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Right now, I'm very busy working on an MA in creative writing. There's a huge amount of reading and writing involved, of course, not to mention a hefty dissertation due this coming autumn. Last year, I did all right with balancing everything and continuing to knit, but this year the reading load shot up and got out of my control like Moody's Goose. So I decided it was time to put the knitting aside and carry books in my handbag, instead of carrying both and ending up knitting on the Tube and not reading.

And you know what?

It didn't really work out all that well. I found myself behind. I found myself at odds with my own creativity. And yet I persevered, not taking knitting with me everywhere I went, rarely making it out to knitting events, letting my pile of UFOs sit in the basket(who am I kidding? baskets) like woolly motherless children.

I kept on doing it. You know what they say about the definition of insanity, right? Repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Not only that, but people actually praised me for not knitting! My GP, when she saw me in the waiting room before an appointment, said, "Well, at least today you are reading and not knitting." (wtf?) A person in authority at my job used my story of how the iPad was freeing me to write anywhere I wanted to to say proudly, "And now she's knitting less and writing more!" in a meeting. (that wasn't what I meant at all...)

Then, someone asked me, "But don't you feel like knitting is a creativity-sparking exercise?" And I thought back to all those things I tell my knitting students about the meditative quality of knitting. Sometimes, I tell them, sometimes, when I have a problem, I just sit down and knit. And you know what? The solution to my problem just appears.

So a couple of weeks ago, I got sick and I couldn't go to work for a little bit. I dragged myself out to the RFH with a couple of socks, just to see if I could be around people. And I was working away on this simple sock when suddenly the whole plot of my novel appeared before me. I mean, I had it all outlined and stuff, but suddenly I saw the whole thing unfolding like a film. I made a couple of notes about key scenes and went back to knitting, and that evening I wrote 2,000 words.

So, yeah. Not putting the knitting aside any more.

Pictures, if you're interested, beneath the cut tag.

A couple of socks )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
Right now, I'm very busy working on an MA in creative writing. There's a huge amount of reading and writing involved, of course, not to mention a hefty dissertation due this coming autumn. Last year, I did all right with balancing everything and continuing to knit, but this year the reading load shot up and got out of my control like Moody's Goose. So I decided it was time to put the knitting aside and carry books in my handbag, instead of carrying both and ending up knitting on the Tube and not reading.

And you know what?

It didn't really work out all that well. I found myself behind. I found myself at odds with my own creativity. And yet I persevered, not taking knitting with me everywhere I went, rarely making it out to knitting events, letting my pile of UFOs sit in the basket(who am I kidding? baskets) like woolly motherless children.

I kept on doing it. You know what they say about the definition of insanity, right? Repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Not only that, but people actually praised me for not knitting! My GP, when she saw me in the waiting room before an appointment, said, "Well, at least today you are reading and not knitting." (wtf?) A person in authority at my job used my story of how the iPad was freeing me to write anywhere I wanted to to say proudly, "And now she's knitting less and writing more!" in a meeting. (that wasn't what I meant at all...)

Then, someone asked me, "But don't you feel like knitting is a creativity-sparking exercise?" And I thought back to all those things I tell my knitting students about the meditative quality of knitting. Sometimes, I tell them, sometimes, when I have a problem, I just sit down and knit. And you know what? The solution to my problem just appears.

So a couple of weeks ago, I got sick and I couldn't go to work for a little bit. I dragged myself out to the RFH with a couple of socks, just to see if I could be around people. And I was working away on this simple sock when suddenly the whole plot of my novel appeared before me. I mean, I had it all outlined and stuff, but suddenly I saw the whole thing unfolding like a film. I made a couple of notes about key scenes and went back to knitting, and that evening I wrote 2,000 words.

So, yeah. Not putting the knitting aside any more.

Pictures, if you're interested, beneath the cut tag.

A couple of socks )
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You can find them here. Several people had suggestions, and I've incorporated them into a new .pdf, with a better photograph, better charts, ad more definition. As always, I'd love some feedback.

If you want to knit these and you're a Ravelry member, please queue them and put them into your project page on Ravelry — it would help my designer stats move from '0' to 'more than 0'. :D

(I'm Kniteracy on Ravelry.)
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Razor's Edge Socks!

If you care to, try downloading this to make sure it works? :)
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So, according to various Knitting Luminaries out there, there are two main paths on the Knitting Road, and they are Process and Project. Let me give you some definitions, in case you're not a knitting addict and you've never heard these terms. Knitters, go get yourselves a cup of tea; this won't take long. Better be a fast kettle, actually.

Process Knitters enjoy the journey more than the destination. That is, they love the stitch, the technique, the way a colour looks next to another colour. They're more concerned with learning a new technique than finishing something in time for Auntie Schmoop's birthday. They often have tons of projects on the go, often for the purpose of teaching themselves a new technique or exploring some stitch dictionary they found in the library.

Product Knitters want to finish. While they love knitting as much as their fellow travellers, it's the end product they crave. They'll put other projects aside to finish a special cardigan in time for autumn. They often have only a few projects going at one time, and there are priorities. While they may enjoy knitting that sock on the train, Auntie Schmoop's got to have her lap throw in time, and so that silk/wool blend stays in the handbag when they've got the room to knit the project that's higher up on the priority list.

I am a process knitter. I've cast on a pair of socks just to figure out how a unique rolled cuff was created. I've designed a completely tubular vest for a teddy bear just so I can be assured I know how to cut both armhole and neck steeks. So when I learned how to attach beads to lace using the crochet hook method at Knit Nation, I decided I should make something relatively simple employing beads just to get the knowledge cemented in my head. I did a Ravelry search for socks with beads and found what I was looking for on the Yahoo Groups page for a group I've been a lurker on for years. Below, you'll see photos of the recently-finished (and given away!) Fagoting Rib Socks. "Fagoting" is an embroidery term, also applied to lace knitting. It's a decorative lace achieved by pulling threads away from one another to give a lattice effect.

































