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September 19, 2006

I am late to the party, but hot damn, does Trekking look good in entrelac.

Those delicious muted blocks of color melting into other blocks of color - one of the best uses of yarn with ombré-style stripes (note to self: duh). The only problem? Turns out I, uh, hate entrelac, hate the fiddliness of it, hate turning the work but also hate knitting backwards, hate picking up stitches. But I love, love, love the result. What to do, what to do?

Bayerische Sock

A bit of errata, pointed out by the eagle-eyed Mmario: after the intial toe decrease section, of course the pattern should read "Then, work Round 1 6 times more" rather than the plain-knit Round 2.

September 18, 2006

Fits

Fits and starts, starts and fits.

This is a 3-ply worsted-spun light fingering weight, from Amy Boogie's Almost Solid Merino top in Hyacinth. It feels wonderful, wonderful - I spun three very fine, very firm plies, set them up on storage bobbins, and plied them together with quite a bit more twist than I thought I needed (about 3/4 of the single twist) to get this wonderfully sproingy, squishy, not-at-all-wiry, and yet strong and knittable yarn. Seriously, I wish they'd hurry up and invent squeeze-o-vision already - I want everyone to give it a pinch.

Weight: 110 grams
Yardage: 460 yards/ 420 meters (~ light fingering)
Single WPI: ~45
Plied WPI: ~19
Single TPI: ~20 (unless I'm not figuring this out right - two revolutions of the 15:1 whorl for every 1.5-2" of drafted fiber)
Plied TPI: ~13
Other specs: Worsted-spun three-ply, singles spun from random sections

It took a couple weeks to spin just that four ounces - very busy, losing my mind, yadda yadda yadda - but I suddenly started sampling up a storm, spinning tiny little 7 or 8 gram skeins of everything, just to see:

Clockwise from top left: A sad attempt at a worsted-weight 2-ply Almost Solid Merino in Poppies; sock-weight 3-plys in Handpainted Yarn roving in (from left) Polar, Azul and Sunset; that delicious Blows Smoke from Hello Yarn, in a distressingly bumpy fingering-ish 2-ply; and some more Almost Solid in Juniper Berry, in 2- and 3-ply versions.

For subtly tonal fibers (and purely from a color standpoint), I really like 3-plys. Not Navajo-plied yarns, mind you - they're well and good, of course, but aren't what I'm going for with these - but three separate threads all spun from random sections of fiber. The shades are distributed better, and in the case of something like the Juniper Berry (truly almost-solid), the subtly different tones work a wonderful kind of alchemy and produce a really lively, energetic yarn. Interesting just to look at and to process; demanding a closer look, and then one closer still. Good stuff.

September 16, 2006

Bayerische sock (Part II)

You ain't seen nothing yet.

It really shines on the foot. I like the details a lot - maybe you can even see the way the well-behaved pattern flows into the slightly out-thrust slipped stitches of the heel (not that it didn't take some beating into submission for it to do so).

Pattern: My own (check it out below)
Yarn: Lang Jawoll, in color 0197 (Acid-y green)
Yardage: 1 50 gram balls (about 230 yards for a size 6 sock)
Yarn Source: Clover Hill Yarn Shop
Needles: 2.00mm (US 0) Addi Turbo circular needles
Gauge: 9 sts/inch over stockinette
Modifications: --

A nicely-formatted pattern for free download will be available eventually, but in the meantime:

Click for the first part of this pattern

...Leg:

Round 1: *K1tbl. Work Row 1 of Chart A across next 9 sts. K1tbl. Work Row 1 of Chart B across next 14 sts. K1tbl. Work Row 1 of Chart C across next 9 sts. K1tbl. Work Row 1 of Chart D across next 12 sts. Repeat from * for other half of sock.

Work as set until desired leg length is reached, ending with row 16 of Chart D.

Next round: Work as set (Row 1 of all charts) until first repeat of Chart D. Work as charted, but work 2 center sts as a left twist instead of a right cross. Work as set until second repeat of Chart D. Work first 5 sts as charted. Work next 2 sts as a right twist instead of a right cross (last 5 sts of round remain unworked). Holding 50 sts for instep, begin working heel flat.

Heel flap:

Set-up row: K2, ssk, (k1, sl1) 7 times, ssk 5 times, (sl1, k1) 7 times, ssk 2 times. 38 sts.
Row 1 (WS): Sl1. P to end.
Row 2: *Sl1, k1. Rep from * to end.

