Portable knitting required

A long weekend in New Hampshire’s White Mountains screams of knitting (even though technically every minute of every day I was there was filled up with various activities).

But what to bring? Curlicue is in time-out (more about that later), and my secret sewing project is just as huge and unwieldy.

It’s sock time once again! A few weeks ago I purchased a lovely hank of Mountain Colors Bearfoot in the Indian Corn colorway (here’s a pretty good picture) for another pair of socks for Grandma.

This yarn is splitty as all hell.

Many people use this superwash blend (60% wool, 25% mohair, 15% nylon) for socks, but I was warned in advance by Black Olive Paula, Smart Cookie Extraordinaire, to pay attention to the yarn’s lack of elasticity when choosing an appropriate pattern – that’s what a 40% mohair/nylon content will do for you.

Mohair feels like effing fiberglass.

A ribbed sock immediately comes to mind – it will have enough stored elasticity to slide over the foot easily and maintain its shape after wear.

The splittiness of this yarn is evident in the first stitch of each needle.
And also in the last. And the ones between.

Furthermore, one specific pattern sticks out in my mind – the Sockapal-2-za socks Carolyn knit for her pal. The pattern is Broken Cable Rib Socks from Interweave Knits WebKnits, and I think it’s just precious.

Seems like the perfect kind of thing for this hank of yarn!

The yarn especially likes to split when I’m
crossing cables, and that totally pisses me off.

With only 350 yards in each hank, and my Grandma’s huge feet, I knew I had to separate the yarn into two equally-sized balls and work from the toe up. And so I did! I am using the same toe-up resources as for my Candy footlets, and here’s what I’ve got so far:

Since I’m allergic to mohair, I can’t really wear and photograph the sock on my bare feets – keeps the socks clean, at least ;).

I am very happy with how the sock’s fit is coming out. I think I chose just the right number of stitches (74) and just the right needle size (US 1), and I can feel the stored elasticity – a sigh of relief!

I would rather rub my face in a pile of pine needles
than have it come in contact with mohair.

Oh, and you can see that I took some creative liberties with the cables on the instep – the pattern didn’t call for them, but I decided to put them in anyway.

Have I encountered a more splitty yarn than this one?
I don’t think so.

I know you’ve noticed the pooling. I must admit that of all the different pooling I’ve seen in my own knitting and in the knitting of others, this is one of the ugliest examples. However, just as with everything else, I have a firm opinion on the subject: if pooling really bothered me, I would not knit with variegated yarns. So, I’m not allowed to complain 🙂 – the result is interesting, how’s that?!?

As for the yarn… I’m still formulating my opinion.

Now, the Curlicue. Your comments were really interesting to me because I think you’re underestimating two things – first, I don’t think you realize how long it will take me to finish those remaining five sections. It’s very easy to say, finish it, block severely, and see how it turns out, but (to be perfectly blunt) you aren’t the one doing the knitting. Second, you’re underestimating the level of perfection that I consider my mundane, average, everyday existence. So, that’s that.

And there’s no doubt that an e-mail with supporting pictures has already been sent to the lovely folks at Oat Couture, although I haven’t received a response yet. Snail mail may be in order.

HOWEVER, the Curlicue story is not over. I think this particular pattern sucks (royally), but I have something else in mind along the same lines that may work much better. But first I need to do a lot of math and a protractor is most definitely required ;).


18 thoughts on “Portable knitting required

  1. Carolyn

    Wow those pics from new hampshire are beautiful! Great socks, I really loved the pattern…nice touch doing cables in the instep. I’m not sure about the mohair, I am probably allergic to it…but for sure, I wouldn’t be rubbing my face in pine needles…highly allergic here (I still get a real christmas tree!) Don’t even tell me you are ripping curlicue…please, the work, oh man…I know what you are doing…

  2. Kathy

    Beautiful New Hampshire pictures! Makes me long for an actual Fall instead of the two days of less than 80 degree weather that happens here in Southern California.

  3. Siri

    All I can say, after using the Mountain Colors Bearfoot for my Sockapal2za socks, is CAST OFF LOOSELY or switch to bigger needles before the cast off. I ripped several times, switching to bigger and bigger needles, trying different cast offs that were almost impossible to undo thanks to the mohair content, and then finally ended up switching to another sock yarn for the top of the cuff in order to prevent a tourniquet effect.

