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?

Half an FO

Look, I finished the first sock—many, many thanks to everyone who was cheering me on while I worked on it!

I hope you will not be struck blind by the terrifying paleness of my leg. I will still be that pale in August. I have learned to live with it.

I’m still working out how to get decent photos without the sun washing them out. I probably need to read the manual that came with the camera.

I went back and watched the ssk videos at knittinghelp.com per Dawn’s suggestion, and sure enough I was doing the ssks wrong all along. I was sticking the left needle through the back of the stitch instead of the front. The toe decreases are infinitely better-looking than the gusset decreases on account of I actually did them the right way. The toe is slightly wobbly where I did the grafting, but Kitchener stitch was another first for me, so I figure that’ll go better next time.

I used the sock recipe from Knitting Rules and didn’t change a thing other than using size 3 needles instead of size 2 because I knit and crochet more tightly than most people. Maybe I’m just wound a little tight? I’ve learned from experience to start with a needle one size bigger in knitting and a hook two sizes bigger in crochet because the recommended size is pretty much always too small for me. Still, I was much relieved that the sock turned out to fit well—I was halfway convinced I was making it too big.

How long did that take? Less than a week? I thought for sure it’d take a few weeks to finish the first sock. Now to cast on the second one…

Socky

Almost didn’t have time to post it, but here’s today’s photo. (I promise I won’t do this daily sock photo thing with the second sock, honest.)

It looks a little funky because of the needles forcing it to fold—by the next time I post I should be far enough along to get a better-looking photo.

Shiny!

Okay, so if I can’t post a sock photo I gotta post a photo of something. So here ya go:

It’s a relief knowing I can use my phone without opening it ever so very carefully so as not to disturb the glue/crack or break the hinge any more than it already is. I can set the new phone to vibrate, too, which is nice because I oftentimes don’t hear it ring if it’s in my pocket. I couldn’t do that anymore with the old one—any time it was set to vibrate, the glue would loosen up and I’d have to perform surgery on it again.

Photoless!

I was just about to get out the sock for its daily photo. (I don’t think I’ve ever taken this many photos of a something-in-progress, ever. I am ridiculously and inordinately proud of this sock.) Then I realized: My knitting bag is in the car because I was knitting while I rode to the cell phone store with Don so we could get our phones upgraded since his was at least five years old and pretty messed up and mine was about four years old, had a massive crack that I kept gluing back together with superglue, and I couldn’t turn it off, ever, because if it was turned off the screen wouldn’t work when I turned it back on until I’d turn it on, then off, and so on, until one of those times I lucked out and the screen worked.

So. Anyway. I am back at home, and we both got new phones for not much money what with rebates and extending our contract and selling them maybe the tiniest portion of our souls and things of that nature. I heart my new phone. It’s red! It is absolutely adorable. The salesperson totally nailed me with that red phone. I was leaning toward a different phone, one that would’ve been more expensive in the long run but cheaper today because I wouldn’t have had to wait for the rebate, and she, apparently having noticed my red sweater and shiny red combat boots, said, “Why don’t I show you this one in red?” and came back out with one. I may have squealed a bit when I saw it, but I will deny that later.

But my knitting bag is still in the car. I was so absorbed with playing with my shiny red phone on the ride back that I abandoned the sock in the car, and now Don has gone to work. In the car. And so my sock is not here to take a photo, and I can’t knit. It is very sad. Maybe I’ll cast on the tank top yet again and see if I can get it right this time.

How the sock is going: I turned the heel, I picked up stitches, I made decreases, and now I’m working on the foot. Yay! The side of the sock that has the k2tog decreases is pretty decent loooking, but not so much the side with the ssk decreases. I am so not good at that ssk thing.

I noticed something interesting while I was working on this, something that is probably the reason why I have to frog parts of that lace wrap every time I work on it: Every time I make an ssk, I end up twisting the stitch I worked right before the decrease. Is that normal? It doesn’t look normal. In the lace wrap, I didn’t see that I was doing this, and I kept running into problems. With the sock, I could see it—bigger yarn, stitches in different colors—so I was able to untwist the stitch when I came back around. Once I caught on to what was happening, that is. There’s a little bitty spot in the sock where things maybe look a little peculiar.

I’m off—errands to do, towels to wash, shiny red phone to play with. I’ll be back tomorrow with a sock photo.

Flappy

Daily sock photo:
sock progres photo
This is really moving along much faster than I thought it would. I’m reading about what to do next after the heel flap. I read it once already last night, but I’ve learned that it’s not possible to read the directions too many times when it comes to patterns. I tend to skim and miss important bits of information.

