Auntie Ann Knits

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Four Down, Six to Go

Here's the first of the pair of the "Gentleman's Fancy Socks" from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush that I'm knitting for my BIL for Xmas:
First Sock Done

A-a-a-nd here's the toe:
First Sock Toe

Is that hilarious, or what? I don't think it's so much my poor grafting as the fact that the pattern calls for decreasing down to 12 stitches total (6 on top, 6 on the bottom), and at 9 st./in., that's a really pointy toe.

Yai-Ann made a pair of these in a smaller size for herself, and was kind enough to send me her mods. She gave me reason to hope that this toe will block out to look less weird, plus my BIL obviously has longer feet than me (and most likely pointier toes than me, like everyone else in the world [but I'm not bitter, as the Yarn Harlot would say]), so for now I'm not re-knitting it, I'm casting on for the second sock. 'Cuz I have about 6 more sox to knit before Xmas (I'm counting the blue-and-purple socks as only one sock to finish since the pair is about half done -- let's see, 2 toes done, 1 heel done, that's probably about right. Right? Give me some hope, here.)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Those Darn Sock Darning Eggs

Dear Ang:

I finally made it to the Post Office, and these are on their way to you:
Ang's eggs

I think they're very interesting and pretty! I hope you like them.

Here are the ones staying here:
Ann's eggs

The brown one is the one I found in the old sewing box of our friend's late mom. The red ones I got in the same batch as yours.

I still find the red one that is shaped a bit like the toe of a shoe tree the most intriguing, and soon I hope to try it out when I graft the toe of the "Gentleman's Fancy Sock", the first. I've never grafted a sock toe! Wish me luck.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Very Fraternal Socks

I have rattled on and on about previously mentioned the tube socks that were my first socks, and here they are:
Spiral Tube Sox

Here are the toes:
Spiral Tube Sox Toes
They're basic spiral decrease toes (I don't seem to have even got the spiral decreases correct on the right-hand sock -- I think I knit that while hosting SnB).

They're from this book:
kids knitting cover
which is a very good basic knitting book for anyone first taking up or returning to knitting, as I was (returning to knitting, that is) when I made these socks.

I was basically knitting these for something to knit, and as would be obvious to a drunken sailor you can plainly see, I took little care to match stripes, or much of anything else for that matter. These were "just for fun", and I wore them very little. They wouldn't fit in any real shoes of mine, for one thing. The pink and light blue skinny stripes are leftover yarn from a poncho (there! I said it! I knit a poncho!) that I knit for DD a while back. Someday I'll let you see that, when I've progressed more with my recovery.

They are about to be sacrificed for some "real" socks, socks with heels fer gosh sakes, like any self-respecting sock.

For these socks:
Fraternal Twin Sox
Blue sock

Thus far these are being knit with yarn from a different pair of tube socks that I made for DD, which instead of the spiral rib in the socks above have a straight rib, and thus look very strangely skinny when not on (I won't mention what they most obviously resemble, you've no doubt, with your mind perhaps already thought of that. Anway, I snatched those from her room when she wasn't home and frogged them so fast I didn't think to take a picture of them. (She did kinda OK the idea of my re-knitting them into real socks for her.) So I'll just leave those to your imagination. The only redeeming feature was that I did make some attempt to match the stripes on those.

Anyway, I'm discovering that these "real" socks (pretty basic toe-up socks) are taking a ton more yarn than the ribbed ones. I'm pretty close already to using up the yarn from DD's tube sox, and thus will soon sacrifice my tube sox to the cause.

Here is the heel on the blue sock:
Blue sock heel

This is my best attempt so far at the Priscilla Gibson-Roberts "yarn-over" short-row heel. I think it's not too bad. The holes at the corner of the miter will be closed up when I weave in the ends (I'm quite used to that, due to my crappy heel-knitting skills).

I think that these are washable worsted-weight yarn (bad knitter, forgot to save ball band), they are being knit toe-up on a 40" US#4 Addi (well, I started on an old set of 4 DPN's -- but now that I've been spoiled by sets of 5 and then became a Magic Loop convert, I can't stand knitting socks on 4 DPN's).

