Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Let the Heeling Begin

When I read in Yarndogs' newsletter that they would host a Cat Bordhi class I was on it like yarn over a needle. The class would teach Cat's brand-new Sweet Tomato Heel developed in secret sock laboratories for months, and now revealed to the world. How could a sockaholic resist?

Before the class we students started our top-down socks and had them ready to begin the heel. Cat related the story of how she came up with the heel and its name, explained how it worked and drew a diagram. As we knitted she came around and helped each person individually so that no question was left unanswered. At the end of the day we showed off our wonderful heels and Cat gave an impromptu lecture on ways to make a sock durable. (Basically, tight is good: tightly twisted yarn, small needles, even twisted stitches. Heel stitch? Not so much.) It was a fun informative class, and if you get the opportunity to take one of Cat's classes, grab it.

About the STH - this is one sweet heel. It resembles a short-row heel, but there's no wrapping or picking up wraps involved. As usual with Cat's designs, it is intensely personal and tailored to the individual foot. The sock must be tried on many times as the heel progresses to get an exact fit. Like her earlier sockitectures in the Personal Footprint books, this is a recipe or formula rather than a pattern, and experimentation is encouraged.

So here's a picture of my first ST heel. (Sock was knit with Classic Elite Summer Sox on size 1.5/2.5mm circular needles.)
For the second sock I'm going to tweak the heel a wee bit. I think it needs a few more stitches around the widest part of my massive heel.

You can read about the Sweet Tomato Heel in Cat's blog and download her eBook. Go ahead, let the heeling begin!

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's ALL Good

Two packages arrived today, full of good stuff.

First package was a book I ordered from Yes Asia in Hong Kong - a sock book, but not just a sock book, a sock book in Japanese: Hand-Knitted Socks 手編みのソックス by Toshiyuki Shimada 嶋田俊之. This book is for a Sock Summit class called Explore Shimada's Socks. I plan to translate at least part of it; my Japanese has gotten pretty rusty so this will be good practice.

The other package is the first installment of a sock yarn club from The Unique Sheep called Sip 'n Stitch for Tea Drinkers. It contained:
• a skein of Pashmi sock yarn, "Marquise Grey" (80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon)
• a packet of tea, "Marquise Grey" from SerendipiTea
• a tea mug sporting the Unique Sheep logo

The sock yarn feels so-o-o soft. Must ponder carefully what socks to knit with it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Wedding Sock news

I published a bare-bones pattern for my Royal Wedding Socks on Ravelry yesterday. So far more than a hundred people have downloaded it! Everybody loves a free pattern...

After the wedding I'll publish a spiffier version with charts and more sizes.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Royal Wedding Socks

Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees the morning headlines blare
About the royal wedding dress and jewelry and hair.
Now everyone is certain that the royal wedding rocks,
But no one's said a bloody word about the wedding socks!

(with apologies to Robert Browning)

In honor of the upcoming Royal Wedding I've decided to design some special socks. (You didn't take my April Fool post seriously, did you?) I plan to publish the pattern on Ravelry, and make it free at least until the Big Day (April 29, in case you've been hiding under a sock). Here's a sneak peek:
Royal Wedding Sock IP
The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, in the Limited Edition colorway for April - "Royal Wedding", of course. This color is available only from Jimmy Beans Wool, so start your wedding (sock) planning now!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Socks Suck.

They do, big time. All that overpriced yarn in bizarre colors and weird fibers, all those itty-bitty needles and fiddly patterns with confusing directions, knitting endlessly around and around and then you have to do it all over again. Don't even get me started on the Kitchener stitch... Besides, I hear you can buy plain cotton socks really cheap at Walmart. No more knitting socks for me.

So what else is there to knit? Well, I like knitting lace, and I read that lace is really big this year:
The Return of Lace as a Major Fashion Trend
so I'm switching to lacy knitted lingerie. Maybe I can use up some of my sock stash.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Knit Wedge sock. Love.

The last couple of months my brain has been churning with sock design ideas. Of course, in order to determine whether the design is viable a sock must be knit, and in the knitting process problems are revealed, changes must be made to the design, and it all takes a lot of concentration and time. Eventually a sample sock emerges. And the sample often doesn't match the glorious mental image that inspired it. It can be a letdown, and often I feel the urge to put the sock aside (just for a day or two!) and try out the next amazing idea. And that's how I end up with an embarrassing number of single sample socks for which the patterns have not been written.

Anyway, for a change (and to put off tedious pattern-writing even longer) I decided to knit somebody else's pattern that's been on my queue for several months. It's Wedge, by Cookie A, from her book Knit. Sock. Love. I've long been an admirer of Cookie's designs and books, but so far I've only knit two of her sock patterns, Hedera and the ubiquitous Monkey (no-purl version, though). Pomatomus was the first one I ever put on the queue, and there it rests. Someday…

Back to Wedge. This design is insanely clever. After doing 3 of the wedge sections I had to draw an elaborate diagram of how they fit together in order to reassure myself that I hadn't gone off track. My diagram revealed the true cunning structure of the sock. Added bonus - all stitch counts are multiples of 8, one of my favorite numbers. Is that cool or what?

