Wednesday, January 30, 2013

On Sock Sizing; Idea re: Leg Length

Being a glutton for punishment - or an attention junkie, not sure which - am working on my next book.

This one's about socks. (The first one was going to be about socks, but I got a bit distracted.)

Specifically about custom-fit socks. And I want to make sure I'm addressing the sorts of fit challenges knitters regularly run into.

I'd love your input!

What questions do you have about custom-fitting socks? What fit problems do you encounter with patterns? Are there standard modifications you find yourself having to make?

Leave your questions as a comment - or email me at kate at wisehildaknits dot com. The best 5 questions (for which I have contact info) will get a digital copy of the book when it's released!

I've been digging into sock sizes and looking at patterns, and something occurred to me: sock leg length (for typical calf length socks) seems to be always related to foot circumference. But I'm not sure this is the best way of doing it... wouldn't it make more sense to articulate leg length relative to height/leg length of the wearer? As petite/average/tall? After all, we size socks by foot circumference, and foot circumference isn't always correlated to height of wearer. I know very narrow size 12s who need the same sock circumference as wide size 7s. And those two wearers might not want the same leg length....

What do you think? Am I crazy? Would this make it too complicated?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Flu is Yucky; Once I've Recovered...

I've been living life like a cat the last little while: staying indoors, and sleeping 16 hours a day. I know there is debate about the merits of the flu shot, but all I have to say is that flu is nasty. It is, plain and simple, exhaustion. Having a shower requires a 20 minute rest. Walking the dog wiped me out for the afternoon. And let's just say I didn't get a lot of knitting done, let alone any work.

Still, I'm on the mend. And I've got enough energy now to start thinking about my plans for the next few weeks, and I'm excited.

The weekend of January 25th to 27th I'm at Shall We Knit, in Waterloo.
Friday night they are hosting a signing of my new book, Knit Accessories.
And over the weekend I'm teaching four classes:

  • Continental Knitting
  • Entrelac
  • Fearless Finishing
  • War and Peace Socks

More info here.

Sundays February 10, 17, 24 and March 3rd I'm teaching a special session of the Project Class at The Knit Cafe in Toronto.

Saturday February 16th I'm going to be at Spun Fibre Arts in Burlington, teaching two classes, Fearless Finishing and Top Down Socks 101.

More info here.

Saturday February 23rd I'm at The Stash, a newer store in Campbellville, Ontario. Two classes there, Socks 102 and Lace 102. More info here.

And then there's the Vancouver Retreat, and stay tuned for some other announcements in the near future.

And of course, there is my regular teaching schedule at Lettuce Knit and The Purple Purl.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

New Designs: 2 Skeins, 2 Hats

I have an on-again, off-again relationship with colorwork. When I was a newer knitter, I relished in the design possibilities of using multiple colors in my work. I striped things; I put polka dots on things; I made abstract geometric patterns. I think it pleases my mathematical mind.

But then as I got more experienced, I started working patterns in other ways: lace and cables, mostly. And for years I worked only in one colour.

Inspired by the work in my own book, I've been revisiting colorwork of late. First there were the Campbell Glen Fingerless Mitts.

And then I developed a Fair Isle hat design as an idea for a new class. This is a classic Fair Isle pattern: 2 color corrugated ribbing (which I adore), and a couple of very traditional yet straightforward stitch patterns combined to great effect.

The Cherry Fizz Hat

I'm very pleased with how the crown decreases look on this one.

And then sparked by a question from a student, I started playing with Mosaic knitting.

If you haven't tried Mosaic knitting, or are simply nervous about colourwork, then I encourage you to give it a go! It's an excellent cheat - I mean, alternative - for Fair Isle, in that you only work a single color in a given round. The stitches of the second color are slipped. Two rounds are worked knitting the MC and slipping the CC, and then two rounds are worked slipping the MC and knitting the CC. Four pattern rounds equals 2 complete rounds in each color. Barbara Walker is the queen of Mosaic Knitting, and this stitch pattern comes from one of her treasuries. Its unusual in that it's worked in stockinette stitch; most Mosaic patterns are at least partially garter stitch. I adore this particular stitch pattern for two reasons: in stockinette it really does feel like cheater's Fair Isle, and it's just so very mod.

And so, The Mod Squad Mosaic Hat

Sized for adults - small and large sizes. And both patterns include a tutorial for working that particular colorwork technique, and tips for working from charts and blocking. Mod Squad has instructions both written and charted; Cherry Fizz is charted only.

Either pattern can be worked from one skein each of two colours of Cascade 220... in fact, one skein of each is enough for both hats!

Cherry Fizz Pattern - On Ravelry, On Patternfish

Mod Squad Pattern - On Ravelry, On Patternfish

Saturday, January 05, 2013

The Finished Shawl

Very happy with it!

It's about 70 inches in wingspan, 35 inches deep. I wanted a bigger shawl, I definitely got a bigger shawl!

(Still trying to figure out how to rotate this pic...)

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

We're going to need a bigger mat.

I adore my Wings of the Pigeon shawl, and I wear it a lot. It's modestly sized, and just perfect for wearing with a dress when it's cool indoors, or with a light coat.

But as the weather inevitably turns arctic, I enjoy a larger shawl. The original is made from a single ball of Zauberball, and it's about 42 inches across.

When I was at The Needle Emporium last year I picked up two balls of Marks and Kattens Fame Trend yarn, in the "Party" colorway. The yarn is pretty much identical to the Zauberball - it's a slightly fuzzy 75% wool/ 25% nylon blend single, with very long stretches of color. It's ostensibly a sock yarn, but I think it's a bit too fine and certainly too fragile for socks.

The "Party" colorway is like my beloved Noro Kureyon 242, but without the green, and I thought it would be perfect for a larger, shawl. It will go with everything in my wardrobe, and be a real statement piece.

I've been working on the shawl on and off over the past year, and decided for my break between Christmas and New Year that I would try to finish it.

I did some math to see how much larger I thought I could make the shawl with a second ball -I reckoned that if the first one gets me about 140 rows, accommodating the ever-growing stitch count a second ball could get me about 60 rows. So I've been working away. The rows get longer as the piece gets bigger, and I started to try to figure out how long it was going to take me to finish the second ball... about 16 hours, I expected.

So I do what all obsessed knitters on a deadline do (don't we??): set a daily objective. The morning of New Years' Day, after good three hours of knitting into the second ball, I decided to weigh it. I had 112gms left. Of a 100gm ball.

I shook my head, blamed in on the hangover, and weighed it again. Yup. 112 gms left. So not only do I have a second ball of the yarn to use, it's significantly larger than expected. Exciting, I thought! A much larger shawl!

I thought I should check my progress against the original. You know what's it like when you're working a large small on a not-very-long circular needle - it's all bunched up and you don't get a sense of the size.

So I dug out the original, and laid them out together.

In addition to having significantly more yardage than I expected, my gauge is looser in this yarn - I actually think it's a bit thicker than the Zauberball.

I decided to keep going. New Year's Day is a quiet day on the couch here, and so I got a good five hours knitting done.

The original plan had been to work until I'd use the second ball. Realizing that I probably wouldn't find the time I needed to finish the second ball, the slightly revised plan was to work until the end of my Christmas break, the end of this weekend, and then call it done.

After looking at it this morning, I think it's done. (The new one is laid out, not even faintly stretched. Wingspan will be about 55 inches after blocking, I expect.)

Can't quite get the colours to read true in this light but this should give you a good idea of the patterning.  I can't wait to wear it!