Once Upon A Sock – February 2019

For months now, I’ve noticed a few bloggers I follow posting ‘Once Upon A Sock,’ appearing on the first Thursday of every month, coordinated by Paula @ Spin A Yarn!  I’m a day late, but I’m hoping to jump in on this theme! It’s always interesting to see what other people are looking at, it’s like sock yarn eye candy!

I love knitting socks, and I’ve professed my love for socking knitting before. I always have at least one pair of socks on the go because they are the perfect purse project.  My sock drawer may be brimming with socks, but really, one can never have too many socks to keep your feet warm, especially with the winter we’ve been having here in southern Ontario.

So, with that said, what do I have on my needles right now sock wise? This may sounds super boring, but I have two pairs of plain ol’ vanilla socks on the go. The first I’ve been working on intermittently since October; they started as conference socks, something to knit in between taking notes.  I hate to say this as well, but I find these socks a little boring. I love the yarn, Knitting Fever Painted Desert, with its gradual tonal changes, but I think I’d feel differently if these were made a little more exciting with lace, cables, SOMETHING. I needed conference knitting, and this yarn was in the stash. I’m really excited that all I have to do is kitchener the two and get them blocked.

Sock number two of vanilla socks is more exciting because of the yarn.  Who doesn’t like a good self patterning yarn! This is a ball of Opal doing its magic, and I’m at the point with these socks where the foot needs simple knitting. The heel is turned and the gusset shaped. These are currently on hold, because they will make amazing movie knitting.

I’m hoping to join in on the Once Upon a Sock blog party once a month, but I also know myself and my blogging habits, so I may not be quite as diligent at hitting these targets. For now, this has been fun to do!

Advertisements

Staying Cozy in the Cold

This was one of those weekends where Candian stereotypes held up – it was cold, it was snowy. My car termperature this morning was reading -20C. Very cold indeed.

Needless today, besides shovelling my sidewalk, I did very little this weekend.  Books were read, Netflix was binged (I’ve watched too much Schitt’s Creek), and knitting happened. A lot of knitting.  Selfishly, I’m happily working on two cowls: Lace Eyelet Cowl by Stefanie Canich, and I started Anguli Cowl by Hilary Smith Callis. Unsurprisingly, these are two cowls that look like shawls when worn.  I’m also fixing a pair of socks I initially made for my co-worker’s daughter.  I THOUGHT I made it to the measurements she gave, but either I messed up (which could happen) or her daughter’s feet grew (which does happen), so I’ve been trying to fix the mistakes.  One sock down, one to go. 

The pattern is the lovely Hermione sock, but because the yarn is self striping, I’ve made it with an afterthought heel, a technique I hate.  I was bemoaning about this a few months ago at a knitting group when one of the women said something that has changed my outlook. 

To make an afterthought heel, you knit the leg to the length you want, then knit half of the stitches with waste yarn , then continue knitting the same stitches with the working yarn. The idea is, you remove the waste yarn and have the right amount of live stitches with which you can work the heel, leaving the self striping yarn’s pattern uninterrupted.  Simple enough concept, but removing that waste yarn and putting the stitches on needles is a process that usually leaves me using lots of creative curse words. Then Vickie said: you should knit more than one row with the waste yarn. Lightbulb went off. Really, the waste yarn is just keeping the heel stitches live for later. It doesn’t matter how many rows with the waste yarn you knit. By knitting MORE THAN ONE ROW, you are making it easier to pick up those stitches and remove the yarn.  There’s very little room when only one row is knit, but the angles are easier to work with when there’s, say, three rows of waste yarn used.

Sorry it’s a little blurry – but as you can (maybe) see, there’s three rows of white waste yarn used which are holding the heel stitches for an afterthought heel.

I tried her advice with the Hermione sock, take two. It was so much easier than any other time I’ve tried this technique. Seriously. If you haven’t been doing this for afterthought heels, try it. Mind blown. 

Happy knitting, and if anyone is living through these temperatures or anything close, stay warm!

