Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A new beginning

This blog isn't going to be just about socks, I swear -- I'm really not that into them. Mostly. But I am starting a new pair of socks -- Eunny Jang's Bayerische Sock. So pretty! And I had the exact right yarn on hand (from the last pair of socks I started, two and a half freaking years ago). It seemed fated. As usual, I need to go down a size or two in the needles; this was a problem because size 0 needles were the smallest I had on hand. I called A Good Yarn (motto: we're the LYS on Kyle's way home from work), who had nothing between a size 0 and a 0000. But Windsor Button (motto: we're the most dangerous of all yarn stores because we also sell notions and embroidery stuff and lots of shiny buttons!) was able to hook me up with a Susan Bates sock set with four sets of needles, size 000 to 1. My inner knitting snob is all, "OMG, Susan Bates needles? Why don't you just knit up an afghan in your school colors from Red Heart acrylic while you're at it?"

But actually, they're not bad at all -- much quieter than the larger sizes, for one thing. I hate noisy needles! And they were $10 for four pairs of needles (and that's at Windsor Button, which isn't exorbitant or anything but isn't a big box bargain store either). Win win! My roommate has a needle sizer that goes down to 000, so it was extra easy to figure out which size was which (as a wise poster on the advanced knitting livejournal community pointed out, they can't exactly print the size on the shaft of a 1.5mm needle).

So I've started the Bayerisches Sock, and it is a... a challenge, let's say. The increase row between the ribbing and the beginning of the pattern is scarier than most sweaters. Seriously:
*(K1tbl, p1) 7 times. M1 purlwise. (K1tbl, m1 knitwise, p1, m1 purlwise) 2 times. (k1tbl, p1) 7 times. K1tbl, m1 knitwise. Purl into front and back of next stitch. M1 knitwise. K1tbl, m1 purlwise, p1, m1 knitwise, k1tbl, p1. Repeat from * for other half of sock. 20 stitches increased, 96 stitches total.
Tell me that's not disturbing and frightening. It took me three tries. Then it took me two more tries to establish the pattern, but finally! There it was, ending at the end of the fourth needle and everything. I had to take a break after two pattern rows because I had a death grip on my poor little aluminum needles (in my set, the 00s are hot pink, which is clashy but kind of awesome with the red yarn).

The sock pattern involves four cable charts, three of which are eight rows long and one of which is 16 rows long; after eight rows, the pattern is really starting to come together and I'm getting much more relaxed about cabling without a cable needle, and just more relaxed about the pattern in general. My knitting has really loosened up a lot, which makes me worry that I'm going to have to go down another needle size, but anyway this is good practice, right?

Here is a terrible, hideous, fluorescently-lit camera-phone photo of the Sock So Far:

We had a rough patch during that increase row, but I think I love Eunny Jang.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Late to the bandwagon

Suddenly I realized how incomplete my life was without a place for me to talk about knitting (and other crafts)! Let's start, shall we?

Friday I decided I hadn't been knitting enough, and that the things I had been knitting were largely crap (this is, in fact, true; I am a few inches into an enormous aran sweater that I will never ever wear, and have a few feet of a tiny-gauge seed-stitch scarf that I hate more than I can say). So I decided I would do something new and different -- a fair isle baby sweater! I have never steeked, and I'd like to try it out on something small and defenseless.

Anyhow, I knew I had some Dale BabyUll somewhere in the house, so I dove into my under-bed yarn storage facility, and I did indeed find some BabyUll. I also found five pairs of socks in various stages of construction:

  1. Half a toe-up sock in red Lang Jawoll;
  2. One-and-a half twining cable socks from a pattern in Knitting on the Road in a pink-and-navy colorway of an unknown yarn;
  3. One complete plain sock in a dark bluish-greenish Trekking (I could identify this one because the other unused ball still had the label on it);
  4. A pair of Regia faux-fair-isle socks, one with afterthought heel, one with no heel at all (never got around to the "afterthought" part), both full of mysterious crunchy holes;
  5. And a pair of loon-patterned socks that need new toes because the old ones have gone a bit holey.

The last sock I started was the toe-up red one, and if I recall correctly I started and quickly abandoned it in fall of 2004, when the Red Sox won the pennant (it was going to be a commemorative sock). So I have not knit socks in about two and a half years. I have not knit socks since I moved to my current apartment (my roommate, also a knitter, was shocked -- "I thought you just didn't like knitting socks," she said when I dragged them all out from under the bed). I have not knit socks since I started my current job. In short, I have not knit socks in a damn long time.

What happened with me and socks? I think it was a combination of a lot of factors. I don't really wear wool socks all that often -- I'm the kind of person who's usually too warm when everyone else is comfortable, plus at work I usually just wear tights in winter (maybe I should knit myself a pair of tights or thigh-highs -- those I might get some use out of). I was also maybe more than a little disheartened by the mysterious holes that developed in the toes of the loon socks, even though they'll be easy enough to fix once I get down to it. And last but not least, I only have one set of 2mm needles, and anything bigger than 2mm is too loose for a sock for me (I like my socks firm and I'm a loose knitter), so I couldn't conveniently work on more than one pair of socks at a time.

What's become of the socks? I ripped out the red half-sock and the dark blue-green sock. They were boring, and I had no interest in finishing them. I threw away the crunchy, holey Regia socks. I don't know what went wrong there, but it's not worth fixing. I'm holding on to the loon socks and I have every intention of re-toe-ifying them in the near future. And the twining cable pink-and-navy socks are my great success story! I ripped back to the beginning of the heel flap so I knew where I was and then I finished them. One of the ankles is a bit floppier than the other one (curiously, since I probably did the ankle of the second sock pretty close to when I did the first sock), but they're pretty and totally wearable (and given that we're having an unseasonably chilly April, I may actually get to wear them for real, and soon).

Hooray for socks!