Ain’t no sunshine …

Okay, that’s a lie. The sun is still shining like mad.

I’m actually a bit weary of all the sunshine. (Did I just say that out loud? Damn.) Let me explain – I love the sun just as any normal minded person, but I also love to sleep. Sunshine outside makes it so much harder to sleep in the day, which is the only option if you have worked in the night.
Ah, well, I’ll get over it.

Wendy
Wendy

Last time, I mused about Wendy Happy, and how much I liked it, didn’t I? I’m sorry to say all has changed. I am no longer in love with Wendy. We broke up. She dumped me. Did I maybe dump her? Who knows … matter of fact, I had to rip the sock yet again, and I didn’t have it in me to start over for the 5th time with Wendy. There comes a time in any relationship where you have to take a long hard look, and sometimes it just doesn’t work out. So back in the drawer she went.

Green and not-so-green
Green and not-so-green

Out came some obscure dark green (probably russian) yarn, and some other stuff without a band – I think it’s some sort of Regia sock yarn.
And again, I cast on … back to my 2.5mm needles, btw.

On the positive side, I have finished my spreadsheet, and got to test it with some new numbers (2.5mm == different gauge). It looks good, I’m pretty positive I can now just change the gauge or measurements and it’ll produce a wearable sock.

Slip stitch close up
Slip stitch close up

I might or might not decide to share it with the world – would you be interested in such a spreadsheet, say? Leave a comment to tell me!

Wendy Happy and the difference of half a millimetre

Last Sunday, while outside the sun was shining and people were piling up on the beach, I sat at home and pondered the “Formula Toe-Up Sock” pattern for the KAL in April.

I swatched (well, I measured some existing sock knitting), and did my math. I cast on. I ripped. Cast on again. Ripped again.

It was just one of these days. My initial plan was to make a sock using up some leftovers, with a chevron pattern, in 3 different yarns.
Unfortunately, as it turned out, the chevron pattern combined with working in the round and several strands translates to holes at the beginning of the round. So to the frog pond that project went.

Next up some lovely yarn from Zen Yarn Garden, one of her art walk colourways. Turns out that’s a bit bulkier than what I usually work with, and with the sun blazing and my living room heating up nicely … well, you guessed it. Frog pond.

So I decided that I’d just use some fairly unprepossessing yarn – this was, after all, just to try out if this formula really works, and to anticipate where people might run into issues understanding or following it. Which made me pick Wendy Happy.

This ball has been sitting in my stash for a good long while – last year, while knitting some other project, I became obsessed with bamboo  yarns for a short while. That’s when I purchased this ball. I don’t remember what made me pick this colour, tho – I don’t wear a lot of blue. Actually, I don’t have a single blue garment, apart from my beloved jeans. It probably was the only one available that day on ebay or some such.

Anyhoo, when I pulled it out for this project, I didn’t expect much.
I started knitting, with my 2.5 mm needles, and found the resulting fabric a wee bit too lose, and went down to 2mm needles.
At which point I realized I quite like the yarn. It’s super soft, very bouncy and the colour knits up in nice marled stripes.
It’s also very splitty, which I don’t like so much. Especially with the smaller needles, and after having ripped a bit of it, the first re-knit of the toes was a bit painful.
And I will never get over the huge difference it makes to go down half a mill in needles. I mean, half a millimeter. That’s barely visible, one would think. It certainly feels like changing from chopsticks to tiny wires, though … and it slows me down quite considerably.

Anyhow, now I’m sailing along nicely, and really looking forward to try the formula on my gusset and heel flap. I even made a little spreadsheet, where I (hopefully) only add a few key measurements, and my gauge, and it’ll automagically tell me all the other numbers I need for a perfectly snug fitting sock.

To the frog pond!

To the frog pond!
To the frog pond!

Around the time this photo was taken, the suspicion had firmly taken hold, and yet, some dark magic stopped me from doing the reasonable thing and try the sock on. Had I listened to that inner voice of mine, it could have been avoided. But alas, so driven was I to finish this project, that I pressed forward, without heed of danger or reason.

And so began what had to happen – the socks are too long. Like, A LOT too long. Not just some ease one would hope a machine wash is going to fix. More like “will accidentally putting them in with the colourfast things shrink them enough?”. And we all know that is not a good solution – when has machine washing socks in the hot cycle ever gone right?

So to the frog pond it is (should any non-knitters actually read this: they are going to be ripped back, so I can re-make them into socks which fit me, not a Yeti). LeSigh.

But me being me, I didn’t stop to fret to and cry, I simply embarked on a new project. And two nights later, here we are with my first cabled socks:

Cabled Socks
Cabled Socks

Ta-Dah!

