Crochet, knitting, astronomy & life in general.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Big socks, small socks, short socks, long socks

One of the major advantages of having small feet is that knitting socks for myself tends to take much less time than it does for the larger male friends of mine. This became very apparent earlier this year, when I knit a pair of socks for the boyfriend that took about 6 weeks and a pair of socks for myself that took less less than 2 weeks. Mind you, the socks for myself were stockinette knee socks and the ones for the boyfriend were covered in mock cables, but that's besides the point. The boyfriend's socks are much more interesting, so I'll talk about those first.

Ever since I showed him June Oshiro's DNA cable scarf pattern, the boyfriend has wanted me to make him a pair of DNA socks (since he doesn't really wear scarves). It took me a while to get around to it, but I started the first one during the X-mas holidays and managed to finish at the beginning of last month. The wait was totally worth it, apparently, because he wears them regularly (which is more than I can say for some of the things I've knit for him... sigh).

I decided to go the toe-up route because I'd already tried it with those X-mas socks, and as I said then, I'm not going back to top-downers. I cast on 40 stitches (for a total circumference of 80 stitches), so that the central cable would take up one quarter of the total stitches, and so I'd have an even number to do 2x2 ribbing with mock cables on each side. I even made the second sock have the mirror image of the cable pattern so that they would be symmetric. When I got passed the heel, I continued the mock cable pattern all the way around the leg, but I had to finagle something in the back of the sock, with a 2x2 cable and an increase of two purl stitches, because it was no longer symmetric. I finished off with a 1x1 rib and Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off, which worked great. The yarn is something called bbbperCALZE, which I picked up at the Creativ Festival in October and deemed manly enough for boyfriend socks.

The socks I most recently knit for myself were infinitely simpler. I more or less followed the Knee Socks! pattern by Diana Parrington, with a short row toe and heel. I did the calf increases as indicated, and finished off with the super-stretchy bind-off again. Being simple stockinette, I was able to get passed the heel turn in the first day (mind you, I was sitting through talks at a conference all day), and the rest of it came together in about 12 days.

The yarn is a couple of skeins of Diamond Yarn Luxury Collection Fancy Free that I managed to pick up in the bargain basement of Romni Wools for cheap. It's a merino-alpaca-nylon blend that is just so soft and wonderful... and the colours are pretty awesome too. I love how the calf increases caused the yarn to pool differently along the leg of the socks. I'm calling them my Lightning Socks because of the yellowish pooling pattern on the blue and because of how little time they took. These are definitely my favourite socks right now, and I'm itching to make myself another pair!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happy Belated Pi Day!

Every year (or at least, every year since I moved to Toronto) I celebrate Pi Day, the semi-official holiday commemorating the mathematical constant pi, on March 14th (3/14, get it?). According to the Wikipedia page, it was invented by Larry Shaw in 1988 and was first celebrated at the San Francisco Exploratorium. There are many ways to celebrate, including contests to see who can recite the most digits of pi, or pi day jeopardy, but we generally just eat a lot of pie and drink a lot of mathematically-themed cocktails.

My friend Greg brought a pi cake, which wasn't a pie, but since it was a mint chocolate chip ice cream cake, and he totally confused the guy at Baskin-Robbins by asking him to put the greek letter pi on the cake, we forgave him.

We made pi day cocktails with pi cubes.

Almost everyone brought a pie, and they all happened to be different flavours! Win!

All photos courtesy the Happy Seamstress.

Friday, March 4, 2011

I wrote a tutorial!

That's right, I know stuff that you should know too, and so you should check out my new tutorial at the Happy Seamstress! It's basically just a simple way to pick up dropped stitches without a crochet hook. My mom probably showed me how to do this when I first learned to knit, and it finally seeped into my brain far enough that I felt I had to share it with the world. As a fun preview, here's my attempt at a video (using my new Gorillapod!):

Yeah, I sort of screwed up at the end there. That'll teach me to make a swatch with a stiffer yarn. Anyway, if you want the more serious, probably easier to understand version, you really should check out the Happy Seamstress.

Speaking of the Happy Seamstress, you might recall that contest I mentioned a while back, you know, the one where you could submit a picture and story of a project you made (or were inspired by) one of the Stitch 'n Bitch books. Well, the contest is now closed, but you could still win a prize! If you vote for an entry by leaving a comment, then you have a chance of being randomly picked to also receive a free copy of Superstar Knitting. Not bad, if you ask me. So go vote!