Favorite Thing Friday: Stepping Stones Socks

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After avoiding it and putting it off for more than a year, I finally made socks using the traditional method of double-pointed needles. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but I’m still not a fan of maneuvering around so many needles.

The pattern that inspired me to overcome my aversion to double-pointed needles came from The Knitter’s Book of Socks by Clara Parkes. This book is full of amazing sock patterns ranging from beautiful lace socks to simple ribbed socks. I highly recommend picking it up to any fan of sock knitting!

I love a good ribbed sock, so I chose a pattern called Stepping Stones. A total of three different ribs are used throughout the sock and I loved the texture. The cuff is a simple K1, P1 rib, the leg is a textured rib using a variety of knit and purl stitches, and the foot has three small ribs tucked into a basic stockinette stitch.

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Check out my awesome socks!

I made one small modification on the heel. The pattern called for a double-strand reinforced heel, but I’ve never had a problem with holes in my socks so I opted to knit the more traditional slip stitch heel flap. It’s easier to do and it fit right into the pattern without a problem.

While the ribbed pattern is fantastic, the yarn is my favorite thing about these socks. I am in love with the hombre stripes and earthy colors of Paton’s Kroy Socks FX, Clover Colours. It reminds me of fall leaves and sunsets!

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Beautiful yarn always makes a beautiful pair of socks!

This pair of socks also marks the first time I’ve used the Kitchener stitch to close the toe. I’ve heard knitters grumble about this grafting method before, so I was a little nervous to take it on. What got me through it was Ann Budd’s book, Getting Started Knitting Socks. She has excellent and easy to follow instructions on the kitchener that are the best I’ve seen.

As much as I love these socks, I’m still a hardcore believer in the sock loom.  It makes the best fitting socks, mainly because it implements the short row heel.  Above all else, nothing beats the ease of a sock loom.

That being said, I know I’ll likely pick up double-pointed needles again because there are far more patterns available for traditional sock knitting. Learning this method opened up a whole new realm of design elements and styles. Seeing as I’m addicted to sock knitting, this is pretty darn exciting!

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014

Favorite Thing Friday: Celestial Socks

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I admit I’m in a bit of a knitting fit. With Christmas just around the corner, I’m in a mad knitting dash to finish making all the things on my gift list! Most of the time I have two projects going at once – one for when I’m downstairs and one for when I’m upstairs.

While in the middle of learning straight needle socks, I had my sock loom loaded with a project as well.  A friend of mine did not receive socks last year and I wanted to make sure she got some for the holidays this year. She’s always giving compliments on my socks, so it’s about time she got a pair of her own!

After doing a little research on the sly, I found out her favorite color is purple.  Finding a purple yarn that is both pretty and not boring is tough task, but I think I nailed this one.  I found a beautiful variegated purple and teal colorway called Celestial from Paton’s Kroy Socks FX.  It’s all different shades of purple with a slight touch of blue. Gorgeous!

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Easily one of my favorite brands of sock yarn!

The slight self-striping and subtle color changes made this an ideal choice for a great pattern called the interrupted rib, (courtesy of Leisure Arts Sock Loom Basics). A while back, I made a pair of interrupted rib socks for myself and I love them!  My only complaint is that the pattern calls for the interrupted rib to appear on the leg only.

To make these socks a little more special, I decided to change the pattern by extending the interrupted rib across the top of the foot. All it took was a slight modification at the heel turn and remembering to knit the bottom of the foot with a knit stitch while knitting the top of the foot with the interrupted rib. Voila!

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Aren’t they pretty!?

Between now and December 25th I have four more gifts to knit! Ahhhh! I better get knitting!

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2013

A Very Knitty Christmas

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Back in September, I got the insane idea to knit socks as Christmas gifts for my friends and family. As expected, my sock loom and newly picked up knitting needles have been very busy over the last three months! When it was all said and done, I ended up knitting eight pairs of socks, a hat, and a scarf. Hopefully, getting socks for Christmas this year won’t be a bad thing!

