Category Archives: sockapaloooza

C’est si bon.

Done, finally There may be no nicer feeling than finishing a project, particularly when the finished object in question is *cough* a few days late (mostly due to my monumental inability to accurately measure my knitting). My disappointment, however, was outweighed by 1. my new love affair with the short row heel and toe and 2. the arrival of my own pair of sockpal socks (yay!).

Oh, short row, how I love you. In the Sherman heel, we see you in your Platonic form, perfect and uncomplicated with bothersome wraps, if a little boxy. There is no picking up of heel stitches, no messy decreasing at the gusset. In a measure of how much my passion for the short row technique grew, after I cast off these socks, I was immediately ready to make another pair for myself. The only thing stopping me is that I have already picked my post-Paloooza project, and I already have two pairs of socks in progress. I am so tempted to rip out the flaps on my mom’s socks and short row ‘em. I may need some sort of intervention.

In addition to the socks, my pal will be receiving a custom-sized set of sock blockers created by Knit One Purl Too’s Sock Accoutrement Supply Staff (aka, my husband) especially for her tiny feet with the assistance of Photoshop and power tools. Can you believe it? If my husband were a knitter, rather than simply the world’s Most Enthusiastic Knitting Groupie, his first sweater would proably be an Alice Starmore. I hope you love your socks, pal – I miss them already.

My feelings of loss were short-lived, however, because my wonderful pal, Jen from Knitting for Sanity, gifted me with a beautiful pair of Friday Harbor socks (Nancy Bush, Knitting on the Road) in Mountain Colors Weaver’s Wool Quarters (see a detail shot here). I know spring has barely arrived, but these socks (which fit perfectly, by the way) have me ready for fall. They’re (for lack of a better word) perfect, Jen – thank you! And also? Number of pairs of Nancy Bush socks I own: 2. Number of pairs knitted by me? 0. Must remedy that…but that’s a story for my next post, with a working title I Went to New York and Boston and Came Home With Yarn – Is That Wrong?

Two really are better than one.

Resistance to knitting is futile. Proof my husband has joined the knitting collective? He sends me, unbidden, an online ad for Kangol hats:

Subject: Read the text in this link:

To be an expert knitter is as complex and hard to achieve as being as good at Kung Fu as Bruce Lee. In fact Bruce Lee once applied for a job at Kangol. At the interview we gave him two knitting needles and said “show us your stuff”. He immediately chopped one in half with the side of his hand. Then ripped off his tee shirt and destroyed the other one by breaking it against his bare rippling chest.”That’s all very impressive, Mr. Lee but that is not going to get many hats made is it?” We said. Fortunately the next interviewee had devised this clever venting Knit while studying the 36 chambers of the Shaolin Temple. Guess who got the job?

With no patience for knitting needles, Bruce Lee would probably crush any knitting project he came to hate: “You frustrate me? I set you on fire!”

Two really are better than one. Far from hating my sockpal dream socks, I am working away on the second sock leg; I was close to turning the heel on sock #1 and I just had the urge to keep ribbing, so I cast on for #2. Sharon asked “Does it go faster if you’re doing two socks at once?” I would like to say “yes,” but two legs at once just feels like one really long leg. I think I’ll only be able to feel the speed after I turn both heels one right after the other. That will be faster.

I think there is an 87.9 percent chance these socks will be done by May 1, in part due to the unusually high amount of transit knitting time available to me this month. These socks will see New York (upstate and city, two trips), Boston, the Amtrak Acela between New York and Boston, two airplanes and the New York State Thruway. Eagle-eyed blog readers will know that the appearance of the New York State Thruway on this blog means that we are visiting The Yarn Shop of Geneva my brother- and sister-in-law for Easter; there may be some browsing involved, but I am not telling the socks that I might see other yarn.

For the record, it is also a complete coincidence that my work event on New York’s Upper West Side happens to be a block and a half from Knitty City. Really, I swear.

Once again, with feeling.

