Monthly Archives: February 2008

More, please

Korknisse notwithstanding, I had about 2 weeks of project monotony in the end of January and beginning of February. It was good for me, because I produced these:

Garnet Dreams Knee Socks

They might look like regular (albeit pretty) socks, but no. They are very much more than regular socks. These are the things that will help me get through the cold winter long before they get the chance to look pretty with a nice skirt, come springtime. These are keeping the cold draft from flying up my pant leg and chilling me to the core. (Well, that along with a knitted sweater). These are knee-highs. Ta-da! The first finished project from my Rhinebeck 2007 purchases.

Garnet Dreams Knee Socks

Pattern: None. A personalized process which I will discuss below.
Yarn: Socks that Rock Mediumweight, ‘Garnet Dreams’, 2 skeins (used approximately 3/4 of each one)
Needles: 3.0mm DPNs
Notes: These contain elastic thread knitted into the cuff, as is my preference – I think every pair of knee socks I make will continue to have elastic in the cuff, it keeps ‘em sturdy and staying up where you need them. Elastic + leg shaping is my anti-slouch plan.

Someone asked me a little while ago what pattern I was using to make these, and there isn’t one. Anyone can make a pair of knee socks, just like anyone can make a regular pair of socks to fit their own feet. All you need is a gauge swatch, a tape measure, and your leg. There are already places online where you can find detailed instructions for stockinette knee socks (such as here), but the gist of what you need to know is this:

a) measure your leg circumference at the widest point of the calf in inches. Multiply this number by your number of sts/inch (according to your swatch), then subtract 1-2 inches’ worth of stitches (negative ease helps them fit and stay up). This is the # of stitches you will knit at the upper leg. Subtract a dozen or two sts from this number, and that’s how many you’ll use for the ribbing to cast on. (I used 88 sts for the leg, increasing just after the ribbing from a cast-on 76 sts, for this weight – BUT if you are using lighter yarn this may change. It is always better to err on the side of snug than loose, in all measurements with knee highs.)

b) measure your leg length from the top of your heel to the back of your knee, above the widest point of your calf. This is approximately how long your sock needs to be, not counting the inch or so of ribbing at the top cuff. I say “approximately”, because depending on your amount of negative ease, there will likely be some horizontal stretch and you’ll need to add an inch or so to keep the sock at its intended length while it is actually on your leg. (My sock length is 14.5 ins.)

For both the leg and foot, it is better to err on the side of too LONG than too short. If the leg or foot is too short, it will pull down as you wear the sock, and you’ll be constantly tugging them up to keep from falling down.

c) measure your leg circumference at your ankle, multiply by your number of sts/inch, then subtract 1-2 inches for negative ease. This is the number of stitches you want to arrive at for your ankle. If you’ve made stockinette socks before in regular length, you probably already have a good idea what you want this number to be, given the weight of yarn you’ll be using. (I used 56 sts since this is a heavier sock yarn. Usually I use 64 sts.)

There’s one more thing here, and it should be pretty obvious given how those socks are swooshing and pooling the colours in different ways at different points on the leg. There is, of course, shaping. You have to decrease from the number of stitches in (a) to the number of stitches in (c), starting after the widest point of your leg and ending by the time you get to the ankle. My shaping follows the yellow line in the image below, according to the shape of my own leg:

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For me, for this weight of yarn, I would knit evenly in stockinette for about 4 inches after the cuff, then decrease 2 stitches (at the “back” of the leg) every 4 rows 5-6 times, then every 3 rows for the rest of the decreases. If I was using a slightly smaller gauge I would probably do all my decreases every 4 rows. Then, this still leaves me with a few inches of even stockinette to hug my leg around the ankle. Your leg may be different, though – you might want to do your shaping in a way that stops almost directly at the ankle itself, depending on the shape of your leg.

