Monday, February 3, 2014

Cats in the Garden

I have a cat whose name is Rondo. Rondo has always been an escape artist. Even though we do not allow our cats outside (We live in a city) and have never allowed them outside, Rondo knew where he wanted to be -- OUTSIDE.
When I saw Cats in the Garden, I new I had to knit it as I love knitting stranded socks. This is the first cat pattern that appealed to me. Then throw in the fact that its an abstraction of a cat in the garden and Rondo's Escape was born. The colors of the original sock are actually my colors, so I chose to stay in that color palette.

I chose cascade heritage sock yarn for this project since it comes in many colors, isn't overly expensive and I can purchase it at Green Planet Yarn, my LYS.

This sock is sized for a US 8 - 8.5 shoe size and I'm a US 5.5 - 6. I'm going to have to modify the sock to fit, so I'm going to have to do a lot of chunking. For this sock, I'm going to chunk around each pattern motif / color change.

My first chunk is the cuff. I cast on 72 stitches using Tilly Buddy's Very Stretchy Cast On with US 1.5 (2.5mm) needles.. Since I like a shorter leg, I'm knitting 15 rows in 2x2 rib, for about 1 1/2". I complete this chunk by knitting the first row of chart 1 with a US 2.0 (2.75 mm) needle. I distributed 6 M1L (instead of 4) evenly while knitting this row. There are now 76 stitches at the start of stranding.
I noticed that the first flower chart had an odd column of stitches in column (stitch) 1. I removed these stitches and arranged the flowers so that there are 2 stitches between each flower. Since this is a paid pattern, I'm only showing the columns between the flowers in the chart.
Twelve chart rows completed.
Row 13 is a stripe of color A. I am knitting 2 rows, instead of 1 row for 2 reasons. 1) I can create a jogless stripe; 2) when decreasing the 2 stitches, I can decrease them in row 2 so they won't visible decrease the pattern above.
I didn't need to modify the cat pattern, or so I thought. I should have realigned the pattern so that the cat was centered in the leg. I'll see if I can do something about that when I get to the heel flap. I completed this section with 2 rows of brown, for consistency with my earlier 2 row brown stripe. I may not be able to maintain the 2 row stripe when I get to the foot.
I decided to modify the blue sky section for length. I didn't knit rows 45 & 46. So I only have one set of leaves. This helps to compensate for the 2-row brown stripes. It also might be useful when shortening my foot.
Since the cats weren't centered, I rearranged the stitches on my needles by moving the last 3 stitches on each needle to the other needle to better center the cat. Its not perfect, since the leaf band is actually 7 stitches wide.
I thought the heel would look better with a more vertical pattern, rather than the specified horizontal look, so I initially went with the alternate approach of a corrugated rib heel. I tried this on both a US 1.5 (2.5 mm) and a US 1.0 (2.25 mm) needles. Both created a heel flap that was way to long. So I decided to do a stranded heel stitch heel. This required a little thought. I needed to carry the slipped stitch color across when working the right side. I did this with a US 1.0 (2.25 mm) needles. The end result is a thick, cushy heel that still has a corrugated rib feel.
My pickup resulted in 18 pickups. I didn't realize that I would be knitting across the instep in color A. Next time I would end the leg with only one round of color A, so my 2 row color A stripe would be maintained throughout.

Because of the 18 stitch pickup, I have an extra stitch on each side of my gusset. To account for this, I added an extra background stitch on the "inside" of the decreases. I continued with the extra stitch until row 12, where I added an extra set of decreases.

I wanted to continue with my large flower chart, but my stitch count was off. I needed 39 stitches and had 38. I did a PU&K after the 38th stitch, in my pattern color. The stitch will be decreased out in the second row of the brown stripe.

I also realized that the rearrangement of my stitches to center the cat results in a different alignment of the large flowers. Oh well. Recharting chart A to center the cat would fix this issue.

I changed needles from US 1.5 (2.50 mm) to US 1.0 (2.25 mm) in the second row of brown following the large flowers.

I recharted chart A to center the cat on the foot. This played with my brain because the color of the sole alignment was altered as a result of the chart A changes and I didn't take the time to rechart the sole to correspond with the instep changes. I ended up accidently changing the foreground background relationship of the sole. Luckily it looks good. I stopped with the end of the small flowers and changed colors, knitting 1 row in brown. Foot is now complete.
I knit a simple round toe as follows: Round 1- K; Round 2- K 1, SSK, K to 3 stitches before end of needle, K2tog, K1, k1, SSK, K to 3 stitches before end of needle, K2tog, K1.

Some modification ideas that I didn't try:

  • Adjust the cat section by shifting the pattern so cat's are centered
  • Narrow the blue sky section by 2 stitches so that the flowers are evenly spaced. This would require an adjustment in the sole chart as well.

    More information on this sock can be found at Rondo's Escape.


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits. Pattern is copyright by Sonja Launspach

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