Favorite Thing Friday: Fireside Socks

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My sock knitting adventure continues with another pair of straight needle socks. After surviving the disaster of a totally failed attempt at straight needle socks, it was to nice jump in again and find success. In order to start fresh, I selected a new pattern, new yarn, and bought new knitting needles. Apparently, all that “new” paid off because I ended up with a super cute pair of socks!

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Fireside Straight Needle Socks
Photo by: c.b.w. 2014

For these socks, I used my favorite yarn, Paton’s Kroy in Aqua Jacqaurd. Lucky me, I got this yarn on sale for only $2 a skein. The pattern is called Fireside and comes from Knit Your Socks on Straight by Alice Curtis.

The pattern for these socks put up a fight right from the start as I realized it was riddled with errors. I loved the texture of the pattern so much, I decided not to give up. After doing some research online, I found the errata and was able to correct all the mistakes. Anyone else who attempts these socks should do the same. Trust me, you’ll end up with great socks if you put in the time to fix the pattern.

I hit a milestone with these socks as they are the first straight needle socks I’ve made where I had to knit a texture over the top of the foot while maintaining a smooth stockinette stitch on the instep. This can be a bit a tricky as straight needle socks split the pattern into two sections with the instep in between. Knitting even in pattern, while also working an instep takes a good memory and a lot of patience! But, I did it!

The success of these socks has pushed me to try something I’ve avoided up to this point. It’s no secret that I hate knitting on double pointed needles, but I’ve decided to try knitting a pair of socks using those cursed needles. We’ll see how it goes!

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014

Wreck This Journal: Eat Your Fruit!

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While some pages in Wreck This Journal invite serious destruction or thought provoking creativity, others are just funny. One page in particular gives directions to collect fruit stickers. I don’t know why, but I found this pretty amusing as fruit stickers are usually a nuisance instead of an item worth collecting. Leave it to Keri Smith to make fruit stickers fun!

As somebody who eats fruit for lunch every day, I filled up my page pretty quickly. The organic apples I eat actually have two stickers – the typical round one with a bar code, number code, and name of apple and a long yellow sticker labeling it as organic.  Apples are my favorite, (Gala and Fujis in particular) so naturally most of my stickers comes from apples! However, I do have a couple of oranges mixed in there, too. I suppose one of my great faults is not eating enough fruit, but it’s not because my grandma didn’t tell me to.

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Apples, apples, and more apples!
Photo by: c.b.w. 2014

Grandma’s page is filled with a wide variety of fruit stickers. She’s got everything from bananas, strawberries, apples, and oranges.  Grandma always had a piece of fruit with  her meals – breakfast in particular. At night she’d snack on bananas. She always offered me some, but I could never get her to understand that I don’t really like bananas!

When I was a kid, she would slice up an apple and put it out as a snack while my sister and I were playing. To this day, I’ll only slice up an apple when I want a treat (usually I just bite into a whole apple). It still feels special to eat an apple in slices because that’s the way she made it.

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Apples, oranges, and berries, oh my!
Photo by: c.b.w. 2014

Grandma broke the rules a little bit and collected stickers for vegetables, too. Her green pepper sticker really gets my memory going. She had a great recipe for stuffed green peppers and they were delicious! I’ve made them a couple of times, but they’ve never turned out quite as good as hers. When she made meatloaf, she always put a couple “rings” of green pepper on the top. Grandpa always scooped them off as soon as the meatloaf hit the table. Like her stuffed peppers, Grandma’s meatloaf was magnificent. I miss it like you wouldn’t believe!

I always promised Grandma I’d eat more fruit, but then I see chocolate. Sorry, Grandma, I’ll keep trying!

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c.b.w. 2014

Sock Loom Knitting Is Easy, I Promise!

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When I posted I Made Socks and You Can, Too! I had no idea it would garner so much attention. People from all over the world stopped by to leave comments about their projects, but also to ask questions. A lot of questions. Over the last couple of months, the comments section has turned into a full-scale conversation forum about troubleshooting everything from wide cuffs to gauge issues.

Loom knitting is very different from traditional needle knitting, so of course, it has its own set of issues. However, after working with my loom on more than 20 projects, I’ve figured out a few things that makes the process much easier. Some of the common questions that have popped up on my post are listed below along with some tips and tricks.

How many pegs should I use?

The instructions that come with the KB Sock Loom are quite good, but they might scare those who are bit squeamish around math. For my first pair of socks, I bugged my husband and his calculator brain instead of doing it myself. Then, I realized there was an easier way to “calculate” pegs: know your shoe size and check out sock loom patterns. They will tell you how many pegs to use for various sizes.

When I bought my sock loom, I bought a pattern book that turned out to be my lifeline, Sock Loom Basics (Leisure Arts #5651).  Inside, there are fantastic visuals for casting on, and turning the heel, but what makes it golden is the fact that it has patterns for various sizes of socks that include specific peg counts.