I’ll always have warm toes

Last week I wrote about a ‘Simple Pattern’ for socks, taken from a book written in the 1800s.  I had fun experimenting with this pattern, using rather old yarn from my stash.  I made it about 12 rows or so into the body of the leg before I frogged them.

This was how the pattern was shaping up – lace panels in between garter stitch.  I was happy with it, but this has now taken a back seat.  The socks were ripped out so I could free up the needles for vanilla socks.  I was at a conference last Thursday and Friday and knew I would want something simple to keep the hands busy while still listening and engaging with what was being presented. 

These, I must say, are shaping up to be perhaps the most boring socks ever.

The yarn is slowing fading into different shades; the top has more green with the purple, and the heel looks like it’s doing the same thing. It’s all very subtle, and no texture is making these seem just a little yawn. Again, I dove into the stash for these socks, and really, they are serving their purpose very well, simple, transportable socks that require no thinking at all.  Although they are a wee bit boring, there is nothing wrong with that. Socks are socks and they will keep toes warm regardless of the simple yarn.

This is where self patterning or self striping yarn shines. A simple vanilla sock becomes so much more interesting because the yarn is doing all the heavy lifting, the yarn is dazzling while you are simply repeating the knit stitch over and over.

While I soldier on with these unremarkable socks, the ‘simple pattern’ is still on my mind, and I have an idea of how I want to tinker with the pattern. Going at this rate, it’s safe to say my toes won’t be cold.

Simple Pattern for Simple Socks.

A few weeks ago, I bought a beautiful skein of sock yarn online. I won’t post details about it because it was purchased with the intention of becoming a gift, but I will say the yarn is soft, squishy, and beautifully self striping. I was looking for an interesting texture or stitch pattern for this yarn to become socks; the yarn would do most of the heavy lifting because the stripes really would shine, and I didn’t want anything to take away from it, but I also wanted to make something more than a vanilla sock.  Hours, it felt like, were spent on Ravelry, Pinterest, and googling to try and find something that would be inspirational. Nothing seemed quite right to suit this yarn.

Then, I came across a blog written for Knitty by Franklin Habit, where he used patterns written in the 1840s by Mrs. Frances Lambert to create a sampler, and this got me thinking… was I looking in the wrong places for inspiration?

Well, I ended up in a historic knitting pattern wormhole. I downloaded both of Mrs. Lambert’s books, filled with historic patterns, and somewhere along the way, I found the Victorian Knitting Manuals collection on archive.org, maintained by the University of Southampton, where they had digitized The Stocking Knitter’s Manual: A Companion to the Work Table, by Mrs. George Cupples in 1870.  Here I found my inspiration.

 

The story of sock 1, made with the amazing self striping yarn, will continue in a further blog post another day.  I found a very simple lace pattern, adding interest to the overall pattern and yet simple enough so as not to take away from the yarn.

I’m currently experimenting with her ‘Simple Pattern.’  As written:

Calculate six stitches for each pattern

1st row – Pearl (sic) 3, O, T, P.
2nd row – Pearl 3, P 3.
3rd row – Pearl 3, P, O, T.
4th row – Pearl 3, P 3.

O means put over the thread
T is knit two together
P is plain 1

I charted this for knitting in the round, because I like charts.

FullSizeRender

 

My interpretation of this pattern, it looks like you’re working three garter stitches alternated with three stitches work as lace.

Worked as a sock, 12 or so rows in, it looks like this:

img_1147

It’s rather pretty and, as the name suggests, fairly simple.  This is further spinning my inspiration; the sock I’ve started in the picture is using stash yarn and isn’t intended for anyone. I’m right now knitting it for knitting’s sake and to test this pattern (shocking for a project knitter, I know!).  I’m adoring the lace ‘columns,’ but I’m also thinking how I could tinker with Mrs. Cupples’ pattern and make it something new.

I’m not at a loss for inspiration now.  The history geek in me should have known at the outset to start with something at least 100 years old!

Hopefully next week I’ll have another sock update!

Happy knitting!