Monday, March 10, 2008

Footloose and Fancy Free

I have watched Knitters in action. Knitters, whose hands move with a liquid grace, like conductors of their own symphony. I can only dream of my hands looking like that; needles flying, stitches multiplying, the project growing and being shaped. Now, I am not a particularly slow knitter either. But I am persistent, sometimes relentless. I am also a bit of a perfectionist, so when I find a mistake I will fix it. Even if it's 20 rows back. I am also competitive and a bit proud. Sad but true. If a pattern says it will only take two hours I will try my hardest to do it in that time period. And if I can't, I'll keep on knitting until the project is done. Thank goodness Ravelry has only starting and finishing dates, not time checks!

In these time trial projects, I am more of a product knitter than a process knitter. Let's be honest. In these projects I am ONLY a product knitter! There are a few projects that have been about the process, like Jeanie, which languishes on its needles since I have too many WIPs, many of which are not for me. But there are also a few projects that fall into both categories. Where the process fascinates me and I can't wait for the finished product. These projects are called socks.

I still blame Laura (unfortunately blogless) for this addiction, but a fine addiction it has become. For someone who doesn't wear trousers, and whose dress sense wouldn't really include the wearing of socks, I seem to be fascinated with them. Happiest of all when I am sitting at home, wearing my creations. Of course, I don't have that many pairs. YET. With two finished and two on the needles, I am hoping to double my collection in the very near future. And I already know which socks will come after that. Although most of the patterns I like are knit cuff down, I prefer the toe up method which means I will continue knitting two pairs at once. Balance is good.

The two pairs currently on the needles: Rock and Weave and Oriel. Rock and Weave, by Karen Alfke for Blue Moon Fibers is a fabulous pattern for showing off their intoxicating colorways. I know I recently showed you some progress pictures but I didn't really talk about the project, and there are a few aspects that are worth talking about. Like the easily executed linen stitch cuff, which mixes up the colors beautifully so there is no worry of striping vs. pooling. It just is; in a glorious riot of color, edged with a flirty, picot bind off.

The cuff is knit flat, with stitches picked up around the finished edge. And once that is done, this is a basic, quick and easy sock. Only 8 rounds and you are at the heel flap. While I might prefer the look of the Eye of Partridge heel, I quickly conceded that Ms. Alfke's standard heel flap made much more sense, the former would have detracted from the cuff.

Knitting with the heavier STR Mediumweight has been interesting. I thought I would love it because it would be a faster knit, but I'm still not sure. I have a thing about a more delicate look. Still, when the weather gets cold, I know these babies will keep my feet nice and toasty. The only complaint I have is the pooling. With a US size 10 , widish foot, the color sequence is going to pool whatever I try to do. (Trust me, I've tried everything and really, having the sock fit must be more important than getting those lovely stripes.) What I am really looking for is a fabulous, spontaneous, colorway of a yarn. One that just bursts forth new colors randomly. Perhaps Grumperina's newest find is what I've been looking for? But since this sock is all about the cuff, and in a pair of slippers who will see the foot, I am not too bothered. Besides, I can't help but love Blue Moon Fibers' colorways and their soft, springy and durable base yarns.

On the other side of the sock spectrum is Oriel by Charlene Schurch in Sensational Knitted Socks. Laura is definitely responsible for this pair of socks. You see, it was her Embossed Leaves, by Mona Schmidt, that really inspired me to become a sock knitter. And so I bought Interweave's Favorite Socks and then put off knitting them until I was a better sock knitter. On a different occasion Laura recommended SKS and I saw Oriel. The lace pattern reminded me of those leaves, and it was-toe up pattern. Oh, Embossed Leaves is still in the queue, but I have this unnatural fear of running out of yarn. Perhaps that is why I am so drawn to toe-up socks. If I start running low on yarn, I can just make a shorter leg.

Anyway, this sock is all about the stitch pattern, not about bursts of color, so I looked for a more subtle yarn. I know I should embrace the solids but it's just so hard. Which is why I have started investing in Sundara Yarns' Somewhat Solids and more muted blends like the Hand Maiden Cashbah yarn in Peridot that I am using.

Not only is this the softest thing to ever touch my toes, the colors just flow into each other giving variety without calling attention to itself.

It is the pattern that stands out.

And even though speed is not the goal, as usual I am knitting two at a time which not only speeds up the process, but ensures matching socks.

(Don't be fooled by those DPNs, they are only holding the stitches while I wait for my new 47" KP circs to be delivered.)

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