So these are going to be quite thick and warm. If DD doesn't like them I may just take 'em back to wear around the house in the winter.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Thoughts on Charity Knits

Franklin mentioned recently that he's usually not much for charity knitting, and that the poor can usually use money more than knitting. This echoes some of my own sentiments on the subject. Most of the items that we lovingly hand-knit can be purchased at less cost than what we put into them in time and money.

People hand-knit blankets, representing an enormous expenditure of time and money, and give them to local charities or even send them overseas, and I can't help but feel that the time and money could be better spent purchasing more of the needed objects rather than making and shipping hand-knits. Possibly even the money could be used to provide employment to people in the target area making hand-knits, to better effect than making and shipping them ourselves.

Rabbitch mentions in this post that a knitted blanket for the charity she supports takes 100+ hours to knit. If I worked an extra hundred hours at my, you know, regular job, and took the net proceeds and bought blankets -- that would be more than one blanket, by a good bit.

I don't mean to denigrate these efforts, I do admire these efforts and have to hand it to the participants; these projects just, well, puzzle me a little bit. Certainly if the hobby we do for enjoyment can also support a good cause, that's a good thing. I guess that the feeling of connection is there for the giver, more so than if they just wrote a check for the same cause, and that's a good thing -- at least for the giver. I'm not quite so sure about the recipient. Maybe they'd rather have 2 store-bought blankets than 1 hand-knit one, or 2 people could have 1 store-bought blanket each, instead of 1 of them having a hand-knit one.

Anyone else feel the same way? If you think I'm missing something about this, I'd like to hear why, because as I said, this is just a little bit puzzling to me.

Having said all that, I do really support several causes where I think that the hand-knit nature of the gift really might make a difference to the recipient -- my SnB, Eweforia has several times made caps (largely because I begged everyone to) for local chemo patients, and for WIC. I have blogged here and here about the Red Scarf Project, which I whole-heartedly support.

Having been mulling this over here, I think maybe now I can articulate this a bit better. Anyone remember Maslow's hierarchy of needs? I view the Red Scarf Project recipients, for example, as likely having needs #1 (biological, such as food) and #2 (safety) met, but they could probably use some help with #3 (love/belonging) and #4 (status/esteem), and that's where the hand-made scarf comes in.

But freezing, starving people are deficient in needs #1 and #2, and until those needs are met, the special, need #3/#4 nature of the hand-knit object given to try to meet needs #1 and #2 may not come into focus for the recipient. So the store-bought blanket (and the more, the better) might do just as well.

Certainly all of the charity knit projects do good work, and are deserving of support. I'm only trying to articulate some thoughts about these charity projects that, now that I have mulled it over a bit, may help me to decide which ones I personally will support, and which ones I will support with money and which ones I will support with hand-knits. You, of course, may do the same for yourself.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Eating my Words (Foot-in-Mouth Disease Outbreak)

I have to take back what I said previously about the "Gentleman's Fancy Sock" and me making no mods. I got to the point in the foot where it said, "foot should measure about 8 inches" and -- it's only 7". It's very odd, cuz the leg portion measures exactly what they say it should.

I'm proposing to do another pattern repeat, and then maybe cut back a bit on the following straight section, since the finished foot length is actually about 1/2" longer than I think I want for my BIL. Here's where my notebook should come in handy.

And forget about starting another first sock -- I think I'd better cast on the second one of these right away, my memory being what it is (notebook and all).

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Random Randomness

Item the First:

I just came across this great post on making your own blocking board. I'm off to the building supply and fabric stores to make one of these next time I need to block anything. I think that should fall within my pathetic very limited crafting abilities (not counting knitting, at which my abilities are, um, well, not pathetic, anyway).

Item the Second:

The knitting-obsessed really should see "The Last Knit", a hilarious animation on how obsessive knitting can be, which I came across on CraftZine's blog.

Sock the First and Sock the Second

I don't believe I ever inflicted on you posted the pix of my first "real" socks (I'm not counting my tube socks, which I will inflict on you show you soon). (Why yes, I did just learn how to show text as stricken. How did you know?) Anyway, here are the socks I have dubbed "Sock the First" (on the right) and "Sock the Second":
Sock 1 & 2 on

I know they don't quite match, especially the heels:
Sock 1 & 2 on (2)

But I love 'em anyway, they're my first real socks. I wore them a couple of times (eww!) before I had the nerve to put them through the washer, but as you can see they came out just fine. Thanks to those of you who shared your laundering tips!

