Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Wow

What a nice afternoon. I took the historic F line over to ImagiKnit. The trip was far from beautiful, but the yarn store was fabulous! So many yarns! I bought a few, including a stripy Regia that was on sale (it has yellow in it, and it's for a friend who politely asked for a bit of yellow in his socks). I also found Addis in 0s. After much deliberation, I opted to get 1 40" and try Magic Loop. I looked at the booklet a bit, and it looks fairly simple.

I also got Lorna's Laces in Watercolor. Wow, is that ever beautiful. I figured that if there ever were a time to spend a little extra on sock yarn, now was the time. I hope it will cheer my wife up when she sees it.

After my yarn and materials purchases, I headed across the street to the tea shop. I had a pot of something called Darjeeling Kalicha, which had a really deep, nutty taste to it. Good by itself, but also good with milk and turbinado sugar. I had a plate of cookies to complement.

As I was waiting for the J train to come, I took a look around. I was standing in a place called Dolores Park, and for the first time I really felt like I was in San Francisco. The sky was cloudless, it was breezy, and the park was spectacular. You could see Mission High School, a fabulous piece of architecture. Everything was green and cheery and genuine. I must've had a huge smile painted on my face.

I think I want to see the sunset over the ocean tonight, if it's not too difficult to get there. I have a friend that hopefully knows of a nice beach somewhere. I really wish my wife were here.

A milestone

So I finished the entrelac portion of my second entrelac sock last night. What a pain-in-the-<insert expletive here> technique! Glad that part is over with, though. Now it's onto the rest of the leg and the heel using my new unvention.

Off to ImaginKnit this afternoon. Woo hoo!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

A Brief Absence

I will be in San Francisco this upcoming week for the JavaOne conference, so I suspect my posts will be sparse at best for awhile.

Then it's off to a lovely contra dancing weekend in Indianapolis, including a side trip to the Mass Ave. Knit Shop. The last time I was there, I wasn't yet into knitting socks, but I do remember a large variety of yarns. My wife assures me that I will enjoy it immensely.

I'm on the entrelacky portion of sock #2. Argh! It seems like it takes forever to get through. Tonight, my finished entrelac sock attracted the attention of the flute player in our band. I was explaining basic stranded technique, and he seemed intrigued. This is the same guy I turned onto knitting and socks a few months ago. I bet it won't be long until he's doing colorway socks.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

A new web ring

I did it. I decided to start a new web ring called Knitting In Motion, whose members all enjoy knitting while involved in self-propulsion. The idea is that you can knit and walk, jog, run, stand in line, or a combination of these and/or other self-propulsive activities. Knitting in your car or on an airplane doesn't count.

By the way, knitting while walking isn't that hard. Obviously, your project needs to be somewhat portable and the section you're working on not too complicated (i.e. a pattern you can memorize). It works really well for me on my commute when I walk from the train station to the office.

I wonder if anyone else knits and self propels who has a blog, or if this ring will forever have only 1 site to it. Well, anyways... it's worth a shot.

Friday, June 24, 2005

XHTML

For the computer geeks out there, you will now be proud to know that the XHTML 1.0-compliant claim my blog was making is now actually true. The template actually wasn't perfect, and there was an issue with a Blogger tag, but now that it is resolved, I'm home free.

So Guido and his lads from W3C won't be coming over to my house to break my knees, now.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

First Entrelac Sock Done!

Actually, I'm not even sure if it should be called an entrelac sock anymore, since there are only 5 rows of rectangles in the sock. It's turned more into my creative-color-work-that-also-has-entrelac sock.

The colors have really grown on me. They really weren't what I wanted at the beginning, but I think it's turned out all right in the end. I'll have to see how well the second sock goes together. They will probably end up being slightly fraternal, but probably not dramatically so.

It actually looks quite impressive, all things considered. The verdict is still out on color knitting, I think. All of those ends to weave in gets highly annoying, but it does end up looking quite cool.

