Posted tagged ‘socks’

Mom’s (Christmas) Socks Finished!

March 27, 2010

Okay, so, I know you’re thinking, “Christmas!? It’s past St. Patrick’s Day already, Brian!” But fear not, these socks have been done for weeks and the pictures were just stuck on an SD card while I was SD-card-readerless. But here they are:

Tech specs: The pattern is Sugar Maple from the book, 2-at-Once Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. All the socks in the book are top down patterns and use the magic loop method of knitting two socks simultaneously on one long (~40″) circular needle. The instructions are pretty clear. I knit the socks in  Berroco-Ultra-Alpaca-fine in the Redwood mix colorway on a US1 (2.5mm) needle. They required considerably less than one 400 meter skein.

Lessons I learned while knitting these:

  1. The first week of December is too late for me to begin knitting Christmas-gift socks on size 1 needles.
  2. Don’t try grafting toes for the first time when you are in a moving car and taking to your wife (or anyone else). Graft in a well lit room by yourself with a glass of wine or a cup of tea (or both; I like both).
  3. It’s easy to make sock blockers from coat hangers.
  4. I like two-at-a-time sock knitting. This method prevents “second sock syndrome” wherein the knitter loses interest after finishing the first sock. (I’ve knit several pairs of one-at-a-time socks and always finished my second socks, but I do get bored when I’m a few inches into the second sock.)
  5. I prefer toe up socks over top down socks.
  6. I’m not very good at avoiding tangles when I’m knitting from both ends of a ball.

    Rhianna likes the socks (and laundry):

    Hopefully Mom will like them, too (as a very late Christmas present; sorry, Mom).

    Ugly Seamless Argyle Socks

    January 20, 2010

    I had heard that doing intarsia in the round was difficult. However, perhaps in keeping with my usual knitting attitude, I said to myself, “what’s the big deal?” (even though I had never done any flat intarsia). Well, now that I’ve experimented, I would say that I find intarsia in the round to be difficult. (Though perhaps no more difficult than the flat case, since I still haven’t tried that…)

    I had knitted some striped, elbow-length fingerless gloves as a gift for my brother last year, and I had left over yarn in several colors. One night, in a fit of hysteria, I decided that knitting bright green and golden-rod argyle socks with purple duplicate stitch X’s would be hilarious. Apparently, hand knit argyles sock legs are often knit flat and then seamed up the back.  I don’t want any seams on my socks unless I absolutely have to.

    So, I cast on right away for a toe up sock, googled seamless argyles, and read about intarsia in the round while I was knitting the toe and foot. I knit these in Plymouth Galway worsted 100% wool on US#4 dpn’s.

    I used the same toe-up Silver’s Sock Class method that I had used for my Red Sox Sox, again doing the toe and heel in the contrasting color (goldenrod here). Then when I got past the heel, the tubular argyle intarsia fun began.

    The site I found to be most useful happened to be the first hit in my google search: this page by the Knitting Fiend. (Good job Google). She explains it very well, so I won’t replicate the description here in any great detail.

    Briefly, the method is basically to knit triangles on the front and back of the sock leg by decreasing up to a point. Then one fills in the triangular valleys left on the left and right side of the sock by picking up stitches, but there are some wrapped stitches to prevent gapping at the interface between the colors. Once the valleys are filled in, one keeps going, making another set of up-pointing, mountain-like triangles in the second color. Then you can go back and fill in the new, front-and-back valleys in the first color. Repeat until you’ve got all the argyle sock leg you want.

    My color interfaces are obviously not perfect, which makes it hard to motivate myself to finish the second sock, which is now more than half done, but eh, it’s a learning experience, and I learned several new techniques in this project. The socks will keep my feet warm anyway.

    The most difficult parts are the points where four triangles meet.  I think they’ll look better with the overchecking duplicate stitch X’s, which I’m planning to do in purple or red. Mardi gras, or Karma Kameleon? What do you think?

    Cabled Alpaca Socks for Mom

    December 28, 2009

    I’m trying to finish up a pair of socks for my Mom. I showed them to her in an unfinished state last week so that I’d have license to work on them in her presence while I was home, and maybe have some chance of finishing them before I left. But that was not to be. I’m knitting these in Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine in the “red wood” colorway.

    I really like working with this stuff, both in this fine gauge and in the “light” and regular versions. The fine gauge is 50% Wool, 20% super fine alpaca, and 30% Nylon (for sock durability), whereas the heavier blends are 50% alpaca, and 50% Peruvian wool. I find them all to keep a body quite warm for their weight.

    For these socks, I’m using the pattern “Sugar Maple” by Melissa Morgan-Oakes from her book, 2-at-a-time Socks. This is my first experience with the two-socks-at-a-time method. (Both socks are knit simultaneously on one long circular needle.) I enjoy most aspects of the two at at time method, although I’ve had a few tangle incidents while knitting from both ends of the ball. Knitting in strange and cramped places has caused most of my tangles though. For example, I did several hours of work on the plane to and from my geophysics meeting in San Francisco last week:

    While on the plane, a little boy next to me said, “Look mom, he’s yarning!” I thought only old people could do that!” She told him it was called knitting and that he watched too many cartoons. I thought it was cool that he found my age rather than my gender to the the unusual thing about my knitting. The needle I’m using is a Hiya-Hiya US#1. I have a nickel allergy that prevents me from using Addi turbos for more than a few minutes. But these Hiya-Hiyas are nickel-free, cost less than half as much, and seem just as smooth to me. So if you have a nickel allergy, (or just want to save money on circular needles) check them out. Indoor lighting does not show off the tiny cable twists very well:

    but hopefully I’ll be able to get a better picture when these are finished.

    Red Sox Socks

    October 21, 2009


    My first pair of socks. These were a gift for my brother-in-law last Christmas. I used the well-written instructions from “Silver’s Sock Class” online for making toe-up socks. These were made on US #4 bamboo double points, one of which I snapped while traveling with the socks. Lesson: Don’t attempt to try on socks when they are still on double pointed needles.  Fortunately socks can be knit on four needles as well as on five. More than half of the knitting happened at last year’s American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics meeting in Dallas, and the flights to and from the meeting. I’m just getting ready to attend this year’s meeting. I should start some new socks. Sweaters are too complicated to knit during a physics meeting.


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