Monday, January 31, 2011

It's Back

I got my knitting mojo back, the tried and true, no fail way.

I cast on. Socks, naturaly, lovely toe up sock. Not socks from my list (what? Follow a plan?) but these—this is Deborah Norville's Serenity sock yarn—a post Stitch 'n Pitch purchase--(there was a sale and coupon) Just the two balls (50gm) in a color called Picasso Marble - Of course they really don't match much in my wardrobe—well not a good match. Medtium and dark grey, some green ( really lovely green like green marble) and some redish orange. This yarn is one of last years 'sock club kits' I made up and never got around to knitting. Its so handy to grab and go.

The yarn is one of those super fine socks yarns –I am knitting with 1's--(2.5m) but I could easily go down to size 0, (2mm) and have a denser fabric that still wasn't too stiff. A 9 stitches per inch gauge is about as small as I go for my gunboat sized feet.

Toe up this time—for no other reason that its been a while since I did a pair of toe up socks. I started with Judy's magic cast on –because I like it best for socks. I cast on 22, and by round 2 had 24, (one increase in the side edge of the round, to help prevent mouse ears that sometimes occur with this cast on for toe up socks.

Now I am a up to 68 stitches—A little more than I need, and the toe completed. You can't see it—but the fronts (started already—but just 1 R) will have side cables—A purl, 4 knits, a Purl—not a huge cable element-(I grew up wearing cabled knee socks as part of a school uniform—and I learned to dislike both knee socks and cabled socks!) but just a small cable stripe. The yarn patterns enough that I don't need or want too much in the way of design—but just little somethng to keep it interesing.

So now, with mojo restored, I'll go and finish my mystery project (on great honking big size 8's) and finish all the details. I still need some buttons (but the closure is actually going to be snaps) so I can chose any button I want, and not worry too much about the size. I need a feather boa too, to finish the top neck edge.. Details, Details, its all about the details.

And I'll run to the store for bread and milk and eggs (not) since once again this week, snow. I do need some supplies (fresh veggies—especially onions) but not the classic.

I think even the kids are growing bored with all the snow. Its just no fun anymore. Worst of it is—Traditionally February is the month with the heaviest snow fall round here. And we are starting the month with fresh snow.

Already (like much of the north east (and even the south east!) we have more snow--twice the norm--for a year. I think for NYC the count is at 56 or so inches so far--and the average for a year is close to 24 to 25 inches.

NYC is ten square miles--The measurement reflect Central Park snow fall (at the weather station.) I am closer to LGA (3 miles) than to Centeral Park( 7 miles) and based on the snow fall measurements at LGA I think my neighborhood has had closer to 60 inches of snow. It's just too much!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Winter Doledrums are Here

It's been almost a week since I picked up needles and really got some knitting done.

I'm achy (and hoping is arthritis, and not an precurser to the flu!) and tired, and down in the dumps.

Walking is no fun—yesterday I was doing fine—till I stepped in a hidden pot hole (it was filled level with snow ice and slush and gave no hint of being six inched below grade) and wrenched my knee. No serious damage, and I didn't fall, but it's tender.

So I made some comfort food. I've been reading about slow rise breads for months—yesterday, I final got some dough mixed up—and this afternoon—some flat bread.

One half is seeds and spice, (with a light dusting of herbs) the other side is mostly herbs, with sun dried tomatoes, and a light dusting of seeds and herbs. Both halfs hand a snowy covering of fresh grated hard cheese.

A bit of left over dough turned into 9 bread sticks--(now reduced to 6)--only great restraint has kept the 6 from becoming zero. They will be zero by tonight--soup and some salad and bread stick-mmm--that will be a nice dinner.

The plain (white flour, water and yeast) dough has a wonderful rich taste. I know I am going to make more of this as the winter goes on. More flat bread, some loves, and bread sticks—a whole range. I know that the trick to rich flavor is slow rising-- and if the plain white bread taste this good—the whole grain is going to be even better.

I have lots of whole grains—Wheat flour, whole grain corn, oat, rye, buckwheat, and a bunch of seeds (seseme, pumpkin, sunflower) and next time I think I will make a health loaf of whole grains with seeds. I don't make bread much any more—I did it all winter when my kids were young (and they now inturn, make home made bread for themselves and my grandchildern.

My mother never much made bread—but her yeasted sweet rolls? I have never come close to making anything as wonder as them—and while I am not much of fan of pie—her crust set the standard (and I still have never come close to duplicating it.)

Her sister, my aunt Gay, was the expert at brown bread—a whole grain soda bread—and no one else could ever come close to making anything as good as hers.

It's interesting how each of us continues a tradition of cooking—but each new generatons has different skills.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oh yeah Life

I have one. Mostly it's good. Not a lot of money, but good.
Every once in a while.. it's not. (I am not going to dwell)

The good is I worked (and good fun work it was!) at Vogue Live. I was one member (of 2) assisting at the WoolStock Yarn Shop booth. WoolStock is appenently well known for their top notch yarns sales. (A HUGE selection of yarns, in mostly 10 skein packs—and sold as a pack—for about 50% normal retail price. Yarns like Noro, Katia, Debbie Bliss, Louisa Harding, Elisabeth Lavisold. Mountains of it! )

The bad is: I was so busy! We were was bone tired by Saturday night, but Leslye please that the mountain of yarn was reduced to a mole hill—and that was just the yarn! She had other stuff—Sweater Kits, huge shawl (or were they small throws?) kits, DVD, and other more and that was going well too) but all this kept me from getting around and seeing much of even the market place.

