Category Archives: finished object: socks

Socks are great

It dawned on my this morning as I was shoving clean laundry back into its various resting places (inside closets and drawers instead of a big pile in front of the closets and drawers, as often happens, so go me), that I couldn’t remember the last time I purchased a pair of store-bought socks. I had to really think about it. I think I bought some thin dress-sock sort of pairs back last…March? maybe? And some tights around the same time, but I don’t think those count. (While I could knit myself tights, I don’t think I’m going to. Even I have some limits.) I have well over two weeks’ worth of pairs of hand-knit socks, and I love them all. I have knitted more than the ones that are in my sock drawer, of course, but the ones that live in my own wardrobe have served me well and are in happy colours that make me glad to knit and wear them.

I know that a lot of knitters don’t take to socks and probably have shelves full of scarves and hats instead, and that’s entirely cool. For me, I can’t imagine a time when I didn’t have a fistful of my own hand-knit socks to choose from, and that is awesome to me.

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Many of them have also now been with me for a few years, and are starting to look it. So this January I finally got myself on that, and added two new pairs to the drawer. One was this plain ribbed pair, (a 3×1 ribbed sock, as I so often enjoy) adjusted to 60 sts from my usual 64, because this is Socks That Rock Mediumweight (in an unknown mill end colourway) and is a bit weightier than what I might normally use. And damn if these didn’t come together quickly. I knitted a large portion of them while sitting in movie theatres (caught up on The King’s Speech and The Black Swan after renting The Social Network and Toy Story 3, and am still working myself up for 127 Hours and True Grit…and realizing I have possibly been watching the Oscar nominees in descending order of cheerfulness and maybe I should have thought this through better but I digress), which isn’t as easy to do with ribbing as with stockinette but still do-able.

I love them. They are bright and red and cheerful and anti-winter while still being warm and comfortable, and I’m wearing them right now. Before I finished these, though, I actually went back and finished up a pair of Jaywalkers that had gotten started way back last summer, then neglected when new fall knitting took up its siren song. I only had about 2/3 of the second sock left, so once I picked them up again and got a bit of momentum they were done like dinner.

Feb17-LornasLaces

The yarn is Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, which is my go-to yarn for Jaywalkers, knitted on the larger size over 72 sts and 2.25mm needles. They fit me just right. Given the wicked and violent pooling action going on here, I’m sure it’s not surprising to you that the colourway name is ‘Zombie BBQ’. Ahhh, zombie sock goodness.

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And now I’ve got more sock knitting on the go, which is fantastic since I’m off this weekend for a short jaunt to Vancouver for a change of scenery. I hear they have grass there, that isn’t covered in snow. But I’m going to go down in person just to check it out for verification purposes.

Catch you next time from the west coast! Happy knitting this Thursday evening.

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Filed under finished object: socks

Miscellaney on a Thursday

As my brain slowly pieces itself back together this week, I find myself in that messy little in-between phase of tidying up after projects now out the door, reckoning with neglected Works-In-Progress, and moving forward with a few new things. And fleetingly I keep trying to remind myself of other bits and pieces that I have to tell you about. So, let’s have a list, because, as my friend Liz likes to say, I heart lists.

1. I’m on the teaching docket twice more at the Purple Purl this coming June. On June 20th I’ll be running my Steeking class again (1 session, 3 hours, plenty of snip-snip practice – with hand-holding and chocolate as needed). I’ll also be running a Knee Socks class on June 27th, (1 session, 2 hours), for anyone who’d like some tips and guidance on how to cover as much of your leg as possible with knitting. Come on out and we’ll have an awesome time.

2. Speaking of socks, I finished some. I knitted about 2/3 of these during my trip to DC in mid-April, then came home and let the second one sit there, foot-less, until I finally picked them up this week. The sock drawer grows by another pair, I love the colour (a mystery shade of Socks That Rock, plucked from a rack of mill ends at Rhinebeck 2008), and they are comfy and purposeful.

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3. Michelle at the Sweet Sheep will be selling the Azalea Mitts by kit and by individual pattern, and I’ll let you know asap as soon as the links for those go up in her shop.