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Ahhhh! How many pegs do I need? Don’t worry – it’s easy!
Photo by: c.b.w. 2014

My ideal peg count is 52, but I’ve also realized different yarns and patterns call for different peg counts. This isn’t an exact science!  When it comes to socks you just have to get close enough. When I’m using thicker yarn like Paton’s Kroy, I know I’m going to get a bigger sock, so I can go down to 50 or 48 pegs. If I’m using a thinner yarn like Premier sock yarn, I know the stitches will be smaller, so I need to go up to 54 or 56 pegs.

Another thing to keep in mind is elasticity. More elasticity means your socks will stretch more and therefore can accommodate various sizes. When using a plain flat stitch, there will be little or no elasticity, so that means a couple pegs more might come in handy. When knitting a rib pattern, there will be more elasticity, so subtracting a couple of pegs will create a more ideal fit.

Ultimately, it all comes down to trial and error. My first pair of socks were knit on 48 pegs. They fit snugly and I liked them, but I realized I wanted a little more ease, so for my next pair I added four pegs, to arrive at 52. The trick is remembering it doesn’t have to be perfect. Most socks will stretch enough to fit, so erring on the side of a bit too small is best.

The bottom line: Don’t be afraid to experiment and try a count that’s a little bigger or smaller than you calculated.

Why is the cuff so wide?

Cuffs are tricky business on a sock loom! Everything from gauge, yarn, tension, and peg count can effect the overall size and elasticity of a cuff. Despite all the variables, I have one simple answer to this question. In my experience, the K2,P2 rib pattern creates the best cuff in that it is simple and has fantastic elasticity. It works on multiple weights of yarn and compliments just about every pattern.

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The ideal cuff “tucks in” a bit, but don’t expect it to be tight without a little help from elastic!

In my humble opinion, the K1,P1 pattern that is often called for in knitting pattern does not work on the loom. I’ve tried on multiple occasions and I always end up with a wide-mouth cuff that never shrinks down with any sort of elasticity. I rip it out every time and reknit with a k2,p2 pattern instead.

That being said, for bulkier yarn (Weight 3), I’ve found a k3,p1 rib creates a nice, elastic rib. For anything thicker, upgrade to the KB Sock Loom 2 and revert to a k2,p2 rib.

Another simple fix involves a trip to the craft store. In the knitting aisle, look for a spool of elastic yarn thread. For those who like a tighter cuff than average yarn can provide (no matter how stretchy the rib), this super thin elastic is knit right into the sock via the working yarn and blends in completely.

What yarn should I use?

Yarn labeled as sock yarn will work 99% of time. I typically stick to Weights 1 and 2, but will go as high as 3. Just remember thicker yarn (in terms of gauge or ply) will create larger stitches and thinner yarn will create smaller stitches. Some of my favorite brands include:

  • Paton’s Kroy Sock
  • Premier Yarns Serenity Sock
  • Plymouth Yarn Happy Feet
  • Misti Alpaca Hand Paint

How do I make the toe longer?

You don’t. The KB sock loom uses the short row method to create both the heel and the toe. Once both circuits of wrapping stitches have been worked, the toes is complete. Adding more rows will create a bubble on the seam of the toe that can’t be fixed. Instead, think about adding length to the foot. The toe typically adds 1.5 to 2″ to the length, so always knit the foot about 2″ shorter than the desired length. I’ve gone as far as trying on the sock while it’s still on the loom. When the last row reaches the base of my big toe, I know it’s time to start working those short rows!

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Ultimately, loom knitting and knitting in general is a lesson in patience and experimentation. A failed project is frustrating, but it always leads to a project that succeeds. Just remember, if something doesn’t work, so what! Rip it all out and start again. That’s the beauty of knitting – mistakes disappear into a ball of yarn and nothing is wasted.

Got more questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below. Next time, I’ll have some other helpful tips to help knitters get great socks while using the KB Sock Loom.

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c.b.w. 2014

Favorite Thing Friday: An Unlikely Pair

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Every once in a while I’ll buy something silly for no reason other than it’s really cute and I can’t resist. In this case, I came face to face with a plush toy of Grumpy Cat. My credit card was out of my wallet before I could rationally understand that I don’t need this incredibly cute cat and that I should save my money for something else (like yarn).

After searching through about twenty-five Grumpy Cats on the shelf, I settled on the one that had both the best likeness to the real Grumpy Cat and the cutest face. No easy feat to say the least, but I ended up with a fantastically crabby stuffed animal cat. Yes, I realize how ridiculous this is, but rational thought never kicked in while I was at the store.

On the way home, I decided I had the perfect place for him to sit. Not only would he be warm and comfortable, but he would also have a friend. At the foot of the bed in the guest room there is a thick knit wool blanket (yup, I made it) and one very adorable plush Simon’s Cat.

The two look like enemies with one grimacing at life and the other with wide eyes and that goofy grin, but they seem to share their space quite nicely. Aren’t they just the sweetest pair?

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Grumpy Cat and Simon’s Cat hanging out together!

It’s hard not to smile whenever I walk into the guest room to grab my laptop!  I guess I’ll never be too old for toys.

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014