First finishes of the new year

Well. You’d think I was the world’s greatest knitter – and the world’s most frequent sock wearer. I’m actually neither. In fact, I’m typing this barefoot which is a bit silly, but anyway. I finished my second pair of socks yesterday! And I’m very pleased with them, even if I do say so myself.

I have to be honest, the kitchener stitch I’ve done to graft the toes of the 3 other socks I’ve knitted so far was a disaster. No matter how many times I read or watched the various tutorials I found, I just couldn’t get it. But I knew I’d used it at some point before and found a tutorial that clicked for me. So I dug around and found it eventually.

Knit-slip purl. Purl-slip knit. Just remember that and keep on going. That’s it. It’s not more complicated than that. Knit-slip purl. Purl-slip knit. Knit and purl relate to the direction you put the needle in the stitch. So, I’m not going to shame myself by showing you the mess I made of the others, but rest assured the 4th sock is better. The others are really bad. Sometimes you have to do the best you can and keep on trying.

I made the small bunny last year as I was trying to use up some stash yarn. She’s quite green… I made the dress and wasn’t keen on it at first. Then looked again and thought it was fine after all. Just an odd colour combination maybe. But the little cardigan calms it down I think. I did have more stash yarn to use up, but someone from work is learning to knit, so before xmas I donated some needles and some yarn I knew I was unlikely to use to her. Not many people live near me, but she’s only a 15 minute drive, so we did a very chilly socially distanced yarn handover and cup of tea in the garden. She’s since made a baby blanket for her friends, which she, and they, are super pleased with, which is really nice. (That was in the time when it was ok to meet up outside if you were socially distanced. Felt a bit weird signalling directions through the kitchen window so she could get to the back of the house without coming inside, but probably less weird than it would’ve been if either one of us had made the other sick. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )

I’ve also been getting the full benefit out of my Almina shawl this year. Damn, I love this thing:

I’ve realised it took a year to knit, but I trail it around the house with me like a kid with a comforter. If I’m not wearing it as a shawl / scarf, I often have it as a blanket on my lap when I’m working. It’s really thick and warm. I’m still considering making another one in a light colour to be honest, as I still can’t find another shawl pattern I like as much. And believe me I’ve tried. (Instead of ‘doom-scrolling‘ I’m a pattern-scroller. It’s an awful habit that I’m going to try and kick. Imagine what I could be doing if I wasn’t staring at the screen so much.)

So that’s where we’re at. Hope you’re safe and well. Look after yourselves. I should probably go and put a pair of socks on. Y’know. Because I can.*

(*There’s a certain irony here. It’s actually very hard for me to put socks on at the moment because I’ve done my back in again. Win some, lose some!)

The joy of socks

So, I did it! In my last post I was building up to trying Winwick Mum’s sock tutorial. I’d already bought a sock pattern I liked the look of back in May, and the yarn to knit it, but frankly, I didn’t understand the pattern at all. So I thought I’d learn to walk before I started running, and used the yarn to do the tutorial instead.

It’s a great tutorial. I actually did as I was told, and swatched for a change. Look! Here’s the proof:

One of the great things about this pattern is that you can make it work for the yarn and the needles you have. That’s even better when you decide you have to start *right now* and you’re refusing to buy anything else because you’re supposed to be using things up.

As I knit really tightly, I was cautious and rounded all the calculations up. In the end that meant I was casting on 84 stitches, using 2.75 needles. EIGHTY FOUR! That’s quite a lot compared to everyone else. Originally I was going to do a basic sock with contrasting cuff, heel and toe, but the more I knitted, the more the leg just seemed like a vast expanse of red. It looked like the biggest sock I’d ever seen, if I’m honest. And the yarn is nice – it’s really nice to wear actually – but it’s very ‘hiking sock’. So by the time I got to the foot, I panicked and decided to whack some random stripes in there. Everyone else’s socks on the internet seem so… refined. And there was I knitting the biggest hiking sock in the world. But actually, it wasn’t that big in the end. A bit big, but not that big.

I also had a huge stroke of luck. Just as I was getting to my wit’s end with the DPNs, I decided to have a dig about in my supplies box. And who knows why, but past me had bought myself a 2.75mm circular needle! I can’t imagine when or why I bought it, but it was exactly the size I needed (30cm) and made everything so much better. There’s a lot of just straight ’round and round’ knitting in a sock, and doing it on a circular needle is a dream. I can’t quite handle the extra flappy cable of the magic loop (it really stresses me out for some reason), but the short circular is perfect. Big thanks to past me 🙌.

For the second sock, I decided to use the same colours but just go with the original plan. No stripes. I’m calling them a pair! And I’m wearing them right now. This was really just for the practise.

So now I’m on to my second pair. This time I’m using self striping yarn (Felici, Knitpicks). I did swatch again and actually it’s the same stitch count, more or less. So I went from 84 to 76 for my cast on. And that’s a perfect fit:

This yarn is really different. Much less ‘wooly’. It also feels a bit more robust. We’ll see how each pair wear. I must admit the first pair look like I’ve already had them years, and I’ve only worn and washed them once. But they are nice and soft. This pair feels like it’ll look smarter.

I’m thinking of treating myself to another needle and doing what Lucy does, over at Attic 24. Rather than do a complicated 2 at a time thing on one needle, she literally just knits 2 at a time on different needles. I like this idea, because socks make great TV knitting, up until the point they don’t. If you have 2 socks on the go, you can grab the one that doesn’t need much attention when you need it, and do the more complicated stuff on the other one when you have time. Also, there’s less chance of second sock syndrome.

Here’s the obligatory shot of a sock in progress.

I must admit, I’ve paid zero attention to how many rounds I’m doing, and I know the stripes don’t match up (the balls didn’t start in the same place, and I didn’t mind), but it all seems ok. And it feels nice to make something I can wear. This time I’m paying more attention to the gusset decreases. On the first pair I kept thinking ‘is this a decrease round or a straight round?’ – and every time I put the sock down I swore I would remember what round I was on when I picked them up again. Reader, I did not.

I’ve still got orange and yellow yarn left from the first pair, so next up I’ll make another prototype pair. Maybe either with ribbing, or cables. Or one of each. That’s one thing about working from home and having every meeting on screen. No one can say your socks aren’t a pair :o)

I hope things are ok where you are, and you’re safe and healthy. I’ll leave it at that, because sometimes, it’s just nice to think about socks and not… everything else.

If you’re thinking of sock knitting, I’d totally recommend the tutorial. Not least because it works for the yarn and the needles you have. You only need to swatch for yourself, not to match someone else’s gauge, which for me was a huge bonus. Winwick Mum, if you’re out there, thank you.