Dear Gauge: WTF?

Her Royal Catness seems to be under the impression that I am her personal sofa, and thus I have had to adjust my knitting to accommodate her.

Too much catness

In other news, while my brain gnaws over the ideas for the next sock design, I cast on for something relatively brainless: Top-down socks for the Husbeast. Originally, I’d thought that they would be another pair of the “Hermione’s Everyday Socks” by Erica Leuder, as they are unisexually-delicious, but started to realize that my gauge was sitting somewhere around “gianormous” on the relative scale of “will this fit the Husbeast’s feet?”

For those of you who need a translation on that, my gauge was sitting around 6.5 to 7 sts per inch using 2.5mm needles.  Which is weird.  Usually my gauge with 2.5mm needles is a relatively solid 8 sts per inch. I was noticing a wee bit of gauge weirdness with the Weeping Angel socks, but I chalked it up to compensating for the recent heat and humidity. The past couple of days have been cooler and more temperate, so that isn’t a factor. It could be the yarn, but I’ve used similar yarns before with little to no problem. About the only thing that’s changed is the type of needle I’ve been using. I’ve been using my Knitter’s Pride Dreamz wooden circulars, and it seems that they may be the problem.

In order to test that, I switched to the 2.25mm Addi needles that my Mum got me for Yule (see, Mum?  Told you they’d come in handy!). As I suspected, my gauge went to a very predictable 9 sts per inch. This means that if I go to my “usual” 2.5mm Addi Turbo needles, I should land right at 8 sts per inch, and my 2.5mm Knitter’s Pride needles are possibly closer to 2.75mm. Which is a shame because even though they weren’t expensive, they were surprisingly comfortable to knit with. I may eventually need to make a trip to Pudding Yarn downtown & pick up a pair of the 32″ cable 2.25mm needles.

It also means that I cast on Robin’s new socks about 3 or 4 times, and probably knit the equivalent of a full sock leg just on gauge testing. It also means that I’ve had to put more brain power than I normally would have to expend on a pair of socks that were meant to be relatively “brainless”.  As a result, I will be switching back to my 2.5mm Addi Turbos and likely knitting these as very very plain socks. The most vanilla of the vanilla.  The yarn will do all the talking on this one.

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But then, that might not be a bad thing.

(and yes, that’s a copy of Alice Yu’s “Socktopus” in the background. At some point, when I’m off my designing kick & have found “the right yarn”, I have plans to knit a pair of Kwalla)

Almost a week later…

I really do try to be modest. I always feel weird giving myself a pat on the back or trying to promote the things I do. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t feel like what I do is anything out of the ordinary, or if it’s because I’ve been trained for critique, but I never really know when I’ve done a great job, and I have no idea how to accept compliments.

Who is Number One?

So yeah. That was the Weeping Angel pattern sometime on Tuesday evening. My most “successful” pattern to date had gained something like 300 downloads on Ravelry over the course of about 5 years. Weeping Angel had over 500 in a 24-hour span, and that was the test-knit without any kind of example pictures. That, I guess, is the power of the Whovian Fanbase. Even so, after adding a few example pictures of the first “real” sock off the needles, we’re over 800 downloads.

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I really do have to thank Sherri and Jennifer, who have been my first-out-of-the-gate test knitters.  Both of them found almost the same “bugs” in the pattern at the same times. Sherri, who is local, would text my phone, and at almost the same time, I would get a Ravelry message from Jennifer.  It’s almost scary how in-sync those two are!  They also caught quite a few things that I had missed, partially due to my text editor’s autocorrect, and partially due to having worked on the pdf so much that I was glossing over things. I believe that Chelsea is going to be casting on her testknit soon, so she’ll be able to see if there are any errors that the other two may have overlooked.

Reactions on Ravelry have, so far, been really favourable (yes, I’m prone to understatement when it comes to my work). To the point where I’m not sure how to take the praise.  All I can say is “Thank you!” My own test knit pair went really quickly once I found the time to actually knit them (work has had its challenges this past week), and I have to admit that if I didn’t know the designer personally (duh) I’d be flogging them all over the interwebs as a really cool pattern that people really needed to try out and OMG the heel expansion is SO COOL.

