Wednesday, April 23, 2008

WIP Wednesday – Soccer Aunt

(Three boys x two teams each) + violin lessons + (missed school bus x 2) + (mixed up dr appointments x 2) + three grocery stores + (Lowes x 2) + three yarn shops = many miles.

I’m getting a bit of knitting done though. It’s been hectic, but since I usually only get to see my nephews about once a year, and on hurried vacation visits, it’s been so great just being a part of regular life here. There’s a week to go in Seattle, and I already miss my Boys.

And while I’ve had some time to check blogs, I’ve been terribly remiss on comments, and owe everyone a Thank You for comments left here in the past two weeks.

WIP’s in Active Rotation:

Charade Socks:
Charade Sock #2 has suffered terrible neglect in favor of brighter shinier projects. So sad! But, I have a long plane ride home and socks make better travel knitting than sweaters or lace.

Goal: Knit past the heel before I get home

Scoop du Jour:
Just started this sweater last week, and it's moving fast. I swatched, but still wanted to get some real knitting in to check my gauge since I know I’m a teensy bit off the 4.5spi called for. I just felt the fabric was going to be a bit loose for the winter sweater I’m visualizing. So, I started with the sleeves, have finished one (my goal from last week), and am past the deep ribbing and into the increases on the second!

Scoop du Jour - First Sleeve Done

I’m such a sock and laceweight knitter most of the time, that this heavy worsted weight seems to grow by leaps and bounds. Gotta keep at it though and not get let myself get distracted. Still loving the Mountain Colors 4/8’s. It’s nice and smooth, soft but doesn’t seem like it’s going to be pilly, and it’s fast.

Scoop du Jour - colors

Goal: Finish Sleeve Two. Maybe cast on the Back?

Scoop du Jour - Second sleeve

Mystery Lace Stole:
Umm, Startitis? What Startitis?
A new mystery lace KAL that caught my eye. A quick trip to Bad Woman Yarn later, I cast on and knit Clue 1, once with beads and once without (the first clue was very small). I’m going with the non-bead edging as it means about a thousand fewer beads. I like the beads, really I do. But, one thousand extra beads. No.

Mystery Lace 1 Stole - Clue 1 without beads
Without Beads, Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace, mmmmmm

Mystery Lace 1 Stole - Clue 1 with beads
With Beads

Goal: Clue 2 may be delayed a few days, so this may go on the plane with me, or may have to wait until I’m home next week.

Boy #3 Wristies:
He wants wristies. I knit wristies.

Floyd's wristie
In the running to be favorite Aunt

I’ve got to tell you that this is the Boy who loves projects – though his sticking with things needs a little work. I taught him to knit on a visit a couple of years ago. He sat down at a wheel and I taught him to spin in an hour. We’ve repaired the toilet flapper, and practiced soldering. The light in the breakfast nook needs to be fixed. He cooks and has poured concrete. He has more power tools than his Dad. He’s 12.

WIP’s On Hold:

Bird in Hand Mittens:
Sorry BiH! I’ll be back.

Startitis Alert:
Who knows what tomorrow will bring in the way of temptation.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

WIP Wednesday, on Thursday – Soggy in Seattle

Hello from Seattle! I’m staying with my three nephews until the end of the month, and I’m now officially a Soccer Aunt! I don’t know how many miles I’ve already put on the station wagon (seriously, a Volvo station wagon!), but it’s a lot. And yes, it’s been raining.

Now, I’ve been to Seattle several times before, and I do know it doesn’t rain ALL the time. But, so far it has been cold and rainy. It’s such a pretty place though. I hardly mind the overcast and showers when the up-side is the abundance of flowers and beautiful green everywhere. There are camellias here the size of trees! Tulips everywhere, daffodils, just missed the cherry trees, but some azaleas are already out. Lovely!

The Sun has just peeked out, and I’m going to write up this post then take a walk.

Yay! An FO, the Secret Project:
Except for sewing on the cute buttons found at Weaving Works yesterday, I’m Done! But, it’s a secret. While we were there, I taught Boy #2 to spin. And because I’m a ditz, I didn’t have my camera along.

WIP’s in Active Rotation:

Charade Socks:
Charade Sock #1 is done, Sock #2 toe is begun. Heel details in my last post.

STR Charade Sock One Done

Goal: Knit past the heel while waiting for the Boys. Which should give me plenty of knitting time!