MY plan—was to spend some of (not so) hard earned money on yarn Sunday—but my plan went south—and I didn't get to Vogue Live Sunday.
The good news I didn't buy any yarn—the bad news, I didn't buy any yarn!
Things are better—and now I am back--And things are worse—It's snowing again!
OK, not worse, BUT it is snowing again.

When things where bad, I knit up a storm—but storms are a mess—and so was my knitting.
Knitting is great for releiving tension and worry—but I shouldn't knit anything complex—a good bunch of the knitting is now in the frog pile! I feel better—but my knitting is a little worse!

I've also been working on pages for my new Web Page—some tutorials, and some other pages, and some bells and whistles. (and photos!) I got the contact/feed back page to work—and added a stub (there is a page, but its blank!) for tutorials. And I have other pages under constructions.
The plan is to keep it easy to navigate, but rich in content.

And while I planned to dot this post with photos- from Vogue Live—my camera has decided differently! Oh well.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Oh, yeah my new dot com

It's going live--but its not yet done.

It's got some good bones and a bit of flesh, and more flesh every day (4 more pages are under construction!)

It's Oftroy's Golden Apples Web page (or use the new link on left column)

One thing it does, is to bring all my stuff together--a one shot shopping place--for all my patterns (well not quite all of them yet, but most! and all soon), for all of my videos (again, not quite all yet, but organized so its easier to find the Video you want), my blog (Oh wait you are here already!) my store (empty right now, but just you wait!) my tutorials (the 4 pages under construction!) galleries of my work (so far, only a sock gallery, but more to come!)

More links to come (to other blogs I love, and other stuff (Ravelry natch!) some information about me, my schedule (pretty open right now, but that will change!) and (not yet even under construction!) information about arranging for for classes. (at your guild, in your LYS, in your neighborhood).

I'll still be making videos, and writting tutorials, and making blog posts--but if you want to find something, it will be easier (some what easier now, a lot easier as time goes by!) to head over to the web page and find it (either directly or as a link) there.

One page that doesn't work (yet) is the contact me page--so for now, all comments have to be here!

Things around here are a bit hectic at the moment--so I don't have time to post about the Vogue Live--(I didn't see much, bought nothing, but Oh the wonderful people and old friends I met!)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Just a place holder

to let you know, I haven't forgotten about you..

I'm working (today, next few days) at the Vogue Live market place...

took a bunch of photo's, but to dead tired now to do more than type a paragraph or two.

Even working I say many other booths, and tons of lovely yarns, and wonderful people.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What Have I Been Doing?

Not much (tons!)
I have been knitting—mystery project is taking shape (not true, its basicly shapeless, it just gettting bigger) Wanna see? There isn't much too see, and this is not the best view (intentionally) but its also 16 inches long now.. the end is approaching!

I have been editing and improving patterns –getting them into a PDF format to add to my Ravelry store. (dull plodding work at times, but well written patterns are a thing of joy, and I want them right!)

I have been writing code too. With a lot of effort, you can find my blog—it's hidden in plain sight rigth now—It's still a work in progress, and not quite ready for the public yet. It's just 3 days old right now, and a good start, but still rough around the edges.

I have content in 5 of the 8 pages, (3 are just empty stubs/place holders)
But I need to add more content, and to fine tune the details of the current content, and add photos (some that I haven't even taken yet!)

Oh and look at this—Some fiber--(roving) that I KNEW I was never going to spin—was given away--it was an ounce or 2 of alpaca. I offered more fiber to another spinner—Liz--(half for me, half for her—as a payment for spinning it up) and she spun and plied it all—and returned all of it to me!

So 2 skeins (about 160 yards total) of this natural white merino. See?

And 2 skeins (about 285 yards total) of this red—which Liz thinks is just a plain domestic wool (not a specific variety) –which is so soft and lofty! I want to make something with it RIGHT NOW.

But I can't!
I have to finish mystery project—the deadline is closer every day!--and I am not finished yet!
I have to knit up a pair of fingerless gloves for a birthdy gift (due the beginning of next week!) these are likely going to be knit on the subway this weekend.
I haven't started (a quick knit once I do, but I haven't started) a tea towel (the kind with knitted loop tops attached to a bit of cloth) for my DD (its supposed to be a birthday present—and her birthday was last week!)
I have to get some laundry done—I need to look spiffy this weekend—I will be working at the Woolstock Yarn Shop booth in the Vogue Live market place-- (come see me, (and buy something) if you are there.) I will be wearing (natch!) some things I have knit—and matching socks, too!
I have some samples to knit for showcase--(OK I don't need them till march, but they aren't going to knit themselves!)

And I have to BLOG!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Golden Opportunities-for Shopping!

