Category Archives: Craftybabble

Olive stripe socks

First a note: I am way behind on reading email and blogs and things of that nature. If I was supposed to write you back about something and haven’t, it’s because of that.

This morning I’m suffering from severe caffeine deprivation. I’m wandering around in a fog over here. After I post this I need to go to the grocery store and buy something that contains caffeine. (I may need an IV drip at this point. I dunno.)

I finished the current pair of socks yesterday. I opted not to obsess over making them match. Well, that’s not precisely true. I started the second sock, got halfway through the cuff, and decided to start over with a different section of yarn because I thought they might match if I tried over. They ended up not really matching, but I like ’em.

The colors aren’t quite what they look like in the photo, or maybe it’s my monitor. The olive stripes seem to look brown in photos.

Project photo: Olive stripe socks

Project photo: Olive stripe socks

T-shirt makeover

Before I flit off for the weekend, I thought I’d show you what I did last night. (Otherwise known as crafting under the influence/flitting around the house in my bra because this is the t-shirt I was wearing yesterday when I got inspired.) I got this idea out of a book whose name escapes me at the moment—I’ll come back and post the title when I get a chance to look it up.

[Edit: It’s Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt, though I probably didn’t do it the same way as the project in there that looks like this one because I don’t actually have a copy of the book. There’s a website for the book that has a couple projects, too.]

I love this t-shirt, but it was way too big for me and had shrunk weirdly so that the printing was off-center and it was really, really wide compared to how long it was. It fit like a potato sack. I was complaining about how it fit, and around 11:00 last night I decided I was going to do something about it once and for all.


A few snips and some pins, then I tried it on to make sure I wasn’t making it too small:

I cut some fabric off the sides, made strips from the piece I cut off the bottom, stretched them out to make them curl, snipped holes in the edges, and laced it up. The raw edges will curl up in the wash—t-shirt fabric is forgiving that way—so I’m not to worried that the collar and the bottom edge aren’t quite straight.

After. I could’ve made it a tad smaller, but much better than before:

Compromise and confusion

I’m knitting the second sock after arriving at a compromise between perfectionist and reasonable: I cast on, knit ribbing for a while, saw that I might possibly be just one stripe off from having matching socks, and started over in hopes that it would match. We’ll see—I think the color that comes up next will be the wrong color, but I’m not frogging again. It will be okay.

I desperately want to restart the candle flame shawl but haven’t gotten around to it yet. I’m still trying not to irritate that shoulder with too much repetitive motion. It’s just about better now, but there’s still a twinge here and there if I move it wrong or lift something too heavy or work at the computer for too long. This shoulder has a history already—I had to see a physical therapist for a somewhat different problem several years ago—so I’m trying to be good to it. Physical therapy is expensive. Though as it turns out I do still have the dorky stretchy band and the list of exercises from when I had to go before, and likely most of that would be helpful again now that I’m mostly better.

My current crafting dilemma has nothing to do with the non-matching socks or the shawl that I keep starting over, though. It’s this: I have a number of balls of Plymouth Encore, DK weight, black. This is the yarn I’ve been using for the several failed attemtps at this tank top.

Now, I love this top. I love this top so much that I want to marry it and have children with it and grow old with it and spend our twilight years sitting on the front porch drinking iced tea and kvetching about these kids today. As such, I’d really like it if I could work out my gauge problem and have it come out in a size and shape that more or less resembles me.

I’m pretty sure the yarn called for in the pattern is DK weight. The yarn I’ve been making it with is also ostensibly DK weight. The pattern calls for a yarn that has 109 yards per 50g ball and a gauge of 5 sts/7 rows per inch on size 6 needles.

The ball band for the yarn I’m using says it should work up at 5½ sts/inch on size 6 needles. The band also says the yarn is 150 yards per 50g ball.

I am having massive gauge issues with this project. To begin with, it boggles my mind that, although it has 41 more yards per 50g ball in my yarn than the recommended yarn, the band claims that it works up only a half stitch per inch smaller on the same size needles.

Next problem: On size 6 needles, I was getting about 7½ stitches per inch. On size 7 needles? Also about 7½ stitches per inch. Both sets of needles are cheap aluminum straights.

I gave up on the aluminum needles and started swatching on a Knitpicks circular that I got for my birthday with size 5 tips. Size 5. Smaller than what the pattern recommends. Two sizes smaller than the largest size I’d tried.

I’m getting 6 stitches per inch.

I think my head is going to explode. Granted, the knitting is much easier and more pleasant on the Knitpicks needles. They’re smoother (and as an aside, I have actually worn the paint of part of the tips on the cheap aluminum needles, which was probably not helping matters any) and I seem to knit more loosely with them. But still. This is beyond weird.

