Sunday, October 31, 2010

Socktober Success!!

Yeah! I did it!

One month dubbed Socktober. One pair of socks:
Project Stats
: 1 Oct '10
Finished: 31 Oct '10
Pattern: Leyburn by Erin (PepperKnit)
Materials: Noro Kuyeon Sock,
colour 150, 1 skein ($10)
Don't they look pretty? I really love this yarn. If you look at the colours in the socks starting at the toes, you can see that my socks would have almost matched. (The right one above has a little more grey at the beginning.) BUT with the knot at the left heel my colour pattern was interrupted and so they don't match. Or they don't matchy match. Of course they obviously go together so that's matching enough for me.

And the knot caused me to get two shots of the bright aqua blue that I love on the left sock. Ok, I can live with that.
The second sock went much faster than the first.
1. I didn't have to undo the toe and the first 4 inches of the leg like I did on the first.
2. Related to #1, I had done the stitch pattern about a thousand times already and was starting to know it pretty well.
3. I think I took a couple more lunch breaks at work which I used for knitting.
4. I got serious this weekend and knit like it was the end of Socktober and I really wanted to finish the socks I had started.
All of that helps.
I'm very excited to wear my socks tomorrow and am busy planning what outfit will best show them off. Troy suggested Saran wrap (arguing it would not clash with the socks and that there's nothing there to distract from the socks. I begged to differ.) His second suggestion was shorts (if I insisted on clothing) but I don't think that will be happening either. Whatever it is I do find to wear, feel free to stare at my socks as long as you want. I won't even say, "Hey buddy, my eyes are up here..."
Back to the knitting...I can heartily endorse this pattern. It's well written and produces a lovely pair of socks. The stitch pattern is not stretchy and does require a rather precise fit. You may need to experiment with different needle sizes as I did.
These socks used a short row toe which I am enjoying more and more. Easy, quick and smooth--it doesn't produce the bulky looking decrease/increase lines that a regular toe has. I also used a short row heel which I used to dislike intensely but am beginning to appreciate. I think, in part, because I am learning how to adjust the heel to fit better. (My first short row heels didn't provide enough room around the foot at that crucial widest part.)

I did this heel over 31 stitches instead of the recommended 25 and did more rows than most as well. I don't know if I have a particularly big heel or if I have to make that adjustment because my foot is quite narrow, but in any case it seems to have helped.

Of course the yarn itself really makes these socks sing. I can't take any credit for that. My favourite LYS doesn't carry Noro and I probably won't go looking for it. But if it "falls into my lap" as this one did, I certainly will enjoy it. Knots and all.

I have some good memories associated with making these socks as well. I got to knit the leg of the first one while on a walk with my sister and niece on a perfect fall day. I knit the toe of the second sock while on a hayride with friends at a church picnic on another perfect fall day. I wasn't worried about straw on my socks as lots of yarn comes with grass still on/in it, but I was a little terrified of losing my bamboo needle in the loose straw!

Here's hoping I make some good memories while wearing them too!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Socktober Progress Report

Clickety Clack, reporting in.

I have finished my first sock. It fits wonderfully and I love it.

I can show you the leg here:

Or maybe here:
Or maybe here:

I don't know what's up with Blogger tonight but I couldn't upload pictures the easy way. And however I figured out how to do it, the formatting is not working. Please bear with me. (Be so distracted by the beauty of the sock that you don't notice the crappy formatting.)

I have started the second sock and am reminded again how much more quickly things go when you've figured out how to do them already. (I.e. I don't need to repeat the mistakes and/or "wrong paths" of the first one.)

I am almost done turning the heel.

I had a knot come up in the yarn 2/3 through the heel so I have a sudden colour change again. Since all these colours are sort of muted and don't make a ready pattern, it's not a big deal. (And I'm kind of relaxed about these things.)

I've been arguing with myself about whether I should let myself be surprised by the stripe colours coming up or take a sneak peak. (While I would never call knitting "boring," there are times it gives you a lot of free brain time to wondering about obscure things if you have a wont to do so.)

Anyway, the top of the ball is rather messy and it's very hard to tell what's coming up, except in a very general sense. (Like "sometime in the future" I'll be knitting that nice dark forest green.) This is the side that I normally see as I knit.

The "bottom" of the ball that I rarely see, however, is very neat and you can see the greens, greys, purples and blues coming, each in turn.

No, now that I think about it: I prefer surprises. It's like magic the way the colour slowly reveals itself to you. There's no sudden jump; it takes almost 1/2 inch to change from one colour to the next.

I'm still hoping to finish this pair in Socktober, but it'll be a close race between my needles and the calendar.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lead or Follow Scarf Finished

I have finished my blue lace scarf. The poor, oft-neglected, never top-of-the-list scarf.

