How I Knit My Socks (A Recipe)

Preview of sawkkThe yarn I bought the other day has inspired me.

There’s not much I like more than crispy, hard-wearing sock yarn. There’s something about the texture that makes me so happy even if it’s not the softest thing ever and in the space of two days the combination of colour and texture spurred me into this sock.

I am halfway down the calf of the other sock and realised I know my leg and skinny ankles so well that I can throw out a sock without thinking too hard. This is how I knit this sock (which is high enough to wear with my Doc Martens):


400ish yards pretty sock yarn

2.75mm needles (preferably wood)


Darning needle

A foot on which to put the sock

  1. Cast on a multiple of 4 – for me I usually do 60, but as this sock is longer I’m doing 64.
  2. Do two-ish inches your ribbing of choice. I like 2×2 but 1×1 is fine and even 3×1 if you’re feeling adventurous.
  3. Switch to stockinette. Forget you’re doing stockinette halfway through the row and go back to ribbing. Curse enthusiastically. Tink and return to stockinette.
  4. Knit about two inches plain stockinette, then decrease at the beginning of the row every three rows until you’re down to 60.
  5. Admire the shapely calf curve.
  6. Knit until you’re about as long as you want it, then remember how skinny your ankles are and decrease another two for luck.
  7. Do a heel flap in eye of partridge until it looks roughly square, then pick up the side stitches and curse because despite years of experience you still forgot to turn the heel.
  8. Go back and turn the heel. Do the dance of joy.
  9. Pick up the stitches on the sides of the heel flap, realise it’s uneven in numbers, shrug and decrease an extra stitch.
  10. Decrease the gusset stitches every two rows until you’re back to 60.
  11. Knit until it reaches the bottom of your long monkey toes. Do another couple of rows for good luck.
  12. Decrease the toe stitches – first every other row (3 times), then every row until there’s either ten or eight stitches left.
  13. Kitchener the last stitches with sweat on your brow.
  14. Weave in the ends. Triumph!

Then you have to repeat all of that again, hoping against hope that the sock ends up roughly the same length as the other one. Somehow I never succeed in this, not even when the pattern repeats say there should be exactly the same stitches in each leg. I’m pretty sure it’s magic. Dark, bad magic.

Is your sock process anything like the above?

"Close up of multi-coloured knitting stitches" by Brian Sawyer from Westford, MA, USA - close_up. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Knitting in music videos

Someone on Twitter shared this link with me. I don’t know how they found me since they aren’t following me or anything but I’m glad they did because this made me laugh a lot.

It’s a video of a small knitted character going about her life and dreaming she’s a flesh person.


Do you know of any other music videos that feature knitting? I’m so amused.

Turns Out I Just Wanted Socks.

Why is this surprising to me (or anyone)?

At my LYS last Thursday I browsed the shelves looking for inspiration and I came across a couple of interesting skeins of yarn. I gawped, I bounced, and I purchased them immediately. She’s moving buildings in a few weeks so there was the added fun of getting it at a discount.

To no one’s shock it’s sock yarn. Did I just… forget that I live for socks? That socks are the happiest of all knitting? That there’s nothing like churning out a vanilla sock in a few days?


It’s Opal Sockenwolle Handgefärbt which is a lot of fun to say – though my senior school German is probably lacking on the pronunciation front. The Australien skein (top) had a lovely chunk of purple snuggled in the middle and I couldn’t resist it. The Afrika one is more muted and less busy. Both have that satisfying soft scratchiness that all the best sock yarns should have.

Since Martina was busy I wound both up before I’d even paid for them and cast on with the Australien one.


One of the best things about sock yarn is how the colours look so different in the skein than in the cake, and then different again in the sock. To my surprise the Australien colourway spirals when you knit with it. It’s clown barf for sure but it’s muted, fun clown-barf so I enjoy it thoroughly.

Yesterday was a day off so after heading to the farmer’s market and hanging with a good friend I settled down to watch some Green Wing and knit the sock while doing big belly laughs at their ridiculous antics. With 2.75mm needles I’m making quick progress. As of this morning I’m already finished with the heel flap and ready to turn it.

After the all-encompassing lethargy and apathy of the last week this is so much fun. Turns out my knitting funks don’t last very long at all.

