Monday, July 28, 2008

Trying to learn short-row heels

I finished the Vandyke lace panel socks this weekend so in preparation for Ravelympics 2008, I decided to learn to do short-row heels. I've tried several times in the past, without success, but I found this video tutorial showing Priscilla Wild's no-wrap, no-yarnover technique. It looked easy! It seemed easy while I was doing it! But somehow I ended up with more stitches than I start with. That shouldn't even be possible, because you only ever make a new stitch after knitting two other stitches together. You create one stitch for every one you reduce away--no more, no less. It's like you have a basket of 30 apples. Every time you take one apple out, you put another apple in. No matter how many times you do this, you should theoretically still have thirty apples. Not thirty-two, as I did.

I ripped the whole thing out and will try again tomorrow. Or maybe the next day, because tomorrow I have to concentrate for work a little.

Friday, July 25, 2008

My Twilight Zone Sock

Today, I wrote about Leonardo DiCaprio looking for story ideas for a new Twilight Zone movie he wants to start up. Well, how's this one, Leo? It's a story about a sock that stays the same length no matter how many rounds you knit!

I swear, I try on my Vandyke lace panel socks every ten or so rounds and each time it looks like they're the same length. I am no closer to reaching my toes than I was fifty rounds ago. At least that's how it seems. Maybe some evil kid with supernatural powers is messing with my mind.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Insert crazed cursing here.

Something went horribly wrong with my Vandyke lace panel socks. Several things went horribly wrong. In fact, shy of not bursting into spontaneous combustion on my needles, everything went wrong with my socks.

I dropped a stitch or misplaced a stitch or a stitch was abducted by aliens somewhere in the lace panel. I tried to fix it, but the more I tried to fix it, the more things went horribly, horribly wrong. I cursed like a drunken, crazed sailor at a Drunken Crazed Sailor Cursing Contest. I had to resist the urge to frog the whole thing and feed the remains to any hungry moths that passed by.

You see, I don't know enough about lace to effectively fix things when they go wrong. When a stitch drops in stockinette, it's no problem, because they drop in a very predictable way. When a lace stitch drops, it does the Hokey Pokey and it turns itself around. In the end, I just pulled out a few rounds until a circle of mostly plain-looking stitches poked up and I picked them up.

Everything is fine now. I suppose the upside is that I have a little more confidence in myself to fix errors now. On the downside, I still have a lingering hatred of lace.

Monday, July 14, 2008


In high school, I knew this girl who always looked very chic. She had this one particular outfit that was like this... black stretchy catsuit... thing. She wore a sash over her hips and ballet slippers. It looked very French. I always was impressed by how slim she looked in this outfit. I was born with a poochy belly, you see, and no number of sit-ups ever made a dent in it. This girl confessed that her catsuit thing was, in fact, concealing an assortment of supportive undergarments. She had control-top pantyhose, a girdle, and possibly a waist cincher. She was actually the bearer of a pooch and cellulite. She said one of her big fears was that she'd get into a car accident and the EMTs would end up exposing all her infrastructure. You'd think she would be more worried about injury, but we were 17. We had different priorities then.

Anyway, I thought of this today as I started the second picot hem of my Vandyke socks. Somehow, even though I was doubly careful with this hem, I ended up with many more difficulties than with the first. I tried to fix the mistakes as best I could, because the thought of starting over was too much to bear. The outside of the hem looks pretty good, but the inside of the hem--like the inside of Catsuit Girl's outfit--is full of structural secrets and flaws. The inside of this hem is all cellulite, but you have to look really really closely to tell.

If anyone that close to my ankles while I'm wearing these socks, I'm going to kick them.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Perplexing Picot

I finished my Canyon Socks and decided that my next pair would be something kind of lacy and fancier than the other socks I've made before. After much deliberation, I chose the Vandyke Lace Panel Socks by Kristin Benecken. (I downloaded the English version.)

Because I can't leave well enough alone, I made the following changes: I increased the stitches to 72 (I have big feets and I knit pretty tightly) and started with a picot cuff.

I don't know why I went with a picot cuff. I hate crochet cast-on because I hate picking up stitches. Well, I started and finished the picot edge last night, and it's a wonder I didn't lose my mind. Somewhere along the way, I wound up with too few stitches, and then too many. I think I fixed it, and it looks great, but I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that the whole thing doesn't fall apart like cotton candy in a toilet.

Yeah, I don't know what that means, either.

Anyway, notes for myself: 72 sts, start with 2.5mm needle. Knit five rounds, knit picot round (yo, k2tog, repeat), knit five more rounds. Fold in half, knit stitches from both halves together. Knit one round plain. Switch to 2.25mm needle on first round of pattern. For sl1/k1/psso, I slipped as if to knit. I also changed the stitches around so that I had 35 on the instep side, and 37 on the heel side. That way, the 17 pattern stitches have an equal number (9) of plain stitches on either side.

Notes for my future self when working the second sock: Cast on with waste yarn instead of using crochet cast-on. Slide cast-on stitches to spare needle before attempting to knit them with new stitches. Less chance of losing stitches that way, I think.

Yarn: Regia 4-ply, light blue
Needles: 2.5mm, 2.25mm Knit Picks and HiyaHiya
Method: Magic Loop

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Heel adjustments

Although I love "afterthought" heels, I felt like there was a way I could make them fit my incongruously small heels just a little bit better. The heels on the other socks I made fit pretty well, but I thought I could do better. So I just left out three rounds of plain knitting, and voila! No sag at all now.

My "Canyon Sock" in progress, with heel done and starting the rest of the foot:

Previously, I had done the heel as follows: Knit three rounds plain, knit a decrease round (six decreases), repeat until I had half the stitches I started with, and then decrease every round until I was down to six little stitches, draw the yarn through the loops, and it's done.

This time, instead of waiting till I got to 36 sts (half of my original 72), I started decreasing every round when I got to 42 sts.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Secret of My Sock Success

I'd wanted to knit socks for years, but my early attempts discouraged me. I tried using DPNs and every attempt was a spectacular failure. I think I'm too clumsy, and I lose things too readily to be trusted with that many little needles at one time.

Then I read Knitting Rules!, which gave me the inspiration I needed to look outside the box. I'd taken to DPNs because that's what my limited exposure to sock patterns had called for. I decided to try EZ's "Moccasin Sock" since it was partly knitted flat on two needles. Soon after, I discovered I really hate picking up stitches and sewing seams. It's a brilliant design, but for someone with my particular aversions, it wasn't a good fit. My one completed sock sits unmatched and alone in a drawer.

Then as luck would have it, I almost simultaneously came across information about the Magic Loop technique and Afterthought Heels. I only have to pick up six stitches per sock and I never lose my needles! I'm on my seventh pair of socks now, but if Magic Loop hadn't worked for me, I would have kept looking until I found something that did.