Forgotten FO: Oh So Nikki Socks

I was cruising by my own blog, wondering how long it had been since I’d posted (much too long again, as expected), and I realized, with quite some embarrassment, that there was a pair of socks I finished nigh on a year ago but neglected to ever post here!

Please allow me to present my Oh So Nikki Socks, a wonderfully enjoyable, fast pattern, which I knit in a delightfully happy self-striping yarn.

Pattern: Oh So Nikki Socks by Judy Sumner, a free pattern available as a PDF on Ravelry. My project page is here.
Size: US women’s 9
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici 4-ply fingering weight, in Aurora, 75% Merino wool / 25% nylon; I used less than 2 balls, approximately 80 grams, which was roughly 350 yards/ 320 meters
Needles: Knit Picks size 1.5 (2.5 mm) DPNs, set of 5
Modifications: worked toe-up with a short-row heel

Started: February 20, 2010
Finished: March 21, 2010

These socks were a second entry into the Sock Knitters Anonymous February 2010 challenge, featuring under-appreciated patterns. To qualify, patterns were required to have less than 15 projects in Ravelry, and at the time I started these, I believe I was project #3. I was surprised more knitters hadn’t tried this pattern out, since it was so fast and enjoyable, with high-impact results.

I thought the short floats of slipped stitches which comprise the bar-like stitch pattern on every other row would add a bit of texture and visual interest to a self-striping sock yarn, without competing with the striping pattern.

I like the somewhat staccato rhythm the alternating sets of threes gives to the columns of stripes.

Of course I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t obsessively match the stripes. I know self-striping yarns aren’t for everyone, but to me, they are endlessly amusing. I find the colors of Felici uniquely special, and I think it is a lovely yarn all around. After the utter joy of knitting these socks, I made sure to treat myself to a few more balls.

I was tickled that I was able to start the toes and heels on the colors I did, and I knew I wanted to end on the teal, so that worked out perfectly.

As I’ve said several times now, the stitch pattern was crazy fast, in part because it was so delightfully addictive. I whipped through these in a very short amount of time, which always adds to my satisfaction with a project. It was important to me that these socks be absolutely stress-free, since I was working on them while taking breaks from my art history master’s thesis, and I had zero brainpower or energy to spare for knitting complications.

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To make them toe-up, I did a figure-8 cast-on and, of course, my favorite short-row heel. Obviously, the stitch pattern inverted effortlessly.

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As I related in my first post about these socks, the pattern was initially conceived for the designer’s granddaughter, and I wanted to keep that spirit of youth and playfulness to them. The yarn was just delightful to work with, and I think the end product was sufficiently charming and a burst of joy in my knitting life last spring.

If you are looking for a fun, fast, enjoyable project, I definitely recommend this pattern in a bright, colorful yarn. I hope your socks will make you as instantly cheerful as these make me.

Previous Entries on this Project:
Two new cast-ons

FO – Katelyn Basic Sweater

It would probably be fair to call this a Learning Sweater. It started as a sweater I knit while doing the reading for a Contemporary Literature course, but it became a course in classic sweater construction for me.

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Pattern: Katelyn Basic (Ravelry link), free pattern by the Berroco Design Team
Size: Medium (39″ bust)
Yarn: Caron One Pound 10-ply worsted weight, color Forest Green, 100% acrylic; I used less than 1 skein, which was less than 453 grams/15.98 oz or 826 yards/755 meters. I will try to get a more accurate measure of yarn used in the future.
Needles: US size 8 (5.0 mm) and 10 (6.0 mm) 14″ aluminum straight needles and size 7 (4.5 mm) 16″ circular needle
Modifications: Added approximately 1.5″ length to body

Started: October 12, 2009*
Finished: January 17, 2010**

* I originally started this sweater in February 2007, as one of my first knitting projects, but I started over again in a smaller size after letting it hibernate for a few years.

**You’ll also note that the season in which I took the photos is completely different from the sweater’s completion date (I shot them in April) and of course, I am not blogging this sweater until September. I look a little different now than I did in April, but more to the point, yes, I am a massive procrastinator.

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At the time that I started this sweater, I anticipated it being my first sweater, but because I put it aside for so long, that honor went to a much less successful project (which I haven’t ever worn and still hesitate to call finished). So, while not my “official” first sweater, this is the first one that is finished to a degree where I could wear it. I started it at a time when I was obsessed with this color, in my pre-knit-blogging days.

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A sweater is easy to knit in pieces and seems to move quickly, section by section. Once I restarted in a smaller size, this sweater seemed to fly off the needles, but I dallied about for a while as I tried to determine the best way to seam it. I opted for a rather aggressive wetting-and-ironing approach which didn’t go quite so far as killing the acrylic (here I mean the actual term killing, not destroying) but gave many of its benefits, especially flattening the edges and creating a thinner, drapier fabric to seam.

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I used an excellent tutorial from Studio Knits for sewing the horizontal shoulder seams, and I’m pretty surprised and pleased with how they came out. Setting in the sleeves was nowhere near the nightmare my first few set-in sleeves were, for which I am very relieved.

