flowergirl knits

flowers, cats and knitting

Category: Socks

Mystery Solved

I have – at last – finished the Through the Loops Mystery Sock, 2009. The only real mystery left at this point is, why did it take me so long to knit?

Pattern: Mystery Sock ’09 by Kirstin Kapur

Yarn: ShiBui Sock, colorway “Rapids”

Notes: For the second year, Kirstin Kapur of Through the Loops fame has offered a free mystery sock pattern for Socktoberfest. Each week through October, she posts on Ravelry and on her website one more section of the sock – cuff, leg, heel, foot, toe. The pattern emerges as you knit and Kirstin usually throws in a twist or two to keep you guessing (for instance, this years pattern is on each side of the leg through the heel, then shifts to the top for the foot) Fun! Last year I was able to keep up and finish both socks by the end of the month, but this year I got a late start and then other things kept popping up and – well, that’s just the way it goes sometimes.

This is a wonderful pattern – interesting but not difficult, with lots of nice details such as the way the pattern continues down the heel. And I love the toes – the repeat continues as you decrease, getting gradually smaller as if it were fading away. Lovely.

As expected, I loved the ShiBui sock yarn. The “Rapids” colorway looks a bit like faded denim and the light color really lets the pattern pop. Always a pleasure to knit with.

Next on the agenda – another Thermis! Shocking. And maybe a return to Nectarine. And some mittens. And more sweaters. Endless fun.

Toasty Toes

My feet were cold.

After a very chilly October, we’ve been enjoying some Indian summer weather with quite reasonable November temperatures. However, winter is looming and my feet are already cold when relaxing at home. Time for some house socks!

Pattern: Log Cabin socks

Yarn: Dream in Color Classy “Ruby River”

Notes: I love these socks – it’s the second time I’ve knit this pattern. The worsted weight yarn really zips things along and the ribs and cables keep things interesting. I made it last year, but the yarn I used (Berroco Ultra Alpaca), while beautiful and soft, didn’t hold up well to the abuse that comes with being a sock. Darning them only delayed the inevitable. Time for a new pair.

This time I choose DIC Classy which, although not specifically a sock yarn, appears to be sturdier than the Ultra Alpaca. For one thing, it’s machine washable, an excellent advantage considering the – ahem – less than pristine state of my floors. It also has a tighter twist and knits up to a nice firm fabric when knit in a tight gauge.

This is the first time I’ve knit with Classy, which had been languishing in my stash. I love the Dream in Color sock yarns, so I wasn’t surprised that I also enjoyed the worsted. As with the sock yarns, the colors are amazing. I love this colorway of saturated raspberry pink and jewel purples – a combination I also use in the garden as often as possible.

Looks like I got these done just in time – the five-day forecast is promising lots of cold temps and possibly even some snow. Thanks to my new house socks though, my feet have a good chance of staying nice and toasty.

Changes in the Air

There have been a number of changes around here lately.

Weather – a heavy frost Friday and hard freezes on Saturday and Sunday have brought the growing season to a screeching halt. And to add insult to injury, it snowed on Saturday.

A lingering UFO becomes an FO – I finally finished the Spring Forward socks which I’ve been dragging around as my travel project for months.

Death of a computer – my computer crashed, completely and irrevocably, taking most of my files with it for good measure.

new kid on the block

Say hi to my new friend – an Apple MacBook Pro. Going from PC to Apple, desktop to laptop, wired to wireless – well, the learning curve has been a bit sharp at times (for instance, it took me an hour and a half to figure out how to get pictures from my camera to the computer to Flickr. I got it now I think, but it was excruciating.) Exciting, terrifying, frustrating, fun. Change is good – keeps the old brain cells from getting too rusty. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself!

Amongst all the computer stress (good and bad) I did manage to finish some socks, part of my Socktoberfest goal this year.

Pattern: Spring Forward

Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy, “Cool Fire” colorway

Notes: This is a delightfully simple pattern with very satisfying results. It makes a great travel project because it’s easy to pick up and put down again and not lose your place. The only reason it took me several months to complete is that I set it aside several times to work on other projects.

I’ve switched from my beloved Lantern Moon Rosewood needles, size 1 and gone down to size 0 in less luxurious but still lovely bamboo. (The Lantern Moons don’t go smaller than 1) I’m just too loose of a knitter – I was finding socks knit on 1s were a little too sloppy (though wearable)

The DIC yarn, as always, was a delight to knit with. I was a little surprised that this colorway came out more variegated than I’d expected; usually the DIC sock yarns have more subtle variegation. I think the pattern is somewhat obscured by this colorway, but still acceptable.

