Thursday, February 28, 2013

Laundry Day!

The only thing I love more than a hand knit sock, is a freshly washed hand knit sock :-) Yesterday was laundry day for my socks. Most of my socks are knit out of machine washable yarn, but I hand wash them to get as much life out of them as I can.

I use Eucalan Wool Wash. I really want to try Soak, but my local yarn store doesn't carry it. I use enough to make a decent amount of bubbles in my sink :-)

I put my socks in one at a time and squish them in the bubbles. I let them soak for at least 20 minutes. Sometimes longer if I forget about them... which happens a lot.

The wool wash says it is no rinse, but I rinse my socks until the water runs clear. I wear my socks nearly every day, so they get pretty dirty.

I roll all the socks up in a towel and press the water out of them. Then I lay them out on my "blocking mats" (play mats from a big box store) and fold down the cuffs so they dry a little snugger. I have a fan that I set up to blow on them so that they dry a little faster.

Here's a sneak peek of my new socks! Read all about them tomorrow :-) Happy knitting!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WIP Wednesday

I am still working on the same two pairs of socks, but I have tons of pictures to share :-) I got my camera out on Monday when it was sunny and got some great pictures -- the color is really true to life in these.

The blue one is a Cookie A pattern, Clandestine
It is a challenging lace pattern and I love it!
 I can't wait to finish the pair. 

The leg goes on forever! 7 inches of delightful lace :-)

The pink one is Business Casual, and I turned the heel on the second sock last night. 
I should have a working pair by Friday! 

The Business Casual sock is single cables, but I worked 
them as twisted stitches. It is much faster and the result is a 
little neater I think. There are lots of ways to work twisted stitches, but I 
like the way Alice Yu works them in her Farmer McGregor socks,
so that is how I did mine. It is very similar to this technique, only
for a left twist Alice slips both stitches one at a time knitwise,
and then passes them back to the left needle. This makes it 
easier to knit through the back loop of the stitches. 

My knitting attacked me so many times on this sock.
I had to do major surgery during my gusset decreases.
I got all confused by the cables and my stitch count was 
off -- major Fiasco! It still has a wonky hole, but I 
cheated and sewed it up afterwards. 
I am the boss of my knitting! 

They make such a cute pair :-) 
Happy knitting!

Linking up with Tami's Amis and Other Creations

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dream Knitting

I have a lot of sock yarn in my stash. And since I have two pairs of socks already going, I am of course day dreaming about what to knit next.

I am a sucker for variegated yarns, and I have a few skeins of delightful Cakewalk yarn that need to be something amazing.

The top is Cakewalk in Maeby, the orangey one
is Cakewalk in Aztec Tomb, and the rainbow is 
Candy Skein yarn in Rainbow Fruit Chews.

I go a little bit crazy when I don't know what I am going to cast on next! Good crazy :-) Pattern hunting crazy!

Here are a few of the patterns I'm thinking about:

Sunday Swing Socks

These socks were made with hand painted yarns in mind, and I think my skein of  Aztec Tomb would look amazing in this! It also looks like a quick knit, but with some character. And a free pattern, who doesn't love that?

Aztec Tomb, named after Gob's magic
trick in Arrested Development. It is 
orange and pinks and reds. 


I found this pattern after searching different names of characters in Arrested Development on Ravelry. I love this pattern for so many reasons -- cables! Yum! -- but most of all, I have a skein of the Maeby colorway! And how awesome would it be to have Maeby socks in Maeby yarn?

Maeby :-) It is pink and purple with speckles of
orange and darker purple.

Spring Prairie

These socks are published by Yummy Yarn Studio, and are just one of many of their socks that I want to knit so bad! These socks look like spring, and I want them on my feet when the sun comes back. However, I don't have yarn in my stash that would do these justice. And I am on a yarn diet, so they will have to wait.


I have had this free pattern in my queue for quite awhile. I have a skein of Candy Skein's Rainbow Fruit Chews and it is a very bright yarn! I tried to knit it once, but the pattern didn't fit the yarn. These Crusoe socks might have been designed for my rainbow yarn! So excited knit these up.

