Auntie Ann Knits

Monday, October 30, 2006

Oh, Brother!

A finished object! Well, I suppose it would be more fair to call this one-half of a finished object, since the goal is a pair of socks:

Sock 1

This looks kinda weird cuz that's my foot modelling the first of my brother's socks, in lavender (per request) and black marled yarn from Lang Jawoll. And cuz it's not blocked, which is much more evident in the photo below.

It's a basic toe-up sock, using the magic cast-on and ribbing almost just like the Madder Ribbed Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush, but not quite. Mine is K2, P1, K5, P1, and then on the leg portion I did a twist of the two K2 stitches every 5 rows. For the twist, K2tog, leaving stitches on left needle, K1 through first stitch, lift both stitches from left needle. For the ribbed top portion, it was simple to switch to K2, P1. It doesn't show up terribly well, but you can kind of see it in this photo:

I threw in the twist because I had admired these kilt hose, but when I knit that pattern on the leg I thought it looked awful in this yarn, and the holes came out much too large for my taste. The twist gives it a tiny bit of the same look, but without the holes. I would normally want to have my cables stand out a bit more, but here they're just fine.

The whole heel saga is in the last post. Nuff said about that.

I've cast on for the second sock, knit the toe, and have started the Madder Rib on the top of the foot.

The baby for whom DD and I were knitting the Log Cabin baby blanket has arrived -- very early! But our current deadline is the shower on Nov. 12th, which hopefully the baby will be able to attend. We have at least 9 of 12 squares done, then the weaving of ends, seaming and selecting and attaching backing fabric. And just in the nick of time, I saw this post about seaming. Perfect! If I just put off all of my projects long enough, no doubt someone will post the answers to all of my questions. It's a working theory, anyway.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Widdershins Hell Heel

When I first typed in the title of the heel photo to upload to Flickr, I accidentally typed in "Widdershins Hell", which is an apt description of my weekend.

However, I have finally tamed that bad boy, and here is the good progress I am making on my brother's sock:

Here is my Widdershins heel, with which I am very pleased:
Widdershins Heel
Look, Ma, no holes!

And here you can see the fetching little cable design I have started on the leg portion:

This sock is at 9 st./in., and is for my brother, so it's 72 stitches around. The Widdershins pattern is for a women's sock at 7 st./in., so it's 54 stitches around. You all know what this meant -- math!

This post by the designer of the Widdershins pattern explains a bit of the process she went through in designing the heel, and was very helpful. However, this part: "I actually came up with an equation to figure out the approximate number of heel stitches. For a round heel with a flap n stitches wide, the number of stitches below the heel turning is h(n) where h(k) = k for k is less than n/3 and 4+h(k-6) otherwise", made no sense to me at all.

Now, I don't consider myself math-phobic, or even math-impaired on most days. I took calculus, got an A in it, too. I even took an extra math class in high school that met before school. For three whole years, people. I'm geeky enough to have knit Moebius scarves with Fibonacci stripe sequences, and a Klein bottle hat, you may recall. But, WTF?

So I had to resort to staring at the completed BIL sock heel and figuring out its construction (blindly following the pattern resulted in a nice sock heel, but no real understanding on my part as to how it was constructed), and then -- math. I spent hours (well, while watching a movie, too) figuring out the stitch counts on various pieces of the Widdershins heel, and what the corresponding counts should be on my heel, and how they would be joined together, fiddled with it yet a bit more after waking up the next morning, tinked the mess I had tried earlier, and then -- knit the heel. And hallelujah, it worked! I have given the heel back a lovely eye-of-partridge stitch pattern, taken the Madder rib pattern I did on the top of the foot all the way around the leg, and started a tiny 2-stitch cable pattern to mimic the look of the Kilt Hose leg pattern that I had tried and rejected, but without the holes that I was disliking so much.

Some time later I'll post the numbers I used, when I have knit the second sock and have more confidence in them (a tiny bit of fudging was required in this one, which could perhaps be worked out a bit better in the second sock).

The main "aha" moment was when I realized that a top-down sock has a heel turn that decreases a portion of the heel flap stitches down to some smaller number of stitches, thus knitting a little triangular (or, more geekily precisely, trapezoidal) piece that creates the little cup at the base of the heel, and that this sock's heel turn would need to reverse that process, increasing where the other one decreased.

This is Lang Jawoll fingering weight yarn, colors lavender and black (and yes, my brother requested lavender as the color of his to-be-determined knitted item). I am using one Addi Turbo 40" circ., size US1, magic-loop style.

This is a very nice heel, but would I use it again? I don't know yet. The main purpose of this design seems to be avoiding picking up stitches, since there are other toe-up flap-and-gusset heel designs out there, but you have to pick up stitches. On the other hand, it is nice-looking, and now that I've done the math . . .