I’ve moved on to the TTL Mystery Sock 09 now, using ShiBui Sock. I’m woefully behind with the clues and probably won’t get the finished in October, but I’m ok with that.

As mentioned in the last post, I was knitting a Tangled Yoke cardigan and loving it. Since then, disaster has struck; I shed a few tears, then put it in time-out for a while. I think I am about ready to pick it up and try again; I’ll let you know how that goes next time.

Happy Socktoberfest!

Whoosh!! That was September zipping by at the speed of light. The good news is, now it’s time for Socktoberfest and the celebration of all things socks!

My plans for Socktoberfest 2009 are quite modest:

-Finish up the socks that I’ve been carrying around as my “travel project” for the last two months. And…

-Follow the TTL Mystery Sock pattern as new sections of the sock are released every Thursday in October. Kirsten from Through the Loops is crazy talented so the socks are sure to be fabulous. Plus, getting the next clue each week and watching the pattern emerge is lots of fun.

That’s it! My knitting-interest continues to focus on sweaters and the sock knitting (except for the travel project) has been minimal (but not gone – never gone)

The crazy part of my brain  (admittedly, the larger part) had seriously thought I’d get a couple sweaters done a month, or at least one a month. I may have to adjust that to one every six weeks. Or so.

I’ve been diligently working on my Tangled Yoke cardigan; I’m loving it – the yarn, the color, the pattern (although I did have some issues with the decrease section early on) but I’m still only a bit past halfway finished. In my defense, this is being knit with DK weight yarn so, lots more stitches to stitch. And I do have to stop occassionaly and do other things like work, or sleep. I had sincerely hoped to have a finished sweater by next Saturday when I’m getting together with out-of-town friends, but it’s just not going to happen. I’m just too fond of sleeping. And paying my bills.

Knit On

So, a few days ago I was doing a few chores around the house, thinking about writing my next blog post (on trying to hold off a rampant case of Startitis) when I got a phone call that my Mother had had a stroke and was being taken to the hospital. There followed several days of anxious stays in emergency rooms, long drives to the hospital and back, and waiting – waiting, waiting, waiting.

Shetland Triangle, in progress; Malabrigo Silky "Indiecita"

Through it all I kept my knitting with me – two projects – and I thought often of Elizabeth Zimmermann and her wise words: “Knit On, with confidence and hope, through all crises.” I pondered the soothing power of knitting, how the rhythm of one stitch at a time can create calm and focus. I’m a worrier – worry, worry, worry. I can turn a small problem into a big one, and a big problem into a catastrophe quicker and with more creativity than anyone. Knitting allowed me to think through the problems and issues we were facing without panic, it filled that seemingly endless waiting with something useful and productive and it brought a little color and softness to darkened rooms and medical machinery.

Spring Forward sock; Dream in Color Smooshy "Cool Fire"

We are extremely lucky in our crisis; my Mother’s stroke was relatively mild, she received medical attention very quickly and we live just over an hour from one of the best medical facilities in the country. While she has some rehabilitation work ahead of her and we will have to make some adjustments to her home and routines, the prognosis for her to return to her independent lifestyle is very good.

And, thanks to the power of knitting, I didn’t lose my mind.

Knit on.

Love at First Sight

The minute I saw this pattern, I knew I had to knit it. It reminded me of another Cookie A pattern, my beloved Pomatomus socks with it’s twisted stitches and flowing ridges, which was fun to knit and produced perfect fitting, beautiful socks. I was a goner for this pattern.

Pattern: Marlene by Cookie A

Yarn: Madelinetosh Sock in colorway “Wood Violet”

Notes: Like any love story, things didn’t always go smoothly. Maybe the fact that we weathered the tough patches together and are still together means this is one that will last?

One problem was the gauge – the pattern calls for sport weight sock yarn knit with a gauge of 24 stitches to 4 inches. Well, ok. But then the patterns has you cast on 68 stitches for the cuff – my standard sock with fingering weight yarn casts on 64 stitches! This seems backwards to me – shouldn’t I be casting on fewer stitches with sport weight yarn? There was some discussion on Ravelry that the twisted stitches cause the fabric to pull in a lot, but I remain puzzled.

