Wednesday, July 07, 2010

I'm hot -- You're hot -- He's hot -- She's hot

Best Quote I Heard All Day
If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?--Stephen Wright

Ole, ole! As I write this, it's 96 degrees F here in northeastern New Jersey. Yeah, I'm air-conditioned. Mammy didn't raise no fool. You get an A+ from me if you can name the singer who sang the lyrics in this post's title.

So besides adding to our family--Miz Sam, our new Beagle (with some Pomeranian) who we adopted this past Saturday, it's been slow living. Sam and Cleo have sniffed each other and declared a quasi-friendship.

Me mind on fire -- Me soul on fire -- Feeling hot hot hot
So the question that's been posed by several friends on FaceBook is what do you knit when it's this hot? Or do you just dump the knitting entirely? I never stop, knitting or spinning. Summer is the time for laceweight shawls/scarves, silk/merino socks, and spinning silk.

What are you all working on in the heat? Do tell. My current project is a reworking of my Leaves of Grass sock pattern, my first sock design from 1997. The link will take you to the original pattern. It was my Christmas gift to the list. A number of people have made this sock pattern--here's the Ravelry link, if you're interested.

I hadn't read the pattern in years...and found a mistake. Of course. I've always loved this twin leaf pattern so I decided to redo the whole thing properly. Don't forget, back in 1997, we didn't have digital cameras, so many of the KnitList patterns were knitted on faith. The corrected pattern will be free, as it was back then, here and on Ravelry.

Holey Gusset, Batman!
OK, ready? Here's my modus operandi.

For a long time, I fucked around with common heel gusset holes. I tried spanning the gusset junctions by picking up a thread on either side. This was truly half-assed and still left a small hole.

Then, I decided to spend some time analyzing the gusset architecture and lo! Gusset Epiphany!

I usually work my socks on 4 dps but depending upon the stitch pattern, I may use 2 circs. Magic Loop drives me fucking crazy. For newbie sock knitters, the figure below will give you an idea of how it works.

A common heel flap traditionally begins as follows: You take half the sock stitches, put them on hold for the instep (Needle 2), and then work the stitches on Needles 1 & 3 for the flap, generally using the heel stitch--Slip first stitch purlwise, k1, slip 1: repeat across row, then turn, slip first stitch purlwise, and purl across.

I realized that when you slip the first stitch, you strand from the last stitch on Needle 2 (stranding occurs with circs, too) to the second stitch on Needle 3, as shown below.
Here's where the hole problem starts. You can see it clearly in the photo.

Gotta get rid of this stranding. The solution? Knit 2 rows of stockinette without slipping the first stitches. Then start the heel stitch pattern with the initial slipped stitch. No stranding.

Let's say that we've got 30 stitches for our heel flap, the formula for which dictates that you work 30 rows, slipping the first stitch of every row so that you can use the resulting chained edge for the gusset pickup--15 chains on each side of the flap. Working an extra two rows of stockinette means that each gusset edge will need another stitch--that makes 16 stitches for each edge.

OK, so far, so good. Once you've finished your heel flap and the shortrow heel turn, it's time for the gusset pickup, beginning on Needle 1. Because you knit the two rows of st st, you'll work the first pick-up to accommodate those rows, then hit the chain stitches.

Newbie Note: Always knit into the back of the chain stitch, which will twist the stitch and avoid a hole. See the picture below.
(Yeah, not a great picture but you get the idea.)

Once you've worked your way down the chains, you'll have to deal with the gusset junction--the area between the gusset edge and the instep.

Most sock patterns don't tell you WHERE to do the extra pickup, just to do it. WHERE is key.

Always pick up the junction stitch two rows below the last chain pickup. Don't pick up anything over on the instep.
Work the instep stitches on Needle 2.

Now you'll work backwards on Needle 3--pick up your junction stitch below the first chain stitch, do the chain stitch pickups, and end with your last pickup for the stockinette rows. A total of 17 stitches for each gusset edge.

The original formula called for 15 stitches. Will adding an extra 4 stitches to the gusset be a problem? Not at all. The extended gusset decreases will alter the width of the instep slightly, keeping it wider in circumference a bit more but it's not enough to affect the fit, really.

Here's the finished product:

Works for me. I'm always looking for rare and handy ways to make my work better.

Now, back to spinning for Tour de Fleece.


Kat said...

Buster Poindexter!!! Love it!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the sock tip!
Will do it on next socks.

Sharon said...

Mighty hot here in the Pacific NW, too! I enjoy knitting summer tops in cotton blends - cotton/silk and cotton/bamboo are my favorites. I get my wool fix from sock knitting when the mercury soars.

Thanks for the tutorial Mar!

Vanessa said...

Thanks for the gusset hole tutorial. Your technique is better than my inconsistent approach to picking up extra stitches, and, while a foolish consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, consistency in knitting is a blessing.

anne marie in philly said...

dammit, kat beat me to it! with bill murray shakin' the cocktails out the limo sunroof...

current knitting - 3 sweaters and a shrug. yeah, I am insane like that. go me!

docsharon said...

That is just great! Too F'in hot to knit though....

Diane in Chico said...

Ted gave me a hint I have used for a few years. At the end of the 1st heel flap row, wrap the 1st instep st and turn. At the end of the 2nd heel flap row, wrap the 1st instep st and turn. When you are done with the heel and are working across the instep, hide the wrapped sts. (I usually don't bother doing this, but it would look better if I did.)