Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sock Lab, Round Seven: Bluemchen

Ready for spring?  Check out these Bluemchen!

I have made many, many crochet afghans out of motifs.  I have never constructed anything similar with knitting.  These socks are created toe-up with two hexagonal flower motifs attached at three sides.  Two little triangles fill in the gaps at the sides.  A pentagonal flower motif forms the heel, with a short gusset above.

I found some great alternate instructions on Ravelry which helped me figure out how to eliminate all the seaming in this sock.  The motifs were cast on provisionally, and the little gap-triangles were formed with short rows.

Some lessons learned with these socks: long floats are ok!  My stranded tension came out better when I wasn't putting the knitting down every four stitches to twist yarn strands around each other.  I tacked some of the floats together when I wove in my ends.

And crochet can be used to bind off a sock.  Nice and stretchy!  Who knew?

Sock Lab, Round Six: Estonian Heel Socks

I read this pattern over before I started my whole Sock Lab adventure, and it made very little sense to me.  I read it again after knitting Skew, and it clicked immediately.  The concept is a dead simple and seamless way to make a heel-out sock: make a four-sided motif which is concave, to form a heel cup.  When the opposite corners can meet over your instep, work two adjacent sides of the motif in one direction to make the foot, and the other two adjacent edges in the other direction to make the leg.

The original pattern calls for a star toe that ends up sort of on the top of the foot, but I chose to use short-rows to level off the bias and make a standard toe instead.

I had a bit of a problem with fit.  By the time I had a motif that could fit over my instep, my stitch count made for a baggy leg and foot.  I decreased every four rows as described in the pattern, but next time I will decrease more rapidly or switch to smaller needles for the foot and leg.  I ended up having to shove some decreases in at the end so the foot of my sock wouldn't be too long.

Ravelry link.  I'd make these again!  They have an unusual and dramatic look to them, and what a fun use of striping yarn.  X marks the spot!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sock Lab, Round Five: Skew

I took a half-hearted stab at Skew a few years ago, but I only got to the toe of Sock #1 before I hibernated the project, and then something else happened... oh yes, I had twins and my crafting time/brain became pretty limited.  When I picked them up months later, I felt disoriented in the pattern and didn't really feel the love, so I ripped them out.

Two years later, and success!  The pattern is very well written but it does require a little more attention at the sticky parts, especially, of course, the heel.  It seemed like the pre-heel set-up and the post-heel gusset took a little longer than on a regular sock, which may have added to my sense of vigilance.


What has made Skew famous is the dramatic and unique "Origami" heel.  It is formed by asymmetrical increases which create a flap off to one side.  This flap is seamed closed with a 15-stitch Kitchener, which makes it tuck in neatly and form the cup of the heel.

On Ravelry, I have read it many times: a first-time sock knitter navigating the heel for the first time.  Whether top-down or toe-up, the heel seems to be a little miracle of geometry that is hard to visualize.  The advice is usually "Run a lifeline, take a deep breath, and just follow the pattern blindly."  Skew felt like that for me - I really had no idea how this heel was going to come together until the moment it did.  Exhilarating!

My Skews fit my feet fairly well (although I made the foot a shade too long), but the feedback is that the fit is specfic around the ankle.  That band across the back of the ankle can make the sock too tight for people with wide feet or ankles.

The yarn is my own hand-dyed, using a base of Wildfoote Luxury Sock, which was squishy and lovely.