Monday, December 1, 2008

Another Month, Another Challenge

Since discovering Ravelry’s Sock Knitters Anonymous group earlier this year I have looked forward to the first of each month and the beginning of a new sockdown challenge. Regardless of whatever other commitments I have, I make a point of making at least one pair of qualifying socks per month. This morning I ushered in December by casting on Firestarter socks in Handmaiden Casbah.

Those of you familiar with my knitting preferences know of my aversion to toe-up socks so you might be surprised at my pattern choice. The thing is, the other categories this month—leftover socks and “almost” socks (ie. those missing usual sock components, like pedicure socks or yoga socks)—didn’t appeal to me so I was left with the third choice, socks designed by Yarnissima, aka Marjan Hammink.

Marjan has designed some exquisite socks, most with intricate and interesting cable detail, but there is one catch (for me, anyway) and that is that they are all knit from the toe, up. It’s not that I find it difficult to knit a toe-up sock, I just haven’t found a bind off or toe construction that compare with my usual long-tail cast on and toe decreases. Somehow, toe-ups just don’t look or fit the same.

But a big part of the philosophy behind SKA is to challenge ourselves by trying new techniques and mastering new skills so I gamely cast on the toe-up Firestarter. After working my way through the wrap & turn short-row toe as written, however, I promptly frogged my efforts. A) I decided I wanted the end of the toe to be wider, B) I find the w&t method much slower and more cumbersome than the yarnover method, and C) I screwed up a couple of wraps/stitches when picking them up (see B). My second attempt went much more smoothly and, in addition to a perfectly acceptable yo short-row toe, I have worked the first repeat of the cable pattern. I love this yarn—it feels yummy and I am really happy with the way the colours are knitting up.

I was not so happy with my recent experience with Franklin by Valley Yarns. Remember my decision to keep it simple and knit plain socks from some of my hand-dyed yarns? I was eager to get through the last of my Christmas gift socks so that I could cast on a pair in this beautiful green, turquoise, and purple colourway .

But when the time finally came I was disappointed to find that despite trying several different combinations of needle sizes and stitch counts I could not avoid a mass of purple pooling on one side of the sock. This yarn is a perfect candidate for a slip-stitch pattern to break up the pooling but I didn’t want to cast on another patterned sock so back in the basket it went. My next choice, Shuanmi, a wool-bamboo blend from Lime & Violet, was much more successful.
I’m enjoying watching the progression of colours as I knit it up and the bamboo gives the yarn a lovely sheen. (Not that you'd know it. It's hard to get decent light for a good photo these days.)

As you may have guessed from the sizeable gap between posts, life is a little busy right now. I have been indulging in my other great passion, genealogy, and have been spending a lot of time on the computer trying to track down my elusive great-grandfather. Despite my having devoted countless hours to this quest over the space of four or five years, he refuses to be found. I’ve also been away from home quite a bit, helping Cameron to set up a new store in his territory. All this other activity means less time for knitting and blogging, which brings up the last item I want to share with you, this handy, dandy clip-on knitting light.

Thanks to a heads-up from my daughter, who discovered this wonderful gadget at work, I can knit on the 30-minute commute from home to store, even at night. While I can technically knit plain stockinette in the dark, I do like to glance down now and then, especially at the beginning of a row. This light clips to my seatbelt and produces just enough illumination so I can see what I’m doing, without distracting my chauffeur. With a few Christmas gifts still to make and the crazy season just ahead I’ll take any chance I can get to indulge in some mindless knitting just for me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have never liked pooling myself. That is why I stay away from variegated yarns. They look so lovely in the skein but I am usually disappointed when they knit up.

The firestarters look like so much fun. I need to finish my Christmas knitting first though.