Friday, September 26, 2008

Hold My Sock

Yarn Harlot started it, knitters everywhere continue it. Having someone significant hold your sock for a picture is something that seems odd, but when you're a knitter, including your projects in such a way raises the importance of both the sock and the subject of the picture. At least, that's what I think.

Last weekend, Naomi and I drove down to West Virginia (talk about a long road trip) for Lora Leigh's Reader Appreciation Weekend, known as RAW. There, I got to hang with many people I see online all the time and with authors of such wonderful talent and imagination. I brought along stuff to finally begin the second sock to match this:
Spring Forward
Spring Forward at Knitty. I finished the first one over a month ago. Second Sock Syndrome hits me hard. I'm working on that, though.

Anyway, I cast on the second sock while I was at RAW's Friday night slumber party. Everyone (okay, most) wore pyjamas and we ate pizza and danced to the tunes of a very enthusiastic DJ. The next day, there was a private booksigning just for RAW attendees and a Masquerade Ball that evening. I got pictures of said sock along with people I know and love. Most took it in stride when I said "hold my sock," but the funniest was Lora Leigh, who looked at me suspiciously and asked "Is it contagious?", which is the exact thing she said when I told her earlier in the evening that I was pregnant. LOL

Naomi (left) and Kimberly, who was being cheeky and used her cleavage as a shelf.
Sock, Naomi, and Kimberly

Danita, who had the coolest "mask" at the ball.
Sock and Danita

Diane, who is one of the finest examples of all that is good about human beings.
Sock and Diane

Jill, who somehow withstands the blazing oven-like heat of Arizona every summer.
Sock and Jill

Author Lora Leigh, who came up with the idea of RAW originally and who also writes excellent books.
Sock and Lora

Mel, who liked the sock so much she didn't even look away from it while holding it.
Sock and Turquoise

Me and Nalini Singh, one of my favorite authors and an utter sweetheart.
Sock, Courtney, and Nalini

Me and JR Ward, an incredibly lovely and gracious woman who writes books I kind of have a thing for.
Sock, JR, and Courtney

It was a great weekend. A lot of driving to get there and back, but totally worth it. I likely won't be going next year because, assuming all goes well, I will have a four month old baby in addition to Peanut and traveling that much for so little time there seems pretty crazy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Basic Baby Socks

I've become a fan of making my own sock patterns. As an experienced knitter, it's fun and relatively easy. To the beginner, though, having a pattern is important. Even better is a basic pattern, which is often a blank canvas on which a knitter imposes his or her own creativity. Baby socks are good for that. They can also be an instant-gratification project, a way to use up leftover yarn, or a way to take a new yarn for a test drive.

It is because of the latter that these socks came about. I had seen On Your Toes Bamboo (Ravelry link) at my LYS months ago, but whenever I stopped in after that they were sold out. I don't like special ordering yarn (for some reason I feel like premeditated spending is worse than impulse buys--I have no idea why), so I just kept an eye out. Last week while I get getting some Cascade 220 for a sweater, I noticed that they had it in. It's a pretty salmon pink, plenty girly without being run-of-the-mill pastel.

Basic Baby Socks

The gauge on the ball band calls for US 3 (3.25mm) needles, so that's what I used. I like the fabric it produced despite the fact that many Ravelers used US 1 or 2 needles. Also, it went faster. At this gauge, they should fit babies up to about 12 months old or so. Changing yarn may change either stitch or row gauge and will therefore affect the size of the finished sock.

So here's the pattern. As always, get creative. Longer cuffs, ribbing down the foot, it's all good. :) Unlike my Little Feet pattern, this has been written for the begging sock knitter with detailed instructions for the turned heel, gusset, and wedge toe. Grafting/Kitchener instructions for the toe can be found in a multitude of places, so you're on your own there. Happy knitting!

Yarn: On Your Toes Bamboo, 75% Bamboo 25% Nylon
Needles: US size 3
Gauge: 7.5 sts/in

CO 32

Knit 10 rows of 2x2 ribbing

After completing the tenth round, knit 16 stitches onto one needle for the heel flap. Work 12 rows in total (including the first knit row) for the heel flap, ending with a purl row.

