Archive for September 2007

Basic training

September 30, 2007

Going away to a committee meeting for the weekend isn’t so fun. Long days in meeting rooms, missing your spouse and kids, lonely hotel rooms with only the TV for company.

But it has its upsides.

I cast on hurriedly for Deb Barnhill‘s Back To Basics socks Thursday night, and finished the magic cast-on toe before leaving for Atlanta on Friday afternoon. My first Koigu … oohhhhhhhhh. Yes, my friends. That’s what I call sock yarn.  (Thanks, Libby, for the early birthday present.)  Knitting in the airport, knitting on the plane, knitting during the meeting … the stockingette foot flew by. Last night after dinner, I went back up to my room, put on one of the half-dozen major college football upsets, and thought to myself: Start the gusset, or grade the three papers I’m supposed to get done today?

Ah, give the kids a break. If I do the papers now, I won’t have anything to work on tomorrow while waiting for my plane. And if I don’t get through the part of the gusset that requires careful pattern-reading, I won’t be able to knit in the meeting tomorrow.

What’s ultra-cool about B2B is that most of the gusset increases come in the middle of the instep, not on the sides of the foot like normal. They emerge gradually into center ribbing that will continue up the leg, meeting the same ribbing that will start on the heel flap. So nifty.

Deb gave me a new toe look as well, by pairing right- and left-leaning increases on the top and bottom of the toe, rather than on the edges.

I got to the end of the gusset as my plane was descending into Little Rock. Not sure how the heel turn is going to work on Magic Loop with 70 stitches on the needle … but I expect to find out tonight.


Hopelessly devoted

September 22, 2007

Essential Vogs

Pattern: ‘Vog On by Aleta Fera
Yarn: Knit Picks Essential Multi “Special” (75% superwash merino, 25% nylon), Blue Violet colorway
Needles: U.S. 2 (2.75mm) 32″ circular via Magic Loop method (Knit Picks nickel-plated Options)

After picking my way through sock #1, I zoomed through sock #2 in marathon knitting sessions on Petitjean Mountain, and bound off yesterday during a student presentation on Second Life. These socks aren’t perfect, but I love them with a passion.

I knitted the “Tequila Sunrise” toe-up version of these any-way-you-like-it socks.  The toe-up heel flap is a wonderous creation in and of itself, but these socks have an eye-of-partridge heel to boot. You can see near the bottom where I dropped one of the slipped stitches and picked it up in the wrong place a row later.  Other mistakes learning opportunities: figuring out I needed to increase on the toes with kfb rather than lifted bar; putting an extra row in the lace repeat on the instep; doing something weird with the short row wraps on the right side that made them the very devil to pick up.

A stockingette foot gives you a good idea how this new variegated yarn knits up. Once the gusset increases started about 4″ from the heel, there were a couple of pools on top and bottom.

My first picot bind-off! This technique of casting on two new stitches then binding off four creates a zigzag edge with little points all around. No problems with stretchy-enough cuffs using this method.

It’s 90 degrees today, on the first day of fall. I can’t wait until it gets cool enough to slip on some handknit socks and a pair of clogs and stroll down the street like I’m the queen of Sheba.

The generosity of strangers

September 6, 2007

Holy Topeka!

For her generous and tireless work organizing Team XDR (nosed out at the finish by Hip-Knit-Tised, but still in the running for one of the consolation prizes!), our fearless leader Katrina rewarded herself BY SENDING PRESENTS TO NEARLY EVERYONE ON HER TEAM.

The official promise was a gift to any knitter who managed to get the box in and out of her hands in 24 hours. Well, my time was 15 hours and change, and I was the sixth fastest person on our ten member team. Yep, at least half the people on our team got the box, knit a dishrag, and mailed in again in less than 2/3 of the earth’s rotation. And I’m betting there were a couple of people behind me who still got it out in the specified 24-hour period.

(Ignore the toy fruit and owly magnifying glass … for some reason I tried to gild the lily by adding in random still-life elements found in the vicinity of my picture window.)

That’s three balls of dishcloth cotton … a yarn-ball stitch marker from The Loopy Ewe … a book of dishcloth patterns … and pink variegated sock yarn. Beautiful, beautiful, sock yarn. How I love sock yarn.

Katrina — you are the queen. No, seriously, I am your loyal subject. In my brief time in the knitting world, I’ve seen a lot of generosity already, but this takes the cake.

Around and back

September 3, 2007

Turning the heel is without a doubt the most satisfying part of a sock for me. I almost can’t bear to do anything else while that heel is in midturn. So for the past two days I’ve been sneaking in as much knitting as possible in order to try to get to the end of the two parts of my ‘Vog On heels — the turn and the flap.

I don’t know enough about sock architecture to know whether the heels on these toe-up socks are standard or innovative. Upon rereading the pattern intro, I find that they are a version of “eye-of-partridge” heels, which I’ve read about but had no idea how they looked or worked. But I’m always full of trepidation when I get to this point, because (again not knowing how socks are likely to work) I can’t picture at all what’s going to happen.

Okay, I’ve learned enough to know that a gusset is the section where the sock widens to accommodate the sharpening incline of the foot as it approaches the ankle. And I’m pretty clear about the short-row section done at the heel to actually create the cup in which the heel sits.

But the way the heel flap — which is a standard top-down sock is literally a flap, a rectangular piece that hangs down from the leg tube like a mullet — gets attached to the gusset stitches that waited unknit while the short rows were turning, that’s a mystery to me. No amount of poring over the pattern ahead of time gave me any insight about what was likely to happen. (And that makes me nervous — how can I tell if I’m doing it right, if I don’t know what’s supposed to happen? Much second-guessing, counting, recounting, and anxious decisions to forge ahead ensue.)

So it gave me great pleasure to see the flap growing row by row from the bottom, in a sl1k1 checkerboard pattern, picking up one gusset stitch per row, first on the left, then on the right, by knitting or purling them together with that row’s heel flap stitch. I’d much rather pick up the gusset stitches that way than rely on my ability to create the right number of selvedge stitches down both sides of the flap, then pick them all up.

Still loving the yarn. In the middle of the gusset increases I encountered my very first pooling issue. Pooling is the term for blobs of color that appear when variegated yarns are knit up. Instead of the color being randomly distributed around the work, sometimes the same color will start to appear at the same place in the pattern, creating a pool. Some people don’t mind it, some people will not abide it. But since I knew I was still increasing (and since one of the pools was on the sole of the sock, out of sight), I had confidence the pools would soon disappear. Sure enough, those two pools were all I saw. Now more than halfway through the pickups and their concurrent decreases, the pooling has not recurred, and I don’t expect to see it again in the leg when I’m back to my original 56 stitches.

I find to my surprise that I am the first person to use this yarn among the thousands of Ravelers — so when somebody asked what it was like, I was able to give the only authoritative opinion on the site. Now I’m casting about for the perfect pair of shoes to show off the eventual finished pair. I always did have a way of getting ahead of myself.

(Yes, that’s a misplaced hole you can see in the full picture — don’t know what happened there.  I encountered a few places where I ended up with extra yarn-overs and had to decrease out of pattern, but I don’t remember any in the stockingette …)