These are based on the free sock pattern from KnitPicks for this yarn, but Sock the Second has a Magic Cast-on toe, and they both have short-row heels from Wendy's generic toe-up sock pattern. I used the bind-off from Grumperina's Dad's sock. That bind-off is nice and stretchy, but takes a lot of yarn, hence the ultra-skinny last stripe of maroon.

I love 'em, even with all their flaws, but next time I'm going to try to give my striped socks matching bulls'-eye heels with the "forethought heel" from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch. And match the stripes better.

Gentleman's Fancy Sock

Remember this little cuff?
Fancy Sock Cuff

Progress has been made, and I turned my first cuff-down heel! ("Alert the media", as Wendy would say).

And here it is:
Fancy Sock Heel

For all the trouble I've had with short-row heels, which I thought would be easier, I had no trouble at all with this flap-and-gusset heel, which I thought would be harder. Just goes to show you. But I'm still enamored of toe-up socks, so I still want to try the Sherman heel and the Widdershins sock from Knitty.

And here it is on (remember it's a man's sock and is a bit loose on me):
Fancy Sock on

I made no mods to this pattern at all (at least not intentionally), and the pattern is very clearly written (although it was written for 4 DPN's [why??], so I had to translate to Magic Loop). It is the "Gentleman's Fancy Sock" from "Knitting Vintage Socks" by Nancy Bush, in Lang Jawoll fingering weight, on a 40" US #1 Addi. This is for my BIL for Xmas, and although I'm very pleased with how this is coming out, it is taking me a darn long time. (What's that you say? Duh, a man's sock on a #1 takes forever, and I should have known? Oh.) Must hurry up with my Xmas knitting. I'm a bit tempted to start a different first sock, to keep it more interesting, and since I didn't modify this one I don't have to remember the mods. And per several good recommendations in blogland, I have taken to writing down the specs of my projects in my li'l knitting notebook that lives in my knitting bag:
This is only an inexpensive notebook from the drugstore, but I like having the particulars written down for future reference, especially since I am experimenting with different sock heels and so on.

The knitting and blocking is all done on the Best Friend Bag from Knitty, now I must put the beads on and sew it up. Besides these, I have 1 or 2 more hats, a scarf and 3 more pairs of socks (one of which is partly done, I will post that one soon). Yipe! Can I make it? I signed up for Socktoberfest, since I'm surely going to knit a pair of socks in October.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Found my Red Scarf Pattern!

I think this is going to be my pattern for the Red Scarf Project. I like my scarves reversible (I know, I know, but we all have our little hang-ups, and that's one of mine, so bear with me, 'kay?).

This one has plenty of textural interest without being too tricky to knit. Previously my thought was to try to knit something like this, and honestly I suppose I won't really decide for sure until after I've cast on and knit a bit. Which won't be until January, at the rate my Xmas knitting is going.

ETA -- here's another nice scarf pattern, one designed specifically for the Red Scarf Project. Decisions, decisions.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sock Eggs

Ever since I saw this post about the usefulness of a darning egg for grafting sock toes (and such a beautiful darning egg!), I wanted one, even though I am very partial to toe-up socks for a number of reasons, one of which is avoiding grafting sock toes.

Imagine my surprise to find I already owned one:
Sock Egg

This was sitting around in an ugly old plastic sewing box that a friend had given to me and DD after his mom passed away. I know I must have seen this before, but it just didn't register before I read Deb's post.

And then I became intrigued and made the mistake of searching Ebay for darning eggs. And found these:
sock darning eggs

I bid $2.25 (I know, such a fortune!) and immediately regretted it. Why was I bringing more crap into the house? We're trying to cut down on our crap! I waited, hoping to be out-bid, but no such luck. I even asked my friend Ang to choose 2 of the 4 for herself, hoping to jinx it (that wasn't very nice of me, was it?), but it didn't jinx it, and these are supposed to be on their way to me as we speak. Still, I feel better knowing that 2 of them will immediately leave the house again.

I do feel that one of the wonderful things about knitting is the connection with those who have gone before -- even if we try new materials, tools and methods, and do this as a hobby and not a necessity (most of us), the basics are the same and connect us to knitters from earlier times. Not that I feel like a pioneer woman as I knit a sock, but -- well, maybe I do, a tiny bit.


