Tag Archives: merino wool

Lacy Socks: Almondine is finished!

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Can you tell I’m excited? I have been knitting these socks for nearly a month, which seems like a crazy long time for a pair of socks, but I am nonetheless pleased with the results. (I should perhaps add that I have not owned “lacy socks” since I was a very little girl, at which time their wearing was restricted to when I was also wearing a “party dress.” This history makes these socks feel very everyday fancy and fun.)

Almondine!

Almondine!

These strike me as the perfect kind of socks for Spring because the lace means they’ll breathe well and the merino wool they’re made from means they’re actually still quite warm. Also, as the weather gets warmer (it’s 16C in Toronto today!) I will return to wearing skirts and dresses and thus be able to show off my fancy work.

Right side, wrong side.

Right side, wrong side.

The pattern is, as you can see from the title of this post, called Almondine, and it’s from the book Sock Knitting Master Class by Ann Budd (the pattern is designed by Anne Hanson) – once I’ve knit a few more projects, I’ll write a little review of this book, but so far I quite like it. When I bought this book back in January, it was for two main reasons. First, I pretty much always have cold feet, so knitting socks seemed like an obvious way to keep myself busy and productive; after knitting a few pairs of basic socks, though, I decided I needed to spice things up, hence a book of patterns. Secondly, I wanted to expand my repertoire of knitting techniques, and it seemed to me that the repetitive nature of sock knitting would be a good place to do so. Thus, I have been making an effort to try new things. For example: I learned how to do the long-tail cast-on for these socks, which were also my first lace-work project. I also forced myself to concentrate on Kitchener stitch, which I had tried before but never felt very confident about.

Anyway, here are all the details:
Pattern: Almondine by Anne Henderson
Wool: Indigodragonfly Merino sock in colourway My Boyfriend had a Bicentennial (Buffy) – this colourway has almost a dozen gorgeous, subtle variations of purples and reds and pinks (my favourite of which was the cranberry-tinted mid tone) and I loved working with it. It isn’t a soft yarn, but it is smooth and even and perfect for socks.
Needles: Clover bamboo dpn in 2.75 mm

My Boyfriend Had a Bicentennial (Buffy)

My Boyfriend Had a Bicentennial (Buffy)

Modifications is getting its own line, because it includes things I learned about my own knitting strengths and weakness, as least insofar as they relate to knitting lace.
First, I suppose, it that once I figured out the logic of lace (the relationship between where a stitch is added to where one is decreased), the pattern became simple enough that I could put away the chart.
Second, that swatches are really important when you’re doing anything new. Maybe this should be point one, but whatever. I swatched this with 30 stitches on toothpick-thin 2.25 mm needles (as recommended) and ended up with a little tube that fit snugly around my thumb. Clearly, this was much too small, so I went up a needle size and delightfully found myself exactly on gauge. Imagine if I hadn’t swatched!
Third, when it comes to moving between needles, some connections are better than others. Knit to knit, fine. Purl to purl, fine. Purl to knit, fine. Knit to purl, loose and ugly. Because of this, I ended up with ladders along the “seam” of needles one and two all the way up the foot of my socks. In this pattern, it’s actually not noticeable when I wear them, but I know it’s there and I am annoyed. I have ravelled my solution to this.
Fourth, lace is really impressive. I knit these socks at home, on airplanes, in a bar, and at home, and everyone who saw them (knitters and non-knitters alike) thought them quite fancy. As a knitter, this is very satisfying and makes me want to knit nothing by lace in public (lesson: I am a little vain).

I will now, I suppose, learn lesson number 5, which is about blocking (something else I’ve never done). More on that once it has been (I hope) successfully accomplished.

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A Trio of Socks

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From left to right, three pairs of hand-knitted socks, in chronological order. These are all based on the same pattern, with a few variations. (The pair on the right looks skinny because of the rib, but I assure you it stretches out nicely).

The grey and purple pair (knit with Berroco Vintage) were the first pair of socks I ever knit. They took me almost six months to knit – well, two weeks for the first sock, and then I got distracted and then summer came – but they came out pretty well all things considered.

The middle pair, knit on Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label DK weight 100% superwash merino, which, let me just say, is a gorgeous yarn to knit with. I used olive and sand and got that pair finished in a week over the Christmas holidays. They turned out much better than my first pair (go figure) and are both warm and light-weight. The pattern is pretty basic, but look at how nicely it shows off the hand-painted yarn. Gorgeous.

Tanis Fiber Arts in Olive

Tanis Fiber Arts in Olive

The third pair are for my mom. They’re also knit with the other half of my Tanis Fibre Arts yarn, but with a 2×1 rib down the leg, because my mom found the leg on the green pair a little too tight. I went back and forth about knitting the heels in olive as well, but was worried I wouldn’t have enough; as it turns out, though, I certainly would have, so that’s something to keep in mind if you plan to knit these socks.

Tanis Fiber Arts in Sand

Tanis Fiber Arts in Sand

So, here are the basic details:

Boot Sock
(This assumes you have some knowledge of sock knitting, if that is not the case, e-mail me for a more detailed pattern)

These were knit on 3.75 mm needles, using worsted weight yarn. For the grey pair I cast on 40 stitches, for the olive pair 46 and for the sand pair 48. The cuff is 8 rows of 1×1 rib, after which I just knit until the leg was 7-inches long. Divide, knit 17 rows, and turn the heel as follows (written out for 40-stitch cast on, thus 20-stitch heel):

Row 1 – sl 1, k 10, ssk, k 1, turn
Row 2 – sl 1, p 3, p2tog, p 1, turn
Row 3 – sl 1, k 4, ssk, k1, turn
Row 4 – sl 1, p 5, p2tog, p 1, turn
Row 5 – sl 1, k 6, ssk, k 1, turn
Row 6 – sl 1, p7, p2tog, p 1, turn
Row 7 – sl 1, k 8, ssk, k1, turn
Row 8 – sl 1, p 9, p2tog, p2tog, turn

Pick up 12 stitches along both sides of the heel flap and work the following decrease rounds until you’re back to your original number of stitches:

Round 1:
Needle 1 – k to within 3 sts of the end of the needle, k2tog, k 1
Needle 2 – knit
Needle 3 – k 1, ssk, knit to the end of the needle
Round 2: Knit

The middle of your round is now in the middle of the heel.Knit up foot until you’re 3 inches from the total length (to measure gauge length, measure your foot on a piece of paper and then add 1/4 inch). Decrease for toe as follows:

Round 1:
Needle 1 – k to within 3 sts of the end of the needle, k2tog, k 1
Needle 2 – k1, ssk, k to within 3 sts from end of needle, k2tog, k1
Needle 3 – k 1, ssk, knit to the end of the needle
Round 2: Knit
Knit these two rounds until you’ve decreased half the stitches (that is, there are 20 remaining). Now work only round 1 until a total of 8 stitches are left. Break yarn and, using a darning needle, thread tail through remaining stitches and pull tight. Weave in ends.