Wednesday, March 20, 2013

These Socks were Made for Traveling

So if you haven't heard from other sources, I should tell you that we just got back from a big trip to Alberta, to the Jasper and Banff National Parks. We went to celebrate our 12-1/2 wedding anniversary. (It's a Dutch thing.) (Yes, it's real.) It was fabulous.

But this is a knitting blog, so I will show you the anniversary socks I started for Troy. Note that I started them on our anniversary trip. Just as celebratory but without the pressure of having to finish them for a particular date! (Tricky, aren't I?)

I've showed you the yarn I bought for Troy's socks before:
I bought it on my road trip to Grand Rapids (Jenison) in December. It's got some alpaca in it, which will hopefully make it "soft" enough for Troy to wear. (He's really not sure he'll be able to wear wool socks. I'm making them anyway, just in case he loves them. That puts me at risk of having to make more, but I'll chance it.)

The wool is sort of a mustard brown, which usually isn't a pleasant colour, but it's a heather with lots of yellow, blue, and red bits in it like heathers are wont to have. Troy is a sucker for heathers. (That's with a small "h.") Yes, by now I know his weaknesses! I didn't realize it at the time, but I have since learned that in the Netherlands, 12-1/2 is the copper anniversary, and I think this wool could be construed to be sort of copper-y in colour. Nice coincidence!

I shopped around for a pattern and even printed one that I brought with me, but after talking to Troy, I decided to do a "plain" ribbed pair. At the first airport wait, I cast on the short row toe and got going:
(All those bags sticking out of my carry on are different projects I brought with me. I didn't work on many of them, but you never know!)

In the first flight I got the toe done:
Next wait at the second airport, and I've started the 2x2 ribbing:
That's my Kindle in the background. A couple months ago I was proclaiming to anyone that would listen that they needed to make a reader that could switch from written text to audio book for knitters. (I can't read and knit and have a good time all at the same time.) Then I discovered Kindle's text-to-voice. It's not the most nuanced reading, but it helps a lot if you skim along the words while it's reading. I'm enjoying it.

On the next flight, I continued up the foot, working in near darkness. The lady next to me was trying to sleep. She was amazed I was allowed to take my knitting on the plane. I ignored her. I only had to turn the light on twice to pick up a dropped stitch.
This plane was equipped to receive satellite TV. I watched the Leaf's game with the off-duty pilot next to me. This picture happened to catch the Leaf's game-tying score. Very exciting. Unfortunately they lost in the shoot-out. The pilot beside me didn't say so, but he was probably happy because despite living in Calgary, he is a Habs fan. He is also a goalie so he winced audibly every time an "easy" goal was scored. He sympathized with the net minders on any team.

The next day, I knit a little more in the car as we were leaving Calgary.
Here's a better one to show what we were driving into:
Gorgeous, right?

Once we actually got into the mountains, I couldn't knit anymore. I was too busy craning my neck and looking through all the windows I could. I love these mountains.

In the evenings, however, I managed to do a little knitting. On Sunday, I made Troy try it on:
This was about the time I was going to start the gusset, and I wanted to check the length.

He happily (and with a little too much surprise in his voice) said, "They fit!" In his defence, the ribbing is a little deceptive because it pulls the sock in when it's not on the foot and makes it look much narrower than it is.

It occurred to me that ribbing is having your cake and eating it too. Because it pulls in, it will fit a narrower foot than the same number of stitches in stocking stitch. But because you move the yarn from front to back between the ribs, you actually use more yarn so there's more stretch and it will fit a bigger foot than the same number of stitches in stocking stitch would fit. Isn't that breaking some law of physics?

At the end of the week, I had him try it on again:
Here I was judging whether I could start the heel yet. Almost there! Troy said they felt very good. I made him do the happy toe dance. It is mandatory when trying on socks-in-progress. (Optional when wearing the completed sock, but sometimes you can't help yourself.)

On the way home, I worked on them in the Calgary airport. Here the heel is finished:
I did some shaping to the sole stitches and then knit up the heel flap, decreasing the gusset stitches on the way. To reinforced the back of the heel, I slipped every other stitch on every row. This pulls the stitches in, as I think you can see here:
Compare the top and bottom portions. The top part
pulls in because only every other stitch is knit. (The
alternating stitches are slipped with the yarn in back.)
On the back side, this results in the yarn making horizontal bars:
Now the slipped stitch portion is on the bottom of
the picture.
This is like an extra layer behind the stitches and helps to make the sock more durable. I think it also gives a little extra cushion there.

I got as far as about an inch done on the leg and haven't worked on it since getting home. (Vacation's over.) I also need to have Troy try it on again to make sure the leg isn't too narrow. Of course, I'll be doing the 2x2 ribbing all the way around so I do have a little leeway...

Ok, one mountain shot, just for fun:
This is in Jasper, taken from one of the main streets. Yup, that could be the view from your living room or office.

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