WHAT I’VE BEEN UP TO

The work crisis has not yet abated (in fact, it’s just settling in for the long haul).  Even if I’m not writing about it, I AM knitting.  Plain, boring, unadventurous, run of the mill, miles of stockinette, unchallenging (but comforting) knitting.

In my case, that usually means socks, and reverting back to the sock style I can do in my sleep – toe up with a figure-8 cast on, and short-rowed heel.   I’ve been averaging completion of a pair every six days or so.  I only knit for an hour or so each evening, so each sock is taking me three evenings to complete.

At the left what we’ve got is a pair of fingering weight socks composed from various leftovers.  The vile mustard is a 100% wool yarn I’ve had forever.  The label still lists the distributor with a pre-zip code address format.  The tweedy green/blue is a partial ball of something (I know not what) I got in trade swapping leftovers with a friend, and the red is some Dale Baby Ull, left over from a sweater knit for the smaller daughter.  This is the pair I was referring to when I wrote that in January my color taste departs, and I feel compelled to mismatch in the most garish ways possible.  Perhaps it’s a seasonal longing for light and color that happens just after the holidays, when the world returns to winter-drab.  In any case, the moire-like patterning of the red tweedy parts isn’t a camera artifact, it actually exists.  For some reason the tweedy red bits worked themselves into swirls on the foot of one sock and the ankle of the other.  I think they moved in and out of synchronicity this way because in this multi-ply yarn (a true 4-ply four ply), each ply was carrying the same set of colors.  While the plies never aligned so that a blob of red hit across all four at the same time, it does appear that if two aligned **just right** I got my swirls.  An unexpected effect to be sure, and one I would have preferred either lasted for the entire duration of both socks, or didn’t appear at all.  Still, the things are garish enough to begin with, so the red striping is just another element of eye offense.

In the center is half a pair of light worsted weight socks.  The other is still on the needles.  In this case I had a skein of Little Lola, a variegated yarn.  I’ve used it twice before to make Kombu scarves, but the colors for those were tamer.  This particular skein presented a problem.  The colors in it are less of a set, and more of a street fight, with fuschia, teal, olive, mustard and navy all scuffling for attention.  I had set the skein aside when I used its two brothers because I didn’t know how exactly to use it.   When I was rummaging through my stash to fuel my holiday knitting I came across two skeins of a yarn I got in a discontinued inventory sale back in 1994 or so, at the late lamented Yarn Shop in College Park Maryland.  It’s Classic Elite Paisley Light, a mix of wool and rayon, and matches the all superwash wool Little Lola exactly in gauge and structure.  In my case the Paisley Light also matched the fuschia in the Little Lola spot on.  By working the toes, heels, and ribbing in Paisley, plus alternating stripes of three rows of Paisley and six of Little Lola, I’ve managed to tone down the discord of the variegated skein a bit.  It’s still a riot, but more of a quiet one.  (Review of Paisley Light coming soon to wiseNeedle).

Finally the pair on the right is standard issue Regia Mini Ringel.  Nothing special here whatsoever.  Due to my bad photography you can’t even see the nifty way the stripes miter on the short-rowed heel.

One last bit of blather, the old fashioned way of doing stripes (actually using two skeins of yarn, alternating between them on some sort of fixed count) is a wonderful way to make socks match in length.  It’s relatively easy to count four or six rows of color A, then some number of color B.  Then when time comes to make sure that the second sock is the same length as the first, all that need be done is count the stripes.  Much more accurate than eyeballing or measuring, and far less tedious than counting rows.  A final hint, sometimes counting even a small number of rows in stockinette can be difficult if you’re using a dark color yarn, or one that’s highly variegated.  Instead of counting on the front side, I take a needle tip and insert it into a column of purl bumps on the reverse side of my stockinette.  It’s easy to count off my rows by counting the purl bumps.

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