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Archive for August, 2007

Yarn Color and Stitch Patterns

August 29, 2007 2 comments

One piece of conventional wisdom passed among knitters is to avoid variegated/self-striping yarn for highly textured stitch patterns (cables, twists, some knit/purl patterns). There’s good reason for this – either the texture will muddy the colors or the colors will obscure the stitch pattern and either way, it’s not pretty.

There are some exceptions, of course – there are stitch patterns designed to work with stripes or variegations – chevrons and feather-and-fan lace, for example – and simple rib patterns work nicely with stripes, as I showed with the Sherbet socks. But those are exceptions, and the rule is, generally speaking, a good one

My current socks? The stitch pattern includes a small cable, and I’m using a self-striping yarn. And the socks? Are beautiful. And while I knew it could be a mess (in which case, I’d have frogged and found a more appropriate pattern), I had every reason to suspect it would work out well.

In this case, the cable is small but prominent – a single stitch crossed over two, paired left and right over a stockenette ground – and the yarn I’m using is Lorna’s Laces Baltic Sea. As you can see, this colorway is fairly low contrast – I think that if we viewed this through a red lens, they’d all be about the same color. This means it’s subtle enough to not muddy the cable – in fact, the color changes make the cables *pop*. I’m using a pattern from Nancy Bush’s Knitting on the Road, and the sample is made with a very dark yarn – so dark I can barely see the cable (another rule – too dark might be a problem).

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Categories: knitting

Flap-and-gusset socks

August 28, 2007 Leave a comment

Yes, actual new content!

My first pair of socks were toe-ups according to Wendy’s pattern:

Yeah, they look like a first pair of socks. I wasn’t fond of the provisional cast-on for the toes, and I really hated the short-row heels and toes – I always developed holes and the heels never really fit right – too tight around the ankles (hmm, there might be a way of correcting that…I’ll have to think about it.)

After two or three more pairs, I decided to try both Magic Loop and the Magic Cast-on for the toes, and never looked back – no crocheted chain (although I did learn to crochet the chain right on the needle, which makes life a bit easier), no picking up live stitches and no holes in the toe. And Magic Loop turned out to be totally intuitive.

As you can see, though, the heel was still giving me problems.

So, I decided the time had come to try flap-and-gusset socks. And since those are traditionally done top down, that meant I had to knit a pair of top-down socks. So, I did. I finished them about two weeks ago.

These are the Garter Ladder socks from Charlene Schurch’s Sensational Knitted Socks, following the directions for two circulars, which work out identically for Magic Loop – just think “side” rather than “needle” and you’re set. I made them out of Koigu, with an absolutely gorgeous colorway.

Here’s a better detail:

Notice: NO HOLES. They fit very comfortably – more so than any other sock I have ever known. And they were fun – I very much enjoyed picking up the stitches along the heel flap, for example.

As a nod to tradition, I actually began these socks with 5 dpns, but the socks were way too large and I broke one (Brittany Birch – second time I’ve done that), so when I started again, I picked up my Addi size 0 40″ circular. And I’m getting much better at grafting toes.

I can’t wait until it’s cool enough to wear these.

The second pair I call Sherbet socks because that’s what the colorway looks like.

These are a gift for my housekeeper, who is from Ecuador and is always cold in the winter. She chose the colorway herself. I used Schurch’s Garter Rib (which I also used for the green socks above because I love it – it’s wonderful for variegated and self-striping yarn) *but* I made one major change:

These are toe-up. I used the toe-up flap-and-gusset heels from Schurch’s book, only adapting it to my stitch count (hers is used for her 12-stitch lace, so the stitch counts are for even multiples of twelve; these had 64 stitches.) It came out very nicely, although next time I do this (and there will be a next time) I’ll extend the heel-stitch to either sides so the gusset meets the pattern in a pretty angle.

I gave them to her this morning. She loves them.

I did have leftover yarn, though, so I finally filled a long-standing request by a young friend of mine – socks for her American Girl doll. I used Judy Gibson’s pattern, modifying it only for Magic Loop, and they were fun, and fast (an hour, tops, per sock) and so, so, SO adorable.

Can you see the tiny little gusset? My friend is just eleven now – I think if I waited much longer, she wouldn’t be playing with dolls anymore anyway. Interesting, also, how stitch count affects things. Not only are these stripes more defined, the socks themselves are *brighter* than the larger ones. I’m not sure if that’s clear from the pictures. Plus – the grafting really looks good.

I’m certainly not saying I’m giving up on short-row heels, but right now, I’m in love with flap-and-gusset. And I’m even doing another top-down now – a fun cable from Nancy Bush’s Knitting on the Road.

Categories: knitting