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

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.

Yarn1

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.

Yarn2

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.

Sawks1

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.

Sawks2

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?

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?

Knitting · Nerdery

A (Nerdy) Day in Durham

It’s one thing to meet someone with one similar interest to you; it’s quite another to meet someone with lots. That’s how I feel about quite a few people I’ve met in Newcastle since I moved up here a year and a bit ago. I never expected to meet people who share both my love of comics and my love of knitting/fibre in general but I have multiple yarn/nerd friends up here and they’re all wonderful.

One of these friends is Rachael. We met at my first or second trip to the Knit Studio for the Saturday knitting group (currently suspended) and hit it off, eventually deciding that we needed to hang out outside of the knit group.

A couple of weeks ago we decided to go to Durham to see the new yarn store (The Woolly Workshop) and to go the comic book cafe (Dark Matter Cafe). SUCH A GOOD IDEA. I bought some lovely Cashmerino from the yarn store – yes, the one that made the baby hat/booties – and marvelled over the sheep model outside it. We went TWICE to Dark Matter Cafe because their peanut butter hot chocolate is utterly divine and we could not resist going back for more.

As Rachael said, THE FACE(s) OF PURE JOY!
As Rachael said, THE FACE(s) OF PURE JOY!

Rachael is the one with the blue mask and fabulous hair; I’m the one with the rather dashing jawline and sparkling whites.

It’s so refreshing to go to a place where you feel comfortable and like you’re in the majority rather than the minority. People were sitting playing Pokemon and making awful Pokemon/Doctor Who puns. The walls were filled with posters and interesting comic art. These were our people. I wish I’d had somewhere like that to go as a teenager; I woulda been much happier.

Plus it’s super pretty.

Of course we got a little knitting done whilst enjoying our drinks. Rachael is making her first socks; they’re amazing because she is an over-acheiver when it comes to knitting new things, seriously. And I knitted some more of a scarf I’m making out of some beautiful blue silk.

Left: Fishnet lace scarf. Right: FABULOUS first sock.
Left: Fishnet lace scarf. Right: FABULOUS first sock.

All this in the beautiful surroundings of Durham which is one of my favourite places in the world. Sure, you go home with super sore muscles from walking up and down all the ridiculous hills but it’s gorgeous and full of interesting things as well as the famous Cathedral which is older than my brain can compute and drenched in history.

Just look at that. So cool.
Just look at that. So cool.

It’s days like these that fill me up with happiness and inspiration. I’m lucky to have such interesting and awesome people in life. Since today I’m going to eat lunch with another fellow knitter/nerd (hello Jen!) I’m feeling especially pleased with my lot in life.

Except for that part where I’m still waiting to hear back from the Canadian Embassy. Hurry up, guys.

At least I have fun things to do and nice people to see while I wait to go home!

Craft · Knit Swaps · Knitting · Needles · Tools

Socks Yay Socks

So elegant, eh?
I’m so classy, jeez.

I’ve been knitting these socks from some really lovely yarn. It’s the stuff I got in the swap and I adore it; it’s soft, squishy and dyed in a beautiful way. I love the subtle changes in the yarn – the colour, that is, because the yarn is nicely balanced itself.

It was difficult choosing a pattern for the sock because I didn’t think a complicated pattern would look right on this kind of yarn. I browsed for a long time through patterns on Ravelry trying to decide what to do until I realised that the best thing for this yarn would be to knit a plain stockinette sock after all. There are some yarns that just have to be showcased for exactly what they are, and Jennifer’s stuff is one of them.

These socks have been with me through a lot in the last few weeks. I knitted pretty much the entire first sock while I was at an OCD conference. The second has been with me at work and at home and at my friend’s house while we learnt songs to sing to my visiting mother. I do love how a finished knitted object carries all these things with it long after they’re finished. It’s one of the reasons I love knitting for the people I care for; it feels like I’m giving a little piece of myself instead of just string in fancy patterns.

As an aside, I highly recommend the KnitPro DPNs. They’re smooth and warm and beautiful. I usually knit on bamboo DPNs, but I treated myself to some to match my KnitPro circular set.

photo (2)

Never have I made a pair of socks that have ended up actually belonging to me, but I’m determined not to give these away.

We’ll see.

Craft · Knitting

What I Do In My Free Time: A Picture Post

I knit Dalek washcloths and discover that knitting bobbles is a pain in the arse (but worth it).

From the pattern EXFOLIATE!

I make smoothies out of vanilla organic low fat yoghurt, frozen organic blueberries and cherries, plus a big slightly overripe banana. Oh, and cardamom and cinnamon which these days I put in everything, especially milk.

I knit socks for my girlfriend. These were done a while ago and are much prettier in person; unfortunately my camera is shite. It’s Tosh Sock yarn so very soft and comfortable, or so I’m assured. I didn’t use a pattern and successfully did kitchener stitch which made me rather smug.

I continue matching my nail varnish to my knitting projects.

This scarf got frogged since I couldn’t be bothered with the lace any longer – it wasn’t pretty enough to hold my attention. I knitted a different thing with the yarn which I shall be sharing at a later point. I also plan to write up the pattern which is quite simple but I love it.

The nail varnish is called ‘Keep It Real’. Yeah, man. Innit.

Yes I did hunt down the perfect colour to go with this yarn.

Me and my girlfriend buy fish to stop ourselves adopting a cat instead.

Honestly though we’d have got the kitten if he hadn’t been adopted while we were busy watching Hunger Games at the AMC. Which was fabulous by the way.

Saturday I am going to Kniterary (The Little Green House in Whitby) and buying the yarn for my first sweater, plus some more of the cotton above for another project.

Now back to knitting a washcloth decorated with leaves.

Craft · Crocheting · Knitting · Reading

Finishing Things

Since the start of the year I have been finishing things.

I finished the blue granny-square blanket for the apartment. A vast and snuggly expanse of crochet for our new apartment.

I finished a pair of socks made from Tosh Sock in the colourway ‘Fjord’. It really does look like little fjords, the way the yarn plays out its colour.

I finished a small green bracelet with a simple cable design.

I finished a tiny pair of handwarmers whilst watching Supernatural from the rest of the Tosh Sock since I was loath not to use it.

I finished a pair of socks with Cascade 220 yarn (my first time with it!) for a good friend. No pictures because she must see them first.

And it’s not just knitting/crochet that I’ve been finishing. I’ve read books:

More than a book a week since the year started alongside all that knitting. And I’ve loved all of them, since I’ve decided to stop finishing books I don’t like.

I finished a short story about an angel and I’m pleased with it. This may not seem like much but I have been suffering from crippling self doubt/writers’ block for the past two years and have been unhappy with anything I’ve dared to write.

Despite rarely having internet, I finished a few coherent blog posts.

And now I’m finishing this one.