Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Maximix Knee Socks

My latest pattern is available through the link below as well as on Maximix Knee Socks offer a means of combating two problems that beset knitters in the Winter, cold feet and pattern boredom. I've tested the benefits of knee socks in the cold and feel confident in the statement that where wool socks are good at preventing cold feet, knee-length wool socks are even better. I'd have knitted more knee socks but for one problem--they take a long time to knit. I developed this pattern to overcome that problem.  Using heavier-weight sock yarn, sport-weight yarns, and even dk-weight yarn makes these socks warmer and quicker to knit.  The changing patterns keep the knitting interesting.

Maximix knee socks use heavier yarns knit at a larger gauge than regular socks. Since thick socks don't fit well in most shoes, the heaviest yarn is reserved for the leg of the sock. To keep the foot warm and snug, there's a bit of stranded knitting between the toe and the short-row heel. Contrasting colors add interest and make it possible to use bits of leftover yarn. I'm so pleased with the comfort and warmth of these socks that I just knit a second pair.

While I knit the second pair, I checked the pattern and tried out a few modifications. The final result is my best version of this pattern, which I hope experienced knitters will find both practical and fun in its approach to knee socks. I'm making it available for just $1 USD. Click the link below to purchase the pattern.

This is the launch of a process I'm calling proven pricing. I'll let the pattern prove itself by being purchased, knit, corrected and improved before I increase the price. Please contact me through Ravelry or by posting a comment here if you have questions or problems with the pattern. Be sure to include a way I can contact you if you do comment.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Knitting Long Socks

Here on the cusp of Winter (at least in the US), I'm working on socks that will help keep my feet and legs warm.  I've discovered that when it comes to maximizing warmth, longer is better. I think that if my leg is warm, my foot stays warmer.  I'm able to explore this theory now that I have a small stash of knee socks.  I've written about these, publishing a pattern addendum for knee socks and designing ones that knit up quicker than standard sock weight.
In the past week, I've tested the theory, comparing knee socks to regular-length socks for warmth.  I'm convinced the knee socks keep my feet warmer.  In fact, the 100% alpaca knee socks made my feet so warm I had to take them off. Hot feet on a cold day, that was a novel sensation.  Since this theory has proven true, I'm glad now that my latest sock project turned out to be as long as it did.

I've been working on this sock for months, primarily because I was only knitting it when I was waiting, here and there, this summer. It was complicated for a travel knit, but the complexity meant the time I spent waiting passed quickly. I was really relieved when I got to the cuff, only to find that knitting the cuff took me almost as long as knitting the foot and leg. It's welted, meaning you knit a few rows then double the knitting over to make the welt.  I explain the historical references that inspired these socks in my project notes. (Find these references, the patterns used and yarn details on my project page here.)

There's proof of the authenticity of this sock. It's authentic, old-style argyle (I could type "Argyll" and be truly authentic.), knit flat and seamed. I did knit the toe in the round after seaming. The complexity and the slowness of this project explains why I've not started the second sock of this pair.  Instead, I'm working on socks that knit up much quicker.  Knee socks, of course, in sport-weight yarn.  They're the second pair that I linked above. I hope to publish a short pattern for these long socks soon.  I'm checking the pattern now, and have knit the feet.  The legs will take longer and are just ribbing.  No need to check the writing of "Knit six inches of ribbing."

I am still having problems posting photos in Blogger. To satisfy my need to share, I've joined Instagram.  Find me as Susan Luni or "at" knotingale.  If you are on Instagram, let me know.  It's filled, as is what's left of knitting blogs, with designers and yarn shops looking to sell patterns and yarn. While I enjoy the information on the new products, I'd like to find a few more knitters to follow.  I love to see photos of  knitting projects.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Knitting the NM Throw; yarn etymology

One of the side benefits of my knitting is the way projects evoke memories. Of course, my current project usually evokes an immediate memory if I pick it up to work on it after a break of a day or two--a precise memory of the time and place that I last touched my knitting comes back to me. There's another time and place memory attached to some of the things I knit, the time and place where I bought the yarn. Regarding yarn shops and fiber festivals, my New Mexico throw evokes multiple memories.

Most of the yarn can be considered New Mexican, at least to the extent that I purchased the yarn from mills located in New Mexico. The two main yarn sources are The Natural Twist and Tapetes de Lana.

I first bought the Natural Twist yarn a couple of years ago at the Estes Park Wool Market. While it was a Colorado venue, the yarn was purely New Mexican. I was thrilled with the dyes Ruth Baldwin used in her Enchantment Series and purchased hanks of Mi Casa, Dixon, Chamisa and Ancient Red, planning to make stranded pillow covers. Luckily (for my current project), I lost interest in pillow covers. However, it wasn't until I began knitting afghans last winter that I thought of using Ruth's yarn in a throw.

