Random thoughts of a fiber enthusiast - mostly fiber related, sometimes coherent

Author: Ann Page 1 of 2


It’s winter in California. This means that flip flops and sandals must give way to something a bit more substantial. I bought some really cute ankle boots for fall & winter.

Unfortunately, one of the pairs did not play nicely with socks. Even though I bought wide, the shoe is still snug across the bridge. This leaves little to no room for socks — stockings/tights, yes, but not socks.

The tops of the ankle boots were rubbing. Without the protection of socks, my ankles were very uncomfortable by the end of the day.

To solve the problem, I thought I’d make a pair of boot cuffs. I tested the idea out by using a pair of long wristlets I had laying around. The idea had merit, but the cuff kept riding up, rendering it worthless from the the ankle protection perspective.

L: German Long Tail Cast On, Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Cast Off, Cabled Cast On, and Zimmerman’s Sewn Bind Off
R: Jeny’s Slip Knot Cast On, Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Cast Off

Then I remembered that 80s fashion wear — stirrup pants (remember those??). I set about to knitting a pair of stirruped ankle cuffs.

The wristlets were also tighter on one edge than the other — cast on or bind off edge — I can’t remember. But they were not even. And that bothered me. That will never do.

I pulled out some leftover Malabrigo Sock and set out to make some cuffs using elastic cast on and bind off. First stop, Jeny’s Slip Knot Cast On and Surprisingly Stretchy Cast Off at the heel and Zimmerman’s Sewn Bind Off at the top. (right cuff)

Heel detail

I wasn’t happy. The slip knot cast on had a very tidy edge, but it didn’t match the cast off edge. The cast off was all ruffly and stretched out. The cast on edge in the heel (row after I casted off for the heel) was more refined (slip knot cast on).

Top: Zimmerman’s Sewn Bind Off
Bottom: Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Cast Off

So, when it was time to cast off at the top, I chose Zimmerman’s sewn bind off. Yuck! It was all ruffly in a bad way. It didn’t follow the 2×2 rib as closely as I would like (not unexpected, but I didn’t expect it to be this ugly.)

So, onto the second cuff. I decided to use the German Long Tail to start. It matched the cast off edge a bit better.

All streeeeeeeetched out!
Top: Slip Knot Cast On
Bottom: German Long Tail

But how did the elasticity differ? Actually, not very much at all.

Confession: I attempted to take a picture of the stretched bound off edges at the top. It wasn’t until I started writing this post that I realized that I have photo of a top and bottom, not top to top. Oh well.
(Click on link if you want to see. As you can see, the stretch is fairly consistent cast on/bind off edges.)

Forget all that technical stuff, did the cuffs do the job????

Yes and no.

Yes, the cuffs are keeping my ankles from getting chaffed.

No, the stirrups are … dare I say it? too stretchy. The stirrup on my right foot kept sliding out from under foot and up the back of my foot. Did it have something to do with the cast off/cast on at the ankles? I switched the cuff/feet part way through the day to check, but the right stirrup is still slipping off.

It has something to do with how my right foot moves when I walk.

In any case, the 2×2 ribbing under the arch is too loose. I can do one of 2 things: (1) less stitches at the stirrup, or (2) something other than ribbing; something not as stretchy width wise — perhaps garter stitch.

Of course, by the time I finish with all my experiments and have the perfect stirrup cuff pattern down, the boots may stretch out enough to wear regular socks.

Stay tuned.

P.S. I just had a thought. I am a knitter, damn it!! I can knit the feet with finer yarn at a smaller gauge then switch it up to thicker yarn/gauge for the cuff when I get there. The question remains, though, do I really want to knit fine gauge socks (finer than my usual 8-9 sts/in)? I think I already know the answer to that questions.

Vacation Knitting is a Myth

I am forever a PollyAnna when it comes to packing knitting and spinning projects for a trip. This is even more evident when I pack for vacation and space/weight is a premium. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You can argue that yarn/fiber weighs next to nothing. But the still takes space, especially if you want to ensure that precious spindle doesnt get crushed and broken in the packing — as did the shaft of my Aegean. Granted, I snapped the spindle when I accidentally sat on it during cocktails, but the fact remains. It’s a risk.

