Thursday, November 25, 2010

Not today

I know I've mentioned before that I intend to publish a multi-size version of the Skew sock pattern. And at least a couple of times, I've predicted in private emails or Ravelry messages that it would be available by Thanksgiving.

The bad news, obviously, is that today is Thanksgiving. And it's not ready.

While I'll openly admit I'm a procrastinator, there were three specific reasons that interfered with the release of multi-sized Skew. The first is that I personally test-knitted the adult Small size and ran into some difficulties with the fit. As a matter of personal pride, I will NOT sacrifice quality to rush this project.

The second reason is that we have been having a radical remodel done on our house: we added a second story. As a night person and light sleeper, I've found it virtually impossible to get enough rest before being woken up by the noise of hammers and air compressors and chop saws. And the stress of arguing over design decisions has been even worse. I've tried leaving the house to work at a coffee shop, but usually I found that I needed some yarn or needles I'd left at home. One time I realized that I was too tired to drive home safely. So I quickly gave that up and have been working on less mentally-demanding projects instead. Mercifully, the contractors are only a couple of weeks away from completion.

The final straw is that I've been babying a terminally ill cat this fall. We were able to suppress Callisto's symptoms at home for a while with medication, but the meds eventually ceased to be effective and we euthanized (a tremendously painful, personal family decision) and buried her yesterday. She was not our only cat, but Callisto is the one who cuddled with me while I worked, often sneaking onto my lap under the knitting-in-progress, and I miss her terribly.

Now, on the bright side, an unusual opportunity has come up to assist me in exploring the Skew sockitecture. I'm not ready to make it public yet, but it may help me provide an even wider range of Skew sock options than I had previously considered.

So if you have ever made a wish for any variant of Skew, hang in there. I haven't forgotten you.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

A gear to wear

This is what happens when a knitting designer has a housemate who is a mechanical engineer:
Involute is a full-circular capelet named after the curve that forms the contact edge of gear teeth. Its lower edging consists of twenty-four teeth. The square neckline represents a gear’s square axle opening. Four “spokes” are separated by panels of Arrow Lace suggestive of rotational motion. Garter ridges and eyelets provide texture and laciness, but with an industrial feel. Even the color is reminiscent of antique brass.

This design was originally conceived in response to a call for submissions for the Sanguine Gryphon's fall steampunk pattern collection. They passed on my submission proposal, so I ordered some yarn, knit madly for several weeks, and submitted the completed Involute for the Deep Fall issue of Knitty (punch line: it was very graciously rejected by Knitty also), which meant a photo shoot in mid-July. StatuaryI had a great site for the shoot-- I live just down the road from an engineering college. But I couldn't get the sample finished until the morning of the submission deadline, and it was nearly a hundred degrees that day. So here's Involute on my awesome model, as she tries not to melt. (That reminds me, I think I owe that girl some knitwear.) After a few shots with the cool rusty statuary, we hastened indoors for the rest of the photos.

I really did research the proper shape and spacing for gear teeth, so if you have two Involutes-- or in my case, one Involute and a submission swatch-- the teeth do mesh. The photo at left is the engineer's favorite.

Out of ideas for potential publishers and anxious to get Involute out into the world, I decided to self-publish, so Involute is now available for purchase through Ravelry.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Finally! Something new to share!

I was invited months ago to design a sock pattern for the August installment of Three Irish Girls' Sock Yarnista Club. Betony is now available for purchase directly from Three Irish Girls.


(I wanted to name this sock after an Irish wildflower. I apologize to my friend Steven A. who was really rooting for the name Butterwort, but I was too chicken to name a sock this pretty after a carnivorous plant. Another sock, another time, my friend!)

Betony is worked from the toe up and, although the toes aren't worked on the diagonal like Skew, they are shaped to be left- and right-footed. I'm in love with asymmetric sock toes. Not only are they more comfortable, but they also wear more evenly than symmetric toes because the strain on the big toe is eliminated.

Speaking of fit and wear, check out the arch shaping:

arches Unlike arch shaping on top-down socks, which places increases on the sole of the foot, toe-up arch shaping places decreases on the bottom of the foot. The double layer of stitches in a decrease is more durable than an increase. And of course they feel great snugged up into my arch.

I'm particularly happy with the heel. For a very long time, I've used a toe-up heel with the same structure and proportions as a standard top-down flap-and-gusset heel, but it involves knitting a shaped heel cup and then picking up stitches around it. Personally, I don't mind picking up stitches; but I know some people do. And most toe-up heels with short row heel cups are either way too shallow or have way too many gusset increases (but that's a rant for a whole separate post). So for a change, Betony's heel has the same proportions as my usual heel, but the cup is shaped with short rows instead of picking up stitches.

fallingwaterBy the way, the heel flap is patterned at the sides, but I left the center of the flap plain since that area is prone to wear. However, you could certainly pattern the whole flap if you want to wear Betony with clogs.