Friends and Family spoiler alert!!! You all probably know you’re getting socks, but there is still the surprise of how they look. If you want it to remain a surprise, don’t scroll down any further!!

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If you’re still scrolling, you must be okay with peeking . . . (Shame on you! Just remember Santa is watching!)

As for everyone else, here’s what I’ve been knitting:

Batch #1: Bright and Colorful

Giving socks for Christmas has never been more fun!

Giving socks for Christmas has never been more fun!

For the most part, I opted to make short socks with a thicker yarn. Instead of knitting 6 inches for the leg, I went with 4 inches. This decision gave me more bang for my yarn buck and allowed me to complete a pair of socks in less than a week, (which is rather handy on a tight schedule!). However, I made two pairs of full-length socks, because I had a lot of yarn in those particular colors and I didn’t want it to go to waste.

Yarn used:

  • Yarn Bee Snowflake Wool Blend – Berries/#14
  • Yarn Bee Snowflake Wool Blend – Nazcar/#200
  • Yarn Bee Snowflake Wool Blend – Pale Aqua/#03
  • Baby Bee – Carousel Ombre/#114
  • Paton’s Kroy Socks – Lavender Jacquard/#55309

Batch #2: Thick and Warm

These are sure to keep feet toasty warm!

These are sure to keep feet toasty warm!

All three pair are again of the short sock variety, but with much ticker yarn. The mismatched stripes are actually done on purpose! The more I knit socks, the more I realize how much I love making socks that don’t match exactly – I guess you could call that my trademark. The colors are the same and so is the pattern, but I purposely switch up the stripe pattern to give them a little oomph.  As my mother would say, “that’s what makes them homemade!”

Yarn used:

  • Lion Brand Amazing – Arcadia/#206
  • Lion Brand Amazing – Wildflowers/#203
  • Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice – Grey Marble/#860

For more details on how to make socks on a knitting loom, check out Leisure Arts’ fantastic how-to guide, Sock Loom Basics. I’d still be hanging out in the “non-knitter” section of the craft store if it wasn’t for this little book!

Batch #3: Warm Accessories

There are two people who will not receive socks this Christmas because I didn’t know their shoe size with enough certainty. It’s a good thing I picked up knitting needles, so I could make something just as special for them!

My first two projects using needles instead of a loom.

My first two projects using needles instead of a loom.

The scarf is actually the first thing I ever knitted on a pair of knitting needles, (without help). Considering I am still learning, I’m pretty proud of how it turned out. It’s a gift for a very good friend of mine and I hope it keeps him warm. The hat comes from the idea of a pattern my mother had for many years. She lost it along the way, but together we found a comparable match, so I could make this hat for my dad. I hope he likes what I made with my two little hands! (Dad, you better not be peeking!)

Hat Pattern:

Ribbed Hat Pattern (Free!)

Yarn used:

  • Lion Brand Alpine Wool – Barley/#224
  • Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool – Oak Tweed/#200

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Stay tuned for a look at how I wrapped these “knitty” gifts. Handmade gifts deserve handmade wrapping!

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c.b.w. 2012

I Made Socks And You Can, Too!

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There’s nothing more frustrating for a crafter than owning a pair of knitting needles and having no clue how to use them. The last time I touched my needles, I was a teenager who thought it would be fun to learn how to knit so I could make my grandfather a scarf for Christmas.  After an hour of struggling to cast on, I asked my mother to show me how, but its pretty tough for a left-hander to duplicate the handiwork of a right-hander.  Trying to reverse the entire process gave me a massive headache, so I had her cast on for me before showing me how to make the stitches.  I managed to learn a basic knit stitch, but the finished “scarf” looked more like a poncho. To this day, I’m pretty sure whatever I was doing was not knitting.  My knitting needles trickled to the bottom of a drawer and haven’t moved in years.

