Thursday, April 21, 2011

Knit and Knit Again

Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows that I am anything but a fastidious knitter. As far as knitting goes I place myself firmly in the "quick and dirty" category. Missing a stitch in a lace pattern? Pick one up! Got an extra? K2tog! Miscrossed a cable twenty row back? Rip out the ten cable stitches down to the mistake and then re-knit it up to the rest of the work! Something looks a little weird? Look somewhere else! It's a little big? Hide it in the closet! It's a little small? Give it to my mom! I will do pretty much ANYTHING to avoid ripping stuff out.

Which is what makes this post so uncharacteristic of me. Recently I had to frog two items down to the nub and start all over again. Yes, I've done it before-- with my short-sleeved sweater and my lace dress. But with both of those things, I was still in the process of knitting. I was maybe 70% through the sweater and 45% through the dress when I ripped them out. The difference now is that both items were totally complete when I ripped them back-- bound off and everything!!

So what were the things? Well, one of them was my I'm Not Married Slouch. After wearing it for a day or so I noticed that it was excessively loose. When I shook my head quickly it kind of slipped back and forth instead of staying put. The band stretched until it was way big. I guess part of the reason was that the yarn I chose is not very stretchy. The other part was that it was just too big from the beginning. I don't know if I mentioned the fact that I knit and ripped back two entire ribbing bands before I forged ahead into the lace. Both times, the band was way too big. I kept adjusting my numbers and calculations, but I guess I should have tried again. Also, I knit the ribbing with a size four and Magic Loop (which I really don't like), and the gauge was loose. Plus the hat itself was not perfect. While knitting, I had lost/gained stitches pretty often (see above) and so the pattern was a little messy. Since I'm not a perfectionist, I didn't care, but all those things together made it clear that if I left it the way it was, the hat would quickly become yet another thing I never wore.

Sooo.... I ripped. Instead of casting on 116, I cast on 100 and used a size 2 needle for the ribbing, which made it much more snug. I did 15 reps of the vine lace pattern instead of 17, and I counted carefully on every knit row to make sure I hadn't lost (or gained) any stitches. It was finished in a few short hours, and then I had a much better-fitting hat.

See how much happier I look! I really love this hat. It's so cute and springy and artsy looking, like I'm on my way to a poetry slam or something. Of course, if I put my ponytail in it, I look like I should be leading around five little kids in a row.

Second re-knit project: Skew socks from Knitty. I don't know how I missed these socks before, but now that I've discovered them, I have found my new go-to sock pattern! These socks are possibly the coolest. They are knit on the bias-- which is a style I discovered I really like-- and they kind of get all swirly and interesting around the heel. Basically, they are so freaking awesome!!! I decided to use one of my new yarns from Lancaster, so I chose the Knit One, Crochet Too Ty-Dy Sock. I think next time I will use a hand-painted/variegated skein of sock yarn, so the twisty turny nature of the sock will be even better illustrated.

Here is the toe, which gives you an idea of how the whole "bias" thing starts:

The blue area on the upper right is where I cast on, using the Magic Cast on method (really cool-- enables you to start with one row of knitting and split it into two halves, thereby avoiding a seam).  Then the pink slope to the left was the mid-toe, and after a few rows the foot shaping began, requiring decreases at the beginning and end of the round and two increases at the middle of the round. In that way the traditional rectangular foot is shaped while still knitting diagonally. So, so very cool.

For the first sock, I decided to use my 32" size 2 circular and the Magic Loop method, which I had never used on a sock before, since my two Addi's were in another project. So this sock was a first in a few ways-- it was also the very first toe-up sock I've ever made. Do I like the toe-up method? I dunno. It was cool to start with the toe, but it gets kind of tedious up around the calf ribbing. Anyway, I cast on and went to it, but I hit a few snags immediately. I misread the pattern and ended up making the toe way too long, so I had to rip that back. Then when I got to the ankle shaping I realized I had two few stitches, so I had to improvise some increases. Then, after I had finished the ankle shaping and mini-gusset, I realized the sock was ENORMOUS and I had to rip the foot back about three inches. The pattern was written for a size 8.5 foot. I am a size 8. I thought it wouldn't matter, but considering my loose gauge, it did. The pattern called for the foot to be knit to 7.5" before ankle shaping. It was unreasonably big on me so I ripped back until the foot measured 6". Anyway, I eventually got past the ankle shaping and gusset (for the third time!) and reached the cool heel, which involved grafting. Until the heel, I thought the sock was just going to be too big, period. After the heel, I realized how the whole thing came together and it was freaking awesome. I finished it up quickly. Since it's knit on the bias it was SO much faster than a traditional sock, despite the different sections of special increases and decreases and so on. The slowest part was the ribbing at the end, which was the only part knit straight.

Look at that awesome swirly heel!

But the sock was still too big. It was loose on my foot, partly because I had made the foot too long, partly because of the loose tension with Magic Loop, and partly because of the messy increases on the ankle/gusset. I decided to knit the right foot with two circulars (put the other thing on a holder and used my Addi's. LOVE those little guys) and started the ankle shaping at 5.5" instead of 6". I also followed the pattern extremely closely and it came out looking great and fitting much better. See:

The one on the right was the first sock I made, obviously, and the one on the left was the second. It was obvious that I had to rip back the first one and re-do it. So rip I did. I ripped back to the point where the green stripe started so that I could match up the striping on both socks, make them semi-symmetrical. I went to work on my second left sock and finished in a day or so. (I'm telling you, these socks were SO QUICK.) Here they are this morning all done!

The striping didn't match up perfectly. The left sock lagged a little bit behind the right, color-wise, so the ribbing ended up a different color, but overall they look pretty matchey and they fit really well. Not perfectly, they are still a little bit loose, but I really love them nonetheless, and I would make them again and again and again. If I need to whip up a quick pair of socks this would be my go-to pattern. SO MUCH quicker than regular ol' socks.

Love that crazy heel.

I am just so impressed with this pattern-- it's so smart and well-written. I love it so much. Definitely worth re-knitting. Now I am done with all current projects! Need something new... As usual.


  1. Ha, I am totally the same way! I hate undoing crocheting or knitting! Hence my finished/angry trash drawer! Because if I've spent that much time doing it I can't just throw it away, but I hate looking at it too :-P

  2. haha-- angry trash drawer... I like it!