Posts Tagged ‘top-down socks’

First Sock Thrills

April 16, 2019

I’ve written before about the thrill that comes from knitting your first sock, but it never gets old — at least, not for me, even as an observer.

I love watching a knitter create a heel flap and, round by round, make a gusset, and then catch her breath as she works the foot before painstakingly grafting the last stitches of a toe together (which usually involves a bit of cursing and deep breathing).

Yesterday morning, Barbara grafted the toe of her first sock, using the nifty alternative Kitchener stitch that I “discovered” earlier this year.

I don’t know why this technique results in smoother toes since the movement of the yarn is the same as with the traditional Kitchener stitch, but it does.

Although this first sock — and its eventual mate — will be worn by Barbara’s husband, she couldn’t resist trying it on herself. Just lovely!

A quick swish in the sink with gentle dish soap, a wrap in a dishtowel, and it was ready a couple of hours on the blocker. The photo below most accurately shows the yarn’s beautiful interplay of teal, cream, and brown/black.

As the Fearless Knitter she is, Barbara immediately cast on the next sock, in order to stave off a bout of Second Sock Syndrome.

Out and About

April 15, 2019

No matter how cold, snowy, or long the winter, Spring always arrives eventually. And the glory of the season never fails to amaze and lift my spirits — and, based on conversations with friends and chats with strangers on the street, I’m not the only one.

Last Saturday, Patrick, Mom, and I drove to Castle Island — which is neither a castle nor on an island — for a couple of hours of enjoyment in the cool sunshine

From a bench, we marveled at planes taking off from and landing at the airport across the harbor, commented on the hundreds of people (and plenty of dogs) passing by on foot, scooter, stroller, bike, and wheelchair. We didn’t count, but I’d estimate that we overheard conversations in at least a dozen languages.

Being his usual generous self, Patrick stood in the very long line at the storied snack bar in order to buy our first soft serve ice creams of the year. Mom had a twist in a cup. Patrick and I shared a cone.

Back at Mom’s apartment, the knitting continues. Even as I was getting the hang of the House Greyjoy sock pattern, I had to suppress a nagging fear that it would be too small for the intended recipient. The leg looked so narrow.

Nevertheless I persisted, ignoring that inner voice of doom and reminded myself that yarn (like humans) usually relaxes after a bath. Sure enough, after a good soak and blocking on my new frame, it relaxed quite nicely, revealing the cable and twist details.

House Greyjoy knit sock

As usual, the second sock is progressing faster than the first although I still have to check each row with the pattern chart. If you knit cables or lace, do you follow a chart or row-by-row instructions?

marked-up pattern chart for knitting

GoT Socks?

April 2, 2019

I’m not a convert to toe-up socks, but learning several new techniques — and practicing my ripping out and reknitting skills — made the Frasier Fir Socks worth the effort.

two green knit socks hanging on sock blocking frames

The tree (or is it a branch?) detail along the leg is particularly charming. I may incorporate it into a hat some day — or maybe along the back of mittens. The yarn color is more true in this detail than the one above.

detail of pattern along leg of green knit socks

Even before I’d finished the Frasier Firs, my fingers and mind were eager to cast on something new with the lovely Game of Thrones-inspired yarn from Bumblebee Acres.

Keeping with my theme of trying new things and going full steam ahead into the GoT mode, I searched Ravelry for a similarly-inspired sock pattern. As usual, the Ravelry community did not disappoint.

Not being at all familiar with Game of Thrones, I have no idea if the yarn (Brienne of Tarth colorway) is compatible in a literary sense with the House Greyjoy pattern. But I really like the cables and twists.

All the twists and cables make it seem quite small — perhaps too narrow for the leg of the intended recipient — but I’m quite sure that it’ll fit. At least, it “fits” my arm when I’ve tried it on.

The irony is not lost on me that one of the benefits of toe-up socks is that you can try them on as you go, something that’s much more difficult with my favorite top-down socks on DPNs. I’m nothing if not consistent in my routines!

Student Socks

March 14, 2019

If you’ve been reading this blog for even a short while, you know how much I enjoy teaching others how to knit. And I really love when my students — who by now are friends — send photos of their latests projects.

Like me, Judy spends a lot of time with her elderly parents, often with her knitting close at hand, at doctor’s offices, the hair salon, physical therapy appointments, or just being present at home. Socks are her go-to project for all the reasons you’d expect — portability being the most obvious.

Last week, she texted for help after turning the heel. See what she did here?

She knit when she should have purled — and vice versa. It’s not uncommon at all when knitting in the round — or one-sided like this heel — to pick up your needles and knit in the wrong direction. The result is purl bumps on the wrong side. Solution? TINK back those stitches and double check that you’re purling on the inside and knitting on the outside.

That’s what Judy did, and soon she was on her way — with sock in hand(s) on the bus to the airport.

Like I said, socks are uber-portable. I love the colors of the self-striping yarn that she’s using. My guess is that she’ll gift the socks to someone since they’re mid-calf length, not knee highs, which is her preferred length for herself.

There was no knitting in the next photo that Judy sent, but I’m pretty sure the sock was tucked away just out of the camera’s view.

If only I could have made a knitting beach house call….

Striped Socks in Pairs

January 20, 2019

I don’t set New Year’s resolutions, knitting or otherwise. Occasionally, I’ll send an intention, often vague, into the universe — “try not to worry so much” or “live more mindfully” or “don’t buy new yarn until you’ve used at least as much from your stash.”

Just kidding about that last one.

But even though I’ve not set a “sock of the month” goal, I’m quite pleased and a bit surprised that my first socks of 2019 are knit and blocked.

Yarn is Patons Kroy Sock in Blue Striped Ragg with contrasting toe and heel in an anonymous yarn from aforementioned stash. They’re now wrapped in tissue paper and tucked away for someone special.

Those of you who’ve been with me for a while have seen a few of friend Judy’s socks, starting with her very first sock about five years ago when she took my knitting class. She’s made many pairs since, including this lovely pair of knee socks (her preferred length for her own socks), which she modeled at the gym this week.

She’s puzzled — and a bit bothered — by the relative droopiness of the left one, but since they’re knee socks, no one will know. Except you, of course, and I know you won’t say a thing.

Scrolling with Socks

January 8, 2019

When I finished the helix striped hat, I realized that I didn’t have another project ready to cast on. This shouldn’t have been a surprise since I’m the one who decides. I knew I hadn’t selected what to make next, but somehow, I was a tad surprised. Go figure.

So I did what I usually do when I’m between projects: I tossed some sock yarn and DPNs into my bag and cast on a sock when I got to Mom’s for the afternoon. As I worked the first few rounds, I had a bit of an epiphany — casting on a sock is a bit like scrolling Instagram or Twitter. When I find myself in a temporary lull in knitting activity, I turn to socks.

Here’s the latest: self-striping Patons Kroy sock yarn in Blue Striped Ragg.

To add a bit of variety, I decided to make a contrasting heel and toe, something new for me. Since I couldn’t find any suitable matching yarn in my stash, I used a ball of maroon fingering of indeterminate origin.

When I’d finished the flap and turned the heel, I decided that it just wouldn’t do. The yarn was too thin, which would make for a less durable heel. See the gaps among the stitches?

I ripped out the flap and decided to try knitting with two strands of the maroon fingering. It was a bit bulky, but I’d rather have a too sturdy heel than one that wears through too soon.

It’s almost time to start shaping the toe. While I don’t know the exact measurement of the recipient’s foot, I have an approximation — about an inch or so longer than mine. I think.

I really like the look and feel of this yarn and just may use it to make a sweater for a baby-to-be who’s due to arrive this spring. If you’ve got a pattern idea, please let me know in the comments.

