Books · Craft · Knitting

Knitting socks (which actually fit)

Yesterday I picked up my knitting and started a new sock. It’s for a friend from yarn they bought. I have their foot measurements already, so I did a gauge swatch (I know, shocking for me!) and figured out the maths of the whole thing. This is much, much more organised than I usually am in sock knitting, but there’s a reason for it: if I’ve worked it out right, they’ll actually fit my friend.

In the past I’ve been lax about this, bizarrely. I’m a bit of a lax person when it comes to fine details anyway, so it’s not a shock that it transferred over to my knitting. Relaxed, that’s what I am. That sounds a lot better than ‘absent-minded and all over the place’. Sometimes I’ve knitted socks that barely fit my foot and are too loose around the leg, but I don’t care. I kept them, I wear them. I’m stubborn that way, and I still love my creations.

However, it is possible to make socks that actually fit, and I learnt that last year.

I think I mentioned that my friend and I went to a class with Kate Atherley at The Purple Purl. We turned up late because Toronto traffic is evil but even in that time we learnt so much.

Kate Atherley has very strong feelings on socks. I respect that. She showed us how to measure our feet and what gauge to aim for and what yarn is best for socks. By the end of the night I was so inspired by the awesomeness that is knitting and maths that I went out and designed my own shawl – not sure how that is what my brain took out of it, but you can’t account for the little grey cells.

If you want to learn about this magic and set your knitting brain aflame, you should check out Kate Atherley’s book Custom Socks: Knit to Fit Your Feet. No, this is not a sponsored post; I do not yet even own this book, though it’s on my wishlist and one day I shall have it, it shall be mine, my precioussss. However, I’ve had enough looks at it to know that it’s incredibly useful.

Even better, it’s logical thinking that’s tricked my illogical mind into actually planning ahead when knitting something. Sometimes. Okay, occasionally at best, but it’s a start.

Do you use unmodified patterns for socks or do you do your own thing to make it fit perfectly?

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Craft · Knitting

The magical sock pattern

Spoiler: a friend and owner of my local yarn store wrote the pattern I’m speaking about here, so I’m entirely biased on its merits.

That doesn’t mean the pattern isn’t awesome though.

Recently it seems everyone I know is writing amazing patterns and I have to keep knitting them. No, it’s not out of a sense of obligation; I won’t knit something that I don’t like in general, because life’s too short for that. Nope, turns out the talented folks I know write damn good patterns.

Martina Munroe published Camber Twist Socks around the same time as Vickie Hartog published the Grandifolia Shawl (which I’ve finished and you shall see soon). Another friend asked me to knit her some Camber Twists and I began, and as soon as I memorised the pattern I was hooked.

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The yarn I’m using is Cascade Heritage Wave (I would recommend not googling ‘Cascade Wave’ as I just did, as it turns out it is something very different). It’s red plied with shades of grey, and it is SO SQUISHY I have since bought a skein for myself. I’m adapting the pattern to be knee-high socks for a friend, hence the little stitch markers and the odd shape.

See, these are excellent socks. The pattern looks quite plain on the needles but when you put it on it turns magic. My coworkers watched me knit and when I showed them what it would look like stretched around the leg, their minds were blown.

This is why:

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Look how cute that is!

Not only is it cute, but it’s a great idea for a sock stitch. It’s less boring to knit than plain ribbing but will be snug and comfortable against the leg despite that. I have a problem with skinny ankles that means a lot of socks don’t fit well but these would be super versatile for anyone.

And yes, that is my pinky sticking out at the top of the sock.  My legs were too far away.

I know I spoke about knitting for Christmas last week but these are the exception. I have, however, started a pair of fingerless gloves in the same stitch as above. Apparently I dig it enough to have multiple projects on the go with it.

The best thing about Camber Twist? It’s still free until the end of August. Go get it now!

Craft · Knitting

Let’s talk about socks, baby.

You remember that song in the nineties? Let’s Talk About Sex by Salt-N-Pepa. I used to sing it enthusiastically even though I was under ten, to my mum’s embarrassment. Listening to it now thanks to my inappropriate title and I have to say it’s badass. (And this time I understand what the eff they’re talking about!)