[EDIT]: Oh yeah, and one more thing: try the sock on OFTEN. This is key. It’s better to know that you need to add a bit of extra length or re-start the shaping a bit earlier or work the decreases a bit farther apart before, say, you finish the entire sock. I try mine on 3 or 4 times throughout the whole process. Then just use the 1st sock as a guideline for the 2nd.

After that, the rest involves the same set of decisions you’d make for any other sock – what kind of heel? (I used the flap. Definitely love the sturdy flap heel) What kind of toe? How long to make the foot? How to stave off boredom of knitting more and more stockinette? Ah yes, such a lovely nuanced decision-making opportunity, socks are. All in all, this is the sort of thing that takes a lot more energy to explain than to actually execute. And I fully plan on having more custom-fit knee socks entering into my closet!

Garnet Dreams Knee Socks

More, more, more please.
Stay warm!

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Filed under fearless knitting, finished object: socks, free pattern, knee socks, socks

From the homefront

Through the aid of some anti-Trojan downlods (VundoFix and ComboFix, as it happens – my AdAware and SpyBot were darned useless), I have managed to negotiate a peace treaty with the computer viruses and have been virus-message free for a few days. I suspect this is only temporary and that the mind-wipe will need to happen after a matter of time, but for the moment I am pleased to have some progress at any rate.

In other news, I promised reports on the Korknisse. While I know logically that these are meant to be representative of Scandinavian folklore, and that by rights they shouldn’t really appear in multiple colours in, say, February, as opposed to appearing in red in, say, December, these little darlings have such a disarming amount of cuteness that I cannot help but return to them.

CaliKorknisse

I can report that ten California corks were welcomed into the flock this week, and were suitably outfitted in bright and sunny hats and sweaters. They seem to be managing well in the cold with their new attire (and just as well, since we are forecast to have yet more snow this week). Currently these cork creatures number 51, and I would like to make it to 100. It’s nice to have specific and frivolous goals sometimes, you know?

Stay warm and keep the knitting close by. :)

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Filed under knitting addiction, korknisse

What karma again?

Maybe the universe was trying to tell me something yesterday when I almost abandoned my laptop for good.

Today the minor virus problems I was having lately have somehow exploded into a huge Trojan fiasco the likes of which my Symantec Anti-Virus has apparently never seen, because despite my constant upgrading the virus detection files, it can’t get rid of this horrible insiduous shit the internet has decided to dump on my computer.

The likely solution, I have been told from several sources, is to wipe and reformat the OS. Do I have my OS discs? No. That would be too easy. Either they’re still packed in some box beyond my search capabilities, or they are lost. And this is going to cost a lot more and get worse before it gets better, I can tell.

As if the struggle with blizzards and knitting ennui and Real Life Stuff To Do wasn’t enough right?

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Filed under real life miscellaney

Must remember to use brain

This week I’ve only been managing bits and pieces of knitting (including a return to the Korknisse pattern – more on that later when I’ve got pics, also the 2nd knee sock), in between going here and there and furiously clinging to some procrastinatory time. Plus we’re having the 2nd blizzard in less than a week around these parts, so there is sort of a lack of inertia. (Oh yeah, and somehow The Cold never did quite take – I’ve had a few intermittent days of “I’m getting a cold” disease where I think something is going to develop into huge symptoms but never does. ::knocks on wood::)

But in the walking and bus-knitting moments I’ve been going back and listening to that yarncraft podcast with the Yarn Harlot. I never did take it off my mp3 player and I find it sort of inspiring to listen to how she talks about knitting. And then there’s the moment where she talks about the posts on her blog about, say, locking herself out of her hotel room wearing only her underthings, or dropping her shoe out of a window, or whatever, and responding to people who think she’s a moron by saying “Everybody does this. Everybody. We’re all just struggling through our day!”

And this was all extremely comforting to me today when I was trying to find humour in the fact that I – wait for it – left my laptop behind in a cafe. No, I don’t know how I managed to do this. My only explanation was that I had so much crud with me that I had to pack up, and I had let the laptop sit on the table to shut down, and I was rushing to get to a bus with such concern that I forgot to do the step where I was supposed to slide the laptop into the laptop compartment of my bag.