Fagoting Rib Socks, Finished, Front

Here are the completed Fagoting Rib Socks. Yes, that's fagoting running down the centre front. :)
Fagoting Rib Socks, Finished, Front
Fagoting Rib Socks, Finished, Sides

I really do love the subtle bead detail. I first started these in a limited edition Cherry Tree Hill colour that I fell in love with, but the CTH, even though it's classed as a 4-ply/fingering/sock weight wool, was just slightly too big for the beads. So I dug around in my stash and found 100g of Opal Solid I'd had lying around since an order from Get Knitted ages ago, and the Opal is considerably smoother and less fluffy than the CTH. Now the CTH is becoming something else, which I'll post about eventually, I'm sure.
Fagoting Rib Socks, Finished, Sides
Fagoting Rib Socks, Finished, Back

And the fagoting up the backs is nice, too. Note the modified Eye of Partridge stitch on the heel flap. Lots of you know that I flit around among several different projects at the same time, because sometimes I just don't want to knit the same old thing again. That's one reason why I almost never do the second sock right after the first: I just have several socks on the go at once, and when I finish one I work on another. Eventually I come around to the mate of an already finished sock, and then I can rejoice because I have a new pair of socks. I don't think it's a bad system. But these socks didn't bore me, not one bit, not even though they're knit from the cuff down, which I usually hate. The ruffled cuff was interesting to make, beading is a new skill for me so I cherished it, even though there aren't many beads on this sock, and the fagoting rib was fast, easy, and wonderful to watch. The modified heel stitch made even the heel flap fun, and the narrowing of the lace pattern on the sock's instep was fun to do as the foot of the sock acquired its shape. We've all got projects we'd like to throw across the room—I couldn't put this one down. It was like a great book. Designer Claudia Tietze did a great job with this.
Fagoting Rib Socks, Finished, Back
Fagoting Rib Socks, Finished, Where They Belong

On V's feet! I'm so glad she was pleased with her birthday present. :) My lovely friend V is younger than me by only a few months, and her birthday was last Friday. These socks were finished in time for me to give them to her the first time I saw her after her birthday, and that was lovely. As many of you know, I am a selfish knitter and I don't give a lot of knitted items away, except once a year to my favourite filk charity, so you might have some idea of what an important friend V is and how much I love her.
Fagoting Rib Socks, Finished, Where They Belong
Process Knitter? You Bet! Spiral Cable Socks!

Sometimes you look at something, and you can't help thinking, "How did she *do* that?" That's what I thought when I saw these socks. And you know what happened next! I cast these on last night and knitted up the toes before class at I Knit London. I was planning to figure out the technique in the dying embers of the knitting group after my students had left, but instead I found myself in no fit state until I got home last night, whereupon it was much simpler. By this morning when I headed to the Royal Festival Hall to have a much-looked-forward-to meeting with my beloved Uppity Ladies, I felt confident. Of course, the marking thread I'd decided to use turned out to be much too dark in the RFH's poor lighting, so I borrowed, first from J and then from Aunty M, brighter marking wool —that's Aunty M's turquoise DK teasing from behind the sock-in-progress here.

So how is it done? Come talk to me in person sometime, and I'll show you. Or run-don't-walk out and get yourself a copy of THINK OUTSIDE THE SOX.
Process Knitter? You Bet! Spiral Cable Socks!
Spiral Cable Socks, from Think Outside the Sox

Here's the photograph of the completed socks from the book. A little more about the book? It's the result of a Knitter's magazine contest, and I've been reading teasers for it for months. I was so interested in this book I actually signed up on the Knitter's web site to find out more about it. They didn't get back to me, but one night a few weeks ago at I Knit London, the delightful but rarely seen these days B comes up to me and says, "Have you seen this book? I really like it, and I think I'm going to buy it, but not tonight, because I don't have the money." I snatched it out of her hands (I recognised the cover) and said, "That's good, because I'm going to buy it!" Whereupon money was exchanged, and we figured out that only one copy of the book had been ordered into IKL. Muahaha! Victory was mine! And the book doesn't disappoint: there's a huge variety of fascinating sock patterns, from the sublime to the ridiculous, in this book. Sometimes a book comes along that really changes the way you think about something, and this one does that. It's not as earth-shattering as Cat Bordhi's New Pathays for Sock Knitters, but it's amazing for its sheer diversity. If you love knitting socks and you can find a copy, run out and get it. I think it was £18.
Spiral Cable Socks, from Think Outside the Sox
Dover Castle Shawl, Getting Dressed

This is a project I haven't blogged about, because again it's a gift for a friend. It's actually been finished for weeks now, but I only got around to blocking it tonight. Blocking takes up space, and there's not always very much space in my house; at the moment, the blocking boards are taking up about 1/3 of our huge kitchen table. Assuming no rain tomorrow (and that's a big assumption!) I'll hang it out on the line in the morning for faster drying.

No, the iPad isn't included for scale. It just happened to be sitting there while I was pinning down the shawl.
Dover Castle Shawl, Getting Dressed
Dover Castle Shawl, Lace Detail

This is Handmaiden Casbah Sock, in the prettiest blue-purple I've ever seen. I could only afford one ball of it, and I started out making something else out of it. But this came out much nicer. The lace pattern is very simple, but particularly in the soft wool/cashmere blend, it feels and looks amazing. And you can't beat Handmaiden's rich colours. I can never get knitting photos perfect: the colour here is actually a lot darker and richer than what you see in the photograph.
Dover Castle Shawl, Lace Detail




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I don't know what it is with me. All my knitting friends talk about getting sucked in to Ravelry, how many friends they've made there, how great it is to have a community of knitters ... and while I've been on Ravelry since October of 2007, I only just passed my 100th post.

