Posts Tagged ‘socks’

Midwest Travels with Son and Sock

February 26, 2017

Michael and I spent a busy few days in the Midwest last week, visiting a college for Admitted Students Day, driving about 600 miles, and exploring the Windy City during a freakishly warm spell. The sock joined us for the journey and, like our waist lines, got bigger.

We arrived in Chicago by way of New York (more on that weekend visit in a future post) and drove southeast through wind turbine-covered farmland in Indiana to the college town of Miami, OH. Dinner at a local sports bar made for a great evening of pro hockey, the NBA All-Star Blow-out Game, and people-watching. Michael wondered if the lively table near us were faculty. He was puzzled when I somewhat cynically told him that they were too young and too funny to be college professors. “Old?!” Ah to be 18 again…

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My plan to explore the campus during my morning run was stymied by the thick fog that had developed overnight. Beautiful and somewhat mysterious…

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The sock made its first appearance during one of the presentations, hanging out in the back row.

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I’m not coordinated enough to knit while walking on a campus tour, and deciding to be as non-embarrassing a parent as I could, chose to keep the sock in my bag for the rest of the day.

The next day, we retraced our steps to Chicago – the turbines not such a novelty the second time around. After checking in to our hotel, we walked to nearby Millennium Park, a civic treasure. Thanks to the warm weather, hundreds of people were out and about, enjoying the sunshine, skating at a public outdoor rink, and marveling the “Cloud Gate”sculpture, aka “The Bean.”

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I confess the view from underneath the structure made me feel a bit queasy when I looked up and turned to see the various angles and perspectives.

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Watching people interact with the sculpture was an unending source of amusement. Little kids were the most fun to watch, but I didn’t want to alarm parents by photographing them.

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Fog rolled in overnight, this time from Lake Michigan, hanging low over the city before burning off by our mid-morning hop-on/hop-off bus tour.

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We stumbled upon the Chicago Cultural Center, a totally unexpected surprise. Housed in the former public library, the building is exquisite — as late 19th century public libraries often are — with inspiring quotations, soaring ceilings and domes, stained glass, and broad marble staircases. Dozens of people were seated as a pianist warmed up for a free lunchtime concert.

In a large gallery space, we wandered through a stunning exhibition of muralist Eugene “Eda” Wade’s doors for Malcolm X College, a collection of 16 sets of your standard issue school hallway double doors that are considered a monument to the Black Arts movement in Chicago.

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wade-murals

Another hop-off location of our day was Navy Pier where we rode the giant ferris wheel, formally called Centennial Wheel. The views of the city and lake were breathtaking — not so surprising since we were 200 feet above ground. I was too busy looking to take photos on our three-times-around journey, but Michael graciously shared some screen shots of his Snapchat video. I like the reflections in this one.

chicago-wheel

We spent the evening at the famed Second City comedy club, laughing (occasionally snorting, I admit) until tears ran down our cheeks at the six professionals who did sketch and improv comedy for 2.5 hours. Deferring again to my parental role, I did not knit during the show.

My run along the lake the next morning was crisp and fog-free.

chicago-sunrise

By the time we landed in Boston, the sock was ready for the toe to be seamed. I decided to wait until home for that final step — the Kitchener stitch requires my full concentration!

knit-socks-plane

What’s up in your world these days?

One Down, One to Go

January 30, 2017

Now that I’ve got a sock project on my needles, I realize how much I enjoy knitting them. It took me ages to make my first pair — not to actually make them but to tackle the project. Looking back, I realize that all the features of socks that I loved in that first pair still hold true nearly six years later.

You finish the top ribbing and it’s on to the leg.

felici-sock-yarn-jan-2017

Before you have time to get bored with the rounds of stockinette (or whatever pattern you’ve chosen), it’s on to the heel flap. I’m partial to the Eye of Partridge stitch.

 

striped-sock-knit-heel

Since learning new techniques or patterns is part of what makes knitting so enjoyable, I think I may try a new heel on my next pair. Maybe an After Thought Heel? I like the idea of making a solid colored sock with a contrasting heel and toe. Plus anything created by knitting great Elizabeth Zimmerman must be worth a try.