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You get the picture.  The kitty, however, is unimpressed.  The recent humidity and inherent furry-ness of kitties do not mix well, so she is taking advantage of today’s much cooler and overcast weather to get caught up on some sleep that does not involve snoozing directly under the ceiling fan in the living room.

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In the meantime, I’ve started spinning again (more on that later) and when I’m not working on that, I’m getting more work done on that second HitchHiker scarf I cast on back in April.

And yes. I’m thinking of the next sock design. 🙂

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Preliminary Pictures!

Pretty-ish things until I can snag a model and The Good Camera…

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At some point I’m going to put a hand-lettered sign near that angel with the words “Don’t Blink” calligraphed or somehow etched onto it. Between it and the zombie in the back garden, our yard is gaining “character”.

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As an aside: Migraines are not fun. Probably best to steer clear of the trigger foods from now on. Ow. Going to go hide from the sun now…

Don’t Blink (no, really)

I know, I know, I’ve been coy with what I’ve been working on…but I really wanted to get most of the work out of the way before I decided to share. It’s a pattern of Whovian inspiration — the wings of the Weeping Angels in Blink, The Time of Angels, and Flesh and Stone. It’s taken at least 3 tries to get it right.

I’ve tossed the testknit pattern onto Ravelry so that anyone who is interested can give it a look and a try. I’m hoping I’ve knocked out most of the bugs, but it’s possible that I’ve under-explained something, or missed something else…etc.

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I would love to see pictures if anyone gives the pattern a try! I will probably corral one of my friends to do the primary modelling for the final pattern, but am always open to other ideas if a great picture comes along (and of course, you would be asked first, as I’m a big supporter of creative copyright).

One of my biggest worries is that I’ve unknowingly copied someone else’s work, but I think I’ve managed to make the pattern as original as possible. Robin has been watching my progress, from the first attempt to the latest prototypes, and can attest to the fact that I’ve worked on little else for the past month.

Please remember that this is still in testknit phase, and as such, there may be errors in the PDF.

Pictures soon! 🙂

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What’s going on

I know that last week I mentioned I’d post up a picture of the sock I started at the Henry Rollins Spoken Word event.  Since I cast off my self-designed socks, I’ve been working on these almost exclusively, and the colours are ridiculously fun.  I’ve just turned the heel on sock #1, and am about to start the leg.

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As an aside, I *did* finish the socks I’m designing, but I think I knit the lace pattern upside-down.  So I may need to bust out yet another pair of lace socks. Not that there’s anything wrong with this…but I may need to order in the right yarn for the job. Wonder if I can get my hands on a skein of Lorna’s Laces “Bigger on the inside” colourway?  Though, really, weeping angels really should be grey…

Anyhow, while I was outside taking sock pictures, I also caught a few snaps of the garden.  This is another “work in progress”, as I haven’t gotten to weeding as much as I should.

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And yes.  There *is* a guy crawling out of our garden!  His name is Bob (though we’re considering renaming him Pete).  He’s our Garden Zombie.

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I’m hoping none of the neighbourhood kids have bedroom windows that overlook our garden…

Nice Cans…

I’m one of those knitters who knits for her family. I tend to be pretty humble about my talents, but having had a role model like my Granny Martin (who knit for her husband, daughter, son, their spouses and their children), it’s natural that I would knit for the people I care about. It started very innocently…I wanted to knit a pair of socks for my Mum. Then it sort of expanded as the other Parental Figures in the family expressed interest.  It led to an interesting question.

How do you wrap something that looks squooshably soft like these? Bear in mind, these aren’t necessarily gifts for others – at least two of those pairs of socks have found their way into my own sock drawer. They’re just an example of how…”poofy”…yarn can look when it’s all knit up.

Now, I’m sure I could just use some wrapping paper just like most people, but I find that wrapping paper and knitting don’t necessarily get along well.  Wrapping paper often becomes punctured and ripped when encasing squishable items. I could probably find some small gift boxes, but again, that’s a lot of effort to go to.

I found cans. The local Michael’s craft store tends to carry them around this time of year. These particular cans have been used multiple times. The deal I generally make with the family is this: If you get a can, count yourself lucky because you’ve probably earned yourself a pair of socks. If you want another pair next year, return the can to me. I have only ever had a can go walkabout once, and it came back to me in a hurry when the recipient remembered that if the can doesn’t come back, he doesn’t get more socks.

