Thursday Sock-Along: WTF, Stripes? Done!

I am pleased as punch (where did that saying come from?) to report that my WTF, Stripes? socks are officially done! They were such a rewarding project because of both the amount I learned and the awesome finished product. I’m going to do this a little differently than my usual FO spotlight format as this project has a rather complicated timeline.

The Beginning

For this pair of socks, I wanted to continue with my overall sock knitting goals: learn new techniques and sock constructions and get closer to finding a sock pattern that fits me well. This pattern was given to me by Carol at just the right time: I was done with my last pair and needed something new, and it incorporated new-to-me techniques. Plus, it just looked really cool! So I picked out my yarn, Regia 4-fädig Mini Ringel Color, and got started. Because the pattern was a gift and I used yarn from my freecycle score, this project cost me only my time.

The pattern, Susan B. Anderson‘s Smooth Operator Socks, is designed to make cuff-down socks with self-striping yarn. The pattern incorporates a modified afterthought heel which allows the stripe sequence to continue uninterrupted through the ankle and instep. The heel modifications allow for a better fit as apparently afterthought heels are often too shallow. I had already decided I wanted my next pair to be toe-up. However, this pattern was easily modified so that didn’t present any problems. I also wanted to do them TAAT. When I do them one at a time, I tend to knit the second sock much tighter. Doing them at the same time would help me keep my gauge more consistent.

I learned from my last pair of socks that I don’t always get 8 sts/” on US1s. For this pair, I went up to US2s and checked my gauge early on. I got around 8.5 sts/”, which was fine. I chose to knit the 72 st size. I used Judy’s Magic Cast On for the toes and got going. Since I was using a pattern specifically designed to show off stripes, I figured I’d try to make my socks match. I started each at (what I thought was) the exact same spot in the color sequence. I actually kind of prefer fraternal twin socks, but I wanted to learn new things!

The Process

Since I was doing toe-up instead of cuff-down, I needed to choose an increase to use for the toes. I initially did left and right raised increases, but I didn’t like the way they looked. I ripped them out and restarted, using m1r and m1l instead. I liked that much better. I wasn’t sure how long to knit the foot before adding waste yarn for the heel. I estimated two inches less than my foot length. After knitting about an inch past the waste yarn, I went back and did the heels…then tried the socks on. And, they were just too big…by about an inch!

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Note the extra length at both the toe and the heel. And the Ms. Potato Head in the background.

I deliberated for a bit, but ultimately ripped out the inch or so of leg, the heels, and an inch and a half of the foot. I re-added my waste yarn and kept going. This time, after I did the heels, the fit was perfect! So, I learned that leaving about 3.5″ for the afterthought heel works well for me.

I made a couple of modifications to the heels the second time around. I started the decreases one round sooner and didn’t decrease as much. I only decreased to 40 sts instead of 28. I decided on this just by trying the sock on every few rows. I guess my heel isn’t as pointy as most! After those modifications, I was much happier with the fit.

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Better, right?

Another thing I did differently on the heels the second time around has to do with how I picked up stitches on the corners of the heel openings. It’s a long story but, suffice it to say, I got much smaller/nonexistent holes. What little gap remained I was able to close up while weaving in the ends.

If you look closely at the two pics above, you’ll notice that they are not identical twins. Even though I started at identical spots in the yarn’s stripe sequence, they didn’t stay identical for long! They each started out with two stripes each of orange, yellow, red and pink. Then, things got a little random. So much for planning! In any case, I just carried on knitting the leg and cuff. I kept going as long as I could in an attempt to use up as much yarn as possible. Interestingly enough, the stripes started matching up again at the top! So they start and end with two stripes each of orange, yellow, red and pink. The only difference at the end was the very last stripe, which made an appearance halfway through each bind off. One was yellow and the other orange. I actually ran out of yarn while binding off one of the socks, so I russian joined some yarn on. I didn’t want to pull a row out and redo it! I like having the extra pop of color on the bind off and, since I used JSSBO, it would have been really irritating to undo.

The End

All told, I used 395 yards of yarn. The legs/cuffs are about 8.5″ long. I like the yarn a lot–the stripes and colors are awesome, and it’s not too coarse for sock yarn. I will give them a wash and a soak and they will probably soften up a bit. I cast on with US1s for a neater toe and switched to US2s on the second or third round. I used Addi Sock Rockets with 40″ cables and knitted them on magic loop.

