Friday, May 30, 2014

FO Friday: Railside Road Socks

Pattern: Railside Road Socks (pattern link in sidebar)

Yarn: Cascade Heritage Solids Sock Yarn

Needles Size: US 0 (2 mm)

Modifications: The pattern is an original design, but I'm eager to see what others might do with the pattern

Comments: Railside Road Socks were designed for my nephew; he's been a train afficionado from an early age. And while I wanted to create some special socks for him, I also realized they had to be masculine, unfussy and well-fitted for there to be any chance that he'd actually wear them. Typical guy!

An alternate cable cast-on flows invisibly into a ribbed cuff. Paired Lateral Braids create railroad tracks around the leg. The plain stockinette of the lower leg flows into a simple and understated heel. A final Lateral Braid demarcates the transition from an otherwise plain foot to a wedge toe.

This alternate cable cast on is new to me, but it really does create a stretchy and invisible foundation row for a ribbed cuff. It's a little detail, and few would notice the difference if you substituted another cast on, but it's always fun to try something new.

The lateral braids are also known as Vikkel Braids. I first encountered this stitch in Spey Valley socks designed by Nancy Bush. It's very easy to do and creates a neat lateral stitch across your knitting. I especially like the little braid detail across the top of the toe - makes the sock look almost "store-bought" which is high praise from a teenage boy.

The heel is inspired by the heel construction from Mince Pie Mayhem socks by Alice Yu. Increases on each side of the heel create "expansion" areas to accommodate the ankle. The added stitches are decreased out while working the underside of the heel - no picking up of stitches at all. The result, when worked in stockinette, is nearly invisible shaping ... ahh that elusive "store-bought" look again.

I've been told that this heel structure was originally designed by Cat Bordhi as a "Riverbed Heel" although I haven't yet read her book "New Pathways for Sock Knitters" so I may stand to be corrected by those who know better. I recently purchased the book to learn more about her innovative sock construction ideas and am considering making the book the foundation of my next Year of Projects.

A big thank you to Gavin who patiently modelled these socks on the platform of our local train station. It's Friday - Finished Object Friday, so if/when Tami posts, I'll link up with the gang at Tami's Amis and then we can all click through the links to see a parade of amazing finishes!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Year of Projects 3: Kandahar 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

With one sock done and the second half way down the leg, this Kandahar pattern is really taking no time at all. It's a very striking pattern and there is a lot I like about it. For one, it's reasonably stretchy. And it's got lots of visual interest, especially that toe section!

But there are things I don't like about it. Eyelets. There are lots of eyelets. Lots of eyelets = lots of holes, and that's something I don't like. If I did this pattern again I'd replace the YOs with M1s to fill those holes. Thick, warm socks with lots of holes make no sense to me.

Also, the pattern is worked as a 16 round pattern repeat, and you can't just stop anywhere before starting the heel or toe. So working in the medium size with 3 repeats on the foot, the socks work up to fit about size 7-8 women's feet. Working one repeat less would make it much too small even for my friend's size 5 feet. One additional repeat would make it much too large for my size 11 feet. If you don't have medium width and medium length feet, then you're pretty much out of luck!

To fix this and still have the instep pattern flow correctly into the toe pattern, you'd need to start the instep in an entirely different row. And if you did that you'd have to change the heel set up because that flows from the leg pattern. It'd be pretty much a re-engineering of the pattern ... and how would you know how much to add or shorten unless you'd already knit it once? Grrrr!

So once they're done, these socks are definitely going onto the gift pile. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

For the next several days I plan to knit monogamously on projects already on needles. First up is this Kandahar sock. I've finished the leg of the first sock and am facing the heel set-up chart next.

I'm not enamoured with the yarn and with every stitch I hate it more. I ordered almost a dozen skeins online with the idea of knitting a lightweight baby shawl but when the yarn arrived it was clearly too thin, too splitty and too scratchy. So it's destined to be socks. Maybe it'll soften up with a washing or two?

I'm not enamoured with the pattern either - although it's growing on me - so it has been hard to find motivation. The pattern in one of seventeen from the book Socktopus which I am knitting as part of KAL on Ravelry. I'll concede right now that I might really like this pattern with a softer, squishier yarn but this yarn needs to be made into socks so I'm pushing on with it. After looking at the projects for this pattern in Ravelry I really wanted to knit the pattern in a solid colour, so my stash choices were limited. The pattern already looks nicer worn than on the needles, so maybe I'll continue to warm up to it!

The good news is my friend Nancy has let me know that she'll happily take the finished socks off my hands. After scrunching the sock and the yarn, she thinks the yarn isn't too scratchy at all. Nancy also has considerably smaller feet than me, so that's more good news.

The big news is that my Willow Ware kit arrived in the mail yesterday! A fellow Raveler bought the kit at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, but decided that the pattern was so intricate and so much work that she wouldn't enjoy knitting it. Instead she offered it for sale to recoup her initial investment. I've been mooning over this pattern for ages and I can't believe my luck to get a kit. The yarn is Tsilk Tstocking -  a 30% silk + 70% wool blend which is custom spun to the designer's exacting specifications with a "high hosiery twist" for an attractive sheen and wonderful stitch definition. I can't wait to try it!

