Tuesday, 27 October 2015

October KALs: Status Update

As you may recall, I signed up for two Knit-a-longs (KALs) both of which started on 1 October: Carol Feller's Mithral pullover KAL, and the Great British Socksaway KAL. I thought that by now I'd be a gibbering ball of stress, knowing that I've failed them both and wanting to go knit stockingette cowls for the rest of my life. Surprisingly, I'm doing rather well.
Tarsi Toddler Socks
I really hit the ground running with these darling little socks, finishing them in 11 days. I used every last bit of wool, ending with only inches left so the fact that they're ever so slightly too short in the foot is just a crying shame. Little Djinn loves them, but they just shift right off her little feet and no amount of pulling them up can keep them on. Oh well. I tried and I will keep on trying.
At the same time, I knit the first clue of Mithral, which was for the front and back of the shoulders, from the neckline down to the bottom of the armholes (Clue 2 starts with joining the two pieces in the round - the picture above was a few rows into Clue 2). The wool is deliciously soft in my hands but, as I anticipated, that doesn't mean it's easy to work with. It's not difficult, I'm not fighting it, but I am having to check from time to time that I've got the actual stitch and not just fluff and it's very slippy on my needles. Between that and the eternal worry that the finished sweater won't fit or make me happy, and working on it has kind of become duty knitting - I want to finish and wear my lovely new sweater, but I can't be disappointed with the finished object if I never, you know, finish it. The good news is that I thought this KAL ran for the same length as the GBSocksawayKal, 6 weeks, but it actually goes into December! So as long as I do a little work on it here and there, I shouldn't fall too far behind. And, while I like wining, I don't need prizes.
Pheasant Socks
Remember how I said I had two suitable sock yarns for the wool from British sheep qualification for the GBSocksawayKAL? I was wrong. My other wool is, as I said, from the Faeroe Islands. Faeroe. Denmark. Somehow despite typing the word "Faeroe" my brain was still thinking "Orkney". Um, oops. I was faced with two problems here - I like to always have a pair of socks on the needle as "handbag knitting", eg something small enough to be portable and easy enough to be picked up and put down a lot, and I was feeling a lot of envy for the self-striping Pheasant colourway from West Yorkshire Spinner's Birds range. So when my friend Miss Morgan was visiting and short one ball of yarn for a hat she was knitting, I ordered a skein of Pheasant at the same time. Then there was a problem with placing the order, Miss Morgan got sick and left early, and it didn't show up until after she left. Oops. But the WYS pheasant, at least, is as wonderful as I hope.

For whatever reason, WYS doesn't have any publicity shots of the skeins knit up, just in the ball, and when I'd seen people's probjects they all seemed to be like the Blue Tit colourway - stripes but a a lot of mottling of colour between the stripes in the way that Opal does self-striping yarns. Opal is (was?) my default sock yarn, but I mostly thought of picking a colour as getting the least annoying one. Pheasant isn't like that: Pheasant has five tonal colours (rust, pumpkin, goldenrod, navy, and petrol (dark teal)) in clear stripes with a small stripe of grey between each colour. For me that works out as five rows of a colour, two rows of grey, five rows of the next colour. They are stunning. I decided to do a pair of very plain, vanilla socks with an afterthought heel, neither of which I've actually knit before.

I don't know how much is the stripes ("just one more!") and how much is the vanilla sock so it's just round and round, but I have never knit a sock that quickly. I kept making myself work on other things and I still knit one sock in four days. Remember how happy I was above to knit a pair of toddler socks in 11 days? 5.5 days each sock? I just knit a full size sock in 4 days. I put off starting the second one to work on Mithral. And then knit a hat and half a mitt instead - then I checked the timeline for the Mithral KAL and realized I could finish my socks like I want to do anyway. Someone please tell me I'm not the only person who won't let myself do A because I have to do B and so I do C instead?

This is my first time working an afterthought heel, though the pattern I picked, Fork in the Road Socks by Laura Neel, has you work the afterthought heel in the same order as if you were doing a heel-flap and gusset, after the leg and before the foot. I'm not sure I like it from a construction esthetic - and please note this is a critique of the style, not the pattern which is clear and results in a correctly sized sock - the unworn socks look...weird. They don't lie flat. There's a fair argument to be made that because feet are not flat, socks shouldn't be either, and I'll have to see how comfortable they are to wear before deciding if I'd knit them for a non-stripy yarn. For stripy yarns the afterthought heel is perfect as it keeps the stripes in perfect order.

And Chris looked at my beautiful Pheasant socks and requested a pair for himself. I showed him the colourways available and he picked Bullfinch with Cayenne (from their solid "spice rack" range) for contrast cuffs, heels, and toes. I also picked up Blue Tit for when I've knit those, with contrast Blueberry Bonbon ("sweet shop" range) and the limited edition Christmas colour Cherry Drop.

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