Thursday, May 3, 2018

Once Upon A Sock - May 2018

This morning I'm linking up again "Once Upon A Sock" group...

Once Upon A Sock consists of sock knitters who post the first Thursday of every month about sock work in progress. Check out the link party throughout the day today to see the group members who have posted and linked-up. Feel free to join the fun!

At the moment I've got a few sock projects to update:

My April Paper Bag Project Socks - Rrribb-It! by Ela M. in Lizzie-Anne Yarns "Blue Jeans" Sock Set - are done. They worked out really well. The pattern is very simple, but doesn't ribbing always fit so nicely?! And the speckled character of the yarn adds some interest to sock. The finished socks are very lightweight and softly pastel in colour making them the perfect Spring wardrobe addition. Love them!

My May Paper Bag Project Socks will be Alfrick by Rachel Coopey in Sandnes Garn Sisu. I've opened my mystery bag but that's as far as I've got. Early days yet.

On my needles right now is a test knit for Nikki Ross Patterson, a sock pattern called Sunny Sunday Socks. I'm knitting the large size, toe-up from charts using Louet Gems in Purple from stash. The pattern is a very nice looking lace pattern but a bit hard to see in this vivid dark purple; hopefully once it's done and on my foot I can get a better picture! Right now I'm just trying to decide when to start a mini-gusset before a German Short-Row heel. I'll be knitting it as an ankle sock, so this should finish up pretty quickly.

That's everything I've got going on! Looks like Spring has finally arrived here in Southern Ontario, so if I'm not knitting you'll find me in the garden :)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Year of Projects 7: Week 42

In progress:
Rrribb-it! Socks - 55% complete, using Lizzie-Anne Yarns Sock Set in "Blue Jeans" 

Not yet started:
Alfrick Socks - using Sandnes Garn Sisu in grey and white 
Twisted Flower Socks - using Hikoo CoBaSi yarn in Egyptian Blue 
Feny Socks - using Lang Jawoll Superwash in turquoise and chocolate 
Double Heelix Socks - using leftovers from Feny Socks
Somewhere Socks - using various shades of blue scraps 
Glass Slippers Socks - using stash yarn TBD 

I was entirely caught off guard by how much I am loving these Rrribb-it! Socks. 

The yarn - Blue Jeans Sock Set by Lizzie-Anne Yarns -  was an impulse buy. It was kind of speckled and quite pastel and very much not my usual thing. Seems like speckled yarn is everywhere these days, and so are patterns with contrasting heels and toes, so I decided to take a ride on the band wagon.  

The yarn base is absolutely wonderful for socks. It's smooth and lightweight with excellent yardage and lots of twist. As well, it's got a lovely lanolin-rich feel to it. 

And look how nicely that heel and toe mini-skein coordinates with the main colour thanks to spots of the lilac-purple scattered throughout! It's really charming. I also like how there's lots going on with the yarn, but not so much as to overwhelm the pattern. 

The pattern is quite simple - just a mash-up of ribbed patterns - but there's just enough going on to keep it interesting. And with all that ribbing a good fit is about guaranteed. In consideration of the generous yardage of the main colour skein, I decided to add an extra pattern motif to lengthen the leg of the sock. After binding off I was relieved to find that I still had 57 grams left of my original 104 gram skein, so there should be enough to work a matching second sock. After a bit of thought, and a bit of time perusing other completed projects from this pattern, I've decided to knit an almost matching sock... I'm just going to shift the order of the ribbed motifs to make it similar. Barring anything unforeseen, I should have the second sock completed by the end of the week.

Our friend's baby was born at the beginning of April and the happy couple were kind enough to send me this lovely picture of Kailea rocking the little cardigan that I knit for her. The cardigan was gifted to her parents at a baby shower in November. The pattern is In Threes, which is a very nice easy knit for a baby gift. 

