My Socks, they are crooked!

Did you have a yarn-y holiday? This year I got a lot of “home” oriented presents but not very much in the way of yarn. For Christmas I didn’t get anything yarn related at all. My birthday is tomorrow, but I celebrated with my family tonight. I got a new ball winder (mine was doing the click of death) and a few skeins off my Knit Picks wish list from my mom and dad, and a gift card to an LYS from my brother. Also, I may have treated myself to the ChiaoGoo full interchangeable needle set on Black Friday, so it’s been a good (or bad) winter for the stash indeed.

In addition to the yarn and notion goodness, I’ve been keeping my toes toasty this winter with a new pair of socks! I finally finished my Skew socks that I started back in September of 2012.

Skew

 

Originally, I started these because the LYS I was knitting at had a “sock hour” just before the general knit chat and if you came for sock hour you had a better seat for the rest of the night. I was working on the for about an hour a week at most.

Skew

Since I’ve been trying to knit down my over-abundant number of WIPs, I’ve been dedicating my train commute to my oldest projects and (shocker) spending an hour+ per day, five days a week, is really helping to knock things off the needles.

This pattern is knit on the bias, hence the “skew” that makes the socks look like they have diagonal stripes. The directions are nothing like traditional socks, but I just followed them blindly and everything worked out great. They are worked toe-up, but the heel is grafted, so if you absolutely hate to kitchner, this is not the pattern for you.

Skew

The yarn I used is Canon Hand Dyes Jane Self-Striping MCN (a mouthful, I know.) The colorway is called Loves Labor Lost. Colorways named after Shakespeare just make my literature-nerd heart sing. It’s 80% merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon. Heavenly soft, I tell you. Heavenly.

Skew

I have basically been living in these for the whole month of December. From the extended wear there are a few things I can tell you. The yarn does pill, but not insanely. Most very soft fibers  are going to pill, so I’m not going to be upset about it, but now I know and so do you. I use a sweater stone to remove pills from all my knitting and it’s super fast and easy so pilling really doesn’t bother me unless it’s extreme. Another thing I can tell you after a month of near non-stop wear is that this yarn is nice and sturdy. There has been no signs of wearing or weak spots whatsoever. I’m hopeful they’ll have a good long life. Lastly, these have been washed quite a few times back to back and the colors do not bleed. I was worried with the black dye that it might bleed into the pink but there is almost no discoloration to the wash water at all. Maybe a tiny bit with the first was, but nothing since then. I need more of this yarn.

Skew

A note about the pattern. I knit it as written and I was on gauge. They fit me great, but I have a US 7 narrow foot. If you have a larger foot you may need to recalculate the width and length to get a good fit. Given the bias pattern that means more than just knitting a few extra rows. Overall, these were fun to make and the yarn has made them luxurious to wear, but I think I will go back to a traditional sock construction for my next pair.

Fraternal

Hand knit socks are one of the little luxuries that non-knitters don’t get to experience (unless they have a knitter who loves them very much.) They are so comfy and warm and can be customized to fit perfectly. Then there’s the endless variety of amazing sock yarns–pretty much any fiber blend and color you can hope for. Here is my latest pair (and by latest, I mean they were finished in October.)

Side note: taking pictures of your own feet takes an inordinate amount of body contortion. These are plain stockinette socks following the Yarn Harlot’s Sock Recipe. As much as I like the look of fancy socks with cables and lace, and as interesting as they can be to make, my favorite socks to wear are the plain knit ones.
These are knit with Patons Kroy Socks FX in the color way Clover Colors. By sock yarn standards this yarn is incredibly cheap (in price) and can be found in most of the big box stores like Michaels and Jo-Anns. It’s a blend of 75% wool 25% nylon so its nice and sturdy. It’s definitely not as buttery soft as the luxury yarns with cashmere, merino, etc. but its definitely fine for wearing on your feet. These feel like they will wear really well and after a full winter of wear I don’t see any signs of weakening in the heels or balls where I tend to wear holes through my socks.
I made no effort to try to make the colors match from one sock to the other. I just started each sock from the beginning of a 50g ball and let the colors line up as they may. With such a long color repeat and slow transition it would have been a real pain and really, I just don’t care that much about having matched up socks. I think the fraternal pair is actually really cute.

