Nuts To Knots

So, I started a pair of socks in Regia Design Line by Kaffe Fassett, which is a self-striping yarn. The yarn comes in 50g balls, and I wanted the socks to be identical twins, so I was very careful to begin sock #1 at the very start of a color change so that it would be simple to start sock #2 at the exact same place in the color sequence.

I decided on plain 2 x 2 rib socks because–self-striping yarn! Duh! I cast on and had knitted about two inches of the leg, and there it was. A big, old, ugly knot in the yarn. Knots are a fact of life in knitting. Normally they aren’t that big a deal. But this is self-striping yarn, and I’m planning to make the socks match, so this knot definitely throws a spanner in the works.

For the uninitiated, self-striping sock yarn is dyed in such a way that the different colors form stripes as you knit without the knitter having to change to a different yarn of a different color each time and having all those god-awful ends to weave in. When a knot appears, that means the color sequence will be thrown off, and maybe even reversed. If you aren’t going for totally symmetrical socks–and fraternal twins have many charms, I must say–a knot in the yarn isn’t a big deal. But when you want the socks to look the same, it’s a cosmic shake-up.

Fortunately, the knot appeared pretty early in the ball, so I just ripped out what I had knitted to the knot, found the beginning of the next complete color, and started over. I found the joy, for sure. It was smooth sailing all the way to the tip of the toe. No more knots in ball number one. YAY!

Regia Striped Rib Socks sock #1

Regia Striped Rib Socks sock #1

I pulled out the second ball of yarn, found the beginning of the appropriate color repeat, and cast on the second sock. As I knitted on the second sock, I was feeling pretty good because my socks were matching up perfectly. I was knitting along happily, and maybe a little smugly, and had completed about two inches of the leg when–What’s this! Oh, NO! I can’t believe it. Another freaking knot. The knitting gods were definitely not smiling on me.

I had no choice but to take what I had knitted so far off the needles and start all over again. After finding just the right spot in the yarn, I cast on again and started knitting. Thankfully, ball number two had no more knots, either.

Sock #2 is nearly completed.

Sock #2 is nearly completed.

Look at how well the stripes match. :-)

Look at how well the stripes match. 🙂

I would be in my happy place right now if only my knotty story ended here. But, sadly, it continues. This past weekend was my son’s wedding.

My DS and my DIL saying I do!

My DS and my DIL saying I do!

As you know, my son’s GF is most knit-worthy, having received from me numerous hand-knitted socks, a scarf, fingerless mitts, three sweaters, and a lace shawl. I’m very happy to say that she is now officially, legally my DIL. The nuptials were in Pittsburgh, and that meant over 6 hours total on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and that meant I needed a take-along knitting project. The Regia Striped Rib socks were not the optimal choice because they are on double-pointed needles.

I don’t know about you, but when I knit on DPNs in the car, I always, without fail, drop a needle. Not. Good. For car knitting, I much prefer circular knitting because when I drop a needle, it doesn’t go anywhere because it’s, um, attached. Nearly klutz-proof. So shortly before we left for the ‘Burgh, I grabbed a ball of sock yarn and a couple of Ciao Goo lace circulars. I thought I would do two circulars, but I ended up doing magic loop. I have a history of hating magic loop for socks, but I think I’m now in love. Magic Loop works really well with Ciao Goo needles.

At this point, your eyes have probably rolled back into your head, and you are saying to yourself–I thought she was going to tell us more about knots in her yarn. Instead she’s rambling on and on about highways and Magic Loop. Get to the point, already! You do have a point, don’t you?

Fair enough. Here’s my point. DH is driving west on the PA Tpk, and I’m in the passenger seat knitting away on a pair of 2 x 2 rib socks in a really funky Opal color way. I’ve completed nearly two inches of the leg when, there it is. A knot. What’s up with all these knots in my sock yarn?!?!?!?!? At least I didn’t have to worry about this knot disrupting the color pattern on my sock because this yarn knits up to look like bird shit on a blue rug clouds in a blue sky.

The leg unstretched

The leg unstretched

The leg stretched on the sock blocker

The leg stretched on the sock blocker

Hey! I managed to post a couple of WIP for WIP Wednesday! Check out Tami’s blog for more WIP.

 

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. 🙂

Vanilla Butterflies

You know how when you have icecream in the freezer, or cheesy-poofs in the pantry, they call to you? Of course you do. And if you are a knitter, you know that stash yarn does the same. It calls to you in that Siren song, Knit me! That, my friends, is how I came to cast on yet another sock even though I already have four other socks (and two sweaters) OTN. The Pagewood Farm Hand Dyed Sock Yarn Alyeska (80% Merino, 10 % Cashmere, 10 % Nylon) in the color Butterfly kept calling to me.