Socks Received

December 8, 2018

Kevin’s first final exam of his senior year is later today — fluid dynamics (or is it dynamic fluids?!) So I was relieved to learn that the good-luck socks I mailed earlier this week had arrived — and more importantly, that he was glad to have received them.

smiling selfie with socks held to cheek

text message: They're so soft!!! Thank you momma - heart emoji

I know, as my wise sister-in-law would say, “smart is not something you are but something you become” and that handknit socks don’t have a direct effect one one’s mastery of mechanical engineering, but if this pair of cozy socks provides a bit of comfort and confidence to this remarkable young man, that’d be wonderful.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on his next pair, to be opened on Christmas morning, when final exams are finished and the next semester’s work has yet to begin.

sock-toe-shape

May the Force be with you, dear boy. And may your efforts be rewarded.

 

 

WIP Wednesday: Socks in a Flash

December 5, 2018

On Monday, after learning that Kevin’s first final exam will be this Saturday, I raided my stash of Christmas socks and mailed a pair to him. As he knows, the academic benefits of handknit socks haven’t been scientifically proven, but it certainly can’t hurt to have your feet wrapped in love and know that you’ve got a big fan in your corner. Right?

Of course, that meant that I needed to knit another pair of socks for Christmas. 

A morning trip to the hair salon provided time for knitting. You can see the crimps and crinkles in the yarn, leftover from its previous incarnation (a failed toe-up sock experiment). I expect blocking will ease that out entirely.

I knit several more inches at Mom’s in the afternoon as we listened to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong on CD (her favorites). She’s making great progress on her latest garter stitch scarf.

The yarn is really yummy: Junkyarn‘s “Tini” colorway. The bright flecks of color never fail to delight Mom, who holds them up and exclaims, “look at this!” 

If I’d been tasked with naming this colorway, I would have selected “Peppermint Stick,” since it reminds me of the peppermint stick ice cream at my favorite island soda counter.

 

Smoother Sock Toes

November 27, 2018

It’s no secret that I love to knit socks. Although it took me ages to take the plunge, I’ve almost always had one on the needles as a second (or third) project, especially when I need something portable. 

My latest pair is made with a vibrant skein of Lady Dye’s Superwash Fingering (can’t recall the colorway).  

knit socks in sink before blocking

The Yarn Harlot’s Good Plain Sock Recipe continues to be my go-to pattern, but I’ve discovered a new technique that makes the toe graft smoother.

Top-down socks need to have the toes “closed” by grafting, rather than by seaming, which would create an uncomfortable lumpy edge in one’s shoe. I’ve always used the Kitchener stitch but had never been able to achieve an invisible graft — there was always a bit of a line. See? 

The recipients of my socks didn’t seem to mind at all. In fact, some say they are “real juju” especially when facing academic challenges. But I was still on out the look out for a better technique.

And I found one, thanks to the TECHknitter. Instead of using a darning needle to graft the two sides together, you use a double-pointed needle. It shouldn’t make a difference since the grafting yarn is traveling in the same way. But it made a remarkable difference for me — a smooth, truly seamless toe. 

I always feel so clever when I learn something new!

Socks are blocked, dry, and tucked away for someone (still haven’t figured out who though).

two finished knit socks

 

 

 

 

Mitts and Socks

November 12, 2018
Late last month, Patrick and I joined a couple of cousins at a beautiful and stirring choral concert. The concert — which had been planned for months and by tragic coincidence occurred one week after the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue — featured music from Terezín Concentration Camp and a new composition, Anne Frank: A Living Voice.
Top-down sock in Lady Dye Yarns (unknown color way)
A few days later, as I’ve done for the past couple of years, I worked at a local polling place on Election Day. Unlike at September’s primary election, turn-out was robust (heavy?). By the time voting began at 7a.m., there was a line of 45 people waiting to cast their ballots. I’d started my first fingerless mitt (Purl Soho Colorblock Hand Warmers) and managed only a couple of inches during my entire eight-hour shift.
view from voting check-in table at 6:40am, 20 mins before polls opened
The yarn is Shibui Staccato, a luscious blend of merino and silk. I’ll modify the pattern because I’ve got three rather than four colors. The total length is 12 inches, and rather than knit four inches in each color, I think I’ll mix it up a bit. What do you think?