Skew

For a while I was knitting Skew by Lana Holden. I’ve loved the pattern ever since I saw it in the Winter 2009 Knitty. I especially love the versions that I’ve seen in self striping yarn.

When a Skein of Canon Hand Dyes Jane Self Striping yarn in the colorway Love’s Labor Lost came into my possession via the awesome Laurie, I knew it would become Skew eventually.

Eventually, has turned out to be right. Since September I’m….

IMG_0945

That far. Which is to say, not far. As a bouns, on my left foot you can see my icky surgery scar from the 2008 osteotomy (aka the Great Foot Straightening), and on my left foot you can see my hairy big toe. Sexy Lady.
An interloper (or several) came between me and these lovely socks and I haven’t made it back to them. Also, since I’ve been working at the yarn shop during the regular sock hour, I don’t have that time set aside to dedicate to them anymore. I really do need to give my neglected WIPs some love. They’re all projects I like. I’m just… easily distracted.
Speaking of easily distracted, on the reading front I’m STILL reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke. I do like the book, I really do, but I keep putting it down for sexier, flashier, quicker reads. According to Goodreads, I started reading this in March… and according to my Kindle (which I have named Anthony because it’s fun to call things by a proper name) I’m only 40% through. Now it’s about 1,000 pages so 40% is like reading two little books, but still… Also, the last 10% or so of the book is footnotes, and I’ve read a lot of the footnotes already, but they don’t count in the 40% since it measures from the page you are on looking back. I like it when I flip to the footnotes and it tells me I’m 96% done. A girl can dream.

New Socks

May was a month of finishing projects.  I finished my last Westknits Shawl Club shaw Cumulonimbus.  I finished my brother’s birthday present gloves.  I finished my ugly Dahlia.  And just at the end of the month I managed to get my Pomotomous socks off the needles.

IMG_0613
As you can see this pattern has over 4,000 projects on Ravelery.  The swirly shell pattern is beautiful and the twisted stitches really make the pattern pop.  I’ve been tinkering on these on and off for a very long time.  They rode the bus with me to the legal clinic all year long, but it’s hard to make significant progress knitting 4-5 rounds at a time.
IMG_0611
The yarn is one of the first cones I ever bout from Yarnia, it’s one of their custom house blends called Arch Cape.  If they don’t have it in their store right now, I bet they can make you up something very similar.  They’re super accommodating like that–super nice.
This pattern creates a very long sock leg.  I think if I make it again I will only repeat the pattern twice on the leg rather than three times.  Cookie A‘s pattern is written very clearly and is easy to follow, but the pattern is only charted so you have to be able to read charts.
IMG_0617
Unfortunately, June is not the best time to be finishing wool socks.  I’ll have to pack them away until it starts to get cold again.  If you want to check out other projects that people have been casting off this week, you can check out Tami’s Amis blog where’s she’s collects FO links.

For Cathie and Patt

Pictures of Lissajous.

IMG_0400

I finished the first one at knit chat tonight.  These (I say “these” even though the second one is not cast on yet) have been worked on exclusively at sock hour since July.  There are several reasons (besides the fact that they only get one hour a week of attention) that these are taking so long.  Reason one: big-ass chart on the cuff.
IMG_0404
Reason two: same big ass chart on the heel, only this time worked back and forth.
IMG_0401
Reason three: calf shaping leading to over 100 stitches at the widest part.
IMG_0402
Just for fun, try taking a picture of the back of your calf in a pencil skirt.  I couldn’t be bothered to change outfits before my photo shoot.  Luckily, I live alone so no one was here to mock my strange gymnastic poses.
 
Reason four: um, hello, they’re KNEE socks.  Knees are many inches away from toes.  25 inches.
I came home a put the sock on in a display of knitterly pride.  (Oh come on, you’ve worn a single sock just off the needles, you have. Admit it.)  Ryan came over for some pasta and I started cooking with the sock still on.  Then I had a heart-stopping moment when a drip of bright red pasta sauce dripped off the serving spoon toward the floor.  It missed the sock, but I kid you not, I gasped out loud.  The sock came off and got put away somewhere safe.  Disaster averted.

