Tag Archives: toe-up socks

Vanilla Butterflies

You know how when you have icecream in the freezer, or cheesy-poofs in the pantry, they call to you? Of course you do. And if you are a knitter, you know that stash yarn does the same. It calls to you in that Siren song, Knit me! That, my friends, is how I came to cast on yet another sock even though I already have four other socks (and two sweaters) OTN. The Pagewood Farm Hand Dyed Sock Yarn Alyeska (80% Merino, 10 % Cashmere, 10 % Nylon) in the color Butterfly kept calling to me.

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How could anyone resist?

Butterfly was relentless. I tried to resist her call. I kept telling myself that I should finish the projects I have in progress before starting yet another pair of socks. But I had made the fatal mistake of touching this yarn. If you have ever in your life touched anything that contains even a tiny amount of cashmere, you know exactly what I mean. Cashmere has a combination of soft and silky that no mere mortal can resist (unless you are one of the unlucky few who are allergic to cashmere, and if you are, you have my deepest sympathies).

And the colorway! It’s simply heavenly. How could I possibly resist?

I actually knitted most of a sock from this yarn earlier this year, but I had to rip it out. I made a terrible error in judgment. I started the sock from the cuff and ended up running out of yarn well before it was time to start the toe decreases.

Super Soft Double Garter Rib Socks sock #1 with the gusset decreases centered on the sole. I hope I don't run out of yarn before I finish.

This yarn is so nice, I knit it twice. 

Yikes! I knew I was taking a chance, but really. I should know better.

Although knitting socks toe up is not my favorite method, when working with a sock yarn that has limited yardage, I usually start with the toe. ‘Tis better to run out of yarn while knitting the leg than while knitting the foot, right? Anyway, Pagewood Farm Alyeska is a sport weight yarn with 360 yards in 4 ounces. The recommended gauge is 7-7.5 stitches per inch, but even with a sport weight yarn, I cannot bring myself to knit socks at that gauge. I’m sorry, but I just don’t want to hold my socks up to the light and be able to see through them. Sock fabric needs to be dense. Sport weight yarn gets 8-8.5 stitches per inch when I knit it up into socks.

I decided my lovely Butterfly would look best knitted on 2.75mm needles (8 stitches per inch) in a very plain vanilla pattern that would show off the lovely colors. So I chose a simple K3, P1 rib and used  Judy’s Magic Cast On and two circular needles to cast on 22 stitches. You can see all the technical details on Ravelry, even if you aren’t a member.

The foot of sock #1 is done, the heel is turned, and the leg is under way.

Butterfly Vanilla Socks

Butterfly Vanilla Socks

I don’t have to worry about running out of yarn before I’m finished because I will be finished when I run out of yarn. :-)

HOCKEY!

The NHL and the NHLPA have ratified the new collective bargaining agreement, and the 48-game (shortened) regular season begins Saturday. I’m trembling in anticipation. I cannot wait to see Sid Crosby, Geno Malkin, James Neal, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, Chris Kunitz, Tyler Kennedy, Craig Adams, and all the other Penguins back on the ice.

The season opener is in Philly against the F%$ers, and it should be interesting. The teams have had very short training camps. But these days, hockey players spend the off season staying in shape and even improving their physical conditioning, and some of the players have been playing in other leagues, so it shouldn’t take long for everyone to get up to speed. To put the icing on the cake, Center Ice is free for the rest of the month, so there will be lots of games to watch.

Watching hockey means knitting, but the knitting has to be mindless because hockey is a very fast sport. You can easily miss something great in the blink of an eye. Of course, with today’s technology, you can just back up and watch it over. You don’t even have to wait for an instant replay. But I like to have mindless knitting in hand for hockey games, so I have been busy casting on more socks.

Not all socks are mindless knitting, but my favorite, go-to stitch patterns for socks are all pretty mindless, so socks are a good choice for knitting while watching sports on TV. Since the casting on, either cuff down or toe up, is one of the few parts of knitting a sock that requires some concentration and close attention, I like to cast on ahead of time. Having multiple socks OTN means that if I get to a place that requires my attention, like picking up gusset stitches, I can simply put the sock down and pick up another to work on. Then I can pick up the gusset stitches or whatever during the intermission if I want to continue working on that particular sock.