Blue and red and green and yellow! So bright and happy :-)
Rainbow Fruit Chews indeed!

I hope these patterns give you some inspiration. What are you dream knitting?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Favorite Pattern Friday :-)

A favorite pattern I want to tell you about today is Cabled Yumminess by Shelley Scholl. This is a toe up pattern, but would be very easy to adapt to a cuff down pattern if that is what you prefer.

This is my pair of Cabled Yumminess in 
Cakewalk Yarn, colorway Pink Lemonade.

If you hadn't tried toe-up before, I highly recommend it. Judy's Magic Cast On is an amazing skill to learn. It is a little tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's just as easy as other cast ons. Toe-up works best with the Magic Loop method. I knit my fist Cabled Yumminess sock on DPNs, and it was very tricky. I bought a set of Addi Turbos after I finished the first sock and flew through the second sock. One of the things I love about Magic Loop is it is very easy to try your sock on as you are knitting it, so you can check your fit.

Staci from has a great video on Magic Loop. It's not as scary as you might think! And it can be used for more than just socks. I've knit hats and cowls and sweater sleeves with Magic Loop. 

Another great skill to test out on these simple cable socks is cabling without a cable needle. Once again, Staci has a great video on this skill. So simple! Your cables will fly by :-)

This pattern calls for an afterthought heel. I used a modified short row heel instead. I would love to knit these again and go for the afterthought heel. I love trying out different heels. 

I hope you check this pattern out! Happy knitting :-)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WIP Wednesday!

It is 10 PM in Oregon, and I have had an insane day (mostly insanely awesome, but also crazy loooong) but I am bound and determined to show you what I have for Work in Progress Wednesday!

First up we have my first Clandestine sock! This is a Cookie A pattern and I love it. This is my first Cookie A sock and I know it won't be the last. It is a very challenging knit, but in a good way. It is a lovely lace pattern that is charted and easy enough to follow, but I do recommend a row counter! It's been easy for me to loose my spot and there is more than one goof. This pattern is a free pattern from Knitty! Get it here.

This sock has been a bear to photograph and I will try and get some pictures in natural light tomorrow. The yarn is so dark! It really looks amazing in real life. The yarn is Gynx Yarn in Merino Sock base, colorway Midnight Blue. I love Laura's yarn! So delightful to work with.

Normally I am a very monogamous knitter when it comes to my socks. This is mostly because I only have one US 1 set of Addi Turbos. But after finishing my first Clandestine sock, I decided to take a break before sock two and knit some Business Casual Socks, which is another free pattern. The Celtic Cast On is doing a KAL with this pattern, and after seeing some FOs, I had to join in!

I cast this on last night! I'm already at the start of the heel flap -- wonderful pattern! I am knitting this with my most favorite sock yarn ever, Cakewalk Yarn. Rose has an amazing way with color, and I have so much to say about her yarns, I will devote an entire future post to her. But for now I will say, go look at her yarns! You won't be able to resist a skein or two. My Business Casual sock is in the Walk base, and the colorway is Grantia, which is discontinued. It is a lovely pink, but not to fear! Rose has many other lovely pinks :-)

I am loving this pattern, and I do have a lot to say about it, but not right now. I am so tired! But I leave you with this video about business socks :-) After all, it is Wednesday!

Happy knitting!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sock Number One: Part Two

It's Monday already! The weekend just flew by and here we are. Now seems like a perfectly good time to finish reliving the horrors of my very first sock. Here is Part One, if you missed it.

Part Two:

The biggest mistake I made on my first sock was to not check my gauge. I also discovered the horrors of gutters:

See the horrid gaps between my stitches?

The gutters (or ladders) were stitches were my DPNs switched. They didn't show on the leg because of the lace pattern. I didn't notice them until I got to the toe, and I (wrongly) thought they would maybe block out as I wore them. 

