From the Sock Drawer

Up until the last few days, the weather was quite nice - 70 C, sunny, warm, and not too windy. The birds have been chirping and the trees have been blooming. I knew it wouldn’t last long. Rain, chilly temps, and a general dreariness have taken over.  Bah.  In response, my feet have demanded wool socks and I’m only too happy to comply.

Yarn: Schoppel-Wolle Crazy Zauberball - Brights | Needles: 2.25 mm

Dates: Jan 5 - Feb 1, 2011

@Ravelry (public link)

Long finished but never blogged, these are January’s socks and they’re far from dreary. I can’t help but smile when I catch glimpses of them peeking out of my jeans. Wild, shifting, and fraternal color is where it’s at. (Whatever “it” is.) Plus, my feet stay pretty toasty too. Just what I need during a grey March day. 

The pattern is my basic sock template: stockinette and toe up with a gusset, heel flap, and a few inches of 2x2 ribbing at the cuff. I mixed stuff up a bit by working all the increases in a straight line instead of my usual diagonal. Might keep that modification around for the next few pairs. If there’s any interest, I’ll write up the pattern.

Glorious color aside, I’m not sure if I’d used this yarn again for socks. Shawls, cowls, hats? Sure. The jury is still out on socks. It was a bit thin in spots and liked to twist back on itself. Zauberball isn’t the cushiest stuff either but it does soften up after a bath. During the knitting, I occasionally considered ripping everything out but quashed the thought. Let’s see if that comes back to bite me. So far, the pair is holding up well and I’ve got leftovers for darning when the time comes.

The forecast is predicting warm weather and sunny skies tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll have to put these away for another foul day when they can work their magic.

2 and counting

A few weeks ago I decided to reacquaint myself with the awesome-ness that is my local library. It wasn't long before I found myself in the craft section and perusing a nice selection of knitting books. One of the books I pulled out was Hat Heads by Trond Anfinnsen. I've seen it before in my local bookstore but the urge to buy just never popped up. So, Hat Heads ended up back on the shelf until I gave it a second look at the library. I was still a bit ambivalent about the book but now I had time to spend a few more minutes to read through it. The story behind the whole hat project was inspiring and so were the charts. Once I had my library card, Hat Heads finally came home with me. 

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Torunn | ravelry |

It didn't take me long to pick a hat and cast on. What happened next was a perfect storm of knitting. The patterns were fun and a perfect use of the yarn I'd picked up a few days before. Once I started, I couldn't stop knitting. I knit so much that my hands started to hurt; however, they hurt more when I didn't knit so I just kept going. Soon, I had 2 hats to send off but I'm not done yet. There are only 5 or so more patterns I want to make before the library gets its book back. Time to renew it for another couple of weeks and get back to the needles.

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Mostafa | ravelry |

Fancy (And A Socks That Rock Review)

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Pattern: Gentleman's Fancy Sock by Nancy Bush

Yarn: Socks that Rock Mediumweight - Tlingit

Needles: US 2 (2.75 mm)

Date: Feb 21 - March 8, 2010

@Ravelry

I like to knit lots of different things but every now and then I get stuck on something: socks, washcloths, toys, whatever. The last overriding object of my attention was socks (it's washcloths now but I'll save that for later). I'm not always sure what throws me over the edge but this particular sock knitting binge started when I was looking for the perfect pattern to go with a souvenir skein of Socks that Rock. Eventually, I picked Gentleman's Fancy Sock from Knitting Vintage Socks and I'd like to say it's a good pattern but, really, I have no idea since I modified it so much. Toe up with a reinforced heel flap and my own set of calf increases. Basically, I only kept the stitch pattern and what a glorious stitch pattern it is.

It wasn't just the stitch pattern that had me enthralled. The Socks that Rock did actually live up to the hype. The colors were beautiful (even if they did turn my needles and hands black), the yarn had a nice, tight twist, and the yardage was quite generous. I can't speak for its durability though because I managed to finish them right as Winter and the chance to wear tall, wool socks was fading out. I have high hopes for next Winter though.

Game Knitting!

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Buttoning Headband from Game Knitting by Lee Meredith

@rav

Even though I finished this headband as Winter was ending, I feel like I finished it right on time. After all, it'll still be there when Fall and Winter come around again. Second, the knitting helped me stay warm, cozy, and laughing through the last of Winter's doldrums because of Game Knitting. Its premise is simple but powerful - knit a basic pattern according to a set of occurrences in TV, movies, or daily life. So, I to kept myself happy with tea and knitting along to the Red Green Show. Whenever someone used duct tape, something exploded, or someone got hurt on Adventures with Bill, etc, I made a cable. Some episodes had more cables than others but it was a great time and I was sad to bind off.

