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Because I can – Final Edition

That’s right folks!  This is the FINAL Episode!
I may not have won my Olympic Knitting Medal, or set any “official” records, but this is still an accomplishment I feel few will dare to attempt.

Late last Wednesday (or early Thursday morning), 14 beautiful socks emerged from the longest addi Turbo® circular needle I have ever had the pleasure of using.  The process unfolded in many different places, and involved two knit nights at some wonderful local yarn shops.

Unraveled Yarn
Renaissance Yarns

So, without any further ado, here are the socks in all their finished glory…

The Monday Sock:

This is the practical sock, made of Zitron’s Trekking Pro Natura, which is a blend of 75% Wool, and 25% Bamboo Fiber.  This blend is excellent for making socks for men or for people that tend to have sweaty feet, as the bamboo is 3 times more absorbent than cotton, and it is antimicrobial.  The stitch pattern I used for this practical sock was a rib pattern, but with an unusual repeat to keep it interesting.

The Tuesday Sock:

Tuesday is the day of the week in which I tend to get everything in order, so a self-striping yarn, such as Austermann’s Step, was the obvious choice.  The stitch pattern for this sock is a Basket Weave Rib, since Tuesdays are the day I go to the spinners’ and weavers’ guild meetings.  The fact that this yarn is treated with Aloe Vera and Jojoba oils makes it an absolute delight to use.  I find it interesting that this is the only pair of “identical twins” in the entire collection.

The Wednesday Sock:

As Wednesday is the “Traditional” middle of the week (aka, Hump Day), I chose a little bit of dazzling color to help get through the rest of the week.  This yarn is also from the Austermann Step family, called Step Duett.  The stitch pattern is a Chevron Rib.

The Thursday Sock:

Thursday is still in the work week, but in the final countdown to the weekend.  Schoeller + Stahl’s Mexico Cotton Stretch is a self-striping blend of Cotton, Wool, Nylon and Elastic, and a perfect choice for that final “stretch” to the weekend!  The cotton in this yarn makes it a great option for those in warmer climates.  The stitch pattern I chose, the Mistake Rib, was intended as a play on words.

The Friday Sock:

Fridays are just plain Crazy, and the yarn I used for this sock is currently one of the most popular sock yarns that skacel carries – Schoppel Wolle’s Zauberball Crazy.  This stitch pattern went through a bit of an evolutionary process, but the final cabled pattern shows off this yarn well.  Notice how the cables go in opposite directions on the 2 socks?  (I know.  Seven different patterns just weren’t enough!)

The Saturday Sock:

Having been exposed to the 3/50 project, I wanted to make sure this sock represents my commitment to shopping at locally owned shops, the neighborhood LYS (Local Yarn Shop).  Helping the local economy by buying locally is a good, patriotic thing to do, as this delightful Schoeller + Stahl’s Fortissima Nationalfarben yarn reminds me.  It was fun to create a pattern with stars and stripes, although upon completion, it looks more like fireworks.  I expect I will wear these on the Fourth of July.

The Sunday Sock:

I think, when push comes to shove, that this is probably my favorite sock.  I love all of them, but because of the sentiment attached to this sock, it holds a special place in my heart.  The yarn is Zitron’s Trekking Maxima and is actually the most conservative of all the color ways used in this project.  The stitch pattern, however, is what makes this sock so special.  I decided to make this sock in memory of my father, who was a minister.  The pattern is based on one of his favorite scripture verses.  “I am the Vine, you are the Branches”.  I don’t think I’ve ever made so many bobbles!

So there they are!

I have been to some pretty interesting places with this project, from yarn shops to Sock Summit, but I think the most unusual place of all was in the stands at a hockey game.

Pucks and Purls. Thunderbird Hockey Game.

Thank you to:
Karin Skacel, for believing I could actually do this.
skacel colletion, inc., for the fantastic yarns and the magical addi lace 120” circular needle.
Judy Becker, for Judy’s Magic Cast On.
Cat Bordhi, for the toe design, the twittering, and the occasional prodding.
Chrissy Gardiner, for the hybrid heel concept from her Toe Up! book.
Jeny Staiman, for Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off (found on Knitty.com).
Candice Bledsoe, for the photography along the way.