Now, I have to admit, I have several major gauge issues – math for one thing (math of any kind mostly completely bamboozles me), understanding the basic principals of gauge (it just keeps slipping out of my grasp….) and the fact that I am the absolute loosest knitter ever, apparently. And finally, I have long skinny feet and long, skinny ankles (sadly, this trend stops with my ankles) so I need a narrow fit.

I’ve kind of cobbled together my own rules for gauge and one of them is, when knitting socks, cast on 64 stitches, give or take a couple of stitches, in fingering weight yarn. So, for Marlene, I followed the pattern as written, but used fingering weight yarn. Somehow, it worked – the socks are a nearly perfect fit.

Another problem was the stitch pattern. It took me For. ev. er. to get a handle on it. I’m not sure why – most people on Ravelry indicated that they had no problem catching on – but I struggled and counted and tinked for ages over the chart. This did not make for a good travel project and it – obviously – made progress agonizingly slow. Then, finally, as I finished the leg of the first sock, the veil lifted and Aha! – all became clear. And easier and – again, obviously – fun. And much faster.

I also wasn’t real thrilled with the way the pattern was written. This is absolutely no reflection on the designer, but rather simply a fact of life for patterns published in magazines (I’ve read that the best patterns are usually found in PDFs that you download since there are few if any space constraints) There was a single chart (two, one for the leg and one for the instep would have been better) and it was a skimpy chart at that – you had to remember to add stitches before and after the given chart, depending on what part of the pattern you were on. The written instructions were curt and sometimes slightly mysterious; some of the chart symbols were explained on a different page in the magazine and the pictured sock, which showed twisted stitches running to the tip of the toe, were written with a stockinette toe. The errata for this detail simply said “shape the toe can be worked continuation of the ribbing as shown”. A couple of hints on how to do this while decreasing would have been nice; as it is I made it up as I went along and it seems to be fine.

Despite all the trials and tribulations, I stuck with these socks (although we were “on a break” for awhile!) and I’m glad I did. I still love the look of the pattern, the way it flows into the heel and toe. The yarn is absolutely and completely divine; the color is sublime. The socks look lovely and unique and they fit well. True love is taking the bad as well as the good – must be true love.

Caution: Post May Contain Actual Knitting Content

Look! Actual knitting! Actual finished knitting! Very exciting times indeed.

actual knitting content

Pattern: Sunshine Socks by Cookie A.

Yarn: ShiBui Sock, color “Kiwi”

Notes: Once I got settled on a yarn, these socks went quite quickly. The pattern repeat is intuitive and easy to follow. I like knitting socks with repeating charts like this, since they seem to go quickly. Also, so long as I remember to make a few notes, it seems easier to make the second sock a perfect match.

My main struggle was with settling on the right yarn. The first two yarns I tried turned out to be splitty (I’d never used either before); they couldn’t hold the cable twists and they were extremely frustrating to work with. Both were lovely, so I’ll try them again with a lace or plain pattern.

For this sock, the third yarn was the charm – my beloved ShiBui Sock in a luscious lime green. I heart ShiBui! It has a nice firm twist that works beautifully with fancy stitches, it’s soft but sturdy (so far – the finished socks I’ve worn are holding up well) and it comes in beautiful, semi-solid colors. I’ve read some complaints that it pools, but I’ve found that the lighter colors perform beautifully with no pooling and I don’t mind the pooling on the darker colors so long as it doesn’t distract from the pattern.

toe study

I used just two skeins (191 yards each) of ShiBui for these socks. Depending on the pattern, I sometimes need to dip into a third skein to accommodate my long feet. The length of the leg and the type of stitches used makes a huge difference – a shorter leg (Twisted Tulip) takes less while cables or twisted stitches (Pomatomas) takes more. I know – this is Knitting 101, but it seems the light is just dawning for me.

I also struggled a bit with gauge again. I dropped down to a US 0 for these, which isn’t too far out of line (the pattern calls for US 1 1/2; I usually drop one or two needles sizes for most patterns) But I also changed needles in the midst of this project, going from the super-slick Knit Picks Harmony’s to the slightly less slick Clover bamboos and the fit of the socks came out perfect. I’m thinking that the additional drag – minuscule as it is – is just enough to slow down my stitching so that I tighten the yarn more as I go. Hmmmm. Well. That theory might not hold up to scrutiny but I like it, so I’m sticking with it. And with the Clover bamboos.

green sunshine

These socks were knit as part of the Sock Innovations KAL on Ravelry where a different pattern is knit each month. My idea was that I’d knit the chosen sock right at the start of the month, then work on other things – other socks, gift knits, the English Rug, summer knits – in the vast amount of time left over during that month. Ha Ha! I have three days left before the next sock begins…..hmmmm, maybe this isn’t going to work the way I’d planned…. (well, there’s a shock!) but I’m going to continue for now, especially since I really want to knit every pattern in the book. The yarn issues really slowed me down this time, and I’m still spending a lot of time in the garden, but that’s easing up. Maybe this plan will work in the future?! Only time will tell!

