Trust Your Gut

As a new nurse, this was one of the first things I learned: If there’s a little voice in the back of your head saying “hmmm”, LISTEN to it. That lesson has served me well time and time again. Over the years, I’ve learned that it not only applies to nursing but to life in general, too. I’ve gradually learned to listen to my instincts, if not always to act on them.

I’m starting to think it applies to knitting, too. We’ve all done it–forged onward with a project when our senses are telling us something just isn’t right. That’s the reason people knit handkerchiefs that were supposed to be shawls, hats that would fit Bob’s Big Boy and it’s probably mostly responsible for the creation of this thread on ravelry. Sometimes it’s the pattern that leads us astray, or the way knitted fabric stretches every which way when we try to measure it. Sometimes it’s just dogged determination that something will turn out a certain way despite plentiful evidence to the contrary.

I think I’m at such a crossroads. All my instincts are telling me that my latest socks (Little Minx) are fixing to be extra giant sized. I just can’t tell you why. Sure, they look a little on the big side. But why? My gauge is right. I’m using the right needles. The yarn is…well, I think it’s working. The pattern doesn’t seem off base. So what’s the problem?

The answer is…I’m not sure. But there sure is one. I had intended to make the large size (72 sts) as, by measurements, that would fit me the best. I cast on and started working on the toe increases. When I got to the right stitch count for the small/medium size (64), I tried them on. They don’t cover my toes all the way yet, but it’s pretty clear they’re too big. If I stretch them out, the circumference hits 11″* easily and could even stretch a little more.

So. Options. I could:

  1. Frog. Choose a different yarn. Restart. However, I would have to do them on dpns as I don’t have long enough circs in US1 to magic loop them TAAT.
  2. Rip back to 56 sts and carry on.
  3. Just plain carry on. Knit the small/medium size.
  4. Ignore all the alarm bells in my head and continue increasing. Make the large size. Lament the fact that I don’t know any giants who want bright orange socks. Orange socks that should have been mines.

I’m hovering between options 2 and 3 currently. I’ve read through lots of project notes from others who have made these socks (god I love ravelry) and haven’t found much guidance. The fit didn’t seem to be a major issue for anyone else, at least not to the same degree. What people did say, however, was that the pattern stitch tends to pull in a good bit. Given that, I’m tempted to leave room for a little extra give, ie, option 3.

The confounding factor is the yarn I’m using: Frog Tree Pediboo Sport. It can be fingering weight, it can be sport weight. It’s mostly merino but it has 20% bamboo. It just doesn’t behave like a typical sock yarn. Honestly, the bamboo content makes it knit up a lot like cotton–shiny, slippery, not much memory. I read through some project notes from people who made socks out of it, and one thing that got mentioned was they turned out kinda floppy. I don’t want floppy socks. I want socks I can wear! So that makes me lean back toward option 2.

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It’s a little tricky to take good pictures of orange socks when it’s dark and no one’s awake to help you.

You see? Too big. So what to do?

Looking on the bright side, I totally nailed Judy’s Magic Cast On and working TAAT!

*It’s supposed to fit a foot circumference of 8.5-9.5″.

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Thursday Sock-Along: Choices, Choices

I should have learned by now not to plan my knitting projects too far ahead. I (almost) never end up doing what I thought I would do. Something always comes up: the pattern is wrong for some reason, the yarn gauge isn’t what I thought it was, the yarn yardage isn’t what I thought it was, I get distracted by something shinier, etc. etc. So, in typical me fashion, the pattern and yarn for my next pair of socks aren’t at all what I’d planned. That said, I think they will be pretty cool anyway!

As I’ve been putting in serious time on my giant blue rectangle, and then rewarding myself with a few rows of shawl knitting, I haven’t cast on for said socks yet. I’ve got everything lined up, though: yarn, pattern, needles, approach. The only thing I haven’t decided on is what cast on to use, but I’m going to have to try a few out first. The plan is to knit toe-up, TAAT socks out of a vivid orange skein of Frog Tree Pediboo Sport that I got online a while back. The color is a little brighter and less yellow than in the pic, but you get the idea:

 

It’s a super soft 80% merino and 20% bamboo blend. Aaaaaand it’s sport weight. And it’s only 255 yards. Don’t panic, though, I’m going to make it work. They aren’t going to be knee highs, but so what? They’ll be orange! I’ll just knit until I run out of yarn and call it a day.

