The Stages of Knitting a Sock

With sock knitting, well, any kind of knitting, there are different stages. Sure, there are the technical stages: the cuff, the leg, knitting the heel flap, turning the heel, etc., etc.  I’m talking about the emotional stages.

First, there’s the yarn. Oh, buying sock yarn! I actively have to stop myself from buying skeins and skeins of yarn when I’m in a shop. So many choices, so many fibres. Of course, there’s also the pattern selection, different textures, levels of complexity.

You start with the cuff: you see your project start and watch it grow from essentially a series of loops on a stick to a few inches of fabric. You also see the true brilliance of your yarn shine. Did you choose a solid colour, get to see your self patterning yarn take shape, or are the various colours of the variegated skein doing their marvelous thing?

Then, you start with the leg, the meat of the sock, all stitches dedicated to the pattern.  A few rounds go by and you truly get to see how your choices are playing out. The textures are coming into focus, or in the case of vanilla socks, the satisfaction of endless rounds have taken their start.

I must also ask, is there anything that makes a knitter feel more magical than turning a heel? With a few stitches and a few short rows, you’re turning the direction in which you knit your stitches, from vertically to horizontally.

The foot offers a slight break to a weary knitter, because even though you love the pattern you’ve dedicated many rows to for the leg, you only now have to continue it for half the stitches, while the other half are blissfully reserved for plain knitting for the sole of the foot.

Finally, you get to the toe. After hours of knitting, you know the end is near, and after only a few rows, which inevitably get shorter and shorter, you are finished the sock. Kitchener those stitches, weave in those ends, and take a deep breath. You now get to repeat the process again for sock number two. Sure, the second time around, the feelings aren’t quite the same, having lost an element of surprise, and some knitters need a little more encouragement to get that second sock started. For me, knowing I’ll have a warm pair of socks at the end of it all gets me casting on and starting this process all over again.

Happy knitting!

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In Progress

Well, here we are, the last week of November, and the crunch for holiday knitting is ON! Do you feel the pressure yet? That tiny, ticking in the back of your brain that marks the time spent (or not spent) working on those items to be gifted? No, just me?

I’ve been working away at a few different items through the past weeks. Two gifts are done, more than that are in progress. I’m struggling on one pair of socks. I can write about them because they’ll be for my grandmother, and I don’t think she’s discovered this humble blog. Writing about my frustrations won’t spoil any surprises for her.

I’m working on a pair of socks for Grandma, but I’m fresh out of inspiration. I know what I want out of the project: a pattern I haven’t made before, with an interesting texture or pattern detail. I don’t want these to be simple vanilla socks.

The yarn is lovely. That was the easy part. I bought this yarn from a local indie dyer: Lake Knit Yarns. The colourway is called Storm Across the Valley. Isn’t that fabulous?

After trying a few different simple cable/twist stitch designs and after ripping back twice (the first time, it was salvageable; the second time was a full rip back) I’ve decided on an almost vanilla sock: lots of stockinette with a very simple cable which will run along the outside of the foot. At least, that’s the plan. It lets the yarn really shine but adds a touch of interest. I’ve knit much farther than the above photo, almost done the leg, in fact, and I haven’t had the urge to rip back a third time. I think this pattern’s a winner.

Happy knitting!

Taking Your Knitting for a Walk

I consider myself to be a fairly multi-tasking knitter. I can knit while accomplishing other tasks: watching TV/a movie, drinking, talking, and reading (if using my e-reader). Despite my multi-tasking ways, I never would have thought of knitting and walking at the same time, and then I read a post by blogger Andrea who blogs at This Knitted Life.  In this post, she gives ten tips for knitting and walking at the same time, ranging from try it and try it again, tips for logistics (what to carry said knitting in while getting in your steps and ideal projects).

With this sage advise in hand, I grabbed my vanilla socks, my iPhone with awesome podcasts in the queue, and my obscenely bright walking shoes and headed to my favourite walking path.

I. Am. Hooked.

I had some trepidation at first, the same feeling I had the first time I knitted in public, but hesitation subsided and I got into a good groove. My yarn lives in a simple canvas shoulder bag for the walk, along with my iPhone and car keys, and it felt really great to walk, take in the lovely scenery (as my favourite walking path is along the shore of Lake Ontario), and still get in quality knitting time.  One morning, I must have walked over 5km (or over three miles for those familiar with the Imperial system) and through my hour+ walk was able to knit over 20 rows.  One kind gentleman remarked as we passed ‘you’ll surely be finished that sock by the time you are finished!’  He wasn’t far off the mark, as I completed a good chunk of  the foot during that walk.

Thank you so much, Andrea @ This Knitted Life for showing me I can add to my knitting multi-tasking repertoire. Being able to combine two things I love, walking and knitting, makes the experience even more awesome.

Now, if someone could now show me how to knit while housecleaning, washing dishes, completing yardwork, or some other horribly mundane task, I’ll be set.  Knitting always makes things better, whatever the task may be.

Not sure about knitting and walking? Please give the post a read over at This Knitted Life!

“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.