Anyway, here are the socks I have OTN just in time for the opening of the NHL season, and what better day to share them with you than WIP Wednesday!

The second Reversible Rib sock is well under way.

The second Revisible Rib sock wants to grow up to be just like her big sister.

The second Revisible Rib sock wants to grow up to be just like her big sister.

And I have started a sock with the softest sock yarn ever, Pagewood Farms Alyeska, which is 80% wool, 10 % Nylon, and, wait for it…10% cashmere. It’s just 2 x 2 ribbing right now, but I will be working the leg in double garter stitch, which is just two rounds of 2 x 2 and two rounds of plain knit, mindless knitting that does wonders with handpainted yarn.

Just a cuff at this point

Just a cuff at this point

And then there is this sock that is destined for the DH. The yarn is Shaeffer Anne in a lovely blue and green color way that I simply am incapable of capturing in a photograph. The blues are like sapphires, the greens like emeralds. Anne comes in a skein that weighs a hefty 4 oz/120g and contains a generous 560 yards, so it’s perfect for making a pair of man-sized socks. Even so, I’m not taking any chances of coming up short on the second sock. I’m knitting these socks toe-up.

A toe is born!

A toe is born!

The stitch pattern I’m using is stolen borrowed from Hedgerow Socks by Jane Cochran, but I’m thinking about ripping it out and switching to another pattern, maybe 3 x 2 ribbing, because I don’t think this yarn is showing the pattern very well and I don’t think the pattern does anything for the yarn. Hedgerow is a heavily textured pattern that shows best with a solid or semi-solid yarn, and I’m afraid the combination of dark colors and frequent color changes obscures the pattern and the pattern obscures the beauty of the yarn. Maybe I should save Hedgerow for another yarn. :D

Last, but certainly not least…

LET’S GO PENS!

Where’s My Hockey?

The NHL lockout is dragging on and on, and it’s dragging my knitting down. With college football winding down and the NFL heading for the playoffs, I’m spending less and less time watching television. And less time watching television means less time spent knitting. If the NHL and the NHL Players Association would just settle their differences, then I would be knitting up a storm. But with no hockey games to watch, I’m spending my knitting time doing other things, like spinning, reading, and playing the piano. I WANT MY HOCKEY!

But in spite of limited television/knitting time, I am making progress on the two socks I have OTN, and I expect to get them finished in short order once the college football bowl extravaganza starts up on Sunday. The bowl games are played over the course of three weeks or so, and there will be some pro games played, too, so I should get a lot of knitting done in the next few weeks.

Here’s where my current knitting WIP stand at this very moment.

My Sparkly Garter Rib Socks sock #2 is well underway. As you can see, I have just a few more inches of foot left to knit, then I’ll be turning the heel.

Sparkly Garter Rib sock #2 posting beside it's older sibling

Sparkly Garter Rib sock #2 posting beside it’s older sibling

 

These socks will not be identical twins, but they will look enough alike the everyone will recognize them as siblings.

The Sunshine Rib Socks project is moving a little more slowly, but it is progressing. Sock #1 now has a heel, and I’m chipping away at the gusset stitches.

Sunshine Rib Socks sock #1 is well underway.

Sunshine Rib Socks sock #1 is well underway.

I had originally planned to simply carry the 4 x 2 rib down the heel flap, but it looked too plain, so I went with the EOP (eye of partridge) heel instead. I think EOP was an excellent choice because it looks simply brilliant in this yarn. I think this colorway and the EOP were made for each other, don’t you?

Close-up shot of the Eye of Partridge heel

Close-up shot of the Eye of Partridge heel

Since it’s been a rather slow sports week what with the NHL canceling games left and right, I’ve been doing a lot of spinning.  I’m plying a small amount of the gorgeous Falkland top from Unwind Yarn Company in the O Negative colorway that I spun on my Golding Micro Ringspindles. This fiber is an absolute dream to spin. It wanted to be spun very fine, and the singles are mostly the thickness (or should I say thinness) of sewing thread. I wound the singles into a plying ball and I’m plying the yarn on a Kundert.