I had knit the pattern before for another set of expectant parents but at that time I knit a larger size thinking the baby would get more wear out of it. I'm a terrible judge of baby sizes - they all look impossibly small to me, and there are no babies around here to try things on - so that first cardigan was much too large. It ended up at more of a toddler size than a baby size, so she's finally getting some use of it now. To be fair, she's a wee little thing so she'd be swimming in anything age appropriate.

In light of that I decided to knit the newborn size on a smaller set of needles. I checked all the online charts about baby neck circumferences and baby chest circumference and concluded that the neck of the newborn size might be too narrow. So I started at a larger size for a wider neck, then cut back the increases through the yoke to end up at the newborn size by the armpits. Based on the photo, I think that worked out pretty well. Kailea is about a week old in the photo, and I'd guess that there's enough room for her to get several weeks wear. Hopefully the warm weather will have arrived by then, but there's no guarantee if you consider today's wintery hail and ice storm!

Towards the beginning of the week I finished the second of my MKAL socks - the Cable and Lace option. I'm not a fan of a spiral toe, but it's not horrible and it fits okay. The german short row heel with the added gusset increases and decreases is fabulous. The cable and lace patterns across the top of the foot, the instep and the leg are very attractive; I especially like how one pattern transitions into the next. So although I liked this sock more than the other one, I still didn't like it enough to knit a second sock so it's been frogged as well. 

I am not a fan of the garter stitch cuff and picot cast off - it's more decorative than functional. It flares out from the top of the leg making this sock look like a jester's slipper. 

The patterning at the back of the leg starts very abruptly with some very unfortunate misalignments to the heel and foot. 

Bobbles on a sock? Why?!?! I can't even imagine wearing these socks in shoes with those bobbles positioned at top of the heel at the back!

The 7 stitch cables are very lumpy and the sock is very inflexible. The sock pretty much stands up by itself. And all cabling makes the pattern very yarn hungry, so knit as an ankle sock with one leg repeat the sock had already eaten up 50 grams. If you wanted a longer sock - and I always want a longer sock - you'd need an extra skein and a plan about how to fit the increasing width of your calf in pattern.

To me this sock feels more like a decorative slipper than a practical sock. I might try again starting with a turkish cast on and a wedge toe, preserving the central cable motif over the foot instep and leg, but replacing the outer patterns and lacy areas with some combination of seed stitch and ribbing, and working with a thinner yarn and/or a larger needle for a more relaxed fabric. I'd want at least three repeat on the leg, and I'd finish it with a ribbed cuff. Oh, and no bobbles. Maybe I'll put that on next year's project list?

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Year of Projects 7: Week 41

In progress:
Rrribb-it! Socks - 0% complete, using Lizzie-Anne Yarns Sock Set in "Blue Jeans" 

Not yet started:
Alfrick Socks - using Sandnes Garn Sisu in grey and white 
Twisted Flower Socks - using Hikoo CoBaSi yarn in Egyptian Blue 
Feny Socks - using Lang Jawoll Superwash in turquoise and chocolate 
Double Heelix Socks - using stash yarn TBD 
Somewhere Socks - using various shades of blue scraps 
Glass Slippers Socks - using stash yarn TBD 

Completed: Petty Harbour Socks • Vanilla is the New Black Socks • There & Back Again Socks • Crosshaven Socks • Somewhere Socks • Tuxie Love • Brigit Socks • Crenate Socks • Mad Mix Socks • Ringwood Socks • Hearty Man Plaid Socks • Mojo Socks •Yaacov Socks • Leyburn Socks • Gschnitztal Socks • Merripog Socks

Not surprisingly my second Merripog Sock is done. Having obstinately decided that I should not and would not cast on anything else until they were done, I knit monogamously on that second sock until it was done. Long ago when I had many fewer sets of sock needles I had no choice but to finish one project before starting another. Maybe I should go through my needle inventory and clean house?

They are lovely socks now that they are finished. There is something very satisfying about a simple, smooth and unfussy pair of socks knit at tight gauge with smooth lightweight fingering yarn. Before starting the ribbing of the cuff I increased from 72 sts to 80 sts to avoid having the ribbing pulled snug where my calves widen. They're straight off the needles in the photos, so I expect the colourwork will flatten a bit after a wash. Fingers crossed!