Last year, while organizing my yarn storage, I realized that I had quite a bit of leftover worsted weight yarn. Naturally, I decided to knit it up--I never throw out yarn! I was pleasantly surprised to find that some of my oldest wool, plant-dyed churro from the now-closed La Lana Wools in Taos, produced a great garter-stitch fabric. I had purchased an exorbitant amount of churro yarn years ago, planning to crochet an afghan. I cranked out over 60 little squares before I lost interest.(Again with the project abandonment--that's not usually my deal.) I used about 50 of the squares in a pillow cover and a rug. Even after knitting the center of the rug with the churro I hadn't crocheted into squares, I had yarn left. That's when I put the leftover yarn, the leftover squares and other leftover worsted weight wool together and made a lap blanket, thereby stumbling upon the discovery that the churro knits up nicely in garter stitch. If the churro yarn was, as I had long suspected, produced by the Mora Valley Spinning Mill, I concluded that their other yarn might make a nice afghan as well.

I was seriously considering knitting this blanket when I found The Natural Twist booth at the Salida Fiber Festival last year. I bought a few more hanks of the yarn whose colors are named for the Land of Enchantment and reflect the tones of adobe and the desert.

While at the festival, I was happy to find the Mora Valley Spinning Mill booth. I had paid a visit to their shop, Tapetes de Lana, earlier in the year, buying much of the yarn I used in this project there--the shop offers yarn at a 40 percent discount.

Last year's fiber fest allowed me to finish off the demands of this project preparation, at least as much as I thought was needed. I took my purchases back home and put them in a bag with the pattern book. Then I dug through my yarn stash to see if I had any other bulky weight yarn that might fit the color scheme. That's when I chose the gray yarn. I had purchased it several years ago in Gunnison, Co.

Back then, there was a small yarn shop in Gunnison. The owner, who named the shop Passion for Yarn and Beads, had a small but varied stock of yarn. Amongst it was a locally hand-spun natural yarn that some of the local knitters had used for Aran sweaters. It was far too itchy for me to wear, but I couldn't resist buying a couple of hanks for my stash. This rustic yarn worked quite well with the yarn from the Mora Valley mill. (I don't think this shop is open now. The last time I visited, it was only open a couple of days a week or by appointment. The owner had taken a full-time job.)

The last bit of yarn I used is neither rustic nor hand-spun, but it is memorable. I purchased it one day when I was taking a class upstairs at Serendipity Yarn and Gifts in Buena Vista, Co. The shop manager, who was nearby attempting to bring order to the crowded shelves, commented that there was too much yarn in the inventory. "Everything on the floor is half-price.", she stated, sparking pandemonium among the shoppers. We took an immediate class break to shop. Things really got even crazier when the manager started knocking yarn off the shelves and onto the floor. Downstairs, she poked a bin of Arucania, setting off a yarn avalanche. I sat down by it and ended up selecting more than enough Arucania for a knee-length sweater. The leftovers are in my NM throw. Not New Mexican, but certainly associated with a very nice memory.

Just think, as you knit your current project, whatever it may be, wherever you got the yarn, you are not just knitting a scarf, shawl, sweater or sock. You are knitting a memory.
See my previous post for more on my New Mexico throw.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Painting my Knitting

I've occasionally used the Paint program to plan an afghan.  I just draw rectangles and paint in the colors--on the computer, that is.  My artistic talents are limited--can't draw a straight line without a ruler.  Besides, I prefer the ease of changing colors within the Paint software.

For my current afghan, Cynthia's Afghan from Sally Melville's The Knitting Experience Book 3: Color, I made a replica of each square as I finished it.  Here's an example, square number 29, with brick and chamisa as the final outer dark colors.

Then I used the collage function in Picasa to arrange the squares.  Actually, Picasa chose a random arrangement.  I just fine-tuned it to align the darks and lights with Sally's diagram.  Then I put all the squares out on the guest bed and played switcheroo with them until I had a layout where no two colors were adjacent.  If all this seems a little over-engineered, let me explain:  Sitting in front of the computer doesn't strain my back as much as bending over the guest bed.  I can move the little photo squares around much easier than I can move the actual squares. After I arranged the squares to my satisfaction in Picasa, I used the corresponding numbers to arrange the actual squares on the bed. 

Yes, I tagged all the squares with a number.  Believe me, those numbers were real sanity-savers.  When I misplaced squares, I just referred to the layout and the numbers to find their proper position.

Now that all is arranged, I'm knitting all the squares together and adding the edging.  Here's the layout collage.

And the actual afghan.

