Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Y B Normal?

Over on Knitty's BB (the Coffee shop) there is a thread about Favorite sock pattern (i.e., the one you knit over and over again)(remember you have to register to read Knitty's BB)

The whole idea of knitting the same pattern over and over again is somewhat incomprehensible to me!

I have a serious case of SSS (second sock syndrome) and gave up knitting socks for years because of it.

Once I learned to knit 2 socks on 2 circ's (and could have a finished pair!) I returned to sock knitting with a vengeance. (I now own 2 dozen pairs, and have given away almost as many in the past 5 years)

And there are almost no repeats. Some are similar, but no 2 pairs are alike.

I am always changing up the
(1)cast on,
(2)the ribbing,
(3)the leg stitch pattern,
(4)the heel (type) and
(5)heel stitch,
(6) the gussets and
(7)instep pattern, (if there is one) and finally,
(8)the toe shaping.

Besides these basic 8 elements, there are lots of other choices..
Toe up? Top down? Novelty?

There are lots of novel ways to knit a sock.
Side ways—ala Sidewinder by Nona, or Better Mouse Trap by Debbie New –are two of the most common novelty, but there are also Splits (start at heel, knit foot, then finish by knitting from heel to cuff, and half a mousetrap (start at heel, knit sole, wrap around toe, then up the instep, then continue in round to cuff) and EZ moccasin (ie, replaceable heel/sole/toe style.)

These are just the common, well known novelties.
Really novel ideas make for oner's... and there are sock that are oner's out there!

The choice of wool is another change factor.. the same socks can look very different when knit in a self patterning stripe vs. a solid colored yarn.

And there are details like stripes, or fair isle, or intarsia...

Really the list is endless.. And I want to try them all!

My current socks are my own design, but have been inspired by others.

About 2 years ago, I scanned one of EZ books, and saw some of her socks with shaped soles and insteps, and thought them to be a good idea. About the same time, Cat Bordhi had a toe up sock from her new book(let) on New Pathways for Sock Knitters featured in Knitters.

Cat's sock (toe up) featured a reversed gusset.

And so I made my first 'shaped socks'. (These Cherry Pink Gumdrop Socks). My socks (top down, not toe up) were inspired by both designers, and incorporated aspects of both of their designs.

I reversed the gusset, and shaped the foot by increasing on the sole, and decreasing on the instep.
The socks feel good on the foot, but they are strange looking off, and the design is well, off.
They work, (as socks) but not elegantly.

Still, I liked the idea, and have been thinking about what I did, and what I could do to improve.

And so I have my Y be normal socks.

These are also knit top down, with a fancy variation of long tail for a cast on.

The cast on, one that I call open/closed long tail has a double yarn in the tail. The increased bulk accentuates the simple variation of the standard long tail, and makes it more interesting--and this cast on is very stretch (even more stretchy than Norwegian long tail!)

Ribbing is a basic 1 X1 (my favorite).

The leg is simple.. stocking knit for the most part, with some lace Clocks on the sides.

The Heel, is Flap/turn/gusset, with a round heel. The flap is worked in a standard heel stitch.

It's after the heel is turned and gusset stitches picked up that the changes become noticeable.

I started, at the top of the gusset, with reverse gusset shaping.

I made all the decreases on the instep part of the sock (not the more conventional sole side)

And I made the decreases more prominent by working K2tog, YO, K2tog (paired with the ever popular SSK, YO, SSK on the other side) to create a lace faggot line of decreases.

I made the heel flap extra long, (40 rows for a 35 stitch flap) and this resulted in the gussets shaping extending long enough to meet in center front of the insole. (Thank you Cat for this inspired gusset.)

After the gusset was complete, I continued the decorative faggoted line down the center top of sock (K2tog, YO, Raised Center Decrease, YO, SSK) (a net 2 stitch decrease) and paired that with a 2 stitch increase on the sole of the sock. (No change in total number of stitches.)

These decreases causes the instep stitches to bias and 'wrap around the foot' . The increases on the sole help the sock curl up and fit snuggly on the underside of the foots arch. (Thank you EZ, for this inspiration.)

About 1 inch before I started the toe shaping, I stopped the foot shaping.

I continued the tail of the Y visually with a decorative -YO, RCD,YO –on the instep, but knit in plain rounds of no increases or decreases.

The toe shaping echo's the Y shape of the instep. at the end of the toe shaping the last 10 stitches were pulled into a drawstring to finish.

