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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Shoe Shots

Shoe Shots

Practice Pair 1

I finally got around to getting this shoe shot of my 1st pair of socks. I have no idea how other people take these photos. I found it awkward bending over and trying to take the photo with the camera upside-down. Can you tell this was taken upside-down? I couldn't really see the LCD very well and was using the Force. However after flipping the photo around, I think it came out ok.

The Born Bagely shoes look better than the socks. I haven't worn these shoes out because all my pants are way too long. I have a handknitsock/shoe/pant problem here. I need something with a much higher heel for my pants, unfortunately my higher heel shoes don't work with the hand knit socks. I think these shoes will just be used for sock modeling...

Yes I know these plain socks aren't very exciting to look at. I'm currently working on more knit/purl textured socks and I hope to graduate to something more interesting to look at, like lace or cables.

Blue sock post: 7 Feb 2009 post (11 photos).
Related posts: 30Jan2009 post (4 photos) , 19Jan2009 post (11 photos).

Practice Pair 2

And there is the shot of the pink socks, my 2nd pair of socks. These were my first attempt at toe-up. Yeah, the cuffs are noticeably different, huh?

My hand knit socks don't spend much time in the sock drawer. They are either on my feet, in laundry basket limbo, and back on my feet the day after laundry day. I need to knit more socks so I have more to rotate through during the week as hey seem to spend most of their time in laundry basket limbo.

Pink sock post: 16Mar2009 post (17 photos).
Related post: 4Mar2009 post (10 photos).

I got this from Diane ... check out this awesome video involving sheep and the BBC video on how they did this. You absolutely must see it! Go on, go take a lookie now. Just remember to come back afterward so you can read about my latest sock project, ok?

New digs

Thinkpad T61 (specs here)

I'm quite behind in all my online activities, mostly due to limited computer time, partly due to spotty internet connection (our box, not the service provider), and partly due to a computer upgrade. Check out my new (computer) digs above. It's not actually a brand new computer. To adopt a marketing term from a luxury car maker, this is my new "certified pre-owned" laptop. Although it's not quite as sexy as an Apple computer, I am very happy with the faster processor, larger disk space and more memory. The one thing I don't like is the widescreen LCD which leaves me in want for more vertical space; I hope I get accustomed to this soon cuz it is driving my nuts!

Practice Pair 3 Sock 1

Related posts:
13Apr2009 post (13 photos).
22Mar2009 post (9 photos).

Ah... so you noticed that little bit of knitting sitting on the laptop keyboard, huh? That is Sock #1 of Practice Pair #3. You saw the beginnings of this sock here.

Pair 3 Sock 1 - 60 sts, 2.75 mm

I started this sock at the toe and I like how it turned out. I've found that adding the K2 P2 ribbing plus the Red Heart Heart & Sole variegated yarn (RavLink) has made it easier to count rows. :-D I know exactly where the foot section begins and ends and can easily count the total number of rows in this section. Similarly for the leg section too! And I also find the ribbing to be more forgiving with the laddering compared to plain stockinette.

Sock 1, heel flap & gusset

It's interesting to see how differently my first toe up attempt with a heel flap in a solid yarn compares to the same using variegated yarn. The variegated yarn does add some visual interest to the sock, making the solid colored sock quite insipid when placed next to it.

heel flap & gusset

You can see I have started K2 P2 ribbing on the back side (of the leg) after completing the gusset decreases. Read further to see what changes I made in this area in Sock 2 of the pair. So far I have not managed to make 2 identical socks in a pair. I wonder how many pairs it will take me before everything gets sorted out so that I can make a true matching pair.

Sock 1, top view

Heehee, I think the vertical ribbing helps visually elongate my foot/leg (compared to similar top-view photos of the blue sock and pink sock). Who said horizontal stripes were bad? I don't think it makes my foot/leg look wider.

Pair 3 Sock 1 completed

Yay, halfway done! I am pretty happy with how Sock 1 turned out and I like how it looks.

Practice Pair 3 Sock 2

Moving on to Sock 2 of the pair...

