Monthly Archives: August 2012

Ravellenic Games challenge – Two At A Time socks!

Well, the Games are over, both the Olympic and the Ravellenic, so I’m no longer knitting like a maniac.  I decided to challenge myself, do two pairs of socks during, and try two-at-a-time socks for the first time.

I normally knit my socks on two circular needles, and while you can do two at a time on one circular, I decided against that.  They can also be done on double-pointed needles, and as I understand it, every other stitch is a separate sock; so stitch one is sock one, stitch two is sock two, stitch three is sock one again and so on.  When you’re done, you merely pull one finished sock out of the other!  Of course if you mess up *one* stitch, you have two socks bound together.  I had also heard it said that it is helpful to do socks of different colors, so there’s additional visual cues.  This is a challenge I *might* try someday.

For the way I was doing my socks, you can separate the yarn into two separate balls, or you can knit from both the outside and the inside strand of a center pull ball/cake.  I chose to do the inside/outside method, though there’s more to pay attention to in yarn tangling.  It’s easier to use the same amount of yarn and just keep knitting than trying to get equal amounts of yarn into two balls, which is totally possible, it’s just different areas of “fiddly”.

So, my start:

my start of two at a time socks

 

It’s a little washed out, but it’s a beautiful color called “Velvet Port”, the yarn is Dream in Color, their Smooshy yarn.  The pattern is a smocked ribbing pattern called Victorian Birdcage by Cat Bordhi in her Sweet Tomato Heel e-book collection (it appears to be for sale individually on Ravelry too).

Why would someone want to do two socks at the same time?  It’s the same amount of knitting so you don’t really get things done faster in terms of numbers of hours knitting, it might even be a smidge slower with making sure the yarn doesn’t get tangled and moments of “where am I” while doing the work.  The two biggest reasons I can think of is that you get both socks done at the same time.  Sometimes when you finish one sock, there’s an “ugh, I have to do *another* one” feeling.  I don’t often get that feeling, but have.  Some folks get that feeling a lot.  It’s “done” so time to move on!  By doing two at once when you finish the first sock, you’re also finishing the second, so the pair feels more like one project than two.  The other big reason is yarn usage.  Most skeins of sock yarn today have plenty of yardage, no need to worry about running out doing a pair.  But if you’re doing long socks, or a pattern that takes up a lot of yarn, or are just “knitting until satisfied with length” there can be some anxiety about having enough yarn, or getting the sock legs the same length, that kind of thing.  By doing both at once, you’re on the same row on both socks at the same time.  So the length will be the same, the amount of yarn used will be the same (as long as you’re doing the same pattern on both socks), and you can use up the yarn without wondering how much you have to leave for the second sock.

I finished my first pair in a week.  It didn’t take me long to get the hang of what I was doing, or to start giving myself nerve damage in my left index finger.  A band-aid was sufficient padding that I could continue and not hurt myself (injuries while doing “sedate” crafts is a *whole* other subject!).

For my second pair I decided to just wing it (not the best idea it turned out) and try Cat’s padded Sweet Tomato Heel, which uses a slip every other stitch method to create a cushier heel.

The heel is started there, but you can’t see it very well, you can see the rope twist I was doing for the front decoration.  And yes, that’s a twist tie.  A trick if you find you get gaps is to place a stitch on a holder of some type (I used safety pins, couldn’t find a fourth for some reason so used the tie) and leave it until you’re done with the heel.  Then work it up and put in place on your needles to continue knitting.

These also took me a week, even though I had to rip out part of it and add more stitches.  I would have been better off picking a pattern and following it, but ultimately the socks were wearable, and so “count” for the challenge:

Both socks for the challenge

 

Photographing socks on your own feet is difficult, I’ve had some success using my tripod, but didn’t turn out this time.  I’m happy with them especially the smocked ribbing (smocking is the carrying yarn in front to make a pattern).

Since I completed the challenge I set for myself I got “medals”:

The winter Games are coming, I’ll be participating again I believe!

 

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To Block or not Block…

Often a question knitters ask!  The finishing of a project – putting parts together, weaving in ends, and blocking the item into shape is something that many, though not all, people see as a chore.

What is blocking?  Basically it’s taking your item and wetting or merely dampening it, then placing it in shape to dry.  Washing your item after you get all the ends worked in and such is a good idea anyway, it’s probably not as clean as you might think, and doing the washing and shaping will make the item look nicer much of the time.  For sweaters (which I have yet to knit) with parts, blocking the parts before putting it together can help with that step, with everything in the shape and size it should be.  But what most people envision as “blocking” is taking an item and stretching it out and pinning it.  With lace… this is necessary to have a nice looking final product.

Lace is in many ways magical.  It does strange things while you’re knitting it, and most of the time it simply looks like a mess, or at the very least, unimpressive.  This is a small shawl I knit recently:

Quilla shawl unblocked

unblocked Quilla shawl

Okay, not the best picture but you can clearly see how the edges are curled up, and it doesn’t really look like much.

So I blocked it.  I had forgotten how much I really dislike blocking lace.  I don’t have a great place to do it, and it hurts my back (again probably because I don’t have a great place to do the deed), which is a fair part of the dislike.  I’m pondering changes so it’s not such problem for me.  Anyway, I pinned it outstretched, then dampened it and let it dry.  The result:

blocked quilla shawl

Closer view of Quilla

I was neglectful in that second one and some of the tips are folded under, but you can better see the lace definition.  These are actually fairly poor pictures of this pattern, which is Quilla by Susanna IC, available at Windy Valley Muskox.  There are much better pictures of the pattern there, I used a lighter yarn, and did not do the beading.  It’s a fun and easy little shawl to do!

So… to block or not block?  Most items (other than dishrags and such)? Block.  Non-lace items can merely be put into shape without pinning probably.  Lace of course needs the blocking to really show itself.  My biggest suggestion?  If you yourself don’t like blocking, ask at your local yarn shop (should you have one or more of those) if they offer that service.  Some do offer finishing services for a fee.  Or involve friends in your fibery endeavors and see if there’s someone who enjoys the process!

Quilla

Shawl