And now for the bad news: there are a couple of errata. I've posted them to Betony's Ravelry pattern page, but I'll repeat them here.

  • In the Double Rivulet Rib chart, the three central columns should be (p1, k1, p1) instead of (k1, p1, k1).
  • In the Ribbing instructions, the Right and Left sock instructions are switched.
  • Friday, June 18, 2010

    Strange juxtapositions

    Yesterday I saw Cookie A attempt to explain the Axiom of Choice to room full of knitters. One of my life's Great Missed Photographic Opportunities was my failure to snap her picture drawing the Cantor set underneath a knitting diagram.
    Demonstrating that I occasionally learn from failure, I offer you Franklin Habit wearing my Oblique fingerless gloves.

    Thursday, June 17, 2010

    Getting carded

    Okay, I think I've successfully ordered business cards to pick up later this afternoon. The hotel wireless was too slow to handle emailing a big attachment, so I had to sneakernet the file downstairs to the business center and use webmail. Let's hope it went through.

    I really do need them here. Just this morning I talked to an indie dyer who would be interested in sending me some of her yarn for a Skew sockitecture-based design and an Ohio knitting guild program chair who invited me to give a workshop.

    Pharmaceutical failure

    Well, bother. I've got another hour before my alarm, but my sleeping pill wore off. I'm always too excited too sleep unaided at these events, and I only get six hours' help from a pill, so that leaves me about three hours short. I guess I need to add a bottle of anti-redness eye drops to my travel supplies, so I won't look like I followed up a hard day of knitting with a hard night of drinking.

    Today's agenda: a morning class with Cookie A, and an afternoon trip down toward the Capitol building to see if the independent printer can crank me out a small batch of business cards.

    In between, I'd say lunch at North Market is a strong possibility, including a salty caramel ice cream sandwich from Jeni's (yesterday I had the orchid vanilla sandwich, which includes a marvelous layer of tart black currant filling). North Market reminds me of Faneuil Hall in Boston: you can just eat your way down it from one end to the other. You can get Indian, Vietnamese, Mediterranean, sushi, crepes (savory or sweet), fine chocolates, pastry, or gourmet ice cream. And those are just the places that caught my eye!

    I don't think I'll be needing to spend a lot more time in the Knitter's Market, though. I covered it pretty well during last night's preview session. Unfortunately, it's a lot smaller this year. Last year, the exhibitors were split between two rooms, one of which was distinctly less desirable than the other. It wouldn't surprise me if a number of the exhibitors who were stuck in "the Cave" decided not to come back this year (I know that's the case for one of my favorite indie dyers). I did make a beeline for the Briar Rose booth, though, to snag a couple of skeins of limited edition teal merino/silk laceweight.

    I'm going to see if I can doze a bit before breakfast and Cookie.

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    Road trip

    I'm in a hotel room sipping on a hot beverage vaguely resembling coffee, waiting for registration to open at Knitter's Connection. I've got design classes with Ginger Luters all day: modules in the morning and short rows in the afternoon.

    Although being solely responsible for the hotel bill is going to be grim, I'm enjoying having a room to myself. Since I have both a husband and a housemate at home, I don't get a lot of truly "alone time." And since I have some income to offset, at least the expense will be tax deductible.

    It's been a long time since I took a car trip by myself, too. While it's awfully nice to ride in the passenger side and knit, it's also pretty cool to have sole control of the radio dial. And I get to decide when it's time for a Starbucks stop. Or whether to take a semi-gratuitous detour through the Dayton metro area. (I say only semi-gratuitous because I was looking for an office supply store. I successfully acquired a graph paper notebook and possibly the most fabulous set of colored pencils in the world, but it was too late in the day to get business cards printed.) This would have been more brief if I had remembered to pack our Ohio map.

    My late departure, as well as my failure to get business cards printed, was due to a frenzy of mad knitting and proposal preparation for yesterday's submission deadline. I'm terribly proud of this project; it's a triumph of short row geometry. I wish I could post photos! If it doesn't get accepted this round, I've already got a Plan B.

    It's almost eight o'clock, so I guess it's time to pack up my colored pencils, my modular beret, and my mystery short rowed object, and head over to registration.

    Sunday, March 07, 2010

    Almost famous

    My first interview is now available! Many thanks to math4knitters for the invitation (given that my own Ravname is named4wool, how could I resist?). Now you have the opportunity to hear me rattle on about the history and construction of Skew. (I'm still not sure I have the nerve to listen to myself.)