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Game Knitting is more than just a headband and cables though. It's more than hats, scarves, and mitts. It's more than short rows, bobbles, ribbing, eyelets, and color work. It's all of these things thrown together with randomness and spontaneity. You might not know what to expect when you begin but it's a lot of fun finding out. The ebook showing you the way is full of colorful photos, patterns, detailed explanations, and lots of inspiration. I can't wait to use it again.

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Yarn takes Center Stage

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Pattern: Center Stage | ravelry | download |

Yarn: Patons Kroy Socks FX - Cascade Colors

Needles: 2.5 mm

Date: Jan 8 - 29, 2010

@Rav

I’m very happy to say that my January socks, the first of my personal Sock-A-Month KAL, are finished and on time too. That second week into 2010, I started these socks because the yarn was calling me and I was helpless to resist. Since the yarn was my main reason for casting on, I wanted it to be the center piece and the dominate the pattern; however, plain stockinette just sounded really, really boring. Plus, interesting sock constructions were still bouncing around in my head.

To meet all of my specifications, I added a simple rib detail and went from there. It definitely kept the socks interesting and let me play around with the gusset and the heel flap. All the experimentation and fiddling with details was really fun. Once the experiment was over, I had a pair of warm, comfy socks.  I’m also releasing the pattern here, so you can make a warm, comfy pair of socks too.

When I purchased this yarn, I was drawn to it because of its long stretches of color and I was not disappointed after knitting it up. The colors create wide stripes which move from light to dark. I did find it prone to a bit of splitting but not annoyingly so. The yarn is also a bit on the hairy side but I think that lends itself to the warm, cushy-ness of the finished fabric. Compared to Patons Kroy Sock 4-ply, the fabric is very similar even though I found the FX yarn to be slightly thinner. One of the downsides is that the socks look a bit different in spite of being the same dye lot. My other complaint is the smaller put-up (166 yds), which led to shorter socks, but I still liked the yarn enough to buy another pair’s worth.

These socks were a great way to start off 2010 and I’ve already made some good progress on February’s pair.  I hope your knitting resolutions (and the other ones too) are going as well as mine.

P.S. The winners of the Diagonal Sock pattern are Theresa and Barbara Wright. Email me at studiostrategos at gmail dot com 

Distractions

Lately, I've been perusing two very fun websites: Crafty Leftovers and Leethal. Both sites are creative, inspiring, and not just about knitting. They make me want to drop all of my current projects and start something new RIGHT NOW.

Crafty Leftovers, which is the web adjunct to the Crafty Leftovers Zine, covers a variety of crafts and tutorials utilizing those pesky scraps from other projects. The Earth & Sky Mini Sock Ornament has already proven to be a major distraction. If only some of my sock leftovers matched. Guess I'll just have to use worsted weight yarn. On the non-knitting front, these little matchstick notebooks have already taken up a bit of my time.

Leethal, which also has some focus on repurposing scraps, has a very different aesthetic than Crafty Leftovers and is no less awesome. The patterns, projects, and tutorials are so inspiring that I want to try the lot of them. After all how can I resist such things as the Before and After PhotoRecycled Sweater Wool JewelryGradient Mitts, and the cute Zippered Coin Pouch. These projects do more than demand me to make them. They throw my mind on a tangent and I can't help but think about how to change and adapt them.

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Unfortunately, my creative spirit has to go on the back burner.  There's still Christmas knitting to be done and this yarn won't knit itself. Oh, have I also mentioned the packing?

November's Quick Knits Club *spoilers*

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I first found out about The Quick Knits Club a few months ago and I kicked myself for not signing up when it started. The previous months have included such fun patterns, yarns, and goodies with a unique aesthetic that I could resist it no longer. In October, the projects were a knitted mustache and a superhero/villain mask. Cute goodies like monster finger puppets and repurposed sock wristlets just sealed the deal. Signing up for November was a forgone conclusion.

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While October focused on costumes, November is all about gift giving. The Wee Gift Bag is horrendously cute and I love the halo of the accompanying yarn. Hopefully, there will be time for me to make a couple for the tiny gifts I'm sending out this year. The other project, Winter Leaves, is a cute little project(s) that can be used as an ornament or an off the wall necklace. Mine are going to end up as ornaments. Maybe I'll even finish them in time to put them on the tree this year. Blasted ever growing Christmas knitting list...

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The goodies this month don't disappoint either. I love the vibrancy and color of the photos. Eventually, they're going to be part of a large yarny mosaic. A mix CD, I wanna be buried in snow, rounded out the package. It's already become my soundtrack for the season. Most of the songs and artists are new to me and that makes this mix even better. My personal favorites are White Flower Hymnal by Fleet Foxes and This Year by The Mountain Goats. I've already bought the Fleet Foxes  EP, Sun Giant, and I can't decide which Mountain Goats album to get. Dilemmas, dilemmas...

Anyway, I'm really happy I signed up for this club. It's a monthly shot of creativity and fun and who doesn't need that?