Doing some much-needed and long-overdue cleaning up, I came across these:

What does this little pic tell us? Many things:

1. AuntieAnn used to crochet. I made that very baby blanket pictured there (not, thank goodness, the hat). One disaster of a knit sweater (together with almost all of my leftover bits of yarn) was turned into a granny-square afghan to good effect. I don't really remember how to crochet anymore, although I seem to keep finding hooks about the place. I showed the lack of imagination to make the blanket in the very colors shown in the pattern pic (then again, it was a Cal baby, and those are sorta baby versions of the Cal colors).

2. Yarn manufacturers used to have the bravado to put not only "Moth-Resistant" but "Mothproof" on their ballbands.

3. I had the good habit of saving ballbands back then. I have had to re-learn this good habit lately.

4. Even way back then, I preferred wool to acrylic.

Those patterns are from this booklet:
Crochet for Babies

There are some very, very scary patterns in this booklet, some of which I think I have seen featured on "You Crocheted What?". I have lost touch with the parents of the baby who received the "Daffy-down-Dilly" blanket, so I don't know how it fared.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Magic Loop Cautionary Tale

I'm using this yarn from this vendor to knit socks for my BIL, although their pic makes it look lighter and more purple than in real life. In real life it is darker and more red, as you can see here.
Fancy Sock

Anyway, here's the cautionary tale -- I carefully cast on 80 teensy stitches, slipped the stitches to the appropriate ends of the one needle (I'm a magic loop convert), joined, and then -- knit on one end of the needle about 3 rows back and forth without ever knitting the stitches on the other end of the needle. I would not have supposed that this was even possible, but for some reason I started sort of inside-out (with the business ends of the needles farthest from me instead of nearest to me) and I think that may be why. Or maybe I should really only attempt things like this in a quiet place, all alone. Or maybe I'm just meant to knit toe-up, I dunno. Sorry, no pic of that travesty. I feel sometimes that I'm living that saying about inspiring others by setting a bad example.

I spose this happened cuz I was in a class and making an effort to participate and listen attentively and cast-on for a cuff-down sock (I can hear your gasp of surprise from here) all at the same time. The pattern I chose for my BIL's sock is the "Gentleman's Fancy Sock" from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush, and I thought that I might as well learn to do cuff-down socks.

I don't know if this same mistake is possible with 2 circ's, but I perhaps it is -- anything is possible.

I recovered and now have knit the 2x2 ribbed cuff plus the beginnings of the leg decrease rounds for calf shaping, and I think the yarn is very pretty. It's maroon and black bi-color (very manly, don't you think?).

So far I'm very happy with this pattern and this yarn. We'll have to see how I fare with the heel, heels have been the hardest part of sock-knitting by far for me. OTOH, I have yet to graft a toe, so I don't want to speak too soon.

I'm very intrigued by the "forethought heel" from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch, especially the way it looks with self-striping yarn, although many in blogland have called it "too fiddly" and worse. Still, I want to try that on my next pair of self-striping socks.

Knit on!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Lisa Knits

You may remember Lisa, my first knitting guru.

Lisa just picked up her entries from the Minnesota State Fair, where she collected beaucoup ribbons (and without resorting to knitting sock monkey dresses, either)!

Here is her gorgeous sweater that garnered a 2nd place ribbon:

Sigh -- I wish I could do that.

And here she is modeling all of her entries:

Way to go, Lisa! Congratulations!

Best Friend Bag -- Blocking!

I finished the knitting on the Knitty "Best Friend" bag, and here it is blocking:

Before this I haven't truly blocked anything, ever, since the only time I tried it was a too-large acrylic sweater I made for my Mom when I was in college (blushes in embarassment). I knit yoked sweaters in the round and didn't block them. I crocheted a granny-square afghan and didn't block it. I knit a cabled pullover for a friend's toddler and didn't block it (shoulda, though). Lately I have mostly made scarves, hats and socks, and although I know that some would look askance, I don't really feel compelled to block them.

But there is no way this was going to go unblocked, since unblocked it would look all shrunken up at the bottom and stretched to attach to the purse frame at the top. Not the elegant look I was going for.

