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Archive for July, 2008

Wow, I feel like I was working on these for-freaking-ever! But they’re finally done.

  • Pattern: Wendy D. Johnson’s Summer 2008 Socks
  • Yarn: Patons Stretch Socks (colorway Plum), about 1.5 balls’ worth
  • Needles: Addi Turbo US 0, 40″ circular (magic loop technique, one sock at a time)
  • Time: Cast on 7/3/08, finished 7/27/08
  • Size: 8″ circumference version; to fit shoe size US 9 Ladies
  • For those on Ravelry, here’s the project page (login required)

I really love this yarn. It’s comfy, stretchy, soft, pretty… I hope Patons will make it in a wider variety of colors. I definitely want to try the “olive” colorway, too. The pattern was fun to knit — super-easy to memorize (only 3 pattern rows, and two of those are knit and purl!) — and I finally learned a toe-up flap heel that doesn’t require picking up stitches. Makes the heel fit really well, I think.

The one thing I was awfully skeptical about while knitting these was all the biasing and twisting going on. All the SSKs make the pattern move in a spiral around the leg — which ordinarily isn’t so bad, but in this case it made the fabric spiral along with it. During my little photo shoot of about 10 minutes, the socks had already started twisting around my feet. I thought for sure I wouldn’t be able to stand it and that I’d only wear them occasionally (I wasn’t about to rip anything out after spending more than three weeks on them). Well, I wore them to work for the first time on Tuesday, and know what? The twisty stuff didn’t bother me one bit. I’m sure they were twisting all around in my shoes (I could see the heel had slipped almost the whole way around to the side on both feet), but all I felt was nice, comfy, hand-knit socks. (You can bet regular old store-bought socks would have been annoying me all day if they had been twisting around like that! Especially those seams on the top of the toes… why oh why do they make them like that?!)

So, now I have another set of needles empty for the next project… I’m still working on my Lifestyle Socks, 2-at-a-time on magic loop. Plus I still have the second Baby Fern – Rib Anklet to finish (33 Ravelers have already added it to their queues — so excited about that!). And, of course, I still need to do the final steps on super-secret-Mom’s-birthday project. But, of course, I have now contracted startitis and will need to cast on a new pair of socks this weekend, probably Monkey, because I’m dying to try the Fearless Fibers sock yarn I bought several months ago.

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(Forget about borrowed and blue, it’s not that sort of post.)

Sweater Sampler - Side A

Sweater Sampler - Side A

Well, my “something old” for today is the Sweater Sampler (Ravelry link there, login required) I made somewhere around 2004 (I’m guessing at the date a bit, based on the email receipts from when I bought The Sweater Workshop by Jacqueline Fee and the needles to make the sampler). I bought the book after my first two failed attempts at sweater-knitting (of which I am lacking photographic evidence, thank God). I was very hopeful when I bought the book, since its very cover promised I would be able to knit creative, seam-free sweaters on my own with any yarn (also implying to me that they would fit properly and not look like crap).

Side B

Side B

While the sweater sampler went well (it looked like the ones in the book, for the most part, and all the techniques worked), I still haven’t knit a sweater. Oh, I have yarn for a couple of sweaters (child- and adult-sized) and I have several books with sweater patterns in them. And I have sweater patterns queued and favorited on Ravelry. But I have not yet begun to actually knit a sweater since the two failed attempts and knitting the sweater sampler.

Afterthought Pocket

Afterthought Pocket

I know I can do it… I think I’m just a little skeered to start. Well, that and I have other stuff to do first. But it would be nice to have the two sweaters I already have yarn for done this winter.

As far as the gory details on the sweater sampler go, I used Caron Simply Soft (rose/pink) along with some burgundy and white worsted-weight acrylic (Wintuk or Sayelle, probably) I had leftover from college weaving projects. As far as needles go, I think I used size US 8 Susan Bates 16″ circular (Quicksilver) and DPNs (Silvalume). I have no idea how long it took me to make, since I wasn’t keeping track of that stuff at the time. But I think it was at least a couple months. I wasn’t knitting then like I am now.

So, ya wanna know what the “something new” is? I took a drop-spindle spinning class at Yarns R Us this past Thursday night! It was fun, although I’ll stop short of saying it went well. What I will say is that I definitely need a lot more practice! I will spare you the sight of seeing this little 8-yard hank of handspun yarn unfurled. It looks much better as a lump of wool wound upon itself.

Handspun Wool

Handspun Wool

There are spots where it actually looks decent. And then there are spots where it looks like total crap. But I have some fiber left from the class kit (at least enough for another 8-9 yards) and I will be practicing with it. Though I think it’s safe to say I won’t drop everything and suddenly be all absorbed in handspinning fiber. I enjoy knitting much more. However, this certainly makes me appreciate all the hard work and artistry that goes into a hank of handspun yarn (although most times that’s done on a spinning wheel — but still, it’s an art!).

