Archive for the “plain stockinette” Category

Woohoo! Finished socks!

A pair of rainbow striped socks, with dark blue cuffs, toes, and heels.

These socks were knit toe-up with Kroy Socks in the "Blue Striped Ragg" colourway, and the contrast cuffs/heels/toes are knit in Premier Serenity in navy blue. I... was kind of displeased with both yarns, actually. The Kroy was all right, but every other colourway of Kroy socks I've knit has been thick and squishy on US 2 (3 mm) needles, and this was just thinner than a standard sock yarn. It was fine, just not what I was looking for. The Serenity, on the other hand, was thin and slippery and splitty and I don't like it at all. Hrmph.

That said, I'm pretty pleased with the finished socks. I had to do some duplicate stitch reinforcing around the corners of the heels, but the extra short rows in these heels make them fit better than the other afterthought heels I've done before. And I *love* the stripes! I do wish I'd thought of knitting the first round of the cuff to prevent those little purl blips, but they're kinda cute so I guess it's okay.

So... what's next? I'm still working on the handspun sock, but that's not great at traveling because the yarn-cake collapses when I put it in my bag. I need a sock that I can carry around with me, and a pattern that's interesting, memorizable, and doesn't take too much concentration to knit. Maybe I'll pull out the stitch dictionaries and put something together!

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As I made progress on the handspun sock, I started to think (as you do) about heels. What kind of heel would I use? Would it be deep enough? A typical short-row heel would definitely not fit, unless I did some increases first. So I did some research and decided to try the Banded Expanded Heel technique, which is a modification of Cat Bordhi's Sweet Tomato Heel. I measured my foot, checked my gauge, did some maths, and knit the heel...

No. (I didn't even take any pictures.) It's not that the heel was poorly designed; it's actually great. It's that my calculations were off in pretty much every way. I'd started too late, so the foot of the sock was too big. And I'd increased to too many stitches, so it was also baggy. I ripped back to just after my initial increases and did some more research.

Eventually I decided to try the straight-up Sweet Tomato Heel without modifications. I don't have the book with all the sock patterns, but Cat was kind enough to upload a detailed tutorial video for just the heel itself, which I was able to follow well enough to knit the heel without wondering if I was doing it right. (I was.)

It's difficult to try on a sock at this point but I did wriggle it onto my foot, and it seems to fit just right. It's *impossible* to take a photo of a half-knit sock with DPNs sticking out everywhere while it's on your own foot, so I slid it onto one of the blockers for a photo op.

A half-knit toe-up sock on a blocker, with half a ball of yarn next to it.

So far I like the Sweet Tomato Heel *way* better than the standard short-row sock heel, and I definitely want to use it in more socks! I'm going to have to try it with regular sock yarn to see if it still needs the pre-heel increases, at least. One thing I *really* like about the Sweet Tomato Heel is that I'd feel comfortable just knitting it from memory, which is a lot of points in its favour for whatever sock-in-progress is traveling around with me.

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It's taken a concentrated effort, but over the weekend I finally finished the combospin that I started for last year's Tour de France. It's all spun up, plied, and skeined off - The Woolee Winder on the Sonata makes plying so much faster and easier! I ended up with roughly 700 yards of three-ply yarn from two pounds of a variety of fibre. I'm sure it will poof up and lose some yardage once it's washed, which I'll do later today.

Several multi-coloured skeins of handspun yarn

Now the question is, what to do with it? My original plan was to spin for a sweater, but I don't think I have enough yardage to make that work. Probably I should have gone for a two-ply rather than three, if I wanted sweater yardage. And, if I'm being honest, I'm not 100% thrilled with the overall colour. I put the yellow in for a pop, thinking it would be too dull without it... but it's too much contrast, too much of a barber-pole effect.

Maybe I'll like it better once it's knit up? I'm considering making some treadle covers for the spinning wheels. I often spin barefoot, and wouldn't that be nice and soft and squishy!

Meanwhile, I started knitting toe-up socks from a different handspun yarn, this chain-plied merino that I spun a few years ago. First I tried knitting on US 2 (2.75mm) needles, which gave me a fabric that was slightly too loose. Then I switched to US 1 (2.25 mm), and I'm getting a very firm and stiff sock... but that's okay, these will be hiking/boot socks. And since the yarn isn't superwash, I expect it to get softer and stretchier with wear and time.

The beginning of a toe-up sock using handspun yarn, with random stripes of burgundies and blues

Because they're so firm, though, I'm trying a new kind of heel. I started working increases about an inch and a half before where the heel should start to make a small gusset, and then more increases will get worked into the short-row heel wedges. This should be interesting at the very least, and if it doesn't fit right... well, maybe this yarn wasn't meant to be socks after all. I have 500 yards or so of it, so there are lots of possibilities.

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Last weekend I went to Maryland Sheep and Wool with my mom! It was a really fun day and I'm glad we made it work out so we could go together. She got a skein of sock yarn in a rich brown, and I got two ounces of this tussah sliver from Little Barn. My plan is to spin it fairly fine and then use it as a lining for my next pair of Fleeps to make them warmer and more wind-blocking.

Tussah silk fiber in teal blue, gray, and a little gold

There were so many pretty yarns and fibres there, as usual, and I was tempted to buy some things that I eventually decided to put back. We took quite some time digging through one of the bargain bins and found a bag of sock yarn we liked, but... it was nine 50g balls. That's 4.5 pair of identical socks? Mehhh. I don't want two pair of socks from the same yarn, even if it's nice colours.

