Monday, June 29, 2009

And Now for Something Not Blue!

Meg still uses a (cloth) diaper at night (she is the heaviest wetter in two Yahoo diaper sewing/wool cover knitting groups), and we use wool covers, just like in the good old days. Recently, when Rob was home for a day, we went up to Camilla Valley Farm and I got some more Peace Fleece to make Meg some "shorties" (soakers are just a diaper cover, shorties are a combination shorts and diaper cover, longies are full pants that are also a diaper cover). I couldn't decide on a colour, but she agreed to this green, although it seemed brighter in the store.
They were knit on the LK150. It started out great, but the first version was way too large. Well, the rise was too long. Ripped it back, re-knit, but kept doing stupid mistakes. I was trying something a little different with the crotch.
There is ribbing up the center back and front, like the Spare Ribs Shoaker and has to be hand manipulated on the machine. A little time consuming, but in general, it's still faster to knit these on the machine. I had extra ends to weave in though cause I kept making mistakes, LOL.
Meg won't get the diaper on before she goes to bed, so I have to wait till she's asleep. So that makes it hard to get an action shot, LOL.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wow! Another Pair!

Well, imagine that! Two pairs of socks in a row. And both are blue! And the one still on the needles is also blue (but an old sock; I'm just re-knitting the foot after it wore out).
These are the "Spring Thaw" socks, by Cat Bordhi, in Knitter's Magazine, Summer 2008. I got the magazine after Sandra recommended this issue (I'm not sure if she was recommending for the socks, or the shawls, or some other items...). Then I saw Monica's pair of socks
and I knew I needed to make them. I'm fascinated by the idea of different architecture for socks, but lack the time and energy to explore on my own. Books are expensive for me, but I had the magazine!

I used Lang JaWoll Cotton, Superwash (49% wool, 35% cotton, 16% nylon) and 2.75mm needles. I started the first sock last August. They're worked toe up. I got up a ways, to the point where you have to do a bit of math to figure out how much to knit before starting the pattern. I got paused here because the gauge was hard to measure in the dark yarn, and I needed a calculator and never had one. Then, at Christmas, I learned to knit two items at once, on one circular needle. I knew I had to finish the socks this way! I got started on the second one, and knit the same number of rows as the first one. I put them both onto one circular needle, and got started again. Then, I noticed that the first sock was actually shorter than the second!! Argh. Took it off the needle and worked it separately till it was the same length as the other. Back on the needles. Did the gauge and math, and got to work on the pattern part.

It takes a bit of keeping track, when you increase on the bottom of the foot, and when you start a new purl column along the foot edge. Not terribly taxing, but just needs a pencil and the chart.

I turned the heel and worked the back of the heel and then started the leg.

There is an error in the pattern and Knitter's will NOT acknowledge it. If you knit the socks as written, they will NOT look like the picture.
On the right sock, when you get to row 19 of the little leaf, you count over 6sts and start row 1, so that the bottom of one leaf and the top of the other are worked on the same rows. On the left sock, you count 6 sts before the motif, and it says to work the row 1 in the st 5 stitches before the row 19 of the ending leaf. Well, that stitch is a purl st. Why would you put the marker before the 6th st, work that stitch, THEN start row one in the NEXT stitch? Anyway, this is done differently on each sock so that you get a mirror image pair.

Actually, that is not the major error. After the heel, you are to start a new leaf in the 4th last st of the heel. On the right sock, this means the resulting two lines of leaves are half a sock apart and spiral around the leg. The is no separate instruction for the left sock. There is a leaf being worked just off to the left of the heel, on about row 16. If you start a new leaf 4 sts from the left edge of the heel, it will totally throw the pattern and nice symmetry off!! You'll have two lines of leaves, about 10 sts apart, instead of half a sock apart. And then when you get to row 19 of the existing leaf and need to count 6 sts before it to start it's next one....At this point, I emailed Knitter's Magazine, and their response was that lots of folks ask this question, but the "pattern writer" insists the pattern is correct and to just have faith. I had faith for about 6 rows. My sock looked nothing like the pictures, and I knew Cat would NOT make socks that were mirror images on the foot, but then totally wacky on the leg.

