If The Sock (Doesn’t) Fit…

Friends and fellow knitters, I admit I have a problem. Or perhaps several.

KnitPicks was having a St Patrick’s day sale on green yarn (naturally), and (naturally) I indulged. I sprang for a few skeins of their Stroll sock yarn, in a lovely everglade heather hue.

In a fever of startitis (when you can’t stop starting projects), I immediately prepared to cast on a pair of Tin Can Knits Rye Light socks (free pattern!). I had knit these socks before for myself to great effect, so I wasn’t worried.

They were so cute!

Oh, but I should have been!

I dutifully knitted a swatch in the round on my DPNs and found that my row gauge was way off. But I mean WAY off. I changed needles to get the right stitch gauge, but I didn’t know what to do about the row gauge.

I decided it would be fine, and started on the first pair. Part-way through the first sock, I had a realization.

I DO NOT ENJOY KNITTING SOCKS!

They’re too fiddly. Whether knitted on DPNs or with magic loop, they’re tetchy little things (especially children’s socks).

The second problem

But now I had another problem.

In my unbridled enthusiasm to make socks for all my boys, I had been talking it up. Now my Bug and my Bear both expected socks! I couldn’t just toss them aside!

The third problem

Despite not liking the knitting process too much, I soldiered on. I finished the first sock, and then the second.

Now came the moment of truth! It was time to try them on!

They got on his feet alright, but then… They sagged. And sagged. And SAGGED.

UGH.

Another attempt

So I cast on the second pair, this time for the Bug. But this time I did a little research.

They looked so nice at first…

I found an article on Interweave by sock knitting guru Kate Atherley.

According to Kate, socks should be knit with about 10% of negative ease. In other words, the final measurements of the socks should be about 10% smaller than your foot.

I did some careful measurements of the Bug’s feet, but I made one key mistake. I did not measure his feet while he was on the floor.

The best way to get an accurate foot measurement for sock sizing is to measure the length of the foot while it’s standing on the floor. Also, measure the width around the ball of the foot when the person is standing.

This wouldn’t have been such a problem, if it hadn’t been for that…

Dratted row gauge.

Many sock patterns tell you to knit for a certain number of inches or centimetres for the ribbing, and then down the cuff. So you might think that row gauge doesn’t matter too much.

But you would be WRONG!

Because when you get to the heel and the gusset, at these points you start counting rows. So if your row gauge is too short, your heels and gussets will be–you guessed it–too short.

When we got them on his feet, they seemed to fit just fine.

But over the course of the afternoon, they gradually slipped down, down, down… Until they were bunched up inside his shoes, poor lamb.

Being The World’s Sweetest Child, he never complained and insisted he liked his new socks. But I knew better.

Back to the drawing board

Both these pairs will have to be unraveled. I WILL get these right!

But wait, you say. Didn’t you say you didn’t enjoy knitting socks?

True… BUT I HAVE TO GET IT RIGHT.

#knittingperfectionist

Fantasy knitting

Fantasy Knitting

You’ve heard of fantasy football? Well this is nothing like fantasy football. Let’s just make that clear from the start, shall we?

Since I am still off the knitting, it’s given me plenty of time to fantasize about what I want to knit once I’m allowed to. I’ve browsed through my copies of PomPom Quarterly for ideas, but mostly I’ve turned to the wonderful online world of:

Ravelry!

I have dutifully updated my stash on Ravelry, and because of the wonder of this database, I can then look at what other people have knit with my yarns and be inspired.

Of course, I inevitably start looking at patterns that do not call for the yarns I have stashed. Oh, dear…

Projects I’m Dreaming Of

© Martina Behm on Ravelry

Case in point: the Obvious shawl by Martina Behm.

I do not have all the sport weight yarn necessary to make this pattern! I don’t even own the pattern! What I do own are several other patterns that I haven’t knitted yet.

So let’s focus on the patterns I actually own, shall we?

