Friday, September 30, 2011

Thigh-High Stripes--First Sock Completed

I've made a lot of progress on my version of Deborah Newton's Thigh-High Stripes. This is because I chose to shorten the leg considerably and because color stripes always encourage me to keep knitting to see how a new color looks next to the others. Before I could stop myself to take a photo, I finished the entire sock!
It hasn't been blocked yet so it's a little wrinkly here, but I'm thoroughly satisfied.

Here are the changes that I made to the original instructions:
  • I used two sizes smaller needles to give me a gauge of 10 sts/in instead of the 9 sts/in called for in the pattern. This is because I like my socks to be really, really dense.
  • I CO 84 sts (this had to be a multiple of 6 sts to fit the colorwork patterns) for the top of the leg and I maintained this stitch count for the entire length of the leg. I also worked the entire leg on the same size needles, which isn't different from the original patt but is different from my typical method of working the upper leg on a size larger needles.
  • I used rust for most of the ribbing, heel, and toe (there wasn't enough brown left) and I switched out other colors to my fancy, while working Charts C, D, B, and E with rust instead of brown for the pattern.
  • I worked about 1 3/4" of ribbing, then worked the leg until the piece measured 6 1/2" from the CO edge. In retrospect, I wish I had worked 7" for the leg.
  • Right before beginning the heel flap, I put a holder through the leading legs of 6 sts in the row below the sts on the needle to prevent the sts from stretching as I worked the heel flap and, therefore, prevent a hole from forming at the top of the gusset (see my blog post for Wednesday, Sept 14).
  • I worked the heel flap on 42 sts for 42 rows, ended the heel turn with 24 sts, and picked up 21 sts for each gusset--there were 108 sts at the beg of the gussets.
  • I decreased the gussets to 80 sts to make the foot a little tighter than the leg.
  • I decreased the toe every other round to 40 sts, then every rnd to 24 sts and finished with Kitchener stitch.
Because I love the colors and pattern in these socks, I'm not even daunted by the number of ends that have to be woven in. The sock is sure to look a whole lot better after I weave in the ends and give it a long soak in a warm bath.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Almondine Revisited

As you know, when I knitted Anne Hanson's Almondine socks from Sock Knitting Master Class, I ran out of yarn (see Almondine--A Complete Pair, posted August 24). I fear that some of you will think that Kollage Sockaliscious doesn't have enough yardage for a standard pair of socks. The socks that I originally knitted were the third size given in the book. It turns out that these are even a bit big for my chunky feet.
To prove that there is plenty of yarn in Sockaliscious, I just finished another pair according to the directions for the second size. They took 91 grams of yarn--the leftover is shown below. Erica at Kollage was kind enough to send me a skein for this, so I'm going to return the favor and send the socks to her. I hope they fit!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Two weeks ago, I was at the Scotts Bluff Valley Fiber Arts Fair in Mitchell, Nebraska. This fair is sponsored in part by Brown Sheep Company and includes classes, demonstrations, and fiber vendors. I taught a class on the fundamentals of sweater design and another on how to generate a sock pattern for any size or gauge. I foolishly neglected to take any photos, but I assure you it was a lot of fun.
A few days later I went to Taos, New Mexico for a knitting/eating/shopping vacation with a group of friends. Between the two, I haven't had much time to blog. Two of us stayed at the historic Casa Europa 
Bed and Breakfast. The other three stayed at a guesthouse owned by one of their in-laws. The only photo I took before the battery died in my camera was of two of the resident donkeys seen from the deck of the guesthouse.

I indulged in some of the best cuisine ever and some serious yarn purchasing from Tutto in Santa Fe. We made a pact that we'd finish at least one of the projects we bought by this time next year (so we can all buy more yarn on our next trip). I'll let you know how that goes.
Before you go thinking that I'm a serious spoiled brat (I know I am), I'd like to mention that I came home with a serious infection in my eyes. They itch, burn, ache, and discharge a disgusting yellow goo. Ewww. So far, the eyedrops the doctor gave me haven't helped much. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Thigh-High Stripes--Getting Ready

The next pair of socks in Sock Knitting Master Class is Deb Newton's Thigh-High Stripes, which were given cover status. And for good reason--this is an impressive pair of socks.

But, I've concluded that I will never wear such long socks, nor am I willing to knit for anyone as a gift. Instead, I'm going to modify the pattern for a pair of striped socks in normal length. This means I won't have enough stitches to do the large snowflake pattern, which, between you and me, is a relief.

