Sunday, October 01, 2006

SOCK HOP: Winners & Knitters (Day 1)

Hugh2Poor Hugh Jackman needs socks. Please help the needy star of stage, screen, and television by knitting him up a pair or ten. (And a towel wouldn't hurt.)

First things first. The winners of our Sock Hop contest are:

1. DenisePatch

2. Sharon Hurlbut

3. Catmum

4. Cheri Perry

5. Jaycee602

6. Claudette Soucy

Congratulations to everyone! Watch your inbox for an email from Romancing The Yarn. Happy Knitting!

Many of you have asked what the next contest will be. Well, the truth is we don't know yet but I promise it will be worth the wait.

Okay. So now it's official: The First Annual Romancing The Yarn Sock Hop is underway. I told you that I'd cheated, didn't I? Well, let's just say that the Knitting Goddess punished me for jumping the gun. Last night I had to frog my first toe-up provisional crochet cast-on sock three times and I'm still not happy with my results.

I tried a test version before I launched into the sock itself and achieved mixed results:

The good side of the toe (even so I can see a stray ply)

The bad side of the toe

The toe itself

I'll admit that scans are deadly for scrutinizing your work. Every flaw seems magnified. Here's my list of what's going wrong with my current full-scale version:

1. I still don't get the point of making the provisional crochet cast-on (pcco) chain. If the stitches aren't "live" in the sense of being unravellable (word?) then why bother? Why not just pick up and knit? I don't see the value added here. As it was, I had to knit into the backs of the pcco loops in order to set things right and I haven't seen that problem mentioned anywhere. (Hmm. Now I'm wondering if I should have used thicker yarn for the crochet cast-on. Maybe that's why when I unzip the provisional part [and that hasn't been easy, either, btw: sometimes it won't unzip at all and yes I only went into the "bumps"] I have a normal smooth cast-on edge and have to go searching for anything that might pass for a loop.)

2. I'm getting a weird bump (swelling? puffy area?) at the point where the wraps/doublewraps end and the straight knitting of all stitches including the pcco stitches.

3. Aesthetically speaking, I'm just not a fan of the wedge toe. I prefer the graceful round toe.

4. I'm going to soldier on because, damn it, no provisional crochet cast-on is gonna get the better of me. I refuse to pass final judgment on it until I've mastered it. (Then I just might kick its butt out of my workbasket.)

5. The secret to working the wraps and doublewraps seems to be consistency. Find a pick up method that works for you (both on the knit and the purl sides) and STICK WITH IT. Don't vary the technique from row to row or you'll have an ugly mess of chewed-up stitches that won't make you very happy. (Not that I know from experience or anything . . . )

6. I'm finished with my fourth try at the toe and I've decided to stick with it flaws and all and head out into the foot. My plans is to finish this sock then jump into its mate using this first one as my guide for What Not To Do. If the second sock turns out well then I'll frog this one and do it up right. Or as right as it's possible for me to do.

I'm frustrated right now because I have the plain old cuff down w/heel flap and gusset sock down cold. I don't have ladders. I don't leave holes along the gusset. I can do a nice toe whether it's Kitchener or round or star. But this toe-up is making me crazy.

And it's not just the pcco. I don't care for the Figure 8 cast-on because those initial stitches are invariably loose and sloppy and I don't seem able to figure out how to tighten them up. Yes, I've read all the instructions about "go back and snug them up" "tug on the tail end" blah blah blah and nothing works for me. They are what they are and they're determined to stay that way.

I think there's no getting around the fact that I'm a Turkish Cast-on kind of girl. I love it. I love working it. I love looking at it. It's fast, foolproof, seamless, almost mindless.

Which is why I'm working on a technique that, for me, isn't any of those things.

Sockhoppers, this is your place to shine. Feel free to comment as often as you want. I'll open a SOCK HOP post every day for that purpose so you'll know where to find answers to your questions, etc. And for those Sockhoppers who signed up, the Flickr account is waiting for your photos.

No, it's not too late. If you'd like to become an official Sockhopper click on the appropriate paragraphs on the upper righthand corner of your screen and we'll do the rest.

5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .



Blogger Fran Baker said...

I did it! Got home from early Mass, sat down and cast on (cuff down) for a slipper sock. Slipper socks count, don't they? I figured I'd better do something easy to start, something on which I can see the stitches so I'll know if and when I have to frog.

And guess what? I like it! Even the size 8 DPNs aren't that hard to handle. I'm going to take a pic as soon as I get a little more on the needles and will post it ASAP.