With a recipient in mind and a deadline imposed (and a lot of knitting already behind me) I managed to get it knit to a length I liked, cast off, and blocked.

It turned out to not be quite long enough to wrap all the way around the neck, but it'll lay quite nicely with both ends in front.

The lace weight yarn is quite thin, but the scarf is wide enough that it still has bulk enough to be warm. The lace is very soft to the touch. (It is Mmmmmalabrigo, after all.)

I had my mother model it for me before she took it with her. A little ironic since I originally bought the blue lace with her in mind. But she didn't respond too much to the scarf when I showed it to her a year or two ago, and it's a little fussy for her. (Hand wash? Pin flat to dry? Nuh-uh...)

Project Stats
: 26 Jul '09
Finished: 18 Sep '10
Pattern: Lead or Follow by Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer ($6)
Materials: Malabrigo Lace in Jewel Blue 32, 1 skein ($12)

I have a conflicted relationship with lace projects. I appreciate their symmetry and geometric properties, but don't usually like the final object as a wardrobe item. Plus once you have the pattern sussed out, it can be a real slog to get the item done!!

On the other hand, I am constantly drawn to lace yarns because of their feel, colours and economy. (You can make a lot of projects from one skein which may be as little as $10--even for the "good stuff.") There have been several lately at Red Purl I've had to reluctantly put down. I'm trying to be practical..

Friday, October 15, 2010

Socktober Check In

We're half way through Socktober, so I should be done one sock, right? If only!

I was doing pretty well. I was flying through the beautiful colours of the Noro. (You can see it's not really variegated which is what I thought looking at the ball. It's a typical long colour run of Noro.)
I had figured out my tension on the floats so things were going well.

I turned a heel (short-row, in this case):
(Isn't it funny how the colour changed so dramatically just after I turned the corner of the heel? Now it practically looks like I sewed two pieces together!)

Then I was zipping along on the leg:
But after quite a bit of denial, I finally had to admit that the leg was too wide.

It really was too big. So I have ripped it back to the heel and am starting that part again. (There are some increases after the heel in the pattern; I just did fewer of them.)

But before I ripped it back, I weighed the two parts--the sock and the ball. I was starting to get worried about just how tall I could make the first sock while leaving enough for the second sock.

This actually delayed progress for quite a number of days. I can't find my scale. So the poor sock sat around languishing. Finally I gave in and used Troy's scale in the garage. The one he's always telling me to use. It was quite dirty, but I managed.

Anyway, the good news, and I'll type this for the record, is that the sock weighed about 30 grams and the ball weighed 75. That means there's plenty of wool--yeah!!

Now that I'm back on track, I'm hoping this sock will fly again. And hopefully I'm taking good enough notes that the second one won't need as much ripping back!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Little Discovery

So I was "strolling" around Ravelry a while ago looking at projects, and I came across this fabulous bag:
I just think she did a great job. (Click on the picture to go to her blog post about it.) But of course, when I saw what she did, I thought maybe I can do David Bowie.

Around the same time as seeing this bag which is done in Tunisian crochet, I read about a technique of pixelating a photograph to convert it to a knitting pattern. Seeing the method laid out convinced me that I could maybe get this to work.

My first thought was to use an image from this Bowie poster that I have:
But I thought it might be a little too detailed to capture in a two-toned image. Plus, Bowie is completely over that Ziggy stage (he was over it for most of the time that he was doing the tour, actually) so why should I keep  him in it?

I started looking on the web and settled on this pic:
I know, I know he's smoking. But let's be honest, smoking is cool...when you do it right. (If only it weren't so expensive and didn't kill you...big sigh...) I find the image very appealing, it's at a good age, it's not too stagey and shows Bowie, I think, not one of his many characters.

Now imagine, I am looking through a knitting book in the store and I come across a project where the author has an image of a "poster boy" on the side of a bag. I look at the image:
I am completely bowled over. That is the picture of David Bowie. Really...look again:
It's reversed, but it's the same image. I find it interesting that the author never identifies it as Bowie. But it's got to be, don't you think?

I am writing about all this now because I just got the book the pattern is in Stitch 'N Bitch Nation from the library. I've been stalking it at my LYS and Hobby Lobby and finally clued in that I could request it from the state library network and peruse it for a while before buying. I've been enjoying it, even though a lot of the patterns are a little too "slap dash" for me.

Now to decide if I have time to make this bag or if I have to just dream about it. Looking through the book in more detail now, I see that the bag is not felted (which I thought it was) and that makes it somewhat flimsy and floppy. I'm considering redoing the design so I can felt it, but then I get tired out just thinking about it. I may just knit it as is, but with nice leather handles instead of the knit ones.