3.b. I still really really love the bobbles and sort of want to make another pair of them right away.

4. I am, at the very least, thinking about doing some spinning. I’m pretty sure this almost qualifies as actually doing some spinning, and am therefore duly congratulating myself.

5. When Rebecca visited me last weekend she brought an awesome little giftie:

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5.b. The crafter who made it seems to be sold out of the bags, but I think everyone should go see if she has a waiting list to get on to buy more of them, so that she can make lots of money and that more people can have these bags to carry around.

5.c. I am inexplicably indecisive about what project to carry around in it.

6. I discovered that my town’s art gallery shop sells re-prints of the original “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters, in various colours. I bought one in pink.

7. After starting the week out with some hefty knitting ennui, I think I am about to rebound by starting 3 shawls. This should get interesting.

Further bulletins as events occur.

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New Sock Pattern, and Cabling Without A Cable Needle

Today I’m happy to unveil my latest sock pattern, which is also my entry for the Socks Revived contest. (I’d been delaying a bit hoping to get some super snazzy photos – but it turns out that travelling around and being trapped under piles of grading does not lend itself to super snazzy photo session time, so I hope these will do!) Happily, I present the Revival socks – available here in my Ravelry store and, for a limited time, here as a free download. I am offering the pattern for free until April 30th, and as of May 1st it will be a sale download through Ravelry and Patternfish as per my other patterns. Ta da!

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When I set out to design something for the contest I wasn’t entirely sure what it was going to look like. I wanted something that would require some concentration and technicality in the execution (because I hate being bored by my knitting), but that would still maintain some simplicity in the final look (because I didn’t want a sock that would look too precious or chaotic to actually, you know, wear). I also am not a huge fan of cutesy or over-stated. And since I’ve been harbouring plenty of twisted-stitch thoughts and art deco-ish inspriation lately, I put that to work on these socks.

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I like socks that have repeating motifs and which show off the pattern details over the top of the foot and leg where most people will see it. I also like cables and twisted stitches. (Headline: no one surprised). This pattern features a series of (fully charted) cables (all cables and twists are worked over 2 sts) to create an attractive set of linear motifs, which also have the practicality of providing a bit of structural integrity. Cables always snug things up a bit, and I like that in a sock. I’ve included instructions for both Magic Loop (which I used in making them), as well as DPNs (with which I am well familiar). Use whichever method is more comfortable for you.

You’ll also see that, like some of my other sock patterns, I include a decorative heel and toe which extends some of the stitches from the main chart. I like the detail and I think it creates a very sharp look, but don’t be shy about modifying this if it suits you – work a regular old slipped stitch heel flap or short row heel if you like, or keep the toe plain if you prefer.

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I include sizing instructions based on modifying gauge. This sample was worked on 2.75mm/US 2 needles (over 68 sts), and comfortably fits a foot/ankle size of 8-9 ins around. Increase or decrease the needle size for best fit according to the size you are knitting for. This sample was worked in Madelinetosh tosh sock, and even for my Size 11 feet I still had a small amount of the 395-yds skein leftover.

Finally, there is one thing you’ll want to know that will make this pattern about a kabillion times easier, which is the method of cabling without a cable needle. It’s how I worked the pattern and my notations strongly encourage you to do so.

If you’re looking for tips on how to do this, it turns out that Knitting Daily’s Sandi Wiseheart is sharing a piece of my brain this week, as she chose this week to do a post on just this topic. In her post she shares links for 2 other cabling-without-a-cable-needle tutorials (it turns out there are several ways of approaching this), and also does a pretty decent job of explaining the method that I use.

Back at the knitting retreat I went to in February with some of the Toronto crowd, she mentioned that she’d never quite gotten the hang of doing it. And I was suitably astonished at this, and sat down (as I was happily whizzing away on my Portland pullover, cable-needle-free) and showed her how I do it. I think she has actually done an even better job than me of explaining it (though I’m still going to give it a shot too, no worries), and articulating through photos and written instructions how to make the cable twist first, then work the stitches. (Essentially, I always keep the “live” stitches to the front of the work, and work the twist-switcheroo on the right needle for right-leaning cables, and on the left needle for the left-leaning cables). Go check out the photos and have some needles and yarn ready to practice it yourself if it’s something you haven’t tried before.