Off to the left in the photo above is my next project, one I couldn't resist starting before I finished this one. Taking a square that I didn't use because the colors layout was too different, I'm continuing the log cabin pattern with the leftover yarn. In the end, I will have a large square--I don't know how large it will be. I'm already thinking I might buy more yarn for it! Anyway, once it is big, but not as big as my Cynthia's Afghan, I will use it as a blocking/felting test. The pattern suggests that you full (slightly felt) the afghan by washing it and then putting it in the dryer on low heat for a bit. I think this rather rough wool will benefit from fulling. However, I am afraid that some of the darker hand-dyes may bleed. If I full the large square, I'll be able to decide if I want to full the afghan. Finally, here's a close-up.

And a link to the Ravelry project page.

My, those blocks are a bit askew. I definitely need to find a way to block it without having the colors bleed.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Knitting

New knitting, as in knitting in New Mexico, I mean to say.  Summer has begun here in our new home.  Once begun, it is nearly over, with occasional chilly days to remind us of the coming winter--time to start knitting! 
Often, however, the weather here is perfect--sunny with occasional light showers, never hot, seldom even warm.  I am quite busy, much busier here than I was in Colorado.  Not that Colorado was dull, but there are more "amenities" here.  The ski area is much closer, as is the golf course and the fitness center.  The lake, as I mentioned in my first post about our move, is just down the block.  A bit of it can be seen from our house. 
It is the house, as well as the amenities, that fills my time.  I've been painting, refinishing, shopping and decorating.  Combining that with exercise, golf, canoeing, and shopping really packs a full schedule.  I'm worn out, but much better exercised that I was.  I know Colorado is a "healthy" state, but this proves "health" is largely a matter of convenience.   In  Colorado, we drove all over the state, combining work with sightseeing.  Here, we are fully retired.  We drive only to nearby destinations, usually the same places repeatedly, but getting out and doing more as soon as we arrive.

And is there knitting here?  You bet.  There's a yarn shop right here in town, as well as a quilt shop (I've been to both).  Then there's the yarn shops in Taos, and the weaving center in Mora, where they sell knitting yarn as well as weaving yarn.

And, and, well.  I am still knitting argyle.  Oh my, am I knitting argyle!  I've finished another pair of argyle socks.  These are a bit different, loosely based on a pair in the vintage argyle pattern pamphlet I bought on eBay. 

From 3 Sleeves to the Wind

I couldn't resist, once I looked at the photo above, calling attention to my poor big toe, the one up in the air. It's been held up a bit more than usual lately, ever since I fought a New Mexico rock into place in one of my flower beds. I fought, but the rock won. Score: one for the rock, and a broken toe for me. That was almost a month ago. I'm pretty much back to normal now. That's why I can put a sock on that foot. My conclusion is that summer is a good time to break toes--I can wear sandals.

Warm enough for sandals, but cool enough to knit, it's been great weather that has allowed me to knit a sweater--an argyle sweater, of course.

From 3 Sleeves to the Wind

Well, that ought to cut down on my followers!  So few are interested in knitting argyle.  If I didn't like the looks of it so much, I would never have tackled it either.  It is a pain to deal with the hanging bits.  Otherwise, it is much more fun than other knitting.  The pain is mitigated by the interesting complexity and the beautiful result.  And the real bonus is that argyle is popular golf attire.  I may start an argyle vest!

I've had to post the photos through Picasa links--looks like my software is as broken as my toe. Don't follow those links for more info on my projects. You can find that in Ravelry: Argyle socks
Argyle sweater.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Knitting Argyle Socks

I finished another pair of argyle socks last week, making real some of the ideas I had while knitting the first pair. I like to see a idea worked to fruition before I make a final decision on its success. Overall, I'd rate these a moderate success. I started these socks from a provisional cast on at the toe, then worked them toe-up so that I could knit the crisscross lines right-side-up. I also began the argyle pattern just above the toe.

I'm sure now that I prefer toe-up for argyles, simply because I want the single stitches of the criscrosses to be little right-side-up v's. I also like having the argyle pattern run down the instep.  However, I don't like it running all the way to the toe.  I'll try starting the next pair at the gusset, so that the argyle patterning will run about halfway down the instep.  I also see a problem in the chart alignment on the foot.  I really don't like the half-diamonds on the sides of the instep.  I unwittingly created half-diamonds when I expanded the chart for the first pair to create this second pair.

The design for the first pair had the contrasting diamonds on the sides of the socks and a seam in the back. Extending that same chart down the foot split the diamonds on each side of the instep in half.  I can correct this problem by moving the contrasting diamonds to the middle of the sock.