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Image copyright attimania via ravelry.

I had settled on using the pattern Lotta by Astrid Schramm (pictured above), but I’m a little worried that the gauge is too loose. From what I’ve read about the Pediboo, it can knit up like either a sport weight or a fingering weight. Since I’d rather err on the side of a snugger fabric, I may go with Little Minx (below) by Karen Scott Designs*. See? Two patterns that weren’t even in the running before!

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Image copyright K M Scott via ravelry.

I’m excited about learning so many new-to-me sock techniques! I’m also excited to have a bright orange pair of socks. I love that, in large part due to this Thursday sock series, the prospect of trying so many new things really doesn’t seem daunting anymore. For my first pair of socks, I even used yarn I didn’t care too much about, just in case they didn’t turn out well. I’m no longer worried about “wasting” yarn on learning new things as I’m confident I’ll get the hang of it quickly.

If you haven’t checked out my fellow Thursday sock knitters, please do so! Paula blogs at Spin a Yarn and Hannah blogs at unsophisticated + jejune. If you’d like to join up with us, we’d love to have you. Just post and link up!

Happy sock knitting!

*Just to prove my first paragraph right, I paused while writing this blog post to go down the rabbit hole again to find my backup pattern. Which is quickly becoming my first choice pattern. And so it goes!

Thursday Sock-Along: Kidlet Socks and Planning Ahead

Welcome to Thursday’s sock post! Someone (my esteemed mother) recently asked me, “Why socks? Why Thursdays?” So, here’s a little history to answer both of those questions. A few, or maybe several, months ago, my blogging friend Maggie at Project(s) in Progress decided she wanted to tackle the sometimes daunting world of sock knitting. She got some other bloggers interested, myself included, and we started a bit of a casual sock KAL. Unfortunately Mags had a serious injury a bit ago and hasn’t been up for blogging, but hopefully she will feel better soon. There aren’t really any hard and fast rules, and anyone can participate, whether it’s for a week here and there or over the course of several weeks or months. All you need to do to join in is knit some socks, or think about knitting some socks, and post about it on Thursdays. There’s no special significance to Thursdays…we just needed to pick a day! If you do join in, please consider linking your post to the other participants’ blogs (see the end of this post for a list). Maybe someday I’ll put together an icon of some sort, but let’s not get overly ambitious!

So, on to the socks! I have another FO to share! Yesterday, I finished up a quick pair of socks for my daughter. Here are the details:

The rundown

Pattern: Basic Child’s Gradiance Sock in Foot Prints by Laura Lough, free off-ravelry download.

Yarn: Knit Picks Parade, 110 yards. Each skein has about 137 yards, so I was easily able to get a pair out of one ball. It’s a self striping yarn but it’s sport weight instead of fingering, so the socks worked up super quickly. I got this yarn in my giant freecycle haul.

Size made: 2-4y. The pattern also includes directions for size 4-8y.

Needles: US3 dpns

Modifications: I picked up one extra stitch on each side of the heel flaps.

Techniques used: Cuff down construction, standard heel and toe (as written in pattern). I used Tillybuddy’s very stretchy cast on. I finished the toes with Kitchener stitch.

Difficulty: Reasonably easy. This wouldn’t be a pattern I’d recommend for a first-time sock knitter unless I provided a little clarification, but anyone who’s made at least one pair of standard socks wouldn’t have any trouble.

Ravelled: here.

The Pretty

I’m really happy with them and, more importantly, so is my daughter! The look on her face when I gave them to her was to die for, it was that cute. Her eyes just lit up and she started smiling like crazy.

They seem to fit well, although they look like they’d be too big. They have a little room to grow so they should fit her for a couple of years or so. It’s funny…with heavier weight yarns, I tend to knit more snugly than typical. I often have to go up a needle size to get gauge. Socks? Not so much. For sock yarn, I mostly have to use US1s or even US0s sometimes to get 8 sts/”. For this sport weight yarn, I didn’t bother checking gauge. They were such a quick knit that I would have just ripped the first sock out if it was dramatically off. The pattern gauge for these is 7 sts/” and I think I came in closer to 6. Next time, I would use US2s. I definitely wouldn’t expect these to fit a two year old, like the pattern says.

