Thursday, July 31, 2008

the allure of socks

So far, sock number two has been a pleasure. I'm already past the heel and working the instep - which puts me way ahead of schedule. Oh there've been the usual little hiccups - TINKing back to fix little pattern mess-ups, sorting out yarn splits - but all in all, it's going really well.

Which gets me thinking about sock knitting. I'm think I'm hooked. Sock one is all about learning and discovering a new pattern and challenging myself as a knitter. And sock two is all about repeating the lessons of sock one with more confidence and ease. All that in a pair of socks!

Learning, discovering, creating and enjoying - all from one skein of yarn, on one set of dpns, in just a few short weeks. Oh, I can definitely see the allure. That's a pretty good list of reasons to knit in the first place.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

facing how little I know

Last night, as I knitted the heel flap of my 2nd Breeze sock I slipped the first and last stitch purl-wise on each WS row as directed by the pattern. As I did so, I knew I was laying the foundation for a crisply edged heel flap with perfectly even, tightly spaced picked-up stitches at the gusset, exactly as the first sock.

In that moment, I saw past the details of "... k1, p1, k3 ... " to get a sense of the pattern designer. She knew! She knew that slipping those stitches would create tight and even edges on my heel flap. She knew that after 34 rows, 17 stitches could be picked up on either side at the gusset. She knew exactly what she was doing!

That's a bit overwhelming for me. Because quite often I can't even visualize how the instructions are going to work ... I work the stitches exactly as written and hope for the best. It's an insight into how little I know about this whole knitting thing. And a basis for setting some lofty goals.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

clearly more practice is needed

Practice makes perfect ... so clearly more practice is needed.

I figured the 2nd sock would go smoothly, now that the 1st sock is done with lessons learned. But after I TINKed back the 1st row of the Heel pattern for the 4th time before finally getting the pattern established correctly, I realized I'd been overconfident.

When I bought the yarn for these socks, I bought the required skein plus an insurance skein. Because it's one thing to have extra, but quite another thing to be short. Probably only the most experienced, skillful knitters confidently purchase materials according to the pattern without padding the quantity.

It looks like I'll have enough yarn to make another pair of socks. And I think that's what I'll do. Because, clearly, in my case, more practice is needed.

Monday, July 28, 2008

wow - I made that!

The first of my Breeze socks is done and looks pretty good, if I do say so myself. Now, don't get the wrong impression ... it's good from far but far from good. On the bottom of the sock you can definitely see where I dropped a stitch and then TINKed back to fix it - I must have twisted the dropped stitch or something - but hey, that's the bottom of the sock.

But it looks pretty much like the pattern, and it fits my foot and it's actually pretty darn comfortable and attractive. Maybe not an award winner, but definitely not an entry into the hall of shame. So full speed ahead to finish the second sock, before the Ravelympics.

And wow - I made that sock!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

getting ahead of myself

I signed on to Team Canada 08 for the Ravelympics - my event, the Bag-N-Tote backstroke. The rules seem simple enough - cast on during the Beijing Opening Ceremonies, finish on or before the Closing Ceremonies.

For the Ravelympics, I've chosen the pattern BYOB (bring your own bag) by Moira Ravenscroft shown at Not too hard. No complicated lace or cable patterns. Not much changing back and forth of colours. And, if it turns out well, I could see myself doing more.

While at the yarn stores I had to pick up something for this new project, didn't I? Oh yes - an Organic Pima Cotton/Silk blend from Misti Cotton. Mmmmmm ..... cotton and silk. So now I really must finish my Breeze socks before August 8th. But that's okay, I work well with deadlines. Really, I do.

Friday, July 25, 2008

danger ahead

Tomorrow Mom and I are doing a little crawl around the local Toronto yarn stores. And that may prove too tempting to resist ... especially when you consider that the Naked Sheep is having a sale. I can only imagine the lovely yarns awaiting me there. I don't think I've ever come away from a sale at yarn store empty-handed.

The key is to finish one project before starting the next. And not to give in to the temptation of starting the next project one stitch sooner. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

better than it might have been

The sock is steadily progressing now. I've been hard at it early mornings before work and late evenings after work. And I'm quite pleased with the result - but then, I'm an easy marker.

There's some uneveness in the stockinette of the bottom of the heel flap - tighter knit rows than purl rows are to blame. And the knitting is noticeably loose between the stitches of needles two and three. Some yarn-overs in the lace pattern aren't quite as distinct as others - I may not have pulled the yarn over knitwise on a few of them. And that's just for starters.

