The Syncopated Alpaca Socks

It’s another Finished Object Friday, and although the Tour de Fleece is in full swing, the FO I am sharing with you today is not a spinning or plying project. It’s a pair of socks.

I call these socks The Syncopated Alpaca Socks because they are my take on Mary Henninger’s Syncopation Socks and are knitted in a scrumptious alpaca yarn from Berroco, Ultra Alpaca Fine. There was no color number or name on the label, so I have no idea what the color is called. I only know that my pictures don’t do it justice.

The Syncopated Alpaca Socks in all their glory!

The original Syncopation Socks are knitted toe-up with a gusset heel. I knitted mine cuff-down with a short row heel and finished them off with a round toe.

For the heel, I gave the Fish Lips Kiss Heel a try. I didn’t do all the measuring, nor did I make the cardboard cut-out because it simply didn’t seem necessary. Since I was knitting the socks cuff down, I simply started the heel when the leg of the sock was the length I wanted it to be. The FLKH is knitted with an inch of plain knitting on the heel stitches of the sock while maintaining the patterning on the instep stitches before beginning the short rows. This is a matter of aesthetics and is something I have done in the past when knitting my usual short-row heels.

The FLKH uses a method for making short rows that doesn’t involve wrapping stitches. Instead, you manipulate stitches from the row below the working stitch, which gives you a pair of stitches that are eventually knitted or purled together. These are called “twin stitches,” and this method of making short rows is sometimes called shadow wrap or shadow twin short rows. When all the decrease and increase rows have been worked, you end up with a very nicely-shaped and well-fitting heel. Sadly, the line of short row stitches isn’t very attractive.

My Fish Lips Kiss Heel close up.

This heel design really does fit better than any other short-row heel I have tried. I normally knit short-row heels on 60% of the stitches on my needles in order to accommodate my high instep. However, I worked this heel on just 50% of the stitches, and it fits me better than any heel I have ever tried. I think the secret is that the way the short rows are worked, you end up with an extra round between the decrease rows and the increase rows. This creates a more rounded heel pocket and hence a better fit.

Although I really don’t like the appearance of the short rows themselves, the fantastic fit more than makes up for the ugly. This is definitely my new go-to short row heel. I’ll take fit over beauty anytime when it comes to my feet. :-)

Tour de France Days 4 and 5

Yes, I know. I’m late posting this update. Here’s the thing. Day 4 started out with our Internet being out. Then, shortly after it finally came back on, we lost power, thanks to a very nasty line of thunderstorms that went through and left thousands without electricity. And day 5 was grocery shopping. Need I day more?

Anyway, here’s what I did day 4 and day 5.

The singles I spun on days 1 and 2 were plied into a beautiful silk 2-ply yarn.

The tussah silk singles I spun on days 1 and 2 and plied on day 3 into a beautiful silk 2-ply yarn were wound onto the niddy noddy on day 4.

I spun up the silk hankies into a lovely singles.

I spun up the silk hankies into a lovely singles on day 4.

Silk caps are like silk hankies except they are shaped differently.

Silk caps are like silk hankies except they are shaped differently.

I got about half the silk hankies spun.

I got about half the silk hankies spun on day 5.

The only difference here is that the bobbin is a bit more full of this lovely Greenwood Fiberworks merino.

The only difference here is that the bobbin is a bit more full of this lovely Greenwood Fiberworks merino.

Today is day 6, and I will be finishing the silk caps and spinning more of the merino. I very much enjoyed spinning the silk hankies, but I’m not so fond of the caps because they are much more difficult to separate than the hankies. Live and learn. :-)

There is a good tutorial on spinning silk hankies here.

Tour de Fleece 2014 Day 3

The third day of the TdF is nearly over. Today I made my first-ever 100% silk 2-ply yarn. I plied the two chunks of tussah silk sliver I spun on days 1 and 2 together to make this beautiful yarn.

Pretty 2-ply silk on the Ladybug

I think next I will try my hand at spinning silk hankies.

I’m also making good progress on my Greenwood Fiberworks merino top that I’m spinning on my Ashford Traveller.

The bobbin is starting to fill up.

I think I’m starting to develop a good rhythm with this fiber, which is improving my consistency. Or maybe not. Regardless, I am enjoying spinning it, and it is going to make a lovely yarn that will knit up into something spectacular. :-)

Tour de Fleece 2014 Day 2

I should have posted this yesterday, but I didn’t, so sue me. :-)

Day 2 wasn’t much different from day one. I took this 12-gram piece of dyed tussah silk sliver

I remembered to weigh the dyed sliver before I started spinning it.

and spun it into this singles.

