Recently in Dragon Socks Category

More Dragon Sightings

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Not much time for spinning, knitting or blogging tonight so I thought I would share a few more Dragon Sock sightings. I think I am going to have to start a gallery of finished Dragon socks. So if you finish a pair, please send me a photo (you can use the "email me" link in my side bar) and let me know what yarn you used. And if you made any special modifications to the pattern, let me know about that, too!

This week, the theme is veering towards green dragons. First stop is to Lily of the Cat Mandala blog (at least that's how Google translated her blog name for me). Her socks are made in Fleece Artist Superwash Merino and she refers to them as her "Green Iguana" socks. Be sure to click on the link and check out her socks. I really wish I could read Japanese, but her pictures tell a nice story.

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Mary's Koigu Dragon Socks

Mary (if you have a blog, let me know) sent me this lovely picture of her Koigu Dragon Socks. This pattern introduced her to the twisted German Cast On -- I'm always glad to bring others into the fold where this fabulous cast on is concerned. I use it for almost every sock because it gives the edge a nice elastic quality.

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Kelli's Sleeping Dragon Dragon Socks

Kelli, of Knitter Bunny made her socks out of the very appropriate Sleeping Dragon yarn. She used a slightly larger needle to get a sock with a bigger diameter and also knitted some extra repeats to give her a longer sock. You can see more of her finished pictures and a great closeup that really shows off the how well the yarn goes with the pattern (I wish you could see it better in the picture above, I had to shrink it for my blog, unfortunately reducing some o the detail.) Kelli knit these socks up to be entered in her local State Fair. Good luck Kelli! I'll be rooting for you!

And just a quick reminder. If you're interested in a Dragon Sock knitting kit of your own, please don't forget to send me your "happy dance" (i.e. things you like to do when you celebrate) to me at happydance@keyboardbiologist.net. Oh, and if you send me a happy dance, you have to send it to me in English so that I can make sure that you're sending me something real and not spam.

And thank you everyone for your nice nice comments about my Sloopy yarn. Knitting will commence soon... I just have to figure out how to translate the idea in my head into yarn.

Dragon Sightings

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This post is a little late today because I have a new laptop. The first thing John did after we got back from lunch was sit down and do the brain (i.e. hard drive -- yes, I know the CPU would technically be the brain, but in this case, but the hard drive has all my stuff on it, and old drivers that have to be updated, etc., and it's actually probably the more technically difficult part of the upgrade process) transplant between my old laptop and the new one he found for me (it is so wonderful to have a "computer whisperer" in the house... John found a great laptop, a Dell Latitute d810, then upgraded both the CPU and the graphics card so that I would have a very nice system indeed!). Is he not wonderful? But at work yesterday (my laptop is a very multipurpose machine) I started to have some strange problems. So yesterday evening it spent most of the night doing memory tests to see if we could track down some of those pesky problems.

Enough geek stuff, onto the knitting!

I think the best part and most scary part of selling a pattern is seeing the results that other people get from it. It's the scariest part, because you worry a great deal that someone is going to find some terrible "bug" in the pattern, something that you didn't notice even though you knit from it yourself, something that will cause people to have to rip and re-work or just waste a lot of time. Or just something that was difficult to understand, and made people frustrated with the pattern. It's the best part, because there is nothing better than watching something you designed come to life in someone else's hands and finding out that they are happy with the resutls. Seeing new color options, yarn selections and variations on the design excite me no end. I hope all of you who have bought the pattern will consider this an open invitation to send me links to your completed socks or to send me pictures. I'd really like to put together a gallery of Dragon feet!

I'm going to kick it off with a pair that Adrianna sent me pictures of: the "Upscaled" socks knit in Koigu while on vacation in Seattle.

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Adrianna's Seattle Dragon Socks

I really like this Koigu colorway. I think it is complementary to the scale pattern and both yarn and pattern show up well in the sock. Adrianna also did something that I think is a neat little detail if you want your socks to have a lacier quality. It will also give the socks a bit more stretch if you'd like them to have a little more ease.

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Seattle Dragon Heels with Yarn Overs

Adrianna replaced the "make 1" instruction with a "yarn over" . I never thought to try this myself, but I think it's really lovely and almost makes the dragon scales look like dragon wings to me instead.

Want to see more dragon socks?

Maud at the Yarn Nest has finished the socks she made for her son -- another pair in some lovely blue tones made from Novita Nalle Colori.

And Claudia, she of all things orange, took her first dragon sock with her up a mountain! She's knitting with Artyarns Ultramerino 4 in an orange colorway that shows off the scale pattern incredibly well -- and you can also see what the toe looks like if you would prefer to do a short row toe instead of the toe that I describe in the pattern.

One thing I also wanted to mention: in yarns that don't have much cotton in them (i.e. don't have much stiff structure -- the original yarn for the "upscaled sock" was a cotton yarn) you may find that the sock tops want to roll a bit. If you don't like that, then use the instructions for the top of the cuff for the "downscaled" socks and do a few rows of garter stitch at the top (you do this by alternating a row of knitting with a row of purling). You'll get a solid band at the top that will still undulate with the scale pattern but won't be so inclined to roll.