Another change I made in this pair was to move the seam from the back of the sock to the side.  Mirroring the pattern on the socks placed the seams on the inside of each leg, hiding them in a less visible area.  While knitting this pair, I found that the problem is not is seam placement alone. The seam is fine either place, side or back. It simply belongs in the main color diamonds so that it can be sewn with one strand of yarn. The seam here (visible on the sock on the right in the photo above) marries two different colors in the sole and jumps between colors in the leg.

The toe-up construction I used in this pair requires either a short-row or an afterthought heel.  The short-row heel I used was easy to work in the flat piece of knitting along one side of the instep.  Seaming joins it to the other side of the instep.

The contrasting heels were a necessity. My original plan was to knit the heels, toes and cuffs in a contrasting yarn to stretch the coverage of the main color yarn. (These socks took less than 200 yards of the main color yarn, Patons Kroy in Glencheck.) After the first toe was finished, it was obvious that the contrasting toes split yet another diamond in half, adding insult to injury. 

Luckily, when the socks were done, there was enough of the main color yarn to reknit the toe.  The diamond above the toe is now more complete, even though it has a black line across it.  The black line that remains is a bit of the toe that I started just after the provisional cast on, on the theory that picking up stitches in the same color yarn would make the transition between toe-up and toe-down knitting less noticeable.That's ok--it looks a bit like the seam line found on commercially-made socks.  Additionally, the first sock I knit still has the black cuff.  There might be enough yarn left to reknit it in the main color.  However, I'm not sure which color cuff I like better, black or gray.  If I ever do pick a favorite, I might reknit the one or the other cuff so that they match. 

I tried a couple of new (to me) types of short-row heels in these socks.  The sock on the left in the photo below has a Fish Lips Kiss Heel.  The one on the right has a double-stitch heel.  The Fish Lips Kiss namesake shape is visible in the left heel.  The double-stitch heel has that same shape on the left side only.  The rightmost side is saggy.

Both of these are my favorite type of short-row heel, one that uses two rows in between the two halves of the heel.  The in-between (boomerang or yo-yo) rows are used to work the turning stitches created in the first half before creating even more turning stitches in the second half.  I have always preferred disposing of the first set of yarn overs or wraps halfway through to having two wraps or yarn overs to work at each turn in the second half.

I was relieved to find that the Fish Lips Kiss Heel includes these two rows in the middle.  I also find the turning stitch in this type of heel easy to work.  Besides that, it looks good.  I have always wanted to use a stitch that was less bulky than the yarn overs or wraps.  This one is not only less bulky, it produces a smooth join at the heel turn.  All I can see on the outside is a 90-degree turn in the stitches at the side of the heel. 

Comparing this heel to a short-row heel with yarn overs was easy.  I have knit a lot of those heels with yarn overs!  I was less certain as to how the Fish Lips heel would compare to a short-row heel with double stitches.  I haven't really tried that type before.  Luckily, I have a sock book that features that type of heel in several patterns.  I used those instructions to work the heel in the second sock.

The first thing I noticed was how similar the double-stitch heel and the Fish Lips Kiss heel are in overall appearance.  However, the join at the double stitches is not as tight and smooth on the outside as it is in the Fish Lips Kiss heel.  Also, the double stitches are harder to work.  I had trouble getting my needle into them once I tightened them enough to make a good join.  I got them tight enough when making the turns on the purl side, but not when making the turns on the knit side of the heel.  That's why the indented "Fish Lips Kiss" shape is visible only one side of the double stich heel.

Another change I made on the double stitch heel was to try working the middle two rows all the way across the sock.  Since the other colors I needed for the instep pattern were there, I could work across the heel with the contrast yarn, and then pick up the appropriate colors to work across the instep.  That's something new I learned with this sock--with intarsia, it is possible to knit a heel in a contrasting yarn and still knit boomerang rows across the instep without disrupting the pattern.  I have always had to just work the middle rows across the heel only when I knit a short-row heel in a contrasting color in a standard one-color sock.

I found both of these heels, the Fish Lips Kiss heel and the double-stitch heel (which is from Around the World in Knitted Socks, a book by Stephanie van der Linden) handled the middle rows in the same way.  It works, but it isn't as integrated into the sock.  I'm still looking for a better method.  I know now that I can use intarsia to work across the instep for the first round, but then the yarn won't be in the right spot on the second round.  Once I finish the heel, I can work across it with the instep yarn.  How will a boomerang heel look with just one round in the middle?  I could use the intarsia-in-the-round technique and work back across the instep after the boomerang round.  Would that be an improvement over working back and forth in the heel?

