Saturday, 3 December 2011

Acrylic Yarn and Thoughts on Sock Heels

I admit it. I'm a yarn snob. I don't really like the feel of most acrylic yarns and I really don't like knitting with most of them. However, recently I was asked to knit a Christmas stocking for a new family member (spouse). The family's existing 4 stockings were acrylic with a Santa head on them.
My commission was to knit another stocking about the same size. I had a little bit of yarn at home that matched the red of the existing stocking but not enough to do much with it but a few rounds so off to the craft big box store I went.

I discovered it is really hard to match the reds of yarn (from the existing stockings) from 25 years ago. Go figure. I found some Vanna's Choice red yarn that was pretty close so I decided to knit the top of the stocking to match the other one and knit the body of the stocking with white (crunchy Red Heart - ugh) using the red for the heel and toe and the Santa hat.

The leg of the stocking is knit flat to accommodate the intarsia of the Santa head. Then the stitches are joined in the round and the rest is knit like a conventional short-row heel sock.

I used my graphing software to graph the Santa head from the original stocking and thought I'd use the exact same pattern for the new one. I had a bit of pink yarn in my acrylic stash (I keep the stash for this exact reason - so I don't have to go out and buy full skeins of acrylic yarn) that I thought I'd use on Santa's face.

Since Santa's pom pom, hat brim and beard are white, I decided to outline them in grey to delineate them from the white of the stocking's background.

I also decided to match the short row heel so I found Priscilla Wild's video on YouTube that didn't use wraps yet didn't have a lot of holes. She does the short rows and just turns, slipping the first stitch of each row. When increasing the stitches again, she knits to the stitch before the 'gap' and knits the next two together, then picks up and knits a stitch from the row below, thus doing the increase and closing any hole there might have been.
The fabric of the original stocking was very dense. I didn't want to knit that tightly with this awful-feeling yarn so I used a 4mm needle. The stocking came out a bit bigger, but that's OK, the stocking that was knit for the other daughter's spouse last year was about 20% bigger and didn't match the Santa heads at all.
Now all I have to do is stitch the grey outlines of the beard, duplicate stitch the name and seam the leg.

I plan to use this heel again! Whilst doing my sock heel research, I watched Cat Bordhi's 'Sweet Tomato Heel' video. I remembered her mentioning it when I took that class with her in October. I would definitely try that heel as well but definitely not with striped yarn as once each heel wedge is completed, you knit all the way around for two rounds. For a reinforced heel I'd use the 'Padded Sweet Tomato Heel'. However, I would modify it by using my preferred 'Eye of Partridge' heel as I like the look of that better than columns of slipped stitches.

I must admit, the feel of the Vanna's Choice yarn was quite nice and was nice to knit with. To me, it felt a lot like Patons Canadiana or Lion Brand Wool Ease. I don't know if it pills a lot with abrasive use but I would definitely consider using it for an afghan that could be machine-washed and only if I could get it for a deeply discounted price.

Yesterday on the GO train on my way into and out of The Big City for a "girls' night out", I finished knitting the faux fringe of the second end of the capybara scarf and completed the 6 plain rows before starting the new capybara chart.
My plan is to knit that entire half, then cut the capybara part out of the first half, pick up the sts above the faux fringe and re-knit using the new graph, then graft it (Kitchener) to the rest of the first half, then graft the two halves together. I think it will work out well so I don't have to completely re-knit the first half.
Speaking of capybaras, I got a message a couple of days ago from someone who writes a capybara blog from the viewpoint of the capybara. She cited and linked my blog to hers. I have since learned that her blog is read by capybaraphiles from all over the world and for a couple of days I received more than twice the number of hits on my blog.

One never knows who might be reading one's blog.


  1. When I first started knitting, I didn't know a lot of things. I never dreamed that I would prefer wool over synthetics (and I do now), and I never dreamed I would ever cut my knitting (and I do regularly). It's great to know someone else who has made the journey as well!

  2. Great job Geri - I guess acrylic has a purpose sometimes.....but I'm with you, give me a good wool yarn any day!

  3. Hi Geri...I love those Christmas stockings.
    I like to use acrylics for afghans. I have a granny square afghan blanket that I use on my bed every winter. It keeps us warm and is still in excellent shape after 15 years of use! (Note to self...time to knit a new one with wool or alpaca).

  4. I had the same stocking to copy but I found the very old pattern . Mary maxim 1950 Santa stocking. SKU #PDL825