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!

There’s Only One Way Out of a Knitting Quagmire

So. Socks. I knit a pair, remember?

IMG_3942In case you were wondering, it’s no longer that green outside my windows. There’s a distinct orange tinge to everything and a chilly breeze darting around. It’s getting to be that “knitting weather” everyone is talking about. I keep seeing socks on my blog reader (SpinningWoollyYarns, for one. The Yarn Harlot, for another). I’m in a virtual sock knitting club (check out Maggs, Hannah and Paula). I just received a package of amazing sock yarn! I should be casting on in a frenzy, right?

Well, I haven’t. I am stuck in knitting quagmire. I am making decent progress on my Color Dipped Hat, but man is it slow going. Fisherman’s rib, I am learning, is wonderfully thick, squishy and stretchy. It is made that way via what is, for me, an excruciatingly slow process. Each row really only adds half the stitches (since you knit or purl into the stitch below half the time) so each physical row of knitting takes two rounds to complete. It’s slower than regular 1×1 ribbing sooo…yeah. It’s taking a long time. And, I’m past the two color portion so I don’t have as much visual interest to keep me motivated.

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My other quagmire is the Lacy Loo I’ve now started three times. First time, I messed up the stitch count in an obvious place and in a way I couldn’t fix. Second, I got to a point (thankfully early) in the pattern that wasn’t making sense. I posted in the designer’s group and got a response back but I had screwed things up just enough (and struggled a little initially on the short rows) that I decided to just rip it out and restart it again. I got the right circular needles for it so the going got a little better after that:

IMG_4192My problem now is that, even though I got going and it’s all making sense now, I am continuing to question my yarn choice for this. It’s really more worsted than aran, and the pattern gauge is really closer to bulky, so it’s knitting up loose. It just might not be ideal for a three year old…but that said, it’s kinda pretty and would look really sweet on her with leggings.

My other quagmires all have to do with either blocking, sewing on buttons or making tassels. I can’t swear that any of them will ever get done, and none is really inspiring enough to keep me going!

So, in light of all that stuff going on, and the amount of Christmas knitting I’m still hoping to accomplish, and the thought that maybe someday soonish I’ll go back to work and stop having such a ridiculous abundance of time to knit, it’s been hard to give myself the liberty of casting on for a pair of socks for myself. So when Maggs suggested in her Thursday sock post to maybe put the sock club on hiatus until January, I thought that made a lot of sense. But…socks! They keep calling to me! The sock pattern I got from knittinginfrance is toe-up, and I need to knit some more socks so I’ll be ready for that! Paula is making Hermione’s Everyday Socks, and that’s the pattern I was thinking I’d do next! It’s going to be cold soon! Everyone’s knitting socks and they’re all so cool!

So, screw Christmas–I’m makin’ SOCKS!

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Rye Socks Revealed

My first pair of socks is officially knitted, finished, blocked and photographed. Many thanks to Maggs for nudging me into starting this journey, and to the wifey for helping with modeled photos!

The rundown

Pattern: Rye by Tin Can Knits

Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Superwash Worsted.

Size made: Cuff is Adult L and foot is Adult S. Length is custom to fit yours truly.

Needles: US3 for ribbing, US4 for everything else

Techniques used: Tillybuddy’s very stretchy cast on, Kitchener stitch

Modifications: Very few. On the second sock, I picked up one extra stitch in each corner of the gusset then decreased it on the first row. Since I used a smaller foot size than cuff size, I just continued decreasing after the gusset until I had the right size. I had to adjust the “beginning of round” marker when starting the foot as a result, but it wasn’t anything major.

Ravelled: Here.

The pretty

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Copyright Callandra S. Cook

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Copyright Callandra S. Cook

FullSizeRender 61 FullSizeRender 59 They fit really well and are comfortable. I am very happy with my first socks! The pattern was great for a first timer. Everything was explained very thoroughly and the worsted weight yarn made for a quick project.

If I knit this pattern again, I would do the modifications listed above. I would also choose a different yarn as this one knitted up rather stiff at such a tight gauge (it softened somewhat with blocking, though). I would use dpns for the whole project instead of magic loop, since I’m just better at keeping even tension with dpns.

I’m Not Holding Out on You

Well, maybe I am, just a bit. What I will say is that I have knitted a bona fide pair of socks. Yep, I did that. The only steps remaining are to block them and then find someone not attached to my feet to take pictures of them being modeled! In the meantime, here’s a little tease:  

While I’m waiting for the yarn to finish my Drachenfels, I’m going to catch up on everyone else’s blogs (I’m behind) and knit a little on my Clapotis. 

More pics and discussion coming soon!

Flawsome Sock!

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to go to a workshop on internalized misogyny (don’t be scared off–this really is about knitting and it has a happy ending). One of the exercises we did was designed to help people of the female persuasion recognize some of the unconscious misogynistic thoughts that are very, very common. I was shocked at how my typical self-talk measured up when I started paying attention to it. I would generalize that many, if not most, women habitually, internally, unintentionally demean themselves in a myriad of tiny ways. When I started thinking about how to blog about my newly completed sock, I found myself automatically including tiny apologies for the things I did wrong or don’t like about it.

Then I remembered that, for realz, I made a freaking sock. And that is awesome, period. So I am borrowing a term from the wonderful and slightly crazy Tyra Banks and dubbing it “flawsome”. Get it? Flawed + awesome = flawsome. It’s awesome, not in spite of its flaws, but because of them. Furthermore, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the phrase “flawsome sock” just makes me think of “awesome sauce”.

So….yeah. I made a sock! And it’s just what it’s supposed to be. It fits, it’s comfy, it’s a cool color and making it helped me up my knitting skills. I won’t bore you with details of any of its less than perfect features because they really don’t matter (and to be honest, I pretty much covered all of them in a previous post).

IMG_3893I even wove in the ends and everything. How’s that for awesome? Check! And just to make sure that I don’t succumb to SSS*, I’ve already cast on and made it halfway down the cuff:

IMG_3892I used (one size smaller) dpns for the ribbing and otherwise will use magic loop for the rest. Hopefully my gauge is the same! It’s just much nicer knitting on my Addi sock rockets than the aforementioned awful dpns I used for half the last sock.

In the meantime, I have more fun stuff on the horizon. I should get my extra skein of Koigu KPM on Saturday so then I can work on getting my Drachenfels finished. I needed something a little easier on my hands than the socks, so a couple of days ago I cast on for my first Clapotis. Those of you who’ve paid attention to the online knitting community for a while will know that I’m over ten years late on riding that trend, but I would argue it’s become timeless at this point! Plus, it really seemed like the best pattern for the project. I’m making a wrap for my mother in law out of this Plymouth DK Merino Superwash:

IMG_3250_mediumI’m hoping I’ll be able to make it a little wider than the pattern calls for, but we’ll see how it goes. I don’t have the best pic yet of my progress but this should give you an idea:

IMG_3889 IMG_3894Other mods I’m making are to follow the advice of (literally) thousands of knitters ahead of me and to RS purl/WS knit the stitches to be dropped instead of using stitch markers to mark them. Also, while the pattern calls to knit the stitch right before and the stitch right after through the back loops, I’m also doing the purl equivalent on the WS. This is supposed to shore those stitches up even more so that when the stitch column between them is dropped, the edges are secure. The setup was a little confusing but once you get going, the pattern is very easy (and very easy to memorize). I hope she will like it!

I got some really exciting news this morning. Carol of Carol E. Herman Designs and knit = joy has released her Passport Mitts pattern early! Check it out! She’s planning to host a KAL starting October 1:

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Copyright Carol E. Herman Designs. Used by permission.

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Copyright Carol E. Herman Designs. Used by permission.

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Copyright Carol E. Herman Designs. Used by permission.

