Archive for the “sock” Category

As I made progress on the handspun sock, I started to think (as you do) about heels. What kind of heel would I use? Would it be deep enough? A typical short-row heel would definitely not fit, unless I did some increases first. So I did some research and decided to try the Banded Expanded Heel technique, which is a modification of Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel. I measured my foot, checked my gauge, did some maths, and knit the heel…

No. (I didn’t even take any pictures.) It’s not that the heel was poorly designed; it’s actually great. It’s that my calculations were off in pretty much every way. I’d started too late, so the foot of the sock was too big. And I’d increased to too many stitches, so it was also baggy. I ripped back to just after my initial increases and did some more research.

Eventually I decided to try the straight-up Sweet Tomato Heel without modifications. I don’t have the book with all the sock patterns, but Cat was kind enough to upload a detailed tutorial video for just the heel itself, which I was able to follow well enough to knit the heel without wondering if I was doing it right. (I was.)

It’s difficult to try on a sock at this point but I did wriggle it onto my foot, and it seems to fit just right. It’s *impossible* to take a photo of a half-knit sock with DPNs sticking out everywhere while it’s on your own foot, so I slid it onto one of the blockers for a photo op.

A half-knit toe-up sock on a blocker, with half a ball of yarn next to it.

So far I like the Sweet Tomato Heel *way* better than the standard short-row sock heel, and I definitely want to use it in more socks! I’m going to have to try it with regular sock yarn to see if it still needs the pre-heel increases, at least. One thing I *really* like about the Sweet Tomato Heel is that I’d feel comfortable just knitting it from memory, which is a lot of points in its favour for whatever sock-in-progress is traveling around with me.

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It’s taken a concentrated effort, but over the weekend I finally finished the combospin that I started for last year’s Tour de France. It’s all spun up, plied, and skeined off – The Woolee Winder on the Sonata makes plying so much faster and easier! I ended up with roughly 700 yards of three-ply yarn from two pounds of a variety of fibre. I’m sure it will poof up and lose some yardage once it’s washed, which I’ll do later today.

Several multi-coloured skeins of handspun yarn

Now the question is, what to do with it? My original plan was to spin for a sweater, but I don’t think I have enough yardage to make that work. Probably I should have gone for a two-ply rather than three, if I wanted sweater yardage. And, if I’m being honest, I’m not 100% thrilled with the overall colour. I put the yellow in for a pop, thinking it would be too dull without it… but it’s too much contrast, too much of a barber-pole effect.

Maybe I’ll like it better once it’s knit up? I’m considering making some treadle covers for the spinning wheels. I often spin barefoot, and wouldn’t that be nice and soft and squishy!

Meanwhile, I started knitting toe-up socks from a different handspun yarn, this chain-plied merino that I spun a few years ago. First I tried knitting on US 2 (2.75mm) needles, which gave me a fabric that was slightly too loose. Then I switched to US 1 (2.25 mm), and I’m getting a very firm and stiff sock… but that’s okay, these will be hiking/boot socks. And since the yarn isn’t superwash, I expect it to get softer and stretchier with wear and time.

The beginning of a toe-up sock using handspun yarn, with random stripes of burgundies and blues

Because they’re so firm, though, I’m trying a new kind of heel. I started working increases about an inch and a half before where the heel should start to make a small gusset, and then more increases will get worked into the short-row heel wedges. This should be interesting at the very least, and if it doesn’t fit right… well, maybe this yarn wasn’t meant to be socks after all. I have 500 yards or so of it, so there are lots of possibilities.

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Last weekend I went to Maryland Sheep and Wool with my mom! It was a really fun day and I’m glad we made it work out so we could go together. She got a skein of sock yarn in a rich brown, and I got two ounces of this tussah sliver from Little Barn. My plan is to spin it fairly fine and then use it as a lining for my next pair of Fleeps to make them warmer and more wind-blocking.

Tussah silk fiber in teal blue, gray, and a little gold

There were so many pretty yarns and fibres there, as usual, and I was tempted to buy some things that I eventually decided to put back. We took quite some time digging through one of the bargain bins and found a bag of sock yarn we liked, but… it was nine 50g balls. That’s 4.5 pair of identical socks? Mehhh. I don’t want two pair of socks from the same yarn, even if it’s nice colours.

