Monday, March 30, 2009

dilly dilly and the lifestyle

How old do you have to be to remember the nursery song Lavender Blue? It goes "Lavender's blue, dilly dilly, lavender's green...." So I named these socks Dilly after the color and to rhyme with the matching sweater I'm making that I call Jilly. More about Jilly later. I'm on the last sleeve.

The pattern is Charlene Schurch's (aren't you tired of reading this illustrious name on my blog?) basketweave rib pattern, the usual eight stitch repeat done on 2.25 mm needles at a gauge of eight stitches per inch. With a seven inch leg, an eight inch circumference, and an eight and a half inch foot this pair took only about 325 yards of yarn. Here is the Ravelry page for this stitch pattern. From some angles this looks a little like bamboo, so I would like to do it in a slinky tan yarn with a slightly narrower repeat to look even more like bamboo.

When I started the Jilly sweater, it occurred to me that I had some leftover fingering weight yarn in the same color as the sweater yarn (Berroco Comfort - my first synthetic). It turned out to be an uncanny match, so I couldn't resist creating an ensemble of sweater and socks.

What makes these socks a little interesting though is that this type of yarn, which is sticky enough for color work, is not usually used as sock yarn. Sock yarn, which is often merino wool, tends to be softer than this shetland stuff. How did it work for socks, you ask? Very well I think. The socks are a little stiffer than I'm used to, but they don't scratch, they feel sturdy, and I think they will wear well. They are as comfortable to wear as my other wool socks. I would use this again for sock yarn, and that's just as well since I've acquired a whole bunch of the stuff. See previous post.

For me, a great revelation came with these socks. And that is the Lifestyle heel, invented by a woman named Priscilla Wild and promulgated by Charisa Martin Cairn in her knitting blog. (I am sending you to the current opening page of the blog so you can say a prayer or send a good thought to Adrienne, Charisa's 24 year old daughter who is battling melanoma.) Scroll down to No Swatch Toe Up Sock on the right.

This short row heel is the smoothest, least holey, unbulkyist, best heel I have ever knit. No backwards yarn overs or upside down wraps here. The heel is formed by simply slipping stitches, leaving them unworked, and knitting each together with the last active stitch on the needle after the turn. To make up for the knit two together and to close the gap, you make a new stitch. Even though this heel appears in a toe up sock pattern, remember short row heels are the same in either direction. Charisa also offers a video tutorial on this heel.

I've been calling this a sock pattern, but really, the reason Charisa calls this a Lifestyle heel is because it is part of what she calls a "sock lifestyle". Some people might call it a "recipe". I don't really like either name, but it is what I've been doing with Charlene Schurch for a while. You get your basic figures (leg length, circumference, etc.) and your favorite heel and toe, and you can insert any stitch pattern that fits the sock format. I just got Cookie A's new book that seems to elaborate on this idea.


Luni said...

Sixth grade. My teacher was (to me) an enormous elderly woman who sang in a high falsetto. She loved Lavender Blue and another song and insisted we sing them daily. I can hear that nerve-wracking, high-pitched, wavering "dilly dilly" just thinking about it. We kids hated both songs, and would rather sing "My Grandfather's Clock", for the dramatic pauses and especially for the gruesome line "the day the old man died". Thanks for the memory refresh.
I've read that other knitters like the Lifestyle heel as well as you do. It does look nice.

Wool Enough said...

That is a cool pattern, one of my faves. I did it a few years ago in a rather heavy and very stretchy yarn from Elan. I don't have the book anymore, but I think Charlene suggests that one knit the bottom of the foot in reverse stockinette; it made the gusset decreases a bit awkward, but looked nice. I guess that would be impossible with a short-row heel. Or would it?