Do I just go with it and do a bunch of math to figure out what size I should make on this needle? One st/in difference times 19 inches = 19 sts more to cast on, which would have me making the 46″ size rather than the 38″ size, and if either my math or my gauge swatch is wrong I will have a potato sack, albeit a potato sack with lovely short-row shaping at the bust and hip, and I will be forced to take to my bed in despair.

There’s also the fact that my first two gauge swatches relaxed a bit in washing, so maybe this one will, too, and maybe, just maybe I’ll have 5 stitches per inch after washing the swatch and can cast on the 38″ size.

Pertinent fact: I need the same size 5 circular for the lace shawl, so it’s got to be one or the other if I’m going to do the tank top on that size needle, though maybe I can use the longer cable for the shawl and the shorter one for the tank and just swap the tips back and forth.

Head. Exploding.

What would you do?

I planned to make these identical twin socks, but I’m not sure if it’s a happening thing here.

Here’s the first one:

The problem? This colorway has a wickedly long repeat, and it’s a single 100g ball, not two 50g balls, so I don’t know if I can start at the same part of the colorway on the second sock and still end up with enough yarn to finish without re-attaching the yarn in a way that would mess up the striping.

See? It doesn’t repeat until the arrow:

It looks like it repeats sooner, but when I really looked closely at it, what I had was this:
1 olive stripe (cast on started where the gray met the olive)
3 blue stripes
2 green stripes
2 olive stripes
2 green stripes
2 olive stripes
2 blue stripes
2 green stripes (heel flap)
2 blue stripes (or 3 maybe, where the heel turned and the instep started)
3 olive stripes (the third one is where the striping starts to repeat itself
3 blue stripes

So the patterning doesn’t repeat until nearly halfway through the foot.

On the one hand, I don’t know if it’s possible to make them match. On the other hand, I can be a little compulsive about things like this and I’d really like them to match, particularly since these are a gift, not for me. What would you do?

In the meantime, I’m going to cast on the lace shawl again on one of my Knitpicks circulars. I think it’ll go much better than on the cheapie aluminum needles, and it’ll be easier to run the lifelines through.

Oh, and buy some groceries. Everyone here seems to expect to be fed on occasion—go figure.

In other news, I finally updated/fixed my links list. It hadn’t been updated for probably two years, and it was a mess. A long time ago, Vera advised me to just use Bloglines to do the list so it’d update automatically to my Bloglines listing, but I was very attached to all the pretty link buttons. Unfortunately, updating it by hand seems to be something I never get around to doing, so I finally went ahead and did it through Bloglines. I know I’m missing some links—a while back I set up a different Bloglines account and have since lost the login info for my old one, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t manage to import all my old subscriptions. If I used to link to you and you’re not there anymore, please let me know. I’ve been poking through other people’s blogrolls trying to find some of the blogs I’ve lost track of, but I haven’t found them all.

For my next amazing feat, maybe I’ll fix the broken images in all the posts from before I moved the blog and re-do the archives listing in the sidebar, which is terribly sloppy-looking these days.

And more socks

Let’s not talk about the lace shawl today, okay? I am having a fundamental disagreement with the shawl in that it’s supposed to have 97 stitches and I keep ending up with only 95. Maybe I should be following the chart instead of trying to follow the written directions. Charts give me the willies, though. All those symbols.

Oh. I wasn’t going to talk about that, was I?

This is what I did yesterday—I needed something portable to take to the doctor’s office with me:

There’s a lot more green in there than I remembered—I pulled it out of the stash thinking I had some mostly-blue sock yarn. I like it though. Plymouth Sockotta, which is a cotton/superwash wool/nylon blend, color #621.

I know you think this yarn is hideous. I was a little skeptical myself when I started the sock, but it’s grown on me.

This is more of a Where’s Waldo? than a photo:

Baby robins. Can you see them? It’s near impossible to get a clear photo of them because I’m doing this through the window screen. They’re right outside the bedroom window. If I open the window suddenly, they pop right up with their beaks open hoping for food.

New socks aside, I’m trying not to overdo the knitting. Like I mentioned up above, I had a visit to the doctor yesterday. You know how I said I was better after that fall on the steps? Not so much, as it turned out. The doc said things like “bicep tendon stenosis” and “ulnar neuropathy”. I am supposed to try not to irritate my shoulder while it heals. Feh.

Lace underway

I’ve healed up from the fall, no more freaky nerve pain, and am back to my projects again.

I have a doily in mind that I think I’m going to start tonight. I’m starting to miss crocheting with all the knitting I’ve been doing lately, but I did need to go on a big knitting binge so as not to forget the new things I was learning almost as soon as I learned them.