Dream Socks, indeed There’s nothing like ribbing to take the edge off, you know? Just interesting enough to keep you knitting, not so complicated that you can’t carry on a conversation while you do it. I cast on for Priscilla’s Dream Socks Tuesday after realizing that the Pomatomus socks featured in my last post were going slowly enough that I would finish them after May 1 – I may or may not have been ready to commission a fellow knitter at my Stitch ‘n Bitch to make them for me. Yikes! That’s when I knew I had to step back and take a deep breath.

What you see here is six days of knitting, here and there, and I’m an inch or two away from the heel. So, sockpal, you may not be getting lace, but you will be getting my first successful short row heels. Mwah! My little gift to you – plus a bonus gift so fabulous that I can’t even mention it here, but I’ll give you a hint. It sounds like “rusted lemonade rock walkers.” Can you figure it out? I’m pretty excited, and now I’m off to turn the heel.

Things I don’t like about knitting

1. I find entrelac in all its forms rather scary and unappetizing.
2. I’m a little worried that the return of the 80s means batwing-sleeved sweaters are coming back into style.
3. Representational intarsia motifs in garments for people over the age of ten. [ For instance: Dots? Yes. Frogs or Christmas trees? No. I am, however, all over the Miss Bea's books for children, because I'm not made of stone. -ed.]
4. The picking up of stitches after the turning of sock heels; I have no idea why, but I know that if I’m going to stall on a sock, it will be here. I hate it, it’s fiddly and hard on my hands. But not today – see the heel on the first Crusoe sock? Good to go, and it took longer to turn the heel than to pick up stitches. I was so easy.  What's her problem?
Though it feels weird to admit it, much like it does when I admit I like grafting, there is no such thing as Second Sock Syndrome for me – it takes me long enough to knit a pair of socks that I completely forget about any trauma with the first sock by the time I’m into the second – I’m just looking forward to the finished object. I am a slow enough knitter, however, that I go through each of the five Project Stages several times before they’re complete. What are they?

Denial – “I can knock this [fill in project name here] out in [a month/aweek/a day/give me a minute]” This is said regardless of knitting speed, full-time employment status and past project completion rate. I constantly revise the date on which my sockpal socks will be finished.

Bargaining – “This is taking a little longer than I thought, but if I just knit for [15 minutes a day/an hour a day/each evening/all weekend/every waking moment, forsaking all other obligations], it will be done in plenty of time.” I’m not yet worried I’ll be done by May 1, but I could be…

Anger – “#@&*#Y! There’s a mistake [X rows/XX rows/XXXrows] back – I can’t believe it!” Who knits their heel flap over 36 stitches…on a 64 stitch sock? I do, apparently, so it took two tries (and yes, I counted – wrongly, I guess).

Depression – “I should have knit [fill in name of other project here] instead. This sucks.” See also: stash enhancement as distraction from stalled knitting. Let’s just say there’s a scarf from Vogue Knitting with my name on it…

Not bad for waiting around for almost a year Acceptance – Hey, if I knit just a little more….I’m done! I love it!

And yet, even though this seemed to take forever, just seeing that I’ve finished one Retro Rib makes me want to knit the other. As long as it’s not a sweater with a cat on it, that’s okay.

Cast on 64 stitches…or 72…or 60.

An actual comment from Knit One Purl Too’s caliper-fetching, ad hoc needle gauge measurement team (aka my husband): Just how many times have you cast on for that sock, anyway?

Me: Oh, just eight or nine.

In reality, it was probably closer to eighteen or nineteen, but the only time I really cared was when I started to resent, just a tiny bit, that every sock pattern I was trying did not require the same number of stitches cast on at the beginning. Starting over really meant starting over. The Cable Rib Socks (scroll down) from IK was 64 (here’s a lovely variegated version), but the Mock Croc socks from Knitpicks were 60 (yay, just 60!), and the Broken Cable Rib socks from the IK website (those are so nice – you’ll notice it’s a solid color yarn) were a daunting 72, which quickly pulled in to a reasonable-seeming circumference once the cabling began.

