Sunday, April 13, 2014

Year of Projects ... but not really

I won't even post the pattern list for my Year of Projects because there's been no change in over two weeks. I'm still working away at my Fronkenshteek socks, and for a while longer all my needles and all my energy will be devoted to them. The main sock segments were knit by end of day Friday.

Since then, the steeks have been reinforced with machine stitched zigzags and cut. The pattern was written for homespun wool which would felt at the steeked joins, so no reinforcement would be necessary, however, because I'm working in Superwash wool, reinforcement seemed well advised. After watching a couple of YouTube videos I plunged ahead. So far, so good.

This morning I made a start on assembly. The Upper Innertubez that form the legs of the socks have been mattress-stitched into leg-sized tubes and grafted onto the Cuffs. The Lower Innertubez that form the feet of the socks have been semi-grafted onto the Toes. Yes I did say semi-grafted - the live stitches of the foot were kitchenered and the steeked edges of the toe were mattress-stitched to join them. The fact that the joining wasn't 1:1 so I had to mattress-stitch two loops every third join made it a bit trickier, but it was easier than I feared.

The next thing to assemble is the Ace Bandage section that wraps around the ankle and instep and is grafted to the leg at the top and the foot at the bottom. I'm not sure whether I'll get to that today. It's the sort of thing that needs patience, good light and a clear head. I've got chores to do and the afternoon light in our living and dining room is not good, so I might leave this to another day.

"Won't those seams be uncomfortable?", Gavin asked. "Aren't there easier ways to make socks?" Good questions, both of them. I'm guessing they'll be more comfortable after a couple of washes. As for easier ways to make socks, definitely! These socks are more of tutorial and an adventure than a sensible way to make socks. I'm getting to be a dab hand at provisional cast ons, steeking, grafting, mattress-stitching and all sorts of other finishing details.

Monday, April 7, 2014

a surprise in the mail

getting a good photo of your own feet is tough
Just before we left for our Florida getaway the most amazing package arrived in the mail - a beautiful pair of hand knit socks and some decadent Lindt chocolate. Completely unexpected!

You'd have thought that Restless Needles would be busy enough through her Mad March, what with worries about grandkids' health, tax preparation, getting ready for her own vacation, and broken bones resulting from a fall. But through all that craziness, she still found the time to knit these gorgeous Patina socks for me! And how thoughtful is this? She stalked through my Ravelry project pages to find my foot size so that the socks would fit perfectly. And fit perfectly they do! Considering my feet are size 11, that's a lot of knitting.

I should have posted earlier, but when I opened the package I squealed with delight, popped the socks on my feet and headed to the airport. It was these socks that I wore on the plane trip to and from Florida, and a few hours on chilly mornings in Florida as well. They're already well worn! When we returned home I worked my way through the mountains of laundry; my new socks were machine washed, laid flat to dry and are ready to wear again. Now that they're on my feet, I think that's where they'll stay for today. It's 4° this morning, with a forecast high of 7° so some wool socks with a bit of lace are ideal.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Year of Projects

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 haven't started Kwalla. I rewound the skein, but that's it... not a single stitch on needles. But I've got excuses, if you want to hear them.

excuse #1: We were away for a week, and because we were flying I took no knitting needles. I just took a plastic crochet hook and a couple balls of acrylic DK. I didn't want to risk any trouble at the security desk, and I certainly didn't want to lose any DPNs. We just got back a few days ago, and those days have been mostly spent catching up at work, grocery shopping and doing laundry. The trip was great and the weather was just perfect ... a much-needed break from the never-ending winter.

excuse #2: I joined another KAL - the Seasonal Sock Syndrome KAL over at Revelations of a Delusional Knitter - and the sock I've started is all-consuming. The pattern I picked is Fronkenshteek by Lisa Grossman (designer of the famous Shark Week socks), and it's absolutely crazy! You knit several oddly shaped pieces, which you then steek into smaller pieces, and then reassemble all the bits and graft them together into a complete pair of socks. The designer does warn that skills needed are Kitchener Stitch, Mattress Stitch, Courage and a Sense of Humor LOL!

I've knit the first segment - the ribbed cuffs for both socks. The scrap yarn shows where the cuffs are to be cut apart. Pretty straight forward. 

I'm currently knitting the second segment - the legs/ankle for both socks. After a dozen more rounds, I'll be moving the live stitches onto scrap yarn, removing the provisional cast on and moving those live stitches onto scrap yarn and then cutting the knitted tube from top to bottom on each side to create two rectangles. In turn those two rectangles will be mattress stitched into two tubes with live stitches top and bottom, which will eventually be grafted to the cuffs at the top and the ankle area at the bottom. Not so straight forward, but okay.

The next segment I'm to knit is what the designer calls the Ace Bandage. It wraps around the ankle, heel and instep kinda like those stretchy pressure bandages. Mental. Don't even ask me about the looming Bermuda Triangle sections ... I'm trying to avoid thinking about those for now.

I hadn't planned to knit this sock monogamously, but there is a little issue about needles. And once again, the designer did warn me.

Have a lot of needles at the ready, because the more you can substitute needles for stitch holders and waste yarn, the less precious time you’ll spend shuffling and fiddling when you get to piecing and assembly, and the faster you’ll reach the finish line. Just saying.

As soon as I separate the heel section into two heels, I'll be using two sets of needles. And when I cut apart the legs/ankles, I'll be using four more sets - 2x top live stitches and 2x bottom live stitches. That's six sets of needles in play, at least until I start grafting things together. So I think you can see my hesitation about casting on anything else that uses the same size needles. I just don't have enough needles to go around!

