FO – Eleanor in Blue Socks

Another pair of long-finished socks, these were such a treat during last spring’s trip to Italy.

Like broken-in jeans and a cushy sweater, these were instantly comfortable and felt familiar.

Pattern: Eleanor by Gigi Silva/Monkey Toes; available as a free pattern on Ravelry; my project is here
Size: US women’s 9
Yarn: Regia Havanna Color 4-ply fingering weight, in color 4182, 75% new wool / 25% nylon; I used 80.4 grams, which was approximately 367.5 yards/ 336 meters
Needles: Clover size 2 (2.75 mm) bamboo DPNs, set of 5
Modifications: worked toe-up, with a short-row heel

Started: February 5, 2009
Finished: March 31, 2009

I’ve knit a pair of Eleanor socks before, but I was dissatisfied with the eyelets on those (I really should reknit one and finish that pair). For this pair, I followed the pattern and I’m so glad I did.

I felt a weird tenderness toward these socks, partly as a consequence of working them slowly on bamboo DPNs. These were my refuge after long, cold days working outside, and later, my little bit of warmth and relaxation tucked in my bag while doing thesis research in Venice. I knit these while waiting for, and then riding trains, and I vividly remember one frustrating afternoon where I actually wrote in my journal “I just want to sit outside and knit my socks in the sunshine, the hell with thesis research.”

This pattern is great – I’ve really enjoyed it immensely both times I’ve worked on it, and I’m surprised that it doesn’t get boring from something so repetitive. I knit 8 repeats up the legs, and though I had enough yarn, I didn’t feel like figuring out calf increases. Still, I imagine they’d look smashing as knee socks.

I knit the majority of the second sock on the plane home, when I was utterly exhausted and couldn’t wait to be with my family and sleep in my own bed. My seat-mate, a college-aged guy from the UK, seemed genuinely perplexed by me, but I was completely unconcerned. At one point a woman walking by knocked my working yarn on the ground in front of the flight attendant’s drink cart, and it was a bit of a disaster as they rolled it over, pulling my sock and DPNs and all out of my hands and dragging it down the aisle. There is a break in the yarn, and even those little woven in ends elicit a fond smile whenever I see them.

The yarn is sturdy and was very pleasant to knit with. I’ve always loved Regia and found it to be an excellent yarn at a great price. The subtly blended colors are delightful in person and they sustained my interest throughout knitting. The rich blues and warm, gentle browns and tans remind me of corduroy pants and flannel shirts, of the beach where the ocean and sand meet, and of mud flats at low tide with wind-bent cattails and a brilliant blue sky.

In short, they feel like home.

Previous Entries on this Project:
Also Blue

FO – Spring Forward Socks

These are a bit of a flashback, since I finished them more than a year ago, but I still really love my Spring Forward Socks.

These are probably the pinkest, most feminine, girliest socks I’ve ever made, and I just adore them.

Pattern: Spring Forward by Linda Welch, free pattern from summer 2008 Knitty; my project is here on Ravelry
Size: US women’s 9
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy fingering weight, in Petal Shower, 100% Merino wool; I used 90.9 grams, which was approximately 360 yards/ 329.2 meters
Needles: Knit Picks size 1.5 (2.5 mm) nickel-plated double-pointed needles, set of 5
Modifications: worked toe-up, with a short-row heel

Started: January 3, 2009
Finished: April 5, 2009

As you may have surmised, these socks are practically perfect in every way. The fit is wonderfully comfortable. Because I had so much yarn (seriously – the yardage for Smooshy is so generous already, and I still have 20 grams leftover!), I was able to make the leg as long as I wanted.

The lace pattern was wonderfully easy, and fun, and I love the way it looks. The springy shapes are playful and move the yarn in pleasing ways, while still maintaining an almost solid fabric, so they’re not too open to wear as trouser socks or what have you. When I actually worked on these socks, they moved as quickly as, say, Monkeys, which made them very satisfying.

I still haven’t found a heel I love as much as a short-row heel (which is probably not a bad thing), and these were worked with 10 stitches on each side and 13 in the middle.

Apart from a wonderful pattern, I think what really made these socks for me is the yarn. I love this yarn so much I want to sing songs about it – the springy quality of the heavenly soft Merino is ideally suited for this bouncy lace, the colors are just variegated enough to stay interesting without getting distracting, the colors are lovely blends of pinks and creams so beautiful that I love every one, and the finished sock feels downright decadent on my feet. For the time it takes to make a pair of hand knit socks, it is very rewarding for them to feel so cushy and refined, like the luxury they really are. I will definitely be using as much Smooshy as possible in the future!

As for these socks, I can tell I will be getting a lot of wear out of them, starting right away.

Previous Entries on this Project:
Pink

Neue Socken

When I first started knitting, casting on a new project was an event. I put so much time and thought and energy into it, and I was so excited by the time I started that I couldn’t wait to take photos and document it, even if all I had to show was a few rows of a sock toe or the beginning of a sweater back.

I was worried that I was getting blasé about it, that starting a new pair of socks when I had so many already on the needles was becoming old hat (I’ll address my rather alarming WIP problem in another post).

The typical prompt for me to cast on new socks is the Sock Knitters Anonymous Sockdown challenges on Ravelry. This is such a fun, vibrant, and active group that it makes it utterly compelling to participate, and it’s extraordinarily satisfying to finish a pair within the group’s (very generous) timeframe.