In My Ravelry Library

© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

First off, the Statis pullover by Leila Raven for Brooklyn Tweed. I have been wanting to make myself a yolked sweater for a while now, and I’ve seen this one in the flesh before. The original pattern did not have the contrasting color around the neckline, but when I saw it like this I fell in love with it. Happily, I also have a yarn to use for this project.

Originally purchased for another sweater, I decided against knitting that one and have set the yarn aside for this baby. It’s a gorgeous O-Wool O-Wash fingering in colors I do not usually select. It’ll be nice to branch out from my usual greens/blues.

tanisfiberarts on Ravelry

Next up is Tanis Lavallee’s Seaboard sweater. This one is an absolute gem. It’s got so many interesting details, it makes me drool! I love the dropped shoulders, the split hem, the boat neck, the combination of lace and cables… Pretty much everything about this is lovely.

Once again, I do not have a yarn for this project. So this one will have to wait, unfortunately, until I work through some of my stash.

Third is a pattern I’ve knit before, but in child sizes. Tin Can Knits make wonderful patterns for beginner knitters, and their Flax Lite sweater pattern is a favorite for baby gifts. I’ve knitted versions of this for my Bug and for other people’s kids. Now, however, I want to make it in adult size for my Chico.

© Tin Can Knits

It’s an easy top-down sweater knit in the round. The garter stitch detail on sleeves will look great on Chico, emphasizing his shoulders. The pattern is unisex, and shouldn’t require any shaping, but I can play with it and see if I want to taper it slightly just below the shoulder blades to give it a slimmer waist. I’ve never done any customizing, so we’ll see how that goes.

I bought yarn for this project at a fiber festival in Virginia back in the fall. But I had a forehead slapping moment earlier today when I realized that this sweater quantity of yarn I have is in DK weight, not fingering!! D’oh!! I’ll have to swatch and see what can be done.

Alternatively…

© Jill Zielinski

I’m writing this on Valentine’s Day, and the newly released Quill Crossing infinity scarf just went on sale for a 42% discount. So… I bought it.

But it calls for DK weight yarn! I have DK weight yarn! That’s justification, right? …Right…?

Okay, I have a problem.

Soon! SOON!

All of these plans and ideas are purely theoretical for the time being. I’ve also got the Mjolnir hat to re-knit, and I’m working on my ongoing Tempestry project (more information to follow).

My physical therapist has given me the go-ahead to knit for 10-15 minutes a day, with stretches before and afterwards. I have to be very careful of my posture, too.

Does anyone have any good suggestions??

frogging-knitting

The Emotional Value of Frogging

Frogging, in the knitting world, means to completely unravel a piece of knitted work.

emotional-value-of-frogging
See the little frog? Yup. That means it’s been frogged.

Remember my beautiful Rolling Rock sweater I completed a few months ago? It no longer exists in sweater form. It has been frogged.

“Jane!” you exclaim, “That’s terrible! Why? After all your hard work!”

You’d be right there. It was a lot of hard work. But it turned out to be simply too fitted. And I figure, if I’m going to be making clothes for myself, I want them to fit correctly. And so, I frogged it.

How to Frog

I always find inspiration on YouTube from Stacey Perry of VeryPink Knits. Her video about reusing yarn is super helpful.

I would just make one note: I did NOT take the ball off the ball winder once I had finished unraveling. I kept it on there and wound the yarn around the swift, and put it back into hank form from there. It just seemed a little easier than dealing with the cake of yarn rolling all over the place.

How I Got to This Point

You might think that this must be the world’s most frustrating thing to do. After spending hours on a project, having to rip it out and start over again must be maddening.

You wouldn’t be wrong.

In my case, I wasn’t so frustrated, because I did see it coming. I tried on my sweater periodically, and I knew it was more fitted than I had wanted. But I kept telling myself I would be sure to like it when it was done.

But when I had finally finished it, I had to be completely honest.

I was never going to wear this sweater.

It was going to be one of those things that sat in my closet and I never put on because it clung a bit too unforgivingly to my curves. *Sigh* I simply had to frog it.