Getting Organized--and getting it together--That is The PLAN.
Of course, a blog isn't the best way to do this--(and a web page is in the making.)

Right now, things are scattered about. Over the years, as I have tried out different ideas and different solutions-- I have different offerings--Patterns, (both for sale and free ones) that can be found in several different places, my Videos, (mostly cast ons, but tutorials on other knitting techniques as well)--but there hasn't been a good list and a set of links to go with them, and my Facebook Golden Apples fan page--which has some ONLY AVIALABLE there stuff!
Last but far from least, this blog! (and there is more to come!)

You might not be aware of all the STUFF you can buy or download, or learn from--seeing as some of it (Most of it?) is scattered here and there.

Shouldn't I offer a 1 stop shopping --for patterns (for sale) and for free pattern, and for tutorials? All in one place-for your convenience? Well, even that is still in the making--but here is a start!
Its Not Every pattern, or Every Video, or every thing-- this page will be updated from time to time, as more and more patterns become standardized and put into an easy to use PDF's.

Double click on any image to link to my Ravely Store, where you can purchase via PayPal.
There are a selection of hats--from lace to cables, classic beenie styles or classic berets.

First--this lovely little Thistle Hat available in 2 sizes(children/adult)--Its perfect for Bobby Burn's birthday celabrations--The thistle is the nation flower of Scotland. Price: $3.00

Have you tried double knitting? It's the easiest way to do color work--and these head bands are a great way to start. 2 charts, 2 styles of hems, 2 colors of yarn--Double knit into a great alternate option to a hat--double layering makes them twice as warm. Keep your ears and neck warm, with out the bother of a full hat. Price: $3.00

What could be better? A sunny yellow flower beret to brighten up dull dark days of winter! Not that you have to make a sunny yellow hat--Flowers come in all sorts of colors--pick one that makes your day--or matches your winter coat. Price: $3.00

Sort of slouch hat, sort of ribbed one--a pompom and button tab add a dash of whimsical style. This hat is knit flat, and easy enough for a beginner. Price: $3.00

I call this Cable Hat Syncopated Rhythm--because it knit up to one. Single ribs, double ribs, an odd--(11 stitch) repeat. It's a great little (or not so little!) hat. Made with fine yarn, on small needles, and a fine gauge, its a baby hat--Make it again in aran weight yarn, on medium large needles, and it will fit a large man's noggin! Larger gauge makes also deep brim and taller hat--Its a great hat for the entire family. Price: $3.00

This scarf is a bit of luxury--It can be made with a single skein (albeit a $25 skein) of wool/cashmere blend--or from you favorite lace weigh yarn. What ever the choice of yarn in a short while you too can have a lovely Waterfall of lace. Pretty enough to be a fashion accessory, warm enough to make mockier of cold winter days--Especially if made in a cashmere blend.
The lace pattern is both written out, and charted-- Price: $3.00

Wait--not sure if my patterns are well written and technically up to snuff?
Try out one--or more-- of my free patterns--get an idea of the kind of value you can find.
Most of these free patterns are simpler--but all have great style--What every your style!
To download a PDF of any pattern, click on the download now link.

First--(and just in time!)The Sweet Heart Hat--the hearts are stranded--and just a small motif--a great firt time stranded work project--and just the perfect thing for Valentine's day.

My most popular design--Over 80 different version are posted on Ravelry--Several knitter have knit the pattern 2 and 3 times! Its just a basic watch cap--simple 2 by 2 ribbing--but the decreases that from a cross make it special!

Find directions (not a PDF) here

The Red Star Beret is a classic beret design--the raised center decreases natural create a simple 5 pointed star--Luckily, stars come in blue, yellow white--a range of colors--not just red. Pick your favorite color and have a star of your own.

download now

This knit Flower and Leaf is shown as a shawl pin. But it takes almost no effort to sew it onto a jewel pin base (instead of sewing onto a stick pin) or to knit it up and sew it onto a plain hand knit (or store bought) hat. (There is a video tutorial to see for your self how easy it is to create.)

A Double Knit gingham pattern for a Potholder.
I like to think of pot holders (or hot mats, or coasters--all simple squares) as over sized swatches for learning double knitting techniques.
Pick any two colors--to match your kitchen, and begin practicing double knitting techniques with this classic design.

I have over 20 helpful videos--use the links to find the ones you want. Soon these will be replaced with professional quality versions.

first--Single Yarn Cast ons
Starting with the Simple cast--the simplest cast on and some variations
The Double Knotted (super stretchy!) cast on
The I-cord cast on (with I cord edging)
The Crocheted Cast on--(which can also be a provisional cast on)
An other interesting stretch single yarn cast on --a left hand version of TillyBuddy's (her rav name) cast on

then Double (and treble!) yarn Cast Ons
My most popular video--a no waste yarn invisible cast on (aka an Italian Cast on)
The Basic Long tail (review) and Varitions (Open/closed and twisted)
A multi color Braided Cast on (great when paired with a Latvian Braid stitch, see below)
A Long Tail Variation--excellent for Double knitting
An Open/Closed Long Tail Cast on (aka an Estonian Cast on)

Special techniques
A knit flower made from the Latvian twist edging--See the Knit Flower Pin (a free pattern) for details
Latvian braiding--Part 1 and Part 2 which look wonderful when you start with a multi color braided cast on (above)

Tutorials-Available only on The Golden Apples Face Book Fan Page
Two Socks on 2 Circular needles--How to cast on and set up

Well--that a start! There is lots more to come--
Looming on the horizon are more hat patterns, a sweater pattern, and a Series of Professional videos--And hopefully, a schedule of classes.

