Monday, December 20 / 12:08 a.m.

Argyle socks are fun and easy!

No, I'm not being sarcastic. The argyle chart is so common-sense that I memorized it in about 2 seconds. Watching the colours change is completely mesmerizing, and it seems to be growing so quickly! I find it actually easier than fair isle, because I don't have to worry about making the floats too tight. I'm using simple hanging lengths of yarn instead of bobbins, and I'm having no tangling problems - I just run my hand along the full length of each strand of yarn as I pick it up to keep them nicely separated. Joining new lengths isn't even irritating me! I'm in sock bliss! Everybody, rush out and get some sock yarn in some crazy colours, pick your favourite sock pattern, and make yourself a chart!

The sock is so beautiful that sometimes I have to put it down, look at it, and sigh a little. I think once it's blocked it will be absolutely gorgeous.

I must admit that I'm not too excited about weaving in all these ends, though...

The only thing I don't like is that the diamonds are a little squashed. Next time I'd make the chart diamonds a little thinner so they turn out at 45-degree angles once they're knitted.


Thursday, December 16 / 10:18 p.m.

The Holy Grail

For as long as I have been knitting, I have considered Argyle Socks the holy grail. The epitome of the perfect (and the perfectly difficult) knitted garment. Now I know there are those of you out there who will tell me that knitting a lace shawl, or a complicated Norwegian sweater, or a Suss Cousins design without completely re-writing the pattern for clarity and accuracy, would be a far more difficult accomplishment. And you may be right. But nothing, in my never very humble opinion, screams "knitting" like an argyle sock, and nothing so classical is quite so cool. For good or bad, Argyle socks are my own personal knitting Everest. When I have knit the argyles, I will have Made It as a knitter.

Yesterday, as I was frogging a glove I really didn't like, I realized that very thin yarn, working in the round, and even using multiple colours of yarn are project characteristics to which I have become accustomed. I can't say that I've knit anything bigger than a coaster in intarsia, nor can I say I don't blanch slightly at the thought of eight or nine different lengths of working yarn all dangling from one sock, but I realized I'm ready to make a stab at it.

Thus, I began.

Yes, the socks will be black with hot pink and shocking green diamonds: that's what I have on hand, and my LYK* doesn't carry anything in a suitable gauge. The pattern is a vintage one of indeterminate age I picked up somewhere in my travels, headlined "Argyles: the sock Mrs. America likes to make, the sock Mr. America likes to wear." That, I can only hope, makes me the Miss America of Argyle socks.

Alas, the rather unfortunate photo above is all that remains of my first attempt. Gauge, that "cruel mistress,"** forsook me (I blame measuring tiny black stitches in a dim room at night - and wishful thinking) and the too-small sock had to be frogged. Now that I'm actually knitting argyle socks, however, I have realized my full knitting genius potential and thus re-created the chart at a more suitable number of stitches. Obvious Argyle Sock Lesson #1 is that the pattern is entirely geometric, symmetrical, mathematical, whatever you want to call it - and thus, easily manipulated to any size of diamond whatsoever.

I was tempted to pretend the first (failed attempt didn't happen), but decided against maintaining a dignified Argyley hauteur in favour of showing you, dear reader, that even a bonehead like me can knit the Holy Grail of knitwear. A seemingly excellent Argyle tutorial can be found here. I won't be reading it - it looks quite long, and I want to figure this out on my own (did I mention I'm a bonehead?), but it's definitely worth adding to your bookmarks.

*Local Yarn Kiosk
**I am quoting Claudia of Same's Knitting and Spinning Blog


Wednesday, December 8 / 1:11 p.m.

Fingerless Mitts

"Please, Sir, I want some more!"

As I mentioned earlier, my workplace is, for the most part, unheated. Granted, winters in Changwon are warmer than those in Halifax, but it's cold enough to be uncomfortable. I knit these fingerless mitts (pattern courtesy of Knitty) in some DK-weight superwash on two circulars. I tested them at work yesterday, and while I occasionally experienced (simultaneously) sweaty palms and cold fingers, I was noticeably warmer than I had been on Monday.

If I made them again, I'd increase to create a thumb gusset - these are knit straight from top to bottom, meant to stretch over the hand. This results in the ribbing being twisted instead of hanging straight, and the pulling at the top results in a less-than-perfect fit. I probably will make another pair in another colour, maybe in sock yarn to fit under closer-fitting shirts.

Thanks to those who posted in the comments, it's good to be back! Re: my sudden arrival in South Korea, I'd been vaguely planning to go since around last Christmas, and began making plans this summer. I was no longer certain of my next steps after university, and I'd never been overseas, so I thought a year or so of teaching English in Korea would be a great way to spend the time while I thought about things. The whole process got rolling more quickly than expected, and I ended up leaving about a month earlier than planned. To find out more and see some photos, check out my travel blog.

P.S. I found some aran-weight yarn which I think will do nicely for the Rogue cardigan. Details to come.


Sunday, December 5 / 3:19 p.m.

The return of the prodigal

Apologies to all for my abrupt disappearance from the blogging world. My only excuse is that I moved to South Korea rather suddenly. My Hotmail email address expired, so if you sent me an email, I unfortunately did not receive it. I have accordingly switched to Gmail.

I knew it was time to make a comeback when I bought bamboo circulars for the equivalent of 50 cents each and realized I didn't have anyone with whom to share this marvelous find. Well, not anyone who cared about knitting needle retail prices. Therefore, I say unto you: come to Korea, where the streets are paved with bamboo knitting needles.

Don't come to Korea if you want to knit with Aran-weight wool.

My place of work is for the most part unheated in winter. I left my big wooly sweaters at home (it's hard to pack everything you need for at least a year into two bags, isn't it?). 90% of the clothes in Korea are too small for my Scottish-Estonian frame. Conclusion? Start knitting! I deemed it the perfect time to knit Rogue (cardigan version). Because I dislike hype, knitalongs, and jump-on-the-bandwagon-ness of any kind, I feel compelled to point out that I have been wanting to knit this sweater since it was still named Brigand. If you now feel compelled to conclude that I am a petty snob, that's okay too!

Unfortunately, my local yarn store, or perhaps I should really say local yarn kiosk, doesn't seem to carry anything between DK and Chunky weight yarn (then again, with the language barrier I could be wrong). For the most part, the only yarn shops appear to be tiny booths inside larger buildings. I have not yet come across anything I would describe as a "yarn store", nor am I likely to, except by accident (language barrier yet again). I do know of one in Seoul that actually stocks Rowan, but as I'm 5 hours away I haven't yet made the trip.

Shopping for yarn online is fun until I calculate shipping costs to Korea. Feel free to leave your suggestions for large, warm, DK-weight sweater patterns in the comments!

The above photo represents my first Korean FO, a scarf version of "Madli's Shawl" from IK Summer 2004, which I started before I left Canada. A close-up of the main lace pattern (complete with Estonian "nupps") is below. Like the Yarn Harlot, I adore Nancy Bush.

If you're interested in learning about expat life in South Korea, visit my travel blog "I Shall Make That Trip".