Friday, April 25, 2008

Working a sock gusset on magic loop

So a few weeks back I was helping Jen turn her first sock heel via Yahoo Messenger (since we live a continent apart and couldn't meet face to face). This worked well enough, especially since she did indeed complete that heel successfully and has gone on to do the second heel un-aided (HOORAY FOR JEN!!) But at the time, I so wished I had pictures to show her what I was trying to explain. So tonight I turned the heel on a pair of slippers I'm making and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get those pictures. I'm still trying to learn how to use this new camera, so the pictures aren't the best, but I think they show the steps pretty well. And bonus, the new camera software lets me put little text blurbs right on the pictures, how cool is that?

So these pictures show how I pick up my gusset stitches and get back into working my sock in the round on magic loop after I have turned the heel. You start by working across what ever heel stitches you have.
Now use the same right needle to knit up one stitch in every long stitch along the side of the heel flap (making note of how many stitches you pick up). Now all my heel stitches and the first half of the gusset stitches are on the right needle. Slide these up onto the cable and prepare to knit the instep stitches that have been hanging out on the back end of the cable while you knitted the heel. The instep stitches are now slid on to the left needle and the right needle is ready to knit them.Knit across the instep stitches. The instep stitches are now on the right needle. Carefully slide them on to the cable keeping the loop between the end of the first gusset and the start of the instep. It may be helpful to slide the heel stitches onto the left needle at this point, just don't bring them all the way to the tip until after you pick up the 2nd gusset so they don't slide off.Now using the right needle, pickup one stitch in each long stitch along the 2nd side of the heel flap. You want to aim to get the same number of stitches you picked up on the first side. However, if you don't, you'll just do an extra decrease on whichever side had more stitches. Now you are back to where your heel stitches start. Continue knitting across the heel and first gusset without pulling the loop through in between. Your goal is to have your loops at the intersections between the heel and the instep. I find this by far the easiest way to knit a sock, always keeping the heel stitches on one half of the magic loop and the instep on the other. Knit across the instep stitches. Now you are back to the beginning of the heel side. There are way more stitches on this side of the needle than the instep side. Decrease at the beginning and end of every other row on the heel side only until you have the same number of stitches on the heel as on the instep. And that's all there is to working the gussets on a sock. Easy-peasy.

The model, by the way, is the Spa Socks from the Spring 2007 issue of Knit-1 magazine. The yarn is K1C2 2nd Time Cotton (one of the only cottons I can stand to knit with). The needle is a 32" US 8 Susan Bates Silverado. Unfortunately, my US 8 Options are being used for Milan so I had to settle for the Bates. I do like my Bates needles very much, but the cable is far less pliable than the Options and I've become very spoiled these last few months. I think it's time to order some second sets of points in my favorite sizes!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Photos and a favorite thing

We're back in business with photos. First up, the lovely Gryffindor singles. on bobbin. 3 oz nearly fills the bobbin up.and plyed with dark brown and silver singles. Which do you like? Chuck and I are both leaning towards the dark. He said it makes a nice Halloween yarn. I'm thinking fingerless mitts to wear to hand out treats for trick or treat. At a distance the red and yellow do look rather orange, but up close you see how subtly the colors blend. So pretty.

I'm motoring right along on Milan. Left front done and half way up the right side. This yarn is nearly impossible to photograph, though. It's so shiny it just wants to glare, but you get a general idea. It's really pretty in person. The yarn is ever so slightly mottled shades of pale brown.

