Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sock Jumble: the Beverly Socks

Now, Miss Beverly, the question you must ask yourself is, "What is this a picture of?" And possibly, "How will this fit together in the whole?" Finally, "Why are they not done and on my feet?"

The first answer: These pictures are of your socks, but they're a bit jumbled.
The second answer: Wait and see.
The third answer: Because I have kids. *giggle*

Have fun! I hope they're good and teasing!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I am in a sock swap! Wheee!

I just got my swap pal assignment from the Knitty Board.com Sock Swap. I'm very excited. I got paired with a great sock knitter named Beverly. (That link will take you to her blog.) She just completed a beautiful sweater for her husband for Christmas, you should go check it out.

This is just the second swap I've been involved in. The rules are that you create a pair of socks specifically for your pal based on their preferences and your skill level. I think swaps are a lovely kind of set up. You get a lovely gift or item tailored for you, plus the fun of tailoring something for a new friend.

I'm really looking forward to knitting Beverly's socks. She likes Keen which she found on www.shopyarnlove.com so I'll be knitting that up for her in some pattern that I have yet to determine. I think I might design the pattern just for the yarn. Then I can spiffy up the pattern, PDF it and post it here for free. They are hand spun on the Tina II (she really needs a new name...I'll have

Yarn Swag

I know most bloggers refer to it as pr0n, but I just don't like that term. So I'm inventing a new one: Yarn Swag. Footnotes to Scout of Scout's Swag and the term swag as defined by the Urban Dictionary. Although my term Yarn Swag does not carry the connotation of cheap, mass made crap, nor does it have anything to do with wild ass guessing. It's just beautiful photos of yarn or ready knitted objects meant to advertise the cause of knitting and yarn in general. So there you have it. I've invented a new term.

Now onto today's swag - my hand spun, hand knit, me designed Katie socks. My first pair of hand knit socks that I KEPT FOR MYSELF. I've knit several pairs of socks. More than enough to put me in the proficient sock knitter's category over on the Knitty Board Sock Swap but this is the very first pair that I've ever kept for myself. Go figure.

They are hand spun on my Jensen Tina II spinning wheel from 100% merino wool roving hand painted by me in my Aurora Borealis colorway. They are fraternal twin socks. The singles were spun along the full length of the roving and then plied back on itself. Then I knit the socks at the same time on two circulars from both ends of a center pull ball. One is considerably more yellowy than the other one, but I still like them. They went together really fast. Knit in about 2 1/2 days in between living and taking care of the kiddos. Then they sat on my needles for another 4 1/2 waiting to be bound off. The yarn is sports weight, so these babies aren't going to last that long. Merino is not know for it's durability and the heavier weight isn't the best treatment for something like socks that are going to see tons of wear, but I'm OK with that. It's OK if they wear out. They're super comfy and I'm really enjoying them.

The stitch pattern is a fun and easy ribbed cable that I found in Barbara Walker's Stitch Treasury. Boy I love those books. It's a mock cable, because you don't need a cable needle to create the stitch pattern. I do have the pattern worked up for both sport weight and fingering weight yarn. It's available at Payloadz.com for 1 cent. It won't let me offer it for free which stinks. It's by far the easiest and fastest way for me to get my patterns out there. So, if you'd like you too can have Funky Zebra socks.

I have a pair of socks on the needles for a friend. I'm doing Knitty's RPM for her out of my Juliet yarn dyed in the colorway Handsome. They're coming along. I'm just past the heel turn and they're very pretty. The only thing I don't like about the short row toe is that I think it creates slight gapping along the heel that I just don't like and the fact that I can't do the k1, s1 pattern for greater durability. So I think I'll try doing an afterthought heel to see if I can take care of that.

I'll keep you updated on the Beverly socks. Stay tuned..................

Monday, January 08, 2007

UnWrapped Short Row Technique - Flat Knitting

I had a request for a detailed tutorial on how to do short rows while flat knitting. You can follow the original UnWrapped Short Row tutorial for the right side rows, then use these instructions for the purl (wrong) side fo the fabric. It's very easy to do - don't be put off by the large number of pictures. They're here to help you visualize each stage of the process. I've also included photos of incorrectly knitted wraps, so you can easily tell whether or not you've got it down.