I started this one differently from the first. This time I gave Judy's Magic Cast On a try (it's linked in my sidebar under the Knitting Resources section) and love love love love LOVE it! No more fiddling around with waste yarn & crochet hook for a provisional cast on. I have never been comfortable with the PCO. I understand you're supposed to be able to "unzip" the waste yarn side and I think I managed to do that only once. Every other time I am liberating the stitches one by one because the easy unzip thing does not work for me -- and it makes no difference which end I try to pull/unzip from. I'm just PCO-chalenged.

The only slight downside to Judy's Magic Cast On is that you must have 2 circular needles of the same size to begin it, and I bet there are people who cannot justify the purchase of 2 circs for the sole purpose of doing this cast on. Fortunately for me this is not a deterrent at all since a bunch of sock size circs fell into my lap way back within the first 6 months of learning to knit. Want to know how many? I have a circular needle inventory from July 2005 and am pretty certain nothing has changed in the sock sizes since then. Yeah, that's A LOT of needles, huh? And at that time my comfort knitting zone was a 5 mm (US8) size needle! I had no idea what I would use such small needle for. Now I am happy to have found a use for them. Besides starting Judy's CO, they are also turning out to be very useful for slipping stitches onto before trying on a sock (cuz it's easier to put the stitches back on DPNs from a circ than from waste yarn).

Sock 2 gusset

Here's what I did differently in the gusset area of Sock 2. I picked up stitches along both sides of the heel flap for the gusset and knit around. Then I decided to start K2 P2 ribbing (on the back side of the sock) at the start of the gusset decreases. If you scroll back up to see the Sock 1, you'll see that I had started the ribbing on the back side after completing the gusset decreases.

So how do I keep track of the stitches that will become the back half of the sock? Remember, we CO 60 sts, so there are 30 sts on each half. Stitch markers! The center stitch marker indicates the "center back" of the sock. The stitch markers on the left and right are positioned 15 stitches from the center. All the stitches between the left marker and the right marker are the stitches on the back half of the sock. This means all those leftover stitches between the left/right markers to the end of the needle will ultimately disappear in the gusset decrease rounds.

Ah... so you've noticed that my "center back" stitch marker really isn't centered between all those back-half-of-sock stitches, eh? Yeah, I've slipped 3 stitches (1 knit & 2 purls) from the left needle onto the right needle so that I can begin the left needle with a knit stitch. I did this because I hated how the "center back" stitch marker divided two knit stitches. I suppose I could have just slipped the one knit stitch from the right needle to the left needle instead. Plus I prefer my needles to begin with a knit stitch, it's just easier for me to knit that way.

I have nothing against needles beginning with purl stitches. My instep section begins and ends with P2. I could have shifted stitches there so that all my needles could begin with knit stitches.

Sock 2, gusset complete

And here we have the completed gusset section of Sock 2. You can see how the ribbing starting at the beginning (bottom) of the gusset decrease section work their way up to meet with the leg section of the sock.

I could have worked ribbing into the gusset sides too (the rest of the stitches that were picked up along the heel flap), however I thought having a bit of stockinette there would give it more visual interest. So which do you prefer? Plain stockinette in the entire gusset decrease section like in Sock 1? Or a bit of ribbing on the back side in the gusset decrease section like in Sock 2?


Ever since I got into sock knitting, I am finding myself stalking children's tote bags/purses as a possible sock project carry-all. The kids get cute bags that are a nice size for sock projects. Just last month while DD & I were at the big local mall, Valley Fair Shopping Center, she gravitated towards a kiosk selling childrens' knick knacks/toys. While she was looking at stuff, I was scoping out the sock carrying potential of a drawstring bag and a little tote bag. I was so tempted. But I was good. :-)

Missy received this little tote bag from her grandma for her birthday. You can get an idea of its size next to the laptop. See? Perfect size for holding a ball of yarn, needles, a sock project, and possible a few notions. Yes? No? Maybe? And there aren't any "snaggy" parts to it ... no zippers or velrco.

This is the back side of the bag. Alas, I don't think Missy will want to part with her little tote bag. She loves bags of all types too.

Copyright © Smariek Knits 2005-2009. All full copyright rights are reserved by Smariek Knits.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Solar what?


