And the Tour Begins

It’s that time again. “What time?” you ask. “Canada Day?” Well, yeah, that too. But that wasn’t what I meant.

It is time for TOUR DE SOCK!

(Judy’s doing a happy dance à la Kermit the Frog, complete with sound effects). I had so much fun with the tour last year that I signed up once again as a member of Team Sock Minions. We have a new local knitter on our team as well this year. (If you don’t know about the Tour, I did a write up about it around this time last year. Here’s a link to get you there: )

I diligently finished up some projects to get them off my needles before the competition begins. Although, I admit that I left a few for “tweeners”. And I started another knit-along with my daughters. It’s just a Whoopsie shawl though; super easy. My warm up socks, Miriam by Eeva Kesäkuu, have been knit, photographed and shared. Here they are:

Now I’m just planning out my work load in the store so that when the first competition pattern drops at 10 a.m. on July 7th, I will be ready to rock and roll!

The specifications have been released and I’m on the hunt for an exciting yarn to start the competition with.

The specs for the first sock say we should go crazy with colour. I’ve pulled a few different yarns I would like to choose from. Here’s a photo of the ones I like. I will probably wait until the pattern drops before I actually choose, even if it means I have to wind the yarn before I can start.

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I have recently met a few travelers who came looking for yarn for TDS in my shop.

I even printed out the TDS shopping list for one. She wanted to be sure she would be ready no matter where she would be traveling or what pattern they gave us. It’s been fun meeting other competitors in person. What a great way to make new friends!

What with the long weekend (Canada Day, as mentioned above), the store will be closed an extra day.

That will give me a chance to get ahead on my sewing for my customers and open up a little knitting time.

Hey, I have my priorities, okay? I can do that and still attend the Canada Day parade… and make sure I get a nice big hamburger and a refreshing beverage in my belly too. And bacon…. there will be bacon… possibly during the fireworks. It will be RADIANT!

Happy knitting!

 

 

Foot Loose – Knee Socks

Diamond Luxury Foot Loose is a fun, hand dyed, 4-ply yarn. At 75% super-wash merino and 25% polyamide, its fibre content is pretty typical of sock yarn. It is put up in 100 g skeins/ 396 m. The label lists a gauge of 30 stitches to 42 rows producing a 10 cm swatch on 3 mm needles. I personally wouldn’t use 3 mm for socks with this yarn. If I were making a shawl or a sweater, I probably would. The price point is lower than you would expect for a hand dyed yarn.

This yarn is very soft. I used 2.5 mm needles and it knitted up to the gauge I expected for any sock yarn. The colourways are interesting and fun. The result is a random-ish speckly fabric, absolutely lovely to the touch.

I used it to knit a pair of knee socks for my daughter. I used the Bintje pattern by Jatta Pauliina. The pattern is lovely. I have had it in my library on Ravelry for a very long time so I was happy to finally knit it up. I feel that the instructions assume that you have knit socks before. Other than one typo it was straight forward. In the heel turn, when you are knitting on the right side, where you normally slip the first stitch it says to k1.

I had to read the calf shaping section a few times to fully comprehend what I was supposed to do. That may have been because it was my first pair of shaped knee socks, though. It may also be that the designer’s first language is not English. This pattern is a free Ravelry download. I made the socks taller than the picture and I probably could have made them one or two pattern repeats shorter than I did. I had to start a second skein to complete them. My daughter has small feet (ladies 6.5 – 7) so the feet look a wee bit disproportionate to the legs. The photo has them stretched onto a large sock blocker. It distorts the heel a little but I wanted to show them off.

socks-lace-tall

I worked a yarn-over hole into the outside of each cuff to pull elastic through. I tied the ribbon around the elastic. I love the look of the Foot Loose yarn. It’s quite beautiful.

I look forward to using it again in a different colourway.

Toe-Up Socks Overview

There are two main approaches to knitting socks:

  1. Top-Down (also called Cuff-down) and
  2. Toe-Up

Today I want to focus on Toe-Up methods.

