The path to sock enlightenment is not proving an easy one. My first pair – years in the making – shrunk in the wash.. Oops! I put them in the ordinary wash at 40 degrees, and I can’t even get them on my feet anymore (now I know what Cinderella’s ugly sisters felt like if they were trying on her socks rather than her glass slipper!) Maybe I’ll use them as dusters..
I wanted to make another pair quickly before I forgot the process, so I went to good ol’ Ravelry and found this freebie pattern: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/rye-4 As the design calls for worsted yarn and chunkier needles than the first sock pattern I attempted, they worked up more quickly. The only hiccup was grafting the toe – this time I tried the proper Kitchener stitch instead of the crocheted graft I used before. The only thing I would change if I made these socks again would be to use a different sized needle for the cuff: the pattern called for 2.25mm needles compared to 2.75 for the rest of the sock, but I reckon I would either use the same size as the main body, or 2.5mm if I went smaller for the cuff, as I thought 2.25mm was a teeny bit on the tight side..
Cuff down socks: Seersucker stitch and Rye Pattern
I then decided I wanted to try a toe up sock pattern, and went for a basic pattern from the book Socks From The Toe Up by Wendy D Johnson. But I made a couple of idiotic decisions. To begin with, the pattern specified 2mm needles – eek! Titchy takes too long! And the yarn I chose was not great for the ripping back which is inevitable when learning new techniques (i.e. Turkish cast on, fleegle heel and I was rusty on M1 increases). The yarn in question was Debbie Bliss Rialto Luxury Sock. It has a haze, and this tends to catch on itself when ripping back, especially as 2mm needles create small stitches which knot up easily. Eventually I reached the leg of the first sock and managed to accidentally break the yarn (even though I was doing plain stocking stitch at that point, my brain sometimes rebels at repetitiveness, and I did something wrong, so had to unravel..) At which point I got so exasperated, I lost the will to continue, and decided that pattern in this yarn on those needles was too much trouble! So I went large again. Far more sensible to learn on chunkier yarn and thicker needles. The pattern was another freeby from Ravelry http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/toe-up-worsted-socks and it went a lot more smoothly.
Toe up socks
By then I had thought of a title for this blog post I wanted to write so I knew I wanted to make another pair of cuff down socks. I thought I’d have a go a go at designing my own sock. I’d seen several stitch patterns I liked and I opted for the Seersucker stitch, which was written for flat knitting but was easy enough to convert to circular knitting. I had to look up what a seersucker was – sounds like some sort of leech to me! But it actually means “a lightweight fabric with a crimped or puckered surface”. In green yarn, it brings to mind dragon scales..
The final test is how comfy they are in my gardening boots and, of course, if I can wash them without shrinking them. Dusters anyone..?
That floral motif from the Isla cloche which I wrote about a couple of posts ago… Y’know, I liked it so much that when I was asked by my cousin to make her a phone cosy for Xmas, I decided to whittle out the motif from the hat pattern and incorporate it accordingly. I’m only writing about it now, over a month later, because we finally met to exchange gifts on Friday. My cuz does sometimes read this blog and, of course, I didn’t want to ruin the surprise. She beamed with delight when she ripped open the wrapping paper.
I used the leftover yarn (Malabrigo Rios) from the Isla cloche I made for a friend, and I chose a moss stitch for the base of the cosy to represent the crumb structure of a good soil that the flower might be growing in. The reverse side of the cosy is in plain knit stitch. I decided against an envelope flap and button like on my phone sock. Instead I opted for ribbing using a smaller needle, and thought the result was much better.
In return, cuz gave me a stitch dictionary for knitting in the round. Just right for plotting designs for socks. I’ve got several ideas brewing and don’t know which one to go for first, like a kid in a sweetshop. (I usually went for rhubarb and custard in the end. Wonder what that suggests about my sock knitting future..)
There is a poem I like by Robert Frost in which he addresses an orchard, saying:
“How often already you’ve had to be told,
Keep cold, young orchard. Good-by and keep cold.
Dread fifty above more than fifty below.”
Well, the same can’t be said for us gardeners! Earlier in the autumn I heard various reports that this is going to be a gelid winter, so I figured I’d better make me a hat for work, as I lost the plastic-fleece one I had before. And having read that plastic-fleece is bad for the environment¹ (even though it’s a creative way of recycling), I decided against getting another one like it.
My first attempt was the Twisted Toque designed by Helen Sharp in the book 60 Quick Knits (20 hats, 20 scarves, 20 mittens in Cascade 220) which I didn’t end up liking when I finished it. It made me look like Compo from Last of the Summer Wine! I made a hat for a friend as a Christmas gift which I liked so much I nearly kept it.. but then I decided to make one for myself, in Purpuras rather than Jupiter. I didn’t want to write about it until after Christmas, incase the friend in question saw the post and knew what I was giving her. The pattern is Tanis Gray’s Isla Cloche available free from tanisknits.com. I added a few extra rows to make the hats slouchier. All three hats were made using Malabrigo Rios.
Apart from a brief frosty spell in November, it’s been too mild for a woolly hat so far this winter. Needless to say, when Jack Frost was about (and “after our fingers and toes”) I hadn’t finished my hat! Still, there’s a couple of months left before spring, time enough for the snow that fell in the Sahara to migrate to London!
