“How Many Pairs of Socks Do You Need?”

Lunch hour at the office. After I announce that I’m leaving the lunch room to knit at my desk, my dear co-worker asks me what I’m working on.

“Oh, just a pair of socks,” I inform her.

“How many pairs of socks do you need? Every time I ask, you’re always working on socks!” She replied.

A beat passes. I don’t know how to answer that question. How many pairs of socks does a person need?

Socks are the perfect transportable project. Throw the yarn, pattern notes and needles into a small bag and they are ideal for keeping in a purse, ready to be broken out and a few rounds worked at any time.  Admittedly, my sock drawer is fuller now-a-days than it has ever been, brimming with sports socks and hand knit beauties.  Do I really need another pair of hand knit, hand-dyed merino nylon socks? Well, maybe not. But do I want them? You know it.

And because I know you’re curious, here are the socks in question. The pattern is Dumbledore’s Christmas Stockings by Erica Lueder; the yarn is Riverside Studio Superwash Merino Nylong Sock, colourway Mica.

When Centre Pull Goes Bad…

It REALLY goes bad…


This is the current state of a ball of sock yarn.  I’ll likely turn the heel before I get this mess sorted out!

Every knitter has a preference, centre pull or outer pull; I tend to prefer centre, that is until the above happens…

The yarn is Opal Classic, and once the mess is sorted out, the pattern I’ll follow is Harvest Festival Socks.  They will eventually become a Christmas present, here’s hoping I can knit them fast enough!

Cableship KAL, Part I

Have you participated in a Knit-A-Long (KAL) before? On Thanksgiving Monday, I began my first KAL – Cableship by KnitPurl Hunter.  Actually, back this story up. I tried to start my first KAL the Thursday before Thanksgiving, unsuccessfully so.  Here’s what happened.

When I saw the Cableship KAL pop up in the Ravelry ‘Hot Right Now’ patterns, I was rather excited to try it. I had no idea what the pattern was going to be, what the sock would look like, but I had the right yarn and thought it would be fun to participate in, to make this pair of socks along with hundreds of others from anywhere in the world.

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The first part of the pattern was released October 6.  Great! I downloaded the pattern and later that evening sat to cast on.  A toe-up sock! I’ve never made one before, so this was a great chance to try something new!  It called for Judy’s Magic Cast-On. Well, I thought, I’m loyal to the end to my long-tail method, I’ll just use that.  Cast on the prerequisite 24 stitches and immediately saw the problem.  Long tail and other standard cast ons are great for knitting something  open or flat, like a dishcloth or, say, the cuff of a sock.  Not so great when you’re knitting a toe, something that needs to be closed in. Well, that’s why they’re calling for this Judy’s Magic Cast-On, I thought as I ripped off my 24 cast on  stitches.

Open up Youtube, search Judy’s Magic Cast-On. Lots of videos available. Great! I start watching a few and after a while I get the hang of it. Each knitter in their videos have their own variations to JMCO, but they all have the same idea – you’re looping stitches onto two needles.  I have my 24 stitches on my faithful DNPs. Great! Time to knit the first row.  All of the top videos for JMCO use cable needles. Cables can’t be that different from DPNs, I thought. Wrong. Sigh.

New search: Judy’s Magic Cast On DPNs.  The first video was very helpful, but right at the outset, this knitter warns viewers that while it’s not impossible to do this cast on method on DPNs, it’s a harder way to do so. Trust me to try this new method on the more challenging tools. Of course.  The knitter must have apologized for how awkward her method looked at least a dozen times. After watching this video, I cast on my prerequisite stitches (yay!) and awkwardly knit the first round (yay!). Time to start the increase rounds. “K1 M1R.”  I look at my awkward tangle of stitches over four DPNs and I try to start. I knit 1 stitch… I look at my yarn… Make 1 Right… I look, I fumble, I try… I get frustrated, rip everything out and put it into a time out.

This is where I should add that not only am I trying the new method of JMCO, I’m doing it the more challenging way on DPNs, with black yarn. Seriously, what was I thinking?!

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This project stayed in time out for three days when I revisited it on the holiday Monday. I sat in my kitchen where I get very bright sunlight at all hours of the day, queued up the helpful JMCO DPNs video and cast on 24 stitches (yay!), knit the first round (yay!), and then successfully knit the increase round with the help of wonderful natural lighting (YAY!), and continued working around!   After three increases, this is how my toe was shaping up:

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Lessons learned in the first steps of my first KAL:

  • Follow instructions; if a pattern calls for a certain type of cast on, there’s probably a reason
  • Have patience (but really, this is an ongoing self-bettering challenge for me in all facets of my life)
  • Sometimes things look better in the light of a new day (rather poetic but really just a literal statement)
  • When you remember the above, you can succeed.

