Category Archives: socks

One size does not fit all

Some time in the past, a blog reader from Ohio named Leslie (hi, Leslie!) commented with a question about socks. Luckily enough, I was able to grab a moment to answer it with a piece of advice, and I asked her if she minded me sharing it with the rest of you, since it turned out so well.

Her question was about fit – she’d done several pairs of hand-knitted socks, but was finding they all kept falling into her shoes and she was walking on a portion of the legs and heels instead of the soles of the feet. Since I am a large-footed tall person in a world that does not necessarily presume that the average person is a large-footed tall person, I had a pretty good idea what the fix was: The feet need to be longer. It’s a good bet that if your socks are being tugged down like that, that means there isn’t enough room in the foot of the sock for your actual foot, and the sock tries to compensate by struggling to cover your sole with the rest of itself.

This is pretty common for anybody with a Size 11 foot (or larger), who is faced with a rack of commercial socks, all of which say “Size 7-10.” I’ll give you three guesses what happens when a Size 11 footed person tries to wear socks labelled “Size 7-10″, and the first two don’t count.

This is also a problem I ran into early on during the first few pairs of socks I knitted. I think, in my mind, I kept comparing my hand knitted socks to the tight-fitting socks I was used to buying in stores, and I produced similarly-fitting socks. As a result, I’ve ended up gifting away several pairs of socks to family or friends with shorter feet than me. (They have not complained about this). Over the years that I have been knitting socks, I have become accustomed to adding a little bit more length in the foot than I did at first. It also means I keep a watchful eye on yardage before picking out a skein of yarn – with practice comes the knowledge of how comfortably far you can knit before playing chicken with yardage.

LesliesSocks

What Leslie did, though, was much more stubbornly awesome. She determined that she was not just going to gift away the too-short socks. This photo above is hers, of her hand-knitted socks, all of which have had the toes pulled out and re-knitted to be long enough to fit her feet. Now she has socks which are hand-knit AND which fit her.

It just goes to show, folks. You may not be in control of the size of your feet (or some other body parts, for that matter), but you are darned well in control of your knitting, and your socks can be however the hell long you need them to be.

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Ribbit

Hi, have we met? I like knitting socks. I have stopped remembering a time when I was not knitting socks. In fact, I don’t currently have an active sock project going and it’s making me feel a little weird. Luckily I am about a zillion years behind on starting a pair of socks for my grandfather’s birthday this weekend (he’s turning 95. I have the appropriate-sized self-induced guilt trip for not having started them yet, believe me). I’ve knitted a lot of stockinette socks in my time as a sock knitter and I still do occasionally, but if I’m left to my own devices and I just want the socks and don’t really want to have to actually devote a lot of brain cells to said pair of socks, I knit me those socks in 3×1 ribbing. (Knit 3, purl 1).

I like the ribbing because they are an idge more snug than plain stockinette, and also provide a just-enough level of attention that I don’t get as bored with them. I’ve done a few pairs as gifts as well, and have used a few different kinds of yarn to do so, but it turns out the only ones lingering in my own sock drawer are the ones I’ve made with Socks That Rock lightweight. I appear to hoard all the STR socks for myself.

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And they are beautiful and I think maybe I need a week’s worth of them just like I knitted a week’s worth of Lorna’s Laces Jaywalkers.

A little while ago people started asking me about the pattern for these, and I didn’t think it was terribly complex enough to need a pattern, but then I remembered that sometimes people need patterns written down even if they are for things that are not terribly complex, and so I wrote it down.

You can download the pattern for free here as a PDF file (about 2MB):
A Nice Ribbed Sock, or in my Ravelry store as a free download.

I’ve written this up for one size – to comfortably fit foot/ankle circumference of 8-9 inches around, over 64 sts on fingering weight yarn. I use 2.75mm needles to do so – you might need a smaller or larger needle size depending on what you would normally use to get a gauge of 8 sts/inch, so feel free to do what you feel comfortable with. You can easily modify the size by increasing or decreasing the total # of cast on stitches by a multiple of 4. This will also change the # of stitches on the heel flap by the same multiple of 2, and will also change the yardage estimates. For me, a woman with Size 11 feet, I find a skein of Socks That Rock lightweight which has about 360 yards, will give me just enough yardage with a few grams leftover.

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Enjoy! Knit away happily. And then maybe you’ll have yourself a week’s worth of ribbed socks if you want.

Happy Tuesday, and keep the knitting close by.

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Yarn Tourism

Well, nothing says “let’s celebrate being almost-done with Grading Fest ’10 and try to forget the fact that I am most likely going to be unemployed soon” like thinking about recent yarn purchases and knitting tourism, right? Right. I thought so.

Let me say how singularly fortuitous it is to have been visiting with a knitter who is not only awesome in her own right but lives within walking distance of two fantastic yarn shops. In less than 12 hours from arriving in DC, Elspeth had brought me to Fibre Space (and look! they spell it the right way just like Canadians do! Hurrah!)

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It really is a lovely store. Elspeth referred to it as ‘well edited’, and I see what she meant – there are no superfluous yarns, nothing you’d consider out-of-place or less worthy of shelf space. I enjoyed browsing through and it was a nice collection of some familiar yarns and some others I don’t tend to find in the Canadian shops. (You’d be surprised how hard it is to walk into a yarn shop and encounter things you haven’t seen in a store before. After a while things really start to blur.)

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I splurged on four delicious skeins of yarn. Two (above) generous skeins of Neighbourhood Fiber Company worsted, because I couldn’t decide between the two – 400 yards or so each ought to be enough for something fun, I’m thinking possibly gloves and hats. It will need some pondering.

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And I couldn’t walk away without giving a glance towards the Madelinetosh tosh sock, a yarn which I am quickly becoming enamoured of. I am enjoying the semi-solid tones and they had a couple of options in the darker range of the palette that I am looking to expand into a bit more. I tend to opt for the jewel tones and purples and teals, and both of these are a nice change of pace.

We also spent an enjoyable knit-night at Knit Happens, which I was also fortunate enough to visit on my trip out to DC last winter. Still friendly, still an enjoyable sock yarn selection – a skein of Dream in Color Starry MAY have come home with me.

But speaking of the Madelinetosh tosh sock, I will give you a little snap of my finished sock for the Socks Revived contest (whose deadline, incidentally, has been extended into May), which I finished while at Knit Happens. I’ll be sure to tell you more about these in my next post, if you haven’t already seen them up on Ravelry.

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Catch you next time. Hug some yarn for me today!

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Time to admit it

I love twisted stitches.

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I am not stopping with the twisted stitches.

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The Socks Revived contest entry is coming along nicely (yarn is Madelinetosh tosh sock in ‘composition book grey’), and I’m really enjoying knitting it. Can’t wait to get the full thing done and put it on my feet and show it off for good.

I think that when I have these done I am going to do up a blog tutorial on how to work a simple cable twist without a cable needle. Being able to cable without a cable needle is the kind of thing that instantly makes this sort of thing a simple, portable project (unless of course you are super fast at the cable needles, in which case carry on).

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Me and my knitting will be over here, looking forward to the long weekend.

Happy knitting!

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Filed under design, socks

Argyle is the Watchword

I’m beyond thrilled to finally show you my latest pattern design, one which has been in the works for quite a while. Earlier versions of this sock appeared over two years ago, but in the New Year I made myself go back to it and after working away steadily on the new samples for weeks and weeks, finally I get to show it off at long last! I present the Neptune High socks. This mini-argyle sock pattern is now available through my Ravelry store as well as through Patternfish, and comes with instructions for both a knee-high version and a ‘regular’ length, shorter version. (Sale price in both locations is $6.00) Any hard-copy availability will be announced as soon as it is available, but for the moment this is an online download only.