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If you aren’t a cables-without-a-cable-needle person, you can still knit these socks. But I think being able to become fluent with the technique makes cable knitting accessible in more ways and situations (no worry about losing the cable needle on the subway, say), and can move you along more quickly than otherwise.

Anyhoodle, I hope you’ll enjoy the pattern! Happy Friday, and keep the knitting close by.

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Filed under cables, design, fearless knitting, finished object: socks, free pattern

Finishing is Finishing

I am entering a relatively busy knitting cycle at the moment, working away steadily on several things which will (I promise) be revealed here in the fullness of time as they are completed. I also still have my Portland cabled pullover which is getting steady morning bus knitting time and is proceeding apace, although at this stage any progress photos have the effect of looking like just more of the same cables I showed you back when I was working the first piece…So it’s all ticking along, but it is also true that much of this is knitting work requiring a fair chunk of my brain and/or concentration. Which I love, because I sort of love sinking my teeth into skills-building (or skills-requiring) projects, but the brain needs rest at some point.

And this is where nice plain socks come in. Here are my finished 3×1 ribbed socks, in Socks That Rock lightweight (Never on Sunday colourway, purchased last summer at Lettuce Knit during Toronto’s TTC knitalong).

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A few people have asked me about these, wondering what the stitch pattern is – really, for real and true, all it is is ribbing. Work as you would a regular plain sock, but instead of working plain stockinette over the leg and instep, work “k3, p1″ ribbing instead. It’s a small thing that, to me, makes a world of difference. It makes you pay attention just enough that you’re not bored, but not so much that it stops being relaxing. I now prefer ribbed socks to stockinette for just that reason, and there is also the added bonus that they fit a tiny bit more snugly thanks to the ribbing.

Go forth and knit ribbed socks, for yea verily, they are good. (Hmm, I may now need to start a new pair…)

Happy Sunday!

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A good old sock

At the tail end of 2009 I managed to cram in several finished objects in quick succession, so I suppose it is only fitting that the first finished objects of 2010 have been rather slow to reel in. I finished my Noro striped scarf and have been wearing it happily, but a week ago I finally finished the first pair of socks I’ve cast on this year. It’s actually been a few months since I’ve had a new pair of socks to add to my drawer, and they are pleasantly comfy.

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These are the ‘Charade’ socks (pattern is currently, as far as I can tell, only available as a free Ravelry download – original web page seems to be non-existent), done up in Tanis Fiber Arts fingering weight in one of her new variegated colourways. This one is ‘rhythm’, and is suitably modest enough to go with my everyday wardrobe, which is what I was going for.

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It’s a pretty easy pattern, and one that would look decent with either semi-solids or variegateds. The stitch pattern is slightly more snug than normal stockinette, so apply your knowledge of gauge and foot size accordingly. I do find, though, that while it’s an easy pattern and I like the way it looks, and I’ll probably knit it again at some time, it’s one of those sorts of patterns that requires just enough brain energy to make me weary of it after a while. So for my next in-the-handbag sock I’ve pulled a skein of Socks That Rock from the stash for a plain old 3×1 ribbed sock. (My standby sock approach, in the absence of Lorna’s Laces knitted into Jaywalkers, as is my want).

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Me and Socks that Rock, though, we always have the pooling. It’s almost comforting, that I can count on that happening every time. Swooshy colourful socks, here we come.

Happy weekend knitting!

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There’s No Place Like Home

The first thing I have to say is this; If you go back and comment on my last post and are not a Canadian, then I’ll put your name into a hat to win a free copy of the Canadian Living December 2009 issue with my Mulled Wine Mitts in them. Comment and tell me where you’re from and what your favourite thing to knit for winter is. 3 winners will be chosen. That’s right, 3! Share the warmth, baby. Comments accepted until Saturday morning at 10 am EST.

(If you’re not in Canada your only recourse is to phone up your – possibly long-lost – friends and relations here to the North and bribe them to send you a copy of the magazine, as the knitting pattern in it is currently available only in that print copy. If and when this changes I’ll let you know. But seriously folks, the cover price for the whole magazine is only $4. It’s worth it for the shortbread recipes alone.)

The second thing I have to say is…Okay, so remember back in September when I said I was going to have a few designs to talk about in the next couple of months? Well lo and behold I’ve already managed to reveal 4 of them, but I have at least one more to tell you about, which is sort-of-new-but-not-really. (I promise to the highest stashly heavens that I’ll return to regular blogging posts soon and this won’t just be an all pattern-reveals-all-the-time, I swear…It is too bizarre how these things coalesce some times…)

So anyhow…Remember back in the summer when I knitted my pair of Wicked knee-highs? Well, as it turns out, so did Michelle from the Sweet Sheep, who dyed the yarn that I used for them. She chatted me up at Sock Summit and was all, “sooo, wanna sell me the pattern and I could totally kit that up so other people could knit it?” And I was all, “absitively, but you know what else we need…we need another colourway.”

And since the first colourway of purple, green, black, is now known as ‘Wicked’, well…I’ll give you three guesses about the second one, and the first two guesses don’t count.

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This, my friends, is the ‘Yellow Brick Road’ colourway. Michelle is currently furiously dye-ing away yarn for both of these colourways (there may be a third one in the works…go on, I dare you to guess). And, if you go on over to her blog right now you could win one of these sock kits for free if you leave a comment over there, too. I mean, who could pass up the chance for a free knitting kit, I ask you?

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Sweet Sheep Tight Twist

I just love these, I really do. Michelle dyes a wonderful fingering weight – it is a unique base yarn, sort of in between Louet Gems and Socks That Rock, if I were to describe it – and her colours have a very nice mottled quality that really work well knitted up in stripes.

When the kits are available for official pre-order both Michelle and I will be sure to make the announcement. They will have sizing instructions for shaping to fit legs of 12-17 inches in calf circumference, and tips on how to achieve the best fit for your leg. And best of all, they’ll have all 3 awesome colours that you need.

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So, that’s plenty of me for another day, I’d say. Go on over and see if you can win yourself a free knee sock kit! And have an awesome Wednesday.

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Filed under design, finished object: socks, knee socks

14 Karat

Here they are, folks, my latest sock pattern here at Knitting to Stay Sane and, if I may say, some darned pretty ones at that. I’ve had these done up for a few months now and it gives me great pleasure to finally set them out into the world to seek their fortune be knitted by other people.

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If you’re a sock knitter, or even a person who just hangs out in yarn shops a lot (or maybe stalks a lot of yarn online…not that I’d know about that)…you eventually start to develop an appreciation for sock yarns. Now that I’ve started to make knitting a part of my tourism plan when I visit other cities or as a reason to travel in the first place (Rhinebeck, anyone?) I’ve also started to develop a fondness for sock yarns because they are so easy to collect and bring home with you. This is very much the genesis of the 14 Karat socks.

Last year I came home with a skein of ‘Amethyst’ Flock Sock yarn from Holiday Yarns (formerly VanCalcar Acres). Jennifer dyes some awesome yarn over there. I brought home my lone skein of Amethyst and stared at it all winter. And then at some point something in my brain started turning over the depth of the semi-solid colour, and the whole amethyst thing, and I started thinking about how to make that into a whole sock – something with the same elegance and delicacy of gemstones, but not without some symmetry and a few hard edges, just like gems and jewelry tend to have. After a few attempts, the socks you see here were born. The second pair came easily with a ‘Garnet’ skein of Tanis Fiber Arts fingering weight, and Voila! 14-Karat style.

The pattern is currently available through my Ravelry store only, at a cost of $5.00, but I will be sure to notify you as a print copy sales location becomes available.

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This pattern combines a variety of stitch patterns in one – I have a fondnes for twisted stitches, it’s true, but there is also just the tiniest hint of lace and cables. The socks have a lot of long lines which elongate the leg and foot for a very fitted and elegant look. Elements of this pattern are extended into the heel and toe. The instructions do indicate cables through cable needle use, but if you are familiar with cabling-without-a-cable-needle technique you will be able to make use of that here quite well.

