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Sock it to me

I finished the second Solemate sock last night. I love it. The shadow-wrap heel fits better than the German short-row heel, feels smoother inside, and looks nicer. I like the way I reduced the gusset stitches on the second sock better, too. (I worked it flat, like a heel flap, rather than reducing the stitches in the round, which made the first sock a bit baggy around the front of my ankle.)

Solemate socks, version 1 and version 2

Solemate socks, version 1 (bottom) and version 2 (top)

Both socks are about the same size, but the second sock used 4g less yarn than the first. I’m not sure how much of that was the heel structure and how much of that was gauge. I worked the the first sock using DPNs from and the second using circulars from a different manufacturer. I worked the back of both socks above the heel turn using needles one size smaller, but I switched back to the larger needles sooner on the first sock.

The only piece of the puzzle that I’m not totally happy with is the bind-off at the top of the sock. I worked the k1, *p1, slip both stitches back to the left needle and p2tog, k1, slip both stitches back to the left needle and k2tog, repeat from * bind off. (I’m not sure what it’s called exactly.) It’s super-stretchy, which is great, but it flares out a lot, which is not so great. I didn’t weave in the ends yet; I think I might pull it out and work a tubular bind-off instead.

In the meantime…. Right after I snapped this picture, I ripped the first sock back to the heel. I’ll ponder the bind-off while I redo the heel and leg. I’m open to suggestions!

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Heel-tastic!

My first pair of socks was a pair of top-down, traditional heel-flap socks. They fit my too-long, too-narrow, too-high-arched feet perfectly and hooked me on sock knitting. Then I discovered toe-up sock knitting, and was torn.

There were a lot of pros for toe-up socks:

  • Running out of yarn 1/4″ from the end of your sock is a lot easier to deal with if you’re working toe-up
  • Judy’s Magic Cast-On is An Amazing Thing of Beauty (and is way more fun than Kitchener stitch)
  • Short row heels look more like “store-bought socks” (and tend to be better-received by non-knitters)
  • Easy to check sock fit and make adjustments as you go along

But there were a few cons, and they were pretty significant:

  • Short row heels don’t tend to fit people with high arches as well
  • My attempts at traditional, wrap-and-turn short row heels were pretty darn ugly, full of holes and stretched-out stitches

So I played with a few variations. My Serpentine socks used a gusset heel that fit my instep well, but were a bit too big around my ankle. The short row heels in my Everyone Outta the Pool socks fit well but still weren’t that pretty, and they were a bit harder to keep track of/adapt to other patterns. The German short row heel I used in the first Solemate sock was easy to execute and looked okay, but was a little bit lumpy inside and required a plain round in the middle of the heel that messes up self-striping yarn patterns (and would also make it difficult to add a contrast-color heel).

But once again, Ravelry came to my rescue. Another Raveler mentioned being pleased with a “shadow wrap heel” in one of the Rav forums the other day. Of course, I had to look that up immediately. And then I had to try it out on the second Solemate sock, which had patiently been waiting for me to get around to turning the heel.

To accommodate my high instep, I combined the shadow wrap technique with a gusset: First I increased 1/3 of the heel stitches on either side, then I worked the shadow wrap short row heel (over the original number of stitches only), and finally I worked a 1×1 rib heel flap, consuming the gusset stitches until I was back to my original heel count (well, in this case, until I was down to my new heel count, as I needed a few extra stitches to continue my cable pattern seamlessly around the sock).

Shadow-wrap short-row heel

Success! The heel fits beautifully and comfortably over my arch, and the ribbing (which I worked on needles one size smaller) hugs the back of my heel and adds a little bit of padding like a top-down heel flap does. The short rows are easy to execute and keep track of, and the finished seam is pretty and gap-free. I think I’ve found my go-to short row heel!

Now the burning question is… should I leave the first sock alone, or should I rip it back and redo the heel using this technique? I’ve already decided I want to rip the ribbing at the top and redo it. But how far should I rip? If I redo the heel, I can also try a few things to round out the shape of my short-row heel a bit, to accommodate my super narrow heel even better. Hmmmmm…

What’s your favorite sock knitting method? Top-down? Toe-up? Heel flap or short-row? Wrap-and-turn or something else? Gusset or not? Have some other fabulous technique I haven’t heard of yet? Please let me know in the comments!