But I do believe it'll look like a sock when I'm done and not dissimilar from the pattern intended by the designer. Perhaps more importantly, I do believe that it will fit a human foot. All of which is better than it might have been.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

these might just work

Status report: one full 24 round repeat of the cable and lace pattern knitted. And so far, so good.

No dropped stitches. No split yarn. No pulls. No glaring errors in my cable and lace pattern.
I've watched the internet videos on SSK - slip-slip-knit - and produced a series of tidy decrease rows. And I've had good success at keeping my purl stitches tight ... particularly if I whisper "purl at the tips of the needles" to myself under my breath as I go.

I don't want to say too much ... but fingers crossed, these socks might just work out alright.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

knit more, worry less

Deep breath in .... and .... let go of my obsession about gauge....

After reknitting the gauge swatch, and after machine washing and drying it, I re-measured - it's just about perfect for both stitch and row gauge! Phew! And, as an experienced knitter kindly pointed out, feet come in all shapes and sizes... maybe a little longer on the heel flap is not such a bad thing? So I've picked up the needles again and am carrying on with the pattern. 

Looking on the bright side, now I know that even after machine washing and drying, my finished socks will still fit an adult foot. So I haven't completely wasted the last couple of days. And I'm starting to feel pretty positive about this sock knitting thing again.

Monday, July 21, 2008

wait a sec ...

Uh oh. The next obstacle has come up ... just when I was feeling good about myself for knitting a gauge swatch and adjusting my needle size to achieve the correct stitch gauge. As it turns out, I also need to worry about row gauge. The heel flap of my sock has come out the correct width, but a bit too long!

Investigation reveals that I should've blocked my swatch and then checked gauge in both directions - across the stitches and over the rows. I've surfed around several online articles and Ravelry posts about blocking, and decided I'd better machine wash and machine dry my swatch and then reconsider my gauge. Machine washing and drying is definitely the way to go, I think, because I don't know anyone who's likely to handwash or steam a pair of socks.

So, for now the sock project's on hold... the needles are clicking out a new gauge swatch. Here's hoping there's some good news tomorrow!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

holding my breath

Switching to a smaller set of needles did the trick - the gauge swatch came out right - so I'm on my way. A tiny little ribbed cuff complete, and about a third of the heel flap. So far so good.

Ravelry has opened my eyes to all kinds of new things and I'm learning as fast as I can. I signed on as soon as I got my invite, and then created a google membership to get a Flickr membership to post photos. And then I started this blog and joined my knit-along group. That's a lot of passwords to remember!

And I've started to examine yarn with new insight. The texture and consistency of the yarn will impact stitch definition. And in some yarns the plys mingle better than others, so they are less "split-y". I guess I knew that somehow, but I've never heard it explicitly discussed and compared before. And here's something to take note of: some yarns become scruffy-textured when ripped out and reknitted. So I'll consider myself warned; ripping out and reknitting is one of my specialties.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

One Step forward ... two steps back

I couldn't resist... I signed up for a Knit-Along, "First Time SockKnitters". And now I'm feeling faintly panicked.

With much enthusiasm, I downloaded and printed the pattern for the current Knit-Along project - Breeze by Jennifer L. Appleby featured on (link at left). Then I rushed to the local yarn store for yarn. And that's where the trouble started. I looked at the recommended yarn, decided against that, and substituted something else, something I liked better. Uh oh. I hope I don't regret this little foray off the path.

For the first time in my knitting career, I knitted a gauge swatch - 28 stitches/ 43 rounds stockinette. The pattern gauge works out to 7 stitches per inch across the needles, but mine was 6.6 stitches per inch. Uh oh. So today's task is to find a set of smaller needles and try another swatch.

Friday, July 18, 2008

baby steps

On my interim Report Card from December of 1969, my Grade One teacher reports that "She doesn't sing in tune, but she is quite interested in music".

And so it is with my knitting. I'm interested - but I'm not watching the mailbox waiting for my invitation to the Guild. I've knitted dozens of projects, including sweaters, scarves, hats, afghans, and so on. They look okay to me. My mom shakes her head at my knitting - she and her friends have examined my stitches and determined that there is something odd about them. Maybe I turn my stitches or knit continental stitches?

But I joined Ravelry the other day, so I think I have to get a bit more serious about this. Yesterday I finished the baby socks I had in progress. Today I'm going to start by knitting gauge swatches for a new pair of socks. And I'm going to watch Knit Witch YouTube videos of Knit and Purl stitches while I knit to make sure I'm doing it right.

It's one baby step towards the Guild invitation.