Up or down?

There are many ways to knit socks, top-down, toe-up, TAAT (two at a time), twinned, single, war & peace (at same time on a single set of DPNS), magic loop, DPN, two circs, 9in circs ... the combinations are endless, and when you add in the variations in toes, heels and cuffs, you have a whole world of socks to explore before you even look at the leg and instep patterns. 

For some, there is only one way to knit socks, and they are devoted to that direction (cuff-down or toe-up) and use a specific needle set up to make that happen.  For me, I decide my direction and needle set up on what I want to accomplish. 

Right now, I'm working three different socks in three different ways, cuff-down on a 9in circ with a heel flap (the colorful one!), cuff-down on a single circ, aka. magic loop (yellow one), and TAAT, toe-up on a single circe with a planned afterthought heel. 

How do you knit your socks?

I have a reason for using each of these techniques and directions for what I want to accomplish with each sock. 

For the yellow sock (Georgian Bay Fibre Co. Bayfield Sock in McKellar Honey) I'm working on a new design, that I'm not certain of yet, so it may change considerably before the sock is done.  For that I like designing cuff-down as it is an extremely popular direction for socks, so if I want it to be accessible to the greatest number of people, and I prefer decreases to increases, so this way I can reduce for the gusset and toe rather than working increases. So that makes cuff-down the right direction, and magic looping is my go-to default when knitting socks.   I'm not doing this pair twinned, as I might do for a patterned sock like this because it is a design.  My technique is to design the sock on paper, knit one sock keeping notes and tweaking the design as I go, then write out the pattern properly, and then try to knit the second sock working from the pattern so that I can check how the pattern is written.  Then all the other stuff, tech editing, layout, review etc., but the two socks let me test my own pattern, because usually I've forgotten how exactly I knit the first one, so I use the pattern. 

For the colorful socks (Spun Right Round Snappy Sock in Graffiti), I'm doing these as purse socks, and I like having my on-the-go socks on 9in circs because it means that I can work them and just drop them when I need to stop.  No need to get to the next needle in magic loop, no worries about dropping a DPN.  Also they are a published pattern, written cuff-down so I'm working that direction, However, I find with 9in circs I need to be doing only knits and purls (no cables, no lace) or my hands really hurt.  So these Hermione's Everyday Socks are perfect for this sort of thing. However, I will be counting the purl bumps to make sure they are the same length!

Finally, the last pair of socks stripey (Turtlepurl Glitter & Stripes in Bah Humbug), I'm doing these toe-up because the person I'm making them for has small-ish calves so I can make the leg nice and long, and because Turtlepurl always come as two perfectly matched 50g skeins, the yarn is pre-divided so I can work them toe up and end when the yarn runs out (leaving enough to do the afterthought heels).  Also, because they are self-striping and toe up, the afterthought heel is perfect, no gusset to be worked as increases and there will be no break in the stripes.  Also, when working TAAT, the toe up method makes casting on super easy, using Judi's Magic Cast On, you can start them both at once on the same long circular needle, which means they will be exactly the same and done at the same time. 

So I need to get back to my sock knitting, winter will be back before we know it and handknit socks are the best part of winter!

So how do you make your socks?  Are you only cuff-down or toe-up?  Do you only use one needle type or to you vary it by the project?

Thursday Things: Crochet

Crochet gets an undeserved bad rap.  

Sure, there are some pretty unflattering and unattractive patterns made in unappealing yarn, however that's not crochet's fault. 

There are some pretty cool stuff that you can only make with a hook, rather than a needle. 

Last week I saw a beautiful example of crochet pop up on my instagram feed.  Unfortunately, it was because Catherine of ZigZagStitches was sharing her evening's pursuit and that it wasn't going to keep doing it.  

However it sparked something in me. 

I've crocheted before, and enjoyed it.  I made a couple of baby blankets a few years back when I got a kit from KnitPicks. 

I also went on a bit of an amigurumi bender ... 

So after a couple years off crochet, that image from Catherine hit me like a ton of bricks.  I wanted it, I wanted it so bad. 

And as someone with some serious sock yarn scraps (and access to more from my sister!), I decided (after asking said sister to talk me out of wanting to make it) to make one for myself. 