That’s for another day and another pair. This one — and it is only one at this point — will be my go-to Good, Plain Sock Recipe from the Yarn Harlot.

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Kevin, the intended recipient of this pair, has voiced texted his approval: “It looks great!! I like the colors.” It goes without saying that he’d like a pair rather than one, so I’d best cast on the next one lest I be hit with Second Sock Syndrome. Don’t laugh — it’s a thing.

New Socks for the New Year

January 4, 2017

I’ve cast on my first project of 2017 — good old reliable socks. These are in a blue and silver gray colorway, Beyond the Wall, of Felici Sock Yarn.

To be completely candid (and why not be completely candid?), I cast on the first sock in late December but discovered after a few inches that I’d selected a too-large needle. So I ripped it all out, switched to size 1 (2.25mm), and began again. This time I’m using double-pointed needles, which I’ve learned that I prefer to the Magic Loop method. I find the DPNs faster to work with — no fiddly shifting of stitches and moving of the cable.

Do you have a preference for circular knitting? DPNs? two circulars? Magic Loop?

One Toe Up, One Top Down

July 10, 2016

One of my knitting goals this year was to knit a pair of toe-up socks. I’m half-way there.

A stretchy, soft self-striping yarn in blues and greens was the perfect combination for Kevin. (Plymouth Yarn’s Diversity in Deep Sea) He’s a big fan of handknit socks and those colors, so it was pretty much a no-brainer.

In my excitement to start, I began in my usual top-down way using the YarnHarlot’s Good, Plain Sock Recipe. Only after I’d started to turn the heel did I recall my goal of learning to knit socks from the toe-up. The result was the sock on the right (Kevin’s left) — top down, partridge eye heel flap, gusset heel, and toe grafted via Kitchener stitch.

KRD_socks_heels

Fortified with a toe-up sock book from the library (love, love, love the library!), I started the second sock from the toe. The cast-on and toe shaping took a few extra minutes, but then I was on my way. No seam!

KRD_socks_toes

I wasn’t thrilled with the heel flap — mostly because there wasn’t really a flap. But I carried on. I found a variety of heels in the toe-up book and expect I’ll try a different version next time. Kevin declared them “terrific and cozy,” high praise from a young man who’s pretty particular about his clothing.

KRD_socks2

 

 

Socks for a Sweet Teen

March 11, 2016

Before I’d ever knit a pair of socks, I wondered what the appeal was and whether anyone in my family would wear them. So naive! Turns out that hand knit socks are blissfully comfortable, as my three kids and sweet husband — and thousands of other people! — can attest.

A few weeks ago, I was trying to figure out my next project, pulling out my stash, looking through patterns, and to be honest, getting a bit overwhelmed by the options. Michael, my 17 year old, was nearby as I muttered, “What am I going to make next?”

“I wouldn’t turn down a new pair of socks, Mom,” he said and glanced up from the basketball game he was watching.

That’s all I needed. The socks traveled with us on a few days of college tours and information sessions — prime knitting opportunities!

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After we got home, I turned the heel, knit the foot, and shaped the toe.   Yesterday morning — after my second cup of coffee and armed with the Kitchener instructions — I grafted the toe.

Michael declared them fabulous and agreed to model.   He even did a little New Sock Shuffle with his happy feet.

“I Wouldn’t Turn Down Socks, Mom”

January 17, 2016

With the completion of the green-gray Chromatic Cowl, I found myself in the unusual situation of not having a Work in Progress (WIP).

As I pulled out some patterns, knitting books, and bits of my yarn stash, I mentioned my dilemma — or opportunity — to Michael. He thought for a moment and, without really trying, came up with a solution.

“I wouldn’t turn down socks, Mom.”

The Yarn Harlot’s Good, Plain Sock Recipe in 3p, 1k ribbing. Cherry Tree Hill Yarn’s self-striping “Fingerpaints” in Java Jive colorway.

Treasures from Knitting Class

December 19, 2015

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I love teaching knitting. One of the best parts is watching a knitter, novice or one with experience, work through a project — deciphering a pattern, fixing the inevitable mistakes, and finally finishing.

