Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Next Project

Hand-dyed blue
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
On May 15th, I started my next project--a pair of socks. The interesting thing about THESE particular socks, is that they are largely my own design. They are not ENTIRELY my own design. In fact the pattern is based largely off of one by Pepperknits called Anastasia. Only I didn't like the short-row toe. And I didn't like the heel... and I wanted them to be taller...

The journey to these socks is a long one. I've been "lurking" on a group on Ravelry called Love to Dye, which is a group of people that dye yarn and roving by various methods. Several of them dye massive lots for sock clubs and retail sale. Many of them are Etsy shop-owners. And then there are those of us that dabble out of curiosity. After lurking and reading and thinking, and being inspired by a local spinner/dyer (Janis, the owner of Dyelots here in town) I decided to make a "Sock Block" which I talked about a lot in February and thus won't tell you all about it yet again.

I wanted a very simple pattern to knit my socks, but not a plain vanilla sock. It needed a little lace or cabling just to give it interest. I considered the Coriolis pattern from Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters, but I didn't feel like jumping right into that pattern. I decided I wanted some very specific things.

It needed to be toe-up, to use ALL of the gradient I dyed, especially since I wasn't able to keep the end of it as pale as I wanted it to be (I wanted the block to fade completely to white, but the superwash sucked up the dye a lot faster than I thought it would). I wanted a heel-flap, which I've never done with a toe-up sock. And I wanted that flap to use slip-stitches for reinforcement.

My gauge worked out to 60 sts for the ease I wanted. I started with "Judy's Magic Cast-On", which is about as slick of a trick for a toe-up-sock as you can use. I began the Anastasia pattern across the top of the foot, but when I got to the heel, I ran into a couple of problems. I could not, for the life of me, find a slip-stitch toe-up heel-flap pattern for a 60-stitch sock (my gussets took me up to 70 sts total). I found one that I thought would work and on my first try, somehow I had a misfiring of the brain and made the heel flap with no slipped stitches... WHAT IS THE POINT? Might as well have done a short-row heel. I finally extrapolated from a couple of other patterns and went back and figured it out. I think my heel is offset by maybe one stitch on one side, but I resolved the hole that created by picking up the bar between two stitches and knitting into it, twisted and knitting that together with the next stitch. Thus, no more hole.

My left sock is done more than half-way up the leg. I'm now contemplating increases for the calf. While I consider that little challenge, I've ripped out my plain heel on the right sock and am re-turning it and knitting it with slipped stitches. That should give me plenty of time to figure out exactly how to finish the socks!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

It's done! It's done!

Icosa Ball done
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
The Icosa Ball is DONE!! YIPPEE!!

I decided near the end to put in a zipper along one seam rather than graft it shut over the ball. It felt like a wise choice, considering that two kids in my house could make a total mess of this massive amount of work. The zipper doesn't go down the middle of the graft, tho. On my drive home after discussing it with my Monday night knitting group, I had a "brilliant" idea. Instead I ran it down right next to the green purls on two triangles, and on the other side I knit the band between them the full five rows of stockinette (this replaces two rows on both sides of stockinette with a fifth grafted row between). It worked great! You can hardly find the zipper now. It's a bit of a wrestling match to get the ball in and out again, but that's just fine.

Apex Graft
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
I made a couple of other changes to this pattern as well. The apexes were to be grafted shut by picking up ten stitches and then pulling yarn through them twice. I picked up twenty (one for each knit row and skipping the grafted row) and then K2Tog for one round. II then pulled the yarn through the remaining stitches twice and knotted it off. I think it gives it a smoother appearance.

Now, I can finally jump into some socks!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Icosa Ball - The finish line is in sight!

Icosa Ball - 75%
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
Here we are again with the Icosa Ball! I can't say I've ever started-and-stopped- and-started-again any project as much as I have this one. Lots of little things have slipped into the middle of it. I think that some of it is because of its modular nature. It is very easy between creating triangles to pop off and do some other project.

Because of that I've been very worried it would end up in la-la land for an extended period of time. This morning I took it out and finished off the three open apexes (apeces?) and pulled it onto the pillow. I think it's going to look great!

On the list left to do: five triangles, ten grafts and six apexes. Maybe I'll be able to take it to my knitting group on Monday the 19th!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sweater Sampler

Sweater Sampler
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
It's done! I ran out of the black yarn, but it wasn't a tragedy. Rather than doing the bind-offs in the dark color, I simply did them in the white. There isn't any color-contrast visually, but it's not like I'm going to wear the thing! I also twisted some extra sock yarn into the cord for the top, rather than knitting an I-Cord. I'm sure the I-Cord would be more attractive. It would also be repetitive and unnecessarily annoying and boring.

Instead, this project was a lot of fun to knit; it was very easy and fast. I especially enjoyed getting to the colorwork. It made me extremely happy to have finished the Baby Kimono not so long ago. I was able to work the black using Continental style knitting, and continue knitting with the white in English style. The color-knitting went very, very fast. I had no problem with tension. There is no puckering, or loose strands. I even figured out a nice method to tack down the white yarn in the back as I went along.

There are a LOT more pictures at Flickr, so be sure to follow the link!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Progress and Procrastination

Sweater Sampler
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
I've finally managed more progress on the Icosa Ball! I just don't have pictures of it. What I did snap off real quickly was a shot of Jacqueline Fee's Sweater Sampler that I started to work on in-between triangles. It's nice to work on some larger yarn/needles and in the round as well. It is easy work, and fast. The sampler is interesting as well, although most of it so far hasn't pushed me with anything new. The color-work isn't until the very end.

I had a 'soft goal' that I wouldn't start any new project until I finished five triangles for the Icosa Ball. I did sneak in a bit early on that with the sampler... but I do have five more done and grafted onto the main work!! I also started to close the apex-holes on the portions already fully grafted. I don't like to second-guess the designer, but I am closing them slightly different. His instructions state to pick up 10 stitches around the whole and graft it shut--not very obvious what to do there. Since there are five rows per side of the pentagonal hole (one is the grafted 'row') I picked up a stitch from each of the four knit rows for a total of 20 stitches. Then I k2tog around, pulled the yarn through the remaining stitches twice, and pulled it tight. I really like the look of it and it matches the rest of the seams, as well as the cast-on at the center of each triangle.

I took the time today to pull what is done over the pillow-form and I'm just not liking the match. So I doubled up some thread and gathered the top and bottom of the pillow tighter. I hope it will reduce the size just enough to fit better, because I really don't want to unstuff the whole thing and sew the seams again to make the entire pillow smaller. With any luck it will do the trick as I finish and graft on the last five triangles.