Once upon a time, there was a Knitlist. Maybe it's still out there; I don't know. I joined it, and I was relatively active for a little while, but I just couldn't keep it up. I don't think I'm a member of the Knitlist any longer, if it still exists. I'm still a member of the Sock Knitter email list, even though I never read it. I'm also a member of Socken-Kreative, even though I don't speak German, because good patterns are occasionally posted there in English. And I've been a member of the Six Sox Knitalong mailing list for years, but I don't think I've ever made a single post to the mailing list.

I guess I just am not a joiner. Maybe I don't have the kind of time to invest in these things, I don't know. Loads of knitters I love and admire don't think their day has begun if they haven't caught up on Sock Knitters Anonymous on Ravelry, and one lady swears by Lazy, Stupid, and Godless, also on Ravelry.

Nobody knows who I am on Ravelry, except for a few local friends. I changed my Ravelry name yesterday, and I don't think anybody except my little local circle will even have noticed. I use Ravelry mostly to keep track of projects; I actually have a more extensive project notebook than many people who are much more "active" on Ravelry than I am. I pitch Ravelry to my students as a place to learn about patterns and see them knitted up in ways you might not have imagined. But the sense of community other people have found there continues to elude me.

Ravelry and other knitting oriented groups/sites aren't the only places this happens. I love fountain pens, but I only go on the fountain pen network forum to ask questions. While I was once an active member of the internet harp list, I never read the messages any more. I don't even keep up with the wire harp list. I barely read the filk mailing lists most of my UK friends live on. I can just about keep up with LiveJournal, if I filter my reading, and FaceBook is skimmable. I don't actually read my friends list on Dreamwidth: DW is just a home for the Kniteracy blog until I have a better place to put it.

And yet I'm sure I'm a social person. I'm considered talkative, even magnanimous, by most people who know me.

So, OK. If you're a joiner, if you're a member in good standing, if you're invested, tell me how you got that way, and tell me what the difference is between your experience of places like Ravelry and fringey me.

And what was the point of that personal ramble on your knitting blog, Gwen? Well, it's because of what I'm knitting now. It comes from the Six Sox Knitalong, and I feel a little guilty for not, well, knitting along. It's one of the few patterns posted there that's ever completely caught my interest and come around at the right time for me to knit it and enjoy it and do something a bit new (beads) to me at the same time.

Want some pictures? Or-- here's a link to the Ravelry Project Page for these socks. I can now share links from Ravelry, so you should be able to see the page even if you're not a Ravelry member.


Fagoting Rib Sock, Cuff Detail
Fagoting Rib Sock, Cuff Detail
Fagoting Rib Socks, Progress Down Foot
Fagoting Rib Socks, Progress Down Foot

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First skew sock, complete First skew sock, complete
I am such a slow knitter-- this was just finished a couple of days ago.




Skew!

Mar. 23rd, 2010 06:33 pm
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Yeah, so I'm following the crowd of knitters who saw the Skew sock in the winter issue of Knitty and decided they must knit it, mostly to answer the burning question, "HTF did she do that?" And by following, I do mean 'following'; this was in the Winter Knitty, and Spring just came out. Hundreds of more dedicated sock knitters than I am have already completed these socks, and there are some great photographs on Ravelry (sorry, link only good if you're a Ravelry member). I was originally planning to do these with the Cortina Sock I bought from Lidl for practically no money last year, but when I looked at photographs of how this yarn knits up I realised it didn't actually stripe; it more like pools.

The designer suggested self-striping or hand-dyed yarn for the project, so I went back and looked at what other folks had knitted theirs out of. By far, the ones that looked most amazing to me were made not of self-striping yarn, but of self-patterning yarn (which sometimes employs stripes but also has jacquard-y bits). And do you know, I went through a heck of a self-patterning yarn phase when I was knitting mostly very simple socks; I love the stuff! But eventually plain socks got boring to knit and I couldn't bring myself to use a lot of it. I've since gone on a search for sock patterns that employ self-patterning wool in an interesting and new way. When I didn't find exactly what I wanted, I enjoyed designing it myself after a while.

Now, lots of y'all know that I ought to be embarrassed to say how many books I have that contain nothing but sock patterns and sock design techniques. I ought to be, yes. But the truth is, I'm fascinated enough by sock construction that I have been known to buy a book or pattern just to spend some time with it, reverse-engineer the patterns I like, and figure out how the designer did that.

So of course when I first saw this pattern, like lots of folks, I was intrigued. Now that I'm an inch or so away from heel point, I understand completely how she did it, at least to this point.

I am sure, having barely skimmed her blog, that like me, Lana Holden is a huge Cat Bordhi fan. Well, few people who like to design socks aren't; that's a fair bet. In fact, I can imagine the 'a-ha' moment for this design. See, you're knitting along, making your first pair of Coriolis Socks, and it comes to you that you could, in fact, do that crazy pattern band anywhere, for any reason, with anything inside it. And you get some ideas. Lana Holden got a really good idea. I can't decide if the shape came first or the "what if I just increase on one side; what would that do?". And it doesn't really matter. The shape itself is ingenious, fits well, and is interesting to knit without being impossible (though I do admit to losing my place in the increase/decrease chain a couple of times). Above that, certainly on the foot, which is all I've got to so far, it's simple. I'm envisioning skewed lace, little skewed cables, you name it, it can be skewed.

