Posts Tagged ‘sock knitting’

As previously mentioned, sock knitting is my happy place, and I tend to do more knitting than finishing. So far this year I have cast off eight pairs of socks. I have completely finished — woven in the ends and washed — one pair. Last year I think I got to thirteen pairs before I did any finishing.

Finishing almost happened this weekend, but the opposite of finishing — startitis — kicked in instead. I don’t know that I can really blame this urge to start many new projects on spring because it can happen (and has happened) at any time of year. I think that there was one December where I cast on a new project pretty much every single day.

The cause varies, but this time around I am pretty sure that I can credit casting off a couple of pairs of socks in March and making significant progress on a third pair which inspired me to keep up the momentum, ignoring the fact that there are plenty of partially finished projects to which I could apply that momentum. Another cause is that while the projects which have already been started are not terribly complex, they do require some amount of focus, and it is nice to have a few projects which are simply meditative and soothing and can be knit while listening to music or watching a video.

I cast off one pair of socks made from Noro Silk Garden sock, and I have one more skein left, so I wanted to start another pair right away. I cast on a pattern called If You Know Where to Go (link goes to Ravelry).

The toe of a handknit sock resting on a cake of yarn.  The sock is knit with the magic loop method in striping yarn.
If You Know Where to Go in Noro Silk Garden Sock

This is one of those patterns which is not difficult — knits and purls — but the pattern is a 14-row repeat, so you do have to keep track of which row you just knit and which row to knit next. As I said, not difficult, and having a slightly more involved pattern can make the knitting feel as if it moves along more quickly than, say, knitting every row. The color changes in the Noro yarn as motivating, too. Right now, I am in a dark section of the yarn, so the pattern doesn’t show up too well. It will in other parts, and even if it didn’t, the process is still enjoyable.

Deciding that I needed something even simpler (and that I could knit on a slightly larger needle), I then cast on Seedy Ribbed Socks (Ravelry link). This pattern is a two-row repeat — much easier to keep track of. No notes or row counting required. I just have to read the stitches of the previous row to know that I need to knit the other row next. Also, for some reason this yarn just called to me and insisted on being knit right away (nevermind that it has been in my stash for about six years). Its time had come.

The toe of a handknit sock resting on a cake of yarn.  The sock is knit with the magic loop method in variegated blue, black, and coral colored yarn.

I am only two rows past the toe, so there is really nothing to see here but pretty colors.

Those two really should have been enough to keep me occupied for a while, but my mind wandered to some leftovers from previous projects, and for some reason it made sense that if I were starting projects with new, unused skeins of yarn, I should also make sure that the leftovers didn’t get left too far behind. Is it a good justification? Probably not, but it is what I have. Plus I had all of these empty needles just waiting for projects.

Before I knew it, I had cast on Vanilla Latte (Ravelry link) socks and Crunkled Socks (Ravelry link). I am knitting both patterns with double-stranded yarn on size two needles.

The toe of a handknit sock resting on two messy cakes of yarn -- one is blue and the other olive green.  The sock is knit with the magic loop method.
Vanilla Latte Socks in Samite and Noro Silk Garden Sock
The toe of a handknit sock leaning against two cakes of yarn.  The sock is knit with the magic loop method and has a black toe.  The foot is a marl of orange and green.
Crunkled Socks knit with leftovers from a cowl project

There had been a brief shining moment when I was focused on finishing existing sock projects. I had cast off a pair of socks which I started about five years ago, and I had been making progress on another pair which had been started at least three years ago but possibly four. Great! I could just keep going and get some other the other projects finished.

Alas, it was not to be, and I am once again awash in a sea of in progress sock projects. Do I regret it? No, no I do not. Having a variety of colors, patterns, and yarns from which to choose when I sit down to knit makes for a happy knitter.

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Well, trying to catch up at any rate. There’s a bit of feeling that the faster I go, the behinder I get. I made that observation to someone years ago, and he wisely responded, “Then slow down.”

Day 8, Doppelganger, was indeed the next color block in the socks, but they still weren’t long enough, so I used Day 9, Piskies, to add one more block. Then I finished with a cuff made from the remaining Circe yarn. Nothing fancy, so it was a bit boring toward the end. I spent most of Saturday viewing (it sounds weird to say attending for a Zoom event) something called the Stylemaker Summit — which really deserves its own post — so I was able to get a good chunk of knitting done. They are off the needles, but they need finishing … as does the first pair. That project has been bumped to tomorrow’s list. We’ll see how that goes.

Day 8 – Doppelganger

Day 9 – Piskies

Fortunately I didn’t need another day’s worth of yarn because Day 10 moved solidly away from purple and brown into yellow and green with Golden Apples.

I did go ahead and introduce outside yarn for the next project. The toes are knit with Golden Apples, and then I introduced some delicious yarn from The Knitting Goddess. It is a sumptuous blend of Bluefaced Leicester, Wensleydale, alpaca, and nylon. All of the natural fibers are grown in the UK, and the fiber is processed and spun there as well. The pattern is Plowlines from Bare Naked Wools. Here’s a messy in progress picture on a messy desk:

I modified the pattern so that I could knit it toe up rather than top down. All I had to do was reverse the order of the stitches which create those little arrow shapes. So far it is going well. It is an actual pattern beyond knitting every stitch, so it requires more focus, but I am finding it meditative and soothing.

