FO: Better Mousetrap Socks

It took a while, but my April socks are finally done, albeit in the middle of May.

First time you saw these it was as a curl of 240-odd stitches on a too-small cable-needle.

Cast-on 1st Sock

Then I wondered if the effect I was getting, with the yarn choices I’d made, was right for the construction method of the project.

Mottled-effect: more Matrix than Mousetrap!

After much deliberation – and knitting one half of the sock – I opted to de-ply the yarn I had double-stranded and re-wind it so that I could make the second half in alternate stripes of variagated and solid.

DH declared it to be a Wampum Belt but, for me, this project was the sock-equivalent of the Baby Surprise Jacket – only you know that it’s a pair of socks. More importantly, you don’t know that it’s really going to fit until you sew it up. The project had a different surprise in store for me, however: I ran out of yarn 10 rows before the end.

Sock Surprise; now with added surprises!

I was quite daunted by the idea of grafting the 200-odd stitches on the seams – four times over! However, Debbie New describes a Super-simple grafting method that helped me get the job done without fear or stress.

Then, the final test: trying them on…

They fit; he likes them; I'm happy!

It’s been 6 weeks since my last confession…

I did not love Blog when:

  • I promised to write specific posts and then completely …eh… didn’t!;
  • I did all these fantastic, blog-worthy and craft-related things and never told you about them;
  • I allowed real-life time-pressures to get in the way of blogging time…

For these, and all my sins, I am truly sorry.

For my penance I will try to write circa 20 catch-up posts over the next two weeks!

I have to apologise for my prolonged absence from my blog. It all started when DH got stuck in San Francisco because of the Ash Cloud. I was due to write a blog post all about my adventures to The Yarn Room in Wicklow the previous weekend, and meeting Irene Lundgaard for the first time – and being taught by her – but the heart just wasn’t in it.

When DH is away I still work full-time and have to get myself and the three crazies up and out the door in the morning; and fed and put to bed each evening. It’s a bit like living on a treadmill but I can do it by just getting on with it. I cut myself a break or two by easing off on household chores, such as laundry, for the duration. My knitting buddies are a great help too, as they often “bring the Mountain to Mohammed” as it were, by coming over to my house for Knit-night.

I have huge admiration for single parents, let me tell you; I don’t know how they keep themselves going. I know I only have to hold it all together until DH is home again and usually we’re only talking one week. I liken it to running a marathon: it’s a hellish run but you keep yourself moving, knowing the finish-line is in sight.

On Thursday 15th April the world woke up to the news that a certain, unpronounceable Volcano in Iceland was – quite literally – hell-bent on wrecking everyone’s plans. DH had been away since the previous Sunday and was due to fly home on Saturday afternoon. Sure enough, Mother Nature had different ideas. From my perspective, it was like someone had taken the finish-line and just run off with it. I had no choice but to keep running the marathon; but there’s something disturbing, psychologically, about not knowing when it will all end.

On Saturday night, DH suggested that he could be stuck for another five days. Strangely, rather than being horrified and distraught at the news, this was exactly what I needed to gather my energies and keep myself moving. He had given me a glimmer of ribbon that I could focus on and move towards. As it turned out, his prediction proved correct and he flew in on the second flight into Dublin Airport on Wednesday 21st April. It was amazing to see a single con-trail in the sky while simultaneously listening to a news headline reporting its arrival. We were thrown back to the early days of Flying!

So he’s been home now for a month… how do I explain the past four weeks?!?!?! Hmmmmm!?!?

The problem, for a change, was not having nothing to say (if you follow me). The problem was absolutely, over-indulging in crafty, blog-worthy adventures; to such an extent that I’m spoiled for choice. The problem with this is that I haven’t yet learned how to make time – I can only make the most of it; and I’ve certainly been doing that lately, as you can see below!

As it’s Sunday Miscellany, I’m just going to list all the excitement, somewhat in chronological order. These are potential blog-posts that you can look forward to. I have a plan for when I’m going to write each but I’ve learned from my mistake – I’m not going to tell you when to expect them in case I don’t follow through and disappear from my blog again out of shame!

  • Trip to the Yarn Room Co. Wicklow
  • Met Irene Lundgard
  • Learned Tunisian Crochet in the Round
  • Made a pair of wrist-warmers using what I learned
  • Went to the April Spin-in at Powerscourt
  • Stash Accumulation after the April Spin-in
  • Chose between finishing my April Socks and making a hat for a co-worker
  • Attended Combination Knitting Workshop by Annie Modesitt at TIK
  • Met Samsaradh and had great time catching-up with SusyMcQ
  • Stash Accumulation after the Combination Knitting Workshop
  • Met Averil
  • Stash Accumulation to celebrate meeting Averil (yeah, I’m totally out-of-control, by now!)
  • Choosing Crochet over knitting lately
  • Some Chemo caps I’m making and why
  • Choosing not to cast-on until current WIPs are whupped
  • Progress on Better Mousetrap socks
  • Progress on GlenvarAgin
  • We get Broadband means Spinning Tutorials on YouTube
  • Stash Accumulation from The Yarn and Fiber Company
  • Getting into running, the “Couch to 5K programme” and The Flora Women’s Mini-marathon

That’s kinda enough to be getting on with, I think you’ll agree!

Wampum WIP

Recently, I showed DH the socks I have underway currently:

He commented: “It looks like a wampum belt”.

To which I replied – with all the mock-malice I could muster – “I’ll give you a wampin’ belt!”

Despite my feigning umbrage, I searched for Wampum on Google images and had to agree:

Trust me, it's a toe!