So anyway, thanks for reading, and thanks Lana! And here's a picture of my first Skew sock in progress. It's made from Opal sock wool, in the Dumbledore colourway from that Harry Potter theme limited edition they put out a bit ago. Yes, really. Because I couldn't resist, the Ravelry name for this project is "Skew Me Dumbledore" (Sorry, leads to link only accessible if you're on Ravelry). It's OK. You don't have to admit you know me. ;)


First Skew Sock
First Skew Sock
Just a few inches below heel point now, hoping to turn the first heel tonight.

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Somebody in one of my knitting classes asked, "How is it you don't get bored, knitting so many socks?" She was referring to the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome, that malady that affects many sock knitters, where when you've finished the first sock, you can't bear to go on to the next one. It's, er, like knitting the same thing twice! I explained that my answer to this age-old problem is that I have about forty gazillion socks on needles at one time. I don't ever have to knit the same sock twice. And sometimes, when I'm done with a sock, I start another sock from a completely different pattern, just to get the previous sock out of my head. I take enough notes and am geeky enough about my Ravelry project pages that I can usually remember changes I've made in this or that bit of the sock.

In fact, these socks were only 1/4 of the way done when I picked them up this week or maybe last week sometime, probably right after I finished the Laminaria. But they proved to be so easy and quick to knit that I just went right on to the second one. I do that sometimes, too.

Anyway, here are some pictures.


Catnip Lace Socks, Finished!
Catnip Lace Socks, Finished!
In all their glory, or camo, whichever you prefer. ;-) This is a design by Wendy Johnson, who wrote the great socks from the toe up book. Her heel construction is actually quite innovative.
Catnip Lace Socks -- Detail of lace on foot
Catnip Lace Socks -- Detail of lace on foot
Although this pattern was quite repetitive, I never did memorise it.
Catnip Lace Sock, Another Look
Catnip Lace Sock, Another Look
It's so nice to have socks that fit and look great, all the time. ;)

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Hey, Kniterati!

I'm just writing up Thursday night's mini-sock class, and I want to make sure I'm not forgetting anything. Prereqs for the class say students should be able to knit in the round, but that doesn't mean they'll understand dpns, so that'll be the only not totally sock related thing we'll cover.

I guess my question here is: on a very small sock (say a 24-st cast-on just to make the maths really easy), do you think I can cover all this in two hours?

Here's the outline, for the interested )
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As if I didn't already have enough on needles (you don't want to know!) I'm seriously considering knitting these lovely socks from Knotions, even though Ravelry users say the pattern is awful and full of mistakes. (I feel sure I can figure it out.)

So... I have narrowed the wool choice down to these four.

Which one do you like best? :D


Wool To Choose From:
Wool To Choose From:
1. A nice blue Opal Sock Wool. 2. Bright Green Cariad Sock Wool. 3. Bright Blue Cherry Tree Hill Sock Wool 4. Greeny-Browny-Sparkly Dream In Color Stardust

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Stripey Toe-Up Socks!
Stripey Toe-Up Socks!
Completed today around lunchtime. :) These were a lot of fun to knit and part of my 'knit mindless stuff in MA classes' plan.
Matching Stripes and Peasant Heel
Matching Stripes and Peasant Heel
When I realised how lovely and even the striping pattern was on this great Trekking wool, I chose to put in a peasant heel (aka an afterthought heel) so as not to interrupt the stripe pattern. The socks were knitted straight up in a tube, and a marker was placed at the point where the heel would be inserted later.
Stripey Toe-Up Socks -- they're just so pretty!
Stripey Toe-Up Socks -- they're just so pretty!
I used a crochet cast-off to make these socks nice and elastic at the cuff.
Stripey Toe-Up Socks, some technical points
Stripey Toe-Up Socks, some technical points
When I said these were mindlessly easy, I meant it! They were knitted on 68 stitches, on a 2.75mm circular needle. I used a 50% cast-on for the toe and added the heel marker at 2" shy of total foot length. After that, it was just a matter of knitting up to the top and gauging where the orange piece of the toe had begun on the first sock. I misjudged by a few rows, but I think they match pretty well, anyway. I started the ribbing one stripe before the orange started again, then did two rounds of orange plus the crochet cast-off. The heels were knitted by carefully removing the marking wool and placing stitches individually onto the sock needle, then knitting a short-row cup for the heel.



Ravelry Project Page
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These are completed. I can't believe they took only 10 days to knit: that's a record for me, the slowest sockmaker ever!

I love them.

Four Photos Below Cut Tag )
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Because I've been knitting all along: I just haven't been posting anything.

So here are some pictures of current socks in progress and recently finished.

Four photos below cut tag (three of the same socks!) )
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Effortless Mastery is the name of a book subtitled "Freeing the master musician within." It's right up there with The Inner Game of Music and A Soprano On Her Head, as far as I'm concerned, for great books about becoming one with oneself as a musician. I've pontificated before in other places about Gerald Eskelin's brilliant Lies My Music Teacher Taught Me, and I won't go off on the intricacies of temperament or bore you with a discussion of modes. (For those of you who don't know, I'm also a bit of a musician, so I do actually think and talk about things like this.)

It's the term "effortless mastery" that I want to delve into here. I don't think the individual musician can ever know the moment or series of moments at which it is achieved, if it ever is achieved. Rather, he finds himself a few weeks or months or years later suddenly able to do something with such ease and facility that he realises he's pretty good at this. I think we can apply this term to lots of different disciplines: I'm remembering now the story of a student interpreter for the deaf at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. He was in a biology class, merrily signing the lecture as the professor gave it. A difficult word came along, and he spelled it without thinking about it, then stared at his hand in disbelief. The deaf students applauded, and the class was briefly interrupted as he had to explain to the hearing students (and the instructor) what had just happened. That's as good an illustration as any of the moment of realisation.

