Thursday, April 21, 2016

Going Bold

After three rounds of challenging knitting, Sock Madness is in Day 3 of a 10-day rest period. It's a wise and welcome respite from the Madness. Some participants are indeed resting sore wrists and setting upturned homes to rights, some are knitting the bonus SM patterns, some are doing other things. I rested a bit, tidied a bit, considered making a sorely-needed project bag, then decided to knit myself a skirt. When it comes to knitting projects, I don't have an Always List, but if I did, a skirt would be on it as one of the garments I've always wanted to knit. Amazing to relate, I haven't ever, yet.

A bit of stash-diving yielded four balls of Noro Taiyo, just the thing for a spring-weight Lanesplitter by Tina Whitmore. I love Noro yarns with an unreasoning love, in this case the rainbow-y goodness of colorway 40. I also know that even if Taiyo comes in center-pull balls, it never hurts to wind it to check for knots and sudden color changes.

Noro Taiyo, colorway 40

I also unearthed a quantity of Taiyo Sock, swatched that, and was both pleased by the fabric and despairing over its slow progress. Much as I love worsted-weight Taiyo, I'm somewhat hesitant about how its bright colors, strong texture, and high cotton content will work as a skirt. I would think sock-weight Taiyo might yield a fabric with more subtle texture that has better drape and higher resistance to the dreaded seat spring. On the other hand, I do need a break from knitting fingering yarn, so I'm going bold with worsted-weight.

Lanesplitter in progress

Progress so far is quite beguiling. I'm working the seamless variation of the skirt, so cast on using Judy's Magic Cast On instead of a provisional cast on and am holding the bottom row of live stitches on a circular needle. The trigonometry calculator recommended by paulasulli made figuring the length of the diagonal easy. After fumbling a bit with the edges, I moved the increase/decrease in from the edge and began slipping the first stitch of every row. I thought about frogging back to fix the initial wonky edges, but decided against it. Trying not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Onward!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Greater Than the Sum

As per usual, there's been much busyness roundabout Exit 151 that has taken me away from blogging, also from knitting. So it took me 11 days to finish the Sock Madness Round 3 socks, Waimakariri by Sonya Newstead. Named for a braided river in New Zealand, the pattern masterfully explores sock architecture with its wandering cables.

Waimakariri FO modeled

The elements that comprise Waimakariri are simple enough. The sock begins with a cabled tab.

Cabled tab

One knits around the tab, increasing for the toe. A Kacha-Kacha is extremely helpful.


Then things get a bit complicated. Even with a Kacha-Kacha I had to pay such close attention that suddenly (!) I had a singleton. The techniques involved are simple enough – there's nothing particularly difficult or unusual – yet the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. Between the need for attention and the need for competition speed (and the busyness) there's a woeful lack of intermediate pix. Sorry about that.

Waimakariri singleton

The pattern as written is difficult to modify and, alas, also does not fit over my heel. After discovering this inconvenient reality and frogging my first attempted leg, I solved the issue without otherwise altering the pattern by knitting one gauge on the foot of the sock, a much looser gauge on the leg, and a much tighter gauge on the cuff. YMMV – some Sock Madness knitters say this sock fits them very well without any gauge acrobatics.

Because the many increases and decreases and changes in stitch count introduce significant strain into the knitted fabric, the untenanted sock puckers and the tenanted sock has a few holes. Other Sock Madness knitters say both are mitigated by washing and blocking. I've not had the time nor the leisure to do that yet, but I hope that also works for my socks. I found knitting the strained fabric put more strain on my hands and wrists than most cabled fabrics.

My sock has variable gauge not only on purpose, but also inadvertently in places. The yarn used, Zauberball in colorway Grashalm, is a loosely spun singles that varies in weight from light fingering to almost-DK, which was annoying in the extreme. I mostly liked its variation in color, a subtle ombré for the most part, except where it's not (sigh). At least the dye job is so regular that it took no effort to knit matching socks. Unsurprisingly for a loosely spun singles, the yarn was splitty and pilly, and a challenge to knit. I doubt I'll use it again.

