Sunday, July 20, 2014

Year of Project 4: Rumpled 02

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor • Rumpled! • Om Shanti

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus • Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious • Twisted Flower • Wedge

The subtitle of the book Socktopus is "17 Pairs of Socks to Knit and Show Off" and this Rumpled! pattern lives up to the billing. The finished sock is really striking. The combination of twisted rib and eyelets makes for a very textured pattern with lots of drama - very nice.

And my goodness, was that pattern ever easy! Honestly, other than fighting with a handful of K3tog stitches every fourth round, there was really nothing to it. There was almost no need to refer to the pattern after the first repeat.

All that twisted rib paired with all those eyelets also creates a very stretchy fabric, and that's a must for a well-fitted sock. I'll admit, I was skeptical about 72 sts on 2.25mm needles. Seemed to me there was a strong possibility that I'd end up with a baggy pair of socks, but my fears proved unfounded. I suppose I could have decrease to 68 sts around the foot to make them a bit more snug, but I'm happy with them just the way they are.

I knit the pattern as written with two minor modifications: I made the heel flap 4 rows longer and I grafted the toes at 22 sts. That's one thing in favour of this heel construction - it's easy to adjust for pointy heels, high insteps and thick ankles!

The Sokkusu yarn also behaved itself. There's enough variegation to keep it interesting but not much pooling (other than that dark blob at the bottom of one heel that irks me just a tiny bit). The colour is lovely and it's not at all splitty which makes it nice to work with. Compared to other sock yarns it's on the light fingering side of the spectrum and not very soft; reminiscent of Koigu PPPM I think. Nothing to complain about, but it won't be added to my list of favourite sock yarns.

As I've completed this sock well ahead of the start date for the next pattern in the Socktopus KAL, I've moved on to a pattern from Knit. Sock. Love. But more on that in next week's update!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Rumpled 01

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor • Rumpled! • Om Shanti

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus • Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious • Twisted Flower • Wedge

This is one of those patterns that looks a lot harder than it is. Although the pattern spans 24 rounds, it's easy enough to memorize - one eyelet row is followed by three almost plain rounds, repeat those four rounds twice more, and then shift half a repeat and do it again. And if you can read your knitting, it's dead simple to see where you've left off in case you're picking it up and putting it down. All in all that makes the perfect sock pattern for travel knitting or interrupted knitting between file downloads at work. One word of warning though: don't attempt the K3togs with delicate needles. I'm using steel needles - carbon fiber would also work - but bamboo needles would be risky. SNAP!

The yarn is Sokkusu O, a yarn which was originally offered for sale by Socktopus, but is now dyed on the same base by Whimzy. It's one of the sponsored yarns in the Socktopus KAL. By using this yarn I am supporting one of the sponsors, and as well, I increase my chances in the KAL prize draws. Win, win!

Franz Eugene Khöler
Khöler's Medizanal-Pflantzen 123
This image is in the public domain
because its copyright has expired
The colourway is "Madder". I first learned of madder red dye through Nancy Bush sock patterns; she uses yarns dyed madder red quite regularly. The dye is prepared from the ground roots of plants from the Rubiaceae family and has been in use for centuries. Traces of the dye have been found in fabric samples from the tomb of Tutankhamun. Cool, huh?

I'm making these socks for a friend for whom I knit red socks every December. She'll love to hear the history of the yarn dye; she's always asking for the back story about the yarn and the pattern. And look at that ... nothing last minute about this gift. If I finish the second sock this week then I'm a full five months early. If only I was this organized and timely with all my plans.

One more thing; a lot of people have been asking if I only knit socks. Well no, I don't knit socks exclusively; in fact I just ordered some yarn for a baby blanket and have been queuing patterns for knitted toys and felted slippers. But I do mostly knit socks. Looking back in through my Ravelry project pages 25 of the last 40 projects were socks. Seems I also mostly blog about socks ....  er, when I blog at all.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Year of Projects 4!