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It was easy to pick up stitches for the neck band, which I knit on a size 7 circular needle. Once the upper portion was together, all that remained was sewing the side and sleeves seams, though this as a fairly massive exercise in patience and care. I had to keep reminding myself that if I’d taken all that time to knit the pieces, it would behoove me to sew them together neatly.

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The yarn became noticeably softer and fluffier after washing and drying it. I know that acrylic gets a bad rep for garments, but I really love the ease of being able to toss it in with my regular wash and have it come out softer after tumbling on low heat. Caron One Pound is certainly not the most luxurious yarn in the world, but it is super affordable and made a lovely sweater. I noticed that the parts I ironed more aggressively are floatier and lighter, with a thinner fabric that drapes a little more. I may go over some of the thicker areas to get that same effect all over.

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I’m really pleased that I finally finished this sweater, since I learned so much while knitting it. I now feel prepared to take on other, more complicated sweater designs, and I’m no longer afraid to use my nicer yarns, haunted by visions of wonky disastrous seams. I am toying with the idea of taking up a sweater a month challenge, but seeing how many years it took me to knit this one, I may not be up to that pace just yet.

Still, is there anything more satisfying than being able to say you knit your own sweater?

FO – Fern Pattern Socks (Farnmustersocken)

When I photographed the last five pairs of socks I’d knit in one session, my father apparently asked my mother, “Just how many pairs of socks has she knit while procrastinating her thesis??” While I clarified that those were socks spread out over the past year or more, I also had to sheepishly admit that yes, there were two more pairs.

As my love of green lace is extensive and well-documented, I have to say, I really don’t see myself getting tired of it.

Pattern: Fern Pattern Socks (Farnmustersocken) by Diana Harrison, from the German magazine Wollke7; my project is here on Ravelry
Size: US women’s 9
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss Sock 4-ply fingering weight, in Jade, 70% wool / 30% silk; I used 83.7 grams, which was approximately 367.4 yards/ 336 meters
Needles: Knit Picks size 2 (2.75 mm) DPNs, set of 5
Modifications: worked toe-up with a short-row heel

Started: February 7, 2010
Finished: March 14, 2010

I knit these as part of the Under-appreciated Patterns challenge for Sock Knitters Anonymous on Ravelry. The criteria for this challenge included that there must be less than 15 projects at the time of cast-on for a pattern to be considered under-appreciated, and in this instance, my project was the third.

I figured the reason it was obscure was because it was written in German, though I’m surprised more German-speaking sock knitters hadn’t picked up on it. Because the lace pattern was charted out, I found a very helpful German to English Symbol Knitting site that made quick sense of it, which combined with Google Translator helped me sort out all the relevant details. No longer will I be put off by patterns written in another language, with the internet here to help me!

This pattern has a lot of pluses for my personal preferences. The repeats are simple and short, yet long enough that you only need to work a few over each round. The fern shapes are built by two 8-row sequences of essentially the same pattern, shifted left or right, so the stitches and sequence of working them are almost the same. The only even remotely tricky part is that at the start of the 15th row on the chart, a stitch must be moved from the previous needle to make the pattern work. I wondered how that was going to work out, then just did what it said, and I had my answer: effortlessly.

In addition to being great fun to knit, this type of lace also has a strong visual impact and dimensionality without getting too distracting. I enjoyed working it in a solid color so that from a distance, they’d be sort of sedate, but up close you could really see the stitches, unobscured.

Working on larger than my usual needles, with the somewhat beefier Gloss yarn, made these socks move pretty quickly. I knit most of them while I was in bed sick with bronchitis (yuck), but even through a codeine haze I could tell I was going to be happy with the finished product.

I worked my standard toe starting with a figure-8 cast-on, then a short-row heel. I have to say I really love the way this yarn works at this gauge, as it makes for really neat structural elements that feel great on the feet.

I look forward to wearing these often and continuing to spread the love for green lace socks.

Previous Entries on this Project:
Neue Socken

FO – Child’s Sock in Miranda Pattern

For the last pair in my five-sock reveal, I thought I’d share the most recent and, to my color sensibility, maybe the best.

This is one pair of Nancy Bush socks that I didn’t work as written, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

Pattern: Child’s Sock in Miranda Pattern by Nancy Bush, from the book Knitting Vintage Socks; my project is here on Ravelry
Size: US women’s 9
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll 4-ply fingering weight, in Tidepool Heather, 75% Merino wool / 25% nylon; I used 69.5 grams, which was approximately 321 yards/ 293 meters
Needles: Susan Bates size 1 (2.25 mm) aluminum DPNs, set of 5
Modifications: worked toe-up with a short-row heel and omitted leg shaping, added length to legs

Started: January 1, 2010
Finished: February 27, 2010

This pattern is strikingly simple, but with a nice impact. I read someone’s project notes on Ravelry that said “It’s a sock. There’s yarn overs. That pretty much covers it,” and of course I chuckled because really, that’s it. The arrangement of the yarn-overs with their paired decreases, however, made for these nice box shapes that reminded me of chessboards and plaids.