Finally, a favorite thing. If you listen to Meghan's podcast over at Stitch It, you'll know she includes a favorite thing in every episode. I adore this. It's such a happy positive thing to do. So today, I'm listing one of my favorite things. My Chamilia bracelet.
Last year I was at the local jewelry store getting my watch battery replaced and started looking around while I waited. Now, I'm not much of a jewelry hound. I've got my few pieces I wear all the time and a few special things I'll pull out for nice, but I don't have boxes full or change my earrings to match my outfit kind of thing. But I was feeling like I wanted to treat myself that day and thought these bracelets were really neat. You start out with the bracelet and can add charms as you go along. I've had charm bracelets before, in fact have a gorgeous one mom had made for me years back. But being a computer worker, regular charm bracelets were constantly catching on stuff or digging into my wrist. But these are different, since the charms are beads, they are comfortable to wear and don't catch on things. I love each charm on my bracelet and they all mean something special to me. Unfortunately, they don't have knitting or spinning charms yet. Pandora, who's charms also fit Chamila, has a ram that is pretty close to looking like a sheep, so that one's on my list.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Simply Soft yarn came from Knitting-Warehouse on Thursday and I started swatching as soon as I got home from work. I was unable to get gauge for the Flyingdales sweater, but the gauge is perfect for Milan. So Milan it is. The knitting is going very quickly so far. I've finished the left front panel and am a quarter done with the right. The yarn color is perfect, a soft light brown. The yarn tends to want to knot up on itself, I found rewinding the skeins into center pull balls helped with this problem. The yarn is soft and not at all plasticy like some acrylics. Unfortunately, we are having camera problems so no pictures today.

I finished spinning the Gryffindor batt from Hanks in the Hood. I spun the whole 3 oz onto one bobbin. I want to ply it with a solid and spun a bit of coffee bean merino and a bit of a pale silver merino to see which I liked better. I think I'm going to go with the darker color. Pictures of the samples as soon as possible. I must say, it felt so good to spin. I've only been able to squeeze in a few minutes here and there the last few weeks. I got in HOURS of spinning this weekend and it was WONDERFUL.

Major news this week: Opal, the fantastic German sock yarn company, has announced they will be putting out a line of Harry Potter sock yarns to coincide with the theatrical release of Half Blood Prince this fall. SQUEE!!! Here's an early photo (and there are more pictures here)I've read the labels may be different here in the states, which would be a shame. But I'm really loving these colors. I HAVE to have Hedwig (2352), Malfoy (2356), and Dumbledore (2357) for sure. At at least $20 a pop, I better start saving my pennies now! More details here.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Back to zero

Well, the counter is officially back to zero (for the record, I reached 107 days). I am indeed a week short of the end of tax season, but I deserved a reward. I FINALLY finished the V-neck shell. For such a small item, it took an obscene amount of time. A YEAR! That's just wrong. I finished more than 20 other projects in that time (mostly socks, but still!) And for all that time, it's not anything extraordinary to see.I am going to try to learn from my downfall here and stick to yarns I love to knit with. I will try to relegate my cottons to machine knitting or very small projects, like washcloths.

So what did I break the diet with? You are all going to be so disappoi
nted in me. I didn't end up going with any of the superwash wools I was looking at. And I knew better than to purchase any more cotton, no matter how tempting. No, I broke the diet with...acrylic. Caron Simply Soft Heather in Truffle to be exact. With the economy being such that it is, the price was certainly right. A sweaters worth for less than $30. I've used Simply Soft before for a baby sweater that turned out just gorgeous, so I'm confident this will not be a disappointment. My intention was to order it now so I'll have the yarn to cast on a sweater next week to celebrate the end of what has been a most disagreeable tax season. That sweater was all set to be Milan...

But then yesterday, these arrived in my mail box.Start Spinning by Maggie Casey and A Fine Fleece by Lisa Lloyd. I've only briefly paged through Start Spinning, but it looks like it is LOADED with great information about spinning. The page shots I had seen from AFF looked like it would have lots of patterns to interest me and it did not disappoint. There are lots of cabled sweaters and everything has that simple, classic look I love. I fear that poor Milan has just been ousted by a newcomer...Flyingdales. It's gorgeous. All cabled on top, roomy fit, and knit seamlessly to boot! I'm in love. I MUST make this sweater. The great thing about this book is all the patterns are designed to use either handspun or millspun yarn. I'm really hoping I can get gauge with the yarn that's coming. I'm not anywhere near ready to spin a sweater's worth of yarn yet. But if the Simply Soft doesn't work out, damn the economy, I'm going to have to find something that does!