Monday, May 25, 2015

Socks—Again!

I am over my slump. Minutes after finishing my pink crown socks, I started a new pair. Five days later, and I am half way through the heel flap.

These are your basic generic socks, with the self patterning yarn doing all the work. Another lost label yarn—but I remember some details—German in origin, and popular about 10 years ago. I didn't buy it then, (and later regretted that decision)--so when I found it for $3! at a garage sale 5 years ago, I snatched it up. It was one of a half dozen skeins I bought. It's been waiting a while for me to knit it up.

These socks are for my DD—who loves animal prints—and while they are not perfect tiger stripes, they are close enough. I didn't bother to try and start them at the same point in the pattern, so the striping on each sock isn't identical. But, then, striping on tigers isn't identical either. These are basic, generic socks.

Some minor detail changed—The stitch count (64 stitches in leg, but that will be reduced to 60 for foot), 2 by 2 ribbing (and I was reminded why I don't chose this option often—I don't like knitting it!) but there is still the standard (for me) 1.50 inches of it. 7 inches of stocking knit before I started the heel flap-DD and I both have high insteps, and flapped, turned, gusseted heels fit us best! Standard flaps –with a garter stitch (not chain stitch) selvage, and heel stitch in the field. I have come to love a garter stitch (2 stitches on each side of flap) for heel flaps. I have always disliked the chain stitch selvage, and the garter selvage works just as well. Stitches are picked up in the “valleys” (garter makes “ridges and valleys”) and this makes it easy to pick up 1 stitch, ever other row. And garter has about the same gauge as the heel (slip stitch) pattern, too.

Will I have them finished by May 28th? I next spend the day (and it will be a full day!) with the girls then. There will be The Little Hatch-lings program at the Queens zoo, and then a few hours later, setting up and organizing the first pick up for the CSA my DD is part of. The usual location is not available, and the alternate has some disadvantages—Primarily a narrow driveway (gated) that requires the truck to off load at the curb, not the back (the HIGH ground back)--There will be a team of workers bring the boxes of fresh veggies up hill to the distribution center. Mostly, I will be a baby sitter—and will be there to not permit the girls to run down the driveway and out onto the street--they have a zeal (if not the skill) for assisting.

The location also has an advantage—it is an historic building—a wood frame building from the 1650's, a church that was a stop on the underground railroad. I've known about this building for a long time, but I have never actually been there. It's a nice big piece of property, on Route 25/aka Northern Blvd—which is now a busy street in Queens, but in colonial times was a major road—going from a boat landing on the west end (at East River) to the end of the Long Island in the east. In many towns along the way, the road still is Main Street. (and other churches along the way were also stops on the underground rail road.)

I will have pin wheels, and bubbles and bouncing balls as distractions.. that should be enough!


My next socks will be for me, and then a pair for the son in law. Summer always flies by—and another warm pair of wool socks will be welcome come hunting season—which also corresponds with his birthday. I don't think I currently own any solids in a suitable color –(I am easing him into the enjoyment of hand knit wool socks—once he is firmly addicted, I will try out some brighter colors or stripes—but the next pair is going to be shade of grey (not 50)--since I know I have several partial skeins of at least 4 shades of grey, and some black too. Totally black socks are a drag to knit—unless they are lace—and I don't think he is ready for lace socks—Yet.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pink Socks—Finished!

Toes knit, and grafted, and all the end woven in. Here they are, already to wear... But I won't—well not just yet. I like to let my socks rest—usually a week or two, sometimes a month or too.  

To keep them fresh and new and perfect—to be petted and treasured before they go into rotation with all the other socks.

I'd have no rational reason for doing this—but I do it all the same! I still haven't finished adding all the fringe to the Sparkly Blue Scarf/Shawl—Maybe tonight—in any case, I will show you where I stand tomorrow (My day with the girls has been moved to Thursday this week, at DD request.)

As for me, I will just keep knitting. I have pulled out a bag for my next pair of socks—the tiger stripe self patterning yarn. I put a lot into these bag when I make them up—Yarn, needles, a tapestry needle, a measuring tape, some stitch markers, scissors and other stuff. This bag has a crochet hook too, and some tissues. I sometimes add treats (a wrapped butterscotch candy). My personal sock club socks tend to be packed in clear bags, and not marked for a specific month—Just kits for sock knitting. Sometimes I add a pattern, and sometimes just a pattern idea.

From the previous bag—used for the last 3 pairs of socks—I will add some hand sanitizer, and some hand cream (I find knitting with wool dries my skin) And since it's coming on to summer time, a sample size tube of some sun screen—in case I need it.