When my mom was visiting, she asked for a pair of fingerless mitts. We looked through some patterns and she really liked this one, so I’m planning to make her a pair. I have had the best yarn picked out for it forever: Classic Elite Yarns Inca Alpaca in navy blue. I got it from the Goodwill windfall so I think that will be great karma for a gift for her. I’ve got to hurry up and get some other projects done so I can start these soon!

Happy knitting!

*Second sock syndrome: the often insurmountable inertia a knitter must overcome when faced with making an object identical to the one just completed.

Let’s Talk About Socks, Baby!

I have most of a sock!

IMG_3881I turned the heel and did the gussety bits yesterday and it was a lot easier than I’d expected. I really only screwed up a couple of times and nothing was so bad it couldn’t be fixed or tolerated. The main thing I did was to pick up stitches along the wrong edge of the heel flap and then couldn’t figure out why I was basically knitting on the inside of the sock instead of the outside, but I figured it out pretty quickly. If you think of the cuff and leg of a sock as a tube because, well, it is, and then imagine a squared off tab extending from the back bottom edge, that’s where I was. Holding the sock cuff edge down with the heel tab closest to me, I should have picked up stitches along the left edge, knitted (around) across the front of the ankle, then picked up stitches along the right edge of the tab, then knitted around the back of the heel. If you think about the heel flap as being at 6 o’clock then I should have started at about 7 and knit clockwise around. Instead, I started at about 5 and tried to go the other way. Didn’t work! But was very easy to pull out and get going the right way instead. The problem? I didn’t read the pattern thoroughly enough and missed the last row on the heel flap. Trust the pattern, kids! Unless it’s wrong and then listen to your gut. But otherwise, sometimes you just have to have trust in the pattern and re-read it until it gels.

How do you tell the difference? The short answer is I don’t know. But with the advent of ravelry, at least you can browse through other people’s projects and, if no one mentions crazy weird issues, chances are you’re misreading something.

Here’s the right side of the heel and gusset:

IMG_3882 IMG_3883And the left side:

IMG_3884 FullSizeRender 48The right side worked pretty well, but I learned a couple of things on the left side. I didn’t pick up the stitches cleanly so there’s a couple stray plies of yarn out of place for some of them. Now that I know to be careful of that, I can do it better next time around. The other thing I’m not completely happy with is the first couple of stitches I picked up on this side. They are sort of at the top of the upside down V formed by the heel flap. They’re right at the top of the last pic. They made large holes that I couldn’t find a way to prevent. I knitted them through the back loops on the first round, but they still gap a good bit. I will have to do a little research on how to do that better so there’s not so much of a hole.

And here’s the bottom of the heel:

IMG_3888So far, I’ve followed the pattern without making any modifications. From here, the pattern calls for knitting until the foot is 1″ shorter than the desired length. At this point I’m going to do two or three more decrease rounds so the foot circumference fits a little better. Otherwise, I don’t foresee changing anything. I’m an old pro at Kitchener stitch at this point, so it should be smooth sailing now!

Oh, yeah…I got really irritated at the dpns again. Before when that happened I would just put the sock down and knit on my Drachenfels for a bit. However, I’ve now used up all the grey yarn I have and can’t do any more until I get my new order in. So, I just put it on a long circular instead and sort of half learned, half intuited how to do magic loop. It’s really pretty easy and works well. The only thing I’m not a fan of is learning how to adjust the tension when switching off from one needle to the next. You can see on the garter panel here where I started using magic loop instead of dpns:

IMG_3886Haven’t figured out a fix for that, yet. I’ve tried keeping the first stitch of the new section tight, the last stitch of the old section, the second stitch of the new section…nothing so far. Any suggestions? Otherwise I might have to cast on a new project while I’m waiting for my new dpns. Or, (gasp), do some finishing on my UFFOs!