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 15 times more, ending RS.

Turn heel:

Row 1 (WS): Sl1, p20, p2tog, p1, turn.
Row 2: Sl1, k5, k2tog, k1, turn.
Row 3: Sl1, p to within 1 st of turning gap, p2tog, p1, turn.
Row 4: Sl1, k to within 1 st of turning gap, k2tog, k1, turn.

Rep rows 3 and 4 until all stitches have been consumed, ending RS. 22 sts remain.

Gussets and foot:

With right side facing, pick up and knit 16 sts along the adjacent slipped stitch selvedge. Work Row 2 of Chart D1 across next 7 sts. K1tbl. Work Row 2 of Chart A across next 9 sts. K1tbl. Work Row 2 of Chart B across next 14 sts. K1tbl. Work Row 2 of Chart C across next 19 sts. Work Row 2 of Chart D2 across next 7 sts. PM for new end-of-round (yes, this "round" is only a partial round).

Round 1: Pick up and knit 16 sts along adjacent slipped stitch selvedge. K across 22 sts of sole. K across 16 sts of gusset. 54 stitches total for sole + gussets. Work across instep as set.

Round 2: Ssk, work to last 2 sts of sole/gussets, k2tog. Work across instep as set.
Round 3: K1tbl, work to last st of sole/gussets, k1tbl. Work across instep as set.

Repeat rounds 2 and 3 8 times more, until 36 sts remain total for sole/gusset. Continue to work straight (as for round 3) until foot is 1.5" shorter than desired total length, ending with Row 1 of Charts D1 and D2.

Toe:

Set-up round: K across 36 sole sts. Discontinue patterned instep. K2tog, k2, ssk, k3, ssk 4 times, k5, ssk, k2, ssk, k6, ssk 4 times, k2, k2tog, k2, ssk. 36 sts remain for instep, 72 sts total.

Round 1: Ssk, k to last 2 sts of sole, k2tog. Ssk, k to last 2 sts of instep, k2tog.
Round 2: K to end.

Repeat rounds 1 and 2 7 times more, until 40 sts remain total. Then, work Round 2 6 times more. 16 sts remain.

Arrange 8 sts of sole on one needle and 8 sts of instep on another. Break yarn, leaving a 6" tail. Graft toe closed. Weave in all ends; block lightly if desired.

----

Notes:

  • When slipping stitches to perform a twist or cross, always slip them purlwise, and slip them one at a time.
  • This pattern eats yarn at a fearsome rate. I made a fairly small sock for a US 6 foot (7" from cuff to heel flap, 8.5" from heel to tip of toe, 4 repeats of Chart D in each section), and had only 6 grams of yarn left. However, Jawoll tends to be a little light - I've found that full skeins usually weigh only 43 or 44 grams. If you want to stick with one ball of this yarn and need a sock longer in the foot, you might need to compensate by making the cuff shorter. Otherwise, plan on 3 balls for the pair.

Other questions about this pattern? I'll answer them in the next post, and incorporate all this information into the formal pattern.

I'll try to do a little illustrated tutorial on cabling and twisting without a cable needle sometime soon. Happy knitting!

September 14, 2006

Bayerische

I'm all about the twisted stitches, lately.

They're so satisfying, you know? So tiny and orderly and lovely. I've found that when my brain is in danger of melting altogether and dribbling out my ears, a couple repeats of Bavarian-style twisted stitch patterns set everything right. All the little lines are so graceful and logical, so tidy, so totally devoid of chaos. What you see is precisely what you get - and it doesn't hurt, I suppose, that what you end up getting is almost always really, really beautiful.

The little ribbed cables aren't exactly correct for the style, maybe (as far as I can tell, Bavarian/Austrian/German twisted stitch motifs generally avoid crossing more than two stitches in any given twist or crossing), but they do look as though they fit right in. The front and back of this sock are symmetrical, with vertical motifs arranged in the Aran style - a central panel flanked by narrower mirrored motifs (too bad one never seems to have enough room to fit in as many motifs as she'd like), rather than the Bavarian style of many narrow motifs arranged symmetrically from side to side.

