Category Archives: finished object: socks

It’s both, damnit

Last Saturday during my Toronto day, I met up with Austen for lunch and knitting time, and among other things the conversation drifted towards that ubiquitous question of being a process knitter or a product knitter. She came down firmly on the side of product knitting, for herself – she wants the finished thing, to wear and use and immediately integrate into her wardrobe. I agreed that I have product knitter tendencies, though often in a very different way. I always want to be able to wear the finished thing, but mostly I want to just finish the thing; I like having it done and knowing that it is complete, successful, and something to check off my list as done before being able to move onto something else. (Side note: maybe what I really love isn’t the Finished Product feeling, but the Being Able To Start A New Project feeling? Hmm.)

But at the same time, I can’t shrug off the process. I love knitting, and I especially love knitting that isn’t boring. I need to reach for something that’s going to engage my mind in some way, even if it’s a repeating 2-row pattern or a ribbed sock that makes me stop and work heels and toes every so often. I like knitting that asks a little something of me.

I mean, why else would I not only design a pattern with stabby twisty tiny cables for Kim’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer yarn, but then go on to knit the pattern not once, not twice, but three times? That’s definitely process and product working together. I love working the cables, but darn it all I want to show them off, too.

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It’s true. I did one as a test sample, one as the real sample, and then this third pair here as a variation. In the pattern instructions I let people know that one way to modify the sock is to omit the swooshy diagonal across the instep, and simply continue the leg cable chart all the way down the front of the foot. It produces a more classic look and is possible a bit more versatile for both men and women looking for some cabled sock action. So I decided to actually go ahead and do that myself, and snagged another skein of Kim’s Merino Sock (you can’t have just one), and cast on. This deep purple is lovingly named ‘Edward Discovers Wood Chippers Make Excellent Juicers.’

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Same delicious stake-through-the-heart cables as in the original pattern, just more of them to love. And they are toasty and comfy to wear. I’m glad I finally got around to sewing up the toes on these babies, because spring’s the perfect time to show off new socks – no longer buried under boots, but still cool enough to need the layer.

As luck and timing would have it, the pattern is now available not just to Indigodragonfly club members (I did this pattern for the October 2010 installment), but in the form of a kit. (The pattern will be available individually through wide release in my Ravelry and Patternfish stores, as of June 15th.)

No matter what you’re knitting on this weekend, I hope you enjoy both product and process! Happy Friday.

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Filed under cables, design, finished object: socks

Catch-all

1. A few days after working up all the finishing on the Dusseldorf Aran, I finally gave it a bath and laid it out for drying/blocking. But it is still a wool/alpaca sweater drying in a basement apartment, and is thusly taking approximately twelve thousand years to do this. (Or, possibly, 2 days instead of just 1.)

2. Now that the club members have had a couple of weeks head start in getting their packages in the mail, it’s safe to blog about the sock design I did for the Tanis Fiber Arts ‘year in colour’ yarn club. And in fact, Tanis lovingly beat me to the punch!

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It’s her Purple Label cashmere sock, in a club colourway called ‘Clover’. At the time that she handed the skein off to me, though, it was simply labelled as ‘March’, as that was its calendar designation. It’s funny how the yarn name works in combination with the colour, though, because as I pondered the colour during the winter months I just kept thinking March March March March, green Marchy goodness… And I knew the idea I wanted to bring to it, it was just a matter of fine-tuning in execution until I got what I wanted. Bright, leafy, viney, knotty socks were just the ticket – and a reminder that spring does return, and winter does in fact, recede. I called them ‘Marching On’.

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3. Not that I’m enabling you or anything, but you can sign up for Tanis’ yarn club at any time in 2011, and you’ll get all the past subscription installments of the year when you sign up. (In 2012, all the patterns revert to designers and you can still have a crack at them even if you weren’t in the club).

4. At the very moment that Tanis was blogging about the socks on Saturday, I was in fact, going 2-for-2 on Saturday knitter encounters in Toronto. As I breezed through the Eaton Centre, Natalie was doing the same thing and we chatted and laughed for a bit. She was even in the presence of cute hand-knits, though believe me it was actually warm enough (finally) that we could genuinely consider ditching them. Hard to believe that time of year is on the horizon!

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5. Speaking of yarn clubs, if you’re looking for snarky smart-ass yarn clubs, there’s still time to sign up for Kim’s over at Indigodragonfly Yarns. I can personally verify the quality of said snark content is 100%.

Happy Thursday! And happy knitting.

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Filed under accessories, design, finished object: socks

Thank goodness for yarn

You know, the more I knit the more I am grateful to be a knitter in the spring. It has nothing to do with needing to produce a bunch of warm garments (although given weather reports for the near future around southern Ontario I don’t think we’ll be giving up the sweaters or gloves any time soon). In the fall transition, it is definitely about knitting the stuff. You get the whiff of chill in the air and suddenly you find yourself casting on five sweaters. No, for me in spring it’s mostly about the yarn. I get to carve out a half hour in the morning, or an hour or two in the evening, or whenever it is the knitting suits me, and spend that time staring at a colour that in no way resembles greying half-melted snowbanks, and the thought that non-knitters don’t get to do this makes me wonder how they survive waiting for spring.

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The Dusseldorf Aran, while slightly sidelined, is coming along gradually, and the bright magenta is helping. It’ll be a little while yet before that colour shows up in nature anywhere around here. (And oh yeah? Pleats. Pleats, man. This sweater has pleated cuffs. It’s the first time I’ve gotten the chance to do pleats on anything knitted, and I dig it. Bit of folding here, bit of DPN knit-3-stitches-at-once action there, and then you have pleats.)

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My project of adding a few more pairs of socks to the sock drawer is also coming along well, and last weekend I finished up another pair of 3×1 ribbed socks (from my basic ribbed sock pattern, in this post), in another Socks That Rock mill end colourway. (I’ve got to start making more dents in my Sock Summit stash, for serious.) And the best part of finishing a pair of socks (well, aside from wearing them)? Now, I get to walk over to my stash, look at all the yarn in all the colours, and pick out a new skein to knit with.

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Yarn pretty much rules. I hope you’ve got some waiting for you today! Have an awesome weekend.

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Filed under finished object: socks, socks, stash, sweaters

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.

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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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Filed under finished object: socks

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).

Mar7-SocksThatRock

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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Filed under finished object: socks