I happen to have the Classic Elite Alpaca Sox yarn (60% alpaca, 20% merino, 20% nylon; 450 yd [411 m]/100 g) leftover from Deb's pair, so my abbreviated pair will still look a lot like the original. The originals weigh 170 grams. I weighed the leftover balls and figured out how much of each color was used:
turquoise: 20 g (90 yd)
brown: 71 g (319 yd)
orange: 19 g (86 yd)
gold: 26 g (117 yd)
green: 17 g (77 yd)
purple: 19 g (86 yd)
rose: 21 g (95 yd)
The numbers here add up to 193 g, but that's probably because Deb used some yarn in swatching.
I'll weigh the balls again when I've finished my short version and will let you know how much yarn they take, too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Happy-Go-Lucky Boot Socks--Gusset Trick and a Finished Pair

As I was working my way down the leg of the second Happy-Go-Lucky Boot Sock, I got an email from Sharyn Sutherland from down under in Australia. Sharyn has found a fool-proof way to prevent holes from forming at the tops of the gussets and was kind enough to share her discovery with me. The timing couldn't have been better--I was getting ready to start the heel flap on my Boot Sock. And you know what? Sharyn's trick worked beautifully. Here's what I did:

Step 1: A couple of rows before the start of the heel flap, place 3 stitches that correspond with the instep and 3 stitches that correspond with each side of the the heel flap on a coil-less safety pin (I use the little plastic pins from Clover). This keeps the stitches on each side of the heel divide from stretching out as the heel flap is worked.

Step 2: Work the heel flap, heel turn, and gussets as normal. You can probably remove the safety pin after a few rows of gusset decreases, but I left it in for good measure.

Step 3: Remove the safety pins and marvel at how there is no hole to be found. Because the heel flap is worked in a contrasting color for these socks, there was a small hole on the other side where I joined the new color. But once I woven in the end, it disappeared!

I happily went on to finish the second sock of the pair.

Notice how there is a much tidier look to the top of the gusset in the second sock (on the right) than on the first (on the left), where I didn't use Sharyn's trick.

You can bet I'm going to use this simple trick on my next pair of socks.
Thank you Sharyn!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Emptying Nest

I've been distracted these last two weeks helping our oldest son Alex get ready to live his own life. He graduated from high school this spring and is taking the next year off. He calls it a gap year. I call it a gasp year.
Last week he flew to Spain to backpack and work on organic farms for the next three months. He'll come home for the holidays, then he plans to volunteer in Nicaragua in the spring, where he'll teach English and help with community service projects. While we're proud of his independence and philanthropy, I do wish he'd find adventure a little closer to home. We figure that he'll only be back for short visits from now on. Sniff.
Here's Alex a few minutes before we parted ways at the airport.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Happy-Go-Lucky Boot Socks--Making Progress

The weather finally broke here in Colorado and we've enjoyed a couple of days of 70-degree weather. It's perfect for knitting (and sleeping!).
I'm loving Veronik Avery's Happy-Go-Lucky Boot Socks. They are deceptively easy, just what I like in a handknit.
Advantage 1: The ribbing is made up of twisted stitches that form 1/1 cables without need for a cable needle.
Advantage 2: The leg is worked in a slip-stitch pattern in which 4 rows each of two colors are alternated. Instead of stranding yarn, stitches are slipped along the way to form nesting ovals and the illusion of stranded colorwork.
Advantage 3: The slip-stitch pattern gives a lively puckery look to the intentional "slouch" nature of these baggy socks.

For me, the leg went quite quickly, but the heel flap, which is worked in a honeycomb pattern to add reinforcing thickness, took more concentration. The foot knit up quickly, too, because I kept knitting "just 4 more rounds" to see how another band of color would look.

Here's what I did for my socks:

  • I tried working with a set of 5 double-pointed needles as specified in the instructions, but I got annoyed by changing needles so often. I quickly changed to 4 needles with the instep stitches all on one needle and the heel/sole stitches divided equally between 2 needles.
  • I used Louet Gems Sportweight yarn that I had leftover from Getting Started Knitting Socks. I choose two colors similar in value for the leg and foot and a color that "pops" for the cuff, heel, and toe to get a similar look to Veronik's version, although in a much different colorway.
  • I cast-on 4 extra stitches for the cuff (68 instead of 64), because I didn't want the twisted ribs to stretch out as much as the originals.
  • Instead of increasing 2 stitches at the end of the cuff, I decreased 2 stitches to come up with the required 66 stitches for the leg pattern. 
  • Because the legs are slouchy to begin with, I did not use needles one size larger for the top of the leg--the baggy nature of these socks made that unnecessary.
  • My row gauge was a little looser than the originals so I worked fewer pattern repeats for the leg, heel flap, and foot. Because I worked fewer rows in the heel flap, I only picked up 13 stitches for the gussets instead of 15. I decreased down to 60 stitches as indicated by the pattern, which simply means that I worked fewer gusset rounds.
I'm expecting these socks to be perfect house slippers as the temperatures continue to fall over the upcoming months.