FO: Walking through a Vineyard Socks

Before I get to the socks, I want to note that I have a lot of other things I’d like to talk about, and I’m planning some wordier posts soon. I’m in a bit of a logjam with my classes, some personal things, and the all of this going on, probably much like everyone else. So let’s start with the socks, and I will chip away at the rest as I can.

I also need to add a note of caution: throughout my site, I have links to pattern and project pages on Ravelry without individual seizure warnings. I generally label Ravelry links separately from other links already, but please, please proceed with caution before following any links to Ravelry until they get their redesign issues sorted out for accessibility.

Walking through a Vineyard Socks, shown on feet outdoors to demonstrate the stitch pattern as worn.

Pattern: Walking through a Vineyard by Dots Dabbles, a pattern available for free on Ravelry (Project page)
Size: Women’s size 9.5 (US), made using size L from the pattern
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal, fingering weight, 75% Merino wool / 25% nylon in Mountain Pass
Needles: Size 1.5 (2.5 mm) DPNs
Modifications: I added additional stitches to the ribbing and lengthened it slightly. I also added length to the toes, as described below

Started: May 29, 2020
Finished: June 26, 2020

Socks flat on blockers

As I mentioned on Instagram, when I first started knitting, the idea of so many twisted stitches and cable crossings seemed impossible to me at the fine gauge needed for socks. I figured socks like these would take a year or more, if I could ever get through them. I’m delighted to see how much I’ve grown as a knitter since then, as well as what a joy these deceptively complex little twists and crossings were.

Socks on feet, with toes pointed together

As I’ve been doing with most top-down socks lately, I started with a greater diameter of stitches and lengthened the ribbing to give a stretchier, more accommodating cuff for wide calves. I worked 24 rows of ribbing and decreased the extra stitches evenly spaced in the 23rd round.

Detail view of twisted stitch pattern and cabling

The twisted stitch pattern was rhythmic and intuitive. The symmetry and enjoyable flow of more complicated rows, then more “restful” rows kept my momentum going, and the length of the chart repeat was just right to easily track. I love the way this yarn looks in twisted stitches and cables, and I have been incredibly happy with every project I’ve worked in the Stroll Tonal line.

Round heel, with decreases centered on the sole

The round heel is an elegant detail that allows the columns of cables to continue from the leg into the foot uninterrupted. I worked a similar style of heel on a pair of toe-up colorwork socks that we haven’t talked about yet (soon!) and continue to be impressed with how comfortable the fit is on the ball of the heel. As diehard a short-row-heel lover as I’ve been, I may have found a new favorite gusset-heel style.

Detail of gusset and heel flat on sock blocker

The way the sock makes room to cup the heel ensures the cable patterning fits perfectly across the instep and snugs into the arches without distorting the pattern. It also de-emphasizes the stitches picked up along the heel flap, which is the area that still causes me the most insecurity in top-down socks, somehow, after all these years.

Toes of socks on feet, with detail of cable patterning

The pattern gives the option for a plain or a patterned toe, and I’m glad I went with more patterning. I just love the cable transitions and the way that design detail, combined with the green color, give these socks a Celtic feel. I added additional rows in the toe decreases, which resulted in a few plain rows at the very tip.

These socks were an absolute joy to knit, and I’m thrilled with the finished result. I’d give this pattern my highest possible recommendation, and if you are hesitant that they are too complicated, I assure you, the clarity of the instructions and detailed charts will carry you through.

Going to great lengths for a seamless cardigan

I have been wanting to knit the Salvia cardigan for years, and in 2015, I finally cast it on. I made the decision that I wanted to figure out how to work it seamlessly, or with as few seams as possible because I still have not mastered attractive seaming for my handknits (I promise, I am working on it and practicing).

I’ve been collecting techniques to avoid seaming over the years, including three-needle bind-offs, picking up stitches around edges, and so on, but this sweater has a unique challenge. The scalloped lace sections that give it its special style are charted from the bottom up, and because they are made with yarn-overs and decreases that play a visible role in the design, I wasn’t able to find an elegant way of replicating them in a top-down direction. I run into the opposite problem somewhat frequently in sock-knitting, where the lace only “reads” with the right gravity and flow in the direction it was designed. So I persisted anyway, quickly working the cardigan’s back, left, and right fronts all together in one piece to the underarms.