It has been quite a journey, and many of you have been there either in spirit or in person along the way.  I thank you for your words of encouragement, and cajoling, and confirmation that this is probably the craziest thing I’ve done in a long time.  To answer the question … yes, I would do it again, and I will … but not for a while.

What’s next?

I’ll keep you posted…

Prince Entrelac aka Brian

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Because I can – Part 12

Mid-course Correction.

It was so wonderful to meet some of you at the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival on Saturday. It was an inspirational weekend for many. Just to see what people are making and the amazing products that the vendors had to tempt us with was a delight.

Mary Scott Huff stops by to say hi between classes

However, just at the time the finish date for the project was established, I ran into a setback … the Friday sock. The Friday sock is made out of Zauberball Crazy, and to make it good and crazy, the design chosen for this sock was a spiraling cable design. Now, on a single pair of socks a spiraling cable is enough to make one go batty, but put on a cable with 12 other socks … I’ll admit it was insanity.

You see, when you work any kind of stitch pattern that spirals, it requires a shifting of stitches. With this project, that meant moving stitches onto a stitch holder the row before the cable pass, then doing the cable stitch and re-assigning the stitches to the correct side of the cable. This was causing a major road block for me, and I was not looking forward to that madness. (Trust me. Even I have some limits.) So, … I decided in this instance it was okay to make the project a little less insane and went back to a more traditional cable pattern.

But here’s the kicker. There was already one set of cables in the spiral fashion on the sock by the time the decision was made to change course, and since the cable was done over 8 stitches, it did tighten up the width and reduce the stretch a great deal on that row. One person who stopped by at the Festival asked me if it was going to fit on my foot, and I confidently said, “Of course it will!” and proceeded to show her. Um …. Darn! I had to put this pair of socks “on probation” and transfer them to another set of needles. After ripping back 18 rows, and fixing the problem, they were returned to the project needle.

You know, probably all Olympic athletes come to obstacles they must overcome to meet their goals. In terms of this being my Knitting Olympics project, I have certainly had my obstacles. (By the way, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee said that my project was within the rules of the game. Actually she said, “There is no Knitting Olympics IOC”.)

So that was my setback. I’ve made my corrections, and now I’m headed towards the finish line.
Stay tuned!

Prince Entrelac KOA (Knitting Olympics Athlete)

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Because I can – Part 11

One of the most common questions I get asked when I have the project out in public is: “When will they be finished?”

My typical response has been: “When they are done.” This has been my attempt to remain non-committal as to an actual finish date. The time has come, however, to find a way to wrap up this massive project, and so begins the task of pushing towards the finish line.

Only 100 more rows to go! (give or take 50)

In the spirit of the Winter Olympics (which in Sarah Palin’s terms is “right out my kitchen window”), I have challenged myself to finish these socks by the time the flame is extinguished. According to the “rules” of the Olympic Knitting challenge by the Yarn Harlot, this probably would not qualify, but this is going to be my only knitting project for the next couple of weeks, and I am committed to working on it every day.

This does feel very much like a marathon and that I’m going to be pushing myself to extraordinary efforts in order to finish the project. I am not PROMISING that I will be finished by Feb 28, but I will commit to putting forth my best effort to do so.

If you are in the Tacoma area, I will be at the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat this Saturday (Feb 13) working on the socks. Feel free to stop by and say hi.

Prince Entrelac NWRSA

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Because I can Pt 10 – Home for the Holidays.

Now that the holiday knitting is done, it’s time to hunker down and get these socks finished up!  It was great to go home for a week and visit family, and once I got to Michigan, I was able to set up the rack and get to work.

A very special part of the trip was the big family visit at my grandmother’s home in Indiana.  This has become an annual tradition, and part of the fun is being able to sit together and work on our various knitting projects.

I decided that since both my mom and sister gave input into the design of the stitch pattern for the sock that honors my father, they should each knit a row on those socks.  It was fun to share a special moment with them in this way on this project.

My sister Karen knitting

Knitting has a way of carrying additional significance because of every person  involved in making the piece.  If you have a group of friends or family members that knit, consider making a group project to honor or gift to someone special.

My mom knitting

Once we got back to Michigan, Mom and I had the chance to visit Yarn Envy, a wonderful local yarn shop that happens to be in a garden center.  It was so much fun to walk in and see several tables full of people knitting and sharing together.  Bill (one of the owners) was busy winding yarn for customers, but took a moment to pause for a photo op. (See the addis in the background!!!?)