As I was pinning it out, I kept thinking of this post from Everwhelming Liz, in which she triumphantly pins her mittens into submission. Ha! Take that, you cables, and lie flat!

Today the tip of my right index finger is numb from pushing those pins through the knitting, towel, plastic bag and carpet and into the carpet pad. The knitting has taken its revenge on me.

Here's a close-up of the cable pattern:

Once it dries and the fog lifts, hopefully I will be able to get a decent outside shot, but drying on the floor, somehow there is not very good lighting. Where are those studio lights when I need them?

Next up on this will be sewing on the beads and then mattress-stitching it together, then sewing the lining, and assembling the whole shebang. Then I might make some matching fingerless gloves from the leftover yarn, putting this same (or a similar) cable pattern onto the gloves (hopefully they won't pull in so much that they ruin the fit). That pattern calls for this weight yarn, so that's a good start.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Best Friend Bag

I'm making the Knitty "Best Friend" bag in turqoise DK weight wool yarn for one of my Xmas projects.
I've got the purse frame, the yarn, the beads, the lining fabric and even the thread.
Best Friend Bag
The knitting is a little over 3/4 done, then I will need to block the heck out of it and sew it up. This is a very fun knit, I love how the cabling is coming out. I'm not especially looking forward to all of the finishing bits, though, I have to admit.

And I wonder if it will stay blocked to size? Should I put in some sort of stiffener? The cabling does pull in strongly. I guess I'll have a better idea after blocking it.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Moebius Scarf the Third

Here's a recent addition to the Xmas stash:
Tan Moebius
It's based on Cat Bordhi's Arrow Lace Pathways scarf from her "Treasury of Magical Knitting", but I made it a bit short (so's the intended recipient) and left off the "fingers" that she uses in the bind-off. This was a very fast and fun knit, using less than one hank of Cascade 220. (I just looked up the yardage, and duh! it's 220 yds.)

Here's a close-up of the stitch pattern:
Moebius arrow

I really like how the stitch pattern came out. I had to pick something a little interesting to knit, since the color (requested by the intended recipient) is, how to say this, re-e-ally boring. I would definitely make this again, in a different color, though.

Anyone need a hank of tan yarn? I have an extra.

"Magic" socks

I'm calling these "Mom's Magic Socks", because on these I first learned to do a Magic Cast-on for toe-up socks, and use the Magic Loop method. And the socks are for my mom. She picked the yarn. Can you tell that she likes black?

Magic Socks

They do not have any blue, despite how they look, the stripes are all grey or black. I couldn't get them to lie flat, so the heels look very weird.

It's Regia Mini-Ringel, color 5215, fingering weight yarn, knit toe-up (natch) on 40" US#1 (2.5mm) Addi Turbos. The top one has a plain short-row heel, which required some stitching to close the gaps, and the bottom one has a short-row heel with the addition of 2 rows knit across all the short rows, picking up all the wraps, and then you short-row back up. I got that idea from this pattern from Elann, and it did help keep the gaps smaller. I'm still not completely happy with my short-row heels, but convinced that there's a good method out there for me. I think I'm going to try the Sherman heel next.

I also broke down and ordered Sensational Knitted Socks, by Charlene Schurch. It sounds like a great book for me, since I have been frustrated trying to find sock patterns for men's socks in fingering weight yarn, and especially information on sizing (what if I'm trying to surprise someone in the family with socks, and I know his shoe size, but I don't want to ask him to measure his feet?). Sock patterns for men's socks that I find on the web seem to tend toward heavy yarn (worsted weight socks, anyone? sounds too thick and warm for most days 'round here), and even if they don't they vary quite widely in the size of the finished socks, and yet they often offer no more size information than "men's medium", and ask me to "knit to within x inches of the desired length" before starting the heel or toe shaping, offering no clue as to how long a typical size 9-1/2 foot might be. I have not found a good reference for this sort of thing on the internet, either. This book claims to have it.

So far the couple of pairs of "real" socks (with heels) that I've knit have been entirely constructed with info and patterns that I've picked up free from the internet, and I'm pretty impressed with all of the great, free info that's out there. Hopefully the sizing and patterning info that's supposed to be in this book will round out the sock info that I need for a long, long time.