WIP Wednesday: Too many things on the needles!

It’s official: I am knitting too many things simultaneously, and as a result, I seem to be getting very little accomplished.

Solemate Sock-and-a-toe

Solemate Sock-and-a-toe

First, there are the Solemate socks that I started for the Ravellenic Games. I finished the first sock and cast on for the second, and then I got distracted by the felted slippers. Yep, Second Sock Syndrome has hit hard here.

And then there are the afore-mentioned Felted Slippers, which I have now knit twice. I am hoping that the third time is the charm, but honestly, my track record here is pretty bad, so I’m wondering what’s going to go wrong this time…

Scalloped and currently sleeveless...

Scalloped and currently sleeveless…

The Scalloped Lace Toddler Cardigan is still waiting patiently in my knitting bag. And the toddler in question needs me to finish this soon, especially because then I can work on the other project I had planned for her this fall, a cabled sweater jacket that will hopefully carry her through those cooler fall days.

Cathy Sweater-in-progress

Cathy Sweater-in-progress

And then there is the Cathay sweater, for which I took the Tahoe sweater from Knitty as inspiration and then proceeded to change every single thing except the original yarn. (Yeah, I’m a pain like that.) I knit it at a slightly tighter gauge, added bust and waist shaping, added sleeve shaping, and plan to finish off the yoke using Elizabeth Zimmerman’s seamless set-in sleeve. Which reminds me, I still need to spin the yarn I plan to use for the trim around the neck and buttonband…

And those are just the projects that are currently in progress. I’ve also got swatches for the cabled sweater for my daughter and a cabled vest for me.

I either need more knitting time or a 12-step program…

WIP Wednesday: Olympic Edition

I admit it: I’m a total Olympics junkie. I’ve been glued to the TV since the opening ceremonies, and I’ll probably be there until the closing ceremonies. This isn’t too good for the other things I need to accomplish in life, but it’s great for my knitting!

Ravelry has an event called the Ravellenic Games (formerly known as the Ravelympics until the USOC informed them that they had trademarked the -ympics suffix; I’m going to go trademark -ing and -es, so I should be set for life). I hadn’t planned to participate originally, since my summer schedule is so crazy. But then I got the bug, so I starting looking around for a project that I could cast-on and complete in the two-week Olympic period. I gave serious consideration (and massive swatching) for a cabled vest in some heavy-weight (i.e., quick-knitting) yarn, but then my Olympic fever came up against my other illness: Finishitis.

I have so many projects around the house, in varying stages of completion, that my husband mutters under his breath about “decorating with yarn.” (Really, isn’t that a brilliant idea?!) But fall weather is coming, bringing along a whole bunch of other projects I want to knit, and so I’ve been getting a bit anxious about all the unfinished projects that are still lurking about here. Hence, a bad case of Finishitis. It’s a Good Thing, though: In the past two weeks, I’ve finished up both my Linen Stitch Scarf and the Pinkerton Shawl (pictures to follow, as soon as I have time to photograph them properly).

Solemate socksBut back to the Ravellenic Games: When I was talking with my friend Carla about them, she said she was considering entering the “Sock Put” (an event name that made us both giggle). So when they lit the torch on Friday night, I picked up my Lorna’s Laces Solemate socks and got to work. Since I’ve been making this pattern up as I’ve gone along, much ripping and re-knitting has ensued. But I’m more than halfway up the leg now (working from the toe-up) so I’m hoping to bind off tonight or tomorrow. The second sock shouldn’t involve nearly so much frogging, so I’m hoping that one will go faster!

In the off chance that I get the socks done before the end of the games, I’ve got a PolarKnit hat that I need to finish, and the Scalloped Lace Toddler Cardigan is still lacking arms.

Are you working on a project for the Olympics? Or the Ravellenic Games? I’d love to hear about it!