Tag Archives: socks

The lovely Dawlish

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Oh man, do I love Rachel Coopey’s designs. I know I’ve said it before (probably every time I’ve knit one of her patterns, actually) but it’s true. Her designs are creative, interesting (but not super difficult) to knit, and, best of all, fantastic to wear.

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When I bought her first book, Coop Knits Socks, two years ago, Dawlish was one of the patterns I wanted to knit right away. Why it has taken me two years, I don’t know, but I’m so glad I finally got around to it. Actually, speaking of getting around to it, this yarn is one of the first skeins I ever bought without a specific purpose in mind. I remember choosing it, and how expensive and special it felt compared to the other yarn I used up to that point. I have been kind of hoarding it ever since, because even though indie-dyed sock yarns (from this very company, even!) have become a staple of my knitting, there’s something about the early skeins that feels extra-special. Combining it with a long-desired pattern was the perfect match, and I’m happy to say that neither one disappointed.

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Dawlish is a quintessential Rachel Coopey pattern. The design across the two socks is mirrored, which means you’re not quite knitting the exact same sock twice in a row. Also, the charts are each a 40-row, 15-stitch repeat, so within the same sock you’re not actually knitting the same repeats over and over again, though there’s enough repetition that it does become intuitive. The pattern is nice and stretch, which isn’t always the case with travelling cables, but there’s lots of ribbing integrated throughout the pattern to ensure a good fit.

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Details
Pattern: Dawlish by Rachel Coopey
Yarn: Indigodragonfly Merino Sock in Tiny Bloodsucking Dancer
Needles: 2.5mm
Notes: I swapped out the heel in the pattern for an eye-of-partridge heel. Other than that, I knit exactly as written! Ravelled here.

I have plans to knit both Calamint and Brighton this year, and I am itching to buy her new book as well. Maybe one more pattern from the first book and then I’ll treat myself.

Thoughts on socks

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Everywhere I look these days (it seems) I run into another article about Marie Kondo and her book/philosophy The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I’m xnot sure I agree with all of her ideas (though maybe I’m just too intimidated to really try them), but I do love how everyone who writes about her talks about her feelings about socks.

For example, Oliver Burkeman writes in The Guardian: “Kondo thinks you should treat your socks like tiny people, and that when they’re in your sock drawer, they’re “essentially on holiday”.” (The illustration with that story is fantastic.) I also love this bit from Janet Potter’s review in The Millions: “Kondo’s a little hard to pin down. She’s simultaneously a hard-line pragmatist and a far-out child of the moon. For every no-nonsense truth she lays down — “storage experts are hoarders” — she comes out with an impassioned plea to stop balling up your socks — ‘This should be a time for them to rest. Do you really think they get any rest like that?’”

Both of these (and all the other things I’ve read about this book) do actually make me want to change the way I store my socks, if not specifically because I think they (the socks) have feelings, but because I have feelings about my socks. I have favourites. I have different memories and associations attached to different pairs, based on where/when I knit them or where the wool is from. I am genuinely sad when a pair wears out, and I take pains to prolong their lives — whether by knitting them at tight gauge, hand-washing them, or keeping a good rotation so that the wear is spread around. (Or, all of the above, actually.)

Okay, writing that down makes me feel a little strange, but still. If you knit socks you probably understand. And really, that last point is the impetus to keep knitting socks after you already have enough (however you define that). I really like Tanis’s method of keeping some pairs in reserve, but I know myself well enough to know that I don’t have the willpower. I love the feeling of a fresh-off-the-needles pair of socks, and it’s fun to add something new to the rotation, which also helps soften the blow when you realize that formerly favourite pairs are being reached for less and less, as their wear begins to assert itself. (These socks, in particular, were favourites, knit at a time when I had very few pairs of hand-knit socks which meant they were worn constantly, and now have been worn almost to pieces. I really ought to replace them.)

