I'm also concerned that somehow my calculations are going to be wrong and this isn't going to fit. I should probably run a lifeline in case I have to frog back to 78, just for some insurance.

In other sock news, this entrelac sock class requires 6 colors! Wow... that's a lot of color. I think I'm going to do an autumnal design: red, yellow, brown, green, orange, maybe deep purple...

Well, back to work.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

two stranded sock progress

So, I'm working this stranded sock pattern kind of in the spirit of Judy's Kick Back Socks Cyber class (on Sock Knitters). It's my first experience with stranded knitting, and it's been interesting. The fabric is puckering slightly, even though I've been very careful about keeping the floats loose. I'm hoping that blocking it will resolve this problem (fingers crossed).

One interesting challenge that I ran into rather unexpectedly occurred when I decided to deviate from the patterns Judy recommended. I opted for this fair-isle pattern from Sheila McGregor, adapting it to preserve the stripes found in the kick back socks and adding a background padding row to either side:


Since there wasn't background "whitespace" between the creeping diagonal lines, this led to some interesting issues at the seam. I didn't realize this would be a problem until I started the pattern, got a few rounds into it, and it looked like this:

-------|-xx--- 8|7
--xx---|xx---- 7|6
-xx----|x----x 6|5
xx----x|--xx-- 5|4
---xx--|---xx- 4|3
----xx-|----xx 3|2
x----xx|------ 2|1
------x|------ 1|0

This confused me a bit. After thinking about it for awhile, I realized that the color bleed on round 2 was because I was trying to use the jogless jog technique when round 2 switched back to the other color! So the jog was still eliminated but the pattern bled into the background padding. The other issue was the split of the pattern in round 5, since the seam split this down the middle. I tried shift where the seam would occur on some charts and that caused even more issues. It was clear that Round 2 still needed to start with the xx pattern.

So after much brooding, I decided that the first x on Round 2 wasn't that necessary and could be a background color instead. This is much less noticeable than the color bleed. So the amended pattern made it look like this:

-------|-xx--- 8|7
--xx---|xx---- 7|6
-xx---x|x----x 6|5
xx-----|--xx-- 5|4
---xx--|---xx- 4|3
----xx-|----xx 3|2
x----x-|------ 2|1
-------|------ 1|0

So, I ended up swapping the pattern for the one column right near the seam on Round 5 with the one on Round 6 and dropping the first x in Round 2. This seemed to take clear advantage of the background buffer.

Then I did the salt-and-pepper heel, which was nice, but my slipped pickup stitches were absolutely gigantic. I had holes the size of dimes after I picked up the gusset stitches! So I backed that out and picked up in the row below the holes to get a tight join. I have no idea what I was doing wrong... maybe I wasn't pulling tightly enough when I slipped the first stitch on the heel flap? Looking at right (i.e. not wrong) side from the back of the sock, the stitches were much huger on the left than on the right... about twice as big.

The gusset patterning went really smoothly, and I thought she explained that well. The pattern worked out perfectly and I am almost to the toe.

First entry

Well, here it is: my knitting addiction, manifest in a knitting blog.

I'm one of those male knitters who is completely out in the open about my addiction. I knit on the train, in waiting areas, when I come home from work, before I leave for work... even while walking!

I started out by knitting a two-color area rug in garter stitch, mainly because my wife took up the project and got bored with it. So, being curious about knitting (and wanting to be helpful), I finished it. Then I knitted a few scarves and a couple of cat toys before settling on my current passion at the beginning of this year... socks.

First, it was plain socks on bamboo DPNs. Then I moved to metal needles. Next was 2 circs. Plain ribbed socks, toe-up socks, lace socks, fair-isle socks. I just can't get enough! I'm currently completing my first fair-isle socks and will be taking an entrelac sock class starting tomorrow. Somewhere down the line will come intarsia-in-the-round in the form of argyle socks, but I am going to wait at least until I'm done with the fair isles.

My wife and I have tossed around the idea of a digital camera, so when we finally end up getting that, I will be able to post pictures.