Long time no post. I’ve been working on presents that I can’t publish yet, things I don’t normally post here like gardening and brewing. Also, fiddly knitting. This is the most difficult lace pattern I’ve knitted yet. It gave me a bunch of trouble until I found a needle arrangement that worked for me. I started on a circular with magic loop, which was fine for the rib band but I quickly got muddled after I started the lace. I moved to the only dpns I had of the right size, which happened to be slippery metal ones. I was better able to keep track of where I was at with the dpns but the weight of the work+needles dragged a bunch of stitches off the next needle in line. Horror. Picking up dropped stitches in lace knitting isn’t easy! A clever friend suggested using one needle per pattern repeat, and lighter, more grabby bamboo ones. She even loaned me the needles. This worked much better, and looked pretty amusing.
Here it is finished, but not yet blocked:
Steam blocking over a tailor’s ham shows off the pattern. It’s by Tin Can Knits and the rose motif is inspired by the art of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
And on. The fit is good. I made the rib band bigger than the largest size by 8 stitches but the rest is to pattern. I’m not happy with the gathering at the top of the crown, but it’s a nice warm hat and pretty. Very warm actually. This is 8ply yarn and is thought to be alpaca, or alpaca rich (It’s from Bendigo Woolen Mills back room, unlabelled clearance stock). I’ll need proper cool weather to wear this comfortably.
I’m amused that this photo inadvertently shows evidence that I do actually possess eyelashes, they are just too fair to be seen usually.
Knitted for a friend from the wool I dyed in this post . Given to her today so I feel able to show you all.
Toe up, slip stitch heel, 38 yarn ends to weave in.
I’ve done a little drop spindle spinning in years past, but I’d not made my spinning into any finished thing. I first tried the spinning over 20years ago. Then had another go about 10years ago, some chocolate brown alpaca that time. I still have a little of that yarn. I picked it up again a couple of years ago, spinning prepared wool top this time. I decided to spin as much as I could during a week long event in January that event. I took a handful of each type of wool fiber I had, with the intention of alternating types to stave off boredom. This is what I had at the end of the event. I’d spun everything I took, plus a little wool from a friend’s sheep.
I did some more at the next event in April, and ended up with 7 balls of yarn in varying sizes.
I had originally thought to make socks, but I didn’t think I had enough yarn. So I made a hat instead. I have some yarn left, so I could probably have managed socks. I do like the hat though so I’m still pleased.
The dun coloured fibre is three lots of corriedale wool. Easy to spin but quite coarse and prickly. The coloured and white fibre is all merino, fine and soft. I spun some plain corriedale singles, some alternating merino and corriedale in a particular colour order, but random amounts. Then I plied the two together. The rib band is just merino though to minimise prickle on my forehead. I like how it came out and I’m delighted to have spun, designed and knitted a thing.
I decided to let my next sock recipient nominate her preferred colours. “Reds and Blues” she said. The sock wool stash had no red, but there was a variagated pink/orange. I had dark navy and some pale blues, but no nice bright blues.
Woo hoo, an excuse to do some dyeing! the pinks are now red, which my camera is refusing to capture properly. The blues are now deeper, brighter and much more fun. I plan to use the navy for the toes, and maybe cuffs? I’ll use the newly dyed yarn in broad stripes with spiral joins I think. I reckon I’ll enjoy knitting these.
Yup, this is the 28th pair of socks I have knitted. I’d forgotten the count had got so high. This pair has taken a while to knit. I started them on the New Zealand trip back in January. I usually knit socks only in trains, planes and waiting rooms various. I obviously haven’t been doing much of that recently.
There are several experiments here. Lots of design decisions all to make socks for travelling that dry quickly. They are also short so they take up less luggage room. I’ve used slightly larger size needles (2.75mm) than normal (2.5mm). Fewer stitches to balance that of course. The yarn, by Araucania, is on the fine side of 4ply. I don’t have the colour name or code ’cause I can’t find the label. I think it might be old stock though because I bought it about a year ago as an oddment at a yarn market and couldn’t find it on the net when I looked then. I’ve also knitted them very plain to enhance drying, including my first Fleegle heel, which is shaped like a slip stitch heel, but is just flat knitting. I’ll wear them for a bit to see how they go while I knit up a more standard pair for a friend.
Years ago, I used to see people knitting socks and thought it looked cool, clever and fun. So I (eventually) became a sock knitter, and often knit in public. I wonder if I’ve inspired anyone to take it up?