Last time you saw these, I had only completed the first half of the first sock and was wondering whether stranding a faux-fair-isle colourway with a solid colour was the best mix to show off the strange construction of the sock. After much hemming and hawing, I decided to bite the bullet and un-strand one half of the yarn I had previously wound together.

This was both the best decision I could have made and one of my worst ever. I think there’s no doubt that my hunch right: completing the other half of the sock in alternate stripes of faux-fair-isle and solid was the right move, in terms of showing off the construction.

But MAN! was it a PITA to de-ply 200m, or so, of yarn. It involved large puddles of yarn, all over the living-room floor. Needless to say, I did this one evening DH was away.

But… it was worth it.

Decisions, Decisions

My Work Work-Plan Plan – in which I plan to have a plan and then work to work to my plan – is all working according to plan. (hee hee, I love to I wreck heads!) I’m two days into my strategy and I’m feeling all super-productive and happy. This super-focussed-feeling is spilling into my home-life too (so I’m only allowing myself 30mins to blog) and even has me feeling I should be super-focussed on what my knitting project priorities should be.

Note I say “should be” because, in reality, my inner-crafty-self is not listening to super-focussed-work-self. Super-focussed-self says I should be focussing on finishing those last few inches on DH’s GlenvarAgin Cardigan, so that I can get cracking on the sleeves – and finally give it too him after all these years. Inner-crafty-self says “Boring! Oooh look… shiny new techniques!” and promptly potters off in the direction of a crochet hook!

Better Mousetrap Socks by Debbie New from Unexpected Knits

One shiny new technique that grabbed my undivided crafting attention last week was Better Mousetrap Socks by Debbie New (above). Within two days of casting on, I had completed one half of my first sock. I was amazed – I don’t know if I’ve ever progressed a sock that quickly before.

Trust me, it's a sock!

One thing I’m not sure about is the way the colours are working. If you recall, I’m stranding a self-striping, faux-fair-isle yarn (Berroco Sox) with another solid sock yarn (Bergere de France CHO’7) for a bulky, quick knit. It’s giving the following effect, close-up:

So... whaddya think?

I’m not sure that I like it. I don’t think it does enough to express the construction of the sock. I think the overall sock will just look homogenously mottled.

I’m of a mind to unwind the second cake of yarn and re-wind it so that the Berroco Sox and the CHO’7 are each double-stranded separately and then complete the second half of each sock in stripes of each. Would that be completely crazy looking? Should I leave well-enough alone?

 I’d love if you could give me your opinions, dear Reader.

WIPs for DH

It looks like April is going to be all about knitting for DH. I decided my socks for this month should be socks for him since my last two pairs of socks were for me. Apart from which, he recently discovered where I’ve been hiding all the socks that need darning and has been taking them back into circulation. Yes, definately a new pair of socks is called for. So I cast on yesterday: 

Better Mousetrap Socks by Debbie New from Unexpected Knits

 This is going to be a fun knit. The socks are knit sideways in one long strip, with mitred decreases shaping the toe and heel. You then fold at the toe and heel and graft one half of the stitches to the other. 

When DH enquired what I was knitting it this morning, and I told him his next pair of socks, he replied: “They start out that big?” he asked in alarm. “Yes”, I told him, “you have very big feet!” I’ll tell him they’re knit sideways later; maybe after I knit the first strip and ask him can he make a sock shape out of it. (Heh, heh, heh!!) 

I want these socks to be quick to knit so I’m bulking up by stranding two sock yarns together: Berroco Sox with Bergere de France CH’07. This dove-tails well with my recent drive to bust-down my stash: two pairs worth of yarn get used up in one go.  This is a real turn-around for me. I’m usually really frugal with my yarn and would never consider doubling-up on yarn as it would feel like paying twice over for a project. That’s what the realisation you’re at S.A.B.L.E. does to you!

To figure out how many stitches to cast-on I had to knit a swatch and do a bit of algebra. My grand total of stitches is 246; however I’ll only have to knit about 14 ridges of garter stitch. The high quantity of stitches is a giving me grief at the moment though. The only spare cable I can find for my 3.5mm Knit-picks interchangeable needles is 40cm long. It hasn’t stopped me from starting but it’s getting a tad annoying.

I already know that when I start sock 2 I’m going to cast-on to two cable needles using Judy’s Magic Cast-on. This will keep the stitches live for me and save me picking up stitches for the second half. I just need to get me to a half-decent yarn-shop that sells cables for interchangeables.  

His other WIP, GlenvarAgin, is still moving along and growing: 

Four more inches to go on the body

Unfortunately, it would appear – so is he! 

Breathe In! Hold it!

I’m kinda at a loss to explain why this cardigan fits him so well on the back and looks like it’s a foot too small on the front. The fact that it’s still on the cable needle may contribute to some of it; and perhaps when the zip is added there won’t be an issue; but I fear there’s only so much “negative ease” can do for me. Sigh! 

Go back up an look at the Rear View some more, there. Just admire those short-rows around the sholder-blades. Can’t see them? I know, isn’t it fabulous! 

If you remember my knitting plan for the year, you may recall I had planned a cardigan for DD to be done in March and a jumper for DS1 to be done in April. In fact, I’m not letting myself cast-on for either of these until I’m finished DH’s cardigan. Only four more inches to be added to the body and then the sleeves and I’m there. 

(I did sneak in a Brioche Shawl for my mother last week but it was her 70th last Sunday so a special excemption was granted by the Knitting Police.) 

And – mark my words!!! – DH can go on a starvation diet if this doesn’t fit him – I’m NOT knitting this one again! Ha ha!