Archive for March, 2008

On Saturday, I learned how to knit socks from the toe up. While I can’t say that I’ll abandon the cuff-down approach, I know I will definitely use toe-up from time to time, specifically when I’m not sure how much sock I can get out of my yarn supply, and definitely for baby socks — which I see more of in my future, considering I now have a nephew to knit for and my MIL doesn’t do socks (yet).

The pattern is a basic sock pattern created by my yarn shop and Ravelry buddy Donna (Ravelry link there – login required) for the purposes of teaching this sock class. It’s a basic stockinette foot, short-row heel, and 1×1 ribbed cuff. If I were to make more of these, I’d probably use a smaller needle — mine turned out a little looser than I’d like. I will definitely be using this technique to redo the camo socks!

The most valuable things I learned from this sock class:

  • Turkish cast-on
  • Short-row heel (although I sort of taught myself this earlier by looking stuff up online, I learned it better in class!)
  • Sewn bind-off
  • And, of course, how to knit a sock on one very long circular needle (magic loop)

Excellent class, Donna! Thankyouthankyouthankyou!

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While riding in the car to and from my nephew’s baptism last Sunday, I was able to get quite a bit of knitting done on the untitled/diamond camo socks. And even more Sunday evening. Unfortunately, I discovered I would not have enough yarn. The first sock is now waiting to be frogged and will be remade later, probably as a toe-up version, on needles one size larger (the pattern stitches came out too dense/firm on US1, although stockinette was perfectly fine at that size). Lana Grossa Cool Wool comes in a ball just barely enough to get one sock out of (I think).

So, since I won’t “officially” know how to knit a toe-up sock until tomorrow (knitting class at Yarns R Us), the diamond camo sock will have to wait. And it may even take on a different pattern. We shall see. In the meantime, I’ve been inspired by that same diamond stitch pattern to knit a pair of what I’m calling Corn Snake Socks. As I was working on the diamond camo socks, the diamond pattern began to remind me of snakeskin. Last weekend at Yarns R Us, I picked up a ball of Trekking XXL sock yarn in a rust/red-orange colorway. The color reminds me of the color of a corn snake. And there you have it — diamond pattern + red-orange Trekking = Corn Snake Socks.

Take a look at this picture of my best friend, Mela, doing one of her reptile shows — that’s a corn snake she’s holding there. Now look at the WIP sock photo above. See the resemblance in color? (Trust me, it’s closer than it looks — the photo above came out a little light!)

Anyway, I took what I learned from the diamond camo socks and made a change for Corn Snake. Even though the Trekking yarn I’m using is thinner than the Cool Wool, I wanted to make sure the fabric wouldn’t get too firm and dense in the pattern stitch area of the sock. So the first change I’m making is to use one needle size larger (US2) for the pattern stitch area. I’m still using US1 needles for the ribbing, heel flap, and foot. Secondly, the pattern stitch is only going to be on the leg of the sock — I’m not going to continue it onto the instep. This is primarily because I ended up missing one leg of a diamond every few rows on one side. There’s probably a way to fix that, but I didn’t really want to try to figure it out this time around. Plus, with the pattern area being a little thicker fabric, I wanted to leave a little more room in my shoe. I think the foot will probably just be plain stockinette (or possibly a 3×1 rib, we’ll see).

I’m loving this pattern and this yarn, though. I’m getting a subtly striped pattern that ranges from red-orange to orangey-brown to deep red. And I think I might just have to make another pair of these for Mela, too.

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Say hello to my newest FO, Nautie the Nautiloid. He’s an Easter/Baptism gift for my nephew, Billy. I’ll confess I didn’t enjoy the “process” of knitting this as much as I enjoy knitting socks, hats, scarves, etc. Maybe because I used 2 circular needles instead of double-points. With having to stuff as the shell is knit and coiled, the technique doesn’t work as well as it does with socks. It gets very tight (especially since this is a pattern that needs to be knit tightly due to the stuffing) and the hands can get cramped up a lot. I’d love to hear from other knitters who’ve knitted Nautie on DPNs as the pattern calls for. Did you have the same problems with maneuverability?

