Opalicious

After complaining a bit about Opal sock yarn when I was working on the Opal Clouds Socks, I started another pair of socks in, you guessed it, Opal sock yarn. This time, it’s Opal Elemente, which is a more classic Opal colorway. This is the reason so many sock knitters like Opal.

Look at those gorgeous colors!

The pattern is Adrienne Ku’s Skyp Rib Socks (free Ravelry download here)

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The Skyp Rib Socks done in two colors

with a few modifications. I cast on 72 stitches, did 20 rounds of 2 x 1 cuff, and turned a Fish Lips Kiss heel.

The Fish Lips Kiss heel fits me perfectly.

I’ll finish off with a round toe instead of a wedge toe because a round toe just fits me better. And, of course, I am knitting the sock in just one color.

I’m using one of my new Hiya Hiya sock needles, 2.5mm, and I must say that I like this needle a lot. The points are very sharp, which I like, and the cables are flexible without being too floppy. And the length of the cable is perfect for doing Magic Loop. I think I like the Chiao Goo Red Lace needles just a teeny, tiny, little bit better than the Hiya Hiyas, but it’s really six of one, a half-dozen of the other.

I’m happy with the yarn, happy with the needles, happy with the pattern. Life is good.

Note To Self

I got a package from Amazon today. These are the contents.

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The book Sock Architecture has been in my Amazon Wish List for quite a while, but the HiyaHiya sock needles were sort of an impulse purchase. I have been wanting to try HiyaHiya knitting needles for years, and I do have some HiyaHiya needles in my Amazon Wish List, but I just never got around to actually ordering them.

In the meantime, I kind of fell in love with Chiao Goo Red Lace circular needles. The needles are beautifully polished stainless steel, the cables are plastic covered steel cable, and the joins are smooth as can be. The cable has virtually no memory and is flexible without being floppy, so these needles are perfect for knitting in Magic Loop, which is a technique for knitting an item with a small circumference in the round using just one circular needle instead four or more double-pointed needles.

"Gray Vanilla" sock on the Chiao Goo using Magic Loop

“Gray Vanilla” sock on the Chiao Goo using Magic Loop

I have one Chiao Goo circular needle in size 2.5mm (US 1.5) with a cable that is long enough for doing Magic Loop, and when that needle is in use, I can’t start another sock unless I use double-pointed needles. I used to be a die-hard, double-pointed-needle kind of sock knitter. I used the Magic Loop technique for knitting sweater sleeves and neckbands in the round, and for finishing hats. But I didn’t like the technique for socks. I sometimes would knit socks using two circular needles, but not Magic Loop. In fact, I actually started the Gray Vanilla sock on DPNs because my Chiao Goo was in use for another sock, the infamous Opal Cloud socks. But as soon as I knitted the last stitch on the second Opal Cloud, my Chiao Goo 2.5mm circular needle replaced the DPNs in Gray Vanilla.

I don’t know when everything changed and Magic Loop became my favorite technique for knitting socks. Probably when I found a short-row heel technique that fit me well. Anyway, I am now a Magic Loop convert. And when I saw this set of HiyaHiya circulars in sizes most used for socks–I use mostly 2.5mm and 2.25mm needles for sock knit in fingering weight yarn–that came in a beautiful needle case at a very reasonable price, I just couldn’t resist.

Four 40-inch circular needles all snug in the case.

Four 40-inch circular needles all snug in the case. The lining of the case is black; it looks blue in this picture because the flash washed it out.

The sizes include 2.25mm, 2.5mm, 2.75mm, and 3.0mm.

The sizes include 2.25mm, 2.5mm, 2.75mm, and 3.0mm. And there are pockets to hold two more circular needles, and also pockets to hold DPNs and/or crochet hooks.

The case folds and buttons shut. It's really beautiful.

The case folds and buttons shut. It’s really beautiful.

There is a zippered compartment on the outside that is perfect for storing a yarn gauge, stitch markers, Chibis, or even a small pair of scissors.

There is a zippered compartment on the outside that is perfect for storing a yarn gauge, stitch markers, tapestry needles, and a small pair of scissors.

I don’t know whether I will like the HiyaHiya needles as well as the Chiao Goo, but I’m going to have fun finding out. 🙂

Note to self: don’t buy any more knitting books about socks, no matter how many rave reviews it gets.  Just. Don’t. (More on the book at a later date.)

PS: If you are interested in exploring Magic Loop, there is a pretty good video here. If this link doesn’t work, just google Magic Loop, and there will be lots of links to direct you to information on how to do Magic Loop.

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.