Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mmmalabrigo March

Mmmalabrigo March (you have to add the "m"s because it is just so mmm mmm good) is an event on Ravelry wherein the participants celebrate all things Malabrigo.

It is crazy popular and there are a lot of events. General categories like "sweater" or "accessory" but then also "most cast on," "most yards knit," and "very variegated" (a special case of "best use of color"). And there are lots and lots of knit-a-longs of specific patterns.

The only real rule (besides having to use Malibrigo yarns) is that you have to cast on and finish within the month of March. People are really avid Malabrigo fans, but I have mostly watched from afar and enjoyed the virtual parade of projects.

But about a week into March I bought a half priced skein of Mal sock and realized that I had little enough on the needles that I could join in. (By "little enough" I mean I still had the pink Tshirt and Zig Zag skirt going, but they were both nearing the end.)

This was my first experience knitting with Mal sock. (I think I've only used Mal worsted.) What a dream it is! When I'm away from Mal, I wonder what the big deal is, and then when I work with it again I can't imagine how I ever forgot! This is not to say that I think it is the be all and end all, but it makes a pretty persuasive argument.

Soon after the toe, I made my first major change to the
pattern. Looking at the first two repeats of the sock on the
left, the leaves are leaning one way or the other. I couldn't
take it and changed the pattern to have symmetric leaves.
I felt no need to take out what I had done to make it all
match.
I shopped around for a pattern as I mentioned here, and I really like the combination. I know a leaf pattern would traditionally be done in a green, but I like the look of this. It reminds me of white asparagus, or other blanched "green" things. But maybe that's just me.

I realized while making these socks that I seldom actually follow sock patterns. I would not be the person to ask if a pattern was any good. I read through the pattern and I mine from that what the author intended. And then I go off and do my own toe. Lately it's a short-row toe and for this pair I did my first Sherman toe--no wrapping and still no holes. I really like it. New default toe.

Once the toe is done, I start to follow the pattern, but soon have it memorized so I don't need to refer to the chart or instructions. By the time I get to the heel, I do my own heel (this time a Sherman heel--a lot like a Sherman toe), and then scoot up the leg making as many changes as necessary to make the pattern match better above the heel section and grow in circumference in proportion to my calf. And then I finish with lots of ribbing and my "invisible" kitchenered cast off. By that time the pattern has been long jettisoned and I am just having fun with a sock. "How was the pattern?" "Oh it was great," I'll say. "Just how I like to make a sock!" The only trouble might be if you didn't take enough notes to make the second sock match!

Can you see the Sherman heel? It has the classic look of a short row
heel with its diagonal turn line. But with no wraps at the turns, it's
more efficient to do and produces a less bulky result.

Going up the leg, I added an extra yarn over row after two repeats of the pattern. This added two stitches to each of the four needles and made the leaves a little larger. Two repeats later I did it again.

This was a very subtle and effective way to increase the circumference of the leg without breaking up the flow of the pattern. Normally I just change needle size, moving to larger needles as I go up the leg, but I like that I didn't have to give up any firmness of the fabric. I'm thinking that will decrease the likely hood of the socks sagging.

Once again, I finished with the "invisible" Kitchener bind off. (Yes, I'm still planning to put up a video, but it's not done yet.) I shouldn't even put quotes around "invisible." It really is. Those stitches look like they either come from nothing, or they go up and just stop, depending on which way you think the knitting is done. And it's good and stretchy too if you don't pull it too tight while you're doing it.

Another change I made was the way the leaves change. The original pattern just had one of the leaves fade into ribbing right in the middle of the leaf. It didn't work for me. So I added stitches in the purl field rather than with yarn overs and started ribbing as enough stitches were created. I think it came out great.

These were the socks that wouldn't stop--they went on forever. But the pattern is completely addicting. With a 10 row repeat, you were always either just starting or just finishing a leaf. Nothing like that to keep me going!

And I want to make sure my socks are good and long. I really hate cold feet, cold ankles, and cold legs! I find it drafty where I work (ok, I find it drafty everywhere), so I don't see the point in knitting my own socks too short!

Project Stats
Started
: 9 Mar '12
Finished: 27 Mar '12
Pattern: Spring Sprout by Jeannie Cartmel ($6)
Materials: Malabrigo sock, Ochre 803, all of a skein ($10)
I ended up with very little of the ball left, but I had measured the first sock (49 grams) and the remaining ball (51 grams) and figured I was ok. And I was...never a doubt in my mind.

Plus I had a back up plan just in case.

But I knew I wouldn't need it...
And now Mmmalibrigo March is over and all there is to do is wait to see if I won a prize. Oh yes! There are prizes. Yarny goodness!! I'll let you know...

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