Day 11 brings another vibrant color – Will o’ the Wisp. So pretty. Not sure how well it will play with Golden Apples, but I am going to try it out and see what happens.

Mixed into the last couple of days was some reading. I was recently in a bookstore, and the title I was looking for was near Alexander McCall Smith’s books. I had tried reading the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency years ago, and it just didn’t take, but it turns out that he has written a whole slew of other books with titles like My Italian Bulldozer and Portuguese Irregular Verbs. My little local library had quite a few, so I checked out a pile. They have been sitting, waiting patiently to be read, and I finally decided I had better get on with it. My Italian Bulldozer is the sort of book to read on a cold, dreary, February day. Travel to Tuscany with Paul Stuart as he recovers from a wounded heart and finishes his latest book on food and wine. There are adventures and mishaps along the way — none too severe or without resolution — and lots of local color and characters, a few serious moments, and enough humor to make me laugh out loud. It’s a light read without being vapid — a lovely respite from … whatever is causing your grief or stress at the moment. I look forward to reading the sequel: The Second Worst Restaurant in France.

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This whole trying to create and stick to some sort of routine or structure thing is a challenge to be sure. I have managed to stick to the “go for a walk first thing in the morning” plan every morning since I started. Some days are more difficult than others, and one day I was up before the sun and almost got distracted into other things at the beginning of the day. The key continues to be to not think about it too much. Just pull on some clothes and walk out the door.

While I haven’t done a lot of actual writing\novel preparation for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) next month, I am keeping up with the daily prompts for October over on Instagram with the hashtag #InstaWrimo. There is going to be writing in November. Somehow I am going to make it happen this year.

Yesterday I made the choice toward more knitting and less writing. By the time I got to a stopping point on the current Socktober socks, I only had time to either write this post or start the sweaters I want to make in October. I went with the less screen time option and started the sweaters. They don’t look like much yet, but they are started.

Returning to Socktober, Day 6 was the first really solid color of the bunch. Cereberus is a matte charcoal gray, almost black which made my fingers look as if I have been playing with charcoal. The picture implies hints of blue in there as well. It might be the color, and it might be my photography.

I proceeded with my plan to knit the heel, but once I was finished, I decided that I was cutting it closer than I would like to continue past the heel and stripe into the next color. Plus, with a truly solid color, the sock looked a little dull.

I pulled out the heel, knit the other sock to the same point, and waited to see what Day 7 would bring. Day 7 brought the delightfully purple Circe.

Purple and black are always a good combination, so the socks now have purple heels, which allowed for five more rows in Cerberus after the heel and before the next stripes.

The next decision was whether to stripe into the purple and finish it off or wait and see what possibilities Day 8 might offer. Since a significant percentage of the Circe color had been used for the heels, the color block would be a little more than half the size of the previous two blocks. If I finished the sock with the purple, then it would have worked because the block leading to and including the cuff would more or less match the toe, but I want these socks to be longer than the first pair, so I am going to use Day 8 for the next color block and finish with purple cuffs.

I am going to make Friday’s challenge to actually finish the current pair of socks, including weaving in ends and washing, and do the same for the first pair. That means starting new socks on Saturday. I think that the next pair needs a stitch pattern — possibly the ribbing that I forgot to do on this pair or maybe striped, broken seed stitch, alternating colors on each row. Hmmmm ….

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This post really should come after a post about how I had the discipline to knit an entire sweater in eight days mostly because I stopped dithering about whether to start and when to start and which pattern to make and just sat down and knit the thing. Between that accomplishment and going for a walk first thing in the morning every morning for the past 19 days in a row, I am feeling downright disciplined. On the other hand, I was thinking that this post would be done sometime this afternoon, and it is almost 6:30 p.m., but I am not going to dwell on that fact. The point is that I haven’t called it a day yet because I can meet this goal, too, and add a few more. Bring on the plans!!

Right. So. Socktober. I mentioned my Socktober plan in a previous post, and today I got started.

A box of 31 individually bagged mini skeins of yarn and a shiny new set of needles.

If you aren’t a knitter, or even not a sock knitter, you might wonder what sort of craziness is afoot. (Ha!) Lots of knitters in the northern hemisphere get very excited about the transition from summer to autumn. The temperatures drop, the sun sets earlier, and the trees start shedding their leaves. You call it autumn. We call it knitting season — time to get out those hand knit sweaters and hats and gloves and mittens and … SOCKS.

Sock knitters can be something of a special breed. They are passionate about needle choices and knitting styles and yarn weight and fiber content and the best way to knit heels, toes, and gussets. Ankle socks or knee highs? Striping, cabled, lace, fair isle? Toe-up or top down? Magic loop, small circulars, or DPNs? And so on. Myself, I am a toe-up, magic loop, one at a time, Fish Lips Kiss Heel sock knitter, and if I am using sock\fingering weight yarn, I use two strands together to make thicker yarn.

