Monday, November 4, 2019

avoidance...

Straight up! All this playing around with socks! Maybe you noticed I never said anything about getting that yarn I ordered for manfriend’s pullover. I was kind of shocked when I got it and rather than deal with the situation, I put it on ignore. What happened is when searching for the yarn, I punched in DK weight and when he liked it, I just plain old ordered it without thinking too much. In all honesty, I thought it was 100g balls with 175m, but it really is 50g balls with 175m – that’s more like sock yarn than a DK weight that one would use on the LK150! And there was only 8 balls left so that’s what I went with, figuring it would be enough for a plain stockinette pullover in a mid gauge weight. Yikes! what to do? procrastinate, of course!
The gauge on the label says 20-23 sts and 26-32 rows to 10 cm which should be a mid gauge weight. It’s 65% merino wool, 20% baby alpaca and 15% silk. This is going to need to be gauged and washed for sure – the fulling process could really throw me off and I don’t have much room for experimenting – I should have at least ordered another ball of a different colour to play with. It's not like it really shrinks – well, it will if mistreated in the laundry – but what I mean is the initial washing fluffs out the fibres, releases the strands and fills in the fabric, making it thicker and denser that it looked when first off the machine.
I’m not sure I’ve ever said this out loud to you, but on any machine, I like to use the mid to high range of the stitch size, like on the LK150, the dial goes from 1 to 9, but my favourite stitch size is 5. I might use T3 to T7 or 8 but not very often. On the standard gauge, it numbers from 0 to 10 and I use mostly T6 to 9. Each machine performs best in this range with increasing, decreasing and shaping working well. If dealing with tight tension and small stitch size, it becomes more difficult to use the tools so the whole project becomes fraught with anxiety! I guess that’s why there are different gauge machines!
The point is trying to use a mid gauge yarn on the standard gauge or using a fingering weight on the mid gauge just becomes an exercise in patience and determination. There I go again, prolonging the agony! I finally jump in and make my preliminary swatch to see what stitch size to use, starting off at T5, 10 rows, a loose row to divide, 10 rows at T4.5, etc. to get the stitch size I want. After looking and feeling, decide that T3.5 may be optimal. Make my swatch at T3.5, another on top at T4 just to be sure and knit the whole ball. This way I can use it to measure against an actual garment of the final size to determine is there will be enough yarn - the swatch has been washed and dried at this point and can be re-used for the hems/bands in the final garment. I can tell already there is a need for a plan B - maybe insert a wide band of contrast colour at the chest...oh yeah, I should admit I found another tweedy DK yarn that was on sale (49 bucks for 10 balls, 74% acrylic, 26% cotton, 100g/260 m) so I ordered it along with some more sock stuff - he'll never know the difference!

Monday, October 28, 2019

crazy legs...

That was fun! I love these! They could be called knee socks, maybe cabin socks or just more great gifts! My niece who loves teal, got that pair and she’s excited to wear them in her high-top rubber boots!
Making sure all the scraps were the same fibre content (75 superwash/25 polymid), for the first pair, I grouped blue/teal colourways as close as possible, weighed each leftover before and knit about half so there would be enough for the second sock, recording how many rows of each bit in the hopes of duplicating the stripes for the second matching sock. In the photo below, the middle small cone of yarn looks like it has a lot of red it in which I pulled off and didn't use because I thought it would have contrasted too starkly with the rest of the colourways.
Rhiana’s socks are straight up and down, her calves are still quite slim so basically, I made the socks in her size (6.5) from my 2017 ankle sock pattern, with the top cuff 20 rows and knit 180 rows for the leg portion above the heel.




The teal pair began with a 20-row cuff of 40-0-40 sts in 2X2 (2X1) rib as per my original pattern. The circular part of the leg, 100 rows straight, shaped by decreases every 30 rows down to the 34-0-34 sts for the basic sock in my size. These were a nice length but quite snug on my well-developed calves!
For the second pair, gray was the main theme. I broke up the leftovers more, using 30 rows as maximum so there were smaller blocks of colours and could be repeated further down if there was extra. These had 25 rows of rib over 42-0-42 sts, decreased the same way and are perfect!
I’ve added these details to my sock pattern – it is a revision [https://knitwords.blogspot.com/2016/12/12-days-of-christmas-socks.html]  of my ‘warmup socks’ from the Freebies at www.knitwords.com – if you want the new revision, email me!
Just about out of leftovers! What am I gonna do? LOL! Place a new order of course! Have to use up that discount I got with the last order before it expires ;)

Thursday, October 24, 2019

changing it up a bit...