The remedy to this mistake is to start the new leaf four sts AFTER the right edge of the heel stitches. This makes them 1/2 a sock apart. Shame on Knitter's for not admitting to this error!

The left sock is actually the one on the right, LOL. You can see where I started a new leaf just in from the right edge of the heel 'flap'.

This is also the left sock, and you can see the leaf that is worked at the side of the heel flap. Imagine if I had started another one at the top of the flap, just in from the left edge!

Totally crappy picture!
The fit of these socks is great. The heel flap was in the right spot on the first attempt! I liked this heel better than the one from that I used on the last pair. I'm not sure what it is--the math made for a better placement perhaps. The toes are a little square looking (but so is my foot). There is some ankle bagging, which might be because of the cotton. I think you could do one more leaf on the one line with only 3 leaves; it would continue up into the rows of plain ribbing, but then there wouldn't be the big gap of patterning.
The yarn is a little rough, but I hadn't washed them. Warm enough for inside with the air conditioning on! I'll probably use this architecture for another pair, maybe just plain ribbed like others on Ravelry, without the leaves. I'm not sure how it would fit without ribbing, but I'm sure it could probably be figured out. I definitely want to try more of her patterns, so I'm saving for the book!

Monday, June 15, 2009


Well. Having a yarn in the stash for 2 years before getting a FO is not uncommon. Nor is working on a project for 2 years before getting a result you like. Right? It might seem a little crazy to non-knitters to struggle to find 'the perfect' design, to work hard at versions that only get ripped out, but you knitters understand, right?
Two years ago, after my breast reduction, a local knitterly friend dropped by with a ball of beautiful Socks That Rock lightweight, already wound up ready to knit. For awhile I let it brew and steep, usually on my desk where I could admire it frequently. STR (at that time) was not easy to get in Ontario, and I'm not a big internet yarn buyer. My attempts at perfect socks with other high end sock yarns did not turn out as desired. So, I was cautious. I spent hours looking at patterns. Finally, the day came when I dropped a tin of apple juice on my toe and headed for the ER. I printed up a pattern, grabbed the yarn, and went off.
The pattern I picked was "Drunken Bees". It took me only a couple rows to realize it was not right with this yarn, and I did eventually knit it as the olive Kroy socks I posted here and on Ravelry. I ripped out the few patterned rows and kept knitting in the ribbing, as I was still at the ER. I was enjoying the yarn, the easy pattern, and the way the yarn striped diagonally.

Until. It changed. Suddenly there were vertical pools of colour. I kept knitting, hoping that the change was only temporary. These pictures are of one sock, 'front' and 'back'.
You can see how each colour area is actually made up of one row stripes of two colours. I liked the two shades of blue/turquoise, and the blue/fuchsia, but the yellow/lavender wasn't doing it for me.
I had an idea to try entrelac this time, and started off based on those cover socks from Interweave Knits a few years ago. Gauge was a bit of an issue, but I didn't want to alter the pattern too much. Getting the heel in the right spot was a bit of an issue. I started changing needle size as I felt I had started off too small and tight. The 'pooling' was really neat at the beginning, but then suddenly changed. I kept going for awhile, hoping it would change. But coupled with all the other issues (I hadn't kept track of the needle changes, size wasn't perfect, they felt too lumpy and not stretchy), I gave up again.

I felt a little defeated. I'd knit a whole leg, ripped it, knit a whole foot, ripped it. There definitely seemed to be something funky with the dye job that changed how the colours patterned partway through the skein.