This sock went through several iterations, before settling on just the right combination of stitches and size and yarn:

The center sock is in the Blood Orange 2-ply I spun up, and the rightmost sock is from a 3-ply I spun from the Almost Solid Hyacinth. Both are pretty yarns, and both showed the stitches well enough (suprisingly well, in the case of the 2-ply) - texturally, that is. The variations in color, though, were too much competition for the very delicate pattern. Instead, I settled on a commercial yarn - Original Recipe Jawoll is almost ideal for this kind of thing. It's a little lighter than most sock yarns, allowing for a very small gauge (all the better to cram more motifs in, my dear); it's a firm, "round" 3-ply, showing off textures nicely; it comes in plenty of non-striping, non-patterning, non-pooling solid colors to let all the focus stay on the texture. The left-hand sock is in a grey Jawoll, in a pattern arrangement that almost made the cut - my main issue with it was in the long straightaways between the diamonds of the central pattern. They allowed too much lateral stretch for a nice fit, and I wasn't willing to sacrifice either of the other patterns - so I went back to a tightly compressed pattern (just a regular old lattice, with an extra twist at every crossing) and started knitting it in green. Perfect.

So, would you like to knit your own? Actually, answer this question first: is the thought of a 100-stitch sock appealing to you, or is it horrifying? Because we've got 96 stitches, cabled and twisted every round, right here in the Bayerische sock.

(Obviously, this is a work in progress, and has NOT been test-knit. I'm just making it up as I go, and sharing the charts for anyone who likes the motifs or would like to knit along. If I like the results at the end, I'll format the pattern nicely and put it up for free download)

Key:

means knit through the back loop.

means purl.

means a right-leaning cross. To do this without a cable needle, slip these two stitches to the right needle. Holding the left needle at the back of the work, insert the tip of the left needle into the back of the first stitch slipped. Pull the right needle free of both stitches (the skipped stitch will be loose for just a second, here), and pick the loose stitch up from the front. Put it back on the left needle and knit each stitch through its back loop.

means a left-leaning cross. Slip these two stitches to the right needle. Holding the left needle at the front of the work, insert the tip of the left needle into the front of the first stitch slipped. Pull the right needle free of both stitches and pick the loose stitch up from the back. Put it back on the left needle and knit each stitch through its back loop.

means a right-leaning twist. Slip these two stitches to the right needle. Holding the left needle at the back of the work, insert the tip of the left needle into the back of the first stitch slipped. Pull the right needle free of both stitches and pick the loose stitch up from the front. Put it back on the left needle. K1tbl, p1.

means a left-leaning twist. Slip these two stitches to the right needle. Holding the left needle at the front of the work, insert the tip of the left needle into the front of the first stitch slipped. Pull the right needle free of both stitches and pick the loose stitch up from the back. Put it back on the left needle. P1, k1tbl.

means a right-leaning 7-stitch ribbed cross. You can do this without a cable needle, though first-timers might just want to use one in the regular way to keep from dropping the loose stitches. Without a CN: slip these 7 stitches to the right-hand needle. Holding the left needle at the back of the work, insert the tip of the left needle into the back of the first 4 stitches slipped. Draw the right needle free and pick the 3 loose stitches up from the front. Put them back on the left needle. (K1tbl, p1) 3 times, k1tbl.

means a left-leaning 7-stitch ribbed cross. Slip these 7 stitches to the right-hand needle. Holding the left needle at the front of the work, insert the tip of the left needle into the front of the first 3 stitches slipped. Draw the right needle free and pick the 4 loose stitches up from the back. Put them back on the left needle. (K1tbl, p1) 3 times, k1tbl.

The sock so far:

(Instructions are for a VERY stretchy sock 7" in circumference at the ankle (unstretched). It will probably comfortably fit anyone with an ankle up to 9.5" in circumference)

Ribbing:

With US 0 (2.0mm) needles, cast on 76 stitches. Join, being careful not to twist.

Round 1 (RS): *K1tbl, p1. Repeat from * to end.
Repeat Round 1 for 13 rounds more.

Round 15 (increase round): *(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.

Leg:

Round 1: *K1tbl. Work Row 1 of Chart A across next 9 sts. K1tbl. Work Row 1 of Chart B across next 14 sts. K1tbl. Work Row 1 of Chart C across next 9 sts. K1tbl. Work Row 1 of Chart D across next 12 sts. Repeat from * for other half of sock.

