Tuesday, 23 December 2014

You wouldn't swatch for socks........... Would you?!

Well you wouldn't, I mean honestly! The joy of sock knitting for me is that I know that for my foot I cast on 72 stitches and knit away on size 2.25mm needles and my socks will always fit. I must confess, that my mother-in-law may have received a lot of socks at the beginning of my sock knitting career until I hit the formula I needed to perfectly fit my foot. But still. Hey ho!

So I've decided to design some colour work socks. I'm using the yarn from my secret sock club as my base colour from Natalie Fergie and the leftover Araucania Ranco from last month's sock yarn club as the contrast colour. Now I've knit these yarns before and I was confident that I could just knit away with no problems. 
I'd charted the colour work, cast on using DPN's, knitted an endless inch of ribbing and set about working the pattern. I knit 2 pattern repeats and sat back to admire my handy work. 

Hum I thought. 

I transferred my stitches onto a large circular needle to try it on. 

Did it fit?

Nope. Not even close

It was so tight it wasn't even funny. 

It would appear that my tension while knitting colour work in the round is MUCH tighter than I anticipated. 

Needless to say I've ripped it out and gone up 2 needle sizes. We'll see if that helps. 

So do you swatch? I must confess that despite completing a great course on the joys of swatching by MSkiKnits I'm still not enamoured with the process. For a large project that I'm going to spend a great deal of time and money on I will swatch, but for something little like a sock, nope, STILL not a chance ;-)

I think of each sock as a learning curve. When I come across a new technique or process, I knit according to the pattern and see what happens. I suppose each pair of socks are swatches in their own right. I'm happy to work like this, because I know I have a very deserving recipient of all socks a tad too small for me. And if they turn out too big? Well, then they're boot socks. Problem solved. 

This might not work for you, and I can well understand why. So I think I'm trying to suggest you swatch. If you've never done colour work in the round, never cabled in the round, never worked in the round at all! Swatch. Because your gauge is highly likely to differ from what you're used to producing when you work flat. 

That said, I'll keep chugging away at my socks, and they'll be published in the new year at sometime. 

Still on the subject of socks however, I've been asked to do a workshop on sock knitting for beginners. So my question is this- if you've never knitted on a sock, what would you want to know about? 

So far I've got a section about your equipment- yarn and needles; a section on the construction of the sock; one on cuff down and one on toe up. I plan to get the attendees to knit teeny tiny ornament socks to demonstrate each version relatively quickly. I plan to design each little sock with a different
 heel (heel flap and gusset, and short row) and toe (wedge and a round toe of some sort). This way they will have the wherewithal to make 4 different socks when they go home. I'll send them off with a couple of patterns for grown up feet too. 

Have I missed out anything obvious? 

Feedback would be gratefully received. 

There are only 2 sleeps to go until the big Ho Ho Ho!!!!

Are you ready? 

I am. 

And if there's anything not done - tough! It's staying not done!!! 

Feeling the love -

I have been a good girl. I concentrated on finishing both pairs of socks I had on the go last time I wrote. Steph's are wrapped and are now sitting under her tree. Jean's are also wrapped and ready to go. I must confess to being a little worried about the colour. As I knit it, especially in the rib sections I fancied it was looking 'dirty'. A kind of grubby cream colour and I wasn't keen, but now they're washed and blocked I'm happier with the whole thing. If Jean doesn't like the colour, I can always dye them for her. 

I also made a crocheted hat for Ben. I used chunky yarn from Hayfield. I love the speed of crochet. Especially when you're using a 6.5mm hook! A couple of hours and it was done. 
Ben wasn't up for modelling it, so here's a rather odd selfie 

With what was left I made a new rat bed. Ages ago I made them a hammock and it's been washed that much it fell apart, so making a new on has been on my to do list for ages. Thankfully James from the DancingGeek podcast did a live episode the other weekend. The 4 hour marathon (yup FOUR hours!! And each minute was great fun) gave me ample opportunity to start and finish a new bed. This time I decided to make a tunnel-type thing. I figured having a roof would keep them warmer in the winter. 

It's a hit!

I've also been working on the Sun Ray shawl. Remember it?! It's been languishing for ages, but I'm cracking on with it now. I've completed chart D and I'm now slogging my way up chart E. I say slogging not because its unpleasant to knit, it isn't. But I'm now up to 880 stitches and over the next 100 rows of chart E my stitch count will grow to an eye watering 1520!!!!! 

Holy Stitch Markers Batman!!!!

So needless to say, progress is slow! And it's only going to get slower!! I think I'll just keep you updated each time I complete a chart. Otherwise you'll not see much difference from week to week!! I do lovel how it's turning out though! It's going to be utterly stunning when it's finished. 

I may have has a little sock withdrawal after finishing Jean and Steph's socks. So I cast on a pair of vanilla socks using Opal in the Kongo Sally colourway. It's a fab colour with purple, fuchsia, lime green and slate grey. I'm thoroughly enjoying knitting it. 

As I mentioned earlier, I'm also on with designing another sock. It's nothing fancy, but I've been itching for colour work for ages. There's not a lot to see yet, seeing as how I had to undo my first attempt, so I'll show you more next time. 

33 weeks to 40. 

Erm?! I've miscounted somewhere!! 
Last time I wrote I said I'd increase my activity. I've continued to swim and I've walked the dog further than normal. Not great, but baby steps. Yes?

On the horizon -   

Santa's coming!!!!!!!!!

I wish everyone out there a wonderful, restful and happy Christmas

I'll be chillin', knittin', eatin' and drinkin'. 

I'll be working on my socks, the shawl and on the workshop notes and patterns. 

On my count down to 40 I think I'll just sim to keep moving. I don't think I'll get a swim in this week, but I'll try to do some exercise each day. Wish me luck!

I'm also going to do some research. In the new year I'm going to do TeaPigs matcha challenge, so I'm interested in finding interesting things to do with green tea powder. I can't wait to start the new year with a bang. 

So I wish you all a Merry Christmas and I'll write again soon 

Ellen x 

PS - this is my 100th post! And my 100th project was listed on Ravelry this week. Whoop whoop!!