My plan is to use the Flowers in the Snow pattern from Ravelry, but instead of changing colors on every round, do them solid and then outline and join them in white.  This means that I can make the centers now, and only when I get around 200 centers together do I need to worry about the outsides. 

The original from Sols(tr)ikke - and my main inspiration

The original from Sols(tr)ikke - and my main inspiration

I've started making the centers, and I love the way they are working up.  Just another 198 to go!

One Sock, Two Socks ...

I've been on a bit of a finishing binge recently, not only did I finish a very cute baby sweater (the R&R Hoody by Tanis Lavallee) I also knit up a pair of baby socks and finished off my purse socks that have been around since mid-December.

Little Squirrel Socks  by tincanknits - from their new Max & Bodhi's Wardrobe Collection.

Little Squirrel Socks by tincanknits - from their new Max & Bodhi's Wardrobe Collection.

My personal sock pattern for self-striping sock yarn - pattern coming soon.

My personal sock pattern for self-striping sock yarn - pattern coming soon.

I used a forethought heel (like an afterthought heel, but without the cutting) and used a different color for each of the heels.

I used a forethought heel (like an afterthought heel, but without the cutting) and used a different color for each of the heels.

And then I learned how to do something new, darning.  I made these socks for Carla years ago, but she caught them on the nails on our parent's kitchen floor (which is original pine with random nails that pop up from time to time) and got a hole.   So I told her to stop wearing them and then I never actually fixed them, so today, I darned them.

I think I made a bit of a mess out of them, so if anyone has a good video resource for sock darning, would you please share it in the links, because I don't get it.  However, the hole is closed and she can wear them again.  And they are CookieA socks, which were fun to knit and super cool.

What they looked like when new - filters and camera phones do strange things to the color, the real socks are halfway between this color and the picture above.

What they looked like when new - filters and camera phones do strange things to the color, the real socks are halfway between this color and the picture above.

So, now I'm free to start up a few new pairs of socks (I've finished 6 pairs already this year), because they are the best things to knit!

Thursday Things: Hello Sunshine!

So, the thing that is making me happiest for the last little while is the Sunshine!

I know we will probably get spring, but this little taste of summer has been delightful and exactly what we all needed to shake off the long, cold winter that stretched from November till April.

I've been working a short contract at a local planning firm (yay for work in my field) and while I'm sad that I'm not able to spend all day, every day, outside, my knitting lunch breaks are making due.

And what is better than knitting in the sunshine?

Knitting in the sunshine with sunny yarn, which in this case is Georgian Bay Fibre Co. Kilcoursie Fingering in McKellar Honey.

One of my fave things about BFL yarn is the dynamic shimmer that you get from the slightly longer, larger BFL fibers.  They have a shimmer and shine that just glows in the sun. 

The sunshine also means that my outdoor activites have been kicked into high gear.  While I did get out for a hike nearly every day of the winter (despite the cold temperatures), there is something so much more fun about being able go out without spending a half-hour gearing up.  Although, I do find myself a little bit lost without pockets.

I've been to add a bit of running into my walks to get them over with quicker.  So far I haven't been able to make much of a difference, but every step is a good step. Oh, and the uglier the shoes the faster you move, so my new pair (the last pair were completely dead) are super comfy and also majorly ugly.

Also, for the last couple mornings I've been using my balcony to it's full effect and done some morning sun salutations, facing the Muskoka River. There is something about the smell of the sunshine and the river that is just unparalleled and so special.  

I'm not the only one who has been enjoying the sunshine, Jack says that he misses being the star of Feline Friday so he asked that I include his favorite way to enjoy the sunshine.

So how have you been enjoying the sunshine of late? Are you getting your garden ready, or just taking a book out to the backyard?

Thursday Things: Podcasts

I'm still here, and I'm sorry for the radio silence.  In addition to working and teaching at the Creativ Festival last weekend (which I will tell you about soon, tell but not show, because I'm a terrible person who forgets to take pictures, all the time), I've been working a day job.  It's been good but it's a pretty big adjustment and I just need to get myself more organized to make sure that I'm keeping to my blog schedule, in addition to trying to keep my place clean, knitting and getting exercise.

Lone/Maple Studio's Thursday Thing: Podcasts

These past couple of weeks I've been relying heavily on this week's Thursday Thing - Podcasts. 

