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 --