The Pink Crowns bag (another clear plastic purse like this one) has already been refilled with 2 skeins of Reynolds “Swizzle” in it—It will also need a bit of contrasting solid yarn(s)--likely bits of left overs from other socks—to do something special with cast on edge—and maybe the heel and toes, too. Close, organized stripes, (the yarn has widely spaced stripes) –or a set of similar—but not the same ruffles as the pair I did in the same pattern yarn (in blue). I will rummage in the extra large Zip lock back I have of left over bits—The remain pink yarn will go in, and some solid colors will come out. I have considered making a blanket from all the left over bits.. And that might happen one day. But I often used the scraps for trim-- I have made 2 pairs of spiral knits socks over the years--(I have given both away) maybe an other pair--for me!-- someday soon. There are so many things to do with scraps of yarn. I am sometimes paralyzed with the choices.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sparkly Blue Scarf, Fringed?

Um, well, No....I've started—and done some—but there are more fringes to add—a lot more. First the yarns to cut, and fold, and knot in place. Finally, I will need to trim the edge. Fringe is, or rather can be, easy, and I am doing an easy fringe...but it is a bit time consuming, as well as using up a lot of yarn.

Only the toe to do.
But the pink crown socks are closer to being finished! I will be starting the toe shaping in the next round — The toe won't take much time—decreases every other round always make the work go fast. Then they will be done! The question then is: What's next?

I mentioned, in an earlier post, that my favorite style socks is one with a fancy cuff, and relatively plain body—a generic sock with a special top. I have a lot of these. Ruffles or beads, or pattern work, lace or layer—there are lots of ways to dress up the top end of a sock. I change up the heels, and sometimes do something special with the toes, too. I find a nice yarn doesn't need much to make very nice sock--a little flair is plenty. 

A Twisted Rope Effect Edge Stitch 
I have been thinking about another special top for a pair of socks—first I thought of a braid—a Rapunzel sock, and was thinking how to work the braid in the round. I got distracted from working on the scarf fringe, by making a swatch of just such an idea.

Here is the first idea (a failure) not a braid, but a twisted rope. It looks good, but it is not stretchy enough. It might be better with a provisional cast on, (which might have more stretch) but as is, it won't work--the edge (lower edge in image) is too tight.   It might work with just more twisted ropes --but already the stitch count is 66, and making more ropes, and then decreases? I don't know. So this swatch, will be unraveled, and reworked.

I have a better understanding of the stitch pattern process, though, and now know how to join the pattern in a round.  So I will  go back to the idea of working the stitch pattern in a braid--(not a twisted rope like loop) and see how that works.

The stitch (pattern) is easy, but a bit tedious—Worked as a braid, it's is two times as tedious as the looped rope.  It's OK for a sock edging—but I wouldn't want to use this for much else. Though I am thinking it might be nice for an inset on a hat. I'll keep that in mind—and think about how I could use it.

I think I am going to keep experimenting with this stitch pattern. But in the meanwhile, I think I will change plans, and  do my next pair of socks from my sock club collection. A pair made from a self patterning yarn—in a tiger stripe. The kind of self patterning yarn that demands nothing but plain knitting—and turns out fabulous all on its own.  A bag is all set up ready to go. 


(One other positive note: The semi annual cleaning of all the shelves and bins of the refrigerator is half done—Order, once again is beginning to prevails. )

Friday, May 15, 2015

2 Days Later

Scarf is  knit up, awaiting fringe and finishing—that's what's on the schedule for today. First cutting the fringe, then looping it on.. and as I go, weaving in the ends and finishing all the details. It won't be a full fringe--just from center front to the shoulder or so.

As for the Pink Crown socks—Progress has been made there, too.. When last seen, at the completion of the gusset, the sole measured about 3.25 inches—or almost 1/3 of the foot done. I find 9inches and a bit (the bit size depends on the gauge and amount of ease) is right for my feet. Since then, 2 more inches (and a bit) have been added—so I have more than 5.25 inches—but not yet 5.5. So more than half of the sole of the socks have been knit—what ever way you might think about it.  It's still plenty short of a 2/3rds--(6.5). The last 2 inches or so are designated “toe”, so at least 2 more inches of knitting till I think about toe shaping. These socks are not going to be a 3 month project—more like 3 weeks.

The scarf will be finished today/tonight, and then I can work on the socks full time—physically. Mentally, I will be planning the next pair and something else—Should I finish up one of my many UFO's? Or start something new? New is always interesting—many times UFO's become UFO's because, in truth, no matter how excited I was by them in the beginning, somewhere along the way, I lost interest.

I have endless skeins of silk, wool and silk& wool blends for shawls—I tend to like rectangular scarf like shawls (but I hate the idea of knitting yet another rectangle!) But even these hardly get worn—so why knit another? Still some are so pretty—I want to knit one.

I need some sweaters (I never thought I would say that!)--and have lots of wool suitable—skeins and skeins of sock yarn for lacy (but warm) shells, and another collection of skeins of Noro wool and silk for another shell. Alpaca for a cardigan, Merino, too. Skeins and skeins of lovely hand spun—for Who knows what? Hats or cowls or fingerless gloves—Plenty of stash, plenty of ideas—all I need to do is DECIDE—and then to do it.

When all else falls, there are so many things I can knit for the girls—Poncho's and sweaters, and tunic like dresses to keep them warm. They are still growing—up and up—and changing. I can't wait to knit them soft angora muffs—and lace princess capes.

Personalities becoming more clearer and clearer—Miss C is the Dancing Queen—for now, and fearless. Miss J is more cautious—but also more methodical—working things out, with determination. She has just about mastered walking down stairs (so long as there is a lower level railing.) Miss C is OK with a single step, but not so much with a flight.

Every mother know, each child is unique, and does thing their own way—but it is so much fun with twins to watch the two of them –working out different solutions—taking different paths, and then ending up together—at the same place and time.

Miss C wanted to walk yesterday, and set off, on her own, leading the way—Miss J opt to ride in the stroller, and then consented to sharing the empty seat with other child (they were at a early child education program at the zoo)--She plays well with others.

In the geodesic dome aviary, Miss J was acting fearless, and had a little tantrum when Nana refused to let her climb up (and ideally, over) the railing of the raised walkway, to jump down 20 feet into the pond with ducks--(what a mean Nana I am!) Later, both girl raced to get closer to the quail on another part of the railing. The quail jump and ran for cover, much to their disappointment.

Both are beginning to learn the advantage to speaking in English—and not their own private language --At the zoo, Ducks are “quacks” (and a great favorites) and the sea lions bark and the girls respond with barking of their own. They have learned that words are useful to get their favorite books read to them. They don't always know the whole title, but use key words; Happy is short hand for an Elmo book—If You are Happy—not to be confused with HOPPY—a book about rabbits.


They agree on some books—and REQUIRE Nana to read it first to Them, and then let Nana read it to sister, and then again to them, (they want to turn the pages themselves) and take turns—usually. Of course--sometimes there is a tussle to be first.  Nana has her favorite books, too, and sometimes reads what SHE wants.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Pause

I am really liking the Pink socks—even if I don't have much use for them—After photographing and posting this morning, I worked another 4 rounds... (3.25 inches now on the sole!)--but for most of today, they were paused.

I picked up the sparkly scarf—and finished off skein 4. The second half of the scarf was 8 inches short—just about spot on—I figured I need about ½ a the fifth skein to finish the scarf, and I have already established, 1 skein yields about 17 of length at this width—so ½ a skein more it is!

I'll still need to do finishing details then—weaving in the tail, and cutting the fringe and adding it. Fringe takes forever—cutting, folding, placing, trimming. It is rare for me to add it because it is just so much work! But every once in a while—it is just the right finish. I might have if finished Friday—not in the AM—but by the time the day is done. Not bad for 2 weeks work!

No photos—today is Wednesday—my day with the girls--(and sock knitting on the bus) and I am just making a mini post. Tomorrow is Zoo day—a shorter bus ride, and a busier day. The girls love the zoo, but by the end of the day, they are so tired.

Last week, I carried Miss J, and DD carried Miss C the last half mile and up a flight of stairs. At 15 months, the girls are getting big (28lbs or so!) I was exhausted, too! So there likely won't be a post at all on Thursday.

By Friday, I should have some show and tell—Some progress on both—and time enough to photograph, and crop and post for you to see.


I am already thinking about my next pair of socks—there is a new stitch I want to try out—I am thinking I might have to swatch it.. (and figure out how to work it in the round! ) Rapunzel socks..that is all I will say!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Heel—Flapped, Turned and Gusseted

I like the way a flapped, turned and gusset heel fits—especially because there are so many options. The ability to make a shorter than average or longer than average flap, in a number of different slip stitch patterns, means you can (and I do) customize the flap.

There are plenty more options for the turning.. Heels by Number is a good resource for turnings... And that site just includes conventional turnings... There are unconventionally ones as well-- It also just included even numbered turnings—and I often do odd numbered ones.. So the flap is another customizable element to the heel.

Lastly,  the gusset-- I did pretty conventional ones.. on the sides of the socks, but I have, at other times, done inverted gussets on the instep, and hidden ones on the sole, One of these days, I will do an asymmetrical one---

One disadvantage is the basic formula:
Knit a flap with ½ of total stitches—my socks are being worked on size 1's (2.25mm) with 72 stitches—so a 36 stitch flap.
Step 2—make the flap as long as it wide—36 rows, with half of them slipped to change the gauge.
Step 3—work the turn
Step 4—pick up stitches, one every other row, on each side of the flap—and here again is a place for customizing—I picked up 19--(not 18) because my flap was 38 rows, not 36, and then I picked up a pair of bonus stitches, in the corner, for a neat hole free join as I once again began to knit in the round.

