Tuesday, September 29, 2009

February Lady Sock: Free Pattern!

You might recall that I knitted a February Lady Sweater.

Being a socky sort of girl, I decided that a pair of socks might be nice, to go with it. The lace pattern lends itself very nicely to socks - it's a nice ribby sort of look.

Ladies’ S (up to shoe size 7), L (shoe size 7½ and up) - for a wider foot work the larger size.

400yds/365m sock yarn that knits to gauge
1 set 2.5 mm double pointed needles OR 1 long 2.5mm circular needle for magic loop method
stitch marker if you're using magic loop

36 sts = 4”/10 cm in stocking stitch using 2.5mm needles
28 sts = 4”/10 cm in gull lace pattern using 2.5mm needles

GULL LACE PATTERN: Over a multiple of 7 sts, worked in the round.
Round 1: *K1, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k1; repeat from * to end of round.
Round 2: Knit all sts.
Round 3: *K2tog, yo, k3, yo, ssk; repeat from * to end of round.
Round 4: Knit all sts.

Directions are for smallest size, with numbers for larger size in parentheses.

Cuff & Leg:
Cast on 50 [56] stitches. Distribute stitches evenly across needles and join for working in the round, being careful not to twist.
Ribbing round: *K1, p1; rep from * to end of round.
Repeat ribbing round until sock measures 1 [1.25] inch/2.5 [3] cm from cast on. For smaller size ONLY, k2tog at end of final round.

Change to Gull Lace Pattern and work until leg measures 6.5 [7] inches/17 [18] cm, ending with Round 4.

Turn Heel:
This portion is knitted flat, in stocking stitch.

Knit first 28 [28] stitches. (Slip the rem 21 [28] sts to a holder if you wish.) Starting with a purl row, work 21 [23] rows of stocking stitch on these sts, slipping the first stitch of every row. RS is facing for next row.

Heel turn row 1 (RS): Knit 19 [19] stitches, ssk, turn.
Heel turn row 2 (WS): Slip 1, purl 10 [10] stitches, p2tog, turn.
Heel turn row 3 (RS): Slip 1, knit 10 [10] stitches, ssk, turn.
Heel turn row 4 (WS): Slip 1, purl 10 [10] stitches, p2tog, turn.

Repeat last two rows until all stitches have been worked. Ensure RS is facing for next row. 12 [12] sts rem.

Re-establish Round and Create Gusset:
Knit the heel stitches. Pick up and knit 15 [16] stitches along selvedge edge at first side of heel, using slipped stitches as a guide. Work across the 21 [28] stitches of instep as per lace pattern round 1. Pick up and knit 15 [16] stitches along selvedge edge at other side of heel, using slipped stitches as a guide. Work 6 [6] stitches from the heel. 63 [72] sts total.

The beginning of the round is now at the centre of the heel. Place a marker if required for magic loop method.

Decrease Gusset:
First gusset round: K6, k 15 [16] tbl; work across 21 [28] sts of instep in lace pattern as established; k 15 [16] tbl, k6.

Gusset decrease round: Knit to 2 sts before instep, k2tog; work across 21 [28] sts of instep in lace pattern as established; ssk, k to end of round.
Work 2 even rounds.

Repeat these last three rounds until 36 sts remain on the sole - 57 [64] sts total.

Work even in pattern as established until foot measures 5 cm/2 inches less than desired length, ending with Round 4 of the lace pattern.

Setup for toe: K to instep sts; *k2, m1, k3, m1, k2; rep from * 2 [3] more times; k to end of round. 63 [72] sts.

If required, rearrange your sts so that there are 31 [36] on your instep needle, and 32 [36] for the sole.

Shape Toe:
Work a decrease round: Knit to 3 sts before instep, k2tog, k2,ssk, k to last 3 sts of instep, k2tog, k2, ssk, k to end of round.
Work 3 rounds even.

Work a decrease round followed by 2 even rounds. Repeat these last three rounds once more.
Work a decrease round followed by 1 even round. Repeat these last two rounds twice more.
Work decrease rounds until 11 [8] stitches rem.

To finish, cut yarn, draw through the final stitches and tighten. Weave in ends.

These socks will benefit from blocking: get them soaking wet, roll them in a towel to wring out most of the water, and then put them on. Remove them immediately, and hang to dry.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I Tried It Again/Smelly Needles

Some interesting discussion on Magic Loop, within the comments, on Twitter, and in my classes this week.

I was working on another Open House Sock, this time in Koigu, and I decided to give it a go again.

I'll be honest, part of what has kept me from magic loop has been the needles themselves. Everyone told me that Addi Lace needles are the way to go - the needles are pointy but not too slick, and the cords are nice and flexible.

