Happy Canada day to my fellow Canadians. If you're looking for anything more profound or meaningful than that brief message, you may want to see whether the Yarn Harlot has done her usual spectacular job on a Canada Day post.
Yes, I'm very glad I live here. Nova Scotia is particularly pretty. But I do wish we had Saturday mail delivery.
The only knitting I've accomplished is to finish (just barely) the third pair of Tour de Socks. I showed the start of the pattern in the last blog post. The pattern is Roll the Bones by Kirsten Hall (spindleknitter on ravelry). It's a true stranded colourwork pattern, and other than a poorly executed pair of Fiddleheads mittens, I've never done a full colourwork project.
As it turns out, there's a reason for that.
The end result doesn't fit. The feet are too big, but the legs are too small. Clearly I'm built like a dinosaur -- great big legs (but not great big feet) and itty bitty stumpy arms.
I have tried colourwork in the past with the same result. It looks great while it's being knit, but there's that teeny problem of it being too tight to get over the heel.
If I could unscrew my feet, then I could maybe wear them. Or if I were like the stepsisters in the original Grimm version of Cinderella, I could cut off my heels and they would fit. But neither of those prospects is particularly appealing (or realistic).
I decided to do the first sock in the size XL (80 stitches), but thought I'd use 2.25 mm needles. That may have been my mistake.
The patterning on these socks is really quite cool and no two socks are the same.
For the first one I used black (BMFA STR MW in Valkyrie) as the main colour with Hot Sox as the accent colour.
I was pretty excited as I was going along (and doing my 60 rows on the leg). I thought I was getting my floats loose enough and the knitting didn't look as lumpy as my usual colourwork attempts. So then I got cocky and decided to try it on.
From that point forward, I knew I was knitting a pair of socks whose entire purpose was to be knit. These are not socks which can be worn. It was a crafting exercise in futility, but I was okay with that. It's all about the journey and not the destination.
Actually, it's all about completing the round for Tour de Sock.
At some point near the end of sock 1 I decided to see whether Magic Looping would work better. Much as I love my DPNs, there's a lot of yarn management involved in stranded knitting, and all those ends were in the way.
Magic Loop is the way to go for colourwork. I started with a Carbonz circular, but the joins were way too bumpy and the yarn kept getting caught. I was not in a particularly zen frame of mind, so I had to change it up.
I had a 40" Addi Stumpo Blunty circular in the 2.25 mm size, and even though the tips are about as sharp as blackboard chalk, the joins on the circs was smooth and glidey. So I finished number one in a pretty positive frame of mind.
Since I knew that these would be decorative and not functional, I decided to knit the second sock on larger needles (2.75 mm) using fewer stitches (size M - 70 stitches). That also meant I could eliminate a repeat on the leg and the foot. The first one has about a 10" foot, and it's almost that size around as well.
I wanted to reverse the colours on the second one to make a fraternal pair. So I used the variegated as the main colour and the dark as the conrast colour. Miraculously, I didn't even mess up by reversing the main and contrast colours while chart reading.
I did both knitting with 2 circs (but I was using 24" Hiya Hiya sharps, and they aren't as slidey as I would like and I think 24" is a wee bit big -- 20" would be perfect), so I took a road trip to Mahone Bay and bought the store sample Addi Sock Rocket in the 40" size 2.75 mm. So I finished it with Magic Loop.
I'm not sure that I would ever be a magic loop convert for regular socks (or 2 circs for that matter), but they work better for colourwork. I'm pretty impressed.
It was dark when I finished last night, and dark this morning, so the FO pics are kind of dark and crappy. Oh well.
You can tell my tension is better on the second one.
They look a bit like brain coral.
But they're done and submitted and I'm still pulling for my team. I get us an extra point by using sponsor yarn. Everyone who included a photo of the chart dice also got an extra point. So this should be three points for Team Also Madly Courageous and one point for me.
