Sockapalooza: Finding the April 2015 Sock

I have been completely focused on knitting shawls for the last couple of weeks. Suddenly April arrived yesterday and I remembered that I need to locate the yarn and pattern for my April sock (hey, I’m taking this New Year’s resolution seriously!) so I could get started knitting on it during breaks from the shawls.

Sock knitting books
Here is my lifetime collection of sock books.

Well, I do have some sock books to look through. I counted them a couple of years ago, and I had 22 books that were just about socks. That is just embarrassing, but I’m still buying collecting books when they have a couple of patterns that I really like. I spent the morning going through the books, putting in slips of paper to mark the sock patterns that I liked, and basically developed a headache and made no decisions. It was pretty darn overwhelming, frankly.

Sock yarns
Sock yarns that I found when I went stash diving. What happy colors!

My yarn stash is stored in plastic drawers and bins in the walk-in closet of my spare bedroom. OK, I actually bought the house because of this closet attached to the small bedroom/craft room. When I go stash diving I have the fun of tossing the yarns that I like back out the door of the closet onto the floor of the craft room. (Please don’t visualize a dog burying a bone. It’s not that bad. Really.) Wow! There were sock yarns in there that I loved when I bought collected them years ago and I had completely forgotten about them. I gathered all the yarn up and carried it down to the family room with the books.

The pink in this skein is blazing neon-pink color. This is going to be a challenge.

One of the yarns that really jumped out at me was a wild pink Frolicking Feet handpainted skein. Oh, boy, This baby will need to be tamed when knitted into a sock. Because of the way it is handpainted I’m pretty sure that pooling will be a problem, too. I turned to one of my books, Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn by Carol J. Sulcoski, for help. This book is one that I like as the patterns indicate what types of handpainted yarns can be used (from “nearly solid” yarns to ones that are called “wild multi”). My hot pink problem child is what I would call “wild multi” for sure!

Sock pattern and yarns.
This is the Spot Check Sock pattern. Perfect! I found a nice grey to use along with the wild pink yarn to tone it down. The yarn key with the pattern says it is good for “wild multi” yarn. Check!

Bingo! Exactly what I need. Say hello to the April 2015 sock. I am ready to go.

Except for this. A funny thing happened while I was sitting there with the book and the bin of yarns. Suddenly the exact right yarn for several of the patterns in this one book jumped out at me. I now have made three more matches and am ready to knit through the spring and into the summer. Here they are:

Yarn and sock pattern
This is the Copper Penny sock pattern. This purple/brown/gold yarn will be perfect in the lace sock pattern by Nancy Bush.
Sock yarn
This Madelinetosh sock yarn in the colorway Grenadine will be perfect in the sweet lace sock (it has a little ruffle on the cuff!) called Switcheroo Socks later this spring.
Sock yarn.
This hank of color fabulousness is Purple Dragon! This fantastic yarn (by MJ Yarns) will be perfect in the Potpourri Sock by Deb Barnhill, which is another pattern that can handle “wild multi” yarns. 

Hey, that was easy! It so pays off to go stashing diving sometimes. I am really fired up to get started on the April socks now, and I have so many projects waiting that it may be hard to not knit more than one sock this month.

I still have all those marked socks in the books I went through this morning. It’s looking like this will be the year of socks. Midnight knitting at its best!

Sock Reboot

Gosh, I really like Corriedale sheep. The very first fleece that I spun was from a lamb named Bob with long, lustrous locks and a gentle crimp. The owner of the flock and I became friends, and I would go out to visit her sheep and even helped skirt fleeces  when she had her flock sheared.

So when I saw this yarn at Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins in Boulder, Colorado, I  had to have it.  It was Corriedale sock yarn, dyed locally at MJ Yarns in a wonderful colorway called Midnight Orchid. I couldn’t wait to get started on it, and cast on to make simple garter rib socks to show off the fabulous colors.

Orchid Pooled Yarn
Gee, look at all the orchid pools on this side of the sock.
Midnight Side of Sock
But the other side of the sock is all midnight with one lonely orchid strip…

Yikes! The orchid colors all pooled on one side of the sock, and the midnight ended up on the other side. NOT the look that I was hoping for.  Be strong, I told myself, and ripped it all out in under a minute flat.  Back to the drawing (knitting) board; I started looking at other possible patterns. After going through some pattern books (OK, I have way too many sock books…) I settled on a sock pattern that uses wrapped and twisted stitches.

Criss-Cross stitch
The criss-cross stitch pattern in this sock really changes the fabric of the sock and made the pooling stop.

Problem solved. The colors have settled into stripes and the front looks just like the back. I like the way the twists show off the yarn. As a bonus, this fabric is also very nice and stretchy.

