Just a sock

Well look at me talking about a WIP on a Wednesday. I haven’t collapsed yet after getting home from work. My energy level is pretty good at the end of a Wednesday for a change.

And then we have Murphy’s Law at work. It’s WIP Wednesday, I’m all ready to write on this blog about it, and all I’ve got is a picture of a sock I started with Cascade Heritage Prints. I made sure I worked through a full color repeat before I photographed it. Now I’m lamenting that I left my knitting bag in the background but I think you can still appreciate the colors.

cascadeheritageprints

I’ve also been crocheting my sister’s pineapple shawl and knitting my blue lace scarf.

Happy Hump Day!

 

Review: Sock Knitting Master Class by Ann Budd

Sock Knitting Master Class by Ann Budd, Interweave Press: 2013, 184 pages. Paperback, Kindle, and PDF editions available. Grade: A

I bought Ann Budd’s Sock Knitting Master Class a couple of years ago. I decided to get  it because it offers patterns to be knit cuff-down and toe-up. I’ve even knit up a pair of socks included in the patterns: Cookie A’s “Asymmetrical Cables.

If you’re looking for inspiration, this title has it all with innovative ways to create stylish stockings. There are enough techniques to keep a knitter busy for ages. Just a few examples to consider are: Intarsia in-the-round, instep and sole knit together in a modular fashion, and entrelac.

Of course, Ann Budd did not design all these unusual socks on her own even though two of hers are included: “Mock Cables and Lace” and “Toe-up Travelers.” As far as the patterns go, they’re very well written. One drawback for some of them is the limited sizing. There are patterns that include instructions for three sizes and a few of them are only written for one. The assumption here is that the knitter can adapt the patterns to fit any foot. For me, this is pretty easy to do with most of them. I’ve found maybe two others that I would need to think carefully before daring to cast on a sock for a foot size different from the suggested ones. Let’s take, for example, the “Twisted-Stitch
Stockings” written by Meg Swanson, which I really like. I am more than certain it can be adapted to my clunky feet. My only issue is that it’s based on Elizabeth Zimmerman’s “Moccasin Sock,” an unusual construction that I am still not familiar with. Adapting numbers for a different size seems more complicated for me than if it were a “normal” in-the-round sock because I have never actually made “Moccasin Socks.” I doubt there’s a lot of mystery to it, but still, I’ll have to sit down and think a bit before trying.

This weakness, however, reflects a trend in sock patterns we see just about everywhere. The designer writes up the pattern for one size and lets the knitter figure out the rest. Because it’s a practice so in fashion, I suppose we should be forgiving. Furthermore, this flaw is by no means a deal-breaker. In fact, I personally believe that Sock Knitting Master Class should be on any sock enthusiast’s bookshelf or digital collection. The patterns are very challenging and original. We need more complex knitting patterns in a world with a glut of “quick and easy” fair. Like anyone else, I love to knit easy things, but I also like to challenge myself and knit difficult, and equally beautiful, items.

The sock patterns offered are so varied that the author includes an extensive Introduction to explain heels, toes, and all sorts of other important details. Then, the book is divided into two sections, according to the direction of knitting: first come the cuff-down patterns and then the toe-up ones. Before each section there are instructions to cast on and bind off using an ample range of methods. Along with these directions, the author discusses the advantages and disadvantages of knitting cuff-down and toe-up, respectively.

In addition to the patterns, the clear explanations of all things related to sock knitting, and general instructions about techniques, the yarn guru Clara Parks discusses the yarns chosen and why the designers used them. Her little “blurbs” about each individual yarn come at the beginning of each pattern. There is a lot to learn from these tidbits of advice if you find that sort of thing interesting. I think spinners just as much as “yarn shoppers” would enjoy these little boxes of wool thoughts.

I would recommend this title to sock knitting enthusiasts with some experience. The purpose of Sock Knitting Master Class is to help knitters take it to the next level. It is written in such a way as to be helpful to beginners, as well. I say this because a lot of the information included in the Introduction wasn’t really new to me. Furthermore, the little snippets of advice were not exactly ground-breaking stuff for me, but they would be of interest to knitters somewhat new to stitching up socks.

