Friday, January 6, 2017

Everything I know about knitting socks can fit in this box.

The Year of the Sock came and went.  I'm finally ready to post photos of something besides socks.  That's a good thing because I think all of my non-knitting friends were beginning to think I had a weirdo sock fetish.  It's all worth it, though, to know that I persevered and knit 12 pairs of socks for the Box o Sox Knit-along before Jan 1 and I learned exactly what I like in a sock.

Note: There will be a bizarre number of photos because I wanted to catch all of the labels.  Oh, and there will be a few more socks.

Look at them, all rolled up, shiny and un-pilled.
Look at them, mocking me with their floppy cuffs and dropped stitches that weren't discovered until the ends were woven.

I probably wouldn't have found it so difficult to complete this project if I didn't overcommit with knit-alongs and gift knitting, etc.  But, it's done and I'm pleased to say that every pair fits perfectly, at least in the foot.  It's just those toe-up cuffs that seem loose.

This occasion called for a special box, so I gathered some of my yarn labels and decoupaged them to an old Gola shoe box.  I truly did feel like a weirdo after that quick little project turned into hours of tediousness, with glue all over my fingers and a crick in my neck.

Had I realized another knitter had already glued yarn labels to her box, I wouldn't even have finished.  But, I'm kind of glad I did because they were just taking up space in my supplies box and it's nice to have a readily visible memento of the yarns I've used.  A couple are even from ones I haven't used yet.  I may regret doing that...

Mine is also a little different in that these are many labels I've been saving for years, from all sorts of yarn.  It's not BoxoSox-specific.  It also required many, many layers of Mod Podge.  (Insert Eyeroll)

Here's the rundown on my Year of the Sock:
I tried to hit on most of the techniques I'd heard of, and a few I hadn't.  At first, it was just a basic cuff-down (Graynbow socks).  Then I broadened to knitting toe-up and two-at-a-time (Two at Once, Toe Up, Magic Loop socks).  For those, I also did a new cast on that involved knitting into the purl bumps of half the usual amount of stitches in order to easily get started with magic loop.

I took a break from regular socks to knit myself and my husband lopi house shoes.  This was a true break, as it was bulky and rustic yarn- completely different in my hands (Inniskór Slippers).  They didn't really qualify for the Box o Sox KAL, but to me they completely count.

I wanted to try patterns that intimidated me a little, with all of the cables and lace (Springtastic Socks, Wildflowers and Honeycomb, and Fine and Dandy).  It was in doing this that I realized a 56 stitch count sock fits me best, but if more are necessary for a pattern, they look fine when it's a shorter length sock.  I also decided I like shorter 4" cuffs best.

I tried contrast heels/ toes/ and cuffs (Wildflowers and Honeycomb, Fine and Dandy, Confetti and Champagná) and even did a weird thing by cutting a self-striping yarn to sort of get a contrast heel.  That was a mess.

I enjoyed using variegated yarn for vanilla socks (Hydrangea Socks, Shield Maiden Socks,  I Heart Bees and Vintage Christmas Socks) and for the most patterned sock I've ever seen (Springtastic Socks).  And I liked it.  Then there were speckled socks (Speckled Space Socks), which I've always wanted to knit.

There were stripes aplenty this year and I'm sure there'll be more in my future, especially since learning the afterthought heel.

Somewhere along the way I decided to order a 9" circular and try it on a stockinette sock (Hydrangea Socks).  I didn't even make it halfway through the first sock.  It was like begging for arthritis.  Size 0 or 1 circulars are torturous enough for me.  So, it's magic loop for me from now on and, since realizing I knit each of my I Heart Bees socks using a different needle size, I decided I do better when knitting both socks at once.

The Smooth Operator Socks pattern gave me plenty of practice with that technique.  It's meant to make knitting a "vanilla" sock as easy as possible.  There were a lot of variations to try within the pattern, so I first tried the basic, long version of the pattern, which includes afterthought heels.  (Confetti and Champagná).  For this I learned to properly cast on two 56 stitch cuffs for knitting at once.  I don't know why I never took the time to do it all at once before this.

The next time, I added self-striping heels on self-striping socks and did them with a no-Kitchener method (Gynx's Palette Socks).  Next there was the no-Kitchener toe and gap-less afterthought heel (Shield Maiden Socks).  And lastly, I applied most of those techniques to a pair of toe-up socks (Vintage Christmas Socks).

So, I think I learned about 4 different heel methods: regular slip stitch, eye of partridge, a horizontal slip stitch, and afterthought heels.

There were three toe methods, too: Kitchener, that odd, even decrease, and the no-Kitchener method.  (Neither of the last two require a Kitchener stitch.)

All of this is to say that I have my own personal sock recipe. Me!  I remember reading about other knitters formulating them and thinking there was no way I'd ever be that comfortable knitting socks.  I thought I'd always be glued to a pattern and walking around in floppy socks.  Apparently, I'll just be walking around with floppy cuffs.  A win!

My Sock Recipe, because this blog is where I store things:

I prefer size US 0 circulars, sport weight sock yarn or a plump fingering weight.

If I'm planning on doing a contrast heel I figured I need 7g of a different yarn.  I'll need no more than 20g to do cuffs and toes too.
If I'm using a different portion of the same self-striping yarn as a contrast heel, I should unwind it from the ball before casting on.

I cast on 56 stitches for my feet.
My actual foot is 9 3/4 " from toes to back of heels.

For toe-up socks:

Judy's Magic Cast-on, possibly two at a time.  But I did try knitting into the purl bumps of a 12 stitch cast on the create 24 sts.  This makes two-at-time, magic loop easier.

For traditional heel gussets:
I knit 5 3/4" from toe to beginning of gussets.
At heel flap, change color.
I like slip stitch and eye of partridge heel flaps.

If it's an afterthought heel:
Use high contrast yarn as waste yarn, knitting more than the usual row (as per Smooth Operator)
I knit 7.5" from toe to waste yarn.
When knitting in the heel, use the gap-less method (also Smooth Operator)

I liked 4" cuffs best, but anywhere from 4-6" is fine for a normal sock.
2" cuff, in 2x2 rib.
Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off is the best I've found so far.  But I have to make sure I don't cast off loosely.

If I'm knitting cuff-down socks, my preference:
Cast on both cuffs at once.
I prefer a 4-6" leg.  4" works really well with hi-tops.
2" of 1x1 twisted rib looks really nice, but 2x2 rib is my favorite.

For cuff-down afterthoughts (my favorite) - Use high contrast waste yarn to mark heel and knit more than the usual waste rows.
Use gap-less method.
After heel or waste yarn, knit 5.5" from waste yarn to toe decreases

For traditional gusset heels- knit 3 7/8 " from gussets to toe decreases.

I prefer binding off at 24 stitches for a less pointed toe.
Either a rounded decrease (as per Smooth Operator) or traditional Kitchener.  I usually reinforce the toe as I weave in my ends.

And that's it... The year of the sock is officially over.  2017 will be the year of whatever I feel like I wanna do.

And now I'm putting my size 0 needles away for a looooooong time.  I might, just maybe, try to knit some of the sock patterns I used last year in worsted weight yarn for stockings (like Tracie of The Grocery Girls).  But only if I feel like it.

Oh, and happy New Year, bloggy friends!!

(more on Ravelry, Kollabora, Instagram, and Flickr)

Friday, December 30, 2016

Vintage Christmas Socks

These were my supposed to be my Christmas socks, but I didn't finish them until several days after Christmas, which was totally fine since I have been wearing running shorts and t-shirts this week.  But when it get's cold, these will definitely get some wear.

If they look wonky, it's because I hadn't actually blocked them yet when I took the photos, so the ladder where my needles changed is still pretty obvious.  But, people!  I knit 12 pair before the end of the year!