Until two hours later when, after making the bus – that was 25 minutes late – and finally getting home and scraping some of the icy snowy sludge out of the driveway, and then putting the kettle on and petting the cat, and then sitting down to my desk, I finally unzip my bag and discover my laptop cord and a big gaping hole where the laptop should be. And at that point the only possible response is to say OH FUCK (because there is nobody in the wrong except ME ME ME ME damnit why God why did I do this to myself) and dash around madly trying to phone people at the cafes and still try to appear sane even though I have just done something that proves entirely otherwise.

Luckily, the universe is still populated with a few careful human beings, and my laptop was indeed found and held for me just at the very place I had left it. And I got it back.

Knitting to resume shortly. Also the use of the brain.

Because I can’t bear to have an image-less post, and because I have an uncommon amount of affection for this advertisement (despite my cynicism, I think this is actually a lot more progressive than other ads that try to be), I will leave you with this YouTube find:

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Filed under real life miscellaney

Book Review: Twelve Months of Knitting

It’s been too long since I had a book review!

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Twelve Months of Knitting by Joanne Yordanou is intended – as is clear from the title – as a collection of knitting projects suitable for all four seasons. It’s an ambitious claim, and one that other collections have tried before now. But more importantly, I really feel this book should be considered not so much as an all-seasons book, but as a book for the advanced-beginner knitter who has learned a few skills and is ready to move on to larger projects.

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Although the majority of patterns are designed for women, there are a couple of men’s sweaters as well as a few versatile accessories and a couple of (admittedly adorable and fairly easy looking) children’s sweaters). In sharp contrast to the new books I’ve reviewed in the last few months, this book is a fairly conservative selection – shaping is minimal-to-none, sweaters tend to favour drop-shoulders rather than set-in sleeves or raglan, most pieces use DK-weight and heavier – but this in itself may make it an appealing book to some knitters.

There are a few projects which I feel are downright ill-advised, particularly the two – not one, but two – knitted bikinis. (One bandeau, one string). And the beach cover-up top and the cropped sweater with diamond cut-outs might seem like wise all-season knitting, but I can’t think of anyone I know who would want to either make or wear them. Really, the high points of this book are exactly where they should be – with the fall and winter knits.

The two sweaters above are good examples of this. Both are fairly simple shapes but are comfortable pieces. Although the cables might look slightly intimidating, the pattern repeats several times and would be a satisfying knit in Briggs & Little wool as the pattern suggests.

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At first glance I will admit that I didn’t find much of interest in this collection, but upon further inspection a few pieces stand out for me, including the two above. The ‘Ski Lodge Scoop’ is an attractive ribbed vest that uses 4 skeins of Manos Del Uruguay, and there is an accompanying pattern for a drawstring bag. The cabled belted cardigan above right would also be a pretty classic wardrobe addition, especially in the Mission Falls 1824 Wool as the pattern uses here. I’d totally make that.

There is a heavy lacy shawl in Classic Elite Cashmere – which would move briskly on 5mm needles – a felted bag, and a few hats and scarves for easy accessorizing. The girls’ cardigan below becomes cuter and cuter the more I look at it, and as a wrap sweater fan I have to give it up for the cotton sleeveless summer wrap, below right.

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Sizing-wise, most of the patterns will fit a bust size up to 44″ or so, which isn’t the highest range but still fares higher than many other books. This is a collection of patterns, not a technique manual, so you will find very little “how-to” discussion. Knitters should be prepared to seek that sort of advice on their own. Also, there are no charts for cable and lace patterns – those of charted mind will have to reverse-engineer that. But if you’re looking for a basic collection of patterns, this book will do just fine. Although I wouldn’t rank it on my top shelf, I’m keeping it on tap for the Ski Lodge Scoop and the Mission Falls cardi.

Have a great weekend!

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