So the socks weren't successful from a product perspective, but they were from a process perspective. Here's why they were a win:
- I have managed to learn two-handed knitting and tensioning with my left hand so that it's not unbearably slow. I'm no Finn or anything, but I can go along at a decent pace now.
- I have learned how to magic loop and knit with 2 circs. I hadn't done either successfully before, so now I feel like I've added another arrow to my quiver.
- I have learned to keep the floats a bit looser so that the sock fabric isn't all wrinkled and puckery. See again the comment about brain coral.
The reason these took as long as they did is that I have been in real agony while knitting. My thumb is still sprained, and every time I use weights at the gym, it aggravates the sprain all over again. The sprain is kind of a pain, but it's not the main culprit.
I slept funny and kinked my neck one night about two weeks ago and it still hurts. But I fear that I have actually pinched a nerve. I have constant pain down my arm and down my back. It feels like when your arm falls asleep and then goes through that unbearable period where it wakes up. It's like that all the time. Sleeping is unbearable. I have to lie on my back with the arm elevated in one specific position. Extra strength Ibuprofent and Aleve aren't even touching it. So I can only knit for a bit each day, and there were a couple of days last week where I couldn't knit at all.
I will call and make a doctor's appointment this week. I was hoping it would go away (the way the kinked necks usually do), but so far it's tenacious.
Anyway, all that is just an explanation about why I'm so slow at the moment.
Tour de Sock number 4 came out today, and I cast on this morning. It uses a cable cast on and then some bind offs to make a picot cuff. The pattern is written for magic loop, but I don't have any 2.50 mm circs other than Addi Turbo Lace and I absolutely can't stand those brass needles. So I'm using my Signatures.
There's only one ball of yarn to work with, so that feels like a bit of a luxury (or a reprieve) at the moment. This design uses both beads and cables. I'm skunked.
I'm using the crochet hook method for adding the beads. So far it's working reasonably well.
Next blog post should have pair #4 in it.
The Lad and I have been doing tons of gardening and trying to get things whipped into shape. It's finally paying off. I think we have the most colourful house on the street. It has plenty of curb appeal. The trees we planted were totally worth it, but man was that a Herculean labour. We're built on bedrock and it took about 2 hours or more for each hole.
I'm going to insert a bunch of random garden shots. Feel free to skip to the end if you're still looking for yarn.
I'll take pictures of the trees and the back yard for the next blog post.
I've been walking lots and seeing all kinds of interesting things and flora. But this is getting long, so maybe I should finish with some yarn and project bags and do a nature blog post some time during the week.
I have some Cephalopod Yarns Bugga in Barber Pole Hopper and Montauk Monster (a good staple colour).
I got a Birdleg Bags project bag in a cute Matryoshka fabric. And check out the zipper pull bead. It's what cinched the deal for me.
I also got a beautiful Kaffe Fasset Petunia print large wedge bag from Mimi at Elinor and Marianne on Etsy. I just love her bags. She was so sweet and threw in a matching notions bag as well.
I'm hosting the SKA August second sock KAL, and I will be ordering a project bag from Elionor & Marianne for the winner (along with some skeins which I have already acquired for the KAL).
If you lust after really nicely done project bags, check out Elionor & Marianne on Etsy.
I'm all about the wedge bags recently. I am using a big one for my cross stitch (which has been woefully neglected since Tour de Sock). I have one for some of my circular needles, and I use one for my crochet hooks / beading supplies. The big ones are good for projects on the go as well.
And last but not least for this post, when I was in Mahone Bay at Have A Yarn (to get the Addi Sock Rocket for the colourwork sock), I picked up a couple of skeins of yarn. There are two variegated Madeline Tosh yarns (Sweet Pea and Chartres), a neutral grey in Sweet Fiber by Melissa, and a couple of muted variegated skeins of Waikiwi which is a New Zealand sock yarn which has possum and alpaca in it.
Oh super. It's firework time and the dogs are howling. It's going to be a long night....
Till next time, folks.