The benefit to this method is this: You know who wants and appreciates what you’re doing, you have an attractive way to display a gift, you reuse and recycle your wrapping materials, and you build a little anticipation for what’s to come.  What’s not to like about all of that?

I’d love to know just what solutions other people have had for wrapping oddly shaped presents, particularly knitting. Anyone have a good solution for wrapping shawls? I can see them being particularly difficult to disguise…

Sunday Sock Class: The Toe

 

So last week we completed the heel and gusset, and started our way down the foot to the toe.

First things first, let’s rearrange our stitches again so that all the sole stitches are on one needle, and all the instep stitches are on the other. This will make it easier to start our decreases for the toe.

Knit across the sole until you’re 3 stitches from the end. k2tog, k1.
On the instep, k1, ssk, knit to 3 stitches from the end, k2tog, k1.
On the sole, k1, ssk, knit all the way around the sock to 3 stitches from the end of the sole.
Wash, rinse, repeat!

Decrease until you’re down to 13 stitches per needle (or, if you prefer a slightly longer, more tapered toe, 11 stitches). Cut or snap your yarn about an arm’s length from the sock so that you have room to graft the edges of the toe together.

Do yourself a favour right here: Count your stitches and make sure that you have the same amount per needle. Yes, I still make this mistake, and I have grafted many sock toes in my past.

I’m not going to walk you through grafting, at least not at the moment. There are lots of other great tutorials out there that can explain it a lot better, particularly this walkthrough from Knitty (which is the one I refer back to the most). The technical term is called “Kitchener Stitch“, and it does a beautiful job of making the sock look seamless. You can already see this in the picture above.

And here as well.

When you’re finished grafting, draw the yarn through the toe of the sock to the inside and weave in your ends.

Congratulations! You now have a finished sock! If you didn’t cast on a second sock on another pair of needles at the beginning of the month, now is the time to cast on and get cracking on making that sock a friend.

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Executive Decisions

I tried. Honestly, I did. I snagged my Regia and proceeded to cast on 125 little tiny stitches using a provisional cast-on. And then I did it again because I wasn’t happy with the way my provisional cast-on turned out. Then I muttered and cursed because I wanted to get that second set of 125 provisionally-held stitches off the needle I was using and onto waste yarn…and then I decided I didn’t like what the Regia was doing and decided to switch to some nice variegated Cascade, and the thought of going through that hell again just made me call a stop to the whole crazy endeavour.

That is why I cast on for a pair of very simple toe-up self-striping socks with toes and (afterthought) heels made out of black Kroy. I’m using some yarn that was tucked away in the stash: Schoppel-Wolle Sockenklecks Edition Tausendschön. I have no idea what that means, whatsoever. All I know is that it came already knit up as a scarf. I gather that the idea is that you wear and unravel the scarf while you knit it into socks. Myself, I unravelled it first, re-skeined it, washed it in SOAK, and dried it by hanging it off the shower bar in the main bathroom. It stayed skeined up for the past 6 months or so, and only last night made it into the nice puck you see there. It’s really really soft and nice to knit with.

I’m very surprised that there aren’t more socks knit from this stuff.  It’s pretty nice. Maybe folks preferred to have the scarf! Myself, I love me some stripey socks. I need even more stripey socks. Going to have to do something about that.

The other thing on my needles right now, at least that I’m actively working on, is a scarf. I call it my “rescue scarf”. I recently changed departments at work, and had to go through the bin that all my stuff was stored in. I found things that were over 8 years old in that bin; thankfully nothing that could decompose. This was what I considered my “emergency knitting”, for those days when I forgot to bring my day-to-day knitting. Yes, it has happened that I’ve gotten to work and realized that I’d forgotten my knitting at home. I essentially rescued the scarf from the bin, brought it home and transferred it to straight needles for faster knitting.  Yes, I said faster. I find scarves go faster on straight needles, at least when i don’t need to do a lot of silly things like lace or cables.

At any rate, the yarn is Paton’s Shetland Chunky, which I think has a bit of Alpaca in it. For all I know, it’s 100% pure acrylic, but it feels really nice to knit with so I rather like it. The pattern is the ever-popular One Row Scarf by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. Really easy scarf to knit with a very attractive finish. I like it as a gentleman’s scarf, as it seems to go well with everything from a ski jacket to a dress coat.

