Vogue Sock Attempt #3

Yesterday, as I started the lace of the Flow Motion socks, I realised two things:

They were enormous, and the yarn isn’t superwash.

I might have been tempted to keep knitting if I hadn’t discovered the former, but I’m kind of glad I did stop. Non machine washable socks are pretty pointless, for me. Look what I had to do with the last pair.

A bit of stash diving brought out the aqua Heirloom 5ply I’d bought in Sydney to try knitting socks with. The Flow Motion socks are supposed to be knit on 4mm needles. I went down to 3.5mm needles with the Harmony after knitting a toe that was waaaay to big. The Heirloom 5ply is quite a bit thinner than the Harmony 8ply and only slightly thicker than the average sock yarn. What needle size to use? I considered 3mms, but I’m not sure I own any. So I went for 2.75mm.

4mm to 2.75mm? 8ply to 5ply? Am I mad?

Well, apparently not. The sock fits perfectly. Width-wise, anyway. I do have narrow feet, but feet a third narrower than the pattern fits? I guess this should have been a warning…

I had a good long night of tv knitting, so I managed to get to the beginning of the lace, then a good 17 rows furthur, before I realised there was another problem.

Now, Cat’s corrections on her site note that the length of the foot before lace shaping begins should have included several sizes. Her corrections are in US shoe sizes, but she also includes measurements… in inches, of course. Sigh. I aimed for the smallest size, which was also the one Vogue included, of 14cm.

Alarm bells were already ringing, you see, because when I use my own toe-up heel flap pattern, the instep starts at around 11cm. In the pattern photo the lace shaping appears to start much earlier than instep shaping usually does. Trying it on, I could see something was wrong. Maybe when this pattern says the length of the foot should be 14cm, it doesn’t mean the ‘foot’ section as most patterns do, but the whole foot plus toe. I trusted my instincts and started the lace at 11cm.

But then, when I stopped at row 17 of the lace and counted how many rows to go before the start of the heel flap and added that to what I had, I found I’d have a sock already as long as my foot and a few cm longer once the heel was added.

What the…? I have narrow feet, but lengthwise they’re pretty average, if not a smidge larger than average. This is definitely not a manly pattern. And it’s supposed to follow US shoe sizes. If I hadn’t met a few Americans and know they’re pretty normal human beings, size-wise, I might be wondering at this point if they are a race of noble giants!

I frogged back a third of the knitting I’d done and restarted the lace 3cm earlier. So far all is going well. Well, except that the bit I knit while Air Crash Investigation was on might be a little tight, but that’s nothing to do with the pattern!

Change of Plan

Last night there was nothing on tv that caught our eye, so I decided to use the free time to concentrate on the Ripple Weave Socks. There was a mistake back… somewhere… so I ripped back to the start of the pattern and spent and hour and a half reknitting, taking special care to follow the chart exactly.

And the mistake was still there.

By then my back and hands were aching. Though the Jitterbug looked great with the pattern, the combination was really hard on my hands. It felt like knitting rope.

So I pushed the cat off my lap and headed upstairs to google the pattern. What did I find? Only one blogger who’d completed the socks, who had found the mistake and offered a fix. Bloggers with incomplete socks cursing Vogue for not putting the fix up on their site. I had checked the Vogue Knitting website before choosing this pattern, but I hadn’t googled the pattern. I must be more cynical in the future.

There was no way I was frogging and reknitting again. And with the ache in my hands I couldn’t bear the thought of knitting a whole pair of socks. The pattern just wasn’t doing it for me. So I frogged:

Which left me with the dilemma of what VK pattern to do for the Sock Challenge instead. The trouble is, Vogue haven’t exactly been plentiful in the publishing of sock patterns. As far as I can tell from my small collection of issues, they’ve only done one small sock feature in one issue, and a few odd colourwork patterns here and there.

Having learned my lesson, I googled two of the other patterns that took my fancy, Nancy Bush’s Traveller’s Socks and Cat Bhordi’s Flow Motion Socks. The latter had caught my eye immediately when I first saw this issue of VK. I was intrigued by the shaping, but put off by the lace, which I didn’t particularly like the look of. Now I wondered if I could keep the shaping but change the lace to plain stocking stitch. Or maybe just, as the yarn harlot says, ‘suck it up’ and do the lace.