I also ooh’d and ahh’d over several braids of fibre, but… I have enough as it is. The merino/silk Ashland Bay was tempting as usual, but I think I can get a better price for it online – and if I’m going to do that, I’d better do it soon, as it’s been discontinued (sniffle, wah) and won’t be available for much longer. (So now, of course, I’m looking at dyed top on Etsy, as if refraining from buying things I don’t need at MDSW gives me license to buy things I don’t need once I get home again?)

Meanwhile, I’ve finished the majority of the rainbow striped socks! Here they are, with the ends woven in, and the waste yarn indicating where the heel will be knit in. I’m using the instructions from this blog post at Knit Better Socks, and trying the trick of a few short rows to get a little more room in the heel.

Two rainbow-striped socks, with scrap yarn where the heel will be added

Here I’ve tried on the sock with a partially knit heel to make sure that it’s in the right place (it is) and you can see the little half-moon of short rows in the corner. The solid dark blue yarn is Serenity Sock and honestly I’m not quite happy with it; it’s a little thin and a little splitty. Ah well – if the heel wears through, I can pick it out and add another! That’s a definite plus to the afterthought heel method.

A partially-knit heel on a stripy sock, modeled on a foot

Michael indicated an interest in seeing the process of getting from waste yarn to actual heel, so I’ll be saving the second sock to finish the next time he’s visiting. He’s up to the heel flap of his own second sock, and I’m curious whether he’ll want to start another pair after he finishes his first.

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I’ve knit four pair of socks (pics: one | two | three | four) with Patons Kroy before, and I really like that the yarn is slightly thicker than the usual sock yarn I get. It makes thick cushy socks that still don’t feel like they take up too much space in my shoes. As with all the other Kroy socks I’ve made, I started this new pair on US 2 (2.75mm) needles and… it was way too loose. Floppy fabric doesn’t make good socks at all!

The beginning of a toe-up sock.

What? What is going on! A little internet research affirmed my suspicion that the ragg shades really are a little thinner, more like a standard sock yarn. (Hrmph.) So I ripped out the start of the toe that I had, and began again on US 1 (2.25mm) needles, this time with a navy yarn for the toe. That feels like a much better fabric, for sure, and I like the contrasting colour in the toe better too.

A half-knit toe-up sock with a navy toe and rainbow stripes.

The sock starts with a figure eight cast-on with fourteen loops, and I increased on every other round until I had 64 stitches total. It’s now about two inches shorter than my foot, so at this point I’ll put in waste yarn across half the stitches and then go on knitting the leg of the sock. Later, I’ll pull out the waste yarn and pick up those live stitches to knit an afterthought heel. (Or is it a “forethought” heel, since I’m planning exactly where it will be?)

This blogpost has some interesting details about the construction of afterthought heels, as well as some hints about improving the fit. Since there’s no gusset in this kind of sock, it can sometimes be a little too tight over the ankle. I’m going to try the short-row suggestion and see how well it works for my own foot.

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Cascade Heritage sock yarn in "Teal Mix" My first socks of the year are knit from last year’s souvenir yarn from Utah, Cascade Heritage Paints in the “Teal Mix” colourway. I used my own pattern, the Cakewalk Socks, which are available for free on Ravelry.

I’m sure I knew what I meant when I wrote the pattern, and lots of people have knit the socks without asking about the stitch counts, but I thought it could use a little bit of clarification (and a new picture) so I rewrote some sections to make them easier to understand, and published the update to Ravelry this morning.

Apparently my tension wasn’t exactly the same from one sock to the other, so the spirals came out a little bit differently on each sock – but how cool is it that the heels and toes match almost exactly! I wasn’t trying to make that happen; it was just a happy coincidence.

These were a fun pair to knit, and not just because it was my own pattern. A good portion of them were knit on an airplane to and from vacation in Colorado; some of them were knit whilst chatting with friends, and the last section of the foot was knit as winter gave way to spring. That’s one of the best parts of souvenir socks – remembering where I bought the yarn, and then knitting memories into every stitch.

A pair of ribbed socks in a variegated teal colourway.