So 40 stitches picked up, plus the 18 left from the turning, and the sole of the sock is 58—not 36. This works out to 22 decreases over 44 rows.. It takes a long time till the sole of the sock starts feeling “normal” (and 36 is a big normal for me—Most often I knit socks with 60 to 64 stitches, not 72!
This style of shaping the heel results in a lot more stitches! And because the heel flap and turning have few stitches, and the gussets a lot more—its pretty normal for  hand dyed, or self striping yarns to have a change in pattern.. Sometimes with huge pools of color. This yarn is exceptional—there is a little pooling –but not much, and center front—the pattern is almost unchanged!

Of course the flap is another story, and the turning is too, but this yarn knit up remarkably.

Another thing about sock yarns, besides pooling and patterning, is the wide range of sizes--that is yarn sizes... Some sock yarns (I think of Kroy 4 ply) is almost a sports weight yarn—This yarn is the other end of the spectrum—a lace weight! 
The socks are very thin, and still very soft even with a tighter gauge--(72 stitches in  a 7 inch sock, so I am working at about 10 stitches per inch) not my usual 8 stitches per inch. That makes a difference—these socks are more work than average. They are also thinner/finer than average. I have a few other pairs make with yarns as fine, (and similar gauges) and amazing enough, they hold up very well. I could have gone down to size zero needles—and had an even tighter gauge—and firmer fabric for the sock, (but I am lazy).


With the end of the gusset, the sole is 3 inches long. I need a total of 9.5, but I will pick up speed now that the gusset is done. Plain knitting on the sole, and the wide rib on the instep are easy knitting.  There really looking like socks now. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

Mother's Day is a holiday that I have mixed emotions about. I worked hard to be a good mother, and while I have mostly succeeded, I am all too aware that I have failed, too. I learned to live with the holiday—though things are changing again.

For 20 so years, my DD and I celebrated with a low key dinner out—sometime between my birthday and the holiday—and almost never on the day itself. We both agreed, most restaurants are too crowded, and sevice too rushed on the holiday.

Since she has been married, we have dinner out on Mother's day. It's a family tradition on her husbands side of the family. Last year was a bit of disaster.. The restaurant was crowded, (overly so) the reservation—not really honored (we waited over 40 minutes to be seated)-When we were finally seated--there was no room for high-chairs or otherwise for the girls.  We left and went elsewhere. Things were a bit better at the second choice (but then it was 2 hours later!) Every one was a hungry--and cranky (thought the second place offered excellent service and we all cheered up).

Yesterday? 
—Perfection! The restaurant was only half full—The buffet (we all decided on the buffet) was well organized, and had a huge selection of vegetarian dishes--(the M-I-L is mostly a vegetarian—she also eat fish)

It was a busy day for my Daughter—she was in a 5K "Zombie" mudder/obstacle  race early in the morning (70 miles away!) She completed the race, and took an outdoor shower before heading back to Queens for a midday meal.  S-I-L and the girls went, too.  

So the girls were up early, and had a half  day playing out of doors as mama ran and climbed and fought of Zombies.  They napped a bit coming home. 

We went to lunch at the JacksonDiner—The original is in Jackson Heights—a thriving middle class community that has changed from Norther European to Indian Subcontinent in character in past 20 years. At the same time, The Jackson Diner changed, too, It is not a typical NY diner—It is a first class Indian restaurant—that has now branched out to several locations. We were at the Hillside Avenue location--

The food was up to the reputation, and service wonderful, too. The girls had a long extended breakfast as they played and moma ran—they weren't very hungry—But when they were offered paper take out coffee cups filled with Mango Lassi (an indian style fruit and yogurt  smoothy, (lassi is a specific kind of yoghurt) they LOVED them and drank them down—with hardly a pause.

The day ended early—The girls were very well behaved but by the end of lunch, they were at the end of their tether—But it was a wonderful day, all in all.

Meanwhile—my knitting.

The Pink socks? Flapped, and turned; stitches picked up, and now the gussets are being whittled down to the starting number. An other dozen rounds before the gussets are finished—but its nice progress to have them started. --And the yarn—so far at least, is still hasn't fully broken pattern--(well it did on the turning.. but that's to be expected-and it's not a very noticeable place to have it happen.  




And the scarf? Skein 3 is a about half knit.  I need to finish this skein, then I'll need half of skien 4 for knitting—the other half of it  and skein 5 will be made into a fringe—I trimmed the long tail from when I changed skiens, and 3 loops of fringe have been added already.

I already like how the fringe looks!



Finally a image of the skein--it has the truest color. The photo's look dull and almost greyish--but the scarf isn't at all.. It has lots of color and sparkle, (and the mohair in the mix makes surpisingly warm.