I have actually been thinking a lot about socks in the last little while — ever since Karen asked what knit people couldn’t live without. I’ve been wearing my sweaters like crazy, but the real star(s) of my hand-knit wardrobe are my socks. I have notoriously cold feet (I just tend to run cold everywhere really), but I have noticed a huge difference these last few winters. I’ve always worn wool socks, but there’s a big difference in warmth and quality between the ones I knit myself and the ones I used to buy. For the first time, maybe ever, my feet are reliably warm, and I have no doubt that it’s because the socks I wear now are better quality.

This post was actually supposed to be about Dawlish, which I finished the other night, but it seems to have gotten entirely away from me, so I’ll talk about Dawlish next time. It’s almost funny how much there is to say about something as basic as socks, but then I guess they’re a garment that everyone wears and people often have surprisingly strong feelings about. Where do you stand in the sock camp? Has knitting your own socks changed how you feel about them? (Confession: I used to be a sock hater. So yes, you could say I’ve changed my tune.)

Sweater weather

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Based on the colours alone, I’d say this yarn was inspired by fall. But honestly, for me true sweater weather doesn’t fully assert itself until mid-winter — by late January, the worsted weight sweaters that earlier seemed more like jackets than cardigans are in regular rotation and another lighter needs at least one heavy-ish layer underneath it. (The temperature went up to -4 last week, and I got all excited and wore just a T-shirt under my Grace cardigan. When I got to work, I realized my  mistake and ended up wearing my emergency wool sweater over top. Turns out sweater weather is as much an indoor thing as outdoor).

Anyway. I can happily say that despite the very, very cold weather, my feet have been nice and warm thanks to my supply of wool socks. Given my feelings about sweater weather, then, it should come as no surprise that I decided to ignore the seasonal colours and knit these up in the dead of winter.

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Although these were on my needles for a while, don’t read that as a lack of enthusiasm on my part. (I actually finished these a while ago and, really, I was just enthusiastic about an actual sweater.) When these were my actual focus, the knitting flew. I find that to often be the case with striped socks, but still. I actually added a bit of length to the legs of these socks, both because I wanted to minimize my leftovers and because it’s really cold out and a little extra protection from the draught is a good thing.

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These are just my basic 68-stitch, top-down, tight-gauge (9 sts = 1 inch) socks, with 2×2 ribbing at the top and a slip-stitch heel. It’s a formula I use a lot, but in the last six months or so I’ve nailed down the fit of the foot to pretty much perfection, resulting in socks that fit so well I forget I’m wearing them (even at the end of a long day of walking there’s no sagging or movement).

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What really makes these socks worth such a (now) lengthy post, though, is the yarn, Nomadic Yarns Twisty Sock. These stripes are so evenly dyed, with such nice blending between the colours, that with not a lot of effort on my part I ended up with a perfectly matched pair. I have another decidedly Christmasy skein of this yarn in my stash, but now that these are off the needles and seem to be wearing well, I think ordering a few more is a good investment. Goodness knows that, with winters like this starting to feel like the norm, more socks won’t go to waste.

Buckled down

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Three days ago, I finished Bedford. Less than one month after casting on (though, thanks to a stupid error on my part that required me to rip out three inches, I missed finishing in January. Oh well). I don’t remember the last time I happily worked on a project with that kind of single-minded attention. No deadlines, no pressure, just happy knitting and the knowledge that, at the end, I’d have a cozy sweater. The cold, I suppose, is a powerful motivator. Anyway, it’s done, and I’m not going to say any more about it right now, since I’m still waiting for the chance to get proper photos, at which point it will get its own post.

 

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Okay, not quite true. I will also say this: I think one of the things I liked best about knitting Bedford was that I never felt guilty when I knit on something else. Guilt isn’t a feeling I tend to associate with my knitting, but sometimes when I’m beavering away* on a big project, I feel like it’s all I should be working on, which makes choosing to knit a few rounds on a pair of socks seem like a cop-out. I don’t know why that happens — unrealistic deadline setting, maybe? For Bedford I just wanted it done sometime in January/February, which turned out to be perfect — but it does, can sometimes deter me from casting on a big project (maybe I’m past that now!).

Almost an exact match so far!

Almost an exact match so far!