I'm thinking about these and other questions as I knit a third pair of argyles.  I started this third pair to try a different construction, one that has three seams.  I'm also working out sizing issues.  My ultimate goal is to knit a pair of argyles that incorporates a bit of a tartan that has ancestral connection for me.  That means I'll be knitting and writing about more argyles!

Don't worry, I'm not so single minded that I can only knit argyle socks.  I've picked up a cowl I started last winter.  Look for it and my argyle project notes on my Ravelry project page.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Knitting Impatiently

As you might be able to tell by scanning through recent posts, I have been focused on revising previously published patterns and writing new ones.  Since the patterns are all for socks, my focus has been finite--socks, socks, socks.  Additionally, that's all I am knitting now--socks.  I try to keep it interesting, but really, I am reaching my limit.  I am impatient to move on to other projects.

At best, I can do a bit of skipping around, looking for interesting topics.  How about a shawl I knit this winter?  It's no longer seasonal, but at least it is a different subject.

The pattern is Dreamy Valentine by Ambah. The stitch pattern is one of the best presentations of hearts I have seen. I thought it was perfect for the yarn I had, which is actually a deep, almost brick, red.
(A snowy backdrop is an easy way to get true-to-life color.)
I like hearts well enough.  You may recall my heart mittens.  I also like triangular shawls.  This one was a huge departure for me.  It is knit from the bottom up.  Not only that, the increases are at the side, so the motifs are arranged horizontally across the shawl, increasing by one with each row.  Since I am used to triangular shawls that are knit from the top down and increased at three points, the center and both sides, I was a little uncomfortable knitting this one.  However, the hearts and the lace got to me.  The pattern is really lovely.  Undoubtedly, I'd like it better if I could knit it from the top down.  I think I could manage that modification, simply working the chart from the top and reversing the increases and decreases.  I'm not sure my terminolgy makes sense, but, after staring at the chart for weeks on end while I knit, I can visualize the changes needed to work it the other way.

I used three balls of Mini Mochi Solids.  I first bound off the shawl as indicated in the pattern for the large size.  At that point, I had used a little over 2 balls of the yarn.  I found the shawl too small, though, even after I blocked it.  I wore it once (on Valentine's Day, of course), then I picked out the bind-off and continued until I had used all three balls.  I even had to use a bit of red from some leftover Mini Mochi stripes for the bind off. The final size and other information can be found on Ravelry (here's my project)

When I look through my knitting projects,  I don't see a lot of red.  Obviously, it isn't a color I enjoy wearing.  Red and pink are colors I will wear, but only for special occasions.  This may just be a Valentine's Day shawl for me.  If so, I doubt that I'll ever repeat knit it, even though I am curious about how it would work from the top down.

I do have repeat knits going on now, though.  I have a new knitting love--Argyle!  I don't know if it is my usual obsessive love of geometrical patterning or if it is the knitting method, but I am newly in love with knitting argyle socks. 

When I say argyle socks, I mean the traditional argyles--socks knit flat, on two straight needles.  I had admired an argyle pattern in the Vogue Knitting book, Accessorize, for years.  I just never thought I was up to knitting it.  Once I started, though, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed knitting socks on two straight needles, even with intarsia. Truthfully, I am probably burned out by all this sock knitting.  I should start a sweater, but can't commit to a large project.  Knitting a sock flat is a bit like knitting a sweater front. 

Even if there are underlying motives to make me love knitting in an archaic fashion, the result is pleasing. I had a lot of fun knitting the first pair. 

I knit the first sock of this pair flat from the cuff down and added the lines afterward with duplicate stitch, following the pattern.  I didn't find the duplicate stitch difficult or too slow, but I wondered, "Why not knit in the lines?"  I answered that question with the second sock, which I knit flat with intarsia diamonds and angling lines.  I did lose my place now and then, but I have the hang of it now.  The second sock is the one on the left in the photo above.  You can see that the lines are less prominent.  (Can't see the difference? Click on the photo to make it bigger.) The lines in the sock on the left are knit in.  The ones in the sock on the right are duplicate stitched.  That sock has a standard slip-stitch heel flap.

Once I finished the leg of the second sock, I double-knit the heel with an argyle pattern.  This gave me an opportunity to work a sample for the argyle chart I included a chart in my latest pattern, Double Heel Socks.

  There's a seam down the back of  these socks.  You can see it in the photo below.

I don't mind sewing seams, but this one could have been a little less noticeable if I had been less impatient.  I was too eager to see how the socks looked on my feet to spend enough time on the sewing.

There's more photos of these socks and a link to my pattern for the double-knit heel on my Ravelry project page. It is too bad that my project is the only one on Ravelry for this pattern. It's a good basic argyle pattern.  I suppose that traditional argyles are not that popular now.