Whether you have knit a few pairs of socks or would simply like to learn how, toe-up is a great way to make socks. If you’ve never done it, I’ll give you an overview here with links to some good You-Tube videos to help you move forward.

There are a couple advantages to making toe-up socks.

  • It’s easy to check the sizing of the sock as you go.
  • There is no need to graft the toe closed when you finish knitting as it will already be closed right from the start.
  • Also, if you divide your ball of yarn into two equal balls at the start, by working toe-up, you will easily be able to see how long you can make the leg of the sock without worrying about running out of yarn. Typically, we can get 3 average socks out of a 100g ball of sock yarn.
  • If you like a tall sock, starting at the toe (ideally you would knit both socks in tandem, though it isn’t critical) you won’t have to guess how tall you can go. You’ll be able to see very clearly by what is left on the ball. And finally, using the short row heel method means you don’t have to pick up stitches along a heel flap.

Let me break it down a bit.

The very first step in any knitting project is going to be your cast-on. The toes of our socks are closed. When you start with the toe, your cast-on will have to take this fact into account. There are a number of different ways to cast on to create this closed end of the toe. Once you cast on your desired number of stitches, you will knit them in the round and increase to create the toe. I like to start with either 10 or 12 stitches on each needle. Some people like to start with as few as 6 per needle. It’s all about what you like. No matter which method you use, the process of making the sock is the same.

The most common closed cast-on methods include:

Turkish Cast-on

 

Judy’s Magic Cast-on (a different Judy, not me; this is her video)

 

Figure-8 Cast-on

 

Once you have cast on your toe, you will knit in the round.

You will need to increase your stitches to gradually get up to the size around your foot.

I usually increase 4 stitches every other row until I have 60 stitches. (I usually knit 1, m1, knit until there is 1 stitch left on needle #1, m1 and knit the last stitch. I then repeat this on needle #2.) What’s great about the toe up method is that you can easily try on the sock and adjust to the size you need as you go. Once it fits, stop increasing. The only thing to consider here is that if you want to do a ribbing when you get to the cuff or if you want to include a knitted pattern you will want your final number of stitches to divide evenly in a way that will work for your ribbing or pattern. For instance if you are doing a 2×2 rib, be sure that your total number of stitches divides by 4. If your pattern repeat is 8, be sure your number of stitches will divide by 8; so you may go with 56 or 64 or 72. If you have thick ankles, go a little larger.

Side note:

If you are making your socks one at a time, be sure to keep notes about what you do as you go so that you can be sure to match the second sock to the first. If you are inclined to knit two at a time, there are a couple ways to go about that. First and foremost, divide your yarn into two equal balls. Use a scale for this. Cast on the socks completely separately. Then, once they are cast on, you have the option of knitting the two socks on one needle side by side using a magic loop; on two circulars (needle 1 and needle 2); or in tandem on two separate sets of DPN’s, two magic loops or two sets of two circulars. These days, I’m using magic loop and knitting them side by side unless I’m doing complicated colour-work; then I do 2 separate magic loops.

Instep (the section of the sock that the main part of your foot goes in)

Once you have your toe completed, simply knit in the round until the sock is about 1.5 inches shorter than the length of your foot. If  you want to incorporate a pattern, decide which needle is #1 and which is #2. I like to keep #1 for the heel. So #1 gets knitted in stockinette (it will be on the sole of the foot) and #2 gets the pattern. You can think of it the other way around if you want, this is just what I do. Knit away in this manner until there is about 1.5″ left to the end of your heel. At this point, you’ll begin constructing your heel.

Heel

In this method, we use what is known as a “short row heel”. We knit needle #1 stitches back and forth at this time. You progressively knit fewer and fewer of the stitches on your needle while leaving the un-knit stitches resting on the same needle at either end as you go. You are building up a kind-of wedge like shape and then filling it in afterward. There are a few different ways of doing this. It will make more sense once you watch these videos.

