Monday, July 7, 2008

Willy Nilly

sos08 Alchemy Girlfriend Cable Socks
Originally uploaded by TravelingAnn

Most of the holiday weekend was spent working on the felted wine cozy prototype. I cast on for it Thursday night. Spent Friday on the couch knitting on it and watching the Twilight Zone marathon on the SciFi channel. Then finished it off Sunday afternoon. I did take a picture of it, but the picture is at home and I'm at work (lunch break!) and I haven't been able to figure out how to get flickr to allow me to blog two photos in the same post.
wine cozy h after Oh, well, duh that's what the url box in blogger is for and the link to this pic html that Flickr provides. Still, it always seems to end up a weird size the few times I've tried it. This is the thumbnail size because when I used one of the other sizes for my first sock the other day it came out huge. I can't seem to win.
Anyway, the wine cozy was making me pretty cranky by the time I finished, namely because it took longer than I expected, I know I won't truly receive a price that will cover my time, and yet I was putting pressure on myself to finish it so I didn't work on any other projects. In the end I think it took a little more than 8 hours.
But then I felted the bugger. Felting is so fun and it ended up so cute (although bigger than I was expecting/planning) that I was all energized and cast on for the version with vertical stripes. It also felted much quicker than I was expecting. Not even one cycle. But I was basing the time and shrinkage on my Felted Ravelry Bag, which was much larger and a different color.

What was I talking about?
Ok, well, since I've buried the lead already, I might as well go with my original story. (I had been composing this blog post in my head and then thought, don't start with this story, get to the point. But after that wine cozy digression, what have I got to loose besides your attention?)
I was so young when I learned to crochet that I don't remember learning. I remember my grandmother teaching me and my younger cousin the double crochet stitch. We were sitting next to her making chains and blocks composed of chains. She was like ok that will be nice and warm but you will never finish anything. And she showed us the double crochet stitch. How I originally learned to hold the hook and chain, couldn't tell you. Double crochet was the only stitch I knew and used for years and I happily started blankets, made clothes for my stuffed animals and scarves for myself.
Then one day, I think I was in college already, my cousin found a pattern for an adorable stuffed cow. I wanted to make it badly enough that I got books from the library and figured out how to crochet in the round and other stitches. After that I was unstoppable and designed several adorable (if I do say so myself) stuffed toys. Finally, in 2001 or 2002 I took the plunge into crocheting sweaters.
My first one was the "Big Easy" from Lion Brand. In some lovely multi-colored blue based Homespun. I finished it in a weekend (and now I can't wear it because it feels squeaky).
Of course making clothes turned me into a yarn snob overnight.
But around the time all this was happening, I cornered my mother-in-law and got her to teach me how to knit.

The opening image
Coming back to the original point of this post, I don't know how much the age at which I learned these crafts has to do with it, but I've found that I follow crochet patterns to the letter and don't deviate at all. But I change knitting patterns willy nilly and sometimes on the fly.
The first sweater I knit was another free Lion Brand one out of Wool-Ease. It was supposed to be a striped crew neck in reverse stockinette stitch with ribbing on the hems. Well, there was a nice cream skein with little flecks of color on sale, so I ditched the stripes. As a new knitter (and without anyone to consult) I misunderstood the ribbing directions and discovered seed stitch. And I worked the sweater in normal stockinette stitch since I hadn't waited all those years to learn to knit to do a sweater in this weird lumpy stitch.
So I guess I was changing knitting patterns to some degree from the word go.
I'm about to unleash this tendency on my poor Alchemy Girlfriend's Cable Socks. My second pair for Summer of Socks 08 and the purple knitting pictured at the top of this post.
The pattern is written for one size at 6.5 sts per inch and I've suspected all along they might be too big, and in deed it looks like that is going to be the case. Which is why I hesitate to buy sock patterns unless they are written for multiple sizes (and actual alternate sizes, not just change your needle size adjustment. I tried that once, the socks are baggy. At least that pattern was free. [Didn't know enough about sock knitting at the time to adjust them down.])
I mean, sure the socks will fit as written, but they are going to be baggy and that will be annoying. Even if I do reserve them for house/bed socks.
Anyway, I worked through the first pattern repeat last night--20 rows--and tried the little bit on. It fits up where the cuff should go ok, but I'm really really certain it will be baggy at the ankle and on my foot. So I busted out the calculator.
My first calculation indicated I needed to ditch around 13 stitches! So from 58 to 45 based on the target gauge and how I like my socks to fit. That was not only ridiculous but would probably make it impossible to maintain the pattern. So I decided to meet it half way and just ditch 6 stitches bringing me down to 52 sts. Which should be a better fit, although not as snug as I usually like.
The easy thing to do would be to drop them out of the back ribbing, but that might pull the design oddly, so I'm thinking I'll ditch 3 from each side over the ankle and go from 2/2 ribbing to 1/1. Since I'm changing the sock anyway, I'm thinking I might change the back ribbing to another cable to disguise the fact that the ribbings don't match. I'll be on a roll at that point, so I'm thinking I might change the called for short row heel to my newly beloved Cuban Heel. Like the short row heel the Cuban Heel shouldn't interrupt the pattern.
Now I just have to chart out the ribbing decreases. Since the sock does fit well at the top, I've decided not to start over from scratch. Of course that will mean laddering the back of the sock down to alter the ribbing to cable. Depending on how fussy that is, I might end up starting over from the cast on.
In the mean time, I brought the felted wine cozy V (for vertical stripe) as my commuter knitting. It's mindless and fast and has to be done. And my lovely sock will be at home knitting. Hey I used to finish a pair of socks in 2 weeks just working on them at home before, why should things be different now?

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