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Archive for the ‘sock design’ Category

Good Sock Yarns

I’ve been down my rabbit hole lately researching different breeds of sheep and the wool they produce. I’ve been reading The Fleece and Fiber Source Book. It contains information on over 200 breeds of sheep and their wool. You see, I’ve discovered that the much heralded merino wool is not good sturdy yarn for socks even if it is blended with nylon. In short, it doesn’t wear well. It is not suited to the job. Then why, you might ask, do all fingering and sock yarns feature merino. That’s business ladies and gentlemen. The manufacturers sell you on what they know to be not up to the task so that it wears out quickly and SURPRISE you have to come back for more. Built in obsolescence.

I spend a lot of time knitting socks, especially for The Skipper. I hate it when I spend that much time on a project for it to last barely one season. Thus my search for better sock yarns.

I found that socks fall into three categories. The durable and hard wearing that are worn with boots or hiking shoes, the everyday ones worn with regular shoes, and luxury ones usually reserved for bed or times when you need comforting in your soul. Merino fits the last category and while it is often blended with nylon, nylon does not wear as well or as long as silk. So if it is a luxury sock that will be lightly worn go for a merino silk blend.

The softer the fiber the more pilling and wear will occur. In short it is more fragile. Merino falls into this category. I won’t bore you with micron counts or staple lengths or amount of crimp. But all three factors affect the sturdiness of a yarn.

If you are going for a boot sock Romney may be your best bet but with a few caveats. First, it easily felts. Second, it is not highly elastic. Third, the yarn is not super lofty. But for durability it is great.

Thinking of an every day sock? You have a number of choices: Bluefaced Leicester, Wensleydale, Leicester Longwool, Columbia, Polwarth, Corriedale, and Cheviot. Look for a tight twist with at least 3 plys. The tighter the twist the more durable the yarn.

Finally, the very last thing you should do with any hand knit sock is walk around the house in it without some kind of footwear on. Walking only in your socks causes greater wear and tear on the fabric than wearing them with shoes. Who knew?

 

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I’ve successfully gotten the ice floe in the backyard, or Little Antarctica as I call it, down to a manageable size with my new best friend, a sledge-hammer. Hammering the 5″ (13) cm thick ice over the last 7 days or so has been a real workout. I worried about the mastectomy side of me, but the lymphedema never showed. I did intensive yoga stretches for chest and arms before and after each hammering session and they may have helped.

So it was with renewed vigor that I popped out of bed this morning, pulled up the shades only to see it was snowing. A lot. It was snowing a lot. In fact it is still snowing a lot. Is it only me, or has anyone else noticed that s-n-o-w is really just a four letter word?

The socks are progressing. I used a provisional cast on where I knit on the RS and purl on the WS for a few rows with waste yarn, then change to the sock yarn on a knit row. I find it a little more fiddley to pick up stitches from it than from the crocheted provisional cast on I usually do.

While I was messing around with new techniques I also changed the way I picked up wraps and stitches on purl rows. Normally I just purl them together, which forms a right leaning decrease. But I altered it to a half-way SSP left leaning decrease. Rather than slipping two stitches knitwise, I slipped only one. Then I purled the wraps and the stitch through the back loops. It kept the three stitch bulk on the private side of the sock and kept the public side looking smooth. Now I just need to remember to work the second sock the same way. Easier said than done. I am not completely sold on the slip, p3tog technique. So the search continues for a better way of handling purling together wraps and stitches.

Enjoy the weekend.

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True to form I am still procrastinating over the list of things that need to get done. In honor of that, I have cast on socks for the sock adaptation tutorial.

After losing myself in the Yarn Vault for a period of time (total glee for Yarn Rascal), I selected Jill Draper’s Splendor Sock Yarn in the Glacier colorway. After I untangled Yarn Rascal from his three chosen skeins, I searched through my books for a sock pattern. With a foot circumference of 7.5 inches (19) cm, almost all sock patterns don’t fit so I have a wide selection.