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor • Rumpled! • Om Shanti

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus • Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious • Twisted Flower • Wedge

As mentioned last week, I'll start my fourth year of projects by finishing the remaining three patterns in the Socktopus KAL - Rumpled!, Om Shanti and Farmer McGregor. In fact, by the time next week's update rolls around I should be able to show you some good progress on Rumpled! since I've rewound the yarn and cast on already.

Mostly, I can't wait to dig into Knit. Sock. Love. There are two patterns I've knit before - BFF and Monkey, and here too - so I'll leave those until last and then decide whether to knit them again. They're both awesome patterns so I'm open to the idea of doing another pair of each. The patterns in the book as listed at the top of this post are in alphabetical order - I won't feel bound to follow that. I suspect the order will evolve as the mood takes me, and as stash yarn suggest itself. But where to start? Either Rhombus or Marilinda, I think!

And you know, now's the perfect time to join in the fun with A Year of Projects group on Ravelry! Want to knit along?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Year of Projects 3: Year End Wrap Up

SOCKTOPUS: Totally Vanilla • Kandahar • V Junkie • Kwalla • Farmer McGregor • Shur'tugal • 2luvcrew • Vorticity • Rumpled! • Crowley • Om Shanti • Mince Pie Mayhem • Hundred Acre Wood • De Stijl • Fiori di Zucca • Caretta Caretta • Spring Shoots

Hard to believe that we've come to the end of another Year of Projects. And although it's the end of that KAL, three sock patterns remain for the Socktopus KAL. I'll add them to the beginning of my next Year of Projects before moving onto another book.

It's nice to review the past year of projects; to make it easier, I've put together an animated GIF showing each finished pair. For the three to-be-knit patterns I've allocated stash yarn and shown that in place of a FO photo. If you're wondering, I've decided on Sokkusu O yarn in "Madder" colourway for Rumpled, Super Cash Sock in "Cocoa Dusted Truffle" colourway for Om Shanti and Twisted House Cat in "Frog Prince" for Farmer McGregor.

Through the year, readers have commented about my determination to knit every pattern, whether I like it or not. So far, that determination has served me well. In many cases the patterns I don't like before starting, I like better after finishing. Often, those patterns also introduce me to unfamiliar techniques and new heel constructions. And sometimes the socks I don't like are sought after by others. Each to his own. My conclusion is that knitting every pattern makes me a better knitter.

I've also found the KAL experience to be very positive. Having deadlines and being accountable keeps me on track and seems to be the cure for both Startitis and Second Sock Syndrome. Knitting along puts me in a pool of other knitters who can give helpful tips, supportive encouragement and sometimes, constructive criticism. And there's nothing wrong with winding up with more than a dozen pairs of gorgeous hand knit socks! Some to keep and some to give away.

We're headed to a cottage up at Stoney Lake for a bit, so I'm posting this update a day early. I've already packed my knitting so there's sure to be a good update when I get back. Have a great weekend one and all! Happy Canada Day to my countryfolk and Happy 4th of July to my friends south of the border.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Year of Projects 3: V Junkie 03

SOCKTOPUS: Totally Vanilla • Kandahar • V Junkie • Kwalla • Farmer McGregor • Shur'tugal • 2luvcrew • Vorticity • Rumpled! • Crowley • Om Shanti • Mince Pie Mayhem • Hundred Acre Wood • De Stijl • Fiori di Zucca • Caretta Caretta • Spring Shoots

I thought it'd be a finished pair of socks that I'd be showing you today, but the socks didn't get much love this week. I'm just at the point where the instep pattern starts to narrow on this V Junkie pattern. Not too long now; in fact I expect to finish this pair by sometime tomorrow.

Most of today has been spent in the garden. Slowly but surely I'm clearing out the dead wood leftover from a particularly difficult winter. About 20% of my Barberry bush died off, so I snipped out the dead branches and pruned back the rest to reshape it. Three Yucca plants also didn't make it, so they've been removed. That'll leave space for new growth around the remaining two. Both clematis were wiped out so I dug them out and removed the dead wood from the trellises on the back fence. Almost all of the English Ivy was toast, so that's also been cut back severely, with the dead wood removed from the trellises. The fence looks very bare right now; hopefully the ivy that remains will grow aggressively.

