Archive for the “sock” Category

Over a decade ago, I excitedly bought a skein of Kureyon sock yarn and cast on for a stupid idea: I split the yarn in half, wound each half into a cake, and tried to knit from both ends of the ball at the same time, alternating every five rows.

A ball of Noro Kureyon Sock yarn in purples and greens.

I'd made a stripey striped scarf out of regular Kureyon yarn and loved it, and wanted to keep going with that theme.

A stripy scarf in progress, with four skeins of gradient yarn in every colour sitting on top of it.

Unfortunately, the sock yarn wasn't nearly as much fun to knit with as the thicker Kureyon was, and I got 1.3 socks into the project before putting it aside. (I noted at the time, "I hate this yarn and I am really glad I didn’t buy any more of it. The colors are wonderful. I love the striping effect. I can’t stand knitting it." Plus, flipping the ball of yarn over every five rounds was a tangly pain in the neck.

This year I decided that I was finally going to finish that pair of socks. I took them out - still on my trusty old bamboo needles! - and added a stripe here, a stripe there, hating the yarn just as much, loving the first sock just as much. It would be worth pushing through, I told myself. I tried on the first sock and it fit perfectly! So I counted its stripes and knit the same number of stripes on the second sock.

One of the reasons that I hated the yarn in the first place was that it was so inconsistent in its thickness. You can kind of see on the first sock how much thicker it was getting at the ribbing, but I didn't notice because that made it conveniently a little larger around my calf. But then when I started the toe on the second sock, it was with that thicker part of the yarn... and it just got more and more so as I went. Which I didn't realize until I tried them on, and then took a picture of one on top of the other.

Two stripey socks, one of them finished, one of them almost finished and still on the needles.

Heck.

The second sock is bigger in every way. It's wider, taller, thicker... I haven't even knit the ribbing for the cuff, and already the leg is longer than the first sock. With the same number of stripes. And while it's possible that my gauge has changed over the last decade, I knit the start of this sock right after I finished the first one. So that's not even an excuse.

Maybe I'll just put this yarn away for another decade.

Two differently sized striped socks.

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It's another rainy day here in northern Virginia, and possibly the last day that it will be cool enough for handknit socks, so I'm taking advantage of the weather to wear my new pink knee socks!

Pirate is modeling knee-high stripy pink socks.

This yarn (ONline Supersocke 100 Sierra Effekt, colourway 584 Pinks) came from someone at knit night who was destashing. She had four 100g balls of it, and tried to convince me to take them all, but I thought two would be more than enough for a pair of knee socks. I used just about 160 grams of yarn for both, so there's enough left over in case I want to make matching pink armwarmers.

To avoid second sock syndrome, I knit the socks in parallel, rather than sequentially. It feels like they went much faster that way! The pair took two and a half months from start to finish, which is a good pace for me - especially for knee socks! I started the first one while we watched the Super Bowl, and the second one on a train ride, and then I swapped off working on them to keep them fairly even with each other. This came in handy when I was doing the increases and ribbing, as I could be sure to start at exactly the same point in the striping sequence.

Pirate is modeling knee-high stripy pink socks.

I began with a figure-eight cast on and increased to 64 stitches. As I worked my way up the foot, I started thinking about what heel to use - and then I remembered! I'd bought the instructions for the Fish Lips Kiss Heel and hadn't tried it yet! So I made my foot template, found my ankle bone, followed along with the photo tutorial, and voila! Well-fitting socks. (It's pretty difficult to take pictures of one's own feet.)

When I had knit as far as my calf muscle, I started to do some math for the increases. I measured my leg at 9" from the floor, then 10", 11", and so on, and multiplied the measurement by my stitches per inch gauge. Ultimately I increased four stitches every other round until I had 96 stitches on the needles. When I got past the widest part of my calf, I switched to a 2x2 ribbing and kept going that way until the socks were tall enough.

Pirate is modeling knee-high stripy pink socks.

In other news, I have my first baby pepper! As soon as it stops raining, I can move these plants (there are twenty of them) to their summer home of three-gallon pots on the back deck. I hadn't planned for twenty pepper plants, but here they are, and so now I'm planning for lots of pepper jam, salsa, hot sauce, relish, chili powder, pickled peppers...

A baby pepper, not yet an inch long, grows from one of many plants in red solo cups.

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The first time I saw "Nothing Says Screw You Like a Rainbow" from White Birch Fiber Arts, I swore that I'd buy it if I ever got the chance. (It's currently out of stock, but there are other rainbow and self-striping colourways available!) Even though I usually waffle over adding to my already-overflowing stash, back in July when I heard that there was some of this gorgeous yarn available, I hit "buy" without a second thought.