New Normal for Now

September 14, 2018

I’m happy to report that Mom’s been home for a few weeks and has regained her pre-pneumonia strength and balance. It helped that she was quite fit before she was hospitalized and that we walked with her around the hospital floor several times a day whether she wanted to or not.

Last week, we introduced a couple of home health aides who help five days each week so brother Luke and I can maintain our work lives, sanity, and marriages. We also consider it an insurance policy of sorts so that neither of us is overwhelmed if the other gets sick, has a major work obligation, or wants to take a day trip or — gasp — vacation.

The transition and adjustment has been blessedly smooth. The aides are professional, kind, and experienced. Although she’s sometimes confused about why they’re there, Mom has welcomed them into her home and life quite readily.

A few days ago, she agreed to return to the hair salon, a short walk down the hill, after refusing to go for several weeks. The wonderful staff were pleased to see her and told her so. While her hair was washed, cut, and styled, I resumed my usual seat by the window and worked a few rounds of the Vanilla Latte sock.

Sock-salon

Yarn is Urth Merino Sock, colorway 2018, a mix of bright blues, greens, and oranges.

We spend a fair bit of time each day knitting. I don’t like to even think of the day that she forgets how to do the knit stitch. Having finished two garter stitch scarves, Mom has started another one in a lovely creamy white. I cast on 30 stitches, and she’s taken it from there.

mom-knits

Yesterday, we were joined — remotely — by my friend Judy, who reported that she was back in the knitting routine, too. From her home about 60 miles away, she sent an update via text.

striped-sock-judy

I believe the yarn is Diversity from Plymouth Yarn (Zebra colorway). Pretty sure I was with her when she bought it.

She makes knee socks while I prefer mid-calf or just below. If you’re a sock knitter, what’s your preference?

 

 

 

Socks on a train

July 2, 2018

Has anyone seen June? It was just here, but now it’s gone!

Patrick and I had a marvelous weekend in New York City, the highlight of which was seeing Hannah perform in her first cabaret. More on that in a future post.

For today, here’s the start of Monkey Sock #2, heading east along southern Connecticut.

It’s knitting up faster now that I’ve got the hang of the pattern. I still need to read each line of the 12-round repeats, but all I need is a glance.

My knitting goal this week is to finish the Sunshine Coast sweater – just one sleeve to go. What’s up with you this week?

Monkeying Around

June 29, 2018

Based on comments from my last post, there’s a lot of folks who’d like to see more of the Monkey Socks (or, given the state of my progress, the Monkey Sock). Socks are my go-to knitting project, especially when I’m traveling since they’re easy to stuff tuck into a bag.

So a couple of weeks ago, as dear Jenn and I headed to Martha’s Vineyard for a quick visit to our sister-friend Kate, new owner of an awesome toy store on the island, I cast on a sock.

image

While I’ve curbed my yarn-buying activity a fair bit recently, I make an exception for sock yarn. Unlike that scrumptious skein of DK weight merino or chunky baby alpaca, I know exactly what I’ll make with 400 yards of sock yarn.

I love the almost neutral, subtle color changes in this luscious skein from Flying Finn Yarns. It called out for something other than my usual Good Plain Sock Recipe, so I searched for a pattern with some texture and detail.

Monkey Socks (free from Knitty) caught my eye, with curves and weaves and a little bit of lace. Fear not, just a few yarn overs here and there. I like the addition of the twisted rib at the cuff — just to shake things up a bit from a traditional K1 P1 ribbing.

monkey-socks-salon

I made the heel flap in Eye of Partridge instead of the plain stockinette called for in the pattern.

monkey-socks-heel

The pattern continues all along the top of the foot until the toe. Good thing my feet were clean in this shot!

monkey-socks-toe

As usual, I had to sit alone to graft the toe together with the Kitchener Stitch, quietly chanting the instructions to myself (knit front slip, purl front stay, purl back slip, knit back stay, repeat).