 

German Short Row Heel

 

Japanese Short Row Heel

 

Short Row Heel with Shadow Wraps

 

Short Row Heel with Wrap and Turn

 

Once you complete the short row heel of your choosing, you simply continue knitting in the round to make the calf or leg of the sock. If you knitted a pattern on the instep of the sock, you will now knit that pattern all the way around the sock (instead of just on needle #2) until you get to where you want to start your ribbing. Knit your ribbing and then bind off with a stretchy bind-off.

Stretchy Bind Off

 

And there you go! I hope that this was helpful. As always, hat’s off to those fabulous people who created the videos that I have linked to. If you find you really like them, I encourage you to subscribe to their channels.

Happy Knitting!

 

 

Reflecting on Tour-de-Sock

Tour-de-Sock is coming to a close for 2017.

What an experience it was for me. For anyone unfamiliar, TDS is a sock knitting competition and fundraiser. Money raised by the competition is donated to Doctors without Borders.

The competition is made up of 5 stages. (This year there was a warm up round as well). In each stage a sock pattern is made available at a specific time (announced in advance) for all the competitors to access. Racers from all over the world then download the sock pattern and following strict guidelines knit each pattern respectively. Photos of the completed pair of socks are then submitted. The photos must clearly show the front and back and size of the socks and both socks. This way moderators can inspect them to be sure that everyone followed the instructions and did the work expected to qualify for that stage of the competition and to make it fair to everyone.

My friend and fellow sock knitter invited me to join her team.

I’m so glad she did!

The anticipation was fantastic. I really wasn’t sure what to expect. With each stage of the competition there was tremendous excitement leading up to the pattern drop. The discussion boards were busy with chatter as the competitors tried to guess what the next round would bring. We were given advance notice of what materials we would need for the next round. Many people were traveling while in the competition so they would have to be sure they brought what they would need along.

I’m glad that I wasn’t traveling.

As each pattern dropped, I generally found that I didn’t actually want to use the yarn I had originally picked out based on the specs provided. I really needed to see the pattern first.

I discovered that Finns are incredibly fast knitters!

Round after round, the early finishers were “Finnishers”. In some rounds the first socks were already posted in less than 24 hours from when the pattern dropped. I realized right away that there was no way I was going to be able to out-knit them. I wanted to push myself and see what I could do though. I really hoped I could manage to finish at least one pair in the top 100 finishers. All things considered. I think I did pretty well. There were around 1700 competitors.

  • In stage 1 I finished at #180;
  • stage 2 at #105;
  • stage 3 at #205;
  • stage 4 at #172 and
  • stage 5 at #74 (HURRAH).

After starting on stage 6, which employed a jacquard colour stranding technique and 4 colours of yarn, it took me a little more than 10 hours to knit just one cuff. I was not in love with the pattern. I decided to throw in the towel on that round. Besides just thinking about the number of hours it would take, I had a lot of new sewing work come in the store and I really needed to put my full attention back on work.

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In every round I learned a new skill.

I ended up with 6 completed pairs of socks. The patterns I knitted were not necessarily patterns I would have ever chosen to knit. Yet I thoroughly enjoyed making them. I discovered that I love doing stranded colourwork. Well, I love knitting with 2 colours. Using 4 colours (stage 6) was just a bit more awkward than I wanted to navigate. I fell in love with some designers that I didn’t know about before. I really pushed myself and I feel proud of what I accomplished.

I can only imagine the huge amount of work involved in administrating a competition like TDS. My hat’s off to all the people who poured their free time, their passion, their skills and their talents into making TDS happen. My life is richer for participating.

I can hardly wait for it to start next year; sign me up!

Sock Surgery

Normally, hand knitted socks last a very long time. That having been said, some people are harder on their socks than others.

Toes and heels can wear out.

Sometimes you catch them on something and it’s just sharp enough that you end up with a hole. But you don’t have to throw them out. If you catch it right away it’s a quick fix… but if you leave it then you may need to do some sock surgery.

My step-son was home for the summer and a week before he was scheduled to head back to University, I noticed that he was wearing a pair of socks I knit him but there were big holes in them. After making a mental note to buy him a pedicure tool kit for Christmas, I pulled out my leftover yarns to find what I needed to perform surgery on his socks. As I repaired them I took photos and thought I would share with you what I did. I only took photos of one pair, though.

