Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sailor's Socks

100% Merino wool, hand painted, color "Navy Olive," aka camo. Ribbed cuff and instep, stockinette stitch on foot and toes. In progress; still decreasing gusset. Note to self: never, ever, ever try to begin a row with purl.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Works in Progress

In order to give myself a written record of the projects I have on the needles, in bags with hooks, and planned, so that I can keep everything straight in my head, this entry shall be a list. Pictures may or may not follow.

From most recent to eldest, in progress:

Helmetliner (as shown in button on the sidebar), 2 inches - knit
First camoflague Merino sock, 4 inches of cuff- knit
Aran afghan, exactly half complete - crochet
Green ripple monstrosity thing, about 1/4 complete -crochet
Rainbow triple crochet baby blanket, about 6 inches -crochet

Ok, I think I'm seeing a trend. Apparently I got bored with the crochet patterns and wanted to try knitting for a while. Ok, I can cope with understanding that. Next, here is what I have planned:

One pair super soft socks for Dad's BD in November.
Baby blanket for Amy's forethcoming boychild.
Dishcloth(s) for Christmas presents.
Many more helmetliners for the troops overseas.

*cracks knuckles*

That's a lot of projects. I'm pretty sure I won't finish them all real soon. So, I need to prioritize. First things first. I hereby swear, affirm, and avow that I will buy no more yarn (unless for helmet liners) until the preceeding projects (except maybe that rainbow baby blanket) are finished.

Second, what do I need to finish? Dad's socks and one more dishcloth. The dishcloth can wait, though. While it may look as though I should start Dad's socks, however, it's not so simple. First I need to finish at least one of the camo socks. This "test" sock will let me know if I can make his sock to the right size using ribbing. At that point, I should by all rights start that sock's mate, so I won't end up with just one sock. Let's pretend I finish the camo pair and Dad's pair, and move along.

Next up is the dishcloth. Then the baby blanket for Amy, then the Aran, then...

Oh, who am I kidding. I will most likely just pick up whatever seems interesting to me at the time. These helmetliners have my attention at the moment, for example, even though I am also just as interested in finishing the socks.

New stragedy: agree with myself that the socks are the first priority, and allow myself some "change" time for helmet liners and dishcloths in between days of socks, then in between days of afghans. This should alleviate boredom and keep me happy to keep working on whatever I have to. It's much too early to tell what kind of a ratio of fun stuff to stick-to-it-iveness stuff I can make myself adhere to, however. Stay tuned for updates and photos.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

First PAIR of Handknit Socks

I found some of this self-patterning yarn at a store which shall not be named, but which is not Frog Pond Knits, and where, due to the service and small selection despite the size of the store, I shall never go to again. (The yarn is scratchy anyway!)

I liked the idea of getting a pattern on a pair of socks that I didn't have to do any color work for. It should make me look like a genius, skilled Knitter, I thought. And so it does. Mostly.

The ribbed part of the cuff is entirely too short, I think. It should be a good inch and a half or so, but I made mine just 6 rows tall. A learning experience, I told myself. I'll know better next time! I also discovered that my long-tail cast-on technique, which I was assured is the standard for socks, is not to my liking, either. The edge was simply too tight and did not have the "give" that I imagined a sock edge to have. I believe I began the toe too soon, as well.

I couldn't fix the first or last problem with the second sock, because then they wouldn't match. I could and did correct the cast-on problem, though. Thanks to Google, I disovered that a favorite sock cast-on technique is called the "Twisted German," and due to my maternal heritage, I figured that was as close to a sign from God as I was likely to get. There were some neat sites that showed how to do this cast-on, none of which were easily understandable for me. I did manage, after several hours, to come up with a cast-on that is relatively close to the Twisted German showed in the's video. I'm hoping it IS the same technique, just done in a personally-adjusted manner. The technique takes me a very long time to do, but the result is so stretchy yet elastic that the time is worth it to me.

The Twisted German starts off the same as the long tail technique, with the tail over the thumb and the ball yarn over the index finger. Instead of going through the loop from the thumb, though, I go under it, toward my index finger, then up, back towards me, and then into the loop. Then I lift the needle under the yarn closest to me, which makes a little, tiny hole. I scooped up the index-finger yarn right to left, and brought the index finger yarn through the teeny hole. The index-finger ball yarn makes the loop on the needle. I drop the thumb loop, and pull the whole mess snug against the needle. I sure hope that's the Twisted German. Maybe someone can confirm it for me? I didn't do any of the thumb lifting mentioned in the video, and have no idea if I picked up the right part of the loop. Oh well. It works for me.

Ok, so! After a while, I finally finished my seocnd sock, which makes these blue guys officially my first pair of handknitted socks. I like these much better than the brown thing. At least they look like socks!

First Handknit sock

Apparently I've just never gotten the urge to knit socks out of my system. Having knit a couple afghans and a shawl, however, I still don't see myself as a "knitter," let alone a "Knitter," with a capital K. I see myself more as a Crocheter who happens to have a masochistic streak and so tries to knit once in a while.

My friend Cindy, recently relocated from Florida, is a Knitter of 20-some years and I was able to share the location of various yarn shops with her. One fateful Saturday, we went to Frog Pond Knits (I love clever yarn shop names!), where Cindy expressed an interest in taking the beginner sock class taught by the yarn shop owner, Violet. I enthusiastically signed up as well, so as to have an excuse to look for some new yarn.

Having paid for the class and selected my yarn, I was soon provided with a couple sets of toothpicks that I was assured were genuine knitting needles: five size 1 double pointed needles, (hereafter called dpn's) 7 inches long. Ok, so they were long toothpicks. My knitting experiences thus far, you will recall, have all been with rather large circular needles, of the size 11 and 15 variety. The shawl was actually made with plastic size 35's; plastic because a needle that big made of aluminum or wood would have been too heavy to hold! I eyed my new bamboo "needles" skeptically, but was assured that all would be revealed in the fullness of time.

For three Mondays, the four of us (Violet, Cindy, another student and myself) struggled with the socks. In truth, I think only Cindy and myself struggled. The instructor obviously didn't, and the other student, despite her protests, turned out an absolutely gorgeous sock. Cindy, alas, got distracted by a new puppy (some Knitter she is!) and didn't make the last class. Somehow I managed to get through it all, and produced my first hand-knitted sock. As you can tell from the picture, the first sock was not what I would call an overwhelming success. The cuff is too short in length, and much too loose. Despite the picture, in fact, the cuff is so loose that it falls down around the ankle-- what little distance there is to fall, anyway. The heel turn part is a rectangle, not a triangle, and don't ask me how I managed to do that. However it happened, it's too tight and actually bunches up under my heel. Other than all that, the length and toe actually fit pretty well. I was supposed to cast on a second sock to make a pair, but as the first sock was literally unwerable, I decided to get more yarn instead, for new socks.