Sunday, February 19, 2012

Even I just don't know

 Hello knitters, and people who don't knit but love knitters!  This week in my knitting world, I've finished some yoga socks, I'm finishing a pair of cabled socks for Poppa's birthday (which was a month ago, bad daughter, bad!), and I'm reading about sweater construction.  Let's dive right in, yah?

Yoga socks come up first, with two pairs I finished to bring to the studio.  Since my very first pair of yoga socks, I've always modeled them around an average-sized ladies foot, because 95% of the people who come to the studio are women, and because I'm fairly certain that a sock without a toe and a heel will fit most feet without even trying.  And then I was wrong.

Observe the size difference in the two socks below:

I don't recall if they were done on the same size needles, but I can guarantee I either used 2.0mm or 2.25mm.  Both are made from KnitPicks yarn, the purple sock is made with Stroll in Duchess Heather, and the red sock is Stroll Tonal in Gypsy.  Yoga Mike even switched out one of the pairs he bought before Christmas for a slightly larger pair because the ones he grabbed were a little snug for his wife.  I figure some people will have smaller feet than others, but I can now safely say that the socks are not "one size fits all".
 The Twisty River yoga socks.  For both of my most recent pairs, I went with off-centre designs, ya know, just to keep it interesting. These purple socks are still on the board at the studio, and I'm slowly working away at a pair to sit next to them.

These socks feature the Blackrose pattern from Knitty, and these socks have already been sold.  I was in such a hurry to bring them to the studio that they almost didn't get a proper picture taken.  I know you love and appreciate the kitchen lighting for the sock photo shoot. 

So I've been working on a pair of socks for Poppa's birthday, and I started them the night before his birthday, which was a month ago.  Oops.  Knitting gift fail all the way on that one.  But my bigger problem has been that I will totally run out of yarn before I finish the second sock.  Oops again.  I decided to use some of the sock yarn I bought at the Woodstock Fleece Festival in the fall.  If you recall, I bought two hanks of sock yarn, one in "Mocho Chino", and the other in "Olive Drab".  My gift for Poppa was somewhat of a last minute thing, so I used sock yarn I had on hand that would make a handsome pair of man-socks.  The hank was 100g grams, just about 400 yards, and should have been fine for any pair of socks I normally make.  I forgot to account for the man-size of the socks I would be making, as well as the many many many tiny cables in the pattern.  I chose "Java" from Knitty Winter 2011, and as you can see from the picture, they are loaded to the brim with cables.

This realization left me about 5 grams short of enough yarn to finish the pair.  I was in denial for about half of the second sock, and I didn't waddle over to the yarn scale until last weekend to see that I would indeed be coming up short.  My first thought was to go out and buy another hank, but on further investigation, the shop that sells the yarn is way far away.  "Would another shop carry the yarn?" you ask.  Nope.  It's a store brand sock yarn, and I don't know why any other shop would carry The Black Lamb brand merino/nylon sock yarn in Mocho Chino.  I spent about 20 minutes on Ravelry trying to see if someone might have some in their stash, and then maybe, just maybe, they would sell it to me.  I couldn't find anyone who had stashed it, and only one person who had identified it as a yarn she used in a project.  I figured I'd bite the bullet and travel out to the store, maybe have a little knitting field trip, and pick up a hank to finish the socks.  I emailed the shop first to make sure they had the colour in stock, and Laurie wrote back saying she would gladly send me a little extra to finish the project.  I was totally blown away!  I was not expecting such a generous offer, and that was exactly what I needed to get it done.  Thank you Laurie and The Black Lamb!

By the end of the week, I received a package in the mail with a teeny little hank to finish my project.

Look how cute!  I totally twisted it up like that, it actually arrived as the loop you see in the picture above.

The colourway is certainly different, but I'll only need it for the the toe, which will almost always be hidden by shoe.

I'm currently working on the foot portion of the second sock.  I finished all of my heel turning and patterned gusseting yesterday, and made a shocking discovery.  Before I reveal what I learned, I should tell you that I've been reading Little Red in the City.

I borrowed it from the Knitters Guild library after waiting for months and months for my turn.  I asked for it for Christmas as well, but my family doesn't respond well to my detailed Christmas lists (which include appropriate yarn stores to shop at and exact titles of books).  I am on a mission to make a sweater of my very own, one that fits beautifully.  This book seemed like the perfect place to lay down some guidelines, since the entire first half of the book is all about how to properly adjust a pattern to fit YOU, not the imaginary model or dressform the pattern will actually fit.  I sat down and read page after page yesterday afternoon, and two things happened.  One, I'm totally excited to knit a sweater, and it will happen this year.  Two, I am a Western-style purler, which means that when I am working a rib pattern, the knit stitch on the end is loose and sloppy.  I didn't even realize there was a different way to purl!  An Eastern style purl wraps clockwise around the needle, which uses slightly less yarn than my counter-clockwise Western purl, and holds all the stitches a little closer and neater.  Epiphany!

While I was devouring this section of the book, I was also working on Poppa's socks, and everything came together.  "Hold the phone a minute!" I said.  "If that tiny shift in wrapping the yarn for a purl stitch makes all the difference, then maybe that's why my ssk's are always so jagged and not-smooth!"  I've been doing my ssk's by slipping the yarn needle point to needle point, so the stitches don't twist.  THIS IS WRONG!  I have never liked my ssk's and now I know why!  I immediately made the change to slipping the stitches as if I was knitting them, and voila!

A little blurry and perhaps hard to make out, but when looking at the slanted stitches near my thumb, the bottom section is very jagged, and the upper 3 or 4 rows look a lot smoother.  I win!

That's all I've got, happy knitting!