Right now I’m working on the candle flame shawl. It might be overstating things to say it’s in progress because I haven’t gotten back to the lace bits yet. But I’ve finished that first eighteen rows of garter stitch (for the third or fourth time) and am now threading a lifeline through the eighteenth row. I have learned the error of my ways and do not want to have to frog all the way back to the beginning again.

I thought, last night when I got out the darning needles and a ball of #30 crochet thread, that the lifeline would be a quick thing and I’d be off and running on the lace. But it’s taking me forever to get it run through. I really need some itty bitty darning needles, I think. I’m using my smallest one, but it’s still fairly big. Not as big as the ones sold in a pack of five as “yarn needles” but about the biggest size that came in the pack I once got that had a variety of small sizes. The rest of the pack is gone—seems the smaller the darning needle, the less likely I am to be able to keep it in my possession for more than a week or two.

I thought about trying a quilting needle since they’re so skinny—I have a pack of those that I bought to string beads on crochet thread for a project ages ago—but I decided I’d make a mess of the yarn because they’re so sharp that they’d split the yarn instead of going underneath the stitches.

I think I need to find some sort of little plastic tube to store those needles in. I usually just keep them in their original cardboard package, but that deteriorates quickly being knocked around in the big plastic tube with all my crochet hooks. Needles eventually start falling out of the package, then I dump everything out looking for my #5 Boye steel hook, and *poof* some poor innocent darning needle vanishes, probably condemned to death by vacuum cleaner.

Anyway. I thought about showing you a photo of what I’ve got so far, but it’s not much to look at. It’s all squashed up on a straight needle, and it’s, er. Garter stitch. In pretty laceweight yarn, but still it’s two inches of garter stitch squished up on the needle. I’ll take a photo once I get through a repeat of the lace pattern, though.

I do have my doubts that this thing is going to block out to eighteen inches wide as specified in the pattern. I mean, I’m trying to have faith in the process and hope for the best, but I’ve gone up a needle size (I do knit tightly) and it still doesn’t look like it’s more than 16″ wide. It’s hard to tell with it squashed up on a 14″ straight needle, but if I spread it out across the whole needle, it looks like it would be an inch or two wider than the needle.

Can it really pick up that much width in blocking? Or is it going to be a rather wide lace scarf? We’ll see what happens.

Finished socks

Hey, look:

(They are the same length. I don’t know what’s going on in that photo.)

I’m much happier with the toes now. They don’t match perfectly, but what I ended up with is fine by me. The first time they looked very silly next to each other with one ending in a whitish stripe and the other ending in a brownish stripe.

I love them. It’s almost—but not quite—enough to make me wish the weather were chilly enough to wear them today. I’m really very happy with how they turned out. You can see in the photos there are mistakes, but I learned a lot of things along the way.

What I might do differently next time: Maybe cast on fewer stitches—not many, maybe four. They fit really well on my left foot (which makes sense because that’s the foot I kept checking them on) but as it turns out my right foot is half a size smaller than the left, something which can only dealt with by making very slightly smaller socks or by having a left sock and a right sock. (The second option isn’t reasonable. I have enough trouble remembering the difference between left and right without it being possible to put socks on the wrong feet.) I also plan to try with a set of five dpns instead of four to see if that helps me make the ribbing tighter and less prone to laddering.

The numb finger is pretty much better today. (I have to confess that I finished the socks last night, but I did wait until it felt better before I picked up the knitting again.) I’m blaming the numbness partly on excessive knitting plus forgetting to take my B vitamins a lot lately and partly on the fact that I fell on the deck stairs the other night. All I paid attention to at first was that I had landed on the part of my back that always hurts (ouch) but I also landed on my wrist in such a way that I wrenched my neck and shoulder a bit due to the angle I landed at, and I’m noticing more and more that I have this sort of tingly nerve-pain thing in part of my hand and arm. I think I pinched a nerve/irritated something that is pressing on a nerve/something along those lines. What with it being in my arm too, I figure it’s got to be at least partly something in my neck or shoulder that’s causing it.

With any luck it’ll be back to normal soon. I’m trying to do lots of gentle stretching and stuff like that.

Almost there

I was up to the end of the sock and about to cut the yarn and graft the toe when I held it up to the other sock for comparison. They were near-identical twin socks right up to the toe, where I’d started the decreases a couple of rounds earlier on the second sock than the first. That left me with a brown/blue strip on the toe of the first sock and a whites and blues stripe at the toe of the second sock apart from the very end which would’ve been grafted with brown.

This looked very silly. If they’d been non-identical socks to begin with it wouldn’t have mattered so much, but I’d gone to all the trouble of making sure I started with the same part of the colorway on the second sock, and they’d been nearly identical up to the toe.

