Friday, July 06, 2012

Knitwit, or, Life List no.73: Knit a pair of socks

So. Part of the reason I haven't been to terribly talkative on the blog lately is 'cause I haven't really had much to say. The rest of the reason? My hands have been otherwise engaged.

A few months ago, I found a pattern online for a really cute afghan called the Beekeeper's Quilt. It's from Tiny Owl Knits, and can be found here.  Go take a look, but then come back, okay?

Are you back? OK, good. Isn't that adorable? The individual hexagons (which have been named "hexapuffs" by some of the knitters on Ravelry) are very easy to do.  I took a bunch of sock yarn with me when I went to my parents' place for Easter, and came back 3 or 4 days later with this:

Holy Hexapuffs, Batman!
Yup. Did all that in one long weekend. I'd say there were probably around 25 in that picture, plus a cute little half a puff that you use to fill in the gaps at the edges. Added bonus: after watching me do these all weekend, my Mom wanted to learn how to do 'em. She later bought a copy of the pattern from Tiny Owl Knits, and the last time we talked about this project, she'd added her own special twist to it.  She doesn't like fiddling around with little bits, so she's making one long stuffed zigzag that will fit next to another zigzag, and she'll join them all together when she's done.

All those little hexagons in the picture are just a drop in the bucket, though. I think I need about 600 of 'em to make a decent-sized blanket.  I'll be doing this for a while.

While I was making them that weekend the thought started to percolate that perhaps, just perhaps, I was ready to tackle making a pair of socks. I'd tried a few times before and never got very far--either the join at the start was too loose and I couldn't find a way to tighten it up, or I developed "ladders"--funky gaps between stitches, usually where they met at either end of a double-pointed needle.  Well, the way around the join problem is to knit toe-up. And this pattern for hexagons showed me an easy cast-on that would work for toe-up socks.  So I found a simple toe-up sock pattern on the web (the first one on the page, called Lifestyle Toe Up socks)  bought some self-striping yarn, and off I went.

I took the first sock apart three times (at least) because I couldn't seem to get the ladders to go away. I checked a few places on line for help. Nothing seemed to work. I sent an email out to my Mom and sister, asking for their advice -- they are both very good at sock-making. Apparently my sister and I are on the same wavelength right now, because in the middle of writing this I went to read her blog, and she's just posted about her sock obsession. Anyway, Mom said that I'll stop making ladders the more I practice. Ditter says wear the socks once, wash them, and the ladders will disappear. I found the second piece of advice a little more reassuring. 'Cause frankly, if I make one pair of socks that look weird in places, I won't try making any more.

On my quest to get rid of the problem, I found videos on YouTube for how to knit with two circular needles. It was one person's way of getting rid of ladders, because you could snug the stitches right up against each other. Someone else suggested using the Magic Loop method, which was too much for me at the time. I thought I'd give the 2 circular needles thing a try. I was still getting ladders, but not as large, and there were only two of them. By the time I got to the second sock, I wasn't making them any more. Yay! And here's what I ended up with (on the left):

Stripey feet, FTW.
Gray lacy-ish sock.
Woo-hoo! There was a book sale going on at the site where I bought those needles, and I found some books of toe-up sock patterns while I was looking around. I decided to see if I could do this twice, so I dug around in my stash for some more yarn and made another pair, taken from a pattern in Socks a la Carte 2: Toes Up. They only had the pattern on the leg of the sock. I changed it so that I was working plain stockinette on the bottom of the foot and the pattern on the top of the foot, and then used the pattern the whole way around the leg, after I made the heel. This is what I got (above, on the right).

While I was working on the gray socks, I finally figured out how to use the Magic Loop method. I got myself a very long circular needle, and the socks I'm working on now are being worked that way. I'll post them when I'm done.  In any event, I do believe I can cross off ol' no.73 from the Life List. We'll take another stab at the sweater later on. I wound up taking the whole thing apart because I got mad at it. I have to make some sort of plan of attack for the sleeves before I get there next time, because the book is awfully vague when it comes to the sleeves. Mom agrees. She worked another sweater from the same book, and the instructions just seemed to fall apart when it got to talking about the sleeves. I don't understand it. The author was so detailed up to that point, then she just tailed off. I think perhaps I've gotten spoiled by the instructions at  Those patterns are all very informative and well-written. Maybe it's made me expect too much of other writers.

Well, that's enough yarn-talk for now. Time to get back to knitting.  And yes, I really am working with wool in this heat (it's supposed to come pretty close to 100 degrees here today), with no air-conditioning. I have fans running all over the house, with one aimed directly at me. I think we'll be okay. Sophie's upstairs on the bed, directly under the ceiling fan. While I'm thinking about it, I should probably go up and make sure I've turned that one all the way up. Though if she were uncomfortable, I'm sure I'd be told about it. She is not shy, my Sophie.

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