Meanwhile I had fun looking at Bowie images. I thought this one might be a good one:
I could do just his right eye in the bright blue. (His other eye is darker...they don't match.)

This is another nice one:
Much younger one there! So fresh.

Alright, I'm going to go back to looking through my pattern book...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Marriage of Unequals

I started the colourwork of my tunic. (Finally got through the seven inches of plain knitting across the body and sleeves. That was a chore.)

I'm not sure how it's going to work out. The cream alpaca is a little thinner than the grey which isn't necessarily such a big deal. But it's also so much smoother and "slippery-er." In addition, it doesn't have the stretch which helps colourwork work out.

So we have:
no stretch
has give
"sticky" (like velcro, not like honey)

The grey has all the attributes you want in a wool for colourwork. The cream none. No wait, the cream has a nice halo. That's lovely in colourwork.

It's been a challenge to get the pattern to come out even. You have to be right on with a yarn like that; it's not forgiving at all. Plus this design, being an "oversize" fair isle pattern, has long sections of a single colour. Because the cream alpaca is what it is, I can't catch the long floats between stitches--the grey shows right through. So I'm trying to get it done with long floats. If they become a problem, I can always sew them down after the fact.

All these issues have moved this project definitely outside of "comfort knitting." This (and the onset of "Socktober") have slowed progress considerably. But it hasn't stopped completely.

Can I become master of the wool and make it do my bidding, or will I be defeated? We shall see...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Guess What Month It is...

Give up? It's SOCKtober, of course!! That month in which knitters and those privileged to received socks from knitters celebrate the no-longer-so-humble article of clothing that is the sock.

It's not an overly organized event; you pretty much just do what you want whether it be knitting as many as you can, knitting challenging socks, knitting special socks, or just reveling in wearing your hand knit socks.

Kirsten Kapur at Through the Loops! is doing another mystery sock KAL this year. I thought about joining because it would be fun but didn't quite feel up to committing. You know I could never just knit the sock; it would mean extra blogging, extra time on Ravelry chatting with all the other KAL-ers and feeling the pressure to finish each clue before the next one came out.

Instead I decided to knit a pattern I liked with some yarn I got at Red Purl at the Green Sale last spring. Noro Kuyeon Sock yarn (70% wool/30% nylon) in some lovely shades of blue and blue/purple. A lot of people go heel* crazy for anything Noro so I had to try it out.

The pattern, Leyburn, was discovered on the Yarn Harlot's blog. (The specific post is here but that kind of dumps you into the middle of the whole throwing the first pitch story, so I'll let you know the end of that story is here. Even though it has nothing to do with knitting, it's very much worth a read.) Leyburn was "July" in her self-imposed sock-of-the-month club.

Back to the pattern itself, I think the slip stitch pattern is great for showing off the colours in a variegated yarn. It also should fit the bill as far as being easy to memorize but still interesting.

I cast on last night. And I managed to finish the short-row toe. A nice beginning.

This morning I got past the initial increases and started the lattice pattern.
About eight rows in I tried it on and it is way too big.

This is kind of a good thing. The whole time I was knitting, I felt like the needles called for in the pattern were too big for the yarn. It made the fabric too thin; I like my socks denser. But I was following the pattern. My yarn was close in size to the yarn called for in the pattern so I had no reason to change anything. But now I do. And I will.

Another reason I need to restart this sock is that the lattice pattern isn't working out very well for me. The pattern warns you not to pull the strands too tight or they will make the sock pucker and make it hard to get your foot in there.

But apparently I overcompensated because my loops are way way too loose:
Can you make it out on that picture? (You can always click it to enbiggen.) I will have to pull those strands a lot snugger as I go along next time. I've done the lattice pattern before (for instance on the recent pink hat heel socks I made) but those patterns knit more rows between the making of the loop and the picking it up. That would eat up a lot more slack.

In any case, I will be starting over because the only thing worse than redoing something is keeping it when it's wrong.

I'm also considering making the toe less pointy. I like longer toes, but not quite this pointy. I'll have to think about it because you can't have one without the other!

I have to add that after working on the Summit shawl and Truffle tunic exclusively for the last few weeks, it is such a nice break to have something small on the needles! Light, wieldy, and lightning fast!!

*heel (pronounce like "hail") is a dutch word meaning "very." My mother and grandmother used it, however, when the english "very" wasn't enough. This is the superlative of very. And it was always emphasized and drawn out for about three words' worth: Susie is haaaaaaail crazy for this or that.

May I suggest?

I Say! or at least I did once...