Thursday, July 29, 2010

FO: The Most Intricate Socks in the World


Pattern: Ornette by Cookie A.
Yarn: Wollmeise 100% Merino Superwash in Kornblume
Needle: Knit Picks fixed circular, size 1
Started: May 10, 2010
Finished: June 17, 2010
Mods: none
Ravel It!

I started this pair of socks back while the NHL Playoffs were still going on. I almost managed to finish them before they ended. They were a welcome distraction while my team was still in it, and something to keep me busy while I watched the remaining rounds.

I came by this pattern in an unconventional way. In the process of buying the pattern for a swap last summer, I accidentally bought two copies. Now, since it was only a digital copy, I could have just kept a copy for myself. But since I made the mistake I did, I was luckily not faced with that temptation.

Because the sock pattern was so complex, I didn't want to have to frog such intricate work if the cuff wasn't stretchy enough so, I used the twisted German cast on for a nice stretchy cuff. What also helps the leg fit nicely is a cast on of 84 stitches for my size; I normally use 72 sts. Because of all the cabling and the travelling band, the sock really pulls in, which makes the larger cast on number fit properly.

This pattern is definitely not one you can work without paying close attention, although after awhile, it does become easier as you learn to read your knitting to know what to do next. I would say knowing how to work cables without a cable needle is essential to knitting these socks. There are so many (and on every row!) that using an additional needle would really slow things down. Luckily, the cables in the ribbing are only mock cables. I did have trouble with dropped stitches a few times, and let me tell you, you do not want to have to tink these socks if at all possible.

All in all, I loved knitting this pattern. The complexity was great for a distraction and it's a really beautiful design. The yarn really makes the cables pop and was nice to work with. It's not the softest yarn in the world, but the color saturation and structure really make up for it. My only regret is knitting these socks during the summer, because I'll have to wait months to wear them!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dyeing to Start Knitting

I've had this yarn in my stash for quite a while. I like the base a lot, but this colorway has always presented a problem. With socks, Memories tends to pool in stripes, with two of the colors alternating and the other two alternating. With the S'mores colorway however, the colors that end up alternating are too high contrast to look very good.

I've tried embracing the pooling, tried to make a cowl with all the colors matched up, but it turned out way too big. If you check out projects on Ravelry, you can see some of the ugly pooling. After knitting quite a few pairs of socks in a row, I wanted to change things up a bit. I thought the browns might play well with the Liesel dropping leaves pattern. I swatched the first few rows and the pooling was not going to work out, it was too high contrast to allow the lace pattern to shine. So, I turned to the dye pot.

Overdyed smores

As you can see in the after picture, I've closed the gap between the colors in the yarn, everything is all shades of brown now. I used Wilton's icing dye and I think the pattern will turn out quite nice. I really enjoying knitting this pattern last time; I can't wait to get going on it again.

Friday, July 23, 2010

FO: Upstream Firefighters

Finished upstream firefighters

Pattern: Upstream Master Pattern by Cat Bordhi
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici in Firefighter
Needle: Knit Picks fixed circular, size 1
Started: June 21, 2010
Finished: July 17, 2010
Mods: none
Ravel It!

I haven't blogged a finished knit since *gasp* March! Well, what a way to get back into the swing of things. I started these socks in advance of our summer vacation at the end of June. I only intended to get them started so I wouldn't have to cast on in the car, but I ended up almost to the heel turn before we left! I couldn't help it, the yarn and the pattern - simple stockinette foot with a 3x1 ribbed leg - made it quick work. I finished the first sock two days into our week-long vacation, but I couldn't cast on for the second as I chronicled here. Once we returned home and I gave up on the other sock I had started, it took me a mere 10 days to finish up the pair.

I've knit with Felici before and it worked up as I remember. With the way the color changes stripe so quickly and regularly, the knitting was hard to put down; I always wanted to get to the next color. The other pair of socks I knit with this yarn have held up pretty well, so I'm confident these will as well. If I had to pick one thing I didn't like about the yarn, it would be that the gray sections of yarn were tinged with red. I don't know if that's some of the dye wearing off or just red fibers spreading over the rest of the yarn, but it's not noticeable enough to matter.