In the 1930's and 40's, argyles were a hot ticket--the most popular sock for young women to knit their boyfriends.  I've found some interesting and inspiring argyle patterns in vintage publications. 

There's another pair of argyles on my needles now, these knit from the toe up. Simply because I think the lines should be in right-side-up v's. No, that's not obsessive.  I have learned a couple of things about argyle sock design with this project, enough to save for another post. 

I'll leave this with another bit of argyle information.  There is, in case you were wondering, a way to knit argyle socks in the round.  I've seen some that manage it with short rows, but it can also be done with intarsia.  Anne Berk has written several patterns for argyle socks and is publishing a book explaining her method for intarsia. You can find her patterns through Ravelry or her website, Annetarsia Knits

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Double Knit Sock Heels Pattern

After seeing such widespread interest in more durable, longer lasting sock heels, I've written up a how-to for double-knitting sock heels. I've knit several pairs of socks with double-knit heels. You may be familiar with the first ones:

I first wrote about these in November of 2011. I wasn't totally happy with the result at that time. Since then, I have improved the design, producing a second pair with better-fitting heels.

I wrote about these in the Summer of 2012. These were much better heels. Still, I've improved the design even more since then. The pattern includes two different methods of knitting double-thick heels: a simple one for those that don't want to fuss with two strands of yarn and a standard two-strand approach that offers the opportunity to add a design to the heel flap. I've improved the leaf and added two more designs. I'll be writing about those soon. But don't wait, purchase my pattern and knit your own!
Double Heel Socks, only $1.99 --

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Knitting Knee Socks, Daylong-style

I have knit a few pairs knee-high socks in the last couple of years, some of which have brought requests for instructions.  I'm starting with the easy ones.  These two are based on my Daylong Socks, Toe Up pattern.  I recently revised this pattern and posted the update on Ravelry. 

My main purpose in the revision was to consolidate all three pattern files into one listing.  Now both the cuff-down and the toe-up version are available with one purchase for only $3.99.  I decided not to revise the version which combined the two into one pattern.  I wrote that pattern to offer a price reduction to those who wanted both versions.  Now that I have made both available for one price, I don't need the combination version. 

The first pair of knee socks I knit, shown in the photo below, served as both test-knit and model for the pattern.
I blogged about these when I was developing the pattern.  I love the yarn and the comfort of these socks.  However, they don't stay up as well as I'd like.  I tried to fix that with my next pair.

I ended the ribbing early to allow for gradual calf increases and to add a turned hem that would hold elastic. These stay up better.  They are 100% alpaca, though.  While warm, the fabric is a bit floppy and inelastic. 

Both of these are good methods of knitting simple knee socks.  And, as we in the U.S. know, after this last winter, some days there is a real need for knee socks.  I've been very glad I knit these.  If you'd like to try a pair, I have posted the instructions as a supplement to my Daylong pattern.  If you have purchased the pattern, you can download it for free.  I will send the link out to all purchasers.

If you haven't purchased the pattern yet, you can buy it on the Daylong Ravelry page or by clicking the link below.  The knee socks supplement will be downloaded together with both the toe-up and cuff-down versions.
Just $3.99!
Susan Luni's Daylong Socks, with knee-high socks supplement

One last (silly) hint.  If you are having trouble getting your hand-knit knee socks to stay up, try wearing them under skinny jeans or leggings.  I've even worn them outside my skinny jeans, like leg warmers--very warm, but not likely to start a fashion trend.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hitini sock pattern published

That's right, my latest sock pattern is available for purchase. Find it on Ravelry or click the "buy now" button below.
Hitini Sock Pattern, $4.99

The Hitini pattern provides instructions and a color guide that will allow you to use your bits of leftover sock yarn to knit chevron striped socks. The chevron design flows through this sock from the garter-stitch cuff to the toe. The patterning is echoed in the slip-stitch heel flap in the Cuff-down version. The pattern also works well with self-striping colorways, especially when they are combined with one or two complementary colors.

The toe-up version includes instructions for a short-row “Boomerang” heel that avoids the p3tog’s of a standard short-row heel.

The pattern includes both versions for one price. Either way, toe up or cuff down, it makes a beautiful sock from leftovers.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Knitting my Hitinis

Now that I have finished the design work and knit through the pattern sizes and versions to check for errors, I started a pair of socks in my Hitini pattern just for fun and for me.  The pairs I knit while developing the pattern don't fit me as well as I'd like.  My feet are actually between the two sizes I wrote in the pattern, about 7-7.5" around. To get a better fit, I took a little time and my few remaining little balls of leftover sock yarn to produce a toe-up pair.