I’m Just Really Bored of My Projects

Sometimes I am so intense about my projects that I can’t focus on anything else. Sometimes I’m only excited at a normal human level without risk of brain implosion, and those are the best times because I can still function.

But sometimes I look at my projects and all I can think is ‘meh’.

At the moment (as ever) I have roughly eleventy thousand projects on the needles. I have no idea of the precise number or what they are because I flit between them all the time. Some people like to focus on one project at a time and that’s great if it works for you! Yet beyond the occasional exception, it isn’t the way I work.

My little sister is giving birth in about ten weeks to another boy. I am most of the way through a blanket for him (meh) and about halfway through a cardigan for him (meh). These are the two projects I’m working on most often because babies tend to come to a schedule, give or take a week. I need to get these sent off as soon as possible.

Yet… I just… it’s so boring. I can’t take it any more. I want to knit socks. I want to knit all the socks.

To avoid this burn out I’ve put both the projects aside and I’m crocheting a bib for him out of some leftover yarn. It’s not at all functional but decorative is okay at this point, and it may end up having an elephant on it because why not?

How do you avoid burn out on important projects?

That’s a lot of people. Stage-fright imminent.

When I was fifteen I won my school’s “Dedication to Music” award. This would be the one they gave to people who were not the most talented in the group (though not the worst, either), but who were really enthusiastic about it. I went to every singing group/lesson I could once I discovered people didn’t grimace when I warbled and it was a brilliant escape from my less-than-stellar social life at school.

At the end of year ceremony I was asked to sing in front of a group of parents before I accepted the award. I’d sung in public plenty of times by this point but it was always as part of a group – this time I would be in a duet. As I looked out into the sea of about a hundred faces (our school was not large), I almost wimped out. That’s a lot of people, I thought.

It’s nothing on the alert I got last night through this blog.


I knew it was coming but wow, it skipped past me fast. One thousand people. One thousand! And that’s not including people who follow me on Twitter that WordPress handily (and rather sneakily) includes in my public figure.

That’s a lot of people.

I’ve been writing The Knitter Nerd for about five years now, though I’ve only taken it seriously in the last two. It’s been a wonderful outlet for me and a way to discover so many other knitters far more talented than me, and to talk to many of them. You all inspire me to do more.

So thank you to my followers. I’m glad you’re here; you make me feel slightly less like we’re all shouting into the dark.

The Story Behind the Sontag and My Sontag Frustrations


This is a wonderful post about the story behind the Sontag, a kind of shawl/wrap. Lisa’s a friend of mine I met at a knit night, and she knows her stuff. If you’re interested in the history of knitting you should read this.

Originally posted on In The Rounds:

Okay, I’m going to say it… for a historian, someone who is passionate about history and the preservation and promotion of history, I thoroughly dislike historic knitting patterns.  Maybe this isn’t fair; I’ve worked with exactly two ‘vintage’ patterns, but both have been less than straight forward.  Both, however, have given me the chance to do some reading and research into the history of these patterns, and the history geek in me has loved every second of it!

The first pattern I made was a World War I sock, based off a pattern I found in a local newspaper in 1916.  It was the second pair of socks I made, and the directions were clearly meant for someone who was not a sock novice.  Instructions for the heel flap and the foot gusset were lacking, and I had to rely on common sense and my knitting circle friends for advice!  Newspapers…

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Plenty of Plants

Yesterday was Mother’s Day here in Canadialand, so we took my partner’s mum to a plant store and bought her things.

Okay, okay. That’s only half the story. We also bought ourselves things, such as six herbs and an awesome planter with space for all of them. We also got a new air plant after the old one died of red dye (from the moss that came with it) which hangs in a little glass bauble above the sink.

You see, we have a problem, or at least my partner does. She’s prone to buying All The Plants. Spring may be the time I crack out the cotton but for her, it’s the time we make trips to buy anything green and growing. I can’t keep them alive so it’s my job to look at them and appreciate, preferably without touching them.


I am happy to admire these from afar, especially as I will also be eating some of them. Yum. I also got some lavender because it is the best of smells. If/when it flowers I may dry some out and make lavender bags with it because I remember those being so comforting when I was a stressed out child with all sorts of nightmares. I sleep easier these days but it wouldn’t hurt.

