Taking Stock

Here it is, August 29th and I am sitting in my bed at 8:20 on a Monday morning and just feeling happy, sad and grateful.  After 8 weeks basically non-stop chaos, craziness, stress, love and light, I'm done camp for the summer.  For the next couple of weeks I will be cleaning up and packing up camp and then it's back to the real world.  Of course that's not to say that what happened at camp isn't real, it's just that there is no way of explaining it to someone who wasn't there.  Trying to explain why Cowboys vs. Baboons made such a great theme day is futile, but know that I had a smile on my face during each one of those skits.

This was very funny at the time, so funny that I took a picture of it, however I have no idea what it means right now.  Which is very much the truth of camp. 

This was very funny at the time, so funny that I took a picture of it, however I have no idea what it means right now.  Which is very much the truth of camp. 

One thing I didn't do much of this summer is knit, or make in any way.  During the quiet weekend between week 6 and 7 (around mid-August, I'm not great with exact dates during camp) I started a fingering weight mitered square blanket and it was the best knitting I had all summer.  It was so wonderfully bite sized and all the colors and textures was really interesting to the kids.

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It does mean that Henry (my darling nephew) turned 1 yesterday without a hand knit birthday gift, however I don't think he noticed! 

So I'm taking about 10 days of slow reintroduction, I'm going to be up at camp getting the closing chores done, completing my end of season paperwork and also working on a whole pile of knitting. Hopefully, I will finish up Jim's birthday socks (his birthday was back in January!).

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!