Turn Heel:
Row 1: sl 1, k 9, ssk, k 1, turn
Row 2: sl 1, p5, p2tog, p 1, turn
Row 3: sl 1, k 6, ssk, k 1, turn
Row 4: sl 1, p 7, p2tog, p 1, turn
Row 5: sl 1, k 8, ssk, turn
Row 6: sl 1, p 9, p2tog, turn. 10 sts remain

Knit 5 of the heel stitches onto one needle and the second five onto another needle, now Needle 1. With Needle 1, pick up 8 stitches along the side of the heel flap. Knit across the top of the sock to the other side of the flap (needles 2 and 3). Pick up 8 stitches with a new needle (needle 4) and knit the five remaining heel stitches. Needles 1 and 4 each have 14 stitches. Needles 2 and 3 each have 8. The center of the heel is the new beginning of the round.

Row 1: Knit even.
Row 2: Knit to the last three stitches of needle 1, k2tog, k1. Knit even across needles 2 and 3. When you get to needle 4, k1, ssk, knit to end.

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until all needles have 8 stitches.

Work 12 rows even

Row 1: Knit to last 3 sts of needle 1, k2tog. K1, ssk at the beginning of needle 2. Knit to last 3 sts of needle 3, k2tog. K1, ssk at the beginning of needle 4. Knit to end of round.
Row 2: knit even

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until each needle has 4 stitches. Graft two sets of 8 and weave in ends.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Knitting, knitting, knitting...

I have been pretty productive over the last month or so. Among other things, I've been turning out dishcloths and lace bookmarks like nuts. Thanks, Liz, for all those wonderful sock yarn scraps for the bookmarks.

I knit a pair of socks in one week by working them at the same time on two sets of DPNs. It was great. Now I just hope they fit the intended recipient, but that's the risk you take when you make socks for feet you don't have access to.

I started a pair of baby socks for my favorite author's best friend's baby girl. A little weird, I know, but I wanted to test drive this new sock yarn (Ravelry link) I got and get a really accurate gauge and baby socks seemed like a good idea. Plus I have baby fever and I'm hoping to ingratiate myself with this particular author to that perhaps she will send me books early or something. Pathetic, yes. But I've made peace with that. :)

I've been plowing through my kitchen cotton. In fact, even my husband noticed that my giant yarn box (what he calls my stash) was getting lighter. Maybe if I fill it up again with lighter fibers like wool, he won't notice that it took a lot more yarn to do it. LOL

I've put my raglan (Ravelry link) on hold until the drive to West Virginia. I need to swatch it a lot better; there won't be much ease in this thing, so I want to really avoid making it too small. I need to figure out what cable I want to put down the sleeves and swatch that as well. Also, I think I will knit it in the round and steek it for a zipper.

The idea of steeking is daunting, scary, and thrilling. It's a big risk, cutting your knitted fabric. One of the things I like about knitting is that it's very forgiving: if you don't like it or have made a mistake, you can rip it out. We've all done it. I've frogged an entire sweater before. Steeking, on the other hand, is an irreversible committment.

But hey--what is knitting if not an opportunity to constantly challenge myself? I keep telling beginning knitters that knitting is not hard, it's just a bunch of small building blocks. Steeking will be yet another block added to Courtney's House of Knitting Skills. The time has come to leave my comfort zone. I did it with socks. I can do it with steeking.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Aaah, September

I'm a fan of September. I loved school and by the time September rolled around, I was so ready to go back. Now, I have something else to look forward to.

This year's Reader Appreciation Weekend is at the Pullman Plaza in Huntington, West Virginia. Naomi and I are driving down and rooming together. Sadly, Maggie will not be there, but I get to see a bunch of other friends, including Lami and Kat. I can't wait.

I have been knitting for this event for months. Mostly washcloths, but a few really nice things, too. JR is getting something decadent that didn't even cost that much. I'm knitting a pair of socks for someone who singlehandedly saved my holiday. My favorite sheep-chasing Kiwi author is getting something with a sheep on it.

The other authors I've read are getting pretty lace bookmarks, assuming I can get them done. I may have to knit them on the way and block them when we get there. We'll see.