I decided I could not live with the very silly toe discrepancy, so I ripped out a whole bunch of rows, cussed a lot while I put stitches back on the needles and had to fix things with a crochet hook because I’m not particularly adept at this ripping/picking up maneuver, worked a few more rows before the decrease, and it’s much better matched now. It’s still not perfect—I may have done one or two more rounds than the first sock this time before starting to decrease—but it won’t look ridiculous.

The end is in sight, but I’m holding off till tomorrow to finish due to a threatented resurgence of Numb Finger of Doom. The last time that happened, I kept working on a thread crochet project for three hours after my fingertip started to feel the slightest bit numb, and as a result I didn’t regain feeling in my fingertip for close to three weeks. I want to finish the sock, but having sensation in all of my fingers is probably a higher priority. I think. I really want to finish the sock tonight. Maybe I’ll give it a rest for a few hours and see how it’s feeling.

Getting there

In a display of project monogamy that’s wildly uncharacteristic of me, I’m still working on the second sock. Just finished the gusset decreases now and wow, do they ever look better than the ones on the first sock. Remember what I was saying about how it’s not possible to read the directions too many times? I missed a step the first time around—the part where you knit one round plain after each round of decreases. (The first sock fits just fine, but this one looks much better.) Combine that with the fact that I’ve mostly stopped messing up the ssks, and you actually can’t tell which side of the sock is k2tog decreases and which side is ssk.

In order to maintain a balance and not have one sock remarkably better-looking than the other, things seem to have gone a bit awry when I turned the heel. It’s not the wrong shape or anything, but things look a bit floopy. I think I was mixed up about ssk again for a little while there. But then it’s unlikely that anyone’s going to turn me upside down and inspect the heels of my socks for floopiness, so I’m okay with it.

I wonder whether it’s possible to finish the sock tonight. I’m still greatly entertained by the sock, but I want to knit lace, too. And crochet granny squares. Everyone seems to be making some sort of very cool granny project or other, and I’m feeling inspired to make squares.

Ooh! I just had a thought, one that involves the granny square skirt from Hip to Crochet, the one that has a solid part at the top and then the rest of the skirt is made up of small grannies done in sock yarn, with the shaping done by changing hook size? I have been wanting to make that skirt since I first got the book ages ago, but I’m not about to run out and buy the quantity of sock yarn called for in the pattern. But. If I’m not too fussy about it having a slightly crazy-quilt look to it, I bet I could, over time, make the whole thing out of leftover self-striping yarn. I had probably nearly a quarter of the first skein left over when I finished the first sock, will have as much left of the second skein, and that’d make a handful of little squares, I bet.

This could turn out to be a Really Bad Idea, I suppose, but there’s only one way to find out, right?

Musings on socks and lace

I heeded Wendy’s advice to cast on the second stock straight away and am about four inches in. I’m not going to post five hundred progress photos this time, though. You all were very patient and enthusiastic the first time around, but I’m not going to push it by subjecting you to a second round of progress photos that look exactly like the ones from the first sock.

I’m glad I started right in with the second one. I’ve crocheted exactly one complete pair of socks and about 60% of another pair. The second pair has been awaiting completion for well over a year and a half, though in my defense the pattern I was using called for a separate cuff made of single crochet in the back loop, which I like for sock ribbing but which feels at the time like it’s never going to end. I didn’t want that to happen with this pair, and I’m determined to finish the second sock before flitting off to another project. (Never mind that these socks are wool and therefore won’t actually be worn until fall. If I don’t do it now, I might not ever do it.)

So far, things are much the same. I had nearly identical problems with the ribbing. I’m pretty good at ribbing on straights, but on dpns I have issues. Bad laddering between the second and third needles. With the first sock, I wove some yarn around to tighten it up, and it doesn’t show badly when the sock is on, so I think I’ll do the same with this one. It’s probably just a matter of getting better at it through experience, and there’s so little ribbing compared with the rest of the sock that I didn’t get as much practice on the first one. I can live with that. I’ll get better eventually.

Though I am, like I said, determined to finish this sock without being distracted by other projects, I’m very excited about having another go at the lace wrap now that I’ve learned how to do ssk decreases the right way. I’m now convinced that’s 99% of what I kept doing wrong. The other 1% of what I was doing wrong was not putting in lifelines—I was totally unable to salvage any of it after frogging the messed-up lace because the stitches were so tiny that I couldn’t manage to pick them up again without ending up with some stitches from one row, some from the previous one on the needle. It was such a mess that I had to rip out all eighteen rows of garter stitch, too, and just start over. Three times, if I recall correctly. This time, a lifeline’s going in on the eighteenth row of garter stitch and then after every lace repeat. Maybe after every few rows on the first lace repeat, even. I cannot face ripping out and re-knitting those eighteen rows of garter stitch again.

Why is it that I can cheerfully knit miles of stockinette in the round (all knit stitches) but garter stitch on straights (also all knit stitches) drives me completely bugnuts?