Sunday, August 31, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Gothic Spire 04

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor • 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


Wow, I love these socks. This Gothic Spire pattern might be my all-time favourite! The smocked stitches combine with the travelling stitches to create an almost wrought iron look. And all that knitting through the back loops has paid off - the stitches really pop.

I stand by my mods - a series of dramatic decreases at the top of the heel flap and the at the beginning of the toe section create a smoother transition from the pattern to stockinette. As you can imagine all that smocking necessitates a high primary stitch count and the fabric bunches at those transitions if you don't decrease.

There are eyelets in there too - and I think we all know how I feel about eyelets - but they seem pretty important to this pattern. I suspect that the eyelets help give the patterned areas a bit of stretch and flexibility.

With all that smocking and a high primary stitch count these socks eat up a lot of yarn. Fortunately the yarn I chose - Super Cash Sock from Studio June Yarn - is put up in 100 gram 435 yard skeins. The skein I got was 108 grams so my yardage was probably more like 470 yards. It was enough to do the large size with an extra half repeat on the foot for my size 11s. For a while it looked like it was going to be close, but thankfully it's one more game of yarn chicken played and won!

It's been crazy hectic over the last few weeks - Eat, Sleep, Work and Repeat. I didn't get much knitting done and I didn't get any blogging done, and there were a whole lot of other things not done (like laundry and cleaning the house). But work is starting to settle down and I hope to be back on my usual routine by the end of this week or the start of next week. I did get a chance to cast on my first Marilinda sock ... but that's next week's topic!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Gothic Spire 03

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor • 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

Turns out ripping back, adding decreases and reknitting the heel flap and gusset was totally the right decision. Decreasing from 42 sts to 32 sts at the top of the leg improved the fit dramatically. There's still a small bump where the leg pattern meets the ribbing at the top of the heel flap when I turn my foot certain ways but I shudder to think how far I'd have had to rip back to fix that. I suppose I could have tapered the last vertical repeat at the back of the leg ahead of the heel by omitting some of the yarn overs ... but hey, it works fine for me now, so I'm leaving well enough alone.

And there's more good news: sock one weighs 50 grams, leaving me with 58 grams for sock two! No need to order more yarn. Thank goodness this Super Cash Soft sock yarn from Studio June Yarn ships with such generous yardage! Remind me to put a bit more thought into this when I match up yarn to the remaining patterns.

Last night temperatures fell to 13° C (55° F) which is crazy cold for August, so I wore sock one while I worked on sock two. Have I mentioned how much I love these socks??!! Occasionally I think that I should be adding these to the gift pile, but I really don't think I have the strength to give them away. It's quite possible that these are my favourite socks of all the socks I've ever made. Definitely in the top three anyway.

Considering I'm more than halfway through the leg of sock two, I'd guess that this pair will be finished by the end of the week. And then it's decision time - cast on Om Shanti for the Socktopus KAL with some more Super Cash Sock yarn in a colourway called "Cocoa Dusted Truffle", or cast on Marilinda from Knit. Sock. Love. with Dye-Version's Bamboo Sock in a colourway called "Sky". What would you do?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Gothic Spire 02

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor • 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

Last week I wrote "The recommendation from the designer is 370-555 yards. I've got 430 yards to work with, so wish me luck!" and just typing that sentence gave me pause. I'm knitting the large size; can I realistically expect to finish them with 430 yards? No, probably not. For a couple of days I considered omitting one vertical repeat on each leg - that would likely save enough yardage to squeak them out of one skein. But I couldn't bring myself to do it; I love these socks too much to shorten the legs. Instead I had a look at the yarn dyer's Etsy site, and yes, there are two more skeins available. Rather than skimp, I decided to finish sock one, weigh it and the remaining yarn, and then order a second skein if necessary. After all, there'd be enough left over from the second skein for some fingerless mitts, right?

After making that decision I picked up the needles again, finished the fourth vertical repeat on the leg and then carried on through the heel and the gusset. The heel is worked over 42 stitches, and that seemed like a lot, but I reasoned that the instep pattern is quite inflexible and probably that extra ease is needed. Sounds convincing, right? Yeah, until I finished the gusset decreases and tried on the sock this morning. If I hold my foot a certain way it doesn't look too bad but there's no escaping the facts:  there's a bulge at the bottom of the leg where the heel flap starts, and the heel and gusset are baggy. I should have known better. 

Later today - when I am less annoyed with myself and this sock - I'll rip back to the start of the heel flap to add a row of decreases to address the fit problems. Despite my frustration, I still love these socks too much to not go back and fix this. Besides, with half the foot done I still have 67 grams left of my original skein. Narrowing the heel flap and tightening up the gussets will save yardage and make it quite possible to finish the pair from one skein. Fingers crossed again!

So my new plan is to rip back today and reknit to finish sock one by the end of this week. That way I can confirm that one skein is enough put that worry to rest. I've got a busy week ahead with meetings before and after work, but I'll be on public transit for two days and that means lots of time to knit. Now I'd better stop whinging about this sock and get on with my chores!