When I started the socks I wasn't sure that there was enough contrast between the two yarn colours, but I'm happy with them now that they're done. I imagine the patterning on the leg would be helped if I had knit white or cream rather than grey but grey was the yarn I had, so decision made. Is it just me, or is there a dearth of solid or mostly solid sock yarns these days?! 

With those socks off the needles I turned my attention to the MKAL socks. I had remained on the sidelines through clue 4 to await clue 5. But with the release of the final clue on Friday I thought I'd better knit at least some of it to see how it went and then make decisions.

With this knitalong each section is provided as two options - with Option 1 being generally colourwork and Option 2 being generally cables and lace. You can combine the options however you like to make your own unique socks.

For my first sock I knit Option 1 (colourwork) for each of the 5 clues. 

Clue 1 (toe) was a garter stitch toe which was cast on with a provisional cast on (Judy's Magic Cast On), worked as a square of garter stitch, then folded up into a toe with short row shaping. This was my first experience of Judy's Magic Cast On. It's okay, but I found it very fiddly on DPNs. As for the garter stitch toe, I found it very shallow; it doesn't fit my long pointy toes at all. As a final nail in the coffin, I find it quite unattractive.

Clue 2 (foot) was a simple colourwork pattern which could be worked in two or three colours. I always struggle with my colour choices so I picked up a good tip here... photograph your choices in B&W to see if there's enough contrast for the combination to work. My grey yarn choice is too close to the main colour purple, so it doesn't really pop. All that being said, I didn't love the colourwork pattern so I switched to a vanilla foot after finishing one repeat.

In Clue 3 (heel) gusset increases on the foot opposite a zig-zag slipped stitch pattern on the instep, lead to a garter stitch heel worked in german short rows. I didn't like anything about this and again found it all quite unattractive. I find the garter stitch heel looks lumpy and distracting. There are puffy areas through the gusset area, perhaps because of the uneven fabric from the instep opposite. And the idea of adding bulk to my instep with a smocked stitch pattern just bewilders me. Ugh!

Clue 4 (leg) sees the leg knitted in a slipstitch rib pattern. I'm ambivalent on this. I found the slipstitch rib pattern quite interesting and attractive. Some good ideas might be developed from that for a sock pattern to work with wildly variegated yarn. On the other hand, as written it binds and makes it hard to get the sock over the heel. It certainly wouldn't work for a leg much longer than an ankle sock because there's not much stretch. 

Clue 5 (cuff) is a "Fusilli Cuff", which is really more of a knitted on ruffle than a traditional cuff. The border is worked back and forth across 4 sts, and is "turned" every six rows to create a twist or turn in the border. I'm pretty sure I've done a cuff like this before, or something similar. It's involved and uses a ton of yarn - well, you do work 30 sts for every 4 sts cast off! And the result is fussy and ruffly which might be cute on an ankle sock but not really my cup of tea. I think I'd like it better as a blanket or washcloth border.

Taken altogether you have a weird-looking ill-fitting sock, as far as I'm concerned. Presumably the design is intended to incorporate a variety of new and interesting experiences for the knitter rather than producing a practical sock. If you have short toes and like an ankle sock, you could make this work for you I suppose, but pretty much none of this sock worked for me. I guess I'm set in my ways. Sock one has already been frogged.

By next week I'll finish the second "Cables and Lace" option to see what I think of that. I'm not really holding out much hope: there are bobbles on the leg and a picot cuff. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Once Upon A Sock - April 2018

This morning I'm joining my online friend Stefanie and her "Once Upon A Sock" group...

Once Upon A Sock consists of sock knitters who post the first Thursday of every month about sock work in progress. Each also links to the posts of fellow members of the group so if you have time, please check them out:
Stefanie of Stefanie Crafts with Wool Paper Fabric
Tammy of Life and Yarn or Yarn and Life
Meg of Intergalactic
Note: Posts of members trickle in throughout the day so some posts are up and some not yet. If you love to knit socks, or are even starting to learn, you are more than welcome to join us. Contact any of us on our blogs.