Other stuff I would change if I made socks from this pattern again: I would add two or three rows of stockinette between the cuff ribbing and the start of the heel flap. The 2×2 rib doesn’t line up with the sl1 k1 heel flap so I’d rather have a little buffer between them.

One thing I specifically like about this pattern is the toe decrease. You decrease every other round for the first several rounds, then the last two decrease rounds are done consecutively. I think it gives the sock a nicer rounded toe instead of a slightly pointy, angular one.

In all, this is a handy, quick pattern to have in my sock arsenal, and there’s a good chance I’d make them again. Best part? It’s a free pattern! Between that and getting the yarn for free, this was quite the economical pair of socks!

So, what’s next on the sock horizon, you ask? Well, if you saw my last post, you know that I have some non-sock projects I need to focus on. However, there are still ideas fermenting and plans being made! Here are my goals in a nutshell:

  • Find a good “vanilla” sock pattern that fits me well. I want to have a go-to pattern that I can just cast on and work on without having to think too much.
  • Make more socks for the kidlet! They’re really quick and gratifying, not to mention cute as stink.
  • Learn how to do an afterthought heel, short row heel, Fish Lips Kiss heel and TAAT (two at a time) socks*.
  • Make socks as gifts for two people who have expressed interest.

In order to explore my options, I started looking through some of my sock resources. I might have a few knitting books tucked away (cough, cough) so I pulled out the ones just about socks. I looked through three different books for ideas and direction, and now I have so many socks I want to make, it’s a little ridiculous. From The Joy of Sox**, I want to make Hot Waves, Warm Up Socks, and Royal Flush. From Op-Art Socks: Creative Effects in Sock Knitting***, I want to make Crest and Victor, and most of the rest of the book, too. From Toe-Up Socks for Every Body, I want to make Bob and Weave Socks, Critter Socks (with foxes), and Dainty Anklets. Clearly, I have my work cut out for me! I also have a copy of Socks by Vogue Knitting on the Go somewhere, but I’m not sure where I put it.

What about you? Do you have socks on the needles? What’s your favorite heel technique? I’d love to hear about it! Also, check out what Paula at Spin A Yarn and Hannah at unsophisticated + jejune are up to this week!

Happy sock knitting!

 

* Lots of people want to do TAAT to avoid second sock syndrome. I don’t seem to suffer from that, but I do have a hard time making both socks exactly the same, despite detailed note taking and trying really hard. Part of it is that by the second sock, I’m more confident and my gauge gets tighter. I think doing them TAAT will help.

**I actually have two copies of The Joy of Sox. If anyone wants the extra one, it’s yours for the cost of shipping.

***I got my copy of this book at Tuesday Morning for about $3! Thrifty knitting rocks!

Thursday Sock-Along: FO Spotlight!

I finished my Sock Experiment socks! Well, I haven’t blocked them…but I don’t think I’m going to. I’ll just wash them at some point after I get tired of wearing them. Considering that I’m not all that happy with several details about the socks, I’m surprisingly thrilled with them overall.

The rundown

Pattern: How I Make My Socks by Susan B. Anderson

Yarn: Knit Picks Simple Stripes, 356 yards. I like this yarn but don’t love it. The colors are fun and it seems like it will wear well, but it’s not all that soft. That doesn’t bother me much when the socks are on, but this isn’t going to be a sock yarn that I use for non-sock projects.

Size made: As written in pattern (64 sts)

Needles: US1 dpns

Modifications: I used Fisherman’s Rib instead of standard rib on the cuffs.

Techniques used: Cuff down construction, standard heel and toe (as written in pattern). I used Tillybuddy’s very stretchy cast on. Before starting the Fisherman’s Rib, I worked the first two rounds in standard single rib.

Difficulty: Reasonably easy. This pattern would be fine for a first-time sock adventurer.

Ravelled: here.

The Pretty

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They’re done! And they’re foot-shaped! I don’t mind having mismatched socks–in fact, I kind of like it–so I didn’t worry about getting the stripes to match up. I like how the cuffs and heels and toes all ended up a little different. On the next pair, I might knit the heel flap with the other end of the yarn so that the stripe pattern over the ankle isn’t interrupted, but then again I might not.

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I chose to use Fisherman’s Rib for the cuff because I wanted them to have a lot of stretch. They certainly do! After a few hours of wear, the cuffs start to scrunch down, but I expect that would be true of most any socks. I’m actually surprised at how long they stayed up. I imagine when I wash them the rib will shrink back up a bit.