I was thinking about the Spiraling Coriolis, after I made a plain pair. These were finished last Monday night, and Monday when I got home from class I cast on another pair. I used a Plymouth Sockotta I'd bought in the States in 2007 because I wasn't completely enamoured of the colourway and it was a prototype sock.

First of all, I was dead wrong about the colourway: It is gorgeous, and the other ball of Sockotta I have in different colours but similar patterning will become a pair of very plain socks to show off that lovely colourway.

It occurred to me that I could put that spiralling stripe in in any sort of pattern I liked: all I'd have to do would be to make sure the increases and decreases followed properly along. So, after I'd finished the toe (still in my short-term memory from the other pair) and increased to 100% (same number as before as I was getting almost exactly the same tension), I started a six-stitch braided cable on one side of the sock, bounded by a purl stitch on either side. I made the cable appear to move around the sock by adding increases on one side and decreases on the other. When I got to the point at which the 'gusset' increases start, I just changed the decrease to a twisted stitch to give it some relief and carried on. Rather than continuing the cable round the back of the sock, I twisted it back in on itself. This has resulted in some puckering on the front of the sock although it looks fine on the foot. I didn't want to have the cable be working its way around the back of the sock when I had to start the heel: that would have been awkward.

The one thing I don't like about the completed sock is that the cable, which is twisting around the front of the sock, pulls pretty tightly. Cat Bordhi suggests in the Coriolis notes that if you want to widen the leg, just leave out some of the decreases on whichever side of the spiral you're doing, but I tried that for a couple of rounds and it seemed to upset the rhythm of the cable in a way it hadn't done on the foot. For the second sock I'll make a series of invisible increases on the back of the sock above the heel, to see if that makes the fit of the cable more relaxed.

So.

Why was I going on about the moment at which we realise we have mastered something (in this case sock architecture and the beginnings of decent design)?

Because I made these socks up as I went along. And I achieved what is probably a new speed knitting record for me (I'm a slow knitter)-- one sock in two days.

Two photos beneath cut tag )
kniteracy: (socks)
You know what? I have a ton of self-patterning sock wool. It's because I love the stuff. Even though it's getting more boring by the second to knit a pair of plain socks and just let the yarn do its work, I love it. One of the reasons I designed the Razor's Edge Socks earlier this year was to use up some beautiful self-patterning wool that the prospect of knitting was just getting too boring to contemplate. But, even if they're a bit tedious to knit, I love to wear them. So I've decided that my knitting activity during MA classes will be to knit as many plain socks out of fabulous self-patterning wool as possible. For, you know, values of 'plain' that it doesn't tax me to knit in class.

These socks (there's a single photo beneath the cut tag) are probably going to look very plain to you, but look again! Do you see the sneaky little line that crosses the top of the foot? That's the spiral, and inside that spiral are all the increases you'd normally put in gussets for a traditional sock. I continued the spiral all the way to the cuff.

I cannot recommend any sock book more highly than New Pathways for Sock Knitters (sorry about the amazon.com link; amazon.co.uk didn't have a photograph). Yes, it's better, in my opinion, than Cookie A's admittedly brilliant Sock Innovation. I've had this book since it came out in 2007, and I have gone back to it I don't know how many times for inspiration, or even for straight-up patterns, like this one.

One photo beneath cut tag )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
I will try to make this understandable.

Let's say you're designing, oh, I don't know -- a sock. This sock does not have standard patterning and gussets: it puts the increases to allow for the gussets on the front of the sock.

So, imagine you're knitting a pattern, from the toe. You have some complex stuff to do on the toe and just afterwards, for about three inches (8cm) or so. After that, the middle of the foot changes and begins to increase into a lace pattern. The chart will expand from 36 sts wide to 110 or so. All this expansion happens in the middle.

I can see three ways to chart this, one of which I do not think I can actually do because the possibility for error is too great.

First way: I write the entire sock chart, from the toe, moving the complex patterning around both sides of the lace chart as the chart expands. Possibly easier to read, but the likelihood that I will make major errors is very high.

Second way: I split the toe in half, thus making the middle motif of the toe very difficult to read, with a bunch of null stitches (71 to be precise) in the middle of the chart, for something like 45 rounds, until the lace pattern begins to come in, then reduce the number of null stitches to widen the lace chart. This way is less hard for me but may be difficult for knitters to read at the beginning. It will also result in a chart that is very wide but appears to have little useful information at the bottom.

Third way: I rely on the intelligence of knitters and make two charts. One chart is for the toe up to where the lace increases begin. I then write instructions into the pattern explaining that the lace chart now begins to build in the middle of the sock; knitters should continue knitting the left and right bits of Chart A while incorporating Chart B into the middle lace panel. Much simpler for me (inasmuch as this is simple at all; that is to say, NOT), but relies upon knitters to understand that they are continuing the pretty cables on the side of the lace chart as it grows.

What would be easiest for you to do? Bear in mind that for most knitters at this level, or at least this is how it was when I was knitting the test sock, there will be clear markers as to where the lace increases happen, and the outside patterns are very repetitive: a single cable on each side. By 'reading' the cables, knitters wouldn't have to refer to two charts at once (aka hell)

Input gratefully received.
Xposted to sock knitting groups.
kniteracy: (designing)
I'm going to need to consult an expert when I finally end up charting this, but them's the breaks, I guess.


