Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Successful Socks (plus Crochet-Along update)

Today will (hopefully) be a short post. I had insomnia last night, and I had to get up early this morning, so I'm very loopy, and it's getting late. I just spent a half an hour on my desk drawer (I got a new little organizer and wanted to get it OFF and INTO my desk). It's not all organized yet, but I found a number of interesting items in there. Perhaps I'll tell you about them sometime

I believe I've mentioned a few times that I've wanted to knit socks, and I posted about the Lion Brand Sockies slipper socks I made for myself. There wasn't a picture because they look all stretched out and baggy. :) Ages ago I purchased some actual, honest-to-goodness sock yarn, Patons Stretch Socks. As the name suggests, the yarn has a bit of a stretch to it. I figured that would help socks to fit me because I have (as I've mentioned before) duck feet and cankles. I wasn't really sure what pattern to use, but shopping in Michaels with Mom a number of months ago, there was a booklet called "Sweet to your Feet" featuring - you guessed it - Patons Stretch Socks!  Mom bought it for me because she's very generous.  I'm really not trying to butter her up... she really IS generous, especially in Michaels.  Thanks, Mom!

If you're interested in seeing the patterns and possibly purchasing this booklet, click the above picture or click here to be taken to the preview page.  There's a link there for buying it online.  It's $4.95, and there's a PDF version for $3.95.  I love PDF versions of books, especially crafts books.  I load them on my iPad, and I never have to wonder where they are!

The one downside to that is that you can't make notes to PDFs in the Kindle app, and I had to make a lot of notes to the "Ankle Socks" pattern.  I was able to figure things out and make adjustments, but I had to write it all in the book so I remember for the next pair I knit.  More on that later.

See how cute they look on her skinny feet?  Looks are a little deceiving here.  See how her toes are pointed downward?  That's so the socks don't bunch up at her ankles.  Here are the socks I made, straight on and "profile":

Now, anyone who hasn't knit socks will think that this looks very odd, especially the right one.  It goes straight out like a triangle instead of conforming to the foot.  I was really worried about that, too, but then I saw this post all about sock knitting on knitty.com.  They have a picture of a sock, and it looks just like mine, so I guess I did it right.  That post covers all the basics about knitting socks and says everything I wanted to say about it plus a lot more.  I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to knit socks but hasn't tried yet.  The process really is simpler than it seems it would be.  I followed the directions, and voila!  Successful socks!

Now, I know I mentioned above that I had to make notes in the directions.  Some of the notes were numbers of rows for different sections.  It said, "Knit until heel measures 2 1/2 ins", and I know for this yarn and the size 3 needles I was using, that is 26 rows.  I don't have to measure anymore.  Same for how long the foot should be for my feet and stuff like that.

Other areas needed a bit more explanation.  After scrutinizing the pattern for a long time at the first rearrange stitches section, I wrote my own instructions and drew a diagram.  There are also a few things missing (or I just didn't understand the next instruction).  I wrote notes on what to do in that case, too.

The one thing that was in common between this pattern and the Sockies was where the yarn ends up when you're done knitting and sew things up (which is called grafting).  What this means is you have a bunch of loops on one needle and a bunch of loops on another needle, and you have to take a tapestry needle (big sewing needle) and sew the two together so it looks like it was knitted.  The loops start out on three needles, but you're supposed to combine the loops on two needles onto one.  Sounds simple, but the yarn is in the middle, and the grafting is supposed to start at one of the ends.  It wouldn't make sense to just rearrange the loops so the yarn is at an end - the toe would be diagonal or perpendicular to the decreases, which would just be weird.

So since I have problems with spacial things sometimes because of the whole being left-handed-in-a-right-handed-world thing, I watched a number of videos on YouTube for the Kitchener Stitch, the most common toe-grafting method.  One of them said to knit the stitches onto the needle with the other half of the loops (causing the yarn to end up where it's supposed to be), and I had a smacking-myself-on-the-forehead moment reminiscent of a V8 commercial.

(As an aside, those V8 commercials were really popular when I was little.  When I was about three, Mom and I were in the grocery store, and I was riding in the cart.  I saw the V8 display, smacked myself on the forehead, and cried out - really loudly, I guess - "I coulda had a V8!"  Mom is still embarrassed about this.)

The booklet is worth trying out, even though I had a few problems.  It could have just been me because I'm still a new knitter, spatially odd, and left-handed, but if anyone gets the booklet and wants my notes, let me know at traci@creative-pursuits.biz.

I mentioned recently (when discussing the Crochet-Along) that my mother is going into the hospital for cancer treatment.  She's going in tomorrow, and the chemo is going to be really rough.  If you have a mind to, I'd appreciate any nice thoughts, vibes, prayers, and juju sent her way.  Aim it towards Chicago, and it should reach her.  Also, if you'd like to verbally send your juju, leave a comment here, and I'll make sure she gets it.  Thanks!

