Sunday, March 25, 2007

Where to Begin?

I should have photographed these sticking out from the edge of my house's foundation. I'm afraid they're starting to look like something the Wicked Witch of the East might have worn.

I took this picture in our backyard, which, due to extreme effort on my part, is way less jungly than it was at the start of the weekend. I seriously considered re-zoning some of the weeds as hedges, but thought better of it. It was crazy overgrown back there. It still is in patches, but at least the bits of lawn have been reclaimed. The roses are starting their spring blooming period and the yard smells quite nice -- if you ignore the organic turkey poop fertilizer I just put on the grass.

I hope I can walk tomorrow.

Yesterday I mentioned that this heel has a French heel and that it was all mysterious, with the stitches for the heel divided between two needles. I don't know what I was thinking, but socks knit on DPNs usually do have the stitches divided between two needles. I've just re-read some of the front matter in Nancy Bush's book, and realize that just about every heel I've ever knit has been a French heel -- as opposed to Dutch, German or Welsh. So, no reason to panic. There is one odd thing about the heel...

Rather than the beginning of the gusset round starting at the middle of the heel (where the two needles cross at the top of the heel) and moving onto the right gusset, this pattern calls for the gusset decrease rounds to begin at the beginning of the left heel flap (where you can see the working yarn trailing off in the picture). The only reason I can see to do this is because one can -- the heel has just been turned in the contrasting color, and since the pattern calls to start working with the main color, why not start wherever you want to?

The main problem I'm going to have is remembering to do the left slanting decrease (Sl1, K1, PSSO) first in the round, and the right-slanting decrease (K2T), second.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

All Aboard!

Okay -- the Bomb Pop Socks didn't hold my interest as long as I thought they would. Looking forward to this morning's knitters' meetup, and dreading the thought that my fellow knitters might think that I don't ever knit anything else, I decided to start another pair of socks.

I had some KnitPicks Essentials yarn that I'd had for a while and that I thought might work well with another pattern in Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. The pattern is called Gentleman's Sock in Railway Stitch. Although the other pair I just finished from this book was called "fancy," I fancy that this sock is the fancier of the two patterns. It uses two colors of yarn after all. The two colors I'm using are called Pumpkin and Fawn. I'd originally gotten the Fawn to knit a stranded knitting pattern from Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks, but that didn't work out so well. The Fawn yarn can be seen in a round ball at the top of the picture. I'm thinking these colors will play nicely with each other.

Among the interesting features of this pattern are the railroad stitch and again, the shaping of the leg. If you look closely, you can see where the decreases brought a 5-stitch pattern down together, forming a "Y" on the leg. Also, the instructions say that rather than have all the heel stitches held on one needle, half the stitches are on one needle and half on another. This heel is called a French heel. I'm sure it will make more sense once I get to that part of the pattern.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Gentlemanly Pair

A relaxing spring break at the in-laws resulted in my most quickly knit pair of socks yet. From cast on to cast off -- nine days. Not a record by any means, but the quickest I've ever been able to make a pair. Here they are all finished -- the Gentleman's Fancy Sock(s).

Before getting into the sock wrap-up, let me mention a fantastic exhibit that we went to see while in the Metroplex this weekend. The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth has an amazing exhibit on, Drama and Desire: Japanese Paintings from the Floating World, 1690–1850. It features works from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston that rarely get shown. Such beautiful paintings! I found myself as interested in the fabrics and scroll containers as much as the art. The works by Hokusai (of the Great Wave fame) toward the end of the exhibit were my favorites, especially Libo Admiring the Waterfall.

Back to the socks...

I really like them, despite a big mistake resulting from my inability to read a pattern closely. The instructions dictated the number of rounds to knit for the leg. From the cast on, 20 rounds of knitting for the cuff ribbing. Then, each of the next 90 rows is dictated. However, because I read repeating a 20 round section as repeating 10 rows, my sock ended up having a leg that is 10 rounds (or about 3/4") short. I like socks as long as they can be, so I'm bummed that I did this. I noticed the mistake while making the second sock and rather than undoing the first sock, decided to make the same mistake in the second. Turns out this mistake was fortunate, because it's doubtful I would have had enough yarn to finish both socks if I hadn't left these 10 rounds out. So it all worked out.

I'm still not sure what I think about the tweediness of these socks. They definitely look better in photographs and from a distance than they do up close and personal. I was telling Jeff that they look like someone took a nice pair of slate gray socks and barfed a Colombian or Romanian flag all over it. To be fair, there are green bits, too, but they don't show up at all.

I think this little distraction may have been the thing to get me back on track with the Bomb Pop socks. Let's hope so.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Spring Break Knitting

Got a new phone this week, and wanted to try posting a picture to Blogger from it. Not the best quality, but kind of cool for on-the-fly posting!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I got an amazing amount of work done on this pair of socks. I had a lot of sitting time -- it's spring break, it's been raining, and our niece and nephew were here for a sleepover this weekend, so I got a lot of needle time whilst watching Pippi Longstocking. Keep your eyes open if you watch this movie -- it has a knitting scene!

It's been good to get out of the knitting box for this project. I've had to look at socks in a different way and was forced to try new things. The biggie for me was the sideways grafting at the toe. Rather than grafting the top to the bottom, the sides are grafted together creating a solid horizontal band across the toe. It feels a little strange on my toes, but it's very appealing, visually.