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How could anyone resist?

Butterfly was relentless. I tried to resist her call. I kept telling myself that I should finish the projects I have in progress before starting yet another pair of socks. But I had made the fatal mistake of touching this yarn. If you have ever in your life touched anything that contains even a tiny amount of cashmere, you know exactly what I mean. Cashmere has a combination of soft and silky that no mere mortal can resist (unless you are one of the unlucky few who are allergic to cashmere, and if you are, you have my deepest sympathies).

And the colorway! It’s simply heavenly. How could I possibly resist?

I actually knitted most of a sock from this yarn earlier this year, but I had to rip it out. I made a terrible error in judgment. I started the sock from the cuff and ended up running out of yarn well before it was time to start the toe decreases.

Super Soft Double Garter Rib Socks sock #1 with the gusset decreases centered on the sole. I hope I don't run out of yarn before I finish.

This yarn is so nice, I knit it twice. 

Yikes! I knew I was taking a chance, but really. I should know better.

Although knitting socks toe up is not my favorite method, when working with a sock yarn that has limited yardage, I usually start with the toe. ‘Tis better to run out of yarn while knitting the leg than while knitting the foot, right? Anyway, Pagewood Farm Alyeska is a sport weight yarn with 360 yards in 4 ounces. The recommended gauge is 7-7.5 stitches per inch, but even with a sport weight yarn, I cannot bring myself to knit socks at that gauge. I’m sorry, but I just don’t want to hold my socks up to the light and be able to see through them. Sock fabric needs to be dense. Sport weight yarn gets 8-8.5 stitches per inch when I knit it up into socks.

I decided my lovely Butterfly would look best knitted on 2.75mm needles (8 stitches per inch) in a very plain vanilla pattern that would show off the lovely colors. So I chose a simple K3, P1 rib and used  Judy’s Magic Cast On and two circular needles to cast on 22 stitches. You can see all the technical details on Ravelry, even if you aren’t a member.

The foot of sock #1 is done, the heel is turned, and the leg is under way.

Butterfly Vanilla Socks

Butterfly Vanilla Socks

I don’t have to worry about running out of yarn before I’m finished because I will be finished when I run out of yarn. 🙂

My Broken Heart

A while back, I purchased a sock pattern through Ravelry called Breaking Hearts Socks by turtlegirl76. My main reason for buying the pattern was to get the instructions for knitting a heel with the gusset decreases on the sole instead of along the sides of the instep. I could have figured it out for myself, by why do all that work when someone else has already done it for me, right? Besides, the stitch pattern used for the sock is awesome, and I’m helping to support a talented designer, so it was a win/win/win proposition.

Anyway, I gave the heel recipe a try when I was knitting the Reversible Ribs Socks, and I loved how it turned out. The heel curves perfectly to hug the foot just right. The Reversible Ribs Socks found a home with the boy’s sock-worthy GF, so I was eager to knit a pair of socks for myself using this technique. And what better way could to use this technique than by knitting the original? It was time to cast on the Breaking Hearts Socks.

The first step in knitting up this pattern was choosing the yarn. I had gone through my sock yarn stash at the beginning of the year and pulled out a bunch of balls of Trekking XXL, which is one of my very favorite sock yarns, so I decided to use Trekking XXL. I settled on a lovely mostly blue colorway that knits up with subtle stripes.

I had a big problem right off the bat. The pattern is written for 64 stitches. If I had chosen a sport-weight yarn for this pattern, 64 stitches would be fine. But I knit socks almost exclusively in fingering weight yarn, and if I knit socks for myself on 64 stitches, I have to knit at a really horrendous gauge–7.5-8 stitches per inch–in order for the socks to fit. I hate socks knitted at that large a gauge. The stitches are too lose and the socks don’t wear well. I like to knit my socks at a gauge between 8.5 and 9.5 stitches per inch.

I had to adjust the pattern to 72 stitches, which resulted in modification #1. I increased the stitch count to 72 by adding an extra stitch between stitches 6 and 7 and between stitches 10 and 11 on the chart. The pattern is repeated a total of four times, so I added eight stitches (64 + 8 = 72 ). Seventy-two stitches is my Goldilocks number for socks knitted in fingering weight yarn on 2.5mm needles. (I got 9 stitches per inch with this yarn.)

