Saturday, October 07, 2006

Farewell to Fair Isle

See this sock, this sweet beginning of a sock? Pretty, isn't it? Wave bye-bye because it’s gone to that great frog pond in the sky. It’s a short but tragic tale.

This is try #3 on this particular sock. Try #1 was too small because, while I did get gauge, I apparently can’t do rudimentary math which would have told me that 48 stitches was going to make socks that I could only wear I didn’t mind cutting off all circulation to my feet.

In try #2 - on 60 stitches this time - I forgot to knit one of the plain white rounds that separates the patterned portions. I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t noticeable but, when I tried the sock on, the pattern looked muddled and my resident consultant - Mr. Eagle Eye - immediately noticed the missing white round. I thought maybe this was why it looked muddled and frogged back to the ribbing.

Try #3, which you’re seeing here in all its pre-frogging glory, fits okay and it looks really pretty on the needles. Unfortunately, it still looks all muddled when I pull it on. The delicate little checkerboard portions lose all their prettiness and smear together in a sort of muddy purple blue mess.

I’m not sure exactly what the problem is. I was careful to carry the background yarn in the same hand throughout so that it’s always over the pattern yarn. This is based on advise in The Art of Fair Isle Knitting by Anne Feitelson, a book I highly recommend, by the way. In stranded knitting, there’s this whole issue of yarn dominance, which sounds totally kinky but really just means that one yarn will be more prominent in the design, depending on how you hold the yarn. I’ve read a couple of different opinions on whether the dominant yarn should go over or under the other yarn but everyone agrees that it’s important to be consistent in the way you hold the yarns. I was boringly consistent so that’s not the problem. The stranding looks good on the back, the stitches aren’t pulled too tight, no loose strands or any other unpleasantness.

The fit is a little iffy. The leg is still on the snug side but the cuff is actually too loose. The 48 stitch cuff fit well but the leg was too tight. The 60 stitch cuff is too loose but the leg may be a bit too small although I’m not sure of that. Maybe I could cast on 52 stitches for the cuff, then increase to 68 stitches for the leg? That sounds like it would make a pretty funky looking sock but maybe it would work. I may try it one of these days.

I should mention that the pattern is Checkers & Squares Fair Isle Socks. I bought the kit from Blackberry Ridge and I can’t say enough good things about the yarn and the pattern. Or about their service, for that matter. I’m sure the fit problem, whatever it is, is all mine. For whatever reason, this sock is just not destined to reside in my sock drawer, at least not in the near future.

I’ve decided that the knitting gods are hinting that maybe I should finish some projects I’ve already got going so, in honor of Sock Hop, I thought I'd see how many of my current socks-in-progress I can finish this month. In the interest of full disclosure, I offer the following pictures:

Here we have three different pairs-in-progress. The purple number is Socks That Rock Purple Rain and it's a rib pattern from Sensational Socks by Charlene Schurch. I've got half a cuff done. On the right is Lorna's Laces in Sassy Stripe. This is just a basic sock pattern, round and round on 64 stitches on a size 1 needle. Above that is another sock in Lorna's Laces. This time, the color is Douglas Fir and the pattern is the Child's French Sock from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush. I've got one completed sock and that pathetic looking little nub of a cuff on the second sock.

And three more pairs-in-progress. Yarntini's Cherry Cordial in Chevron pattern from Sensational Socks. The mossy green sock is the Beaded Bed Socks from Rowan's Classic Home book and the yarn is Cashsoft 4-ply, surely one of the most deliciously soft yarns ever. This is a long overdue gift for a dear friend and was my first venture into adding beads to knitting. Be warned: It's addictive! And, if you squint a bit, you can maybe imagine that the needle just below the green sock has about three rows of ribbing on it. This is Sunshine Yarns Daffodil and, despite my teeny, tiny start, I love this yarn because it really does capture the essence of daffodils - all spring green and orange and yellow.

So, there you have it. Six pairs of socks on the needles. I've got two completed socks so that leaves ten socks in various stages of not-done-yet. How many socks can I knit between now and the end of the month? How long can I resist casting on for another pair? Stay tuned for exciting updates.


Blogger Holly in CT said...

Try using a needle 2 sizes smaller for the ribbing and switch to a larger needle for the body of the sock.

I am on my forth pair of the Sock of Doom for the Sock Wars. I am really sick of this pattern.

7:23 PM  
Blogger Fran Baker said...

Oh, Dallas, they're all so pretty! I finished my slipper socks and am now trying to learn the Magic Loop technique for a pair of real socks.

8:21 PM  
Blogger kshotz said...

Wowza! A veritable plethora of sock joy! What gorgeous yarns!

I've never tried Fair Isle. One of my knitting friends has suggested trying a border on a garment as a good start (rather than, say, a whole sweater!) We'll see.

I currently have 3 pairs in the works, one being my Sock Hop pair. You may be my new personal hero when it comes to several projects in the works at one time!

9:51 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

I'm mourning the demise of that beautiful Delft-esque Fair Isle. What yarn did you use?

10:49 PM  
Blogger Dallas Schulze said...

Holly - Shifting needle sizes - what a good idea. I'd like to say that I would eventually have thought of that but probably not. You've given me hope for resurrecting this project though I probably won't do it right away.

Barbara - The yarn is Blackberry Ridge sport weight yarn and I really, really like it. It's got that wonderful crunchy-soft 'real' feeling that I've only seen in yarns from smaller producers. Much as I love superwash wool for socks, I have to admit that there's something wonderful about the feel of a good, plain wool yarn.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

Duh. You told me that right there in the post and my atrophying brain couldn't retain the info. Thanks again, Dallas, for repeating it. (And not saying, "Can't you read, moron girl??")

1:52 PM  
Blogger Dallas Schulze said...

kshotz - Gee, I've never been anyone's personal hero before. I am not worthy.

Actually, I forgot one sock in progress so I've currently got 7 pairs on the needles plus a sweater, four shawls, a couple of scarves and a partridge in a pear tree. Just kidding about the partridge!

I've only done a couple of Fair Isle projects and I'm obviously still working out the finer points but the thing that really surprised me about it was how easy it is. Once you figure out the way you like to hold the yarn, it becomes nearly mindless. For what it's worth, my first project was the KISS purse in Sally Melville's Color Knitting book. It's simple enough to learn on and then you felt it which helps smooth over any unevenness of tension. And it's pretty so you really can't ask for a better first project.

5:53 PM  
Anonymous theresa s. said...

Dallas, your OTN collection is inspiring. I went over to Sunshine's etsy shop and, wow, are their colors delicious.

I strictly limit myself to five projects OTN at a time. Well, except for when I really really want to work on something else. In which case, I limit myself to five plus the one(s) I really really want to work on. Which usually works out to ... way more than five!

12:33 PM  

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