    Sunday, February 28, 2010

    Easing into it

    I've finally got successful modifications to add a bit more room to the back of the Skew ankle (at the top of the heel). A lot of people have said (and this is my experience) that their Skews are comfortable once on, but hard to wiggle into. That's because the band at the back of the heel is biased with respect to the main sock fabric.

    So here's what I did: On the 13th and 25th rounds after beginning the ankle gusset, I worked short rows 8 stitches long over the ankle band. (That's 4 stitches on either side of the second ankle marker for the left sock, but on either side of the first ankle marker for the right sock.) You can use any gap-closing method you like; I chose the Japanese method. This photo shows the heel of the left sock (toe is pointing upwards); can you find the short rows from the 13th round? I can, but they're pretty subtle in the handpainted yarn (Kitchen Sink Dyeworks Merino Fine, BTW).

    Do be careful to make a conscious choice about increasing on the knit-side short rows. I only increased on the first pass (before the first turn, but not right after both turns) to keep the stitch counts correct. If you increase both before turning and after both turns, you will add one stitch to the back of the leg and one stitch to the heel per pair of short rows.

    Oh, and I'll hide a little bit of exciting (to me, anyway) news at the end of this post: I've just received a test knitter's review of my next pattern! I expect to have it ready for publication no later than early April.

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    Skew U

    It's been two weeks since released Skew as a mid-Winter Surprise, and I've been ecstatic about its generally-positive reception. I know that no sock construction can be ideal for every foot, but of course I want the Skew sockitecture so suit as many feet as possible, so I've been working madly on fit modifications. Here's what I've come up with so far.

  • Higher instep: In the first row of the "Inner ankle" section, increase six times on the sole of the foot. Explicitly: for the left sock, when 25 stitches remain in the round, work (k1, RLinc, k1) 6 times, k 10, SSK, k1. I bet you can generalize for the right sock. :) Then, when you work the first round of the "Heel shaping: Left sock only" section, k 13 instead of k 10. The Kitchener-stitched section in the Origami Moment will have 18 stitches instead of 15.

  • Roomier legs: The double decreases in the "Decrease mini-gusset" section serve two purposes. First, they remove the stitches introduced on the top of the leg in the "Increase mini-gusset" section; and second, they shift the structural line on the outer ankle forward. In order to accomplish the second objective without removing stitches, I suggest that you work only three double decreases (instead of six) in the
    "Decrease mini-gusset" section, but omit the opposing decreases (SSK near end of round on the left leg; k2tog near beginning of round on the right leg) on alternate rounds. The result is 78 leg stitches instead of 72. You will need to work an extra set of short rows on the leg before the ribbing.

  • Thinner legs/ankles: Try eliminating the increases on either side of the first ankle marker (for the left leg) during the "Inner Ankle" section on every fourth round, three times. The result is 66 leg stitches instead of 72. You will need to work one fewer set of short rows on the leg before the ribbing.

  • Roomier heel back: Several knitters have expressed frustration at the snugness of the band at the upper back of the heel. I admit this requires a little wiggling to pull on, but for me, the fit once the sock is on is exceptional. For many feet, the high-instep mods described above will add sufficient wiggle room to pull on the socks. I've tried working additional rounds in the heel section, but the result was too much distortion in the leg (the outer leg vertical band ends up too far towards the back). I intend to try adding some short rows over the heel band, but haven't test-knitted it yet. Stay tuned.
  • Friday, February 12, 2010

    Further skewed

    I do plan to release a multi-size version of Skew later, but for the brave, I'm posting my notes on how to shape the heel for an 84-stitch foot. A talented friend successfully produced socks from these notes. If you need line-by-line instructions, I'm afraid you'll have to be be patient until the official version comes out.

    KNIT AT YOUR OWN RISK. I have not personally tested these numbers and can't provide "pattern" support.

    Cast on 8 stitches per needle, increase in the big toe section to 56 stitches, then to 84 in the mid-toe section.

    Inner ankle gusset (IAG) needs to create 42 sts for the back of the leg, which takes 42 rounds (21 shaping rounds separated by plain knit rounds). After 7 IAG shaping rounds (14 sts between IAG markers), start working mini-gusset shaping as for the 72-stitch version. After 14 IAG shaping rounds (28 sts between IAG markers), start the heel decreases.

    During the heel decreases, my notes say there should be 18 stitches between markers instead of the 15 for 72-st version-- so on left sock, replace "k 10" with "k 13."

    Thursday, February 11, 2010


    My Skew sock has been published! It is one of the winter Knitty surprises. The waiting has been killing me.

    I'm short on time today (I'm prepping for a crochet scarf class tonight), but I promise to blog tomorrow with some notes on upsizing (and downsizing). Also, there is an error in the Big Toe section; I've put an errata note on the Ravelry pattern page, and will add the details here too shortly.