They were my last combination of sock techniques to want to try for the BoxoSox KAL.  And, had I knit them cuff-down, they'd be my best fitting pair.  But, I have to learn somehow.

And what I've learned with this pair is that I like cuff-down socks better.  The cuff looks neat whether I'm wearing them or not.  I always wondered why anyone would prefer cuff-down when you can try them on as you go easier when working toe-up.  Well, there you go- that's the reason.

I am spitting out this post as quickly as possible before my son's soccer game.  So, I'll include details about this pair, for now.  Later, though, I'm going to post about my new-found personal sock recipe.  And that's more for me than you, unless you're interested.

Details: Again with the Smooth Operator Sock pattern, by Susan B. Anderson.  I think it will be my constant for stockinette socks from here on out.

I used size 0 Karbonz and Herbstblatt Regina's Oak Sock base in the Vintage Christmas Ornaments colorway.  And look at how correct those colors are.

I made this wreath of vintage-like ornaments, and a few truly vintage ones, a few Christmases ago and Regina's yarn fits right in.

I adored the colors in this yarn.  Stockinette was certainly a good way to show them off.  I do regret my not so gorgeous toe-up cuff, but oh, well.

I used Kitchener stitch to close both toes and heels for this pair and did the no-gap trick again.

I also made them exactly the same length as my Ragnar socks, because I think that's the most comfortable size for me.   Of course, the whole reason I cast on for toe-up was to make them really long, but I felt I was running out of time and probably would wear them more if they were shorter.  I am anxious to see how Cassondra, of Rizza Knits, will work her increases for knee socks.  I know I'll want to try it one day.  One day far in the future.  Because, folks, I'm tired of socks.

(more on ravelry, kollabora, instagram, and flickr)

Shield Maiden Socks

As I watched the first episode of the new season of Vikings, Season 5, I decided to cast on Herbstblatt Regina's Ragnar colorway for my 11th pair of sock for the year.

I'm sure the Ragnar colorway is meant to reflect Ragnar's shield design, not blood and guts, but it cracks me up to knit a pair of socks named after a Viking carrying a dripping axe.

(image via Pinterest)

So, are you guys keeping up with Vikings?  For some reason, I feel a little less into it this season.  It felt a little more "real" when I watched the first few seasons, then something changed.  I still like it, but it definitely feels like tv to me.   I find that I say that a lot as I get a few seasons into any series.   I began to wonder if I was just spoiled to so many entertainment choices.

Now I'm thinking it is the fact that I usually watch the first season or two, after a show is established, on netflix or On-Demand, with little commercial interruption.  When I begin to watch current seasons on network tv, with a bazillion commercials every ten minutes, it drains any fantasy-like mood the show had tried to build up ten minutes prior.  Anyway, I am still very interested to see what will become of Ivar, Ragnar, and Rollo this season.  Also, my husband likes to watch this show with me, so that's a plus.  Of course, he doesn't mind watching any of "my shows."  He even got into the original Gilmore Girls series.  The only thing he has no interest in is re-watching The Closer  (which I have watched all the way through until the last two seasons many times) with me and knitting podcasts.  (He does take a peek at Bobbin occasionally- because who can resist?)

This yarn is from Herbstblatt Regina's Vikings colorways.  I'm thinking I have them all.

Floki's colorway, which I'd like to use for a Sockhead Hat:

Rollo's, which will probably be socks:

and Lagertha's, which I'd like to combine with Regina's Wisdom colorway for a two-color shawl.  I think Regina did a good job reproducing Lagertha's shield colors, too.

(image via Pinterest)

You know how I said I prefer sport weight yarn for socks?  Well, I've found Regina's Oak sock base  a close second.  It's fingering weight, but feels plump in my hands and comfortable to wear.

I also like the almost striping effect of a "half and half" skein.

Details:  I used US size 0 Karbonz and Herbstblatt Regina's Oak Sock base in the Ragnar colorway to knit these Smooth Operator Socks, two at a time.

