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!

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