Diagram of a plan for knitting the Salvia Cardigan seamlessly

Next I worked the three pieces separately, back and forth on two needles, then finished with a three-needle bind-off at the shoulders. I’ve had my cardigan in a vest-like shape for several years now, while I hemmed and hawed about how best to proceed. The specific type of seaming I am worst at is setting in sleeves at the shoulder. Vertical mattress stitch is fine, but once I start working on a curve, it gets wonky and uneven, and no matter what I do, I’m not pleased with the finished product. So I’ve thought, on and off, for quite some time about how I could work the shoulders using short rows to shape the cap (I plan on something like this brilliant tutorial) and then pondered what to do about the bottom-up lace at the ends of the sleeves.

Recently I was grafting the toe of a sock using Kitchener stitch, thinking about what a neat finish it gives, and it finally occurred to me that I could probably graft in the round, so long as I had the live stitches from the sleeve and the lace portion matched up correctly. By placing the graft just above the lace cuff, I’m hoping it will be unobtrusive and neat and that the sleeve will appear as it is designed, without having to set in shoulders or compromise the design.

I cast on the first lace cuff the other day, and I can’t wait to find out if I’m right!

Previous Entries with this Project:
WIP: Art Deco Lace-Edged Cardigan

FO: Melisandre Socks

I’ve been trying to think of the best way to catch up on the backlog of projects I haven’t posted about here (or in some cases, anywhere) and have landed on the idea of a “Flashback FO.”

I knit these socks for the September 2018 Sock Knitters Anonymous challenge, with the theme of Fandom. As Game of Thrones had not yet started its 8th season, I was all excited about making some Red Witch energy socks to wear while watching the final episodes.

Pattern: Melisandre by Kimberly Pieper (Purrlescent), a pattern available for free on Ravelry. (Project page)
Size: Women’s size 9.5 (US)
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss, fingering weight, 70% Merino wool / 30% silk in Burgundy
Needles: Size 1 (2.25 mm) DPNs
Modifications: None

Started: September 14, 2018
Finished: October 25, 2018

I was drawn to these socks because the pattern is toe-up, which gave me confidence that I could manage the chart and the amount of yarn I had without worrying. The pattern was really clear and well-written, so it was a good way to get back into more complicated sock-knitting after several years of stockinette-only toe-up socks. I was nervous, even with trying them on, that they would end up too tight at the tops of the legs / beginning of my calves, so I went against my instinct to add an extra pattern repeat and kept the leg length as written.

I think if I had it to do again, I would probably go ahead and lengthen them more and figure out calf-shaping if needed, especially because the pattern is so impactful and lovely in this yarn.

These socks kicked off a series of Game of Thrones-themed socks, all worked in Gloss yarn. I find Gloss slightly thicker than other sock yarns, but also slightly less elastic, so it makes delightfully squishy, decadent, but not always super-stretchy socks.

I love the subtle sheen the silk gives the yarn (living up to the Gloss name) and the cozy, soft warmth of Merino wool. These two skeins of Gloss were among the first yarn purchases I ever made, way back in 2006, and I’m glad I saved them for the perfect project to make the most of the rich autumnal color and decadent qualities of Gloss.

These socks also had one of the first toe-up heel flaps and gussets I’d ever knit, which was a great learning experience, even if it took me several tries to get the first one right (the secret was to… follow the pattern). I love the tidy little gussets and the way the patterning flows neatly from the heel flap into the leg. I was also pleasantly surprised by how comfortably they fit across the instep, as I had previously sworn by the fit of short-row heels only.

Overall, this was an excellent pattern, and I love it in this deep burgundy-red color. Highly recommended, and I think Melisandre would approve.

Related Projects:
– Eddard Socks
– Lyanna Socks

Spring Socks

One of the goals I’ve set for this year is knitting a pair of socks each month, usually as part of the Sock Knitters Anonymous challenges on Ravelry. I’ve also decided they would be part of the #FreeSocks2020 project, where the socks are knit with yarn I already have in my stash, from patterns available for free.

These are my Cuarzo Rosa socks, and between the pretty lace pattern and delicate pink heather color, they feel just perfect for spring. I cast these on for the April-May SKA challenge theme of “under-appreciated patterns,” where a design must have fewer than 15 projects on Ravelry to qualify. I am stunned that I was only the seventh person to cast on for this incredibly beautiful and enjoyable design.