Dragon Sock WPI

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So, I was out shopping this afternoon after getting my facial (convenient, because my aesthetician works out of this lovely little store called Willow not too far north of where I live on Damen). I'd been wanting to find a small notebook with quad-rule paper in it to sketch ideas in. Willow has all sorts of lovely off the beaten track sorts of things (everything from hand bags to jewelry to journals to candles to dishes to -- well, you get the picture), and not only did they have a little journale with graph paper, but it's quite the special little journal with graph paper.

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Jill Bliss Native Flowers Journal and Mix n' Match Stationery

I am now officially in love with Jill Bliss. I've always been a closet paper arts junkie, and her stuff is lovely and functional. I came home with her Native Flowers Journal and Native Flowers Mix n' Match Stationery Set (be sure to click on those links, there's much better stuff to look at than the picture I took!). If that little journal doesn't inspire creative thinking, I don't know what will! And it's the perfect size for me to carry in my bucket bag. And I couldn't resist the stationery. Nifty envelopes. Fun little stickers. Gorgeous floral prints. Prints that I think would be so wonderful in fabric as well.

I've had a couple of people ask me about what other yarns might work for the dragon socks besides the ones I made my models in. So I stole an idea from Bonne Marie and decided to go through my copious sock yarn stash and identify yarns with a similar "wraps per inch" as the Blue Moon Socks that Rock Light and the Blue Moon Sock Candy. Yarns with a similar WPI can generally be easily substituted for each other in terms of expected gauge. It seemed like an excellent little project for the first page of my new journal.

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Sock Yarn WPI in my New Journal

I know this isn't very readable (it's also not in any particular order) so here's my results:

Blue Moon Sock Candy (the "upscale" sock yarn): 17 WPI
Koigu PPM: 17 WPI
Mountain Colors Bearfoot: 17 WPI
"Old" Blue Moon Socks That Rock*: 18 WPI
Blue Moon Socks that Rock Medium: 18 WPI

Blue Moon Socks That Rock Light (the "downscale" sock yarn): 20 WPI
Elann "Sock it To Me" Esprit**: 21 WPI
Lana Grossa Cotton: 21 WPI

Regia: 22 WPI
Opal: 23 WPI
Trekking XXL: 23 WPI
Greenwood Fiberworks Handpainted Cotton Stretch: 24 WPI
Tess Designer Yarns Sock Yarn: 24 WPI
Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock: 24 WPI

To summarize, for the "upscale"s socks, you can likely substitute either Koigu, Bearfoot, Old Blue Moon STR or STR Medium weight and have no problem getting an equal size sock. I like this set because it gives you a nice range of fiber options. The Sock Candy is a cotton blend, Bearfoot has some mohair in it for a nice warm sock, and Koigu and STR give you that nice soft foot caress that only merino can do!

For "downscale" socks, I only found two yarns that are in the right range, the Elann stretch cotton yarn, Sock it To Me Esprit and Lana Grossa Cotton (this is a wool cotton blend that I like a great deal). That said, I have a sneaking suspicion that Vesper Sock Yarn might be a good replacement (I have a skein, but I didn't want to take it apart to measure WPI) as well. I'll be keeping my eyes open for other yarns that are like STR Light.

I've included Regia, Opal, Trekking, Greenwood, Tess' and Lorna's Laces for both completeness and to perhaps help provide an alternative for those of you who would like the "downscaled" socks in a smaller size. I suspect that if you were to knit any of these yarns on US Size 0 (2mm) you'd get a sock in a smaller size. I have not tried any of them, but if you make the socks and decide to try one of these yarns, I'd love to hear how it goes.

If you've got other kinds of sock yarn in your stash and you want to help me build my WPI list for sock yarns, please send me the info. I'll keep a running list and put it someplace where everyone can find it and reference it. It's so hard these days to keep track of all the great sock yarn options.

* By "old" I mean from before there was enough yardage in one skein for a pair of adult socks and before they had a "light", "medium" or "heavy" designation.

** Since this is a Cascade Fixation clone, I suspect that Cascade Fixation would give almost the same results.

I have finally managed to get all my ducks in a row to sell my "Here There Be Dragons" sock pattern. In fact, it is actually two patterns based off of the same starting point

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Up-Scaled and Down-Scaled Dragon Socks Together

I actually found a nice service that works with PayPal and is much cheaper than PayLoadz: EJunkie. This means that I can give everyone an immediate download without having to charge too much extra for the download service. I'm asking $5.75 for the pattern set. The 11 page pattern is in PDF format and includes complete charts, color pictures and detailed instructions for both pairs of socks, with alternate toe options to help those of you who need different sock lengths from the models.