And now, onto the next sock… even though I have other projects that are already started, and I should probably focus on those for a bit as well. But none of them are good traveling projects like this one is going to be! So there.

A ball of rainbow-striped yarn sits above a pair of knitting needles. The end of the yarn is wrapped around the needles in a figure-eight cast-on.

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Michael and I visited friends earlier this month. We both worked on our socks on the plane, which was a good conversation starter with our seatmate (she crochets!). One of the flight attendants commented, “Whatever it is you’re making, I wear a size medium,” which was both funny and not at the same time. I know people mean that sort of thing as a joke, but it comes across as having no concept of the time and effort that goes into these things – probably because I get similar comments so often that I almost expect to hear “could you make me a–” or “you should knit this for me–” or even “you *need* to make me one.” Yikes.

It was warm when we got on the plane, but cold when we landed. I pulled on my Fleeps and immediately noticed that a crucial strand of yarn towards the top of one finger was dangerously thin. So thin, in fact, that it fell apart when I inspected it more closely. Fortunately, the local yarn shop was generous enough to give me the tail end of some green yarn they had lying around, and now my Fleeps look a little more battle-scarred. I could re-knit that finger… but I think I’ll just leave it like this. It looks kinda cool.

I also bought this lovely skein of Malabrigo Sock yarn in the Zarzamora colourway, because the people at the store were just so nice about everything. I posted a thank-you note to them in their Ravelry group, too!

One night it was a little too cold for me, and Michael let me wear his floppy hat. He posted this pic to his instagram with the caption, “[Pirate] often says she loves when people wear the things she knit for them. I knit this hat for myself, but it was cold out, and I know what she means now. ❤︎” Is that not the sweetest thing? Then we had duck confit ramen for dinner, which was exactly right for the weather and my mood.

Also I think I need to make a floppy hat for myself. Maybe a floppy stranded colourwork hat! With a pompom!

On the plane ride home, I got up to the heelflap of my current sock. I’m knitting my own Cakewalk pattern again, and realized that… um… it’s kind of confusing. Lots of people have made the pattern and no one’s said anything, so maybe it’s not so bad – but I’m going to update it so that it’s more clear. Heck, this is my fourth pair of Cakewalks and *I’ve* never noticed a problem before. Maybe I knew what I meant when I wrote it, but I sure didn’t this time!

Anyway, I’m quite pleased with the way these socks are coming out. The yarn is from last year’s vacation to Salt Lake City; it’s Cascade Heritage Paints in Teal Mix, some of my favourite colours of all time. I’m well into the gusset now and I’ve remembered why the pattern instructions are what they are, but I still think they need to be clarified in an update. Perhaps that will be tomorrow’s project.

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Almost two pattern repeats in, and I wasn’t really happy with that cabled sock design I started last summer and tossed aside in despair. I spent quite some time ignoring it, hoping it would somehow fix itself. (This never works.)

the first few repeats of the cable pattern on the purple sock, displayed on a sock blocker

It’s all too close together and the pattern isn’t really showing up very well. If it had more room between the cables, more of a purl background for them to stand out against, and more vertical space between the crossings, then it would be closer to the image I have in mind.

Ah well, live and learn – I’ll be re-working this so it comes out the way I want. (What’s the point in going on knitting a sock that I don’t like?) After a bunch of reading and research, I’ve got a new set of cables charted out, and I decided to knit a swatch in some heavier yarn to see if it looks right. It seems like it’s going to work this time!

a knitted swatch of cable pattern in worsted weight burgundy yarn

I think the pattern would make a nifty scarf or hat, too.

For 2018, Ravelry has started a “challenge” where you can set how many projects you want to finish in the year. Adding a deadline date on queued patterns or projects you’ve already started will make them show up on your challenge page! Mine is here if you want to see what else is on my list besides these cabled socks. (I’m not able to add it to the challenge, but part of my goal with these is to write the pattern up for sale!)

Do you have any knitting, crochet, spinning, or other artsy-crafts goals for 2018?

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I really wanted to get this pair off the needles before going on vacation, and here it is! Tiger-Striped Socks for Michael, which look exactly like mine except for the white trim at the cuff and the duplicate stitch “claws”.