Because the instructions rely on a single main chart (repeated over the front and back of the leg), the number of stitches remains consistent for all sizes, achieving sizing instead through changing gauge. I used 2.5 mm needles (gauge of 8.5 sts/inch) for the smaller, ‘Amethyst’ sample, which is shown on a foot/ankle circumference of 8 ins around. The ‘Garnet’, medium sample, is shown on my own feet which have a 9 ins circumference and used a 2.75mm needle (8 sts/inch). Pattern instructions include gauge indications to identify based on your own preferences.

14Karat-2

I have written the pattern from the cuff down or ‘top down’ as is my preference, however skilled toe-up knitters will be able to modify this without too much difficulty provided you maintain the integrity of the pattern through the heel and toe. The heel and toe extend elements of the main chart. Additionally, I have indicated instructions for both Magic Loop and DPN (double-pointed knitters). As for myself, I bridge fairly easily now between Magic Loop and DPNs, and enjoy using these in combination on sock patterns that use symmetrical stitch patterns like this. When I worked these I actually used the Magic Loop technique through the heel and then switched back to DPNs for the foot. Suit yourself, dear knitter!

14Karat-PairB

So I think once you’ve finished your own pair of 14 Karat socks and feel the elegance and decadence befitting a sock knitter of your expertise, you should end the festivities with champagne, yes? I mean, once you’ve indulged yourself this far…(and I do mean yourself…save the gift knitting for the second pair, my friends ;) )

I’ll also give a shout-out to my friend Patricia, who received and modelled the smaller ‘Amethyst’ pair and dressed to match for the photo shoot. Those are her sparkly-toed shoes in the cover photo, and doesn’t she look dapper? I could only aspire to such elegance.

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As always happy knitting – and go out and get yerself some sock yarn!

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Filed under finished object: socks, socks

A time and place for tedium

The thing about the Jaywalker socks, and why they work so well for me, is partly because I have managed to happen upon a combination of pattern, needle size, and yarn that produces really great socks for my feet. I love that they fit so well and that I can wear them when I want socks that look just a little bit dressier than normal, and that they’re sturdy enough to wear week after week. Me and the Lorna’s Laces and the Jaywalkers, we are friends.

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However, the other reason that I have managed to keep on knitting this pattern eight times now (the 1st pair didn’t fit, the 2nd pair was in a different yarn, and the last 6 pairs, well, you know how the rest of that story ends), is that they have managed to be really great travel knitting. I have started to get into the habit of casting on a pair before I leave on a trip, and that becomes my dedicated knitting in buses, subways, airport waiting rooms, airplanes, cafes, and pretty much where ever I feel like pulling them out. The same repetitive 2-row repeat that felt tedious and boring and unbearable when I started with the pattern suddenly becomes a lot more manageable – dare I say it even enjoyable – when I’m struggling for patience in various forms of transit or periods of waiting largely beyond my control.

Then, of course, what inevitably happens is that I finish the first sock on my trip, start the second one, and when I’m at home again the second sock which should really only take a week or so of knitting ends up taking a month, and I start to despair of ever having another sock knitting project in my handbag, ever.

And then I get over myself and just finish it already. This pair – in two beautiful skeins of ‘Mixed Berries’ Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock – came off the needles on Friday and then I took all weekend to getting around to sewing up the toes. (Have I mentioned that me and kitchener stitch are not friends?)

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One interesting fallout from knitting the same sock over and over again is that I care a lot less when I make mistakes. On pair #1 or #2, a glaring error like this in the middle of the sock probably would have driven me nuts. By pair #8, I just keep on knitting. It becomes a unique “design element”, making this pair in some way different from all those that have come before and those that are yet to come. Totally cool with it.

Sept7-JaywalkersLeftovers

I’m not sure which colourway I’ll pick next – probably around the time I leave for Rhinebeck in October – but judging from this little collection of leftovers, I’d say I’ll probably try to steer away from the pinks and blues and try something a bit different. So many colourways to choose from, so little time.

At least until the next pair.