For my Wedge socks I'm using yarn I purchased at Sock Summit 2009 - Adorn Sock, by 3 Irish Girls, in colorway "Starry Starry Night". This beautiful colorway was one of 3IG's Dye for Glory contest entries, and by the time I got to their booth in the Marketplace they were swamped with orders. In fact, I didn't receive my order until the following January, after I had lost all hope of seeing it. I absolutely loved the yarn but that 6-month delay spoiled it a little. So I stashed the yarn and every few months would take it out to admire. But now more than a year has passed and that yarn's time has come! It's turning into terrific Wedge socks! Even the short-row heel, which usually doesn't fit me well, came out great on sock #1. Thank you Cookie for another satisfying sock experience!

Uh-oh, I feel a new sock idea bubbling up… Must finish 2nd Wedge sock.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Well, not here here, but at Jimmy Beans Wool, for a fun two hours of talk about her history with Lorna's Laces (oh, that Lorna!) and JBW, and her new book: The Knitter's Guide to Hand-Dyed and Variegated Yarn: Techniques and Projects for Handpainted and Multicolored Yarn

It was a short-notice thing so the group was small, but that made it more informal because we could sit around the table and chat like at Knit Night.

Lorna's book is terrific. It contains techniques, patterns and stitches for keeping your beautiful hand-painted yarn from knitting up into big pools and weird shapes. She brought all the samples shown in the book so we were able to spread them out on the table, examine them and stroke them.

I wore purple for the occasion in Lorna's honor, and of course she did too. In fact she wore a shawl knit in the Purple Club colorway, and told a cute story about how that name came about.

All in all, a great way to spend a gloomy Saturday afternoon!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Silk Road Socks

I have lots of sock books, piles and piles of them. When a new one comes out I reflexively buy it. I like to read them, admire the photos, study the designs and techniques used, and occasionally even knit a sock from them. So when I read that Hunter of Violently Domestic was going to publish a new sock book, naturally the reflex kicked in and I pre-ordered it.

I received my hard copy last week and Silk Road Socks is beautiful. It's not just that the designs are wonderful, or that it contains interesting facts about the Silk Road, rug styles and construction, weaving, and so on. Every detail is beautiful, from the closeup photos of the socks, knit with gorgeous yarns, posed on matching rugs, to the illustrations, to the fonts used. This book is perfect in every way.

I was showing Silk Road Socks to The Spouse, forcing him to admire the wonderful photography, and he said, "You should make me this one." This one was Gördes, the first pattern in the book, and as I eyed the photo the first thing that struck me was, Look at all those purls and twisted stitches. My poor arm! The second thing was, How can I modify this 64-st pattern to fit him? It's an elegant design with charted patterns worked twice around the leg so that the edges mesh. No room for simply adding stitches. Thankfully Hunter has a section in the intro called "Resizing the Right Way", which is applicable not only to her patterns but to sock patterns in general.

I'm still reluctant to start a Gördes sock project for The Spouse - if I made this sock it would be for me! And what about all my other projects? So many wonderful sock patterns, so little time...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Caught in the act

...of talking with Casey at a Ravelry meetup at Stitches West. My tiny gray head is visible in one of the photos posted on the main Ravelry page. If I had known that a camera was lurking about I would have ducked.

Thanks to Kristen at Jimmy Beans for pointing this out!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ah, Stitches West

It was tough getting there but man did this little hobbit score the sock yarn!

From left to right: Aurora Yarns Acquerello (wool/nylon), Creatively Dyed (100% superwash merino), Dream in Color Starry (Ruby River), Malabrigo Sock (test color)

After driving through heavy snow over the Sierra (think Caradhras), slogging through rain and rush hour traffic, and creeping past a wreck in Fairfield, we arrived in San Jose just before 10pm, exhausted.

But upon entering the Stitches West Marketplace on Saturday morning my brain was like an Angry Bird being launched: yee-ha! followed by pffft! as it took in all those booths filled with yarn. Truly a target-rich environment for sock knitters with a habit.

Favorite yarn find: Dream in Color Starry

Most amazing colors: Creatively Dyed Yarn
Shown at right: Calypso/Pitcairn, Calypso/Brazil, Steele/Olympic

Best works of art: John Marshall's hand-painted fabrics

Most heroic: Stephanie Bryant's comic Handknit Heroes, featuring teenage superheroes fighting crime in fabulous handknits

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

15 Minutes of...

...fame? You decide.

I really admire LiverChick, who has posted something fun and interesting every single day this year on her blog. She has inspired me to resurrect this moribund blog of mine. A couple of weeks ago she asked for sock knitter volunteers to be interviewed, and on a whim I decided to do it.

Without further ado, here is my interview with LiverChick.