October 12, 2010

And so it's time...

My blog has really changed direction and tone and I felt it was time for a fresh start. I wanted a new name and look and so I have transfered all the old posts to a new blog, with a new layout and name Cotton Gin and Tonic, which I felt better expressed, well, me.  So I'll thank all of you for coming here and supporting this blog and I'll see you at the new, improved version - Cotton Gin and Tonic, Fanciful Knit for Ladies and Gents

This blog will stay up for a little while, so everyone can update their favorites, but will be coming down soon. 

October 1, 2010

Susie's Long Stockings

The test knit for these socks finished on the 19th and it has been a looong ride. It started when I saw these socks in the Christian Dior Fall show by John Galliano.  I had to make something similar, I just loved them.

I bought the yarn way back in March and began swatching, which did not go smoothly.  I had an good idea of what I wanted the finished product to look like, I just didn't know how to get there.  I also had the idea that I wanted to do some of the shaping with needle size changes.  I wanted a lot of verticality like the Dior socks.  The Dior socks had faggoted rib obviously but I didn't think it would look the way I wanted at the gauge I was going to get out of sock yarn. I tried a lot of lace patterns that had vertical orientations but they all seemed too stretched out on larger needle sizes, I needed it to be polished looking, smooth and sophisticated.  After another failed swatch of star-mesh lace from one of the Barbara Walker Treasuries I sat stumped.  My knitting buddies liked it but it had too much air, and too much bias to be what I wanted.  The ribs on it looked too messy for my taste as well.  Then it hit me that a twisted rib might be my answer.  It pulls the rib in tight and attractive when stretched out and when you do the purl stitches plain it gives and orderly but slightly lacy look in between.  I made a few swatches and KNEW I had it.  I also had a pattern that had a sort of diamond orientation going up the side of the legs to get a similar look to the Dior socks. I chose the Vandyke Leaf Lace from the Second Barbara Walker Treasury.

I had to make charts for the beginning of the lace, the ending of the lace and the repeating portion. The difficulty was in writing the chart on a background of twisted rib.  I did accomplish it well though and I changed some of the clunkier looking portions of the Vandyke Leaf Lace so that the pattern flowed better to my taste.  I used Open Office's spreadsheet program and a knitting font I picked up on the internet.  I was also going to do these socks toe-up as it is usually my preference but the leaves on the Vandyke Leaf Lace looked weird going from the bottom up.  This probably worked out for the best as the back of the calf decreases I used look really stunning in the twisted rib.

I decided I would make 3 sizes so that almost anyone can make a wear these socks and I also made a video explaining the double decrease I invented so the the decreases stayed in pattern.

I decided that since there was going to be no way for these socks to stay up on their own I should make a hem for some elastic to be inserted.  I had seen a folded over hem done on a child's skirt so I just used the same idea, and in pattern.  It worked surprisingly well.   So I had all the elements I needed and I knit the first sock, and it looked wonderful!   I started the test knit after writing it out and doing a preliminary layout.  I stalled on the second sock.  I had terrible second sock syndrome.  I'd already done it, why wasn't I finished?  There were other things I wanted to knit!  Why did nature give me 2 legs?    But I eventually got around to it and took photos in wool thigh-highs when it was 90 degrees outside.  I'll tell you though, the sweat really held them in place!
I have to give kudos to my wonderful test knitters who found all the mistakes in my written version of the chart (boy writing that sucked) and various other problems with clarity and and suggested what photos would be most helpful to them.  This pattern wouldn't be nearly so great with out them.

Here is the relevant info if you are looking to make these socks:

Yarn : Trekking Pro Natura - 3 skeins
Needles : US 4, 3, 2, 1
3 sizes, s, m, l - Medium will fit almost everyone, small is for size 4 and lower and large is for size 16 and up.

It was really important to me to be inclusive with my sizing, I want as many people as can be to show off their awesome gams in my lovely socks.