First up, Debbie, a beginner whose patience, good humor, and perseverance are remarkable. She has an eye for her work, which means she can spot mistakes quickly. And, as I say in every class, every knitter — even the most experienced– makes mistakes. Debbie started with a small cotton washcloth, my go-to first project. She’s now working on a scarf (more on that in a future post).

 Next, there’s my down-the-street neighbor Marcia, who’s zipping through projects like a whirling dervish. (Do they knit?!) Her first socks were finished just in time for teen daughter’s birthday. As you can see, she loves them.

 As the mother of two teenagers, Marcia’s become a late-night knitter whose found the soothing benefits of knitting while waiting up for the safe return of said teens. She recently completed a lovely and deliciously soft chromatic cowl.

 In time for Christmas giving, Pam completed a dropped stitch scarf for her teen son. He’s not usually a scarf wearer, but after holding this soft beauty, he declared that he’d definitely wear this one.

 Gillan, a fiber artist, has finished an exquisite sweater and hat for a friend’s child. Regular readers will recall Gillan’s sweater seaming challenge, which she obviously remedied.   I’m particularly fond of her choice of buttons, picking up on the fiery colors of the yarn.   I hope this gives you an idea of why I love these knitting students, whom I proudly dub “Fearless Knitters.”

Curlers in Her Hair

June 8, 2015

For the past few months, I’ve been monogamous in my knitting, working on Michael’s sweater with the hope of finishing it by Memorial Day, when it’s still cool here in Massachusetts. The sweater is finished, but it’s not done. But that’s a story for another day….

In the aftermath of finishing/not-finishing, I’ve cast on two smaller projects, neither of which will have size issues.

Last fall, I bought a skein of Kidding Ewe by Done Roving Yarns at Bee’s in Bar Harbor, Maine. “Cherries Jubilee” is a yummy mix of reds, purples, and greens that will make a lovely cowl or, in this case, a wimple.

First 2 inches of Old Shale Wimple

Yes, “Maria” has been running through my brain.

Second project: “A Good, Plain Sock” in Berroco Sox. This pair for Patrick, who casually commented that I’d knit socks for everyone in the family except him.

Good plain sock recipe

What’s on your needles these days?

 

 

 

Striped Socks…Belatedly

March 22, 2015

I gave more knitted gifts for Christmas last year than I had before. Usually I start around Thanksgiving, and it doesn’t take a genius to realize that that’s not enough time to make more than a couple of items. I’m not a chunky knit, make-it-in-a-day knitter although I definitely understand the appeal.

Knitting whenever and wherever possible was my goal. Socks are great anytime projects because they’re small enough to stick in a bag or pocket and pull out anytime you have more than a minute to wait — just about anywhere. Like at the pediatrician’s office.

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In a waiting room while Patrick had surgery… (He’s all healed, thanks for asking)

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I just love this self-striping yarn, Opal Hundertwasser, which knits up beautifully — almost like magic.

Striped_knit_sock_at_hockey_game

OK, I got a few odd looks while knitting at a college hockey game, but I did my best to be a Fearless Knitter (as I tell my knitting students). A Fearless Knitter on a mission.

Finished_striped_sock

Handknit socks aren’t everyone’s first choice, but I’m doing my best to convert those folks one pair at a time.

The Thrill of a First Sock

April 30, 2014

There’s something very special about knitting a sock. It’s a simple piece of clothing that’s not particularly visible and endures a lot of wear and (eventually) tear. But the structural components of a sock make it a wonderful challenge even for a beginning knitter. The different parts to a sock provide learning opportunities, a multitude of options for customization, and enough variety that a knitter can’t really get bored.

– circular knitting on double-pointed needles (DPNs), two circulars, or one very long circular (magic loop method)
– ribbing
– construction of a heel flap and gusset
– toe shaping
– grafting the toe using the Kitchener stitch

And that’s just in top-down socks! For a first-time sock knitter, each section and technique can also provide the opportunity for much muttering and lots of occasional cursing.

In yesterday’s knitting class, Bonnie finished her first sock. How great is this?

BonnieSock

first knit sock

Lucky daughter Liza will be the recipient once its pair has been knit. Keeping fingers crossed that Bonnie doesn’t develop a case of Second Sock Syndrome.