Monday, October 16, 2006

Father, Brother & Son Socks

I am using this yarn to make "Father and Son" socks from the Fall '06 IK. But I think this yarn wants to be something else. It's too marled to show the pattern details well.

The pattern has chevrons down the front and back, like so:

And cables down the left and right side, like so:

These are terrible pix, but even so I think they show the problem. The contrast between the black and the lavender is too much, and obscures the pattern in a way that I think the marled yarn that I used for BIL's socks might not have.

Maia's post today about the process of designing a sock seemed to call forth my inner knitter, who had this to say: "This yarn and this pattern do not go together! If I make cables, I want them to POP OUT, baby! Stop struggling to convince yourself that these are not terrible, and start over already!" She is such an opinionated witch, sometimes.

Make no mistake, this is a very nice yarn, and a very nice pattern. I just think that each one needs something else that the other cannot give it. Like some couples I know.

And the yarn wants to be knit on a #1 at a slightly tighter gauge (this is knit on a #2).

By striking coincidence, I really love the pattern that Maia used to demonstrate the sock design process in her post today. For a man's sock, however, I think I would substitute one of the "make 1" increases for the YO, to avoid the holes.

However, perhaps the most important thing for me to take away from Maia's lesson is this: if I skip swatching with the justification that a sock is small enough to be a swatch, then I'd darn well better be ready to treat it as a swatch, and start over if I don't like the results.

Good-bye for now, Father and Son Socks.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

At last, an FO

Finally finished the BIL socks!

Look at that horrible toe on the right one!

The heel, now, that's not too bad:

This pair is my first cuff-down pair, which for some reason I feared. I feared the flap-and-gusset heel because the written instructions didn't make any sense to me as I read them. I feared, dreaded even, grafting the toe, because, well, it involved grafting. You know what? The heel was easy, easier even than the short-row heels I had been struggling with. The grafting? By the time that I re-did that horrible toe (Yes, I did. Thanks for your advice on that, Liz. I would post a pic, but why? It looks just like the other one.), I was very comfortable with the grafting. I get it now. Grafting is fun! (well, that might be going a little too far.)

I grafted the second one (the non-horrible one) using the "Sock Toe Chimney" technique of Lucy Neatby, including the advice to start in the middle and graft outward. That worked OK, although the working yarn pierced the "chimney" yarn and got snagged, which made it hard to snug up. When I re-did the horrible one, I put in a life-line (these teensy stitches can be hard to pick up, ya know), ripped back, and to graft I just started at one end and went to the other, then pulled the working yarn down to the inside, eliminating the "ear" on that end, and went back and secured the "ear" on the other end to the inside. I may actually like the cuff-down way better, now. Still, I like the toe-up sock for not giving me any gauge anxiety -- I just increase until the gauge that I measure across the toe gives me the circumference I want, and go from there.

To recap, this is Lang Jawoll fingering weight yarn. This pattern is the "Gentleman's Fancy Sock" from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush, knit on an Addi Turbo 40" #1 circ, Magic-Loop style.

ETA: mods -- I had to do one additional pattern repeat to get the length specified in the foot. I truncated the toe, the pattern called for decreasing down to a total of 12 stitches around. The normal-looking toe has 24 stitches around. The length still looks to me to be about right for my BIL.

And I've already cast on for my brother's socks, I've chosen "Father and Son Socks" from the Fall 2006 IK. It looks to have just enough variety in the pattern to make knitting it interesting, but not too hard or time-consuming. And the adult pattern is in his size. Hopefully I'll get gauge -- I plunged right on in, figuring a sock is small enough to be a gauge swatch.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

10 Knitterly Things You Didn't Know about Me, a meme

I don't know if I can think of 10. I haven't been blogging for very long, but I seem to have blabbed a lot.

1. My BIL, the intended recipient of the Gentleman's Fancy Sock, is not legally my BIL. His marriage to my brother was (1) among the first to be performed at SF City Hall when they were doing that a couple of years ago, and (2) among those voided by the California Supreme Court. Not many people can say that their marriage was voided by the California Supreme Court. Well, several thousand people, but still.

2. I admit to having knit fun-fur scarves. And a poncho, which I already 'fessed up to. I like to wear my purple and black fun-fur scarf, it livens up my black leather jacket. I donated a couple of fun-fur scarves to the school fund-raising auction the year before last, and then had to beg some of my friends to bid on them, as they were going bid-less. So I inflicted fun-fur scarves, which they had to pay for, on my friends. I never see them wearing them, although they claim that they do.

3. I love cables. I want (badly!) to knit myself Rogue or the Central Park Hoodie or this cardigan from Knit Simple magazine.

4. I have no interest in spinning. I do sometimes read about it on others' blogs, but I have no real interest in doing it myself. That time would be better spent knitting, in my opinion. I suppose I'm missing out, but for now I'd rather knit.