Overall, I think this  deserves a grade of A because it’s not very often that one finds so many challenging and unusual sock patterns all together in one book. It’s thorough. All of the techniques called for are explained clearly with illustrations. When we consider the price – I believe the PDF download is about $9.95 – it’s a bargain considering all the useful information and fun patterns it includes. But, a word of caution: some of the patterns in this book are reprinted and appear in other older publications. I didn’t have any of them in my collection, so for me this was a good option.

I forgot I had Arne & Carlos sock yarn

One of the things that can happen when you stock up your stash is that you can get distracted for years by projects you’re stitching away at and forget that you bought this or that stray skein of yarn for “some day.” I have recently finished a couple of pairs of socks that I’ll write about another day. This means, of course, that I had to make a trip to the stash in the wee hours of Friday night to get some more sock yarn. I just can’t finish socks without starting another pair right away, you know. Anyway, I opened a bin and there I saw it: Regia “Design Line by Arne & Carlos” self-patterning yarn for socks. I think I probably bought it two or more years ago. Of course I got a toe-up sock started right away.  I’m having fun with it. I began the toe last night and I haven’t put them down much this weekend. My progress is promising:

Photo May 06, 2 43 08 PM

I’m pretty happy with this, but I am beginning to wonder if the number of stitches casted on will determine the pattern that appears on the socks. I keep looking at the photo on the yarn label and comparing it with what’s working up on my needles and the design that is developing is not exactly the same. It’s the same in a generic sort of way, but in the photo it seems to me that the patterning is a little more defined. I’m not worried about the quality of the dyeing that was performed on this yarn. I’m concerned that, since I cast on a lot more stitches for socks that will fit me, it will change the results. I seem to think that the average sock knitter who makes socks for themselves tends to have smaller feet.

Recently I bought another skein of Arne & Carlos sock yarn and it’s the “third edition” of self-patterning color ways so I think I’m pretty eager to get this pair finished and work on some different Arne & Carlos yarn to see if I get “better” results. I’ve put “better” in quotes because I don’t really know if my eyes are playing tricks on me or if I need to get more of the sock knitted to see if there are some more interesting and well-defined patterns to come on these socks. I suppose it’s good motivation to get the socks finished faster. If I’m eager to see how the designs play out in my knitting I’ll have to knit more.

I’ve decided to knit these socks toe-up because A) I’ve just finished two pairs cuff-down and I need a change; B) I want to try doing a short-row heel again, the kind that creates a nifty wedge. As you might remember from my posts about toe-up sock knitting I was not happy with the short-row “wedge” heel because I didn’t like the little holes that appeared at the ends of the short rows. I went on to work on my own gusset and heel flap toe-up socks and I got nice results with those. However, I have learned from wearing them that, at the end of a day of wearing them, the gussets stretch out more than I care for. After a washing they correct themselves and spring back into shape, but then I wear them and they stretch out again. So, back to the short-row heel. It’s more my OCD style anyway. I wouldn’t want to interrupt the Arne & Carlos self-patterning, now would I? I mean, you never know, maybe some day I’ll be wearing them and some official person with authority will have to inspect my shoes, feet, and socks.

How fast can I post?

I’ve got 18 minutes until midnight, which means in 18 minutes Wednesday will be done and Thursday will begin. I am on the threshold between “Wednesday WIPS” and “Just Another Thursday.” Today was a bright, beautiful, glorious day with more sun than I could shake a stick at, so between classes I had some time to fuss with photography and get some somewhat OK photos of my WIPS.

First of all, why not talk about some socks I’ve casted on? A few months ago I said I wanted to make some red socks with some kind of triangular pattern on them. Well, I tried that a couple of months ago and it bored me. I just wasn’t feeling it. So, I frogged it, proceeded to finish two sweaters while contemplating what kind of red socks I wanted to knit. In the end, I fell back on my good old cable pattern I like so much. It’s basically cables slapped onto my vanilla sock formula. Here is my sock I’ve started, basking in the sunlight:

red-sock

Last week I started a Star Motif sweater with the “Blue Smoke” color way that could be from no other than Cascade 220. Over the weekend I finished my sleeves and by tomorrow I’m pretty sure I’ll be attaching them to the yoke because I’m just an inch shy of finishing the lower body.

blue-star-motif

This is what happens when you knit monogamously. In one week’s time I’ve knit about 3/4 of a sweater. I think it helps that I haven’t had to think too much. First of all, I’ve used this pattern before, so I pretty much don’t need to concentrate too much on it. Second of all, most of the knitting is “kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk” which means I can pick it up and put it down whenever I like. I can even knit this while drinking alcohol. Yes, I am certain because I’ve done it.