Sneak Peek!
Sneak Peek!
OK, so this isn't the wool I'm actually designing for, but this sock needed a scratch canvas; otherwise I'd be fraying my-friend-the-dyer's wool like crazy and it'd look awful when knitted up. This is Wendy Happy, btw, a blend of bamboo and nylon, of all things. And if you like those cables, wait 'til you see the lace! :)

kniteracy: (socks)
For a long time, I've been designing my own socks, more or less. I learned Queen Kahuna's toe-up sock method shortly after her book came out and began making patterned toe-up socks with gussets, yum! When Cat Bordhi's book New Pathways for Sock Knitters came out, I devoured that one, too, with its innovative ideas about where you could put gussets and how to handle those increases in ways that would make socks more both more interesting and fun to knit. Cookie A's book Sock Innovation is a great resource as well, though I really do prefer designing and knitting toe-up socks. To me, they're just more fun. For various styles and techniques, you can't beat resources like Charlene Schurch's Sensational Socks and More Sensational Socks, though the patterns are not as innovative as the things I really love to knit. Most of us who knit socks are enamoured of one or two designers who really know what they're doing and amaze us with the stuff they do. If you're on Ravelry, just have a look round the pattern section to see who's designing socks right now and what they look like.

Today, I've been working on sock designs. Now, those of you who don't knit may find it odd to realise that there are whole books worth of sock designs and whole knitting designers who design socks exclusively, but I'm sure you'll catch up. ;)

Without the aid of a professional-level charting program (and those of you who'd like to pitch in and get me a fabulous Christmas gift can take a look at Knit Visualizer if you're curious as to what I'm talking about when I say professional-level charting program), I design mostly on paper or in Knitting Wizard, which is very cool but nowhere near as intuitive as the demo of Knit Visualizer I have tried.

So, today I tried something different. I cast on sixteen stitches and considered the outside six to be just a garter stitch border. Then, I just started knitting a sock top, on the flat. I used inexpensive solid colour sock wool from Lang (well, OK, it was $7US for 50g, but trust me; that's less expensive than the beautiful stuff I'm really designing for). I played around with various stitch patterns, mostly twisted stitch patterns today, with a little bit of lacework in the mix.

It was fun! And I'll be doing some more of it tonight. I've ripped out this afternoon's work as just a scratch exercise, so I don't have any photographs to show you. Some of you have seen the first sock I designed for this project. Let me know if you have a favourite look for a lacey sock or a design with lots of travelling stitches that you like? And if the poem 'anyone lived in a pretty how town' gives you any inspiration at all, let me know that, too.

I won't rip the next one out before photographing it, promise.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
It was a great weekend! I could just end the report there, but that'd be mean! ;) I will put my ramblings beneath cut tags, because I'm nice like that.

Friday: Getting Lost, Annie Modesitt, Technique Tangent, The Exhibit Hall, Mobile Phone Madness, and Leaving Early )

Saturday: Hitching a Ride, Yarnissima, a Long Afternoon, Teaching the Ladies to Knit for Bears, and, um, Hitching a Ride! )

The I Knit London staff are an amazing bunch of people, and they had a great staff behind this event. Everyone at I Knit London deserves gold stars, free beer, or better yet CASH! ;) for their dedication and hard work. I'm so pleased to have been a part of this weekend; I hope it'll be the first of many more to come.

Photograph of my meagre haul )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
I haven't stopped knitting, promise. I've just been really busy with other things. Here are a couple of things I've been working on recently.

Three photos below cut tag )

Ravelry project page for the Purple Pomatomus">
Ravelry project page for the Silk Garden Serina
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
Recently, I Got Yarn. I also started a new sock, plus did some work on some older projects. Clearly, I am seeking distractions against the other sock I have to design this week....
Several pictures below cut tags, with annotations and geeking )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (seussocks)
It had to happen. If you're interested, check out [community profile] socknitters.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
At this point, I have copies of
The Ultmate Sourcebook of Knitting and Crochet Stitches,
The Vogue Stitchionaries,
The Encyclopedia of Knitting,
The Knitter's Bible,
The Ultimate Sourcebook of Knitting and Crochet Stitches; and
three of the four Barbara Walker Treasuries.

I'm working on some designs for a couple of pairs of lace socks.

But you know what? All those other books do not hold a candle to the Barbara Walker Treasuries. There's just more, and more interesting stuff, in them. Which is not to say you shouldn't get the others, but I'm finding the Walker treasuries much more valuable as a unit.

Just sayin'.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
Here's a glimpse of the continuing Summer Sliding Sock. I haven't worked on this sock since Saturday, since I've been down with flu and I really am not up for ticky or difficult knitting. It's teddy bear jumpers and a ditty bag for me at the moment.

I'm into the gusset increases at the moment and will turn the heel fairly soon.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
I think the new needle is working. I kept the first sock on the 3.25mm needle and started this one on a 2.5mm. I was a little worried at first because the tension was visibly denser and I was concerned it wouldn't fit, but I think it's actually going to work out fine at this point. And yes, I like the green-to-yellowy-orange thing the other ball was doing a bit better than this, but we'll get to that point on this sock as well.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
In conversation with [personal profile] aunty_marion, I suddenly came to the realisation that, hey, I have two balls of this stuff. Why not start a second sock, on 2.75mm needles, and see how it works out? That way, no harm, no foul, no ripping out before I see a solution. So I'm going to try that, to see how the smaller needles work and fit. And I'll go with whichever one I like best—or I'll choose something else.

Sometimes, it takes a miracle to see the obvious. ;-)
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)

summerslidinglace
Originally uploaded by harpetrator
I'm really loving the way the colours are coming out on this sock. Thanks to everybody who encouraged me to knit this one: I think it's going to work out fine.

