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?

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!)


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.


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?

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?


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 · Yarn

Lurid Rainbow Handknit Socks

There was a time in my mythical teenage years where my entire wardrobe became rather lurid. I had spent most of my life worrying about what I wore and whether it made me look ‘weird’ or ‘different’, but leaving school and leaving my childhood home made me realise that I was both of those things. More importantly, it was suddenly a good thing.

Instead of being shunned for strange tastes and obsessive tendencies, I found like-minded friends. Some of those people remain in my life today and I thank them for shaping me into a (mostly) reasonable and self-confident person.

My fashion sense went from drab to one simple rule:

  • Wear as much colour as possible, all at once.

These latest socks fit the bill. Teenage me is jumping for joy, purple hair bouncing in the breeze.


The yarn that made these socks was a gift from a friend who actually predates my lurid rainbow phase. She is a wonderful and hilarious person with a huge heart, and has remained one of my best friends in all that time – at least ten years.

We have had a colourful friendship to match these socks; there have been times we have clashed so hard that we haven’t spoken for months at a time, but ultimately our differences work well together. When I left the UK in June 2014 she took me on a surprise trip to see Wicked, which shows you how awesome she is. And this yarn was a Christmas gift from her.

It came in two little 50g cakes, identical as hand-dyed yarn can be. I didn’t get a picture because I cast on right away. Hey, I was excited! The yarn came from indie dyer Truly Hooked, who may also be found on Etsy. It is lovely, just lovely.

Due to my reasonably small feet I was worried that I wouldn’t get to use all of the colours. That would simply not do. The gradients are reasonably long in these socks and I couldn’t bear the thought of not getting to the pink. I considered making them longer, but then Martina suggested knitting them in stripes – knitting from the outside of one cake and the inside of the other.

This was the result and I am thrilled.


Yes, they are bright. Yes, they are lurid. But honestly I have never grown out of that teenage all-the-rainbow phase and I doubt I ever will. My happiest days are when I get to wear my brightly coloured swooshy skirts. These socks will find a good and regular place in my wardrobe and my lovely friend knew that.

I still have just a little left which will be used to make some mini handwarmers for work.


My favourite thing about these socks is the conflicting heels and toes. It’s just adorable. and because of the slow gradients it didn’t leave an obvious change in the stripes once I’d turned the heel.

At one point I considered doing an afterthought heel but really… that’s never going to happen. It’s a sure way for me to never finish a project.


So that’s that. Some wonderful lurid rainbow handknit socks, all kitchenered and ready to go. They’re just as comfortable as they look too.

It’s just a shame it’s so wet and snowy out there or I would take some outside pictures to show off the colours even more.

Consider this post a big thank you to one of the best, most reliable and most interesting people I have known in my life. You know who you are.


Thoughts on Sock Sizing

Sawk1I have a problem.

No, that problem isn’t my raging addiction to knitting socks that’s been taking hold lately, though that’s certainly part of it. No, the problem is that I always knit exactly the same default socks. I cast on 60 stitches on whichever sock-relevant DPNs I have near (usually my 2.75mm cubics) and have at it.

This is not working for me.

You see, I have always had tiny ankles. My stepdad used to say they looked like matchsticks with the wood shaved off. Even when I was quite a bit larger on the rest of my body, my ankles were spindly little pins beneath it all. Skinny jeans look ridiculous on me, baggy around the bottom. I often wonder how they keep me upright without snapping.

And it turns out 60 stitches is just too much. I am sad about this because I don’t have to think about it; the sock just comes off the needles and I love the results. I’ve knit three pairs for myself in the past month, however, and not one of them fits right around the ankles.

I could continue as I am, letting the baggy ankles be a thing. Or I could suck it up and cut it back a few stitches so that they actually stay up on my leg. Of course it’s always good to allow for shrinkage considering my tendency to throw them in the wash without looking, but I need to find a good balance.

This might be the last time for a while that I make a vanilla sock; I’ve got Maureen Fould’s Poirot sock designs to play with once I get some new solid or heathered sock yarn. But I hope that when I get back to the plain sock kick (pun intended) I remember to cut back on the stitches.

Inspiration · Knitting

Let’s Discuss Our 2015 Knitting Plans!

I don’t do New Years Resolutions. Or rather I make resolutions all the time and it’s not limited to the New Year, mostly because those are the ones that fail the fastest.

Still the beginning of a year is a good time to step back and take a look at your goals and whether they’re still going where you want them to and whether you need to make any other adjustments.

Knitting and crochet combined take up a large chunk of my time and passion so the smaller craft-related goals are what drive me forward to become better at what I do. The only non-living thing in my life more important to me than knitting/crochet is writing and I’m working at improving my skills in both those areas.

So here are the yarn-based skills I want to learn in 2015.

1. Beading

I have never beaded my knitting. Honestly, it sounds skin to torture. I’ve looked into both the threading version and the crochet hook version of applying the beads and both make me want to roast my own head but I love the look of it.

© Jane Heller
© Jane Heller

Given the choice I would love to make a Celestarium, a beautiful shawl with the constellations beaded into it because that appeals to both the knitter and the nerd in me. However that’s a bit much for a first time beader so I’m looking at something less intense.

2. A sweater for myself

Though I’ve knitting garments for myself before, I’m being quite specific with this goal. The only thing holding me back is the fact I cannot afford the yarn needed for a project I’ve had my eye on since I spotted it in a magazine.

© Knitscene/Harper Point
© Knitscene/Harper Point

The East Neuk Hoody is everything I love in a piece of clothing. It is simple and yet filled with interesting texture that does not overwhelm. It is cosy, it has a hood, and a kangaroo-pouch pocket. The moment I saw it I knew I wanted to make it.

I’m going to make it out of the suggested yarn in the suggested colourway too (purple Cascade 220), which is not how I usually roll.

Feel free to point and laugh at me when I realise how much I hate miles and miles of stockinette.

3. Socks. All the socks.

See, the problem is not that I am unskilled at knitting socks. I’m not. I knit them all the time and I love it. HOWEVER, I absolutely suck and knitting socks to a pattern. I deviate, I give up, I decide I know better.

Ninety percent of the time I end up with ordinary stockinette socks knitted to my usual top-of-my-head recipe with very little variation.

While this is fun, there are hundreds – nay, thousands! – of awesome complex sock patterns out there just waiting for me to have an attention span. Since I’m sincerely working on that problem (I am of the ooh-shiny brain consistency), promising to knit myself and others socks out of interesting patterns will help. And I won’t deviate.


What are your knitting goals for the new year? Or do you disagree with the concept of resolutions?

Geeky Patterns · Patterns

Friday Pattern Collective: GotG-Inspired, part 1

Who’s been to see Guardians of the Galaxy yet?

If you have been already, I won’t be surprised if you loved it. The oddball choice confused me when they announced it and yes, it annoyed me a tad when they still haven’t made any prominent female-centric Marvel movies in this run. However, Captain America 2 was basically the Black Widow, Falcon, and Fury Movie With That Steve Guy A Bit so that placated me somewhat.

Then we went to see Guardians of the Galaxy and were treated to a couple hours of hilarity, sadness, beautiful graphics and hilariously inappropriate music.

There aren’t many patterns out for the franchise on Ravelry as it’s so new. Instead I’m going to put together a collective of patterns representing each of the characters and the movie as a whole.

To accurately represent their awesomeness, Rocket and Groot will be getting their own (combined) post next Friday. Stay tuned for tree and raccoon themed hilarity.

As usual, these patterns are not my own and the photos are taken from the Ravelry pages to illustrate their awesomeness.


Cassette Tape iPod Cover

by owlinstitches on Ravelry


Of course Quill would need to make this pattern slightly larger to shove in his cassette player but that’s fine. After many long nights in space he has had plenty of time to hone his knitting skills so adapting a pattern will be nothing. On top of that, there’s something pleasingly meta about putting a cassette player in a cassette player pouch.


Green Goddess Socks

by Nancy Whitman


Above all things Gamora is practical. She does not have time for things like dancing or cold feet. Though she may be swayed (literally) on the first thing, the second is a no-go. These socks will blend in to her skin tone and are just as weirdly classy as she is.


Snowbound Hat

by Justyna Lorkowska


Drax has a lot of bald head going on and let’s face it, our guys are unlikely to stick entirely to the temperate zones. Perfect for when Drax takes a trip somewhere with snowfall this hat will keep the chill off him and the subtle design will complement his tattoos nicely.

Craft · Knitting

A Late Post! Socks etc

Yesterday I started my new job. All that training apparently got to me since when I finally made it home I ended up falling asleep on the sofa whilst listening to Gregory and the Hawk‘s original demo album and after a nap I am useless.

In other words… I forgot to write a blog entry. Sorry! I am doing my best to stick to a posting schedule which is actually really difficult for me. Hopefully this is a minor glitch in the system.

Tomorrow is my girlfriend’s birthday. She has developed a startling tendency to wear pink a LOT. Thankfully she also looks really good in it so I have knitted her some socks to go with the general attire.

Knittings, cats, walk 008

The yarn is Lang Jawoll, that fancy stuff with the little spool of thread tucked away in the inside to reinforce the heel and toe. I had to rip one of them back – the first one – since I made it too big and she has tiny feet. Hopefully these will be a good fit. They fit me but uncomfortably tight which is a good sign.

As for the pattern, anyone on Ravelry is likely to recognise that one. It’s the gloriously simple yet beautiful Hermione’s Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder. This pattern is perfect for when you want to watch some TV or talk while you’re knitting since it requires minimal thought and is lovely and intuitive. The only thing I changed is the cuff because I don’t like the look of 1×1 ribbing. I made 2×2 instead. I like how bold it looks.


These are not socks I would wear myself. Usually I don’t even like knitting with pink. Of course anyone who read my recent post will know why I made these. There were some really interesting comments on that – weirdly they didn’t get emailed to me to approve so they all went up a few days late, sorry about that! I was really interested in what everyone had to say.

That’s one of the great things about the knitting world. All you sparkly interesting knitters/crocheters/spinners out there with unique thoughts on topics!