I was informed that you can weave in the ends as you go, by weaving in the tail as you knit. I tried that and thought it was great... until I put the sock on and all of them came out (one to the point of the stitch dropping and laddering) because of the stretch. Apparently you can correct this problem by weaving them in one way then reversing the weave on itself. This "locks" the strand so it doesn't go anywhere when the sock stretches, but this also means I have to get out my tapestry needle, anyways. So I abandoned the idea of "weaving" as I go after the ribbing became a miserable failure.

And yes, the digital camera is coming soon! I have my eye on a Canon PowerShot A95. Anyone have recommendations? I will finally be able to take frequent pictures of my socks... and, of course, my cute wife! And my cute wife in the cute socks I knit her...

Monday, June 20, 2005

New Inspirations

So I bought a book entitled Socks, Socks, Socks, which publishes 70 patterns from a previous Knitter's Magazine competition. Wow! It's really refreshing to see some completely new sock ideas... everything from lace to color to just plain wacky.

The sideways socks look really interesting, as the verigation travels from toe to leg rather than around the foot. One of the socks is called a Maple Swirl sock, which looks absolutely mind-boggling to do, as its pattern looks more like a score written by John Cage than a knitting chart. There's some really neat-looking intarsia socks, too, including one with giant grandfather clocks on the side.

Some of the stranded patterns gave me some ideas for the entrelac socks, now that I'm on the foot and am supposed to be creative and stuff with color. There's a neat-looking chart that looks a bit like entrelac but is flat, so I think I may try that for a few rounds.

On the commute this morning, I actually got no knitting done at all, as I was simply too busy browsing through this book.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

It Works!

Wow... the heel flap actually worked! I have a beautiful salt-and-pepper heel, normal-sized gusset stitches to pick up, and heel stitch! I can hardly believe it!

I realized that you could swap rows 1 and 2 with rows 3 and 4, and then you could apply this technique when doing two-color stranded work, without necessarily having to cut the yarn.

I wonder if I should post my discovery to Socknitters or something.

Friday, June 17, 2005

An unvention?

The salt-and-pepper heel from the fair isle socks bothered me for a couple of reasons. First of all, the slipped stitches on the side were huge, and this resulted in holes. Secondly, it was a stockinette heel, which caused my gusset to be insubstantial.

So I was trying to think of a way to combine heel stitch (or eye-of-partridge stitch) with this salt-and-pepper coloring pattern but was failing miserably. The slipping of the previous row's stitches always seemed to get in the way, thus rendering one of the yarns on the wrong side of the work.

Then it hit me. Why can't one of the yarns sometimes be on the wrong side of the work? After all, we're doing the heel back-and-forth, not in the round. If I combine the "festive" style of knitting (i.e. slipping the stitches I'm not currently knitting, saving them for the other strand), I actually could do heel stitch.

This technique is a bit mind-boggling, at first, because on the first row of the pattern you are knitting two different strands in opposing directions.

The following will give you eye-of-partridge stitch, with all of the slipped stitches being Color B, and all of the recessed stitches being Color A. Connect Color A ready to start a knit row, and connect Color B ready to start a purl row.

Row 1A, Color A (RS): *k1,sl1*, repeat * to end
Row 1B, Color B (WS): *p1,sl1*, repeat * to end
Row 2, Color A (WS): *sl1,p1*, repeat from * to last 2 sts, sl2
Row 3A, Color A (RS): *sl1,k1*, repeat from * to end
Row 3B, Color B (RS): *k1,sl1*, repeat from * to end
Row 4, Color A (WS): sl2, *p1,sl1*, repeat from * to end

I think rows 3A and 3B could be stranded and done at the same time, but if you do this, be careful you keep the floats loose, otherwise this row will bunch. And always slip purlwise regardless of the side you're on.

Just so you know, I haven't tried this yet, so I have no idea if this will work, or if it will resolve the large gusset stitch issue I was having with the salt-and-pepper heel. I plan on trying this on my commute home. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Indecision

Wow, so now that my Columbine Peaks socks are finished, I am faced with indecision. I tried a few different patterns out for my next socks, but none of them look good with the type of yarn I'm using. This morning, facing the possibility that I might not have a project on the L, I took practically all of the yarn I could find and shoved it into my little backpack.