After a whole 2+ hour class, I had 8 yards of badly-spun yarn. Spinning should be nice for an occasional change of pace from the knitting (not that I don’t have other stuff I really should be doing). Plus, it opens up a whole new world of shopping — for fiber (oooh, and pretty handmade drop-spindles)! Still, I won’t be going hog-wild and getting a sheep like my Aunt Faye Ann did 18-ish years ago after she learned to weave and make her own plant-based dyes and spin and process fiber… (now she’s moved on to needle-felting).

Other than that, I’m still working on the same three pairs of socks. I have at least one test-knitter for my Baby Fern – Rib Anklets (AKA “Anklets for Meeeee!”) and once that’s done I’ll get a pattern shop set up on Ravelry and offer the pattern for sale (my freebie patterns are already up there). The secret birthday present project is still almost finished (in fact, it’s really just one afternoon of working on it away from being finished — just need to find the time). And I have a couple more weaving projects on the horizon, one of which I need to get done before September 13 (a raffle prize).

So once again, I’d better get off the blasted computer and get to work on all this stuff (oh yeah, and laundry — clean underwear is a good thing to have).

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How, you ask? Well, simply knitting two socks at the same time on one needle is apparently all it takes. Yup, my co-workers now think I am a complete crackpot after I whipped these puppies out at lunchtime on Thursday. (They only thought I was a partial crackpot before that.)

Not too long ago, I bought the book 2-At-A-Time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. One of my goals this summer for Summer of Socks was to learn this technique. I’m not using any of the patterns in the book yet. I wanted to use a self-striping yarn in plain stockinette and I wanted to make toe-up socks. I could understand the 2-at-a-time instructions well enough just reading through them (since I’m already familiar with magic loop in general) that I thought I could do toe-up just as well on my own using the book as reference if I get stuck anywhere. The pattern I’m using is Wendy Johnson’s Toe Up Slip Stitch Heel Sock. So far, it’s working just fine.

You see, it’s really nowhere near as hard as it looks. If you can knit one sock at a time on one big circular needle, it’s just as easy to do two at the same time. No kidding. (You just have to make sure, of course, that you have a long enough needle — at least 40″ in my opinion. Yes, size matters. Ha.)

I’m really liking the look of the socks so far, even if they are fraternal twins (same yarn colorway, same pattern, but the stripes don’t match up sock-to-sock; term also used to describe socks made from the exact same yarn but each one is a different pattern — or, two socks that look generally alike but not necessarily identical). It’s a self-striping yarn. All that patterning you see in the photo is all due to the patterning in the yarn itself, all I’m doing is knitting along. Wherever you see a color change, it’s all right there in the same strand of yarn. The thing with self-striping yarn is that you can’t always see what the whole length of it looks like just by looking at the wound-up ball of yarn. Sometimes, there’s a little color surprise waiting for you inside. When I bought the yarn, I thought it was just blues, browns and cream. I was just tickled to find some olive green in there when I started knitting it up. I love me some olive green. Goes with my eyes. (Not that my feet will be getting anywhere in the vicinity of my eyes all that often.)

The yarn is one that’s been in my stash for several months now. I picked it up at Yarns R Us shortly after I started knitting again in December/January. It’s Zitron Lifestyle, and it looks to be pretty much the same colors and patterning as 2 balls of Zitron Trekking XXL I bought shortly after. I wonder if the Trekking has that same beautiful olive green hiding in it…

As if I didn’t already have enough knitting books (and, specifically, sock knitting books), I picked up another sock book at Yarns R Us this afternoon (got off work early, yeah!). This one is The Little Box Of Socks by Charlene Schurch and Beth Parrott. Quite an ingenious bit of packaging, it is. Instead of a book, it literally is a little box of socks (well, sock patterns — you gotta knit the socks yerself!). The box has magnets embedded in the lid flap and box side, which hold it closed but is still easy enough to open when you want to. And inside are all these individual laminated pattern cards for something like 15 different socks. So cute and clever! I want to make nearly every sock that’s in this thing.

But hey, now I’ll know how to knit two socks at once and can get to working on those 15 patterns just that much faster.

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Well, the first Summer 2008 Sock is finished. Considering I started the first sock over a 3-day weekend and it took me until this past Friday to finish, and I only just finished the toe increases on the second sock a few minutes ago, I’m not confident that I’ll have this pair done in time to enter the second biweekly drawing. Looks like maybe I’ll have two pairs to enter for the third drawing. My next pair of socks will definitely be simple ones! Maybe even just basic stockinette.

I managed to stop in at the LYS, Yarns R Us, for a few minutes yesterday before golfing with Mom (and getting a mega sunburn on my arms and chest/neck area). Kim had ONline sock yarn on sale for nearly half price so I picked up a couple balls. It’s the self-striping Supersocke 100 Cotton Summer Color, the same kind I used for my Spiral Eyelet Socks but in different colorways, so it will lend itself well to simple patterns or stockinette. I think I’ll have to try something from the 2-At-A-Time Socks book by Melissa Morgan-Oakes next and learn that technique.