A Different Kind of Lifeline

April 25, 2014

When we last were together, I was nearing the finish of Claire’s first sock. Although I love this anonymous yarn, I wasn’t thrilled with how it looked with the mini-cables of the gentle waves. But I was determined to finish.

And I did, but the result was a sock that looked nice but didn’t fit, at least not without a lot of pulling and tugging. The foot was fine, but the leg was too small. Who wants that when you’re getting dressed in the morning?

Rather than tear out the entire sock, I embraced the opportunity to show my class how to use a lifeline to tear out a large amount of knitting. I stitched a contrasting strand of yarn around the row where the leg met the heel flap, picking up the first side of each stitch.

Sock_Lifeline

I planned to pull out the sock from the top ribbing down to the lifeline. I knew the ribbing would involve a fair bit of picking rather than easy pulling out of the stitches. But I quickly figured out that unraveling the back-and-forth of K2 P2 would be nothing compared to the ins and outs of the “gentle waves” cable pattern. After about 5 rounds of picking out stitch by stitch, I reached for a different kind of lifeline.

Sock Cutting

Scissors work wonders. And I knew just where to stop, thanks to the lifeline.

 

Sock Season

March 23, 2014

Michael played his last basketball game of the season today, so my days of knitting from the bleachers in a warm gym are over for now.

allstarsock

Given the elusiveness of springtime warmth, I think it’ll be a while before I’m knitting from the sidelines of a lacrosse field.

Special thanks to Kevin who held up the sock so I could get a shot of Michael (#3 in blue) in the background.

 

Something new-ish

March 5, 2014

Since I like knitting socks so much, I’ve vowed to always have one in progress. They’re portable, enjoyable, and provide ample opportunity for variety.

When I finished Michael’s pair, I decided to try the Magic Loop method of knitting — instead of three DPNs (my preferred tools), one long circular needle is used. Having heard the dreaded “ping” of a DPN falling on the floor or gym bleacher, the idea of using a needle that I couldn’t drop was appealing. Plus, I like learning new things.

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The process looks very fiddly and, like many things, looks really complicated until you figure it out. It took me a few severn or eight rounds to get the hang of the sliding stitches, pulling cords, and flipping needles, but I’ve done it.

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Now that the cuff is done, I need to figure out what the leg will be. Plain stockinette stitch or something new?

 

Happy Feet

February 28, 2014

One of the reasons it took me so long to try knitting socks was that I thought that no one would want to wear them. And by no one, I mean no one except me. And even I wasn’t so sure that I’d find them comfortable.

One of the biggest and best surprises was how very wrong I was. All three of my children love handknit socks. And now Michael finally has his own pair.

MichaelSocks

It’s the Yarn Harlot’s basic sock recipe (on Ravelry and in Knitting Rules – love that book) for a size 11.5 men’s, below calf, in red multi Berroco Sox.

 

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I made no effort to match the stripes. I like a bit of randomness every now and then, especially in something as safe as socks. Kevin, whose feet are about the same size, has requested that I make his next pair smaller than the last pair. Those are comfy, he assures me. Just a bit too floppy. I’ll drop down a needle size so they’re more snug.

I think I’ll try a toe-up pattern for something new. Any suggestions?

Oh The Places You’ll Knit

February 21, 2014

One of the aspects of knitting that I love is its portability. Most projects can be stuffed into a bag, ready to be pulled out whenever you have a bit of time and, for me at least, when your body will be stationary. Movement and knitting don’t work so well for me!

Think you don’t have much time? That’s another magical aspect of knitting; it can transform time. Waiting for the novacaine to kick in at the dentist’s office? That’s time enough to work a few sock rounds.

SockAtDentist

Keeping a teenager company as he finishes a paper for school in the wee hours of the morning?

HomeworkSock

How about waiting for x-rays to be developed and a cast put onto same teenager’s wrist? Trust me, I was knitting for a while but couldn’t resist a photo of cast-in-progress.

KRDcast

Or “watching” a blow-out Superbowl game with two nieces, both of whom are new knitters? Nothing finer!

NieceKnits

Add non-driving/non-bike travel (bus, subway, passenger seat, airplane, boat…) and TV or movie watching, and the opportunities are enormous!

