Note To Self

I got a package from Amazon today. These are the contents.


The book Sock Architecture has been in my Amazon Wish List for quite a while, but the HiyaHiya sock needles were sort of an impulse purchase. I have been wanting to try HiyaHiya knitting needles for years, and I do have some HiyaHiya needles in my Amazon Wish List, but I just never got around to actually ordering them.

In the meantime, I kind of fell in love with Chiao Goo Red Lace circular needles. The needles are beautifully polished stainless steel, the cables are plastic covered steel cable, and the joins are smooth as can be. The cable has virtually no memory and is flexible without being floppy, so these needles are perfect for knitting in Magic Loop, which is a technique for knitting an item with a small circumference in the round using just one circular needle instead four or more double-pointed needles.

"Gray Vanilla" sock on the Chiao Goo using Magic Loop

“Gray Vanilla” sock on the Chiao Goo using Magic Loop

I have one Chiao Goo circular needle in size 2.5mm (US 1.5) with a cable that is long enough for doing Magic Loop, and when that needle is in use, I can’t start another sock unless I use double-pointed needles. I used to be a die-hard, double-pointed-needle kind of sock knitter. I used the Magic Loop technique for knitting sweater sleeves and neckbands in the round, and for finishing hats. But I didn’t like the technique for socks. I sometimes would knit socks using two circular needles, but not Magic Loop. In fact, I actually started the Gray Vanilla sock on DPNs because my Chiao Goo was in use for another sock, the infamous Opal Cloud socks. But as soon as I knitted the last stitch on the second Opal Cloud, my Chiao Goo 2.5mm circular needle replaced the DPNs in Gray Vanilla.

I don’t know when everything changed and Magic Loop became my favorite technique for knitting socks. Probably when I found a short-row heel technique that fit me well. Anyway, I am now a Magic Loop convert. And when I saw this set of HiyaHiya circulars in sizes most used for socks–I use mostly 2.5mm and 2.25mm needles for sock knit in fingering weight yarn–that came in a beautiful needle case at a very reasonable price, I just couldn’t resist.

Four 40-inch circular needles all snug in the case.

Four 40-inch circular needles all snug in the case. The lining of the case is black; it looks blue in this picture because the flash washed it out.

The sizes include 2.25mm, 2.5mm, 2.75mm, and 3.0mm.

The sizes include 2.25mm, 2.5mm, 2.75mm, and 3.0mm. And there are pockets to hold two more circular needles, and also pockets to hold DPNs and/or crochet hooks.

The case folds and buttons shut. It's really beautiful.

The case folds and buttons shut. It’s really beautiful.

There is a zippered compartment on the outside that is perfect for storing a yarn gauge, stitch markers, Chibis, or even a small pair of scissors.

There is a zippered compartment on the outside that is perfect for storing a yarn gauge, stitch markers, tapestry needles, and a small pair of scissors.

I don’t know whether I will like the HiyaHiya needles as well as the Chiao Goo, but I’m going to have fun finding out. 🙂

Note to self: don’t buy any more knitting books about socks, no matter how many rave reviews it gets.  Just. Don’t. (More on the book at a later date.)

PS: If you are interested in exploring Magic Loop, there is a pretty good video here. If this link doesn’t work, just google Magic Loop, and there will be lots of links to direct you to information on how to do Magic Loop.


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. 😀

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!