This was my first time using Cat Bordhi's Upstream Master Pattern. I have used her Riverbed pattern though, which is the same construction except the increases are on the bottom of the foot. I really liked the idea of knitting a different pattern between the increases than was on the foot. It didn't really turn out to be as striking as I thought it would, but I still like it. The Upstream pattern (and Riverbed too) fits my foot really well, so I'll definitely use it again in the future.

You'll notice in the photo that this pair does not match exactly. I wanted to use as much of the yarn as possible (hence the toe-up pattern) and both skeins of yarn didn't start in the exact same spot in the color sequence. The only 'mod' I made with the stripe sequence was to take out a length of yarn before resuming the leg on the second (right) sock. You can see the very top of the heel flap is black; if I had kept knitting, I would have ended up with about one row of black stitches in the middle of the large field of gray right at the ankle. Since there was no pattern to speak of other than ribbing on the leg, I just knit until I was almost out of yarn before casting off. I ended up with less than a yard left over.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Another new sock

Ms. KWB (my wife) has been bugging me for another pair of socks for awhile now. I had some yarn left over from my Orange Pooled Socks that was not enough for a whole pair for me, but enough to not throw away. I started out with a simple 2x2 ribbed pattern to maximize fit. However, after getting both socks as far as the heel turn, I knew they would only end up as really short anklets at best.

The yarn is somewhat rare, only 1070 stashes of it on Ravelry and only 5 of this particular colorway, so I knew I would need a coordinating color to get a full pair of socks. The orange was going to be way too hard to match, and I thought the gray would make the socks too dark and dingy. I decided to get some white sock yarn to match with it. Let me tell you, white superwash sock yarn is not as easy to obtain as I thought it would/should be! I was hoping Knit Picks' Stroll would come in white because I thought the base would match fairly well. It does come in natural, but I thought that was too close to cream and not white. I finally settled on Lang Jawool. It's a bit thinner than the Handgefaerbt, so I hope blocking will help even things out a bit.


The pattern is just a plain stockinette stripe, but I'm using the helical knitting technique Grumperina brought to life. With only two yarns, keeping things straight is pretty easy, but I think the whole technique is pretty easy once it clicks. I'm not completely thrilled with the look, but Ms. KWB approved it, so I'm plugging away.

P.S. The Felici socks are finished, so now that's two blog posts I owe. I may have to send myself after me to threaten violence if this keeps up.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I Gave Up

I gave up

I got this far by last night before I gave up. The combination of dark yarn, tiny stitches and lots of mock cables was too much. I'm not sure if I'll frog it yet since the one IS so close to being done. The only alternative I can come up with right now if I did, would be to reknit a very simple ribbed pattern I can do with my eyes closed. The yarn itself is nice and feels like it will be warm in winter. Plus, the color lends itself nicely to wearing with work clothes. So I don't want to just dump it.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


I got back from vacation last night. My wife and I spent a week in northern Michigan, 3 days in the Upper Peninsula and 3 days on Mackinac Island. It was relaxing and very enjoyable. In preparation for our trip, I cast on a new pair of socks. (I finished the fancy blue ones and even took pictures, I know I owe a blog post on that.) I was making really good progress before we even left and was really into knitting the socks; loved the pattern and the yarn.

Knitting in the park

I got enough knitting time on the ride up and the first few days of relaxation that I even finished the first sock! Luckily I brought my needle along and was able to sew the cast off.

Firefighter sock one

Unfortunately, I didn't inspect my yarn carefully enough before packing. I thought double checking the dyelots would be enough, but I guess not. The numbers match, but something definitely went wrong on that second skein. The black dye didn't take!

No match

This really took the wind out of my sails. I was thoroughly enjoying these socks and thought I might even be able to finish the pair by the end of the trip. Frustration aside, I knew if I didn't cast on something else right away, I'd lose my mojo and be left without any knitting for the rest of the trip. So, I cast on with my backup yarn and started a new sock.

9 to 5 socks

Too bad I'm just not feeling it. I'm plugging away, but the love isn't there. I'm not making progress as quickly since the pattern is more complex, and the yarn is pooling in a way that I'm not thrilled with. I don't hate it, which is why I'm still knitting it at this point, but it's not nearly as enjoyable. I would start the other striped sock since I'm home now and have more of that same yarn, but I'd have to take the brown sock off the needles. I know if I do that, I may never pick it back up again.

P.S. I just checked my stash, and of the four other skeins of Felici I have, none of them were messed up. I just happened to grab the ONE SKEIN that was to bring on vacation. Grrrrr.