Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The wavy sock

I've been very happy with this sock pattern so far. The fabric is just stretchy enough that it hugs the leg nicely (I know I said earlier that it wasn't very stretchy -well, compared to rib it isn't, but it's much stretchier than stockinette). Here's a picture of the finished sock, and you can really see how the stitch pattern pulls in:
And again on my foot (yes, I know, I've got my feet on the table...)
I really wish you could see the greenish hues of the yarn better, but I guess it's not going to hapen, because I've tried photographing them in all kinds of different light, and it's just not showing in the pictures. You'll just have to take my word for it, that these socks aren't all blue!

I've already started the second one to avoid the SSS (second sock syndrome), and I'm past the heel, so they should be finished by the end of the week. I'm also getting very used to knitting with the circular needle. I'm not saying that I'll ditch the double pointeds alltogether -yet. But I'm thinking about it.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

So what is it turning into?

I'm finding that I can't knit fast enough to get all these sock ideas out of my head. What I usually do, is that I have an idea and just start to knit, jotting down notes as I go. But I just might have to change my habits, and jot down notes before I get to the project, because I have at least 3 different sock patterns in my head all at once, all of which I think would probably be very workable ideas. But here's the first one, and this one definitely was dictated by the color. I wanted something that would look waterlike, like waves or something. Some patterns I found came close, but none were exactly what I was looking for. And you know what that means. Write your own. The stitch pattern I picked out was the Scroll pattern from Barbara Walker's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns. I also considered all the Feather and fan like patterns, but gave up on those. This looks very wavy to me:
This was my first attempt, but as you can see, there's no needles in it, which can only mean one thing: doomed to be frogged! I used the pattern as it is in the book, each stitch pattern being 10 stitches wide, 6 repeats -> 60 stitches. It's not very stretchy, and so it turned out to be a little too tight. My options were to do a 9x7 -> 63 s (9 stitches in the pattern), an 8x8 -> 64 s (eight stitches in the pattern), or 11x6 -> 66 s (11 stitches in the pattern). So I modified the pattern to be 11 stitches wide, giving me 66 stitches, which turned out to be the perfect amount. Here's my second attempt:
And on my foot:

See how I had to change the ribbing, as well? The first attempt had a k3p2, which was perfect for the 10 stitch pattern repeat, but now I had 66 stitches, an 11 stitch pattern repeat and 33 stitches on the needles per side. So I went with a k1p1 this time.

This is my first try on socks on circulars, and it's less awkward that I thought. I might actually start to like it. At least I like the safety factor, instead of having 5 fairly sharp needles floating around, I only have 1 circular. I didn't want to work with two, it just seemed like too much stuff dangling around. Now I just have to show my mom and convince her that this is the way to go... ;)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Sock ideas

Thank you Lisa and Lene for your suggestions! I searched the suggested patterns on-line, and you know how one link leads to another one, and another one, and another one... and before you know it, you've spent the whole night looking at sock (or other) patterns. Well, I don't know if this has ever happened to you, but it sure has to me. So anyway, I got a lot of ideas, and actually desided to combine a couple of them. Pictures will follow later, because I frogged the first attempt and only have less than an inch of ribbing to show so far. Thankfully we have a long weekend ahead, so there will be a lot of quality knitting time. :)

Monday, May 22, 2006

What's brewing?

My husband asked me what I wanted to do this weekend, and I told him I wanted to dye. I know it doesn't sound like anything too weird when you read it, but try saying it out loud. Well, the issue got clarified, and I did some dyeing last night. I had these aquarelle type blues and greens in mind, and gave in to measuring my dilutions and color mixtures. I was going to do a combination of microwave/crock pot method, but discovered a brand new way to do this. Pouring the diluted dye solutions onto the yarn right in my hands. Worked marvelously! The yarn was still hot from the soak bath and caught the color immediately so that when I squeezed it dry, the water was completely clear.
Here's the pile of yarn before hitting the microwave. It has a little more color variation than what shows, but otherwise the color is pretty close. This is once again Inpirations yarn's superwash sock yarn. Here dried up, before winding
I must say I'm pretty pleased with the results, and I think this yarn deserves a nicer pattern than just your basic plain stockinette stitch socks. Any ideas? Something lacy or semi-lacy would work. Please put on your thinking caps and help me out, fellow knitters!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Yarn finds and UFO's

I got a chance to go to Minneapolis this past week for a business trip, and the first thing I did in planning for this trip was of course to check the yarn stores I could visit when off duty. I asked fellow knitter Kim (hi Kim!) for some tips on must visit stores, and she pointed me to Needlework Unlimited in Edina. Wow, what a store! I was overwhelmed by the amount and selection of yarn, and didn't know what to pick! I went in with only a couple of very vague ideas of what I might want to knit, and really should have had a definite plan to make good use of the visit. Another store I visited was Yarn Cafe on the North side, close to the Arbor Lakes mall. Yarn Cafe was a very cute store, with an awesome selection, and so comfy to just wander around looking at and touching all the wonderful yarns. I did end up buying something from both places, and here's what I got:
Some camo Trecking sock yarn for the camo-boy.

