Saturday, March 27, 2010

Happy Socks

Last fall, I went to the Toronto Creative Festival (formerly the Creative Sewing and Needlework Festival). I had not been in a long time, preferring to go to the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair. But having moved, it's easier for me to get into Toronto now by commuter train. When I had gone in the past, I was getting more and more frustrated by the irrelevant booths hawking sponge towels, etc and I was led to believe this was not an issue anymore. Well, there were still some booths. And, there were so many non-knitting booths to weed through. I don't mind the sewing stuff too much, although I sew a little, there wasn't anything I saw that I needed for the price. And no more fabric until I sew some of what I have! What wore me out were the endless scrapbooking and beading booths. I know those are hot, but when you're not in to them, it's annoying, LOL. I did do some scrapbooking 10 years ago, and back then, it was really hard to find supplies. Now, I'm not doing it and the stuff is EVERYWHERE.
Anyway, I did find the yarn booths, and even ran into a member of the knitting guild I used to belong to! I also got to meet Wise Hilda. Although I had been doing really well about not buying yarn, I did find a few balls there that I picked up for a good deal.
One ball was some Austermann Step (the one with aloe and jojoba!) for $10. It's a crazy colour, but I couldn't resist the happiness radiating from the ball.
Right at this same time, the Hat Heel Socks came out on . Since one of the yarns used was Step, I figured this was a sign. I got a good start on the socks, but it always seemed that when I needed a brainless project, these were in a 'must follow directions' stage.
Finally they got done....Oct 24 to March 20! They are unique, but like a lot of other posters on Ravelry, I don't know that I'd make them again. They do fit well around the heel, but they feel odd. Especially in my skates. Like, there's a slingshot around my ankle. I've learned how to adapt a short row heel to fit my heel for toe up socks, so it's not a huge concern to me anymore. And, I've been knitting enough socks that I can pretty comfortably knit them top down without worrying about running out of yarn (esp. with Step. That yarn has a LOT of yardage). However, I just started a Cookie A. pattern, top down, and am working with a limited amount of Kroy 3 ply......

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Little Filler

I just received a comment on an old post about learning to knit using one circular. Now, I'm not quite positive on what is meant by the question--knit in the round on one circular, knit "magic loop" style on one circular, or knit two items at the same time on one circular. So, hey, I'll just address all the possibilities. Beats folding laundry anyway!

I do not know when I learned to knit circularly on one circular needle. Fairly early in my renewed knitting experience (having learned to knit as a child, I didn't accomplish ANYTHING until my 4th year of university when I wanted to show up my housemates who were learning to knit. That was the fall of 1993) I followed the pattern's instruction to use a circular needle to pick up stitches for neckbands. I'm sure I was probably confused as to how to knit back and forth on one circular, LOL. Just the concept of holding the needle with the 'work' in the left hand, and the empty needle in the right hand, could confuse me. I'm sure there's instructions on the internet on how to knit flat with circulars and obviously I figured it out.

Knitting circularly on one circular needle. I'm not sure when that happened. However, I know that in March and April of 1999, I took a class on knitting socks, and I'm pretty sure this was the first time I knit on dpn and knit circularly. Wow. I'm surprised it took me that long. Really? When I knit Rob's long, fair isle stocking cap, I knit it flat. I don't recall many of my projects from back then--some sweaters, an adorable dress for my niece, her Christening outfit too...yeah, they were all knit flat.
Back in 1999, there wasn't a whole lot on the internet (in general). Digital cameras were not popular, so forums rarely had pictures; blogging was in it's infancy; there was no Facebook, no Ravelry. The library was still a primary source for information, and all too often these days people seem to forget that the library is still a great resource.
So, I started knitting socks, and got immediately hooked. Bought dpns like they were becoming extinct. My first sock, during that class, was knit inside out for the leg. I got corrected the next week, and now can't even figure out how to do that again, LOL.

So, when did I first knit circularly on circular needles?! Mmm. Maybe when I was on a hat binge (but when was that?). Maybe when I made some LionBrand Homespun hooded pullovers...that was early 2002. I think I might have made them circularly. Indeed, I just checked the one that got handed back down to my son, and there are no side seams. If I could find my old knitting photo album, I could find out more.
Learning how to do this though? Knowing myself, I can only imagine the mental block I had. "Join, being careful not to twist stitches". No one tells you that knitting the first st that you cast on, onto the right needle, is how you 'join'. I was trying to find some way to 'join' it, and then knit the row. I think the way you cast on determines how easy it is to get this concept.
I couldn't even figure out what that really meant by the 'do not twist' until one time, it happened, and I unknowingly knit a few rounds of a mobius. I did find that even if you get to the end of the first round, and find a twist, it's unlikely to show in some yarns, LOL. On dpns you can untwist the last needle, but you can't on circulars. So then I learned to knit one or two rows flat, then join into a round, and sew up the tiny seam after. In order to join the cast on row without twisting, I would usually sit on the couch, put my knee up in front of me, and spread the knitting around my knee, aligning all the sts. And knit like that.