A Distraction

This is the first proto type of a new hat design—The Milk Maid's Bonnet.

It has a lace brim in front, and a tied ruffled peplum back.

It has lots of shaping—short rows in the main body of the hat, along with pleat like decreases in the back, the peplum and brim have short row shaping too.

But I think it's worth it--all the detail make the hat something special.

I jotted down lots of notes as I knit the prototype (in Red Heart). I'll take detailed notes and document the construction details when I make it again, (in a wool) and at the same time tweak some of the details. (For 1, the stitch count was off by 1 stitch, and while I was able to hide it (under the back bow) it would be better if the count was spot on.)

The whole thing is a distraction from what I should be knitting. Before I refine the details of this hat, I'll get back to what I should be doing-- and finish the mystery project!

But it is a pleasant distractions, isn't it?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Success and Failure

Success (not my success, but!)
I have LOTS and LOTS of knitting books—a few pattern books, more technique books and the most stitch books. I love stitch collections—what ever they are called.

The best stitch collections in my opinion have these characteristics:
1—Clear (color) photographs, and clear explanations of how to use the book and some knitting basics.
2—Written directions for working the pattern
3—Charted directions for working the pattern
4—Standard abbreviations, and easy to read symbols for the charts.
5—Value (rated by how many patterns in a collection, for how much money.)

I had a Barnes and Noble gift card ($25) burning a hole in my pocket---and I ended up buying the new Reader's Digest Book-The Essential Stitch Collection.

1—It has great photography—and in the intro, it has some very good information—I especially liked the example shown of a lace stitch—one version in a lace weight mohair, another in a smooth worsted—demonstrating how the appearance of a stitch pattern is VERY dependent on the yarn/gauge.

2 and 3—for almost every pattern, there are both written and charted directions.
4—A bonus! As a footer on each page, there is a guide to the symbols used in the pattern on the page!
If I want to follow a chart, and it contains an unfamiliar symbol-I don't have to go back and forth from the pattern page to the index page,(which helpfully folds out.. so even if I do need to reference, I can do it with out flipping back and forth!) I can just check the meaning of the symbol on the bottom of the page. EVERY Book should provide this.

5—Value. Ideally, (in my estimation) stitch patterns should cost $0.10 (10cents US) per pattern or less. All collections include the basics (stocking knit, garter, 1 X 1 or 2 X2 ribbing) so there is always a percentage of stitch patterns that are 'fill” (all but the very most beginner knitters know them)

This book has 300 well organized stitches, (some unique ones—NEW ONES to me—and I already own a dozen collections already!) and the book list at $24.95-($0.08 per pattern) but it is widely discounted to $15.99--(or $0.05 per pattern)--so it is a value collection.

If this book were spiral bound (instead of a conventional binding) it would be perfect- as is, its nearly perfect! If you are looking for a good addition to your crafting library, this book is a good place to start!

I am always experimenting—and trying out new ideas..sometimes, like my Leaf Me Alone hat—I have near successes, and eventually a real success. But lots of times, I have failures. Most just get frogged and forgotten about.

This bit of knitting is one—a colossally one. The yarn is Red Heart (acrylic) from stash--(and it will be frogged and reused!) I am trying again—with a total re-think—and the newer, revised version of this milk maids cap is already looking better. Gone is the 1.25 inch hem (replaced with a 3 stitch I-cord!)

Gone are the buttons and buttonholes (seen as green waste yarn) Added—a neck ruff and brim—and delicate, pretty shaping. It won't be finished for a while.. Other projects have more priority.

Like my mystery project—FINALLY on to skeins 5 & 6 (just the first row ) but hey, its progress!
Its just short of 14 inches--(of 19? 20? 21 inches?—i haven't decided yet on the final desired length) So it will likely need part of skeins 7 & 8—but not too much.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bad news, good news and bags of stuff

The bad news is the second pair of skeins are hanging on like grim death—and still not completely knit up.

The good news (and good new it is!) is: the mystery project measures 11 inches—which is more than half way done! I've finished element 2 and now I am moving onto element 3 –well half true. Design element 2 (and 3 ) are staggered, and repeated (once) and I've just finished the first repeat—but it is progress and it always get more interesting to knit when things change.

Today the first repeat of design element 3, (and some of 2, as well, but half as much) and soon, very soon, balls 5 & 6 of the yarn.. When that happens, it will really feel like progress is being made!Meanwhile, I've bagged up 6 socks kits.
First--The red, white, shades of greys and black socks, (likely to be the first pair I knit)

Next, the blue and white swirl top socks--(almost the same as the grey & raspberry ones from late last year)--but the swirl pattern will be accented with beading.