Back to vacation packing thinking process… All that airport time! All that airplane time! All that down time!

Bah humbug! The reality just doesn’t match our expectations. Let’s review.

I am too self conscious to pull out my spindle project in the airport. And quite frankly, airports are not conducive to anything more complicated than plain vanilla socks. Juggling multiple balls of yarn is a recipe for disaster. That goes for airplane time too. Besides, it takes up precious carry on baggage space and weight. Most non-US intra-country flights have strict space and weight limits that are smaller than US allowance — and they check! Several from our travel group have had their carry on bags weighed and charged extra at the gate.

Airport time is taken up by long check-in and baggage lines, security lines, passport/visa control, luggage carousels, baggage inspections, transportation queues, and even more check-ins. And don’t forget the time taken to replenish your water bottles that  you had to dump at the security line and food because of the decline of meal service on flights.

Most of my flights are international and primarily overnight flights, even when they originate during the day. Yes, most of my vacations are international and it is night time somehwere along the way. Nevermind that it is cheaper for the airlines to enforce night on the passengers — less food service.

Anyway, back to nights on the plane…the cabin is dark. Unless I’m willing to be the jerk that turns on the bright overhead light when everyone is sleeping around me, I have to knit in the dark. I’m already exhausted from all the last minute chores, shopping, packing, and the rush to the vet to drop kitty off before heading to the airport. Heck! I can barely focus on the rom-com playing on the plane entertainment center, nevermind my knitting. Then there is scrambling in the dark for dropped yarn or needles or…

It’s just 15 hours of wasted time in an aluminum tube 35,000 feet in the air.

Then there is the vacation itself. My vacations are activity filled from 6 AM to basically 8 PM — or later. Every. Single. Day. This is because my vacations are primarily SCUBA diving expeditions, with the first dive of the morning at 7 AM. The last dive and dinner ends around 8 PM, with up to 5 dives a day. Each dive lasts about 60 minutes + 60 minutes prep and post dive activities. As you can see, there is not a lot of “down” time when you factor in meals.

What down time we have are filled with food, drinks, and chatter. Not very conducive to anything remotely complicated. And most definitely not conducive to fixing mistakes.

Quiet time before bed? The time between brushing my teeth and the sound of snoring is approximately 2 minutes.

No, the idea of easy brainless vacation knitting is a myth.

More Yarn

This post has been a long time coming. The yarn was plied months ago on the Lendrum as I mentioned, but all was not happy. I decided to use the jumbo flyer and plying head. It was sooooooo slow and my plying was less than even. On the bobbin, it looked like I had a several sections of really underplied yarn mixed in with “normal” looking yarn.

I was so disgusted I left the yarn on the bobbin for months, trying decide my next steps.

I finally decided to wind the yarn off and see what I had. I thought that I could put it on the squirrel cage reel and see if a few turns on that might help even out the twist a bit.

merino silk

Guess what? It looked pretty good in skein form! There were no obvious underplied sections. Some sections might have been a little overplied. No matter. I think it will even out a bit more once it hits it’s bath. It’s not my best work, but it’s not horrible either.

Here’s a tip that I learned from Stephenie Gaustad a few years ago…

  • Tie the beginning and the end of your yarn to each other so that the skein is essentially a giant single loop of yarn (but wound in skein form).
  • If the beginning and end are not close to each other on the skein winder, tie on a piece of scrap yarn as extender.

This allows the twist to flow freely throughout the length of the yarn.

Next, tie lots and lots of loose figure eights around your skein to keep them under control. The key here is loose. You don’t want to bind the skein in anyway — remember you want the twist to move freely throughout.

Yarn Stats:

  • 8 oz of Merino/Silk from RedFish Dyeworks
  • 1,662 yards of 2 ply yarn (approx. 3,300 ypp)

The yarn in fiber form and as singles. What was disappointing is that it lost the fresh out of indigo bath look (chartreuse, green, and blue) and is mostly green. I’ll have to see what to pair the yarn with to bring that original impression back.

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