I opened the silver satin bag labeled October 1 and extracted a small skein of yarn in a color named Hades. Given that the color integrates black with shades of turquoise and gray, I suspect that the inspiration is the depiction of the god Hades (entertainingly voiced by James Woods) in the animated Disney movie Hercules. Whatever the case, it’s a good start to the adventure.

I didn’t get quite as much practice and prep work done as I had hoped, so I am improvising as I go. The yarn in the box adds up to a bit more than six full skeins of yarn, which means at least six pairs of socks and quite possibly seven or eight. There is no need to make each pair the same way, although if I find a groove I like, I might stick with it.

Some aspects will be the same. They will all be worked upward from the toe. I will start with 16 stitches and increase to 48. I love the moment when the toe starts to take shape. It makes me happy every time.

Beginning of the first toe (photobombed by the cable of the knitting needle)

From there I can stripe or color block. I might get crazy with some color work or slipped stitches, but I doubt it. There will likely be stitch patterns at some point. The beauty of having 48 stitches is that 48 is divisible by so many numbers that lots of patterns will work.

This first pair will be simple, starting out with the toe worked in the first color. Tomorrow I will add the second color and work, probably, three-row stripes of each. When the first color runs out, I will add the third color, and so on. There is the question of the heel. The type of heel I use really needs to be worked in the same yarn. Is that the fourth color, which could then be used as the cuff, too, or the toes on the next sock? I’m taking a “choose your own adventure” approach and will decide when I get there (and depending on how many stripes I get out of the first color.

In the meantime, I have two sock toes.

Tune in tomorrow …

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Monogamous knitting has never been my strong suit. Although I do get projects finished (eventually and occasionally quickly), I am more of a *squirrel!* knitter. I am easily distracted by some new project or yarn or idea or even by a reminder of a previous possible project. Sometimes I rapidly work through the knitting and then fail on the finishing.

Sock Pile

For example, my coping mechanism for the first several months of this year was knitting socks. I would cast on, knit, bind off, and move on to the next — whether the mate of the pair or a whole new pair — without stopping to weave in ends, wash, and block the previous item. As a result, when I decided to finally finish all of those socks so that I could wear them, I had a pile of twelve pairs of socks.

These days I am trying to focus a bit more … with somewhat limited success.

I have finished the striped socks mentioned in the previous post and started a second pair. I would like to get a third pair of a different variation either finished or well underway by October 1st so that I am ready to start with my marvelous minis from Dragon Hoard Yarn. I was feeling all focused and motivated when the distractions started (resumed might be a better word since this is not an uncommon occurrence).

First came the snow socks. There is a yarn line called Regia which produces lovely self-striping and self-patterning sock yarn, usually fingering weight, sometimes sport weight. The fine folks at Spinning Yarns in Dover, New Hampshire, sent me an e-mail to let me know that this year Regia is offering worsted weight, self-patterning sock yarn in five different “snow” colors. Worsted weight. Self-patterning. Sock yarn. Sign me up. I couldn’t get myself out the door fast enough.

Snow sock in progress

As an added bonus, the skeins are 150 grams rather than a more standard 100 grams, so with a little supplementation from my stash, I should be able to get two pairs of socks out of a single skein. I cast on as soon as I got home, and it’s going well so far. One sock is finished, and I am well on my way with the second.

The second distraction was a cowl, but at least it did not involve new yarn or a new project. A friend and I had a conversation about Copenhagen Calling (Ravelry link), a cowl pattern designed by Isabell Kraemer. It inspired me to dig out the partially finished one I had languishing in a project bag somewhere. Except that it turned out to be a completely different pattern, although by the same designer.

Beloved Berlin cowl in progress

I started Beloved Berlin (Ravelry link) at least two years ago, and quite possibly three, right about this same time of year. For some reason the approach of Halloween inspires me to knit in related colors more than any other holiday or season. If I want to actually finish the projects in time for the holiday, however, I really should start in July, which I can’t quite bring myself to do.

The good news is that I was farther along in the project than I remembered. The less good news is that it is 352 stitches knit in fingering weight yarn on a size 3 needle, so there was a fair bit of knitting left to do. Each round takes about 20 minutes, and I had about 40 rounds to go, plus the bind off. I have made more progress since this picture was taken, and I am down to 9 rows, so if I don’t get distracted yet again by something else, it could be finished this week.

Once it is finished, perhaps I will go back to an even older Halloween project, a pair of socks which I started before I figured out that I could turn fingering weight yarn into thicker yarn by holding the yarn doubled. Yes, I could pull out the work I have done so far and begin again with my new preferred formula, but I am about halfway through the first sock, and I love how the colors are striping and pooling, so I will continue as is. These socks probably won’t get finished this year either, but they have waited this long, and progress is still progress. The yarn is from Oink Pigments. I think the color is called All Hail the Pumpkin King.

Right. So that list puts me at four active, in progress, projects. I could start in on the sweaters, both in progress and planned, but I will save those for next time. Let’s see if I can finish something first.

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