The blue is a dark navy--the white and beads will really dress it up.

My indigo yarn (dyed for me by LICraftGirl(dyed by her for me in '09) is being paired with the last few yards of the bright peachy koigu—Lots of contrast- I suspect the indigo will bleed and fade, and the bright peach will be muddied.. Or maybe it won't—it will be fun to see how these socks weather time and machine washing.

The KroyFX in gray will be worked in a pattern with a granite stitch –bedrock socks! NYC's bedrock is 2 different kinds of granite—The Bronx is gneiss, Manhattan is schist, (and Queens is (for geographic purposes, part of Long Isand—which is made from 2 eroding terminal morains.) I almost wish for some angelica or other sparkles—most of the granite in the area is shot through with mica and is glittery, and this sock yarn is matte.

The Cervinia (the red) are not on my list(see The PLAN) —but I like red socks, and I have plans for a red skirt... and they made the cut. I haven't got any more plans for this yarn except to make socks.

The last one is some yarn left over from LAST years sock club kit. I still don't know what pattern or theme for this yarn—one reason they never got knit last year! Likely a generic sock –I'll just let the stripe pattern of the yarn provide all the interest. The bright colors are spring-like knowing me-- I'll get them finished by September!

But that's OK—I like to keep socks—unworn—for a while. I like to let them mellow out—and I like knowing any day can be special –I can wear a pair of socks for the first time. (the Roy G Biv socks, finished in June last year , didn't get there first wearing till October) I haven't worn the Koigu socks yet, and the monkey socks are waiting in stand-by, too.

The whole kit and kabododdle--ready to be put on a shelf, and plucked off any time I am ready.

Monday, January 10, 2011

January's Socks

Are done!

A short sock—but the previous

one, (the Peachy Lace socks) were extra tall socks (10 inches finished length—vs my more usual 9 inch tall socks) Over the course of time, it balances out to have some short, some medium and some tall socks. I don't particularly like knee socks, so they are not ever going to be in the mix!

Some details--Remember how I measured my leg, foot and ankle?

My leg is 10 inches—the sock at the leg measures 9 inches. (4.5 is a half measure)

My foot is 10 inches –the sock, at the foot measures 8 inches (about 4 inches is half measure)

My anke is 12 inches—the sock at the ankle meausres 11 inches (5.5 is the half measure)

At all times, the sock is smaller than my actual measurements--this is called negative ease.

I cast on 64 stitches, at the gusset I had 74 stitches, in the foot 60 stitches. (I made 1 extra set of decreases in the gusset and a matching set of decreases, at the “side seam” on the bottom of the foot)The little gusset is quite evident--if you know were to look for it--but its also small and not very evident if you don't!
This slight changes in stitch count makes a sock that is barely snug on the leg, has plenty of ease at the ankle, and is a bit snugger on the foot--just the way I like my socks!
Without the 10 extra stitches-An extra inch of sock!--the ankle would measure about 10 inches—and would be the snuggest part of the sock—instead of being the loosest! Still, everywhere, the sock is smaller than my actual foot. It fits because knitting stretches. If the sock were looser, (closer to my actual foot measurements), the sock would tend to slip and bunch up—we've all had that happen at least once--A sock that works it way off our foot as we walk, and bunches up (uncomfortable!) in ours shoes!

The extra stitches in the cast on and leg work for me. I like a looser sock (well looser in the leg!) and the extra stitches work well with the heel. When I undid the waste yarn, 1 picked up all the live stitches (32/31) AND I picked up a stitch in each 'half stitch either side of the waste yarn.--for a total of 34/33. Then I made a single increase, (on the foot) to correct the count—34/34. So the heel was worked with even more stitches—these extra stitches are the source of the extra ease--they also made it easier to make a deep heel—another factor in a good fitting sock. Many knitters dislike this style of heel because it is too shallow –extra stitches allow an extra deep heel with out ending up with a too narrow and pointy one.

It's one of the many joys of knitting socks—the ability to fine tune the fit.. In my case, for a high instep and swelling –Unlike most people, my feet are at there largest in the AM—RA does a number on them as I sleep. I wake up and waddle on swollen joint to the shower. When I shower, I close the drain. As I shower, my feet get soaked in the standing 2 to 3 inches of my tub (hot water!) . After the shower, I dress and put on warm woolen socks—and my feet begin to feel good.. The warm water soak –short as it is, makes my joins feel more limber. But my joints are, still, a bit swollen. Wide legged socks are easier to put on. My morning walk help ease the residual swelling and pain—and as the day goes on, the swelling tends to go away. (some times the pain does too!)

On busy days, when I have been out and about and doing thing, my snug when I put them on shoes are almost a half size too loose—unlike many who find gravity (and water) have made their feet swell! As I settle down in the evening, things change again—less movement, more stiffness and swelling--and in the morning after a good nights sleep, I start over again.

Speaking of starting over again—I think I will pack up some of my sock club kits today—I won't start on my next sock till I have my mystery project complete (and I am behind on my self imposed schedule—so I need to get cracking on that!) But it will be nice to have a pretty display of potential socks all lined up—ready to reach there potential lickity split!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

The First FO done in the O-double 1

It's not the monkey socks—though they have been worked on!