Anyway, I did sneak in a few rows (and afternoons) with my fun striped socks-of-the-moment, which means they’re pretty close to finished too! Just a few more inches and they’ll be off the needles and on my feet! I can’t wait, to be honest, the colours are fun and there’s just nothing like a fresh pair of socks. I’m particularly thrilled with this yarn (Nomadic Yarns) and am considering ordering a couple more balls (Mantel and Poolside, I’m looking at you…) — once I’ve knit through a little more of my stash, of course.

*This is a hilarious Canadian expression that basically means putting your head down and work hard at a specific task. 

On my toes

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Tis the season for year-end posts, I know, but I’m going to squeak one more FO post in before I start that (I’m giving myself the whole first week of January for look-back, look-forward stuff). Anyway. When I started knitting/sewing all my Christmas gifts, I started a little tradition for myself: when my last gift is off the needles, I cast on a pair of socks for me. It’s not a big thing, but socks are good for all the travel and casual socializing of the holidays, and new socks are sort of a holiday classic.

This year, though, I decided to do something a little different. For starters, L and I decided to spend Christmas together, so I went home with him for a week. I know the rhythms of my family’s holiday traditions inside out, but I wasn’t sure how much knitting time I’d have with his family, and I wanted to be open to all the differences instead of lamenting a lack of time with my needles. I also, if you remember, wasn’t at all sure I’d be able to finish L’s gloves before Christmas, so I wasn’t really sure I’d even have time to knit Christmas socks for myself.

This picture is from the beginning of November, and I hadn't added a stitch to these socks until I pulled them out of their bag a few days before Christmas.

This picture is from the beginning of November, and I hadn’t added a stitch to these socks until I pulled them out of their bag a few days before Christmas.

How lucky then, that I had a lovely pair of socks already on the needles! I started my Blackberry socks way back in September, but as often happens with this kind of sock (fun, variegated yarn at a tight gauge) they were my in-between knitting, and quickly got put aside entirely in favour of holiday knitting. I was part-way into through the leg of the second sock, and they were in a holiday-ish colour, so they were a perfect alternative to an entirely fresh pair.

I finished L’s gloves a few days before Christmas, so I picked up these socks and got to work. Somehow, between cooking and eating and socializing I managed to sneak in a few stitches, and a couple of movies later they were finished! I cast off on Christmas Day (thank goodness I’d brought some back-up yarn for my short flight home!) and they are lovely, if I do say so myself.

Photo taken a few days ago, in front our (first!) Christmas tree.

Photo taken a few days ago, in front our (first!) Christmas tree.

I’ve been paying attention to my habits lately and it seems that, when I have a full drawer of clean socks, these kinds of plain, tightly knit ones are the first to get warn. They’re the ones I reach for again and again, though they’re also the ones I take longest to knit: if they aren’t striped, I don’t seem to ever be in a hurry to finish plain stockinette socks — my last three pairs all took more than three months from cast-on to cast-off, whereas plain striped socks seems to knit themselves. The solution, I think, is clearly more stripes!

Since this post is turning into an end-of-December sort of analysis anyway, one last thing: Do you remember my sock goal for this year? Basically I wanted to knit about seven everyday pairs of socks, preferably from my stash. Well, I just about did it. I knit six plain pairs (out of 12 pairs total — more on those in my actual wrap-up post) and, except for one pair, they were all from stash yarn! My Blackberry socks are actually from yarn I bought over three years ago, right around the time I was acquiring a stash, so that’s pretty good I think.

In case you're curious, this is Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Blackberry. I really like the way the colours knit up at this gauge. Not too much flashing or pooling, but a little pattern nonetheless.

In case you’re curious, this is Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Blackberry. I really like the way the colours knit up at this gauge. Not too much flashing or pooling, but a little pattern nonetheless.

I definitely have more sock (and knitting) plans for 2015, but I will give that its own post. In the meantime, do you knit for yourself over the holidays? After so long knitting for others, it feels like such a treat.