But, I wasn't giving up. This time, after learning two at once on one circular needle, I started toe up; both on one needle. I just knit plain. And loved it. I did a few increases on the top of the foot--and both socks were the same now, LOL. Then it came heel time. I don't really like short row heels, but I thought the adding the extra sts to the top of the foot would help. But I suddenly changed my mind and thought I should try one of the toe up, heel flap style heels out there; many found on I picked the slipped stitch heel because it was most similar to the top down heel flap I do, and the stitch numbers matched mine. I worked the heel on both, then started up the leg. I had tried it on right after the heel, but it's hard to tell exactly how it'll fit. After a bit more, I realized the heel was clearly too big, so I ripped them both back again. This was at Easter. Or was it March Break? I was at my parents....let's split the difference and call it end of March, LOL.
Because of the type of heel, and adding gusset increases, the colour patterning does change. The socks had looked totally different than what I had been knitting the other two times!
I switched from the slipped sts of the heel to ribbing those sts to go up the back of the leg for some interest.
And again, the yarn suddenly changed!! You can see on my calves where it goes from little stripes to an arrow shape. Oh well! LOL.
To blend the back ribbing in with having ribbing all the way around, I gradually shifted the ribbing over two sts on each edge. I did it like doing a two stitch cable--without a cable needle. I had envisioned the whole ribbing becoming angled, for some reason, but that didn't happen; it just moved over on an angle. I did increase needle size as I went up the leg instead of increasing sts, but the colour changes happened before that anyway. I don't know if you can click to make the picture bigger? You can certainly see the colour change on the legs! Oh well.

The feet are still a little long, and I do have some ankle wrinkles, but I'm not changing anything now. They are warm, and cosy and soft and squishy. They've actually been done for a month or so. The feet look so different than the other two attempts! I love them!
I think next time I try toe up, I will start with the full foot sts as a provisional cast on. Then, after doing the heel and some of the leg, I will go back, and knit the toe downwards, for a perfect fit. Then go back and finish the leg to use up all the yarn. With these socks, I had just a little butterfly of yarn left; hopefully I won't have to use it to darn, but I'll keep it just it case.

Thank you again, Cindy, for the great yarn, and the great memories of trying to get the perfect socks. When I wear them, I think of you, the surgery, the apple juice, the second cruise (worked a little bit but I didn't have the right page of the pattern with me), time at my parents...and that it IS okay to change your mind, and that it IS okay if you still don't get exactly what you expected, LOL. If you're not happy with a project, rip it out and try again! I'm glad I did!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I wanted to post about a new pair of socks that have been two years in the making, and continue the theme of perseverance and unpredictability of variegated yarns. But I don't have the pictures ready, so I'll show some blankies I've done recently on the LK150.

Way back last summer, when I took my LK150 out to the garage, I made one blanket that went well, so I tried another. I wanted a different tuck pattern and tried a few swatches/dishcloths. I picked something that I thought would be fairly easy. Well, it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. Then I had an issue with it falling off the machine, and something funky with the pattern. I tossed it in the 'finish up' box and ignored it for awhile. Finally, I decided it would be a quick project to either finish up, or rip out. It turns out the funky section wasn't a tension issue, but I had done something to the tuck pattern that would NOT come out with blocking, LOL. So I ripped it out, and went back to simple.
Every other needle, switch needles every row. Four rows blue, 2 rows white, as I had twice as much blue. Such a fast knit, even though you have to manually re-set the needles on each row (as opposed to the first blanket that had a plain row after each tuck row and the carriage would automatically reset the needles). I wonder what it would look like if you add a plain row too? This one lays flat, looks like rib on the knit side, and honeycomb on the backside. It's great for dishcloths as you don't need an edge; same for boy blankets.

The colours really blend on both sides; it's hard to see the striping. It's Bernat Co-ordinates. They say Sportweight, but compared to the other sportweights, this is more a light worsted. Plus, it's a crinkly, slubby yarn with a shiny binder thread.

This is another one I did a while ago, before re-doing the blue one, using Bernat Baby Soft (I think, again a sportweight) in "His Jeans" (again, I think, LOL). I'm not keen on purple (esp. light purple) in baby boy's items (I guess because I like purple, I don't think baby boys should use it, LOL).

Above, you can see the honey comb patterning on the purl side (the picture is sideways I think). It's great to blend colours.

Below, you can see how it looks like ribbing. Bernat yarns, as I've mentioned before, can do some odd things. Even with the tuck stitch (which is really just a slipped stitch, but you catch the float on the next row instead of leaving it like with slip stitches), it still created fairly pronounced stripes.

And a bit of patterning, but still random enough to not bother me, LOL.

This is a great way to use up baby yarns, but it does take a surprising amount. Basically, because each stitch is getting knit every other row, you need twice (?) as many rows to get it the length you want. But it's worth it to not have to put an edging on, which would eat up yarn anyway. For anyone that wants to knit baby blankets to donate, I highly recommend getting a mid-gauge or bulky