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It rained and rained all weekend, but I had a wonderful time indoors lazing around with some old friends. I also seriously overate some excellent Bengali food. Of all the Indian cuisines, Bengali food has never really been my favourite but I’m slowly
learning to trying to appreciate its subtleties and even cook a little bit of it from time to time. I’m planning to spend some quality time in the kitchen in Calcutta this summer learning some tips from ze mother-in-law. Anyway. In the meantime: socks are done! Took nearly a month, but well worth the frogging, the time taken and the effort to adapt a pattern to my liking.
Yarn: Koigu 100% merino (forgot the colour!)
Pattern: my own combination of Wendy’s Toe Up Sock Pattern using short row toes and heels and the Double Eyelet Rib pattern from Barbara Walker’s first Treasury of Knitting Patterns.
Gauge: 8.5 stitches over stockinette, on size 0 takumi bamboo dpns.
I cast on 64 stitches, and after completing the toe, I knit 8 stockinette rounds. Then I knit the rib pattern on half the stitches (32) for the top of the foot and stockinette for the other half (32). The rib pattern is over 4 rounds and goes fairly simply, like this:
Rounds 1, 2 and 4: p3, (k5, p2) thrice, k5, p3, knit remaining 32 stitches for bottom of foot
Rd 3: p3 (k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, p2) thrice, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, p3, k 32.
I knit as established until it was time to do the heel (2 inches less than the length I wanted for the sock). After doing the short-row heel, I decreased one stitch, since the rib pattern is a multiple of seven. So, 63 stitches for the cuff.
Rounds 1, 2, & 4: (p2, k5) all around
Rd 3: (p2, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk) all around
Loose casting off was crucial and I picked the Russian one: p1, loosen the stitch just purled, place back on left needle, purl together with next stitch, continue till all stitches cast off. See photos of the process here.
Variations (for the future!): I’d probably do more plain rounds in between the patterned round, to make it go faster. Also, the pattern is over 7 stitches, but to make the sock slightly wider or tighter, it’s easier to just insert one purl stitch in between the rib panels, either in each purl band or in alternate ones. Doesn’t alter the pattern that much, and you avoid having to increase 7 stitches for a whole extra pattern repeat.
For once I’m not complaining that the weather got cooler again. Now I can just wear these to work tomorrow:
Just a quick update on the socks: now in the home stretch. The all over lace cuff will take the longest, but I am going away for the weekend to hang out with some old friends I haven’t seen in a while at their place in the Jersey suburbs. Much of it expected to be spent lazing around, watching a movie and chatting and arguing about politics, so I am hoping to have these done by Sunday.
Actually these socks will have good memories associated with them. The first one was knit last week mostly chatting and wandering around the city (including during a jazz concert at the Lenox Lounge!) with an old friend of mine who was visiting from India for a conference, and who I hadn’t met for over six years. Isn’t it lovely that projects have memories associated with them? Some bad, true, but it’s wonderful when they’re good.
Sort of unrelated: a friend and I were talking the other day about how we forget the plots of mystery novels and this allows us to reread old mysteries without losing the suspense value. She quoted parts of a poem by Billy Collins:
The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never
even heard of,
as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.
My research explores the making of historical memories (and much of it I would like to forget!), but this take on memory, of the joy of rediscovering well-loved books anew, is delightful, no?
I have the perfect solution: make the first one so problematic, and yet so lovely when done, that the second one seems like a total breeze in comparison and you cannot wait to have the pair done to wear. I am aware, that like with many other solutions, your mileage may vary with this one. But look:
I started the second Koigu sock yesterday, and hopefully this one will be much less painful to execute than the first one.
(The tibetan Buddha statue on which it rests is presumably not too happy, but it was handy. )
In the interests of my own sanity, however, I decided to add some colour to the grey knitting and start a new project. Voila mon clapotis (or should it be ma clapotis?):
The subtle shades in this handpainted yarn are gorgeous. Thanks to Laura, colour expert extraordinaire, for coming up with this gorgeous yarn.
So my Clapotis is in laceweight, on size 5s, following Alianneknits. Also, I am doing the stitches to be dropped in purl. Easier to spot, easier to keep to a rhythm. I like the soft drape, and am still trying to figure out how many increases to do, to give it a good width.
Okay, so I just frogged my Koigu sock a couple of rows and wore it, and it went up my, um, shapely calves just fine. Google to the rescue: a search for "stretchy cast off" made me realise with a relief that I was not the only one to have this problem with toe-up socks. So here’s what happened. I found this list of stretchy cast off techniques which mentioned a Russian cast off (scroll down to post # 4 by Spinerella). I tried it:
Basically, purl the first two stitches to be bound off together.