After casting on 72 stitches, I began knitting the twisted garter edging. For some reason that still baffles me, I couldn’t get the twisted garter edging to work. I knitted it at least five times over the course of two days, and every time it turned out wrong. I don’t know why I couldn’t get it to work. I’ve knitted this edging before with no trouble. I even watched and followed the designer’s on-line tutorial. But I obviously kept doing something wrong because every time I started to knit the first round of the P1, K1 rib, the garter edging was wrong-side out. So I did what any knitter who is frustrated with being such a bonehead would do, I modified the pattern. Enter modification #2. I knitted a ribbed cuff to match the now-modified Breaking Hearts stitch pattern–*K3, (P2, K3) twice, K3  repeat from * 3 more times. I knitted the ribbing for one inch (13 rounds), then started the leg.

After knitting a couple of pattern repeats on the leg, I decided that I didn’t like how the purls on stitches 6-7 and 10-11 in round 3 of the pattern looked with the yarn I’m using, so modification #3 was born. I changed the purl stitches to knit on round 3, but I left the purls in round 6. This removes some of the textured effect of the pattern, but I think the yarn I chose looks better with those purls changed to knit.

I knitted 12 pattern repeats, then started the heel flap. I worked the heel flap as directed except that since I started with 72 stitches instead of 64,  I was working the heel flap on 36 stitches instead of 32.

The pattern calls for a heel flap that is 2.5 inches long, but I knit heel flaps to be 2.75 inches long. We are now at modification #4; I repeated the stitch pattern on the heel 6 times instead of 5 because I need a 2.75-inch heel flap instead of a 2.5-inch heel flap.

I turned the heel, purling 22 stitches instead of 20, and after all the short rows were completed, I had 24 stitches remaining instead of 22. I picked up 20 stitches along each side of the heel flap, then adjusted the instructions to accommodate the extra gusset stitches. I counted 17 stitches from the instep to the heel on each side and placed my heel markers. The gusset decreases were worked every other round on the heel stitches, and when there were only two heel stitches left, I knew I had decreases the gusset stitches down to 36 stitches.

The gusset decreases on the foot instead of the instep

The gusset decreases are on the foot instead of the instep.

 

I continued knitting the foot with the instep in pattern and the foot in stocking stitch for 14 pattern repeats. It was time to start the toe. The pattern has a toe that continues the Breaking Hearts stitch pattern all the way to the end. It’s a gorgeous design feature, but I could tell from looking at the chart that this toe would be too pointy for my feet. So I decided on modification #5. I knitted a modified round toe as follows:

K7, K2tog
Knit 3 rounds plain
K6, K2tog
Knit 3 rounds plain
K5, K2tog
Knit 3 rounds plain
K4, K2tog
Knit 3 rounds plain
K3, K2tog
Knit 2 rounds plain
K2, K2tog
Knit 1 round plain
K1, K2tog
K2tog

The toe looks great, don’t you think?

modified round toe

modified round toe

And it fits just the way I like, as does the heel.

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The curve of the gusset hugs my heel.

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A perfect fit!

 

 

Sock #1 turned out great and fits beautifully. And I made good notes so that sock #2 should be a good match.

Oh Yes I Did!

Okay. As you, my dear reader, already know, I have these lovely projects OTN at the moment.

 

And with all these lovely projects from which to choose, with all these beautiful, hockey-friendly knitting projects in various stages of completion vying for my knitting attention, what did I do?

I cast on this.

Butterfly Vanilla Socks

Butterfly Vanilla Socks

Oh yes, I did!

Twisted

DSC02940_2

This is one of my hockey-knitting projects. Because this pattern has both cables and lots and lots of twisted stitches, and because I’m knitting it on US #1/2.25 mm needles, it’s a slow go. These socks will probably take forever and a day.

Stitches are twisted by knitting the stitch through the back loop rather than the front loop, and it takes me a bit longer to knit a stitch that way. It’s also a little hard on my hands to knit the twisted stitches, so I can knit on the sock for only a couple of pattern repeats at a time.

But the pattern, the Simple Elegant Cable Socks by Judy Alexander published in Simply Sockupied 2012 (also available on Ravelry as a download), is so lovely, it’s worth the extra effort. Judy, from TheKnitter.com, is one of my favorite sock designers; her designs are well-thought-out with great attention to detail.

The yarn is vintage Froehlich Wolle Special Blauband in color 53 Barrier Reef, a bluish green. I think this yarn was discontinued quite a few years ago. When there were rumors of its demise, I bought quite a bit of it, both Special Blauband (solid colors) and Maxi Ringel (self-striping). It’s a good thing that wool yarn doesn’t go bad if it’s properly stored. 🙂