Thursday, October 19, 2006

Socktober Embossed Leaves

Ever since I saw Embossed Leaves by Mona Schmidt in Interweave Knits Winter 2005, I've wanted to make a pair for myself. Now, I know perfectly well that lace is usually more effective in a solid color, but when I saw Socka Color colorway 2419, I couldn't resist trying autumn Embossed Leaves. Seems doubly appropriate as my first (eek) Socktoberfest socks, pictured here on a DIY sock blocker to show off the lace.

I am loving the results. The yarn is fascinating, a marled three-ply in which each ply is also variegated. The combinations are a primer of color theory – so far I've seen complements, split-complements, primary and secondary triads, and more. With so much going on in the yarn, it's an endless surprise to me which colors dominate in the knit fabric.

The pattern as written uses 1x1 rib cast on and twisted rib cuff. I like the look but prefer a more elastic cuff, so replaced them with elastic cast on and 1x1 rib. The charted leaf motif produces true lace knitting (not "mere" lacy knitting), that is, there is pattern knitting on every round and no rest round. The decreases on every round put more tension in the fabric than I usually like, although that extra tension does heighten the embossed effect, useful with such a colorful yarn. I rather think a set up round might be helpful and will try it on the second sock.

I don't believe this. I'm actually looking forward to the second sock.

For a time I was afraid I'm the only Socktoberist starting after mid-month, but if the blogs I've seen are any indicator, it would seem I'm in good company. Even Lolly took a while to respond to her own sock history questions. Here's my responses.

* When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?
The precise moment is mercifully lost in the mists of time, but the month was January or February. I recollect watching winter sports on TV, so I suppose one could consider it a proto Knitting Olympics challenge. As should be apparent from the next response, I'm a self-taught process knitter.

* What was your first pair? How have they "held up" over time?
Toe up, fully fashioned Argyle knee socks made from worsted and sport weight oddments. Colors A, B, and C were Christmas red, Christmas green, and jungle green, with orange-yellow for contrast. I wanted to learn technique, wasn't worried about the finished product, and the yarn was lying around. The socks turned out well, except they looked like venomous sea serpents. I usually keep my swatches and learning projects – this was one of the very few I threw out. (I had to. Someone who shall remain nameless deliberately frightened the cat with them. Cats have a way of getting back their own – she eliminated from multiple orifices, hid under the sofa, and wouldn't come out. Until that moment, we didn't realize she could fit. Later she took to stashing dead things there.) I learned a lot.

* What would you have done differently?
Lol. Where to start? I don't think I would have picked an easier pattern – the technical challenge was the draw. But I learned that color is important, even in a learning project. That mixing yarn weights can be unwise, but can be accommodated. That figure-8 cast on, heel-turning, and calf shaping aren't nearly as scary as they're made out to be. I'd been told if one could knit Argyle socks, one could knit anything – I discovered I had pretty good skills.

* What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?
There are so many (and I'm always happy to try more)! Currently on the needles besides Embossed Leaves in Socka are two favorites, Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock and Claudia Handpaint fingering.

* Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?
DPNs are the default technique, but it depends on the task at hand. IMO, crochet is usually better suited for slippers than socks because the fabric is so firm.

* Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)
Flap is the default, but again, it depends. Incidentally, I've always wondered why heels have nationalities (at least in English knitting terminology).

* How many pairs have you made?
No idea. Most end up as gifts. Production tends to come and go, usually sparked by seeing an inspiring pattern. One of these days I want to try making Debbie New's Maple Swirl Socks (the cover pattern in Socks, Socks, Socks). But not in oddments leftover from holiday knitting.


Carla said...

Your Embossed Leaves look lovely! I did a pair for my best friend this past summer in some Socks That Rock Lapis colorway. I tend to agree that the pattern looks best with a more solid colorway, but they came out lovely nonetheless. H

Deborah said...

those will be gorgeous and the colorways are perfect for the season. What socks will you be wearing at Rhinebeck?

Singular Stitches said...

I think that yarn colorway goes great with the lace pattern! Very cool!

Nathalie said...

I just love that colourway you have chose, - just perfect!!!

Monica said...

I like the way that sock is knitting up!