Right now, they are awaiting contrasting colored toes and heels.

The foot--measured from the row of waste yarn, is just over 5.5 inches. Toe and heel will add the just over 3 more inches—and bring the length to the required 9 inches of foot. I still haven't done any work on the finishing—so there is that to do too.

But—as is want to happen-- some yarn jumped into my hands, and demanded to be knit. So 24 yours later—a quick and simple pair of fingerless gloves.

The yarn is Adriafil Knitcol Trends--I got 2 skeins last year from someone who knows I knit (they were left behind, and had sat in lost and found for 90 days, unclaimed, and where about to be tossed).

Both skeins were different color ways—making them, well, of limited use. (and the $9.99 price tag made it unlikely I would go out and get more!)

After dividing the yarn so I could have matching stripes, and knitting, I have a few yards left—maybe a quick simple hat in a solid wool and a contrasting cast on of the left overs.

So that's it! Some almost socks, and some fingerless gloves.

Friday, January 07, 2011


What can I say about socks that hasn't already been said?!

Sock are closed end tubes, (so is a hat) that, most frequently, have a bend, for a better fit.
Socks are simple!

Basic socks can be made in LOTS of ways, but the two most common are:
Toe up (an eastern style) or Top down (a european style) (in the US—both styles are common!) In addition, sock can also be knit crosswise, flat and seamed, and other novelty styles.

The basic shape (a bent closed ended tube) can be done with thousands of different details
Starting with the top or cuff down--
There are a number of cast ons, and edging, then, frequently there is a cuff. Frequently the cuff is ribbing (and I couldn't begin to count all the styles of ribbing!) but garter stitch, and edgings (I-cord, or lace, or double knit tubes.) are almost as common! Combinations of details, (lace and ribbing, or icord edging and ribbing, other combinations are as varied as can be. It not uncommon for a sock to have several cuff details!

Then there is the leg (the portion of the sock above the heel)
In sports socks this can be non-existent! On the other extreme are full length hose that end somewhere in the mid thigh. Knee (sock that end just below the knee) to 'medium' or mid calf socks are, I think the most common. The leg portion of the sock is—frequently-- about 7 to 9 inches (but 3 inch 'short socks” and lengths between 3 and 9 are commonly found.

The choice of the length of the leg, is often, one the knitter makes (depending on their comfort and the quantity of yarn at hand!) There is no “proper” length (well not in the US—there might still be a standard in part of europe—but not one that I know of!)
The stitch pattern used in the leg of the sock can be a simple stocking knit, or any one of thousands patterns—from simple to lace, to multi stranded color work.

At the bottom of the leg, is the heel –a shaped portion of the sock-- and heel again are an area where there are many choices, many variations.
The 2 biggies are:
1—heels made with a flap, (flat knit) a turn (a small portion shaped with short rows) and a gusset.(F/T/G)
2—Non Flap style heels (Short row and afterthought vie here for being most common, but they are not the only options)
There are several other styles—but most are less common. Some are 'combination' heels—short row heels with gussets.

In the F/T/G heels, there are to my limited knowledge—(I knit a lot of socks but I am not an expert in sock styles/details) at least 6 ways to make the turning, and as many ways to place gusset. The flat knit 'flap'? It generally stays the same—but there are dozens of common stitches patterns used in the flap—but really almost any stitch pattern can be used.

Even with limited choices, 10 (say) common stitches for the flap, and 6 ways of turning the heel, and 6 more ways to place the gussets, this one style of heel (a F/T/G) has 360 options!
And this is just one style of turning a heel!

I like to think of the options as 1 from column A, (flap) 1 from column B (turning) 1 from column C (gusset)!
I have knit a few socks (in my lifetime, about 250--(a beginner to sock knitting by some reckoning!)) and I've never 'repeated' a combo yet. (and I still have lots of options available to me!)--Of course, 1 reason for no repeats yet, is a good 40% of my socks aren't F/T/G style—but some other style of heel.

It's easy to see why some knitters fall into habits of making the same style heel MOST of the time—there are so many choices, it often easier to pick a single style and stick with it.

With non-flap heels there are more choices then the short row and afterthought heel—there is the peasant, the turkish, the strong, the gurnsey, the welsh, and the novelty heel—novelty alone is almost an endless list! And almost every one of these heels have several options (some short row heels use wraps and turns, some don't!)

I suspect that sock heels have a history as long and as interesting a the world's languages, with some styles sharing (like languages!) old roots (the indo-european root style of a heel!)

The foot of the sock, is frequently patterned as the leg was (or wasn't!) on the instep, and has a plain (stocking knit) on the sole. With stranded color work socks, there is frequently a different pattern on the instep than there is on the sole.

Finally, the toe. And once again there are a number of options.. Pointed (eastern style toes) or truncated trapezoid toes (most commonly called a flat, or French toe), round toes, star and cross toes.

This list of options is just the beginning (there is a whole 'nother set of options with toe up socks!)