I figure that I’ll take it easy on this year’s lead-in to Yule, and if I get the urge to cast those Sidewinder socks on again? Well, we’ll see what happens 🙂

Sunday Sock Class: The Heel

If you were following along last week, we started off by knitting a cuff and leg in the round.

 

This week we shall continue on by creating a heel. The main thing to remember is that your leg plus your foot is a long cylinder with a bend in it (actually, if you really think about it, it’s a cone, but we’ll just ignore that for the moment*). That bend is your heel. There are a variety of ways that we could make that bend in our tube of fabric, but we’re just going to go over one of the simplest methods out there: the Heel Flap.

First off, if you’re using the magic loop method, you have half your stitches on needle one, half on needle two. Rearrange stitches so that there are 24 stitches on needle one, 26 on needle two. We’re going to create the flap that covers the back of your heel.

Some easy abbreviations:
k = knit
p = purl
ssk = slip, slip knit
p2tog = purl two together
sl = slip stitches purlwise
[directions] = treat what’s in the bracket as one repeating unit

K across needle one. Turn.

1. K1, [sl1, p1] across to the last stitch, k1. Turn.
2. Knit to end of needle. Turn.

Repeat these two rows until you’ve completed 24 rows or your flap is a square. You’ll have little bumps down the side of the flap in which you can pick up your stitches. Some directions instruct you to slip that first stitch of each row rather than knitting it, then recommending you pick up your stitches in the gap created. I find that this leaves little tiny holes down the edge of my sock. Picking up stitches in the bumps gives me a much nicer finish to the edge of the flap.

You’re halfway there! Now we’re going to create the little cup that holds the bottom of your heel.

1. k1, p12, p2tog, p1
2. sl1, k3, ssk, k1. Turn
3. sl1, p to 1 st before gap, p2tog, p1. Turn.
4. sl1, k to 1 st before gap, ssk, k1. Turn.

Repeat rows 3 and 4 until you’ve decreased all the extra stitches. You should now have 14 stitches on your right needle.

Pick up and knit the stitches down the side of the heel flap using the bumps. You may need to pick up an extra stitch or two in the gap between the last bump and the first instep stitch.

Place markers after the first instep stitch, and before the last instep stitch. Knit across, then pick up the same amount of stitches up the other side of the heel flap.  Knit 7 of the heel stitches. Rearrange your stitches so that this is the new start of round and your stitches are divided equally.

Start decreasing!
1. Knit to 3 sts before the first marker. k2tog and keep knitting around to next marker. k1, ssk, knit to end of round.
2. Knit all the stitches on the next round.

Repeat these two rounds until you’ve decreased back down to a grand total of 50 stitches around again (25 stitches per needle).

Remember when I told you that you could do some social knitting or put in a DVD because you would be knitting around in circles for awhile?  Yep.  You’re going to do that again. Stop when you’re about 2.5 inches from the desired length of the foot.  We’ll finish this off next weekend!

 

* and with that, I channel my Dad. When you grow up in the same household as two art college grads (three, if you count my brother by the time we hit our mid-20’s), you get an art lesson every time you draw a doodle. Dad is notorious for the lesson in breaking shapes down to their component parts. Give him a pencil and tell him to explain a hand to you sometime. Bonus points if you can get him interested in this little experiment after a couple of glasses of Scotch (this doesn’t happen often, and generally takes exceptional skill and timing). I love you, Daddy 🙂

See that? That’s the vein throbbing in my forehead…

I was feeling very confident that today I would be showing off a cast-on post for my December socks. Unfortunately, I’m still working on my purple Sleepy Hollow socks. I’d like to get them done by Yule, so they’re taking up a lot of my time.

See that?  That’s a turned heel! I was very happy that I was on the way to the toe when I picked up the original sock and noticed something.

Yeah. The part that says “work instep chart round as established over instep stitches…” I kinda overlooked that and just continued on in pattern. That sound you hear is me, banging my head against the wall in frustration.

So I’ve ripped back. Again. And I have some stitches to pick up before attempting that heel again.

Let me remind you, Purple Socks: I have quit other socks for less. The only reason you’re still on my needles is due to sheer stubbornness.  Smarten up; you have been warned…

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