I chose the “Dead Simple Lace Socks” from Wendy Johnson’s book Socks From The Toe Up. The smallest size for this sock measured 8 inches (20.5) cm or 8.5 inches (21.5) cm in circumference. Way too big for me.

jill draper splendor sock yarn 001

The first truth about adapting a sock pattern to fit your foot size is throw out all the numbers in the original pattern. The designer’s gauge no longer matters. Your gauge becomes the ruler. Thus, you need to knit up a sample. It’s at this point I start to whimper. I don’t want to “waste” time knitting a sample. I want to knit the darn sock. The adult in me must win this tug of war in order to produce a sock I can wear.

Next step: Knit a sample in the round. (I know, this stinks.) Cast on half the total amount of stitches of the size one up from yours. (It could be worse, I could have to cast on all the stitches.) For me, that was the size 8. Knit at least 1 inch (2.5) cm in stockinette stitch. (If the adult in you is strong knit 2 inches (5) cm for a more accurate gauge.) Then knit 2 or 3 inches (5 or 8) cm in the stitch pattern as written. (This is not too bad. I get a chance to see the stitch pattern and see if I like knitting it.) This accomplishes two things: 1) It gives you your gauge over St st and your gauge over the stitch pattern. 2) You become intimate with the stitch pattern making it easier to see what can be left out and what must remain if you are going to be happy with the results.

If the pattern is heavy on cables or has lots of twisted and crossed stitches the fabric is going to pull in. If the pattern is lacy it’s going to want to expand. Look at the difference in width between the stockinette section and the pattern section you just knitted. It will tell you whether you need to add or subtract stitches to your cast on count.

To find your cast on count measure the number of stockinette stitches over 1 inch (2.5) cm. This answer is the number of stitches you’re getting per inch. (I know that in reality it is best to measure gauge over 4 inches (10) cm. But I’d really like to start the sock.) Take this number and multiply it by your foot circumference number. Your foot circumference is measured around the ball of the foot, the padded area just below where your toes end. Stitches per inch times foot circumference equals the total number of stitches for your sock.

The second truth about adapting a sock pattern to fit a smaller or larger foot size: You’re not going to replicate the entire pattern as you see it in the picture. Compromises can range from simply losing a number of pattern repeats and having to insert stitch pattern fillers to losing a chunk of the main stitch pattern(s).

With the “Dead Simple Lace Socks”, the adaption was a loss of the number of lace pattern repeats as well as the placement of the lace portion around the sock. Whereas the original pattern had 3 lace repeats for its smallest size on the instep, I can only fit two.

My next decision was where to place them. Did I want them on either side of a center panel of stockinette stitch? Or did I want to widen the look out and place them on either end of the instep? I chose the latter because I didn’t want them guarding the center of the sock like sentinels. Instead, I wanted them to be part of the rhythm and flow of the sock design as Ms. Johnson had captured in her original version.

The more complicated the stitch pattern the more you’ll need to play around and adjust it to fit the stitch count of your sock. When trying to make a pattern fit, remember you have the front of the sock, two sides, and the back of the sock. A pattern works best if it flows with some sort of rhythm around the sock.

Enjoy your weekend.

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knit socks secret love wide shot

The Skipper’s Socks are finished and on his feet. None too soon either, as it has turned chilly.

knit socks secret love twisted stitches

Knit from the toe up, the inspiration for these socks was the work and art of the blacksmith. Imagine a walk on a cool, early Autumn morning as the misty countryside starts to awaken. The sound of metal ringing against metal. In the distance, wisps of grey smoke curl and drift from a forge. The blacksmith is already at work drawing and bending hot metal into ornate shapes destined to become a decorative element for a wrought iron gate.

In these socks, I wanted to capture the firmness of the vertical repetition of the wrought iron gate and the strength found in its twisted and curved decorative shapes. The twisted stitch pattern forming the side panels of the socks is the decorative element. The plain ribbing on the instep, the front and the back of the leg is the gate. The easy sewn bind off is intentionally used to echo the texture of the twisted stitch panels.

knit socks secret love cast off

Later this week, I will be searching for test knitters. The pattern is written for sizes 8.5 (9, 10)” / 21.5 (23, 25.5) cm circumference. Both the leg and foot length can be adjusted for an individual fit.

