Sunday, November 29, 2009

Anatomical toes

I've been experimenting with anatomical toes on socks.  Most people's feet are not pointed like a normal homemade sock's toe is.  Well, maybe a normal sock is not pointed, but it has a rounded point.  The "normal" sock toe decrease is that you decrease the number of stitches on both sides, right and left, at the same rate, four stitches every other round.

But on my foot, the outside of the foot curves in more at the toe than the inside, because my big toe points pretty much straight ahead. I have never worn really pointy shoes in my life, so my feet have not taken on the shape of pointy toed shoes.  My feet are shaped like the Birkenstock clogs I wear almost all the time.

So I have started making sock toes reflect this fact.  My first effort was this:

I did no decreases at all on the big toe side, just on the outside "little toe" side.  It's very comfortable.

On my second model, I decreased every other row on the outside of the foot for about 3/4 inch, and then I started decreasing on both the inside and the outside of the foot, four stitches eliminated every other row, for another 1 1/4 inch approximately.  This yielded the following toe:

It's pretty comfortable too, but I think the first one is more comfortable.  We'll see which is better after I've test-driven both for a few weeks.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Miss Marple Mystery Sock

I have become addicted to Sock Knitters Anonymous, a group on Ravelry.  SKA has a monthly "challenge, " beginning in September:  each monthly challenge gives the knitter a choice between knitting a sock by a certain designer; or a sock using a certain technique; or, every other month, the mystery sock.
For November, the technique is mosaic knitting, and the mystery sock was designed by Star Athena.  That is the challenge I'm working on this month.

I learned about mosaic knitting early in my knitting career, which began thirty years ago.  My first knitting teacher was Barbara Walker, who wrote a book called Learn-to-Knit Afghan Book.  This is the first knitting book I ever had.  Barbara Walker is a big exponent of mosaic knitting.  It uses two colors (or more) like Fair Isle knitting, but you don't carry two colors in one row as in Fair Isle knitting; the color work results from slipping stitches from the previous row.  You knit two rows of one color, then two rows of another color, but you are slipping stitches from the row below, so it looks as if there are two colors carried in one row, sort of.

For some reason I didn't really take to mosaic knitting thirty years ago.  I didn't really like the way it looked as well as I liked the way Fair Isle knitting looked.  Mosaic knitting has a kind of angular look to it, whereas Fair Isle patterns are more organic-looking, and with Fair Isle knitting, you can knit dancing ladies or dogs or skateboarders (yes, I graphed a skateboarder once for my son's hat).

But I love Star Athena's design for this sock.  It's intricate and absorbing to knit. I'm still working on Clue # 2 (a new clue is published on Ravelry and Star Athena's blog every Sunday of November), so I'm a little behind.   The cuff had one mosaic pattern (clue #1) and the leg has two mosaic patterns that alternate, although you can only see one in this picture. When I'm further along, I'll post another picture.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Woodsman's Socks

I have recently become aficianada of Ravelry, a great online community for knitters, spinners, and crocheters.  On Ravelry, you can join various groups:  I joined the Spinner Central group, Adult Surpise Jacket group, and a huge group, Sock Knitters Anonymous.  Sock Knitters Anonymous has over 8000 members!

One of its main activities and attractions is Sockdown: Ravelry!  Sockdown is a series of monthly personal sock-knitting challenges, not really a contest, although there are prizes.  (I'm not sure how they decide who gets the prizes, but no matter.)  Every month you have a choice of usually two or three challenges, and you can do one or all.  One challenge is always a technique or style of sock; for example, in October it was making a man's sock, and in November it was using mosaic knitting in a sock.  Or, a certain designer is featured, and you can make any design by that designer.  On odd-numbered months, like November, there is a Mystery Sock!  A well-known designer designs a sock for that month, and the first "clue" is posted on the first of the month.  The mystery sock for November is called Miss Marple, after the Agatha Christie character, and the technique is mosaic knitting. All we know now about the Mystery Sock is how to knit the cuff; future details will be forthcoming.

You have two months to knit your sock.  That's lucky for me, because I didn't cast on my man sock for October until October 30!  I chose an easy, fast, and reliable pattern:  Elizabeth Zimmerman's Woodsman's Sock, from Wool Gathering 10. I made this about twenty years ago for my dad, and he loved it, but unfortunately it was made out of 100% real wool, and it shrank in the washing and drying.  So this time I'm making it out of a washable wool blend with some washable merino and nylon:  Stroll Sport, sold by KnitPicks.

The original EZ pattern called for a heavy Bartlettyarns yarn, but I am using two strands of Stroll Sport to equal the weight of the original yarn.  I couldn't find a bulky washable sock yarn.  Maybe somebody should make one.  Heavy socks are great under boots in the winter time.

To make this sock you cast on 44 sts on size 6 needles.  I will knit the ribbing for about seven inches, and then continue the ribbing on the top of the foot.  This makes a sock that hugs the foot snugly.  The pattern can be found in EZ's books Knitting Around and The Opinionated Knitter.