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Gothic Spire 01

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor • 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

And now for something completely different; I've made a start on Gothic Spire socks. Just looking at the charts made my  heart leap - a symbol I'd never seen before! Turns out working the new-to-me stitch involves shifting stitches to a cable needle, wrapping them a few times and then knitting the wrapped stitches. As you can imagine, it really slows you down. On the first repeat I used my fifth DPN for a cable needle but that was way too cumbersome. Gavin took an old broken rosewood DPN and made me a much smaller cable needle to shorten the distance around which I have to wrap the yarn. It really makes a tremendous difference.

The yarn is from Studio June Yarns - it's Super Cash Sock in a TexGal Light colourway. It's a gorgeous royal blue and soooo very soft. The colour in the first photo is more accurate than the second, I'd say. I'm going to have to be careful about yarn usage. A number of Ravelers warn that with all these wrapped stitches the pattern is a yarn hog. The recommendation from the designer is 370-555 yards. I've got 430 yards to work with, so wish me luck!

There are four chart repeats to be worked on the leg. I've completed two and have started the third. But there's no hurry as I'm enjoying this pattern tremendously and really loving the way it looks. Although, I'm starting to think that this Year of Projects is really going to be an entire year of knitting in the back loops. It's a Cookie A. thing, I think.

Monday is a civic holiday here - Lord Simcoe day or some such. Aren't long weekends lovely? We've spent the first couple of days at Lake Erie and now it's time to do chores. Laundry awaits!



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

Seems I mostly knit socks ... and I mostly blog about knitting socks ... but I don't exclusively knit socks and here's the proof: I've cast on a Sea of Dreams baby blanket. There's a baby boy on the way to relatives in Holland; knitting baby things is fun!

I've knit this pattern before and it's absolutely lovely. Typically I don't knit a pattern twice but for this pattern I'll make an exception. The finished product is very striking and the picot hems and seed stitch borders add gorgeous finishing touches.

The yarn is Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino -what a pleasure it is to knit! I wanted a really good superwash yarn for this blanket, and all my research pointed me to this particular yarn. After a few weeks poking about in LYS I wasn't able to find it in sufficient quantities in a matching dyelot, so I ended up ordering online from LoveKnitting.com. It was cheaper than I could source it locally and shipping was free. Six business days later my yarn arrived and I cast on. I'd definitely order from them again!

Now I'd better get back to my knitting. After all, the blanket won't knit itself and the baby won't wait!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Mona


SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor • 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

With Rumpled off the needles, and with a few weeks to go before the start date for the next pattern in the Socktopus KAL, I decided to cast on something from Knit. Sock. Love. Although I was initially drawn to Marilinda and Rhombus, it was Mona that seemed the best match for this YvieKnits yarn from my stash purchased in early May at The Gathering in Port Hope.

Somehow I picked a pattern eerily similar to Rumpled: same twisted rib cuff, same twisted rib heel, even the 18 stitch pattern is similar. Seriously, these two patterns are so alike that the greatest challenge was to stay focussed on the Mona pattern and not accidentally reknit Rumpled. No surprise that these Mona socks flew off the needles in no time - just like the Rumpled Socks did.

There's a purl ridge across the top of the toes; that's a little detail I really like. The line of purl bumps makes a nice finish to the instep patterning. And the toe is plain stockinette which I prefer over anything simply for comfort. After reviewing other Raveler's projects I decided to knit 2-1/2 repeats on the leg before starting the heel, but now that they're done I'm sorry I didn't knit another repeat. This finished pair weighs in at 75 grams so I would have had enough yarn for the extra repeat. Not sorry enough to rip them out and redo them though.

The yarn is okay but honestly I'm disappointed with the dye job. It's a mix of teal blues and mallard greens that looked lovely in the skein but once knit it reads like an unevenly dyed solid colour. Can't complain about the yarn base - it's nicely twisted and it knits up beautifully - but I wouldn't go out of my way to buy more. I've already pulled out a skein of a merino/cashmere/nylon blend for the next pair of socks, so onward and upward.

A couple of weeks ago someone asked how many DPNs I use. For this sock I cast on with four needles - three needles holding stitches and a fourth working needle. This is how I learned to knit on DPNs and I still find it the most comfortable. But as soon as I got to the leg with its four pattern repeats I shifted to five needles - four needles holding stitches and a fifth working needle. Having each pattern repeat on its own needle makes it easier to keep track and avoids the need for stitch markers. Additionally, having the stitches arranged on four needles makes it easier to fold flat and tuck in my knitting bag when I'm on the go. As usual, after the heel turn I switched back to four needles - one for the instep stitches, one for each side of the sole and a working needle. I just find that easier for remembering where my round starts. So I guess the answer to how many DPNs is "it depends". There is no right answer so do whatever feels most comfortable.

With a few days left in August, and a few days left before the next pattern in the Socktopus KAL starts, my plan is to start Gothic Spire socks from Knit. Sock. Love. Those look more complicated so we'll see how far I get by next week's update.

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!