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So, at the very least, this is an argyle sock pattern. I’d started this a while back and then, what with finishing my PhD dissertation, and teaching courses, and working on other designs, it got pushed to the wayside. And I sort of figured that in the mean time, someone else would have done a pattern very much like this and picked up the ball where I dropped it. But as far as I can tell no one has, so I marshalled my powers of stick-to-it-iveness and went back to it, and now you too can follow these instructions and take your colour-work skills and sock-knitting skills and make yourself a badass pair of argyle socks in whatever colour combination you want.

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More than just an argyle sock pattern, though, this pattern takes inspiration from another early 21st Century cult television classic, Veronica Mars. Veronica was pretty kickass. I sort of feel like if I’d had even a fragment of her perseverance and awesomeness when I was in highschool – or, let’s face it, even now – I’d be doing pretty damned well. She stuck up for herself and did it with a sense of style, no less.

When this show aired a few years back, it was around the time when argyle was starting to come back in popular fashion, and it cropped up a few times in Veronica’s wardrobe. Or if not argyle print, then other hip-but-still-sort-of-preppy outfits that always blended bright colours like pink and green with the more neutral tones, and it really really worked.

It’s this very colour inspiration that brought me to the samples you see here – bright and modern colours applied to a highly traditional and classic design.

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With the Neptune High socks, you are essentially getting two-patterns-in-one. The instructions come in two variations – one is a knee-high version, complete with my tips on how to achieve best fit for knee-high fit and shaping (I include pattern instructions for shaping but everyone’s leg is likely to be a bit different, so it’s good to know when to try on and where to measure your leg and so forth). This version includes sizing for an upper calf circumference of between 13 and 17 inches, and foot/ankle circumference of between 8 and 10 ins in circumference. Shaping instructions are included for decreasing on either side of the back of the leg. For best fit, measure your own leg and foot and modify the pattern guidelines if you believe you would achieve a better fit by doing so.

The second version is a shorter version which is a more typical length for a regular sock, a little more practical for everyday wear, or perhaps a better option for knitters inclined to dive in a little more gradually. The shorter version also includes a small amount of shaping to accommodate a comfortable fit. Again, the pattern provides guidelines for foot/ankle sizing between 8 and 10 ins in circumference. (As an FYI, both samples shown here are size Medium, for a foot/ankle circumference of 9 ins and upper calf circumference of 15 ins).

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The argyle stitch pattern is charted, and stitch gauge over this stranded colour-work pattern is 9 sts per inch. For me, I tend to achieve this gauge using about the same as, or possibly 1 size smaller, than what I would use to achieve 8 sts per inch in plain stockinette. For best results, please knit a gauge swatch first (in the round is preferable), check your gauge often as you knit, and adjust your needle size if necessary.

This is, needless to say, a moderately advanced pattern. You need some comfort level with colour-work, sock construction, and working from a chart. However, I will say that having knit this a few times myself, after a while the argyle pattern sort of burns itself into your brain and you just keep on knitting a little more easily with every repeat. This pattern will offer you a bit of challenge, but will absolutely be worth it in the end.

The overall sock construction is a straight-up cuff-down, flap-heel sock. The cuff, heel flap, and toe are all worked in a single colour (the Main Colour), which means you need a bit more yardage in the MC than for the Contrast Colour. (Yardage guidelines are included). As with my past sock patterns, I offer guidelines for both Double-Pointed Needles (DPNs) as well as Magic Loop. (I used Magic Loop to execute these – incidentally I tend to prefer ML for colour-work).

Buy on Patternfish.
Buy now on Ravelry.

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As for yarns, the samples here are worked in Van Der Rock Yarns merino sock (promethium/bismuth, in the shorter version), and Tanis Fiber Arts fingering weight (royal flush/stormy, in the knee-high version). A variety of moderate-to-light fingering weight yarns would be appropriate, essentially anything that gets you a colour-work gauge of 9 sts/inch. If you’re concerned about stability for the single-colour heel flap, choose something wtih a bit of nylon blended in for the Main Colour.

The first time I drafted a copy of this pattern I sent copies to Lisa, Chante, and Clare/Clarabelle for test-knitting and for their original feedback I am still extremely grateful. On the second go-around this time, I sent the pattern to Melanie, my local friend Diana (who also took the lovely photos you see here), as well as the fantabulous Steph of Van Der Rock Yarns (whose yarn appears in the green/pale pink sample here). Thank you so much, ladies, for all your test-knitting efforts.

For those of you who snag this pattern, I hope very much that you’ll enjoy knitting it. As always, if you have questions or discover any pattern errors, please feel free to contact me at crazy.knitting.lady[at]gmail[dot]com and I’ll do my absolute best to work through it with you.

Now go out there and knit yourself some badass socks – argyle or whatever you please.

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Filed under design, knee socks, socks

Jaywalking

I mentioned in my last post that ribbed (knit 3, purl 1) socks are one of my favourite go-to sock projects. It is dead easy without being boring – an approach I instituted a couple of years ago when I realized I wanted to keep knitting socks but couldn’t manage the monotony of stockinette socks every single time I needed a “plain” pair. (You know, as opposed to the crazy pairs. Not that I’d know anything about that.) Plus, it works with any sock yarn – solid, shaded, multi-colour, self-striping, whatever you happen to yank out of the stash and want to work with that day.

My other go-to sock project is the Jaywalker pattern. This one sort of snuck up on me, because the first time I knitted it, it turned out too small, and the second time I knitted it, it became so tedious I didn’t think I was going to make it.

And then, I happened upon a combination that I really loved, with Jaywalkers and Lorna’s Laces sock yarn together, knitted in the right size for my feet, and they felt so great I promptly decided I would knit at least enough pairs so that I could wear them every day of the week if I wanted to. I reached this goal last fall, but of course, when you wear the socks so often it becomes awfully difficult to wrangle them all together for a group photo.

A Week of Jaywalkers

From left to right (and the order in which they were knitted), these colours are: Tahoe, Irving Park, Pilsen, Devon, Rockwell, Mixed Berries, and Jimmy’s Journey (limited edition from Jimmy Beans Wool, last summer).

(Incidentally, several people have asked me in the past about how to get the Lorna’s Laces not to pool weirdly on the foot. Dudes, if I knew, I would tell you. I have no freaking clue. Sometimes it pools in crazy wicked ways, sometimes not at all. It’s all part of the glamorous and exciting world of sock knitting.)

I have gathered up a modest stash of Lorna’s Laces shepherd sock in the process of reaching the week’s-worth goal, and there will definitely be more of these socks in my future. Unlike the 3×1 ribbed sock, which I would knit just about any time, I tend to save Jaywalkers for when I am travelling. The tedium of the 2-row repeat works just fantastically when I am waiting in airports or sitting on buses or trains, and I get through the sock a lot faster than when I bring them back to home turf, oddly enough. So I think I’ll slot in a pair of those for April when I will next be on the go, to DC.

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It’s hard on the older pairs, I think, since they are not quite as pretty and new and shiny as the more recently knitted ones. But I try to reach for them all equally. It wouldn’t do to stir up resentment and jealousy within the sock drawer. In the mean time…I think I now need a second week’s worth of Jaywalkers. A reasonable conclusion, yes? I thought so.

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As if they could keep the knitters inside anyway

I am having one of those weeks where even though it doesn’t seem like I am doing anything terribly hectic, the knitting is slow to progress. I put in some knitting time every day, but still, it’s one of those weeks.

Transit Knitting FTW

Some days, if I didn’t have a transit project with me, I don’t think I’d knit at all. That morning bus ride is always good for a few rounds on the sock if nothing else. Thanks, sock knitting, for being so portable. (Aside: I think there may be a transit-cabled-aran-knitter inside me screaming to get out. Watch this space for further bulletins as events occur.)

Where’s the last place you knitted, that wasn’t inside your own house? Tell me your stories, knitters. It’s Thursday.

Happy knitting, wherever you do it today.

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