Thursday, April 24

A Tale of Two Swatches

Here we have a poorly lit photo of two swatches, in identical yarn (Elann Peruvian Baby Lace Merino - 50% baby alpaca, 50% merino), in identical pattern (the test swatch for Susan Reishaus' Mystery Lace - 21 sts wide, 20 rows), but using two different sizes of needles. This is several days after blocking, so they've relaxed quite a bit. They were actually identical sizes (3 inches tall, 3.5 inches wide) on the blocking board. Alpaca doesn't block the same way pure merino does, that's for sure!

The one on the left is knit on size 3 needles, and blocked very VERY hard, as you can see by the zig-zag edges where the pins went in. Below is a larger pic of it, with the yarn almost true to color. It's actually a bit dustier IRL. To my personal taste, the pattern is just a hair too sqooshed in, too "solid" looking. Even under the very hard blocking, the design definition is somewhat lost, and the leaves on the sides are very blobby looking.

Here is the exact same swatch, but knit on size 4 needles. See how the leaves have opened out, and the entire design is just a bit "airier"? I like this better, and it's the way I'm going to go. I'm almost tempted to try it on size 5 needles, before I actually cast on, part one of the actual stole having been released, but I probably won't.

BTW, I told you, a few posts back, that you would be seeing more of this yarn. Yep, it's the "waste" yarn I used to hold the stitches on the sock. I have a tendency to use waaaay more yarn than I need to do the long-tail cast-on. It also becomes stitch and row markers, so not actually wasted.

There's another mystery shawl KAL coming up, the "Slo-Bee", to be Faroese shaping, which I really like, that requires almost 3,000 yards of yarn. OUCH on the yarn budget! There will be much lace knitting going on here for a while. I'm going to have to finish up a couple of those needlework projects that have been languishing at the bottom of the WIP basket, if only for a bit of mental relief from the intense concentration the lace requires.

Wednesday, April 23

Do Me A Favor, Willya?

The next time I say I'm going to follow a pattern exactly, will you just say to me, "Azure Sock"? That'll do 'er. Thank you.

I have just finished constructing not one, but TWO toe-up flap and gusset heels, and I tell you: Never. Ever. Again! At least, unless I fall utterly in love with a design that can't be executed in any other way, but the Tsarina of Tsocks wouldn't do that to me, surely! And I haven't, at least so far, fallen so utterly in love with a design, other than hers, that I would knit it if I didn't like the process. I digress.

After finishing the first one, the decision on whether to do the second on on the paired circs or the expedient needles (see previous post) was a no-brainer. With stitches at strange angles to each other, multiple short-row wrap pick-ups in the same row, etc. the last thing I needed was extraneous needles and yarn flapping about as well.

When we left the sock last post, I had completed knitting in the integral gussets (completely opposite, I discover, from the top-down method, when the gussets are knitted last). In retrospect, I think I would have completed at least the straight section of the heel flap before I put the gusset stitches on the expedient needles, but it seemed simpler the other way at the time. Boy, can I be wrong!

* I started to describe this entire process, stitch by stitch, and decided I didn't want to bore you. You're welcome. Suffice it to say that the person who originally designed this type of heel was a serious masochist who must have hated knitters. *

After all that, I have to confess that I slipped the sock on, and found it to be extremely comfortable, and I'll confess that, for all the excess structure, I rather like the look of the finished product. Here are pictures of the current progress:

Just the leg and cuff to go!

Closer look at the heel.

Tuesday, April 15

It's Winter Again!

The weather is unbelievably screwed up this year - I know, it's been weird for several years, but this year absolutely takes the cake!

Normally, this part of Florida gets a total of about six weeks of 'winter', but it's usually broken up into shorter segments, with nice fall weather interspersed. (Note: 'winter' here means the daily highs are in the upper 40's to low 50's, overnights down sometimes into the 20's, and VERY rarely into the teens.) 'Spring' is usually 18 hours or so sandwiched inbetween late winter and early summer. Blink and you'll miss it.

THIS year, we have had a real, honest to gosh Spring! Partly cloudy, windy as all get out, the occasional refreshing shower, the sort of days when it's warm in the sunlight, but a touch of chill in the shade, and lasting for over a MONTH! Sheer bliss!

However, for some ghastly reason, we are, instead of heading into summer, going back to winter! Record (and I mean official, all-time RECORD!) lows, and low highs, as well!

Rant now over - knitting proceeds, but right now, I need to go clean up the kitchen.


Here we have the front of the foot of the blue 'Azure' sock. There are actually two of them on the circs, but for the purposes of this blog entry, I'm only showing one. They are knit to the point where the gussets are finished, and it's time to start on the heel flap.

Here's a side view of the sock, showing the nice gusset, all done.

And now we run into a wee little problem, one that's obvious in retrospect, but I'm not really known for my ability to foresee these little snags...

The problem is that it is now time to turn the sock, and knit back across the stitches that will become the heel flap! Now, I could just do that, and ignore the second sock over to the left there on the same circ, and flap all this stuff around over and over again while I knit this flap, then go over and do the second sock, with yet more of the flapping of stuff around, but I'm just not crazy about doing that. For one thing, all the yarn would get horribly tangled up. So, it's time to go to Plan B.

Oh, well - plan B required a pair of 2.5 mm straight needles. I don't seem to be able to lay my hands on fact, I know darn well I don't have a pair of 2.5mm straights.

So we end up with Plan C. Slip the first forty stitches, here on the right needle, onto a 2.5mm DPN. Slip the remaining stitches from the back of the sock onto another 2.5mm DPN.

Whoops! The stitches from the first DPN are already dropping like flies! To the "accessories drawer"! Add two point protectors on the non-working ends of the DPNs, and voila!

The reason for putting ALL these back/sole stitches on the needles is that after a few short rows, it's time to start knitting them into the gussets, so might as well have them handy, yes?

The remaining stitches, the front of the sock, need to come off the circs as well, of course, or I'm still flapping in the breeze. So I put them on a 'holder', see?

And since I took these pictures earlier this evening, I've gotten 14 rows of the heel flap done. It remains to be seen whether I do the second sock on the circs, or transfer it to the expedient method as well. We shall see.

Don't you think the yarn making up the stitch holder is pretty? You'll be seeing more of it.