Saturday, January 5, 2008

From Judi: This Was Such a Great Idea ...

... and then Libby graduated, moved home, and suddenly the whole motivation went up in smoke! We both still like the idea of blogging about knitting, but since we talk with each other about knitting almost constantly (when we're not working), we don't really need to blog about it any more.

And Ravelry is filling a big need to show off our knitting to others. (I'm JudiP53, and Libby is LibbyP. Laura, who really does knit, is not obsessed the way Libby and I are, so she doesn't have a Ravelry account and I think she thinks we're a little goofy, but we're living with that.)

So where does that leave Tightly Knit? I'm not sure. Frankly, I'm hoping that Libby will move out soon (I mean that in the nicest, most supportive way and her continually ursurping my spot in front of the computer and in the best knitting chair hardly enter into the sentiment at all) and then we'll need Tightly Knit again. In the meantime, I'm making a New Year's resolution to try to blog at least once in a while if for no other reason than to have a good place to document knitting learnings and insights for posterity.

My most recent learning has to do with the forethought heel I'm using in the Kureyon socks I'm making. Lib, Laura and I all got skeins of this yarn for Christmas (one smart Santa, eh?) and Lib shot ahead with her sock and used a flap heel. I convinced her to frog it because the flap really messed up the gradual transiton of colors on the instep. (Actually, she made me frog it for her. I really enjoyed it!)

We decided to do afterthought heels but to make things a little easier/less scary by knitting in a "zipper" of scrap yarn that we could take out to create the opening. I swear, this was the day before Stephanie documented her afterthought heel revelation, which She had for a totally different reason. Crazy coincidence, eh? Actually, this isn't the first time that She has blogged about a topic at almost exactly the same time I was dealing with the same issue. I think we're like cosmically linked or something, but I'm sure She doesn't know it 'cause I almost never even have the nerve to post comments on The Yarn Harlot (the standard for amusing comments is outrageously high over there), so even though we "met" at her signing in Cleveland, we don't exactly have a relationship.

Anyhow, I digress. Stephanie mentioned that Elizabeth Zimmermann had discussed afterthought heels, although I can't find a mention in any of her books. (Afterthought pockets, yes.) So I'm sure Elizabeth Zimmermann also invented what we're calling the forethought heel, but I can't prove it.

In the process of knitting in the zipper, I made one dumb mistake and learned (or was reminded of) something about my knitting personality. But I balanced this by having a small but I think important revelation.

I learned that when inserting the scrap yarn zipper, you should be really careful not to inadvertently catch up a stitch below. Which, honestly, I don't remember ever doing before, but I did do it while knitting in the zipper, and consequently had to frog a whole day's worth of instep, which was about three inches and really ticked me off at myself! I was even less happy with myself because I'm sure the better solution would have been to just snip the yarn and rip out that row and end up with exactly the same setup as if one had done the true afterthought heel (as She did). But one can be somewhat compulsive at times, and avoiding snipping the yarn was the whole motivation for the forethought heel in the first place, so I frogged. Good thing I enjoy frogging, although I found it was distinctly more fun frogging Libby's sock than mine.

Now for the insight: I realized that it would be a bit of a challenge to know where to start the toe (not that I'm there yet - I still haven't caught up to the point where I frogged the instep last weekend). Since all I had was a tube, my usual trick of trying the sock on to see how it was fitting might/probably would lead to ambiguous results. So, instead of waiting until the tube and toe were done to unzip the zipper, I realized I could unzip it whenever I felt like it (as it turned out, after having knitted only 3 or 4 more rounds after zipper #2) and try it on when the time came and have a very good idea of where the toe should start. In fact, if I want to, I can just put in the afterthought heel whenever I want - although not yet, because I haven't figured out if I want to use the Noro or find a solid color to use for the heel and toe, a look I really like. This insight actually led to a second, which is that when I pick up for the heel, I'm going to pick up at least four stitches in each corner. Trying on the sock with the zipper unzipped (actually, I watched Libby try hers on -- she finished with her first sock already) demonstrates that there's a lot of stretch needed at that point.

Which just goes to prove that seeing things with your own eyes can really make you a lot smarter!

Oh, by the way, if you've never done the zipper trick, don't do what Libby did and clip your working yarn to pick up on the other side of the zipper. Just side your new zipper stitches onto your left needle and pick up with the working yarn where you left off, knitting over the zipper stitches. I didn't figure this out for myself, but I did do a good job of reading the tutorial that, in all fairness, Libby actually found on the Web. Now all I have to do is stop gloating about it!



Lorraine said...

You could just compare it to another sock. The distance between toe and heel is the same, no matter what method you use to work it.

Judi P said...

Thanks, Lorraine! I just love knitting. It seems there are always at LEAST two ways to solve any problem! And what's even better is meeting so many generous knitters willing to share their own insights! (Not to mention willing to read such a rambling post!)