Monday, July 12, 2010

Sock Knitting

Forcing myself to knit 12 pairs of socks in twelve months is doing my knitting skills some good.  Not only am I completing projects (for a change) but I am also learning new skills and challenging myself at the same time.

The two Wendy Johnson books are superb for this.  She takes the sock apart into four elements - the toe (the two books I have are toe-up socks - so the toe is always first), the pattern/body (which usually starts on the upper part of the foot once the toe has been completed and then carries on up the leg), the heel and the cast off.  Each part can be done in a number of way and it is simply a pick and mix to put your sock together.

At the moment I am on holiday in France and my holiday knitting, of course, is mainly sock knitting.  Well apart from the baktus I started on the way and the gift I finished too.  (And I optimistically packed some lace yarn - but don't think I am getting near it.)  I am getting quite a lot of time to knit.  I'm not keen on the long-haul driving so Martin does a lot of it leaving me time to knit, also all three kids are in the kids' club for the first time which means two or three sessions a day with lots of time to knit.

I brought along a vanilla sock to knit on the way - nice and mindless - and I completed that today (16th July ) with just the ends to sew in.  For once it is a toe-up vanilla and is in Sassy Stripe - blues - which I have had hanging around my stash for ages.  I do need to find the second skein though for the second sock.  This sock has been great for knitting on the go with my Nic's Knots Japanese Knot Bag hanging from my wrist.

Pattern: Plain toe up using 'Socks from the Toe Up' - Wendy Johnson
Yarn:  Cascade Sassy Stripes in blues bought from Get Knitted ages ago (I got a free lollipop!)
Needles: 2.5mm addi lace circular - 100cm
Started: Beginning of July 2010
Completed: July 16th 2010
Cast On: Figure of 8
Heel: Short Row
Body: Vanilla (plain stocking stitch)
Top: 2x2 rib for approx. 1"
Cast off: Russian cast-off

My second sock for this month is also from the Wendy Johnson book - 'Socks from the Toe Up'.  It is the Traditional Gansey Sock and is a lovely pattern.  It uses a combination of knit and purl to give a textured effect as used on Fishing Sweaters particularly on the East Coast of Scotland and Northern England.  The pattern I chose to do is a simple V which Wendy comments looks like waves or seagulls - I agree.  It's an interesting way of knitting and is satisfying to do - but is oh so slow...  I am using Yarn Yard Caber (in a lovely lavender/grey) with 2.25mm needles and it is taking forever... I fear this will not be knit in time....

... so.... I have started a third sock this month.  But first - a shopping trip. I managed to get a list of knitting shop in the Tours area and got the chance yesterday to go out, on my own, and find them.  (Martin's day out - he did vineyards.)  I found two of the three open and bought a little wool ;-)  (Martin look away now...)

Shop one - Phildar - mainly a clothes shop with a small wool section at the back - think John Lewis.  I bought some plain wooden buttons for the aforementioned gift.  I wasn't particularly struck by their wool selection.  No sock yarn, nasty needles and lots of cotton and acrylic yarn.  I did buy a few things from their bargain buckets though.

6 balls of Canasta by Phildar (50g) - 79% viscose and 21% acrylic.  Going to give this to my SIL as a wee shiny present for having DS1 to stay for a week ;-)
2 balls of Phil Lin by Phildar 50g, 45% viscose, 40% cotton, 15% linen. Could possibly use this for socks - but does it have enough give?

Then I went to another shop 'Anny Blatt'.  I know nothing about this chain.  They produce their own wool as well as selling other local wool (Spanish and French from what I could see.)  They again had big bargain buckets full of acrylic nastiness.  But - they had shelves of yumminess.  I was very tempted by some lovely (but expensive) alpaca yarn and intreagued by some yak yarn. I settled on some merino wool in the end.

2 balls of Katia Merino Baby (50g) 100% merino in the perfect red.  (One of these is being made into sock number three for this month - see below)
2 balls of Katia Merino Baby (50g) 100% merino in a lovely orange.

2 balls of Anny Blatt - Baby Blatt in Montana (50g) -100% wool.

I have plans for one pair of the orange or purple and am hoping the other pair will make a pair of socks.  It seems the French haven't really discovered sock yarn in the shops yet (not the British are that good at it either - maybe I had the wrong shops...).

So - back to the sock knitting - it looks like the Gansey sock is not going to be finished on time and I noticed that Wendy Johnson has a 'quick sock' section at the back of the book ;-)  So - I have cast on the Van Dyke Socks - which seems apt - you do know my middle name is Dyke? That's a story for another time.  So I fortunately have a range of needles with me and cast this sock on last night. It's a lovely, simple lace knit and is knitting up super-fast.

Details so far:
Pattern: Van Dyke Socks from 'Socks from the Toe Up' by Wendy Johnson
Wool: Katia Merino Baby in a lovely, deep red
Needles: 2.75mm DPNs
Started: 15th July 2010
Cast on: Turkish cast on - 12sts increasing to 52sts

It is interesting how I am now so comfortable with the different ways of knitting socks and currently have socks cast using each of the three main techniques - DPNs, 2 circulars and 1 long circular.  I am also less tolerant of mistakes - ripping out rows to fix a wrong stitch instead of saying it will do.  Although I spot mistakes much sooner now and can 'feel' when something isn't right. It is also really pleasing how quickly I am picking up patterns and can now do more and more away from the safety blanket of the pattern.  I have yet to turn a heel on my own though - one step at a time.

That's enough typing for now - need to knit.

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