Hot pink socks

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I finished these the same weekend as Stasis, but they are impossible to photograph! This colour (Espadrilles, by Madelinetosh) is definitely not what I usually go for, but it’s fun and bright and very well suited to this pattern — Betula Socks, by Rachel Coopey, whose designs are so reliably excellent and fun I will happily continue to knit them up as long as she continues to publish them.

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These were on my needles for a while. I cast on before going to California, knit them on the plane there and during our time in San Francisco, before putting them down to finish my Skyp socks. I blame the lag for the reason they are not quite the same size: Despite knitting them with the same skein of yarn on the same pair of needles, one sock is slightly larger than the other, in both length and width. Maybe I knit one while relaxed and another while tense? Who knows. The difference isn’t enough to really bother me, but it is a little funny.

Details
Pattern: Betula Socks by Rachel Coopey
Yarn: Tosh Sock in Espadrilles
Needles: 2.5mm
Notes: I tend to choose my size based on the number of stitches cast-on. With these socks, though, the majority of the rounds actually have additional stitches (because of the stitch pattern), so they fit a little big. If I were to knit them again, I would probably go down a size. I’d also be tempted to mirror the charts across the socks, but it’s kind of fun that they’re designed to be matching-yet-fraternal. Ravelled here.

Since these were finished in September, they don’t count for Socktober, but I have big sock plans for this month. I have a pair of plain socks on my needles at the moment, which are likely to become background knitting as I dive into my holiday-related projects. But, since those include socks, if all goes according to plan I should get a couple of pairs knit this month — updates to come (promise!)

There’s something in the air

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I’m not sure why, but even though neither L or I experience back-to-school anymore, this time of year is always hectic and disorganized, with a what feels like 80 things happening all in different places, all crammed into the same small window of time. I think we’re at the edge of it now, but wow.

Anyway, thank goodness for knitting, you know? It’s hardly a new observation to say that it really is soothing, but I definitely notice it most when my knitting feels like a calm little retreat. Of course, with so much on the go I didn’t feel like I’d been making much progress on anything, but then I pulled out my WIPs and things are looking okay.

Here’s what has been keeping me calm over the last two weeks.

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Stasis, of course. I’m just about to start the body decreases, which means I’m about six inches from joining the arms and then working the yoke. I have this crazy plan that this weekend I can sew myself a skirt (this one) and knit this up to the armscye. We shall see.

betula2After barely touching my Betula socks since we got back from California, I picked them up two weekends ago. They’re great travel knitting (as I said before) and were perfect for the long drives and train rides that characterized our last two weekends. I can only assume my ambitious plans from this weekend are due to my lack of at-home downtime this summer. (I don’t know about your summer weekends, but mine tend to book up pretty quickly. This will be my first weekend in ages that I get to spend at home with only my own whims to direct it. I can’t wait.) 

Anyway. Betula remains totally enchanting. I’m half-way through the gusset decreases on the second sock, so once I get a chance to pick them back up they’ll fly right off the needles I’m sure. (I have another trip in a couple of weeks — details to come, but it’s fun — so if they aren’t done before that, they’ll for sure be finished after it).

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Surprise! I cast on this hat a few weeks ago because every year I decide I’ll start my holiday knitting in the summer and every year I don’t (and then every holiday season I chastise myself for it). I could see that cycle was happening again this year, so I wound up the two skeins of Swans Island DK I picked up in Nova Scotia in the spring and cast on for L’s annual hat. This is Brig again, but I knit the smallest size this time, on a smaller needle, and the fit is perfect (he just tried it on so I’d know whether I needed to re-knit it, but it’s going to be tucked away now). The smaller needle meant my row gauge was tighter, so despite only starting the decreases 1/4 inch earlier, the overall hat is about 2.5 inches shorter, which means no fold-up brim. I offered to rip back the top and knit it longer, but L says he likes it as is, so I’m leaving it (perhaps there’s a third iteration of this pattern in my future?)

So there you have it. I’m slowly getting my routine back, and with that will come more regular posts (and, hopefully, more regular finished things to post about!) 

 

Summer Skyps!

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One of my favourite things about vacation knitting is that whatever project(s) I take along will forever remind me of the trip and when and where I worked on them. Even if these socks weren’t the exact colours of Big Sur, they will always remind me of beach knitting and the drive down the California coast.