Hey look! A sock!

I mostly knit socks one at a time.  I’m perfectly aware of all of the two-at-a-time methods and occasionally will use one of them, but for the most part, I just prefer double pointed needles.  Second sock syndrom hits me every so often, but in general it’s not something I suffer from too badly.  Well folks, I’m suffering.

Meet Pomatomous.  My single pomatomous.

IMG_0284
This sock is a beast on many levels.  As you can see, the sock has a very long leg.  The pattern is a 24-row repeat and it’s repeated 3 times before you start the heel.  Thats 72 pattern rows plus the twisted rib cuff before you ever even start the heel.  Added to that, because the pattern is predominately twisted rib, it is less stretchy than most.  This means that you have to cast on 72 stitches to make the sock fit.  Each round is 8 stitches bigger than a standard sock-weight sock.  Finally, the chart has to be followed line by line.  Even after following it five times though, I couldn’t come close to memorizing it.  Look, it’s pretty complex!
IMG_0286
I will make the second sock my on the go project for the upcoming semester.  The one that I keep in my backpack and work on when I’m on the bus to Clinic, on my lunch break at work, and in spare moments between class.  Hopefully I will have a finished pair by the end of the semester without having to use any of my primo couch/netflix knitting time on these suckers.  That time is for lovely projects that fill me with joy.  See yesterday’s post.

My Grandma

My Grandma is a difficult woman.  I try to be patient with her and remember that she’s a product of a very different time and a very different upbringing.  My Grandma wants to tell everyone what everyone else’s problem is and exactly the path they should take to fix it.  Needless to say, my Grandma’s 1940s Catholic ideals are slightly different from my own… At the same time, she’s my Grandma and I love her and I feel like I should do nice things for her.  A few weeks ago, my Grandma called me asking for some wool house socks.  These are the result:

IMG_0010

These are the faceted rib socks by Charlene Schurch and Beth Parrott from the Little Box of Socks.  I love those little cards, they’re so easy to pop in my purse and carry around.  The pattern creates a very dense fabric.  Even though these are made with standard sock-weight yarn, I don’t think they would fit in any ordinary pair of shoes because they are so thick.  All the better since they are meant to be house socks.  Also, the pattern takes a lot of stitches because it doesn’t have a lot of stretch so it eats yarn.  I had 380 yards and, as you can see, I had to result to “complementary” yarn for the toes.

IMG_0015

The main color yarn is Pico Accuardi Dyeworks La Libera in colorway Hyperspanner (I don’t know how long that link will be good for, I think the company is closing down, which is too bad because it’s pretty good yarn).  The yarn is slightly thick in some places but it has a nice tight ply and a good sproing.

IMG_0005

The toes are some Knit Picks Special Buy Sport Wool in colorway Amethyst Heather  that I ordered long ago and haven’t found a use for yet.  It’s yarn that was over-spun so they sold it for $1 per ball.  I ordred a bunch of it, but haven’t really used it until now.  It’s very tightly spun and feels dense the way that hand spun yarn often does.  Even though it’s sport weight, I don’t notice much of a difference between the toe and the rest of the sock.

IMG_0004

Grandma won’t like them.  She finds fault with everything.  The color will be wrong, or the fit, or the pattern… something.  Of course, if I didn’t make them, then I’d be un-loving and mean to an 85-year-old woman and I’d never hear the end of that earlier.  So, I’m just going to package them up, send them off with a nice card, then refuse to take any calls from Grandma for at least a month… You know, like an adult.

Fancy Socks

Ever since May, For Yarns Sake, my closest LYS, has been doing monthly knit-a-longs.  I started the May project–don’t ask–but skipped the June one.  When I heard what the July project was going to be, I just had to join again.  Per my suggestion (I don’t know if they chose because of my suggestion, but I’m pretty sure I brought the pattern to the attention of the people who did the choosing) they/we are knitting Lissajous Socks by Cookie A.
Lissajous Socks

These beauties come in both a knee-high and standard sock length.  I’m of course doing the knee-high (look at the pretty!)  I’m enjoying working on these, though they are a bit slow-going.  There’s more stitches around than a standard sock because of the calf shaping and there are 4 charts to follow at once.  It’s a good thing I’m enjoying these, because as you can see, I’ve got a ways to go…

IMG_1165
Why do my legs suddenly seem so much longer than usual?

