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e_moon60

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And they're done... [Sep. 27th, 2015|11:48 am]
e_moon60
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[Current Mood |accomplished]

Purple!
Purple-socks-finished-9-27-15


Purple-socks-overhead Standing on the old concrete driveway...yes, there's a right & a left sock.

They will be worn today, so my feet can "set" them to my shape even more than the knitting itself did, and then I'll wash them tomorrow and they'll go into the normal rotation.

This is the 44th or 45th pair I've completed since I started, the 8th pair (7 for me, one for a friend) this year (plus of course the 7 pairs of short socks.)  At the moment (I just counted) I have 22 pairs of "regular" socks--these crew socks.   However, at least three pair are quite worn (knit the first year, or early in the second, heavily worn because of the short rotation), and likely to fail soon.  The plan for the rest of the year includes finishing the Walnut Heather socks (previous posts) for my friend, and then two more pairs for me, one turquoise and one Herdwick.  With luck, the oldest, most worn pairs won't give up until I've knit their replacements.  Then next year I will need to knit 7 pairs minimum to bring the rotation to a full four-week one (every additional week in the rotation adds approximately two years of sock-life to a sock starting in that rotation and extends the life of socks that started in a shorter one.)  I have only two turquoise pairs, so turquoise will be the next color up.  I'll also do a Herdwick, to bring that up to three--I wear them only in the coldest weather here, but two is not enough.  They take longer to dry.

There's plenty to do to keep the needles warm for someone who wants handknit socks on her feet the rest of her life, but recognizes that eyesight may fail before that.  So it's knit'em up now, to get ahead and have either a very long rotation (long enough to reach the end) or a big backlog.  Rotating them is better for the socks.

There is a problem on the bottom of the left sock, which I probably made because I was sick, and was picking up a sock to work on whenever I could, since I couldn't sit up long enough to do anything worthwhile on the computer.  It makes me feel useful, but it also leads to errors.  In this case, the next day I thought of a clever way to fix the mistake (you see this coming, right) and made things *worse*.   And then tried to fix that, while still sick.  Sort of fixed it.  Not perfectly fixed it.  So there's reinforcement to be done on that sock, but it won't matter that I finished it or that I wear it today.  Really.  Trust me.  I have seen worse bottoms-of-socks coming off my needles and fixed them enough to be wearable for quite awhile.  No, I'm not going to show you.


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Comments:
[User Picture]From: fair_witness
2015-09-27 05:02 pm (UTC)
I love that color!
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2015-09-28 12:21 am (UTC)
Thanks. So do I. It will be interesting to see how it holds (or doesn't) after a dozen washings.
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From: (Anonymous)
2015-09-28 01:22 pm (UTC)
I hope it holds up well as it is gorgeous. Do you find you get colour changes that are not just fading?
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2015-09-28 01:57 pm (UTC)
So far, with the yarns I use, all the color changes have been either fading (and not too much of that, actually--or, in the striped socks, bleeding from one color stripe to another. Some yarns bleed more than others, and some yarns take in another yarn's bleed-off more than others. But mostly, my socks have stayed their original color until they're coming apart, though it may be a slightly lighter shade of that color.
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[User Picture]From: elessa
2015-09-27 10:45 pm (UTC)
I am really liking the colour purple of these. You have become much quicker with each pair you have made. I also notice that the rows look really nice and even. Almost as though they were made on a machine and not by hand because they are precise.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2015-09-28 12:18 am (UTC)
I think the even tension is a genetic gift. My mother looked at the first knitting I did, nodded, and said "You've inherited the hands--the feel for tension--I have it, Grandmother Burks had it, Aunt Iola had it. Knitting will be easier for you because of that." It was eerie, when I decided to complete the socks that my mother had started for herself before she died (for a friend--they were way too small for me) to find that my tension on that unfamiliar old yarn and a different size of needle was within a millimeter gauge of hers. So I thank you for the compliment, but I don't think it's anything but an inherited knack.
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[User Picture]From: klwilliams
2015-09-27 11:19 pm (UTC)
Your socks have been looking like actual socks. Very nicely done.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2015-09-28 12:19 am (UTC)
Thanks. The rate of improvement has slowed (the jump from the first pair to the second was the biggest...and needed to be!) but I still feel like the new pairs are that smidgen better. My feet think so, anyway.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2015-09-28 12:05 am (UTC)

What a little math is good for

My crew-height socks do not use up all of a 100g ball, but they use up more than half...the leftovers are where I get striping yarn (well, most of my striping yarn.) If I make short socks with the leftovers, it takes the leftover yarn of a pair to make one short sock.

