Sunday, January 18, 2009

Knitting it right with Noro

I'm knitting socks with Noro sock yarn for the first time -- Silk Garden sock to be exact. Following my New Year's not-so-resolved resolutions to knit it right or frog, I've made a couple of runs at a sock:

On the left, we have sock no. 1, with a fairly light (sport or lighter) weight Baruffa Aerobic in lavender for the toe. I decided on using a contrasting color for the toes and heels since I feared the yardage in a SG sock skein will not be enough for a pair. I increased up to 54 stitches and started ribbing in the Noro after the toe. Kept waiting for the ribbing to tighten.... it's just a little loose. Although the lavender does match some part of the skein, it just doesn't look too hot with the brown. It's not a bad sock, but not the best it can be. Rather than committing to ripping it out, I just started another.

On the right, sock no. 2, I bought some heavier red yarn (about a dk or light worsted weight) for the toe and changed to a cable pattern for the foot, increasing only to 50 stitches. Certainly, this is a better fit.

I've felt confident enough with it that I've continued. After I worked out how it would all fit together above the ankle and was happy with it (a few hours after I took the above photo), I ripped out the Noro from the lavender toe. I confess I did save the toe, running scrap yarn through the live stitches--never know when it might come in handy. If nothing else, it will totally confuse anyone who comes across it in my yarn basket.

I hope you appreciate that I exposed my bare ankles to temps around 30 degrees to get these photos. Thank goodness it was sunny, a fairly rare event this winter. I was rewarded for my photo efforts when I uploaded these to Picasa. An update popped up and, for once, I let it install. Whohoo! They fixed the one thing I needed, adding an adjustable bar on the "sharpen" option. I was so excited, I tried to e-mail the Google guys to thank them. Since I never saw a good place to send my effusive gratitude, I'm mentioning it here. Surely someone with the company that owns Google alerts will see this. If nothing else, I've given them some free promotion. Picasa is now my photo editor of choice--it does everything I need it to and more.

With that, I'll devote the rest of this post to pretty photos and yarn and pattern details.

The red yarn is a new-to-me find at ol' JoAnn's. It's Kashmira, a 100% wool yarn from Turkey. Part of their Sensations line, it states right up front, "Felt-able". Then it warns that anything but careful handwashing will make it felt. It will interesting to see how it wears in these socks. I'm not too concerned about it, though. This is a light worsted/sport weight yarn, knit densely on size 2s. The fabric is firm but squishy and should last a while. At 284 yards for less than five dollars, I'm considering ordering a bunch of it. They have green!

I worked the foot in the cable pattern from Rattlesnake Creek Socks, using only one repeat for the 24-stitch instep. (If you aren't on Ravelry, you can use this pdf link for the pattern. I think there is an error in the pattern--it appears a row is missing in the chart. There are 4 plain rows rather than 5 before the second cable. I knit row 13 twice to correct this.)

I added a stitch on each side after the toe so that the repeat begins and ends with p2, then added another purl stitch on each side before the heel, using the six purl stitches with the 24 sole stitches for a 30-stitch PG-R short-row heel. I never can find good instructions for her heel on line, so I usually refer to one of her patterns (like this one) for the heel instructions.

I always pick up a couple of stitches on each side of the heel when I knit the first full round afterwards. Those, plus the six extra I already had, let me put a k3, p2 divider between the two repeats of the Rattlesnake pattern on the leg. I really wanted to put a little cable in it. I thought a cable running up each side of the sock would look cute, but reason prevailed.

The Rattlesnake patterns warns that all those cables will steal the elasticity from any sock. It suggests that you knit the leg on larger needles to save the fit. Since Silk Garden sock yarn is not elastic at all, and since I'd already gone up to size 2 1/2 needles after the heel without the fit getting much looser, I decided I needed to leave the k3 cable-less. After finishing the repeat I was on plus another full repeat, I have changed to size 3 needles for a plain 2x2 ribbed cuff.

The Silk Garden sock knits easily on the size 3 needles. The smaller sizes were difficult, due to the frequent changes in the texture and thickness of the yarn. It's a trial to knit with, but it does produce a nice depth of color and texture. I think they'll wash up into nice boot socks.

That is, I hope I'll get a boot-length sock from the yarn I have, but I want them both close to the same length. The funny thing is how I divided the skein of Silk Garden. I've read lots about the problems with this yarn, the thick, the thin, the vm, the knots. I had no idea what I'd find when I started winding the yarn onto my hand to find the beginning of the next color repeat. I wound through the brown, the rust, the green, the blue, the purple, and the lavender and figured I was nearing the end. I could tell the outside of the skein was the same brown as the start, and lavender was the last color before the brown. I had read that there are abrupt changes at the knots. I finished winding the lavender and found my first knot. It looks like it is in the middle of the skein. On the other side of the knot is some brown. I have faith in the simple logic of this. I cut it at the knot, hoping that on either side is a full color repeat and that each side is about half the skein. If not, I'll fudge it somehow.

I've put the first sock aside for a while and started the toe of the second. I'm using the easy toe--knit a tiny rectangle, about 1" x 1/2" with a provisional cast on; pull out the cast on and put the live stitches on dpns, picking up a couple of stitches on each side, then just increase on the sides every other row until you have 48 stitches. The instructions for this toe are in Schurch's Sensational Socks book.

I was more careful on this toe to make my M1s match--K1, M1R, knit across the toe, M1L, K1, repeating it on the other side. I think it makes the toe not so pointy, but it is still a tight toe. After this, I realize I much prefer the feel of decreases to increases. I definitely favor cuff-down over toe-up.


beverlyanne said...

Hi Susan. I like your socks. The red toe and heel are a bold choice, but entirely harmonious with the SG colors. Re. short row heel instructions: I could never follow Schurch's (which is my sock bible), but I've had good luck with the short row tutorial from Cosmic Pluto:

Wool Enough said...

Love the sock pattern. In fact I've been compelled to put it in my Rav queue. Thanks for the link. I'd become a bit bored with socks lately, but those cables are absolutely wonderful.

Jenny Girl said...

Your socks look toasty warm. The pattern is eye catching as well.
I've only done a short row heel once, but I found that I like the look of that better than a square heel. I think the fit is better too, at least for me.
Can't wait to hear about that Kroy sock yarn.