I’m just over half-way through the first big chart, and I’m looking forward to the “ease” of focusing on just the cables and calf shaping for a while.

IMG_1168

I had a small accident in which I continued to rib even though the directions clearly (maybe not that clearly) tell you to stop ribbing after 18 rows.  I was on row 33 when I realized this.  I did no rip back.  Instead, I knit to each wrong purl column and dropped the stitches down individually for 15 rows, then picked them back up the right way.  This fix-it crochet hook was extremely helpful, and made the whole process way more painless than it could have been. Look at the delicate cables.

IMG_1167
Sorry my pictures are ass.  They were taken inside by me.  If these were finished, I’d have no trouble running around outside taking a billion pictures of my socks and thumbing my nose at anyone who thinks it’s weird to take sock pictures.  However, even I draw the line at running around outside with a thin stip of sock halfway up my leg holding the attached ball of yarn in one hand, the camera in the other, and hitching up my skirt to try to get a picture that shows off my twisted stitches.  For me, that’s more of an indoor activity.  Expect better pictures when/if I get these done.


The yarn I’m using is Spud and Chloe Fine.  I’m still forming an opinion about it, sometimes I love it, sometimes I’m not so sure.  I’ll give a full report after I have more than 2 inches knit with it…  I want to be sure I really give it a fair chance.

I do have one question about the pattern though…. Why the *^&$ does it make you cast on, then do make-ones in the first &(*^%$# row, then, in the next row, make you use the make-ones to do &^%#@!) twisted-stitch cables?  Hmmm?  That I’d like to know.  Why not just cast on all the stitches rather than increase on the first row?  If there is a logical practical reason I may be able to accept the maddening torture that was the first two rows of this pattern.  If there is no good reason, then the only logical conclusion is that Cookie A is a mean diabolical hateful woman who secretly plots to drive sock knitters insane.  My progress on my Pomatomous would seem to suggest the latter.

Spring Socks

Well, it seems I’ve fallen in to a non-blogging rut again.  I would like to be posting at least once a week, but I find it so hard to do posts about WIPs.  I like to show off FOs, it feels like an accomplishment, like a giant strike through on my to-do list.  Posting about WIPs feels like a reminder of the fact that there are things unfinished, that my life is actually cluttered and (sometimes) overwhelmingly unmanageable.  I feel like if I only show the FOs, it will at least give the impression that I have everything together all the time.  That’s why I didn’t post until I could show you these:

IMG_1152

These socks were started so that I would have something to knit at the Sock Hour at my LYS.  Since they’re kind enough to host the knitting event, I try to work on projects from yarn from their store or at least projects in yarn they carry (it’s not hard, I have a lot of yarn from them, they have awesome selection.)  I started them back in May, and if you’re in Portland, you know what our May was like this year–grey, rainy, cold, not at all like what May should be like.  When I was trying to decide what yarn to cast on with, this green practically jumped into my hand.  It was such an appealing color against the ugly weather that was showing no sign of letting up.

IMG_1157

The yarn is from a local indie dyer StitchJones.  This yarn is her Titanium Sock yarn.  I think it will live up to it’s name.  It’s very tightly spun and feels like it will be very durable.  The color is called “Tempest in a Dyepot” and it varies from a light bright spring green to a deep olive-forest green.  I was unbelievably pleased that the color didn’t pool in any obvious or terrible way.  Perfect variegation is extremely rare, but this is a wonderful example of how awesome hand-painted yarns can end up looking.

IMG_1155
Ryan is an excellent sock photographer don’t you think?  I told him taking good sock pictures is just one of the many reasons I love him.  His patience for my knitting photo shoots is incredibly endearing.