Anyway, I thought it might be nice to send her off with some nice new hand-knit socks, so I frantically worked on them (because, of course, I've known this was coming for months), and I brought them when we visited on Saturday.  She loved them and was really impressed.  I told her she shouldn't be - I just followed the directions - but I should have kept my mouth shut and let her be impressed.  :)

Here she is in the socks:

I did warn you this was for the blog, Mom!

She doesn't have ankles, either, it would seem.  :)  She has bloating problems, so it's good that these socks will stretch for her, and the bright colors will hopefully cheer her up a little.

Crochet-Along update!

I have been busy busy busy!  I'll keep this short, because Steve is waiting to go to bed, and I'm more verbose than I expected to be.

I gauged.  Remember in my review of Sweater Quest I mentioned gauging?  Gauging sucks.  Gauging is boring.  Gauging uses yarn that would be better used on an actual project.  Gauging looks weird after you've typed it five times.

Gauging also helps determine what size hook to use.  My first gauge (with an N hook) I was a half an inch short because I crochet tightly.  With a P hook I was a half an inch too big.

Here are both gauge swatches:

I didn't do the requisite number of rows on the bottom one because I knew it was going to be big, so why waste the yarn?

Here are the hooks:

The pretty blue metallic one is the N, and the not pretty (but very functional) gray plastic one is the P.  You can see there's a huge difference in sizes.  The N is 9mm, but the P doesn't say.  The P only says "Korea" on it, excepting the "P" that was scratched onto the end by someone.  Possibly me, but I can't remember.  According to a Wikipedia article on standard crochet hook and knitting needle sizes, there's an M/N of 9mm and a N/P of 10mm.  I've measured, and my P seems to match with this.  Doesn't look like it's only 1mm bigger, though, does it?

I really wish there was a 9.5mm O hook - that would have been perfect.  The swatch made with the N hook was nice and tight, but I didn't want that for this sweater.  I wanted something a little looser, so I chose to use the P hook.  Steve liked the tighter one because it would be warmer, but I don't want something that's going to be a SWEATER.  I want a sweater.  See the difference?  I do, but that could be because I'm really loopy today.  Ha!  Loopy!  I'm crocheting, and I'm loopy!  I really need to wrap this up and go to bed.

Armed with this gauging knowledge, I started the sweater using the Large size instead of the X-Large size I had planned on making.  If I had used the N hook, that wouldn't have been big enough, and I would have had to make the 2X.  More crocheting = more time spent.  Blech.

Steve has gone to bed.  I don't have to rush.  :)

While waiting for Steve's brakes to get fixed yesterday, I chained on the number needed for the Large and crocheted 3 rows.  It was enormous.  I measured it, and it was easily big enough for 3X, which I do not need.  Since I want a XL, I figured I would go back two sizes and try the Small.  That seemed to be wide enough, so I'm going with that.  Steve said, "You just want to tell people you're wearing a Small!"  Ha ha ha, husband.  Very funny.

I was at the repair shop long enough to eat lunch, crochet the enormous first attempt, rip it out, start the second attempt, and play a partial game of checkers with a little boy on my iPad before he had to leave, and chat with someone who was there even longer than I was.  I was able to crochet 5 1/4"!  That may sound like a lot, but remember I'm using a very large hook and that crocheting is faster than knitting.

Here's what I have so far, after crocheting a little more tonight:

It's going pretty well.  There are decreases at either end, and because the FPDC ribbing skips a stitch I got a little confused once.  I thought I hadn't done the decrease and did one, then a few rows later I realized I had done the decrease but was crocheting into a skipped stitch.  I then added a stitch, and no one will notice.  You can tell if you really look, but it doesn't screw up the look of it at all, since it's such a gradual decrease.

I've measured the width again, and it seems to be a bit short of the XL width, but it should be okay.  I think.  My bust size is in between L and XL, so I'm hopeful it'll fit fine.  If not, it just won't close all the way.  It's not meant to anyway, so there shouldn't be a problem.  I'll stop doubting myself now.

Now that I've finished with gauging, I'm letting Frisco play with one of the swatches in an attempt he'll leave the sweater, my earrings, a spool of wire, and everything else on my desk alone.

 He's getting so big!

Okay, so I'm incapable of writing a short post, even when I'm really tired.  I hope you all don't mind!

The good thing about last night's insomnia was that I now have a new jewelry design.  It's perfect for a bracelet right now, but I'm hopeful I can make a necklace and earrings as well, and the tutorial and maybe some kits should be ready for sale at the Milwaukee Bead Show in October!  It uses some of the same beads as the other designs I talked about in my recent rants (check out Kits rant #1 and Kits rant #2 to refresh your memory or to catch up), so I don't have to worry about finding too many supplies.  Yay!

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