As for the pattern? I would highly recommend it for first time sock knitters and 100th time sock knitters. There are a number of little tips and tricks included that really make the socks turn out smooth and streamlined, including a modified Kitchener stitch and sleek decreases. Susan posted on her rav group recently that she’s actually come up with some more tricks to make the pattern even better, and she’ll be releasing them sometime next week. The pattern has many clear and detailed pictures and includes links to video tutorials for more information. In particular, there’s a neat trick for picking up gusset corner stitches that I will probably use any time I need to pick up heel or gusset stitches. If you’re at all on the fence, the pattern is still discounted and her KAL is still going on.

Last, but not least:

The Pretty

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Sorry (not sorry) for the giant pics. I couldn’t help myself.

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Afterthought heels look funny! They’re really just extra toes.

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Look, Ma! No holes!

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Pretty, pretty toes!

Get ready for even more pic spam!!!

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Image copyright Callandra S. Cook

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Image copyright Callandra S. Cook

Clearly, I love pretty much everything about these socks!

Are you doing any sock knitting? Feel free to post about it on Thursdays and link up with the group! Also, you can share your projects on Instagram with the tag #thursdaysockalong. Check out my fellow Thursday sock knitters here:

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Thursday Sock-Along: “Yarn Ramen” Edition

I’ve had some serious sock drama over the past week, let me tell you! The background info, in case you’re just tuning in, is I’m knitting Susan B. Anderson’s Smooth Operator Socks. There’s a KAL for this pattern happening now in her ravelry group, and the pattern is currently discounted. If you’re at all interested, it’s worth checking out: you don’t even have to finish your socks to qualify for prizes! Just get them on the needles. Also, there’s some great sock eye candy showing up.

So. My socks. I was cruising along, going toe-up, TAAT. Since the pattern is written cuff-down, I had to guess at how long to knit the foot before adding waste yarn for the afterthought heel. Based on what I saw in other patterns and the advice I got on rav, I went with 2″ less than my foot length. I put the waste yarn in at 8.5″, knitted about another 1.5″ of the leg, then went back to do the heels.

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Aaaaaughhhh! Giant foot!!!

Note the extra length at the heel and toe. All told, they were a full inch longer than my feet! I thought for a bit that I could just pull them up higher, so that the heel hit the back of my ankle, but quickly realized that wouldn’t work. They would end up in the back of my sock drawer, never to be worn. Okay, maybe I’d layer them over other socks in the extreme dead of winter, but probably not. Plus, who wants to put so much work into socks with awesome stripes in awesome colors, just to wear them once a year? Not this guy.

So, I frogged. I pulled out the couple of inches of leg. I pulled out the finished and Kitchenered heels. I ripped the foot back to about 7″ long. It hurt me, knitters. It really hurt me.

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Waaaaaaahhhh!

And I got going again. I re-added the waste yarn for the heels, and carried on with the leg. It’s about time now to tackle the heels again. I will probably graft them a little bit earlier than I did the last time.

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Despite all the challenges these socks have given me, I really love them. Interestingly enough, I got the same comment about them from two different people the other day: They look like Harry Potter socks. Works for me! If only I could rig up some magic knitting needles like Molly Weasley, maybe I could finally Knit All The Things!

Are you doing any sock knitting? Feel free to post about it on Thursdays and link up with the group! Also, you can share your projects on Instagram with the tag #thursdaysockalong. Check out my fellow Thursday sock knitters here:

Happy sock knitting!

I’m Knitting 0 for 3 Today

I spent most of my day bouncing from appointment to appointment. That meant periods of downtime…that I would typically spend knitting and listening to podcasts. Well, I knit the last couple of pre-heel rounds on my WTF, Stripes? socks. Then I looked for some waste yarn to use for the afterthought heel…nope, nothing in fingering weight. So, I figured I’d start my next spa cloth test knit. I pulled up the pattern, dug out my yarn, and looked for my needles…nope, forgot to put my US4s back in the case, so I didn’t have the right needles. Then, I figured I’d rustle up an older WIP and put in some work on that. I pulled out my Feathery Lace Stole and went to look up the pattern…nope, didn’t have it with me. By that time it was time for my next appointment, so all my knitting time was used up!