If you'd like to purchase the pattern you can

1) Click this Button

2) Clcik the "Add to Cart" button under the dragon sock image in the "Patterns For Sale" section of my side bar

3) Go to my Patterns section and use the "Add to Cart" button you find there. You will also find a link there that provides a detailed description of the pattern along with some detail pictures of both designs. As well as links to my other two felted handbag designs.

Once you proceed to checkout from the shopping cart, you can use your PayPal account or a credit card to pay for the pattern. After that, you will be immediately directed to the download. How cool is that?

Down Scaled Dragons Take Wing

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In another act of project faithfulness, I finished John's "down-scaled" Dragon Scale Socks on Thursday night. There weren't any new and earthshattering improvements over the first sock, but it is always nice to discover that my notes were good enough for me to make it easily through the pattern a second time. As anticipated, this project, for a medium-sized man's foot required a full skein of Socks that Rock (Light) plus a bit of a second skein to finish off the toe. The good news is, I think there's enough to make me a plain pair of socks out of what remains.

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Finished Down-Scaled Dragon Socks

Just to summarize what you already know, these socks were made from Socks that Rock, Light in the colorway called "Beryl". This is a nice green colorway with little flecks of red. Quite lovely and man-friendly at the same time. I worked this pattern on US Size 1 Inox DPs using a modified version of the Dragon Scale pattern from Barbara Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns. The pattern is subtle enough for a man who doesn't like to take too many risks on his socks, but interesting enough for a knitter who doesn't want to just go around in circles. The socks have a short row heel and what I consider my "standard 4 point decrease toe" but both the heel and the toe are embellished to make them just a little bit more special for the knitter and the wearer.

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Down-Scaled Dragons Walk Away

For the heel, the scale pattern descends all the way down to the base of the heel with a scale centered directly over the heel for some extra interest if you like wearing your socks with clogs or just like that little extra special detailing.

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Down-Scaled Dragon Toe

As with the heel, for the toe, I've also extended the pattern out onto the toe box to better simulate a dragon foot (as much as a human could have dragon scales on their foot, at any rate). This is the toe where I started the new skein of yarn, and the skeins are slightly different, but not different enough to be rejected by the somewhat picky recipient. But not only were these socks not rejected, but they were worn on Friday. And while they were a little warm for the balmy weather we had Friday, they otherwise got a good report after a day of wear. There wasn't any uncomfortable rubbing from the patterned area and they didn't get wonky in any other way.

I know I keep promising a pattern. The first pair of Dragon socks has been written up and I hope by the end of this week I'll have this pair written up, too. I like to go through my charts twice, especially when there's shaping. Also, I'm knitting test samples of an alternate toe so that the length can be customized a little more, thus making the pattern more flexible.

P.S to Sock Challengers... I'm going to move our regular updates to the weekend. That will give me more time to get everything together and I won't keep moving the post around to accomodate my regular posts.

Down-Scaled Dragon

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Thank goodness for better weather in Chicago this weekend! As a result, I got some really nice pictures of the first finished "down-scaled" dragon scale sock. While I might be willing to suffer for my handknits, my male sock model isn't willing to head outdoors when it's cold.

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Down-Scaled Dragon Sock in Socks that Rock

This is the completed sock. It, like the previous dragon scale sock, has a short-row heel and a grafted toe. The leg of the sock is about 6" tall, and has a garter stitch cuff. The cuff helps to stabilize the top (otherwise they would probably roll too much for a guy) and to keep the opening stretchier. I think this picture with the sock being worn really shows off the pattern the way it is supposed to be (the picture of the heel below is even better) -- the bars aren't nearly as prominent when the sock is stretched across an actual foot. The sock is a bit less snug than I had intended for it to be, but, as it turns out, it fits John exactly the way he wants it to, and he commented that the textured pattern gave it a more airy feeling that thought it would. So you don't need to worry that wearing this sock is going to be like wearing scale mail.

Just about the only bad part about this sock is the amount of yarn it takes. For a US 10.5 man's sock, I'm definitely going to need more yarn than is in the one skein of Socks that Rock (I got out my scale, did some weighing and did some math and got the result that I expected by didn't really want). This pattern does eat up some yarn. Good thing that there's another skein waiting for me at the Fold for me to pick up this weekend. Hopefully there will be enough left over after I finish up John's sock for me to get another pair of unpatterned socks for myself...

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Down-Scaled Dragon Toe

I was a bit worried about how the toe was going to turn out, but after seeing it on a real foot, I'm happy with the results. The smaller scale pattern made it a lot easier to carry more of the pattern farther down the toe.

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Down-Scaled Dragon Heel

This is probably my favorite picture. This heel detail just makes get a happy little smile every time I see it. And, according to my sock model, it is not a problem for those of a manly persuasion. It almost makes me want to go out and buy a pair of Birkenstocks. Almost.

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Up-Scaled and Down-Scaled Dragon Socks Together

Not exactly a matched pair, but I hope this pictures demonstrates the differences in the looks of the socks.

