Saturday, February 26, 2011

Twisted Prime Socks

Just this once I'm going to create a pattern, sort of.  I don't use patterns, so this is a pattern for people who also don't use patterns because I'm tempted to say "just make the heel the way you usually do" hoping you usually make heels a certain way.  I do. I will give you my heel as best I can.  Those of you who have knit lots of socks undoubtedly know there is a certain logic to how a heel is crafted, which is why this is a pattern for people familiar with knitting socks who can go "oh yeah" and knit along. These are my Twisted Prime Socks done up with numerous prime numbers for a challenge in Ravelry's NerdWars--so there are lots of odd numbers in here.

This pattern uses about 5 ounces of fingering weight sock wool (they weighed 4.35 ounces finished but it's good to have a bit extra). I used a two ply, handspun wool and silk blend and size 0 double pointed needle. You will want to go up one if you are a tight knitter as I am not.

Cast on 65 stitches (13 repeats of 5).
Knit 3, purl 2 for 11 rounds.
Round 12: Put a purl stitch on cable needle hold it behind, knit one, purl 1, knit one behind, put a knit stitch on a cable needle bring it in front, purl one then knit the one on the needle, keep doing this all the way around. (you will actually be crossing your first stitch behind your round marker. don't let this bother you.)
Round 13: purl 1, knit one behind, purl 1, knit 2
Round 14: same as last
Round 15: purl 1, knit one behind, purl 1, baby cable stitch with two stiches (see page 40 of Barbara Walker's A Treasury of Knitted Patterns for directions). Essentially, you knit two stiches together but don't totally slip those two stiches off until you've gone back and pulled a second new stich through the rightmost original stitch.  Then you let the two old stiches go and keep the two new ones. This gives you the same effect as using a cable needle without all the fumbling. Do this the entire round
The next two rounds are purl 1 knit one behind, purl 1, knit two. On the third row, you do the baby cable stitch at the knit two.
Continue in this way--twisting one round and knitting the other two-- until you've created five rounds with baby cable twists, with the twist every third round. 
On the third round after completing your last twist get out your cable needle and undo what you did in Row twelve to bring your pattern back to the original knit 3 purl 2.  This should line up with the knit 3 purl 2 you started with.
Knit 3 and purl 2 for 7 rounds.
Triad stitch: on the seventh round you do a cable maneuver I will call Triad Stitch which I "unvented" just for this pattern.  My deep apologies to anyone else who may have also come up with this stitch.
Triad Stitch is the combination of the baby cable stitch and a slipped stitch as follows:  Hold first stitch in front on cable needle, knit last two stitches as a baby cable, knit the stitch on the cable needle.  This should make a nice single cross in the front. Then purl two and do the next triad cable.  Keep going until you are done the round.
Knit 4 rounds of knit three purl two.  On fifth row do the Triad stitch. Repeat again (you will have three sets of Triad crosses)  Then knit three, purl two for seven rounds.
Repeat Row 12--that is cross everything back so you can do what you did: purl 1, knit one behind, purl 1, baby cable stitch.  Once again, cross the baby cables on the third row and do 5 full sets of baby cable crosses.
When you are done, get out the cable needles and bring the stitches back to the knit 3 purl 2, do this for two rows and then divide the stitches for the heel.
In this case it works perfectly to put 32 stitches for the heel flap and then save aside 33 for the instep.
To keep the instep pattern in good order, I took one extra stitch from one side of the center and one less from the other.  I think you will see what I mean when you get there as this removes an awkward purl stitch from each side of the flap.
I do heel flaps with the purl side as slip one, purl one and the other side as slip one knit, knit, knit, knit etc.
I keep going until I have enough flap to pick up half the stitches on each side, in this case about 16.  This is about 2 inches of knitting.  If you are a row counter, I suspect you need to two 32 rows in all.  Make sure you end on the knit side.  This should allow you to pick up 16 stiches on each side of the flap.
  I then turn the heel, using similar math:
slip one, purl 15, purl 2 together, purl 1 turn
slip one, knit 2, knit 2 together, knit one turn
slip one, purl 3, purl 2 together, purl one turn
slip one, knit 4, knit 2 together, knit one turn
slip one, purl 5, purl 2 together, purl one turn and so on and so forth until you have 16 stitches--half of the beginning of the heel flap.

pick up sixteen stitches on each side of the flap,  This leaves you with 16+16+16+33 stirches on the needle (81 stitches) knit all the way around once and place your markers for the decrease, one before the 33 instep stiches and one after.  After this full round, start decreasing by doing a knit two together  before the marker and a knit one slip one after the marker. Do these two decreases each row and you'll hace a nice angle.  Keep decreasing until you have 55 stitches left on your needles or 11 repeats of 5.  Remember to maintain the knit 3 purl 2 pattern on the instep but keep the bottom plain. You should have the same number of stiches on the instep as you started with--take your decreases before and after the instep stiches!

Knit for as long as you would like the sock to be.  When you get to the toe, start making a toe by putting markers before and after the last two purl stitches.  This is an uneven 27/28 split but it will work out nicely.  go ahead and do one round in plain stitch and then start your decreases, four per round, one before and after each marker.  Remember to choose your decrease method so they go in  a pleasing angle relative to your sock.  Keep decreasing until you have 26 stitches total and divide them evenly (13 stitches) onto two needles.  Break off a long length, thread a darning needle and use Kitchener Stitch to sew up . I use the directions in Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Without Tears when I forget.  I highly recommend this book and she coined the term "unvented."