Plus there are the yarns options. Sock yarn come in several weights (lace weight/super fine, worked with size 0(zero) needles to thick boot liner socks knit with worsted weight yarns (on size 5 or 6 needles.)

Some socks (Highland cabled socks, for example) are knit with worsted (or even aran weight) at the cast on and leg, and heavily cabled, but at the heel, there is a change.. no more cables, (which creates ease) and the heel and foot part of the sock knit with finer yarn (something like a sports weight) and smaller needles.

Every element of sock—yarn, gauge, direction of knitting, cast on, cuff, leg (pattern), heel, foot, and toe and finishing offers dozens of choices.

And yet, in the end, socks are simple. They are closed end tubes, with a little bit of shaping at the heel.

Thursday, January 06, 2011


These increases look silly now--but these little gussets do a lot to improve fit.

In this case--I am doing an afterthought heel—but the same gussets work for other similar type heels—like short rows ones—all sort of short row ones.

The method is simple enough. About a half inch before the beginning of the heel, INCREASE.

On the front/instep side—at the beginning, K1, M1. Then work across the instep, till 1 stitch remains on the instep, then M1, K1.
Work the remaining half of stitches plain,(the back side of sock)
Then work a plain round (no increases) . Repeat—2 icncreases on front of sock (K1, M1, (end of half/needle), M1, K1)
For me, its these increase come at the beginning and end of 1 needle, since I knit my socks 2 at time on 2 needles. If you work on DPN-(set of 5) the increases will be spread over 2 needle.0

Most often I do about 5 sets of increases (over 10 rounds) and since my gauge is about 8 stitches to the inch, these 10 stitches add about 1.25 inches to the diameter of the sock. One to 3 rounds plain (to fine tune the placement of the heel)--and then decreases in a like manor—K1, SSK at the beginning of instep, K2tog, K1 at the other side of instep—again, working decreases every other round.

If you take a tape measure to you foot, you'll find that JUST above the start of the heel you ankle measures about 9 inches (my ankle measure 10) and at the top of the instep, you foot measures about 9 inches, (and again, my measures 10 inches) (the RED Lines)

If you measure from the heel to the top of the instep, you'll have a bigger measurement—for me, its 12.25 inches.

The Diagonal line (about equal in length to the vertical and horizontal lines)falls short.
The green lines show the arc on the instep (short) and the arc at the bottom of the foot.(long)

It doesn't take much in LENGTH to span the arc on the top of foot—these small gussets are LONG enough—and while there is (in theory) still not enough ease –my foot measures 12.25—the gusset only--1.25 inches of extra material—it actually does work because the shaping of the heel adds some 'invisible ease'--for many though, (if not most people) the small amount of ease created by the heel is not quite enough ease.

The gusset makes up the extra.

Gussets like this are so simple—and for self striping patterns, these extra 10 stitches (max) aren't enough to seriously disrupt the striping pattern.
It just about 2 inches (of a needed 5 /5.5 inches) now past the row of waste yarn for the heel placement.

These socks are moving along!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Short Work

These monkey socks are not exactly the same as the wool rag socks traditional used to make sock monkeys—but they are close enough that yesterday everyone recognized that I was making monkey socks.

First off—the yarn is wrong—and quite obviously, the cuff and leg portion of the sock is significantly shorter.

Yeah, well, since I am making these socks from left over bits –partial skeins of Kroy in solid red, and plain white, and these light brown (flax) –most of the flax yarn is left over from a previous pair of similar socks (one of my early pairs) –when I started in earnest to knit socks. (circa 1994)

I don't have enough of the flax yarn to make a pair of very tall socks (and truthfully, I don't like too tall a sock-- better a slightly short one!) The real productive part of my sock knitting came after having taught my self a process for starting/working 2 pairs at a time on 2 circular needles.

Previous to that, a pair was never quite a pair—by that I mean a pair was almost never a matching pair, and while sock 1 was whipped out in NY minute, sock 2 often didn't appear for a year or two!

This version (as you can see above) has two small triangular wings—part 1 of a small side gussets to provide ease for the heel and instep fit. What you don't see is the row of provisional yarn for the heel placement—making them not quite afterthought heels. There will be a part 2 to the gusset as I decrease on the foot portion of the sock.

This style of gusset doesn't actually make the heel and bigger (deeper) but it does make the socks fit so much better--I am practiced at picking up an extra stitch or 3—when I pick up the heels, its amazing how just 3 or 4 extra rows in add to the fit, too.

I got some work done on the mystery project, too, but I still am working on skeins 3 & 4, (of 8) so I still haven't even reached the half way point. (and the days are passing by at an alarming fast rate!)

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


Doesn't really count for much. It's more like a wish list.. a starting place.

It might work out... or the plan can change!

I have LOTS of clothes.. but not to many of them are new (most are 10 years old or older)
Last summer I got a few new skirts made—and the plan is to get a few more made.

I have the fabric, I just need to get the will!

And there is another plan (Homestyle sock club socks) and another plan (socks to match cloths) and the big plan is to make some clothes (skirts mostly) and to make some socks, and to have them more or less go together!