Since Dawn and Stacey both said they like the colorway of this yarn, I meant to post what it was, only it turns out I don’t read German so well and the only part of the label that’s in English just says it’s machine washable and that sort of thing. It’s Regia 4-ply sock yarn, though, the multi-effect colors line, and, er. Farbe means color, right? If so, the color number is 5376. (I’m pretty sure the other number is the dye lot. Heh.)

Stripey


Why, yes, I do plan to post daily photos of how the sock looks now that it’s ever so slightly longer than it was yesterday.

Lighting is wonky, no sunshine today. That’s all, gotta run around and do some errands.

Proto-sock

Yeah, so I was knitting a tank top. I ripped it out again yesterday due to a combination of profound annoyance, a nagging suspicion that I was still making it the wrong size, and the fact that I found two fairly large mistakes. I wasn’t that far into it, so the most reasonable thing to do seemed to be to frog the whole thing.

After I did that, I was bored because the power was out (for four hours—a transformer blew on the next street over. Sounded like a shotgun went off over there), annoyed because the power was out and I had to rip out that tank top and couldn’t face casting it on again right away and also feeling generally incompetent. I contemplated crocheting a doily, since that’s something that usually doesn’t make me feel grossly incomepent the way most some of my knitting has been lately.

So I found myself with a ball of #30 crochet thread in my hand, leafing through a pattern booklet, but I couldn’t find one I really wanted to make because most of my patterns are still packed, and I couldn’t go online to find one because the power was out.

What wasn’t packed, though, was some sock yarn—because of a stop at a yarn store in Findlay on the way to Ann Arbor a few weeks ago, where the very nice lady who owns the shop both congratulated me on persevering to learn how to use dpns and advised me that knitting socks is a thoroughly worthwhile activity—and my copy of Knitting Rules, which I’d been reading during the move. I figured that since I was going crazy what with all the things I’d planned to do requiring electricity, I’d risk another blow to my crafting self-esteem and try another sock. (There are posts back in the archives somewhere talking about my previous attempts to knit socks. It wasn’t pretty.)

And lookee here! (Carefully arranged to hide the rather dreadful laddering in the ribbing. It’s much better now that I’m on the stockinette part. I’ll work that out on the second sock.)

proto-sock photo

It has flaws, some of which I will probably fix and some of which I will accept on the grounds that a first sock is not perfect. It’s interesting how the laddering was absolutely dreadful in the ribbing but completely vanished once I got to the stockinette part. I need to try some different things in the second sock to see if I can figure out how not to make that happen, but for now I’m absolutely delighted to have made this far knitting a sock in the first place.

Oh. Edited to add the a plug for that yarn shop in case you’re ever passing through that part of Ohio. It’s The Yarn Farm, on township road 180 outside of Findlay, and it’s a great shop. The woman who runs the shop is really friendly and encouraging and I will absolutely stop by and show her the socks she helped encourage me to make when I’m in that area again.

Yet another edit: In a bit of sock-serendipity, after posting I was catching up reading at Bloglines and found that Vera is having a blog contest. If you love knitting socks, go on over and read this post and tell her what you love about sock knitting.

Tank top. Argh.

I have the proto-tank-top-front off the needles. It is supposed to be 19″ across the bottom at the hip. It measures 17″. If I give it a lot of encouragement, I can convince it to be 18″. Since the first swatch gained a little width in washing/blocking, I think it probably would be more like 18″ after washing.

18″ is the measurement for the next smaller size.

Looks like I’ll be starting over here. Probably making the next size up rather than using bigger needles—I like how the yarn’s working up on this size. There will be no photographic record of my lesson in gauge.

At least I was only 4″ in when it occurred to me to measure it, right? It was, like, a really, really big swatch. And I learned how to do short rows. (And also now not to do short rows.)

Tank top

I’m knitting this tank top. I didn’t get the gauge right with the needles the pattern called for, so I just went up a size and started knitting the top rather than another swatch.

I’m several inches in and finally measured. I seem to be getting the exact same gauge I was getting with the smaller needles. This is a little baffling. I had washed the swatch, though. Maybe it got wider when I washed it?

I’m also unconvinced that I’m making the right size top. I keep thinking to myself, No, go on ahead, the 38″ one is the one that’ll fit around your hips. You’re putting in bust darts anyway. The pattern even says to put in bust darts. What could go wrong?

Tomorrow I’m taking the thing off the needles to try to check the gauge without it being all scrunched up. Will post a photo of the amorphous bottom few inches of the top if I can get one to come out, and then after all that I’ll try to decide whether I have an unreasonable idea of what size I am.