A skein of self-striping yarn that alternates rainbow stripes with wide sky blue stripes.

Self-striping yarn like this doesn't need any textures or patterns, which is ideal for the mindless knitting that I prefer for my traveling socks. I cast on at the end of December, and then I knit while Michael drove up and down the east coast - to and from a snowboarding trip to Vermont...

The road to Stowe Mountain, with the ski area visible in the background

...then to and from my inlaws' for Christmas, and back down to Virginia for Chanukah and New Year's, and then I knit on the airplane (link is to a video on instagram) to and from our vacation in Utah...

The highway to Utah ski resorts, with directional signs to each one, and tall mountains in the background

And now they're done!

I started each sock at the beginning of the sky blue stripe, then knit 2x2 ribbing until the start of the rainbow. The heel flap also begins at the start of the rainbow stripe. I'm amazed at how well this worked out; apparently my feet are *just the right size* and the socks' toes end right at the end of the rainbow.

The two-ply yarn is slightly thinner than I'm used to. I started with 64 stitches on US size 1 (2.25mm) needles but thought the fabric was a little loose for hard-wearing socks, so after the heel flap I switched to US 0 (2mm) for the foot. That 0.25mm really made the difference, especially in row gauge. When it came to the toe decreases, I worked two plain rounds between each decrease round (usually it's only one) for a more gradually angled toe, ending with 16 stitches on each side before grafting.

Each new pair of socks is my favourite, but these might hold the position for a while.

A pair of light blue socks with rainbow stripes.

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The Silkie Socks that Rock that I got earlier this year is now a pair of actual socks! The pattern is from this dummies.com article, "How to Knit Socks with Slip-Stitch Ridges", adapted to slip every fifth stitch, instead of every sixth. The finished socks are a little tight to pull on, but once I have them over my heel, they do fit well. If I use this pattern again, I'll add another stitch or two for ease - and a yarn with more yardage.

I started knitting on Flexi-Flip needles, but got frustrated at the number of gusset stitches and switched back to DPNs. I didn't try again for the second sock; maybe next time. Or maybe I'll just sell the needles; I'm not sure I care for them. (I have them in both 2.25 mm and 2.5 mm sizes - if you're interested, message me on Ravelry and we can work out a price and shipping costs.)

The start of a knitted sock leg on Flexi-Flip needles, with columns of slipped stitches on a stockinette background

As I got close to the toe of the first sock, I started to get nervous about not having enough yarn for both. There are only 360 yards in the skein, and I have long feet... and my previous Socks that Rock socks were both a few yards short. So I stopped the first sock just before the toe decreases, broke the yarn, and cast on for the second sock on a fresh pair of needles.

In the ensuing game of yarn chicken, I began to think that maybe there was hope for my sock toes... but just in case it was necessary, I found a coordinating pinkish yarn in my stash to fill in the last few rounds. The colour is a little off in this picture because I took it at night; unfortunately we're a little short on daylight hours at the moment. Things should be turning around this weekend, though. ;)

A partially completed sock in variegated shades of pink, green, tan, and blue, with a coordinating ball of pink yarn at the toe.

The closer I got to the end of my yarn, the faster I knit, as if I could race the yarn to the end. (Anyway, I wanted to finish this pair before the end of the year.) At the toe decreases, I began to alternate working on one sock and then the other, carefully knitting from the inside and outside of the ball at the same time, conveniently finishing off both socks at the same time. Here there's about 32" of yarn connecting the two still-ungrafted socks, and I tried them on at this point. "I think they're long enough. I think they'll fit! I think I just barely squeaked under the wire!"

Two almost-finished socks, with about thirty inches of yarn connecting both of them.

With some trepidation I snipped the yarn connecting the two socks and started to kitchener stitch the first toe shut. I had to stop halfway across to tighten up the graft and free up a little more yarn, and... I made it. I won this round of yarn chicken.

I still have to weave in the ends, but I need to catch my breath first.

The finished toe of a new sock, with only a few inches of yarn dangling from one corner.

One day I'll learn not to knit with short-yardage sock yarn, no matter how pretty it is. (Or to plan ahead for contrast cuffs/heels/toes, and then this wouldn't be a problem.) But this was a really neat pattern and I enjoyed knitting it. I'd do *that* again, for sure.

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It wasn't really my intent to ignore the blog for months, but (not for the first time) the summer got away from me!

I'm almost done writing up the pattern for the Sneaux Zone hat! A few people have messaged me on Ravelry to ask when it will be released, and the best answer I have is... SOON! Possibly even this weekend! I just need to look over the charts once more, make sure all the words are in the right order, and take some glamour shots. Here's the view from the top, which comes together into a star:

The top of a red and white hat. The stitches and colours form a star shape.