There I was, threading up a black and white yarn for another pair of socks, thinking, what size should I be making these? The last few pairs have coincidentally been my size and even though I’d love a pair of black and white, one can only use so many pairs… and it dawned on me. My 12-year-old granddaughter, Rhiana, is currently going through a black and white phase. I saw a pair of black and white houndstooth check leggings  the other day and picked them up for her. Her brother Nathan told me she hadn’t taken them off for four days! I looked at my ‘cone’ of sock yarn and deliberated - this is a single 100g skein - a small pair of socks for her would be a bit of a waste – oh, wait a minute she might like knee socks…
Oh, these are pretty cute! This colourway was called ‘zebra’. I hope they fit!

Another thought – my sock-machine knitter friend Julie mentioned she was going to a ‘crank-in’ (a sock machine gathering/symposium) and she was taking sock yarn scraps to sell – and since then I’ve been wondering what I can do with all my little leftover bits. I did once make a circular scarf [https://knitwords.blogspot.com/2011/02/em-word.html ] of leftovers but I have a considerable amount again. I could make some ‘at-home’ knee socks…

Friday, October 18, 2019

socktober...

Turns out there is another meaning to it - a campaign to help the homeless and less fortunate. I went to Walmart and bought a couple dozen socks and dropped them off to our local shelter and felt much better about knitting nice socks for my friends and family. Being all fired up to knit a pair a day until my stash is gone and my new project arrives, I got busy winding. Last year, before Christmas, I got caught in the crosshairs of the Canadian postal strike - http://knitwords.blogspot.com/2018/11/goin-postal.html - ended up double ordering and by the time I finally got the Canadian order, I was socked out and just put it away. You know, out of sight, out of mind. The other day, I got it out and just started in on knitting without really evaluating the situation. After knitting the third pair of rather plain (for me) socks, it dawned on me, I think I had a plan when I ordered this stuff. Looked in my photo file and yeah, I did have a strategy. Not that I forgot about those awesome boots, but they were the inspiration behind this order. I wanted some red socks to wear with these boots – I had bought them a half size up from my other JFs https://knitwords.blogspot.com/2017/12/sox-talk.html  which were a little on the snug side but these red ones are a bit on the large size and, I thought I needed a longer cuff because the boots are higher. Anyway, it's really hard to find cool sock yarn to go with red boots. These are pretty boring except for those Kroy ones!

Realized I ordered the Patons Kroy for a reason – it’s a little heavier than most of the other sock yarns. Lana Grossa, Regia, Paintbox, etc. are 390 to 420 m to 100g which translates to 3.9 to 4.2 m per 1 g. Patons Kroy is 152 m to 50g which is 3 m to 1g. Never actually figured this out until now, I just knew from using it in the past for myself that the Patons socks were thicker when made the same as the other yarns - makes a difference when wearing other boots or shoes.
I know what you’re thinking, oh gosh, she’s going to go on and on about socks again! I’ll shut up now and just knit…

Friday, October 11, 2019

male order...

Last week, Manfriend asked me to make him a sweater like one he saw downtown in  a shop window. I was curious to see what caught his eye. We drove down on Sunday, thinking I could see through the window without being too obvious, but they were open. We went in and took a closer look. I asked him what it was that he liked. He said the colour. From outside it just looked like your average, dark coloured, plain ole pullover.
Closer inspection revealed it was a very plain pullover with a set-in sleeve and the yarn was a tweedy-looking navy-ish with bits of gold, plum and maybe a bit of teal.
I told him to try it on although I had my doubts as to the sizing. XL was the biggest size in this store, and I was fairly certain it would be too snug for his liking (or mine ;)). He did try on a bomber-style jacket that fit like a glove and declined to try the sweater.
Back home, I went on-line and found the store sweater described as ‘heavy knitted sweater, regular fit, knit in an acrylic/wool blend (90/10 – whoop-de-do!) multi-coloured slub yarn finished off with a rolled hem and neck opening’ and was $119 (Canadian).
I switched to my favourite handknitting yarn source, loveknitting.com. I found out they were calling this month “Socktober” which I thought was very cute. I found a DK weight tweedy something from Berroco, showed him the colourways, he chose one and I placed the order. Later he asked how much it was, and I said $104 US, but I got free shipping (so added several skeins of sock yarn). He said wait, if it cost that much and you still have to work to make it, I should just go and buy the one in the store. Patiently, I explained this yarn was far superior to what the ready-made thing was and with my expertise he would get a priceless garment! Stay tuned! LK150 project!
Have a great weekend! Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 7, 2019

bragging rights...

