Socks: Letting the Yarn Speak

I love knitting socks. I caught the bug a few years ago, and since then I’ve knit quite a few pairs of them. I’ve also acquired quite a large number of skeins and balls of sock yarn in all sorts of colours and fibres. They are the perfect impulse buy – pretty, soft, and useful because 100 grams will make a pair of socks. The hard part is deciding which pattern to make with which yarn.

Veil of Rosebuds socks 9

A while ago I bought a copy of the The Knitter’s Book of Socks by Clara Parkes. It has a lot of very interesting information about yarn, specifically yarn for making socks. I learned a lot about the properties of different fibres and how to make the best use of them. When I decided to make socks with some yarn containing both wool and silk, I chose a pattern written specifically for yarn with silk in it – Veil of Rosebuds by Anne Hanson. The pattern stitch is really stretchy.

Veil of Rosebuds socks  2

My gauge using the 2.25 mm needles specified in the pattern was tighter than the designer’s, so I decided to make the large size. In retrospect, I realized that I didn’t need to do that. The stretchiness of the lace pattern stitch would have made the medium size fit my size 7.5 foot well. However, even in the large size they fit well enough. I modified the pattern by knitting a heel with flap and gusset, instead of a short row heel.

The yarn is Jawoll Silk by Lang Yarns. It contains 55% wool, 25% nylon, and 20% silk, and is very nice to work with. The ball came with a spool of nylon reinforcing thread that I didn’t use. The unhappy surprise was that the 100 gram weight of the ball included the weight of the reinforcing thread. The yarn itself weighed only 93 grams. That was still enough for me to make a pair of socks, but it could be an issue for people with bigger feet.

For my next pair, I grabbed a ball of self-striping yarn by Schoeller+Stahl called Fortissima Socka Mexiko Color. This time the yarn demanded making a very simple sock – it’s just too busy for much else. I knit this one on 2.25 mm needles, with a cuff of 3×3 ribbing, and a flap heel. Bright and cheery, aren’t they?

Basic sock in Fortissima 1

the details:

First Pattern: Veil of Rosebuds by Anne Hanson, from The Knitter’s Book of Socks by Clara Parkes

Yarn: Jawoll Silk by Lang Yarns (55% wool, 25% nylon, and 20% silk) in colour 130.0098

Needles: 2.5 mm for cuffs, 2.25 mm for the rest.

Sock size: large

Modifications: replaced short-row heel with a heel flap and gusset

Second Pattern: Basic cuff-down socks in stockinette stitch, 66 stitches, with 3×3 ribbing and a heel flap and gusset heel

Yarn: Fortissima Socka Mexiko Color by Schoeller+Stahl (75% wool, 25% nylon) in colour 24 Lilac Brown.

Needles: 2.5 mm for cuffs, 2.25 mm for the rest.

Sock size: medium

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Where Has the Summer Gone?

So, the sewing room sorting and decluttering that I wrote about in my last post have been continuing since then. It’s almost finished now, with just a few things left to sort through. I’ve got most things back in the room, or in alternative storage spots, and I’m very happy with how it has worked out so far. I’ll post an update with photos when it’s all finished.

In the meantime, I have been doing all sorts of things. I finished knitting a pair of socks:

stripey-blotchy-socks_0007

I participated once again in the Tour de Fleece. I finished spinning the lovely blue Polwarth that I had started spinning in 2011’s Tour, and made some good progress on the Merino/Tencel blend.

TDF12-finish-line_03

Shortly after the Tour ended, the Ravellenic Games started on Ravelry. I joined the team from the Completely Pointless and Arbitrary Group, and entered into the WIPs Wrestling event. The WIP I chose to wrestle was a shawl I’d started way back in September of 2009 (details below). I had become so frustrated with trying to learn how to knit nupps that I’d put it away for years. I didn’t manage to finish it before the end of the closing ceremonies of the London Olympic Games, but I did make a lot of progress and hope to finish it soon.

Triangular-Summer-Shawl_05

In addition to these crafty things, I also did a lot of very tiring garden work, and spent some time helping my husband with a large project to fix up the garage.

Now I find myself itching to get back to quilting. I have a number of projects on the go, both traditional and arty, that I hope to get back to soon. I also have some ideas for new things I’d like to start on. As the summer winds down and fall approaches, my thoughts turn to getting back to a normal routine, including more creative time (and more blogging!).

Some details on the above projects:

Stripy Blotchy Socks:

Pattern: These are simple socks in stockinette, with an afterthought heel that I took from the Crystal Socklet pattern in the Spring and Summer 2012 issue of Knitty. It’s the first time I’ve knit an afterthought heel, which is worked after the main sock is finished. The benefit of knitting the sock this way is that the stripes in the self-striping yarn are not interrupted by working a typical heel as the sock is being knit. I like the crystal heel a lot, and will definitely use it again. It offers the extra room I seem to need to allow for my high instep.

Yarn: On Your Toes 4 Ply with Aloe Vera, by S.R. Kertzer (a self-striping fingering weight yarn)

Needle size: 2.25 mm

Spinning:

Polwarth: 115g of hand-dyed roving from Sheep and Spindle, which yielded about 157 m of 2-ply at about a sport weight.

Merino/Tencel: 113g of hand-dyed roving from Fiber Optic Yarns, in colourway Ruby Slippers Batik.

Triangular Summer Shawl:

Pattern: Triangular Summer Shawl, by Nancy Bush, from Knitted Lace of Estonia. More about nupps here. YouTube video with tips on knitting nupps here.

Yarn: Sliver Moon Farm lace weight merino in colourway Eh, What?

Needle size: 3.5 mm

Imbas Socks At Last!

I finally finished knitting my pair of Imbas socks, full of lovely Celtic cables. They would have made for a perfect St. Patrick’s Day post, but somehow March just slipped by me. Oh well, that doesn’t diminish my happiness at getting these socks off the needles and onto my feet.

This pattern was designed by the Tsarina of Tsocks, aka Lisa Grossman. I picked up the kit at the Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY, back in 2009. I finally started them in January of 2010, and they spent the following couple of years being picked up and put down again. I finished them in March of 2012, in a burst of effort to finish off some unfinished projects.

Here they are:

Imbas-socks_0007

I’m pretty happy with how they turned out. For one thing, they fit (always a good thing). For another, I managed to do the top cuff overlays in spite of really struggling with them at first.

Imbas-socks_0016

This is a toe-up sock, with a short-row toe and heel. There were a few new-to-me techniques in the pattern, plus charts for the cable sections. I think that’s part of why I kept putting them down. I usually have socks as my travel knitting, so most of the time I pick patterns that are a balance of interest and simplicity. These ones weren’t suitable for travel knitting at all, at least not for me. They required a level of concentration best reserved for at-home knitting. But I was working on other things at home, so the socks languished.

There is a downside to letting a project linger for a long time. Somehow the socks ended up being slightly different sizes. My best guess is that I changed needle sizes from one sock to the next. I’m a pretty consistent knitter, so it’s hard to believe that my gauge changed that much over time. See how much difference there is?

Imbas-socks_0014

The sock on the right was the first one I knit. It’s noticeably longer and wider. Fortunately, it still fits.

The details:

Pattern: Imbas, by Lisa Grossman

Yarn: Flocksock sock yarn from Holiday Yarns in colour Leaves of Grass

Needle size: 2.5 mm (I think sock 1 might have been 2.75 mm) double pointed needles

Started: January 26, 2010, Finished: March 3, 2012