Click the photos to enlarge. I did not resize them, so you can get a really detailed view if you like, but they're still a managable size for those of you who have a dial-up connection.

These instructions assume that you have happily knit through the inital wrap on the right side, and have purled to the wrap on the wrong side. (If you don't know how to knit in the first wrap on the right side, see my first UnWrapped Short Row Tutorial. Just knit through the first wrap, and then come back here.)

Here's what a wrapped stitch looks like on the purl side. See the double bumps around the stitch? The extra is from wrapping the stitch:

Unwrap second stitch (purl stitch) by inserting your right needle from top to bottom through the wrap only, slip the original stitch off the needle, and pull the wrap off.

Right needle inserted top to bottom through the wrap:

If you do this correctly, the wrap should be on your right needle, with the original stitch free. Here the wrapped stitch is on the right needle and the original stitch is hanging loose to the front of the fabric:

Now slip the wrap stitch (Purlwise - don't twist it) onto the left needle, and put the original stitch back on the left needle just behind the wrap stitch. Here is the wrap stitch on the left needle, and I've parked the original stitch on my right needle, so I don't accidentally unravel it.

When you slip the original stitch back onto the left needle, make sure it passes behind the wrap stitch, as the work faces you. In other words, by slipping the original stitch on the side of the right side of the work, you create a stitch that meshes seamlessly with the current fabric rather than allowing the wrap stitch to show on the right side. You'll know if you've done this incorrectly because you'll have funky looking stitches on the right side of your fabric.

Then purl the wrap stitch and the original stitch together (p2 together). Here are both stiches freshly purled together and on the right needle:

Right and Wrong Stitches
For clarification purposes here are some photos of what the wraps should and should not look like once you've knit them into the fabric.

Right: Here is a close up of the purl side wrap from the wrong side of the work. It looks like a C with a long tail:

Now both the first and second wrap. First, right side wrap on the left and the second, purl side wrap on the left. See how they are mirror images of each other? That's what you want to see. The right side wrap is mirrored or backwards.

Wrong: Both of these wraps are wrong, because the stitches have been twisted or placed on out of order. The right side wrap is really easy to spot, because it doesn't have the long tail C look. But look closely at the right side wrap. It's twisted on the front side, but it still looks like a mirrored C. There is a slight difference, you can see two "layers" on the incorrectly wrapped stitch. It's a good idea to check both sides of the fabric before continuing on. The good news is that since you formed that right side wrap on the right side of the fabric, you will be able to see if you've got the stitches out of order or twisted!

The correct stitches are circled in blue, the wrong stitches are circled in pink. Again from the wrong side of the work:

See how the top of this swatch is starting to round gently? That's because of the two short rows that I put in. Isn't that cool? This last photo is the same, but I've traced the out line of both the right and wrong stitches so you can see the stitch path more clearly:

There you have it. A simple, easy, no gap method for short row wrapping. You've got tutorials for both circular and flat knitting. Go shape something. It's easy!

Monday, January 01, 2007

In quest of the perfect Christmas

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas (if you celebrate that particular holiday). There are some things that people just don't talk about amid the holiday cheer, general feeling of fellowship with mankind, etc., etc., etc., and that is the Christmas Dud. Oh, it'll come up once all the warm fuzzies of Christmas have worn off and everyone is jaded from holiday burn out, but while the plum pudding is still warm and the Christmas lights are glowing the Christmas Dud just doesn't exist. Why? Because it's un-American. It's not idyllic. It's not something you see presented in a serious Hollywood film about this particular holiday. It does still exist. In fact, 99.9% of all normal people experience more Christmas Duds than that idyllic holiday they've been dreaming of. So here's my tribute to the Christmas Dud; dedicated to all of you who've forgotten that your children won't actually sit still for your Christmas picture and that the usual rules governing cooking, time management, money spent shipping, and extended family relationships aren't suspended on that day of days - Christmas.