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The First Ankle Sock

tychoish 20 January 2014

I recently finished my first knitting project after my return to knitting: a pair of ankle socks in a medium (for socks) weight yarn. The socks are plain and I'm pleased with the result, but there were some unexpected parts of the project, and some useful lessons:

These Aren't The Socks You Meant To Make

For the most part I'm interested in knitting pretty plain socks in plain (solid) yarn: probably even undated yarn that I can soak in tea or henna post-knitting. So the fact that this is one of those patterned, superwash sock yarn is something of a misnomer.

I also intended to get 7 inch cuffs out of the yarn (in a 50 gram ball and I even knit most of a sock: but I ran out of yarn. My assumption that I could knit a 64 stitch sock with sport weight yarn was a touch over the mark, but it was close.

So having failed that project I took a break from the yarn and ripped it all back, and attempted to do a 60 stitch sock (right choice!) and knit a 2 inch cuff.

I could have gotten away with a slightly longer cuff, but I've been wanting to have a couple of short pairs of socks to wear while dancing, and to be honest the yarn looked better on the ball than knitted up.

The first moral: Given enough time, I figured it out.

The second moral: It's ok to rip something out if it doesn't work out. It's also ok to not rip it out immediately after you realize it doesn't work out.

I Kitchnered Toes All By Myself

I've never really been successful at kitchnering anything. I find every instruction to be incomprehensible, and every attempt to kitchner something has ended in disaster. My solution for the past couple of years has been to send the occasional sock off to my mother for her to do the honors.

The thing is, I understand the concept of what's happening, which makes the fact that I couldn't do it so frustrating. While I was knitting the first sock, I decided that I could probably think my way through the problem, and after a bit of fussing, I was ale to actually complete the sock toe.

I had to turn the sock inside out, and the ends weren't perfect, but it was close.

The Wearing Report

I wore these socks to a big Balkan Dance festival, and they worked! I thought the cuffs were a bit too short, but the sizing was correct in every other regard. Next pair will have slightly longer cuffs.


Posted 20 January 2014

The Perfect Rib

tychoish 18 January 2014

I knit socks on four (5 inch) double pointed needles, these days from the cuff down, and I enjoy socks with some amount of ribbing at the cuff.

Seems reasonable. I also tend to have two other restrictions:

  1. Each needle should have the same number of stitches.

  2. In the ribbing, each needle should begin with a knit stitch and end with a purl stitch.

This somewhat constrains the possibilities. Also given a preference for rubbings that are biased towards knit stitches, I tend to veto options that might otherwise be workable. Here's a quick cheat sheet of compliant patterns. Patterns are for one needle, repeat for each

  • 12 stitches (48):

    • Knit 2, purl 2 till end.

    • Knit 3, purl 1 till end.

  • 13 stitches (52): Knit 3, purl 2 twice; then knit 2, purl 1.

  • 14 stitches (56): Knit 3, purl 2 twice; then knit 3, purl 1.

  • 15 stitches (60):

    • Knit 3, purl 2 till end.

    • Knit 2, purl 1 till end.

  • 16 stitches (64):

    • Knit 2, purl 2 till end.

    • Knit 3, purl 1 till end.

  • 17 stitches (68): Knit 2, purl 2 twice; then knit 2, purl 1 three times.

  • 18 stitches (72):

    • Knit 2, purl 1 till end.

    • Knit 3, purl 2 three times; then knit 2, purl 1.

  • 19 stitches (76): Knit 3, purl 2 three times; then knit 3, purl 1.

  • 20 stitches (80):

    • Knit 2, purl 2 till end.

    • Knit 3, purl 1 till end.

    • Knit 2, purl 1 till end.

    • Knit 3, purl 2 three times; then knit 2, purl 1.

  • 21 stitches (84):

    • Knit 2, purl 1 till end.

    • Knit 3, purl 2 three times; then knit 2, purl 2.

  • 22 stitches (88):

    • Knit 2, purl 1 six times, then knit 2, purl 2.

    • Knit 3, purl 3; then, knit 2, purl 2 till end..

  • 23 stitches (96):

    • Knit 2, purl 2 five times; then knit 2, purl 1

    • Knit 3, purl 1 five times; then knit 2, purl 1

    • Knit 3, purl 2 four times; then knit 2, purl 1

  • 24 stitches (100):

    • Knit 2, purl 2 till end.

    • Knit 3, purl 1 till end.

    • Knit 2, purl 1 till end.

    • Knit 3, purl 2 three times; then knit 2, purl 1.

Posted 18 January 2014

A Knitting Practice

tychoish 9 January 2014

I've not done much knitting for the last year or so. I have a sweater in progress (a cardigan,) and I have an in progress scarf thing, and that's about it.

Or was.

I enjoy knitting, and find it both relaxing (the rhythm) and stimulating (the meditative aspects, the project planning and design). And I'm pretty good at it. I've been knitting (mostly on) for the last 10 years (or so,) and am very technically competent (I think.)