Magic Loop. It wouldn't surprise me if I had 'accidentally' done Magic Loop before I knew it. Sometimes, the cable connection gets kinked and sticks out all on it's own while you knit. I'm sure I also got frustrated with knitting the top of a hat, and not wanting to get off the couch to find the dpns, I stretched out the cable to see if I could knit just a bit more. I did 'officially' learn Magic Loop in May 2007. But it wasn't all smooth sailing. I know that link takes you to the first post, but if you click on the "May 2007" or other months that summer, you'll see some other examples. It took me a long time before I could cast on this way, and for knitters who want to try Magic Loop, I do recommend starting the project however they normally do, and switching to Magic Loop once it's going well. Depending on your cable length, you can just pull out the extra cable on the right needle before starting the round, or you can pull out the cable at the mid-point too (for shorter circular needles). Be careful with marking the start of your round though; you won't be able to tell from your cast on tail as the knitting naturally spirals. There are lots of websites that tell you exactly how to Magic Loop, so I won't bother, but I think those two tips can really help.

Two at once. This can be done on one circular, or two circulars (I won't write about knitting in the round on two circulars as if they were 4 dpns; it's a fairly straightforward idea). I still have trouble casting on, and still recommend casting on separately and knitting about an inch. Then, if you've done Magic Loop, it's fairly easy to see that you'd have 1/2 the sts of the first item, then all the sts of the second item (pulling out the cable at the mid-point), then the second half of the sts from the first item. That's the hardest part for me (esp. if actually trying to cast on for both items at once). If someone has good instructions for how to cast on two items on one circular, I'd like to know! It might be easier to cast onto two circulars, but then you have more ends flopping around. And, of course, to do magic loop for two items at once, you do need a really long cable. So, quite often, I might start as magic loop, but then as the toes of the socks increase, it gets harder to do Magic Loop and I switch to two circulars.

I'm sure I haven't answered her specific question, LOL. I say, just Google it, or go to the library. There are tons of videos on YouTube as well, for knitting!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Jemajo left a comment asking about how I got the patterning on the sock leg. It was a handknit sock, from "Interweave Favourite Socks". I have been thinking about if it's possible to do patterning while knitting tubular on the machine. I don't think you can--you could have it on the main bed, but there's no way to transfer the design from the punchcard to the ribber carriage. Also, as the main carriage is coming back but not knitting--what will it do after having picked up the pattern for the next row?
I have been thinking about tuck rib lace (ribbed lace tuck? lace tucked rib?) though. It'd be knit flat, but that's okay. Has anyone knit socks using something other than a rib or plain tubular?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

More Happy Knits!

First off, those socks of the last post...not so happy. They really sag. The leg was knit with increasing tension setting (looser knitting) as you go towards the ankle. That totally went against my intuition. I like the socks that I 'designed' myself better. But I still love that yarn.

