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!

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!

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.

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!