The Syncopated Alpaca Socks

It’s another Finished Object Friday, and although the Tour de Fleece is in full swing, the FO I am sharing with you today is not a spinning or plying project. It’s a pair of socks.

I call these socks The Syncopated Alpaca Socks because they are my take on Mary Henninger’s Syncopation Socks and are knitted in a scrumptious alpaca yarn from Berroco, Ultra Alpaca Fine. There was no color number or name on the label, so I have no idea what the color is called. I only know that my pictures don’t do it justice.

The Syncopated Alpaca Socks in all their glory!

The original Syncopation Socks are knitted toe-up with a gusset heel. I knitted mine cuff-down with a short row heel and finished them off with a round toe.

For the heel, I gave the Fish Lips Kiss Heel a try. I didn’t do all the measuring, nor did I make the cardboard cut-out because it simply didn’t seem necessary. Since I was knitting the socks cuff down, I simply started the heel when the leg of the sock was the length I wanted it to be. The FLKH is knitted with an inch of plain knitting on the heel stitches of the sock while maintaining the patterning on the instep stitches before beginning the short rows. This is a matter of aesthetics and is something I have done in the past when knitting my usual short-row heels.

The FLKH uses a method for making short rows that doesn’t involve wrapping stitches. Instead, you manipulate stitches from the row below the working stitch, which gives you a pair of stitches that are eventually knitted or purled together. These are called “twin stitches,” and this method of making short rows is sometimes called shadow wrap or shadow twin short rows. When all the decrease and increase rows have been worked, you end up with a very nicely-shaped and well-fitting heel. Sadly, the line of short row stitches isn’t very attractive.

My Fish Lips Kiss Heel close up.

This heel design really does fit better than any other short-row heel I have tried. I normally knit short-row heels on 60% of the stitches on my needles in order to accommodate my high instep. However, I worked this heel on just 50% of the stitches, and it fits me better than any heel I have ever tried. I think the secret is that the way the short rows are worked, you end up with an extra round between the decrease rows and the increase rows. This creates a more rounded heel pocket and hence a better fit.

Although I really don’t like the appearance of the short rows themselves, the fantastic fit more than makes up for the ugly. This is definitely my new go-to short row heel. I’ll take fit over beauty anytime when it comes to my feet. 🙂

HOCKEY!

The NHL and the NHLPA have ratified the new collective bargaining agreement, and the 48-game (shortened) regular season begins Saturday. I’m trembling in anticipation. I cannot wait to see Sid Crosby, Geno Malkin, James Neal, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, Chris Kunitz, Tyler Kennedy, Craig Adams, and all the other Penguins back on the ice.

The season opener is in Philly against the F%$ers, and it should be interesting. The teams have had very short training camps. But these days, hockey players spend the off season staying in shape and even improving their physical conditioning, and some of the players have been playing in other leagues, so it shouldn’t take long for everyone to get up to speed. To put the icing on the cake, Center Ice is free for the rest of the month, so there will be lots of games to watch.

Watching hockey means knitting, but the knitting has to be mindless because hockey is a very fast sport. You can easily miss something great in the blink of an eye. Of course, with today’s technology, you can just back up and watch it over. You don’t even have to wait for an instant replay. But I like to have mindless knitting in hand for hockey games, so I have been busy casting on more socks.

Not all socks are mindless knitting, but my favorite, go-to stitch patterns for socks are all pretty mindless, so socks are a good choice for knitting while watching sports on TV. Since the casting on, either cuff down or toe up, is one of the few parts of knitting a sock that requires some concentration and close attention, I like to cast on ahead of time. Having multiple socks OTN means that if I get to a place that requires my attention, like picking up gusset stitches, I can simply put the sock down and pick up another to work on. Then I can pick up the gusset stitches or whatever during the intermission if I want to continue working on that particular sock.

Anyway, here are the socks I have OTN just in time for the opening of the NHL season, and what better day to share them with you than WIP Wednesday!

The second Reversible Rib sock is well under way.

The second Revisible Rib sock wants to grow up to be just like her big sister.

The second Revisible Rib sock wants to grow up to be just like her big sister.

And I have started a sock with the softest sock yarn ever, Pagewood Farms Alyeska, which is 80% wool, 10 % Nylon, and, wait for it…10% cashmere. It’s just 2 x 2 ribbing right now, but I will be working the leg in double garter stitch, which is just two rounds of 2 x 2 and two rounds of plain knit, mindless knitting that does wonders with handpainted yarn.

Just a cuff at this point

Just a cuff at this point

And then there is this sock that is destined for the DH. The yarn is Shaeffer Anne in a lovely blue and green color way that I simply am incapable of capturing in a photograph. The blues are like sapphires, the greens like emeralds. Anne comes in a skein that weighs a hefty 4 oz/120g and contains a generous 560 yards, so it’s perfect for making a pair of man-sized socks. Even so, I’m not taking any chances of coming up short on the second sock. I’m knitting these socks toe-up.

A toe is born!

A toe is born!

The stitch pattern I’m using is stolen borrowed from Hedgerow Socks by Jane Cochran, but I’m thinking about ripping it out and switching to another pattern, maybe 3 x 2 ribbing, because I don’t think this yarn is showing the pattern very well and I don’t think the pattern does anything for the yarn. Hedgerow is a heavily textured pattern that shows best with a solid or semi-solid yarn, and I’m afraid the combination of dark colors and frequent color changes obscures the pattern and the pattern obscures the beauty of the yarn. Maybe I should save Hedgerow for another yarn. 😀

Last, but certainly not least…

LET’S GO PENS!

Reversible Ribs Socks

I’ve made some serious progress on Reversible Ribs #1. I finished the heel flap, turned the heel, picked up the gusset stitches, and finished the gusset decreases. I decided to try putting the decreases on the sole of the sock rather than along the instep. I’m very pleased with the results.

Sock #1 stretched on a sock blocker

Sock #1 stretched on a sock blocker

A close-up shot of the heel on the blocker

A close-up shot of the heel on the blocker

The V-shaped gusset close up

The V-shaped gusset close up

See how the sock curves to cup the heel?

See how the sock curves to cup the heel?

I’m thrilled with how nicely this heel fits, and it looks pretty, too.

I also want to try doing the gusset decreases on either side of the center heel stitch(es) and see whether the fit is as good. My only reservation about putting the decreases on the sole of the foot is my concern whether the two lines of decreases will be noticeable when I am standing on them. The decreases have pretty much double thickness because two stitches have been knitted together. Some people are so sensitive that they can feel the purl bumps on the bottoms of their feet and therefore knit the soles of their socks in reverse stocking stitch so the purl bumps are on the outside. I am not one of them, so I’m hopeful that I won’t notice the lines of decreases under my heel. I sure hope I don’t have a problem with it because I love how this heel fits and looks, and I want to be able to use it again and again.