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My Feathery Lace Stole, still languishing.

I’m planning to drown my sorrows (figuratively) at my LYS in a bit. They’re having a happy hour this evening, complete with “yarn tasting”. Sounds interesting! I’ll be sure to bring all the yarn, needles and patterns I need to actually get something done!

Happy knitting!

PS: If you are thinking about joining the Smooth Operator Socks KAL, the thread is up here!

Thursday Sock-Along: WTF, Stripes?

I renamed my Smooth Operator sock project to WTF, Stripes? on ravelry. You might remember from my sock post last week that I decided to make these socks identical twins instead of the fraternal twins I usually make. I figured since the pattern is specifically geared toward having an uninterrupted stripe pattern, I might as well go for it. Also, one of my main goals in sock knitting is to try something new with each project. So I painstakingly went through the yarn (which conveniently is in two separate skeins) and found what I thought were identical spots in the color sequence, and cast on.

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Look! Matchy matchy!

Everything went swimmingly for about the first dozen stripes. There were two stripes each of orange, yellow, red and then pink. Silly me, I thought that sequence would just repeat itself. Well, next thing I knew, one sock had three stripes of orange and the other had three stripes of yellow. And then it just devolved from there! One sock went back to two stripes per color, but in a different order, and the other sock went to one red stripe, three pink stripes, then pairs again. So I guess I’ll get fraternal twins after all.

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Really, stripes? Really?

That is, of course, totally fine by me. I was just surprised! Otherwise things are going well. My gauge is a lot better than on my last pair (about 8 sts/” instead of over 9.5), so I think they will actually fit me. If anything, they’ll be a smidge large in the foot, but that’s okay. As long as they fit my ankle and calf! I like the toe increases I ended up with (m1r and m1l) and I’m nearly ready to add the waste yarn for the afterthought heel.

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If you would like to make your own Smooth Operator Socks, matching or not, then head over to Susan B. Anderson’s ravelry group, itty bitty knits. In the next couple of days, she’s starting up an informal KAL. Come join in the fun!

Are you doing any sock knitting? Feel free to post about it on Thursdays and link up with the group! Also, you can share your projects on Instagram with the tag #thursdaysockalong. Check out my fellow Thursday sock knitters here:

Happy sock knitting!

 

Thursday Sock-Along: An FO and a Smooth Operator Snag

I finished my In Search of Vanilla socks! Since I’ve covered them here in detail already, I won’t go too crazy with my rundown. The basic idea is that I used the free Petty Harbour sock pattern by Rayna Curtis. I made the 72 stitch version, but as I got over 9.5 sts/”, they didn’t turn out the size large that I had anticipated! They’re closer to a medium and I’m hoping they’ll fit my mom. I used 372 yards of ONline Supersocke 100 Savanne Color that I got from my freecycle score. So, the only cost for this project was the time I put in!

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This was a cuff-down pattern that I knit on US1 dpns (apparently very tightly). There’s a subtle broken rib-type pattern that gives the socks some interest and breaks up the colors a little bit. The heel is a standard heel flap style and the toe is standard, as well. I used Tillybuddy’s very stretchy cast on to start and Kitchener stitch to finish. The only modification I made to the pattern was to pick up one extra stitch per heel flap edge and then add one extra decrease round. I found that made for a much nicer and hole-free gusset.

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The socks aren’t exactly identical, but they’re close. That’s just sheer chance, really–I wasn’t going for matching. These are definitely my best socks so far. I didn’t think I wanted to do another pair of cuff-down heel-flap socks, but I’m glad that I did! I still haven’t found the right pattern and gauge to make a pair that will actually fit me well, but I have some more ideas percolating.

So next up: new socks! Like Paula and Carol and many others, I’m making a pair of Smooth Operators by Susan B. Anderson. If you want to make some too, be sure to hop over to her ravelry group, itty bitty knits. There’s going to be an informal KAL! There’s no thread set up yet, but there isn’t an official start date or anything. So, cast on and join up! I poked through my sock yarn and decided to use these two skeins of Regia, also from my freecycle score:

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Since the pattern is written specifically to accommodate self-striping yarn, I figured I’d try to make them identical. I actually quite like fraternal twin socks, but it’s also nice to learn new things! Since I always seem to need to do things a bit differently, I decided to do these toe-up instead of cuff-down. I cast on a couple of days ago and got going. I chose to use left and right raised increases for the toes. Well, I got almost all the way through the toe increases and then decided to rip them out and start over. I think some combination of my magic loop technique (still in its infancy) and the raised increases led to holes on one edge of each sock.