Off (and flat) the sock looks strange. The bias knit midsection of the foot looks narrow, and the toe looks swollen. But it fits like a dream. Is this my favorites sock? I don't know... Will I make it again?

Well something like it.. with a different yarn, and a different cast on, and a different stitch pattern in the leg, and a different pattern in the heel flap, and...

Do I have a pattern? No. Do you really need one? Its a basic sock.. sort of!

But I hope these sock inspire you to try something different!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Has everything there is to say about

sock knitting been said?
You'd think it must be... Everywhere you turn, there is a new book (of patterns, of instructions, of ideas..

Blogger after blogger goes on and on about socks (me included!).
But there are some things that some knitters don't yet know.

Many socks are knit at 8 stitches to the inch gauge. Not all, but many.

But here's the rub. With a heavy sock yarn (Louet Sales, or Lion Brand Magic stripes, or Calzetteria yarn, for some examples,) I know I can get:
8 stitches to the inch with US size 3 needles(3.125mm).
And 8 stitches to the inch with US size 2 (2.75mm).

And I get 8.5 stitches to the inch with size 1 needles, (2.25mm)
and 9 stitches to the inch with size 0, (2mm).

Changing needle size doesn't seem to change the gauge very much.

But it changes the fabric of the sock dramatically.

With a size 3 needle, I have a soft fabric.
With a size 2 needle I have a firm fabric

With the size 1 needle, a very firm, dense fabric.
With the size 0 needle, it's like cardboard!--thick, dense and stiff.

The same sort of thing happens with other sock yarns..
A finer yarn might yield 9 stitches to the inch on size 2 needles,
and a similar same 9 stitches to the inch on size 0's.
But the socks knit on size 2's are very different than the ones knit on size 0's.

It's a good idea to swatch with a smaller needles, and keeping going smaller until there is a change in the gauge.
The 8 stitches to the inch fabric knit on size 2's is going result in a snugger, more comfortable sock, and longer lasting sock than the one (also 8 stitches to the inch) knit on size 3's.

Gauge and fabric also change with different needles..

I find I knit much looser with bamboo—I'm trying to compensate for the tack the needles creates.

I knit tighter on metals (aluminum/nickel) I like the slick feel of metal needles.

I knit tighter on 2 circ's (and Magic loop) than I do with DPN's, too.

The gauge is often the same, but the fabric of the knitting changes.

(Of course, since I have discovered the 2 on 2 method, my DPN's seldom get a work out!)

Heel Stitch

The most common heel stitch is a variation of 'birds eye' stitch.

R1: (S1) *K1, S1.
R2: (S1) *Purl.

Many knitters use this pattern as gospel--But there are other options.

The important thing is understand WHY heel stitch is used at all.

1—Heel stitch is a slip stitch, and like all slip stitch patterns, it has more compact rows.
(there are more rows of knitting per inch in heel stitch than there are in stocking knit)

2—Heel stitch, by its nature, causes the columns of knitting to make offset rows.
The Slip stitches straddle 2 rows. This distributes stress on the stitches unevenly.

3—Heel stitch specifically, (and other slip stitches, generally) results in a 'carry/bar' of yarn that creates a double layer of yarn over about 50% of the surface.

This combination of properties makes heel stitch a good choice --for any knitting that will have lots of wear—work gloves (the palms) or collars or shoulder saddles.. any place there is going to be wear-a slip stitch like Heel stitch is going to give extra life to your knitting.

The denser, more compact rows, means there is more more wool (and more wear-ability!) is packed into a smaller space.

The row density is one reason afterthought/peasant heels are rarely worked in heel stitch.. That style heels is shorter (usually) than a heel flap to begin with, worked in a stitch that further shortens the rows per inch would result in a very short heel indeed.

The straddled layers means, when a yarn is worn (through) the knitting is less likely to unravel (run/ladder) because the stitches immediately next to any stitch are not worked in the same row.

The bar (the carried yarn from slipping a stitch) creates a pad, so even if a single stitch fails, there is yarn between your foot and your shoe.

Linen, half linen, honeycomb are equal to the task of heel flaps.

If you usually (or just sometimes) wear you socks with backless shoes, you might want to consider a different stitch for the heel!

Socks are on my mind--and on my needles...
Here are the lastest--I've past the heel and I'm moving rapidly to the toe.

The yarn is Cherry Tree Hill, (color: Jewel tone) a gift Polargirlpurls
a bonus she included in a sock swap we were partnered in last year.

If the socks looks a bit strange, well, they are!

Details include: reversed gussets, a shaped arch and instep—and clocks!

The design is from my head to fingers... I haven't decided on how I am going to shape the toe. I suspect something conventional--but maybe not!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Have you lost your marbles?

I might have found them. I love glass and glass objects.

I love the crystal beauty of it, I love (and hate) that it is to some degree, ephemeral. (I have broken many a drinking glass, and glass vase and glass plate... the list is endless!)

I love the colors, the interplay of clear, translucent and opaque glass.

I've been collecting marbles since I was a teen.

By then, marbles, as a competitive game was becoming passé.

So too, tops, (an other cut throat competitive game, too) and conkers, and scully...

Competitive kite flying (as in The Kite Runner) had disappeared before my time.

Now days, all sorts of cutthroat games like these have gone away. Play has been become all team work and cooperation. It's all adult supervised, and the idea of playing a game with bit of glass and the object of smashing, chipping, breaking the others guys stuff is—well--unheard of.

But there are still marbles about.

I have about 60 marbles.. mostly glass with a few (4 or 5) shooters--including 1 aggie. (but no steelies)

I find my marbles, 1 at a time, in the most unlikely places. My most recent one, in the gutter of my side street.

Don't let the word “side street” fool you. It's 4 lanes of traffic, plus 2 lanes of parking. In one direction it's a feeder road to an on ramp of I-495 (LIE) in the other direction, it's part of a bus route--to La Guardia Airport.

There aren't any houses (or stores) across the street from me,--just the open terraces of a large multi story parking garage. And “my side”? A long (about double the length of an average) block—the side of a an over sized parcel that has 6 Hi-rise buildings, (each with 120 + apartments, ) a pool, two play areas, and parking garages. (underground)

Still a marble washed out from somewhere, and got carried along till the rain ended and then it stuck in the sand and mud wash out. Just the top quarter remained above the mud, glinting in the sun.

It is amazing, and yet not so, that I can find about 1 marble a year in NYC.
But, then, I look for marbles.. I seek them out and I find them.


Some people look for trouble (and they too find it everywhere) some look for worst in people, and they find that too.

I look for beauty. Marbles are just little bits of beauty.. but I find them.. and each time I am reminded to pay attention of my focus—I know, what every I look for, I will find.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sunny Yellow

There is an internet movement about(well, there are lots of internet movements about...) making 2008 the year to knit from the stash.

I tend to be aware inter-net knitting movements, but –for the most part, not part of them.

Still, I frequently knit from my stash (alas, more frequently, it seems I am adding to the stash!)

During my recent foray into face cloth knitting, I went digging in the stash for some pastel bamboo that I remembered I had, (found it!) and found two unexpected yarns.
One I half remembered—some Pineapple yellow Cotton Ease (this is Lion Brands old Cotton Ease) 4 full and 1 partial skeins, and another –totally forgotten about--full skein of soy silk in a deep blue tone.

The Cotton Ease is now ready to be repositioned, (from stash to linen closet)--but the soy and bamboo?
Alas, with 9 face clothes already, and 9 more in the box to be mailed tomorrow, my DIL is up to her eyeballs in face cloths—or so she claims.

Really? 18 face cloths are enough? But I still have bamboo, and soy, and cotton chenille and cotton and linen blends, and silky mercerized cotton, and worsted weight cotton and...
All-in all, a 2 gallon zip lock bag of yarn is politely waiting to turn into face cloths!

And my stash isn't really that much smaller.. (just better organized!)

Oh well, it's time to move on.. the socks I cast on last week are still at row 1, and there are UFO's a plenty waiting attention, and a hat design has been fermenting and is close to reaching fullness and almost ready to be knit.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Dozen (depending on when you started counting)

I tend to be a process knitter. I knit to knit. I sometimes get attached to what I knit, and have trouble sharing the knitting, but often, I just knit.

Not quite mindlessly.. I usually want a challenge. And a change. I want to knit something new –new to me, and often a new idea.

Thanksgiving 2007 was shared with my son and DIL and family. (a generous risk on her part!)

My DIL knits; and spins, and felts, and works and maintains a house (not just the everyday cooking, cleaning and managing clutter) but home improvements; painting, decorating, tiling, redoing (kitchens, baths, bookcases!)

