Category Archives: socks

And all I got was this really nice skein of yarn

This past weekend I visited the annual Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter’s Fair, which is usually a pretty good time and once again did not disappoint in the knitterly festivities. This time I was pretty good at browsing for new things and chatting with familiar faces (and new ones – you can’t help but bump into people in some of those corridors between vendor stalls), but remarkably sedate in my shopping. I emerged with just one skein of yarn. Mind you, it was a pretty great skein – 1000 yds of silk/merino laceweight from Fyberspates, purveyed by Feather Your Nest. It’s always nice to shop the stalls from the folks I wouldn’t normally visit otherwise, plus I found myself waiting for my sister or mother at some point and just staring at their shiny display, and in a matter of minutes it became not a matter of whether I would buy some but which colour I would buy. It’s great and I already know what I want to make with it.

Sept10-LaceYarn

And speaking of yarn and colour decisions at knitter’s fairs, I do sort of love how all of that unfolds. You can find yourself standing in front of a yarn display and picking up a skein and just holding it and suddenly be in conversation with the person next to you about how great the yarn is – and for all you know you have no chance of ever talking to that person again and have never seen them before in your life, but hey, let’s absolutely stop what we’re doing and have a chat about yarns and colours. Makes total sense.

The other nice part of the day was getting to see Stephanie’s talk on ‘This Is Your Brain On Knitting’ (highly recommendable), which in addition to being completely hilarious is extremely informative and validating about why knitters get so much out of knitting. I spent much of that lecture and the rest of the weekend knitting my then-current now-complete pair of ribbed socks, which was made even more satisfying by the knowledge that knitting as a repetitive visual-spatial pattern does, in fact, make our brains better and our selves more relaxed.

Sept12-BackstabberSocks

These are my latest Nice Ribbed Socks, in Socks That Rock Mediumweight, ‘Backstabber’ colourway. They really are that pink. So wonderfully, aggressively magenta-pink-and-purple that I sort of want to cast on five more things in this colour, but instead…

Sept12-TlingitSocks

…I cast on another pair of ribbed socks in an entirely different colour. (More Socks That Rock, in Lightweight this time, ‘Tlingit’ colourway). There will come a day soon when I do talk to you about other projects besides ribbed socks, but today my friends, today is not that day. Ribbed socks are awesome, fall is coming, and it turns out repetitive visual-spatial motion (aka knitting ribbing) is super awesome for my brain and therefore I have prescribed myself more of it. Onwards with September knitting!

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Sock it to me (ha)

This weekend, as I pondered the many new knits I want to get onto the needles this fall, having finished all of the deadline knits I needed to get done over the summer, I decided on a plan of attack which involved starting on no new projects whatsoever. Nothing new could come onto the needles, I decided, until I finished the current pair of socks on the needles, and since they were already more than half done I just buckled down and finished them. And now, lo and behold, I have the next snazzy new addition to the sock drawer, ready for when fall arrives. (Which may not be for a while, if the coming warm weather forecast is any indication). These are my ribbed socks with Turtlepurl self-striping sock yarns, in ‘Poisoned Apple,’ and they are completely delightful.

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My only regret is that I didn’t make them a skootch longer on the leg portion (that ribbing does decrease the vertical length when it expands), but they’re pretty cheerful nonetheless. It is really a funny thing how yarn can sneak up on you when you’re not looking – I never would have thought I needed self-striping sock yarn in my life at the moment, but these colours are just so darned cheerful and I couldn’t resist. I even made sure the two socks matched, and everything.

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I finished these up on Saturday and since it was a long ‘holiday’ weekend, I decided to just keep it going and cast on a new pair of socks and knit as much of them as I could before the weekend was over. Then I got hit with an entirely miserable amount of sneezing and sniffling and it turns out being in an antihistamine fog isn’t super amenable to concentrated knitting time, but still – Socks That Rock Mediumweight is fast, and deep dark pink is hard to put down.

Sept4-Socks

This skein of Socks that Rock (‘Backstabber’ colourway), I realized, is actually the first skein of Socks That Rock I ever purchased, several years ago, and thus is probably one of the oldest skeins in my sock yarn stash. It turns out you CAN knit from your stash sometimes, who knew?

And you know what else? it turns out that if you keep knitting socks, even just a few pairs a year, eventually your sock drawer will start to get full. I might actually need to start prioritizing sock drawer socks, and other-drawer socks. It’s a pretty great knitterly problem to have.

I hope your September is off to a good start, knitter friends!

[ETA]: Both socks are from my Nice Ribbed Sock pattern, which is available for free if you should happen to need your own pair or seven of ribbed socks ;)

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Challenge is relative

This morning I met up with local knitter friend Dilia, who is currently finishing her first pair of socks. I’ve done a few lessons with her and a friend over the last few months, since they wanted to build up some basic skills and look at doing some projects. Once they got into the building blocks of knit, purl, and even some simple cable twists, they said “how about socks? can you show us socks?” and my answer was of course, yes. Socks are great. More sock knitting can only be good.

Apr11-DiliaSocks

I’m pretty sure there are knitters out there who would pale at the idea of taking on socks for their third project ever, but because I enjoy knitting challenges I am fully in favour of supporting it in others. And I think that in most cases with knitting, if you want the final product badly enough, you will learn the things you need to learn in order to complete it. So, I didn’t tell them until later that knitting in the round with DPNs, turning a heel, and learning two different decrease methods are not the usual early project steps for new knitters. Dude, you want to knit socks? Well heck, let’s knit some socks.

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And lo and behold, Dilia now has her first complete sock and is half done the second one. (I do believe she is using Malabrigo Rios, so I give her full marks for yarn seelction). Here she’s using my Weekend Socks pattern, which if you’re looking for a relatively quick sock to practice on (or just a quick and warm pair of socks anyway), this one is available free and uses worsted weight wool. My own pair in Louet Gems worsted is a pair I tend to wear in place of slippers on cool days.

Apr11-DiliaSocks3

We then took a brief jaunt to Spun as well (I haven’t been in ages, despite their being more local to me than Toronto – the Toronto pull tends to be strong! – but their yarn selection continues to be pretty great) and she got herself set up with some fingering weight sock yarn and a pair of 2.75mm needles and is all ready to go for more knitting action. (I set her up with my Nice Ribbed Sock pattern as a stepping stone from the Weekend Socks – it’s also free and uses a ribbed pattern for a bit of interest and snug fit)

Anyhow, if there’s something you want to learn how to knit but have been putting it off, think of Dilia and how she knitted socks for her third project ever, and go ahead and knit that project, man. It’ll be so worth it.

Happy knitting this Wednesday!
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What ever did I do before

It occurred to me the other day that I’ve been knitting for a little less than a third of my life – which in the grand scheme of things isn’t very much, but in the scheme of hobbies is relatively huge. Sure, I was gangbusters for cross-stitch needlepoint before I took up knitting, but that didn’t last nearly as long as my love of knitting has. How many hobbies have we all taken up that didn’t quite stick? I mean, the universe seeks balance, and so forth, which means there’s got to be scads of crafters out there who took up knitting for like, a month or two, or long enough to churn out a baby blanket or a few scarves as gifts, and then discovered quilting or sketching or glass-blowing or something and decided to ditch knitting forever – and that’s totally groovy. Do as pleases you, crafters, because goodness knows knitters hate too much competition at the yarn sales. (I kid. Sort of. ::cough::) But man, I cannot even remember what I did to fill my time before knitting came along. Like, are there people who go through the world without a portable knitting project stuffed in their handbag/backpack/briefcase? How do they manage?

Jan19-MalabrigoSocks

I take a great deal of pleasure in having knitting around at home, but also in those little gaps of time when I’m out and about. I rediscovered this in full force the other night, when I sat in the first session of a photography course that I’m taking this term through the local college continuing education program. (Up until about a month and a half ago, every single photo I have taken for this blog was with a $200 point-and-shoot camera. I recently finally collected enough cash for a proper DSLR, and I love it. Now the trick is just to learn how to use it.) Turns out the class is going to yield plenty of sitting-and-listening time along with practical instructional time, and combined with the waiting around at the beginning of class, I got a decent amount of my Malabrigo sock knitted. The instructor doesn’t mind me knitting, I can listen and focus better if my hands are busy, and I have knitting and knowledge to show for my time. This is a win on all counts.

Although I fully expect I have now been mentally labelled as ‘that weird knitting girl’, I also don’t care, because dude, nobody else in that class is going to get a pair or two of socks after sitting there for 10 weeks. (I bet they’re all jealous.) I hadn’t thought of officially going for a “12 in 2012″ project this year, but unofficially I was thinking that 12 pairs of socks would be nice, and now I think it would be absolutely do-able. Hurray for portable knitting projects in the handbag!

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In other sock news, I’m pleased to announce that the sock pattern I contributed for the Tanis Fiber Arts 2011 ‘Year in Colour’ yarn club is now available in wide release. These were the offering for March of last year, and the colourway Tanis produced for it (Clover) is just gorgeous. I don’t know if she’ll be including it in her roster of regular yarn colours, but I may or may not have already tried to peer pressure her to do so. It’s a wonderful leafy green, and even on a snowy day like today is a nice glimpse of spring ahead.

Jan19-MarchingOn

You can find the Marching On sock pattern here in my Ravelry store, and on Patternfish as well. It’s worked up with a single skein of Purple Label Cashmere Sock, and would be lovely for a variety of sock yarns that are comfortable at 8 sts/inch. There are a few twisting cables in there, and I sort of fell in love with the little knotty bobble pattern running down the front of the leg and instep. My mother knitted a pair of these as well, and said “you know, it looks hard but it really isn’t, once you get into it!” So there you go. ;)

Happy knitting, this Thursday! I’ll have more adventures to report on next time.

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Sock momentum

The other evening I allowed myself a bit of a break from current projects to go back to a long-suffering Work in Progress, thinking it was still probably a long ways off from being finished, but I figured just doing a few simple rows on a simple project would be just the thing to give my mind a break. As it turns out, as is so often the case with projects I think are light years away from being finished – these socks were just a few rows and a toe away from being finished.

And so, I finished them.

Jan12-STRCoppertree2

You might surmise from the colour of these socks when exactly it was that I started them. I cast on for them during Rhinebeck weekend back in October, and had reached for this particular skein (Socks That Rock, mediumweight, in ‘Coppertree’) because it was fall at the time and this colourway seemed pretty fall-ish. They’ve been my handbag knitting since then, but sadly have only seen very sporadic knitting time.

Jan12-STRCoppertree

I’m happy that they’re done now, though, since having a finished project is often enough of a boost to keep going with the ones that are still on the needles.

Colour is such a funny thing, though. I decided to get the next pair of socks started just to have them ready at a moment’s notice, and ended up bypassing all of the multi-coloured skeins in favour of a simple yet vibrant skein of Malabrigo sock in Tiziano Red. I often reach for this shade of red in the winter, it occurs to me (more than one year in a row has passed where I’ve knitted some red accessories), and it’s a very warm and soothing colour to have on hand.

Jan12-MalabrigoSock

I hope your projects are going well – and who knows, you might have something ‘almost finished’ ready to become something for your closet or sock drawer.

Happy knitting!

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Fall Socks

Although it’s been a hectic couple of weeks around here, and the month of October seems to be passing by at a startling pace, I’ve got another pattern up my sleeve that I haven’t gotten the chance to show off to you properly yet! Allow me to present to the blog my Phellogen socks (available on Ravelry here, and on Patternfish here).

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I designed this pattern as a donation to the Tour de Sock (Ravelry link) knitting competition group, where participant fees are donated to charity and knitters get patterns along with the chance to finish quickly and compete for prizes. Sarah, the group organizer, asked me back in the summer if I’d like to contribute a pattern, and the only stipulation was “something with cables.” Heh. And since I do know my way around a cabled sock, and since I am a fan of charitable things, I went to my sock yarn stash and pulled out some yarn and got to work.

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When I was designing my Staked socks, I offered folks a modification to eliminate the swooshy angle across the foot, if desired, and simply continue the cables down the instep in a more classic fashion. I did this on a 3rd pair of my own Staked socks, and really liked how it looked – the result was a pair of matching but not identical socks, and the twisted cables feel so sleek and elegant once they’re on your feet. So, I decided to work with that general approach for this pair.

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On these socks, a slightly more prominent motif is featured at the outer edge of the leg and foot, combined with more modest, repeating twists towards the centre and inside of the foot. I left the heels and toes relatively plain, with twisted ribbing continuing out of the pattern motifs from the foot and leg. I like ‘em. I used Madelinetosh Tosh Sock at a typical stockinette gauge of 8 sts/inch, but a variety of solid or semi-solid plied sock yarns would work nicely.

Guys, I don’t think I had a full appreciation of what I was asking these competition knitters to do, by handing down this pattern to them. In my head I thought, “Hey, pretty cabled socks for fall! Fun times.” But the things is, in order for these folks to finish one round of the Tour de Sock before starting the next one, they need to finish a pair of socks in a week or less. Heh. Tour-de-Sock-ers, you are all AWESOME. Some of them finished these in less than two days. There are already almost 60 completed Ravelry projects for these socks, and many more WIPs, and they are all so impressive. I think it is one of those magical things where, given the pressure of a deadline, you don’t worry about whether or not you can do something, you just go ahead and do it.

For regular sock knitters less inclined towards deadlines, though, the pattern is in wide release (see links at top of post), and you may feel free to knit it as quickly or slowly as you like.

Happy knitting, and stay tuned to the end of the week when I just might have a blog giveaway for you. Have a great Wednesday!

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The sock drawer is happy either way

When I was in California post-Sock-Summit, I met up one afternoon to hang out with Erin in Berkeley, I was knitting along on my socks (these ones, now finished) over fries and beer (they have good beer and fries there). At one point Erin stopped and said, “I couldn’t help wondering about your socks.” And I said, “Yeah? They’re Socks That Rock Mediumweight. Super fast.” And she said, “But it seems like they’re just ribbing. Are you really just making ribbed socks?” And I said that yes, yes I was.

Sept1-Socks

Now don’t get me wrong – I love me some complicated-ness. The last thing I want is to be bored to tears by my knitting, and believe me I wear my own Viper Pilots socks just as proudly as the next knitter. But it can’t always be complicated knitting all the time, and I can still always use another pair of socks for the sock drawer, so my go-to simple project is a basic ribbed sock. I still knit stockinette occasionally, but usually not find it quite interesting enough, so I reserve it for gift knitting primarily.

And sometimes, when a big chunk of my day looks like this:

Sept1-DesignNotes

It’s okay if my sock knitting looks like this:

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(Those are the current grandfather-gift-socks, on 2.5mm needles in some Knit Picks “Stroll” in a vintage “Firecracker Heather” colourway.)

If you’re looking for simple sock patterns to get started or just to get on with, my Nice Ribbed Sock pattern is always available for free, either in the Free Patterns page on my blog or in my Ravelry store, and for a worsted-weight option that includes a step-by-step slide show, check out my Weekend Socks over at Canadian Living online. My own Weekend Socks are my favourite slipper substitutes in the cool months!

What sort of project is your go-to knitting for simplicity?
Happy knitting this Thursday!

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Socks for big damn heroes

Ladies and gentlemen, I promised a full update when my new sock patterns were up for online consumption, and I’m pleased to finally do so!

Hi, I’m a geek. Have we met? I mean, sure I love artsy things, and inspiration can and does come from everywhere. But sometimes, my friends, that inspiration is television. I like television. I like other things, too, but you know, I like television. And I like talking about it. I never understand it when people watch a show every week and then don’t feel the urge to go blather about it (or via email, since, as established, I’m a geek) with a friend the next day. Working with said inspiration is also pretty easy when you are working with yarn dyed by friends who share said television geekery. Last winter I did some mitten patterns with Kim’s yarn, inspired by her Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer themed colourways, and this summer I’ve been at work on a few sock patterns which are all named for Firefly characters. (It took me a while to come around on Firefly, and why I should care to go watch a show that only lasted one season. Then I got the DVDs and discovered why. It’s awesome.)

The mittens and gloves came in a set of 3 (one for each weight of Merino/cashmere/nylon yarn), so somehow it seemed natural that the Firefly socks should also come in a set of 3. (one for each…kind of sock yarn? Sure!) So then I had to pick three characters to work with, and it turned out that was the easy part. I present to you, officially launched online, three Firefly-inspired sock patterns – all worked for 2 sizes, all designed with Indigodragonfly Yarns in mind. (If substituting, work with a yarn that will allow you to obtain the same gauge.) Each are available for individual sale on Patternfish and Ravelry, for $6. If you’re purchasing on Ravelry, you can get all 3 as a collection, for the price of 2. (Links below).

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These are called “O Captain My Captain”, for Captain Malcolm Reynolds, and are worked in the most practical of sock yarns – superwash merino 2-ply. I love this yarn, it’s the same one I worked with for my “Staked” sock pattern last fall, and is very versatile. I envisioned these socks as being the ones as potentially for either men or women, so I wanted to keep the lines simple but still with a bit of excitement to them – much like Mal himself. But as noble as Mal is, he’s also a little bit broken and twisted, so that’s exactly what these cables do. There are instructions on how to “place” the cable breaks, and that placement is entirely up to you. You could break the same cable in the same place all the way down the foot, or alternate around the leg.

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On Ravelry | On Patternfish

These are worked from the cuff down at a stockinette gauge of 8 sts/inch, on 2.5mm needles, and socks to fit up to a size 12 women’s or size 10 men’s foot should be fine with one 375 yds/100g skein of the Merino sock.

July25-Kaylee1

Next up is “Kaywinnit”, for Kaylee, who is most at home in the ship’s engine room but still longs for girlish frills and pink ruffles. So, I wanted a sock that would be relatively simple, but still with a bit of frills. I hope to have accomplished that with these, where there is a chevron/garter “ruffle” at the top of the cuff.

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On Ravelry | On Patternfish

These are also cuff-down, and once you’re past the cuff it’s pretty smooth sailing with a knit-and-purl textured pattern down the rest of the foot, and if you’re lucky to snag some of the Shiny Sock (includes silver) while it’s still going, you can also look forward to a few sparkles! This sock yarn behaves a little more like sport-weight, so even on 2.5mm needles this pattern assumes a stockinette gauge of 7 sts/inch. If substituting yarns, look for something a little heavier than your usual sock yarn.

Finally, for the fanciest lady on the Firefly ship, these are called “Companion.” Plain socks wouldn’t do for Inara, I mean, have you seen the number of silk gowns she has to parade around in? No no, even just cables wouldn’t do. This gal needs some beads as well. So, after a few years of wanting to play with beads, I finally broke them out for Inara – this is my first beaded sock design.

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If you’re not inclined towards beads, they are easily omitted from this sock – and you’ll still have a few twisted cables to keep your interest – as they are placed with a crochet hook and not pre-strung. You’ll also need to pay attention to your “stopping place” with the beads, i.e. don’t go right to the toe. Stop placing the beads once you reach the point when your shoe is going to come into the picture. I have to say, though, I really like the elegance and extra bit of sparkle they add.

On Ravelry | On Patternfish

These are also worked cuff-down, and are the most advanced of this little collection, involving twisted-stitch cables as well as the bead placement. But if you’ve got experience with that sort of thing, you’ll find yourself getting into a rhythm pretty easily. They also assume a stockinette gauge of 8 sts/inch, and are worked using Indigodragonfly Merino/cashmere/nylon sock.

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My goal with this little set of socks was to come up with a set of patterns that was not only consistent with the Firefly character aesthetics, but which also used a variety of techniques for a variety of skill levels or interests. Each pattern does something a little bit differently than the other. I hope you’ll find one (or two?) in there that sparks your interest!

These days, my needles are full of projects and ideas, so with any luck this fall will have more designs coming your way. Socks are for all occasion, but sweaters and other accessories are just the ticket for cool weather, so those are in the plans for sure.

I’ve also got to find something new for a regular not-designed-by-me project, so that’s something I’ll put my mind to in the next few days. Until next time, happy knitting!

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Things I’ve been doing

I’ve been short in the blogging this week, but not in the to-do-ings. Things I’ve been keeping busy with include:

1. Finishing up some sock designs for Indigodragonfly, to appear in her booth at Sock Summit 2011, in just 11 short days. (Note: dates on calendar may be closer than they appear). They are all Firefly-inspired, and you can catch a glimpse of Kaylee (above) and Mal (below) here. Inara is the third, to follow. I love them.

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2. Finishing up a pair of Jaywalkers that have been on the needles and in my purse since April and I had sort of almost given up hope of finishing. But slow and steady wins in the end, and now I have another pair of Lorna’s Laces Jaywalkers (9th? 10th pair?) in ‘Montrose’, to add to the sock drawer.

July15-JaywalkersMontrose

3. Being really frustrated that I’m still not running. (Yes, I’ve started physiotherapy. No, this does not make me feel much better about having to cancel a 2nd half-marathon in 3 months.)

4. Cooking up some designs for the fall. Man, I love cables. (As does this Tanis Fiber Arts DK, in garnet. Man, I love garnet.)

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5. Reviving a healthy obsession with Harry Potter inspired knitwear.

6. Preparing to head off this weekend for the Great North Woods, or more accurately, the Haliburton School of the Arts, where I’ll be teaching a week long workshop starting Monday, on sweater knitting. I basically love everything about sweaters, and though I am filled with equal parts delight and anxiety over teaching a week long workshop for the first time, I think probably the delight will win, since sweaters are awesome. (And usually so are knitters).

Catch you next time! And in case I’m gone all week, as my friend Jane likes to say, kids, don’t burn down the internet while I’m away.

Happy knitting!

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Summer logic

I think if one so happens to be sitting down to knit with a shiny, pink, girly-ish sort of skein of yarn, then one should definitely also have a pink, girly-ish sort of drink to go with it.

June15-KayleeSocks

I mean, that’s just the only reasonable thing to do.
Right?

I thought so.

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