These are getting a little attention on Ravelry. I expected they might, since the colors jump a bit more than the others I knit from this pattern. Working within my dwindling supply of sock yarn leftovers forced me into some questionable color choices. If nothing else, I can take a lesson from them--it is best to stay within the same tones if you want quiet socks. If you want loud socks, though, including a few light colors will add some zing.

The sizing changes I made in this pair work for me. I have skinny feet and pointed toes. I started with the 8" toe on a size 1 needle and was surprised to find the foot was still too large. Just changing to a smaller needle wasn't enough. I ripped back and followed the instructions for the 6" toe. Then I increased the instep stitches to the total needed for the 8" before starting the foot. This mix of the two sizes worked to produce a toe around 7", but I think it would have a smoother transition if I had started with the 6" instep pattern and gradually increased both the sole and instep through the foot. As it is, I increased only the sole from mid-foot to the heel to reach the 8" size requirement. After the heel, the ankle turned out to be a bit tight. Just changing to a size 2 needle solved that problem. The sock looked a bit of a mess and seemed tight, but blocking smoothed and relaxed it completely.
All these maneuvers are just for me and my odd feet. I have explained them in case they might help someone who wants to adjust the fit of the toe-up version. I don't think sizing in the cuff-down version will be a problem, since all that is needed with that version is to continue the gusset decreases until the foot fits well.

I hope to have the final version ready to publish in the next couple of weeks.  However, both K and I are suffering through with colds.  As a result, our February isn't progressing as quickly as I had planned.
Even with a cold, though, I can still knit.  I have finished a shawl and some striped socks--potential topics for my next post!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Knitting self-striping Hitinis

In order to see how self-striping yarn would look in my Hitini pattern, I picked a couple of balls of one of my favorite yarns from my stash.  Maxime Print, a soft and durable merino blend, has been discontinued, but it has much in common with other self-striping sock yarns--those that produce stripes in three or four colors and a section of alternating colors that is intended to resemble a fair-isle pattern.  I guessed the rather dull stripe pattern would benefit from some zig-zags. 

When I realized I didn't have a matching solid sock yarn to pair with this blue and gray yarn, I chose a dk weight wool and bamboo blend. I had a problem with my first pair of Hitinis being too small and thought this heavier yarn would make the socks a bit larger. It did. The first sock, knit on size 2s in the leg and a size 1 in the heel and foot, is a good fit. However, in the second sock, I became overconfident of my gauge. Staying with the size 2 needles all the way to the toe made the second sock larger than the first. The heel flap of the second sock is noticeably larger.Also, due to the longer foot, the flap sits even higher on my heel.

I should reknit the toe, but I stubbornly hang on to the hope that the sock might shrink a bit with multiple washings. Time will tell.
Instead of reknitting this pair, I'm eyeing a couple of other balls of Maxime print I have, in a brown/rust colorway. I know I have several solid color sock yarns that will look nice with it.

At the same time, I am assembling a basket of blue leftovers for another pair from sock yarn scraps, thinking of trying a different stitch pattern with the Hitini color sequence. Actually, there's only one thing to do when torn between two projects--cast on for both!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Knitting the first full pair of Hitinis

Finally, I finished the second sock of my pattern-in-progress.

This design has morphed from toe-up to cuff-down. It sports improvements in stitch pattern and heel design. The lighter, wider chevron heel is the initial version. The darker, smaller one is the improvement. 
I used my contrasting heel seam trick on the leg, ending it at the heel. There's always a worry that it will be uncomfortable under the foot. Unlike the back seam in my Burning Stripes pattern, this seam is knit entirely in the main color. Since these socks were knit from leftovers, there's no reason to carry the contrast color. Each stripe uses a different bit of yarn. Note: the contrast seam is not included in the pattern. After knitting a pair without it I realized it isn't necessary to disquise the color changes in the chevron pattern.

Using leftovers is not only frugal, it is fun. The challenge of picking the next color is simplified by a chart and rules that encourage knitting just. one. more. stripe. Plus, the toe can be a little wild! After all, it is that toe, shaped by the chevron instead of the standard toe decreases that was my original inspiration.  See my Ravelry page for this project by clicking the link!

Although I've finished a rough draft of the pattern, I plan to develop a version that uses new yarn to make it more marketable.  I will write about those next.

Knitting the second Hitini

After I knit the one toe-up chevron-patterned sock from leftover yarn, I started one from the cuff down.  Beginning cuff-down allowed me to immediately increase the leg circumference. The leg in the toe-up sock was too tight, whereas the cuff-down socks fit well.
I was happy with the addition of a patterned heel to the first cuff-down sock.   Still, I felt both the heel design and the chevron stitch pattern could be improved.  I continued to refine the design in the second sock of this pair. I increased the contrast between the two colors in the heel and refined the slip-stitch pattern. I changed the decrease I was using for the chevron stitch pattern to make the points sharper.
I featured the toe of the second sock in this pair in an earlier post. No changes there. It is a better-looking toe simply because of the change I made in the chevron pattern.   Below is the full photo of both socks.

