Sunday, February 28, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 35

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

COOKIE A SOCK CLUB: June #1 • June #2 • August #1 • August #2 • October #1 • October #2 • December #1 • December #2 

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January  February • March • April • May • June

Almost the entirety of last week has been lost in a sniffy sneezy flu-filled coma. Not a single stitch has been added to any sock project. Trying to knit from charts makes my head pound.

The only project that's seen any progress is this blanket for my cousin's baby, due mid March. The centre stockinette square is complete - although I abbreviated it to a slightly rectangular shape to leave enough yarn to complete the borders. As you can imagine, with 620+ stitches in each round, border progress is slooooooow. Slow but steady wins the race though, right?

The good news is that I'm emerging from the fog of illness. My temperature was nearly normal all day yesterday and today, so far, I'm fever-free! The bad news is that Gavin is showing signs of coming down with the same thing. So it's soup and hot liquids for the foreseeable future around here. And lots of blanket knitting!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 34

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

COOKIE A SOCK CLUB: June #1 • June #2 • August #1 • August #2 • October #1 • October #2 • December #1 • December #2 

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January  February • March • April • May • June

I've cast on the first sock for Twisted Flower but that's as far as I got. Instead I've been dividing my knitting time between Ludwig socks and a baby blanket.

The baby's due soon (my cousin's baby just to clarify; I'm waaaay too old for that sort of thing), but the pima cotton is very slippery on metal needles and my hands get sore after a handful of rows, so it's slow progress with a little more knit each morning and evening.

Ludwig, on the other hand, has been a breath of fresh air!

It's a wonderful thing when the yarn and the pattern play well together and I'm loving every minute of that! The flamingo pinks might be overwhelming on their own, but alternating with natural white stripes they're bright and fresh. I was a bit worried that there wasn't enough contrast between the light pinks and the natural white, but with one sock done I think the stripes hold up pretty well. I'm thrilled with how these socks are knitting up!

And how refreshing to try some new construction techniques!

The cuff is knit on fewer stitches than the leg - a row of increases is worked to start the leg. As a result the ribbing of the cuff is nicely opened up and snugly stretched around the calf. Similarly a row of decreases starts the toe box to keep the toe area nice and snug. Speaking of the toe, the decreases accelerate so that the toe is more rounded than the shape created by steady decreases every alternate round. Either shape works fine with my long pointy toes, but for those with daintier toes the more rounded shape might be preferable.

Rather than slipping stitches on each side of the heel flap to pick up later, those are garter ridges that are picked up. The result is tighter in my opinion - sometimes the slipped stitches can look a bit loose and stretched open.

The gusset decreases travel across the bottom of the heel and foot to converge at the centre of the sole. I've never seen this before, but it is a nice way to keep the stripes in order. It might be what's known as a "tear drop heel" but I'm not sure. It's very cool looking though!

A big thank you goes out to Dee at Pointy Little Sticks. The pink Lorna's Laces sock yarn was a gift from her, and it was this yarn that inspired my to buy the book Op-Art Socks especially for the Ludwig pattern. I've been enjoying the yarn and the pattern book tremendously! In fact, I'm already poking through my yarn basket to see what might suit some of the other patterns in the book!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 33

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

COOKIE A SOCK CLUB: June #1 • June #2 • August #1 • August #2 • October #1 • October #2 • December #1 • December #2 

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January • February • March • April • May • June

As of last night my Thelonious socks are done, and they are disappointingly non-matching. To be fair I've known since I started sock two that they wouldn't match - sock one started with a kelly green and sock two started with a dark mallard greenish-teal -  but I thought that was a gradient sock yarn cake thing. I thought that if I started sock one with the yarn tail on the outside of the cake and if I started sock two with the yarn tail on the inside of the cake, that the resulting pair of sock were supposed to match.

Not only do they not match, but as far as I can detect there would be no way for me to make them match, even if I had enough yarn to attempt it. I'll admit, I'm a bit bugged by that.

Que sera, sera. The socks are done with about 2 grams of yarn leftover. And they're really nice socks, if you can embrace the non-matchyness of them. I'm especially pleased by the length of the leg. Seems to me that Cookie A tends towards shorter legs in her designs than I like. In addition, the sample knits in the book Knit. Sock. Love. are typically knit at the smallest size, which can lead to unexpected results at larger sizes. In this case the leg was unexpectedly long at the medium size -  a happy outcome in my opinion!

Still no update on the yarn scratchiness. This finished pair is in the laundry pile - we'll see if they soften up with a wash or two. I'm not worried though; to me the yarn feels just like Briggs & Little Toughy before a first wash, so I have every confidence that a few washes and wears will be the cure for what ails them!

So what's next? The next Knit. Sock. Love. pattern I'll cast on is Twisted Flower.  Yes, I'm definitely in the mood for an intricate twisted stitches design. There's some CoBaSi sock yarn to be salvaged by frogging the Darjeeling socks I knit last year which should give me exactly the stitch definition I'm after with this pattern. But before I get to that, there are a couple other projects requiring my attention for the next week or two. With the better part of two days left on my long weekend and with temps of -25° keeping me inside the house, there should be lots of progress for my next update!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

what was I thinking?

