Friday, April 24, 2015

Socks: New kind of heel, and new kind of needles

A few months ago, Marly Bird had Deborah Norville on the Yarn Thing Podcast. THE Deborah Norville. Don't believe me, CLICK HERE to listen. That wasn't the first time, but to get on with my story.

So. Ms. Norville shared all about her Serenity Sock Yarn, made by Premier Yarns. It's a surprisingly higher quality sock yarn, of 50% merino, 25% bamboo and 25% nylon, found generally in the bigger box stores of the craft variety. I happen to find it at a little out of the way store about 2.5 hours from home that I can visit when on adventure to Portland... Knitkabob, in Union, Oregon, population 250 or so. When I found this yarn in the shop there, I selected two pairs of socks worth and brought them home.

I took one pairs worth with me to STITCHES East to look for sock needles, those size 0 and 1 that I'm having a hard time finding. I had a hard time finding them there, too, ended up with Kollage Squares. It took a while to get use to them, not so much because they are square (maybe at that size, my fingers don't register the unique shape much) but the points I would consider lethal.

I would not recommend these to someone with animals or small children that tend want to cuddle while you knit, DO NOT LEAVE THEM OUT, and I would think twice about using them while riding in the car. Now that I'm almost done with the pair, I poked myself really good when I set them down beside me in the dark. Otherwise, I appreciate the preciseness of the points when working with finer sock yarn, greatly reduced the number of dropped stitches or partially knit stitches that had to be fixed when they were found several rows later.

I started the socks on the plane ride home. It was darker than this on the plane, the light in my seat wasn't working during the first leg of the trip and when the guy across the aisle put out his light I had to put them away. On the second leg, I considered poking the kid in the seat in front of me, who whapped me in the face with the zipper of his hoodie about three times.

These are a vanilla sock pattern, memorized. I don't always start at the toe, but generally just carry them along whenever I need a little project in my pocket or purse. The skeins aligned themselves to match this closely. It took very little effort to make the stripes match. If that is Premier Yarns product standard, another point for them.

The thing I did differently on this pair was an afterthought heel. I have read about them in magazines and other blogs and heard about them on several podcasts. (In fact, today I listened to Susan B. Anderson, describe doing a different type of afterthought heel for the simple joy of having uninterrupted flow of the color changes, with the self-stripping variety of sock yarn.)

From what I understand the principles of an afterthought heel are: knit a tube sock, decide where the heel goes, either lifeline or pick up the stitches the row above and the row below the one row selected for the placement, snip one stitch in the middle and carefully pick out those stitches. I generally work a short-row heel, so that working the heel itself seemed very doable.

I really like this method, but I think the next time I do this heel the sock will be from top-down, as then the heel and the toe will exactly match.

A little kitchener stitching and the heel is done.

I have one picture left to post, of the finished pair, which are very nearly done, except for kitchenering the second heel, weaving all the ends and blocking.

I am posting this and working on another post to cover my sadness at not being at STITCHES South this weekend, taking place in Nashville, Tennessee. I have been following the pictures and comments as much as possible, I know I'm missing out.

Happy Knitting, everyone!

(Earlier posts about socks: from 2011)