I also ooh'd and ahh'd over several braids of fibre, but... I have enough as it is. The merino/silk Ashland Bay was tempting as usual, but I think I can get a better price for it online - and if I'm going to do that, I'd better do it soon, as it's been discontinued (sniffle, wah) and won't be available for much longer. (So now, of course, I'm looking at dyed top on Etsy, as if refraining from buying things I don't need at MDSW gives me license to buy things I don't need once I get home again?)

Meanwhile, I've finished the majority of the rainbow striped socks! Here they are, with the ends woven in, and the waste yarn indicating where the heel will be knit in. I'm using the instructions from this blog post at Knit Better Socks, and trying the trick of a few short rows to get a little more room in the heel.

Two rainbow-striped socks, with scrap yarn where the heel will be added

Here I've tried on the sock with a partially knit heel to make sure that it's in the right place (it is) and you can see the little half-moon of short rows in the corner. The solid dark blue yarn is Serenity Sock and honestly I'm not quite happy with it; it's a little thin and a little splitty. Ah well - if the heel wears through, I can pick it out and add another! That's a definite plus to the afterthought heel method.

A partially-knit heel on a stripy sock, modeled on a foot

Michael indicated an interest in seeing the process of getting from waste yarn to actual heel, so I'll be saving the second sock to finish the next time he's visiting. He's up to the heel flap of his own second sock, and I'm curious whether he'll want to start another pair after he finishes his first.

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I've knit four pair of socks (pics: one | two | three | four) with Patons Kroy before, and I really like that the yarn is slightly thicker than the usual sock yarn I get. It makes thick cushy socks that still don't feel like they take up too much space in my shoes. As with all the other Kroy socks I've made, I started this new pair on US 2 (2.75mm) needles and... it was way too loose. Floppy fabric doesn't make good socks at all!

The beginning of a toe-up sock.

What? What is going on! A little internet research affirmed my suspicion that the ragg shades really are a little thinner, more like a standard sock yarn. (Hrmph.) So I ripped out the start of the toe that I had, and began again on US 1 (2.25mm) needles, this time with a navy yarn for the toe. That feels like a much better fabric, for sure, and I like the contrasting colour in the toe better too.

A half-knit toe-up sock with a navy toe and rainbow stripes.

The sock starts with a figure eight cast-on with fourteen loops, and I increased on every other round until I had 64 stitches total. It's now about two inches shorter than my foot, so at this point I'll put in waste yarn across half the stitches and then go on knitting the leg of the sock. Later, I'll pull out the waste yarn and pick up those live stitches to knit an afterthought heel. (Or is it a "forethought" heel, since I'm planning exactly where it will be?)

This blogpost has some interesting details about the construction of afterthought heels, as well as some hints about improving the fit. Since there's no gusset in this kind of sock, it can sometimes be a little too tight over the ankle. I'm going to try the short-row suggestion and see how well it works for my own foot.

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I really wanted to get this pair off the needles before going on vacation, and here it is! Tiger-Striped Socks for Michael, which look exactly like mine except for the white trim at the cuff and the duplicate stitch "claws".

I'd just started the toe when I noticed a split stitch quite a way down. It didn't seem like it would be too troublesome to fix, so I got out my tiny crochet hook, dropped the stitch down to the split, caught it properly, and picked all the stitches up again. You can barely tell where the repair was made, and once the socks have been through the wash, any looseness remaining in that column will all work out.

A long column of dropped stitches

All the stitches have been picked up again with this crochet hook.

Then I miscounted on the toe stitches and had to rip back four rounds to start the toe over. Of course.

Figuring out how to duplicate stitch the "toes" was pretty easy, but figuring out the "claws" took me a little longer. Eventually I went for a slightly thicker yarn and embroidered them on, rather than duplicate stitching. Hopefully they aren't too thick.

Embroidered 'claws' on the white toe of a tiger-striped sock

Now, here's the weird thing. These are plain stockinette socks. The only purl stitches are in the cuff's ribbing and in the heel. So what was I thinking here? What even happened?

A red circle shows a mistake of a purl stitch that should be a knit stitch.

Anyway, they're done and they look really cool. Next up... a new pair for myself!

A pair of tiger-striped socks with white toes and embroidered claws, laid smoothly on a black leather couch

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I started these socks back in January, and worked on them here and there without too much dedication. Although they came with me to many places, I neglected them in favour of other things. But then I had to attend a few long and boring meetings in an auditorium, and no one on the stage could see what I was doing, so I knit and knit and knit... and by late October I'd finished the first sock.

Then, I got a short-notice call that there would be a showing at my house, so I had to clear out for an hour. The yarn came with me, and I'd gotten halfway through the ribbing at the cuff before going home. A weekend of train rides followed, and with nothing else to do but knit, I charged through the leg of the second sock.

Several work-meetings and one long drive up to Vermont later, and I grafted the toe of the second sock just in time to get this project onto the 2015 list!

mindless_stockinette2

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I like to have a simple sock in progress that doesn't take too much thought and is pretty impossible to mess up. Travel socks are great for knitting on the train or in the car on the way to ski areas, and I always have one with me just in case I get bored and need to kill time. I started this one last month on my way up to Hunter Mountain, and since taking this picture I've knit the heel flap and turn so it'll be ready for my next train ride!

mindless_stockinette1

The yarn is Berroco Sox in the Mackintosh colourway, and I bought it last year when I went to Ottawa for Winterlude. I'm using a standard 64-stitch sock pattern that I've mushed together from a few other patterns: it has a 20-round cuff, a 32-row heel flap with a round heel turn that fits me well, and extra stitches picked up at the corner of the gussets to avoid the holes that often form there.

I'm not quite sure what I think of these colours together; do I like them even though they're ugly, or do I like them because they're ugly?

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