Okay, on to the next projects. Whenever I perform with the concert band, my feet get cold. Don't know if it's from sweating, or from my blood going to more important parts of my body, or what. I've wanted to knit some black socks for awhile to wear in concert, but the thought of knitting in couldn't be lacy, and many patterns just wouldn't show up. But I went through my Interweave "Favorite Socks" and found that I had the actual sock yarn for this pattern, "Undulating Ribs". I started off with the recommended needle size, but as I went down the leg, I kept switching to smaller needles. I also found out that some of my needles aren't really the size that is etched on them.
I made them nice and tall so I wouldn't have to worry about my legs showing if my pants rode up, LOL.It's really hard to get a picture of the pattern; the flash is too intense up close. I made them two at a time, cuff down; sometimes magic loop, sometimes 2 circulars depending on what needle length I had in the different sizes. I also noticed at one point that I had changed from it being an 8 row pattern, to doing the change row, then 8 plain rows. But, by doing them both at the same time, they are at least both the same, LOL.
My other concert dress issue is being cold during warm-up/prep, but hot during concert. I have a white shawl, but it's not a warm one. I'd been wanting to knit a shrug, but I've had a hard time finding a pattern I like. I've done a LOT of research, LOL. I wanted one that was significantly cut away at the front, not a shrunken sweater. If I knit it cuff to cuff, I didn't want a pattern that would create horizontal lines across my back. But cuff to cuff is the easiest way to knit this, in the style I wanted. If I chose a tuck pattern, or something, I'd have to make sure it looked the same in both directions. And then there is the issue of matching gauge to the yarn I had, etc. It seemed like I'd never get a shrug I liked.
Then I remember about a shrug pattern 'generator' on Those links don't seem to work anymore, but I found the pattern now--you just have to do the work yourself!
 The picture with the pattern is not very good; and there weren't very many on Ravelry. And I wasn't sure about the sizing, except that I wanted to wear it over my band shirt. I swatched, washed it, and put in the numbers. I knit it up, thinking it'd just be a test piece. The number of rows in the inc/dec sleeve portions did not add up right, but only by 2 rows. I used eyelet increases, so for the decreases, I had to move the sts over to leave one open for the eyelet, and do two decreases. The pattern called to inc every 5 rows X times, then every 6 rows Y times, but on the way down the other sleeve, it was written dec every 5 rows, then every 6 rows. I switched those around so the every 6 rows was first. I started and ended on waste yarn as I had a vision for a ruffle cuff, it it all worked out.
I basted it together and tried it on. And golly, wouldn't you know, it fit perfectly! I don't really like the parts you have to sew together, but it's kind of hidden next to the underarm.

Using the ribber, I set out to make a ruffled cuff. OMG. I felt like a total knitting retard. I could do NOTHING right anymore with my machine. I won't bore you here; some of you read my tale in the Yahoo group. It's not as ruffly as I was hoping; perhaps a full needle rib instead of 1x1?
I'm not fond of the rolled top and back edge, but I can live with that as it's the fastest way.
I can really see knitting more of these in other colours! Maybe a little longer sleeves too.
Anyway, it's nice to have a finished result that I can wear in public and like!!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Worth The Wait

Sometimes I amaze even myself. Way back when I was still part of the "Georgetown Group" (The Halton Hands in Motion Knitting and Crocheting Guild), the owner and guild prez, often brought in new items to meetings, and I saw this sock yarn and immediately coveted it. Now, I thought I had bought it in July 2007, on my way back from a follow up after my surgery. Apparently not. According to my blog, I bought it in April 2007. Well, actually, in re-reading that post, I see that the guild meeting was April 12, but it seems that's not when I bought it. According to a picture I posted on June 11, 2008, the ball of yarn was in my stash, and still intact. Oh, but by August, I had knit the socks. Two and a bit times? Gee, I wish I had read that post before I tried again.

So, apparently these socks have been languishing in the 'mid-term UFO' drawer. You know, those projects that are not 'current' but not totally hibernating. Having a little time out. A year and a half is a little time out, no?

Just after I made the green pair of socks that I recently posted, I received some back issues of KnitWords magazine. And, gee...there was a pattern for 2x2 ribbed socks! LOL! They're made slightly different than the ones I figured out myself.
I made the first one I showed in the last post, and felt it was too big. Well, yeah, even though I got a tighter gauge than the pattern, they were 72st (I think) and I had written in the post in 2008 that 64sts were too many. I sized down a bit for another try, but in order to get the end needles arranged like the pattern recommended, I think I ended up with 68sts.
Optical illusion? Is one foot really that much shorter than the other? :)
Pulled up nice and tight and freshly washed I thought they were perfect.

It didn't take long though, for the saggin' baggin' to happen. The sock is clearly too loose in the leg, and I think I need more rows of plain knit before I start the short row heel. I think I want the ribbing to end just above the ankle bone. I've never liked short row heels because I seem to have a deep heel. But on the machine, this is truly the easiest way. Not the only way, but I'm not sure that the amount of work needed for a heel flap would be worth the work. I could take it off and knit the heel by hand faster, then put it back on to knit the rest of the foot.
The foot is also on the looser side. I could tighten up the gauge, but I"m already getting 32st/4" (and the pattern called for 30st/4"), and I like the fabric. I can use fewer sts, but then I have to recalculate the foot length as fewer sts would mean fewer rows in the heel and toe. The pattern row gauge was 36st/4" but I got 44 rows/4" and I like the fabric.
I haven't matched row gauge in any pattern yet. I seem to get too many rows. But I like the fabric.
And I'm not re-knitting these socks again! When I enter them into Ravelry, do I put August 2008 as the start date?!