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Lost in a sea of yarn and needles. Lusting after handmade socks and all things lacy


A little vacation

I was turning the heel on Dawn's sock and watching this.
Petes Pond
Live web cam from Botswana Africa. If you are sick of mid term elections or just tired, give it a try. The whole while the Elephants were milling around in the water, a Nile Crocodile (aka Fatty) was eying them longly. Lots of baby Elephants today. They were at the pond drinking and taking mud baths for a good hour. This year they have had a lot of camera trouble, but it is well worth the trouble of checking in once in awhile. And kids would love seeing the animals live.

By Suzann
On Friday, October 27, 2006
At 10/27/2006 01:31:00 PM
Comments :

Strange Magic

Strange magic,
Oh, what a strange magic,

Oh how I loved ELO, I have some very pleasant memories connected to that song. None of which I think suitable to a knitting blog. The song is stuck in my head again.
The sick people have returned to their appointed places. The knitting can begin again in earnest.
The strange magic here is the illusion that ribbing is traveling diagonally across a stockinette background. I fiddled about with a gauge swatch, while making endless cups of tea and bring soup to my patients. Just call me Nurse Ratched :-) All part of the 70's theme. I liked the look of the traveling stitches. I was not crazy about making 2 zillion left twists. Scrap the swatch. Thought a bit. Then I tried right twists moving to the left. You get a very sharp diagonal line. Nice. This is one of Barbara Walkers stitch patterns in the Second Treasury. She directs you to move right twists towards the left. I didn't care that much for the look. The stitches look loose and a bit sloppy. It couldn't be the knitter could it? We shall leave the knitter to her illusions :-)
This morning as I waved them off, telling them to come home early if they felt ill (what a liar) I cast on 72 stitches using some Opal Uni and 2.00 mm needles. I think this gauge is a bit firm. I would probably go up to a larger size needle. I did a fancy ribbing. and proceeded to work the diagonal ribbing. There comes a point with diagonal patterns, where you have to decide if you are going to drive yourself mad, transferring stitches from one needle to the next, to keep in pattern. Or just declare a front and a back. As you end a repeat on the front, you don't try and continue it around the back. Remember I am working on two circs. I think it would be even more madding if you were working with dpns. I repeated the stitch pattern twice, and was just working up a full head of steam, when one of my patients arrived back home. Looking for tea, cough medicine and sympathy. I swear American homemakers are the best actresses in the world. Meryl Streep could take lessons from us :-P In any case the knitting had to be put aside.
The stitch pattern is great. It creates a dense but not inelastic fabric. If you tolerance for twists stitches is limited, it would be great in fingerless gloves or wrist warmers. For socks I don't think I would take it anyplace but the cuff, or you would never get your sock inside you shoe. But would make really toasty slipper socks.
Bets this is the pattern stitch I told you about. I might use for the design thing.

gauge swatch

note the wonky right side. this is what happens when you try to carry the pattern around the sock. The stitches get pulled out of shape and it really looks bad.

I am going to frog the blue sample later. 72 stitches gives about a 7 1/2 inch diameter. Sort of average. And that is 10 spi

A word about the sick people. One of them drove to Richmond (95 miles away)on Sat to take pictures of a Confederate cemetery in the rain. The other one ate leftover Lasagna for lunch, turning his nose up at soup. I think it is time to declare that the sick people need to move on with their lives :-)

By Suzann
On Monday, October 23, 2006
At 10/23/2006 01:38:00 PM
Comments :

Tagged by Bets

Ok, your on Bets

Four Jobs I have had

Opening envelopes for Parade Magazine Patterns (high school)
Researcher for Rockfeller Foundation.
Justice and Peace Commission
Church Secretary (which shows God has a sense of humour)
Customer service QVC, great discount

Four Movies I Can watch over and over

The Hunt For Red October, no idea why
The Last of The Mohicans, burly men in loin cloths, what is not to like
Lord of The Rings
Joy Luck Club

Four Places I Have Lived

Los Angeles
San Diego
Virginia Beach VA
Rota Spain

Four television shows I love to watch:

What Not To Wear, BBC version. they are cruel
Cash In The Attic BBC, all my attic has is dust
PBS Mystery
DYI and Create
I don't really watch much TV any more I would rather be online playing games and killing spammers :-)

Four places I have been on vacation:

Haven't had that many vacations
Puerto Rico, long long ago
Las Vegas
Weekend in Toronto with my daughter

Four of my favorite dishes:

My Mom's home made ravioli
Fried green tomatoes
Fried Okra
Veal cutlet surprise

Four websites I visit daily:
knitting related websites
Elann bloggers
Mason Dixon.com
Mason DixonKAl
Blog Princesses (you know who they are)
zillion of Yahoo sites

non knitting websites

Al Jazeera.net

aka Pete's Pond
more wild Africa

Four places I would rather be right now:
Visiting friends in the UK
New Zealand
notice the large oceans between me and the sick people :-)
At Bet's Place
AT Benne's Place
AT Bri's Place

By Suzann
On Friday, October 20, 2006
At 10/20/2006 10:15:00 PM
Comments :

She likes it, she really likes it

The toe up sock I am working for Socktoberfest. I am using Knit Picks Donagal yarn. Very soft, I am wondering how long those tuffs of colored yarn are going to last. My daughter likes the pattern and the yarn. I was using Wendy Johnson's generic toe up pattern. Short rows are not my friend. I can short row anything but socks. I turn into a dribbling idiot when faced with a short row toe or heel. Go figure. I had concerns about the sock directions,because there is no shaping for the instep part. I got my daughter to try it on and sure enough it was stretched like mad as it went over the top of the arch of her foot. It made the pattern look awful. And the whole thing looked like she was wearing someone else's socks. So I dug out my copy of Queen Kahuna book, started the gusset increases on the sole side of the sock. After just 10 increases I got dd to try on the socks again. What a difference. The sock fits smoothly over the top of her foot. I think that Wendy's pattern would work fine on my feet. I have a narrow foot. And not a particularly high arch.
Sock in progress

A close up of the pattern and the yarn. You can see my terrible left twists. I am not about to use a cable needle to do them, so I guess I will live with it :-)Left twists are a trick of the devil to make us curse like drunk sailors. Not that I would do that, hehehe

Hard to capture, but the yarn is more tan then creamy off white. It is soft and not spitty. You do get big tuffs of color once in awhile. I just pull them off. The rest are more specks and knit right in. This yarn would also make a nice hat or scarf.

The other Knit Picks Bare yarn I purchased, the wool and nylon is so flacid that even at 12 stitches per inch, it just lays there. Maybe it is a bit more firm if you dye it. It is super soft, in fact it feels like Merino. Would make beautiful baby things (superwash) or scarves. But for socks it just spreads out and keeps spreading. I am thinking of using it for the pirate wrist warmers my daughter would love. Since that is color works the soft yarn might work. Or not. But I have a lot of it to play with.
I wish Elann would get its solid color sock yarn back in stock. Oh great yarn goddess, I promise to stock up this time.

Out in the blogland you read about this or that hand dyed yarns. Yarns so excluse that you need to get on a waiting list, or have a blog that attracts 700 comments per post to get any. How super soft it is. How wondrous the colors are. Almost all of them are based on Knit picks bare yarns or Henry's Attic yarns. Dunno, I think super soft yarn for socks it over rated. Even at a high spi, they flatten out when you stand on them. Not that I want scratchy yarns on my feet, but I think sock yarns need a bit of body to fit correctly. I like commercial sock yarns like Regia or Opal. Soft but not limp. And they soften up even more after being washed. I am not a big fan of hand dyed yarns. Most never knit up and nicely as they look in the skein. Or maybe I am just a jealous cow :-P


Why Knitters Kill

Lets see, after several frogs of the sock in my daughters chosen stitch pattern. I finely worked out the number of repeats needed to have the sock fit just right. It involved doing some fudging on the back, by introducing a seam. But it worked and it fit. So Sat. I asked her to try it on and see how it looked. Because not all patterns look good in the round or on such a small area as a sock. She slips it on, perfecto fit. Looks at it in the mirror and announces "You know, Mom it looks like amoeba are swimming up my leg." She is looking at it like mice were crawling up her trousers. "So, does that mean you don't like it?" "Oh, no, it is ok" Ok OK OK awwwwwwwwwwh I know what "Ok" means, it means it will sit in her sock drawer until hell freezes over. Friends we are talking about 72 rows of lace and cabling on 2.00 needles. Not counting the previous incarnations of this sock. I put it aside and she picked out a different pattern, and I am half way up the foot. I am doing this one toe up for a change. She has tried it on and likes the pattern, all is good in sock land
keep repeating, i love my daughter, i love my daughter, i love my daughter :-)
I will frog the amoeba sock, as it is too big for me. I might make a version for me someday. But not anytime soon.

