Posted in Projectile

53 Christmas Balls*

*left to go

L, M & I took a class at our LYS (gosh, it’s so strange to write that… after all this time, we finally do have a LYS!) in December, a sort of knit-along to the Arne & Carlos book 55 Christmas Balls To Knit.  For me, the class was more of an accountability feature.  Without it, I would have bought the book, stashed it on a shelf, and never made a single ball.  Having a scheduled time (and paying money to go) made certain I finished at least one.  As it was, I ended up making two.

The ornaments are fairly simple, consisting of four identical “panels” repeated over each of your four DPNs.  They are knitted in the round, stuffed, then sewn shut- and then decorated if you are so inclined.

My first project was Ornament #31, which had a four-hearts-in-a-diamond motif on each panel.  We were given Ella Rae Classic yarn to work with, which is a worsted weight wool.  The book calls for a fingering weight wool.  I do intend to knit one (some?) with fingering weight to see how they look with a finer yarn.  The Ella Rae was adequate for a little project like this.

julekuler no. 31

I shoved as much Polyfill into this sucker as I thought it could take, sewed it up with a darning needle, then made a bastardized I-cord with two strands each of the red & white. I sewed that onto the bound-off edge/hole and made a hanging loop. It’s cute but too thick with the worsted yarn. If I get ambitious I’ll try it with fingering weight, but a single strand of worsted yarn was a nice enough hanger without too much trouble..

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With the second ball, I decided I ought to start from the beginning of the book (instead of the dead middle, where I normally begin things). So Ornament #1 is actually my second project.

This time I shoved twice as much Polyfill in and boy, did it make a difference. My second ornament is huge compared to the first, and also much stouter. It feels like a ball instead of a knitted floppy roundish thing. There’s such a difference I may unwork the first one a bit and get some more filling into it.

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I also did a little duplicate stitching over the edges of the snowflake motif on ball #1 to give it a glinty look. Next time I will probably do snowflakes in a more appropriate color, rather than yellow. Hey, I was just using up some yarn left over from the Harry Potter scarf.

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I recently met someone who had knitted a couple dozen of these. She knitted them flat on two needles, then seamed each one up the back. I didn’t care for the look- I think the DPNs make a huge difference. The seaming could have been better but, even if it was flawless, it still would have left a funny ridge. Plus, who wants to seam? However, the one advantage to the flat technique is that she could use a styrofoam craft ball for the “filling”. I suppose you could knit in the round on DPNs over one but it would probably be pretty tricky.

Posted in Projectile

They Be Mine

I finally finished the Be Mine socks. It only took a year, but they are done. Done! And comfortable! And I’ve worn them twice already! Best of all, they make people at the kids’ ballet school jealous. Can’t ask for more than that out of a pair of socks.

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Now, these aren’t the best pair of socks I’ve knitted.  There are a few gaping holes on the legs where I obviously had not quite mastered the concept of knitting two socks on one circular needle.  I am very disappointed with myself for not noticing that until I had taken them off the circular and on to DPNs for the heels (because, by that point, I was really done with fussing about on one circular- we all have our comfort zones and I was way out of mine).  Oh well.  They aren’t unraveling or anything.

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I followed the pattern’s instructions and knit these on one 2.75mm (US 2) circular needle. I also used the recommended 40″ circular cable. But honestly, I think that is just too short for two socks. If I did socks again on one circular, I’d use a longer cable.

After turning the heels, I switched to a size 2.25mm (US1) set of DPNs. My foot is very narrow and socks never quite seem to fit right. (Conversely, my legs are fat, so you can see where I would have some trouble with fit.) This was a great idea. I now have snug feet and comfortable legs. Win.

This pattern comes from 2-At-A-Time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. And while I may sound kind of down on the whole one-circular-needle method, I have to say a few things about this book. 1: I didn’t knit my socks all the way on one circular, which is kind of like changing a recipe and then giving the original recipe a bad review. 2. The patterns are GREAT. There are some gorgeous ones in this book. I am about to cast on another, in fact (on DPNs). 3. It’s a well written book and, if you are just learning to knit socks and aren’t already steeped in the DPN tradition, you may very well find the singular circular needle much less intimidating than juggling 10 pointy ends.

Posted in Worsted - Wait!

