Saturday, May 31, 2014

Socks, big and small

Like Elizabeth D. I am psyched for knitting a bunch of baby socks during the sunny month of June. It is going to be fun seeing how many pair I can get out of a skein of regular fingering-weight or dk-weight wool. Last night I cast on for a pair with some leftover Opal sock yarn I had on hand.

When knitting baby socks especially, I have learned the hard way that a flexible top edge is essential. Remember, baby ankles and calves are proportionately chubbier in relation to their feet than on older children, and no baby will be happy with ribbing that hugs the leg too tightly, no matter how perfectly proportioned the sock may look. After my first failure, I researched the topic thoroughly, and I found out that the best way to ensure a stretchy top row is to cast on slowly and carefully. I use the regular long-tail cast-on but I pause and stretch my stitches slightly on the right-hand needle every 3 to 4 stitches. The difference is significant.

For this sock, I cast on 36 stitches on a size 1 circular (I like to knit socks Magic-Loop style). The 1/1 ribbing took about 6 rounds before I switched to stockinette. I should have a couple more done by the end of the weekend. Another pair that went fast was this one, intended for a teenager, knitted in KnitPicks Swish DK. I cast on 40 sts on a size 3 circular. I used leftovers from 2 different skeins but I think one whole skein would work for a pair of approximately the same size.

Friday, May 30, 2014

June Baby Shower: Socks

By now you should know about the June Baby Shower - a quickie campaign to collect wool hats and socks for babies in Kabul. Details are here on the A4A web page.

Socks should be of a size to fit newborns to age 1 year -- a minimum foot length of 2.5 (6.3 cm) inches and a maximum length of about 4 inches (10 cm). I have a list of patterns I am checking out, but I will not be recommending any until I have tested them myself. Here is the first on the list, and it is a good one:

This is Susan B. Anderson's Jelly Bean sock, a free pattern for worsted weight yarn, available here. (Scroll to the bottom of the blog entry to get the pdf.) The ribbing pulls it up nicely so that the leg fits snugly around my thumb, indicating that it will stay on a newborn, but it can stretch out to fit an older baby too. The cuff can be folded over when the baby is very young, or pulled up when he or she is older. I made this sock with Cascade 220 (I think), and I have shown it on a 1-inch grid so you can see the finished size. Make only the smallest size from this pattern; the others are too big. I am planning to knit the feet of all my socks to measure 3.5 to 4 inches from heel to toe so they will fit the baby for longer; these socks are going to some of Kabul's poorest families, and there won't be a drawer full of socks to draw from when the baby grows out of these.

As always, use a yarn that's at least 75% wool. Because babies this age don't walk in shoes, the socks can be made with a softer yarn than usually would be recommended for socks.

Making this sock was a lot of fun and took very little time (you cast on just 28 stitches). I will make the second one tonight and start stacking them up. I may never get to the smaller-gauge yarns -- these worsted weight socks go so quickly that I am going to be able to make a whole bunch for this campaign.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Summer knitting season opens in 6 days

Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the opening of summer in the U.S., and it starts this coming Friday. Here in southeastern Pennsylvania, we've had an unusually cold and snowy winter followed by an unusually chilly and prolonged spring. I fear payback time is soon to be upon us. . .

I have learned to knit small things during warm weather, and what could be better? They don't sit on your lap and make you hotter; if they get dirty -- I have never been to an outdoor concert that wasn't muddy or dusty, and there's always the risk of spilled lemonade -- they're easy to wash; and they're easy to toss in a bag and take along.

This year afghans for Afghans wants to collect as many mittens, socks, and hats as possible.

These are the perfect things to knit on long car trips, at outdoor concerts, sitting on the sidelines at soccer and baseball games, waiting for your kids, or just because you love to knit. (And don't we all?)

I participate in another knitting program, and I have big plans for birthday and holiday presents this year, but I also want to do as much for our friends in Afghanistan as I can.  Remember -- you don't have to knit more than anyone else for your contribution to count! One pair of mittens is one whole person who's a little more comfortable. Sizes needed are to fit anyone from about age 7 up to adults.

To keep myself on track, I am stating out loud, right here, that I will commit to finishing 5 things for A4A by the end of August. (One mitten only counts as half.) The pair in progress in the picture will be the first.

I will post a list of tried and trusted patterns sometime this week for those who would like that. Feel free to use your favorites, though -- and remember, animal fiber is WAY warmer. Wool socks stay warm when they are wet, and if that's your only pair of socks, that matters.

You can find all the details at the A4A blog; scroll down to find the list:

P.S. Crocheters -- just fill in the word "crochet" where I've written "knit." We love you too.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mailed Yesterday

A member of my church knitting group and I decided to do some charity knitting during Lent, and these are the results: 3 pairs of socks and 3 pairs of mittens.

They should be arriving at A4A HQ later this week.