Slowly Making Ruffles

January 30, 2015

I love ruffles. They’re cute, they’re adorable, they’re so sweet. And if I am to make socks for work, I wish them to be cute, even if they have to be mostly black. I want a pair of socks I’m still willing to wear when I no longer need black socks for my uniform. Hopefully, I will no longer need a uniform, period. However, ruffles can be a wee bit of a pain to knit, and I can’t even complain about it, because I’m only knitting the wide part in black. I haven’t even gotten to the decreasing with black yarn.

However, I’m more quickly than expected switching back to the silvery-green aluminum knitting needles as it is nearly impossible to see black on dark brown. Trust me on this, let this voice of experience speak for you. Knitting with black yarn on dark brown needles is not half as fun as it sounds. There is not enough light in the world to slip into a size 2 stitch. If such a light source can be created, I’ll likely need a shade 10 or better welding helmet to work with it. Shading said light source will cause more problems than it will fix.

001   Last week’s work…black yarn on dark brown needles. Now, please, scroll down and notice the difference as you read.

Now, let me tell you the one good thing about knitting ruffles. I’m not seriously counting stitches every round. It’s difficult. I believe I’m supposed to have 256 stitches on three needles (I hope its three). I’ve decided to be a rebel as ruffles are forgiving of a stitch or two. However, if you start finishing the knitting before you are ready to throw it in the snow(and we do have a wee bit of snow and icy stuff on the ground in Michigan), you may want to count your stitches.

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Squib inspecting my knitting…

The tough part of 256 (or thereabouts) stitches of black yarn on the needles, is that when you knit one, you feel as if four or five more just took its spot. Yes, that number is correct, 256, to be whittled down to a simple, sweet 64 darling stitches with which I will attempt to knit hearts into this sock….We’ll see if this project keeps me as black-hearted as the creator claims….. I can see it happening….(insert favorite terms of frustration here, if you please). Wish me luck.

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Short knitting hiatus, here, with Squib’s help. Excuse us…

I proceeded to knit row two, then began row three. Luckily, I decided to check what I was supposed to do before I committed solidly to row three. Since I was supposed to Knit 2 together around at row three (not after), I pulled out the first few stitches of this round, and began knitting 2 together around this sock. It wasn’t as tough as I expected. In fact, it was easier than the first two rows. I may be tempted to work hearts all the way down or two increase some rows, only to have to decrease. There’s a little extra space between each stitch, it helps to see them.

011See what I mean?

I also had to shoo the kitties out of the knitting. I could call them kittens, but they’re turning into cats before our eyes, attitude and all. Speaking of growing kitties, excuse me while I wrestle the knitting bag out from under the watchful Scamp and take a photo.

010Scamp claiming the knitting bag for her own entertainment.

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I found the black and cream sock yarn, cleverly hidden in a library book tote bag. Tote bags take on a whole new life in my home, but that could be another blog. For now, I picked out a free pattern on www.ravelry.com called (Black)Hearted, by Ariel Alteras. She even has a blog about these socks on blogspot, http://stariel.blogspot.com/2008/02/blackhearted.html. I thought it was a good read. I printed off the free ravelry pattern and decided to make these socks. Then I set down the yarn, and proceeded to make some guacamole. I needed energy for studying and knitting. Would you like some chips and guacamole? It will taste better tomorrow, but its pretty good tonight.

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See, I found the yarn….and the needles…Let the adventure begin.

As I was chopping veggies and heating the guac, I was unaware of the activity going with the kittens. When I came out of the kitchen, I found Squib, (Mr. Mischief, himself), and my yarn on the floor. The cream yarn was in a state of disarray and the black yarn was on its way to that well-known state of disarray that often gets kitties in trouble. They love unattended yarn. I was almost surprised Scamp (Miss Mischief, herself), didn’t take it upon herself to assist. Had I given it any more time, she likely would have. You’ll have to take my word for this, Squib refused to pose near the scene of the crime. He’ll likely return to it at some point, though.

003Squib, caught on camera before he realized my trick…

But let’s get back to this sock pattern. I shall start with a few tips. If you are new to knitting or even new to sock knitting, be very careful knitting with black yarn. Many knitters avoid it altogether. I don’t necessarily blame them. I need to stop in the yarn store and create a wish list pronto. If you have other people assisting with your yarn stash, get wish lists established at your favorite stores. Yes, that is a tip, otherwise, that well meaning dearie will present you with yarn you might never use to create something you were hoping not to need more of. Yes, there’s a story here. It’s been told in another blog. Let me get back to some tips.