And with that, dear Readers, I wish you a lovely holiday, whatever your fest of choice is this time of year, and see you again next year!

Of arty sox

I finally finished the Diamonds in the Fluff socks. The yarn is lovely, the pattern is great and yet, it took me more than a month to finish them … not sure why.

Ah, well – the yarn was from Zen Yarn Garden, one of the Art Walk Sock colourways. The idea is so lovely, I really wished I could afford to buy this for the year. As it is, I’ll have to be satisfied with snapping up the odd left-over skein.

The goal was to pick a pattern which would showcase the yarn, and I think this one does that perfectly:

 

Diamond lane sox close up
Diamond lane sox close up

And because I was so please with myself, I treated myself to a rare indulgence in the house: a grilled cheese sandwich. With ham. And a drop of chili sauce. It was delish.

Grilled Cheese
Grilled Cheese

 

Of Socks with Heel Flaps

Sock knitting and I have a bit of a checkered history.

Despite the fact that I always loved wearing hand knit socks, I never really liked to make them. Back in the day, when I learned to knit, more years ago than is appropriate to reveal publicly, there was only one method. You started at the cuff, did a heel flap and then grafted the toes together.

My heels were always more or less complete failures – having small instead of gaping holes along the pickup sides of the flap counted as a major success. My grafting sucked, and the toe ends were always more or less puckered, with a few holes added for good measure.

In short, my socks were mostly unwearable, which of course totally defeated the purpose of making them, especially since it was such a painful and frustrating process – the two circular method wasn’t around, either.

Socks! With heels!
Socks! With heels!

Fast forward 20 an undisclosed number of years, and there are more methods to make socks than I have fingers on my hand. Both hands, actually.

So I started to make toe ups socks, with short-row heels, and I was in sock heaven. Easy-peasy, a pair made in a couple of days. Brilliant.

Then a friend on G+ vented her frustration about heel flaps, and the great community came up with a lot of great advice, and I felt inspired to try a toe-up sock with heel flaps.

Enter Wendy D. Johnson and her book , “Socks from the toe up” – there’s a link on the right hand side, if you’d like to check it out. I chose to make the “Mock Cable Socks”, but modified the pattern a bit, and swapped the cables for Eyelet Mock Cable Rib.

They turned out perfect, if I may say so myself:

The Mighty Slip Stitch Heel
The Mighty Slip Stitch Heel

Of Slip Stitch Sox

About 7 months ago, the first version of these were my second pair of toe-up, short-row heel socks.

Slip Stitch Sox
Slip Stitch Sox

The other pair is gray and black, which gives it a classier appearance. These are just fun, made out of some mysterious russian (I believe) sock yarn and some left-over Regia hand-dye effect.

Slip Stitch Sox - right
Slip Stitch Sox - right

Looking at these socks closely, I wonder if a gusset heel wouldn’t work better here … ah, who am I trying to kid? I know it would, but I haven’t yet found a method that does not drive me nuts. Does anybody have a link to a great toe-up gusset heel? I’d love to see it!

And we are not speaking about the clearly visible proof that counting to two sometimes is too much for me …

That being said, I wrote up the pattern, it just needs a few minor adjustments, and then I hope to find some willing <del>guinea pigs</del> test knitters who help me find any flaws. Once that’s done, I’ll make it available for download.

Slip Stitch Sox - left
Slip Stitch Sox - left

Of feet and pirates

Pirate socks, still sans pirates 1
Pirate socks, still sans pirates 1

That (points up) was the plan: my first color work socks. In green and blue, with a lovely gruesome pirate motive.

So I cast on, knit happily along, shortly pondered to swap my usual short-row heel with the Sweet Tomato heel by Cat Bordhi, decided to just carry on, finally hit the color work rows.

That’s where things got interesting. Firstly, I decided that I wanted a different yarn, so I swapped the blue for my hand dyed The Poison. Which was a bit of a mistake, as it’s slightly thicker than the green base yarn I was using.

Ah, well, not the end of the world.

I fought my way through the pirates pattern, with some trepidation … old, long forgotten memories of crumpled color work kept popping up in my mind. I did, however, finish the chart.

Only to find out that the pirates looked alright, just had zero stretch. Now, that is a bad thing in a sock. They would not go over my heel (yes, I tried. No, I did not take photos.)

So … I frogged the pattern, decided I need a bit more practice, and finished the sock with a simplified pattern:

Sadly no pirates
Sadly no pirates

Apologies for the abysmal photo … it’s winter. This was the sliver of daylight I could catch today before I left for work. I’ll try again, one of these days …