Saturday, July 28, 2012

Socks, Squirrels & Straw Bucks

This summer break has been filed with lots of activities, and I haven't been hitting the knitting as much as I'd like. But I have made a bit of progress this week.

Most notably, I completed a few more Christmas Balls after a few weeks of drought. I finished up the chapter on animals with two patterns, both of which I decided to leave unbeaded. First we have The Squirrel with its over-the-top bushy tale. I kind of wanted to add a little acorn, but the seam would have messed with it and I decided to leave well enough alone. The designers said they got the idea for this motif from a knitted children's sweater they ran across. I figure when (not if) Kate decides to eat one of these ornaments, it will be this one depicting her backyard arch-nemesis.

Next was something called The Straw Buck. Apparently, little (or big!) goats made out of bundles of straw are a traditional Scandinavian Christmas decorating tradition. I'd never heard of this, but there are many examples to be found on the web. Now to me, "buck" would denote a deer of some sort, but Wikipedia says goat. And bock beer often has a goat on the label. And this little guy does seem to have a bit of a beard. The Wikipedia article mentions pranking neighbors by putting a julebukk in their yard. Some friends and I once did something similar with a deer made out of sticks and logs -- you know who you are! -- so maybe I've absorbed a Scandinavian Christmas tradition without knowing it.

And this week, I finished the first of the Kalajoki socks. Modeling shots will follow once the pair is finished, but I wanted to show the clever "anatomical toe." You know the standard toe in which you decrease every other round? To do an anatomical toe, you decrease evey other round on the big toe side, but decrease every round on the pinky toe side. Neat! Not necessary, but very easy to do -- and probably equally easy to screw up if you're not paying attention. We'll see.

Now we're off to celebrate our 8th anniversary (thanks, Canada!) with a fancy dinner.


Sunday, July 22, 2012


Dave, one of the talented and stalwart knitters in our men’s knitting group, brought a cake to the meeting today. And to think I almost didn’t go – I had gotten on a bit of an online genealogy binge, and had a hard time tearing myself away. But I’m so, so glad I did. There were only three of us at the meetup today, so we had a bit of help eating it. Strawberries and cake and whipped cream and cream cheese and kirsch – how could it be bad? I had seconds. There, I said it.

And I’m getting ready for seconds on my Kalajoki Socks. I figure I’m going to do one half of the pattern rounds again (18), and then start decreasing for the toes. I may have mentioned that these are left and right-footed, so I have to be sure and get them right. I’ve tried them on and they fit like a glove, although I’m a little dismayed at a strange run that appears between my SSKs on the left gusset.

You may have noticed that the cuff looks a little longer than the last time. After knitting the heel flap and turning the heel, I thought the cuff looked awfully short. I weighed my remaining yarn and made an executive decision to rip back the heel and put in another 33-round pattern repeat. I’m glad I did. I think it looks way better.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A River Runs Through Them

I was itching to get back on the sock knitting horse after my recent disappointment, and also wanting to,use some of the BFL sock yarn I got last week in Colorado, so I cast on for the Kalajoki pattern yesterday. It's a translated Finnish pattern, named after a river in that country.

I originally planned to knit these on 2.5mm needles, but switched to my usual 2mm after seeing how drapey the fabric was. The pattern calls for a thicker yarn on 54 stitches, so I upped it to 72 -- my standard for sock yarn on my feet. I did a bit of math and figured an added ridge in the river pattern would be proportional, although now that I've done it, I can see that two additional ridgess would have looked fine. My "river" looks more centered than others, but I'm OK with that.

A little creative mathematics got me through the heel flap and around the heel turn, where I stopped to take the picture at the left. This pair will have an "anatomical toe," different for the left and right feet. I'm looking forward to seeing how that works.

In reference to the disappointment mentioned above, Amy had an excellent suggestion. I added an I-cord loop to my single red sock and have repurposed it as a Christmas stocking. So practical! Perfect for any guests staying at Christmastime -- or as a gift. Thank you, Amy!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sock Blocked

Actually, I haven't even bothered to block it. I'm referring to a different kind of blocking.

I knew I was asking for it on this project. It called for over 500 yards of yarn and my skein only had 462. So I thought that by shortening it, I would come out okay. I did leave out a few repeats, but I should have separated the skein out into two equal-weight balls beforehand. The finished first sock weighs 52 grams and I have 48 grams left. There will be no second sock.

But, I learned some cool techniques and got some practice memorizing a lace pattern. The three part star-shaped toe with the mercifully rare P3tog was only slightly maddening. Working on this got me to thinking about socks again, which I haven't been knitting enough of lately. Perhaps I'll get started on some with the new yarn I picked up in Boulder. I'm thinking of making the Kalajoki pattern -- it's been in my queue a while and should look nice in a bluish green. I'll need to look into upsizing them for manly Flintstone feet.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Knitting on the Road

We've been in Denver attending the 2012 GALA Festival this week. We sang, we danced, and we've listened to a lot of great choral music. But I've also managed to get a bit of knitting and yarn shopping in.

Before leaving Austin, I cast on for a pair of Gentlemen's Socks for Evening Wear from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. It feels like it's been forever since I've knitted socks. I'm using some wine-red Knit Picks Essential that I picked up at a yarn swap a few months back. Not exactly my color, and not exactly my style. These are awfully lacey for most gentlemen I know, but I suppose they were just the thing for Victorian dandies out on the town. One could make the case that, as laces go, this window-pane pattern is more masculine than some. I'll make them, but I don't know if I'll make them work.

The pattern is written for three needles, and although I usually use magic loop for socks, I'm toeing the line here. Past experience with patterns from this book taught me to do what I'm told. It's easier, and Ms. Bush hasn't steered me wrong yet. I have had some near disasters with 36 stitches crammed onto a 6-inch needle, though.

This morning, we took a break from the music and went with some friends up to Boulder for a few hours. We strolled around some shops and I just happened to stumble into Gypsy Wools. All the yarn there is hand painted or hand dyed by the owner, and the colors were amazing. There many examples of yarns you don't always find, and I picked up two hanks of sock yarn in both a dark gray and a steel blue bordering on turquoise made out of superwash Blue Faced Leicester. It's a nice little shop with friendly staff and an amazing array of colors. Also, they have lots of tops top and roving for spinners. (Did I use those terms correctly?)

We head back to Texas, and the heat, tomorrow.