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.

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.