Then loosen the resultant purl stitch and put it back on the left needle. Then purl it together with the next stitch. Keep doing this till all stitches are cast off. Voila! All stitches have been cast off, with a neat, yet stretchy cast off. The edge looks loose and curvy but fits snugly over the leg.
And as you can see, it fits nicely and snugly, with no problems whatsoever. I am in love, and cannot wait to cast on for sock number two.
…. or do we? This does look like a completed sock, ready to wear, but then that would be so easy, no? I finally knit to the end of the skein and find that the sock is too tight! I can barely get it past my ankle, and when I do, it’s a right royal pain to get off. Damn! To think it was too loose when I began. This sock is sure trying my patience.
Now I’m in a quandary: 68 stitches was too loose on the foot, and 64 is too tight on the cuff. Actually it’s not the whole cuff, just the top couple of inches. It went over the ankle fine when the stitches were on the needles.
I think I’m going to frog half the cuff and increase a stitch in all the purl sections to make it a little bigger. To all sock gurus reading this, should I do that, or add a ribbed edge? Which will that make it stretchier and easier to wear? Or should I increase some stitches and also add a ribbed edge? Please, all suggestions are welcome. I so don’t want to junk this project. I did bind off in rib, on a size 2 needle.
… slowly. Very slowly. Like the Marathi saying, ????? ????? ??? ???? (literally, drop by drop the pond fills up). Here are a couple of progress pictures. I gave my husband quite a turn yesterday as he spied me trying to photograph my foot in the air with needles sticking out all around my ankle.
I like the way the lace looks. I am not entirely sure about how tight the all-over lace pattern will be on the ankle and cuff, but am knitting it right now, so will find out soon. But I can so totally see a second sock syndrome coming on. Need to fight it.
Also, the Shaped Triangle Shawl is growing! I had a devil of a time trying to photograph it, though. Here’s one that is halfway decent. I have a long way to go, but this project is wonderful. You can see its shape forming, like a butterfly opening its wings, almost.
What you see to the left is my seventeenth – okay, third – attempt at starting my grey Koigu sock. I frogged the 60 stitch first attempt, then a 68 stitch one, then a 72 stitch effort, which also included trying to put in a lace pattern, from Barbara Walker’s stitch dictionary. I thought I would need the extra stitches to incorporate the pulling in of the lace, but as it turns out, the sock is now large enough to cover the Yeti’s foot. I’m a short-row expert by now, and am amazed at my tenacity with this project.
So, a fourth attempt has been started with the other skein, with 64 stitches, and although not photographed here, it seems like this will be the one. The lace pattern isn’t very clear here, but it looks beautiful on the sock.
Consolation: 1) Who knows, after all these false starts I might actually have my own, very first, sock pattern to offer. Watch this space (but don’t hold your breath!). 2) Also, the Koigu holds up very well to repeated frogging. 3) Finally, I have not stabbed myself (or anyone else) with the size 0 needle – yet.
Update: edited some errors.
So I travelled quite a bit by subway (and a long NJ Transit bus ride yesterday in the boonies of Jersey because I took the wrong bus) over the weekend and here’s the progress on my Koigu sock. You will note the short row toe and heel. A bit difficult to do the first time, but only because it’s not easy to pull the yarn through a tight stitch with two wraps all at once, especially when purling.
So what’s the matter? I am not so happy with it. My legendary incompetence in simple arithmetic has made a feather & fan pattern impossible at this stage. Also, while the size zero needles are producing a good, tight fabric, I think I cast on too few stitches (60). I wore the sock and still feel its tight "imprint" on my foot after taking it off, if that makes sense. So what should I do? Should I frog and cast on anew with a larger number of stitches? Or will the Koigu stretch as I wear it?
So, you ask, will I ever finish anything or is this doomed to be a frog blog? Heh. May I announce that I finally sent the damn ms. in to the publishers. YES!!! It’s DONE!! Met my deadline of March 31, and hauled it in to them. Now there’s copyediting and proofing and whatnot, but the main writing is done. I am still in a bit of a daze; I have some minor deadlines to meet in the next month, but nothing as overwhelming as this. Am looking forward to doing some serious knitting (and cooking) now.
I also rented Amar Akbar Anthony to watch for possibly the seventeenth time this evening. Guilty pleasures. One of my favourite Hindi commercial blockbusters. Sepoy, I don’t know if you’re reading this, but the stupid desi store down the street didn’t have a single one of Muhammad Ali’s films. Am very bummed about it.