Falkland singles plied on a Kundert spindle from a plying ball

Falkland singles plied on a Kundert spindle from a plying ball

I’m being careful not to over-ply the yarn because I’d like to produce a nice, drapey yarn for a lace project. If I’m pleased with the sample I’m making, I’ll spin and ply the rest of the braid the same way and use the yarn to make a lovely shawlette of some sort. The yarn is so fine that I have yards and yards of it so far, and I’ve only spun about 14 of the 110 grams of fiber in the braid. The color is simply too gorgeous for words. I love anything red, and the color of this yarn sets my little heart to thumping.

Another spinning project is resting on the lazy kate awaiting plying. I spun up the rest of the undyed BFL that I bought when I first started spindling. I had spun some of it on various spindles; it’s lovely to spin, soft and easy to draft. I was curious to see how it would behave on my wheel, so I spun up a couple of bobbins on the Ladybug, and the singles are now ready for plying.

Undyed BFL patiently awaiting plying

Undyed BFL patiently awaiting plying

I’m going to do a simple 2-ply and try to keep the twist on the softer side. This fiber is next-to-the-skin soft and will probably become a hat and matching or coordinating cowl.

And last but not least, I decided to play around on the Ladybug with the Cotton Candy fiber I have left from the November spindling challenge.

Louet Northern Lights Cotton Candy on the Ladybug

Louet Northern Lights Cotton Candy on the Ladybug

It’s surprising how differently fiber behaves when spun using different equipment. When I spun this fiber on spindles, it wanted to be drafted and spun very fine, but on my wheel, it wants to be spun thicker. Part of that might be how I have the Scotch tension set, and part of it might be due to the difference in my wheel drafting as opposed to my spindle drafting. But regardless of the why, I’m getting a beautiful singles on the wheel, and I have a ton of this fiber yet to spin. I am envisioning a 2-ply, but the yarn will tell me what it wants to be when it grows up. It may prefer to become a 3-ply. :D

So, that’s what I have cooking on this WIP Wednesday. Thanks for looking in.

 

Does This Count For FO Friday?

I never know whether it’s kosher to count a first sock of a pair as a finished object, but since this is my blog, I get to make the rules. ;-)

Here’s the back story. A while back, I bought this gorgeous BFL/Sparkle hand-dyed combed top from Woolgatherings on Etsy.

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A braid of BFL/Sparkle in gorgeous colors

Because of the Nylon content (Sparkle is Nylon fiber), I thought this fiber was a good candidate for sock yarn; I spun the wool onto three spindles, my two Golding Micro Ringspindles and my Schacht 1.1-ounce Hi-Lo spindle, with the intention of plying them together into a 3-ply fingering-weight yarn. The fiber spun up beautifully, and the Sparkle really does sparkle when the light hits it.

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BFL/Sparkle being spun on a Golding Micro Ringspindle

I wound the singles off the spindles to make a 3-strand plying ball, and I plied the yarn using my Schacht 2.2-ounce Hi-Lo spindle. I’m still pretty new to spinning and plying, and I sorta, kinda, like totally overplied the yarn. But still, it looked gorgeous in the skein,

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BFL/Sparkle 3-ply skeins

and a tightly-twisted yarn should make for very hard-wearing socks, right?

So I wound the yarn into cakes and cast on sock #1. I decided toe-up was the better option because I wasn’t certain of the yardage. It took me several tries to get the first sock started. I had chosen 2.25 mm needles because the yarn is a little thinner than most of the sock yarn I work with, and normally if I’m using 2.25 mm needles, I knit 80 stitches at 9.5 stitches per inch. So I started with 80 stitches, but after knitting the toe and a few inches of the foot, I realized that the sock was just a little too big. Since I was using garter rib, which is a 4-stitch repeat that consists of alternating one round of 2 x 2 rib with one round of plain knit, I started over and increased up to 76 stitches, a multiple of four.

