Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Heels and Toes

Having finished the Jack Sparrow socks for 'im indoors, I have now embarked upon a second pair for #1 son. I'm using a different colourway to avoid the inevitable, "You're wearing my socks!" from one or other of them:

I may also make more modifications to the pattern (which I hardly followed at all for the first pair).

I used short row toes and heels just because there's no Turkish Cast-On and therefore no contortions and there's no grafting, either. Short rows? Easy, no? Well, yes. Easy, but there are several ways of doing short rows. You couldn't do better than look at Nona's series of posts about this very topic (as I did). First she talks about the wrapped stitch short row. This is the classic one; if you even know what a short row is, this is probably the one you know. It's the one I know and it's the one I normally use.

Then she speaks about the yarn over short row. I haven't actually tried this method, so I really have no room to talk, have I?

Lastly, she writes about the Japanese short row (which also appears in my bible, Montse Stanley's "Hand Knitter's Handbook" as the "catch" method). I thought I might give this a go. Nona's method uses safety pins (and if anyone knows a source of coil-less safety pins, would they please speak up), though Montse Stanley doesn't - she just expects you to identify which loop to pick up with the naked eye. I was wrapping 13 stitches on each side of the central 10 stitches for the heel, which meant I had 26 safety pins hanging off the knitting like some crazed punk rocker in days of yore. After I rid myself of all the metalwork, I really couldn't tell the difference between the Japanese short row heel and the regular wrapped stitch short row heel, possibly because I'm using black for the toes and heels and you can't see a thing anyway. End of experiment and back to my regular short row method.

The trouble with short row heels is that they can make the sock difficult to put on, particularly if the wearer has a high instep as 'im indoors has. If I had only looked back over my notes for the Rainbow Socks, I would have seen that "The heel is worked over more than half the total stitches to allow for a high instep." Plagued with latter wit (as my dad used to say).

With the second pair of Jack Sparrow's I'm thinking about using a modified short row heel which also incorporates a gusset and has a heel flap on the sole, which I saw on the Lots of Yarn blog. I'm about to start that now, so watch this space.

I'm obsessed with socks. The latest edition of "The Knitter" has a pattern for Spiralling Socks, shown in a rainbow colourway. Very zizzy (tt). I couldn't resist. Google was my friend and I found the yarn (Zauberball from Schoppel Wolle) at Modern Knitting, a company I have never come across before. I ordered one ball of the Tropical Fish and one of Fuchsia, mainly because I got free shipping over £16 (though I now see that has risen to £18). I ordered late on Friday evening and imagine my surprise when a small package was flung in through the open door of my kitchen this morning followed by a cheery, "More yarn?". Isn't the Royal Mail marvellous?

Too much writing, too few pictures?

Back Field this morning:

(Raw materials dots in the background)


'Im indoors says it should be "Knee-high by the 4th of July" (said in what he considers to be a Southern drawl). If anyone can shed light on the origin of this pearl of wisdom I'd be very grateful. I suppose it all depends how high your knee is - it's just about up to mine now.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Walking on Sunshine

The Hoffnung Socks are finished - just as the weather becomes too hot to wear them:

More pictures:

I have worn them only once and, as predicted, they have started to pill already. This is the second time I have knitted with Cascade yarn (the first was for the Noni bag). If you recall, that bag turned a very odd, mucky (tt) green during the felting process. The delightful Lisa at First4Yarns very generously supplied me with a second hank and that time all was well. (I still haven't finished the bag - it just needs handles and somehow, I just haven't managed it yet.)

Why are socks like buses? You wait for ages and then three come along at once. Not content with the Monkeys and Hoffnung, I am almost finished with the first of "Jack Sparrow's Favourite Socks" Made especially for 'im indoors, at his own request. I gave him the choice of several pattern but these were his favourite. (Maybe I should take to calling him "Jack Sparrow" instead of 'im indoors?)

The sole:

The heel:

The toe:

and the reason why they are Jack Sparrow's favourite socks in the first place?

Actually, though I gave a link to the pattern, I didn't follow it at all. I worked toe-up, with a short row toe:

and heel:

and because the original pattern uses only 64 stitches and 'im indoors (aka Cap'n Jack) needs 72 stitches, I also had to modify the skull pattern. I had to add two stitches to each pattern repeat, the result being that the skulls are rather more well-fed than they perhaps ought to be.