My only concern still is that the 3.25mm needles are not giving a very firm sock and that both the pattern itself and the garment will suffer for this. Then again, I still have my first pair of socks, made in sockweight Fortissima Socka, on 3.5mm needles, and they've held up fine. I can't help but think the pattern might look nicer with a firmer tension. The largest size for this fairly complicated sock is 70 sts around, so I had to find a tension that would give between 9.5 and 9.7 stitches per inch on 70 stitches. I settled on 7.5 stitches/inch on the 3.25mms, which will give me a sock 9.5" around -- half an inch smaller than my foot, but the sock should stretch.

It's still possible I'll rip this out; I need to see how the lace pattern looks once it's built a little more. I'll make a decision probably in the next two or three inches.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (knitting patterns)
I completed these last night and wove the ends in this morning.

Three photos beneath cut tag )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (knitting!)
To Knitting Software .Com, from whom I purchased the inexpensive Sock Wizard Mac application yesterday. There were two versions of their ordering website online, one with a download option and one without. The one with the download option did not work, so I ordered the software to be shipped, and this morning I sent an email asking if there were a downloadable version.

We went off to take [livejournal.com profile] pola_bear back to university early this afternoon, and I thought no more of it, figuring I'd get a response possibly on Monday. But when we stopped for lunch, I checked email via the iPhone and found that the lady from Knitting Software had already got back to me, apologising because they'd updated their website and those links weren't good, including a download link to the software and a note that she wouldn't be charging me for shipping!

And now on to the application, which looks great, if basic. It's essentially a full-service sock calculator, with a lot of options. Alas, it isn't customisable to the point where I could just plug in some parameters and change a sock architecture a la Cat Bordhi, but it offers cuff-down and toe-up options, patterns written for 4 or 5 dpn or 1 or 2 circulars, and a very nice variety of heels and toes, including a toe-up star toe which looks like fun—in three lengths, standard (crew) short (ankle) and knee. The website has photos of some of the heel designs. It makes patterns according to US shoe sizes, which may prove a bit of a problem for some, but there are plenty of online conversion charts that will tell you what your US shoe size would be. It does not allow adjustments for very wide feet/ankles/calves, but does enough of the basic maths that it will be possible to design the same sock in several sizes, aside from the charting of whatever pattern I want to use. The charting, of course, is what Stitch Visualizer is for. ;-) (subtle hint: my birthday is coming up!) :-D

I suspect I'll get seriously started on whatever I'm making with the Zauberball and try to clear some more UFOs before I settle down to knitting any socks from Sock Wizard-based patterns, but so far I'm pleased. The program is easy to use, produces simple, readable patterns that can be customised to my satisfaction and will need only basic tweaks to incorporate inventive patterning and whatnot, and it was quite inexpensive at $35 US.

I'm sure I'll have more to say about Sock Wizard in the days and weeks to come, but my first impression is very good.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (knitting!)
I picked up this lovely wool on Wednesday at I Knit London, and now I'm thinking I may get a second ball of it if they still have it on Saturday.

Zauberball translates to 'magic ball', and I think that even in the ball it live up to its name. It's just alive with possibilities, isn't it? The wool comes in an astounding array of colours, not all of them this bright, I promise!


Photos and pattern photo links below cut tag )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (knitting!)
As if I didn't already have enough to do, I thought, "Hey, I'll design a pair of lace socks that will work well with self-patterning jaquard sock wool! Yeah! Let's do that!" Well, they've at least given me a chance to experiment a bit more with the square DPNs, which I still like.

Three photographs, plus technical notes, beneath cut tag. Pattern to follow. )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (knitting patterns)
Not just a modification; a "real" design this time. These were cast on last night, and they are moving pretty quickly at this point.

Single photo below cut tag. )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (seussocks)
There are a ton of sock knitting resources out there. On the Internet, you can find hundreds of free patterns, along with sock construction guidelines and tips for just about every kind of sock knitting you can imagine. And I only say ‘just about’ because I’m sure someone will think of something new. Maybe they are thinking of it right this minute.

Some of you know that last week’s sock class required me to begin rewriting a sock pattern on the fly, in a class with six students. Other chaos occurred as well, but what I’m now anticipating with dread is the fact that not all my knitters will be able to knit a complete heel flap, plus turn their heels, plus begin their gusset decreases, in two hours’ time. I’m halfway through my heel flap on this sock and intend to stop at the heel turn so I can demonstrate it on Saturday. All but one of the students in this class are relatively new or inexperienced knitters, and we were just getting into the swing of working in the round when it was time to end the class. Most of them are at the stage where they’re just sort of trusting the patterns they knit. They may have reached the, “I don’t like this pattern stitch, so I’m going to substitute another at the exact point,” stage. But nobody here is really knitting fearlessly, at least not yet.

Anyway, because I have to rewrite this pattern for my class, I thought I’d talk a little bit about sock construction, what there is out there, and how to do it without really thinking about it. No reason not to share that here. ;-)

Lots of my knitting friends know these tricks, but the truth is I can explain the basics of cuff-down sock construction in a series of simple bullet points.

Basic Sock Formula )

Using this formula, you can make socks for anybody, using any kind of wool, on circulars or double points; it's your choice.

Please don't be intimidated by the maths. They are really very basic, and after knitting socks for donkey's years, I pretty much just know them off the top of my head.

Great books about sock knitting:

  • The aforementioned Folk Socks. It's a great resource, although it's somewhat densely written. Like most books that try to do absolutely everything, some bits of it may not appeal to everybody.
  • Sensational Knitted Socks provides a number of zipper patterns with lots of variations.
  • Simple Socks, Plain and Fancy is a great resource for short-row heel socks, toe up and top down.
  • Ethnic Socks provides a great introduction to socks and techniques from Eastern Europe and Turkey. If you like stranded knitting, this is a great one to play with.
  • Cool Socks, Warm Feet presents itself as a pattern book for socks made from printed and self-patterning yarns, but there are some great technique notes in it as well.
  • Sock Innovation, my newest acquisition, has already proven to be a great resource, full of fascinating design notes about how to make your socks spectacular and unique.
  • New Pathways for Sock Knitters, which amazon lists as unavailable in the UK, is actually available. If you're ready to branch out, Cat Bordhi's book explains a number of different ways to handle sock shaping so that you can create some fascinating and fantastic socks.


