Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Washcloth Saga

Knitting Machine
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
Back in February I picked up a hobby knitting machine by Singer. The Machine Knitters group on Ravelry was a huge help, talking about different options available--most of which were far outside my need and price-range. Even the Sweater Machine available at Ben Franklin (and JoAnne Fabrics) was far more than I really wanted.

I wasn't really sure if machine knitting would be a "thing" for me. After all, I do enjoy the process of knitting. Even more I enjoy the finished product, but using the machine illustrates to me that I do really like the tactile activity of knitting.

Still, that said, it's a handy bit of equipment.

I love my hand-knit washcloths. In fact, a washcloth is the very first project I ever made. My grandmother and mother visited soon after I moved to Oregon, and they brought with them bamboo needles and Peaches 'n' Cream yarn, and a new knitter was created. Unfortunately, my nice, clean washcloths seem to end up in a ball in the bottom of the sink far too often. It doesn't take long before they start to stink. Vinegar and bleach do some to kill the smell, but invariably it comes back.

Machine-Knit Washcloth
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
Today I figured I'd try a machine-knit washcloth. It took about ten minutes to get the hang of the machine again. After that it was hardly another ten before I was binding it off and cleaning up the cast-on edge. It may or may not take over my hand-knit cloths for a time, until I run out of socks, shawls and other projects to finish that deserve more personal attention. A hand-knit washcloth still has more personality (and at my gauge is a bit firmer-made than this machine-knit version) and it doesn't take terribly long to make one. Still, it's time I'd prefer to put into other projects right now.

And maybe a in a couple more years I may manage to train DH to not leave my hand-knit goods balled up in the bottom of the sink!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fastest knit yet

First Leafling
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
I finally got off my duff and got back on track with my Sock Club socks for this year. I'm three months and two packages behind, and the next comes mid-July so it's certainly time to get going.

So it's happy for me that the March shipment was Socks that Rock in the Mediumweight style. Mediumweight comes in at a heavy fingering or perhaps Sport weight yarn. I haven't ever knit with Sport, so it's hard for me to say definitively. It is noticeably thicker than the Lightweight, tho, and makes a significantly different sock.

This colorway is called "Lucky" and arrived appropriately near St. Patrick's Day this year. It has a wonderful spring to it. I'm using size 2 (2.75mm) needles and they seem HUGE. It's amusing how relative our perceptions can be. I got used to working on 0s and now everything else seems really big in my hands. But going to 0s (from knitting hats on 11s) was pretty crazy, too!

Leafling cuff
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
The sock pattern is named "Leafling" and it meshes wonderfully with the colorway. There is a very subtle striping that could have easily been pooling or flashing. It would have been had I worked the sock over the suggested 60 stitches. However, after knitting the cuff it became clear that even the "small" size for this pattern was going to be huge.

The upside of being behind the rest of the club is that everyone else has already figured this stuff out. I was able to find someone else's (thingwhatsqueeks on Ravelry, are your ears burning?) commentary on working the sock over 54 stitches. While I could have figured it out myself, it went much faster to read her notes and jump in from there, especially with how well she wrote it up.

Leafling toe
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
Another user on Ravelry did a great modified toe, but I decided I didn't quite like it. So I made my own. The decreases for the toe start in the pattern itself and near the very end I added additional decreases on either side of the pattern. It came out lovely.

I'm already well into the second sock and anticipate finishing them this weekend.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

New Pathways for Sock Knitters

Little Coriolis
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
Others have said it, and still more will, but Cat Bordhi is a genius. She spent the time, effort and research and deciphered entire new ways of putting socks together. Her techniques are still catching on around the sock-designing world and it is really fascinating to see the bits and pieces show up in patterns.

I very much enjoyed putting together her two pair of practice socks. They're sized for infants and done on DK-weight yarn (5 sts/inch) so calling it a fast knit is a vast understatement.

I've had a couple done for a while now, and decided to finish off the ball of yarn knitting the second sock of each so that they could be given away as a pair, rather than just sitting around doing "nothing" (other than looking darned cute). I used a single ball of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino (cashmere, merino, microfiber blend) in a periwinkle blue. It was the last ball of a particular dye lot at our LYS and they mark those down significantly--perfect for experimental knitting. The yarn is just luscious.