¹ I first read about this in the following post:
I’ve written previously about the faff of DPNs, and how this drove me to pick up the hook to fulfil my desire to make socks. Having sported the pair I crocheted a couple of times, I’m not convinced they wear comfortably. The structure of crochet stitches is more bumpy than knitted stitches and though I’ve read methods to lessen this, I’ve returned to attempts to knit socks. And I’m pleased to report I’ve had success…
More importantly, I don’t need thick-soled hobbit feet to don them with a smile.
It’s taken me a while to get to this point. I got as far as decreasing for the toe on one sock, and put it down as I was quite busy and felt I shouldn’t rush it. I didn’t pick it up again for ages and by then had forgotten how I did things. So in the interest of making socks that match, I ripped back to the beginning… and lost my way again somehow. So my sock yarn looked like this for a time..
My successful attempt happened after the decision to work two socks simultaneously – or as synchronously as possible with DPNs. This meant knitting part of one sock, stopping, then knitting the same part of the second sock before continuing. In this way, the process of each section remained fresh in my mind and I was more likely to match tension etc. Things went quite smoothly… but I misread the heel flap instructions: on each row, I did sl1 K1 (or P1) across, rather than alternate a row of sl1 K1 with a row of purl across. It made the heel shorter and tighter than it should’ve been, but I only noticed when I reached the toe of the second sock. Well of course there was no way I was going back and re-doing the heels! Grafting the toe was a bit of a problem too. It didn’t help that I was venturing this late in the evening (never a good time to try something new!) and I ended up crocheting a graft rather than use Kitchener stitch. It worked okay, but each graft had an ‘ear’ on the left hand side.
Despite the heel mishap, this first completed pair of knitted socks has proved comfy – definitely more so than those I hooked up. I’ve now got a long list of socks I want to make. I’m close to completing a top down pair in aran, and I think I will try a toe-up pair next…
What to do with a forsaken crocheted sock experiment? Turn it into a cover for my new phone, that’s what!
I decided to get with the times and obtain a smartphone, seeing as the knackered old Nokia that I’d had for yonks had given up the ghost. In an attempt to be socially responsible, I went for the FairPhone 2 developed by the Phone Co-operative. Looking to the future, I thought a smartphone might be good when (if!) I eventually set up shop, and I now have the option of Instagram.
My new purchase just so happens to fit snuggly into a top-down sock design I was working on a few months ago. I stopped at the heel, and this sock leg conveniently formed a woolly envelope to protect the phone from grime etc – I’m a gardener for a living, and have noticed that bits of nature find their way into the guts of gadgets surprisingly easily!
It’s pleasing to re-purpose a UFO, utilizing something that has been hanging around for a while. Now to think of some good use for all those swatches I have sitting around being a nuisance…
Okay… not so suddenly! It’s taken me a while to understand the process of socks, so I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek with my title.
Having had a “sock block” for a while and with my 2014 New Year crochet resolution to make socks unfulfilled, I revisited the sock thing this summer. I thought it would be better to not worry about making a pair of socks until I’d got my head around their anatomy and the process of making them. I dug out all the sock patterns I could find, and turned up eight – four were cuff down and four were toe-up. I decided to try and make one of each of these. I’d failed to understand three patterns… but something clicked on the fourth (Rohn Strong’s Dowding Socks from Inside Crochet issue 34/October 2012) It’s worth noting that I’d had trouble with a couple of his other patterns – slight alterations in the way patterns are written can make huge differences to the nescient sock-maker!
Here is my first completed sock. It’s a bit misshapen as I started on a 3.5mm hook but this was too large for my tension so switched down to a 3mm halfway through the project..
I got so excited that I finally understood a sock pattern that I didn’t move on to any of the others – I made a pair of these Dowding socks…
…and then got carried away dreaming up my own designs (dreaming being the operative word as I have lots of ideas yet to be tested). You see, while I like hand-made socks and the wide range of patterns for knitted socks, I cannot really be bothered with the faff of DPNs! But crocheted socks often aren’t very imaginative and seem quite samey. My favourite pattern on Ravelry is Patsy Harbor’s Honeycomb Sock http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/honeycomb-socks-3 . Inspired by these, I’m on a mission to design intricate, beautiful, wildly different crocheted socks. Wish me luck!
At last! I have completed my final practical project for Part 1 of the International Diploma in Crochet.
Having fulfilled all other criteria, I still needed to produce a garment with fastenings. I tried a couple of cardigans for me but got totally stuck: one pattern was badly written, and the other involved veeery tall stitches – I wanted to challenge myself and show off to the teacher that I could do tall stitches but alas, every single one of them turned out saggy, at which point I decided it was more trouble than it was worth. For the sake of speed, I opted for a child’s jacket which would work up quickly. The pattern was http://www.mooglyblog.com/eloise-baby-sweater/ Hers was multi-coloured, but I decided on just two contrasting colours. When I was halfway through the item, I realised the colours were like my old school uniform! I’m planning to give it to a friend for her bub, so I hope she doesn’t mind that!
I must say, it feels like a long time getting here – I thought I’d be done with Part 1 in a couple of years absolute maximum, but it’s been three years. It’s a good thing there are no deadlines for the course. I’ve now only got a bit of paperwork to hand in and I’m on to Part 2. Yippee! I can’t wait!