Below, is a detail of the tops:

I hope this works.  Feel free to contact me if you run into problems and I'll try to help.  This is my first attempt at writing a pattern down.  I keep updating my verbage. Someday I might even add a graph.


Inspired by a Nebula, I spun this yarn from two different fiber sources for Ravelry's NerdWars challenge.  The blue is dyed Corriedale with some silvery flash in it.  The light purple is a blend of mohair--it has quite a few other colors in it including orange and green.  This was a lot of fun to make.  I Navajo plied it to keep the colors together.  I purchased the prepared fibers from the Coed Mawr Woolen Mill in Wisconsin.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hope of Spring

Sub-zero temperatures do not discourage me.  I know the sun is moving higher in the sky each day, the snow will melt, the soil warm and I'll be outside working on my garden.  In the meantime, I can snuggle in my favorite chair warmed by handmade comforters and a nice stack of seed catalogs.

My garden is definitely moving into heirloom varieties this summer.  But I'm doing all this slowly since I am a new gardener and so far my heirloom tomatoes have been a catastrophe.  But I do want to try a zucchini I found in Annie's Heirloom Seeds "coccozelle di Napoli."  A striped heirloom from Naples. I'm a big fan of Italian cooking, so I'm a big sucker for any vegetable with an Italian name.  I really wanted to try their "Cosse Violetta Pole Bean" but they were out when I ordered.

I did order their Merlo Nero Spinach and Purple Sprouting Broccoli.  I use spinach and broccoli regularly in my cooking and I wish I could have some fresh right away. The seeds just came earlier this week and I'm thinking of getting a few started real early. 

I'm thinking cold frame.  Will it work? Can I do it?  The back or our house has a sunny southern exposure which should be ideal according to the Rodale book I got for Christmas.  So, I'm trolling the Internet for cold frames right now.  Yes, I know we could build one from old windows and wood scraps cheaply, but I'm a suburbanite and I want to do the suburban thing and buy one.  I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Giant space amoeba

Ravelry's Nerd Wars inspired this sock which incorporates prime numbers into the design.

 There is nothing quite like a challenge to spark creativity.  Which is why I love Ravelry and like to join things like the Nerd Wars challenge.  Being a Nerd helps, though I will admit there was a time when I tried to deny my inner nerd. I'm letting her out to play big time.

The yarn is a merino/silk blend that's been in my stash for a very long time.  I'm calling it my "phaser-blast" colorway to keep in tune with my team, Team Enterprise.  For fellow Trekkie geeks, the colorway is modeled after the phaser blast in the original series.  The challenge:  to craft a pattern that somehow incorporates prime numbers into its design.

Those who know me understand that I'm not big on following patterns.  I'm one of those knitters who doesn't really even use patterns, relying Elizabeth Zimmerman's percentage method for all my projects, even when I'm doing someone's established pattern, such as an Alice Starmore.  When it comes to socks, well, I just cast on and knit them.  Which is what I did with these. I had an idea of sorts in my mind.  I was thinking of one of those "alien arrays" the Enterprise (or Voyager) runs into out there in space.  Usually it does something like fling them to the other side of the galaxy or causes a temporal shift that makes everyone to act zany, or else entices a giant space amoeba to endanger the ship.  You know what I mean.

Keeping with the prime numbers theme, I cast on 13 repeats of a 5 stitch pattern. I first knit 11 rows of a knit 3 purl 2 pattern.  Then it got interesting, and I cabled into a twisted rib medley with a knit behind set off by two purls.  Now, I twisted the rib on every third row, and I made five twists--both prime numbers. Then I reunited the knit three rib, knit seven rows and then put in three Triad Cables each cabled on the fifth repeat.  I just unvented the Triad Cable, and I'll explain how those are made when I post the design on Ravelry in case anyone is interested.

I'm not sure what to call this design.  My original idea was Alien Array but I'm not sure if it is array-ish enough.  My alternate name is Twisted Logic, since it is twisted and it does follow a certain prime number based logic.  I'd love to hear from all of you regarding which name I should pick.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dashing through the snow

My personal assistant enjoys the powdery snow.

As a rule, you pretty much know you're in for it weather-wise when Jim Cantore is posted to your area.  And so we had one heck of a storm last night, complete with thundersnow--that weird heavy snowfall that includes bashing thunder and crashing lightening.  The wind was howling so loudly with it's 60 mile per hour gusts, it almost drowned the thunder.  Almost.  Looking outside last night was a blur of white in the street lights.  This was a bad storm and we woke up to yet more snow falling thickly in the early morning light.

It was a storm of childhood memory proportions--which means we haven't really had a storm this big since I was a teenager.  By midday, the sun was out, the air was cold and it was time to join the neighbors in the post-blizzard ritual of digging out.  Shoveling took several hours and really taxed my improved fitness level. We are still waiting for the snowplow to reach our street.  I expect quite a pile to dig through tomorrow when it blocks up our driveway.

One of the great things about record breaking snow is that when I'm not shoveling, I'm inside knitting and spinning etc.  This is the first week of the three month Nerd Wars challenge where participants get to show off their nerdiest crafting.  I'm having particular fun with a pair of socks I'm making for the prime number challenge.  I'm knitting cables in prime number multiples.  My cast on was for 13 repeats of a 5 stitch wide pattern (65) which began as a 3/2 rib and is now something quite different.  I'm improvising this as I go, using as many prime numbers as I can, including creating a mini-cable every third row.  This will be fun.  I'll post pictures once it looks like something.