I couldn't believe it. On Mon 16Mar09 when I went to watch Ashes2Ashes and GrahamNorton (which had been recorded earlier from BBCA onto my DVR) and found nothing but a black screen with a bouncing dishcompanylogo screensaver. Aaaaaaacccckkkk!!!! Then DH mentioned that he got an email from the dishcompany about solar flares possibly affecting reception. What?! I hope this isn't gonna be a common occurance...

Losing GNS wasn't too bad, they seem to show a lot of reruns. A2A, on the other hand, was something I had just picked up at the right time where I actually got to watch episode 1 when it started!!! How cool is that? I usually catch onto something much later and then have to wait to see a tv series' pilot. So the GNS ep I lost was #2. I was bummed. But perked up when I found another ep #2 coming down the pike so I got my DVR set to record it for me. Yay!

--- -- .- ... / ... - .-. .. -.-. -.- --. . .... . .. -- -. .. ... ... .

I have to thank Benne and Bets for helping me sort out the chart symbol translations for that German knitting book I recently got. Love love love this book! I don't think I mentioned before that it is a hard cover book. Very nice. I love flipping through this book, though I haven't tried anything from it yet.

On the knitting front...

Pattern: Blueberry Tea Mitts (Ravelry link)
Yarn: Elann Baby Cashmere
Needles: 3.0 mm

Related post:
29Jan2009 post (2 photos - modifications to resize mitt)

I managed to weave in ends on this Blueberry Tea Mitt (RavPattLink) and take photos. You already saw the 1st mitt here. There is actually a booboo in the 2nd mitt (shown above). I didn't notice it until after I cast off & weaved in ends. And I wasn't about to frog 80% of the mitt just to fix the problem. You see, I have an inability to read directions. It said to repeat the pattern twice before starting the thumb gusset. I left out the repeat part and only worked 8 rounds of the pattern instead of 16, before beginning the thumb gusset. So when you compare the photo above with the photo of the 1st mitt here, you will see that the 1st mitt has more wrist coverage. The one above is on the shorter side. Here's a side-by-side:

I used the 5" Lantern Moon DPNs from Michele to work the thumb section of this 2nd mitt. The pointy sticks are nicely weighted and have good "grip" on the yarn. I never felt at risk of losing stitches. And the shorter 5" length was very nice! It is amazing what a difference one inch makes. You can see the pointy sticks in the sock photos below.

.--. .- .. .-. / ...-- / ... --- -.-. -.- / .----

Practice Pair of Socks #3

Related posts: 04Apr2009 post (13 photos), 28Mar2009 post (8 photos).

I've also started on socks. Practice Pair #3, this time starting at the cuff and doing plain ribbing down the leg. Easy peasy. I needed a change so I used variegated yarn instead of solid; it's Red Heart's Heart & Sole (Ravelry link). It's neat to see how the colors change, keeps the knitting interesting. I just want to keep knitting to see what comes next.

56 sts, 2.50 mm

I was thinking about how to make striping on its mate match the 1st sock. You'd have to pull out the yarn on ball #2 and start at the same striping sequence as the 1st sock. That sounds easy enough. But how much yarn would you potentially have to pull out before casting on that 2nd sock?

In the photo above, the purple arrow marks where the striping sequence begins again. The distance from cast-on edge to that purple arrow is about 3 inches. So this means potentially pulling out yarn that is up to 3 inches worth of ribbing. That seems like quite a bit of yarn! Now I have to wonder... if I end up pulling close to 3 inches of ribbing's worth of yarn before I can cast on sock #2, couldn't this mean a risk of running short of yarn near the toe end of the sock?

Anyhow, I knit this portion of leg for over 3 inches and decided to put it on circular needles so I could try it on. (I learned in earlier socks that it is better to use the circs because picking up stitches from waste yarn is much harder) It was snug around the lower part of my leg and was definitely too tight a bit higher up my leg.