Ravelry Made Me Do It

Ravelry swag and sock knitting

Happy Ravelry-versay to me!

Today is my second anniversary with my much-loved Ravelry! It’s hard to believe it’s been two years – I can’t even imagine anymore what it was like before Ravelry – the pattern search, the ability to organize your projects, yarn and needles, the online community. I’m quite certain that I am a better knitter than I would be without Ravelry, and that I’ve stuck with knitting and pushed the limits of what I thought I was capable of. I’ve meet some wonderful people through Ravelry (although I’m only rarely in the forums), discovered incredible patterns and learned techniques I never even knew existed. And it just keeps getting better – fun new features are constantly being added.

So, thanks Ravelry! I’m looking forward to many more happy years together!

Dream in Color Smooshy "Cinnamon Girl"

Knitting time around here is still somewhat limited, but it is getting better. Above is evidence that I’ve made progress on my Sunshine socks. Sadly, this is still the first sock – I’m going to have to beat feet (haha! so funny am I) to get the pair done by June 30 (for the KAL) You might notice that this sock is not pink as described in my previous post; it is in fact actually lime green. The pink yarn (a beautiful heathered color from Araucania) was too splitty (as was the first yarn I tried for this sock) – it just couldn’t handle the cabling. So I went with an established favorite of mine – this is ShiBui Sock in “Kiwi”. Love it. And it’s cabling like a champ. The Araucania will be saved for a lacy pattern in socks or a scarf (someday)

Finally, to celebrate my Ravelry-versary I stopped by the LYS and bought myself a skein of sock yarn. What can I say? Ravelry made me do it!

Long Time No See

Hello Blog!

How have you been?

Yes, it’s been awhile, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about you. You’ve actually been in my thoughts quite a bit.

What’s that? Oh. Yes – I’ve been busy. Very busy.

You see, it’s Gardening Season here and from about mid-April to mid-or-late-June it’s just crazy/insane/frantic out in the yard. I drag myself inside only when darkness or biting bugs force me to. And then I’m often so tired, I just sit and stare into space.

Haha – yes, sitting and staring into space is one of my more finely honed talents. Very funny.

Knitting? Yes, of course I’ve been knitting – you haven’t read about anybody being strangled around here lately, have you? Knitting keeps me (relatively) sane and out of jail.

Sadly, knitting has taken a hit during the Gardening Season too. Currently I’m knitting Sunshine for the June Cookie A Sock Innovation KAL, but I’ve been struggling a bit with yarn and needle choices. I’m on my second yarn choice (Araucania Itata) which is a gorgeous mostly solid dusty pink with the seductive name of #2006 and so far it seems to be ok; I’m a bit gun shy since the previous yarn kept splitting like a mad thing so I’m reserving a final judgement. Whatever the verdict, it sure is pretty.

Having to start over well over a week into the month has put me behind, so I’m concentrating just on the socks. All 20 minutes of my daily knitting time goes exclusively to Sunshine.

As noted in the last post (haha, I’m sure your memory is good enough to remember – it’s not like it was decades or centuries ago!), I finished up the May KAL sock (Kai-Mei) before the end of the month. Since I had some time before I could start the June sock, I quick knitted another Thermis for my friend Carol as a hostess gift. She lives in Wisconsin, so it should come in handy although she wasn’t really sure what it was and I had to demonstrate how it worked. Her enthusiasm seemed a bit tempered – maybe I should stick to gift certificates after this… What do you think?

I also attempted to do some more work on my first toe-up socks but finally had to admit that that Monster of Evil had returned. Yes, that’s right – gauge reared it’s ugly, disagreeable head and laughed at me. Why can’t it just leave me alone – I ask you – what have I ever done to it?