One key modification I made was in knitting the head. I read through the instructions and found that they called for casting on and knitting the head separately (you bind off the shell so that it rolls back slightly and the head sits just inside). That just seemed silly to me. Why knit a separate piece and have that sewing to do afterward? I’m sure the designer had her reasons, but I decided to instead pick up stitches four rows down on the inside and knit it right onto the shell. I hadn’t stuffed the shell completely to the top when I finished it, so I was able to get in there and do this. Part way through, I wondered if I would have problems stuffing the head, but it was very easy. After the first few decrease rounds, I stuffed it full, and then after finishing the last round I stuffed the rest. The hole was still big enough that I could get a finger in there. I also used a knitting needle to help poke stuffing down into the head. It certainly looks much neater than it ever would have if I had sewed it! My sewing skills are not the greatest.
The absolute most fun part of this whole project was knitting on the eight i-cord tentacles after finishing the head. I love me some i-cord. It’s the easiest thing in the world to knit and it’s FAST. Plus, it’s a highly functional bit of knitting. You can tie all sorts of things up with it, use it as an edging, join afghan squares together with it, or — heck– make freakin’ tentacles for a nautiloid! (I even loved i-cord as a kid. I remember having this really long, multicolored i-cord that was like six feet long — made from one of those little spool-knitter thingies — that I used to tie around my sleeping bag after rolling it up, since it either didn’t have ties or they broke off. It served me for many years at camp in the summer, and held the sleeping bag together in the attic for the rest of the year.)

Another great thing about this project is that I didn’t have to buy one single new supply to make it. I’ve had a huge bag of polyester stuffing sitting around for years (and I still have a lot left…) that I’m thrilled I finally got a chance to use, the shell and head were made from three colors of Caron Simply Soft leftover from handwoven baby blankets I made, and the eyes are a little bit of black Pearl yarn leftover from a college weaving project that currently covers our electrical panel in the workout room, plus a teeny bit of white Simply Soft (more baby blanket leftovers) for a highlight on the eyes.

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Well, I am a little sick of the baby hats right now, but maybe not quite as bad as that headline implies. I finished the final St. Patty’s Day hat last night. I wanted to make one that was a little more lacy, so I searched through the stitch pattern section of the old knitting book my mother-in-law gave me several years ago, and decided to try herringbone lace. It has a one-stitch-wide lacy line that zigzags upward through the pattern, so there’s still a substantial amount of stitches to hold the fabric together (after all, it can’t be too lacy or the baby’s head will get cold!).

The contrast-color purl stripe doesn’t work as well here as it did in the previous hats. But it’s so-so. Doesn’t completely suck. It’s interesting to note, however, that the purl stripe has a slight wave to it due to the zigzagging of the herringbone lace above it. That’s a pretty cool effect.

Although I’m anxious to return to my sock knitting, I think I’ll take a detour onto one more project first: a Nautie for my nephew. Let’s see if I can get it done in time for his christening next Sunday…

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Well, in spite of coming down with some flu-ish thing last weekend that kept me from knitting for a couple days, I managed to get a total of 6 baby hats done to deliver to the hospital in time for St. Patty’s Day. And since I delivered those on Wednesday, I finished two more and am working on the last one from this batch of yarn. After improvising one hat, I managed to improvise two more (pattern links below for all three). The last one I’m working on uses a lace stitch pattern from the old knitting book my mother-in-law gave me several years ago.

The first improvised design off the needles was the Cabled Rib. It uses a simple 2-stitch cable twist to create a bit of interest above the 2×2 ribbed, contrast-color cuff. This is the easiest cable on the planet, in my opinion. You don’t need a separate cable needle at all (although, actually, even cabling across more than two stitches can be done completely without a cable needle).

Here’s the pattern:
Cabled Rib Infant Cap (click to download PDF file)

The next improvised design was Purl Stripes. I actually made two of these; the second one was slightly different from the first. Pictured at right is the second, which is what the pattern is written for. If you’d like to see the first one, click here.

This design features five narrow, contrast-color stripes that are purled to create a raised-stripe effect against a stockinette background and ribbed cuff. This one is super-easy to make.

Here’s the pattern:
Purl Stripes Infant Cap (click to download PDF file)

Next up was Triple Stripes. This hat features the same raised-stripe purl technique used in the Purl Stripes hat above, but this time the background stitch is a 2×2 ribbing. Additionally, there are only three stripes total, placed closer together and just above the ribbed cuff. Gives it a little athletic feel! This is also a very easy pattern, maybe only slightly less easy than the Purl Stripes hat above because of the ribbing throughout the crown.