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Filed under finished object: socks, socks

Pretty Wicked Stockings

After having several projects in progress for the last little while, it feels very good to be reeling in a few finished ones. These knee-high stockings are finished after a few weeks’ work and I’m glad I decided to do them. They’ll be coming with me to the Sock Summit and likely be my Ravelry party-wear. Because where else would you wear a wicked pair of socks like these but to a gathering of knitters?

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Cast On: July 11, 2009
Cast Off: August 1, 2009
Needles: 2.5mm DPNs
Yarn: The Sweet Sheep‘s own fingering weight, in incarnations from 2007 (shamrock green) and 2008 (joker purple), and Malabrigo Sock (black). (Incidentally, the Sweet Sheep will also be a vendor at the Sock Summit this week, and Michelle is just about the nicest person ever.) I worked the stripes in rows of 2-4-2-4 (black-purple-black-green) on repeat, and chose to keep the purple for the heel and toe since Michelle’s earlier blend (in the green) did not have nylon in it but her later one (purple) did, and I wanted to preserve the strength of the nylon blend at those points of abrasion.

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Pattern: There is no specific pattern for this, just math and gauge. I started with my known gauge for this yarn, multiplied that by the number of inches around at my upper calf, and then subtracted 2.5 inches’ worth. This gave me the # of stitches for the upper calf. I subtracted about a dozen stitches from this number to work the ribbing, then increased immediately.

I worked the upper-calf # of stitches for 5 inches, then worked pairs of decreases at the middle of the back of the leg every 4 rows, until I reached 64 sts. From there I continued even until I was at the length I needed to cover my whole leg (making sure to try this on for verification), and from this point on it became just a plain sock with a heel flap and gussets and wedge toe.

Overall, I’m pretty darned pleased. And as a bonus, I also finished up my pair of on-the-go socks I’ve had for a little over a month, in Socks That Rock Lightweight (I think the colourway is ‘rolling stone’, but can’t be completely sure because it was a mill end picked up at Rhinebeck). These are plain Knit 3-Purl 1 ribbing at 64 sts around, and I squeaked ‘em out with just a teensy bit of yarn leftover. STR Lightweight’s yardage pushes my Size 11s to the very edge, but I can usually make it through on a single skein.

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Socks, socks and more socks. What are the odds that in a couple of weeks I’ll have a sudden urge to cast on 7 new sweaters? I’m thinking…pretty darned strong. But I’ve got more sock knitting in me this week, which is a darned good thing.

Happy knitting today, folks!

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Filed under finished object: socks, knee socks

Just another Jaywalker

I’ve done me a fair number of Jaywalker socks in my time. It’s one of the few patterns I’ve done multiple times. (I could tell you about that winter I knitted five Harry Potter scarves as gifts. Oie.) It works for me because when I take it with me on transit or travel, the monotony of the 2-row repeat is just soothing enough to chill me out but easy enough that my brain can still think thoughts if it wants to. Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock has become my yarn of choice for the Jaywalkers since it’s lightweight enough to work on the 84-sts size I need (keep in mind that this pattern biases quite a bit), the yardage goes for days (did I mention I have Size 11 feet?) and the colourway options are just about endless. This is LL Jaywalker pair #5 for me, which puts me 2 pairs away from one for every day of the week.

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I made this pair in the recently-released ‘Rockwell’ colourway, which allows me to cling to favourite shades of blue and purple while stepping a toe in the less familiar orange and olive directions. Perfect. Just another pair of Jaywalkers, yes? Well, take a look at what happens once we get to the feet:

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I generally expect a bit of pooling on the feet since the stockinette soles change things up a bit, and I decrease a few extra stitches on the gussets to make things snug, and that changes the stitch count between leg and foot…But dudes, I have never had pooling quite like this. Check out that sock on the right. Completely blue/purple on the top…

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And totally orange/green on the bottom. Wild. I can’t get mad at it. I mean, not only did the yarn pool so neatly but it had the courtesy to leave my favourite 2 shades of the 4 on the most visible portion of the sock. Thanks, Rockwell colourway. We can be buds.

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And now, I get to start new socks. That’s the best part of finishing socks, am I right?

Happy knitting!

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Filed under finished object: socks