I did a toe replacement and a leg portion replacement on them.

There are other ways to do these repairs. I could have darned them. I am not crazy about how the darned portion of a sock feels on my foot. I could have done a spot reconstruction. That’s fiddly and I wasn’t feeling like I had patience enough to do that. I don’t do it often enough to not have to really think about it. I wasn’t interested in making my head hurt over it. I figured it would be more pleasant to use the method that I am going to show you today.

On the leg of the sock:

I picked up all the stitches around the entire sock above and below the damage. Always pick up the right leg of the knit stitch as you go. Because it’s the leg, it didn’t really matter where I started my row.

 

I counted the number of rows that would be removed in the process and wrote that information down so I wouldn’t forget.

I cut away the damaged fabric in between, making sure that I didn’t cut too close to the stitches on the needles.

 

Next I unraveled the unwanted yarn to expose the live stitches on my needles. As I did this I was able to see a couple spots where I accidentally grabbed a stitch from a row above or below. So I really took my time on unraveling the last row so I wouldn’t accidentally drop stitches. I had an extra dpn on hand so I could make sure that the stitches were all picked up correctly as I went.

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I used a Russian Join (see below) to join my ball of yarn.

I knitted one less row than what I needed and then lined up the needles with each other and joined the two pieces using Kitchener Stitch. (This created the last row.)

The Russian Join:

Thread one yarn end onto a needle that is fine enough for your yarn (see the photo). I like using a sharp needle for this but you may prefer something blunt. Lay the yarn you want to join it to across your working yarn. Thread the needle between the plies of the yarn that the needle is threaded on just past where you laid the other yarn across. You should be creating a loop around the other yarn.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.

 

Pull the needle through so the loop snugs up around your other piece of yarn. You’ll need to decide whether you’ve gone through enough that it will hold once it is knitted into the work. Adjust accordingly and then clip off the excess yarn. Be careful that you are cutting off the tail and NOT the working yarn! That would be annoying.

Thread the other piece of yarn you are joining onto the needle. Thread it through itself  just past where the other join was made: like you did with the first end.

Trim the excess yarn. You just completed a Russian Join. Congratulations!

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On the toe of the Sock:

I picked up the stitches all around the sock just below where the damage was.

I counted the rows and made a note of the decrease pattern. (If you followed a pattern, you could pull out the pattern to check how the toe was decreased; I made this sock up without using a pattern.) I wrote the information down so I wouldn’t forget.

When you pick up the stitches on the toe, be sure that you look carefully at where the decreases are done. Make sure that the first stitch you pick up is the beginning of the row. This way you can do your decreases the way you normally would when originally knitting a sock. If you pick up from the wrong spot it could create a wobble in the force… I mean a wobble in your sock. You don’t want that. You would feel it when you wear them.

I trimmed away the damaged portion of the toe and frogged away the extra rows beyond the needle. Take your time with this step.

I re-knitted the toe to match the other sock. (It looks a little bit crooked because I didn’t take the time to block it.)

toe repair 07

I didn’t take photos of the other socks I repaired. I replaced the toes on them. I couldn’t find the leftover yarn from this pair, so I chose leftover yarn in  a solid colour that matched them.

Because of that, I replaced both toes so they would match.

The only thing I did differently was that I put both socks onto two circular needles so that I could knit them in tandem. The nice thing about this was that I was able to do the same step on each sock and didn’t have to worry about matching a toe that was already done.

Oh and another thing.

The pair that I don’t have photos of was made up in Diamond Select Footsie yarn. When I first did them up they felt just a little bit coarse. Since then my step-son has washed them and dried them relentlessly in the washer and drier many, many, many and many more times. They didn’t shrink. They did not pill but they got ever so slightly fuzzy. Best of all, they became super soft and cuddly.  🙂

That was new information to me.

It makes me a lot more excited about promoting that particular yarn. Those socks are now like loving mama hugs for his feet. How cool is that?

Well I hope that this information is useful and easy to understand.