Even though I made the standard size, and my gauge was pretty much on, the socks still fit me reasonably well. That’s surprising as my feet and calves are on the larger side. They’re a bit snug but once they’ve had a moment to loosen up they’re pretty comfortable. They do get very stretched with wear, though, as you can see in the pics above. The gusset and toe decreases show a lot of the stretch. For my next pair for me, I will try 68 sts and see if that’s a little better. I’ll also start the toe about an eighth of an inch later.

Some of my pics got photo bombed by the toddler!

I guess a little bit of the magic of making socks has started to reveal itself. I’m chipping away at the mystery and the hype and getting down to the actual process, and it’s very rewarding. I’m getting excited at the prospect of having a variety of fun colored, handmade, personalized socks to wear! This pair is a good step in that direction.

Next up on the sock front, I’m planning to make a quick pair for my 3 year old daughter. The next pair I make for myself will probably still be on the basic side, but I will try out a different heel and some different sizing. I’m on a quest to find my favorite “vanilla” sock recipe–one that fits me well, can be knitted more or less mindlessly, and can be customized easily depending on my mood.

Do you knit socks? If not, do you want to start? Join up and post about your sock exploits every Thursday! You can pop over to visit Paula at Spin a Yarn and Hannah at unsophisticated + jejune and see what socky mischief they are up to!

Happy (sock) knitting!

Thursday Sock-Along: Sock Experiment

I managed to wait until Thursday this time! Here’s the scoop on my Sock Experiment. To recap, this is my second pair of socks. I’m making them cuff-down using Susan B. Anderson’s pattern How I Make My Socks with a few modifications. I’m using size US1 dpns and Knit Picks Simple Stripes. I’m getting 8-9 sts/in.*

My overall goal with this project is to start narrowing down what style socks fit me best. I’d like to end up with both a functional pair of socks and more information about what direction to head in next. I think I will end up achieving both of those things.

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Look! It’s foot-shaped!

For starters, I wanted a sock that would stretch comfortably over my calf without being too large through the heel and foot. To that end, I used Fisherman’s Rib for the ribbing. I cast on using Tillybuddy’s very stretchy cast on. Then, I worked two rounds in standard single rib**. Next, I alternated these two rounds: *k1b, p1* around and *k1, p1b* around until I had 30 rounds of Fisherman’s rib (32 rounds total). The “b” refers to “below” and means to knit or purl into the stitch below the one on the needle. It was a little tricky to get used to at first, but once I figured it out it’s really pretty easy. It is a bit more time consuming than regular rib, however, and it takes two rounds to equal one row of actual knitting. The resulting rib is airy, squishy, and extremely stretchy. I then switched to stockinette for the rest of the sock. I turned the heel and worked the gussets as directed in the pattern with one small modification: I picked up one extra stitch on each bottom corner of the heel flap. On the first round, I knitted each together with its neighbor. I did this to help minimize holes, and I think it worked reasonably well.

So. Did it work? Is the top of the sock stretchy enough to fit well but still resilient enough to stay up? Well, yes and no. It’s honestly probably a little too stretchy. I like that it doesn’t cut off my circulation, but it doesn’t rebound all that well. On my next pair, I’m planning to toy around with starting off with Fisherman’s rib, then switching to standard single rib, then switching to stockinette (or whatever pattern stitch I’m using). I’m not sure how that will look, but I think it might help the top of the sock fit a little better.

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Taking pictures of one’s own foot is trickier than you’d think.

Next! Does the sock fit well through the ankle and instep? Again…yes and no. It fits, but it’s definitely on the tight side. Part of that may be due to my gauge, which tightened as I went. Part of that may be due to the fact that I chose to go with the pattern’s recommended 64 sts, even though my feet and ankles are larger than average. I knew this beforehand but decided I’d go with it and see what happened. Since this is my first pair of socks in fingering weight yarn, I just wanted to see where the standard 64 sts got me. For my next pair, I think 68 might work better. I will wear the finished pair a bit before deciding as I want to see if they stretch out after a while.

To finish up, I knit the foot to 2″ shorter than my foot, as directed in the pattern. I did the standard toe decreases and Kitchener stitch graft. How’s the fit, you ask? Well, a little snug. I think next time, if I do the same toe, I might go to 1.75″ shorter and see how that works.