I decided to frog it and start over from the toe end. I didn't like how pointy my first attempt at toe-ups (the pink Practice Pair #2) came out and I think part of it has to do with how many stitches I started out with. That one had 10 sts across, or 20 sts total. When I re-CO for this Practice Pair #3, I made it 12 sts across, or 24 sts total. And this time I am aiming for a total of 60 sts (instead of 56 sts from before frogging).

Pair 3 Sock 1 - take 2

I am finding it ambiguous to say "sock" and "socks". It could mean "one sock" or "a pair of socks". And when referring to one sock, are we talking about the "1st sock of a pair" or the "2nd sock of a pair"?

60 sts, 2.75 mm

Here we have CO attempt #2, starting at the toe using 12 sts (24 sts total). I think this already looks less "pointy" than the 10 sts (20 sts total) CO. I did the toe increases and then started K2P2 ribbing on the front side of the sock.

Note: You'll find K2P2 ribbing in Barbara Walker Treasury 1 pg39 and many other stitch dictionaries. It is a 2-row pattern. The beauty of working K2P2 ribbing in the round is that it gets reduced to a 1-row pattern. :-)

Here is the back side of the foot section. I kept this side in stockinette stitch.

Note: You'll find Stockinette Stitch in Barbara Walker Treasury 1 pg10 and many other stitch dictionaries. Like K2P2 ribbing, it is also a 2-row pattern that is reduced to 1-row when worked in the round. (And if you're wondering why I'm stating this, it is because somebody may eventually ask me about it).

I knit the foot section for just about 6" then did the same thing I did with the pink sock to get a feel for how long my heel flap will end up. I took a sampling of 30 rounds from the foot section. It turned out to be just a hair over 2.5". I decided to work 28 rounds of heel flap before doing that "heel magic" (viz. turning). That is still a magical experience for me. I wonder how many pairs I'll have to knit before that feeling wears off.

There was a minor hiccup while working the gusset. See that strand of blue yarn running across the inside of the sock? I somehow knit the stitches on that needle and brought the yarn back and re-knit those same stitches! I can't complain if this is the only problem in the gusset section. It was easy enough to correct.

So after having knit 2 pairs (or 4 socks) and trying different increases/decreases, I find that I prefer doing my increases/decreases 1 stitch from the end of the needle (rather than right at the end of the needle). For example, I prefer doing "... K2Tog, K1" and "K1, SSK ..." instead of doing "... K2Tog" and "SSK ...". Can't really say why, but I do.

60 sts, 2.75 mm

I placed the sts onto circs to try it on. It's on the loose side. Perhaps this would have been better with 56 sts instead of 60 sts (using 2.75 mm). I like the variegated yarn and am starting to wonder whether I should not have picked up all those solids; you saw 14 hanks here, 3 socks worth over here, and there are just a "few" more balls cough26socksworthcough I haven't shown you yet. Yep, I think that pretty much sums up my sock stash. But sock yarn doesn't count, right?

Here's a view of the top and bottom. I've started working the ribbing on the leg section.

I keep hearing about Judy's Magic Cast On, I need to try that soon.

Tracy asked about the heel flap on the toe up pink sock, and Claudia asked about a toe up pattern. In the toe up sock, I am working the heel flap exactly the same as if I were going to work it for a cuff down sock. I haven't done anything special to make this work. It comes out exactly the same as a cuff down, except that it is oriented backwards or upside-down. Hmm... that's not a very clear way of stating it, huh? lol. If you look at the whole heel flap/gusset section, it is pretty much rotated 180º in one direction and then 90º in another.

As for a pattern, Claudia, I would suggest trying the sock class that is linked in my sidebar under the Knitting Resources section. I haven't tried it myself but I did look it over and it seems pretty good. I didn't actually follow a specific pattern for either cuff-down (blue pair) or toe-up (pink pair). What I did was read up on the theory of sock construction from several sources and then gave it a whirl, trying different things here and there. I bet that's why my socks aren't coming out perfectly.

Sometime after I finished my cuff-down (blue pair), I got my hands on Getting Started Knitting Socks by Ann Budd from the library and found it to be a good absolute beginner sock book, covering the basics of cuff down socks. However if you have already knit even one sock, then you may not find this book very helpful as you will have already understood the basic sock concepts. The book only talks about cuff down socks and does not cover toe up. It does have some basic sock pattern/formula for various gauges which I think many people would find a useful resource.