At the same time I lost a lot of interest in knitting. There were and are other things in my life: learning how to make software became (and is) more challenging than making sweaters and shawls, and then there's singing, a full time (and then some) job, and what not.

I've also burnt out on knitting culture. For a long time, part of knitting involved, blogging about knitting, reading knitting blogs, taking pictures of projects and yarn, shopping for yarn, hanging out on ravelry, working in yarn shops, and while knitting itself is a big part of knitting culture I'm realizing a few things:

  1. I don't really need more sweaters.

    I have a huge pile of sweaters that I never wear in my apartment (where storage is a premium,) and have a huge stack of sweaters in my parents house. While a few exceptions, most of the sweaters that I have (the ones here) aren't particularly wearable in my day to day life. (They're odd, or a bit loud, or more commonly too damn warm.)

    Indeed, I bought this Merino cycling zip-up sweater (from Chrome) and it's basically my new uniform. This has proven a couple of things, first that I can wear wool against my skin without discomfort and second that the more plain and fitted a sweater is the more likely I am to wear it.

  2. The thing that I like the most about knitting is being able to sit down, and let my hands work and let my mind go thinking about the knitting or about something that I'm writing, or nothing at all.

    While I'm good at designing things, and good at doing complicated sweaters, I find that I tend to avoid projects where I end up focusing too much on what needs to happen next, or worry about running out of yarn, or need to follow a pattern.

  3. Knitting is a personal rather than a social act.

    I can knit with other people, but it's not the kind of thing that I want to do when having a conversation, or actively doing something else. I can concentrate on things that are happening around me, but I can't really read and I can't really talk much.

The solution seems pretty clear: don't knit things you don't want to do, and knit in a way that makes sense for your interests. I'll continue to work on the projects that I have in progress, and I'll probably still make sweaters, but I think I'll be oing a lot more plain knitting I think a lot more sock knitting.

Sock Knitting

Historically I've not knit very many socks, I've made a half dozen pairs, some more successful than others, most wearable. I can knit a sock completely off book, and am have a basic sock pattern memorized and don't even really need to do much test knitting.

I finished the pair of socks that I started knitting (probably six months in the running) worsted socks with a wierd ribbing pattern in an evening and then and cast on for a couple of new pairs. Given that I've discovered how awesome wool socks are with a new pair of boots that I have (and that I can wear them on my skin without wanting to die.) I'm even more inspired to knit socks.

The new socks are:

  • a pair of sport weight socks using some striping German sock superwash yarn. 64 stitches, planed 7 inch cuff, 2.5mm (US 1.5) needles, cuff down, 2x2 ribbing.

  • a pair of fingering weight socks (undyed LB 1878) 80 stitches, planed 7 inch cuff, 2.5mm (US 1.5) needles, cuff down, 2x2 ribbing.

The details probably won't change much. My hope is to be able to figure out a handknit sock pattern that's suitable for year round wear.

Knitting Blogging Here

I'll probably continue to write about knitting here, I like writing, and I'm thinking about it, but I'll probably address this space more like I would a software or philosophy blog, rather than the more typical knitting blog format. I hope to see you around! j

Posted 9 January 2014

New Knitting Project: Cardigan

tychoish 8 April 2013

I've mentioned that I was working on a new sweater a few months ago, but I've neglected to post or write about the project at all. Let's change that now:

In most respects it's just like a number of existing sweaters that I've made: two color patterns, using a combination of mid-sized extrapolation of Scandinavian mitten patterns, with some influence of Turkish stocking patterns arranged in panels to convey strong vertical lines. The yarn is Harrisville Shetland, and another unidentified Shetland from a cone I got years ago and have now used in three sweaters. The plan is to have a simple fisherman's-style drop shoulder construction with a simple short crew neck color.

The plan diverges somewhat from "tychoish standard" in two respects:

The biggest change is that it's going to be a cardigan. I've never made a cardigan that I'd call a rocking success. I can do it, but the finishing always leaves something to be desired and it hangs funny or flares in a way that I don't want.

The plan for finishing the cardigan opening this time around is to use the steek (the bit that you cut open) as the facing for a hem. the idea is minimal prep and let the yarn do its thing. For closure, I'll do an attached i-cord band with room for buttons.

The slightly smaller change is that rather than use a hem, I used the "purl-when-you-can-and-want-to" for bottom hem treatment. The idea is that if you purl occasionally for the first few inches you can counteract the tendency of knitted fabric from rolling. It's not perfect yet, but I've not steamed it, so we'll see.

It's fun to knit so far, and I look foraward to finally conquering my fear/avoidance of cardigans and perhaps finding the perfect lower edge finishing approach for stranded sweaters.

Onward and Upward!

Posted 8 April 2013

New Knitting Project: Ballstown

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