Tuesday, February 27, 2007

New Socks

It's probably quite evident that I like -- enjoy -- knitting socks. They are so much fun doing them, and are quick, and have so many interesting parts to them so you don't get bored, and are just so useful too. I always am worried that one ball of yarn won't quite make a sock for my larger-than-petite feet, so have to come up with some creative ways to make that yarn go further. This only applies to commercial yarn, since I can spin up my own and never run short! hahaha

I've always liked the principle of toe-up socks. There is a sense of accomplishment when knitting up the cuff, and you can continue until almost all the yarn is used up, leaving only enough to cast-off, and there is no waste! That is the way it should always work out. However, I don't really get along well with short-row heels, and the after-thought heels are only slightly better. That eye of partridge heel flap is one of my favourites (variation of the Traditional heel flap) and seems to fit much better. But to turn the heel in reverse is quite a trick. And then you have that gusset to do -- also in reverse -- which means you have to know exactly what your dimensions are and can plan ahead. Some of you know that I don't do this naturally!

So for a long time, it's been going through my head that there has to be -- simply HAS to be -- a way to knit socks toe-up AND do the heel flap complete with a gusset. Yes, there are a couple of patterns out there with gussets and some have attempted to do a heel flap. Some have actually done a sock in the normal manner, by putting the flap at the BOTTOM of the heel where it gets more wear; now this seems to be logical to me. I've been thinking about this for some time, and one night (I must have dreamt what I had to do), I awoke with the whole thing perfectly clear! Is this what is meant by a EUREKA moment?

Now, the first thing I had to do was make up a mock-up of the heel -- that is the part that had me stumped. I have to do this quick, because these night revelations are very fleeting! I've had these before, only to forget all the details within a matter of minutes.

The little heel worked out quite well. I was impressed! There are possibilities here! I think I have come up with a winner this time! Okay, now for the real test -- a full-fledged sock, with my own version of the provisional cast-on, the toe increases, the gusset increases, and the amazing turning of the heel, and then the flap. Well, this was just too much fun, and in a matter of a weekend, I had the sock done! I amazed even myself! I used just some stray yarn that I acquired somewhere (some kind of acrylic, but I didn't care) and I made it to fit my foot since it was the only foot anywhere nearby that I could try on periodically to make it fit. I was so very pleased with the way it progressed, and I think there was a kind of zen feeling, seeing how all the numbers seemed to work together. There really IS a system here! As I was doing the leg, I was thinking I may have to make it just a bit wider for the calf; I increased a couple of stitches in the ribbing of the cuff. When I had cast off, I didn't really need those increases, and it made the top just a bit floppy. So out came that cast-off row, and I pulled out a couple rounds (I never rip!!) and re-did the ribbing without increasing. It fits perfectly now!

I was really impressed with my accomplishments. Well, okay, so this isn't the first time I've knit a sock, and I'm quite certain this is not a new method of doing them toe-up (nothing new under the sun), but what amazes me is that I constructed the whole sock with my own brain, without finding a pattern in a book, which shows me that I truly understand sock construction. I know all the different parts of the plan, know how to get what I need, have all the skills to accomplish it all, and certainly have no fear of sock knitting. You know, it doesn't take much to make me happy.

Now, the next step is to do another one exactly the same, AND this time writing down all the steps so that someone else will be able to do the same thing. I'm starting right from scratch, with two sticks and some string, and taking lots of pics along the way to document the whole process.

It's going to take a little longer this time!

Monday, February 19, 2007

New scarf

I just wanted to show you a picture of a scarf I knit using a pattern I received before Christmas from Iris Schreier, author of MODULAR KNITS. She does a lot of multi-directional designs and will have another book out this year, hopefully in July. She is co-founder of Artyarns (http://www.artyarns.com/) and does wonderful colourways that work perfectly for much of that multi-directional work.

This is not one of her yarns. I liked the design, so thought I would do a sample, a dishcloth, with cotton (as always). I searched through my stash, and found some cotton in a variegated colour and took one ball with me when I went to visit Mom at Christmas. While there, I started it up, and did a few inches, thinking it was about time to cast-off. But Iris didn’t give the ending of the pattern until we posted a pic of our work! I showed it to Mom and she was quite imporessed and said I should continue to make it into a scarf. So I went on. I finished one ball, and then a second when I got back home. It was still pretty short by this time, and I thought I had a third ball, but couldn’t find it! I sent in my pic, explaining my problem, and I got the ending anyway. I didn’t work on it just then, not sure what to do with a very short scarf! One day, looking for something else, I found another ball of that yarn! I KNEW I had another one! But it ran away and hid.

So I continued with the third ball; this time the scarf was of a decent length. I planned to work until the very end of the ball, and have nothing left over! Risky! But I did it… and only had a yard or two left over. Gee, I could have done one more row!

This is in variegated greys, in DK cotton, and is a good scarf length at 140 cm (55 inches). Perhaps it’s not the best material for a scarf, but it may work for cooler days, and for decoration, rather than keeping the cold wind off your neck! I didn't really care for the cast-off row; there were too many added stitches and it flared too much for my tastes, despite the fact that I didn't do as many as suggested. Still, a very fun and easy project.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Winter Games

This is a very strange place to live. I mean, there are no constants, other than it changes all the time!

I’ve lived here many long years, and I still am surprised by the weather. Just a few days ago, I rode my bike to work, and came home very slowly since I didn’t want to get splashed by all the spray from the street. You see, there was slush everywhere. We had a sciff of snow, just enough to sprinkle icing sugar over everything, but it’s very warm here, and so it all turned into wet, dirty slush. There was actually water running in the gutters! This is Early February, remember.

That evening, on my way to the laundramat, I actually stopped and using a small stick I found, I cleared a path for the rivulet of water that couldn’t get down the street to the drain. I loved making rivers when I was a kid!! I still do! What fun that was! I should have been an engineer, I think.

The next morning, I didn’t take the bike to work. It had all frozen over; there was ice over everything. Good thing, for it snowed a bit more in the afternoon. We get these sudden snowstorms without warning. It changed from +10 one night, to -28 the next day. It’s kept snowing for the last two days! Not heavily, but there are these soft white fluffy things flying around everywhere. There is just a bit of snow on the ground, the trees have a layer only on the tops of every branch, it all looks so pretty. Did you ever play with a snow-globe as a child, and thought how wonderful it would be to be inside? Yup, I got that now!!

Here is a pic of Olympic Plaza this week:

Yes, that’s all ice, and yes, you do see a Zamboni on the ice, and yes, those are “bulls eyes” painted on the ice. What’s THAT all about?!! Perhaps I should explain it to you.

That is called “Human Bonspiel”. Those of you in Canada will know what that means, but for the rest of you, I will tell you this: Canada LUVS curling. That is a winter game where you throw these heavy round rocks along the ice surface, and get them to land in the centre of the circles, and the opposing team throws their rocks and tries to knock you out of the circle. There are others with brooms and they run in front of the rock and sweep the ice surface clean to make the rock go faster. I know, I know – but that is how they play the game!

Now, with Human Bonspiel, there are many players from the corporate world that will come down to this plaza at noon, and play the game. There are teams (always have to have teams) and one person is called a runner. He/she will run and jump doing a belly-flop onto a huge inner tube causing it to slide across the ice to the other end, and getting as close to the centre of those circles. Yes, and this is great fun -- in the cold, in winter! I don’t understand it much myself. But all the on-lookers get a real kick out of it, there is lots of cheering, and I would imagine some kind of prize, too.

I am NOT making this up! Here, see for yourself: