The joy of sox

Bad title pun intended – sorry!

I have joined the pilgrimage that many others before me have travelled. What is it about knitting socks that is so addictive and inspiring. I am a complete babe in the woods – one pair of small child socks, three pairs of baby socks, and currently in the midst of the second sock of my first adult pair – but I already want to design my own sock patterns. Half the saved tabs in my browser window are sock knitting tips. So to add to the plethora out there here is my two cents worth on the joy of sox (my mother often wrote socks this way – think it may have been a shorthand trick).

eye of partridge stitchI have stumbled across Kate Atherley and highly recommend her Toe-Up versus Top-Down post. With my nascent sock knitting this is a great reminder that you need to try the various combinations to see what suits you. That is simple but stellar advice. My personal tip is to start with a pair of child or baby socks in a DK yarn. The socks knit very quickly as you are learning and practicing the techniques. I am going to do that for trialling toe-up, so far I have only knitted top-down.

I am totally in love with the eye of partridge stitch for the back of the heel (aka the heel flap). If you have not tried this stitch before here is a link. It creates a lattice effect.

alegria manos del uruguayI have already purchased the next yarn for my next pair of socks – yep mine, for me – I am knitting for me! I have always liked socks and buy fun, brightly coloured pairs. I do not wear through socks quickly so they can last for years. Even if I only make two pairs of socks for myself a year, over time I would end up with a fabulous collection. Anyway how gorgeous is this yarn? It is the Alegria range, from Manos del Uruguay which I purchased from the lovely Morris & Sons in Melbourne. I am also going to be trialling a different pair of needles. My first pair of adult socks are currently being knit on a set of Symfonie 2 mm bamboo DPNs , my second pair will be knit on a set of Karbonz 2.25 mm carbon fibre DPNs.

I have scanned lots of other posts and three others that I have read and found helpful are one about needles, one about avoiding ladders on DPNs, and one about socks in general. And will I be trying out my own pattern with the Alegria, you betcha! Something small to aid the time passing in the knitting of the foot.

New from old blanket

In the kiwi vernacular I would say, “I suck the big kumara“, given the almighty gap between this post and my previous post. However I believe that for once the underlying cause is genuine. In about two months I will be relocating to Queenstown, New Zealand. (Do not get distracted, this is a post about about blankets, forget about Queenstown for now!)

Other than to be aware that at some point in the future we will have a large outdoor patio. To go with that patio I envisage we will need some hand knitted blankets for those days you want to be outside but there is a chill in the air. Given the speed of my knitting and that the number of blankets needed will be greater than one, I am starting the first blanket now; a Melbourne conception with what will ultimately be a NZ birth feels exactly right. For the first blanket I am copying inspired by one of The Twisted Yarn’s blog posts from 2014 (you can see why I am starting now!), an Arne and Carlos blanket. I love the idea of using up left over bits of wool. Way back when I used to sew I had the intention of making a quilt from everything I had sewn, a kind of memory of clothes and events. Great idea – never did it – though I did start. Quite fittingly I am starting this blanket with yarn I bought to knit a cardigan for my daughter. I went gang busters on the knitting doing a frill for the first time ever but never got around to finishing the cardigan (any bells ringing here?!). Of course I am hoping it is not an ill omen to use this wool to start the blanket. I am coupling it with the left over (yes you read that right!) gorgeous green yarn I bought in Hokitika last Christmas and my quickest ever completed project. I think that combo of never finished and finished the quickest balances out!

And for those of you still thinking about Queenstown, the photo at the end of this post is actually our land. There may be more written about this in the future!

arne carlos blanket

The first blanket is underway

Made in North Melbourne, still going strong

It has been a long time, perhaps two years, since I have made mention of my Etsy shop. To be fair there has been a lot happening, and the blog and the Etsy store are kind of separate identities, albeit with a passing reference to each other.

However there has been a flurry of activity this year. My sales are at an all time high – there has been three this year! A scarf and two recycled bracelets have sold. Of course insufficient to generate a living income but the excitement of someone buying something you have made is unbelievably rewarding. My new sock fetish has now made its way into my shop and I am in the process of knitting baby and toddler socks for my Made in North Melbourne brand.

Speaking of socks I have this week made the most fabulous purchase, the Sock Ruler®, the invention of one Denise in California. I am only a beginner sock knitter and so all you guns out there may laugh, but I find it a tad awkward when trying to accurately measure the length of my work in progress socks. No longer. My Sock Rulers arrived in the mail on Friday and were used today – utterly brilliant. If you live in Australia the place to get them is Kathys Fibres in Adelaide – she is very friendly by email; if you are in another part of the world the stockists can be found here. That gorgeous blue sock yarn below I purchased in April 2015 with the intent of making my first pair of socks. After two and a half years I am least pleased to say that I am knitting the very first pair of socks for me! And the afore mentioned first use of the Sock Ruler® was on the cuff of the first sock. I look forward to showing you the finished product.

 

 

 

Garter drop stitch scarf

I am hooked, and not in the crochet sense of the word (a skill I have yet to try, let alone acquire). I am hooked on a knitting stitch, the garter drop stitch, which I starting knitting with to make myself a scarf with part of my Christmas purchase. I took this in-progress scarf with me when I visited my sister (because who does not take knitting with them when they fly internationally?!). Last year I took the baby blanket I was knitting with me to Fiji – it never left the suitcase! Anyway, in a moment of sisterly love I asked my sister if she would like a scarf. Initially she was not keen, but because I was so taken with what I was making for myself I showed her, and it was easy to convince her to say yes. She ended up picking a lovely peacock green for hers. Now I am not the world’s fastest knitter, but sit down before I tell you this, I have already finished the scarf and my sister actually has it for this winter. I know – I have fallen off my own chair! The photos do not entirely do my sister’s scarf justice. There is a strong possibility that I may even finish my own before the end of winter. And do not tell anyone but I may have started another scarf with this stitch already – in a bold move I am varying the yarn wraps to vary the length of the drop stitch. It is this version that will have me blocking for the very first time in my life – a new knitting adventure that awaits!

And now there are two!

Need I say more?!

At the end of most days I ask my daughter what was her favourite thing about the day, and I do the same back. ‘Kid’s rules’ means I am never allowed to have the same favourite, even if it is my favourite. Tonight she said, “that you finished the socks and I got to try on two socks“. Damn! Finishing the second sock today was absolutely my favourite thing today. And my little girl already thinks I will be making more!

And when there was only one is here.

I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it

I’m about to lose control and I think I like it…

To steal two lines from a Pointer Sisters chorus! About what I hear you ask…

Socks! The knitting of socks. And I have my daughter and Tin Can Knits to thank.

Did I say I was excited?? I have just finished my first ever knitted sock. I am SO proud of myself. Back to the start, and heed this advice to avoid my predicament, “don’t ask an almost five year old what they want, and if you do then don’t listen”!! My daughter sees me knit, and she is starting to show some potential interest herself, and very recently she actually asked me to knit her something. I of course being a generous foolhardy mum asked her what she would like, “socks Mum” came the reply. Where the *insert swear word of choice* did that come from? Now I have had a desire to try knitting a pair of socks; indeed I bought a ball of wool and some double pointed needles at least a year ago to embark on this adventure, the afore mentioned wool and needles languishing in the cupboard hidden from sight, untouched by my hands. I half heartedly tried the, “I have never made socks” line on my little girl, to no avail. Mum clearly can do anything. What is more she wanted me to use her rainbow yarn. This girl knows what she wants.

How to get out of this dilemma? Tin Can Knits to the rescue. I had stumbled upon them quite some time back, and quite fancy more than one of their knits. Their whole seamless approach to knitting has great appeal (translation: I think I would almost rather lose a limb they have to sew up my knitting!). And in hunting for a sock pattern for a child I stumbled upon their Rye pattern (here) and the words learn how to knit socks. For some reason I took the plunge. All I can say is if you have never knitted a sock before I utterly recommend this pattern. The instructions, particularly all the additional links you can click on, are fabulous. I feel like I am being enabled to tackle other patterns and knit more socks. My poor other half, he has been subjected to me going, “look at this, look at this” more than once through the course of the sock. I was so taken by what I was doing that I actually took the knitting with me to a venue, it initiated a conversation with a lady who worked there, and I gave her the pattern.

The other reason I may become hooked on knitting socks is this will be the fastest I have ever completed a knitted item…socks are small…I sense more socks in my future…I am about to lose control…

Finally the verdict of the small person who triggered such dilemma followed by such joy. Let’s just say the one sock is already being worn. I am happy.

And to really show I am approaching my dotage… I recorded the song this blog post references on a cassette tape off the radio!

From hank to ball and a new stitch

Over Christmas I visited Hokitika for the first time – the joy of family who relocate enabling you to see new places. For some unknown reason I did a bit of advance preparation, as in I found out there was the world famous, or “perhaps world famous in NZ” Sock World Hokitika – here is their website and facebook page. Small town NZ is a large part of my childhood so I love to support local endeavours. And while I am absolutely not the world’s best sock knitter – I have yet to even try knitting a pair of socks – I am of course craft curious, and my before I went search had alerted me to the fact that they may have also sold yarn… And of course it was the yarn that I was after, I wanted to buy something that I would associate with the place.

For my little girl, with her input (have to have that these days unless you are keen to start WW3!) I have three hanks of beautiful 10 ply Waterspout Felted Yarn (75% superfine merino 25% possum). It is so light and soft. No idea what I will make for her yet, but that is part of the adventure. There is a beautiful hint of black in the yarn.

Anyway last night for the very first time I took a hank of yarn and created a ball of yarn. I am so proud of myself! It is a huge ball – I put the tape measure in the photo for a sense of scale, it is about 12 cm in diameter. I followed the sage advice from Craftsy here, and in reading the comments there was a great tip about continuing to wrap the yarn around your finger as you create the ball; it worked a treat.

Sock World HokitikaSo what am I going to make with the beautiful sea green teal that I bought for myself? What I initially wanted to make is the utterly gorgeous pleated scarf by Jen Geizen on the left below, but alas I do not have enough yarn. I suspect I may go out and buy enough of some other yarn to make that scarf – I love it! Instead I am going to try a new stitch – the garter drop stitch – the effect looks amazing, yet the technique appears rather easy; a combination I am fond of. There is a pattern for the scarf on the right below, but you almost do not need it. Hoping to finish the scarf for this winter. And here’s to the family staying put in Hokitika for a while, I want to go back to Sock World Hokitika and buy more!

Image on left courtesy of Craftsy.com and image on right courtesy of Redheart.com