I'm working on writing up the pattern now. It will include both sizes and all the charts you need for the toes and the heels. Patterns always take me longer than I think they will -- I forget how long it takes to make sure that all the instructions make sense. And I like to add information as to how the pattern can be customized to meet different sizes and needs. But it will be coming soon. I promise.

Green Dragon Heels

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I just have too many projects that I want to work on right now. I'm trying to rotate through all of them, but most of my time is being divided between the Pearl Buck Swing Jacket and John's green Dragon Scale socks. I've shifted most of my energies today to the sock since I would like to start putting a pattern together. Right now, I think I'm about 2 pattern repeats before I start decreasing for the toe. So I'm making okay progress and still have a fighting chance of getting a good first pattern draft over the weekend.

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Working on the Instep

The soon to be owner of this sock has been an excellent sport about the design process, too. Every couple of repeats I make him try it on so I can see if it fits correctly or needs to have the shaping modified. So far, it's working out well for a man's size 10.5. And I am also fairly pleased about how the short-row heel came out (the side with the knit wraps is neater than the side with the purl wraps, but it's definitely better than most of my earlier attempts) and now that they look nice, I'm finding that I like the process of making short row heels better.

Speaking of heels, here's the detail on the heel of this sock:

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Green Dragon Scale Heel Detail

Like the sock with the larger scales, I carry the center scale pattern down into the main part of the heel. This is something that you could always omit if you didn't like the detailing, but I think it gives the sock a little extra oomph but, at the same time, isn't too fussy for a guy sock.

Back to the Dragon Socks

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Process or Product? I go back and forth on the kind of knitter that I am or think I want to be. Usually I put myself in the product camp. I hate to rip. When I rip, it feels like I've just wasted time, and time for me is both the least and most valuable thing I have. When I try to design something, I always want to knit the minimum amount to make a decision about where to go. In programming speak, I want to "fast fail" a project -- if something is going to go wrong, I want to terminate the process at the earliest possible point so that I can try something else or start the program again.

But the problem with desiging something is that fast fail is not always a good strategy. Sometimes what you're working on really has to take shape before you can make a good decision. Trying to make that decision too early may lead to failing something that was really a success. Which brings me to my current design project -- the bigger size dragon scale socks. (Which is actually sort of a funny thing to call it, because while the sock overall is bigger, the scales on the sock are smaller). I was thinking that in spite of the work I had done to figure out a bunch of things, that it just wasn't going to work out well, that the scales would be non-distinct and it was just going to be a lot of work for not much payoff.

I was really close to ripping.

But then I picked up the first pair of socks and realized that what makes them interesting is the all over pattern. When you look at the whole sock you get the sense of scales. If you just look at one or two intervals, you don't see anything at all. But because the scales are so much bigger relative to the sock, it was easy to see the pattern take shape and become interesting fairly quickly. It took less time and effort for me to judge the overall direction a success.

So I decided that I needed to grit my teeth and not give up on the pattern with the smaller scales. Today I knit two more intervals from the last picture (for a total of 5). Suddenly, I started to feel a real sock starting to take shape with a pattern that made me happy. And the lighting obliged as well, and I was able to get a picture that conveyed the spirit of the pattern and the sock.

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Green Dragon Scales in Evidence

Since that photo, I've gotten another interval and a half done and the more I knit, the more I like them. I need to do 9 intervals to get to 6" (these aren't going to be tall socks, otherwise I probably won't have enough yarn to complete them) so I'm only 2 and a half intervals away from getting to the turning the heel part. I'm looking forward to that because just like the first pair of Dragon Scale socks, I want to do some neat detail work on the heel and the toe. Seeing how my current plan for that will turn out is part of the adventure.

My goal is to do the first sock, write up the pattern, and then do the second sock with the pattern to make sure I've written it right. If I'm lucky, I'll at least get the heel turned by the end of the weekend. The instep part of the sock should go faster because the pattern is only on the top and it's plain stockinette on the bottom. So I'm hoping that means that I might be writing a pattern the weekend after this coming weekend.

So, please, share your opinions. Do you like the way the scale pattern looks? The intended recipient of the socks does and at this point that's good enough for me to continue, but I always love to hear more than one opinion since I want the pattern to be for a broader audience.

Failure to Communicate

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So Little to Show for Several Hours of Work

This picture really fails to communicate almost anything about the upscaled Dragon Scale socks. I hope that at least the barest outline of scales is visible in the picture. The colorway I chose (to be man friendly) defies all attempts at photography. Unfortunately, it's also subtle when you are looking directly at these socks. For the record, it's Socks that Rock (Light) in the Beryl colorway. I'm not sure yet whether it's the variagation in the yarn, the color of the yarn,. or the fact that I have downsized the scales to create a 20 stitch repeat, although my suspicions lie mostly with the former two explanations. I may try knitting the pattern flat with a solid, lighter colored yarn if things don't get a bit better as I get farther along -- just to be sure I'm not leading anyone astray. I was considering ripping these again, but so far I've only got about 2.5" of sock top and I don't want to make any rash decisions before I've given the pattern more time to play out. I am beginning to think that Claudia's orange Dragon suggestion from yesterday might have been a better option than what I chose, but I know for a fact that the intended recipent would probably reject orange Dragons, no matter how lovely the pattern turned out -- and so far, he is happy with these, and they fit him. And a sock that might get worn is a happy sock.