So recently I've been weighing yarn and socks both to figure out (before I'm unhappy with the result of something) how many rows of yarn are in the leftovers, for the various row-lengths in my socks--the 60 stitches of the ribbed cuff, the 56 stitches of the ankle section, the 54 stitches and 52 stitches of the two foot sections. Socks run consistently 60-62.5 grams each, which is (calculated already from the 100g skein/ball weight and the yardage given) about 2 yards or a little more per gram. So each sock uses up 120-125 yards out of the 200 yards (usually) of the skein. Each pair uses 240-250 yards out of the original 400 yards. (Note for new readers: I make socks with worsted-weight yarn, which, being thicker in itself, covers more of the foot per row and uses less yarn length.)

And what is that in rows? Well, after a lot of experimentation, I discovered that each stitch at my usual tension on a size 5 US needle takes up 0.6 inch. So the ribbing rows take 60 x 0.6 in or 36 inches, a full yard. A 56 stitch row takes 33.6 inches. 54 stitches? 32.4 inches. 52 inches? 31.2 inches. Five yards of yarn plus end tags (because you have to have enough to weave in--at least 6 inches per end) will make five 60 stitch rows. If all you have is a bare five yards, moving that color stripe down the foot will get you five rows in that color, plus comfortably sufficient ends, because each row is a few inches short of a yard...the "tag" grows.

There's something very satisfying about running out of yarn on a stripe with exactly the right length of "tag" to weave in. Various ancestral voices chime in to applaud my lack of waste.
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From: sheff_dogs
2015-09-28 01:27 pm (UTC)

Re: What a little math is good for

Oh yes. I am hoping that the damson jam I am going to be potting later will fill an exact number of jars for just that reason.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2015-09-28 01:58 pm (UTC)

Re: What a little math is good for

I remember that issue from when I was making jams & jellies...so frustrating to end up with a partial jar, and so satisfying when they came out even.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2015-09-28 01:59 pm (UTC)

Re: What a little math is good for

Although--I should have added--even an extra spoonful of jam can be spread on a slice of bread for the cook while still warm, while 2 feet of yarn is just...2 feet of colored string. (At least some ambitious house sparrow is usually willing to fly off with it...)
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From: (Anonymous)
2015-09-28 09:43 pm (UTC)

Re: What a little math is good for

Karen here, and I don't do anything that makes it easy to identify myself, but two feet of yarn are, to me, threads in a pompom, strings on a present, a dazzling sight in a normally somber nest, or just a reason to buy more yarn....

And then there's this thing called a starting string, which allows you to begin knitting/to cast on using only a foundation string (which, once withdrawn, leaves you with un-anchored loops that can be caught on needles and knit in a sort of reverse, which allows you to do all sorts of fun and fancy things -- or you can just just use those two feet to replace a "holding needle" and tie a knot in it so that none of the stitches will slip until you carefully pick them up (going the correct direction for your purposes, of course) onto a real needle....

Meanwhile, just to twist your brain a bit, you might want to try googling "dying with cool-aid" just in case you might want your Herdwick Socks to taste/smell of bright colors like these beauties!
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2015-09-29 05:44 am (UTC)

Re: What a little math is good for

I have a friend who's into both hand spinning and dying her own yarn, and she's introduced me to (among others) the Kool-aid method. I like the natural color of Herdwick yarn, and will be leaving the Herdwick socks in their natural state except for a colored toe-stripe (one row) to help me keep pairs together. The first pair had no toe-stripe; the second has a red one, and the one I do this winter will have either purple or turquoise. Or maybe green...
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From: sheff_dogs
2015-09-29 11:19 am (UTC)