I was going to bang on about short row toes/heels but that will have to wait for another day - I want to get started on the second sock before the dreaded SSS sets in.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Joy of DPNs

The Joy of DPNs is that when you are the original loose woman, and when all the stitches-in-waiting of your Hoffnung sock:

fall off the needle, and you make an instinctive lunge to catch them, it's just as easy to stab yourself in the hand as it is to stab yourself in the thigh:

I'm using some Cascade sock yarn in colour 5616, bought at UK Ravelry Day in Coventry from a vendor whose name I can't recall. I like the feel of this yarn but it's splitty (technical term) and looks as though it might pill at the first wearing. I can't say I'm terribly impressed.

The Hoffnung pattern, on the other hand, is a joy. We start in the middle of the top of the foot by casting on eight stitches. We then work a lace square and end up with 32 stitches on each side. A short-row toe is worked over the stitches of needle one (one side of the square) then the sole is knitted back and forth, joined to the waiting stitches on each side by K2tog/P2tog, until no stitches remain. Then you work a short-row heel and dash on up the leg (though actually, they are ankle socks, so there's not much of a leg.) The one sock is finished, the other is started.

While I was casting about to decide which socks to knit next, 'im indoors suggested I knit a size nine sock (just his size). I warned him that I wasn't in the market for knitting boring socks. Then came the search for a suitable (non-boring) pattern. Eventually, I found these and asked #1 son if he thought his daddy would wear them. Response? "I don't know, but I would." So that's two pairs of Jack Sparrow's required.

I seem to be on something of a sock knitting odyssey and I really don't know why. Socks are not my favourite things to knit but sometimes they just seem to hit the spot.

I finished the toe-up monkeys:

but while I love the yarn (thanks, MA in PA), I'm not so keen on the style of the socks. The gusset is not deep enough, so it's quite hard to get the socks on. Once they are on, they are fine, but I don't think I'll be using this particular construction in the future. However, I'm very impressed with this photograph, which is me taking a picture of my own feet:

I think I must have been a contortionist in a previous life.

Look what appeared in the back field:

It's all very green:

So is the garden:

That's a general over-view. Onions and shallots in the foreground; sweetcorn to the left. Runner beans, sprouts and cabbages in the right corner. Purple sprouting broccoli, curly kale, asparagus, leeks, parsnips, globe artichokes and Jerusalem artichokes in the far left bed.

Here's the salad patch:

Spinach, beetroot, radishes, mixed leaves, rocket, spring onions, lollo rosso.

Ann-at-someone-else's-work tipped up at my work the other day, bringing with her a little sparkly bag. "I saw this and I thought of you."

and this one:

Isn't she a sweetie?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Didn't we have a lovely time?

UK Ravelry Day 2009 was a triumph. Yes, there were some teething troubles but all in all I think it went really well.

The weather was atrocious but that didn't stop the market stalls being piled with yarn, though the two alpacas looked bedraggled.

My lace class went well (though I say it myself) and I managed to bring another nine knitters over to the dark side. We didn't get through above half of what I'd put in the hand out, so I could probably make two workshops out of the material. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and learn something, so I judge it a success.

There was chatting:

There were hats:

There was yarn:

This is Rockpool Candy's stall.

There were plenty of stalls outside but it was so wet I didn't dare expose the camera to the elements.

I did, however, buy yarn (like I need more!)

This is some beautiful laceweight yarn (1200m/100g) from The Natural Dye Studio:

A close-up:

It's a mixture of baby alpaca, cashmere and silk and feels divine. Not quite sure what I'm going to make with it. All suggestions gratefully received.

It seemed to be a green day. This is yet more green laceweight yarn:

This is from Krafty Koala and is also an alpaca/cashmere/silk blend and 1200m/100g. It's called "Emerald Isle" and I do believe there is a shawl of that name, so maybe the yarn has spoken.


I bought some Cascade sock yarn in a plain colour:

because I want to make the Hoffnung socks. I was intrigued by the construction (plus there's lace).

And that's all I bought apart from a pattern for a dinky little cape from Keep and Share.

It was nice to catch up with friends, old and new, and just talk about knitting all day long.

Many thanks to Jo for arranging everything.

She's already asked me to be at next year's event in Scotland.

I have run this idea tentatively past 'im indoors, who did not react with unallayed enthusiasm. However, there is plenty of time and as my Grannie always said, "It's a poor woman who can't get her own way."

See you there?

One of my readers (you know who you are) was complaining that she didn't want to see the back field, she wanted to see the garden.

Just for you: