Category Archives: finished object: socks

Knitting as Lifeline, part 9,261

Things to do while procrastinating on mountain of grading and lecture-writing which has not gotten smaller nor is likely to get any smaller between now until the end of time:

1. Celebrate completion of Charade socks.

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Congratulate self on perfect fit, pleasant bright colours, and lovely stitch execution. Ignore annoying pooling of Cherry Tree Hill at gusset.

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2. Celebrate socks as first Finished Object in three weeks. (Bless me knitting goddess, for I have sinned, it has been three weeks since my last Finished Object). Contemplate other remaining projects and their states of 3/4 done-ness and ponder how fast it is reasonable to assume they will reach state of 100% done-ness.

3. Dump stash onto floor (subsection: Mission Falls 1824 wool). Mourn loss of Cloth & Clay LYS whose closing provided much of said stash.

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4. Immediately start planning two sweaters, one scarf, and multiple hats. Ponder how many could be completed before Saturday departure for DC trip. Reduce plans to one scarf and one hat.

5. Ponder how soon is too soon to start planning Rhinebeck Sweater for 2009.

6. Recall Blackberry Cardigan still in state of 3/4 done-ness and curse self for not finishing old projects faster, in order to accommodate various whims and newfound stash affairs.

7. Finally face fact that starting five new projects will not, in fact, have side effect of getting any Real Work done. Grudgingly return to desk.

8. Keep ball of yarn nearby for clutching purposes. Just in case.

How’s your Monday?

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Filed under finished object: socks, stash

Yummy Socks

It’s a hand-painted sock-knitter’s world out there, and I’m just living in it. Or so it seems, a lot of the time. And while I have my own little stash of hand-painted and hand-dyed sock yarns, it makes it that much more of a relief to be reminded that a person can actually knit quite a decent pair of socks for less than $20.

This new finished pair speaks the truth – a lovely comfy and sturdy pair from Fibra natura Yummy in what I believe is the Raspberry Mocha colourway (in a basic 3×1 ribbing which has become my fall-back sock pattern lately). This is a pot-dyed yarn with the swooshy-mottled colour consistency reminiscent of hand-painted yarns, but with a tight twist and sturdy texture more like Patons Kroy Socks. For me, this is a good thing. I’m telling you, once you feel the twist on this stuff…I’ll just say I’ll be surprised if this doesn’t wear extremely well.

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I have another skein of this in the Sangria (both courtesy of the Purple Purl…someone should really go back there and buy all the Grapesicle purple skeins before I succumb even more), and I’m happy to knit another. As long as they keep on expanding the colour line I don’t see why this yarn shouldn’t be a popular seller. Lisa is using hers in a pair of gloves and is already planning a second pair, which tells me the attraction can’t just be a figment of my imagination.

And now…I need a new pair of socks to cast on. Decisions, decisions!

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Filed under finished object: socks, yarn review

Oh, Knit Picks.

I have a sort of love/hate relationship with Knit Picks. Or rather, a like/confused relationship. On the one hand, I enjoy their needles, they have a nice book selection, and I have enough Palette to knit several sweaters. But on the other hand, I am often confused or vaguely dismayed by the marketing choices they make (remember when they did up a sample sweater from ‘No Sheep For You’ in a cotton/wool blend? Sigh.) And then things like this happen:

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This is one of the pairs of gift socks I made for this Christmas (will be distributed late, sadly), and while I think the recipient will be pleased with them and wear them without concern, I’m a little embarrassed to be handing over a pair of socks that quite frankly does not match at all.

Both of these skeins were from the recently-added line of Knit Picks Essential Kettle-Dyed yarn, a yarn which is the same as their Essential sock yarn but dyed with a kettle-dye method. While they do warn on their site that this can result in variations between skeins, I’d like to think they would try to produce a little less variation than this – one sock looks like a solid blue, the other a highly variegated blue colourway.

Even if I were to have approached this by alternating skeins on the same project, this level of difference would have given me something more like stripes, not a blended semi-solid effect. Needless to say, I won’t be buying this yarn again. I think the extra savings isn’t worth it if the final product doesn’t give you what you want. Me, if I want a kettle-dyed effect, I’ll stick with Malabrigo sock or Araucania Ranco or something similar – the skeins are big enough for a full pair between them and I won’t end up with this kind of problem. For solid shades I don’t mind the regular Essential (it’s made several gifts for me in the past), but I’m not sure this ‘kettle-dye’ variation is worth it in the long run.

And I’ll also be investigating some yarn another pair for R, who deserves a pair of socks that match!

Hope your Sunday is going well. I have been struck by the sniffles and will be having a low-key day today. Thankfully with some knitting close by.

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Like Knitting with Chocolate

I’ve spent the last month considering my colour habits in knitting, specifically my relationship with the colour brown. (Well, I’ve done other things in the last month, too, but you understand). In all my colour selections in the past I’ve tended to avoid brown just as an impulse, because I usually associate it with all the other earthy tones like mustard yellow and rusty orange and reds that veer dangerously close to those first two sorts of shades. I like purples, pinkish reds, teals, and blues, and that’s that.

My Cabled Swing Cardi for Rhinebeck was the first point of re-consideration, and as a last-minute Rhinebeck knit I made up a second pair of Maine Morning Mitts in the pink-and-purple-o-riffic shade of Noro Silk Garden #251. And it finally sunk in that brown doesn’t always have to sit next to rusty earth tones, and that perhaps it is actually a pretty nice mix with the purples and reds and teals that I already love.

That same weekend I cast on for this pair of Jaywalkers, and my suspicions were confirmed:

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This is my 3rd pair of Jaywalkers in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock (5th pair overall), in the curiously named colourway of “Pilsen”. Whenever I’ve taken them out with me as travel knitting, they’ve received compliments and inquiries about the yarn, which I definitely take as a good sign. If brown can interact with these shades then I’m a fan. It’s not rust, it reminds me of truffles or berries dipped in chocolate, or layer cakes with cream and raspberries piled on top.

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So I decided to put my new appreciation of brown to the test on another small canvas, as I simultaneously gave in to the comforting wall of Patons Classic Merino on a recent yarn trip. I always look at the wall of Patons Classic with such longing and hope, because it’s a pretty stand-up basic yarn and does the trick for just about anything you want, even if it does lack some of the sturdiness of lanolin-y sheepswool. I am always left with the compulsion to walk out with an armload of it for a sweater but I always resist. And you know, it turns out gloves are pretty satisfying too:

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This is the glove pattern from Patons leaflet #1159, ‘Convertibles, Gloves, and Nordic Mittens’, which I’ve used a few times now and keep going back to because I like the snug use of 3.25mm needles combined with the Patons Classic, and geekily I like the way the thumb gusset is constructed. Sadly I think this is now out of print, but if you ever do come across one of these pattern leaflets I recommend it. I’m combining the shades ‘Petal Pink’ and ‘Chestnut Brown’ by alternating stripes every 3 rows, and so far I couldn’t be happier.

And with that, Monday greets me and I must spend some time doing things other than knitting. What’s on your needles for the winter?

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Filed under accessories, finished object: socks, socks

Just in time for fall

So, remember when Noro first announced that they were coming out with a sock version of their Silk Garden yarn, and you got really excited and waited and waited not very patiently all summer long for it to finally be available in stores, and then you finally got some and brought it home and petted it and only then stopped to think about what to do with it?

Okay that might actually have been me, not you. Well, if you’re me, you bought more than one skein and did this with one of them:

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Pattern: So Simple Silk Garden Socks, available here as a free download or for free on Ravelry.
Yarn: Silk Garden Sock, 300m/330yds per 100g, lamb’s wool/silk/nylon/mohair blend (1 ball).
Gauge: 24 sts over 4 inches in stockinette on 3.0mm needles
Sizing: I’ve written this up for 3 sizes, to fit a leg/foot circumference of 8, 9, and 10 inches, all of which are possible from just 1 ball of Silk Garden Sock. I made the middle size and had enough to make a swatch, complete the socks to fit my ladies Size 11 feet, and still have a little bit leftover.

If you’re making the largest size and are at all worried about running out of yarn, you can either shorten the leg by an inch or so, or substitute a short-row heel instead of the heel flap to extend your yardage. Or, for an even larger size, you could follow the pattern instructions for the S or M sizes and increase your needle size – SG Sock can handle 3.0mm-4.0mm pretty easily.

It’s a basic ribbed sock with a single cable for accent running along the outside of the foot – the ribbing and the cable add just a little bit of snugness, a teensy bit of vertical visuals to ease the sharp horizontal stripes, and keep things a little more interesting than plain stockinette. I am finding more and more that 3×1 ribbing has become my default for plain socks, more often than stockinette.

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I am definitely a fan of Silk Garden in all its guises, though I know not everyone is. Like the Noro Kureyon Sock, the Silk Garden Sock is more of a thinner version of its worsted-weight origins, than a sock yarn like the popular superwash merino softer-than-kittens sock yarns that are so ubiquitous now. (Sidebar: if lace yarn is the new sock yarn, how long before Noro delves into lace? Cash Iroha lace perhaps? Anyway…) The Silk Garden sock is also a slightly heftier yarn, and behaves more like a sport/DK than a fingering weight, so the possibilities are endless. Lightweight sweaters and scarves would be beautiful with this.

These socks took me just less than a week to finish, which also makes me a fan of this yarn – a slightly thicker sock yarn means fewer stitches and faster completion time. The socks themselves won’t be as slim and svelte as they would be on a lighter fingering weight yarn, but around these parts the fall air is starting to settle in in the evenings and I don’t mind having snuggly socks on my feet from time to time.

If you do knit up this wee pattern and have any comments or questions, please feel free to let me know! Happy knitting as always.

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Filed under finished object: socks, free pattern, socks

Sock it to me

Thank you so much for your comments on my previous post – it has been fantastic to note the range of leg sizes y’all have, and also I think fairly comforting to note that I think everyone has a size buddy out there somewhere. Chances are, whether you’re thinking “oh no my legs are too skinny/fat/shapely/weird shaped”, at least one somebody has the same kind of legs.

In other news, I am starting to think a photo course entitled something like “How to Take Sock Pictures With Your Own Feet” would sell big. An online tutorial. Something. I can never seem to make my entire foot look accurate whenever I do pictures like this. The bottom heel/sole of my right foot seems oddly misshapen somehow, and other shots made my toes look totally different on each foot, which surely cannot be right as they look pretty well the same to me when I am barefoot. Nonetheless, the socks themselves are lovely:

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The Jaywalker Socks have been a surprise for me. The first pair I made about 2 years ago came out too small, and became a gift. I sized up on the second pair and gnashed my teeth the whole time, swearing that I would never touch this pattern ever again. Then I started wearing the finished ones and loved them so much I had to admit the pattern had won. I made a third pair back in April, completed largely during my spring trip to New York thanks to lots of time in airports/planes/subways, and all the miscellaneous waiting around that travel does. This yarn is Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, in ‘Irving Park’. It’s the 2nd time I’ve knit Jaywalkers with Lorna’s Laces, and I suspect the two have now become permanently linked up in my knitting brain.

On my August Halifax trip, though, I needed a sock in a hurry and realized I had my final ball of Socks That Rock from the Rhinebeck 2007 purchases (though, um, not my last ball of STR in general, heh) all wound up in a bag with a pattern, so I just grabbed those on my way out the door. It is the ‘Coleen’ pattern from the Sweet Sheep Sock Club I joined last year.

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It is essentially a souped-up 3×1 rib pattern with accented stitches at the top of the leg and just before the toe. Since the pattern only uses 60 sts I felt good using the STR Mediumweight, as I would normally go with 64 sts on regular fingering-weight. The pattern is fine, although I am still wondering how well these decorative rows will hold up with wear, particularly the ones by the toe. But it was a quick knit and easy to do while on the go and driving all over Nova Scotia, so that was good.

I currently have no socks on the go but I do have approximately 6,781 things I want to cast on, so we’ll see how that holds up. I have 2 other sweaters currently in WIP form and a bit of a startitis itch. The Hourglass Sweater is thankfully done (as per usual the finishing languished for several days…even though it was hardly any finishing at all), but still needs to finish drying. It’s been a humid and rainy weekend around these parts, as I’m sure is the same for much of North America. Stay dry!

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Philip’s Socks

When I cast on with the Dream in Color Smooshy, I fell in love. Now that I’ve cast off, the love affair continues! I will definitely be getting more of this in the future. The Masonic Socks are finished, and will be in the hands of their recipient this evening. They’re a bit bigger than my feet need since they are for a male recipient, which is just as well since if they were my size I might be inclined to keep them.

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Check out that yummy stitch definition right there and please to be ignoring the one wee mis-crossed cable it means no harm it just needs love and forgiveness. It’s a bit hard to tell here with the finished socks displayed on my (makeshift coat-hanger) sock blockers, but that single cable runs down opposite sides of the leg and foot on each sock. One for the outside of each instep. The rest of the pattern is a combination of ribbing and hidden garter rib. Mmm.

Pattern: Masonic Socks by Quelle Erqsome Knits.
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy, in ‘Gothic Rose’
Needles: 2.5mm DPNs
Modifications: I increased the stitch count from 70 to 74. I did this by turning the 4 instances of ‘p1′ in the ribbing in the chart to ‘p2′ instead, and re-centreing the heel so that it would all match up in the end. It’s possible I messed something up, but it looks good and they are symmetrical so I think it’s all OK in the end. If I were making them for me I think I would actually stick with the 70 stitches in the original pattern.

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The other, ahm, ‘modification’ was an unintended one. There is supposed to be an inch or so of ribbing at the top of the sock, but I totally missed it. My eyes went right past the ribbing instructions (“cuff”) and started immediately on the ribbing chart instructions (“leg”). Thankfully I think the ribbing has enough snugness on its own and I’m confident they will be worn without slouch.

All in all an attractive pattern, easily memorized, just fiddly enough to be interesting, and worth knitting again. Two thumbs up!

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I take it all back

Privately I was very, very skeptical about the Noro Kureyon Sock. I’d heard about the complaints (primarily: “It’s too scratchy. There’s too much flotsam to pick out. It’s too thin.”) and just written it off as something I’d pass on in favour of waiting for the Noro Silk Garden Sock (Silk Garden is easily in my top 10 yarns ever). And then a few weeks ago at the Purple Purl Rochelle gifted me with a gift certificate, and I started staring at the pretty Noro colours, and before I knew it I’d put that gift certificate towards some Kureyon Sock.

And let me tell you, the colours, they WIN. Hands down. I take back all the trepidation I had. It’s just like knitting with very thin sheepswool – a little bit sticky, and softer the more you handle it and handwash it – and I didn’t notice enough veggie matter in my 2 skeins to write home about. Also, when you stripe 2 colourways together, you can do things like this:

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I love them. They fit like a dream. I knitted virtually nothing else but these while I was knitting them, and had them finished in just under 2 weeks. I had thought it would become tedious to keep switching colourways every 5 rows, but the effect was just the opposite. I loved seeing what shade would come up next and how the stripes would work out.

Project specs: Noro Knee-Highs
Yarn: Noro Kureyon Sock, #40 and #188
Needles: 2.25mm DPNs
Notes: I followed the same general approach that I documented here, and this time I made extra care to make them a little longer than I thought was long enough. I learned from my last pair of knee-socks that it is always better to err on the side of too long than too short, in both the leg and the foot. If the foot is too short, it will pull at the leg and the leg will become shorter, too. It also needs to be a little snug to stay up (at least 1.5 inches negative ease at the calf), and I knitted elastic thread into the cuff as is my preference.

With the Noro, I had about 20 grams of each skein left, and that was after I had yanked out several yards of each skein (in the #40, the olive green goes on for a WHILE, and it was starting to make the other colourway too obvious; In the #188, there is a part with yellow-flecked green that was making the combined colourways distractingly full-spectrum, so I yanked that out, too.) I used 1 colourway for the knee cuff/heel/toe, and the 2nd one for the cuff/heel/toe on the 2nd sock, to even the yarn quantities. In general, I think the 2 colourways one picks for a project like this have to be chosen carefully. They have to contrast enough to be obviously different, and yet if they are too different it will be distracting and disconcerting.

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At first I was very, very unsure about these. Depending what time you would have asked me, I would have said these were confusing/ugly/sexy/surprising/beautiful/the best thing ever knitted/the worst thing ever knitted. Now? I love them. I love them enough that I want to do another pair, it is just a matter of whether I will wait for the Silk Garden Sock or whether I’ll try another with the Kureyon Sock.

NoroKH3

Now my biggest problem is waiting out the summer until I can wear them for real. If only yarn lust were more seasonal.

Happy knitting, today and for the coming weekend!

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Return to the Scene

First up: I have formatted ‘Basic Black’ as a pdf, and it is now available on Ravelry (for those who are registered on the site), as well as right here:
Basic Black

But in the present-day knits category, I’m thrilled to have my first pair of finished socks in over a month. When I made a pair of Jaywalkers last summer I swore I’d never make them again. The knitting was monotonous, the stitches were many. But then I kept wearing the ones I’d made and thinking, gee, these are comfortable. Gee, maybe they might be worth it to try again…

So I dug up some of the Lorna’s Laces I’ve been hoarding (this is ‘Tahoe’, a beautiful watery mix of blue and green and purple and delightful for coming out of winter), and boy was I glad I did.

Jaywalkers-Tahoe

After all the sweater knitting, it is great to get some socks back into the rotation. These were great as a travel project and I finished all but the foot and toe of sock #2 while on my trip to New York. They’re comfortable and I look forward to knitting up more Lorna’s Laces…and dare i say it, maybe even some more Lorna’s Laces Jaywalkers. I may have found my perfect Jaywalker yarn.

As far as the sweaters, I’ve cast off one more and ‘Glowing’ is now having a wash and then I’ll give ‘er a bit of a dry and see how she fits. I’m just itching to get to some new projects and it feels good to finish a few things first.

This week I am once again like a ship in the night, as I take off for Boston on Tuesday. This time it is for a conference (let me tell you about how much I would love to be able to ditch it, but sadly I have to go “present” and “be professional” or whatever, psh), and I already have the guidebooks in hand and the yarn store addresses ready. I’d like to get to Mind’s Eye Yarns, A Good Yarn, and Windsor Button, but am entirely open to suggestion.

May your knitting be close by!

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More, please

Korknisse notwithstanding, I had about 2 weeks of project monotony in the end of January and beginning of February. It was good for me, because I produced these:

Garnet Dreams Knee Socks

They might look like regular (albeit pretty) socks, but no. They are very much more than regular socks. These are the things that will help me get through the cold winter long before they get the chance to look pretty with a nice skirt, come springtime. These are keeping the cold draft from flying up my pant leg and chilling me to the core. (Well, that along with a knitted sweater). These are knee-highs. Ta-da! The first finished project from my Rhinebeck 2007 purchases.

Garnet Dreams Knee Socks

Pattern: None. A personalized process which I will discuss below.
Yarn: Socks that Rock Mediumweight, ‘Garnet Dreams’, 2 skeins (used approximately 3/4 of each one)
Needles: 3.0mm DPNs
Notes: These contain elastic thread knitted into the cuff, as is my preference – I think every pair of knee socks I make will continue to have elastic in the cuff, it keeps ‘em sturdy and staying up where you need them. Elastic + leg shaping is my anti-slouch plan.

Someone asked me a little while ago what pattern I was using to make these, and there isn’t one. Anyone can make a pair of knee socks, just like anyone can make a regular pair of socks to fit their own feet. All you need is a gauge swatch, a tape measure, and your leg. There are already places online where you can find detailed instructions for stockinette knee socks (such as here), but the gist of what you need to know is this:

a) measure your leg circumference at the widest point of the calf in inches. Multiply this number by your number of sts/inch (according to your swatch), then subtract 1-2 inches’ worth of stitches (negative ease helps them fit and stay up). This is the # of stitches you will knit at the upper leg. Subtract a dozen or two sts from this number, and that’s how many you’ll use for the ribbing to cast on. (I used 88 sts for the leg, increasing just after the ribbing from a cast-on 76 sts, for this weight – BUT if you are using lighter yarn this may change. It is always better to err on the side of snug than loose, in all measurements with knee highs.)

b) measure your leg length from the top of your heel to the back of your knee, above the widest point of your calf. This is approximately how long your sock needs to be, not counting the inch or so of ribbing at the top cuff. I say “approximately”, because depending on your amount of negative ease, there will likely be some horizontal stretch and you’ll need to add an inch or so to keep the sock at its intended length while it is actually on your leg. (My sock length is 14.5 ins.)

For both the leg and foot, it is better to err on the side of too LONG than too short. If the leg or foot is too short, it will pull down as you wear the sock, and you’ll be constantly tugging them up to keep from falling down.

c) measure your leg circumference at your ankle, multiply by your number of sts/inch, then subtract 1-2 inches for negative ease. This is the number of stitches you want to arrive at for your ankle. If you’ve made stockinette socks before in regular length, you probably already have a good idea what you want this number to be, given the weight of yarn you’ll be using. (I used 56 sts since this is a heavier sock yarn. Usually I use 64 sts.)

There’s one more thing here, and it should be pretty obvious given how those socks are swooshing and pooling the colours in different ways at different points on the leg. There is, of course, shaping. You have to decrease from the number of stitches in (a) to the number of stitches in (c), starting after the widest point of your leg and ending by the time you get to the ankle. My shaping follows the yellow line in the image below, according to the shape of my own leg:

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For me, for this weight of yarn, I would knit evenly in stockinette for about 4 inches after the cuff, then decrease 2 stitches (at the “back” of the leg) every 4 rows 5-6 times, then every 3 rows for the rest of the decreases. If I was using a slightly smaller gauge I would probably do all my decreases every 4 rows. Then, this still leaves me with a few inches of even stockinette to hug my leg around the ankle. Your leg may be different, though – you might want to do your shaping in a way that stops almost directly at the ankle itself, depending on the shape of your leg.

[EDIT]: Oh yeah, and one more thing: try the sock on OFTEN. This is key. It’s better to know that you need to add a bit of extra length or re-start the shaping a bit earlier or work the decreases a bit farther apart before, say, you finish the entire sock. I try mine on 3 or 4 times throughout the whole process. Then just use the 1st sock as a guideline for the 2nd.

After that, the rest involves the same set of decisions you’d make for any other sock – what kind of heel? (I used the flap. Definitely love the sturdy flap heel) What kind of toe? How long to make the foot? How to stave off boredom of knitting more and more stockinette? Ah yes, such a lovely nuanced decision-making opportunity, socks are. All in all, this is the sort of thing that takes a lot more energy to explain than to actually execute. And I fully plan on having more custom-fit knee socks entering into my closet!

Garnet Dreams Knee Socks

More, more, more please.
Stay warm!

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Filed under fearless knitting, finished object: socks, free pattern, knee socks, socks