Review: Discovery Socks for Insouciant Sock Knitters

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I've been making good progress on the scarf but it's definitely too big to bring with me about town. Socks, however, are wonderfully portable and I've always got one (or two) with me. Currently on the needles are The Discovery Socks from Cat Bordhi's latest book Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters.

When I first heard about this book, I was thrilled since Bordhi's first book in this series, New Pathways for Sock Knitters, revolutionized how I thought about and knit socks. Once I heard more about the book though, my excitement started to wane. Usually, I knit the toe, figure out gauge, and make the rest of the pattern fit.  This new method would add in a few more rules. Also, in regards to sock knitting, DPN's are my one true love and I wasn't pleased about having to switch to circular needles even temporarily. These annoyances aside, I decided to buy the book and try it out anyway because I don't want to be so stubborn that I keep myself from learning anything new.

Now that I'm on the cuffs of both socks, I can give a better review of the book. The first part of the book is full of clear, detailed instructions and illustrations for all of steps neccessary to make a pair of socks with this method. The second part is a collection of different patterns, of which the first  socks you knit form the base, that range from basic ribbing to complicated lace. There's even a question and answer section at the back of the book which details how make a few modifications for a better fit. Even better is that the process is pretty fun and that includes snipping a stitch to open the leg. 

While fun,Personal Footprints does have a few downsides. One, it's almost impossible to make socks for other people using this method if you don't get a trace of their foot first and then have them try on the sock-in-progress to make all the measurements. Second, if you don't get the same gauge on every pair of socks you knit, you're going to have to make more footprints. I miss the freedom of finding out my gauge and going from there without trying to match it to a preexisting pattern. Third, the star toe is the only toe used in this book because it echoes the heel and determines when the heel starts. This takes a bit of the guess work out of knitting a sock but what if the star toe doesn't fit your foot well? The standard toe fits me much better and I think I've figured out how to substitute it for the star toe without mucking up the rest of the pattern. More on that later.

Despite the downsides, I'm happy I bought this book and tried out something new. At this point, I'm well into the cuff on both socks and they fit wonderfully, aside from that toe. I doubt that this will ever become my default way of knitting socks but I will definitely use this method again.

P.S. The sushi stitch markers are part of a set from The Opalescence. She also blogs as The Akamai Knitter.

P.S.S. I recently won the Snow Cat Hat pattern from Cozy. I can't wait to cast on. Thanks Cozy!

Review: The Joy of Sox

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@Amazon: The Joy of Sox: 30+ must-knit designs

@Rav

When I feel like getting out of the house and don't have anything particular to do, I usually end up over at the bookstore. This little quirk of mine means that I know the stock of the knitting section pretty well.  One day, The Joy of Sox by Linda Kopp, appeared on the shelves and I couldn't resist looking it over. Then, I couldn't resist taking it home.

Once home, I settled in and gave it a closer look. The Joy of Sox is a parody of The Joy of Sex and all of the book echoes this theme. The tutorial section is rife with innuendo and the pattern photos and intros focus on couples. Even pattern names join in the fun with names like A Roll in the Hay, a sock with a stitch pattern based on wheat sheaves, and Quickie Socks, a pair of quick to knit socks done in worsted weight. Small knitting "confessionals" are also strewn throughout the book along with helpful hints concerning everything from color pooling to sock recycling.

Underneath this playful facade, Joy of Sox is a very detailed and informative book. The tutorial section covers basic sock anatomy, to how to adjust socks, and basic recipes for heel flaps and short row heels. How to knit socks using DPN's and circulars (1 or 2) are also included. There is no bias towards toe up or cuff down socks as techniques for casting on and off for both types of construction are included. All 32 patterns have nice, color photographs that show off the socks and their details from different angles. Unfortunately, some of these photos are a bit small which can make it hard to inspect specific aspects. The patterns appear to be well written and, when necessary, included large, legible charts. Depending on the pattern, written versions of the charts are also included. 

What really made me fall for this book, besides from the attention to detail, was the variety of patterns. Socks are knit both from the toe and cuff and come in a variety of heights from anklets to thigh highs. There are patterns for fingering weight socks up to worsted. Ribbing, cables, lace, color work, and even bead knitting all have a place. With all of these choices, I'm having a hard time narrowing down my favorites. I want to knit both of the thigh high patterns, Takeout for Two and Girl's Best Friend Thigh Highs. Cyber Flirt, a sock that bears cabled emoticons, also looks like a lot of fun. Surprisingly, I've fallen hard for several color work socks despite the fact that I've haven't knit anything like that before. My personal favorites include From Russia with Love, Toe to Toe, Boyfriend Socks, and Snow Bunny. However, my favorite pattern of them all is Afternoon Delight by Silvia Harding which is a lacy knee sock with beads. With instructions like "impale bead onto hook," how can I resist?

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