These socks are also my third attempt at Susan B. Anderson's Smooth Operator sock pattern.  Each time I knit it, I try a different tweak, most of which are included in the pattern as options.  This time around I worked cuff-down, afterthought heels, and the no-Kitchener toe closure.

I don't think it was because of the closure, but instead because I closed them in a dark room, that I ended up dropping a stitch that wasn't noticed until after blocking... in both socks... grr.

I also finally tried the no-gap heel tip that I've heard so many knitters rave about (added in a pattern update) and they were totally right! There are no gaps, no weird weaving in an end to make a gap less apparent.  This will be my new heel of choice.

Combine the yarn, the familiarity of the pattern, and the perfect fit of cuff-down socks and these are some of my best fitting socks to date.   I think I find a lower cuff easier to wear, too.
These are such a great fit and so good looking, I'm going to use the same pattern for my last pair of socks for the year, only knit them toe up.

(image via Pinterest)

(more on ravelry, kollabora, instagram, and flickr)

I'm posting my 12th pair later today, too. Whew!  

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Speckled Space Socks

I finished this pair of Speckled Space Socks that make me think of Viper Pilots' Wings about a week ago, then immediately cast on for pairs 11 and 12.  On a deadline here for Box o Sox.  So let me tell you about them, because I know all of the internet can't wait to read about a pair of socks.

I used the Speckled Space Socks pattern by Amanda Stephens.  She made the pattern for colorful, speckled yarn.  It's not too busy, but busy enough.  And I think it looks good with the yarn I chose.  However, I think it would be killer with a semi-solid yarn.  To get an idea of how that would look, check out Candace's socks.

Don't they show off the stitch pattern much better.  You can see in the photo below how this colorway would knit up in stockinette.  Nice. Mine are fine, as is.  I wanted to use this exact skein in the Stellar colorway with a stitch pattern that was also space themed for the Socks in Space KAL.  Goal achieved.

I really love all of these bright speckles.  It's Red Sock Blue Sock Yarn's discontinued Basic Sock base.  I think I bought it over a year ago, but have been holding onto it for something special.  Though it knit up nicely, I do prefer their new Comfort Sock base, which I used for my Wildflowers and Honeycomb socks.  It's a little fuller and maybe more elastic.  Not really sure on that since I was knitting a cabled pattern on size 0 needles.  It's possible they're not as squishy because I yanked the heck out of my yarn.

I think sometimes the topics of my blog posts sound like product placement, a not-so-lucrative form of product placement.  I can't help but tell what I love, and I love Red Sock Blue Sock Yarn.  I try to branch out and try yarns from all the dyers I follow on instagram, an ever-growing number, but I still have a special place in my heart for some.  RSBSY is one of those.  They're having a big 20% off sale today only and I am restraining myself.  Sigh.  I have spent all my free cash on Christmas and need to exercise self-control.  My self-control basically involves waiting a couple of weeks until my birthday.

This was a toe up pattern, which leaves me with a less neat cuff.  What's the secret, friends?  How can I bind off with a stretchy bind off that doesn't leave me with a stretched out, floppy cuff.  A regular ribbed bind-off isn't stretchy enough.  I mean, it's not bad now, but I'm thinking it might be really loose eventually.  Whereas, I love my cuff-down cuffs.  They're tidy looking, whether I am wearing them or not.  Is this a common issue?

Okay, so details:  I used US size 0 Karbonz and the discontinued Basic Sock yarn from RSBSY to knit one- at-a-time, toe-up socks.  I cast on for the 56 stitch size and knit about 6.5" before starting the gussets.  I repeated the stitch pattern a total of 5.5 times.

These were knit along with the Socks in Space KAL, hosted by Candace of the Pinfeathers and Purls Podcast and Robyn and Merry from the Cherry Purls Podcast (which I haven't seen yet).  Here are some more finished pairs on Ravelry.

They're also pair number 10 for my #boxosoxkal, a hashtag that feels more sinister ever time I type it.

(more on ravelry, kollabora, instagram, and flickr)

Here's my other post about these socks.