I’d just started the toe when I noticed a split stitch quite a way down. It didn’t seem like it would be too troublesome to fix, so I got out my tiny crochet hook, dropped the stitch down to the split, caught it properly, and picked all the stitches up again. You can barely tell where the repair was made, and once the socks have been through the wash, any looseness remaining in that column will all work out.

A long column of dropped stitches

All the stitches have been picked up again with this crochet hook.

Then I miscounted on the toe stitches and had to rip back four rounds to start the toe over. Of course.

Figuring out how to duplicate stitch the “toes” was pretty easy, but figuring out the “claws” took me a little longer. Eventually I went for a slightly thicker yarn and embroidered them on, rather than duplicate stitching. Hopefully they aren’t too thick.

Embroidered 'claws' on the white toe of a tiger-striped sock

Now, here’s the weird thing. These are plain stockinette socks. The only purl stitches are in the cuff’s ribbing and in the heel. So what was I thinking here? What even happened?

A red circle shows a mistake of a purl stitch that should be a knit stitch.

Anyway, they’re done and they look really cool. Next up… a new pair for myself!

A pair of tiger-striped socks with white toes and embroidered claws, laid smoothly on a black leather couch

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I’ve had the idea for these cabled socks in my notebook for a while, and with the imminent completion of the Textured Socks, I wanted to start something new. I sketched out the overs and unders, decided which round would be the first one, and had a moment of pride for remembering that cables take up some of the fabric and make the socks fit more tightly. The general rule is to look at the row or round with the most cable crossovers, and add one stitch per crossover to the total amount. Since my usual socks are knit at 64 stitches, and these will have one round with eight crosses, I decided to start with 72.

Step One: Cast on 72 stitches, using the stretchy slipknot cast-on. Discover that the yarn is frayed to breaking. Slide 72 stitches off the needle; discard yarn.

Step Two: Grumble a little.

Step Three: Cast on 57 stitches before discovering another frayed spot. Slide 57 stitches off the needle; discard yarn. Inspect frayed end and decide that it doesn’t look nibbled, at least.

Step Four: Grumble a little more, using slightly stronger language. Ponder the options of either throwing the ball of yarn across the room, or bringing it home so that it can be rewound into a centre-pull ball, looking for more frayed spots along the way.

Step Five: Decide to try it once again. Cast on 72 stitches. Slide the next ten yards of yarn through fingers. Determine that there are no further frayed spots, and that the ball of yarn must have gotten pinched in a tote or something.

Step Six: Knit twenty rounds of k2, p2 ribbing. (Take some time, twelve rounds in, to wonder if a 1×1 twisted rib might not look better with the planned 3×1 ribbing for the sock. Decide that 2×2 is stretchier, anyway. Keep going.)

Step Seven: Ask boyfriend to mix a drink that matches the sock.

Step Eight: Choose a name for the new design. (It’s “Cabled Violets” for the moment, but it won’t stay that way forever. Suggestions are welcome!)

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A very kind Raveler sent me a bit of their leftover yarn so that I could finish the Textured Socks. So finally, almost a year after I started them, they are done! Hooray!

I used the free Stanton pattern and just over one skein of Socks that Rock Lightweight in the Smokey Mountain Morn colourway. The pattern was well-written and easy to follow, though I made a few adjustments: lengthening the toe slightly and widening the heel turn. I chose to keep the stitch pattern down the back of the heel flap, but slipped the first stitch on every row to make picking up the gusset easier. The stitch pattern is quickly memorized, and gives a good all-over texture that adds interest to the spirals of this variegated yarn. It draws in a bit like ribbing, so these socks should fit snugly.

Apparently Socks that Rock Lightweight now comes in a larger skein than when I bought this yarn – 405 yards instead of 360. The price has gone up to match, but at least if I decide to use the yarn again, I’ll have a better chance of getting a whole pair of socks out of one skein.

One of the older, smaller skeins is still in my stash, in the “Moss Agate” colourway. If anyone wants to buy it from me, I’ll send it on. $23 includes shipping anywhere in the continental United States; I’ll have to do the math on postage to other countries. It’s quite pretty but now I know from experience that it just won’t make socks big enough for me.

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