Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hickory Dickory Doctor

Image from Knit Picks Catalog
When Knit Picks released the colorway Time Traveler in their Felici sock yarn, I knew that I wanted it. I also knew that I needed to use it to make socks for Jeff. If someone loves Doctor Who enough to knit a scarf for ages, they are surely deserving of a modest pair of socks in similar colors, yes?

Choosing a pattern was tricky, because we didn't want to screw with the striping of the yarn, but Jeff doesn't seem to like the idea of me knitting a plain old ribbed sock for ages and ages. After looking at some pattern ideas on Ravelry, and then picking through my growing collection of pattern books we finally narrowed it down to some almost plain socks from The Knitter's Book of Socks, by Clara Parkes. The final two contenders were Hickory and Stepping Stones, and after some deliberation we settled on Hickory, designed by Jane Cochran. (I still think that Elm might have been pretty cool looking too.)

I had never used this yarn before so I actually did proper swatching, testing out different needle sizes and getting measurements before casting on. I wish I had thought to take a picture of that test swatch. The difference between the fabric knit with a 2.5 mm needle, and a 2 mm needle was dramatic. The larger needle made fabric that was loose and the stitches were uneven. When I changed to the smaller needle the stitches looked nicer and the fabric while still supple felt sturdier, which will hopefully help it stand up to the wear and tear a sock takes.
From start to finish the socks took about 3 weeks. Since I was adjusting a pattern to be larger there were some mathy bits to figure out between cast on, heel turn and toe decreases, but nothing too troubling. I did end up having to restart after knitting the cuff and a bit of the leg when I found it would end up far too big, even for Jeff. The first sock took longer since when I wanted to check the fit I would have to stop knitting and wait for Jeff to get home. [Insert funny pic of Jeff's toes poking out of unfinished sock.] With the second sock I just had to follow my notes and make it the same, so there were fewer long interruptions.

The other tricky part of this pattern was the colorway that I chose. Normally I don't worry about where the stripes fall, and if I want to make matching socks I just make sure that I start my cast on from the same place in each skein. However this time I had a few challenges. I used the cable cast-on so that I'd be able to start at the beginning of one color, and be consistent with the second sock. When I finished the heel and started to work across the top of the foot I realized that I had a choice to make. I could either have the color sequence uninterrupted on the bottom of the sock where no one would see it, and the top would skip from red to purple, or I could chop up my yarn. I decided that it was important to me that the top of the sock continue the color pattern, so I broke the yarn off and started with the red again as I knit across the top. I ended up having to chop it a second time on the first sock because there was a knot in it from manufacturing that left me missing a white section. So this is what I have left from three skeins after making the two socks.
Not much to speak of, but perhaps enough to mend the socks if/when they develop holes.
I've made further notes on my Ravelry page if anyone else is looking to modify the pattern to fit a man's foot, since the pattern is only in one lady size. If you have the pattern you should easily be able to follow my notes and get a larger sock without much trouble.

Aside from the one knot the yarn was quite pleasant to work with, and the pattern was easy to follow. It has charted and written instructions, and I didn't find any errors as I worked it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Turn

This is one of my favorite parts of the sock knitting process. You start off with a tube, and then you knit a flat flap on it that goes on the back of the heel. That's not the good part though, that's kind of boring.
Then there is some knitting hocus pocus...
Then you have a cozy little cup ready to wrap around your heel.
It's like a magic trick.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sock Madness Strikes Again

After taking a year off, mainly because I thought about signing up too late and missed the deadline by a couple of days, I am back in for Sock Madness this year. This is going to be the 6th year of Sock Madness and the 4th time that I've participated. I think SMII was my favorite so far. It was the first time that I was involved and there were a lot of fun pictures taken for the creative prize category. Between the adrenaline rush of new challenges, and cementing my love of sock knitting, it was such great fun that I keep signing up each year. But when I look back at the socks I knit each year I think SMIV has been the most my speed. I especially loved the Cool Beans I made.

As always I have no idea what patterns we'll be given as challenges this year, but we have recently received our list of supplies needed. One of the new ones to me are beads. I have made beads and used beads in jewelry, but I've never used beads on a sock before. At least I already have a decent collection of seed beads ready to go. I'm going to order a couple new colors of sock yarn, make a beading tool (I'll show you that later I'm sure), and keep knitting on Jeff's socks to try and finish them before the competition starts.

Poor Jeff, I complain about the size of his feet every time I knit him socks. It's not his fault that I have smallish feet and he has largish feet. You'd think that if you like knitting then having a sock that lasts forever would be a good thing, but one of the reasons that I like to knit socks because they are Quick. I did some rudimentary math and found that the reason it seems like Jeff's socks take forever to knit is that for each one I knit for him I could knit a pair for myself.

Not counting the cuff, heel or toe stitches, but just the main leg & foot rounds:
Jeff = 15,360 stitches
Tara = 8,192 stitches

On the bright side the competition socks ought to fly by, right? And all these extra stitches will get my wrists and fingers nice and limbered up by the time we get started in March.