Where is the Emotional Value in Frogging?

Frogging does have its value. It is a rather cathartic exercise. It’s fun to see how quickly you can unravel something that took HOURS to make (did I say “fun”? I guess I’m masochistic).

But of more value still is the thought process that leads to frogging as a conclusion.

We want everything we do to be successful and beautiful, but that’s not always going to happen. Some things simply don’t turn out well.

And that is okay!

It’s okay to fail at things, and recognize that we have failed. Especially when failure is so relatively unimportant, as in the case of an ill-fitting sweater.

Frogging allows us to acknowledge our failure, embrace it, learn from it, and try again (or move on).

Try, Try Again

I plan to make this sweater again. An indication that something was wrong should have been that I had an entire skein of yarn leftover. Seeing as I had an over abundance, I will make the sweater again in a larger size.

No one likes to have to admit that we need a larger size, but hey. That’s life. It’s hard not to slowly expand as the years go by and the baby weight never totally comes off (SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME I’M NOT ALONE ON THIS).

At the very least, I will have a beautiful, nicely fitting sweater that will flatter my new figure.

top-down-sweater-knitting

Top-down Knitting in the Round: Rolling Rock

It’s time for another knitting update!

This year has been the year of Christmas 2016 knitting. My goal (likely unachievable) has been to make a knitted Christmas gift for everyone in my immediate family. Including siblings, spouses, parents and various little ones, that’s 11 people all-told.

I also decided that since my grandmother is turning 100 this year, I should knit her something special, too.

Oh, the folly! Here we are, already the end of August, and I have but 3 of 12 projects completed. I am no speed knitter, and I have gotten side-tracked.

What got me side-tracked? Thea Colman’s beautiful “Rolling Rock” jumper. That’s what.

Who Doesn’t Love Top-Down Knitting?

There’s so much to love about this sweater. Knit from the top-down, there’s no need to seam shoulders, or worry about picking up and knitting for the sleeves.

top-down-sweater-knitting
The “seam” on a seamless top-down knitted shoulder

By starting at the neckline rather than the hemline, you work your way down in one piece, building your shoulder “seams” and sleeve caps in what’s called the contiguous shaping method.

The neckline is a nice Henley, giving the front of the sweater an attractive styling detail.

top-down-sweater-knitting
Henley neckline

All this is worked on circular needles with a medium-length cable. After finishing the shoulders and sleeve openings, the sleeve stitches are put on hold and the piece is joined to work in the round just below the Henley opening.

After that, it’s smooth sailing through the waist shaping and lace panel, down to the hemline ribbing.

An Easy Lace Pattern

top-down-sweater-knitting

Lace work is intimidating to many, and I admit to being one of those. It would do a beginner well to learn how to read charted instructions, as Thea offers hers only in charted format (other patterns will provide both charted and written instructions).

top-down-sweater-knitting

That being said, this is a super simple 6-row repeat. The instructions are clear, and you quickly get into the groove of the repeat.

top-down-sweater-knitting

I learned to read the lace quite quickly, and stopped having to refer to the chart after two or three repeats. It helps that the lace pattern is actually an image of a bottle, so you can easily see where you are in the “drawing.”

I Love Not Having to Pick up Stitches for Sleeves

Knitting from the top down, you shape your shoulders and sleeves, and then leave two sections of stitches on hold while doing the rest of the body.

top-down-sweater-knitting

Once your body is done, you go back and put the stitches on hold back on your needles and off you go! It’s so wonderfully comfortable, and it’s great not to have to pick up stitches to knit the sleeves.

I always have trouble picking up stitches for sleeves. There is always a gap between the main body and the picked up stitches, which I try to close up with a whip stitch once my sleeves are done.

Some Tricky Parts and Pattern Notes

The trickiest part of this pattern was picking up and knitting the Henley neckline ribbing. Thea recommends picking up 6 stitches per one inch, depending on your gauge. I found that that wasn’t enough (my gauge was tighter than recommended), and did my usual pick up 2 stitches for every 3 rows.