Anyway.

SOCKS. I have knit an unreal amount of them for other people lately, and for myself too. I have knit vanilla socks so much I’m not 100% sure I remember how to knit anything else. Best of all: I am okay with that. If I could knit nothing but vanilla socks for the rest of my life I would still knit as much as I do now, I’d just have REALLY WARM FEET.

Who else shares my love of knitting socks? It’s my default, the thing I slip back to when I mess up on another project or when I’m feeling stressed or distracted.

If sock knitting doesn’t do that for you, what does? What’s your default?

For those who love knitting socks, what’s your favourite pattern? Or are you like me, do you just pick up the needles and go with a plain sock? Do you prefer 1×1 or 2×2 ribbing for the cuff, or something else? Do you use a fancy heel or stick with the heel flap? Do you, like me, have a passionate love for eye of partridge? Do you get excited when you buy Lang sock yarn and it has a yarn baby inside for reinforcement? Are you weirded out that we refer to it as a yarn baby around here? Tell me! I love socks, I am rolling in socks.

Let’s talk about socks, baby.

Knitting

The Birth of a Yarn Store

Next month my LYS is moving to a new store around the corner from the other one. This is a strange change for how used to the old place we are, but change can be a great thing. Shaking stuff up is exciting.

Sunday morning my friend and I put on our shabbiest clothes, picked up a coffee from Tim Horton’s, and went to help paint the new place. It’s being done in this gorgeous happy shade of green that is fitting since it’s The Little Green House (Kniterary/Hedgehog Stitchery). I’ve never painted a wall before but it turns out it’s a lot of fun, if a little tiring.

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Not pictured: many knitters covered in bright green paint with handfuls of muffins.

I’ve said before that I think the sense of community you get with knitting is the best thing about it – beyond the soft fibres and the pretty colours of course! Being a knitter means you get a free pass into the world of friendly folk who will always be there for a chat and a hug. I love other knitters as much as I love knitting.

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Though my friend and I could only stay for an hour or two we still saw a lot of improvement from when we arrived. It was great. It’s going to look amazing when it’s done.

To paint I’d worn a baggy Iron Man t-shirt with black leggings that have faded too much to be useful and an old skirt I used to wear to work all the time but now was splitting up the seam. I could sew it up, but instead I let it go in style by covering it in green paint.

I also wore my newest hand-knit socks which was fun. Sure, I got a little green paint on the soles but that just adds character to them. I’ve never been particularly precious about my hand-knits.

That means I finally got photos of them which occurred to me to do while I was taking the above pictures.

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They fit very well and are almost exactly the same length. One is about a centimetre longer but I can deal with that. They wash well and the colours are awesome. Best thing? They’re super comfy and come up just above my Doc Martens which is exactly how I wanted it.

And here’s a picture of them in action.

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Animals · Knitting

They’re so comfortable!

I finished the socks two days ago and wore them yesterday. No full pictures yet but have a preview.

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For the record this is what happens whenever I stop moving for more than five seconds when I’m inside the house: cat tornado. Not pictured is two other kitties and a dog vying for my attention because they are FAR more interesting than a sock THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Today it’s my day off and I’m not exactly the most energetic being on the planet at this time so I’m lying down and watching Green Wing while knitting some tiny booties for my nephew-to-be. It doesn’t suck.

Knitting

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):

Ingredients

400ish yards pretty sock yarn

2.75mm needles (preferably wood)

Scissors

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?

Knitting · Tools

I need to stop buying needles.

Lately I’ve been turning up at my knit night with my yarn in hand and no needles with which to cast on. Don’t ask me how I manage it buy I’m always either right at the end of a project or on a really fiddly bit when I get there, which means I’m forced to start another project (I know, my life is hard). Of course I am a complete sock addict so that’s usually what I pick up.

Two weeks ago I bought some 2mm needles. Usually I knit on a larger gauge – 2.5 or above – purely because I have the tendency to break anything smaller. What? I knit tightly, okay?

