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.

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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.

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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:

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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!

Knit All The Socks.

This is an actual text I sent my sister:

Yes, I had a moment where I feared I had too many socks. No, I can’t believe it either. Now, that thought didn’t stay with me long, and I laughed to myself and proceeded knit round after round of a sock in progress.

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Socks are my go-to project.  I always have at least one pair on the go, and often more during holiday-knitting season.

Socks can generally be knit with one skein of 100g yarn. One skein, one completed project. It’s great.  I have no problem buying skeins upon skeins of sock yarn because I know it can be used for something without fear of running out!

Socks are also fabulously transportable. My purse is never complete without a pair of socks tucked inside.

Socks can be as simple or complex as you want. There’s a lot of freedom with a pair of socks.  There are certain constants: the cuff, leg, heel, foot, and toe, but how will you do the cuff, what pattern will feature on the leg and instep, heel flap or afterthought? So many ways to make a sock your own.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have socks to knit, and a sock drawer to organize.

Skimmer Socks

The desire to knit down my sock yarn ends continues in a very fun way.  Meet the Skimmer Socks:

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Okay, Simmer SOCK, singular, because Sock #2 is still in progress. But, please allow me to rave about this pattern for a few minutes.

The pattern I used was Skimmer Socks Revisited by Sheila Toy Stromberg (revisited as she revamped a popular pattern of hers written a number of years ago).  This pattern popped up onto Ravelry’s Hot Right Now around the beginning of May, and when I saw my purple and blue left overs together, they were just destined to become these socks.

The pattern was VERY clearly written, and if anything was unclear, like my confidence in doing short rows, she has a corresponding tutorial on YouTube. To make it even better, Stromberg has marked the timestamps when that particular technique is shown in the video.  While the tutorial is around an hour, I fast-forwarded to the parts I needed clarification on and then happily resumed my knitting.

For my high-arched feet, I made size large which required around 140 metres of yarn, and the fit is great. I can certainly see myself making more of these socklets in the future, with my only major mod would be making the insole shorter so that they’ll be slightly more no-show when I wear flats.

To everyone in Canada, I hope you are having a fantastic Victoria Day long weekend! To everyone else, Happy Monday!