If you proceed to knit with black yarn, as I am, use light bamboo needles, or light/bright aluminum ones. My dear James bought me some beautiful square wooden needles that are dark brown. There is no contrast. I’m going to need stronger glasses before I’m done with this pair of socks. I do not like to advertise that I’m already into bifocals. I don’t want stronger bifocals. James, has been forgiven though, as he did buy quality yarn and quality needles.

 002  Square knitting needles, perhaps you’ll see this better if I don’t lose them before I get to the lighter yarn…

But this could bring me to the next tip: He forgot the Ott-lite to go with black yarn and dark brown needles. If you persist in this knitting endeavor that so many knitters wisely avoid, get good light. Light is your friend when knitting with black yarn. I’m thinking of utilizing his LED flashlight to see my stitches. Currently, the stitches are very dark on quite dark needles, with little contrast and not enough light. You need one or the other at a minimum, if not both.

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This ruffle could take a while, it’s not easy to knit what you can’t see…

The next tip: Pick a simple cast-on and pattern choice. This pair of socks came with a choice of a picot edge or ruffled edging or regular ribbing. I would, next time, (if using black yarn), pick the regular ribbing. It is much easier to knit 64 black stitches in a round than 256 of the ruffled edging I have chosen. I feel in over my head already, and I’m still on the first row! I can do this, I will do this, but you may hear about ruffling and light and contrast for some time to come. Come enjoy this determined endeavor with me, and forgive me if I start inserting various random pharmacy tech or medical terms. I’ve got to study sometime. See those stacks of note cards, over there, all three of them? Two of those stacks need to be committed to memory by next week.

To The Pub.

A joyous read…I wish I was in that pub….perhaps we need to start a new trend;-).

Okay, okay, I give. I’ve been sorting through piles, checking my work in progress shelf and the work in progress bags and the knitting bag and wondering…just where in the world did I leave that second skein of yarn? I can’t find it, anywhere. I also started classes this week, so the amount of reading and note-card making I’ve had to do before each class left my eyes a little blurry and my head just a bit more achy than usual. So, now, I’m faced with a decision…do I continue to search the yarn the fairies(likely culprits) are hiding really well or do I move on to knit some black and cream/off-white socks with the yarn my dear James bought me for Christmas.

For the record, I asked the fairies to reveal the yarn’s hiding place. They’re not listening this time. I hope they didn’t forget where they put it. But back to the other pair of socks. The black and white socks involve new areas of development for me. They leave me needing to either modify or create a pattern to make white footed socks with black tops. I will need to decide to make the socks like my current gray bottomed socks by Bates, that are not all I want in a sock or if I wish to make the foot of the sock entirely white and make the heel flap and above black. I will also have to decipher how low to keep the black, as my shoes do not come all the way up to my ankle as assumed.

005My Christmas stocking yarn…yes, you may have seen this before

I like the idea of being able to custom make my socks, and let James know if this yarn works. Though I think I better get to the yarn store and reserve some yarn to add to my valentine’s gifts soon. A girl only needs so many pairs of work socks when she plans to move on to a job that does not feel the need to regulate sock and shoe color. He’s got some good ideas, but sometimes a girl thinks, black and white is nice, but I want purple, or maybe burgundy to match a favorite shirt.

Now, back to the work socks….which pattern do I modify for these? Or do I go rogue and spend hours I likely don’t have designing my own. Not yet…I think I’m going to pick a pattern. Then I better get back to the homework. 002 Two of the three big books I get to learn from this semester…

Then again, perhaps I should ponder this question: Am I ready for cable knitting? I’m considering cables, but I should know better. Black yarn is tough to work with, and will be even tougher to cable…perhaps I should keep it simple this time. I promise I will get to cables one day;-)

In the interest of keeping it simple, I did happen upon a pattern I believe I can modify for my needs. There was a cute little pair of socks on ravelry.com featuring hearts on the cuffs that I nearly fell in love with. http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/blackhearted

They look more blue than black, but that could be lighting, and someone has shown me it can be done;-). Bonus, no cables. I’ll keep you posted on the rest as I try not to drown under those heavy textbooks.

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Squib helping with box and camera management…

I’ve finally finished the first soc. Now I get to start on the second sock soon. I do promise pictures, including the not the prettiest pics ever with my own toes…but you are looking at the sock, right;-)? Of course you are; or the puppies in the background.

002Finally, brave enough to try on the sock…only four toes are showing, which means, its time to start knitting the toe;-) Zeus is helping me model, with Briannag thinking about joining in.