At this point in April I don't have much good to say about snow except that this latest round of snow makes for good sock knitting weather. Through the last few days of storms, high winds and snow squalls I've had plenty of time to knit. And I've been monogamously knitting my second Merripog sock. 

After completing Gschnitztal I wanted something quick, easy and entirely vanilla. So I cast on Merripog. But with sock one done and sock two well over half way I'm bored. I can't wait to cast on something new and more pattern-y but I'm determined to finish Merripog first. Chances are - if I cast on something new - Merripog would be set aside indefinitely. I'd better show some discipline and get them done.

No reason why I can't daydream about the next cast on though. On Ravelry I am taking part of a year long challenge in a Canadian Swap Group. At the end of 2017 we each created 12 opaque bags of month-long projects that we've been meaning to knit. Then at the beginning of each month you grab one bag at random and knit that. For April I opened a bag to find this:

It's a sock yarn set with 100grams of a speckled variegated light denim-y blue and a 20 gram mini skein in a coordinating speckled purple; an impulse buy I made last year. One reason that I bought it was to support a new local indy dyer - Lizzie-Anne yarns. I like to try new-to-me yarns and it's always nice to "shop local'. Another reason that it jumped into my cart was to satisfy cravings for speckled yarn and coordinating heels and toes, both of which seem to be everywhere these days. 

After lots of looking about in the Ravelry database I've settled on knitting Rrribb-It! My plan is to knit the sock almost entirely in the main colour but use the mini skein for the toes and some of the narrower colour play bands suggested in the pattern. All those patterned ribbing sections look like such fun to knit. And I just couldn't bring myself to cast on another mostly vanilla sock! 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Year of Projects 7: Week 40

In progress:
  • Merripog Socks 50% complete, using Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Turquoise & Life in the Long Grass Sock in Storm
  • Rrribb-it! Socks - 0% complete, using Lizzie-Anne Yarns Sock Set in "Blue Jeans" 
Not yet started:
Completed: Petty Harbour Socks • Vanilla is the New Black Socks • There & Back Again Socks • Crosshaven Socks • Somewhere Socks • Tuxie Love • Brigit Socks • Crenate Socks • Mad Mix Socks • Ringwood Socks • Hearty Man Plaid Socks • Mojo Socks •Yaacov Socks • Leyburn Socks • Gschnitztal Socks

Week 40! WOW! This year is flying by. For the past week I divided my time between the MKAL and my Merripog-inspired socks, making significant progress on both fronts.

First, the MKAL... Clue 3 was release last Friday through which we worked the gussets and heels. Both options used German Short Rows which I was keen to try. Turns out, I've done a German Short Row heel before I just didn't know the technique by name. The German Short Row heel can be worked toe-up or cuff-down across any number of stitches. In practice it strikes me as very similar to an FLK heel, except that you turn "YoYo" stitches around the needle to begin each short row instead of working "Twin Stitches". The result is similar too - a nice neat heel with no holes and no picking up of stitches. What was new to me in the MKAL clue was combining this method with gusset increases and decreases. It's simple enough to do and it overcomes my usual complaint with the shallowness of the heel cup created by a short-row heel. In the MKAL we worked 12 increase before starting the short rows and the fit is great.

Clue 4 of the MKAL was released this past Friday, but I'm back on the sidelines. I like the Cable and Lace patterned sock but I don't like the spiral toe that it started with. There's a really nice transition from the foot pattern to a wider cable pattern across the instep opposite the heel. That being said, the cables are pretty lumpy on the top of the foot and the pattern binds somewhat around the heel. I think I will knit the leg for this sock - at least one repeat - to see how it looks and await the cuff.