On the train, I decided to continue with the entrelac socks. Since the lower portion of the leg was abhorrently tight, I increased 4 stitches around and plan on doing the stranded knitting part a little bit looser. This should make the sock a lot more wearable.

I was going to start the argyle socks using intarsia-in-the-round, but I'm wondering if my MC is going to be too thin, so I may have to invest in a new skein of sport-weight something.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Columbine Peak Socks




Pattern: Columbine Peaks, Socks Soar on Two Circulars
Needles: 2 24" Addi Turbos (US 1)
Yarn: Regia Stretch
Special Technique: 2 socks on 2 circs, lace
Started: May 18, 2005
Completed: June 14, 2005
Recipient: Wife

My wife has a tendency to get a lot of socks knitted for her, because she likes wearing fun colors, and her feet are much smaller than mine. These were the first socks I did at the same time on 2 circulars. It feels great to close both toes at the same time! The yarn I chose only 70% wool (as opposed to 75% to 80% I usually work with), and you can really feel the difference as the yarn slides over the fingers.

I kept the pattern going across the instep a bit more than instructed, however, as I wanted the "mountain view" to be readily apparent to the oncoming person viewing the sock (assuming, of course, my wife is wearing her Birks).


See the pretty lacy bits.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Photos!

Finally, I have some photos of socks! Thanks to Thorn for her generosity, both for the camera time and the time she sent composing the e-mails to me. They really help give life to this site!

Most of the pictures have been added to the back entries of the finished sock records (see the links under the Finished Socks heading in the sidebar).

For your viewing pleasure, here is a whole pile of hand-knitted socks, many of them compliments of my wife, with an alpaca sitting on top of them.
a big pile of socks with an alpaca on top

Friday, June 10, 2005

2 socks at once

So, doing the 2 socks on 2 circs was interesting for awhile, back when there was all kinds of heel turning and gusset decreasing. Now I am at the foot and it seems like it is taking forever. At least I have an instep pattern to break up the tedium. I have to admit, though, that it will be nice to close both toes at once and finish these guys at the same time.

The first time I tried this technique, I found that all of my ends kept tangling and twisting, and it seemed I spent more time trying to unwrench the skein ends from the needles than actually knitting. Now that I've got the feel for this technique, I think I've solved this problem. I think I'd still be wary of doing stranded knitting this way (4 skeins at once...argh!). I've also heard that you can work 2 socks from the same skein: one from the end and one from the center. Frankly, the prospects of this sound frightening, especially considering you would be relying on the yarn from the center to behave itself, and they often don't. You would have no recourse if you ran into trouble, either, for you couldn't solve the problem by rolling it up into a ball.

There's a bit more futzing about between socks and at the ends than for just one sock, so I can't help but think that this technique is slower. I also found that having all of the heel and gusset stitches on one needle initially proved very unwieldy, as the initial ratio of instep to heel-and-gusset stitches was almost 2 to 1. When you have that much of a curve on the cabled part of the needle, it's much harder to get all of them onto the stiff part smoothly. Cat Bordhi knits her socks in profile (usually), and this keeps the number of stitches even on both needles throughout the gusset. Unfortunately, you can't employ this technique with 2 socks, short of migrating one of them off the circs and re-arranging the stitches independently.

There are advantages, however, to doing 2 socks at once. For one, the socks should have the exact same number of rows without any conscious thought put into it. This should guarantee equal fitting (assuming I measured properly). It also should cure Second Sock Syndrome (SSS), though this has yet to be an issue for me. Of course, if I screw up the pattern, I've screwed it up for both socks, most likely. I guess it's more likely to look like a "design element" than an error this way, though.

So, I think the verdict is still out on this technique.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Columbine Peak progress

Continuing with the peak socks, I'm about ready to turn the heels. I'm doing the Eye of Partridge heel stitch for the first time. It's supposed to give that nice-looking honeycomb look to the heel, right? Well, it probably does in a normal situation, but with this quickly-changing verigated yarn, you can't tell there are slipped stitches at all, let alone a honeycomb pattern. So... blah. I think it would work better with a thicker yarn, too. I will probably stick to plain old heel stitch from now on.