I am still reading the Historian and it is keeping my interest. Yay. I'm at the part where he is in Istanbul and his daughter is on a train to France. I'm hoping to get my hands on Twilight soon because everyone talks about it and I want to be able to say I've read it too. I have to finish the Historian first. I'm pretty good at reading one book at a time. Not so good with one knitting project at a time though...


Copyright © Smariek Knits 2005-2009. All full copyright rights are reserved by Smariek Knits.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

try try again

Related post:
28 March 2009 post (1 photo, shoe shot)
4 March 2009 post (10 photos)

Practice Pair of Socks #2
Yarn: Elann Sock It To Me (ravlink)
Needles: 2.5 mm

I frogged the pink sock and started over, this time with 2.5 mm pointy sticks (instead of 2.25 mm). With any kind of troubleshooting, it is best to only change one thing at a time so you can clearly see what that change affects. I was definitely trying to do too many things in my last attempt.

This time I cast on for the toe and worked plain stockinette for the foot for ~6.5", about 69 rounds I think. I was aiming for ~8.5" total.

I did not want to do short rows again. So I decided to try a heel flap & gusset. Ok, I've done the heel flap when starting from the top, surely this should work starting from the top ... it's the same thing, just worked "upside down", right? I think it should work.

Well, the heel flap turned out to be 2.5" long. My total foot length is now 9". Will this be too long? I placed the stitches onto circs to try it on.

Well, it looks like it fits ok around the heel (compared to 7th & 8th photo on this page), however there appears to be some dangling toe bit. Doesn't really look great, but lets keep going...

I continued the leg for about 46 rounds and then worked 10 rounds K1P1 ribbing. I used K2P2 in my first practice pair (the blue one), and thought I'd try something a bit more snug for this one. I like it!

For the 2nd sock, I knit the foot for 6 inches instead of 6.5 inches.

Then I took a sampling of 28 rounds from the foot section to get a feel for how long the heel flap would be.... about ~2.5 inches, just like in the 1st sock. Then I continued in the same manner as the 1st sock, knitting a heel flap, working the gusset, and continuing up the leg.

This is what a "backwards" heel flap looks like. The heel flap portion that you normally see on the back in a cuff-down is now positioned on the bottom of the heel in a toe-up. I did a slip1-knit1 type heel flap on Practice Sock #1. For this Practice Sock #2, I decided I did not want so much "texture" when the heel flap is underfoot, so I just did it in plain stockinette. The heel turn, gusset stitch pickup & decrease are worked exactly the same as I worked it in my blue cuff-down sock. I think I did a neater job this time around, I think it'll just get better as I knit more socks.

After finishing both socks and trying them on, I realized that I made "pointy" toes on both. Besides knitting the 2nd sock foot 0.5 inches shorter, I had also meant to make the 2nd sock toe "rounded". Well I apparently forgot to work it that way when I started it. Oops! I do not like the dangling toe bits on the pointy toes. I think a rounded toe would probably fit my foot better. I'll try to remember this for the next pair.

Ladders are still quite visible. I'm still working on improvements in this area.

So here's the odd thing about my sock knitting so far. I seem to use a combination of 3 needles and 4 needles on my sock, and I am not consistent with using the same number in specific sections of the sock. I guess I am still trying to find a nice sweet spot with number of needles.

Here's Practice Pair #2. They fit ok. I like everything about them except the dangling toe bits. Maybe they'll sort themselves out after a few wash cycles? However do you notice anything odd about them? No? Take a look at them side-by-side:

Still don't see it? Let's take an even closer look:

The ribbing does not match. I worked 10 rounds in the 1st sock and 5 or 6 rounds in the 2nd sock. No clue how I could have made that mistake. Oopsie. The one with the shorter ribbing tends to fold over, rather than lie flat. I'll have to remember to work future cuffs 1 inch or more.

Here are side views of one sock, the one with the shorter cuff.

Here are side views of the other sock, the one with the longer cuff.