So that's what I tried the first time around.

And I gamely knit a pair of socks. But as I was working, I noticed something weird. I honestly thought it was just me at first. Or maybe the yarn.

But no, it's not just me. And it wasn't the yarn. Addi Lace needles give off a distinctive smell. A coppery tang.

There is brass in the needle composition, and as they warm up in your hands they smell. It's stronger for some knitters than others, apparently. Something to do with skin chemistry. And for me, it's pretty damn strong.

Inspired by some of the feedback I had about cord length, I decided to try again, this time with a 40 inch long Addi Turbo. They don't smell, which is great, but they simply aren't as good for magic loop. The cord isn't as flexible - I actually managed to make a little kink in the one I was using. And the points just aren't as sharp. The needles are faster, though. The Addi Lace needles are a little bit slower, not as slick - which is terrific for lace. But you don't necessarily need that level of control for stocking stitch socks.

So it's back to my dpns, at least feeling relieved that it's not just me that doesn't like the smell of the Addi Lace needles.

On a related note, TracyKM left a comment on one of my recent posts about magic loop, pointing out that she found a reference to it in Debbie New's spectacular book Unexpected Knitting. She doesn't give it a name, but says that she's been doing it and teaching it for years. I wonder when the name got attached to the technique...

And on a different related note, one ball of Koigu is enough for a pair of Open House socks!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More on the Magic Loop Question

Some great input through the comments and via Twitter. A snapshot, in case you're curious:
Thanks to everyone who replied!

I've been asked why I was asking... was it because I was going to give Magic Loop another go? Nope. I'm perfectly fluent in the technique - and I prefer a 32 inch needle - but I'm still happier with my dpns.

Which brings me to the reason I asked... it's just a bit of non-scientific research for some friends of mine.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Quick Survey: Magic Loop Needle Length

For the magic-loopers in the crowd: what's your preferred needle length? 32 inch? 40 inch? ?

(This may or may not be somewhat related to the post immediately below. Draw no conclusions... yet.)

Leave a comment, please!

Newsflash re: Signature Needles

If you're not following my Twitter feed, you should be.

There's a special treat for Canadian readers & fans of Signature Needles.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Cautionary Tale

It's late, you're tired, and you don't have easy access to a swift and ballwinder.

Really, how dangerous could it be to knit directly from a skein?

Don't do it. Just don't.

This is what results.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Knitting MacGyver Tip of the Week

J., in one of my classes, is working on the February Lady Sweater. The body pattern has 7-stitch lace repeat, and even in the smallest sizes, there are over 150 stitches to work in the pattern.

I recommend, particularly for those who are new to lace, that knitters use markers to divide up the groups of 7 stitches.

Which means that you've got a heck of a lot of markers on the go.

J. was working on her sweater late one evening, far away from the closest yarn store, and realized she was short of markers.

Being the resourceful type, she dig a bit of digging around in her apartment and landed on a brilliant solution...

twist ties!

Bend them around a pen or large knitting needle to make a nice circle shape, and knit on.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tacky, Maybe, But I Just Had to Share

Patternfish is a regular sponsor of Knitty, and they always have wonderful ads with images of great designs.

And I'm thrilled that they chose one of my designs for this issue.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Design: Open House Socks

Pattern available for purchase for $5.00 from Ravelry and Patternfish.

This design was inspired by a request from a home insurance agent who gets asked to take off her shoes at the door: she doesn't like padding around in customers' houses in bare feet in the summer so she wanted a small socky sort of thing she could keep in her purse.

The Open House Sock was the result.

Open House, too, as I think of the upcoming Holiday/High Holiday season, and all the dinners and events we attend. As the weather gets wet and snowy, I'll be leaving my shoes at the door and slipping these on to protect my hosiery, and keep my feet warm and stylish. (After all, come the fall, the pedicure isn't necessarily maintained with the same care, and I don't really want the extended family and guests to realize that I've only got polish on 8 of 10 toes.)

They'd also be great as travel slippers. Emergency gift, too.

And requiring less than 150m of sock yarn, they are a terrific way to use up leftovers. The sample was worked with Araucania Ranco because I had some leftovers in my stash, but any sock yarn will do. A single 100gm/350m skein was enough to make a pair of "real" socks, a pair of Open House socks, and there's still a bit leftover. ( I weighed them - 115m for the small size.)

They're also a first for me: they're worked from the toe-up! And the heel is a clever modification of the standard band heel: it's upside down, but still fits just as well.

Before I started this design, I did some research on what makes a good slipper/sockette. I did two things differently: the position of the strap, and the relatively high toe. The strap represents a significant improvement on many slipper patterns out there, in my opinion: the placement at the back of the heel keeps the sock from slipping off. And the relatively high toe is to provide some coverage and warmth.