The First Rule of Sock Club

Well, clearly I’m going to talk about Sock Club, so don’t let the title fool you! We had our first virtual meet up yesterday afternoon/evening (we spanned several time zones). It was awesome to meet some fellow bloggers and fiber aficionados. I had my pattern and yarn all picked out and was all set to start swatching so I dug out my US1 dpns, two sets of 4, new in their packages. I tend to like thinner socks so I figured I would go with typical fingering weight sock yarn and little needles in able to achieve that. Well, the dpns looked a little small so I checked them on my fancy schmancy gauge doohicky. Yep, US0s, not US1s.

Rats. I thought about swatching anyway but I sort of hate to start off with the wrong equipment. I suppose I could have gone up to US2s since I’m typically a bit of a snug knitter, but it just didn’t seem like it was coming together. So, I started to rethink. I wasn’t in love with the pattern I had chosen, really. It just seemed like the clearest first-time sock tutorial I could come up with. Based on my gut and some guidance in the comments of my last post, I picked out another pattern. This one calls for worsted or aran weight yarn and is knit on US3s and 5s. I took a virtual dive into the stash, came up with some lemon yellow Lamb’s Pride Superwash, and started swatching. image_mediumWell, my first swatch didn’t work out on 5s, so I went down to 3s. That was maybe a little tight if anything so I settled on 4s. I cast on for the first cuff and started on the ribbing. As usual, I used Tillybuddy’s very stretchy cast on. Over the course of the evening yesterday, I got through the ribbing and a couple of inches into the leg. IMG_3869The garter stitch panel will be in the center ultimately–it’s just off center here because of how it is on the dpns. Warning: obligatory foot selfie is coming!

IMG_3868I’m pretty pleased with it so far. I’m doing a combination of sizes –L for leg circumference but it will be shorter in the foot to fit me. It’s a little strange because knitting worsted yarn on size 4s makes for a very dense fabric, and it’s also making the wool seem a little coarse. They’re probably not socks I will be thrilled to wear all the time. But really, I don’t think that’s the important thing here. The important thing is that I’m doing something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, challenging myself, and learning something new. My first pair doesn’t have to be perfect (neither does my 100th pair, for that matter). My goals are really just to get a pair of socks that fit me reasonably well, that resemble each other to a high degree, and are reasonably similar to the pattern I’m using to make them. That’s more than enough to take on, especially for my first real try!

After working on and off on my socks last night, I picked up my Drachenfels to put in some work there. Whew, what a difference!! To explain why, I suppose I need to back up a little. I have accumulated a lot of knitting supplies over the years. I have lots of straight needles and dpns that I got from my mom and from various other knitters who had extra. I’ve bought needles here and there as needed when I didn’t have the right size for a project I wanted to do. I’ve picked up needles on sale when I’ve found them. I have a pretty large assortment of supplies, but they’re not all what I would have chosen if I was building it from the ground up, knowing what I know now. What this means for my sock project is that the only size 4 dpns I happen to have are these random bamboo (?) ones from a “Joy of Sox” knitting kit someone gifted me. They have weird splitty tips, not unlike the Surina ones I blogged about here. They are cheap quality and not very easy to work with. After wrestling with them and rather coarse worsted yarn, I picked up my Drachenfels on my gorgeous Addi sock rockets. The knitting seemed completely frictionless. WordPress is telling me “frictionless” isn’t a word, but that’s the only way I can describe it. The stitches seemed to fly from one needle to the next. Sooooo dreamy!!

What this means, I think, is that I need to slowly let go of some of my borderline hoarder tendencies and gradually replace my less awesome needles with new ones as the opportunities arise. I’m not going to buy a complete set all at once or anything like that–plenty of what I have is still very useful–I’m just going to pay attention when I see sales turn up for needles that are nicer than the weakest links of my collection. I’m going to let my “needle snob” tendencies loose a little more and stop feeling obligated to use tools that I do not like, simply because I have them and they were cheap or free. Sometimes the non-monetary price of a bargain just isn’t worth it.