Yeah! Happy knitting again. I hope to have these socks done by the end of the week. 🙂

Sock Pattern: Traversus Socks found in Knockout Knits by Laura Nelkin.

Yarn: Simple Sock Fingering Weight by MJ Yarns

UFO Rescue: Week 3. Hell hath no fury like an unloved sock…

OK, this was hell week. I took these cute, cute, cute lace socks out of their storage bag and decided that I would finish them up this week. The needles in the sock are a set of my new square double-pointed ones, and I really kind of wanted them back. I had the first sock worked all the way through the heel, and it seemed like it wouldn’t take that long to get them done.

Twisted Flower UFO
Here is the UFO as I took it out of the bag. Once I had figured out where I was in the pattern I was ready to start knitting.

These socks are the Twisted Flower pattern in Cookie A’s book I loved the socks as soon as I saw them in the book. The pattern is really interesting, and the design is cleverly laid out to make the pattern flow onto the heel and down the foot. The chart and directions are extremely clear. Fun! I couldn’t wait to get started on these socks again.

Oh, boy. It wasn’t long before I remembered why these socks went UFO in the first place. The problem was the yarn. I had bought this hand-dyed Bluefaced Leicester yarn at a local shop as I thought that the color was really nice.  Once I got into the pattern, however, it displayed some truly unsavory yarn qualities. It was a 4-ply fingering weight yarn, and should have been round enough to show off the pattern well. Well, the yarn was round, but something ugly had occurred in the dyeing process (I think) and it had the sullen personality of garden twine.  There was absolutely no bounce in this yarn at all! It was stiff and slippery; at every opportunity a stitch slipped off a needle and unraveled down three rows in the blink of an eye. The individual  plies of the yarn kept springing apart from one another and I kept splitting the yarn with my needle.

This sock pattern has tons of personality and detail.
This sock pattern has tons of personality and detail.

Then there was the beautiful pattern designed by Cookie A.  This pattern involves lace on every knitted row, cables, twisted stitches and a partridge in a pear tree. You need to read the chart forwards and backwards while manipulating the (slippery) little stitches. There was no way I could watch television while knitting; every bit of my attention needed to be focused on the chart and the sock. Normally this isn’t an issue as this type of knitting has a zen-Iike meditative quality, but things weren’t working out for me with the demon yarn. I had to use five double-pointed needles and a cable needle while working;  I tried four different cable needles trying to find one that wouldn’t slip out. Yeah, right. The cable needle that I needed doesn’t exist.   I began to pull on my hair and refer to socks as THE HELL SOCKS.  More than once they came very close to entering orbit and becoming true UFOs!

Knitted Sock
Too cool for shoes. These babies will be my reading buddies next winter.

Beautiful socks. Wrong yarn. I’m thinking now that I should have washed this yarn before using it to help it recover some of its life before I started knitting.  Oh well, lesson learned.

Tomorrow I am washing these socks to see what will happen. They are beautiful, but I am never putting these babies into shoes. They will grace my feet with their beautiful lace on cold nights while I am reading and remind me that art never shows how long it took, only how good a job you did.




June Beetle Socks

It’s the end of June. The weather is always interesting in Colorado, and I’ve spent the month working outside on landscaping projects and gardening in the late morning and early afternoons.  As the afternoon wears on I usually need to move inside to escape thunderstorms, and if they are bad enough I end up watching weather updates on the television while knitting.

Early in the month I saw a June Beetle in the garden. I haven’t seen one of these guys since I was a kid in Southern California when we would catch them, tie threads to their little upper bodies, and then fly them around like little pets. I was still thinking about the beetle when I cast on this yarn to make some new socks.

This yarn is mostly blue, but it has some green in it too which reminded me of the beetle. The yarn is from Hedgehog Fibers, which is an independent yarn studio located in Ireland. I decided to knit a sock pattern called “Origami” which uses a lace pattern that is Japanese in origin. The pattern comes from the book Knitted Socks East and West by Judy Sumner.

Origami folds in sock.
The pattern makes the leg of the sock fold into a strange shape.
Lace sock.
The lace opens up once the sock is on.

As I knitted the socks and watched the thunderstorms bloom and thunder across Colorado on the weather radar I pondered the international connections open to me and other knitters. How fun this is! I made socks of Irish wool in a Japanese pattern to fit my fat little Swedish-American feet while watching thunderstorms in Colorado in a color that reminds me of my childhood in California. What a time to be alive.

Finished socks on feet.
Socks made with Irish wool in a Japanese pattern on my Swedish-American feet.

June is almost gone, the weather is beautiful and summery outside, and my socks are done. Time to go back into the garden to show them off to that June Beetle.