Of course I broke one of the needles about five minutes in but that’s okay, I had one spare. I’m nearing the toe on that project and have yet to destroy any more needles. They’re wooden ones because despite the advantages of being less easy to snap, I cannot stand metal or carbon for long.

Last week I went back to Martina’s and still could not knit without buying some needles. Not wanting to repeat the same situation as before, I decided to try out the Hiya Hiya 9″ circulars specifically made for socks. They have tiny needles which means you have to crunch up your fingers near the end but when you’re as tense a person/knitter as me, that’s not a problem. I was surprised how easy it was to adjust to them.

One of the biggest benefits of knitting with a 9″ circular is the lack of ladders where your DPNs meet. Now, I don’t know if I’ll ever completely abandon my DPNs, but I do not hate these circulars.

When I got to the heel my mind unravelled as I attempted to figure out how to knit the heel. Turns out I should have just used Youtube, but I never make things that easy for myself. I struggled and fiddled and cursed and somehow managed to turn a successful heel yesterday.

In future I’ll stick to googling videos like this one before I get tempted to throw my project out of a window.

Have you tried these needles before? What did you think?

Knitting

It’s a boy!

My little sister already has one gorgeous little boy who is the most hilarious, beautiful little nephew I could hope for. Except now my sister is pregnant again so I get another nephew!

I’m so excited. My little sister (Megan) is a fabulous mother and it’s great to see her growing her little brood. My other sister has a lovely daughter so she gets a new cousin too.

The only thing is that I’m on a different continent. I will not be able to meet my new nephew for quite some time. I’m trying not to think about that too much.

Of course for any knitter this is time to start creating cute little items for the upcoming sweetheart. I have already knit a cardigan (pictures upcoming) but it is not for my nephew; it was for my co-worker’s granddaughter. I started knitting some booties for my nephew but I can’t find a pattern I like this time and I don’t know why.

Maybe I’m just not in the mood to knit booties.

I did eye my current socks and wonder whether to frog my process to knit something adorable for him but managed to put it on time-out until I curtailed that instinct. I mean, really. This is the perfect yarn for this pattern, I can’t rip the sock back. For a moment it was tempting.

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I managed to keep going with the sock. I’ll work on the booties more when I find some adorable yarn.

Geeky Patterns · Knitting · Patterns

A Triumphant Return!

At the end of the week I concluded my desperate struggle against lack of cares and finished a project. Yes, a sock came off the needles and – get this, people – I even kitchenered the toe and sewed in the ends. OOH YEAH! Look at this knitter go!

Yep, welcome to the world of crappy badly-lit camera photos taken in the joy of the moment. What the photo lacks in elegance it makes up for in enthusiasm.

These socks were a pleasure to knit. The pattern is Big Four, based on Poirot. Yes, the design was by a friend of mine (Maureen) but that doesn’t mean I’m completely biased. The design was intuitive past the first repeat and I barely looked back at the pattern despite how complicated they look. They are deceptively simple and when you’re not in a lover’s tiff with knitting, they go fast.

I knitted the first of these two socks in less than a week. The second took over a month. That’s the difference in my motivational skills right now.

Still, spring is coming and I have some pretty socks to wear into the breach. Things don’t completely suck.

Knitting

Look, I Know I Knit a lot of Socks, Okay?

P1010032If I look back at the last few months I would say it’s been a time of epic sock production. Since November I’ve been knitting pair after pair and even better I’ve been wearing the results.

Last week I finished the rainbow socks which I am wearing as I write this.

Before that I knitted these socks, and started wearing some socks that mean a lot to me that have been languishing in a drawer for a while.

These socks I finished at least a month ago, maybe longer. I don’t know why I haven’t mentioned them here before. I finished them a while ago and I’ve been wearing them a lot since then. they’re comfortable and warm and long, all very good traits in socks.

I can’t remember what yarn this is. I don’t know when I started them. This is either a sign that I’ve hit my head recently (I haven’t this time), or a clue that I am knitting too many socks.

But is there even such a thing?