Sunday, November 21, 2010

Completing Knitting Projects

I often worry about completing my knitting projects. When I first start a project, I experience an initial honeymoon-like phase during which I enjoy discovering how the stitch patterns and the design all work together. I pause frequently to relish the color of the yarn, searching the stitches for a hint of the end result. Once I'm familar with these details, the honeymoon is over. I've learned the pattern and figured out its tricks. I long for it to be done. I look at each project as an assignment, with a deadline, real or not. I work on it a set amount of time each day. It's the same approach I have always taken to work tasks, translated to play.

Although I long to cast on for something new, I squelch that impulse and work on the same two or three projects. Given that, I shouldn't have been surprised to find that I've finished two more pairs of socks.

I recommend the Wave and Pier pattern from the Little Box of Socks. It makes these striped Schoppel-wolle Admiral socks special. Even though these are 72-stitch socks, I was pleased to find that the yarn overs don't add too much stretch and that the fit is good.

It seems to have been a year of socks. With this last pair, I will have knitted 15 pairs this year.

Don't take this collage at face value. There's 15 pairs there, but some are from last year. I just used the photos I had handy. A complete accounting follows, with links to the Ravelry page for each project.

January -- PhD Socks
February -- Original Burning Stripes (started then, finished later) and Green Envy
March -- Burning Mafeet
April -- Entrelac beats pooling
May -- Crazy BS and Heel First
June -- Favorite Fit
July -- Mini Mochi
August -- Preppy Stripes and Oops, A Sock
September -- Red Socks
October -- Rudolph's Socks
November -- Tiger Socks and Bright Hexagons
December -- Another Kaiso is in progress, scheduled for completion in December

Not that there's any reason to complete my current pair of socks by the end of the year. However, if things go as usual, I will. I do allow that this wasn't an average knitting year for me. There's nothing like knitting pattern samples to increase project output. Between that and pairs I've given away, I've only kept five pairs for myself. Nonetheless, I think this accounting proves that being a bit single-minded pays off. It certainly produces socks.

Not all of the socks are sucess stories. This one isn't.

These Hexagon socks were a funny, frustrating mess. Although I was eager to cast on as soon as I saw them on the cover of Think Outside the Sox, I was impatient with the knitting. I wasn't totally pleased with this Schoppel-wolle colorway and was confused by the pattern. Even though I made mistakes, I'm glad that they are d.o.n.e. and m.i.n.e. They are such attention-getters.

Yes, after having resisted sock knitting for years, I am a dedicated sock knitter. Even now, there is a skein of sock yarn sitting on the table behind me. It doesn't belong there. I keep it and the seven other skeins like it in a basket in the the other room. A couple of weeks ago, I got an idea for a pair of socks. After a few days of thinking about the idea, I selected the yarn. I took out the skein. Every day, I look at it and think about the socks. I look up stitch patterns. I try to mentally work through the heel turn. I think of what I'll write about the socks, and what I'll name them. I've checked the colorway on Ravelry to see how it looks knitted. I'd like to cast on, but I have held back. Even though I don't want to wait, I will. I'll wait until I finish the pair I am currently knitting. Because as much as I love knitting, I am compelled to finish.

It's like this blog post. I've worked on it for several days, but now it is d.o.n.e. I am happy.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veiled Progress

Hey, it's getting done. I took down my last post, which was full of complaints and worries about this project. Out with the negative, in with the positive. It looks good now and will look even better after it is blocked.
To say nothing of how great it looks with with my shower curtain!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Knitting (not for me), the finale

Now that I've completed the Sweetheart socks, I can visually demonstrate the modifications I made to the pattern. These socks are not for me. They are for a man who is much more tender-footed than me. When I knit the first pair of socks for him, I used the Princess sole technique, reversing the normal stitch pattern for the foot so that the smooth stockinette is on the inside of the sole. The Princess sole pattern I used continued the slipstitch pattern from the heel through the heel-turn and along the arch of the foot, changing to reverse stockinette for the sole. (There's also a web-based pattern, for those who don't do Ravelry.)

This time, I continued the reverse stockinette background of the cable pattern down the foot, making the entire foot, both sole and instep, reverse stockinette. I figured a man's shoe would cover any pattern on the instep and saw no reason to continue the hearts down the foot. Just to jazz it up a little, I continued a couple of ribs from the leg down either side of the instep. Not that I purled the entire foot. I purled for a few rounds after the gusset, gradually changing the slipstitches to purls as I decreased away the stockinette gusset stitches. I was preparing to avoid purling.

The black and white photo shows (more clearly than the color ones, I hope) the wedge of purls growing while the gusset shrinks. It also shows that I forgot to continue slipping stitches when I turned the heel. I could have fixed that, but I'm not much for ripping out. Instead, I resumed slipping stitches after I picked up the gusset stitches. After completing the gusset decreases, I decreased away the two cable stitches on either side of the foot, leaving just the two ribs to separate the reverse stockinette foot from the sole. At the same time, I was changing the sole to reverse stockinette, so that I could turn the sock inside out. I then did one wrap and turn, and changed directions, knitting the rest of the sock inside out, effectively producing a Princess foot without purling (except for those few rib stitches, that is). I even knit the toe inside out and grafted the stitches in knit, just weaving in the end on the working side. I'm sure it will be a more comfortable sock since the inside is all stockinette.

There's just one more detail on the sole, where continuing the transition to purl resulted in a point on between the arch and the sole. Cute.
(I finally got the color right in this photo.)
With that, the third of my knitting for others projects is done. This one was particularly tough, since the Posh yarn was not very elastic for wool. I found the straining required to make cable crossings with tiny needles and inelastic yarn really hurt my hands. Once I used my sore hands and forearms to vigorously scrub the sink, the bath, or the usual other household tasks, I had to resort to wearing my braces at night for a while. I've recovered now, thanks to braces and time. Now the only pain I'm suffering is caused by the difficulty of the fourth and final project in my "not for me" series.

That's 2/28 silk, not fingering weight--it's lighter than that. Not cobweb, either. It's lighter than that. I'm knitting a lace wedding veil. It's really silk thread. This photo was taken over a week ago. Right now I've got nearly 200 stitches per row and have changed to a knitted lace, with yarn overs and decreases in the purl rows. It's is really making me ouch, but only in my head.

Probably that's why I didn't get to post this Sunday as I intended. I missed wishing everyone a Happy Halloween.

I'm glad I waited, though. Now I can brag on how thoroughly the Saints fans trounced the Guiness world-record for Halloween costume parties, with 17,777 people in costume attending the game Sunday night. They easily beat the old record of 500-some. The Saints also beat the Steelers. Go Saints! Go Saints fans!
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