Happy Knitting!

Empty Nesting

I can’t believe it’s already September 1st today!

It’s been a relentlessly hot and smoky summer here in British Columbia. My flower beds look very sad, along with most everyone else’s. A couple more days and DH takes his son back to University for another school year. And here’s me, getting all sentimental. Isn’t it interesting how each stage of life gives us a new and different perspective on daily life transitions?

When I was little, I got very excited about going back to school.

I loved walking through the deep piles of birch and poplar leaves along the side of the road on the way to the bus stop. That chill in the air in the morning that would give way to a gorgeous warm fall day was so refreshing after the heat of summer. The rain usually held off until October. I loved the anticipation of seeing my friends again after two months without them.

The smell of new crayons, fresh notebooks and sharpening wooden pencils. I can smell it all right now.

When I had kids, they went to public school (for the first few years) and the perspective on those September mornings changed to overseeing them preparing their snacks and making sure they had everything they needed and then seeing them off to the bus stop. After some big challenges, we made the choice to home-school our kids and did so for 7 years. Our approach to that was that learning never stopped. We didn’t really follow the public school calendar and back to school became more of a vague awareness rather than anything directly impacting us. Then when my kids got to high-school age and the decision was made for them to go back to public school I drove them to a larger centre each day to a school that offered more options than the local one. Before I knew it, my perspective was changing again. Instead of me driving them, now I was teaching them to drive so they could get themselves to school… without my help.

At the beginning of all that, it seemed like it would always be the same. With each evolution of our family there was a shift that just happened. In hindsight, we didn’t pay it much mind. Until my oldest was ready for University.

Suddenly I stopped in my tracks and took it all in. My babies were not babies any more. How did that even happen? I mean, I know I was there the whole time, but I was so busy being there the whole time that I didn’t even consciously think about it. And then my perspective took a huge shift. I wondered whether I had done enough, or too much; had I prepared them for what was going to come across their paths?

And eventually I had the realization that it didn’t matter.

I always did what I genuinely felt was best for my children and my family. You can’t do more than that, no matter what hindsight might urge you to believe. And as my perspective on back to school changed, so did theirs.

And here I am. All three of my children are adults, functioning well, with lives of their own. Our relationship is now an adult relationship. (What a huge moment it was the first time my kids mixed drinks for me!)

My DH’s youngest is getting ready to head back to University for year 3.

And as we watch him evolve into a young man and do our best to give him the space to be that man it still pulls at my heart knowing he’s leaving and that we will likely only have one more summer with him before he is completely out of the nest. We had an early Thanksgiving dinner last night so that we could share that with him before he leaves. His birthday is in October, so we had a birthday cake too. He got those Mosaic Marbles socks I made in stage 4 of Tour-de-Sock as his birthday present and he gave me his old birthday socks to repair before he heads off. (That’s next week’s blog.)

I find myself feeling misty.

When DH and I began building a life together I was thrilled that one of his kids still lived with him. Being “Mom” always felt like my first calling. Having the opportunity to be that a little longer felt good. I’m grateful that I was able to build a lovely relationship with him and I’m thrilled that no matter where he goes or what he does, that won’t go away.

And so it’s back to school, back to the routine, back to responsibility.

It’s so easy to get lost in the routine and the responsibilities. At the end of the day, it’s all those loving relationships that we nurture that make that routine and those responsibilities okay. And hey, I get to do Thanksgiving twice this year! I can’t complain about that!

Photo by Jake Ingle on Unsplash

Cable Adventures

I love knitting cables. Not so much because of actually doing the cables but because I love the way they look. The designer of my most recent sock knitting project (Indecisions by Adrienne Fong: Stage 3 of Tour-de-Sock 2017) encouraged knitters to try cabling without cable needles. My first response to this was: “What is this madness of which you speak?!”