Late Winter Knitting Classes

February 12, 2014

After the success and enthusiasm of last fall’s class — from Seema, our intrepid novice, to Judy’s first sock — I’m happy to offer two new classes: one for beginner’s and one for intermediate knitters.

I sent the following email to about 25 local friends this morning and looking forward to the responses.

What’s on your needles these days?

Beginner Knitting

Would you like to learn to knit?
Do you know the basics but are ready to move beyond a scarf?
You’ve got knit & purl stitches but don’t know how to bind off or fix your mistakes?

In this class, you’ll make a lovely hat and develop a strong foundation of skills so you can continue knitting different types of projects with confidence. You will learn how to: cast on, knit, purl, decrease, increase, knit back and forth, knit in the round, knit on double-pointed needles, bind off, and read a basic pattern.

6 Tuesday mornings: Feb. 25, March 4, 11, 18, 25, April 1
9:30am – 11:30am
Cost: $90
Location: Newton Centre

Materials needed: Approximately 175 yds heavy worsted wool (approx 4-5 stitches per inch on size 8-10 needles), size 9 16″ circular needles, size 9 double-pointed needles, stitch markers, darning needle.

**Class size limited to 8 **

Becoming a Fearless Knitter: Intermediate Knitting

This class is for knitters with some experience who are ready to learn something new and become more confident. If you are working on a project of your own and/or are ready to challenge yourself with cables, lace knitting, chart reading, socks, or other knitting skills, this is the class for you. We’ll work in an open workshop setting where instructor and fellow knitters support each other to create and finish knitting projects.

6 Thursday mornings: Feb. 27, March 6, 13, 20, 27, April 3
10:am – noon
Cost: $90
Location: Newton Centre

** Class size limited to 8 **

To Register:

 Leave a comment with your contact information, knitting experience (if any), and — for the intermediate class — what you’d like to learn. Payment information, address, and a list of materials needed for the first class will be sent promptly.

About Me

I’ve been knitting off and on for several decades and absolutely love it — the portability, the creative outlet, the solitary and social aspects of knitting, the pleasure of finishing something, and the joy of giving or wearing. I’ve taught knitting off and on for the past 8 years in a variety of settings.

My first post — back in May 2010 (!) — highlights some of the reasons why I love this craft.

 

Cool Sock, Mom

January 25, 2014

Aaaaand the bathroom pipes have frozen again despite my precautionary tactics of leaving the shower dripping and the faucets drizzling (that’s a steady stream of drips, a technical plumbing term I’m pretty sure). Apparently even these steps weren’t enough to keep the water flowing in single digit temperatures. Until I see water flowing down the walls, I’m operating under the assumption that they’ll thaw when the temperature gets close to or above freezing. Humming “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” helps.

In knitting news, I finished Michael’s first sock while waiting with Kevin at the sports medicine clinic. A wrist injury from football season is still painful at times, so the mid-point of the hockey season seemed like a good time to seek medical help!

Sock1

It looks way too small for a size 11 foot in this photo. This shot is better.

SockMichael

He’s so delighted with the finished product that he’s asked if I can finish its pair pretty soon. I’ll get right on that…assuming the pipes thaw without bursting.

Sock Travels

January 21, 2014

While you could hardly say that I lead a jet set life, I’ve had my share of short, turn-around flights over the past few years. Most were work-related as I traveled between Boston and Philadelphia to a client, generally flying down and back in the same day although sometimes with an overnight. Since I finished that piece of work, I’ve not had the occasion to travel much.

Hannah’s role in a musical at a community theatre in North Carolina this month provided me and my Mom the chance to take a brief trip for Friday’s opening night performance. My latest sock (Berroco Sox in Red Multi) joined us. On the flight to Raleigh-Durham, I knit a few inches plus the heel flap.

TravelingSock

The show, 9 to 5: The Musical, was very well done. You’ll have to take my word for it, especially since photos were prohibited and no reviews are out. And, of course, Hannah was terrific. Yes, I’m biased but I know talent when I see it!

When we arrived at the airport Saturday morning, we discovered our flight was delayed two hours because of snow in Boston. One of the great things about knitting is the way it transforms waiting into something enjoyable — or at least distracts the knitter from some of the frustration of waiting. The heel was turned and gusset begun.