And none of them really fit the bill. Here’s my attempt at the Cable Rib socks – the rib is nice enough, but the single cable (on the left there) was completely swallowed up by the variegation in the yarn. Here’s the front of my Broken Cable Rib sock – leaving aside the fact that right about here I started to suspect that I was misreading the pattern because it didn’t look like my cables were crossing correctly, this sock in variegated yarn looks just too, too much to me – very Santino. And when you turn it over – well, that pooling makes me faint. So unpretty! Which is why this is such a relief (click to make bigger):

I am Knitty's Crusoe.  I am so nice. I resisted Crusoe because…well, I don’t know why, other than I had read one or two comments along the lines of “this sock is too tight.” If I have one Sockapaloooza rule, it would be “knit something with stretch for a forgiving fit.” Though it may seem like I broke this rule with Crusoe, I am knitting the pattern over 64 stitches at a tighter gauge; the resulting fabric is firm but not board-like, with a surprising amount of give. It’s slightly too big for me, but I have the ankles of a bird, so everything should be fine. Fun to knit, fun to wear, pretty to look at – whew!

Variegated yarn is so seductive.

I’ve seen a lot of beautiful variegated yarn and I remain convinced that “seduction by variegation” is responsible for 39.4 percent of all stash acqusition by otherwise responsible knitters. You know that scene in A Bug’s Life where the little bug is flying toward the zapper ant and he just can’t help himself? “It’s too beautiful! I can’t look away!” That one? Variegated yarn is like that.

I might need more sock needles if this keeps up.  Or more hands.The problem with variegated yarn is that it’s (not to belabor the obvious, but it has to be said) variegated. You get it home and thumb through umpty-jillion sock patterns and you end up saying over and over “That won’t work with this yarn. Nope, that won’t work either.” It’s enough to turn a girl into a serial swatcher, sampler of many stitch patterns, fan of none. Exhibit #1: My purse, whose contents include two sets of DPNs (size 1), one 40″ circular, size 2, six sock patterns and a back issue of Interweave Knits (also including a sock pattern). To make matters worse, I’m considering two additional patterns I haven’t even printed out yet. (I printed them; see the frenzy above.)

I could blame it on the fact that my Sockapaloooza pal is an experienced sock knitter; sending her a pair of plain-vanilla stockinette socks (even if they are in a yarn which makes knitters drool with envy) seems like I’m saying “I care, but not a whole lot.” It follows from this that ribbed socks say “I care enough to purl, but your socks will look sort of manly.” I blame it all on the Koigu.

So pretty, I can't look away.I am completely smitten with this yarn. Purchased quite awhile ago and destashed for this special occasion, it meets the Sockapaloooza-worthiness test of “so beautiful to me that I will regret giving it up.” And yet? It’s too variegated. I thought it was understated, but that’s only in comparison to the other Koigu I’ve got stashed away (see masthead, above). I cannot find a pattern that isn’t swallowed by the riot of color in the skein.

I also can’t find a pattern that meets my unspoken criteria of showing off my mad knitting skillz without taking forever to knit. I am not one of those “sock a week” knitters – unless it’s stockinette and I work on nothing else. And I feel compelled to uphold the high standards set last swap; I received cashmere lace socks last time around. In an attempt to shake off the sock-starting funk, I set aside the Koigu to begin a pair of Evelyn Clark’s lovely Go With the Flow Socks in Plymouth Sockotta; the results were nice, but I’m not 100 percent sold. Plus, I made lace socks last swap, and don’t want to do the same thing twice. (I know it wouldn’t really be the same, because I have a new sockpal this time around, but humor me). Only in comparison to Koigu would this be called ugly - it's nice It’s ironic to me that I had no problem using the yarn (hum a few bars of MacArthur Park here: “this Koigu may never be available again“), but I have great angst over how to use it. I think I need to get over my need to show off for my sock pal pick a lane (so to speak), and get down to knitting, or it will be May 1 before I know it.