As a Yarn Shop owner it truly behooves me to take any opportunity I can to expand my skill and knowledge base. It means I’m better equipped to assist my customers when they have questions. So, I perused You Tube and watched a bunch of videos. I tried out the common method and found it exceedingly frustrating. Bear in mind that this was Stage 3 of the competition. I got sick just before the pattern dropped and was unable to get my real work finished in time. So I started late. Add to that I started with a yarn that was not plied and was struggling to cable with that. After putting about 8 hours in I gave up on that yarn. Sigh. I’m very happy with the resulting socks. I used Cascade Heritage Sock yarn in ivory.

But I have to admit that I did give up on this whole idea of not using a cable needle for this project and just went back to using my 160 degree cable needle.

I actually found it faster than wrestling with free-wheeling live stitches in fine yarn.

I found a couple videos that offered a way to cable (without a cable needle) that promised that I wouldn’t have to have live stitches off my needle to do it. Well that got my attention. I suspect that this is something that you really need to practice though. The cables I was doing were 3 over 3 stitches and when I tried this method, I just found it a struggle to transfer the stitches to the left needle after I had reordered them onto the right. I have to be honest. What with being sick, I really didn’t give it as good of a try as I normally would have. Perhaps my tension is too tight for it. I can see how twists or 2 over 2 cables would work very well with this method. I do plan to practice it and see if I can make it work for me… probably not for the competition socks though.

I am sharing some videos here to represent the different methods of cabling without a cable needle. The first one shows the common method that requires live stitches off the needle and the two that follow show the non-freewheeling-live-stitches method. Hmmm somehow I don’t think that name will stick. LOL  As always, if you find the videos helpful, please show some love and gratitude to the folks who created them.

Here is the common method:

I love this next lady’s videos. I got such a kick out of her candidness. I am subscribing to her channel. These next two videos are hers and show her cool method.

 

Happy knitting!

Fair Isle Explorations

It’s been a week of knitting exploration for me. I mentioned two weeks ago that I signed up for my first ever sock knitting competition. Although the competition officially starts on July 15th, the bonus “warm-up” pattern was released upon signing up. It was a stranded colour-work pattern. Something I had not done before.

Since signing up I was motivated to complete the two pairs of socks that I had on needles. I finished them both and then proceeded to take on the warm-up pattern.

Here is a photo of the completed “Gimli” socks that I showed you two weeks ago.

I loved making these socks. The pattern was challenging; even more challenging because I chose to knit them in black yarn. I swear that black yarn truly sucks all the light from the room like Albus Dumbledore’s “deluminator”. If you don’t have excellent light your chances of messing up increase exponentially. Of course, the sense of accomplishment is fantastic completing something so challenging. These were a gift for my son and have since been sent off to him.

The other pair that I finished was Hermione’s Everyday Socks. If I do this pattern again, I will cast it on 8 stitches smaller than the size I usually do. There is not a lot of stretch in the pattern and they ended up bigger than I expected. They feel a bit like slipper socks on me. They were easy to do and I love the heel on them.

The warm-up bonus pattern for the sock competition is a secret to all but those participating in the Tour-de-Sock competition.

Because of this, I will not give the name or show any photographs of the sock or links to the pattern until after the competition completes in September.

I was excited to get the chance to do some colour-work without the pressure of competition. The last time I attempted colour-work was about 27 years ago so I thought I would do some research before I got started.

I’m so grateful for YouTube!

I found the following videos very helpful. The first link is to a playlist of videos about Fair Isle Knitting. It was definitely worth taking the time to watch numerous videos to take in the tips and get an overview of what to watch out for.

 

 

I learned a lot making this pair of socks.

Normally I like to knit socks two at a time (2aat). Because this was a new technique to me, I thought I would work one sock at a time to minimize any confusion. In future I will definitely knit them 2aat.

Adjusting the tension on the colour-work is a bit tricky. The floats (strands of yarn that span more than one stitch on the wrong side of the work) need to be kept loose enough and at an even tension so that they don’t make the sock too tight or inconsistent. On the first sock, because this technique was new to me, my tension was quite controlled (snug). It was loose enough that the fit was good and I managed to keep it even by tugging my row every 15 stitches or so to make sure it wasn’t too tight. The contrasting stitches didn’t show up quite as well with this snugger tension though.