Apparently I’m knitting looser and looser in my old age. The pattern calls for a #0 needle for a 66 stitch sock; my basic sock is a #1 needle on 64 stitches. What? No, of course I didn’t do any math – what a silly thought! I just figured – intuitively – that’d I’d be ok. Of course, thanks to Evil Gauge, it wasn’t ok and I went on a search for teeny tiny needles.

It took quite a bit of searching, but I finally found HiyaHiya needles in #00 and #000 double points. Addi and Inox also have needles this small, but they’re 8 inches long (used by lace knitters); the HiyaHiya’s are 5 inches, much better for sock knitting. Interestingly, I also had to buy a new needle sizer since your regular sizers don’t go smaller than #0. (Well, I thought that was interesting!) Ravelry doesn’t even include needles smaller than #00 on their inventory chart. The needles were very reasonably priced and arrived almost instantly; I’m anxious to take them for a spin but they’ll have to wait their turn.

Well, Blog, it’s been fun catching up, but it’s getting late. Have to go put something on my bug bites and crawl into bed. I promise not to be away so long next time – maybe even bring along a finished knit or two. Until then, be good!

It’s not George Clooney’s Fault

Hello my knitting peeps! (heh – I always wanted to use that phrase) I bet all three of you were beginning to wonder what had happened to me. A romantic European tour with George Clooney? Piloting the space shuttle? On the run from the Mob? No! I’ll tell you what happened to me – May! May happened to me! And to a gardener (and the “flowergirl” in the name of the blog has nothing to do with weddings and everything to do with flowers), May is the Ultimate Month. So much to do! Finally! Outside! Warmth! Snow-free! Sunshine! FLOWERS! See:

now that's how you do pink

That’s a peony by the way; I have dozens of them crammed into my tiny yard and they’re my pride and joy. Along with about a zillion other plants and flowers and a few vegies. So, knitting and the English Rug have taken a backseat lately – I haven’t touched the English Rug all month (but I will get back to it!) and knitting time is limited to bits and pieces.

Those bits and pieces (and a couple sustained hours this afternoon) add up though and socks have been completed.

mirrors

Pattern: Kai-Mei by Cookie A

Yarn: Madelinetosh Sock, colorway “Gilded”

Notes: This is the first pattern I’ve done from Cookie’s new book, Sock Innovation and, typical of Cookie A patterns, it’s great fun and a little out of the ordinary. I love how the lace panel wraps from the side to the top, and that the right and left sock mirror each other. I did have some problems wrapping my head around the gusset (where the lace pattern begins) but that was this knitters inexperience rather than a problem with the pattern. I also got frustrated with the errata for this pattern – I think some of the errata needs an errata! It is disappointing that a book from a respected publisher would have so many mistakes; I’ve read that the first edition has sold out and that these mistakes will be corrected in the 2nd printing but that still leaves me with a flawed book (and I plan to make every pattern) Be sure to check the errata page!

wrapped in lace

I finished this sock as part of the May KAL for the Ravelry group Sock Innovation; there are other groups doing KALs for Cookie’s socks, but I decided to stick with this one because it is much more low-key than the others. With so much on my plate right now, I decided to go with clear and simple. The KAL – and Ravelry – were incredibly valuable since there is a lot of discussion about the pattern (and the errata) and many explanations on interpreting it. I might have thrown in the towel otherwise. What did we do before Ravelry?! (Oh Ravelry, how I love you!)

sidewinder

Because of all the straight ribbing on this sock, I decided this would be a good time to teach myself the Norwegian Purl (sounds like a beer hall dance, doesn’t it?) This is a way for continental knitters (pickers) to purl without stopping to move the yarn to the front of your knitting. Basically, you scoop up the yarn from the back (while holding it in the back like you do for a knit stitch) and the swoop it forward and the loop it under and twist your wrist  and wiggle your nose and viola! a purl stitch. (For a better – real – explanation and videos, check out YouTube) It’s supposed to help you knit faster since you don’t have to move the yarn back and forth but I’m not sure I ever got noticeably quicker. Also, I believe it made my gauge looser. Looser! Like I need to knit looser – I’m already too loosey-goosey in the knitting department as it is! It was a lot of fun to learn though – an interesting challenge – but I’ll probably stick with my “regular” purl.

love

And finally, the yarn? Madelinetosh? It just might be the most beautiful sock yarn ever. Silky soft yet substantial and with deep, gorgeous, subtly variegated color. It has a bit of sheen to it that makes it especially luxurious. A joy to knit with, a delight to wear. I think this might be true love.

I just hope George won’t be too heartbroken.