While I was occupied the bloom season in Branch Brook Park galloped by, one of the earlier and faster seasons in memory. Happens sometimes. Lacking cherry blossoms to view, next is a brief rest for me and my tired wrists, then the Sock Madness resumes with Round 4.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Ahead of the Storm

The alarming weather forecast for tomorrow is for pelting rain and 70 mph (113 kph) winds. That's bound to do some damage, so I rushed out to Branch Brook Park for a hurried look at the cherry blossoms lest I miss this year's show entirely. The main season bloomers were just shy of peak bloom. If you can't see this year's show in person, try Cherry Blossom Cam.

Cherry blossoms 2016

Inspired by jooan's wee socks, I knit a wee Rose & Thorn sock, using the fussy beaded CO, Quatrefoil Eyelet (in Treasury 1) and twist sts for the roses and thorns, eye of partridge French heel, and wedge toe. Note to self: for a wee sock, it's better to knit a plain heel flap rather than a slip-st flap, which pulls in too much for the reduced scale. I think I'm going to attach the wee sock to my purse.

Rose & Thorn wee sock

Here's hoping everyone in the path of the storm stays safe and sound. See you on the other side.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Ecce Socks

Roundabout Exit 151 several sacred holidays are also common secular holidays. Yesterday, Good Friday, is one of them. For me, day off = FO. Ecce [Latin, Behold] Sock Madness glory, Rose & Thorn Socks by Ronni Smith! Worked in a mystery pink yarn from stash, they're a perfect fit on my Frankenfeet, which is a rare thing for a competition pattern.

Rose & Thorn Socks modeled

It turned out the beaded cast on is about equally complicated on circular needles as it is on double-pointed needles. After trying the former and becoming frustrated with dangling wires, I gave up and reverted to trusty dpns. Here's the beady picot cuff before folding.

Beady picot cuff, before folding

After folding and joining, some beads went askew.

Beads askew

It sometimes took considerable fiddling to get them astraight. It's better to knit carefully, even if slowly, and to get it right the first time rather than to have to stop for corrective measures.

Beads astraight

Alas, I was knitting in such haste, I forgot to weave in the cast-on tail before finishing joining the cuff. Oh well, I wove it in later.

Yarn tail

The pattern calls for an eye of partridge French heel and a wedge toe, my favorites for fit. The only mod I made, allowable under competition rules, was to lengthen the foot with three rounds of stockinette before starting the toe. I also double-dipped with March Sockdown, cable challenge. Happiness!

Meanwhile, at church I was voluntold to read the liturgy for the 12th Station of the Cross ("Jesus dies on the cross") for Good Friday. High churchy ritual generally doesn't do much for me, but perhaps others derive value and benefit from it. I hope so. It's not a draw for me, it also doesn't stop me from attending, but on the whole I'd rather stick to my knitting.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Round Two Already

Yesterday was the first day of spring (in this hemisphere); roundabout Exit 151 it snowed overnight, just a dusting. I didn't really notice as the second pattern for Sock Madness dropped: Rose & Thorn Socks by Ronni Smith. After the usual dithering over yarn and beads, I got to work.

The pattern has a touching backstory and features a beaded version of Judy's Magic Cast On wherein the beads symbolize small drops of blood from the thorns. The process ought to be straightforward.

Beaded Judy's Magic Cast On

Except it's not, especially not on double-pointed needles. For the love of yarn, DO NOT USE DPNs for this pattern, at least not until the cuff is hemmed. And once the cuff is hemmed, it's helpful to place an BOR marker. Ask me how I know all that.

Rose & Thorn wip

Once past the beaded CO and hemmed picot cuff, the pattern settles down. One measure of that is there are finished pairs already. Gah. I can't keep up with that, and have given up trying. Instead, I'm going to use this pattern to double dip with March Sockdown, because I can. knitknitknitknit