The trick I learned to avoid this horrid gap is to rotate my stitches. TECHknitting has a great post that explained it all to me. Tip #2 worked great for me, and I still use it whenever I knit with DPNs. I also sometimes use this technique when I work on Magic Loop. Sometimes my tension is prefect and there are no gutters, but it's a good trick to have up your sleeve!

Another thing I learned was to trust my instincts. Look at this toe:

That's right, the decreases are on the top and bottom of the foot, instead of on the sides. I read the directions over and over and over, and I didn't think it sounded right, but I went for it. The orignal directions for the pattern did not call for a grafted toe, but it was a skill taught in the front of the book. I thought it looked totally weird to put the decreases on the top and bottom of the foot, but I followed blindly. On the second sock I moved the decreases to the sides and it looked right. As a knitter, I can get very stuck in following the pattern. I am trying to overcome this and unlock my inner Yarn Harlot :)

I learned how to graft before I knitted my first sock, but I had to refresh my skills pretty much every time I attempted the Kitchener stitch. This is my very favorite tutorial on the Kitchener stitch. In fact, I loved all of Staci's videos -- her site is the first one I visit when I want to see a new skill demonstrated.

The last mistake I made on these first socks was also linked to the toe:

As you can see, my decreases are all popped out so that my toe shows through. This can be avoided by knitting a row plain in between decrease rows. Not all patterns are written like this, however. I still haven't mastered doing decreases every row without them showing horrible. So now I adjust my patterns, if necessary, and start the toe a half an inch earlier so I can add the knit rows. If anyone has any toe tips, let me know!

The other option of course, is to knit your socks from the toe up! I'll talk about that in my next post.

Happy knitting!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Favorite Pattern Friday!

I don't knit fast enough on my socks to have FOs every Friday, so I will instead share my favorite socks patterns! I will stick to free ones when I can.

The first sock pattern I want to share with you is Vanilla socks. Everyone needs a good Vanilla sock pattern to whip out when you need some palette cleansing knitting or you have self- striping/ highly varigated yarn that can't handle a stitch pattern. There are tons of Vanilla socks patterns out there, but this one is my favorite: Susan B. Anderson: How I make my socks

This is one of my first Vanilla socks. 
The yarn is Cakewalk Yarns in the "Podcast Junkie" colorway.
You can buy this yarn here  :-)                                   

The reason I love this pattern is that is it very straight forward and detailed a the same time. After my first and second sock diasters (and a three month break), this pattern saved me from being a knitter who hated socks and instead turned me into a sock knitting machine! I love that is has links to tutorials and talks about stitch counts and really gives you the bones of a sock. And Susan is so lovely -- I stalk her blog :-)

The one thing this pattern doesn't talk about is negative ease. Your sock length is not the same as the length of your foot. You should always use negative ease, or your sock will be long and floppy. The general rule of thumb is that your sock length should be 10% less than the total length of your foot, heel to toe. For me this means I knit my socks one inch shorter than the actual length of my foot. This rule also applies to the circumference -- take an inch off your measurements to keep the sock from falling down around your ankle. Make sense?

This is my most resent Vanilla sock. I used the Totally Vanilla
pattern from the book Socktopus by Alice Yu, but it is 
really similar to Susan's pattern. The yarn is Abstract
Cat BBL in the Autumn Fun colorway.

So that sums up my first Favorite Pattern Friday! Hope you check it out and let me know what you think about it :-)

Have a great weekend and happy knitting!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sock Number One: Part One

Why did I want to knit socks? Because it was a challenge. I love socks -- I owe many pair of bright, striped, polka dotted, owl speckled, store bought socks. I get socks for my birthday and at Christmas. Love me a new pair of socks. So it made sense that sock knitting would come up sometime.

Christmas 2011. My mom bought me my first skeins of sock yarn, some Clover bamboo DPNs, and a book: I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Socks. She was so excited that she found this book. She still brings it up sometimes. So adorable.

I'm sure there is nothing wrong with this book. In fact, I know there's not. It was all my fault. I did what Elizabeth Zimmermann warned us all against: I cast on without knitting a gauge swatch. I was too excited, I couldn't waste fifteen or twenty minutes to knit a swatch! I wanted to knit socks now now now!