While I’m on the subject of toes, does anyone else think about making right and left socks? Maybe with a slightly looser/stretchier toe it won’t make a difference. As it is now, my big toe feels a little squished! On a future pair of socks I think I might play around with that idea a bit.

I’ve managed to stave off SSS*** as I’ve started the second and gotten most of the way through the ribbing. On the first one, the rest of the sock flew by as soon as I switched to stockinette. Hopefully by the next Thursday Sock-Along, I’ll be ready to start pair #3!

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Proof that there is, indeed, a second sock!

As always, please step on over to my fellow socketeers and see what they’re up to! Paula of Spin a Yarn blogs here and Hannah of unsophisticated + jejune blogs here. Happy knitting!

*It started off as 8 but by the time I got to the foot on the first one, my knitting had tightened up some.

**I learned when I made my Color Dipped Hat that that specific cast on needs two rows of rib on top of it before the Fisherman’s Rib will work correctly. Don’t ask me details–I didn’t study it that closely! I just started to knit into the stitch below the one on the needle after having just done one round of regular rib first, and it didn’t work.

***Second Sock Syndrome: The period following the completion of the first sock during which the knitter convinces herself that the second sock isn’t really needed/will knit itself/will somehow take a fraction of the time, and so delays casting on.

Today is Not Thursday

So I won’t speak to you about socks. I won’t tell you that I am tempting fate and Second Sock Syndrome by not casting on #2 right away. I won’t tell you about the fit, and how my alterations worked out. I won’t let you know what socky plans are percolating in my head for The Next Pair. Nope. Not gonna do it.

Let’s see, what else have I been up to? Well, I’m nearly done a test knit hat, I reblocked a dress for a one year old friend, and I made some progress on my Miller’s Daughter shawl. With any luck, I’ll have two FO Spotlight posts up soon and I’ll start work on one of my other overdue test knits.

That should be plenty of stuff to dissuade me from talking about socks on not-a-Thursday, right?

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Right???

Happy knitting!

Thursday Sock-Along: Friday Edition

I’m counting these as Thursday socks because I cast on yesterday. Better late than never, right? Well, I’ve been saying for a while that I wanted to make a second pair of socks. I blogged about my first pair, Rye Socks from Tin Can Knits, here.

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Photo credit to Callandra S. Cook, aka the wifey. Modelled by yours truly.

Socks #1 have turned out to be everything I expected. That is, they were a great project to learn on, they fit well, they look pretty sweet. I can only stand to wear them occasionally in the winter as they’re very, very warm and, being worsted weight, they’re not great for stuffing into shoes. So, they don’t get a lot of use…but that wasn’t the goal.

However, being appropriate for frequent use is the goal for Socks #2. A few other goals are as follows:

  • Make ’em with sock yarn.
  • They should fit my calves, which are larger than average, without having to do a ton of machinations to the pattern.
  • There should probably be two of them. Matching is not only unnecessary; it’s highly overrated.

For the Rye Socks, I switched sizes throughout the pattern to make sure they would fit my calves without being too loose in the foot. That’s okay and all but I’d like to just be able to knit some socks without going through all that. To that end, I started thinking about how to make the cuff super stretchy. That way I wouldn’t have to switch sock sizes at the ankle. I decided to knit the ribbing in fisherman’s rib instead of standard. I learned from making my Color Dipped Hat that fisherman’s rib is ridiculously stretchy. It also takes about twice as long to knit as a typical single rib, but it seemed like the right man for the job. I poked around different patterns on ravelry and settled on Susan B. Anderson’s How I Make My Socks. I knitted the ribbing longer than called for, and will probably end the stockinette section a little early, depending on how they fit as I go.

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My progress so far!

The ribbing is definitely extremely stretchy:

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I used a super stretchy cast on, too, so that shouldn’t be a problem. So far I’m really pleased with how it’s turning out! Both the yarn that I’m using and the dpns are from the amazing batch of yarn, fiber, needles, books, etc that I got recently from someone who is destashing. The yarn is Knit Picks Simple Stripes.

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Sammy very kindly modelled for me!

If you haven’t checked out my fellow Socketeers, you can read Hannah’s post here (unsophisticated and jejune) and Paula’s post here (Spin a Yarn).  Happy (sock) knitting!