Socks and Sensibility

This may very well be the year – or at least, the season, depending on how long it lasts- of socks. I’ve got three pairs on needles at the moment: Aragorn, Be Mine, and a toe-up DK weight sock. Aragorn and Be Mine are lovely cabled patterns. The toe-up sock is part of a class at a LYS (okay, it’s an hour away but seriously, that’s the local-est yarn shop going at the moment.)

After doing several really large projects, I’m liking the smallness of socks. I appreciate the smaller needles, the finer yarn, and the manageability of the work. I can knit them anywhere, unlike big afghans that require lots of space. And best of all, I can try out new techniques without a huge time or cash commitment.

Aragorn

Aragorn in progress

I found this pattern while lurking around Ravelry’s pattern database. It’s a gorgeous sock, but the thing that really drew me to it were all the new techniques I’d never tried before: tubular cast on, knitting a sock on one long circular needle, twisted stitch ribbing, and a gusset on top of the foot. And that’s all before you even get to the heel. L and I both cast on for it during the winter Olympics opening ceremonies with the vague notion of doing this as a Ravelympics event, but it worked out better as a vague KAL instead. We both have other projects we want to work on in addition to this one. Plus it’s nice not to feel obligated to knit something in an impossibly short amount of time. I think I like it more than she does, which is fine considering it was my ridiculous idea to begin with. She’s a good sport for playing – er, knitting- along.

Aragorn

Aragorn was not originally written in English. The translation is very good but there are a few subtleties that may have been lost along the way. Still, the pattern is not as difficult as I thought, and the directions are thorough enough that I’ve been able to figure it out without a lot of difficulty.

Be Mine

Be Mine

Be Mine is from 2-At-A-Time Socks and has been both a blast to knit as well as a pain in the butt. This is the first pair of socks I’ve done simultaneously on one cable needle. I like the technique, but it’s fussy. There are two balls of yarn connected to the project, which already feels precarious enough perched on a 40″ needle. Every time I pull it out of my bag or slide stitches around, I’m terrified the cable will get pulled out and stitches will go flying. Pros: My socks are basically identical, including tension. I’m likely to finish both of them at the same time instead of having one lone one languishing next to a ball of unknitted yarn for all eternity. Cons: feels slower going, I can only do one or two rounds (on both socks) at a sitting before getting bored/tired. And if I were to do socks again on one needle, I’d get a longer cable.

Be Mine- 2.5 repeats

Toe Up Socks on Two Circulars

Toe up DK weight socks

I like this technique a lot. Similar to magic loop in that you let the stitches for the side you’re not currently working rest on the cable, two circulars has got to be about the easiest circular knitting method I’ve tried. I had a 16″ needle in my circulars drawer and bought a 24″ at the shop. The cast-on is brilliantly simple and produces a seamless toe without any fuss at all. I tried a few different increases and decided that the lifted increase from Aragorn was my favorite: for a right-leaning increase, pick up the right leg of the stitch below your next stitch to be knitted. Knit it thru the back loop, then knit your next stitch and proceed from there. For a left-leaning increase, knit the stitch before the increase, then pick up the left leg of the stitch now two below the last knitted stitch. Place it on the left needle, knit thru the back loop, then proceed. It made a very snug and attractive increase. The bar increase also seemed to work. The instructor also suggested an “e” increase which I’ve never seen or tried, but I think it is akin to a twisted YO and in my mind would leave a little gap. Any increase near a toe, in my opinion, ought to be firm and snug or else you’re asking for disaster.

Toe up sock

After finishing the increases and starting the foot, my right hand started to ache. I’ve come to the conclusion that the 16″ was workable but uncomfortably short. Later, I rooted through the circulars drawer again until I found another size 4 needle, which thankfully had a 24″ cable. Things were much better after that, and I sailed through the 50-odd rows of stockinette for the foot.

Our homework was to finish the foot so we can begin the heel in the next class. I finished the foot in about two days and decided to slip it onto another cable needle and cast on the second sock. There are about three pairs of increases done already and it’s coming along nicely. While I adore the other two cabled patterns, this is plain stockinette and gives me a chance to simply knit without having to really concentrate. It’s good teevee and social knitting, unlike following a chart, where I scowl and my tongue hangs out from all the mental gymnastics.

Second toe

Of course, I mean that in a good way.