As for the colourwork sock, I don't like anything about it and can't bring myself to spend any more time knitting it. The garter stitch toe is awful and does not fit whatsoever. The colourwork on the foot is very simple and a bit fussy. I don't like the garter stitch heel either, and don't even get me started on the smocking pattern across the top of the ankle... added bulk there is not really terribly comfortable or attractive. This sock will definitely be frogged; I'm just awaiting the final clues before I do it.

In the mean time I cast on and completed one Merripog inspired sock. It's very vanilla, too much so. It's a very boring knit. I'm also reminded that colourwork around the leg of the sock tends is questionable idea - that's exactly where your sock needs the most stretch. Oh well, they're pretty enough and they'll be done by next week.

And last but not least, it's April 1st so I pulled out my next mystery paper bag project. I tore open the bag to find this Sock Set from Lizzie-Anne Yarns. I'm excited to start Rrribb-it! Socks with this; I can use the mini-skein to incorporate some of the colourplay suggestions from the pattern. This should motivate me to finish Merripog!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Year of Projects 7: Week 39

  • Merripog Socks - 5% complete, using Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Turquoise & Life in the Long Grass Sock in Storm.

With sock one off the needles I was keen to finish up sock two for my Gschnitztal Socks, in no small part because the pattern was hard work and Second Sock Syndrome was threatening. Better get 'em done before I succumbed to temptation and cast on something else.

Hard work, yes, but the pattern was very much worth it. I absolutely love them! The twisted stitches are fiddly, but bright pointy needles and non-splitty yarn in a lighter colour made it much easier.

Hey, did you notice how my legs look oddly different colours in that first picture?! Now that's an interesting trick of the light! I can only wish that my legs were as warmly coloured as the one on the right - horrifying winter white is sadly more accurate.

I updated my Ravelry page with the finished project and almost immediately the designer sent a request to feature my photo on her pattern page. That's quite a compliment I think! I also posted to Instagram and tagged her, as well as posting in a private Facebook group "Addicted to Sock Knitting". If Cambridge Analytica or their ilk are mining my online profile info they're going to be bored to death by salad and yarn photos. Let's see what they make of that!

While on Instagram I noticed that the indie dyer behind Songbird Fibres has cast on Leyburn Socks for herself, perhaps inspired by the pair I completed a couple of weeks ago. That's quite a compliment too!

So despite the dangers I think I'm going to carry on with my social media for the moment. Going forward I will put more thought into:
 • not tagging locations unless it adds to the post
 • not clicking through on posted links
 • not participating in any online polls, quizzes or games, not that I ever did
 • not authorizing third party access to my online info and/or using Facebook to log into anything else
 • getting my news from reputable journalistic sources rather than Facebook
 • exercising healthy skepticism about what I see posted online

It probably comes as no surprise that I decided on a mostly vanilla sock for my next project. I love those little bits of colourwork in Merripog socks, but other than a three rounds of colourwork towards the toe and a colourwork cuff these are essentially vanilla socks. The pattern is written with an afterthought heel in the contrast colour but I don't think it adds anything so I'm omitting it and planning an FLK heel in the main colour instead. Full disclosure: I'm reverse-engineering these. Normally I don't mind purchasing a pattern, but to my way of thinking it's just too simple a pattern to fork over $8 CDN. So I'm adding stitches to the chart to increase the stitch count too. Both yarns I've selected are light fingering weight yarns, so it'll be 2.0mm needles and 72 sts. Finally, the pattern is written cuff-down but I'm going to knit it toe-up so that I can make the leg longer without fear of yarn chicken.

If you were wondering about my MKAL socks, they're still in time out. Clue 3 has been released but I'm staying on the sidelines awaiting spoiler photos from other knitters in order to decide my way forward. So far I'm leaning towards frogging both socks and abandoning ship. Heel option 1 is german short row garter heel which I dislike almost as much as the garter toe. The heel cup looks quite shallow and has a kind of weird puffiness at the decreases in the spoiler photos I've seen so far. No spoiler photos of Heel option 2 yet, but it's also german short rows as far as I know. Ugh... I'd better leave those socks in a bag out of sight for now.

