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May 31, 2007

The Final Task

The pattern is written and needs a few edits -- no problem.  My experimenting is done and all techniques are finalized -- great.  The test knitting is coming along smoothly -- on schedule.  Which leaves me to the last and most difficult task in the design process.  What should I name my version of the Sideways Socks, because let's be honest "Sideways Socks" is far, far to boring and predictable.  I'm looking for something snappy, something clever, something original.  And I'm looking to you, creative reader -- yes, you -- for suggestions.  Can you help?

Sideways Socks Test Knitting

May 31, 2007 in Project - Socks | Permalink | Comments (61)

May 30, 2007

Tub O'Knitting

As you can imagine, I'm a knitter with lots of irons in the fire.  On any given day you can find knitting projects and accoutrement strewn across the house -- a sock on the dining table, a sweater on the couch, patterns by the computer, a doily God knows where, and a crochet blanket on the ottoman.  Clearly the projects have taken over our modest, relatively uncluttered living area and need to be curtailed.  Enter the Tub O'Knitting.  With this handy contraption I intend -- but cannot promise -- to keep my current knitting projects corralled, yet always at the ready.  Hey, it even zips up if I'm ever inclined to take the Tub along for a ride.

nona's Tub O'Knitting Ready and Waiting

May 30, 2007 in Vignettes From the Life of a Knitter | Permalink | Comments (11)

May 29, 2007

Always Enough Time

I've been heads down -- positively heads down I say  -- working to finish my Sideways Socks and to write up the pattern.  But when you have a project like the Josephine Top, there's always enough time for a few more rows.

The lace pattern is easily memorized and although the knitting is a little slow -- lots of knit, then purl, then knit with the yarn going back then forward then back -- it's addictive and enjoyable.  I've finished 2 full pattern repeats and am about ready to start a little waist shaping.

May 29, 2007 in Project - Josephine | Permalink | Comments (6)

May 24, 2007

Elegant Solution

In computer programming -- a modern day handcraft -- there is a clear distinction between a hack and an elegant solution.  A hack gets the job done, but is clumsy, lacks finesse, and is best kept under the rug.  An elegant solution, on the other hand, is simple, concise, and encourages an "ah-ha" from the viewer.  Either way, you know it when you see it.

In my quest for a well-fitting vertical sock I'm also in search of an elegant solution -- one that others will enjoy knitting and find intriguing.  This toed version of my sideways ankle sock has helped me finalize the heel and toe shaping.  Utilizing the same principle as a mitered square, the toe and heel are shaped identically using paired increases to widen and paired decreases to narrow.  The shaping is divided into 4 equal sections starting at the center of the sole.  The 1st and 4th sections shape the heel while the 2nd and 3rd shape the toe.  A little grafting here and there, but no seams.  Just like short-rowed toes and heels, I love how the same shape can be used successfully for 2 different purposes. 

The two sides of my prototype sideways ankle sock. 
The heel and toe shaping are a go!

The last piece of the Sideways Sock Puzzle is the leg shaping, which I swatched today.  Time to put all the prototypes and experiments together and knit a full sock and write the pattern.  By the way, could I be any pastier?  If my Photoshop skills were better, I'd give myself a tan!

May 24, 2007 in Project - Socks | Permalink | Comments (27)

May 22, 2007

Spring Fever

The weather has taken a turn for the gorgeous and I've been thinking too much.  In response to this bout of Spring Fever, I feel the need to knit something lacy, something frilly, something feminine.  Lacy, frilly, and feminine for a sporty gal like myself equates to the Josephine Top designed by Deborah Newton for the Summer 2007 issue of Interweave Knits.  Don't worry, scholarly reader, I'm still thinking.

Spring Fever has hit nona hard!

May 22, 2007 in Project - Josephine | Permalink | Comments (10)

May 21, 2007

Grafting Epiphany

Several years ago I confronted my fear of grafting -- gulp -- bit the bullet and became reasonable proficient.  I do, however, have grafting amnesia, which requires me to google,"nonaknits grafting", each time I need to dredge up my grafting tutorial and these four steps:

  1. Front needle, knit-wise, drop off
  2. Front needle, purl-wise, leave on
  3. Back needle, purl-wise, drop off
  4. Back needle knit-wise, leave on

Even though these steps are repeated over and over and over, I cannot for the life of me remember if it's knit-wise or purl-wise first and which is it for which needle -- you get the idea.  Well yesterday while grafting my prototype sideways sock I had an epiphany.  Instead of thinking about moving the tapestry needle knit-wise and purl-wise why not think about moving it in to the middle and out from the middle.  This makes the directions consistent -- let me repeat, consistent -- for both the front and the back needles. 