Little Sky
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
The book itself is pretty interesting and I recommend it as a good read--if you're the kind of person that likes to read knitting books that is! The side-panels are good resources of tips and tricks that can be taken into any other project. Cat's left and right increases are very easy once you get the hang of them, and quite attractive. Her method to conceal wraps works well and is explained with great images to convey all the details. I'm not sure the patterns themselves do a whole lot for me, but they're a lot of fun to look through!

The practice socks are entirely worth the effort. I'm pleased to have done them, as I've already put what I learned from them to use in my own designing, and in patterns I've received recently from other designers employ Cat's techniques.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pain and Humor under the Frog

Okay, so maybe the title makes no sense. I tend to get whimsical or poetic at odd moments and who knows if it translates.

My poor not-so-little Anastasia socks hit the frog pond once again this afternoon. I took them with me to share with friends at our usual Friday morning activity. All well and good. I put them on, strutted around, and then peeked down at the right sock and said, "Huh. Why are the back decreases here on the side of my leg? Let me just TWIST that around and... huh. That's not right."

So I took them off and gave it a good look and--sure enough--I put the calf decreases up the inside edge of my leg, instead of the back. They were 90-degrees off! ACK! It seems when I wasn't paying attention I chose the wrong pair of needles as the point of the 'heel' and just worked all my decreases without ever checking. Ooops.

I debated for a while. Could I possibly just wear them this way? It'd be humorous. I could show off my little mistake and laugh. Yah. Sure I could. When I got home, in when the needles just below the decreases and out came the yarn. What a shame, since I washed them yesterday as well. The yarn had its memory and it was QUITE crinkly. Still, re-knitting isn't so bad and I managed to get the whole cuff done in the course of the afternoon, getting a row or two in when the moment presented itself.

It's a good thing, because I really wanted to wear them tomorrow to go by the Black Sheep Gathering in town and show off my first almost-design!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Anastasia on a Misty Night!

Anastasia knee socks
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
I love finishing projects. There are times when I get bogged down and I just have to do something small and quick in order to get something DONE. Completion makes my day.

So, now my day is awesome! I finished the last eight rows of 2x2 ribbing on my Anastasia knee socks and bound off. I think I might have bound off knitwise on the first sock, and purlwise on the second, but right now I'm not going to think about it!! I put them on and then fiddled around trying to get a good picture with my camera. It's harder than it sounds like, getting angles and flash and focus to come together. My poor little remote died on me and it makes it that much trickier. Right now I'm focusing on a chair, hitting the "10-second-delay" and running to swap myself in for the chair. Woo.

The details:
I did not use a short-row toe, but rather Judy's Magic Cast-on. I'll be trying a short-row toe soon for a Rockin' Sock Club sock, but I've really enjoyed Judy's and I'm happy I used it here. I also took the reinforced heel used in's Widdershins sock, and a couple of other versions of the same heel I found elsewhere, and recalculated it for a 60-stitch sock (50 heel sts after gusset). I didn't do it quite right, but knew there might be a gap and when I finished the heel I simply picked up a stitch in-between my heel and instep on both sides and knit it together with the following stitch. Viola! No gap.

Calf decreasing
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
Starting mid-calf I put in one stitch in each pattern-section (between eyelets). That's four stitches in a round and approximately 1/2" increase in circumference. I did that three total times, at the end of the last three pattern repeats. Each pattern repeat goes up the leg 2" so it was a nice gradual increase.

I brought 1x1 twisted ribbing down into the spiral, giving the ribbing a saw-tooth transition against the spiral. It looks VERY nice. Then I ran out of yarn. At that point I switched over to Koigu KPPPM and did another few rows in the 1x1 ribbing.

Project Mosaic
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
To give the top a little extra bounce, I switched to 2x2 ribbing. I decrease two stitches every four rows, making for a pretty little pattern on the back of the calf. This countering of the earlier increases makes for a very shapely and well-fitting sock.