I have a WIP in the waiting. I winded some Gründl Hot Socks yarn and bought a second set of Hiya-Hiya mini circular needles. You might notice that my mini circular purchase found a way to duplicate itself:

socks-in-waiting

The way my new needles got duplicated is a saga that only an Amazon order disaster can produce. I ordered my second set of needles on January 16. They weren’t in stock so they were sent to me on Jan 26 with an estimated arrival date of February 1. February 1 came and went and so a new estimated arrival date of February 5 was established. By February 7 I was on the phone with Amazon customer service. If they weren’t going to arrive a week from then I would receive a refund – upon my special request because Amazon wanted to refund me right then and there. Last Wednesday the needles, in my mind, were lost forever, so I ordered some more from another shop I found on Google. On Saturday morning the needles I ordered from Amazon magically appeared at my doorstep, in a mangled package which, of course, did no damage to my needles inside. Yesterday my other arrived. So, now I have three sets of Hiya-Hiya mini circs for knitting socks. I’ve decided to keep the duplicates because I like to knit gloves with fingering weight yarn. Anyway, Amazon customer service is AWESOME and I am their number one fan. So friendly, helpful, and eager to resolve problems. I hope I never have to talk to them again, but they were enthusiastic about doing the right thing. Amazon has won itself some serious points with me and I will continue to shop with them.

My clock says it’s midnight, so I am posting my WIPs on the cusp. Happy knitting and crocheting!

When all else fails: Stick it out the window

These days are pretty gloomy. The lack of sunlight is really doing quite the number on my photographs of my knitting. I of course have another FO to discuss, but first let us appreciate the colors in this skein of Opal sock yarn, which after several failed attempts at being photographed, finally found itself stuck out the window for better lighting and, therefore, finer color accuracy:

Photo Aug 17, 11 23 02 AM

I love this yarn and I think it’s one of my favorite brands of self-striping yarn. This skein has different shades of blue, brown, gray, purple, and red. I’m about to cast on a sock with it right now!

If you’re curious about the colorway and my downstairs neighbor’s garden, here you go:

Photo Aug 17, 11 21 44 AM

I’m starting a new pair of socks because I finished my toe-up rainbow socks. They fit my feet wonderfully. Check them out:

Photo Aug 17, 11 09 08 AM

I made these socks two-at-a-time. I’ve definitely changed my sock knitting habits, which from now on are going to be determined by how the sock yarn is sold. If the skeins are sold so that one skein is enough for one sock, I’ll knit my socks toe-up and two-at-a-time. If the one skein is enough to knit a complete pair I’ll knit them cuff-down on tiny circular needles. Obviously, the next socks I’m knitting are going to be cuff-down on mini circs because Opal sells the yarn in big skeins.

Why not more rainbow socks?

Last year I knit myself a pair of rainbow socks and I’m pretty sure I finished them after moving to the apartment I’m living in now. The yarn was from Tiger, an “upscale” Danish dollar store.

I had some Regia Design Line “Garden Effects” sock yarn in #03309 which looks more like a rainbow than a garden effect. It needs more green to look like a garden, really. I’ve been knitting them two-at-a-time and toe-up. I’m pretty excited to be almost done with the gusset rounds so pretty soon I’ll be turning the heels. I took a picture of them this morning in the sunlight so we can appreciate all the bright colors:

Photo Aug 02, 2 17 33 PM

As you can see, the Regia sock yarn isn’t fraying or coming to bits so these will go on my feet, not in the rubbish!

I’ve been knitting socks today between classes because it’s too hot to knit the sweater. I’ll work on that tonight when it cools off.