So I cast on and started knitting, tried them on and checked gauge, frogged and restarted two needle sizes smaller, and it was bliss.

The pattern specifies two sock yarns knitted together. That pretty much equals 8ply, so I decided to try the Bendigo Harmony. Oooh, I like this yarn! It has none of the hardness of 100% cotton, but the cotton in it gives it an appealing ‘crunchiness’, and the wool and lycra provide spring and stretch. My hands are thanking me for it already.

And best of all, 8ply socks are fast to knit.

Project Spectrum Orange

Yesterday I broke open the terracotta air-drying clay and made some beads:

The heads are supposed to be cat heads. I’m not sure how successful I’d rate them. It’s been a long while since I worked with clay. The spirally ones are ‘reminiscent’ of cakes of wool. Well, I thought so at the time.

Both sets may be destined for macrame pot holders. It depends if I think they’re too fragile or not once they’re dry.

I haven’t been knitting as much as usual, partly due to hand pain, partly due to back pain. The latter came from spending a morning last week filling up a skip with building rubbish. And carrying bricks didn’t help the former much, either.

When I did craft, I stuck to weaving. I have three of the four lengths of green blanket done now. I’m not sure I like the idea of ending up with another blanket to sew up when I haven’t yet started sewing up Red Blanket (though I did wash the strips and work out the order to sew them in). The weaving is so fast and enjoyable, but I really dislike the sewing bit. I can imagine myself ending up with a cupboard full of woven strips that I’ve never got around to sewing into blankets.

There has been progress on the sock challenge. Last night I grafted together the first tube of the Bakerloo Socks:

And started the second tube. I have to say, you can’t mind grafting to knit these. It’s very strange to be working on straights, too. It seems like years since I used any. But it didn’t take me long to remember they make good back scratchers.

The Ripple Weave socks? No progress at all. It’s just not been a week for sitting down and concentrating on something that complicated.

Letting the Inner Goth Artist Out for Exercise

Every now and then I have these crazy idea-filled days brimming with creativity. Days where I wonder if perhaps I am a bit bi-polar, but I’m having so much fun I don’t care.

The last few days it was all about art mostly, and art with a sense of humour. The mood had me gilding a piece of wood the termites had obligingly eaten into an amazing sculpural shape for one piece, mixing sand and fleece and string with impasto gel for another, scaring the tradies working on the house by wanding around looking dreamy and distracted, and raiding Zart Art and Bunnings for supplies.

While at Bunnings I went looking, unsuccesfully, for metal rings to use in macrame. Then, unsuccessfully, for a source of reasonably priced jute. That’s when I saw they had big rolls of black cord. Could I use that instead of jute? And work in some skull beads, or spiders, or bats?

Oh my goodness! That’s brilliant! GOTH MACRAME!

That’s a LOT of Creative Fidgeting

The other day I remembered the finished objects spreadsheet I made… was it last week? I realised that I hadn’t added up how many FOs I’d done. So I went back and had a look.

I’d made over 160 knitted, crocheted and woven items since I rediscovered knitting in late 2003.

160! Knock me over with a feather! And there’s bound to be a few forgotten FOs (probably ones that didn’t go as planned and were wiped from my memory after frogging or tossing in the garbage). Some are multiples, like when I knit two beanies of the same yarn and design for the beau and I.

The list contains:
6 jumpers
5 cardigans
4 jackets
7 tops
3 vests
1 pair legwarmers
7 shawls
25 scarves
11 gloves
23 hats
38 pair socks (!!!!!)
5 headscarves (probably lots more)
5 bags
15 homewares (incl. 3 blankets)
1 dog coat
6 misc (ipod covers, etc)

45 or so were gifts, 9 were sent to the op shop, 1 was sold, I have 4 put aside to sell or give away, and 2 pairs of socks are in my ‘design’ bag unworn in case I ever get around to publishing them and need to take photos.

That’s well over a hundred items I’ve knit for me, and though I know I’ve worn out or given away some FOs I’m sure there’s more than 90 still in my possession. That raises some serious questions:

Where the heck are they all? Why aren’t I being pushed out of the front door by the sheer bulk of them?

And why haven’t my fingers fallen off yet?

Black Crochet Headscarf

This one kind of crept up on me. Knitting with fine yarn on sock needles most of the time gets a little hard on the hands, so I’ve been dabbling in a bit of crochet and weaving on the side. One of my staple filler projects is crochet headscarves, which I use to keep wet hair off my face while it’s drying.

