Friday, 13 March 2009

Reality bites

I had a lovely, restful weekend on the Isle of Wight with my dad. Nothing much happened, we chatted, ate, watched the red squirrels mounting raids on the bird table and I knitted. Here is one of my favourite knitting spots where I can catch the full benefit of the morning sun over my shoulder.

So, with all that lovely new yarn and new books to try out how did I get on? The first book that I turned to was Knitting Socks with Hand painted Yarn by Carol J. Sulcoski. As well as patterns, there is some useful information in this book about the different types of hand painted yarns on the market and how to use their properties to best effect when choosing a pattern.

The first pattern that I chose were the Escher socks which use a very simple interlocking rib to break up the colours of the yarn. I chose some often cantankerous Socks that Rock in medium weight and am very pleased with how they have come out. The medium weight yarn is a heavy, round yarn which makes a very firm sock. The colours have also behaved reasonably well.

Whilst knitting the sock, the simple, easy to remember pattern seems rather dull and ineffective.

However, when it is properly stretched it shows of this elegant pattern to great effect. I can see myself adding this simple pattern to my 'vanilla sock' repertoire.

Especially as, apparently, they give one the power of levitation in the presence of a golden retriever. Now there's an after dinner trick to be proud of.

Now, if I had been single minded and not seduced by the other lovely yarn I had brought with me I would probably have finished the Escher Socks but oh no, I had to try casting on another pair. Again from the hand paints book they are the Braided Gem Socks for which I have used the Apple Pie yarn. Here is what they are supposed to look like:

Here is my version:

A little closer look at the stitch pattern:

All very nice, I hear you stay but look what happens without the aid of a sock blocker and a lot of tweaking. The stitch pattern is not symmetrical so the socks bias like crazy

One for the frog pond I think.

Over all, I think the book is useful although on closer inspection there aren't many patterns that I would actually make and I'm disappointed that they would include such an obviously flawed pattern in their collection unless it can be entirely cured by blocking. Does anybody know.

I also had a good look at the other book I took with me - Socks a la Carte by Jonelle Raffino et al. To be honest, with the yarns that I had I couldn't find anything to inspire me. The book is based on a very clever concept, a range of cuffs, legs, heels, insteps and toes which you can mix and match using pages that have been sliced through the middle so that you can see what the sock you have in your minds eye is going to work. I have seen most of the patterns in other books so this book didn't offer much in the way of new ideas to me but might be a good choice for someone who has just started making socks although I think there are better on the market. Overall, I was a little disappointed.

So there we have it - I didn't come anywhere near using all the materials I took with me but I did have a change to do some knitting, swatching and reading and recharge my batteries, knitting and otherwise - bliss.....


Jane said...

You have been busy. The Escher Socks look lovely. I really like the pattern.

tea and cake said...

The Escher socks are gorgeous in this yarn - a great match for you!

Bells said...

that sounds like a very pleasant break. How nice to go on holiday with your dad!

I think even though you didn't end up liking some of what you knit, it was a useful exercise in working with hand painted yarns, right? Always something to learn.

Rose Red said...

Glad you had a good time with your dad, shame the yarns/patterns didn't quite work out as expected, but at least you know now!

TutleyMutley said...

Sounds like a wonderful break...

knittingtastic said...

I love to hear your tales from time spent with your Dad.

Thanks for the posting about the Braided Gem Socks as these were on my list but have now been removed. It amazes me that patterns which do not work are put into books, particularly when it is a big mistake rather than a little errata. I think the test knitting stage was maybe never completed?

Suse-the-slow-knitta said...

the escher socks look gorgeous!