It's not all bad news in the garden though. I feared that I had lost my Japanese Maple, but after a slow start it's about 50% covered in leaves. I'll see how well it does over the summer and then decide if I need to prune out any branches in the fall. And then there's my Spindle Tree. For the last few years I've been fighting an infestation of small black leaf eating bugs ... fighting and losing. I was already tentatively planning to remove it and replace it with something else, but it looks like the hard winter was good for something: the tree survived but the infesting bugs did not!

I'll leave you with a photo of one of the branches of my Chinese Flowering Dogwood tree. This tree has been awesome from day one. It is absolutely covered in blossoms this year. The blossoms are a few weeks later this year because of the never-ending winter and the colder than normal spring, but it's a showstopper these days. Happy summer everyone!

Friday, June 20, 2014

FO: Vanellope Latte Socks

Vanilla Latte Socks by Virginia Rose-Jeanes

Yarn: Twinkle Cat in "Vanellope Von Schweetz"

Needles Size: US 00 (1.75 mm)

Modifications: Changed heel construction to an afterthought heel to keep the stripes perfect

Comments: You may have noticed the name of this yarn colourway - Vanellope Von Schweetz - it's named for a character in Disney's Wreck-It Ralph! It's a self-striping yarn that knits up to match Vanellope's own socks. So cute!

The yarn also has 5% stellina content so it twinkles. This is my first experience with stellina and it's been pretty positive. I've made quilts from metallic fabrics which look nice but are not very soft. With this yarn, there isn't a huge amount of metallic content so the softness of the merino is relatively unaffected. Sometimes you can feel a kind of tinsel-y feeling on your needles as you're knitting but for the most part, the stellina is almost undetectable. But my goodness does it twinkle! There's no missing that!

For a self-striping yarn I generally prefer a fairly vanilla sock, and this Vanilla Latte pattern was just the ticket. A bit tedious to knit however; miles and miles of broken rib. They're very nice to look at though. When Jane unwrapped them at her birthday supper she exclaimed that these must be the most gorgeous socks I had ever knit! If you've seen Jane's Etsy Store - Christmas is Magical - you'll quickly realize that Jane is a huge fan of glitter and sparkle, so when I saw the yarn I knew who was meant to have these socks.

These socks were actually finished almost two months ago, but Jane often reads my blog, so they've been a secret until now. I also need to send a big thank you to the ladies at Wandering Cat Yarn. As soon as I mentioned on Ravelry that I wanted some natural colour twinkle cat yarn for the afterthought heels and toes, they were all over it. Rhonda had a package in the mail to me within days. How awesome is that?!

Happy Friday everyone! We've got beautiful sunshine and it looks like a gorgeous weekend ahead. I'm hoping to get out on my Paddle Board for sure!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Year of Projects 3: V Junkie 02

SOCKTOPUS: Totally Vanilla • Kandahar • V Junkie • Kwalla • Farmer McGregor • Shur'tugal • 2luvcrew • Vorticity • Rumpled! • Crowley • Om Shanti • Mince Pie Mayhem • Hundred Acre Wood • De Stijl • Fiori di Zucca • Caretta Caretta • Spring Shoots

I've made good progress this week on this V Junkie pattern - the first sock is done, and I'm two-thirds of the way on the second sock. I still don't love this sock pattern, but I'm more ambivalent about it than when I started. The finished sock looks much more attractive when worn so that's good. And I do like the heel. It's a short row wrap and turn heel worked in garter stitch, and it has a rustic look that I find really appealing. It feels a bit mismatched on this sock, to my way of thinking, but I like it.

This Elann A-Series S01 yarn in Delft Blue is also much nicer than the same yarn in the bleached oak colourway that I used for the last pair of socks. It's softer, more evenly dyed and less splitty. You wouldn't even think they were the same base! If only you could be sure it's all like this batch, it'd be a tremendous deal for heavy fingering superwash/nylon sock yarn at $2.50 per 50 gram ball. It might still be worth the risk. I'm going to finish these socks, wash and wear them a few times, and then decide whether this really is an economical work horse sock yarn.

Now, I'd better run through the shower before my guests arrive! It's a beautiful sunny day and I've got chores to do.