A note about Fronkenshteek: it's a crazy way to make a pair of socks. It's the craziness that appeals to me. By the end of this project I expect to be pretty good at steeking, grafting and seaming ... presuming I complete them successfully and don't wind up with a pile of unravelled lengths of yarn. I also think that the socks are likely to be quite attractive, because the shaping creates cross-grained pieces in different directions which will shine in a tonal yarn, and the seams create an interesting piping effect around the leg and criss-crossing around the ankle and the foot. It's going to be an adventure!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Year of Projects 3: Kwalla 01

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

That second Shur'Tugal sock was finished up last Sunday evening while Gavin and I watched "Red 2" ...  wow, was that a terrible movie! If you haven't seen it, don't bother. Thank goodness I knit through it or it would have been a complete waste of time! Once the grafting was complete and the ends sewn in, I had just less than a gram of yarn left. Hurray for good yarn usage! This pair has been tucked away for gift giving later this year.

The next sock of the Socktopus KAL is Kwalla. In fact, the KAL for this pattern runs from April 1st to May 31st so I can't cast on just yet. I can, however, have a look through my stash to decide on what yarn to use. At the moment I think this Super Cash Soft sock yarn from Studio June Yarn in a colourway called "All the King's Horses" could be just the thing. It's hard to know how variegated yarn will behave with a pattern until you try it, but from looking at the finished patterns from other Ravelers it looks like the pattern can stand up to some busy-ness in the yarn. I guess we'll know after a couple of inches. There's a more subtle tonal yarn in my stash that can be my "Plan B" choice if needed.

There are a lot of worrying notes in those project pages about sizing. Sounds like a lot of people used a smaller needle size for the cuff ribbing, then a larger needle size for the leg, before decreasing to a smaller pattern size through the heel and foot. Looks like I'm going to have to really pay attention on this one and be prepared to rip a time or two. I guess we'll know more about that after a couple of inches too!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Finished Object Friday

Pattern: Incredible Custom-Fit Raglan

Yarn: Condons 2 ply Quebec Wool, colour 78 Grey

Needle Size: 4.5mm

Comments: The yarn was bought for $5 at an auction held by the Burlington Handweavers and Spinners Guild. As expected it's not soft enough to be worn against the skin, but it's just fine over a t-shirt or turtleneck. Unfortunately, as soon as my finished sweater hit the water in the sink for blocking, a strong smell of mothballs emerged. After searching the forums on Ravelry for advice I threw my sweater into a series of vinegar baths, followed by baking soda baths and finally Eucalan. The sweater fuzzed up a lot but at least the smell is mostly gone.

The pattern is more of a recipe than a pattern. I used the sizing chart to estimate the raglan depth based on my chest circumference, but the resulting raglan is much too deep. As a result the sleeves at the shoulder were too wide and the chest circumference at the underarm was too baggy. It's not unwearable but I'm going to try again with more yarn from the auction to see if I can improve the fit. And I think I'll try a V-Neck on the next go around ... if the yarn's itchy I'd rather not have the sweater tight to my neck.

It's Friday, so you know the drill. Head on over to Tami's Amis to check out the parade of finished objects! I'm headed there now!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

We've snuck away to Florida to find some sun and some spring weather, so I had to plan what project to take on my travels. I'm nervous about bringing knitting along - what if security objected to my expensive carbon fiber needles? - so the safest bet seemed a plastic crochet hook and some acrylic yarn. Nothing threatening there.

The pattern, Retro Circles Baby Blanket, looked ideal for using up some mismatched scraps of DK. I've started with all the bits and bobs of James Brett Marble DK. Too bad I haven't enough to do the whole blanket as the variegation is very interesting, but at least I was able to complete 16 of 64 squares this way, so I can arrange them as an X from corner to corner and fill in the middle sections with solid colour(s).

The stitches of the centre circles are worked in the back loops which create those circular ridges. I think it does give it an interesting retro look. I'm weaving in ends as I go, because the idea of facing that many ends after the last block is crocheted is just too much to bear.

It's Wednesday, so I'm linking up with Tami for Work-in-Progress Wednesday. As always, I encourage you to go visit some of the blogs linked there to see all kinds of things that clever people have on the go!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lucky me!

One of the things I like about Ravelry and blogging is connecting with other knitters and fiber craftspeople. I count the ladies over at Wandering Cat Yarns as online friends. As well as hand-dying gorgeous yarns, they're both talented designers. At times, they've also custom dyed colourways for me when I was searching for a something just so.

I've joined the Wandering Cat Yarns Group on Ravelry and over the last few months I took part in a KAL - knitting Mr. Dress-Up socks in Wandering Cat Yarn. And I was lucky enough to win the grand prize pack, pictured at the right. A skein of 80% merino/20% nylon sock yarn in this fabulous colourway called "Frog Prince", a reversible yarn bag and four little metal charms on the Frog Prince theme. So cute!

You can get in on the action too! Wandering Cat Yarns is hosting another KAL from April 6th to June 8th. Participants are knitting Game of Thrones inspired patterns using Wandering Cat Yarn and/or a Wandering Cat pattern. Quick, go check out the gorgeous yarn prizes on offer there!

Yarn as gorgeous as this is making me feel like casting on, but I think I'm going to save it for the final pattern in my Socktopus KAL. The sock pattern Farmer McGregor is one of my favourites in the book, and I think this yarn will be just perfect! Look at that lovely twist; should make for awesome stitch definition.