The February Sockdown challenge included an option for Underappreciated Patterns, which of course intrigues me, as a big fan of the obscure and less recognized. I kept wondering what makes one particular pattern skyrocket in popularity while another equally beautiful (or perhaps even more beautiful) one gets overlooked.

In most cases, I realized that I personally overlook patterns which are photographed in a way that obscures the details (blurry, too dark or light, too far away to see the pattern etc) or, far more commonly, where an overly busy yarn is used. I think some hand-painted yarns are truly works of art, but not all yarns are suited for all patterns, and it drives me nuts when a great pattern is completely obscured by a high-contrast, crazy variegated yarn. Or, when such a yarn is forced to fight with a pattern rather than used in a simpler way that showcases its unique qualities.

All these obsessive issues of mine aside, I am pretty confident that the reason this pattern is underappreciated is because it is written in German. I of course don’t know any German, but I found the photos of this pattern so lovely that I really needed to make a pair of these socks, and I had this green Gloss yarn just begging to become fern lace.

It turns out it’s rather remarkably easy to figure out a German pattern, especially one such as this, which has the lace charted out. I found this super-helpful website which translates common German knitting symbols, and combining this with Google Translator, I pieced together the stitch count and instructions.

I’ve finished the first sock already, and I’m pretty stoked with the way they are coming out. More to the point, I’m actually enjoying the process, each component, and the whole experience of knitting. It’s a lovely change of perspective.

For the love of Nancy Bush

I purchased my copy of Nancy Bush’s Knitting Vintage Socks quite some time ago, and it wasn’t until this past September that I knit my first project from it.

When I saw that the January Sockdown for the Sock Knitters Anonymous group on Ravelry had Nancy Bush as the featured designer, I couldn’t resist starting two new pairs.

The first is the Child’s Sock in Miranda Pattern, which I am working toe-up over 64 stitches. This is my portable, train and subway type knitting, since the pattern is effortless to memorize and easy to pick up at any point and work a few rows.

In starting the second pair, I surprised even myself, as I was following the instructions and knitting them from the top down. They are the Fancy Silk Sock for a Child of 5 or 6 Years, though I am calling them my Fancy Merino Socks. I probably could have knit these toe-up, but I love the lacy cuff and the way the heel shaping forms a geometric counterpoint to the delicate lace pattern. I guess Nancy Bush really is that good.

FO – Farnkrautsocken

Remember when I joked about renaming this blog “Vickilicious Knits Green Socks”? There is some comfort in being predictable, no?

In many ways, these are a Greatest Hits of my favorite aspects of knitting: green wool, toe-up, small gauge, fast-moving, vine lace, socks… I mean, what’s not to love??

Pattern: Farnkrautsocken (Ravelry link) by Silke Pieper, available as a free Ravelry download; my project page is here
Size: lady’s US size 9 with 9-inch foot circumference and 9.5-inch foot length
Yarn: Schachenmayr nomotta/Regia Uni 4-ply fingering weight, color 2082 Green, 75% new wool/25% nylon; I used 76.1 grams/2.67 oz or 349.6 yards/319.7 meters.
Needles: Knit Picks 6″ nickel-plated double-pointed needles, set of 5 size 1.5 (2.50 mm)
Modifications: Used figure-8 cast-on and swapped jojo heel for short-row heel

Started: July 29, 2009
Finished: August 26, 2009

I knit these socks as part of the July Sock Knitters Anonymous Sockdown, a challenge that included Homegrown Designers who are members of the group. I found this pattern clearly written, well-organized, and just lovely through and through.

The pattern called for a jojo heel, and while I was looking forward to trying this new technique, I ended up using my tried and true short-row heel. I really like the look of it and, frankly, I didn’t have the pattern with me when it came to heel-turning time, so I just went with what I knew.

I’m sort of glad I did because these are some of the neater heels I’ve worked, and I really love the way they fit.

Everything about these socks was easy and satisfying. I am a huge fan of vine lace (as you may note from the scarf and two Jellyfish shrugs I’ve knit that incorporate the vine lace pattern). It’s a four-row repeat, with two plain knit rows and two essentially identical pattern rows that differ only in being off-set by one stitch. It is fast, intuitive, has a pleasant rhythm, and at this point, I can work it in my sleep, which is helpful because much of the time I spent knitting these socks was while half-awake on the train or subway.

I like the way the front and back are divided by narrow bands of stockinette that frame the vine lace. In the past, when I’d considered knitting vine lace socks, I thought I wanted an all-over lace pattern, but the way these bands absorb the off-set stitches and draw a neat line down the leg just charms me.

The yarn was quite a treat as well. I kept finding myself surprised at how soft it was, for such a durable, workhorse type of yarn. I’m happy I have a few other colors of this yarn in my stash, and I will certainly keep an eye out for it in the future – I just love it. I also must say, this is perhaps the most perfect shade of green I’ve ever worked with, and I’m thrilled to have socks in such a great color. (I’m also happy to have nearly 25 grams leftover, which I hope to use in some kind of accessory.)

All in all, I couldn’t be happier with this project! It’s revived my interest in sock-knitting, lace, and knitting in general, just in time for fall.