Category Archives: knee 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).

Mar21-NeptuneKH1

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

I think I’ll try defying gravity

It’s official folks, kits for the ‘Wicked’ and ‘Yellow Brick Road’ knee-high socks are now available for pre-order exclusively at The Sweet Sheep (scroll down). Michelle has been dyeing her heart out to get these ready to ship starting December 1st, and I hope you’ll enjoy them.

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Each kit comes with 3 skeins of Sweet Sheep Tight Twist fingering weight, hand-dyed for these two Oz-inspired colourways. (Though I can tell you – wink wink, nudge nudge) that Michelle is not intending to stop at just two. More dyeing efforts are underway. Each kit also comes with my pattern instructions for working the knee-highs with shaping to fit legs with an upper calf circumference of between 13-18 ins. (I, incidentally, fit into the 14-15 ins calf circumference area, so that puts me about in the middle). I include several tips for achieving best fit with knee-highs: as there is absolutely no way of writing a “one-size-fits-all” knee-high pattern, many of these are guidelines that use my pattern sizing as a baseline for indicating places where modification may be likely. Know your body, and knit accordingly.

There is something classic and nostalgic about striped knee-highs that I just love, especially when combined with colours reminiscent of two of the most iconic female fictional characters of the past century. Especially with re-tellings of the Wizard of Oz through the novel Wicked and its musical adaptation, both Dorothy and the Wicked Witch of the West are alive and well in the modern imagination and each have more to their story than it may seem at first glance.

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I love both of these colour combinations, and I think Michelle has done a fabulous job developing relatively single-tone semi-solids which appear slightly mottled, as this really gives the stripes a velvety, textured appearance. The Yellow Brick Road set practically screams gingham and cornfields, and the Wicked set is completely unapologetic and stubborn. Which way do you want to knit your way through these stories?

As for me today, I’m at home for once and I think I have some knitting to do. Just ignore the rian clouds, lalalalaa. Happy Thursday!

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Filed under design, knee socks

There’s No Place Like Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sweet Sheep Tight Twist

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

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

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

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Filed under design, finished object: socks, knee socks

Pretty Wicked Stockings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy knitting today, folks!

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Filed under finished object: socks, knee socks

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