It was -14 with the windchill this morning, but there were Robins hopping around in the yard, so that's a hopeful sign. I CANNOT WAIT for Spring, but wait is what I must do. Around these parts frost risk continues through to the end of May so I'll have to control all my gardening urges for a while yet. At least the days are getting longer and the sun is feeling warmer!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Year of Projects 7: Week 38

Most of my attention this week was focussed on Gschnitztal Socks, and after numerous false starts and much ripping back I've finished one sock to my satisfaction. My apologies for the photos; this yarn photographs very oversaturated particularly in the yellow/orange tones. You'll have to take my word for it - the colourway is very pretty, and not as harsh as the photos suggest.

There were lots of mods to get to this result. The twisted stitches draw in A LOT and are VERY inflexible so the sock is difficult to fit. The pattern as written works five 13-st repeats around the leg for a primary stitch count of 65 sts. Even after shifting up two needle sizes I couldn't make that work, so I added a repeat for a primary stitch count of 78 sts. Crazy, huh?

Although sock patterns typically allocate half the leg stitches for the heel flap, that was just too much in this case. Besides the pattern has separate narrower charts for the left and right edges of the instep which I wanted to incorporate because I though they added more interest to the pattern. After stringing a lifeline - just in case this was all a terrible idea -  I worked the heel flap by ribbing in pattern over 33sts, leaving 45 sts for the instep. Still sounds crazy, right? Fortunately it worked out as the pattern really draws in.

After working three repeats on the foot it was necessary to add some patterned rib rows to lengthen the sock before starting the toe. Not quite enough length for another full repeat though, and it's probably just as well not have all those twisted stitches across the top of my toes. Truth be told, I miscalculated this the first time too, so I ripped back once more to get the length right. After all the work in getting to that point, why not perfect it? Another repeat on the leg would have been nice but I'd have run out of yarn for sure! To start the toe area I worked a decrease row to shift from 45 sts to 30 sts ... did I mention that I continued the gusset decreases to bring the sole to 30 sts for a snug sock?

It was hard fought but what a pretty sock! I've already cast on sock number two and now that all the mods are figured out, it should be smooth sailing. As you can imagine, I'm also pretty good at working these twisted stitches... with all those restarts on sock one, I've had lots of practice!

Aside from Gschnitztal, I also devoted some time to Clue 2 of the "On the Other Foot" MKAL which was released on Friday. With each clue participants receive two options for the next section. In this case, foot option one is a cable and lace pattern, and foot option two is a stranded colourwork pattern.

The cable and lace option is very nice, although I have some reservations about it. I personally don't like lace for socks, so there's that. Will a 7-stitch cable down the centre of the instep be comfortable inside a shoe? Doubtful. And the large size is the same chart as the small and medium with added purl stitches on each side, resulting in a 5-stitch purl gutter down each side of the instep. Yuck! I don't like wide purl gutters so instead I've repeated the mock cables on each side to extend the patterning out to each side of the instep. Then there's that spiral toe - I'm still not a fan. It fits better than the toe on the colourwork sock, but not as well as a traditional wedge toe.

The stranded colourwork pattern is cute, but feels very fussy to me. Honestly, I feel like I'm knitting a Ukranian Easter egg. I'm tempted to halt the stranded colourwork and finish the foot as a vanilla sock. And I'm seriously tempted to cut off that garter stitch toe that I strongly dislike and rework the toe as a wedge toe.

But more than that I'm undecided about whether I want to complete either sock or make a finished pair of either pattern. With that in mind, I've put both socks in time out to await the release of further clues. Perhaps the reveal of the heel and leg patterns will make my decision for me.

That's it from me this week. There are 14 weeks left in this Year of Projects and I've got 8.5 pairs of socks to go. Doesn't look good, particularly as my knitting mojo feels at a bit of a low ebb. Maybe some spring weather and sunshine will help to perk things up?! Here's hoping!