Scoop du Jour:
New on the WIP list this week is Bonne Marie Burns’ pattern for a simply styled aran-weight cardigan with deep ribs at the sleeves and hem. I’ve just cast on a sleeve so far, in Mountain Colors 4/8’s wool, in the Lupine colorway which has pretty shades of deep blue, purple, lilac, and mossy green. Though I’m not quite on gauge, I’ll knit a size up and work out the length as I go.

Scoop du Jour - first cuff

The 4/8’s is easy to knit, soft but with a good body that holds it’s shape well. I want this to be a nice sturdy knock-around sweater and so far, it’s looking promising.

Goal: See if I can knit a sleeve this week.

Bird in Hand Mittens:
Poor neglected BiH! I brought them with me and will work on Mitten #2 as a break from the sock and sweater.

Startitis Alert:
Low, since I just started the Scoop last night.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Toe-Up, Short-Row, Mini-Gusset and Flap, Slip-Stitch Heel!

Greetings from the Charlotte Airport! Well, I’m on my way to Seattle, and it’s been a bit hectic the past few days. So, if I haven’t answered an email, acknowledged a comment, or read your blog, that’s why!

I promised an explanation of the sock heel I compiled for the Charade Sock I’m knitting. Compiled is the accurate word since I didn’t invent or unvent anything, but I did pull together three different methods. The original pattern, by Sandra Park, is top-down with a flap heel, and I knit a pair as written last summer. This time, with the STR, my big feet, and not wanting leftovers, I decided to go toe-up.

Charade in STR - Toe Up
But, I am also tall, so without long feet I would tip over in a strong breeze

If you don’t know about the Magic Cast-on for toe-up socks, go here for Judy’s blog tutorial, or to Knitty.

After knitting mostly flap heels (top-down and toe-up) for the past year or so, and finding they fit my foot well, I’ve been thinking about short-row heels again after helping Kathleen (Hi!) with a PGR heel, and knitting at least one of the second round Sock Madness Reversai Socks with a garter-stitch short-row heel. I have a long, narrow foot, US11. And while my instep isn’t particularly high relative to MY foot, it is a bit high considering I usually knit the equivalent of a Women’s medium to fit in width. This should be useful as well to someone with a wide foot, high instep, or generous ankle who has found a standard short-row sock to be a little tight around the heel.

FluffyKnitter Deb wrote about adding a small flap and gusset to a top-down short-row heel here. The idea had been simmering in my brain since then, and I decided to add a small gusset to my toe-up Charade to give it that bit of extra room I wanted.

Charade in STR - Heel with Mini Gusset and Flap
Yes, I know it looks odd

Now, I don’t have exact numbers, since this will vary with row gauge and extra ease desired, but this is how I went about it. Deb, on her sock, knit a small flap just before turning her regular short-row heel, picked up stitches along the flap before going back to knitting in the round, then decreased the extra stitches creating a small gusset.

On my toe-up version the steps are reversed – add stitches as you approach the heel to create a gusset, turn the heel on the usual number of stitches (half the total), knit back and forth on those heel stitches to create a short flap while consuming the gusset stitches, then continue the sock leg in the round. Oh, I also am hard on heels so I knit the short-row increases and flap in slip-stitch, though one could just as easily use eye of partridge.

How do you know when to start the gusset? First, I decided to add a six stitch gusset, which means with increases every other row that will take 12 rows. More stitches in the gusset mean more depth in the heel. With a toe-up sock you have plenty of time to figure out an accurate row gauge long before you reach the heel, so in my example, I started my gusset increases 12 rows before I would typically turn the heel. I used a M1 increase, one stitch in from either edge of the sole. You could use Kfb, or pair the slant of the M1 or lifted stitch increases depending on the look you want.

Charade in STR - Heel diagram

There are several methods to knit short-rows, and I chose wrap-and-turn this time. Priscilla Gibson-Roberts’ YO short-row heels (links at the end) are just as easy to knit in my opinion, and I think you just have to knit a few of each to decide which method you like best. I’ve never tried the Japanese method, but will have to give that a whirl someday.

Anyhoo, for wrap-and-turn, check out Wendyknits free patterns for either a pithy generic sock pattern, or her detailed version (link to pdf) with instructions for wraps, turns, and picking up the wraps too. Now, I also decreased down to fewer stitches since I have a narrow heel, and this also adds some depth. And one can always turn the heel on more than 50% of the stitches, in which case, keep your gussets outside the heel stitches.