We’re going to have to make the spare room into a plant and yarn room where cats fear to tread. It’s the only way to keep all of these plants and all of my WIPs safe from them.

An Intense but Fleeting Love Affair

Isn’t it strange?

One day I was knitting away with the gold and pale purple cotton/alpaca/wool mix and absolutely loving it. I could not get enough. I knitted it all day then went home and carried on while watching Daredevil at home.

It was the linen stitch. I love it and hadn’t played with it for a while; the yarn fitted it so well I couldn’t stop.

And then I finished it, cast off, and held it out in front of me.

Nah, I said. I don’t really like this.


It’s not that it’s not pretty. It is! I love it! And it’s soft and unusual and just what I had in mind when I cast on. Yet it’s not me. I don’t wear these colours yet continually pick yarns in these shades or similar – I have a shawl at work I use when I’m cold that’s a paler version of these colours. It does not suit me, but it’s work so I don’t care.

I’m not sure what to do with this cowl. I’m considering giving it away on here to someone who likes it – maybe even having a contest or something to celebrate hitting 1,000 email followers (something coming very soon). Maybe I’ll just find someone I know who loves it and throw it at them.

For now it’s at Martina’s as a sample for the yarn and maybe that’s where it’ll stay instead.


Some days I am bored. Those days I am prone to starting new projects which generally means rooting around in my yarn stash for a while, but sometimes means going to the interwebs for some other ideas.

kwafeeThe other day I had one such moment and decided to try making cold brew coffee.

As a child I always enjoyed watching people make coffee. Whether it was a cafetiere, a French Press, or an espresso machine, I found the process fascinating. Maybe it was because I grew up in a tea-brewing family who generally did not touch coffee or maybe it was because I’ve always had a thing for any kind of comforting ritual.

Since I’m now a Grown Up™, I thought I may as well try out buying my own coffee-making device, especially since I can’t drink caffeine in that amount and worry about Tim Horton’s giving me normal instead of decaff. It’s happened.

I bought a French Press and a nice fancy grinder that I may marry in an elaborate wedding ceremony. It makes me feel fancy and good at adulting to have a coffee in the morning, even if it’s not for energy like many people use it.

Using the grinder I made some coarse brown mush with cold water, put it in a mason jar previously filled with my girlfriend’s mum’s delicious tomatoes, and put it in the fridge overnight.

Man, it was delicious.

Now, I don’t have a proper filter since I use a French Press, so I couldn’t filter it well enough. I’m going to try again once I buy some filters (or cut up an old t-shirt) but for now I highly recommend trying this.

Next up: cold brew tea!

With Good Weather Comes Cotton

Last week I finally managed to go to my LYS, having spent many weeks unable to leave the dog because of an incident involving his paw and a large piece of glass (at least, we think that’s what he stepped on). I couldn’t stay long but I grabbed myself some cotton and started planning to knit myself a top and that’s when I realised.

It’s really spring.

Here in Southern Ontario we had snow three weeks ago but the temperature has been climbing steadily since then. These days it’s edging up towards the twenties (Celcius) and it is amazing.

It’s been a tough winter. I’m not just saying that because I’m the English woman struggling to adjust to the harsh weather either – everyone’s been saying it. It was endless and bleak and so cold my eyebrows froze on multiple occasions which I didn’t know was possible before then. The days were short and the wind was cruel and I was pretty sure it was never going to end. This was it. Snow forever.

Then I bought cotton.

Cotton for me is not something to touch during the winter, though like my colour changes for the seasons, I never plan it that way. It is how I tell that I no longer have full-body frostbite at grabbing my newspaper in my jammies of a morning. It is something that comes with not wearing three pairs of socks to work. Cotton for me (and many others) is a summer fibre and my creative urges agree that it’s coming.

It should be a mere pile of fibre waiting to become something lovely and instead it has all this pressure on it. It’s my symbol of hope for a new season. Being English I don’t trust seasons, knowing they can turn on a dime – I’ve worn huge warm raincoats through entire Augusts before back there. But at least there’s the chance.

Plus, guys, it’s really pretty cotton.