5. I have no interest in dyeing yarn. I often don't like the results I see in blogland from hand-dyed yarns. I think the pooling and flashing would really bother me in my own knitted projects, and the knitting with two ends thing? Sounds like way too much trouble. While the yarns themselves look very beautiful, I often don't like the way they look knitted up. So I have never acquired any hand-dyed yarns, although I do find some of the tonal ones that are variations on one color rather appealing.

6. I have a big stash of self-striping sock yarn. The Yarn Harlot said in her third book something like, "apparently I am dim enough to be amused by watching my sock yarn change color". Me, too, and I consider myself in very good company. I like the self-striping yarn that Scout dyed and just knit up, but dyeing itself still looks like too much trouble to me.

7. I love purple, blue, true red (not orange-y red), some pinks, and black. I hate most yellows and oranges (at least on me), and can tolerate certain greens, in combination with other colors I like. I'm not fond of brown, I prefer gray as a neutral. This is another of my problems with so much hand-dyed yarn I see -- it combines colors I love with colors I hate. I'm not opinionated or anything.

8. There are 78 feeds in my Bloglines subscription list. This is way too many for any sane person, let alone a wife and mother with a full-time job, not to mention leading a Scout troop, fund-raising for the school, volunteering to help with the school play (cuz DD is in it and I have to), running a book club and being a member of a knitting club.

9. I sometimes blog, knit and read blogs when I should be working. No surprise there, doesn't everyone?

10. I taught myself to knit Continental watching the videos at (thanks, Amy!), and I mostly knit Continental now, particularly if there's any ribbing or other switching between knit and purl, although sometimes I do like to switch off between Continental and English. DD still knits English, and I taught my mom to knit English, since I think it's easier for a new knitter to learn. This last one is a bit of a cheat, I think I've blogged about it before, but it still sometimes amazes me that I switched so thoroughly. I automatically pick up the yarn to knit Continental.

So there you have it! Thanks to Grumperina for starting this meme!

Oh, and:

11. This is the first meme I've done, knitting or otherwise.

Socktoberfest -- My Sock History

I've joined Lolly's Socktoberfest celebration of socks, since I have a bunch of socks to make for Xmas, and it sounds like fun anyway.

Here are my answers to her questions on My Sock History:

* When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?

I taught myself, starting with some free patterns on the internet, such as the free KnitPicks pattern for their "Parade" sport-weight sock yarn, plus some help from Wendy's generic toe-up sock pattern. I started that first pair in July of this year, but I don't think I finished the second one for several months, finishing my Mom's Xmas anklet socks in between.

* What was your first pair? How have they "held up" over time?

Sock 1 & 2 on
Here they are, and they're still pretty new so I can't say how they're holding up, they've only been through the wash a couple of times.

* What would you have done differently?

On that pair, I would have matched the stripes more carefully, and done matching bulls'-eye forethought heels. Cuz I'm that way. Also, I have bought three sock-knitting books now, Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch, and Knitting Vintage Socks and Folk Socks by Nancy Bush, so now I hope to make more elegant and sophisticated socks (when I'm not simple-mindedly making self-striping socks). So far I have used Knitting Vintage Socks the most, for BIL's pair, but I hope to use Sensational Knitted Socks a lot as I get better at making my own selections of stitch pattern and sock construction.

* What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?

I really like the yarn that I'm using for my BIL's socks:
First Sock Done

It's Lang Jawoll fingering weight, dark red and black barber-pole stripe, and I really like the way it knits up -- enough marling for some interest, without distracting too much from the texture of the pattern. This would be fine for a more intricately textured pattern, and I'm going to make my brother some baby cable socks from the same yarn, in a different color, for Xmas. It's a little splitty, though. And I still like self-striping sock yarn, I guess I'm easily amused.

* Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?

I'm a Magic Loop convert! But otherwise it would be 5 DPNs. Never again with 4 DPNs.

* Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)

I have yet to find a short-row heel that I can execute well, but I'm still trying since I prefer toe-up socks. I also want to try the toe-up flap-and-gusset heel, such as in Widdershins.

* How many pairs have you made?

Let's see, um, TWO. But I have two more pairs about 2/3 done each, DD's socks and my BIL's socks. And I am wanting to make two more before Xmas. Yes, I'm nuts.

Thank you, Lolly, for hosting Socktoberfest and getting us all talking about our sock-knitting! I'm having a blast with it. Last night at book club I was working on DD's socks, and our hostess's daughter said, "I'd like a pair of blue and purple socks"! I had to tell her that my knitting agenda is all booked up through Xmas, so she let it drop. But lots of people are intrigued when they see me knitting a sock. Her sister had asked me how I made the heel (I simply told her it was a short-row heel, didn't have the chance to really go into the whole thing!).

Anyway, thanks again, and happy sock-knitting to everyone!