Misti Alpaca lace yarn -this will probably turn into a shawl from the Islandic shawl book again.

Some green/blue Malabrigo. This will be my airplane project for going back home, therefore the white plastic circulars sticking out of the ball (I've had too many needles taken away from me trying to get on a plane, that I'm playing it safe. I don't think anybody would think that I'm trying to hijack a plane with these! But I know that's no guarantee, I've had needles confiscated that were thicker than a regular pancil and much duller. So I'm also taking a crochet hook.) BTW, at Yarn Cafe, they wound the big hank of Malabrigo into a ball even without asking! My new favorite yarn store...

Malabrigo also got some pals, with matching colors of green and light blue (the light blue was impossible to capture in the picture):
The Malabrigo will make a scarf and the Nashua Handknits Creative Focus pals will make a pair of mittens, possibly felted. The mitten plans will come together, when the weather gets cold again.

'Bout them UFO's, here's a couple that are in the queue:

A pink sock from a selfstriping Regia cotton/wool blend, and this:
an almost finished lacy top that I started last summer, and then faced a complete lack on knitting inspiration for something so summery when it wasn't summer any more. I'm planning on making myself finish these two before starting anything new.

There is one finished object, too, namely Mr and Mrs Potholder, fresh out of the washer:

I tried to catch some of Mrs Potholder's fuzzy felted goodness:
This is one of the roughest yarns I've had to work with, but it felts into such an unbelievably soft fabric! Here's the happy couple one more time:

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Don't be so...

Oh, wait... deja vu... haven't I seen this square already? -Oh, no, this is a different one! This one will come to live it's life as a pot holder, with another friend just like it, with just a little bit different coloring. Well, they will be more than friends, they will be married, fused together, felted back to back, unseparable from each other. As of yet, Mr Square here has no idea of what lies ahead, because his partner is still being created. But he will find out soon enough.
As for other news, I should tell you about my little trip to Minneapolis and a couple of yarn stores there, but because my camera's battery is dead, and I don't like to post without pictures, that will have to wait. Maybe tomorrow... I also have a ton of post ideas that are brewing in my little head, as well as many UFO's that are begging to have their pictures posted on the blog. So there is no lack of potential content, just a lack of time. Like many other bloggers, all that yard work is slowing me down -it is May, after all. I will try to find the time to put these ideas into writing/pictures soon.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

I owe squares...

Remember how I said I'd knit something for a charity (squares for a blanket project) after every time I finished something for myself? Well, I've finished a few things for myself now, with no squares in sight. So I owe some. After I finished the red socks, I consulted the knitters "bible", A Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker, to find some fun patterns to use. And there are plenty... I wanted to try something I'd never used before, and ended up with a nubbly pattern called Blister check:

Believe it or not, this is a very easy drop stitch pattern! And it looks so fun! Here's a nubbly little detail:
See how those stitches between the nubbles have fewer rows than the rest? That's where you drop the stitch over 4 rows and pick it up with the same color as below. So no intarsia or knitting with more than 1 color at a time. Not that I mind doing that either, but this was much faster to knit that I had imagined, because you only do something out of the ordinary every 6th row.
Another one I tried was the fretwork pattern, based on the same idea of only knitting with one color at a time. This one uses slip stitches instead of dropped stitches. The colors are a dark cholate brown and a light greenish blue.
And a little detail shot:
This became my immediate favorite! I'll have to use it in something else, too... hmm... the possibilities...

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Flame socks

Ok, so the not-my-favorite color yarn turned into socks (I wasn't going to give up!). Here's the heel in progress:
And here they are done:

The pooling (which was actually somewhat planned) reminded me of flames, hence the name Flame socks. Here's one from the side to better show you the length (couldn't get the colors quite right in this one, the one about is pretty close to the truth):

Oh, and do I need a tan... :D

I spent a lot of time adjusting the fit, but I'm glad I did, because these fit me perfectly! This will be sort of my prototype sock, because I have a feeling I will be using this yarn a lot in the future.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

More colors

Socks for me too! Me, me, me! I want something red now. I've been eying all kinds of sock yarns lately, trying to find a red that's not too stripey, not too busy, not self patterning (they all seem to be self patterning these days), and doesn't cost $ 20 per pair of socks. But I haven't been too lucky with that. So the Inspirations yarn was to be my saving grace. And by the way, I REALLY like that yarn! Nice to knit with, soft but not too soft, beautiful even stitches... do I need to go on? It's just a nice solid sock yarn, and best of all, superwash. With my dyeing experiments, I've found the instructions from Pro-chemical and HJS Studio very helpful. Other than that, I just try things that I think might work out. I haven't wanted to make it too much about measuring and being exact, because I get to do more than enough of that at work. So it's kind of like my cooking, I just throw things together and hope it turns out ok. ;)

Ok, so here we go. My idea is to use the microwave method for making yellow and dark red
stripes in the yarn, then tie those spots with scrap yarn and immerse the whole thing in red to get a light to dark, yellow-orange- red effect.
So far so good... here's the yellow and dark red spots, some tied with yarn.

