February 7, 2016

The Sock Project: Stocking Betsy McCarthy

I have come, once again, to the heel gusset of my toe-up sock, Rosebud, by Wendy Johnson. Now it is getting exciting! I like this pattern because the lace is not overly complicated and is (so far) only across the instep. Plus, there is a nice relaxing plain-ish round on the even rounds. An advantage of toe-up knitting, as we all know, is the try-on factor. And this socks seems to fit well so far! I think it is a keeper.

In keeping with my spazzy knitting style, I have, of course, started a second sock simultaneously. My rationale is that one needs a plain, simple knitting project for those times when the show you are watching is getting too good (X-Files? Oh, YES!!! Plus, Ghost Adventures just started up again...ahhh, guilty pleasures!), or if you are visiting with friends, or your family is asking for dinner...again! I love to feed people, but does this seriously have to happen every day?! In this last scenario, as I stand up and roll my eyes, headed to the kitchen, I have not lost my place and I will not be freaking out later about which round I was on. 

My second, simpler sock is another "back to the beginning sock," by Betsy McCarthy from her first Knit Socks! book. I purchased this book years ago when it first came out. I didn't know at the time there were loads of knitting books and this one was recommended to me. Plus, Betsy McCarthy is sort of a neighbor to me. She lives in my city, Vancouver, WA. She lives in the quaint downtown area of Vancouver. I even know where. 

Look! It stands up on its own!
And without starch, too!
Am I stalking (or is it stocking...) her? No, but not too long ago, I happened to have just one degree of separation from her. I should have taken advantage of it at the time.  I had a casual acquaintance through work who was her neighbor--like across the hall neighbor. And Betsy McCarthy personally taught this casual acquaintance of mine to knit! For free!  This casual acquaintance of mine is also the person who recommended the "Knit Socks!" book! Once I had realized the significance of all this good fortune, it was too late: my casual friend had disappeared and I have never seen her again. 

That's okay, I still have the book. And later, I also purchased the second version, you know, just to support my local gal. Plus the patterns are very, very simple and functional -- and well written. Pretty important stuff. 

The sock I am working on from her is simply called Starter Stockinette (now we really are getting back to the beginning!) I was having a little trouble her recommended getting gauge on a US3/3.25mm, on my Rowan Superwash Wool worsted weight yarn, which I am madly in love with, but I digress. The pattern called for US3/3.25mm to get 6 stitches to the inch. 

Two things: 
1. That is pretty dense for worsted. Red flag or hard wearing sock? 
2.  I have only knit this particular yarn at about 4.5-5 stitches per inch in the past, so was unsure about needle size. 

It fits! Just enough slouchy on the ankle. I can push it down a bit after
washing. Superwash softens up anyway. 
The answer to the second question required a bit of swatching. So, I knitted in the round for a while and realized I had to go down to a US2/2.5mm. And what do you think? Yup. Almost total cardboard. BUT I am going for it because I think it will be tough fabric and it feels like a boot sock. I need some of those. I am seriously down to the holiest of holies on that. I so love them in my hiking boots -- even if it just for walking around town in order to accidentally bump into Betsy McCarthy. 

I wonder if she likes Starbucks...there is one near her building...and I do sooooo love Starbucks....

Get cozy,


February 5, 2016

The Sock Project: February 5, 2016

The old one
I have decided that the best way to name the posts on my ongoing sock project is to use the date. I was thinking of  "Stardate," or "In the Year of Our Lord," but neither quite fit the bill. So, for now, regular ol' date it is.

This week's story is about learning -- and when is knitting not about learning? It is endless, which is one of the most enjoyable, challenging and annoying traits of the sport. Or hobby. (I dislike that descriptor. Look, the only time I am closer to a sport is when I cook for the family on Superbowl Sunday. Let me have this one.)

I began at the beginning, sort of. I picked out a pattern I had downloaded (free!) long ago called Diagonal Lace Socks by Wendy Johnson. I even had the yarn for it. Alas, since my last post, I have frogged the toe, foot and part of the heel. I felt it was too big, in spite of getting gauge, to stretch well enough on my foot to show the lace. I could have easily altered the chart and pattern for 8 less stitches or so, but I decided that I also didn't love the lace pattern. And what is the use of spending so much time on a knitting project if you don't love it? The yarn has been redirected to another Wendy Johnson pattern from the Toe-Up Socks for Every Body book called Rosebud Socks.

This pattern is interesting, has the same design elements that attracted me to the last pattern: a gusset
Rosebud Socks. I like them already!
from the toe, up; lacey (but prettier), and a toe-up heel flap. Same brand of yarn -- Dream in Color Smooshy -- and same gauge as the previous one. There is one small catch:  it calls for a 66 stitch circumference, just like the last one. Pushing it for me, especially with lacework that needs to open up when worn.

And to boot, this lace pattern is also a bit more complex.  Won't be able to alter this one "easily" mathwise! So this time, I went down a needle size. Last time I used a US1, and I got gauge, but the pattern really called for a US0. This time, I am following the rules and using the smaller size. Sometimes I have learned, you might be getting gauge -- or you think you are -- but just a tiny adjustment makes all the difference. (Ever have that weird experience where you get the stitch gauge, but not the row gauge? Or vice versa? I think this might be something like that. I am hoping, anyway!)

We'll see what happens! So far, so good. And I think a toe makes a good swatch. And a foot is an even bigger one if one is still not certain whether to continue a pattern.

And if you haven't checked out Wendy Johnson, you should. I love her patterns and her blog. On the blog, you can watch her knit up project after project. And she knits so fast!! It is positively inspiring. Especially if your socks are wearing out and you have to really get on the stick.

Happy cozying,