Sunday, February 10, 2008

Now You See Them . . .

. . . Soon you won't.

I'm working with my 80/40 setup on the NZAK. The yarns are Opal (denim) and Soxx (dark red). I'm getting 9 rounds to the inch. The second Opal sock had issues. I remove all the needles when making a heel on a ribbed sock. Something went haywire when I finished the heel and added back the instep needles. I put the instep needles in the wrong slots. What was I thinking?!!! I tried to salvage the sock. I really did. It went from bad to worse and I finally threw in the towel and cranked the whole mess off to start over.

The Soxx sock has size issues. For some reason the foot came out much longer than I planned. I've been procrastinating trying to decide whether to duplicate it and have a gigantic pair or rewind and start all over. I'd just like to get a pair of ribbed socks in the size I'm aiming for from the 80/40 setup before moving on. Starting over seems to be the thing to do because I made a slight adjustment to the NZAK forgetting that I had another red sock to make.
The pigtail came off my NZAK. That's the little coiled wire on the yarn carrier that the yarn is fed through. I jerry-rigged, in McGiver fashion, a bit of copper wire to hold the yarn down and guide it through the carrier. That's what I've been using. That is, until last Friday. In preparation for attending a MARS meeting, I finally cold welded (JB Weld) the pigtail back on so I could take my NZAK out in public in factory condition. As it turned out I couldn't attend the meeting (Real life got in the way.) and now my machine is just a hair different than when I made the first red sock. I will not even try getting a second sock to match. It has been my sock machine knitting experience that the least change on any machine makes a difference that I don't want to deal with.

I have not gotten my NZAK cranking out socks to my satisfaction. I have not been able to devote the time I need to jump over the learning curve I suppose. Using the 60/30 setup I made a few pairs of socks for myself that I was very happy with using KnitPicks Essential. I finally have some black socks! But not without some pain and suffering! It took a while to get used to the needle lifter (which I haven't even used yet) being there. It gets in my way. But at least I now know when that happens. I have a hard time with the heels. Once past the decreases, that first wrap starting the increases on each side is a doozie!

I was hoping to be an expert on the 60/30 compound by now. I have little socks to make! I've gotta get with it!!! Oh well, tomorrow is also a day.

The Sock Lady

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Kitchener Stitch

Kitch-en-er v. To weave two knit pieces together.

You won't find that in a regular dictionary. I just made it up.

For what it's worth and from what I understand, the Kitchener Stitch, used to weave the toe of knitted socks together, was invented (probably unvented) by "distinguished if controversial inventor Horatio Herbert, First Earl Kitchener of Khartoum, a British military hero who developed the stitch for home knitters making socks for soldiers in WWI."* Be that as it may, here we are many years later still trying to get it right.

*From an article by Norma Bogan, circa 1986

I first learned to Kitchener (I use the word as a verb any time I want. So sue me!) when I learned to knit socks by hand. Once I got the knack of it and the rhythm and mantra down pat (knit off, purl on, purl off, knit on) it was no problem. On hand knit socks I was weaving 16 stitches together at the most. That's a far cry from the 54 stitches to be woven together from my lowest number cylinder sock machine sock.

My first sock machine was a 60 cylinder and I watched a Norma Bogan tape showing in real time how she Kitchenered the toe together using the raw stitches fresh from the scrap yarn, zip, zip, zip! You've got to be kidding, I thought. I found many references suggesting many ways to accomplish this feat from ironing the stitches so they set up hard and firm to Norma's way. I chose to pick up the stitches from the waste yarn using knitting needles. Once each half was on a needle, go into my Kitchener rhythm and mantra from handknitting and hope nothing on TV distracted me and close up my 60-stitch toes. Even my 72 stitch toes! I got good at it. TV or conversation no longer distracted me, much.

Then last July, Mary showed me how to Kitchener the toes together still on the waste yarn, without needles and from the purl side. I had seen some hint of this miracle, one that does the same thing from the knit side. I even printed out some pictures. I looked so easy. I could not do it. Well, actually I didn't try. I just looked at the pictures and read the explanations. Why mess up a good thing? I was already closing toes quite nicely using needles, thank you very much. But when Mary said it's really easy from the purl side and I knew it would not mess up my Kitchener rhythm and mantra for handknitting for all time, and Mary was right there, so I thought I'd give it a go.

She was right! It is really easy from the purl side. No more first picking up on needles for me. After a few months of not closing any toes I had a refresher in October. I took pictures of Mary's hands this time. It was that first stitch that threw me.

Still can't Kitchener? I have some great reference material for you! This latest video on YouTube, teaches Kitchenering from the knit side and is very easy to follow.

You can do it!

The Sock Lady