Happy Wednesday! After a holiday Monday, we're on a short work week here in Canada so it's hard to imagine it's Wednesday already. This week is flying by! I'm linking up with Tami's Amis for Work-in-Progress Wednesday - why not click through to see what the others are working on?!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

FO: Sophie

Pattern: Sophie by Ysolda Teague

Yarn: Cloud Cotton

Needles Size: US 6 (4 mm)

Modifications: None. Ysolda has thought of everything and I wouldn't change a thing!

Comments: Pat's granddaughter was born several days ago, but the newborn sized vest I made is already too small. Much too small. It was a risk I knowingly took so I'm not too annoyed about it. Instead I decided to make something else ... something that wouldn't be outgrown ... like a stuffed animal.

When I saw this pattern I knew it'd be just perfect for the pink Cloud Cotton in my stash. I bought the pink yarn to make a sweater for my sister who, I learned, does not like pink. Better to put that aside until the right pattern presented itself. It's so perfect, in fact, that I'm considering making another couple. Or maybe a set with Ysolda's other toy patterns.

The head is knit first, in the round. Then stitches are picked up from the base of the head for the body. Similarly stitches are picked up from the body for the arms and legs. And finally, stitches are picked up from the top of the head for the ears. The first yarn end of each element is knotted and buried inside the stuffed toy. The final yarn end of each element is threaded back into the stuffing inside the toy. No seams, no sewing and pretty much no finishing. Even the embroidery for the face is easy peasy. And I just love how the decreases create the shape of the bunny's cheeks and nose.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Year of Projects 3: Kandahar 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

I've started my first Kandahar sock for the Socktopus KAL and it looks like the Elann Sport S01 yarn is going to work out just fine. As I suspected it's very thin for a "sport weight" yarn. Unfortunately it's also quite splitty which has made it quite annoying to knit with so far. However, as I have quite a bit of this yarn, it's "suck it up, buttercup" time. I originally ordered it for a sport weight baby blanket, but owing to thinness and scratchiness it's sock yarn now. Fortunately it is 75% superwash wool + 25 % nylon so it is entirely suitable for sock knitting. And maybe, just maybe, it'll be really durable for socks.

On a positive note, I do really like this "Bleached Oak" colour. And I'm hoping that after a few more repeats I start to like the pattern. Right now it's feeling very "eyelet-y" which isn't really my thing. The pattern is quite complicated; there's little chance of memorizing it, so it's not the best travel knitting. Which is too bad, because we've got a few hours in the car back and forth to the cottage on Lake Erie this weekend which would have been prime knitting time. I've scanned the pattern to put into Knit Companion on my iPad so I'll have to see how much I can get done. Having a guideline to keep track of my chart row is extremely helpful for a chart like this. I'm entirely hooked on Knit Companion these days, and wonder how I ever did without it.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Year of Projects: Kwalla 04

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

One more pair on the done pile ... well not really, this pair is still on my feet! Once I decided on my mods to decrease at the transitions from the main cable pattern to stockinette portions of the sock, I was away to the races. As a result I have a very well fitted pair of Kwalla socks.

When I purchase yarn I tend towards solids or semi-solids, because you never know how a yarn is going to behave. In this case I was very pleasantly supplied. The variegation has created an interesting colour texture without any pooling. Lovely! The yarn base is MCN so it's a bit thicker and fluffier than most merino/nylon sock yarns. That's what I wanted for a sock knit on US 1 (2.25 mm) needles! All in all it's feeling like a fortuitous matching of yarn to pattern.

By the way, there's a 40% percent off sale going on right now at Studio June's Etsy shop - today's a good day to buy some yarn, right? And just look at all those gorgeous colourways. As well as the Super Cash Sock yarn, she also offers a Twisted yarn which is also MCN but with a tighter twist. And with over 400 yarns to choose from, there's bound to be one or two, or ten or twenty, that appeal to you!

Next up for the Socktopus KAL is the pattern "Kandahar". This is definitely a pattern that looks best in a solid colour yarn. I have some Elann Sport yarn that is 80% superwash merino and 20% nylon that I'm going to try to use. To the hand it feels like Kroy sock yarn and to me it feels much too thin to be a true sport weight. This plan might not work out though - so far most of the patterns in the book have run large, so using a thicker yarn might just compound the challenge of getting a sock that fits. Never know until you try though!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Finished Object Friday

Pattern: Retro Circles Blanket by Three Beans in a Pod

Yarn: James Brett Marble DK and SRK Northern Sport

Hook Size: E (3.5 mm)

Modifications: After assembling the squares I added a simple shell border

Comments: I made this blanket to used up leftovers of James Brett Marble DK from my stash. The circles are really lovely in the variegated yarn (sorry about the poor photos but it's very overcast and grey out). When I ran out of the Marble DK, I made up the balance with solid green sport weight yarn - those circles are not nearly as lovely. But altogether it's a bright and cheery blanket using stash yarn, so I'm pleased about that.

