i just finished knitting my creativity 350 socks this afternoon!!! ugh, i already feel relieved! i've been freaking out about not finishing on time, all the hours and work *and brain cells* that i put into those socks, there was no way in hell i wan't going to have them finished and entered in the contest! it's not as easy as knitting from a pattern, either! a certain design aspect may sound good in theory, but then you have to translate that into knitting. it's not all laid out in front of you, and if you mess up, you better pray that you even remember what you were doing so you can fix it *because if you're anything like me, you haven't written anything down!!!*. and if something doesn't work, then it's back to the drawing board for you! my poor brain, i never was any good at math. when i see a beautiful and intricate knitted garment, it blows me away- the amount of knowledge and time it must take to make such amazing pieces.
when i first started designing and knitting my socks for the contest, i was planning on keeping them a surprise until they were finished. that's why i never really gave any details on them which i'm sure some people have been scratching their heads at. as you all know, i couldn't keep them a secret long, especially with all of the obstacles i ran into, i was bursting at the seams to vent my frustration and get some advice! so here are the most basic details: the yarn i used to knit the socks is knit picks palette yarn in clover and natural (i can't remember the actual name of the cream/neutral yarn, but you get the idea!) i ordered one ball of each color and despite my constant fear and frequent blogging about running out of yarn, i was super relieved that i didn't!! i did however try to stretch the amount of yarn i had by using equal parts of both colors; mostly green on the legs and natural on the feet of the socks, as the background for the stripes.
i love the way these pictures turned out! my husband took them....who knew he was such a budding photographer!?!?
i used short row toes and heels on these socks, and learned some very valuable lessons them along the way: mainly that while knitting them you must concentrate!!! they are not suitable for mindless knitting in front of the tv OR in the presence of ANY small children who command your attention!! it is not easy or fun to go down a few rows and fix a mistake, i usually had to rip out the entire heel and start over. AND, use the damn stitch markers!!! even though we tend to think that we can do everything by ourself and rarely use markers anymore *at least that's what i was thinking!!* it makes the process infinitely easier, especially if you're not familiar with wrapped stitches, in a smaller gauge they are hard to distinguish from regular knit stitches. even if you are paying pretty close attention....
i also learned some new techniques with this project; intarsia, knitting backwards and intarsia in the round. i've already gone over intarsia and knitting backwards in some of my previous posts, but i haven't yet mentioned intarsia in the round. i found alot of different techniques online, but the one that i thought would be easiest to learn and execute in the short amount of time i had was one which incorporates yarn overs and decreases to simulate flat knitting. i found this great site that has a complete explanation of what makes intarsia in the round so problematic *until you know how to do it*. it also goes over a couple of the techniques all in one place so that you don't have to go to numerous sites to find them. if at all possible, you may want to have a swatch if you're reading the instructions for a technique that you plan on using so that you can follow along with her, otherwise it can get a little confusing.
this is the seam that is created by using the yarn over/decrease method of intarsia in the round. i actually like the way it looks, the effect is like a tiny corset, with the yarn overs on each side. i might use it in the futute as a design feature.
here is a VERY brief run-down of how the yarn over/decrease technique works: let's pretend we are knitting a sock, toe up. we knit the toe, the foot and the heel and then we want to knit an intarsia motif on the leg of the sock. we'll decide that we're going to put the "seam" on the back of the leg, straight up from the ankle. so we knit to the exact middle-back of the ankle, yarn over and then knit back the way you came (this is where you can use the knitting backwards, instead of turning and purling). you then knit the "second row" following your intarsia chart, until you reach the stitch before the yarn over. purl the last stitch together with the yarn over.
*TIP: if you're knitting backwards and you have a hard time figuring it out, you can turn your work around and pretend you're going to purl 2 together to see how to do it. AND you can do this for any stitch while knitting backwards, or if you get absolutely stuck and don't know what to do, just turn the work, purl it, turn it back around and continue knitting backwards!!*
once you've done your decrease you will be back on a knit row! since we decreased, we'll need to add another stitch, so at the beginning of the next row, yarn over. knit the "third row" following your chart and when you get back to the seam where the yarn over is, this time you'll be doing a SSK decrease. again, yarn over at the beginning of the row. continue on in this manner until you are finished with your intarsia motif and then you'll return to knitting circularly for the rest of the leg and cuff of the sock.
a front and back view of the intarsia motif and the seam created in back. and there's nothing wrong with your eyes or your computer, the zero on the left IS extremely wonky! it resulted from too many yarn ends and not enough space to weave them in. i'm going to go back and try to fix it. real problems in the real world. not every knit is perfect!!
BUT, it's all done now.... well, the knitting is done. i told myself that i would be happy if both socks were bound off and i had the pictures to prove it by friday *after all, you only have to send in pictures, so i wasn't too worried about weaving in the loose ends, i could just stuff them down inside the sock!!* but now i have a 4 day cushion to do finishing touches! and believe me, for all the color changes in those socks, i'm going to need 4 days to weave in the ends!and now i'm getting the anxiety that i believe most knitters experience once they near the end of a project: i have tons of patterns that i'd love to jump into right away, but no yarn.... or money in this modern-day depression. my heart is already sinking!! i would love to get back to spinning, though. i feel guilty for my poor wheel!
i did mention in once post that i was allowing myself a tiny bit of spinning time, only when the socks became brain-numbing and i needed a break. the wool i chose for this couldn't have been any better! i got the four ounces of wool *unknown breed, but wonderful nonetheless* from my june FOTM swap partner. the colors are so calm and relaxing, and it was the first time in a really long time that i allowed myself to spin without overthinking it. i didn't care what it looked like in the end, where or how the colors met up, how many WPI it was.... i let my mind wander, while serendipity took over. that's the best kind of spinning.
i did take the plying seriously though. dictatorially serious. i've been so frustrated with the fact that all of my yarns are at least slightly over-twisted and it really started to bug me. i know everyone says that a balanced skein of handspun is something that "comes with time" but i'm not one of those people who likes to sit around and wait. i'm a little more proactive.
to pin-point exactly what i was doing wrong, i would ply about a yard of singles and stop and do a ply-back test. it was then that i noticed something that was always there, but i had never paid any attention to: when you attatch a leader to your bobbin, you take it up through the flyer hook (or hooks) and then down through the wheel's orrifice. it was that very small couple of inches of yarn that led to my breakthrough!! i had plied a yard's length of singles, with my right arm extended out behind me. when i started the ply back, i noticed a reaction in the yarn between the oriffice and the bobbin: the second you bring your arm forward, you release the tension that you were holding the yarn under and in a matter of seconds, the yarn behind the orrifice would untwist, sometimes drastically.....but only with yarn that did not have enough ply twist!!!
but if i pulled about five inches back off the bobbin (towards me) and put more ply twist into it, it wouldn't unwind! in fact, if i watched it closely, you can see it either lose twist *not enough ply twist*, stay exactly the same *balanced yarn* OR extra twist from what i had just plied would travel BEYOND the orrifice and into that yarn. so i knew if it unraveled i needed to put more twist into my yarn and if it gained twist i had too much ply twist (which can be easily fixed by pulling about 5 more inches of yarn off the bobbin and the twist will even itself out a bit). it is a revelation for me, although i can't tell you how tedious it is to do this for an entire 4 ounces of fingering-weight singles!! of course, you wouldn't have to do it that way, you could use it periodically to test your consistency. i was just determined to spin a FULLY balanced yarn! and i did.