Re: What a little math is good for

I have recently started top down knitting using a crocheted chain to knit the first row into and for that you want a different colour to your garment. It means I can knit the back of a jumper down to the underarm, go back and knit the front down to the underarm, then knit the rest of the jumper on a circular needle so I don't have to do any seaming. I am lousy at seaming so I get far better results with this method, I love it!
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2015-09-29 02:19 pm (UTC)

Re: What a little math is good for

My mother used to knit seamless sweaters (jumpers? I think so), both cardigans and pullovers, in the round, so she wouldn't have to seam the sides. She could do it, with her usual skill, or set in sleeves, if she had to, but for most patterns she could find a way to adapt them to "all round." For the pullovers (the only ones I witnessed completely) the body was one tube and each sleeve was another, then she'd take a weekend to make the join with raglan sleeves, and knit a tiny cable up the middle of the join. My job, on the weekends she was doing a join, was to keep her supplied with coffee, answer the phone if it rang, and be quiet unless she was taking a break from the knitting...because she was holding the whole complex pattern and count in her head while she knitted.

If she was doing plain knitting on the body of a pullover, she could knit fast and talk as well, but the more complicated the pattern (including increases/decreases) the more she needed uninterrupted time. I know that feeling from writing...there are parts of a book where I need uninterrupted time. It was obvious on her sweaters, even to me, where that was happening, but it's not obvious to anyone but the writer when it's the choke-point on a book.
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From: (Anonymous)
2015-09-28 07:30 pm (UTC)

Re: What a little math is good for

Is there a historical reason why yarn would come in so many yards to a skein?
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2015-09-29 05:41 am (UTC)

Re: What a little math is good for

There probably is, but I don't know enough. For instance, for handspinning, there's probably a limit to how much will fit on the thing that it's wound on...so maybe (we need to ask some spinners to join the conversation) someone would spin to that limit each time, whatever that was.

For commercially spun, machine-spun yarn that's intended for hand-knitting, it's undoubtedly sold in the lengths that knitters find useful. When I was a kid, my mother bought yarn in increments of ounces (she liked Bernat "Sesame", which came in 2 ounce pull-skeins, but she also bought cheaper Red Heart which if I remember correctly came in 4 ounce skeins.) Now most yarn, even in the US, is sold in 50 or 100 gram balls or skeins, and the yardage depends on the thickness of the yarn. Fifty grams of worsted weight will be about 100-110 yards; 50 grams of fingering will be 180 to 230 yards, according to a chart I have.

In order to follow standard patterns, knitters need to know that a 50 or 100 gram skein will contain a standard length of yarn, and thus know how many skeins to buy to finish a project. This was probably less important when a spinner was going to knit the yarn she or he spun...but maybe not.
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From: (Anonymous)
2015-09-29 09:30 pm (UTC)

Re: What a little math is good for

So it actually by weight rather than length. The things you learn - the needle is important, the yarn is important.

I think that most of us have no idea as to the minutia of the things we use and take for granted every day. We look at the forest and neglect the trees.

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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2015-09-30 12:51 am (UTC)

Re: What a little math is good for

Part of it is about convenience for the end user--that's why foods come packaged (often) in sizes that will fit in a standard cabinet or refrigerator shelving, or that will be used up (at some usual rate) before going bad. So for a knitter, the maximum convenience is being able to knit with one strand of yarn for an entire project (unless changing colors)...possible with small projects, but a whole garment knit in worsted-weight would then require such a large ball of yarn that it would be inconvenient to carry around. An adult-size pullover sweater typically takes 10+ skeins.

Knitters are aware of the minutiae of knitting (though I certainly wasn't before I started knitting)...what difference it makes with the thickness of yarn, the thickness of needles, the kind of needle (shape, flexibility, "feel", slipperiness) in combination with the different yarns (a matter of both content and how they are spun.) I didn't get serious about knitting until about 5 years ago; I know a lot more now but am way behind the real experts in the field. There are whole books on how the breed of sheep, the processing of the fleece, the direction the fibers are twisted in the initial spinning, in plying several-ply yarn, the timing of dyeing and the materials used...and more...all affect how the yarn will behave in the hands of a knitter, crocheter, or weaver.