ALL proceeds from sales of the pattern for the first few weeks will be donated to the ALS Association.

The first of my slip-stitch Wild Tide socks are now past the heel turn and gusset. I had to switch from the Flexi-Flips to four DPNs once I picked up the gusset stitches, because the fabric was uncomfortably straining at the corners, and... I didn't go back. Does anyone have any advice on how to deal with so many stitches on just two needles, even if they are flexible in the middle?

A half-finished sock with a half-finished ball of yarn on a wooden floor. The sock has spirals of pooling colour, pinks and purples over blue, sand, and green.

I'm really pleased with the way the slip-stitch pattern breaks up the pooling a little bit without obscuring it entirely, though I do wish that the spiraling had been more consistent all the way down the leg. (That's probably just my gauge changing a tiny bit, rather than anything to do with the yarn.) Now that football season is starting up again, I'm expecting to get some more time on the couch to knit and watch the games. Of course there are other projects to work on as well, but those can wait for another post :)

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I started the Wild Tide socks with the slip stitch pattern on the new Flexi-Flip needles, and I feel as if I've almost knit enough of the leg to form an opinion of them. Unfortunately, I'm not sure it's a very good opinion...

The start of a knitted sock leg on Flexi-Flip needles,with columns of slipped stitches on a stockinette background

I'm used to knitting my socks with five DPNs, so figuring out how to hold two needles that were basically folding in half was an interesting challenge. The first few changeovers from one needle to the next were really awkward, but I think I'm getting the hang of it. It's kind of like how I *can* knit socks with just four DPNs, but I find five more comfortable. Maybe after I've knit the rest of the sock, they'll feel more at home in my hands.

I like that the needles have one pointier side and one more blunt, but I definitely prefer the pointier side, and that means remembering to turn each one around as it comes free of the stitches and becomes the next working needle. It would be better if the two sides were two different colours, to make it easier to quickly tell which is which.

With my usual sock knitting method, I "rotate" the sock every few rounds by knitting a few extra stitches onto each needle, which helps to minimize any laddering. With the Flexi-Flips, there are only three needles, and the first and last few stitches of each one are so awkward that I can't imagine how one would easily do that.

At least the sock looks nice! There are some definite laddering issues at both sides where the needles don't meet well, but I think they should work their way out in the wash. I'm quite pleased with the stitch pattern and how it's breaking up the spiral pooling a little bit without hiding it completely.

Meanwhile, since I didn't buy anything at MD Sheep and Wool, I felt very little guilt about making a post-festival purchase from Etsy.

Two skeins of sock yarn in rosy-purple and blue-violet with a skein of purple, pink, and blue speckled yarn between them.

I got these two skeins of Malabrigo Sock (top: 120 Lotus; bottom: 863 Zarzamora) at two separate shops about a year apart from each other, thinking (at the times) that sock yarn makes the best souvenirs... but never considering that they might go together.

Then, as knitters are wont to do, I started thinking that maybe they *should* go together. But when I pulled them out of the sock yarn tote and looked at them in the same light, I realized how close in value they were. So what they *really* needed, I concluded, was a skein of speckled yarn that pulled colours from both of them as a go-between. Then I found this Sheeps Clothing Yarn Co. Fable Fingering in Nebula Speckle, and knew that it was Just Right.

No idea *how* they're going to go together just yet (a shawl, perhaps?) but whooo! This is just the most perfect addition, isn't it?

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After some months of ignoring them, I've finished the green stripy socks! I'm so pleased that the stripes line up perfectly from sock to sock. (I mean, I did that on purpose, but I'm still pretty pleased at how well it worked out.) This is about as plain a sock as it gets: twenty rounds of k2, p2 ribbing, followed by an awful lot of stockinette interrupted by a regular ol' flap heel, and a star toe with four points. The yarn is Austermann Step in colourway 96 Forest Green.

A finished pair of greens and light tan striped socks displayed on sock-blockers.

My original intention with these socks had been to try the Flexi-Flip needles with them, but that totally didn't work for reasons... primarily that while everyone else seems to agree that a US size 1 needle is 2.25 mm, Addi's size 1 Flexi-Flips are 2.5 mm. Since then, I've acquired a set in 2.25 mm, and as soon as the green socks were done I cast on for a new sock with this Silkie Socks that Rock in the "Walking on the Wild Tide" colourway, which was from their sock club some years ago. I got this yarn only a few months ago, from someone at our local knitting night. (Thanks!)