I used the same process that I used to upscale the original stitch pattern for the first pair of socks to downscale the pattern for this pair. I had originally hoped to just use 3 intervals of the original pattern (78 stitches being not so bad given how this pattern pulls in a bit) but I found it impossible to center things so that I could get a nice design over both the heel and the toe. The down-scaled (no pun intended) pattern has a 20 stitch interval and this sock uses 4 intervals.

Over ~40 stitches on bamboo US 1's (2.25 mm) I'm getting right around 4.25" of sock. When I did the same thing on US 1.5's (2.5 mm) I got about 4.5" of sock. I suspect that dropping down another needle size (US 0's/2.0 mm) would get it very close to 40 stitches to 4". So that should give anyone knitting the sock a fair amount of latitude in the sock sizing with the same yarn just by changing the needle size. I've tried the cuff out on my husband (who is a pretty standard man's size 10.5) and it fits just fine and doesn't cut off his circulation. So I hope that this pattern will mean that there are dragons for everyone -- at least everyone of adult size. I'll leave the exercise of creating a child-sized sock to someone else.

I'm also pleased with the way that the cuff and the pattern combine. The garter stitch gets a little wavy, but not so wavy as to disturb the manly creature that lives in my house.

I don't have a good ETA for completion of the first sock -- it takes a while to traverse the rows with the decreases on them. I'd love to have the leg part finished by the weekend. So far, I've got 3 pattern repeats to 2 inches. I'm going to need to do about 5 more before it's time to turn the heel. I'm only going to work about 6" of leg on these socks, otherwise I won't have a pattern done before Christmas. And, I promise, if the first sock comes out well, I'll write up the pattern for both sizes before I take on the second sock.

Here There Be Dragons

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Very cool to get a few more people knitting along with me in my sock challenge. I'll be adding everyone to the sidebar soon. If you take a picture of your sock and it's somewhere on the internet that I can link, let me know and I'll make sure that pictures are a available too!

On the subject of socks, I thought I'd finally post the pictures of the finished Blue Moon Sock Candy (in Cherries Jubilee) Dragon Scale Socks. I finished these a week ago Sunday, but it seems like they've been done for aeons.

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Top and Side of Resting Dragon Socks

Just for the record, these socks were done on US size 2 needles and I cast on 64 stitches as a start point, They are about 7.5" around at the top and are a little wider in the foot because I didn't decrease when I switched to doing the bottom part in stockinette after the heel. I had a reasonable amount of yarn yet (I probably could have done another pattern interval on the leg or foot of the sock without too much concern about not finishing.

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Dragon Socks in Action

These socks are actually tighter on me than they look in the picture (pardon both the disturbingly white skin and the fleece pant bottom that snuck into the picture) but they are certainly not cutting off my circulation, either. I think this particular sock would do pretty well on anyone from a size 7 to an 8 and would be fine on smaller and larger feet as long as the diameter of the widest part of the ball of the foot didn't get too much past 8".

The scale patterns are much more prominent in person than in pictures and the cotton blend yarn made for very nice stitch definition. The pooling doesn't bother me all that much, and I think the sock would look equally good in a solid colorway (which is what my next go at this pattern will be in). The tops of the sock do roll just an itsy bitsy bit (as you can see in the picture where I am wearing them) but I definitely like them without a true cuff. In this case, the yarn is definitely stiff enough to keep the sock in place, especially if it's not too loose on the wearer. (My final patterns will have cuffed and uncuffed versions).

I like the Sock Candy a lot more than I though I would, too. It's a nice thick cotton blend with enough stretch to make it relatively comfortable to knit with and it's perfect for this design because the texture really pops. When I was last at the Fold, Toni had a great yellow/lime/pale aqua colorway in stock that I might have to try for myself someday when I need a pair of summer socks. Yellow seems to be one of the few general sock colors that I don't have that much of in my sock drawer.

And for those of you interested in a bigger size, I've figured out what I need to do and have a start on the first sock of the pair. It's definitely going to take more time than this pair since I ended up down on US size 1 needles and I've got 4 pattern repeats instead of 2 to make it through on each round. I like it very much better after ripping the third time and starting again with a garter stitch cuff. With the STR Light (thank you to everyone who pointed out that there were three different sock weights now -- I'll definitely be looking for the other two weights for the husband, as he likes different weights for different times of the year) that I have, the wool doesn't create enough structure to keep the tops of the curves from drooping over. And, since this pair is for John, I thought the garter stitch top would give them a bit more masculine touch -- kind of like chainmail edging on a gauntlet.