Still plugging away on the can’t-blog-about-it-yet-secret-birthday-gift-for-Mom project, too.

And those Anklets for Meeeee! are still hanging out in my knitting bag — I managed to knock out a couple more pattern repeats on the foot of the second sock this weekend. Just a few more and I can start the heel on that one.

I think I’m getting over my fear of having too many WIP at once… it might be nice to have a variety of things to choose from to work on. But I do still have this nagging feeling that if I get too many more WIP started, there will be that many more projects with a chance of never getting finished. Yikes, I need discipline!

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OK, so I only have three WIP at the moment… which is like nothing for many knitters, but for me it’s a lot. I’ve never had more than two WIP at a time.

The Anklets for Meeeee! are still hanging out in my knitting bag, getting a little attention for a pattern repeat or two each week on the second anklet.

I’m still plugging away on the first Summer 2008 Sock. I only started it on July 3, but it feels like I’ve been working on it for so much longer. I’m nearing the end of the first sock, though — I have 3.5″ done on the leg. I’d like to do about 5″-5.5″ before starting the ribbing. I hammered out a ton of knitting on this over the three-day weekend, but since I hit the leg it’s been going just a little bit slower. It’s the purl and lace rounds that suck up the time, for sure.

The third project I have going is one I can’t blog about yet — it’s Mom’s birthday present. I already hinted to her that she’s getting something knitted from me (duh) but she doesn’t know what it is. My LYS knitting buddies know what it is, though! (And if you’re on Ravelry, you can see it on my project page.)

I’ll need to get going on the knitted Christmas gifts soon, too, if I hope to have them all done in time. I can’t believe the year is halfway over already. Time flies when you’re knitting… a lot!

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How could I possibly do Summer of Socks and not knit Wendy Johnson’s Summer 2008 Sock pattern, created specifically for Summer of Socks? Of course, I couldn’t not knit it!

So here’s the first one in progress. Not only is this a very, very stretchy lace pattern, I’m using Paton’s Stretch Socks, which makes it even stretchier!

Like the last pair of socks I posted, I’m magic looping on a 40″ Addi Turbo needle. Except these are toe-up and I’m using size US 0 (2mm). (My first time knitting with anything smaller than US 1!)

I will also fess up to an error in these that I’m leaving as-is. Last night, I was counting up how many pattern repeats I did before beginning the gusset increases (yes, increases… these are toe-up with a flap heel), and I noticed an area where the purl bumps looked a bit thicker than everywhere else. Yup, sure enough, instead of doing a lace row more than an inch back, I did another purl row and completely missed the lace row in that pattern repeat. Since it was more than an inch back, and I barely noticed it even when I was counting, I’m not frogging. This is not a fun pattern to tink because of all the SSKs and YOs in that lace row, and I was too anxious about dropping stitches by pulling out the needles and ripping. (Never mind the fact that I just really didn’t want to work that whole inch-plus of knitting all over again.)

I guess these socks are a little like an Amish quilt with that little mistake intentionally left in there (although, unlike an Amish quilt, it wasn’t intentionally put in there).

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I’m hoping I can keep up this pace so I have at least one pair to enter in each biweekly raffle… but we’ll see. Life could get in the way! (It always does.)

So the first pair of socks is done. For those on Ravelry, you can visit my project page for details and more photos. (And if you’re a knitter, crocheter, spinner or dyer and you’re not on Ravelry… what are you waiting for? Go sign up! NOW.) Anyway, here are the basics:

  • Pattern: Spiral Eyelet Socks by Sandi Rosner
  • Yarn: ONline Supersocke 100 Cotton Summer Color, colorway #1040
  • Needle: Addi Turbo, 40″ circular, size US 1.5 (used magic loop technique)
  • Construction: knitted cuff-down with a slip-stitch flap heel and tapered toe finished off with kitchener stitch
  • Cast on 6/22/08, finished 7/3/08

I actually managed to get the stripes to line up on both socks without even trying that hard! The only place they don’t match up is at the toes; after I made the first sock, I realized it was a wee bit short, so I made the second one just about a half-inch longer.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I did have a little tinking to do. Actually, I did quite a bit of tinking on these socks. Never more than a row or two each time, though. It’s an easy pattern, but it’s also pretty easy to screw up! And sometimes you don’t discover you’ve screwed up until two rows later when you get to the next pattern row.

I really like the yarn, a cotton/wool/nylon blend, although the color I chose is not the best with my ridiculously pale skin — sometimes it’s a little tough to tell where the sock stops and my leg begins. But then, I’ll mostly be wearing these under pant legs anyway and you’ll only see a peek of the foot out of my shoe. Someone at work commented that the colors remind her of sherbet… I’d have to agree. It’s mostly a pale purply-pink, but there are very sherbet-y shades of green, peach and yellow running through in the stripes.

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