TravelingSockHeel

The time-transforming power of knitting was tested a bit when the pilot announced, as we were second in line to take off, that the Boston airport had gone into a “ground delay” and that we’d be waiting for another hour before we left the ground. And he kindly thanked us for our patience, to which Mom said, “Do we have a choice?” She didn’t have her knitting — just a book, one apparently without time-transforming powers.

What really matters is we made it home safe and sound, if somewhat later than expected, AND with a close-to-finished sock as a souvenir (of sorts).

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Strange, Sacred Time

January 9, 2014

The most recent cold snap has broken and the pipes in the second floor bathroom have thawed — without bursting, again. The contractor from whom we bought our house ran pipes up an uninsulated, exterior wall and didn’t add any heat to the bathroom — duh! We leave the taps and shower dripping and put a space heater in when the wind chill gets below 10F, but that wasn’t quite enough for the recent deep freeze. Suffice to say, the water is again flowing and the pipes have not cracked. (Fingers crossed, salt over shoulder, etc.)

Christmas came and went and was lovely, if a bit strange this year. All agreed that we had an awesome tree. I think every Christmas tree is beautiful just by being, but this balsam was particularly lovely and well-proportioned even before it was decorated with our extensive ornament collection. The decorating festivities included Grandma, lots of laughs, and only two broken ornaments.

XmasTreeGiggles

We’ve entered a new part of our life journey over the past month or so since my father-in-law, who lives nearby and has been in a rehab facility for six weeks, decided after nearly six years of kidney dialysis and a failing body (multiple spinal fractures, constant pain, limited vision) that he doesn’t want to die in an ambulance or in the emergency room. He’ll have his last dialysis treatment in 10 days and will then go home where he can die in peace — without pain, surrounded by the familiar and the loved — including his wife of 52 years and his remarkable daughter and son (my sweet husband).

To be sure, it’s sad, but it’s not tragic, and in some ways, it’s a sacred time. His decision and planning, aided in large part by son Patrick and daughter Claire, have given his family and friends a gift in the opportunity to express their love and appreciation to him. It’s a gift to himself — although it may not feel that way all the time — to be able to hear those expressions, to accept them with a humble and generous spirit.

On the knitting front, Kevin was pleased with his new socks even though one is a bit too big. I took my circular scarf down to the wire — knitting during cocktails on Christmas Eve and weaving in the ends on Christmas Day. Thanks to Claire for capturing me in all my knitterly glory!

XmasEveKnitter

Socktober, Just Under the Wire

October 31, 2013

Since she was unable to attend class this week, I paid a house call to Judy who was close to finishing her first sock. We’d met earlier in the week after she texted that she had a “knitting crisis” with the gusset and asked if I had a few minutes to help.

Non-knitters may scoff at the idea of a knitting crisis, but most of you know exactly what I’m talking about. Been there. Done that and survived, often with the help of a friend who talked us down from the “I’m-going-to-rip-out-the-whole-thing” edge.

What she needed, and what I was happy to provide, was a steady voice talking her through the toe shaping and reassuring her that, yes indeed, she was doing it right. She chanted through the Kitchener stitch mantra (more on that below) and then she had it, a complete, correctly proportioned, cozy, bee-yoo-ti-ful sock!

JudySock

I think she was appropriately pleased and proud even as she voiced doubt about whether she’d be able to make its mate. She can and she will.

A couple of days before, I’d shaped the toe of the first of K’s socks and was down to 8 stitches per needle. Since no one wants a seam along the toe of a sock, these stitches would be joined, or grafted, together (as opposed to being bound off and then seamed).

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I keep a Kitchener stitch cheat sheet rolled up in my darning needle holder so it’s right where I can find it when I need it. I’ll spare you the details of how long it took me to get the damn thing out of the tube. Suffice to say that I used DPNs as chopsticks before resorting to tweezers.

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I talked my way through each move: through stitch on front needle as if to purl, leave on needle; through stitch on back as if to knit, leave….

And then there it was.

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I don’t know if Socktober is a thing, but I like the sound of it so there you go.

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