In some cases, some of the yarns I have, are blends of colors that will go with my available fabric--some times with 2 of the fabrics-- and will work with existing clothes

The fabrics that are on the top of the pile (for this moment) are these 4—a piece of red, heavy weight broadcloth, a piece of plum(red/violet) even weave,a piece of brown twill and a piece of brick red even weave.

I have some socks already that will match some of these fabrics—the Mast sock and Subway socks will go with the
brown twill, my Cross Purpose (II) will match the plum fabric (and the brown till too!)

The Y-B normal socks will go well with the brick red, too. The list of sock that will match the real red? Almost endless!

But I have a bunch of yarns that will also work—As you see--I have paired them up. These yarns have moved to the top of the pile too.

Here the fly in the ointment—I have a LIST of socks I've been thinking about knitting—and I am not sure where these yarns fit in.. (they don't!)

About half of the socks on the list are “free -be “ socks—knit from mostly left over skeins.

Wanna see the list? (feel free to steal any of these ideas—I am sure YOUR completed socks s will end up having almost noting in common with my ideas for completed socks!)

1--Solid Pumpkin Socks (trimmed with ?--beige? Like a pie crust?)
2—Red, white, light grey, medium grey and dark grey socks.. (stripes on leg, dark grey on foot)
3—Crazy eights! Black base, with 8 scraps of yarn worked in--in vertical --cables? or..?
4—Pedi sock (toe less socks) for a gift—likely pink
5--Rock solid socks (grey socks with granite stitch)
6--Swirl—helix socks from assorted left overs
7--Italian Ices socks; white, yellow, orange, raspberry and cherry (patterns stripes)an other pair of sock knit from left overs (these mostly from ROY G BIV left overs)
8--Purple/teal self striping—
9—Indigo twill socks with denim like details (pockets and fake seams!)
10—Cascading water socks (in a light blue) since I love these how these socks fit and look!)
11—Pink lace socks (well a pink/white/light brown self patterning yarns, some thing like the colors of a Cameo—and a lace pattern)
12—Striped oblique rib socks (colors undecided!) I knit a pair like this for a swap—and ever since I have wanted a pair for myself!
13—Another pair of Swirl top socks (Raspberry/Grey swirl)socks—Only in Navy with a white swirl and navy beads.
And a pair of Monkey (brown/red/white socks) –which are already on needles!

--That is just LIST 1 for sock ideas—I knit fast, but I generate ideas for knitting socks faster than I can knit them. And 13 pairs is an ambitious list—even if I did knit more than that last year (but a lot less the year before that) Where I am ever going to get time to add in socks from those match yarns?

Monday, January 03, 2011

Back to Work

On my secret project--It's become a priority now, as the deadline (February 7th) –like any deadline-- has a way of zooming up fast! My goal is to have the knitting finished by January 10, the finishing done by the 20th--there is a bit of finishing (beads, and closures, and trim) and all the other details taken care of by the 30th.

There was some work done on it yesterday—at the full house yesterday—there were 15? 16? of us at Panera's—and a yarn sale! Betty—YOU need to uploaded the remnants of your stock on your Esty Store! But there was also a lot of sharing--I haven't been to Parera's in two weeks and there were so many of us there--and some beautiful FO to admire, too!

Betty showed up with a big (soft sided) carrier box of yarn and fiber.
Teabird went home with some, and so did Jennifer, and so did Liz, and so did I! Others, too-- For a while there it was a feeding frenzy.

This is the skein that came home with me. It is doing to turn into a sweet briar.. something! And soon! Betty called the colorway Woodland Rose--and it suits.

Betty went home with an almost empty carrier.

It's bad for her business—WE buy all her stock before the public gets to see it. We buy all her yarn before she gets to photograph it. If you smart, you'll haunt her etsy shop and snap up what's left! (There is nothing posted right now--Her REAL life job cuts into her personal business time-- but later today, tomorrow—watch out. The yarn and roving will come and go in a blink of an eye.) Her Mix Berries sock yarn cried and cried --but I just can't afford to by MORE sock yarn right now!

Some time this week, I am going to pack up my personal sock club kits. Maybe a sweater kit too. Most definitely, a set of Hat kits How come there are No HAT CLUBS? May a hat club is in order-

I know, I know, part of the problem is, as a general rule, people wear a fresh pair of socks each day, and unless you hand wash and dry the socks each night, you need a few pairs to get you from wash day to wash day (One problem I have, is I have so many socks, (and undies, and other clothes) my wash days can be 20 or more days apart (I live in an apartment complex with a bright, clean laundry room—that has a dozen washers and driers—I can do 5 loads of wash at once.)

But wouldn't it be fun to have a wardrobe of hats? Very warm ones for very cold day, (days when you just don't care about hat hair) and softer gentler hats--ones for milder days--and don't want hat hair. And what wardrobe would be complete with out a fancy milinary quality hat,ones for special occations? And some wild and crazy hats for wild and crazy days?

My thistle down is perfect for Bobby Burn's birthday at the end of the month—but I think I need a special valentines day hat too, and emerald beauty for St Patrick's day. Maybe a great ski hat for the mid winter break, and ... definitely, a great collecion of warm stylish hats are needed!