Well, I’ll Be Darned

I’m writing this onboard a train headed east to Montreal. March was a hard month, and my vacation/escape has come at an opportune time. I don’t have much planned for this trip, some sightseeing, some eating, and some shopping. Montreal is a new city for me, having only stopped briefly in it over 4 years ago on route to Quebec City.

So far on this trip, I’ve read almost an entire book, drank quite a bit of coffee, and have worked a few rounds on a pair of socks destined for my grandfather. I’m hoping to make more of a dent in the leg as the morning progresses.

I worked Saturday afternoon, so yesterday was the first true day of my holidays. I spent time getting my house organized and getting myself organized for this get away. I also took time to repair (albeit poorly) a pair of socks.

I’m a little disappointed this pair hasn’t held up; I’m inclined to blame the yarn, but perhaps I was harder on this pair than others? They were a great mindless pair to make, and I was sorry to see the hole starting in the toe. The day earlier, I was at an event, talking about many objects from long ago, one of which was a sock darker. It’s a funny looking, dumbbell shaped wooden object, and it allowed for conversations about handicrafts and quick consumer culture of today (“What happened when you get a hole in your sock?’ I would ask, and inevitably, the answer was, “Throw them out.”) A few guests would say they remember their mothers/grandmothers using something similar to the sock darker example I had, and one guest remarked that they remember a person in their life using an egg when darning. When I settled in to repair the sock, I don’t have a sock darker of my own, but remembered the anecdote about using an egg.  Good enough, I thought.


I took the egg, popped it into the toe of the sock and was ready to start darning. The egg, or sock darker, provides a surface, making it easier for repairs. 


And here’s where I make my confession: I had no idea what I was doing when I was darning. I watched a few YouTube videos about darning, I had my yarn ready, and I just went for it, aesthetics be, well, darned. I couldn’t find the same colour yarn I used for the toe, but I had quite a bit of the body colour left. While it does stick out very noticibly, I’m rather pleased with the result – it’s almost as if the patch is a visible marker of where I’ve been, of what those socks have been through.


Everything is a skill, which can get better with practice.  I’ll likely have to darn more socks to get better at this technique (although I hope I don’t have to do this too often – I rather like my sock collection!). For now, the patch job works, and the socks are ready for their next wear. 

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Once Upon a Sock – March 2019

On the first Thursday of the month, a number of sock-knitting bloggers share their progress with the theme “Once Upon a Sock,” an awesome initiative co-ordinated by Paula @ Spin A Yarn! It’s well worth checking out the other posts because it’s always interesting to see what other people are looking at; it’s like sock yarn eye candy!

My knitting this month, admittedly, has been dominated by the Soper Creek 2019 Yarn Challenge project. It’s still super secret until later this month, but I am SO PLEASED with how it’s progressing so far.  I have a number of rows to finish and giving it a good bath before I turn my submission into the LYS.  Can’t wait to post pictures.

But, anyways, in between the super-secret-project, I’ve been working on socks!  Last month, I mentioned how my two sock projects on the go were simple vanilla socks.  After finishing the purple socks and wanting something new to work on, I wound this beautiful skein Leo and Roxy Yarn Co. 80/20 Sock and started a simple lace sock.

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I ACTUALLY started a different texture for the sock, a simple 1×1 cable, but the texture was getting lost in the variegation.  So, after 15 or so rows, I ripped back to the ribbing and started with the lace.  It’s a lovely, simple design, allowing the yarn to showcase the colours and speckles, and this pattern was one I’ve improvised, inspired by a historical pattern.  (Is it fair to say something this simple is something I’ve ‘created’? I’m sure others before and after will undertake this simple lace… just a musing, I guess.)

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Take 1 for this sock didn’t take off. Frogged before starting again

The lace inspiration came from The Stocking Knitter’s Manual: A Companion to the Work Table, by Mrs. George Cupples in 1870. There are a number of patterns for socks in this book, and after reading and re-reading different variations, I settled on an adapted lace, like below: It s All Been Done - Stitch Fiddle (1)

See, really simple. I’m working away at the foot and am VERY happy with how it’s progressing.  The lace adds interest but is not taking anything away from the yarn, which is doing its own magical thing!  If I was to make this pattern again (and, I very well might), I would swap row 4 and 8 of the pattern – the way it’s currently working is that the first instep stitch after turning the heel and picking up for the gusset, is a yarn over, and the first stitch of the heel (when looked at from the RS) was a yarn over as well.  By swapping these two rows, the yarn over would always be in the middle of the pattern, not the first stitch somewhere. Things to keep in mind next time. For now, I’m going to keep working away and am looking forward to seeing this pair progress!

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!

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.