Wednesday, 15 August 2007
A finished sock, and applique block 11
I haven't touched my sewing machine this week, I've been feeling a little under the weather and the rain and storms haven't helped - summer seems to have disappeared again here in the UK. But I have a couple of finishes - my very first hand-knitted sock since I started learning to knit properly last winter, and applique block 11 in my red/green series of 25 blocks from the book 'My Grandmother's Last Quilt'.
I have a cheater method of doing the round berries on these blocks that may be of interest to other quilters. It's not my idea, I read it somewhere. I've bought a punch like scrapbookers use, and I punch out circles of light card. Then I gather a circle of fabric tightly around the card circle with a running stitch, spray starch the resulting 'button' and press the fabric to set the shape, then cut the thread and release the card. Then I have a perfect circle to applique to the blocks. I've found two different sizes of circle punch so far, and I am keeping my eyes peeled for more.
This is my first sock, knit using a toe-up pattern by Ann Budd in the recent issue of Interweave magazine. It uses her 'Eastern Cast-on' for the toe and features a short row heel. I've used Regia Bamboo Color sock yarn, gauge 7 stitches to the inch, on US no 2 double-pointed needles.
The pattern gives various sizes and this sock is knit to fit a size 9 (yes, I have big feet) but it isn't snug enough for my tastes, so I have reduced the number of stitches as I knit the matching sock. I am not that pleased with the short row heel - I think I followed the directions right (I even watched a video online for some of the techniques) but the yarn-over technique for the short rows has left obvious holes, particularly at the top. I was looking at a great sock site today by The Knitting Fiend and it seems these are common complaints for short row heels. She has links or tutorials to some great alternatives, including a tighter way to make the wraps which doesn't use yarn-overs, so I think I will experiment on the second sock. I've also printed off some great sock patterns from Knitty magazine's archive, thinking ahead to the next 3 sock yarns waiting in the queue. (It was two, but then I discovered you can buy sock yarn on Ebay.co.uk...)
Regarding the Regia bamboo yarn, I am pleased with the look of it but I can report that it is a little frisky. I've had a minor problem with splitting stitches, but not too bad as long as I pay attention. I have had a major problem with the skein wanting to self-destruct. On the first sock, I pulled out the centre to make a centre pull skein, but found that loops of the outer skein kept slipping free and tangling horribly around the knitting yarn, then the outer loose end got into the act. In the end, I was spending more time untangling yarn than I was knitting, so I spent a couple of hours de-tangling and winding it all into a tight ball. And darn me if the ball didn't explode the moment I took my eyes off of it (are there exorcists for yarn?) Much cursing and rewinding later, and I confined it within the elastic welt of a store-bought sock for the duration of the knitting, which made it hard to pull yarn off but kept the ball together. For the second sock, I have made a pre-emptive strike and wound the whole thing into a ball before I even started knitting, and have imprisoned that back in the store-bought sock as well. So I am the boss of the yarn (for now).
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