I am a big time podcast fiend, I am currently subscribed to 20 of them and always looking for more. I listen to them when I'm driving, when I'm hiking, when I'm doing chores.  One of my favorite things in the world to do is sit outside in the sunshine, do my knitting and listen to an amazing podcast about Mrs. Winchester's Mystery House, or at least it was my favorite part of today.

And sit in the sun, knit and listen to podcasts, I did!

And sit in the sun, knit and listen to podcasts, I did!

My current podcast collection - in no particular order (source listed in brackets)

  • The Longest Shortest Time (WNYC) - Parenting
  • Savage Lovecast (The Stranger) - Sex & Relationships
  • On the Media (WNYC) - Journalism and media coverage of media coverage of news
  • Pop Culture Happy Hour (NPR) - News and entertainment roundtable discussion
  • The Allusionist (Radiotopia) - Words and etymologies
  • 99% Invisible (Radiotopia) - Design
  • Criminal (Radiotopia) - The fall out from criminal activities
  • The Heart (Radiotopia) - Sex and love
  • Death, Sex & Money (WNYC) - death, sex and money conversations
  • Under the Influence (CBC) - Marketing
  • White Coat, Black Art (CBC) - Medicine
  • The Moth (NPR) - True stories told live
  • This American Life (NPR) - Stories about life based around a weekly theme
  • Planet Money (NPR) - Economics
  • Radiolab (WNYC) - Amazing stories told with unique radio techniques
  • Cities Alive - Urban planning
  • Woolful - Yarn and Fiber
  • Serial - A story told week by week
  • Invisibilia - Science stories about invisible forces that surround us

For me podcasts are like little windows into different worlds, and the closest thing I've had to lectures since leaving graduate school.  I was one of those nutty kids who really enjoyed going to class, because I got to listen to a very smart person talk about something they really cared about. 

But my love of listening (as opposed to reading or watching) the news started when I lived in Texas as a pre-teen. My big rebellion at the age of 13/14 was to stay awake until 10pm (I think) and listen to the BBC World Service on NPR and hope that I didn't get caught staying up so late. (I'm drafting this post at 9:53 pm and wondering how long after 10pm I will be able to get to bed!)

Podcasts have this way of settling me down and allowing my mind to be taken to a different place.  This is great for when I'm in a situation where I need to sort-of focus, like when driving long distances or when trying to go out on a long hike. 

In fact, one of the ways I was able to stay so active this winter was that if I walked I would get a chance to listen to my favorite podcasts.  

And there are so very many favorite podcasts. 

Generally my listening habits can be broken down into a few categories of podcasts;  the storytelling podcasts, the educational podcasts and the advice podcasts.

The storytelling podcasts have a habit of making me cry, from The Heart to The Moth to This American Life, these intimate pieces find their way into your heart and soul and make it impossible to ignore the humanity within us all.  Even The Sporkfull, the one for eaters, brings together humanity around the experience of eating (and Dan Pashman is a funny dude). 

The Educational podcasts, like Planet Money, 99% Invisible and Under the Influence, help me learn about economics, design and marketing, respectively, and make sure that my brain remains active, and I get to engage with a topic that doesn't come up in my day to day life.  

And the advice podcasts are just fun!  I consider The Savage Lovecast with Dan Savage to be my candy.  The good, but irreverent, advice that Dan gives his callers has been keeping me company for almost 10 years (how on earth did that happen!).  His was the first podcast I started listening to, and now 444 episodes and 9 years later I look forward to hearing Dan give advice, as much as I did back in undergrad. 

I know many people discovered podcasts for the first time with the pop culture phenomenon of Serial, but looking back I've been listening to podcasts since around 2006 (I think I started when I learned about the Savage Lovecast before it was called the Savage Lovecast).  The only other thing that can give me the same experience, is audio books, and even then I like the variety of podcasts to listening to a book. 

So what are your feelings on podcasts?  Are you a fan, do you have any great recommendations for one I should be listening to?  Please share any suggestions in the comments because there aren't nearly enough hours in the day to listen to all the podcasts out there, but I seem to always be running out of new ones to listen to. 

P.S. I managed to get this post ready to go by 10:30, so not too late at night, but a bit late to catch BBC World Report back in 1998.