Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Cake

I have a box of yarn that I wound into cakes before I learned that this is a no, no.
One of those cakes I had in mind for my next planned sock project.
But as I looked around the box this one yarn looked back up at me.
It said  "When will it be my turn?"
It was the oldest cake in the box.  Passed over every time I went into the box.
This yarn wasn't what I had in mind for the pattern I had planned but it begged to be knitted.
It helped that the color is so spring.  
I bought the yarn more then 2 years ago because it reminded me of Easter eggs.
It is the prettiest combination of spring pastels - a hot pink, soft peach, spring green and a very baby blue.  Medium weight Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock.  
It said "Socks, baby socks and a hat to match"  I said "Oh yeah"
I know a newly married couple who are working on starting a family.
This yarn and a few baby items will be perfect for them.
So my "V Junkies" are on hold for this . . .
Yes there are 3 socks there.  
I  miscounted the first sock so I wound up with 2 pairs, one slightly larger then the other.  
Twins run in both families so maybe the yarn is trying to tell me something
like make 2 hats too!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Socktopus - Pattern 2 - Kandahar

So I am on to the second sock in the Alice Wu book, Socktopus.  
I think I already mentioned that I love this book.
I am using Socks That Rock, medium weight, for my "Kandahar's".  
I am knitting the size 7" going up a half a needle size 
for the heavier weight yarn and my larger feet. 
That half needle size should add about an inch to the socks 
circumference for a perfect fit.
(I learned how to do this from reading the first chapter in Socktopus)
The color way reminds me of red wines - 
it moves from the deepest of burgundy all the way to a light rose.  
The stitch pattern is delightful.  
The photo in the book uses a dark yarn and the detail gets lost.  
When I looked at the various choice of yarns and colors that my fellow 
Ravelers used I could see the stitch pattern better and fell in love with this sock too.
So I am finishing my first Kandahar sock and will have to keep reminding myself 
to start the second sock of the pair before 
I cast on for the third pattern from the same book.
"V Junkie" is next.
 I have knitters ADD bad!
I can't help but ADD a project before the last one is finished!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

EZ Swatch

I'm not one for swatching.  I usually don't swatch at all.  If something isn't working out I just rip it out and try a different needle or something to adjust for whatever problem I'm having.  Needless to say I have done my fair share of ripping.  Its not that I don't want to swatch, its just that my desire to knit the project now overcomes my thoughts of swatching anything.  (knitting ADD)
A few years ago I watched an Elizabeth Zimmerman's DVD on knitting that I borrowed from the library. In it EZ knit a large swatch for gauge on the yarn she knit with the most often. She used one yarn, knit a few inches and switched to the next size needles, knit for a few inches, switched to the next size needles; she went on this way through quite a few sizes of needles.  After she bound off her stitches she labeled each section with needle size and stitch count per inch.  What she had made was a master swatch in stockinette of the yarn she knit 
with most often in a selection of different size needles.  
Hmm - a master swatch. . .

After I finished my "Totally Vanilla" socks I had more then enough yarn left to do a master swatch of my own in a fine weight yarn (LionBrand Sock - size 1).  I started with a size "US 0" needles and worked my way up, through my sock needles, to size "US 7" (10 different sizes including half sizes).  I separated each needle size with a row of purl.  When I ran out of yarn I bound off my stitches and blocked the entire piece.  I still have to label and count stitches per inch but I now have a master gauge swatch of fine weight yarn. This swatch is a great reference piece since a lot of patterns, even those written for fancy stitches, call for gauge in stockinette.  
I am now stoked to do my next master swatch.  
I think I'll use a worsted yarn, size 4 weight, like Cascade 220.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I love this book . . . Socktopus by Alice Wu

I love this book.  I want to knit all the socks in it.
I even want to knit the 1 or 2 pairs that aren't quite my personal style.
 I know a couple of gals who would love to get them so they won't be going to waste.

Like Cookie A, another of my favorite sock designers, Alice writes a good pattern.
And a great sock book.
The first chapter is a simple tutorial on what goes into making a sock - all the choices a knitter has.
From fiber to gauge to fit and anatomy (of both sock and foot).
This chapter makes understanding how to custom size a sock
to your foot and yarn a whole lot easier.

I didn't really understand sock sizing.
I have large feet so I usually went up a needle size and maybe a yarn size too.  I didn't do any more thinking about it then that.  While this is OK for winter socks that are suppose to be cushy and warm in boots or didn't matter in sneakers - they don't fit as well in my regular shoes.  I want socks that fit better in my shoes.  I learned about negative ease and found that I was adding undue bulk.
I had been making my socks way bigger then they had to be.
The next chapter helped me put this new found knowledge to work.

Chapter 2 is where the real fun begins.  The first sock in the book is called "totally vanilla" It's a plain sock knit in any yarn you like.  I picked a yarn, did a gauge swatch, measured the ball and length of my foot, did the math and cast on.  I like that the first sock in the book is made to order.
And the sock fit perfectly in my shoes because it was custom made just for me. Yeah baby!
I like the way Alice fashions the heels so you pick up gusset stitches right off the heel turn and I love the toe.  My new favorite toe.  You'll just have to try one and see for yourself!
I will be making these socks again in many different yarns.

I think now when I look at a pattern I will be able to adjust for the weight of the yarn and my gauge and get a great pair of socks that fit right.  Not too big or too small.
Yes there is some math involved - don't be scared - its easy math.