Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Springtopia Spring String Thing, more knitting

Over the weekend I attended Stringtopia's Spring String Thing.  This was primarily a spinning related event, but there were also knitting and color related classes, which is what I took.  Carol Sulcoski, author and owner of Black Bunny Fibers, did a wonderful job.  I highly recommend her classes.  I now better understand how to use various sorts of hand painted, variegated, self patterning and striping yarns.  This is a topic I'm quite interested in.  I enjoy knitting self patterning yarns, but it is nice to know more about how to manage the results.

I have some quite nice hand painted yarns that I have been trying to decide what to do with them, and these classes have helped me make some decisions regarding projects to best take advantage of them.

Currently I'm in the middle of a sort of sock analysis project.  Having several balls of the same brand of yarn, Regia, in different colorways, I am experimenting with how needle size affects durability in the toes, heels and foot.  Initially this will be in stockinette, later I expect to do some tests that use heel stitch or EOP (Eye of Partridge). Using Regia Blitz Color 02530, a grey-blue self patterning yarn I used 2.0 mm needles for the toe and heel, and 2.5 mm needles for the rest of the foot.

About the time I started to work on these socks I realized that I had missing gaps in my needles in the smaller sizes.  I had 1.5 mm (US 000), 2.0 mm (US 0), 2.5 mm (US 1 in some brands), 2.75 mm (US 2), 3.0 mm (US 3) and so on.  What I finally paid attention to is that it is possible to get needles in between some of these US whole numbers.  Note also that the size of a needle in one brand is not always the same as that same size in another.

Because of this I am stopping using US sizes to reference my needles and instead trying to simply use the mm size.  I also ordered more needles.  I now have 1.75 mm, 2.25 mm as well as a full set of 1.5 and 2.0 mm.

Since I prefer knee socks I am doing a concurrent experiment with a ribbing I read about on Ravelry.  It is quite stretchy and thus far I really like the bounce back that it has.

This ribbing is a multiple of 3 sts:
Rnd 1: k2, p1
Rnd 2: k1, yo, k1, p1
Rnd 3: k3, p1
Rnd 4: sl, k2, psso2, p1
(note that your st. count changes for rnds 2 and 3 and then is restored on 4)

Many thanks to author Barb Brown who posted this ribbing.

So, on the blue Regia 02530 socks I used that ribbing from just after the ankle (toe up) on up the leg starting with 2.0 mm needles.  At the point where I started to need more room for my calf I switched to 2.25 mm needles.  This really did give a lot more stretch than I expected.  However, as expected it wasn't enough for the calf itself, so I increased up the center back around the middle column of stitches.  This really made for a nice fabric.  Stretchier and more flexible than the same ribbing on the 2.0 mm needles.  I just can't believe how much difference there is between fabric made with 2.0 and 2.25 mm needles.

Above the calf my leg tucks back in below the knee, so I switched back down to 2.0 mm needles and also did decreases.  I took out half of the increases I'd put in for the calf, then continued on the smaller number of stitches up to right below the knee itself.

These socks with this ribbing stay up quite well.  I wear my hand knit socks mainly as bed socks.  Often hand knit socks will fall down unless held with a garter, but at least thus far this pair stays up.

To continue the experiment I want to know more about durability on the foot and sole, so my next socks, currently still in progress, are Regia Blitz Color 02526, a nice green with some dark grey and purple.  This pair I'm doing on the smallest needles I've ever knit socks with, 1.75 mm.  The gauge is quite dense, as one would expect.  I plan to use the same ribbing, although since I'm using smaller needles and thus more stitches on the foot I will likely adjust the needle size through the ankle and calf a bit differently.

After this I will probably take a short break from socks and work a shawlette/crescent before getting back to socks.

Things I still want to check:

- What happens when a larger needle is used on the instep?  How does this affect fit and durability?
- What happens when heel stitch or Eye of Partridge stitch is used on the heel alone?
- What happens when heel stitch or Eye of Partridge stitch is used on the whole sole?
- On the toe and heel?

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