All they need to be is a triangle, so I usually just pick up a crochet stitch book and find a pattern that looks promising. The yarn is 5ply crepe, in odd balls picked up from op shops and the adopted stash. About the only use I’ve found for it is headscarves. I couldn’t imagine knitting a large project in 5ply, and there’s not enough of it to make a full large garment anyway. For most other small project requiring 5ply I have or would rather get nicer, softer yarn. But it works for headscarves very well.

Magazines Old and New

It occurred to me the other day that I haven’t yet commented on the latest issue of Yarn magazine. So much was happening around the time I got my eager hands on an issue that I never got around to writing about it. Since I have reviewed a less-than-great issue before it doesn’t seem fair to miss highlighting it when it’s good.

Since I just got hold of two more magazines, I may as well comment on them as well. Not that I’m going to do full-on serious reviews. I reckon blog reviews should be in the spirit of friends telling friends if something is worth picking up, or warning that something shonky is going on (like when Crapacious Knitting started reprinting articles), or when people might be better off saving their money.

As I’ve come to expect, a good range of news, reviews and articles to get your eyes stuck into. A bit of a designery theme going, which is fun and interesting. I really want to try that method of writing a pattern based on tracing an article of clothing.

I thought the interchangeable knitting needle comparison was a bit strange, though. What’s the point of reviewing interchangeable needle sets at all if you’re not going to include a broad range of what’s on the market? The problem is, perhaps, that it’s really more a look at two new products, but it looks like a comparison. And by looking like a comparision, it implies that these are our only options. I’d love to have seen a proper comparision which included a Denise and Boye set, with maybe a bit of history included, too.

There’s a excellent range of patterns, including two caps, gloves, cape, socks, spats, two vests, jumper (thankyou for not using ‘sweater’!), coat, skirt, and a range of scarves. The spats are the obigatory silly but fun pattern, the coat is more suited to your ‘young’ chunky & quick sort of knitter, there’s plenty for the experienced knitter, but perhaps only the scarves would suit a beginning knitter. Still, there’s a great balance here. My favourite pattern is the socks, but the Ruffle Wraparound Vest and Earflap Cap are also tempting me.

Summary: The best issue yet. Definitely worth the refreshingly reasonable $8.95.

Interweave Knits Fall 2007
There are twin themes of ‘organic’ and intricate knitted art in the articles this issue. Then an article on cables leads into some cabled garment patterns that this little cable-loving knitter can’t help but drool at. I want to make the Hedgerow Coat now. And The Tyrolean Stockings. And the Tangled Yoke Cardigan. Not sure about this Concentric Vest, though. The bulk in it brought the words “life jacket” to mind.

Next there’s the pattern featured on the cover (which looks facinating, but I keep hearing the words “cold belly”), followed by more berry-coloured patterns with interesting shaping. I quite like the Minimalist Cardigan and Cinnabar Pullover. The Counterpane Pullover is beautiful but frightening. The Nomad Hat reminds me of bad experiences with historical enactment societies…

The Belle Cardigan seems more like the some of the more cringey patterns you’d normally find in Vogue, chunky with a hint of fashion victim, but I rather like the Luna Dress on the opposite page. I can almost convince myself that it wouldn’t cling to and emphasise my thigh fat rolls. Almost.

Next there are some nice colourwork patterns. I really like the Mirepoix Bodice (but what a terrible name? I know I’d always be seeing Mire-pox when I looked at the pattern). Finally, the Staff Projects are five adorable sock patterns.

Summary: Love it, want to knit too many things. Worth paying extra to get it at Borders.

Interweave Felt
Since I only got hold of this yesterday I haven’t yet read the articles, but there’s the usual range of book and product reviews, features on designers and instructional articles. It covers an impressive range of felting methodology, from fulling knitted fabric to felted beads to needle felting . I love the article on knitting from unspun roving. I now have an escape plan if I decide I don’t like spinning!

The patterns? Weeeel, the seemingly limited uses to which felt can be put to without descending into the cute or kitch has always put me off. The most common non-cringey project in here seems to be bags, and I don’t tend to use multiple bags – just the one waterproof favourite until it wears out. Still if you love bags there are some nice ones to choose from.