For the last few days, when I'm not knitting socks, I'm working on a baby blanket for an expectant Mom in my extended family. And wondering with every stitch about my decision-making ...

THE PATTERN: I looked at dozens of patterns but kept coming back to Sleeping Beauty Baby Blanket. I love the simplicity of it with its large centre stockinette square, seed stitch borders and ruffled cabled edges. Okay, that's the one. But if you look at the project notes there are numerous red flags about the stitch counts in the borders and the corners not adding up. And then there's that 4 square foot panel of stockinette... well that's gonna be a test of my patience and determination!!

THE YARN: Although the pattern is written for worsted weight I definitely wanted a much lighter blanket, easy to pack and carry, and which would be suitable for swaddling a baby when carried, sun-blocking a carriage or stroller when out on the town and possibly even as nursing shawl. So sport weight or DK I thought.

Another consideration was that many of the Ravellers who knit this blanket mentioned blocking their FOs quite aggressively to keep those borders from scrunching up. In light of that, I wasn't sure about a superwash wool. Hailey at Knit-o-matic suggested Pima Cotton rather than wool as it would be more inclined to drape and relax - that sounds right, so that's the yarn. Other Ravellers who used the same yarn used 4-5 skeins so I bought the last five skeins of this colour and set about casting on.

THE CAST ON: The first instruction is to cast on 120 sts provisionally. Well that makes sense seeing as I'm going to need to pickup those stitches later to add the borders, but my go-to provisional cast on is crocheted and it's really not quick. Never mind, I thought, I'll suck it up, but after casting on all those stitches and after knitting half a dozen rows I decided it was too small.

* deep breath * Yes I ripped out all of that in order to start again with 160 sts. But this time I decided to hunt around on the internet for a better, quicker more painless provisional cast on option. SCORE! This long-tail provisional cast on is way faster and easier.  So that's settled and I'm on my way.

... but remember: I bought the last five skeins of this colour and then turned around and increased the size of the blanket by a third. Yep, this entire blanket is going to be an extended session of yarn chicken. * sigh *

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 32

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

COOKIE A SOCK CLUB: June #1 • June #2 • August #1 • August #2 • October #1 • October #2 • December #1 • December #2 

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January • February • March • April • May • June

Last week when speaking of my Thelonious socks I expressed my disappointment in the yarn base, the gradient and the pattern. Happily with the first sock off my needles and onto my foot, I'm quite a bit happier with all three.

I'm still not happy with the way the pattern is written. The designer seemed determined to segment the instructions according to the construction of the design elements -  leg section with four panels, leg section with two full panels and two decreasing panels, etc. The resulting instructions involve ten stitch markers labelled A1, A2, B1, B2, S, A3, A4, B3, B4 and E, and much written instruction about what to do from this stitch marker to that one. To my way of thinking it would be a lot easier to work from a full chart for the leg without any need for stitch markers or written directions... and then as the knitter worked through the chart the construction would reveal itself.

Enough kvetching; the finished result works very well. The lace panels spiral and collide around the leg, but perhaps because they are lacy and open the sock doesn't seem prone to biasing. The background between the lace panels is ribbed so the sock fits well and conforms to the leg, ankle and foot nicely. Still not my favourite pattern - not just because I don't like lacy socks - but I like it much more than I thought I would.

As for the yarn base, it's still scratchy against my fingers but that's less of an issue for my feet. Sock one actually feels quite warm and comfortable on my foot. Besides, I fully expect that the yarn will soften up after a few washes and wears.

Now, as to the gradient... I wasn't sure what to expect from the gradient. After finishing sock one, I looked at other gradient yarns and their projects in Ravelry and concluded that the gradient is pretty much what I should have expected. Well, except that it looks to me like I'm going to have fraternal socks since the inside end of the yarn cake that I'm using to start sock two appears to be dark blue/green and not the kelly green of the outside end that started sock one.

Overall I'm feeling kind of ambivalent about gradient yarns now. I don't hate this gradient, and I do find the transitions kind of interesting, but the colour changes detract from the pattern in my opinion. I wouldn't go out of my way to use another gradient yarn, except perhaps in colourwork where these long colour changes often shine as the contrast colour, like Fiddlehead mitts.

My Clandestine socks were finished earlier this week. I'm not bothering with a FO photo for the blog as they really don't look much different than last week. I won't see the intended recipient for another few weeks, but I think she's going to love them! The short-striping colours played so nicely with the movement in the pattern.

I've caked the yarn for Ludwig. After blogging my yarn choices last week I was a little troubled that the natural white yarn might be too thick compared to the pink short-striping yarn, but after caking them both, I think the thicknesses are pretty close. If anything the pink is more tightly spun making it look finer. With a long weekend coming next weekend, I'm hoping to finish Thelonious and make a start on Ludwig before next week's update!