For every craft, every skill, ever art, there are these layers of complexity that the person who wears a pair of socks doesn't know--or need to know, unless he/she wants to reproduce the item. With increasing skill in an area, more and more expertise suddenly becomes visible, new goals to achieve. Small children can learn to knit. By adolescence, in cultures that teach knitting steadily, they'll be knitting things I can't knit yet. In time, they may learn how to go from fleece to a finished garment--but that doesn't mean they know how to raise and breed healthy sheep, or grow a field of cotton and process it, or raise the other fiber-producing animals...all of them different. Just as a good cook may not know how to prune fruit trees, or how to grow artichokes.

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From: (Anonymous)
2015-09-30 12:06 pm (UTC)

Re: What a little math is good for

I have seen stories of the Scottish lord who had sheep and went from the sheep, to shearing, to weaving to having his clothes made in a single day.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2015-10-03 10:43 pm (UTC)

Re: What a little math is good for

I doubt that the shearing of the morning would be the same wool in the yarn that was woven for something to wear in the evening, after having read what it take to get a fleece to the spinning stage. In a few days, possibly (given good weather to get the washed fleece DRY. It's not spun wet. That I know of.) Both the cleaning of the fleece, and the dyeing (if it's "dyed in the wool" or yarn dyed so you can weave a tartan) involve getting the wool wet.

I've been reading up on what it takes to process a fleece--for the experienced, it takes hours, into a bath, soaking, out of that bath and into a rinse, into another rinse. Sheep have worn their wool typically for a year, without any bathing other than the rain; it comes off them dirty. Even if it's a clean sheep, the cleaning stage takes time:
http://keeponspinning.com/2013/03/31/how-i-scour-and-prepare-fine-wool-fleeces/

Different breeds have different wool with different properties--with finer or coarser fibers, more or less crimp, wash more easily in a stream or loch, or be harder to wash without felting. The goal is to get all the dirt (which can include grass, hay, prickles, as well as just dirt-dirt) and as much of the "grease" (lanolin) as you want out of it. Temperature counts (very hot water to remove the lanolin), and exactly how the locks of the fleece are handled counts. Notice the comments in the following about "swooshing" v. "agitating" in the wash:

http://www.tengoodsheep.com/tutorial.html

Once the fleece is clean, it needs carding or combing (two different procedures) and making that into "rolags" before spinning, and then spinning before it makes a thread or yarn that you can put on a loom (and setting up a loom also takes time) so unless the loom is already set up with online a tiny bit of yarn still needed, I just don't see it all being done in one day. But I could be wrong.
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[User Picture]From: jamethiel_bane
2015-11-02 02:14 am (UTC)
I'm impressed! The trouble is with socks is that I get bored after finishing the first one and so the second one never gets knit. Maybe I need to start wearing mis-matched socks.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2015-11-02 04:20 am (UTC)
Someone told me the trick while I was still knitting my first pair. You knit both socks at one time (yes, it means having two balls of yarn and two sets of needles...)

For the first 15 pairs or so I made it a game. A race. As soon as a sock got long enough to tie a bow with a different colored yarn on it, the two socks because horses in a race (the colors were the jockey's silks.) First one would get ahead (and since I would then knit on the shorter one next...it might catch up quickly or take 2-3 sessions...) and then the other. I "leveled up" at certain points--before starting the heel flap, and again at the heel turn, and at the start of the toe decreases. I never finished one before the other: if I was down to the final decreases, I'd leave the needles in, get the other one to the same eight-stitch point, and then finish both in the same session. By the time I had two socks onto the toes, the urge to finish one and be bored with the other was long gone, because I could see them as a pair, and had been seeing them as a pair.

The great advantage is that you then have a *pair* of socks, right away. I put them on my feet immediately--that's the reward.

Or, enjoy mismatched socks. Maybe matching socks are WAY over-rated. After all I intentionally mismatch stripes on a lot of my striped socks. One method never works for everybody.
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[User Picture]From: jamethiel_bane
2015-11-02 04:37 am (UTC)
Thank you--that sounds like a great method! I will try it, after I finish at least two of the projects I currently have on the needles.
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