By Suzann
On Monday, October 16, 2006
At 10/16/2006 09:37:00 AM
Comments :

Sometimes even a lifeline can't save you

I decided to do the Tilty pattern (the one like Drunkards path) for my daughter. The pattern repeat is 13, which is an odd number. I could remove one of the purl stitches to bring it down to 12 or add a few to bring it up to 15. I added 2 extra purls to each pattern repeat. Cast on and did the ribbing. I do not feel the knitting love when I am ribbing. So after 1 1/2 inches of ribbing I put in my usual lifeline. I only do this when I am trying a new pattern. If it has to be frogged, at least I don't have to redo the ribbing. I did two repeats of the pattern and had my daughter try it on. The extra purls pushed the pattern to the sides and made the purl stitches center front. Also the lace was too stretched out for my taste. I mean lace should be stretched out a bit, to show the pattern. But this looked like me trying to wear Paris Hilton's bra. It wasn't pretty.
I decided that I needed to do 6 repeats of the pattern to get a nice looking lace. Stretched but not screaming for mercy. But there was no way I could use the ribbing. It was just too many stitches to add to the sock. So off to the frog pond it went. With its lifeline mocking me.
This is a case where the gauge was spot on, but the outcome not so good. Any way I have cast on 76 stitches for the ribbing, and added two more after to bring it up to the needed number of stitches. Sigh. I have gone down a needle size. Hopefully when she tries it on again, it will not only fit, but look good.
If this doesn't work, I will save the stitch pattern for something more forgiving, like a scarf. Or work it on 0000 needles and give them to Bets for earrings :-)
If it doesn't work I will make the Shetland Rib Lace for me. But so far it is looking pretty nice.

By Suzann
On Thursday, October 12, 2006
At 10/12/2006 10:36:00 PM
Comments :

Sock Swatches

I have been swatching with a few different yarns. The first swatch is Marguerite's Shetland Lace Rib. The pattern is easy to work and I got right into the rhythm of it. I used Knitpicks Bare Fingering weight yarn and size 2.25mm needles.
I have to say right now, the yarn is beautiful, soft and not splitty. I think it will beautiful socks. I like the natural color for lacework. The blue part at the top is Opal Uni. Even though the color is fairly light, the pattern didn't show as well.
Lovely pattern Marguerite

The next swatch was the pattern from Magknits. Snowflake. The same yarn and needle size. This pattern is a bit more complicated. You need to pay attention to what you are doing and you need a good sharp set of needles. It is a lovely pattern, and well worth the work

Next up a fun pattern from Barbara Walkers Second Treasury of Stitches. Same yarn, same needle size. It is an interesting pattern because the cables pull it in while the lace relaxes it. It tilts back and forth like Drunkards Path quilt pattern. My daughter loves this one. I have converted the pattern to the round. Warning this pattern has 24 rows :-) In the round it isn't that bad, as most are knit the knit stitches, purl the purl stitches. Isn't it fun looking?

The last one is a very clever and easy twist stitch pattern. I like it a lot. Also from Barbara Walkers Second Treasury of Stitches. There are only two twist stitches per repeat so the pattern doesn't feel bunchy or too tight. It is very easy to work.

By Suzann
On Wednesday, October 11, 2006
At 10/11/2006 10:53:00 AM
Comments :

All y'all

You know you are just dying to find out your Southern Horoscopes :-) I am proud to be a Catfish. Excuse me while I go wax my whiskers.

Chitlin or Catfish

By Suzann
On Tuesday, October 10, 2006
At 10/10/2006 11:27:00 AM
Comments :