Here are my two most recent pairs, both knitted as gifts. This pair below I made for my father. I’m relieved that he took the mad colouring calmly and even seemed to like them.
They are made out of five different self patterned yarns, all from a bag of leftovers I was delighted to receive from a fellow sock knitting friend. Four of these are pictured below, plus the blue I used for the heel. I ended up changing the order after seeing how the colours were behaving when knitted. So the larger blue balls at the far left were moved one place to the right, after the reddest yarn (I knit toe up).
These two pairs are my first “eye of partridge” heels. Basically a slip stitch heel but with alternate stitches slipped in the pattern row. It makes a subtle checkered texture and a nicely padded and reinforced heel.
And here are the whole socks from that yarn, which I made for a good friend and dubbed “Suffragette Dragon”. Well, purple and green with a lace pattern reminiscent of scales. I’m really pleased with these. Yarn is Schoppelwolle crazy zauberball.
Because I mostly knit socks in public, this is a question I get asked a lot. Last time I made an attempt to calculate this, I was working on only my second pair of socks ever, and got an answer of about 30hrs. I’ve been aware for a while that this figure would not be representative of my current speed. I’ve just started sock pair #26*. So I knitted a pattern repeat on that as fast as I could. It took me 25min including a bit of simple lace work , with a few quickly fixed mistakes in the mix. The socks I have on happen to be 27cm long. The pattern repeat is 2cm. Adding in a couple of repeats to allow for the heel**, I work it out to be 13hrs to knit a pair. A tiny bit faster without lace knitting, obviously a longer sock would take more time and a shorter one less. This doesn’t allow for major mistakes needing frogging and rework. Also doesn’t allow for design work or yarn preparation. So the answer does depend a bit on various factors including who is asking, but at least I have a new estimate. Oh, and of course that is not 13hrs elapsed, but 13hrs focused working. I sure can’t knit that long all in one stretch. About 30min in one go is as much as my arm will let me do.
*not pictured. These are sock pairs #6 and #15 of my knitting.
*my current favourite slip stitch heel is better for high arches, more complex and more yarn hungry than those pictured.
And the ally socks are done. I’m so pleased with these. I love the yarn, it was a friend’s cast off stash, I overdyed part of it to improve coordination of the two colourways, I used up all of the bright yarn and about half the dark. I like the diamond lace pattern and it works with the yarn.
Comfy, bright, thrifty, creative. All good. Now I get to start another pair.
Remember that yarn I was enthusing about, oh 12 days ago ? Well half of it is now a sock. As I thought, it’s lovely to knit. A little strange to me because it’s a single, as in not plied. The colour gradient is fabulous. I enjoy long colour changes like this, I tend to want to keep knitting to find out what happens.
I like the simple lozenge lace pattern. I’m getting better at identifying good lace choices for easy memorisation. The base sock is Wendy Johnson’s toe-up slip stitch heel pattern, which is my current favourite. I’m pleased I figured out a way to put the heel in as a contrast. Aside from saving the coloured yarn for the leg, it lets the colour gradient continue unbroken. I dislike the pattern change that happens with variagated yarn at the heel due to the shorter rows. I think I’ll be doing this contrast heel more often.
To avoid boredom and maximise knitting enjoyment, I will do my usual trick of starting a different pair and come back to this yarn after sock one of that pair.
Yesterday I combined the luxury of time with a recent quality stash gift to set up a new project. A few weeks ago I was the delighted recipient of a big bag of sock wool leftovers. Two of them looked like Schoppel Wolle Zauberball. Now I love knitting their crazy zauberball wool, so I am keen to have a go at knitting this. Between them there was about enough for a pair of socks but the colours didn’t quite go. The darker ball was even more purple than this, my camera doesn’t deal well with blue tones.
This post is picture heavy and long so I’m experimenting with a cut. Hopefully clicking “more” below will deliver the rest of the post? Argh no! it’s eaten the rest! Now reconstructed, L plates still on here.
So I skeined off the dark wool
and put it through a yellow dyebath
I left it a bit long, but I think the new colours still work better with the bright yarn. I’ve rewound both colourways into half weight balls to help decide when to stop the first sock. The bright turns out to deliver a rainbow per half! I did have to do a second rewind of one half to get the colours running the same way.
Here is the tiny collection of project materials for one sock
Which rolls up to about the volume of a glasses case. I knit so many socks because they make wonderful portable projects, which I need to keep me happy and sane in trains, planes and waiting situation various.