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Posts Tagged ‘sock’

The Infernal Socks

I am currently working on what I call “the infernal” socks. They are my masochistic knitting project for this month.

rose rib socks knitt lace

They will be bed socks. The socks on the left are a photograph from the book Sock Knitting Master Class. The one on the right I just finished and haven’t blocked yet. The pattern is Rose Rib Socks by Evelyn Clark. They are finicky to knit.

First they are cuff down. I hate working socks that way. I am a toe up person. I could have altered the pattern to make it toe up but in the end decided to stay with the pattern as written. Mistake number one.

Socks that fit me best are ones without gussets. These have gussets. I hate working gussets in cuff down socks. Picking up gusset stitches is bad enough on its own. Add a dark yarn and night knitting and I need a klieg light and magnifying glasses to see the proper stitches to pick up. Once done, the stitches on the dpns are unwieldy and not evenly divided over the needles. This drives me nuts just looking at it.

Next come the dreadful decreases on every other row on both sides of the instep. I am famous for decreasing on one side and forgetting to do the same on the other. I have come up with a plan that helps me mark the points where the decreases need to be made at the time they need to be made but it is a lot of moving around colored stitch markers. I hate fiddling with stitch markers every row. The decreasing portion can’t go fast enough for me.

Then there is a small reprieve of straight knitting before I get to the toe and more decreases. This time I need to remember to decrease two stitches each side of the instep every other row. That’s a total of four chances in one row that I get to screw up. The stitches become less, the sock gets smaller and smaller, my knitting gets tighter and tighter and then I am left with an opening of 16 measly stitches through which I need to fit the entire sock so I can then Kitchener stitch the opening closed. For me, Kitchener stitch has endless possibilities for going wrong so I need to close myself in the bathroom where my attention won’t be disturbed by Yarn Rascal or The Skipper. Then finally the horrid little experience of making one sock is over with.

Did I tell you that the rose rib pattern is intricate? Eight rows of intricacy. No mindless knitting here. Even though I counted rows I somehow continually left out rows 5 and 6. To fix that I have to rip back to the start of the sock. There is no easy place to pick up stitches otherwise. I have never used  a life line when knitting socks but I am now using one for these.

I’ve started the second sock. I look forward to it being done.

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Knit and Spin

Things have been busy here and there are still many balls up in the air, so to speak. I caught some upper respiratory bug in September and it has made a home in the left lung which has been compromised by my mastectomy treatments. I’ve tried everything in the homeopathic line to get rid of it but nothing has worked. So today I start the antibiotics prescribed by my doctor. The doctors weren’t kidding when they said that removing lymph nodes would compromise my immune system forever and that the radiation treatments would continue to take its toll on my left lung in the long term.

On top of it all, my camera’s battery has died a seemingly permanent death and I need to find a replacement. So the following pictures were taken with my phone.

hand knitted sock

This is one of the socks I knit The Skipper just last year. I honestly believe if I were to knit socks for a bear the socks would be in better shape at the end of one year than The Skipper’s. The man is just tough on socks. He said he “really liked these socks especially the color.” I remember the yarn was Lorna’s Laces but I can’t quiet recall the colorway. Neptune? Peacock? Something like that bought many years ago. I will have to do a search on the internet.

While I am knitting (a hat for myself since I razored all my hair) I am also very deep into spinning.

hand spun merino wool yarn

The bottom skein is the very first thing I ever spun. The top skein is the latest. 112 yards (102 m) of true fingering weight yarn. Spun and plied all on my spindle. While the spinning is looking better and the drafting is going better, I have yet to put it to the ultimate test and knit it. I am going to do that with this latest skein. I am curious to know how much is biased and how much is balanced. There are areas where it was over spun and over plied, but I am hoping they evened out some during the setting of the twist.

Yarn Rascal is thrilled with the spinning. Whenever I take up the spindle he sits close besides me and watches intently. I always spin a little ball of yarn for him and he gets so delighted when I give it to him. He has quite the little stash of hand spun.

I am off to scour the internet for The Skipper’s sock color.

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I never thought it would happen, but I’ve finally come across sock yarn that doesn’t want to be a sock. The culprit is Smooshy by Dream In Color in the Butter Peeps colorway. Smooshy, along with MadelineTosh Sock, are my go to yarns for socks and I’ve never had them fight me the way this yarn is doing.

knit socks

I’ve had Butter Peeps in my stash for a long, long time. Yarn Rascal unearthed it when I was trying out the Mary Mary sock pattern on Ravelry. (I’d put the link in to the pattern but WordPress is acting strange lately and won’t let me).

The Mary Mary pattern is the perfect pattern for this colorway. So no matter how hard the yarn fights me I am determined to make it into this sock. After all, masochistic knitting is not new to me.

Since I knit socks from the toe up the first place the yarn gave me trouble was making the short-row toe look right. It did not want to make a nice neat short-row. So each toe of each sock was *worked, ripped, and worked again* repeat from * to * four times. I never have this much trouble with short-row toes.

The second problem is why I don’t “usually” buy sock patterns, though you would never know it what with all the sock books and loose patterns I have in the sock making area of my stash. I could knit socks forever and never complete all the sock patterns I have stashed. Yes, in addition to stashing yarn I stash patterns.

Back to the second problem: I can never get gauge. The gauge will say 9 stitches per inch on size US 1 needles (2.25 mm) and I can only average about 7. I would need to drop down 2 needle sizes to even begin to reach 9 stitches. I can hear the snapping of dpns as I write this. No, 2.25 mm is the tiniest I can go and stay sane. I use the word “sane” loosely.