But after the immersion: oops... not quite what I was looking for. I thought the dye would seep in at least a little bit, and cause a gradual change from red to yellow. Not the case! Look at those
sharp changes -me not like! So back to the drawing board. I squirted some red over the yellow and stuck the whole thing back in the microwave. Much better -not perfect, but better. I think I can live with this.

And wound into a ball:
I started a sock right away, but... You ever had one of those things where you end up knitting at least 3 socks to end up with a pair? Well, this is one of those times. I've knit at least a sock and a half so far, and still don't have even one sock done. Sigh. And I'm really not even liking the color so well, although it looks nice on the ball, so my inspiration to finish is dwindling down quickly.

To top off the lowly knitting mood, I had one of these on-line yarn order faux pas's. I ordered a bunckh of Regia sock yarn from Royal Yarns thinking I found a good deal -well, guess what. The balls are 50 g, not 100 g. I feel so stupid for not noticing that on their site (yes, it's mentioned there), just thinking they were the same "one ball makes a pair" balls that I've had before.
So this is where the Finnish "sisu" comes in (yeah, I'm full of it!), and I'm going to finish those damn socks no matter what! One of the bonuses of that will be that I'll finally have this yarn figured out gauge-wise, and will have the size perfected for my little duck feet.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Tiger socks

Ok, so the yarn may not have turned out exactly tiger color, but I still like it, and I think so does the recipient. The dark stripes are a mossy green color. Again, very hard colors to photograph, they are a much warmer than in this picture.

I am knitting these toe up, contrary to how I usually like to knit my socks, and how I learned to do it a long time ago. I'm a big fan of the heel flap, partly maybe because that's what I am most familiar with, and partly because of its "enforceability", and I wanted
to figure out a way to do a heel flap toe up. So basically do it in a reverse order. Here it is in progress:

Also, J. wanted the socks to be only ankle high, which made them a very quick knit. I did a short ribbed cuff, and I like how sharp the twisted stich k1, p1 looks when it continues directly from the enforced heel flap. My plan is to write this pattern out and add it here later. I like very much how that heel flap turned out, and an added bonus for doing it this way, there is no picking up stiches!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Yummy yarn...

I had placed an order at Inspirations Yarn a while back, and almost forgot about it when I got an e-mail that they had computer problems and orders were delayed. I was too busy with other stuff to even have thought about the whole thing. The first time I started wondering about where that yarn might be was yesterday. And guess what, it showed up today! What a nice surprise. So in essence, I only waited for it for one day. :) I got two skeins of Decaf and two Java (only one in the picture), both machine washable. Decaf is a worsted weight (on the thinner side, I think), and Java a sports/sock yarn. I am so excited to try dyeing these! I really didn't have any idea what to expect quality-wise, but so far I'm really liking both yarns.

Now one of the kids declared yesterday that he must have orange socks! All right then. So tonight we prepared a concoction that is supposed to end up orange with dark brown tiger stripes. Here he is modeling the color of his T-shirt next to the crock pot with the yarn in it.

All very orangy (yes, I had a little Photoshop fun...): Here's a picture of the yarn in the pot, and my little contraption to get the stripe color in the same pot but not mixing with the orange: can you see what that is? It's a big glass inside the crock pot with the dark brown dye in it!
And it's working fabulously! Here's a shot right after I pulled it out of the pot, rinsing in the sink:

These will be quite the socks, I think. ;)

I know I should have done a better job preparing the yarn for this, because it will be an absolute nightmare trying to wind this into a ball from this mess... I might be teaching myself a lesson here...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Then what?

Ok, so I finished two projects. Now what's a girl to do? Well, cast on for another pare of socks -nice summery cotton blend yarn and instant gratification:
I think these stripey yarns benefit from patterns with horizontal elements, instead of vertical, which gets lost in all the stripeyness, and makes the whole thing look like a mess. So I added a little twist to the ribbing (it shows better in natural light, but the flash shot will have to do for now): Posted by Picasa
Here's the finished one on my foot. The wool/cotton (41/34 % with 25 % polyamide) feels sooo comfy...
I must have more of these...
I'm knitting on US #2's (2.25 mm), and using 70 stiches. I have super wide feet -I would actually need double wide widths of shoes, but just guess how many stores carry those. Well, at least I can have my socks fit. The benefit of having feet like mine is that no little prairie breeze is going to knock me over. ;)