The pattern recommended changing to larger needles for the colour-work section and I didn’t listen. So I guessed at loosening the tension and it shows in the second sock. By the time I did the second one I was much more relaxed and when I loosened my tension for those sections, I actually loosened it more than on the first. The contrasting stitches show up really nicely on the second one but the sock ended up a bit larger. I would definitely knit 2aat and change the needle size for the Fair Isle portions on future patterns that use this technique.

All that said, I’m very happy with how they turned out.

Fair Isle knitting (stranded colour-work) can be done holding the yarns in a few different ways. You can hold your main colour with whichever hand is normally your dominant knitting hand (left for continental and right for English) and the contrasting colour in your non-dominant knitting hand. You can also hold both yarns in your left as a continental knitter. I thought I would push myself to develop my muscle memory for English style knitting. I normally knit continental style and working one yarn in Continental and one in English style was definitely something to get used to. I did find that by the end of the first sock it was going fairly smoothly. Once I got kind of comfortable with it, the knitting actually went quicker than I expected.

It was definitely important to keep track of my rows. At each section of the pattern I drew two rows of little boxes to represent the number of rounds needed. I checked off the boxes as I completed each round. This way when I got to the second sock there was no confusion about how many rounds were in each section.

I am excited to try another project with a Fair Isle design so that I can fine tune these new skills. Perhaps I need to design a Fair Isle inspired hair band? Hmmm there’s a thought.

Socks on the Brain…

I am midway through creating a new beginner/novice knitting pattern design that only Wonder Woman herself could possibly finish in time for this week’s blog. I have to work today and knitting all day (although I personally LOVE the idea) is simply not an option. Hopefully I can have that ready for next week. Oh, and

it’s not a dishcloth. 😀

Meanwhile, I just signed up for a sock competition called Tour-de-Sock! This will be my very first sock competition and there is a part of me that is stoked beyond imagining and another part of me that is utterly terrified. LOL

tour-de-sock.com is where you can find the information about this FUNdraiser for Doctors Without Borders. I have joined a team that assures me that they are pretty laid back knitters (so I won’t be expected to sneeze out socks). There will be six patterns and I won’t know what they are until each respective pattern drops. The specs have been posted so I can start choosing coordinating yarns in anticipation.

Most of all, I want to get my current sock projects completed before the July 15th start date.

I’m working on a pair of black socks using the “Gimli” pattern from “The Fellowship of the Sock” book. I just want to say, “Woah, Nelly!” Knitting intricate patterns into socks in black yarn is not for the faint of heart! You need extraordinarily good lighting to be able to see. It took me a while to get it just right and boy, this pattern is a pain to fix if you make a mistake. Once I got used to it I really liked it though. This is definitely not a beginner pattern. As of today, the first sock just needs the toe grafted and I’m about half way through the heel flap on sock #2. These were far too complex for me to feel comfortable knitting two socks at a time. I absolutely love these socks. I may very well make this pattern again one day; just not in black.

The other pair of socks I’m making is called “Hermione’s Everyday Socks”.

Hermione sock progress

The challenge for me in making this easy sock pattern was not in the knitting, but in NOT obsessing about having my self striping yarn correspond exactly from one sock to the other. Don’t laugh! This was a big deal for me. See in the photo how offset the stripes are from each other from sock to sock? My normal approach is to cast on as many times as is necessary to make certain that both socks are identical. To just cast them on immediately in succession without even looking at how the colour-way was lining up was essentially b**ch slapping my desire to have control over the outcome. It may sound silly, but my heart was pounding the whole time I cast them on. As I knit each round (as you can see I cast the two socks on at the same time on two circular needles) I had to keep reminding myself to breathe. It was seriously so stressful to me that I would hold my breath for far too long. Then, once I got to the point where I could see the colour-repeat from the first sock show up in the second, all that stress dissolved. Now, I’m really enjoying them.

I feel like I conquered something in the process; and that felt fantastic!

I hope to complete both pairs of socks before Tour-de-Sock starts so they won’t distract me from focusing on the competition.

Have a wonderful week!