I am happy with these socks. They came out just as I had pictured them. The yarn is MadelineTosh Sock in the Aura colorway.

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As I’ve said, sometimes I experience Second Sock Syndrome even if the pattern is of my own making. Second Sock Syndrome is when the second of a pair of socks takes an unrealistically long, long time from cast on to cast off. I’ve had Second Sock Syndrome that lasted two years. Hence, when The Skipper’s second sock was beginning to lag I decided a major intervention was needed.

Like the old ball and chain prison inmates carried around with them in the silent movies of yore, I decided the sock would become my constant companion. As long as it was unfinished, I had to carry it with me wherever I went.

The sock chills out with a pumpkin and Autumn flowers.

The sock chills out with a pumpkin and Autumn flowers.

The sock takes the long walk down the hill to gather the mail. The sock had no problem coming back up the hill, though I can't say the same for me.

The sock takes the long walk down the hill to gather the mail. The sock had no problem coming back up the hill, though I can’t say the same for me.

The sock running errands in the car. It got a lot of knitting time waiting in the doctor's office.

The sock running errands in the car. It got a lot of knitting time waiting in the doctor’s office.

The ball and chain theory worked. The Skipper’s second sock is done. Photographs on Monday.

Have a great weekend.

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I’ve just released the pattern for the Charleston Socks. These socks are dear to my heart as their creation took place during a difficult time for me. They became my stalwart companions. Knitting them soothed my nerves many times. When the last stitches were cast off, it was a little sad. They had been my knitting companions for so long. On the flip side, I really love wearing them. They are my go to socks when I need a cheering up or I need comforting.

charleston socks 1

Sized to fit babies 6-12 mos and adults small, medium, and large. The knitter has the option of making a mother and daughter matching set, if desired. Pretty and feminine, these socks are constructed toe-up. The design has an easy to memorize pattern.

socks2

Use your favorite fingering weight yarn. One skein will do.

To purchase the pattern click the buy now button.

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I seem to take it for granted that everyone knows how to knit socks. So when asked how long should a foot of a sock be for a foot that measures 10 inches (25.5) cm from toe to heel, I temporarily experience disorientation. In general, sock knitting requires 3 measurements. Circumference of foot, length of foot, and length of leg. Length of foot and length of leg are knit to their full lengths. Only the circumference of the foot is knit an inch (2.5) cm smaller than the true measurement.

Foot circumference determines the size sock to make. The measurement is taken around the ball of the foot. The ball of the foot is the padded part just below the toes. My circumference is 8.5 inches (21.5) cm, but I would never choose to make my sock that size because it would be too loose. Instead, I choose a sock size of 7.5 inches (19) cm, one inch less than the actual circumference.

An inch (2.5) cm smaller than the actual circumference of the foot is ideal because it helps the sock stay up on the leg. At the same time, it provides enough stretch to easily slip the sock over the heel and ankle. In sock knitting the circumference is the only number that is made smaller than the actual measurement.

Length of foot is measured from the heel to the end of the longest toe. The foot of the sock is knit to that measurement. If the foot is 9 inches (23) cm then the foot of the knitted sock including heel and toe must be 9 inches (23) cm. When a pattern says to knit to 3 inches (7.5) cm less than total foot length before shaping the heel (toe-up socks) or toe (cuff down socks), this is the most likely place where an error can occur resulting in the failure of the sock to fit the foot.

The remedy, however, is easy. Determine your row gauge. How many rows per inch are you getting? Multiply that number by the 3 inches. The answer is the number of rows you need to knit in order to get 3 inches. Now look at the pattern. Count up the number of rows required for the shaping. Does it match your number of rows needed for 3 inches? Probably not. So knitting to 3 inches less isn’t going to work. You need to find the number of inches that does work. To do this, divide the number of rows required for the shaping by the number of rows you’re getting per inch. The answer is the number of inches less you need to work before shaping begins.

In other sock news, The Skipper’s second sock has now become the equivalent of the ball and chain convicts in old movies before sound carried around. Wherever I go, it goes with me. By doing this, I hope to get it finished so I can move on. I have 56 more rounds before bind off.

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