One down, one to go. What are you making this weekend?

 

 

WIP Wednesday: Socks and Sunshine

March 21, 2018

Having lived most of my life in New England, I’m accustomed to cold, snowy winters. I generally try to avoid the broadcast and social media hoopla that surrounds storm predictions and round-the-clock coverage during the actual “weather events.”

My attitude generally is “It’s winter. What do you expect?” Does it really matter whether the wind gusts that knocked out the power were 40 or 75 miles per hour? The difference between six and 12 or even 22 inches is significant from a shoveling perspective, but really it’s just a hell of a lot of shoveling.

Like probably everyone else in New England (and probably most people from here to Washington, DC), I’m ready for today’s storm to winter’s last gasp — especially since Spring began yesterday!

Enough about the weather. Here’s what’s on my needles these days. The toe of Sock #1 is nearly finished (Done Roving “Frolicking Feet”). I’m going to modify — or at least pay closer attention to — my Kitchener stitch grafting of the toe in an attempt to avoid the bumpiness of my previous sock toes.

Sock-toe-shaping

I can’t decide how I feel about the Sunshine Coast sweater yet. We’re still getting to know each other. (Perhaps it’s mutual.) Progress is slow and feels a bit painstaking. I find myself looking at the pattern several times during each pattern round. Hoping that changes over the next couple of inches.

Sunshine-coast-yoke

I love the bright Spring green yarn.

Diagnosis: Second Sock Syndrome

January 26, 2018

The sock is done and looks quite nice. It’s a bit big for my foot, but it’s not meant for me. I don’t know the eventual recipient yet, but I know it’s not me. That’s not a problem.

Knit sock on foot

Here’s the problem: I’ve come down with Second Sock Syndrome. Instead of casting on this sock’s mate, I’ve fallen for a clever yarn and the prospect of a baby knit.

Skein Baby Blossom DK yarn

The trigger was the arrival of an invitation to a baby shower for a marvelous young woman, who’s also a first cousin once removed. As soon as I learned of her pregnancy, I began thinking of what to knit the lucky baby-to-be.

What? That’s not the usual reaction to pregnancy news?!

Before heading to Mom’s house today, I zipped to a nearby yarn store and grabbed a skein of Hayfield Baby Blossom DK. It’s patterned but not exactly self-striping and knits up with banners (kind of like stripes) interspersed with little flowers.

I’m just getting started so you’ll have to trust me on this one.

First inch of knitting

As for the Second Sock — you’ll have to trust me that it’ll get finished someday. I promise to share.

It’s Been a Minute

January 24, 2018

OK, it’s been waaaaay more than a minute, but here we are.

I’ve been traveling a lot for work and made good progress on Hannah’s throw (Siman Baby Blanket in Cascade 128 Superwash). But after a few square feet, I had to face the reality that it was getting too big to schlep about on the Metro and airplanes.

Simran-throw-growing

Clearly, socks  – the perfect travel companion – were needed. I dug out some lovely self-striping Felici from Knit Picks – colorway is Toucan.

Felici-sock-yarn

It felt great to be knitting a sock again! Part of what I love about making socks is the design and simple engineering of the thing. Although I’ve tried a couple at least one toe-up version, I prefer top-down.

Knit-sock-ribbing

My go-to pattern is the Yarn Harlot’s Good Plain Sock Recipe. I’ve made more than a dozen pairs with it, and it never fails to please me — nor the recipient. Kevin got a pair for Christmas. Same yarn, different colorway.

Kevin-socks

An added benefit of sock knitting? Totally portable, just about anywhere — for example, on a plane.

Knit-sock-airplane

It’s nice to be back. What’s on your needles 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.

krd-striped-knit-sock

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.

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!

IMG_1484

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.

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