The pattern is from the book Knitting Socks With Hand Painted Yarns which I’ve owned for a long time but never got around to making anything from until now.   The premise of the book is patterns that make hand painted yarns stand out without overpowering the stitches and obscuring all the hard knitting work. I think these socks speak for the effectiveness of the book.  The pattern I used is called Zigzag Anklets.

IMG_1162

The socks are actually most just a plain stockinette sock.  The construction is interesting.  They are knit top-down.  First you cast on and knit the simple zig-zag lace pattern and some 1×1 ribbing.  Then you turn the sock inside out and continue in stockinette for the rest of the way.  This means that the zig-zag lace is right-side-out when it folded down.  I love the retro bobby-sock look of these, though I doubt you’d find any bobby-socks in acid green (until now.)

IMG_1150

There are only a few things I would change about this pattern.  First, it tells you to knit the body of the sock on US 2 needles.  I did, and I got the right gauge, but they are a bit loose for me–not loose fitting, I mean the gauge feels loose.  I think I would cast on a few more stitches and knit them on US 1s instead.  I tend to like a tight gauge for my socks though, I think some of my socks can stand on their own.  I feel like it makes them more long-wearing, not sure if that’s really true.  I’ve only had one pair of socks wear through, and they were knit on US 1.5s so who knows…  The other thing is strangely picky but since I’m griping about 1/4 millimeter differences in needle size, it seems fitting.  The decreases on the gusset go “the wrong way.”  I like a k2tog on the right and an SSK on the left.  This pattern reverses them.  I followed the pattern as written, “just to see” and I don’t like it.  It’s not as graceful.  It does make the gusset line less noticeable though, so maybe that’s what the designer was going for.

I’ve already cast on my next pair of socks (they are a doozy) and maybe I will even show them to you before they are finished.

More socks

I feel like recently all I’ve been showing you are finished socks.  I know there have been other projects, but I’m usually so slow to finish a pair of socks that three pairs done so close together has me feeling like I’m cranking them out.  (Disregard the fact that all three pairs were on the needles between six months and two years.)  Here is the latest pair.

IMG_1079

These are my first pair of socks from Yarnia yarn.  This is one of the house blends that is very popular named Boylston.  (If the online shop is out of stock you can always call or email them and ask them to make you up another cone of Boylston.  If they have the ingredients they’ll be happy to whip you up a cone.)  This yarn is 50% Bamboo, 27% Merino, and 23% alpaca.  This picture really shows the depth of color.

IMG_1083

The yarn is composed of four strands: one navy bamboo, one navy merino, one bright blue merino, and one heathered gray alpaca.  I think the color is perfect for manly things, which is nice because sometimes it can be hard to find “manly” yarn.  Of course, this didn’t stop me from making these socks for me.

IMG_1080

I have found that Yarnia yarn sometimes has a weird quirk to it.  As you knit, sometimes one or more of the strands will get “loose” like you have more of those strands than the other, so you have to slide the excess down as you knit so that you’re working with a length of yarn where all the strands are the same tension.  If you’ve worked with Yarnia yarn before you might know what I’m talking about.  It’s a minor annoyance and slows knitting a bit.  In the few instances where it’s become completely unmanageable I just cut the yarn, trim the strands with excess down, join, and continue on.

IMG_1072

The pattern is just a simply 64-stitch sock.  I followed the Yarn Harlot sock recipe the first time I made these, but now I just knit from memory.  The only thing I have to look up each time is how many stitches to knit/purl across for the first two rows of the heel turn.  I just grab any of my many sock books off the shelf and flip through till I find a sock with a heel flap worked over 32 stitches and use the numbers there.  Some day I’ll memorize that too and then I’ll be able to make socks completely from memory.  I think that’s cool.

IMG_1076

This yarn is a bit heavier than a traditional fingering weight, not quite a sport, but close.  At 64 stitches on size 1.5 needles it made a very dense fabric.  These would be perfect hiking socks and a great for walking around the house when it’s not quite cold enough for slippers but you still want something on your feet.  I won’t be wearing these for a while it seems though.  It’s finally spiked up into the 80s here in Portland and I’ve been able to bust out the sandals.  The warm weather is totally worth having to put off wearing my new socks for a few months.