Great Internet resources for sock knitting:

  • The Internet Sock Knitters List Homepage. Here you'll find a lot of resources. If you decide to join the list, be aware that it is very, very chatty and high-traffic. I skim the digests when I have time, but I haven't been a regular poster to mailing lists in years.
  • Knitting Socks provides tutorials and some tips and patterns. Google Ads on front page.
  • A quick search on Ravelry reveals 557 matches for groups with keyword 'sock'.
  • Ravelry also has a huge pattern database. The most popular sock pattern on Ravelry is currently Cookie A's 'Monkey', from Knitty. More than 8,000 Ravelry members are knitting or have knitted this sock. Ravelry lists 6,900 sock patterns, nearly 2,500 of them free.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (knitting!)
Well, let's see.

I'm just not a monogamous knitter; it's obvious. And I neglect projects for months, sometimes years, at a time. Sometimes I come across a neglected project when I'm going through my stash, usually looking to start something new, and although I know in my heart I might never finish it, particularly that replacement pair of Camelot socks that I've lost the pattern for (and I had two copies of the pattern at one point; can you believe that? I should really just scan everything and turn it into .pdfs for my iPhone). Still, I can't bear to give them up. I think I can remember most of them.

  1. It wouldn't be fair not to list those gorgeous Camelot Socks,* after having whinged about them up there;
  2. There's the Ragna,* which I put aside because I was knitting Christmas gifts. The bottom mitres are all joined for the front, and I'm about to start knitting up;
  3. There's [livejournal.com profile] filceolaire's spiral tank top,* which is temporarily put aside because I have to make a couple of design decisions and I'm not ready yet;
  4. There's [livejournal.com profile] resourceress's Twisted Flower Socks,* one of which is complete. I just need to knit the second sock;
  5. There's Harmarnii's (winolj) Malabrigo lace socks* from DROPS design, one of which is complete. I think I even cast on for the second one at one point. I was on the bus;
  6. There's the gorgeous Rhiannon* knee socks from Cookie A that I have found to be incredibly frustrating and will come back to when I'm feeling like a challenge (yes, they are more challenging than the Ragna!);
  7. There's [livejournal.com profile] bardling's Harika Socks,* one of which is complete and the other of which is at least started;
  8. There's the lace cocoon,* which I've been concentrating on for the last couple of weeks;
  9. There's the Pfeiffer Falls Hooded Scarf,* which I started in the dead of winter and which is going to be very warm and cosy. But I used stash wool, and I'm just not all that thrilled with powder blue. Probably this will go to an auction or a friend when completed;
  10. There's the purple and green entrelac knee socks,* which I'm designing and knitting on the fly. They've been put aside because they're kind of boring to knit, and as I'm doing most of my knitting at home these days, I don't really need train knitting projects at the moment;
  11. And as of last night, there's the Strangling Vines Scarf,* made of sockweight (4ply) Colinette Jitterbug, in the "Popsicle" colourway.


Wow. That's eleven projects, not counting stuff I do for knitting classes and whatever I've forgotten. If any sense, I wouldn't start another one for awhile. But, you know. I have lace yarn.

One photo of Strangling Vine Lace below the cut tag )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (knitting!)
Having trouble sleeping tonight, which isn't usual for me. So I might as well yammer on about all the knitting I've been doing this weekend, in between bits and pieces of the Before The Dawn rehearsals.

Several photos below cut tag )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (knitting!)
(Sorry, [livejournal.com profile] bardling; I just can't resist making fun with that name.)
One photo beneath cut tag )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (knitting patterns)
Before I head off to bed, I just want to show you how the sock looks with the next tier of diamonds knitted. The 2mm needles are a bit small for the Cherry Tree Hill wool, but because entrelac makes a very stretchy fabric, I wanted it as dense as I could get it. The knitting itself is slow going, because even though 10 stitches per diamond doesn't sound like many, consider that I'm knitting nine 10x10 diamonds across every tier. That's 900 stitches per tier, not counting stitch pickups, which are time-consuming using very small needles and a yarn just slightly too heavy for the needles. This is one of the many times I wish Addi made lace needles in the 2mm size: the pointy tips would make the stitch pickups much easier!

Three photos below cut tag, and yes, one is inside out. )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (knitting patterns)
You can see the first post on this topic here.

I'm into the second tier now, so it's starting to look like entrelac.

Two photos below the cut tag )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (knitting patterns)
Completely improvised, here are the bare beginnings of my entrelac socks!

One photo beneath cut tag )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (knitting patterns)
Photo beneath cut tag )

And now that I have reached my goal of getting farther along on this sock than I was when I ripped it out this afternoon, I can finally go to bed! Good night, LJ.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (knitting patterns)
It didn't even occur to me when I suggested to [livejournal.com profile] bardling that I knit these socks for her that the name of the pattern sort of goes with her own name. So, [livejournal.com profile] bardling, please forgive all the plays on words, and concentrate on the progress of your socks! ;)

Three photos and notes below the cut tag )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)

This pattern would have scared me silly even four years ago. Here's a link to a the finished sock, and beneath the cut you'll find a photo of my effort, being belatedly knitted for the lovely and talented[livejournal.com profile] resourceress. I'm 25 rounds in now.

Click for photo! )

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