Everything’s about Socks

It seems like socks keep popping up in my life lately: specifically my favorite type – wool ones.  So I have two sock stories for you today.

My 2008 boyfriend socks – the only picture I have of them.

Back in 2008, when Mr. Turtle and I were first dating (and probably a little bit before then), I made him a pair of socks.  These were meant to be a luxury pair of socks, something simply so wonderful it would charm and wow him for years to come.  At the time we were both working at summer camps on nearly opposite ends of the country.  He was at Philmont in New Mexico, I was at Chimney Corners Camp, in Western Mass.

In the mountains of New Mexico, nights (even in the summer) can get quite cold.  I made the socks out of thick and sturdy Bulky Alpaca (called Lavish) in a masculine forest green.  And then I sent them off to Michael, with strict instructions to ONLY hand-wash these socks, and never, ever, never put them in the washer or dryer.

Now you think you’d know where this story is going, and you’d be wrong.  Michael was most dutiful, wore them for several nights and discovered how warm they were.  Hand washed them in the sink and hung them on a line to dry.  Basically, he was being a trooper with my gift.

And then he decided that they’d be perfect for a long hike he was going to take on one of his extended time-off periods.  Unfortunately, neither of us was experienced enough to think about the conditions of a hiking boot in relation to wool.  You see, wool felts and shrinks in the presence of three essential things: heat, water, and agitation. (You can actually get felting with two of the elements, but the sweet spot is all three).  Neither of us stopped to think about how hot, how sweaty, and how much friction is inside of a hiking boot.

Forest Green socks, felted

Forest Green socks, felted

He was barely able to pry the socks off his feet when the hike was done.  And when they finished drying, he found there was no elasticity in them: they had permanently shrunk.  He wrote me with chagrin – Michael felt terrible.  And I, reading the letter, smacked myself on the head – of course alpaca, which is even more prone to felting than wool, would make a terrible option for hiking socks.

Fast forward 8 years, and as we’re packing up to move in a few weeks, out comes a pair of socks I’ve never had the opportunity to see in person, after the incident.  I wasn’t even aware that Micahel saved the socks.  So here, in their much smaller glory, is a pair of felted slippers that won’t even fit me.  They’re about as elastic as a block of concrete and less comfortable.  Still, they do bring back memories!

My second story also involves socks, although this part is more of an endorsement.  As I’ve mentioned before: I love wool socks.  They’re what I wear about 80% of the year, when I’m not sporting bare feet.

And every year, like Dumbledore, I ask for wool socks for Christmas.  I almost never get them, even though they end up being the things I probably use the most.  Except for three years ago, when my brother-in-law got me two pairs of Darn Tough Socks.

My replacement Darn Tough Socks

My replacement Darn Tough Socks

If you’ve never heard of these socks, it’s okay, you’re not alone.  I didn’t know about them until that Christmas.  Turns out Darn Tough is a Vermont-based company focused on keeping as much of their process local.  They make the best and sturdiest socks I’ve ever worn.  Including my hand-knit socks.

It’s pretty typical about 2 years into things I have my first thin spots on my handknit socks.  Which is OK: I repair them and then they can keep going. (My oldest pair is going on 8 years, made the same year as Michael’s infamous failed pair of socks.)

My darn tough socks wore out about a month ago, after three years.  There was a very small hole in one sock, and the other was going thin.

Now, I will admit, Darn Tough Socks are pricey – they cost about the same as a nice skein of sock yarn.  But this is the thing: Darn Tough has a lifetime guarantee.  You wear the socks out, and they will replace them for you.  All you have to do is ship them back.

So I did.  And yesterday, I got a new pair back.

Seriously, if you’re looking into really good socks – hiking or normal, Darn Tough has so many options.  There are different heights to the cuff, different amounts of cushion and thickness, and so many different sizes.

I’m wearing a pair right now.

Wearing Wasabi Darn Tough Socks

Wearing Wasabi Darn Tough Socks

Sockupied Fall 2015: Electrostatic Lines Knee Socks

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve got a bunch of patterns that have come out in the last four weeks.  If you’ve been paying attention to my design page on Ravelry (you know you can follow the page on Ravelry, right?), my published patterns page jumped from 35 patterns to 45 – a full ten (TEN!) patterns released this last week.  It’s also part of the reason I was sooo busy the beginning of this year.  Today I want to take the time to highlight Electrostatic Lines, featured in Sockupied’s Fall 2015 issue.  Electrostatic Lines is a pair of stranded knit knee socks with a fun twist to make the calf fit you perfectly!

I’ve loved designing for Sockupied.  They’re one of the smaller magazines out of Interweave, but I love the focus on quality patterns, and the editor’s commitment to bringing really great sock articles forward.

Sockupied Fall 2015

Credit: Interweave/Harper Point Photography

In this issue, Electrostatic Lines are on the cover (my fourth pair on a Sockupied Cover!) – and I think these are one of my favorite pairs of socks I’ve ever designed.

Credit: Interweave/Harper Point Photography

I was working on these socks nearly a year ago today.  I knew these were going to be a particularly difficult pair of socks – not only did I have to finish them and Karner Butterfly in about 4 weeks, but knee socks are a haul.  When you get past the heel, you’re barely halfway done.  But I loved sitting on the front porch of our house in the mornings and afternoons and just steadily churning through the rows.  I love how there’s a bit of interest at the toe, the mini-gusset followed by the short row heel, and then the fun joy of working stranded knitting up the leg.  Knee socks are a commitment – but they’re worth it.