So naturally they turned out perfect and that is the end of my story.

Ha. It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

The recommended yarn was Fine, number 2, for the pattern I wanted to knit. My yarn was Super Fine, number 1. So I cast on for the smaller size on a size smaller needles and thought I would be just fine. Fine, fine, fine.

The recommended needle size was US 4. That's right, size 4. Another pattern in the book, using Super Fine yarn, called for US size 3 needles. The logic seemed sound.

But I broke the rule! Swatch, swatch, swatch!

I have never again seen a sock pattern that called for needles that big. Most patterns call for US 2 at the biggest, and even then, I always use US 1. I learned that lesson well, when my brand new first sock was huge and misshaped. I went down to US 1.5 later, and after that to US 1s. I always knit fingering weight socks on US 1 now, I just adjust the pattern to fit my gauge. I like the way fabric looks the best on US 1, so that's what I stick to. I also feel that the socks hold their shape longer when they are knit on smaller needles. Do some swatching with the yarn you want to use and the needles the pattern calls for. Each and every yarn is different, just like every knitter's gauge. It is worth the time and heartache to just check.

In the interest of honesty, I did not learn that lesson on these socks. Nope, not until sock number... 6 or 7 did I finally start swatching. I am stubborn and I want to cast on, dang it!

Sometimes the pattern will lead you on a path to huge ugly socks, instead of the cute purple Chevron socks you were hoping for. That's okay, that's how you learn. I still have my first pair of socks. I think about ripping them out and doing them right, but I was so proud of them, misshaped and all. And my mom, she was so very proud of me. So I never told her that I never knit another pair of socks out of that book she was so very excited to give me.

Gauge wasn't the only lesson I learned from these socks! stay tuned for Part Two, where I relive these mistakes:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I have a bright idea

Today as I sat knitting on a pair of Cookie A socks, listening to the Electric Sheep podcast and I had a passing thought: I should write a blog about how I learned to knit socks. I should write a blog to encourage other knitters to branch out into the unknown, to try something new. I should write a blog about all my failures and successes so other knitters will keep trying. I don't want to teach them to knit necessarily  but I can show them the tricks that have helped me. I want to encourage them.

And then I thought, nah. No one would read it, and I would probably stop writing after a month, just like every other blog I've had.

But then I thought about all that I've learned about knitting socks in the last year. I thought about my very first horrible, ugly, HUGE sock. I thought about the ugly one after that, and the first one that fit, and the second one, and my first stint with cables -- and I realized, I have a lot to talk about. I could start at sock number one and work my way through to sock number 14 which is on the needles right now. They haven't all turned out and a few have been frogged all together. But I learned something from each sock, something that led me to the next sock. I had instruction from books and the internet, and encouragement came from bloggers and podcasters: I began to believed I could crack socks.

I thought about this most of the day, and then, driving home from work I was listening to the Knitmore Girls podcast and their "Mother Knows Best" segment was about where to start to learn to knit socks. And I decided: I would write a blog and maybe it wouldn't help anyone or maybe, just maybe, it would help everyone.

So here's to big dreams of apple pie in the sky.

This blog will be focused solely (haha, I'm so punny) on sock knitting. I love to knit and I knit lots of things besides socks, but I'm not going to talk about other projects here. I might link to my Ravelry page once in awhile, but we'll see. I will go back through all of the socks I've already knit until I catch up with the ones I'm knitting. I will also do some book reviews on a couple of sock pattern books I love and any other ones I come across. I'm also planning on a weekly feature to highlight some fun sock patterns on Ravelry that you may or may not have come across. I'll link to tutorials and videos that helped me.

Feel free to ask me any questions! I don't have all the answers about sock knitting, I've only been knitting socks since last January, but I can point you in the right direction or offer encouragement.

It's going to take me a little while to get the hang of this, but I know we will have a fun journey together. (And if you are wondering about the crazy name of the blog, it's a play on words from an episode of the TV show Archer, Season 1 Ep 8. It just came to me, and I went with it. I'm a nerd.)