I knitted the foot using garter rib on the instep and plain stocking stitch on the foot, worked a short-row heel over 60% of the stitches, knitted the leg in garter rib, made a 20-round 2 x 2 rib cuff, and cast off with the sewn cast-off. I tried the sock on and the fit is still a little on the loose side, although not so loose as to be saggy and uncomfortable.

I probably would have gotten a better fit had I gone with my usual 72-stitches. But I’m not going to rip out and reknit the entire sock because the fit is definitely good enough as is, and it might improve after the sock is washed, although I doubt the yarn will bloom much considering that my plying is as tight as Scrooge McDuck.

Sadly, although the top itself was gorgeous, and the singles were beautiful, and the colors blended nicely when plied, making for a lovely skein, the yarn didn’t knit up as prettily as I was expecting.

Sparkly Garter Rib Sock

Sparkly Garter Rib Sock

The sock looks better than almost any sock knit up in almost any colorway of Lorna’s Laces, the expensive yarn that both looks and wears like crap, but it isn’t exactly what one would call gorgeous. This, of course, is not the fault of the hand-dyed top but rather the problem lies with the spinner and plier who didn’t have a clue what the hell she was doing. But this is how a body learns. And sock #2 is OTN.

I will wear these socks when finished, and I will wear them with pride because not only did I knit the socks, I made the yarn. :-)

Candy Corn And Other Stuff

Yes, it’s another FO Friday and I have lots to report on this gorgeous late November morning. First things first, I finished the Vanilla Candy Corn socks.

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The socks are not identical, but I rather like them that way. I love how the colors in this Trekking XXL stripe and flow, and I think this colorway looks fabulous in garter rib, don’t you?

Remember this fiber from the Sunset Fibers Roving of the Month Club that I was spinning? I turned it into this lovely 2-ply fingering-weight yarn.

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I’m really pleased with how this yarn turned out. There are lots of long sections of solid or nearly solid colors connected with marled sections, and I think the effect is simply spectacular. Linda at Sunset Fibers is a gifted dyer. I’ve spun up three of her colorways so far, and all of them have been beautiful.

Okay, so far we have a pair of finished socks and 4 oz. of 2-ply handspun yarn. But there’s more. Remember the Cotton Candy fiber I was spinning up for the November challenge for the Raverly Spindlers group? The theme for the month, which I picked, is “life is a carnival.” So here’s my finished yarn.

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I spun the yarn on my two Golding Ringspindles and my Schacht 1.1. I wanted to make a 3-ply, so I wound the singles off the spindles into a plying ball, then I plied the yarn using my Schacht 2.2.

When I was winding the plying ball, as I neared the end one of my singles snapped. I decided that rather than splicing the ends I would break the other two singles, then wind the remaining yarn into a separate plying ball. The second ball was tiny, so I plied it first.  After taking the plied yarn off my niddy-noddy, I decided I had put in too much twist when I plied it, so when I plied the second, large ball, I put in less twist and the finished yarn is more to my liking.

Just in case you hadn’t guessed, the tiny skein in the picture is the over-plied yarn from the tiny plying ball and the large skein above it is the more loosely-plied yarn from the large plying ball. I have no idea what I will use this yarn for, but it will look pretty in my stash. :D

I was  afraid that the colors would turn muddy when I plied the yarn, especially since I was doing a 3-ply. But my fears were unfounded. The yarn remains quite colorful. Life is a carnival!

Another Finished Object Friday

Friday is here, and it’s time to unveil another finished object on FO Friday. Today’s FO–Emily’s Boot Socks.

The finished socks

These are my very first attempt at knitting knee socks, so I went with plain vanilla. The only difference between knitting regular socks and knee socks, besides the obvious fact that the leg of a knee socks is much longer than the leg of a regular sock, is that the knitter has to change the number of stitches to shape the leg of the sock to fit the contours of the calf.