There will be pictures as soon as I've made enough progress to get a good picture of how the scales look. One of the most fun things for me about creating something on my own is that I want to keep on knitting just to see how it will turn out! It's definitely kind of wild to see my doodlings become reality!

So Much Knitting, So Little to Show

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I really should be posting finished pictures of my first pair of Dragon Scale socks, but I still need to get a "model" shot in daylight. This would have happened over the weekend, if I hadn't gotten caught up in the next phase of the Dragon Scale sock experience -- Dragon Scale socks for those with somewhat larger feet, i.e. the husband.

I decided that I would use the skein of Beryl Socks that Rock (a semi-solid green color that was husband selected) and a US size 1.5 needle since I thought that the US size 1 needle that I used on my pair of STR socks resulted in a fabric that was just a little bit too dense for a pattern that involves a lot of decreasing and increasing. Of course, I went into my enormous needle stash only to discover that I have just 4 size 1.5 needles. Sigh. Looks like one of my helpful cat fiends must have decided that it was an excellent toy. (I have several sets of DP needles like this...somewhere in the house, my cat is starting his own knitting needle stash)

Sunday I managed to track down a set of US 1.5/2.5 mm needles (this took a while as this doesn't seem to be a very popular size). I modified the stitch pattern to be a 20 stitch repeat and I cast on. Within the first 4 rows I dropped a stitch and had no idea where since the pattern was barely set and the yarn is a dark color and the stitches are tiny. I ripped and cast on again. This time, I got through two full pattern intervals (you have to do several before you get a real sense of what gauge will be on this pattern) and thought it seemed a little big -- as it turned out, it was 9" in diameter, which is about 1/4" more diameter than the widest part of my husband's dainty feet. I had him try it on just to confirm my fears, even though I know that there is no worse truth than math done correctly. Sigh again. 8.9 stitches/inch just wasn't going to cut it.

So, this evening, I ripped everything out again and cast on onto a pair of US 1.0/2.25 mm needles (at the same time as I bought the 1.5s, I also found a set of Inox 1s and thought it would be interesting to try them out since they have nice sharp points and a smooth surface). After 1 pattern interval it looks like I am now getting about 9.4 stitches/inch and that the socks are going to be about 8.5" around. Not quite as snug as I think would be best, but there's no way I am going to do these socks on size 0 needles. Just no way. That said, this fabric is no where near as dense and thick as the fabric I got under the same circumstances using the Tiger Eye STR. This suggests to me that perhaps the folks at Blue Moon have changed their stock sock yarn -- when I look at them next to each other, the old STR is definitely thicker. Which is not really a big deal, and not really surprising given that my first STR was purchased about 2 years ago at an Illinois fiber festival. I just offer it up as an interesting observation for anyone who might also have some of the older yarn.

So, in spite of all the sock knitting effort (and it really is because the manly Dragon Scale sock repeats the pattern interval 4 times while the more femininely sized sock repeats the interval only twice) I have no photos to share. This is because A) one 8 row pattern interval looks like nothing interesting and B) the yarn is dark green and I'm going to have to be outdoors in order to get any kind of stitch definition to be visible. At least I am on the right track, for now. And I'm pretty sure with this re-worked version of the original Dragon Scale pattern I can create a sock pattern that works for feet of more than one size without sacrificing too many of the details that I like about the first design. And even if I don't have any pictures today, I still have a little design victory that will begin to unfold as the week goes on.

Dragon Details

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I'm touched that so many of you enjoyed my short departure into creative writing. Sunday morning something grabbed a hold of me and I needed to do more than just show a picture of a completed sock. I think it was all the comments on my previous post about dragons and all the different ways dragons have been described and used in both human mythology and fantasy fiction. I'm enjoying my journey with these socks so much, I guess I just needed to create some of my own dragon mythology.

Unfortunately, that small picture doesn't show off a lot of the details in these socks. So I thought I would wrap up the "first completed sock" post with some detail images of the sock design. Y'all know how much I love using the macro mode on my camera!

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The Back of the Sock

I'm pleased with the back of the sock. Instead of opting for a plain heel, I extended the central scale pattern down by another half interval to complete the scale. I think that little detail makes the sock a nice option for sandal wearing, and shouldn't put too much extra bulk at the heel or cause problems in a shoe.

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Short Row Heel

This is probably my first truly successful stockinette short row heel ever. Priscilla Gibson Roberts definitely knows her stuff when it comes to short row heels. If you haven't looked through a copy of her book, Simple Socks: Plain and Fancy, I'd highly recommend it. It's a great companion to Lucy Neatby's Cool Socks, Warm Feet. I love love love the way this heel fits into the sock. Don't get me wrong, I loves me a nice Dutch heel, but for these socks, the short row heel is what is meant to be, and it's almost impossible to carry the motif down the heel without making a short row heel.