I wrote about these socks when I finished them at the end of 2012. I have moved that original post so that it will appear after this one.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Knitting Hitini, the beginning

This is the first in a series of blog posts about a sock pattern I have written.  For historical reference (!), an older post I wrote when after I knit the prototype sock has been moved and should display below this one.  Developing and drafting the pattern has taken over two years. 

It all began with my idea about toe shaping in toe-up socks.  Why shouldn't the effort of all those increases result in something more than a plain toe?  Something like this:

At least, that is the toe I envisioned.  It isn't the first one I knit.  There's a photo of the first toe I knit in the reprinted post, the one just before this one.  Although I could have, and should have, continued the original pair of socks, knitting the mate to the first one, I didn't.  I abandoned the toe-up sock and knit a cuff-down sock, the mate to the one in the photo above.  My reason for abandoning the first sock was simple.
That pretty little leg in the photo above is just that--little.  It is a bit too tight.  Starting the next sock from the cuff allowed me to solve that problem right away.  The first sock, the one in the photo above, has only 7 repeats in the leg.  The one I knit next has 8.

Since the leg now fit, I stuck with the cuff-down sock, designing a special heel and making sure the foot fit well.  Along the way, I refined the stitch pattern and the color sequence.  Then I returned to the first sock and knit it a mate.  Now there are two versions, toe-up and cuff-down.  Click this link to see my Ravelry project for the toe-up pair.

Hitinis, the first knitting

The text and photos below are from an entry I posted in September 2011.  I was raiding it for the photos when I noticed that it doesn't display properly.  Since this is the first I blogged about my now finished design, I have reworked the entry and placed it in 2014.  I'll continue writing about the development of my Hitini sock pattern in my next post.  Here's what I first wrote:

Sometimes, as I knit, I think about knitting. I'm not usually that obsessed. Usually, I'm watching or listening to something or someone and my hands are knitting. Occasionally, though, I will look down at what I am knitting, hands still moving, and think of knitting something else entirely. Often, this thought becomes a puzzle. Even after years of knitting, I can't visualize the stitches. I think of the stitches that are required to form a shape, but I can't see the shape until I knit it. I become curious about the shape I can't quite see. I want to know how my idea will look in reality. I want to put down what I'm knitting and cast on this new idea.
I try to make myself wait. I try to focus on what I'm knitting. Usually I have something else on the needles that I ought to finish. I may be able to postpone casting on the new idea for days, even weeks. I have to fight it, because I know that once I give in and cast on, I will be obsessed. I will drop my other projects, or at least give them very limited attention, and devote my available time to the new idea.
My latest new idea is, no surprise, a sock. Even after I cast on, the design was slow to evolve. At the beginning, I was thinking about the Double Heelix pattern in the latest Knitty, a sock pattern that uses the heel shaping to create a design on the heel. I began to consider how the same concept would work for a toe. My first thought was that since toes and heels are basically the same, the same set of spirals could be worked and used as a toe. Since knitting a heel and using it as a toe didn't seem very challenging, I considered what other patterns might evolve from a toe. The longer I postponed knitting this project, the more curious about it I became. I knew I'd better start with the toe. After all, I'd never be able to last while knitting a leg, heel, and a foot!
Thus I began, simply, with a toe.
I cast on from the toe up and began shaping the toe with increases. After a few rounds, I had enough stitches to begin a pattern. I used the shaping increases as part of the pattern. I had found a chevron design that includes the same increase I was using the the toe. I modified the pattern to make it fit the stitches I had on the needles. As I added more stitches, I worked them into the pattern. Once the toe was done, I had to decide how to knit the foot. I was working with leftovers and couldn't find a yarn that worked with the first two bits. I had reluctantly sacrificed one of my favorite hoarded sock yarns, some Koigu KPPPM in beautiful light greens, hoping one hank might be enough for a pair if I used the bits for the toes and heels. I must not have been completely happy with this choice for the foot, because I let it sit like this for days. Nothing in my sock yarn stashed looked good with the toe I had knit out of leftovers. Once I realized I needed to continue with the design as I had begun it, I reallized how to knit the foot. I ripped out the hoarded yarn and put it back in the hoard. With just a basket of leftovers and enthusiasm, I finished the sock in a few days.
There's just one sock, though. This prototype has some features I don't like. I'm going to start another with a different set of colors and an altered pattern. I'll start this one from the cuff and work down to tackle the problem I'm having with cuff sizing.