Yes, we call these eighty-some pound creatures puppies. They’re sleeping now and behaving. I’m about to warm up a cup of cocoa or cider. Which do you prefer? I’ve been knitting away, and working to finish the toe and the puppies have been snuggly. The cats want to help, too. I think they all want to be a part of my socks.

001Squib, pretending he wasn’t just inspecting my work, Scamp in foreground, pretending she’s no longer interested.

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Squib, “guarding” my yarn while I refresh my beverage.

Take a seat as I sew up this toe of the sock and search for the yarn to cast on the next one. The cast on is never easy, but school starts Monday, and if I don’t get to it tonight, who knows when I will.  I’ve been thinking about what to discuss in this blog. I could go over the joy followed by the Now, I get to do it all, again, feeling. I’ve been over that before, perhaps twice and I wouldn’t want to bore you even if you can relate.

 008     Maeve insists on snuggling while I’m knitting.

But I noticed something else as I knit last night. I noticed, and I read the note at the end of the pattern. Sometimes, I wonder if the note is like the Monster at the End of This Book. But last night, I didn’t recall having read the note before. I’d say that’s like me. But its more like me to have read the note and not recall doing so, than to completely ignore the note. As I think on it, I’m pretty sure I mentioned it when I talked to the proprietor of Apple Tree Lane to pick out the yarn.

The Note at the end of this pattern did speak on the ply of the yarn though, and wondered about it. It talked about two ply yarn and three or four ply yarn and apparent bounce and a pebbled look.

I got the impression that certain plys/number of strands of yarn could make these socks look like popcorn socks. I like the look of these, but if you want playful, popcorn socks or bobbles might be fun to try as well. I very much like the look of my socks, but I have learned my four ply(or four stranded yarn) has a 75% wool content and a 25% nylon content which seems to lend to the structure as stated. Let me get this picture and show you what I mean.

001The finished sock, with structure.

In the meantime, I’m going to have to seek out the other skein of yarn to cast on the next sock. However, please excuse Briannag as we work through her system of approval.

006   009Briannag has determined this sock is cozy and comfortable and I should be content to allow my foot to remain her pillow until Dad comes home to feed her.

Happy New Year!

January 2, 2015

Hello! And welcome to 2015! I would have sat down to ring in the New Year with you, but I’ve been dealing BlackJack to die-hard Americans this past couple of days. I also have not given much time to the knitting. Not just because of the work schedule, but because family gatherings were snuck in the way, confounding everything.

I thought I had until January 12th to finish one of my sewn gifts, however, that deadline was moved up to December 28th. I spent much of that evening and the next “morning” for me, sewing this cute tote bag for my aunt. I still ended up presenting it to her unfinished, as I had just gotten the second strap turned right side out as we pulled into her parking lot. I tucked them into the gift box and taped two sides, before I went to explain that more work would be needed. My dear Aunt Maryal presented me with a “working” gift of fabric cuts to move me into making a quilt, potentially from a book she granted me. I just may have to pick one someday.

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Yes, I really did present the gift this unfinished. Now to go finish the straps and a hem and to sew on said straps. Maryal loved the giraffe, and the tote matched the color of the sweater she was wearing that day;-).

As for the knitting, Thank you for motivating my tired and semi-sore fingers to get back to this sock. I’m moving to the trying on phase soon, partly because I want to know how close I really am getting. I used the tape measure, but I’m never fully certain until I get that sock on my foot.

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The sock the last time I worked on it.

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The sock where its at. I was measuring the foot, but this is the better almost complete photo, and the point where I start going, “Are we there, yet?” until I reach the toe.

I can’t wait until I can wear another pair of my own socks, but that requires much more knitting. In addition, I need to consider the design or pattern I plan to use for the black and cream socks I get to make next. Though, I can get that info (in part) when I do get to try this sock on. The rib pattern is easy enough and requires my concentration, but that’s one of the reasons it takes me so long to get back to it, as I strongly prefer to complete all eight rows of the pattern in one sitting.

Maeve decided to visit me while I was knitting, but James was too busy to take another photo of her “assistance.” Scamp decided she’s been in enough yarn-related trouble lately and has become more snuggly as I get ready to walk out the door. Squib didn’t take notice until I left the tape measure hanging over the edge of the photography tote surface. Some things remain the same, some things require new endeavors. May your 2015 endeavors (and traditions) be enjoyable!

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Squib helping me keep track of the tape measure. Yes, I rescued it, before he ran down the basement with it to hide it for some time to come…