Charade in STR - Gusset diagram

Once the heel was turned, I knit the flap in the flat, taking in a gusset stitch at the end of each row with SSK on the RS, and P2tog on the WS. When all the gusset stitches are gone, return to knitting in the round, picking up an extra stitch between the heel and instep if you have a gap, and decreasing these away on the next round.

So, there it is!

A comparison of short row techniques at NonaKnits:

YO short rows:
Priscilla Gibson Roberts, Simple Socks Plain and Fancy

Blog Tutorials:
Blue Blog Short-Row Tutorial

PurlyWhites Short-Row Tutorial

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

WIP Wednesday – Missing in Action

Well, I wish I could tell you I’ve been off on some adventure that’s kept me from my knitting. I could make something up. The truth, it’s just an ordinary slump, and the distractions of a hundred tiny details. Like my Mother is moving here this Summer. I did organize and sell a quantity of stash last week. Filed our taxes. And just need one more piece of info to finish my Mom’s taxes. Yes, I know.

But, I have a few little things on the needles, and some mods to a sock heel that I’ll share in another post. Maybe later today.

Saturday, I head to Seattle and am staying ‘til the end of the month with my three nephews while my sister is in China. Very exciting for her, and a great chance for me to spend a lot of time with the boys who seem to grow up too quickly when I only get to see them once a year. I’ll be able to work from there, and of course Knitters and Spinners, I’ve got to figure out what to take with me.

Now fortunately, Seattle has something like a half-dozen LYSs, so I’m not too worried about the odd needle size or notion. Hmm, what projects to take? I’ve got socks and mitts underway, so they are easy. But I want to take one big project along that’s not too complicated so I can knit it with distractions, so no lace. I liked Margene’s Scoop du Jour, and have been thinking about the Central Park Hoodless (like Ann’s), and have a sweater’s worth of Mountain Colors 4/8’s in the stash. And I’m taking my sadly neglected spinning wheel since I’ll have free time while the guys are at school and there’s a big spin-in at Weaving Works next weekend.

But now, the real reason you are here, the Knitting, what there is of it.

Ripped and Frogged:
This week the dear departed get their own category. That says a lot.

Reversai Socks - RIP:
Sock Madness 2, Round 2. This is an interesting, gansey-ish patterned, completely reversible sock with a garter stitch short-row heel and sole. But all that purling did me in.

Reversai Sock - abandoned
Love the yarn, it’s Black Bunny Fibers superwash merino sock, mmmmm

With the distractions of having Mom here to look at the rent house, I was a day behind, had made it past the heel, and was a bit down the foot on Sock #1. There were 15 of 20 spots filled in my division, and my arm and hand hurt. It’s possible I could have finished in time, but I figured it was better to spare the arm and let my spot go to someone who could really enjoy competing in Round 3.

Monkey Socks, Because Kate Said So – RIP:
This was what, the third go at knitting a sock with this yarn? Stubborn much? I love the colors. But the STR is so dense I just must knit it at a looser gauge or it is no fun at all for me. The pretty pale turquoise BBF will make some nice Monkey Socks.

STR Monkey Sock toe-up
At least I figured it out before I got very far along!

A Sweater that shall not even be named:
Cast on and knit about an inch, twice, for a top-down raglan and decided to destash the yarn instead of knitting the sweater.
wool bamboo

It’s Classic Elite Wool BamBoo in a gorgeous medium steely blue that I just love, but just cannot get a gauge I like since I’m such a loose knitter. I love the fabric when this yarn is knit firmly, but do not see an entire sweater on US3’s at the moment.

WIP’s in Active Rotation:

Charade Socks:
To cleanse the palate, I started yet another sock with the STR and this time we have a winner. The Charade Sock, by Sandra Park. It’s simple, fast, easy, looks great, and doesn’t hurt my arm.

Charade in STR - Herringbone Rib
Love the subtle variegation with the herringbone rib!

Since I want to get every bit of leg length I can out of the STR, I’m knitting toe-up. I fiddled a short-row heel with a mini-gusset and slip stitch flap. It looks odd off the foot, but it worked perfectly and fits, so you’ll get details in a separate post.

I’m nearly done with the Secret Project.

Startitis Alert:

I’ll take some easy fun spinning projects with me to Seattle. I am all about the easy and fun these days, aren’t I? And maybe start that easy fun sweater. And write up a pattern for the easy fun cabled fingerless mitts. That’s probably enough to keep me busy for two and a half weeks!