I've been wearing them a fair bit already: I might need to make another pair or two for myself.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

In exchange for years of cooking, laundry and love

Mum asks me to help her choose yarn for her projects. Seems entirely fair!

And yesterday, at the K/W Knitter's Fair, I found some very well priced Briggs & Little in a lovely green colour. Last year we bought some Handmaiden year, the year before a Philosopher's kit.

All great choices.

Now here's the thing. Mum knits for my brother T. who lives in a cold and damp place and enjoys wool very much. And T. is tall.

So we need a lot of yarn.

And invariably, the yarn we choose - because we choose very nice yarn - comes in skeins.

Guess who has to wind it? All 8 skeins of it.

You can see in the background of this shot my coping tools: a cup of coffee and a copy of the New York Times. I don't often knit and read at the same time, but I can absolutely wind and read.

Winding, winding, winding,winding...

P.S. Mum and T. - I hope you both like the colour!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Designs Launching at Kitchener Waterloo Knitter's Fair

I've been working with Missy of Painted Fleece to create some new designs for her hand-dyed yarns.

The Bluebell Hat:

The Candy Tots Baby Hat & Bootees Set:

The samples and the patterns will be in the Painted Fleece both at the K/W Knitter's Fair this weekend. Drop by to see them.

And I'll be wandering around at the event - say hello!

The patterns are also available for purchase on Patternfish - Candy Tots Set and Bluebell Hat; and Ravelry - Candy Tots Set and Bluebell Hat.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Too Good Not To Share

Andy shares a great story...

Mine is embarrassing to the other person more than it was to me. I am a guy who knits. And usually this in and of itself stimulates reactions and comments where I am convinced a woman doing the same thing would be ignored. The best one recently was at the Champlain Valley Fair, where the woman said, "Some of the greatest knitters in the world were men," in a voice that was as if she was talking to a kindergarten child. But I digress.

The best story happened at a local movie theater where we go to see the Live Metropolitan Opera HD broadcasts. I knit before the show and during intermissions. It's always a sock.

I was standing in the lobby with my husband and knitting and chatting. This woman walks over and stares at me. I'm kind of used to this and I just wait for the questions. But instead, she said aloud to no one in particular, "Well, well, well. I've always heard that there were male knitters but I've never actually seen one before."

She never really engaged me in conversation. It was more like I was an exhibit at the Knitting Zoo: The Elusive Male Knitter.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Knitting in Public Stories & Contest Winner

Mary-Cate tells this fabulous story... in her own words, direct from the email...

I was once offered (several times) a bottle of red wine by a fellow train passenger, if I let him let knit “one, just one, REALLY just one” stitch on a scarf I was knitting for my Mum. This drama played out late last winter as I was trapped on the inner seat of Scotrail train on a journey from the Highlands of Scotland to Glasgow (a loooong journey) by a man and his “gammy” leg which he had to rest on the outer seat. Calling himself Kenny “just like the first king of Scotland” (a dubious claim if ever there was one) he had long believed that his wife was part of large female-based conspiracy about knitting. As far as he could tell there was no difference between a knit stitch and a purl stitch and felt that said wife (clearly a VERY long-suffering woman) in claiming there were two different stitches was somehow putting something over on him. Yelling [nb to be read in strong Glaswegian] “c’mon hen gise us jes’ one stitch” he tried to persuade me to give him knitting lessons. We eventually did have a ‘show and tell’ version of lessons but for very good reasons he was not allowed to take needles in hand. When the conductor came by to ask me if I was okay my new friend Kenny looked up and said “nae worries pal she’s teachin’ me ta knit’.

In my experience, the drunk sitting beside me on the train bothering me about my knitting is usually my brother T., after an evening at a beer festival.

But that's a story for another day.

Mary-Cate wins the book - please send me your mailing address!

For honourable mentions, TracyKM and Kelene get packets of my sock patterns. Please email me at kate at wisehildaknits dot com and I'll email them out to you.

thanks for entering, everyone!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Contest Update: Knitting in Public Stories

See, look, I did have a good time at the Stitch & Pitch after all...

(Yes, yes, I know - I wore a vintage dress to a baseball game. What can I say? I like to live on the edge.)

I've had some good stories - read the four comments below on the original post.

Other stories have been emailed in. We've also had an impromptu TTC knit (and spin-) along late one night on the Queen Car, which resulted in not a few funny looks, a needle dropped down a sewer grate and the resultant anguished wailing, and lots of nosy onlookers.

One more chance - any other good stories to share?

BTW, a few readers have asked if the book is actually available yet - looks like Amazon does have it in stock. But isn't a free copy so much better... ?