Kitting needles with the barest beginning of a pair of socks in shade of pink, blue, green and tan, with the ball of yarn behind.

I'm planning to do something fairly simple again, but with columns of slipped stitches to attempt to break up the pooling a little bit, and an eye of partridge heel for a change. A review on the Flexi-Flips will be forthcoming once I get a little more used to them, too.

This year's Maryland Sheep and Wool was a whole new kind of experience - the plan had been to go with Mom, but Dad and Michael joined us for the day too. Nothing really jumped out at me as something I needed to buy, but I did drop off the fleece that Carrie and I bought some years ago with a processor who said she'll have it back to us by mid-October. The only thing I brought home was this picture of the alpacas:

A brown alpaca appears to be whispering into the ear of a black-and-white alpaca. Both of them have some hay hanging from their mouths.

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Five and a half years ago, I bought this green Austermann Step yarn at The Mannings (which, sadly, closed a few years ago. Ah well.) It's going to make be my next traveling sock, perfect for hauling around with me to work on while waiting for mechanics and flying across the country. As a winterholiday gift, I got a set of Addi FlexiFlips, and thought that this would be a great time to test them out. I've heard both good and bad things about them, and I've been curious to see if I'll love or hate them.

I already had several inches of sock knitted on my trusty old DPNs, which meant that I'd be working from them onto the new FlexiFlips.

The very beginning of a subtly striped green sock on the needles, with a mostly unknit ball of yarn.

But when I went to make the first stitch, something seemed off. The new needle seemed subtly thicker. Maybe it was just my imagination? I got my gauge ruler.

It wasn't my imagination.

I almost always knit socks on US 1 (2.25mm) Susan Bates DPNs, which I buy at Joann in a multi-pack of sock-sized DPNs for a small amount of money. (They're $10, but then everything at Joann is at least 40% off.) So I'd asked for the FlexiFlips in size 1 as well... without realizing that while Addi do sell a size 2.25mm set of FlexiFlips, their size 1 is actually 2.5mm.

Well, heck. Everyone else calls a 2.5mm needle a US size 1½, not a 1. And Addi's other needle sizes match up with the usual US to mm conversions. Harrumph!

I guess I'll just keep going on the DPNs, because even a .25mm difference in needle size can make an obvious difference in gauge, but... do I spend the money for a set of 2.25mm FlexiFlips, when I'm not even sure I'll like knitting with them? Do I try a different sock on these 2.5mm ones first, despite my concern that they'll be too loose? Do I write to Addi and complain about their non-conventional sizing? How disappointing.

The "obvious" solution, I guess, is to hang onto them and spin some more sock yarn, which tends to come out a little thicker than the commercial yarn (at least it does when I spin it) so that I can finally try these.

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Back in May, I started a pair of toe-up socks using some chain-plied merino yarn that I'd spun up about five years ago. I had eight ounces but I wasn't sure how far it would go, so I wound it into two cakes and started knitting. As the sock grew up my leg, it looked like I'd be able to make knee-highs - and since the yarn was on the thicker side, that seemed like a really good idea. These were gonna be some warm socks.

I worked in calf increases through a series of trying on the sock, measuring, adding more stitches, and taking careful notes so that I could duplicate it for the second sock.

Despite some inconsistency in my spinning (I do feel like I've gotten better since then!) and some nervousness towards the end of the second sock when I was playing yarn chicken (I won!) I am super pleased with the way these came out.

A striped pair of handspun, handknit knee socks with calf shaping.

So now I've got a pair of fraternal twin stripy socks with Cat Bordhi's Sweet Tomato heel (which I learned from this YouTube video). Here's their project page on Ravelry, with some notes that may or may not be useful to you if you're curious about the calf increases.

And then, of course, I had the fun of trying to take pictures of my own legs and feet from an angle that showed off the socks but didn't look super awkward! Eventually I accomplished it after discovering that my phone's camera will take a picture if I shout "cheese" at it. It should be easier next time, as I got a remote control for the camera as a winterholiday gift!

I also got a lighting kit with those inside-out umbrellas for properly illuminating my subjects, and I'm hoping to get the chance to try that out soon. It's been so dreary and gray, I've had trouble getting good photos - but this should solve that problem nicely.

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No matter how many times I do it, I'm always amazed by the magic that is turning the heel. It might even be my favourite part of knitting a sock.

A blue sock in progress, with a newly turned heel, on a striped navy and white background

Not to be a nudge, but the Crossing Trails Hat pattern is still on sale for 20% off and still raising funds for the Cancer Research Institute. Thanks to you, we'll be donating more than $50 already. With almost a month to go, do you think we can hit $100?

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