Also, she has you start knitting the picked up stitches on the opposite end from the pick up. That basically means that you have to do a long-tail pick up, coming back to where you started to use your working yarn.

That might not make much sense, but if you have questions, I’d be happy to try and explain better.

The pattern is quite clear, though chatty. Thea’s style is wordy, which can be confusing at first. She gives clear instructions, and gives a lot of advice about making modifications for body type, etc. It’s great to have those suggestions, but it can be a little confusing.

Finally, when she instructs you to join in the round, she says to remove the stitch markers that indicate where to do the waist shaping. However, if you remove them, you have no indication of where your row begins. I left in the left-side stitch marker and used that as my reference for beginning and end of row.

I’ll Post Photos Later

Right now it’s too warm to actually wear my Rolling Rock, and I haven’t found buttons for it yet. My mom’s coming to visit soon, and she’ll bring her magic box of buttons for me to choose from.

We’ll get some nice atmospheric shots soon, and I’ll add them to this article.

Happy knitting, all!

fair-isle-knitting

My First Try at Fair Isle Knitting

Fair Isle knitting is a technique that involves knitting with two different-colored strands of yarn.

Called Fair Isle because it originated in Scotland on (you guessed it!) Fair Isle, it is also known as stranded knitting, stranded colorwork, or simply colorwork.

Wikipedia tells me that it first became popular when that irrepressible fashion plate the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII of England, famous for abdicating so he could marry his American divorcée girlfriend) started wearing Fair Isle sweaters on a regular basis. What a fashion rogue.

Anyway, I thought it was HIGH time I gave this famous (and fun!) technique a try. So I picked out an adorable pattern: Anders, by Sorren Kerr (link to pattern page on Ravelry.com).

Learning to hold two strands at once

The first trick to Fair Isle knitting is to learn to hold two strands of yarn at once. I knit English style, which means that I hold my yarn and tension in my right hand, and throw my yarn around my needle to build my stitches.

Continental-style knitting is when you hold your yarn and tension in your left hand, and “pick” your yarn with your needle to build your stitches.

So to knit Fair Isle, it’s useful to know how to do both, and at the same time! Here’s a helpful YouTube video for doing just that:

Once you’ve got the technique down, you’re ready to go!

Knitting up the Anders jumper

I have loved this pattern since a lady at the Montreal Stitch n’ Bitch discovered it. But I had a few problems for getting started.

First, since I was using stash yarn, I only had my main color in Drops Baby Merino, and my contrasting color in cotton Kapok DK by Sublime yarns (now discontinued).

Knitting with two different fibers can be a problem. Cotton is not as elastic as wool, and will eventually stretch out. Whereas wool retains its shape thanks to its elasticity. For this reason, I decided to do the bottom edge ribbing in my main color, to make sure that the bottom wouldn’t stretch out.

My second problem was that I did not have quite enough of my main color. So I decided to make it a short-sleeved, mid-season jumper.

Finally, though I *love* my Addi Clicks Turbo circular needles, my shortest cable was not quite short enough for the 6-12 month size I was knitting. My stitches were stretched over my cable, which changed my tension somewhat.

fair-isle-knitting-anders-jumper
Please pardon the terrible lighting!

Despite these little setbacks, I soldiered on, and I am quite pleased with the result. I apologize for the terrible photo, but I have a tendency to finish things at night.

Not especially visible in the photo is the vickle stitch braid that lines the ribbing edges on the collar, sleeves and hemline. It’s a sweet little detail that I really enjoyed.

The buttons were pilfered from a spare button box my mother inherited from her mother. Due to lack of time, I did not do a full wet-block, but gave it a good go with the steam iron. We’ll see how it holds up in washing…

Final thoughts on Fair Isle knitting

I love it. It’s a little slow, and you have to be careful about carrying your yarn when you have large stretches of one color. But despite that, it’s a lot of fun to see an image emerge as you work.

I will definitely be doing more Fair Isle knitting, including at least one more Anders for one lucky kid!