Thorny Knits

I've got a husband, twin toddlers, a cat who I probably forgot to feed this morning, and never, ever enough time to knit.


So Thorny, what about the knitting?

(NOTE: This post was almost entirely written on Sept. 16. What, me procrastinate? Neveeeerrrr!!)

Yeah, I hear you. It's still happening, at a pretty nice clip - I went through a wonderful bout of the very rare Finish-itis recently, and managed to finish two pairs of socks and am making strong headway on finishing a third. And then you know what I did? I put those needles away!!

Shocking, I know. But having five six different pairs of socks on the needles at one time was a bit... what's the word, excessive. And I'm trying to stay focused on some of the holiday and holiday-themed knitting I've got ahead of me the next few months, and I need to let my adoration of socks cool off to a low simmer, rather the full boil it had been at all summer.

But what a lovely boil it's been!

First off, I finished a gorgeous pair of socks out of Koigu. Just a simple baby cable pattern done on US2 dpns. Of course, the journey to these socks was not nearly so simple. First of all, I triple-guessed myself when I cast on the first sock, and made a 68-st leg. Which was, frankly, ridiculous. But I'd actually started these socks once before, frogged, skeined the yarn and wet it down to soak out the kinks, then wound it back into a ball and was coming back at them a second time, so I just didn't have the patience to frog them again. By the time I was working the gusset I realized that these socks were just crazy-loose on me. But like I say - I was feeling much too stubborn to frog, so I decided to just extend the gusset and decrease down to fewer stitches for the foot. I wound up decreasing down to 60, and finished the rest of the sock just fine.

And this is where these socks languished for a long time, because while I'm generally not especially perfectionist-y, the idea of deliberately casting on such huge socks made no sense to me. But then I also know that I'm finicky enough about my clothes (even my socks) that having two socks that felt too different from each other would make me go buggy. Finally, because I just couldn't stand to let that gorgeous lively yarn stay in limbo, I decided to cast on 64 stitches for the other sock, and again decrease down to 60 stitches when I did the gusset. So one leg of the socks is a bit wider than the other, but the feet feel the same (basically - the ankle on the one sock is of course a little looser too), so good enough.

I wore them one night going out for margaritas with some friends, expecting the restaurant we were going to to be cold (it had been freaky cold for our last outing, we all sat shivering under the over-enthusiastic A/C trying to make like frozen margaritas had been a good idea). Of course, I was wrong, but I still loved wearing my socks. It was also a nice chance for me to experience first-hand the amazing power of wool. I'd heard people say that wool was wicking and helped regulate temperature, but I'd always been a little skeptical. Well, I am skeptical no longer. They were fantastic.

Aren't they lovely? I cast these on way back around Easter, because the bright colors just seemed very Easter-y to me. Like daffodils and brightly colored Easter eggs and bright cheerful spring-time clothes.

The second pair of socks I finished were my Embossed Leaves Lace socks from the Winter '05 Interweave Knits. I used the gorgeous merino sock yarn my Dye-O-Rama Swap pal Tara made for me (go check out her store, Blonde Chicken Boutique - it's awesome!).

I'd been itching to make the Embossed Leaves socks ever since I saw them, but hadn't yet found the "perfect" yarn. Then, when I received Tara's yarn, I knew. This was the yarn for my Embossed Leaves. So I had to wait a bit until we completed our move earlier this summer, and then weathered our way through a few other things, but then I finally sat down and cast on.

And look how perfect they are!

And here they are in action!

I absolutely loved working with this yarn - it was sproingy and soft and even the slight fuzziness which ordinarily I tend to avoid I found charming. The colors were just variegated enough to really make the socks come alive for me, and was really just a joy to knit with. Then there was the pattern - while initially I found the tubular cast on a pain in the ass, once I figured it out it was easy peasy. And I had a hard time dealing with the 18 rows of twisted stitch rib, especially on the first sock. What can I say, I have the patience of a toddler sometimes. But I love how it looks, and once I began the lace pattern? Whoo! Awesome. The lace pattern was easy to memorize (or at least figure out how it worked well enough to keep track of it easily), and it was a fun, speedy knit.

Well, until I got to the heel. Then... the pattern did this weird thing. First, there was no heel stitch. Which I wasn't keen on - I don't seem to experience any extra wear in the heels of my socks, but I really do like that bit of extra cushioning, so if I'm going to do a heel flap, then darn it - I'm going to do a heel stitch. So I consulted good ol' Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks and decided on an Eye of Partridge heel stitch. Also, the heel flap was done weirdly in the pattern. Apparently you were supposed to finish the heel turn on the wrong side, and then break the yarn, re-attach it on the other side of the turned heel, and then begin picking up stitches for the gusset. This seemed crazy to me, so again I consulted Charlene Schurch and decided to just do the heel flap as made sense to me (which is to say, I begin the heel turn on the WS, so that by the time I complete the heel turn, I'm exactly where I need to be in order to begin picking up gusset stitches - works perfectly every time). So I did and it worked fine and voila! I didn't have two extra ends to weave in on each sock. Nyah!

The other thing I did was a little bit of futzing with needle sizes. I worked the leg of the sock on my US2 Addi Turbos, which are 3.0 mm, as opposed to my Susan Bates US2 circsm, which are 2.75 mm. I was happy with this, because my ankles lean toward the chunky side (that whole swollen ankles thing did not end after my pregnancy was complete as I expected it to, a fact which irritates me to this day).

So when it came time to end the leg and begin the heel/foot, this is what I did:

I worked the heel flap and heel turn on one Susan Bates circ. Then I took a second SB circ and picked up the gusset stitches on the one side with it. Then I worked the instep on one Addi Turbo, then I used the SB circ which was still holding the heel turn stitches and used that to pick up the gusset stitches on the other side. Then I continued on, knitting one half of the "heel flap" stitches with that same circ. When I got to the midpoint of the sole of the sock, I switched to the other SB circ and pretended I was doing Magic Loop (i.e. pushed the picked-up gusset stitches to one end of the needle, making the other end "free") for those ten or so stitches until I had worked the second SB circ free. Then I "un-Magic-Looped" (i.e. pushed the gusset stitches to the end of their needle) and continued on. When I finished that needle, I had my sock on three different circs - one Addi Turbo and two Susan Bates. And that's how I worked the gusset. Once I finished the gusset decreases, I combined the stitches on the two SB circs onto one, and worked the instep stitches off the Addi Turbo onto the now-free Susan Bates circ, thus reducing myself back down to using only two circs.

Granted, that probably seems like a lot of fiddling, but I have an awful time keeping my tension even while doing gussets (they're my least-favorite part of socks, honestly), and using the three circs really helped me keep everything even.

This, of course, is not the extent of the knitting content of late, it's just what I've gotten together so far.


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