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good edge

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bad edge

It wasn’t awful, but I could tell it was going to bother me. So, I ripped back and started over. I’m only a few rows in now, but I’m using m1r and m1l instead. So far, so good!

One mini rant: I tend to knit pretty tightly anyway, and with these I’m trying to keep the joins snug. So, doing a m1r one stitch in tends to be pretty tricky. I find it really hard to get the tip of the needle cleanly into the new stitch as it’s really tight, even with my Addi Sock Rockets! Anyone else have this problem? Anyone have a favorite increase to use for toe-up socks?

So far I love how the colorway is working up! I’m definitely sensing a theme: every pair of socks I’ve made so far has had either yellow or orange or both. I guess I like bright socks!

How are your sock explorations coming? Feel free to post about them on Thursdays and link up with the group! Also, you can share your projects on Instagram with the tag #thursdaysockalong. Check out my fellow Thursday sock knitters here:

Happy sock knitting!

Thursday Sock-Along: Sock Karma!

I am so excited for today’s sock post! I’m getting close to finishing my Petty Harbour socks as I’ve turned the second heel and finished the gusset decreases. All I have now is the foot and toe, and they tend to go pretty quickly. Last night, I was knitting away on my socks, thinking about what pair to cast on next, when knitting karma struck again! My friend Carol of knit equals joy unexpectedly gifted me a sock pattern. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Carol, thank you for your thoughtfulness!

The pattern is Susan B. Anderson’s Smooth Operator Socks. It’s a top-down pattern with an afterthought heel and a few special details that give them an extra sleek look. The pattern is an amazing 14 pages long and gives directions for both dpns and magic loop. It’s very well written. There are actually two versions of the pattern: a detailed description of all the steps and a more streamlined, at a glance version. Pretty cool! I have the needles now to do them TAAT so all I have to do is pick out some yarn!

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Copyright susan b. anderson, via ravelry

The pattern is designed to create uninterrupted stripes when using a self-striping yarn. I think it looks really cool! Also, the pattern offers four different sizes in fingering weight yarn as well as one size in worsted weight. You all know how I love a versatile knitting pattern, right?

I’m really loving how my Petty Harbour socks are turning out! I love the colors and, as I mentioned, I’m really happy with the way the gussets turned out.

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Check out what my fellow Thursday sock knitters are doing! It’s turning into quite a group, so I will list them:

Also, I’d recommend checking out Wolfberryknits’ post on her Australiana Socks–they’re masterfully done, from start to finish! If you want to join up, just post and link up. Leave a comment and I’ll link back to your blog. Also, I started the tag #thursdaysockalong on IG if you want to post there, too.

Happy sock knitting!

The State of the Knitting Union or My First Blogiversary!

WordPress will likely not recognize my blogiversary until tomorrow. The reason for that is that, one year ago today, I posted my first post…just on a different platform (blogHer, specifically). While that’s an awesome platform, it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. So, one day later I moved that post to WordPress: And So It Begins.

Rereading that post now, I’m struck by a couple of things. First, why are the pics so small? Second, my year did not consist of nearly as much stashbusting as I had anticipated. Everything else seems pretty much on point!

I thought it would be nice to start something of a tradition for this day. However, since I like to keep my options open, I’m going to go on record and say that I reserve the right to change my own traditions based on my own whims, so who knows what I will post on July 4, 2017! What I do know is that for the past year, this blog has been very important to me. I’ve used it to build new community, talk (and talk, and talk, and talk) about all the nerdy little knitting details I want to discuss, and to channel my knitting mojo. By that I mean I’ve been able to gather up all the great energy and inspiration I’ve gotten from my interactions with people here and on their own blogs, and shunt it into my own knitting and back into my blogging. The knitting karma just keeps coming ’round!