top section with waste yarn on bottom
I posted that photo of the ‘dogs’ on the ivory background a couple of weeks ago. A brief recap – these baby afghans were originally published in Knitwords 34 and 35 and were the brainchild of Mar Heck (see previous posts for the links to that part of the story). I’ve made them several times since and think they are brilliant. Now, Mar’s originals were done with a dark colour background and she advised “choose saturated, high contrast colours so the designs show up. Make the background in a darker colour than the designs”. Here, I had a new stock of the brights in CottonTale8 from Knit Knack Shop instead of the old acrylic stuff. Had one new cone of navy for background of the first two and enough leftover black for the third one. Wanting to keep using up the brights, I paired ivory (CT8 in stock) for the background, just to see. Happy with the first two dogs of periwinkle and red, I picked up the ‘bright yellow’ and began knitting. After the fourth row, I stopped, gave it a long, slow look and pondered. This might not be quite right. Stood back and looked again. Was there enough contrast? Considered ripping it out but then I thought, ‘ah, you’re being too critical’ and quickly finished the whole thing. With it laying flat out on the floor, I wasn’t exactly ecstatic, but again thought, ‘no big deal, it’s a freakin’ baby blanket!’ Left it there, finished up the other blankets, went away for a week, came back and hated it.
You may have heard me boast about my skill at grafting stitches… https://knitwords.blogspot.com/2016/08/salvage-operation_10.html

re-knit section with waste
What makes it even thinkable here is there are two plain rows of the background between the different motifs so, I can take out the middle yellow one that I don’t like and re-knit that in another colour and then graft the pieces together. First, rehang the plain row above the persimmon dogs. Find the row below, cut the yarn (leaving a tail of the ivory to darn in later) and pull on it to separate off the bottom section. Make sure all stitches are on needles, waste yarn it and drop it off. Rehang the bottom section, picking the second plain row above the red dogs. Yank off the yellow portion, unravel the last plain row to make sure all the stitches are good and re-knit that plain row.  Set up the pattern for row 147 (first fairisle row of what was the yellow dogs) and re-knit that section using the best contrast colour left which is denim (not really but that's what the  label says...), stopping after the last fairisle row of the motif. Waste yarn this. Now, my grafting row, in ivory will complete the correct sequence of two plain ivory rows between!
 
Sometimes you gotta do something just to prove you can do it! (never mind brag about it! ;))
You know, if this didn’t work out, I never would have said…
Hey, anyone interested in a kit of ‘brights’?
P.S. finished both of these with a 5-stitch slip cord - that extra stitch does wonders - it looks great!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

shoulda, coulda, woulda...

You know me, I almost always have a back-up plan! When I decided to make one of these fairisle blankets out of cotton, my first thought was, ’the kid won’t be dragging this around very far, it’ll weigh a ton!’ Before the yarn even arrived, I was thinking about maybe lining it with flannelette. That was Plan B.
I weighed the first cat top. It was 375g alone. To put off pursuing plan B, I kept on knitting fronts. After the fourth one (more on that later!), I began to add up the reasons not to sew on a backing. The biggest issue was that the blanket top needs to be washed to shrink it before sewing…all those long floats! What to do?
Since there was still a ton of the bright coloured yarn left, I knit the lining for the first dog one and then the liner for the second cat one.
So what if the thing was going to be so heavy the kid wouldn’t be able to move under it? It would be like that X-ray blanket they put on you in the dentist office - that might be a good thing!
I did the I-cord binding on the dog one, with 4 stitches, playing with the stitch size. I found that T5 worked nicely for the width/stitches edge and T8 for every other row of the length sides. Finished it up, looked nice, but needs to be washed before giving it out. It weighed 650g. I’m not sure what the acrylic blanket weighed.
Now was my chance to commit to plan B. A trip to the fabric store brought me up short. Crikey! Have you seen the price of flannelette? I was expecting five to six dollars per metre. Ouch! the really cute printed ones were like $20 plus! One of the nicer sales clerks told me some of them were going to be on sale on the weekend for like 40% off – not the really cute ones, of course, but there was a plain navy with a stripe that would run me about $12 total for what I needed. In the meantime, I came up with a plan for washing the single-layer cats. Folded in half, it fit nicely in a pillowcase. Using safety pins to secure the corners of the blanket into the corners of the pillowcase and a couple in the middle so it wouldn’t all ball up, I put it and the finished doggy one in the washer and then the dryer. Wow! that worked well. Laundered the piece of flannelette with some jeans – I didn’t want to put it in with the knitted pieces in case it shed a bunch and caused some pilling.
With still an abundance of the bright yarn remaining, I made a fourth front, dogs again using ivory as the background – curious to see how much of a difference the dark backdrop really does. I’ll admit, this was purely avoidance.
I started finishing the second cats with a 5-stitch I-cord, just for comparison, using the same tensions – this looks good!
Okay, grabbing the bull by the horns, so to speak, today is the day. Do it or get off the pot! Got it done. Even though I do consider myself a decent seamstress, this was not an easy job. Lots of pinning and re-pinning and straightening and re-
stitching. It is done. Likely most people would think it acceptable. Timewise it was a little less than the totally knitted project. Finished weight, 510g.
Was it worth the anxiety or time?
No, and I’ll likely just keep this around for when my brother comes to visit with his dog and see if Jersey will sleep on it…