Lacy Legs and Yarn Shop Rant

I loved both these patterns from the first moment I saw them. Marguerite's pattern Shetland Lace Rib came out in July. I was not in a sock knitting mood. But I printed it out for the future. Marguerite has designed so many beautiful patterns. A good many are for children in the CIC (Children in Common) KAL. Her patterns are well thought out and balanced.
Shetland Lace Rib
The MagKnits pattern was published in Sept and I thought, ohhhhh another beautiful lacy sock.
Both are beautiful and I can see them in a soft creamy off white merino. Or Regia Silk in an off white. Excuse me while I dither a bit.
I am going to chart both of the patterns. The person who once hated charts has become a convert.
I was thinking the new KnitPicks Superwash might work for either of these.
Last year when I did the Embossed Leaves pattern from Interweave Knits, I used a very soft non sock yarn. The socks came out well and I wear them often. But even though I live in clogs, the top of the foot is getting worn out. Just from sliding my foot in and out of the clog. I had a strand of yarn break. Thankfully the yarn has fuzzed up enough to keep the broken stand from unraveling. I secured it with a few stitches. I now treat this pair as extremely delicate. I would like to go with a more robust yarn, but finding a solid color in sock yarn is not all that easy. Most of the yarn companies are still in stripy self patterned mode. My daughter still loves them. So I have a fair bit of this type of yarn in my stash.
I have tried KnitPicks Essential, and they didn't thrill me. The yarn seemed a bit thin and scratchy. Of course it may wash up into socky wonderfulness.
If I don't start soon, Socktoberfest will be over and I will still be deciding on which yarn :-)
In an effort to secure my yarn I decided to go on a Yarn Crawl. We have 5 yarns shops locally. All of them sell sock yarn, none of them sell needles small enough to knit socks with. What the hell is that all about? Not only that, when asked about needles to knit the yarn with, I was directed to needles that were too large for the yarn. If this is ignorance, it seems to be universal. The ball band size needle is always too large. You can't knit a decent sock using Lorna's Laces sock yarn and size 3 needles. What you will end up with is a loose baggy tube. One shop owner offered that the socks would shrink up and I would be glad I had knitted them a bit larger. "Hello, dear lady. They are superwash, and don't shrink up." I shudder to think of the hapless first time sock knitters out there wondering what they have done wrong. At one shop I was told, I didn't want to use small sized needles because they would take forever to finish. Go up a size and the socks will be done in no time at all.
I realize that not every shop owner knows how to knit everything, but come on folks. This is the equivalent of taking your car into the shop for work and finding out the owner has no idea what a piston is.
At another shop I was told they don't carry sock sized needles, because people who knit socks (you weirdos out there) already have the correct needles.
So after five shops and a lot of frustration, I came home and turned on the computer and started my yarn search.
I really want to support my LYS and almost always buy books from them. So many of them seem to be missing the boat. It would be so much better to admit you have never knit a pair of socks and only carry the yarn. Or you don't carry the needles because there isn't much of a call for them. Those are honest reasons, and I can certainly live with them.

By Suzann
On Thursday, October 05, 2006
At 10/05/2006 06:38:00 AM
Comments :


First pair of socks.
Oh dear. I never measured my feet. A problem I now see as very common among new sock knitters. I went for medium. But what does medium mean? I had no idea at all. I assumed that I had medium feet. The very first pair of socks I knit was from Knitty Socks 101 Which I still think is one of the best tutorials around for top down socks. You make a pair of cute baby socks with worsted weight yarn. I was hooked sistas, I was hooked. My reason for wanting to knit socks was simple. My daughter who is quite tall and has feet to match, lived in mens socks. The only socks that really fit her. I saw her looking at the pretty socks in the ladies dept, and thought I can do that. I still knit most of my socks for her. I expect to be well taken care of in my old age. She said when I stop knitting socks, I go to the HOME. And to think I could have raised poodles :-)
The first pair of real socks was made using Knitpicks Merino. And Ann Budd's The Handy Book of Knitting Patterns. Easy pattern to follow. I skipped any measuring and came up with this poor sock Poor Socks The foot was too short, the heel was too short and they slid under my foot in shoes. But I loved them to death and wore them out.

When did you start making socks?
About two years ago

Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?

I am mostly self taught. Books and online lessons and of course the devine Alice Truman at Elann Came to my rescue. She taught me how to knit a sock on two circs. And ahem, she mentioned measuring my foot first.

* What was your first pair? How have they "held up" over time?

Aside from the Poor Socks, my first pair that actually fit were Opal for my daughter. She still wears them. Just the basic sock.

What would you have done differently?

I did a short row heel and it doesn't really fit her as well as the heel flap. I only use heel flaps for her socks now

* What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?
Oh Lord have you got a few hours. I have used Opal (when it is good, it is great)Sadly I have had several bad experiences with Opal. And have switched to Regia. Elann Sock it to me, Knitpicks dye your own merino fingering weight. I love the solid cream color for texture work. Trekking XXL, Regia Silk, Regia Bamboo. Although I love looking at the handpainted yarns, I don't really care for how they look knitted up. I love socks knitted from Merino yarn and don't mind if they pill or wear out. They feel like heaven on the foot.

Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?

Never crochet socks. I think they would be a bit bumpy under the foot. I learned on DPNs, switched to 2 circs my favorite method for now. I think I knit one pair Magic Loop. I find it more fiddly then two circs.

Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)

I love making heel flaps. So I do that most of the time

How many pairs have you made?

I really have no idea, maybe 20 pairs of adult socks. But I knit socks for Children In Common A lot of those. Do they count, they are tiny. And a great way to check out a new pattern or technique

By Suzann
On Wednesday, October 04, 2006
At 10/04/2006 07:31:00 PM
Comments :