There were other odd details. For instance, there is a little row of purls down the heel flap. Not sure why -- a way of keeping track of the center of the flap? Also, rather than pairing the k2t right-slanting decreases with ssk, these socks paired the k2t with s1 k1 psso. I've never really used that left-slanting decrease before, and I think it mirrors k2t better. Why don't more people use this in patterns? Maybe I just don't get around enough, patternwise. I may start substituting this for ssk more often.

Overall, I like this pattern. The sock fits quite well. I'm not sure about the tweed yarn, though. I think it would have worked better in browns or greens. This slate colored yarn with bright red and yellow bits is a bit much. It looks better from a distance than it does close up. But as yarn, it knits up nicely.

Now on to the second sock. The instructions don't mention knitting a second one, and the name of the pattern is Gentleman's Fancy Sock (singular). I'll go out on a limb and make a second one -- because that's the kind of daredevil knitter I am.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sock Fancy

I got tired of looking at the yarn of the Bomb Pop Socks, and I just needed to get away from them for a while. So, I cast on for a sock from a book I got for Christmas, Knitting Vintage Socks: New Twists on Classic Patterns by Nancy Bush.

I chose the pattern for the "Gentleman's Fancy Sock." I liked the alligator-style pattern. It didn't look too difficult and it seemed like it would fit me. I've been knitting from Charlotte Schurch's book so much that this approach seemed a bit alien at first. This is the first sock I've ever knit that has decreases shaping the leg. It's strange to think of Victorian knitters (Bush pulls many of her patterns from a popular 19th century British needlework periodical) concerning themselves with the shapes of men's legs. The stereotype is that Victorians didn't think about such things at all -- which, of course, meant that that's all they thought about all the time. My legs are not what I would characterize as "shapely," but we'll see how it goes.

I'm using Knit Picks Essential Tweed for these. The tweedy bits are a little unnerving, popping up in odd patterns, sometimes deeply entwined in the main yarn, sometimes hanging off the side of the sock, barely attached. One extra large chunk I dubbed a "cancerous growth," although I learned at the knitter's meetup this morning that "slub" is the appropriate term for these tweedy bits.

On the ZimmerZipper sweater front, I'm still waiting for a chance to go out and buy a zipper. I'm hoping to drop the whole project off at the tailor's early next week.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sunday Steeking Sunday

Today was all about the steek.

In preparation of going over to my sister's house for her much-needed assistance, I ran a line of orange yarn (you may recognize it as being left over from the Textured Blocks Throw knitted earlier this winter) right down the center stitch. It actually looks kind of cool. Sort of a "cut along the dotted line" approach.

The steek consists of this center stitch, plus two stitches to either side of it. Most of what I've read about steeks has been from the standpoint of stranded knitting, in which you alternate stitches in the steek area to make sure that all the strands are interwoven and interlocked with each other. So I planned a five-stitch steek, which I realize now wasn't necessary. I guess I either have a little two-stitch facing on either side of the cut, or I'll just live with four extra stitches. Maybe that will give me some wiggle room after large meals? I'll discuss it with whoever puts in the zipper.

My sister was so patient with me trying to explain what needed to be done. She was a real whiz with the machine. It was nice to sit around and chat about our mom's sewing, and our granny's sewing machine that just sews straight stitches and which my sister still has. All in all, it was a great way to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

She basically sewed a straight line, using small stitches, straight down the middle of the gutter in the middle of the stitch to either side of the orange line, and then sewed another line in the gap between the row she'd just sewn and the next one over. And voila!

The next step was to head downstairs to the dining room table for the cutting of the steek. My niece and nephew were both curious about this step and asked a lot of good questions. I had started to pull the orange line out (for some crazy reason), but sanity prevailed. It made a great guide for figuring out where the middle of the cutting row was. It didn't take all that long. In the meantime, my niece Kathleen's cat, Hannah, had to help. It's a good thing I hadn't already woven in the ends and deprived her of all that fun.

This last picture shows the final product. Boy, this thing is easier to get on and off now that it is a cardigan! As you can see, I still haven't tacked the neck down. I need to do that, weave in the few ends, block the whole thing, and then take it to a tailor to put in the zipper. Thanks to my nephew Christopher for doing such a great job on the photography.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Earning My Stripes

It's been a while since I've posted! What can I say -- work, life, out of town trips, etc.

The ZimmerZipper sweater is still waiting for a trip to my sister's for machine sewing the steek. I ditched the crochet steek idea when I realized how thick that would make the zipper area. Hopefully this will happen this weekend some time. Sisters are the best. Love your sister! Especially if she has a sewing machine and knows how to use it.

So I've concentrated, when I've had the chance to knit, on my Bomb Pop Socks. Oh, the trials and tribulations. I finished the first sock -- twice -- the first time, thinking I was running out of yarn, I put the toe decreases in too early. Turns out I had plenty. So I ripped backed and added half an inch to the sock. Then I decided the baby cable ribbing, while decorative and all, detracts from the stripiness that I went to great pains to dye into the yarn. So I started the second sock as a more straightforward plain sock.

And now I'm seriously thinking of changing it again. Grrr. Here's the deal. I want this to really show off the stripes, and I think a toe up sock with the short-rowed toes and heel would do that best. I'd finally gotten back to embracing gussets and picking up stitches and turning heels, but I think the toe-up method would just work best. I've been spending entirely too much time on these socks, but I need them to be right.

One of these days I will knit another pair of socks.