Even though my first attempt at knitting was a failure, I never lost the desire to learn how to turn a skein of yarn into something cool.  All I needed was a miracle to solve the southpaw conundrum and address my issues with hand-eye coordination (the calling card of a true klutz).  Who knew that miracle would show up during a Fourth of July shopping trip?  In the knitting aisle of a Hobby Lobby, I stumbled upon the Authentic Knitting Board Sock Loom.  Technically it only makes socks, but what a great way to start my knitting journey!

A work in progress on my Authentic Knitting Board Sock Loom

The KB Sock Loom comes with a fantastic DVD that offers easy-to-follow instructions for every step of the process from casting on, making a cuff, and creating the heel and toe.  Every step is broken down and repeated multiple times, which makes it easy to follow along in real time.  Before I knew it I had completed my first pair of socks!   My left-handed self will never again worry about trying to reverse the process or struggle with getting two needles to work together.

I’d heard knitting was addictive, but I never believed it until I made that first pair of socks.  Now, I can’t stop!  I’ve already made five more pairs and there’s another on the way.  Thin, thick, bright, neutral, striped, smooth, and ribbed – my new handmade socks are quickly replacing my boring white crew socks.

The first four pairs of socks I made were a basic rolled cuff design.  This simple flat stitch sock was a great way to learn and get comfortable with the overall process of top-to-toe knitting.

I really do wear these socks! They fit like a glove and are incredibly comfortable.

Surprisingly, no pattern is necessary beyond deciding how long to make the leg and foot.  There is a mathematical formula to calculate foot length, but I just used one of my old socks as a model. After I figured out my size, I recorded the number of the rows I stitched for both the leg and foot so I could replicate the results on future socks.

Once I got the hang of making a basic sock, I decided to be brave and attempt a ribbed cuff.  It turned out to be so easy, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been doing it all along!

My very first pair of ribbed cuff socks.

For this pair of socks, I experimented further by using a thicker gauge yarn.  The socks looked a lot bigger than the others, but they ended being a perfect fit.  All I had to do was make a few adjustments by reducing the number of rows to knit for the leg and foot.  I can’t wait for winter to show up so I can wear these really bright and fun socks!

The success of making a ribbed cuff gave me enough confidence to attempt a ribbed pattern that runs the entire length of the sock.  I got this layout from a great pattern book by Leisure Arts, (see links below) and I’m still shocked at how easy it was to complete!

These horizontal rib pattern socks are easily my favorite! I can’t wait to make more in different colors.

My knitting addiction is only getting worse as I just ordered a new pattern book full of beautiful sock patterns.  Not to mention a new knitting board that does everything from scarves and tote bags to hats.  Within a month, I went from being a knitting outcast to a woman with a yarn basket that looks like this:

So much yarn and so little time!

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My sock knitting adventure started with these tools of the trade:

Authentic Knitting Board Sock Loom

I’ve seen this brand of knitting board at all major craft store chains for around $25.00.  However, I’ve noticed they’re a little more expensive online.  Well worth the price, in my opinion, as they are very well-made with a hardwood frame and metal pegs.

Metal tally counter

Row counters in the knitting aisle are typically made of cheap plastic. My grandmother taught me a long time ago that a metal sports rep or tally counter is easier to use and very sturdy.  I found mine at a Sports Authority, but they are readily available on amazon.com.  A counter is essential for keeping track of row and stitch counts.

Sock Loom Basics (by Leisure Arts)

Loom Knitting Socks by Isela Phelps

Knitting Board Basics by Pat Novak

All three of the above books offer amazing patterns and additional how-to instructions.  They are worth every penny!

A few things I’ve learned:

  • Keep a knitting journal to record your personal sock pattern, (i.e. row and peg counts), or things you figure out along the way.
  • Dropped stitches are easy to fix as long as you don’t panic!
  • Yarn tension will make or break a sock.  Pulling the work yarn too tight will make it impossible to pull loops over the pegs.  However, allowing the yarn to hang too loose will create holes and a general mess.  Loops should be snug around the peg, but not tight!
  • To keep track of knit and purl stitch patterns, (as for a ribbed cuff) put masking tape around the edge of the knitting board as a means to mark the pegs.

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Happy Knitting!

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c.b.w. 2012