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Friday, June 27, 2008

Knitting on 100+ degree days

It's been hot. Damn hot. 19 days over 100 degrees Farenheit in the last month kind of hot. And it's ONLY JUNE!!!!!! So why would anyone in their right mind knit during this spate of god-awful heat? And what WOULD anyone want to make?

Tiny stuff. Little things that don't drape in your lap. Things that don't FEEL warm while knitting. I have chosen to knit tanks/camisoles in non-wool yarns and socks. Even the tops seem a little much at times, but I have to switch up the projects to stay interested.

So what are you doing during this hellacious heatwave in Austin? Or wherever you live?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Finally, sock pictures

I didn't find my camera, but did find an older one we have kicking around, so here is living proof that I made socks:

To the left are the toe-up version of the Monkey sock pattern, called Los Monos Locos. I'd give the pattern five stars: It's so well written that even a sock doofus like me could follow it to successful completion.

On the right is the first sock, nearly finished, for Liz' boyfriend. She tried it on for the picture. It's one looooooong sock: the boy has size 11.5 feet. Still have a few more inches of 3 x 1 ribbed cuff to make and another whole sock. It's a handsome looking sock to wear with jeans, I think.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sixth Time Charmed: The Sock Curse BUSTED

Everyone makes socks. Except me.

Until now, that is. I started five cuff down first socks: The first pair was on two circs and really skinny indigo/forest green/charcoal/ivory Opal sock yarn. Everything was fine until the gusset. My brain melted. Same with first sock #2: I tried the same yarn on two circs again, trying a different book and pattern. Same problem: My brain hit the wall at the gusset. Then I tried with double points for first sock #3, and by that time, the yarn was looking a little chewy. The whole mess went into the trash, needles and all.

I set socks aside for a couple of months. Meanwhile, everyone and their dog in our knitting group was making socks right and left. I fumed and fussed over the fact that socks were besting me, so I enlisted the help of a knitting goddess, Lynn. She's a great teacher who knits beautifully. Try a larger gauge yarn, she said. You WILL knit them on double points, she said. So I brought up the yarn weight a notch to Lang Jawoll sock yarn and size 2 double pointed needles. Everything was fine with this first sock #4. I knit up to the gusset. Then I actually knit the gusset. The only problem was, the foot was large enough for Bigfoot. I left this charred-bone-of-a-project up on the Ravelry board; it is the lavender sock that is hibernating at the bottom of my projects page. The sock is still under the sofa, sulking in a ziploc bag. Once again, I went on sock hiatus, knitting up a beautiful lace shawl for Claire, two lace shrugs, a pair of colorwork mittens, the Mr. Greenjeans cardie, and three different winter hats. No socks, but everything else under the sun.

Another person in our Austin Meetup group, Sherrie, wanted use the month of May to make socks together at our Thursday morning group. Everyone loved the idea, so I sighed, went on a stash safari, and yanked out another hank of sock yarn, this time going for the heavy artillery: Hill Country Yarns INSTANT GRATIFICATION. It is big yarn for socks, and I could use size 4 or 5 needles. Maybe being able to see what I was knitting would help, I reasoned. Sherrie had just finished a toe up pair of socks, and was singing their praises: Better fitting toe, better fitting heel, the ability to try it on while in progress, and NO PICKING UP STITCHES. What the heck. Why not.

So I selected the toe-up version of the Monkey sock by Cookie A, called Los Monos Locos. Sherrie taught me the Figure 8 cast on, which was surprisingly easy, and off I went on first sock #5 via Magic Loop. (Here is a great video tutorial for the Figure 8 Cast On; be sure to scroll all the way down to get to the video.) Everything was going along beautifully. I knit the gusset, then the heel turn, then the first row of the leg. I couldn't believe it: I had made a complete body of a sock. Without incident. Without tantrums, tears, ugly ragged picked-up-stitches lines, unlimited frustration or sleepless nights.

But. And there's always a but, right?

It was far too big, as in too wide, too much sock. Not exactly looking like a sock for Bigfoot, just far too large proportionally. It was my huge yarn and huge needles. That was the trouble. I really like the yarn, so I frogged and rewound it, hoping to find the right pattern for it eventually. Like maybe a squishy pair of slippers or something.

Knowing I could knit this sock, I went on another stash safari, and decided to use the Knit One Crochet Too SOXX APPEAL I had bought on a whim during one of our yarn crawls at Stacy Klauss' shop THE KNITTING NEST. Out came the US size 3 32"circs, and voila! Sixth time is charmed, the sock curse is broken. A perfect fit on sock one! As soon as I bound it off, I began sock two. And two days later, it was a perfectly matched pair.

You know I need a life when I am ecstatic about making a pair of socks that fit and match.

Things went so well that I thought I'd make a pair of socks for my daughter's boyfriend, Caleb. He is pining away for her back in Philadelphia, and bought her an airline ticket to come back for a visit over the Independence Day holiday. (Never mind that she's only been home from school for a little over 3 weeks!) It seemed appropriate that I make him a pair of gift socks. Truth is, I am now on a roll. After yet another stash safari in the Closet of Doom, I found two balls of Regia STRETCH COLOR , color 91, that would make perfect guy jean socks. After searching for a guy-ish pattern on the Ravelry pattern browser, I settled on Wendy's Fingering Weight Toe Up Socks With Gusset Heel. My modifications include using Judy Becker's Magic Cast on for the toe. That's a step up from the Figure 8, and Cat Bordhi made a humorous video to demonstrate the method here. I've completed 50% of the first sock, just now at mid-gusset. I also decided that instead of doing M1's, I'd knit through the front and the back loop (k1tfbl) for the edge increases so there'd be no holes. And Eye of Partridge slip stitching, so they'd be cushiony on the heel. Oh, and I am ribbing the leg to the cuff after the heel turn. Just not sure what ribbing style yet. (This is a 70 stitch sock with jacquard yarn ... got any ideas?) So far, they look great, even to me. Stay tuned.

I want to share these babies with you but have a new problem: I can't find my daggone camera! I have been searching high and low for two days now. I know it's here somewhere, but it's hiding very well. Must have thrown it in a drawer .... or a bag ... or something, during all the graduation/party/houseguests/visiting relatives hubbub.

For now, you'll just have to take my word for it that I can FINALLY knit socks.