So I haven’t died, nor have my hands fallen off; I am still knitting. Not much, and mostly in the car to and from doctor’s visits. (Ugh. So many doctor’s visits.) Kidlet is fine, but still very … complicated. Believe it or not, we are still in troubleshooting mode with feeding, and trying to make some hard decisions involving bottles, surgery, and … well. I’ll tell you when it’s all over; it’s too much to blog about right now. She’ll be fine; we’ll be fine; that’s all that matters for the moment.
BUT! For now! This is still a knitting blog, and I’ve got some awesome filler I’ve been waiting some time to share with you.
The barter system is most excellent. My previous experience with it has been awesome. I have skillz, someone else has skillz, and our powers combine to create something awesome for each other. When I saw fellow blogger, artist, and farm-lady McKenzie had used her pens and watercolors to make birth announcements for her new little baby sister, I suddenly wanted her to make announcements for Naomi. Her style is natural, whimsical, and just a touch magical, and just the sort of aesthetic I’d love to have surround my wee bairn. You should check out her etsy shop to see some of her work. (I’ll show you the announcements in a coming post, when they’ve had time to reach their recipients.)
The agreed exchange for McKenzie’s original artwork was two pairs of socks. Now that she’s gotten a chance to break them in, I can show them to you in all their glory.
One pair was plain, and one pair was complicated. The plain pair was made from a complicated yarn that I wanted to allow to do its thing; it was a worsted weight yarn with lots of flecks and bits. I cast on at the toe with US 6s and did a fairly standard toe-up sock with a short-row heel and 2×2 ribbing on the leg. It’s hard to tell with the ribbed leg sucking itself in, but I might have made the heels a bit overly pointy…
The only reason I ever do toe up socks is when I don’t know how far my sock yarn will go, and I want to use every last bit of it. (I don’t have anything against toe up socks. Except that I don’t like doing them. Don’t ask me why; it’s a mystery of my temperament that I feel no need to reflect upon further. Loads of people like doing them, and they are probably more sensible than I.) I had two balls of this yarn to work with, and I used each of them until there was none left. Due to the inconsistencies in yardage between balls, one ended up exactly three rows longer than the other. In a fit of good sense, I decided this did not matter. Can you tell?
The second pair could not be more of a polar opposite to the first.
McKenzie picked a few lacy sock patterns, and I elected to do Tribute. Because they are gorgeous. I’m sure you do not disagree. The pattern was well written, and I have an unreasonable affection for picot hems. However, I must complain a little bit. There were a few things that made these socks slightly disagreeable to execute.
1) The first issue was the yarn. There was nothing wrong with it as yarn … except that it isn’t sock yarn. It’s the right gauge for socks, and the labels even said “sock yarn” in a cheerful, beguiling font that McKenzie would have had no reason to disbelieve. But they lied. I won’t tell you where it’s from because I don’t want to defame the little farm it came from, which I’m sure is lovely and working very hard. And it is nice yarn. But gently spun 2-ply fingering weight is not for socks. I know this because I made socks out of the very similar Jameson & Smith 2 Ply, and they lasted my mum about five wearings before they started becoming riddled with holes.
But socks were requested of them, so socks they became anyway. I did several things to mitigate the problem.
a) I knit them at a very tight gauge, on 1.5s. This was more than a little tortuous, but it’ll make the fabric more resistant to wear.
b) I reinforced the heels and toes very very thoroughly. I added reinforcement thread to the actual knitting of the heels and toes, then I went back and duplicate stitched extra on the bottom of the heels and toes. No one, it turns out, makes reinforcement thread in that particular natural shade of brownish grey, but I found a lavender that I thought was complementary.
c) I gave careful instructions on how to wear them. In my experience, socks last longer when worn in shoes, and they don’t last as long when used as house socks. Also, being fantastic natural wool, they don’t need to be washed very often. I often find that after a wearing, if I just let them air out for a few days, they are good for another wear or two. These will also need to be handwashed, which can be done gently as well as infrequently.
My hope is that, with these measures, McKenzie will be able to enjoy these socks for many years to come!
2) My second complaint… was the pattern. Not how it was written; the designer did a fabulous job and was very clear. But the particular lace pattern, “Frost Flowers,” made famous by its residence on the cover of the first Barbara Walker collection, is impossibly tedious. Maybe it’s just because I was knitting it on a gauge so tight it made my wrists hurt, but I won’t be doing frost flowers again for a while. I’m a bit burnt out on it.
However, it did make me a new friend. I went to a superbowl party with a bunch of seminary types, and it just so happened that the new assisting bishop and his wife came. Said wife pulled out her knitting, and lo and behold – she was making an entire shawl out of frost flowers. The shawl was for her mum. She had handed her mum Barbara Walker’s first pattern treasury, and wouldn’t you know she picked the pattern on the flower. We had a good winge about it.
That said, the yarn itself was beautifully natural stuff, clearly closely related to the sheep it was shorn from. I would love to use it for a light sweater or shrug, for fingerless mitts, for mittens, for a lace shawl – just about anything other than socks! But I am very proud of the finished product, if I do say so myself.
What are you working on? There hasn’t been much to read here, but why don’t you link to your blogs or ravelry pages in the comments?