Work as set until desired leg length is reached, ending with row 16 of Chart D.

Notes

  • If I haven't muddled things up too badly, the patterns should flow very neatly out of the ribbing.
  • Right now, I'm planning for Chart D to fall at the two sides of the sock, with Chart A falling at the front and back. Chart D will be split and dealt with when the plain knitting for the gussets and sole begins, after picking up stitches for the heel.
  • You really ought to work the crosses without a cable needle, as described. For one thing, it's about a million times faster - which matters when lots of crosses and twists happen every round. For another, I tend to think that some of the "crispness" of the twisted stitch is lost, the more fiddling and manipulating you do with it. It's cleaner to just make a couple swift movements with the two needles you're already working with.
  • It should be easy to keep track of everything after just one or two repeats of the pattern - the patterns are very logical, and when combined have plenty of self-checks: as is right and proper, all the repeats are a multiple of the same number of rows (8, in this case, obviously). So, you know that every second cross of the ribbed cable should put you at the beginning of the side panel pattern again. You know to work the ribbed cable crosses in the first place because they always accompany the second set of crosses in the second half of the lattice. Etc, etc.

Click for part II of this pattern

September 11, 2006

Monday

Remember. Though I don't think forgetting was ever a possibility.

----

Have you heard?

Seasocks 2007 is going to be a good time. Amie is developing a really excellent class schedule, Erin is doing her thing with some absolutely beautiful goodies in exclusive colorways, and yours truly will be spotted giving technical design workshops, demolishing buffets, and figuring out how to graft toes while in a hot tub. Shore excursions to yarn stores, cruise-exclusive patterns from Amie and from me, and knitting-related fun galore. Head over to the Cruise Planners site for more information.

Back to posting soon - things (work, school, personal, you name it) are insane, INSANE. Something about it pouring when it rains. Or maybe it was about things hitting fans. Something like that, anyway.

September 01, 2006

Blood Orange Sock Yarn

I take it all back. I adore it, I'm besotted with it, I can't stop looking at it.

Gratuitous close-up:

Vaguely exploitative closer-up:

Delicious melony goodness. Thank you all, lyrical commenters and insightful fiber-people you are, for pointing out that the colors were great as-is: when in doubt, I tend to fall back on a position that if it's not grey or black, it's "too bright". I love that the first impression when looking at the skein is of a vivid, lively color - but a closer look shows that that electric shade is actually made up of many others of subtler hue, blending and shifting. Greater than the sum of the parts, all that.

Fiber: Handpainted Merino Top from Mama-E's C*eye*ber Fiber Shop, in color "Blood Orange"
Weight: 95 grams
Yardage: 405 yards/370 meters (~ light fingering)
Other specs: Two-ply, singles spun from sections of varying thickness.

I used Koigu KPM as a standard - I love that a two-ply can be so round and soft and squishy. I decided that the singles are (relatively) softly spun, then plied tightly to get those wonderfully puffy individual plies in a stable yarn. My yarn is fell pretty far short of the mark - it isn't plied tightly enough, and it's lighter overall, and it's terribly inconsistent, of course - but I think I got closer to what I had in mind than I ever have before. I think I understand the process of making design choices about a yarn a little better, too, the way the whole twist/untwist thing happens during spinning and plying, and how to plan for it.

Anyways. This yarn calls for socks, of course - Aran socks, specifically. Something about the idea of heavy textures meant for a chilly island being reproduced in tropical colors, at a ridiculously fine gauge, makes me smile.

I'm patterning this like the "traditional" Aran sweater - mirrored front and back, central panel flanked by narrow cables. The side patterns - 6-stitch gull wing - will split at the gusset to form a new pattern down the sides of the foot. Cute, eh, if a little precious?

Now, then, I have this:

The top three lovely things are Merino Almost-Solids from Amy Boogie in Juniper Berry, Poppies, and Hyacinth, and the bottom braid is some gorgeous Merino from Hello Yarn in Blows Smoke. Tasty, tasty stuff, friends.

The Almost-Solids I'll spin up very simply like the Blood Orange, possibly for someday colorwork. The Blows Smoke, I'm thinking of spinning so a mostly-blue yarn will have occasional bright spots of electric green - nice for a scarf, maybe, or more socks (MORE SOCKS?!) The question is, which one should I sink my sticky mitts into first?



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