I wanted to bring something-- (actually I brought several things!) small and for the family. I decided on wash clothes. And brought some I had sitting around.

They were a hit. I am sure DIL thinks about knitting wash cloths.. just as, I am sure she thinks about sitting in the tub, relaxing, reading and enjoying a hot cup of tea. Unfortunately, thoughts like these are idle dreams. Family, career, the all consuming needs of the every day force her to pick some things, and pass on others.

One day they will have grown up and moved on!)

So, I've been filling in.

Some points:
These are wash (face) cloths, not dish cloths.
They are made from cotton (some) and bamboo, and soy silk, and chenille, and (at some point, linen)
They are so much fun to knit.
They are a fun way to try out some stitches, and some edges, (and to confirm, NO I DO NOT LIKE....)

Last night I finished cloth # 12. (Not counting the 5-- I brought at Thanksgiving).
These are the latest.. (see here and here for previous photo'd ones)

I still have some more bamboo (3 full skeins, 2 partial) and some more cotton chenille (2 full skeins) and some soy silk (2 partial skeins) and I still have cotton.

I am earmarking some of the cotton for my daughter.. She re-doing. too. Her Pepto Bismal Pink bath is being redone in white bead board and sunny yellow.. And she'll no doubt need some yellow wash cloths for her new bath!--she might even end up with a new bath mat, too.
12 wash clothes hardly make a dent in stash.

And then along came Ms. Lacey.
Ms Lacey is a woman of a certain age. And she's cleaning out some of her SABLE.

Since I have a car, I picked up the yarn she is sharing..

It will be shared by the LICKnits group. Carolyn will take some of the acrylic—not much for the 2 weeks each summer she spends at children's camp where she teaches knitting.

We'll fight over the fine wools—several of us love to knit lace.

And gasp at the quantity (4 black (trash) bags full!

(I wrote (but didn't post this several days ago.. since then.. well hopefully I'll get the updates posted in a timely manner!)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

On shopping and voting....

Last year, December 24th, the weather in the NY Metro area was wicked. It was just above freezing, (about 35° F), raining, and windy—sustained winds of 20 to 30 mph, with gusts up to 45mph.

The local (and not so local) stores --were packed with shoppers.

I live next to a small (very small by national standards) shopping complex --not quite a mall, but a collection 5 national chains (Sears/Marshall's/Bed, Bath & Beyond/Old Navy/Circuit City) in a single 2 story building with a attached multi-story parking complex— and I could see this for myself.

A mile or so away, there is a real mall (multi leveled, 150 + stores, with even more national chains, (Target, for one, and a food court of restaurants) Parking at both of these locations is not free, (not even with validation!) and it too was packed.

In NY, as in much of the nation, these stores opened early (4 am in some cases!) and were open late.

And, in spite of the rain and winds and cold, every where in the local area, the stores were packed. News broadcasts carried stories of scaffolding being blown over and of shoppers walking over it to get to the stores to shop.

Out side my window, there was traffic, and congestion (and honking of horns, and police directing traffic) at the shopping center across from me. And this being NYC, a large percentage of the shoppers didn't drive to the stores. The local stop of the subway was busy, (as was the next stop at the larger mall (Queen's Center))--and more cops were stationed there.

Nothing, not even foulest of weather was going to keep people for spending money they didn't have, for things they didn't need, to impress people they don't like.

Today, it's overcast today.. and humid, but it's not raining.. (though has rained earlier, and looks like it might rain again, later.)

It's unseasonable mild—with an expected high in the 50° (f). It's not a great day to cut school or work, and to be out and about, but it's far from being the sort of day that makes you want to snuggle up on couch with a warm drink, and good book.

It's a grey day, but not bad weather, not by any stretch of the imagination.

And it's primary day. NY is a big state, and we have a 'local' politician running for an elected office.. (a big office).

My electioneering district covers my apartment complex (6 hi rise coop buildings, about 1200 residences) and some other residences, (mostly 1 and 2 family homes). OK, so many of my immediate neighbors are perhaps, not yet citizens—many of my neighbors are immigrants, from points all round the globe.

So, lets say half— 600 residencesor so—house families that have eligible voters.