  4. Michelle

    I don’t think I understood the concept of “pooling” before, but now I do. I tried some MC Bearfoot at the Duxbury store, and fiberglass definitely came to mind. It is too bad, because they have so many nice colors (but splitty? then I am just not interested :^) What a labor of love! Does it bother your hands?

  5. betty

    Kathy, I don’t know what you have in mind, but there’s a very intuitive mexican knitter, Maria Reina, that seeing the pictures of the curlicue in my blog, decided to make up one for her. Without gauge, without pattern, she found the way to knit a pseudo-curlicue, and after a few sections, she frogged due to the puckering, and decided to bind off every section and pick up stitches for the next.

    The explanations are difficult to follow, but if you’re interested, here they are:


    here is the picture of the FO: http://marychu.blogspot.com/2005/10/terminada.html#links

    she found out she needed more sections and ended up with 21!!!

  6. Mary Beth

    I’m with you on how much mohair bothers me. My friends say it’s so soft, but I’m allergic as well. You must love grandma to knit with this sandpaper-y stuff!

  7. Tipper

    Maybe it’s just the mohair content that makes you dislike it. 🙂 I consider Bearfoot to be one of my favorite yarns; I could do without the pooling sometimes, but the fabric it creates is squooshy and soft. I just finished a pair of gloves in it, and they’re magical. As far as splitting goes, I haven’t found it to be any more splitty than most other yarns; it’s usually just when I wasn’t paying attention on a cable row (while making my gloves) that it split, and I can’t remember having any problems when I was making a cabled sock (it’s mateless, still).

  8. Laura

    I think this is about the time that I have to stop reading New England blogs so that I’m not continually pining after the place I left behind. Thanks for the beautiful photos.

    I’m curious to know what you think needs to be done on Curlique. I’m even willing to test your theory. My sister-in-law is only about 1.5 months pregnant. That means I have 7.5 months to knit mess with a baby blanket.

  9. Stephanie

    I’m not even a little bit surprised that math and a protractor are required to meet your level of perfection. I can’t wait to see how you whip the pattern into shape. You’d think that with a pattern this complicated the designer could have made sure it was right (I know, naive, but…) NH looks lovely and I love the sock pattern. I’m a little disturbed by this review of Bearfoot b/c I have some I planned to use on the Rib & Cable socks from IK. Hmmm. I’ll wait to see what you think in the end.

  10. Sarah

    I’m knitting socks for my mother with Bearfoot, using a feather-and-fan pattern over 64 stitches. I did the legs on size 1s and then switched to 0s for the feet – the pooling totally disappears on the 0s, and can be mitigated by knitting fairly tightly on the 1s, I’ve found. I love the yarn, though, and would happily use it again! No abrasions to report…I must have tough skin or something. Your colorway is gorgeous!

  11. paula

    Wow. I honestly didn’t have that much trouble with splittiness (is that a word?). It only happened when I was working the cable, and even then, not that often.

    Since I’m not allergic to mohair, I can say that I find this stuff quite soft – for mohair. The fabric almost has a silky sheen to it. But, the lack of “give” does bug me.

    As for the pooling, for some reason, it doesn’t bother me with darker colorways.

    In any case, I love that colorway! And MAN, this really IS a labor of love!

  12. Genny

    So, how can you knit with it, but can’t wear it? or did I miss that part… must put my glasses on…

    Nice variagated attitude! I tend to agree with that.

  13. Purly Whites

    Oh, that really is unfortunate pooling. Sucky that you are finding it so splitty. I’m using it right now and not finding it splitty at all. Although now I’m having some anxiety about elasticity issues.

    I’m so excited for the protractor and what’s to come.

    And, while I’m at it. Yay! for perfection.

  14. Shannon

    I’m surprised you’re not enjoying the yarn more. I love bearfoot! I’m not normally wild about mohair either, but I don’t have an allergy and I think it gives the yarn extra strength (for socks) and a nice sheen. I also find that MC tends to pool less than other variegated yarns like lorna’s laces. But, to each her own. I have what seems like a lifetime supply myself and am working on a cardigan out of doubled bearfoot.

  15. April

    Splitty =’s evil – kudos to you for sticking with it. As for the Q, I can see why you are so irritated, hopefully you can find a solution. If not you can always wickedly tear it apart to enjoy destroying the enemy! WHA ha ha HA

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