The colors are very subtle.

I plan to ply it with the singles I spun yesterday on Day 3, which is today. :-)

I also spun more of the Greenwood Fiberworks merino.

The bobbin is getting fuller, but it will hold a lot more.

It’s lovely fiber, but I’m still having difficulty drafting it as evenly as I would like. When I ply it back on itself, though, it looks pretty good. I have a lot of this fiber left to spin, so I will keep plugging away on it. “Plugging away” probably isn’t the correct term to use. I am very much enjoying spinning this fiber, and I’m happy I still have lots left to spin. But I am having a senior moment and just can’t think of the idiom I want. As my dad would have said, Golden years, my ass. More like the rusty tin years. :-)


Tour de Fleece 2014 Day 1

Last year was my very first Tour de Fleece. I went a little overboard and spun up an incredible amount of fiber. This year I decided to take it easy and keep it a bit more low key and laid back.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not challenging myself. I’m on two teams this year, Team Schacht and Team Ashford. For Team Schacht, I am using my beautiful Schacht Ladybug to spin silk. I’ve spun lots of silk blends since I started spinning two years ago, but I have never tried spinning pure silk. So, I bought a Treenway Silks fiber kit from The Woolery, and some Ashland Bay undyed silk hankies,

A box full of silk fiber and a bag of silk hankies

and today I dug in.

I started with the undyed tussah silk sliver, which is a preparation that is very similar to combed top. The fibers are all lined up and the drafting is easy. I spun it all today with my Ladybug set up in Scotch tension using the medium pulley with the drive band in the smaller groove, which is a ratio of 9:1.

A bobbin of tussah silk singles

The singles is a lace weight that when plied back on itself makes a heavy fingering weight yarn. I have a length of dyed tussah silk that I will spin in the same way, then I will ply the two together to make a 2-ply silk yarn.

For Team Ashford, I’m spinning on my Traveller in double drive using the sliding hook flyer and the middle groove on the pulley that comes with the flyer. The ratio is 8:1, which is normally too slow for me, but my goal is to spin a singles that will make a worsted weight yarn when chain-plied. I just naturally tend to spin very thin singles, so I have to work at getting them a little thicker, so the slower ratio really helps.

The fiber is a braid of merino wool from Greenwood Fiber Works in Holly Berry that I have had in my stash for quite a while.

Greenwood Fiber Works merino in Holly Berry

Merino can be a little tricky to draft because it tends to be pretty sticky, and I haven’t spun a lot of merino, so it’s not autopilot spinning for me. I am trying to keep the singles as consistent as I can because I will be chain-plying it. Chain plying isn’t as forgiving as doing a 3-ply.

Here’s my day 1 progress:

Merino singles on the Ashford sliding hook flyer



Abria is finished and will begin its journey to its recipient tomorrow.

Try as I might, I just couldn’t get a good picture of this sweater.

Abria draped on the back of my couch

Abria draped on the back of my couch


Abria lying flat on my couch

In real life, it is absolutely gorgeous. The design by Bonne Marie Burns of Chic Knits is brilliant and a lot of fun to knit.

The yarn I used, Classic Elite Firefly, is perfect for this sweater. It knits up into a soft, drapy, lightweight sweater that has just a bit of sheen. I didn’t make a single modification. Not. One.

Happy FO Friday!


Happy WIP Wednesday, everyone! I have progress to report today.

I’ve been working for a few hours every night on the Abria Cardigan. During the hockey game on Monday night–game 3 of the Stanley Cup final, which the Kings won to take a 3-0 lead over the Rangers in the series–I finished the first sleeve and got started on the second sleeve. And last night (Tuesday) I worked on the second sleeve while streaming a movie on my computer. I have exactly 26 rows left to knit before the final binding off.

The second sleeve is well on its way via Magic Loop.

The second sleeve is well on its way via Magic Loop.

Unless the knitting gods decided to take vengeance on me, I will get the rest of the sleeve done tonight during the hockey game, and thats a good thing because tonight could very well be the last hockey game of the season. Who knows whether the Rangers will be able to muster enough gumption to take a game from the Kings. They have been playing hard, but have little to show for it.

Anyway, after the second sleeve is young off, all that will be left to do is weave in ends and block the sweater. I love sweaters that are knitted in one piece. :-) Bonne Marie Burns of Chic Knits, who designed Abria, is currently working on a long version of the cardigan, and as soon as the pattern is available, I will be knitting one for me. Yep, I love this pattern that much.



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