Because I can’t get gauge and my sock size is 7.5 inches (19 cm) in circumference I need to adapt whatever sock pattern I am working from. This means studying the pattern, deciding how I can adapt it so it looks close to what it was. Sometimes that is easier in theory than in practice. Though, with this particular sock all I needed to do was drop the cable at both sides of the instep and replace it with broken garter stitch. For me, the look is still close enough to the original to be pleasing.

Since I was experiencing all sorts of idiosyncracies working on dpns—holes where there shouldn’t be holes, wonky stockinette stitches, and a strange puckering of fabric every so often— I decided to knit it on a 9 inch (23 cm) small circular needle. It helped tame the yarn somewhat, though the yarn still does not want to play nice with p2tog.

I have about 30 more rows to go before I have to work the short-row heel. I have zero expectation that it will work out well on the first go round. The last heel took three tries before it looked right.

Finally, I thought I’d share this picture of Yarn Rascal with you. Notice the gleam in the eyes, he is planning his evening activities in the yarn vault.

yarn rascal

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The Monet Sock

Monet sock

Monet sock

The yarn that was whispering “knit me” while I was trying to complete the first sock of a totally different pair of socks (have I confused you yet?) is now on the dpns. It’s a fingering weight yarn, merino and nylon mix, from Two Grey Dogs Designs. The minute I saw it on What I’m Up To Today’s blog I knew I had to have it. There is a specific painting by Monet that I love and fantasize turning into a sweater if I can find the right yarn colors. The work would be mostly intarsia with limited stranding work. But I have yet to match yarn colors with the picture and so it remains a fantasy, which is probably the best thing for my nerves.

But this yarn comes very close to Monet’s colors in a specific painting and I am very happy working with it. Instead of knitting the sock in stockinette stitch, I decided to try and replicate the texture of Monet’s paint. I’m pretty happy with the result. It fractures the colors enough so they aren’t separate from each other as in straight stockinette stitch, but emerge from and into each other.

Monet Sock CU

Art restoration and verification of an work by a specific artist is very interesting. Every artist, Monet included, had his or her own brush strokes that are a signature. In fact, brush strokes and how they were made, the pressure applied, the make-up of the paint and bristles of a brush are ways museums and professionals use to analyze a painting for restoration or authentication. Other ways of authenticating is how the canvas was treated, worn, handled and used even on the folded over edges. Painters have distinct ways they handle a canvas and what may only be seen on the private side of the painting is as important as what is seen on the public side when authenticating.

Like painting, I find knitters have their own signatures in their knitting stitches. I have never seen two knitters work the same pattern and have it come out the exact same way. There are always “tells”: in the way stitches are purled, the working of an ssk, the working of edge stitches. The knitter’s personality and rhythm come through in the knitting and though the pattern may be the same, you can tell it was done by two different sets of hands. I especially notice this when looking at older knits to place them in a specific time period. The way a knit is finished off or started can alter from hand to hand. Like handwriting our knitting stitches, the way we approach, work with and handle the yarn, how we do what we do is unique to us. I don’t know if knitters realize just how much of themselves they put into their knits. But reading an old knitted piece is much like reading a painting. The maker’s hand is always visible.

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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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Let Me Start Again

Things are going well, knitting wise. I know admitting this out loud is a major no-no, sure to bring down the wrath of the knitting gods upon me…wait…yes, let me emend that, the dog just threw up.

Let me start again.

Things were going well, I thought, knitting wise, but obviously I was being delusional. I wanted to share a picture of the progress I made on the sock. The heel was finished and I was just beginning the leg. Following a brief search that made Columbus discovering the new world look easy, the camera was located and I put on the sock to photograph it. The sock that was just humming off my needles, the sock that looked good with all its neat little knitting stitches lined up and even, that sock was way too big for my foot. That’s impossible, I thought. What chicanery is this? I swatched. I measured the amount of little stitches per inch. Of course! Relaxing sigh. It’s an optical illusion. I took off the sock, slapped it around a bit, put it back on. Darn if it still didn’t fit the same way. It was too large.

So let me start again.

Things were going south faster than a bird flies when winter is barreling in and I wasn’t aware of it. The sock I was happily knitting was never going to fit, but I was so entertained by the changing patterns in the yarn that I never realized this until I tried it on. So I frogged the little imp instead of photographing it. The yarn in all its frogged kinkiness looks like the nest of a small deranged animal. Speaking of which, the lace edging on the shawl continues to go forward. I knit a little on it each night. I don’t want to push it, I’m just beginning to feel the rhythm of the 12 stitch rows. It flows the way the car moved when I first learned to drive a stick shift. A quick jolt forward, followed by a sudden stop that snapped the head back, then another surge ahead and a stall.

So let me start again.

I am knitting.

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Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Lucky me, the shawl yarn arrived in the Saturday mail. I’ve been working on the stockinette stitch part since then. Easy, almost mindless knitting is something I haven’t done in a while and unknowingly needed to do. It’s relaxing and comforting to have something on the needles that I don’t need to continually count, notate, or measure.

The sock sits waiting. The Girl’s 1960s sweater sits waiting. Right now I am working on being okay with their waiting. Not feeling like they are a rebuke. Not allowing them to pressure me. I need a small break from constant design on top of the tech editing I do for other designers. I need to breathe.

I saw my surgeon who performed the mastectomy yesterday. From her viewpoint everything looks okay but I need to get out and exercise more. While I’ve kept up with my arm exercises, the yoga and walking has not been happening. I realized yesterday while I was running around the city of White Plains how much of a negative impact the lack of yoga and walking has had. It’s not good. I need to stay ahead of the damage that is accumulating in my heart and left lung from the radiation treatment.

Starting today, I am introducing slow but steady changes.

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