Front Needle
In to the middle & drop off Out from the middle & leave on
Back Needle
In to the middle & drop off Out from the middle & leave on

Before I knew it I was cruising down the needle grafting and singing "In, Drop Off, Out, Leave On", and not worrying a bit if it was the front needle or the back.  Thus endith my epiphany.   If nonaGrafts, then you can too!

May 21, 2007 in Tips and Techniques | Permalink | Comments (27)

May 20, 2007

Toe-less Ankle Sock: Sideways

The first challenge in my quest for a well-formed sideways sock was to tackle the heel.  After an initial attempt that closely resembled an internal organ -- a kidney perhaps -- I decided to knit a short-rowed heel ala Priscilla Gibson-Roberts and then mimic its shape vertically.   A few attempts got me fairly close, close enough to test my heel hypothesis on a toe-less ankle sock.

Here's the general game plan with a few casual numbers for a toe-less ankle sock that is 8.5 inches in circumference and has a 3 inch foot and leg.  My gauge is 8 stitches and 10 rows to an inch.

  1. Cast on using a provisional cast on of your choice -- I used the waste yarn approach.  The provisional cast on is later removed and the resulting live stitches grafted to the last row of stitches -- forming a tube.  The grafting runs from the center back of the ankle down the center of the foot's sole, splitting the heel shaping in half.  I casted on a total of 78 stitches: 8 stitches for the leg cuff, 16 stitches for the leg, 30 stitches for the heel, 16 stitches for the foot, and 8 stitches for the foot cuff.
  2. To shape the ankle slightly, the first 12 rows of the leg are worked in garter stitch.  Additionally double garter stitch is used ankle and foot cuffs to act as ribbing.

  3. At the same time, after working 8 rows, begin decreasing to reduce the heel stitches from 30 to 2 and to shape the heel from the bottom of the sole to the ankle bone.  2 stitches are decreased every row 14 times and are worked at the mid-point of the heel.  These decreases remind me of a mitered square and have the same effect -- bending a straight line of stitches 90 degrees, perfect for turning a heel.

  4. The instep of the sock is worked in relative calm, up and over the arch to the opposing ankle bone.  40 rows total.

  5. Increases are used to increase the heel stitches from 2 to 30, shaping the heel from the instep back down to the sole.  2 stitches are added every row 14 times and are worked at either side of the 2 center heel stitches.  Once the increasing is complete, 8 rows are worked even.

  6. At the same time, to complete the back ankle shaping, the final 12 rows of the leg are worked in garter stitch.

Once the knitting is complete, the live stitches from the provisional cast-on are grafted together with the stitches from the final row of knitting.  Friends! I had a grafting epiphany -- details here!

I'm extremely happy with the results.  The heel fits perfectly and definately reminds me of a short-rowed heel.  I added no ease to the circumference of the sock -- 8.5 inches in length (85 rows) to fit 8.5 inches of foot.  The sock puckers a bit at the front of the ankle, but not much more than a regular sock.  I've been wearing the sock for a couple of hours now -- in the privacy of my own home -- and it feels great with no saggying or bagging.  Next challenge? The foot and toe! 

For those interested, I'll write up the pattern once I'm done with my experimenting and have a sideways sock I'm happy with.  As always suggestions, jokes, links, and random observations are greatly appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed :-)

May 20, 2007 in Project - Socks | Permalink | Comments (29)

May 17, 2007

Sideways Socks

Sometimes the design is not quite right -- missing the proverbial mark.  It's not the pattern, which has a neat concept, uses a yarn in a creative way, and is well written.  It's not the knitter, who -- yes me -- was on gauge, followed directions, and enjoyed the process of the knitting.  Really, neither the pattern nor knitter has a chance of succeeding when the underlying design comes up short.  This long preamble, patient reader, brings us to my Sideways Sock.