And of these 600, some,maybe, many are families.. (the buildings are a mix of studios, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, and 3 bedroom apartments) and a percentage of the these families are likely to have 2 adults*,--so perhaps, there are 800 potential voters—from my co-op alone. (*Even single parents are likely to have adult (college age) kids living at home.. this being NY)

I voted in the primary this morning, as one of my list of 'chores' (a list that started with breakfast with a friend!) I was, at 10 am or so, the 27th voter (for my party--the big one in NYC) ) in my district.

How sad.

I sometime thing there should be a poll tax..

That you should have line up and buy the right to vote—there should be early bird specials, and end of the day discounts.

Nicer polling places could have carpeting, and complimentary beverages—or maybe just a Starbucks franchise in place.

The poor, (as the poor always do) would have small, dark and dingy polling places.. but all the big national candidates would still vie to have there candidate positioned in these polls,--just as cigarette and soda distributes vie for space in the smallest quikee mart, and bodega.

Of course, some of the poor would go to vote in the fancy polling places—paying the poll tax with a credit card, and spending months paying it off (at 26%apr).

Maybe, if we felt as strongly about voting as we think about shopping,
more of us we be doing it.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Silent Poetry Reading.

This is one that has been a favorite for several decades.

When I have Fears that I may cease to be

WHEN I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high piled books, in charact’ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love!—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

John Keats (1795–1821)

Friday, February 01, 2008

Indian Cross Stitch Scarf-and Dragon Scales

Three Five comments, all about 1 stitch pattern.. It is pretty, isn't it?

It can be found in The Big Book of Knitting Stitches, where it's called Waves, but a more common name is Dragon Scales—which is what it is called in Leisure Arts Encyclopedia of Knitting, and other stitch dictionaries. There is a pattern for a pair of socks (somewhere—on line? Recently in a knitting magazine?) that features the pattern, too.

There are several variations.. the one I did has a column of 2 knit stitches separating the 'scales/waves', some versions have a single column of knits, others have 3. Some versions have mirror image panels, (my version doesn't)

I used a simple script e cast on for a make one.. some versions have YO, other use a lifted increase.

Another interesting stitch is the Indian Cross stitch.

This starts with an elongated stitch (either wrap the yarn round the needle 3 times, not once, to make an over sized loops/or add a YO between each knit stitch.)

First 6 stitches at time are slipped, and the extra wraps/YO's are dropped, (to elongate) .

Then they are returned to left needle, out of order. Before returning the stitches to the left needle, stitches 1, 2, and 3 are pulled over stitches 4, 5 and 6.
They aren't cabled, but rather the last three stitches of the group, tunnel under the first three.

Then knit all six, (first stitch 4, then 5, then 6, then 1, 2, 3. ) --then repeat with the next group of six.

The elongated stitches are easy to manipulate. This Stitch is a great way to show off fancy yarns, and even a simple ribbon yarn looks special.

I made a version with Lion Brand Ribbon Yarn, (and a size 13/9mm needle) but experiment--use this pattern as a springboard for your own design.

Cross Stitch Lace Ribbon Scarf

Lion Brand Incredible ribbon yarn—color Rainbow.
Short scarf (apx 60”x 8”) 3 balls/Extra Long scarf (apx 77” x 8”) 4 balls
Size 13 needles (9mm) (gauge is not critical for this pattern)

Cast on 34 stitches. (Long tail cast on suggested)
Row 1 to 4 Knit every row.

Row 1 Knit every stitch (Right side)
Row 2: P2 K30, P2
Row 3: Knit every stitch (right side)
Row 5 Knit every stitch (reverse stocking knit)
Row 6: K2, YO, K1, (30 times) YO, K2 (right side)
Row 7 : K2, *slip 6 stitches, letting YO’s drop . Let all 6 stitches elongate.

Take left needle, and pick up first three slipped stitches and cross them over the remaining three stitches, (in an action similar pulling stitches over another to bind off)--BUT do not drop the stitches, keep them on left needle.

Then transfer the last three stitches to left needle. Knit all 6 stitches in the new order. Repeat from * 4 more times. Knit 2—

Note the extra YO's/wraps at end of row also gets dropped. It will provide ease for last to knit stitches

Row 8: Knit every stitch (right side)
Row 9: P2, K30, P2.
Row 10 Knit every stitch (right side)
Row 11: knit every stitch (reverse stocking knit)
Row 12: P2, K30, P2

Repeat the pattern rows 17 (23) times, or till scarf reaches desired length.
End with 4 rows of garter stitch.