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Detail of the Dragon Toe from the Side

The toe came out even better from the side than I could have predicted. Cool thing about it? I was basically just winging it and taking advantage of the decreases that were already built into the pattern.

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Dragon Toe from the Top

I'm pretty pleased with the way this looks from the top down, as well. I thought about trying to curve those center decrease lines in towards the toe point, but didn't because I thought it would make the side scales look really odd. You can't see it, but this was also one of my nicer grafting efforts as well.

Of course, I did try the sock on, and I'm also pretty happy with the fit. It's just a little tight for me (but still comfortable) so I don't think it will be too loose for my sister-in-law (I just know her shoe size because my brother wanted to me to keep it as a surprise for her).

I've gotten the second sock started, and I've completed two intervals -- I'm going more slowly with the second sock because the cotton is taking a little bit of a toll on my hands. I'm using the second sock to go back over my notes to see if I can put together a decent pattern.

There definitely will be a pattern. I don't know yet whether I will give it away or sell it. That will probably depend on whether I do additional sizes. Just to accomodate a wide variety of foot lengths, I need to come up with an additional toe design (otherwise, it's going to be hard to get the length of the sock right for people without size 8 feet). I'd also really like to scale the design up for someone of manly proportions. That will mean working out everything with a different gauge, a different pattern interval and making sure I have good things for the heels and toes. Doing that and getting all instructions into usable form takes a lot of work.

Once I get toward the end of the project, I'll definitely post the scale pattern itself -- I was just riffing off of Barbara Walker and the Knitter did promise the Dragon that she would share that scale pattern with the rest of the world.

Happy Valentine's Day!

The Memory of Dragons

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Once upon a time, on a planet not so different from ours, Dragons walked the earth. The Dragons, being long lived and intelligent, watched the other creatures that shared the land with them. They reveled in rainbows and the natural magick in the world, hoarded the occasional treasure, took flight on sun rays and moon beams when the time was right. Mostly, they stayed out of sight, content to be observers and not the observed. Occasionaly, other creatures would catch glimpses of them, through trees in the forest, through the mist over a lake, or amongst snow flurries in the mountains. Only rarely would a Dragon be seen in its entirety. But since magick flowed through all the creatures of this world, all knew of the existence of dragons. And in times of trouble, a champion would often be sent to seek them out and to call upon their wisdom. A wise and virtuous champion would be able to find them, even though they were hidden. And the Dragons would share their advice and insight.

As time passed, however, the creatures that the Dragons shared the land with began to move away from the ways of magick. Many of them talked of the "technology" that could help them with their work and their troubles in the world. Fewer and fewer would seek out the Dragons for their advice. Fewer and fewer believed that Dragons and other magickal creatures even existed. Most of those that did, saw them as a dangerous threat, to be hunted and exterminated. The Dragons, wise beings that they were, realized that the Age of Magick was coming to an end, and with it, the Age of Dragons as well. For them, it was time to take flight and move on to another place that could value them for what they were rather than seeing them as something to be feared.

And so a call went out to all the remaining Dragons in the land. They would meet in the last place where magick still held sway and they would call upon these magicks to transport them to a place where they could spread their wings in peace.

As it happened, not so far from this place lived the Knitter. The Knitter, who knew that two sticks and some string could be used to create a garment, still believed in the special magick of the creative event. Understood and reveled in the intangible but very real energy that was present in every item made with her hands. She strived to create balance between technology and this special magick, knowing that both were important in the world.

One day, the appointed day for departure for the Dragons who had gathered, the Knitter happened upon the place. Some would later say that she was a wise and virtuous champion for magick drawn to the site, others would say that it was a lucky hunt for a missing knitting needle that took her to that place. Regardless, She was struck by the majesty of what she saw as the Dragons began to take wing, but saddend greatly as she realized that they were leaving forever. Unafraid, she called to a ruby-red Dragon who had yet to launch into the journey.

"Dragon, it is sad that the majesty of your kind will no longer be known by this world. Please, give me something that those of us who still believe in magick might remember you by."

The Dragon paused and sighed. "If you truly believed in magick, you would not need me to give you something as a memory, you would be able to create it yourself."

The Knitter stared up at the Dragon, and as she did so, she began to notice the beautiful pattern formed by the Dragon's scales. She reached out and touched the leg of the dragon, so that her fingers would understand the texture. "Dragon, you are right, to remember your magick, I will create a memory of your kind, I will knit the texture of your scales into a garment."

The Dragon looked pleased. And the Knitter continued: "But I have not brought my tools with me and I can not be sure I will render the pattern without a guide. Will you remain until I have been able to create a memory of Dragons?"

The Dragon thought for a bit, looking pensive as the Dragon folk all took wing. "I will give you one day, Knitter. You must return tomorrow at this time. It is all the time I can spare for you to work your magick."