For this sock I used the Sideways Socks pattern from Lana Grossa's Meilenweit Sock Yarn Pattern Booklet #3 and Opal Cotton sock yarn.  It's close -- so close -- to being a really neat design, especially for a self-striping yarn.  So close in fact that I want to challenge myself.  Can I tweak the design to create a Sideways Sock that does work, that is a good design?  The first step is to put my thinking cap on and take a critical look at the sock...

  • Since the sock is knit sideways, the stitch gauge controls the length of the sock and the row gauge controls the width.
  • The length of the sock's foot is 9.25 inches, which is a reasonable length for my foot.  Yet the sock is way too long.  Why?  Because knit fabric stretches more between stitches than it does between rows, the foot of the sock naturally stretches up to 11".  This means the foot of the sock must be knit shorter -- perhaps even 1.5 inches shorter -- than the actual foot.  Negative ease friends, negative ease.

  • The garter stitch cuff is nice and stretchy, acting a bit like ribbing.  However, if the cuff is not folded down it is too tight for the calf.  The use of garter stitch is clever though since its row gauge is larger than stockinette stitch's row gauge.

  • There is also too much fabric around the ankle.  Perhaps a bit of strategically place garter stitch could help shape the ankle.

  • Finally, the design was only done for one size -- an adult large -- with no guidance on shortening or lengthening the foot.  So a little more flexibility and choice is in order.

Not wanting to reinvent the wheel, I next went in search for other Sideways Socks Patterns.  Here's what I found:

  • Sideway Knitting Sock -- the English translation for the sideways sock pattern printed on the inside of Opal sock yarn labels.  This is basically the same pattern I was using with a few minor variations.
  • Bakerloo -- A sideway sock pattern published on MagKnits
  • Sideways Socks Supreme from Socks, Socks, Socks.  The designer, Liz, has posted an alternative toe on her web site.

I was most intrigued by the construction of the Bakerloo sock, which adds the toe and heel after the sock tube is constructed.  I think I'm going to use this pattern as my starting point and modify it based on my observations and lessons learned.  Stay tuned.

Hey, has anyone knit a sideways sock that fit well?  If so, what pattern did you use and what modifications, if any, did you make?

May 17, 2007 in Project - Socks | Permalink | Comments (18)

May 11, 2007

Socks In the Air

The wind has changed and I find socks swirling all around me.  I recently received my Sock Pal for Sockapalooza 4 -- sorry cannot tell you who, it's a secret -- and have been contemplating designs and yarn.  But before I begin Sockapalozzing in earnest, I have two delightful sock tasks to attend to.  First, on Sunday -- yep, Mother's Day -- I'm participating in Liz's Sock in a Day Challenge.  And second, I want to finish my Lenten Rose socks from Sundara's Petal Collection sock club.

Sundara's Petal Collection socks have been a joy to knit.  Not only is the yarn a pleasure to both look at and knit with, but Sundara's attention to detail is all too obvious in her well written patterns.  I know, I know that last sentence was filled with generalizations, so here are a few supporting specifics:

The stitch pattern looks complex, but is actually
a simple 8 stitch, 6 row repeat.

Sundara continued the slip-stitch heel flap pattern into the turning of the heel.
I've never seen this before and like it very much.

The gusset shaping is worked on the last (or first) 2 stitches on the needle instead of 1 stitch in.  This is the neatest gusset I've every worked, coincidence?  I think not!

The moral of my story:

The difference between a hand-knit and a hand-crafted item is in the details.

May 11, 2007 in Knit Along - Petals Collection, Project - Socks | Permalink | Comments (13)

May 09, 2007

It's the Puzzle

Tonight I had an epiphany while hurriedly posting my swatch before the midnight curfew -- it's funny how these things happen when your mind has shut off and you really should be in bed.  I'd been sucked in by Cara's mad, crazy, genius idea to create a knit version of the crochet Babette blanket.  Because of said suck-in, I attempted to swatch a knit version of a crochet Granny Square.  Now the swatch didn't quite hit the mark, but it did spark my curiosity.  And then -- wham -- it hit me.  I really like figuring things out.  For some it's the process -- for others it's the product -- for me, it's the puzzle.  And who said swatching wasn't useful?

Added 05/10/07 -- Today's swatch abandoned the mitered-square for log-cabin construction.  I see lots of potential here!

May 9, 2007 in Who Is Nona | Permalink | Comments (14)

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