inspiration comes from everywhere

I was very happy with my sock pattern. I know it…well. In fact I pretty nearly have it memorized. Its a toe up pattern that I work on one circular needle, Magic Loop style. Which is my absolute favorite method for knitting socks. I can do 2 circs, but I hate the dangling ends. I can also do DPN’s (Double Pointed Needles for the uninitiated). I just prefer Magic Loop. With it I can….

But I digress…

As I was saying its a great pattern – written by Jennifer Donze, a Master Knitter and one of the instructors at Cream City Yarns. It’s also a personalized pattern and Jennifer includes all of the instructions for calculating a perfect, custom fit sock. You’ll find it on Ravelry: Custom Toe Up Sock by J Donze Knits. I’ve made several pairs of socks using this pattern. Normally I knit the foot and heel in stockinette then go wild on the leg. I use a lot of different patterns on the leg – usually from another book of mine: Socks A la Carte 2 – Toes Up. Its a very nice book that lets you pick and chose what toe, what heel and what leg you want. I knit one complete sock from this book and now really just use it for the cuffs and leg.

But I was reading my news feeds a while back and came across a review of a pattern from one of the books I own: The Knitter’s Book of Socks. She’s a blogger that I really like, so I figured I could do worse. If you want to read her review it’s here: Knitting Sarah – Turbo Toes.

Now, I’ve read The Knitter’s Book of Socks (how pathetic am I? I read knitting books…) but have never tried any of the patterns. I like my toe-up pattern. I know it and it has served me well but… but… Linen stitch toe and heel? What the heck is linen stitch? I have very rough toes and heels – anything I can do to make them stronger… And… AND – this is a toe up pattern! I’m not the only one who like her socks toes up! It was written for 2 circs, but that’s easy enough to adapt to Magic Loop. And I have that nice skein of Sheepish BFL in that nice orange…

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I almost felt like I was betraying a friend – Sheepish is Jennifer’s hand dyed yarn. But I reasoned that, if I was going to make socks in this pretty color and have them really last I should do everything I can to make a good sock, right?

So I made a copy of the pattern – I do this because I don’t like writing and highlighting in my books – highlighted my size every place there was a difference in count and cast on.

Sarah was right – the pattern is addictive. I couldn’t stop. One Friday I even did an all nighter -falling into bed at 5am with numb hands.

Now there was a client visit and a flight to Cleveland and back in there too. I worried about security taking away my Addi Sock Rockets, so I switched to a cheap pair of Knitter’s Pride Karbonz (I DO NOT recommend these – they have terrible joins). I knit happily away at that first sock until I realized, upon arrival in Cleveland that I needed my smaller needle – which was at home. That was all well and good because something was bothering me about that sock. It just didn’t look right.

I continued with it when I got home for a bit then it hit me – my linen stitch parts just weren’t right. I know the stitch isn’t especially stretchy – I got that from my swatch – but mine was all pulled in and crummy looking. So I frogged. All. The. Way. Back. I cast on again and this time I cheated and used a row counter to make certain that I didn’t get off count. That turned the tide – from there on my needles were singing. Sock one done:
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I’m much happier with this one. It looks like a real, live sock. Like something you would actually wear (and COULD wear) on your foot.

Now, I’d read this pattern when I read the book and it looked a bit over my head. I still consider myself a novice knitter, or maybe very early intermediate (like 4th grade…). I’d only really had 2 knitting classes – the first sock club and the Camp Hoodie. What business did I have knitting exotic patterns like this one?

And, if I hadn’t been following Sarah’s blog and saw her post about it I never would have. She gave me the inspiration to try something new and more than a little out of my comfort zone. Just like with the cowl I knit for the Ravellenic Games a while back – it was the little push I needed to try something different.

So, while I still love my basic toe-up sock pattern I feel ready now to creep out onto another limb. Maybe I’ll try those socks by Cat Bordhi next….

Have I said how much I love to knit socks?

ImageIt’s funny – a few short years ago – like maybe 2 I started knitting socks. Now I’ve been knitting for almost 30 years – never took a class – completely self-taught, but I always felt that socks were kind of beyond my skill to understand. All those needles (5 of them!) and such tiny sizes – size 2, size 1 size 00??? What the heck is a a size 00 even? Kitchener Stitch?? Whaaaat?

A couple years ago I heard a rumor that you could knit socks with a circular needle – one really long circular needle. And start at the toes!! See, that’s the beauty of the internet – you sometimes stumble across things you never knew existed. So I decided to give it a try.

I managed… sort of. I stopped by a local yarn shop during one of their stitch and bitch nights and a very kind lady there explained the process to me, helped me pick out a needle and showed me a really cool cast on. Then the night was over and I was on my own. I never went back – I could never make the hours work with my schedule, so I plowed through on my own. I made a couple pairs of socks – not great ones, but wearable.

In the course of the next 2 years I moved back here to Wisconsin and quit smoking. BAM! Just decided that I didn’t like the taste anymore and put them down. Consequently I had a lot of hours and nothing to do with my hands. It wasn’t that I wanted a cigarette especially – but I was BORED and I needed something to occupy my mind and my hands.

So I found a yarn shop here in WI that offers classes and that HOWDY – that was it. The real start of my passion for socks. I made 2 pair in class and so far 2 additional pairs. Now I feel much more secure in my sock-making skills.

Except for one thing: I found out that I knit backward! But that’s a story for another time….