The Knitter raced back to her home, the memory of Dragon scales in the front of her mind. She sat down with her needles and knit frantically, creating the only kind of garment that she knew she could complete in a day. Just before the Dragon's deadline, she completed her task. She ran back to the ruby-red Dragon and presented her work:

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What the Knitter Showed the Dragon

And the Dragon looked pleased. "You have knit well, " said the Dragon, "and I can feel the magic in what you have knit. And because you have made the attempt, and done so well, I will add a little of my own magick." And with that statement, the Dragon exhaled a breath of cool magick fire across the sock and over the Knitter. "Now, whenever you you knit my scales into a garment, you will knit an extra magick into it. The wearer of the garment will gain confidence and wisdom and strength -- the true spirit of Dragon kind -- magnified by the true magick of caring that can only come from a handmade garment. And the knitter will never suffer from Second Sock Syndrome. Share this pattern with others such as you who remember the old magick. Thus will Dragons be remembered in this place."

And with those words, the Dragon launched into the air after the rest of the Dragonkind, leaving the Knitter holding her single sock, and a mission to share the memory of Dragons. After watching the Dragon disappear into the sky, she went home and immediately cast on for the second sock.

Clearly, since that time, there have been many knitters creating the memory of Dragons. You can find some of their efforts in these links:

Marnie McLean's Wyvern Socks

Annemarie Pearson's Dragon Scale Gauntlets

Jennifer Sander's Dragon Scale Hat

P.S to those admiring my blocking board: it's called a Space Board and I think it can be ordered from both Knit Picks and Patternworks. And it is a most wonderful and magickal thing!

Dragon Designs

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It's funny how the things that I don't think will get much of a response get a great response. Clearly, there are a lot of DDR fans out there! My blond kitties appreciate all the positive attention, too. These guys, as you might expect, are litter mates. They are almost inseparable and whenever it's cold, you'll see them curled up together. So the Siamese twin reference in the comments is not too far off for these guys.

I'm swinging out of a spinning phase into a bit of a knitting and design phase as I start my next family sock challenge pair of socks. Like I mentioned a while ago, my next pair of socks are for my sister-in-law. Can I just say that I couldn't have picked better for my little bro if I had picked her myself? Libby is awesome. In addition to embarking on Bikram yoga teacher training, she's also working on a PhD in history. In an alternate universe I like to think that I got a PhD in history, too.

I spent a lot of time thinking about these socks. I wanted them to be something special and something that was uniquely about Libby. I appreciated the suggestions I got to make her some yoga socks. But Bikram yoga is a special kind of yoga that is done at temperatures over 100 degrees Farenheit -- it definitely gets pretty sweaty. I figure socks in this environment wouldn't work out very well due to heat, sweat and the fact that she probably wouldn't get the traction she'd need to do some of the poses. So these socks are meant really just to let her know that even though she's far away from home (the training is in LA and my brother is in Houston) that her family is thinking about her and wishing her well. Libby loves dragons. She has the most fabulous dragon tattoo on her back. Dragons, as I think of them, are symbols of strength and beauty and intelligence and ferocity. All qualities that I respect and would wish for Libby as she takes on a big challenge. So instead of looking for an existing sock pattern, I decided to bond with Barbara Walker's 2nd Treasury of Knitting Patterns to see what I could find (actually, I looked through all of them, but, as luck always seems to have it, it was the second volume that was the big winner for me).

Amazingly enough, she has a pattern called "Dragon Skin". Clearly, this was a sign. Unfortunately it's a pattern with a 26 stitch repeat. And a little swatching with the Blue Moon Sock Candy made it clear that I needed about 64 stitches in a round in this pattern to get the 8" circumference that I needed. So I did a little bit of chart modification to come up with a version that had a 32 stitch repeat.

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Dragon Scale Sock Top in Sock Candy, Cherries Jubilee

The Sock Candy, being mostly cotton, does not squish like wool does. I am actually knitting these socks on US size 2 needles in order to get a fabric that doesn't feel like a board. I find myself very pleased with both the texture (i.e. you can see the dragon scales forming) and the way that the color and the texture work together reasonably well. It might not look like it, but this stitch pattern is also pretty easy to memorize. And I am having a good time with feeling like I am designing something on my own again. Instead of the usual Dutch heel, I am going to try to do a short row heel. I think that will work better with dragon scales and create the smoother look I envision in my head. I also want to do a star toe, instead of my standard toe. Once again, I think that that will give the sock a more polished look when combined with this texturing.

Once I decided on the dragon theme, I have to admit that I did feel a little bit bad about going with red sock yarn. Any of y'all who have played D&D know that red dragons are of the chaotic evil variety. Think of Smaug in the The Hobbitand you have a good idea of what red dragons are all about. And I don't remember any pink, mauve or purple dragons in the D&D monster manual (clearly this was a male-dominated gaming experience). Fortunately, this yarn isn't solid red, and, since I'm the DM for this particular adventure, I've decided that variagated red dragons can have a spectrum of alignments. In this case, I think this dragon will be chaotic good, which I think fits both with my sister and the way I like to think of dragons.

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