The Most Common Question I Get Knitting with 9″ Circulars

I love my 9″ circular sock needles. I bought them over six months ago and haven’t looked back since.Because they aren’t a common tool for knitting, people tend to be curious about them and ask me questions. Commonly, people ask how on earth I knit with such tiny needles (you get used to them), and even more common, how do I knit the heel flap and turn the heel? To best answer this question, I took pictures as I knit my latest sock project

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Here is my sock, leg completed, ready to start the heel.

I use the circular needle to hold the instep stitches, and use DPNs to work the heel.

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Working the flap with the DPNs and the circular is behind with the instep stitches
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Another view, just after the heel has been turned. You can see, I’m ready to start picking up the gusset stitches.
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So I transfer instep to DPN, and then transfer heel to circular which means I’m ready to start work on the gusset and foot!

Perhaps people think there’s some magic I’m able to ONLY knit the socks on the circular. That is not the trick. The trick is being prepared and having enough tools to get the job done!

And in case you’re wondering about the stunning yarn, it’s madelinetosh Tosh Sock, Robin’s Egg colourway, and the pattern is Devil’s Snare Sock by Erica Lueder.

The Earl Kitchener and His Stitch

If you’re a sock knitter, or at least have made a pair or two, you may be familiar with the Kitchener Stitch, a common form of grafting, creating a seamless toe.  To a novice knitter, the Kitchener stitch may appear to be challenging, but once you get the hang of it, the Kitchener stitch is fairly straight forward.  I actually like doing the Kitchener stitch – call me strange, but I find it relaxing and somewhat gratifying. Knit, purl, purl, knit, repeating over and over until the sock is complete.

I had honestly never given any thought to the name, but really, why would I have?  That’s the technique, and it creates a lovely finish to my sock.  But a few weeks ago, I followed a link from the Knitty Blog to a YouTube video, the Secret History of Knitting, where they discuss knitting and World War I.  Well, wasn’t my mind blown when the connection was made – it’s the Kitchener stitch after Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener. *insert sound effect of mind being blown*

Who is the Earl Kitchener?

Born in 1850 in Ireland, Horatio Herbert Kitchener would go on to become a high ranking official in the British army, seeing action in the Franco-Prussian War, the Mahdist War, the Second Boer War, and the First World War.  His image has become a piece of propaganda history as his face was immortalized on the “Your Country Needs You” poster.

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He died in 1916 when the HMS Hampshire, a ship he was sailing on, was sunk by a German mine off the Orkneys (near the Northern Isles of Scotland).

Aspects around Kitchener’s involvement with his ‘stitch’ remain uncertain.  Some claim that Kitchener himself helped to design a sock pattern that included a new seamless method of grafting the toe, however, others say that Kitchener’s actual involvement is rooted more in lore than fact.  Indeed, knitting historian Richard Rutt claims that this grafting technique (known commonly as Kitchener Stitch) was invented around 1880.  Later, in 1918, Vogue magazine published a sock pattern with a grafted toe and called it the Kitchener sock, crediting Lord Kitchener for being a war effort champion, but Vogue did not claim he was the pattern ‘designer.’

I do have to ponder, why would a senior officer in the British army invent a knitting stitch?  One would think he would have more to occupy his time with, what with the largest conflict to date raging on. Kitchener was a strong advocate for the Red Cross and the homefront initiatives, including knitting, and he was concerned that having a seam at the toe could contribute to or worsen soldiers’ foot issues.

Whether he actually invented the stitch or not, sock knitters everywhere are grateful for the stitch that bears his name, the perfect way to finish off your sock.


*Did You Know: Kitchener, Ontario was named in honour of Earl Kitchener.  He died at a time when anti-German sentiments were at a peak in the then-named City of Berlin.  To try to dispel these sentiments, the city was renamed in honour of the popular and recently fallen Field Marshal.


Thanks to Knitty for sharing this video and getting me thinking about the Kitchener Stitch – the article that sparked this thinking is HERE.

There was a fantastic discussion on Ravelry outlining basic info on Kitchener, his comparison to Uncle Sam, and, of course, the ‘Stitch’ and that can be read HERE.

The BBC has a short yet succinct bio of Horatio Herbert Kitchener where can be read HERE.

Finally, other bloggers have looked into Kitchener and his namesake stitch, and you could read about it HERE and HERE (to share only a few of the many sites out there).

When the yarn makes you look better than you are

I’m making very fast work of my latest pair of socks. Like, much faster than I normally do.  I brought this pair to a few knitting circles last week, and at both, I kept receiving compliments that I’m not sure that I necessarily deserve, for the yarn truly makes me look better than I am.
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Isn’t is just gorgeous?

The yarn is Regia Viva Colour, and if you’ve read any other posts of mine, you know I love teal and other bright and bold colours.  It’s self striping (well, patterning with bold stripes), and the stripes and colours truly make the sock.

The yarn and its colours are the stars, I’m just helping them shine.

Happy Monday everyone!

*If you’re curious, the pattern is called Petty Harbour – as a HUGE Great Big Sea/Alan Doyle fan, the pattern name really appealed to me; the fact that it’s a beautiful texture is an added bonus!