To join my squares I used the recommended tutorial from Lucy at Attic 24 found here. It's very simple and it looks great on both sides. Nice!

Pattern: Chunky Ripple Blanket from Patons

Yarn: Bouquet Arctic Spun

Hook Size: M/N (9 mm)

Modifications: none

Comments: This yarn was donated to the Community Center. Most of the knitting that goes on there is to make baby things, so this large amount of chunky weight yarn was a challenge. Although there was enough to make a sweater, I couldn't imagine wearing a chunky weight acrylic sweater in these colours. As for the colours, they are the colours I wanted to paint my bedroom when I was eight, but I wouldn't paint a room these colours now. When I saw the ripple pattern, I thought it might be just the thing for a big comfy sofa blanket.

Happy Friday! We have a party tonight to celebrate the beginning of the SUP season, so that'll be fun. And as usual on Friday, I'll be linking up with the gang at Tami's Amis if/when Tami posts.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Year of Projects 3: Kwalla 03ish

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

Now that all other projects have been cleared off my needles, I've been knitting fairly monogamously on Kwalla. I think I mentioned my worries about sizing based on other Ravellers' notes? Well those worries were well-founded.

The main pattern on the leg involves cables  - C6F and C6B. And if you've knit cables before, you'll know that cables make for a dense, scrunched up fabric particularly across wide cables. So that explains the larger needle size and the higher primary stitch count. Typically I knit 64-68 sts on size 0 (2mm) needles for a sock, but in this case I cast on the medium size with 84 sts on a size 1 (2.25mm) needle. That worked out just fine; the leg of the sock fits perfectly.

But when you come to the heel flap and the sole of the sock where there are no cables you gotta have some decreases, right? Nope, not according to the pattern as written. So I'm supposed to knit a stockinette sole on size 1 (2.25mm) needles across 42 stitches and that's supposed to fit?! Uh, no.

Time for some mods! Remember the BFF socks that I knit a several months ago, and the clever decreases that Cookie A included to transition smoothly from cables to stockinette? Time to draw inspiration from Cookie A.

At the top of the heel flap I did a mega decrease row to bring the heel flap stitch count down from 42 sts to 30 sts. I carried on with gusset decreases until I had reduced the stitch count for the sole down to sts. And I did a matching set of decreases to transition from the cabled pattern to stockinette to begin the toe. Et voilĂ , the sock fits perfectly now ... no puffiness at the back of the ankle, no bagginess at the heel, a nice snug foot, and no puckering at the beginning of the toe decreases. PHEW!

It's a relief to have sock one done and fitting properly. Now I just have to reproduce what I did to make a second matching sock. Fortunately I made notes in my project page on Ravelry so there should be no problem. It's also nice to see how well the yarn is playing with this pattern. It's actually darker and browner in real life so the variegation isn't really overwhelming the pattern. So far the pattern's been nothing but trouble, but at least the sock is turning out nicely. It's super comfortable too ... I think they're going to end up as favourites in the sock drawer.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Finished Object Friday

deceptively simple on the outside
Pattern: Fronkenshteek by Lisa Grossman

Yarn: Twisted by Studio June Yarn, in a "Medium Aqua" colourway

Needle Size: US 1(2.25 mm)

Modifications: The pattern was written for non-superwash wool which would readily felt at steeked seams. Because I was used superwash wool I machine zigzag stitched to reinforce my steeked edges before seaming.

Comments: Although it took me a couple of weeks from start to finish, much of that time was spent waiting for the right moments to do the finishing - good light, no interruptions, patience and courage ... that sort of thing. The actual knitting was mostly plain stockinette knit in the round so that was done very quickly.

Turns out steeking, grafting and semi-grafting aren't that hard with practice. And the sock provides plenty of opportunity for practice. In fact I even had the opportunity to learn how to pick out an incorrectly grafted seam and regraft it! The Yarn Harlot has spoken about "knitting fearlessly" and this pattern really pushes you to do just that.

scarier on the inside
The socks fit are snug across the instep, but otherwise fit beautifully. The heel result is not dissimilar to an after thought heel, and as with that heel construction, I find the heel cup quite shallow. Admittedly I have pointy heels and a high instep so I should have anticipated that I'd need more ease, particularly as I chose to knit the small size for a snug fit for my narrow width feet. The designer advises that higher insteps can be accommodated by knitting a few more increase rounds on the "Ace Bandage" section and I'm pretty sure that would have worked for me. On the other hand, it's possible with all those seams and grafts criss-crossing the top of the instep that the fabric will relax a bit after a wash or two, and a wearing or two.

Truth be told, I didn't have enough yarn to consider much modification. The pattern indicates 350 yards for the smallest size so I figured I could sneak through with my 400 yard skein even after knitting a longer foot. I did sneak through with maybe 5 yards to spare. If I'd have known it would be that close I would have left smaller yarn tails :) But I was blissfully unaware until I got to the very last stages. Phew!

It's Friday ... Finished Object Friday ... and it's been more than a month since I linked up. I can't wait to pop over to Tami's Amis to see what everyone else is showing. I'll link up once she has posted and then see you there!