Toe-Up Socks – Hot off the needles

from iphone 016
Finished up this comfy pair of toe-up socks this morning. These socks have been hanging fire for two weeks, only needing a couple of hours to finish. I put them aside (in fact, I put ALL of my knitting aside) when my best friend put the arm-twist on me to design a website for a political action committee she belongs to – but that’s another story. As I said in my previous post, I put a new Estonian lace project on the needles and I’m anxious to get clicking on that. Unfortunately, I couldn’t until these socks became a done deal instead of just another UFO.

You see, about a year and a half ago, while in the process of cleaning/reorganizing that pit I commonly refer to as my “studio,” I came up with no less than 26 UFOs floating about in various stages of unfinishedness. I did a little mental calculation on what I had invested in yarn alone in these projects and was stunned when I came up with a number that exceeded $1,000 (and if you spill the beans to my DH, I’ll lie through my teeth about it). Really, though, even DH couldn’t be more unhappy with me that I was with myself. I vowed then and there that, in future, I would not start any new project until: 1) the current one was finished;  AND, 2) I had to finish one of the UFOs.

That was over a year ago and I’m glad to say that I’ve stuck with it and completed most of the damning evidence of my knitting sloth. Today, out of the original 26 UFOs, only 3 remain – the comfy socks in the photo were not one of these, BTW. That was my project on the needles. The UFO was one of those “Surprise” baby sweaters. Have you heard of it? It’s a mitered square affair worked as a single piece of fabric that, when folded correctly, produces a little boxy sweater needing only seaming at the shoulders. I saw a couple of cute incarnations of that pattern and gave it a go, but found that I hated the execution of it almost from the get-go. Garter stitch…yards and yards, hour upon hour of garter stitch. ‘Nuf said.

Okay, so after making a short story long, let’s get back to these socks. They were knit on two Size 1, 24” circular needles using the basic sock pattern I adapted for myself from “Socks from the Toe Up” by Wendy D. Johnson of Wendy Knits. See my post on “Knitting with Rheumatoid Arthritis” for more info on this book and why I don’t use double point needles (DPNs).

I’m giving this pair of socks a B grade for a good fit, soft yarn, and a bit of lacy interest. They’re short of the A grade because I’m not over the moon on the colorway. The yarn is a tweedy blend of pink and blue with just a teensy bit of yellow ochre tossed in for God knows what reason. What can I say? It looked better when I bought it. Some yarns are just like that. They can be awfully appealing in the skein state, but once it’s knitted up…meh.

I don’t mind it so much with something like socks. Once your shoes are on and pant legs are down, who’s going to see them anyway? It really snaps my girdle, though, when I get suckered into using one of these changling yarns for, say, a sweater project. It’s just too bloody expensive and too much labor to end up with a sweater you’d only want to give to your ancient aunt – the one in the nursing home – who’s blind – and seldom comes out of her room.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I put a new Estonian lace project on the needles yesterday. Using Size 2 needles and laceweight yarn (which is a bit like knitting with spiderweb) it takes a lot of knitting to come up with enough fabric to photograph. I'll post something when it looks like something...or I'll let you know if my patience wore out and I frogged the whole business.

3 Bags Fulled - Now with more style!

I'll admit it, I've been a delinquent blogger, but I'm determined to mend my ways. In an effort to breath new life into this blog, its poor mistreated followers (if any of you are still hanging in there) and, most of all, me. So....after three long hours in front of the 'puter redesigning these pages, I herewith present the all new and improved "3 Bags Fulled" - Now with more style! With lots of oranges and limes, it's refreshingly citrusy, don't you think?

Still having a few issues with some widgets not showing up, i.e. the Followers box through Friend Connect. A check into Google's help desk reveals that I'm not the only blogger experiencing this glitch, so I'll leave it to the geeks at Google to try to figure it out. It will take me awhile to verify my links. You could all do me a favor and let me know if you find any that are broken so I can get to them right away.

It won't happen tonite, but check back tomorrow for at least one new post on a new project I just put on the needles today - an Estonian lace shawl in the most exquisite teal laceweight Merino wool from Filatura Di Crosa - called Centolavaggi. This fiber is to die for and a hell of a bargain at $22.00 from my LYS for 1531 yards.

And, just because a girl can't be too thin or have too many knitting needles, I picked up a set of the new "Knit Picks" cable needles in Size 4, 24". I like 'em - a lot. Can't wait to show them to you.

Until tomorrow...

Still knitting - in spite of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Hello faithful followers. My apologies for my long absence from the blog. I am, in fact, still knitting by hand and by machine although the progressive crippling effects of the Rheumatoid Arthritis is making it more difficult to knit by hand. But, don't cry for me Argentina - I've found some tips, tricks, and work-arounds that I'll be writing about in the coming days that have helped me cope with my pain and loss of dexterity. I hope these will help some of my fellow knitters out there who are also suffering some disability in their hands and either have given up hand knitting or think they will have to give it up at some point in the future.

I've been knitting socks - with luscious sock yarn - on size 1 needles! How's that for coping? How do I do it? Three words...two circular needles. I know, I know, it's not some groundbreaking new technology. Folks have been knitting socks this way for a long time and I vaguely remember hearing about a technique for knitting socks with a single circular needle twisted and turned into an odd figure-eight affair. Never did quite savvy the instructions on that. Instead, I continued to struggle with conventional 4 DPNs (double point needles) for years and hated every moment of it. As a consequence, I can count on one hand the pairs of socks I've made over multiple decades of knitting. I did turn to making socks on the knitting machine, but I was never totally happy with the results.

I'm not sure why, but my MK socks were never as soft or stretchy as the handknits worked in the same yarn. The tension difference may account for part of it. The other part may be related to the need to use weights on the MK socks to keep the stitches from jumping off the needles. I suspect those weights stretch the yarn and remove some of it's loftiness in the process. Moreover, the Kitchener stitch (which is used to sew up the toe of top-down socks made either by MK or HK) has never been my friend and I avoid it whenever possible.

Imagine my delight in discovering a book by Wendy D. Johnson of titled "Socks from the Toe Up." Her instructions for knitting socks using two circular needles were easy to understand, easy to execute, and very easy on my gnarled fingers. The toe-up sock patterns are beautiful and also easy to work. And, oh, the beauty of working from the toe up so that there's no sewing up to finish! Socks not only come off the needles ready to wear, you can actually try them on for fit as you are knitting. Not an easy task with DPNs. Add the instructions for Judy's Magic Cast-on, which produces a perfectly smooth and seamless toe, and this book is worth every penny of the $22.99 list price I paid for it at my LYS (local yarn shop) as an impulse buy. You, however, can buy this book on Amazon for about 50% off. Here's a link to appropriate page at Amazon for your convenience:

Until next time, keep on knitting!

(ETA: Thanks to some wonderful machine knitting friends I've made on Ravelry, I am now quite happy with my machine knit socks, but still like to do the occasional pair by hand. Wendy Johnson's book is still my "go to" reference for toe up sock knitting, too.)

P.S. I love reading your comments. Will you take a minute to share your thoughts and tell me what you've been working on?