So, let’s do a round up of sorts! In the past year, I have finished 68 projects. I did my first test knitting and completed 20 test projects. I knit with all different yarn weights and fibers, and made a ton of different types of things: my first knits for my daughter, my first shawls, my first socks, lots of hats, mitts and mittens, baby clothes, dresses, a few cowls…basically the kitchen sink. I did my second ever intarsia project and my first ever stranded colorwork projects. I even got almost all the way through my first original design. I grew so much as a knitter and, I think, as a blogger. None of this was based on goals or intentions as much as it was fueled by a drive to just keep knitting. Along the way, I felt compelled to talk about it, too.

Because of that, I hesitate to set hard and fast goals for my next year of knitting (and blogging). I value the rather organic nature that my drive to knit has: I do it because I feel compelled to, not because I have specific things that I want to accomplish. Even when I’m starting a new project I often find I end up casting on for something completely different than I anticipated, and I like allowing myself that flexibility. It does mean that sometimes things happen on a different timeline, but I’m okay with that. For instance, I’ve been thinking for a few months now about opening an Etsy shop. I have a list of things I intend to stock, an idea for a name and a banner, and a general idea of pricing and turnaround time. If I applied myself more to making the shop a reality, I could probably have it up and running by now. As it is, I haven’t made any of the stock for it yet!

So while I’m not setting specific goals, there are things I am interested in trying out sometime soon! Those things include (more) brioche and double knitting, for starters. I’m planning on continuing to learn more about sock knitting. I want to try TAAT and toe-up socks, and learn some more heel and toe constructions. Also, there are approximately 15 million shawls I would like to make. I think I need at least one for every day of the week, if not month! Lastly, I have plans to make my first adult-sized sweaters and vests. Things I want to continue to do are to knit from stash, knit for family and friends, and continue to connect with other knitters through this blog, ravelry and my LYS/local community.

I won’t bore you too much with blog stats. While every single like, comment and follower makes me (very) happy, it’s never been about the numbers for me. I appreciate it so much that people read and respond and that I have a handful of knitters I consider friends that I’ve just never actually met. That community was really what I was going for when I started this a year ago, and I haven’t been disappointed! I have some blog plans for the upcoming year, but I don’t think I’ll get into them yet…we’ll just see how things work out!

I will leave you with a brief update on my knitting progress at the moment: I’m almost done knitting my sword! At some point I will write up the pattern and publish it on ravelry, but for now I’m celebrating the fact that the darn thing is almost out of my hair!

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I’ve decided to call it Baby Broadsword

Hopefully I will have an FO Spotlight post up about it soon! Happy 4th of July to my US readers, and happy knitting! I will end with some joint Independence Day and 1st Blogiversary fireworks:

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Thursday Sock-Along: My Best Gussets Yet

Oh blog, I’ve missed you! I was out of town for the weekend and then was down for the count for a couple of days with a GI thingy we really don’t need to discuss. I’m finally feeling up to tackling life and knitting and blogging again! What better way to tackle it all than with a post on socks?

So, my Petty Harbour socks continue. More accurately, sock, as I haven’t finished the first one yet. I did however turn the heel and am cruising down the foot, so it shouldn’t be long now.

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My progress as of late this afternoon

I had a few minutes to stop by my LYS and knock out a handful of rounds. You can’t tell from this picture, but the gussets on this little beauty are my finest to date. Usually I get a little hole on one end of the heel flap or the other where the picked up stitches just aren’t quite right. On most of my other socks, I’ve picked up one or two more stitches than called for. These aren’t different in that respect as I picked up one extra on each side. What is different is how I handled that extra stitch. Previously, I have decreased them out of existence on the next row. This time, I just added one more decrease row. Voila–no hole!

While I’m waiting for these to be finished*, I can now start to plot my next pair. I had some credit and a free shipping code at jimmy beans that was set to expire today. While I was still sick, I browsed around for some yarn to use it on. You know I really wasn’t feeling well because I just couldn’t get excited about anything! Well, a day later I got the bright idea to use it on needles for TAAT toe up socks. So, I expect to soon receive two sets of 47″ Addi rockets, US0 and US1. That giant batch of yarn I got from freecycle recently included a ton of sock yarn, and I’m determined to work my way through as much of it as I can!

I’ve got lots of blog material to catch up on. I’ve won two yarn prizes I haven’t shared with you yet, I got a blogging award I haven’t done anything with, and I haven’t finished my 30 day knitting challenge deal. I also haven’t finished knitting my sword. I will try to get everything covered in the near future! In the meantime, I’ve started actually using my Instagram account. I can’t promise I’ll post much, but you can find me there as alexandknits if you’d like!

