For the past month or so I’d been eyeing some sock yarn over at Retrosaria and I finally picked it up this week.
The white is Schoppel-Wolle’s Admiral Cat Print (undyed) and the other is Schoppel-Wolle’s Das Paar, which supposedly knits up into a pair of socks that are exactly alike. The white yarn is going to be knit up into this Rachel Coopey pattern, and the other will become plain vanilla socks. I am very excited about both.
As for what I’m working on, R. asked for a pair of socks with a little fair isle dragon at the cuff a while back. He picked out the colours, and is almost the proud owner of what we have dubbed Gryffindor socks. The mustard yarn is DROPS Fabel and the burgundy bits are leftovers from my Cranberry socks (which I’ve finished and am sad to say that they fuzz and pill like crazy).
A few notes on being a fair-isle newbie: I suck at this so bad. My first experience with fair isle was doing the Willard Pullover. I purposefully kept the floats super long and since it’s not a very intricate pattern, it’s not really a big deal if the tension is a bit uneven. But here? I knit the dragon chart twice, and am still not happy with it, but I couldn’t rip it out again. Gather round to hear my tales of woe:
— Being very afraid of not enough stretchiness in the area with the stranded yarn, I knit it up with 3mm needles and the rest with 2.5mm.
— I began my adventure by doing this Portuguese-style = the wrong side of the work is facing me, and I purl every row. This made for a very neat, good-looking dragon, but I completely forgot that if I purl every row in the round I get HUGE ladders. I usually fix this my purling the first two stitches in the next needle I’m working with the needle I’ve just worked with (ignoring my empty needle).
— This meant everything was super baggy and awful. I ripped it out.
— Then, I decided to work it with the right side facing me. No ladders, but such tight floats that it would be impossible for even me to put the socks on.
— Have I mentioned I’d knit the chart twice by then?
— Going back to knitting with the wrong side facing out, I finally got the hang of it — a much nicer result, minimal ladders and even tension. It’s not perfect, really. It’s far from it. But this is my preferred method of doing fair-isle.
— I didn’t know the first thing about colour dominance. After reading about it a bit, I am now chalking up all the weird-looking stitches to that.
All in all, I’m moderately pleased with these socks. R. is always the guinea pig for new techniques/projects so he’s used to less-than-stellar garments. If I were to do this again, I’d keep the 2.5mm needles for the fair isle, though. I did learn that Portuguese-style fair isle is the best method for stranded colourwork — I had fun doing it, and would have had more fun if I hadn’t had to knit the same chart three times. I don’t want to think about the fourth one for the second sock.
As for other life things: I’m reading Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies and it’s so great. Have you read it? It’s set in India just before the beginning of the Opium Wars and has a big cast of characters that all end up meeting somehow — it reminds me of David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Both are set in very rich, detailed worlds with fleshed-out characters. And heavily feature boats and Imperialism — such fun!
I’m also listening to Jeff Vandermeer’s first volume in the Southern Reach trilogy — Annihilation — on audiobook during my runs, and it’s weird, creepy and intriguing. I’m a big fan of the New Weird movement, Miéville being one of my favourite authors in general, so I was pretty sure I’d enjoy this one. While Miéville veers towards the sci-fi/fantasy/political/economical side of things, Annihilation seems to be a bit more post-apocalyptic. Like Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, only infinitely creepier. It does make for very engaging listening material, especially when running in a deserted park in the morning.
What are you working on/reading? What are your thoughts on fair-isle? Do you have any favourite tips?