1. Anastasia knee socks, 2. Another pose, 3. Calf decreases, 4. Original Sock, 5. Foot detail, 6. Twisted rib cuff, 7. Hand-dyed "Misty Night", 8. Another glamour shot, 9. Knit Picks Bare Yarn sock-block

Monday, June 9, 2008

Frogging - Poor, poor Anastasia!

Anastasia has met her maker--me. I pulled back to the increase, completely frogging the cuff and transition. I'm not looking forward to re-knitting 1x1 twisted rib! But it just wasn't working. The sock slouched within minutes of its first trial. Her mate has the first increase at the 4th repeat of the pattern, and another at the start of the 5th repeat (the new transition).

I also found some yarn that perfectly matches the colors I dyed--which is frankly amazing. The downside is that it is Koigu KPPPM (is that really a downside?). Amusingly enough, one of the Koigu is twice the cost of the KnitPicks Bare. They also don't have exactly the same texture--but I'm going to go with it anyway. The Koigu is white and flecked with the whole range of shades of blue I dyed. I think it's going to look gorgeous as the cuff.

I'm going to take the left sock with me tonight to knit and see if I get to the end of the Bare and into Koigu. I have a new chart with plans to decrease and switch to a 2x2 rib at the top in order to cling around the knee and stay up. Here's hoping it works!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Twin Magic Slippers

Magic Slippers
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
A very good friend of mine saw my earlier baby slippers and asked very nicely if she couldn't get two pair for her friend, due to have twins in August. I, of course, said 'SURE!' and then promptly set about several other projects in the meantime (not the least of which was the Icosa Ball, and we all know how long THAT little project took!).

Fortunately, she's pretty relaxed about the whole thing, and I took pains to reassure her that they would be done.

However, I'm not sure these will work. Well, they'd work for me because the darned little slippers are cuter than a button! But they're not knit out of the sock yarn my friend bought specifically for the purpose. In fact, I might be taking that yarn back to the store if she likes these.

Magic Slippers
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
Instead, these four slippers are knit out of the remnants of my Little Twisted Socks (eggplant colored Reynolds Soft Sea Wool) and the leftover green from the Icosa Ball (ShibuiKnits Sock yarn in the Seaweed colorway). I got the idea from the fact that the Shibui is nearly the exact same color as the yarn she picked out, but there clearly wasn't enough of it left to make four full booties. The textures of the two yarns are significantly different. The Reynolds is slightly heavier fingering, and possibly even sport weight. Still, the two mesh wonderfully, since the heavier yarn does well as the 'sole' of a shoe.

I'm going to poke around and try and find the perfect buttons to finish these little lovely things off!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

One done!

Anastasia Knee Sock
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
... and the other nearly so. I knit these sequentially, and the second sock is done until the final repeat of the spiral, so there is only the spiral with increases, and the cuff left to knit. No second sock syndrome for me!

I'm really happy with how they've turned out. The sock is quite pretty. The yarn has a very 'tweeded' effect from dying the two strands next to each other. Where the strands touch, the dye doesn't take as much, leaving lighter spots throughout.

This sock is knit toe-up, starting with Judy's Magic Cast-On. The spiral pattern is from, called Anastasia. The gusset was made using Cat Bordhi's LLinc and LRinc, and the heel is a slip-stitch flap extrapolated from several other patterns. It's not quite right, but a couple of picked-up stitches on the last row closed a possible hole before it could be an issue.

The cuff is my own design. I didn't like how abrupt the cuff was in the Anastasia pattern, so I extended it down into the spiral pattern below, and went with a 1x1 twisted rib all the way to the top. The final spiral increases 1/2" and the rib another 1" to fit the calf.

Unfortunately they came out just one inch short of a true knee-sock. I may yet have to pick up the stitches at the top and use another yarn to extend them a bit further. I am thinking of decreasing at that point over the bulk of my calf and using a 2x2 rib to make it more elastic and keep the socks up. Just a test-wear of the one sock proves to me that as-is, it is going to be a challenge to keep them on.