An aside–the picture above is a very good illustration of what happens to handpainted and patterned yarns when the stitch count changes. There’s a name for the effect that occurs in the middle of the calf that looks kind of like oak wood grain, but I cannot remember it for the life of me. I think it starts with an eff. No, not that f-word, although I would imagine the effect has elicited an f-bomb or two from many a knitter who is unhappy that the pricey hand painted yarn she bought that looked so gorgeous in the skein looks like shit when knitted up.

When I started this project, I gave a lot of thought to how I should proceed. I decided toe up was the better method to use for this project because getting the leg to fit properly was the challenge here. I’ve knitted more than one pair of socks for Emily, so I have a pretty good handle of fitting her feet. If any adjustments would be needed, it would be in the calf-shaping and/or the length of the leg. It would be much easier to add a few rounds to the leg or add more increases if I just have to rip back a few rows. So toe up it is! I cast on my usual 20 stitches using Judy’s Magic Cast On and two 2.5mm Chiao Goo Lace circular needles and worked Chrissy Gardiner’s shaped round toe (from her book Toe Up!) until I had increased up to 72 stitches.

I continued to work the sock just like any other toe-up, short-row-heel sock until the leg was 4 inches long. Then I started doing the leg increases for the calf-shaping following a formula that I found in a knee sock pattern on the Internet. I did two increases every 10 rounds using M1R and M1L until I had completed 8 increase rounds. After all the increases were done, I had 72 + 16 = 88 stitches. I worked plain for another 40 rounds (about 3 inches), did 24 rounds of 2 x 2 rib, then cast off using the sewn bind off. If Emily decided she wants a fold-over cuff, I can undo the bind-off and just knit more ribbing.

Emily’s Boot Socks modeled by yours truly as viewed from the front

And viewed from the back

When I was ready to start this project, I purchased some Clover elastic thread which I thought I would either knit into the top ribbing or add after the knitting was done, but I think the ribbing is sufficiently stretchy that the socks will stay up without it, so I left it out. If, after wearing the socks, Emily decides the top needs some elastic, I can always add it. These aren’t those knee socks I remember from grade school and high school. The tops stretched out of shape and didn’t go back, and we used to put rubber bands around the cuffs to hold the socks up and fold the cuffs over the rubber bands to hide them. At the end of the school day, there’d be a groove around the leg just under the knee where the rubber band had been. The socks I knitted are Merino wool and nylon. Wool has memory. It will retain its shape. The ribbing will hug the leg without being too tight, and it will never lose its elasticity, even after repeated washings. Wool. Nature’s wonder fiber. :D

The yarn is Knit Picks Stroll Tonal sock yarn in the colorway Blue Yonder. It’s a substantial fingering weight yarn that gives a firm but stretchy fabric when worked at a gauge of 9 stitches per inch, which is my preferred gauge for socks in fingering weight yarn. The 4 plies of the yarn don’t tend to separate when you are knitting, so there is no splitting, and the yarn is very round, which is a great quality for a sock yarn because it helps the stitches to pack together smoothly and evenly when knitted so that you get a nice, dense fabric that should wear well. I bought two skeins of the yarn because I knew that one skein, while plenty for a pair of regular socks, would not be enough for two knee socks. I started with 200 grams of yarn, and there are 78 grams left, enough that I could knit a pair of socks with a shorter-than-usual leg, or a pair of socks for someone who has a very small foot. Or any number of other sorts of things that combine this yarn with a contrasting or coordinating color. What possibilities!

Another WIP Wednesday–Part 1

I have a lot of WIP to show you, so I’m doing two posts, one for knitting and one for spinning. I’ll keep my yakking short and sweet and let the captions and pictures tell the story. Here’s wishing a happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Usanians. And here’s wishing peace and happiness to everyone, everywhere. We are all on this ride together; we should make the most of it for everyone.

Em’s Boot Socks sock #2 is nearing completion.

All the leg increases are done.

A close-up shot of the lovely eyelets formed by not picking up and knitting the wraps.

The sole of the sock–the heel is on the left, the toe on the right.

 

 

 

 

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