Want to read more about sock knitting? Head over to Paula’s blog at Spin A Yarn and Hannah’s at unsophisticated + jejune to see what they’re up to. Also, take a look at Iseago, our newest Thursday Socketeer, at nursingandknitting! Edited to add: also check out fiberandsustenance’s great post on afterthought heels here. Want to share your sock knitting exploits, too? Just post on or around a Thursday and feel free to link up. Happy sock knitting!

*My mom has pointed out that there’s no hurry to finish these as it will continue to be unbearably hot in Georgia for approximately forever.

Thursday Sock-Along: Progress, of Sorts

Well, my quest for the perfect (for me) vanilla sock pattern will need to take another turn. After knitting away for a bit on the cuff of my latest sock (the pattern I’m using is Petty Harbour), I decided I would try it on for size. It took a little tugging, but I didn’t think much of that–socks stretch, right? So I kept tugging. Long story short, the sock was too tight, as evidenced by the fact that I seriously bent one of the dpns while getting the sock on and off!

My first reaction to that was one of disbelief. It couldn’t possibly have been the wrong size. I’m knitting a stretchy pattern! It’s sock yarn and I’m using US1s! I always get gauge on US1s with sock yarn! Something must be wrong! So I counted the stitches*. No error there–I had 72, just as I had intended. I thought about it a bit more, then decided to check my gauge. Better late than never, after all! Sure enough, I was getting a smidge over 9 sts/” instead of the pattern’s 8 sts/”. That means that my 9″ cuff (which in all honesty still would have been a bit small) is actually an 8″ cuff…and is never going to fit me.

But, a sock is a sock is a sock, and I’m not the only one of my acquaintance who both has feet and likes handknits. So, since my mom had asked for a pair a while back, I decided that they’ll go to her if they fit–and I believe they will.

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It’s really challenging to get this yarn right in photos. The above pic shows the colors a bit brighter than they really are, but it’s close. At the end of the current pattern repeat, I will start the heel flap.

Want to read more about sock knitting? Head over to Paula’s blog at Spin A Yarn and Hannah’s at unsophisticated + jejune to see what they’re up to. Also, take a look at Iseago, our newest Thursday Socketeer, at nursingandknitting! Want to share your sock knitting exploits, too? Feel free to link up. Happy sock knitting!

*More accurately, I straightened out the dpn as best I could and then I counted the stitches.

My 30 Day Knitting Challenge series will continue tomorrow.

Thursday Sock-Along: In Search of Vanilla

Hi! I have socks to talk about! After a couple of weeks of no sock activity, I decided today that I needed to just cast something on. There are a few reasons I hadn’t done so sooner. Namely, I couldn’t quite decide on a yarn/pattern combo and I didn’t want to do another cuff down pair. I wanted to do two at a time, toe up, but that just didn’t work out. I don’t have a long enough circular needle in US0 or US1 for it, and my attempt to use a sport weight yarn just wasn’t working.

So, I had to let go of the TAAT deal for the time being (until I can get the right needles, which might be a bit). However, the socks must go on, so I decided I would just do some cuff downs on dpns and see what happened. Instead of modifying a size medium pattern to fit me better, I opted for a pattern with multiple sizes that also has a stretchy stitch pattern for the cuff. I ended up starting a 72 stitch (size large) version of Petty Harbor by Rayna Curtis, free on ravelry.

I think this pattern would work well with almost any kind of sock yarn, from solid to variegated. The subtle stitch pattern would help break up a busy yarn but it isn’t enough to obscure the stripes of a self-striping yarn. I chose to use ONline Supersocke 100, which has stripes of various different widths.

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Here’s what I’ve got so far:

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So far, I like how they’re turning out!

I am hoping that, through experimentation, I will stumble on the perfect “vanilla” sock pattern for me. It would be nice to have a go-to that I don’t have to think about or worry whether it will fit. Maybe this will be my perfect vanilla!

Want to read more about sock knitting? Head over to Paula’s blog at Spin A Yarn and Hannah’s at unsophisticated + jejune to see what they’re up to. Want to share your sock knitting exploits? Feel free to link up. Happy sock knitting!

My 30 Day Knitting Challenge series will continue tomorrow.