Here’s the pattern:
Triple Stripes Infant Cap (click to download PDF file)

What has been most valuable to me in the making of these hats is my trusty little digital postal scale. I bought it at Staples or Office Max or some such place several years ago when I was selling a bunch of used DVDs and videos on eBay — an essential tool to determine package weight so I could use PayPal’s (or was it eBay’s?) printable postage/shipping label service and not have to wait in line at the post office every time I needed to ship something. Turns out it’s also a great tool for knitting. Just weigh the yarn before you start your project (I set the scale to use grams for precision, since the yarn is so lightweight) and weigh what’s left when you’re done. Voila! You know just how much yarn you used, and if you’re logging your projects in Ravelry you can type in the exact amount there. The scale was also a big help to me earlier when I made my Jaywalker Anklets.

But what makes me happiest about being almost done with all these baby hats? Once I’m done with this last one, I can finally get back to my socks!

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OK, so earlier in the week I mentioned I would need to put my current sock project aside to finish the newest batch of baby hats so I can get them to the Reading Hospital in time for the St. Patty’s Day babies. I’m happy to report that I did as I should and worked on the hats some more. I finished the third, and I’m more than halfway (maybe more like two-thirds) done with the fourth. And I will probably have enough yarn left to make a few more.

Here’s the third green-and-white hat. I switched to a different pattern (Shadow Stripes Hat, by Patti Pierce Stone) since I have far less green yarn than white. So the ribbing is in the green, and the crown is the white yarn. Cute, huh? This is a very easy pattern, and the tied i-cord at the top is just too adorable.

Immediately after finishing the third hat, I cast on for the fourth. But this time, I’m improvising my own pattern. It starts with a k2p2 ribbing in the green yarn, and switches to white for the crown in a 2-stitch cable ribbing pattern. I’ll probably upload a pattern for this one when it’s finished, although the instructions will be extremely basic.

And lastly, a follow-up on a previous FO, the Jaywalker Anklets: I’ve worn them once so far, to work (I would wear them more often, but at the moment I have a very limited amount of wardrobe that color-coordinates with them), on a Friday, with jeans. Here they are in context. These are soft, super-comfy and keep my feet nice and toasty, even though they aren’t full-length socks.

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Well, the first two of the new batch of Reading Hospital infant caps are finished. There’s no way I’m going to have enough of the green yarn to match up with the amount of white yarn I have to make all of the St. Patty’s Day caps in this design, so I downloaded another one to make, that will be mostly white with just a small touch of green.

The pattern (Slip Stitch Switch Hat by Patti Pierce Stone) is way easier than it looks, and it’s pretty fun to make, too. The hats are just too cute. And rather thick, since the secondary color is stranded throughout each row. Some little babies will have very warm heads later this month!

I guess I’ll need to get rolling on the rest of the green-and-white hats soon so I can get them all done in time. I’ve just started a new pair of socks, so I’ll have to set those aside for a little bit to work on the hats. Here’s what I have so far on the new socks — they’re cuff-down (since that’s all I know until I take a toe-up sock class later this month or next) with a K3P1 ribbing for the cuff, and the pattern on the leg and instep is from an old knitting book my mother-in-law gave me (I think it’s called “overlay stitch” — definitely overlay-something). The yarn I’m using is Lana Grossa Merino 2000 (aka Cool Wool 2000), which is 100% merino wool (as if you couldn’t tell by the name…). I haven’t come up with a name for the socks yet, but I’m leaning toward “diamond camo” socks. (Yeah, when I bought the yarn, it didn’t even dawn on me that it could come out looking sorta camouflagey. I was just so tickled that the green matched my sofa — see the photo header at the top of the blog, that’s it, right there on the sofa!)

These socks will definitely be an experiment. The fabric in pattern is denser than the ribbing, and it seems to use up a bit more yardage than plain stockinette (because of the yarn wrapped around blocks of three stitches in 1/4 of the rows), so the leg of each sock will be shorter, somewhere between anklet and crew length. And shoe selection will probably be limited with these because of the thickness — heck, they could end up being hiking socks! However they turn out, I will find a purpose for them.

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