There’s some baby booties and a toy cat, a reasonably nice pillow and scarf. The Lock Nest Hat is the obligatory silly project (fancy wearing something that looks like a fuzzy upside down vase on your head? No, didn’t think so.) though the Berriat Lariat is the sort of thing that your mad artsy-fartsy aunt might turn up wearing at the next family do (that’ll be me one day, but I’m fighting it for as long as I can). Thankfully, there is one rather elegant project, the Lily Beret, that might convince you that felting does have serious potential.

Summary: the range of felting methods highlighted makes this a good buy if you’re interested in felting, but it’s not a great advertisment of the wonderful uses felt can be put to, but since it’s a first issue I reckon we can cut it some slack.

Interweave Tangle

Yesterday I found myself in Camberwell, in Borders, holding a copy of the Fall Interweave Knits.

Now, I had a little arrangement with my local newsagent that he’d get this magazine in for me. I started with IK to see how well it worked out. Unfortunately it didn’t. First the order was lost, then it was lost again, then they presented me with Interweave Crochet. Even when IK did come in, it always arrived six to eight weeks after it was released in the US. (This is partly due to the fact that newsagents have a heirachy, and little ones like my local are low down in the heirachy.)

Holding this issue in my hands I thought “I bet if I don’t buy this, in six weeks time my order will stuff up in some way and I’ll regret not buying it while I had my hands on it”.

So I bought it, and popped into the newsagent to cancel my order this morning. As I arrived the newsagent enthusiastically announced that my magazine had arrived. I felt a moment of guilt and dismay.

And then he presented Interweave Felt.

Relieved, and feeling sorry for him, I bought the magazine and told him to cancel the order. As he tapped away on the computer he said “Hmm, your name is down for three or four magazines here. All beginning with ‘Interweave’.”

I’m tempted to subscribe, yet this has made me fear the subscriber curse even more. Clearly it can lead not just to the magazine turning cr*p. It counts ordering through a newsagent as a subscription, and attacks computers and staff there instead.

I think, for everyone’s sake, that I had better go back to just buying it where I find it. It really is safer that way.

Mosaic Socks

They’re done!

Pattern: Mosaic Socks from Yarn magazine issue #3
Yarn: The Knittery Merino 4ply in ‘passionfruit’ and Cleckheaton Cocoon colour 0004.
Needles: 2.75 mm plastic dpns
Comments: The chart and instructions as printed in the magazine are wrong, so head on over to the Yarn website for corrections.

By the time I got to the second sock I had the mosaic pattern memorised. The pattern calls for socks that are 70 (80, 90) stitches around, which are man’s sock sizings. I reduced mine to 60 stitches, which was no trouble since the mosaic pattern is a 10 stitch repeat.

If I knit these again, I would knit them on a smaller needle size – or knit the toe and heels on smaller needles – because it makes for a very gappy fabric that I’m worried won’t wear particularly well.

Aside from the sizing and loose fabric issues, definitely a sock pattern I’d recommend. Interesting to knit, but not too demanding. And they look so purty!

Three UFOs Down, One To Go

A third UFO of shame has been completed!

Sari Silk Pillows. I think one of the reasons I lost interest in this was because the sari silk was horrible to knit – overspun, dusty and stiff – and the end result didn’t seem worth the trouble. I kinda feel neutral about the pillows now they’re done. A bit “take ’em or leave ’em”.

For some mysterious reason I was seized with the urge to weave the other night, so I warped up the loom and wove a length of cloth out of the funky green yarn from the adopted stash. It makes a rather nice fabric. I’ll be sewing the lengths together to make a blanket. Hopefully it won’t take as long as it’s taken me to sew up the Red Blanket, the last of my UFOs of Shame.

The Sock Challenge hasn’t been forgotten! I’ve been working steadily on the Mosaic Sock, and started the Ripple Weave socks. The latter takes concentration, so it isn’t good tv knitting, which mean it’s going to be a slow project.

The yarn also makes my hands ache a bit. It’s robustly spun, so a bit cordlike to work with. This might be part of the reason I switched to weaving. My hands were getting a bit sore with all the sock knitting.

I’ll be heading to the city tomorrow and planning to pop into Cleggs to get some 2.75mm bamboo straights or circulars so I can start the sideways socks once the Mosaic Socks are done. I wonder if I’ll end up buying yarn at the same time…