Monday, November 29

Sock-tastic and fiddling with fine gauge

So I've been pretty busy lately with other things, but I'm desperately trying to make time for xmas knitting too. I made a second pair of red and white fairisle socks this weekend, with an all-over snowflake pattern of my own design. I went up a number on the tensions. On last week's prototype, the short-rowed rows tucked a lot - turns out I was knitting too tightly. I was beginning to wonder if I'd used the wrong ribber clamps, because I seem to have an extra pair of the square-edged Knitmaster S clamps (the Brother clamps have radiused edges I believe, although I may be wrong).

Of course, although loosening the tension (and adding 4 stitches) means that the sock now stretches enough to be put-on-able - it also made it longer. Yes, I need to knock about 12 rows off the length to make a size 7. I asked the Cog to try on the first one - before washing, it measured 28cm, which shrank to 26cm after washing. He tried it on and immediately claimed it (he is a size 9). You could have knocked me down with a feather - this is the man who eschews New Maine jumpers because they have a tiny sailor's wheel logo embroidered on them. This is the man who always wants navy blue or black jumpers, and they are always very, very plain. Not even a cable in sight. They weren't actually intended for him, but I guess it is a success of sorts. I'm loathe to take them off him, put it this way. He's already dropping big hints that he wishes I'd darn some of the socks I've knitted for him in the past, despite the fact that the leftover yarn is long gone. If I darn them, it will be with a primary coloured sock yarn - he said that was ok, but he might not like it when he sees it!

I also finished knitting the second sock (Sirdar Crofter pattern #7). They fit ok and would be great under wellies (if I owned any) or for around the house.

Both of these endeavours required that I remember how to graft (aka Kitchener Stitch) the toes. I used to have a little bookmark somewhere that had the instructions. I copied the instructions from the back of someone's book on knit night, but I was also talking, so the grafting wasn't entirely successful. It also needs very good light, which is only really available at my dining table at home.

Once I recalled Kate of Knit the knit's foolproof Kitchener instructions, and realized that occasionally I was accidentally catching the yarn and making a kind of blanket stitch, I was away. So I present for your information, Kate's foolproof Kitchener stitch principles.

Basically, each stitch to be grafted needs a "catching" stitch and a "finishing" stitch. The "catching" stitch is always worked in the OPPOSITE direction to the stitch being worked. For example, to catch a KNIT stitch, you sew through the stitch PURLWISE, and vice versa. The stitch remains on the needle after the "catching" stitch.

When working the "finishing" stitch, the needle is worked in the SAME direction as the stitch being worked. So a purl stitch is sewn in a purlwise direction, and a knit stitch in a knitwise direction. After each finishing stitch, the worked stitch is dropped off the needle.

So, working from right to left (I am right-handed), work a catching stitch on the purl side, a catching stitch on the knit side, * a finishing stitch on the purl side, drop stitch, a catching stitch on the purl side, a finishing stitch on the knit side, drop stitch, a catching stitch on the knit side, rep from * to end, ensuring both end stitches have both catch and finish stitches worked through them.

I don't know about you, but it's easier to think of it with this system for me. Well, I am easily distracted! :) I will post pictures of the socks as soon as I remember to take some pictures and unload the camera, haha.

I also made a start on a fine gauge knitted tunic. I have a lot of 2ply cornflower blue lambswool on cones - I'd actually call it a slate blue, but the label says cornflower. I tried swatching it on the standard gauge, two ends together, but really didn't like the fabric produced (this could be my over-tightening tendency). The wool didn't bloom in the wash - it felt as if it would make a hard-wearing fabric, but not a particularly nice fabric. So I made swatches on the fine gauge, and it was like some sort of magic - a lovely soft handle, just what you would expect with lambswool.

I've designed a simple knee-length tunic using Knitware, it has raglan sleeves and a cowl neck. Yes, you read that right, raglan. This baby has 600 rows. What was I thinking? I managed to get as far as doing one side of the neck, on the front, before I had to stop and give my eyes a rest. The daylight was fading. I will finish it - and to be fair, the front is the most complicated piece - but talk about not doing anything by halves! I probably should have started with something a bit smaller. I probably ought to get a better light in the knitting room, too!

PS Kate - hope you are well! Your blog is looking kind of abandoned these days!

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