My wife and I visited some friends in Madison over the weekend. They have a digital camera, so I brought all of the socks along to capture their mugs. We ended up shooting them on the washer lid and on the bathroom floor. Once I get them, I will post a few!

I now get to add another item to my "Knitting While...." list: canoeing. My wife and her friend let me sit in the middle of their canoe on Lake Wingra. While they paddled around, I worked on the peak socks. That brings the life list to:

  • Knitting While Walking
  • Knitting While On The Train
  • Knitting While Stuck in Traffic
  • Knitting While Standing In Line
  • Knitting While On The Phone
  • Knitting While Canoeing

Friday, June 03, 2005

Questions / Comments I get asked when knitting socks in public

  • "How long does it take for you to make one of those?"
  • "Is that a mitten?"
  • "That's really cool!"
  • "That looks really hard."
  • "How long have you been doing that?"
  • "I would like a sweater, please."
  • "Is that crochet?"
  • "I could never learn to do that."
  • "How do you get the colors to do that [referring to self-striping yarn]?"
  • *blank stare*

"Yo, Afro!"

This was the phrase used to get my attention on the L yesterday. The person then asked me if I was making mittens. "No, they're socks," I replied. My hair is rather curly and gets kind of bushy when long, so it was an appropriate way to address me, I suppose.

It reminded me of the time I was walking down State Street in Madison with my wife, and some college-aged fella shouts at me, "Nice 'fro, yo!"

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Fantastic Fair Isle Socks


Pattern: Judy's Two Color Kickback Socks (sort of)
Needles: 2 24" Addi Turbos (US 2)
Special Technique: Stranded knitting
Started: May 2005
Completed: June 1, 2005
Recipient: Me

These socks are for my feet and are my first completed pair for myself. I drew from techniques described in Judy's Two-Color Kick Back Cybersocks, an online class on the Socknitters website. So far, these have been my most creative socks. I used my own fair-isle pattern and modified it to fit the striping motif on the sock. I also substituted heel types, opting for a salt-and-pepper heel (which I probably wouldn't do again, as it was a lot of trouble.)

I think I finally loosened up my gauge enough to prevent the puckering I was experiencing on the first sock. As a result, the second sock is a bit bigger than the first, but they still fit.

I used a medium red and medium brown for this sock. They remind me a bit of Boy Scout socks... only with fair-isle patterning! They're nice and cushy and will probably be more like slippers than socks.


You can see the salt-and-pepper heel better a bit closer up.


A closer look at the pattern, adapted from Sheila MacGregor's Fair Isle Patterns book.


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Fair Isles Complete!

Finally, finally... they are done. I even got a friend of mine to take a few digital pics of them. Hopefully I will get them in my inbox soon so that I can post them for everyone to see. (And here is one)



Now I'm plowing through Cat Bordhi's Columbine Peaks socks. The yarn is Regia Stretch and is turning out to be quite nice. It's verigated without definite striping... kinda splotchy. It feels a bit rough, as there is a bit more synthetic fiber content in this yarn, but I hope that it will soften once washed.

So I discovered the Socknitter's sock-a-month (SAM) lists. They apparently do 5 different socks every other month (beginner, intermediate, advanced, holiday, and colorworks). That and there is the six-sock-knitalong as well. So many choices! Of course, maybe I should just forget about all of them and just do my own thing. The Sockguy's Harvest socks sound kind of fun, and I haven't done any cabled socks yet. My wife tried some cabled socks last year and absolutely hated doing it. It was driving her so crazy she frogged the entire thing. This is a simpler cable, though, so I'm hoping it will be enjoyable rather than tedious.

I think I'm going to finish the peak socks, then fix the toe-up sock that caused me so much grief, and then figure out my direction once I have those out of the way. The entrelac socks I'm back-burnering until further notice. I'm sure I'll get them done someday, but right now isn't the time.