Well, I guess it’s time to get back to the socks.  Just let me throw out a reminder to those yarn shop owners that are going to be in Long Beach, CA for The National Needleworks Association winter show.  Be sure to stop by the skacel collection, Inc. booth to see all the new exciting yarns and patterns we have for spring.

Prince Entrelac SPEBSQSA

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Because I can! Pt 9.

I’ve been HEELED!  That’s right folks!  The heels are now FINISHED!

Now don’t get me wrong, short rows are the best, but it’s time to move on.

The process of designing the stitch patterns is underway, and I’ll tell you about a couple of them.

The Sunday sock is in memory of my father.  He was a minister, so it only seems natural that this would be the day to honor him.  After talking with my mom and sister (both talented knitters by the way, not that I’m biased), we decided that a vine pattern would be fitting as it was a symbol that was particularly significant to him.

Tuesday is the night that the local spinner’s and weaver’s guild meets and when I was at their meeting, they suggested a basket weave pattern.  This goes along with the concept of getting organized with everything in its proper place.

Wednesday is the middle of the week, and as many have suggested, a chevron pattern makes a lot of sense here.

Wednesday's Socks

Thanks for your notes and comments.  It’s those little notes of encouragement (yes even those that say I’m crazy) that keep this project going!   This method may not be for everyone.  Okay, Okay, I hear you – it may not really be for anyone.  However, I’m enjoying wrapping my brain around this challenge, and would encourage anyone who likes to test themselves once and awhile to join me.  You haven’t got much to lose (except your sanity, which I assume you lost long ago if you even contemplate this), and, you have 7 pairs of socks to gain

Prince Entrelac IATSE

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Because I can. Pt 8

BrianI was beginning to think that the gusset increases would never end, but I’m happy to report that they are, indeed, done! Not only that, but the long-awaited heel turn has been successfully navigated! The heel flap process has now begun!

brianheelturn

Recently, I was invited to give a talk on the sock project at the Moonspinner’s Guild meeting, and while the focus of this guild is spinning and weaving, most of the members also knit. I had a great time sharing this project with them. The guild even came up with a suggested pattern for the leg of one of the socks, and since they meet on Tuesdays, I’ve decided to use their suggestion for the Tuesday sock.

MoonspinnersLecture
Brian talking at the Moonspinner's Guild

Stitch patterns have also been assigned to the Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday socks, but there are a few more that still need to be decided. Do you have an idea for a stitch pattern for the leg of Monday, Tuesday, Friday or Saturday’s socks? It would be wonderful to hear (read) your suggestions. Keep in mind that each pair represents a specific day of the week. For inspiration, take a look at the previous post where each day is described. If your suggestion is selected, skacel collection, Inc. will send you some wonderful sock yarns!

Prince Entrelac Sr.

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Because I can. Pt 7

BrianAs I mentioned in my previous post, I am up to the heels on the project.  I wasn’t sure what kind of heel I wanted to do, so I broke out some more skacel collection, Inc. yarns and did some experimenting.

The first heel I tried out (A) was made using Trekking Hand Art (Color #505).  I used a worksheet from Chrissy Gardiner’s “Toe Up!” for the hybrid heel.  This is a heel with a gusset, short row heel turn and then the heel flap.

sock a
Heel A

The next heel I tried (B) was from a class with Judy Becker of “Judy’s Magic Cast On” fame.  She calls it “Judy’s Magic Heel” and it is similar to the hybrid heel but uses a shorter gusset increase and a slightly different heel turn.  This sample is made in Trekking XXL.

sock b
Heel B

The final heel (C) was simply a short row heel, using Zauberball.  The directions for this type of heel are available in many books and online resources, and this is a compilation of those techniques.

sock c
Heel C

You can see that to test the heels I worked JUST the heel.  Not only did this save test knitting a whole sock, but it serves as a measuring tool when making the toe up socks.  Put the test heel on your foot, and then try on the toe.  Once the sock reaches where the heel begins, you know you can start your heel!

So … drum roll …I decided to go with Heel A, because it fits the foot the best.  Each heel has its place and will likely become a part of my sock knitting repertoire, but when making socks to fit my heel, the hybrid heel is going to be the best.

Prince Entrelac, ESQ