Inspired by the lacy clusters of rose quartz crystals as they are found in nature, the pattern grows into rhythmic organic shapes that are nowhere near as difficult to knit as they may look. I always love that quality in lace.

I’m having a great time watching these socks develop and look forward to having a finished pair soon!

FO: Varsity Kermit Sweater!!!

Way, way back in 2011 I sketched out the plan for this sweater and finally today, on Kermit the Frog’s 65th birthday, it is finally finished. Yaaayyyyy!!!

Pattern: Self-Designed Seamless V-Neck Cardigan, using the Incredible Custom-Fit Raglan Sweater Worksheet by Pamela Costello (Project page on Ravelry)
Size: Made to custom measurements
Yarn: Red Heart Sport Solid, DK weight, 100% acrylic, in Limeade and Paddy Green

Started: October 26, 2011
Finished: May 9, 2020

The idea for this sweater had been percolating for much longer, at least as far back as 2007 when I bought this yarn for a different cardigan and laughed that the color was so bright it looked like Kermit the Frog. It should be noted here that I absolutely love Kermit the Frog. As I type this I have a Kermit mouse pad, Kermit is the screen background on my phone, I have a Kermit keychain, more than a few Kermit t-shirts, dolls, water bottles, and so on. He is one of my favorite characters of all-time and never fails to make me smile.

One day riding the ferry home from school, I was thinking about this sweater quantity of bright green yarn and saw a high school student wearing a varsity jacket. I started thinking about the history of varsity sweaters, Googled a bit about the meaning of the stripes, and by the time I reached Staten Island I had sketched out a little V-neck cardigan to declare my varsity-level Kermit love.

I found an iron-on Kermit patch and ordered it right away, then worked out the measurements from the custom-fit raglan worksheet linked above. I found a nicely coordinating darker green for the ribbing and stripes, and I decided that even though varsity sweaters customarily had stripes on only one sleeve, I would indulge myself in a bit of symmetry so both sleeves would match. Knitting the sweater was straightforward and fast, but then I hit a roadblock with the patch. As the yarn was 100% acrylic (chosen for economy, my super sensitive skin, and easy care) I was leery about ironing the patch on, as it would melt the acrylic along with the adhesive.

I sat with this problem for close to a decade, then finally came up with an incredibly obvious solution. I first ironed the patch onto a piece of quilting cotton, then made a sort of sandwich of this layer, the sweater, and a second piece of cotton for a backing.

I trimmed the fabric close to the patch and pinned it where I wanted it above my heart on the sweater.

I turned the edges under and appliquéd the fabric as close to the patch as I could get it, pulling the edges in and slightly under the patch as I worked my way around.

It came out quite clean, and I’m delighted with how securely and neatly it sits on the sweater without pulling or causing it to sag.

I hemmed the inner piece of cotton and tacked it at the corners, to catch all the thread ends and knots and to further stabilize the patch. I had a good laugh, as my brother joined me during this part and recognized the Kermit collar points and silhouette from this back side, asking, “Are you sewing a Kermit onto that sweater??”

It feels lovely to be so understood.

The buttons are a cheery red plastic value pack that I found on eBay back in 2012. I like the contrast and extra little zip they give. At the time I was preoccupied with button bands gapping, so I made these nice and wide, then placed the buttons so closely together that it is nigh on impossible for them to gap at all. Having all these big, bright goofy buttons works with the aesthetic, and I am even more charmed than I expected to be by the whole effect.

Overall I’m thrilled with this project and so glad I took my time in making the decisions I did to get exactly the silly idea I had in my head to become a reality. One of the things I love most about knitting is that you can make anything you imagine, in any size or color you like, with whatever details you want, and you will end up with a one-of-a-kind handmade creation. I am also delighted with the success in making a sweater custom to my measurements so that the sleeves have the right roominess I was looking for, the V-neck hits in just the right spot on my bust, and everything is the right length and fit for a truly comfortable, just-my-size, just-my-style, and just-my-level-of-ridiculous cardigan.

Or as Kermit would put it…

Previous Entries with this Project:
Varsity Kermit Sweater