Wow, time really flies when you’re working 40-50 hours a week! I’ve missed everyone and this blog has been in my thoughts… just… you know, time got away from me. Two months since the last post, and that one was just a quickie!
I haven’t ignored my knitting, though I haven’t been able to spend as much time with it as I would like.
Adventures in Sock Knitting
I’ve designed (and I use that term loosely) a simple pair of socks using some stash yarn I found when I was looking for something else entirely. Not sure where I got it, and when I started playing with it, I realized “I LOVE this yarn.” It’s Crystal Palace Yarns – Sausalito, 80/20 Merino/Nylon in a fingering weight… perfect for socks! So soft, so luscious, so fun to knit with. The colorway I had on hand was “Sequoia”… which unfortunately is no longer produced by CPY. It’s a self-striping yarn with long color-changes, so it knits up pretty nicely. Fortunately I had two balls of the yarn in the same dye lot (about 396 yards), so I figured “enough for a pair of socks.” Now, I’m a tall, tall guy, and I was terrified of running out of yarn, so I did knit the leg a little shorter than I normally would. Of course, after finishing the first sock I realized I could have knitted that leg a couple inches longer (I knitted it to 6″ before beginning the heel), but that’s how we learn. And you know what? That sock fits GREAT.
There’s a lesson to be learned here. Now, I realize I could have calculated yardage based on my gauge, but I didn’t bother. I just jumped right in (AFTER knitting a gauge swatch, of course!). I knew instinctively that I had enough for a pair of socks, but I didn’t know how close I’d be cutting it, so I erred on making the leg a bit shorter. Next time I design I will take the time to calculate the yardage required. Live and learn!
Now, when I say “designed” I mean I didn’t start with a pattern… I did a gauge swatch (natch), took my measurements, and calculated from there. The goal of the project was to kind of “wing it” without a pattern and see if I had the balls to make it work. And it DOES work! The second goal was to teach myself German Short Rows for the heel shaping.
Now, if you’ve never done German Short Rows (aka the “Boomerang Heel” or the “Jojo Heel”), you don’t know what you’re missing! I know plenty of knitters who avoid short rows like the plague, but these German Short Rows didn’t feel like work at all. In fact, it felt kind of like cheating, it was so easy! I’ll post later a step-by-step on working the German Short Row heel, but for now, take it from me, do learn this technique if you’re not familiar with it.
Exploring Traditional Fair Isle Knitting
Jamieson’s 100% Shetland Wool, test swatch for gauge and color
The second knit undertaking in the past month or so has been to “properly” learn Fair Isle knitting (traditional method of managing the floats, and not the Armenian method I would normally use to “lock” the floats)… and *gasp* … steeking. I’ve started a simple little Fair Isle pullover vest, and I’ll be steeking the scyes (armhole) and the v-neck. It’s very much a work in progress, but the swatch came out gorgeous. And happy to report I hit gauge first time out, so I didn’t have to order yet more wool to swatch several more times. I’m using traditional wool, Jamieson’s 100% Shetland Wool that I was lucky enough to find at a small yarn shop in Virginia. You’ll notice that following the advice I’ve given in other posts, I’ve tagged the swatch, and marked it for measurement… I hope you’re starting to do the same with YOUR swatches!
Now, if you’ve never worked with Shetland wool before, do give it a try. It’s a ‘sticky’ wool, which should make steeking a breeze, and the color range is AH-MAZING. It is a little pricey, at about US $5.99 for one 50gm ball. And yes, it feels a bit sticky in the hand as you work. However, the magic really happens when you wash the fabric. It softens up beautifully, and the short staple fibers tend to create an ever-so-subtle halo over the surface of the work. And since I’m using a DK weight, the final garment won’t be too hot for our unpredictable Bay Area weather. I’m definitely planning to order in some of the Jamieson’s 2-ply “Jumper Weight” wool in the future. I really do love this wool.
Master Knitter Update
Last but not least, I’m finally cracking down on the few re-submissions I need to make for the Master Knitter program. I had finished up quite a bit of it back in June, but work got hectic and my brain couldn’t function on re-writing and clarifying a few points. This week I’ve managed to get everything done but two essays to clarify, so I expect to mail that out to the committee next week.
Next time, let’s explore some techniques! I should sit down and figure out where to begin… perhaps increases/decreases might be a nice place to start. After all, knitting squares and rectangles is fine, but life isn’t a straight line… let’s get shapely!
Until next time,