I had seen a lot of pairs that seemed kind of baggy and weirdly shaped, and I worried that that was a consequence of the calf shaping, which I omitted. Working these toe-up, I was able to try them on and make sure I got an acceptably firm fit, such that by the time I tried them over my heel I saw no need to increase and if anything, made them longer to try to pull up some of the slack, so to speak (there wasn’t much – I always like my socks as long as possible).

At first I felt these were slow-moving, since I was knitting on slightly smaller needles than usual and often while on the train. For a while I had a fit counting the stockinette rows between Miranda pattern repeats (why? why was that so hard?), but eventually I got an eye for it and was able to move a lot more quickly. Ultimately it took getting sick with an awful case of bronchitis, trapping me in bed for two weeks on codeine and nothing to do but watch Hulu and Netflix, to be able to mellow out and just go with the pattern. Once I got in that state, I knit the second sock in a day or two.

The yarn is, of course, what makes these socks. I wanted something with a little variation to the color for visual interest, but not so much that it would overpower such a simple lace pattern. This heathered yarn struck the perfect balance, making a fabric that I love to look at, while still showing the pattern.

While knitting I noticed that the overall tone of these socks is almost exactly the same as my current purse, as well as a lot of my favorite clothes and jewelry. I love a nice blue-green, as it seems to go with all my other favorite colors, and it looks fantastic on its own. In this color, I think these socks will be pretty wearable through many seasons, and in case I haven’t said it enough, I really, really love them.

Previous Entries on this Project:
For the Love of Nancy Bush

FO – Fancy Merino Socks

That Nancy Bush, man. She can really design a pair of socks.

Nancy Bush is one of the only designers for whom I will happily knit socks from the top-down, and I’m really happy when I do.

Pattern: Fancy Silk Sock for a Child of 5 or 6 Years by Nancy Bush, from the book Knitting Vintage Socks; my project is here on Ravelry
Size: US women’s 9
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll 4-ply fingering weight, in Glacial, 75% Merino wool / 25% nylon; I used 71.9 grams, which was approximately 332.6 yards/ 304.2 meters
Needles: Knit Picks size 1.5 (2.5 mm) nickel-plated DPNs, set of 5
Modifications: added one lace repeat to lengthen the leg, otherwise knit as written

Started: January 2, 2010
Finished: February 17, 2010

I’ve wanted to knit these socks for a while, and the January Sock Knitters Anonymous challenge featuring Nancy Bush as a designer provided the perfect opportunity. While knitting, I wondered why I enjoy Nancy Bush patterns so very much, and I think it’s the utter clarity of design, which is carried through in the directions. Every stitch is accounted for, with patterns that are logical and intuitive, with clever transitions and connections among motifs, as well as ways for keeping track of progress that aren’t tedious, such as counting the selvedge chains on the heel flap.

A lot of the sock patterns I’ve seen are essentially some stitch pattern plugged into a basic sock formula, which is what makes them so easy to convert to toe-up. I like that Nancy (yeah, we’re going to be on a first-name basis now) really thought through ways to incorporate the vintage shapes into an overall harmonious flow of stitchery that results in not just a sock, but really a bit of artistry.

And yet, these delicate little tulip shapes blooming up the leg, as well as the dancing lace between them, are incredibly easy and fast to work, which of course I have to love. This portion of the design could have been worked upside-down, but I don’t think it would have the same dimensionality and rhythm.

I’m completely in love with the yarn. It is creamy and squishy and soft, yet strong and durable, making for a lovely sock that feels great on the feet, but holds up to wearing with shoes. I have great love for Knit Picks, and this yarn is one of the ones I’d most highly recommend.

Oh, and the color. It’s this agonizingly beautiful minty bluish greenish color, very accurately named for its similarity to glacial ice (which I will be seeing a lot of on my upcoming trip to Iceland). It also conjures a particularly delightful chapter in the D.H. Lawrence book Women in Love called “Crème de Menthe,” along with general mint green frostings and creamy, decadent things. It may be weird to associate this color with romance and indulgence, but I picture it somehow with cushy white spa robes and crisp white sheets, gentleness and tenderness and all kinds of mushy things.

My only misgiving of sorts, with these socks, is that the lace cuff at the top is a little tight, which prevented me from lengthening the leg as much as I wanted to. I’d read recommendations to work it with a larger needle, and I meant to, then forgot at the last minute and went at it with the 1.5 size. I figured I should be alright since I’d already gone up a half size from the recommended size 1’s, but this is a common issue for me with top-down socks. I can probably fix the cuff with some aggressive blocking (though weirdly, I can’t find my sock blockers anywhere!). Still, these are long enough that they don’t bother me, and their loveliness makes up for anything else for me.

Previous Entries on this Project:
For the Love of Nancy Bush