So far, so good. And thanks, Barbara, for inspiring me to learn something new ... something I've wanted to try but haven't out of plain old fear. But I'm taking your cautionary tale to heart. And if I mess up somehow, I'll put in my earplugs so I don't hear my yarn laughing at me and "ribbit" out.

10:42 AM  
Blogger Sharon Hurlbut said...

Yay! I can't believe I won a prize - I never win drawings. Thanks!

I've already begun a pair of socks for my husband and am feeling inspired to give toe-up a try for myself because I have a small skein of Socks That Rock I got at a local yarn shop and I'm not sure how far they'll go. If I do toe-up, I can make the length just right without running out of yarn.

Thanks for all the great tips and links! I'm really looking forward to expanding my sock repertoire this month.

12:34 PM  
Blogger kshotz said...

Ok, here goes nothing! I'm casting on a cuff down sock in the Step yarn and trying out a pattern from my new book "Sensational Knitted Socks." It will be the elongated cord rib pattern. And just for a treat, I may keep this pair for myself! I'm going to try getting past the cuff and into the leg pattern before I take a pic to post.

Happy knitting one and all!


2:13 PM  
Blogger kshotz said...

ps.....if poor Hugh needs some help toweling off.....send him over my way! ;-)

2:15 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

I'm not sure what you're doing or not doing that is causing the problem with your provisional cast on. There should be loops there when you unzip. Here's a site with an explanation and a video:
Hope this helps!

3:11 PM  
Blogger Sue J. said...

So glad the Sock Hop has started. I cast on today for cuff down socks for my SIL's birthday. I'm using Dancing Feet from Joslyn's Fiber Farm, Ocean colorway, size 1 dpn's. Am looking forward to seeing everyone's progress and FO's.
Happy Knitting!
Sue J.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

I think what you mean, Fran, is that I'm an enabler!

Thanks, Julie, for the link to knittingatnoon. The written instructions were very good but my dialup connection wasn't able to handle the video. Damn.

Kim, I'm working on a pair of STEP socks too. (Scroll down to 9/27 for a picture.) I found it a little splitty for the first round or two but now I'm loving it. My hands have never felt so good. (There's aloe and jojoba in the yarn. Supposed to last through 40 washes.)

Sue, the sheer # of fabulous fiber artists out there boggles the mind. I'm going to check out Joslyn's.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

PS: Sharon, congratulations on being a winner. That's a pretty great way to start off the month, isn't it?

6:37 PM  
Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

Oh yes, Hugh Jackman soaking wet. Be still, my beating heart! Thank you, Barbara!

I have a confession to make: I haven't started my socks. I'm beating myself with wet yarn as I type (which is not easy to do, believe me). However, I have a good excuse. I'm the Head Roadie for the high school marching band (any other Band Cult members out there?) and I spent both Saturday and today slinging drums, mallets, and cymbals on and off trucks, on and off fields, etc. I'm exhausted and going to bed at nine o'clock.

I'll cast on...yawn...tomorrow...zzzzzzzzz

8:56 PM  
Blogger Jean Brashear said...

Holey Moley,, BB! Just got back home from a retreat (sitting on the edge of a canyon, literally, greeting the sun each morning with a sun salutation and a cup of tea, scribbling impressions and story notes the old way--pen and paper)only to discover I'd best get my hiney in gear!

But I must admit that I jumped the gun, too. Never having knitted socks before, I was going to do a trial run with THE Wendy's toe-up pattern. I'm still going to--got the toe well underway--but I switched to an Addi circular because the dpns were freaking me out, trying to knit while traveling. Too scared I'd drop stitches.

So, THE Wendy, the foot of the sock will be no problem, just knitting Magic Loop circle fashion, but when I get to the heel, will I be in deep doo?

Isabel, if you're here (how fun to see you--welcome!) I'm finishing my third felted purse and have fallen madly in love with the process! I posted earlier photos of the second purse (lavender) but not once it was felted. When I'm finished with #3, I'll post pics of both, as they're for my grandgirlies as a surprise, to be woven into a book I'm writing for them.

Then...gulp...back to the socks!

BB, as always, you are deadly with the hunk photos. Hugh Jackman, be still my heart!

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Denise said...

I am so happy I won! Great way to lighten up a rainy day! As I had to spend a good 8 hours in the car during the week-end ( ended up more like 10 hours ) I began my Jaywalker socks meaning I started one day early. Since I am a very slow knitter, I guess it won't matter much when in a couple of weeks some will have their socks completed and I'll be only half way.

10:24 PM  
Blogger Jean Brashear said...

Denise, I'll be right with you! If I can get one sock done this month, it'll be a miracle!

Congrats to all the winners!

11:01 PM  

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