Overall, I like doing socks toe-up. Just need more practice with the fiddly beginnings, other than this, it is pretty easy the rest of the way... as long as I remember how many rounds I worked in the 1st sock. ;-)

Project Notes:
Yarn: Elann Sock It To Me
Needles: 2.50 mm
CO 10/20 toe-up, 56 sts total
Sock 1: 6.5" foot before starting heel flap, 28 rounds ~2.5"
Sock 2: 6" foot before starting heel flap
leg: 46 rnds st st, 10 rnds ribbing

Copyright © Smariek Knits 2005-2009. All full copyright rights are reserved by Smariek Knits.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Short Pointy Sticks


These are from Michele, from a drawing she had for these lovely pointy sticks. Christi won them but declined, and then I ended up as the next winner. It is such a lovely package. There's even a handmade card too! Thank you Michele! You can see these items on Michele's blog, she takes much better photos. I am looking forward to trying out these 5" Lantern Moon DPNs; I haven't had a chance yet since it's been crazy here lately and I have done very little knitting. These needles will be perfect for socks & mitts.

Michele has her own business cards. How cool is that? The image at the top of the card is the same as her blog banner. Also in her package is a cake keychain, stitch markers, and some lovely fingerling weight yarn in my favorite colors. And the little bear you see is for Missy.


I mentioned starting The Ladies Of Grace Adieu (by Susanna Clarke) earlier. Unfortunately I was just unable to get into it, so I dropped it and started The Historian (byElizabeth Kostova) which is moving along much faster. I'm hoping the book won't be a complete waste of time despite the mixed reviews it has gotten.

Oh good news today. Remember that BBC SciFi series I mentioned in my antepenultimate post, the one I've been wanting to watch for a long time? Well I finally got my hands on Torchwood Season 1 on DVD, from the library of all places (who woulda thunk). Happy happy happy! I managed to catch Graham Norton (hilarious) and Ashes to Ashes (interesting). The Brit version of Life on Mars doesn't appear on Tivo's radar, hoping for reruns before the next Ice Age.

Oh, several people suggested getting a replacement for the broken zipper on the Knit Picks Options bag. I hadn't thought of that before. So I gave them a little call and they're sending me a replacement. Quite painless. I guess I'll give the bag another try when it gets here.


Candyland, Dora the Explorer edition

I had some preconceptions a while back. One of them was that I could get away with never getting anything with Dora the Explorer on it. Ha! What was I thinking? We've got Dora on a small Lego set and on a toddler backpack. And now this board game, Candyland, Dora the Explorer edition. There's just no avoiding it. This is Missy's first board game, and also my first time playing it too. So here's the funny thing. M always chooses to be Boots, Pooh Bear gets to be Dora, and she always chooses Diego for me. However if DH plays, she makes him play as Diego and I get to be Map (she is still Boots). I never had a Candyland board game before (not even the "plain" version) when I was a kid. We'll see how long it takes before she loses the player pieces and deck of cards that comes with the board game...

Lego Duplo

This was Santa's gift to Missy. I think I could pick any random box set (of blocks for her age range) and she'd be perfectly happy with it.

It comes with 79 pieces!



I love how they give you ideas on the box for what you can build with them. However not wanting to keep a collection of boxes, I wish they offered these ideas in a pamphlet inside the box. Well now I have photos to refer to, and I can get rid of the box. It's not like the blocks will ever make it back inside the box again! Now that would be a miracle...

Time to get some rest. I am exhausted and feeling extremely sore from too much weeding. Why are weeds so persistent? Hate weeds... hate them even more than seaming and weaving in ends. Busy weekend ahead. Going to a little girl's bday party. There's a little boy's bday party the following weekend, plus we'll be celebrating Missy's bday the following weekend too with the inlaws. She's getting one of these VTech Kidizoom (kid cameras) because the broken real camera we gave her to play with broke even further (when the protruding lens, stuck in that position, separated from the main body of the camera). She was perfectly happy with the non-fuctioning camera. Anyhow, she will really enjoy her new working kid-friendly camera. Hope she can hold the thing steady. :-)

Copyright © Smariek Knits 2005-2009. All full copyright rights are reserved by Smariek Knits.