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I bought this yarn last spring with no real plan, and it’s one of the skeins I singled out at the beginning of the year as destined to become all the time, not-too-fancy socks. This is my fifth pair of whenever socks this year (though only the second to come from that original pile of yarn) and I’m quite pleased with them. Pulling them on in the middle of winter will be a nice reminder that the cold doesn’t last forever.

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I’ve knit this pattern before, so I don’t have much (new) to say about it. It’s a nice, simple pattern — a little more interesting than basic ribbing, but plain enough to pick up and put down, or knit without looking. Looking back at my last pair, I realized that I knit them almost exactly a year ago, on our trip to Boston, so they are a tried-and-true one-the-road pattern.

 

Details
Pattern: Simple Skyp Socks
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay Alegria in #A9537
Needles: 2.5mm
Notes: Not much to report, really. Like last time, I split for the heel so that I maintained a purl stitch on either side of the instep, which keeps the pattern centred down the foot. I knit the heels a little deeper this time (34 rows) and stopped the pattern 1/4 of an inch earlier, to make the toe a little longer. I was also really surprised/pleased with how the yarn striped up, so to maintain that I used the other end of the skein for the heel flap. I also purposefully tried to mirror the pooling around the ankles (caused by the gussets) and think it worked out pretty well. Ravelled here.

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I slipped

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I had full, full, intentions to just truck right along with my latest Skyp socks, but after grafting the toe of the first one I got that funny urge to dig around in my stash to see what was in there, and before I knew it I’d pulled out a skein of Tosh Sock in Espadrilles, wound it up, and cast on. Honestly, I don’t really know how it happened, but here we are, a full chart repeat into new socks and I’m not sorry.

This is a very bright, very fun pink, and is also very hard to photograph.

This is a very bright, very fun pink, that is also very hard to photograph.

These are Betula by Rachel Coopey (who is such a reliably excellent designer) and I love them. They’re fun to knit and, since the 15-row repeat is really just a five-row repeat that shifts, the pattern is very quickly memorized and doesn’t require much special attention (I’m using a stitch marker to mark where I am within each repeat, which helps). They are, in fact, the perfect travel knitting, which is just as well since tomorrow L and I are flying to California!

We have a whole week to spend on the coast, and I seriously cannot wait. We’ve more or less planned out our stops (we’re driving Highway 1 from San Francisco to San Diego), but if you have must-see suggestions, please let me know! I will definitely be going to A Verb for Keeping Warm while we’re in San Francisco, so I’ll have a full report of that and the rest of the trip when I get back. (I’ll probably do a little Instagramming, if you want to keep up with me over there.)

Such a summery colourway.

Such a summery colourway.

And, who knows, maybe I’ll have some finished socks too. I’m bringing the Skyp socks along, because as great as Betula is, when it’s my turn in the passenger seat I’m going to want a knit that doesn’t require me to look at my hands, and the Skyps are it! I hope you all have a wonderful week — I’ll tell you all about mine once I’m home again.

Spoiled

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There is no doubt that this is shaping up to be an excellent summer. Just a few days after our camping trip I was headed back up to the shores of Lake Huron (though not so far north as Georgian Bay) for a cottage weekend. An old friend of mine is getting married and in lieu of a bar hopping bachelorette we spent a weekend away (and on the beach). The weather was perfect, and the water is warm enough for swimming, and it was gorgeous.

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I knit in the car on the way there, which ended up being hilarious in the stop-and-go traffic since a guy in the lane next to us was fascinated by what I was doing. He stared and, when his lane got moving, actually slowed down so we could catch up! He seemed completely entertained by the idea of someone knitting (or, at least the idea of someone his own age knitting). His amusement entertained us as well, which made for a pretty funny drive. I snuck in a little beach knitting too, and my Summer Skyp socks are coming along nicely. I’m staying home this weekend, but I’m looking forward to turning my attention to Halligarth, which is proving to be a very enjoyable knit, especially when accompanied by a podcast or audiobook.

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