Steadily working up the leg

This was one of my first projects using ChiaoGoo’s Red Lace Needles, and I was in the process of falling in love, leaving my Addi’s in the dust.

Trying socks on as you go – toe up all the way!

There are so many things I’m proud of in this pattern.  I love that you can try these socks on as you go, to make sure that the calf fits just as it should.  The stranded knitting for the leg is written in such a way that increases can be added or subtracted as needed, so the pattern will fit perfectly for your calf.

And quite simply, I fell in love with this color combination: nearly a perfect, yet counter-intuitive combo for fall.  Hedgehog Fiber’s Rusty Nail and Graphite work lovely together.  They just seam to glow, especially in the sunlight.

You can check out more details about my sample pair of Electrostatic Lines on Ravelry, which includes the time information for this particular pair of socks.

Rusty Nail seems to glow

Electrostatic Lines is available from Sockupied, along with a bunch of other quality patterns.  Buy your copy here!

Show Notes from the Last Few Weeks

Aboard a cruise ship, sailing with Mr. Turtle, my parents and his parents.  It’ll be our second (third? – depends on how you count it) vacation together.  It’s all part of Mr. Turtle’s and my project to integrate our families.  You see, Michael’s grandparents didn’t get along, and he can’t remember a time when they were both in the same room.  In contrast, my grandparents were good friends, and I can remember many holidays, visits and trips where my family and grandparents were all in tow.

It was a perfect arrangement, really.  With 4 Crowley grandchildren and 4 grandparents, it was glorious to get some really good one-on-one grandparent love.  I want that for my family, so Mr. Turtle and I have been trying to create situations where our parents, who live pretty far away, can spend time together.


Which actually wasn’t what I was planning on writing about.

I was planning on writing about my missing sock.  You see, about a month ago I finished a pair of socks, for myself, that I’ve been wanting to finish for a while.

This is a really poor picture of the sock, but I didn't even get to take a picture of them!

This is a really poor picture of the sock, but I didn’t even get to take a picture of them!

I was pretty excited about them, so I wore them nearly for three days straight, washed them, and wore them once more.

And now one of the socks are missing.

The kicker is, the sock is somewhere in my house.  I figured, when we had company over this 4th of July, and were cleaning things, it’d turn up.  I wasn’t really concerned.

But now it’s after the 4th, the sock still hasn’t shown up, and I’m disappointed: I wanted to take them on the cruise with me.  No such luck.  I can’t find them anywhere, darn-it!

Have you ever lost a knitting or crochet item?  Did you find it again? After how long?  I’m really starting to get bummed about this missing sock.

A quick update and a change of plans

Today’s been quite the day.

Supplies for a class on Saturday at Fibre Space

Right now, I’m in the airport, waiting to get on a plane to head to Boston.  It wasn’t all that long ago I was in Boston for fun with Mr. Turtle, but this time it’s for sadder reasons.  My great-aunt, Janet, died last Saturday morning.  I found out Saturday morning as I was heading out the door to catch a train to Old Town Alexandria for a full day of teaching at Fibre Space.

So today I’m heading back to Boston, and then onward to Newburyport and the family home there.  I’ll be supporting my mother (Momma Turtle) and extended family.  I’ve got mixed feelings about the trip, but we’ll make the best of it.  I’ve got a backpack full of yarn to finish the sweater I need to send off on Monday.

I’ve got a couple of fun blog-posts scheduled to run while I’m gone, so be sure to keep tuning in, but I won’t be checking my email until Monday.


In other news, I got a package in the mail yesterday evening.  It was small, and I couldn’t remember that anything was supposed to be getting back to me soon.  So of course, I immediately ripped it open.

Karner Butterfly

Karner Butterfly

It was my Karner Butterfly socks, returned to me.

Getting projects back after they’ve been published is a bit like greeting an old friend: a little odd, and very welcome.  Oftentimes I worked in these projects quite a while ago (in this case, nearly 11 months ago), and I haven’t seen them since then.  They immediately bring back all the memories that happened when I was working on them: in this case, it was the cruise I went on with my family last year.

If you missed Karner Butterfly the first time around, you should check them out!  They’re a fun little pattern.

5 Questions for Mone Dräger & Contest

Welcome to the 4th day in our week of 5: 5 designers, 5 socks, 5 interviews, all to highlight Sockupied Spring 2015, published last week in a new PDF format.  On Monday I interviewed Amy Palmer, editor of Sockupied.  On Tuesday we featured Kate Atherly, and on Wednesday MK Nance.

Today we have Mone Dräger, who (like many of us) was also taught to knit by her grandma.  Mone is located in Germany, and many of her patterns are both in English and German!  I’m simply in love with Mone’s socks, which were featured in Sockupied’s “One Sock, Two Ways”.

© Sockupied/Harper Point
If you were to describe your socks as an animal, what would it be?
Mone: An animal? Well, that one got me thinking, but I’d say that a chameleon fits best. My Chains Socks were designed for the ‘one sock, two ways’ category and they indeed work with all kinds of colourways, though the style changes depending on what yarn you choose. They can look classy and elegant in a solid, neutral colour, they add just a pop of colour to your wardrobe in a semi-solid in a bright and saturated colour, but they can also look crazy and fun in a wildly variegated yarn. So a chameleon fits.
You speak English as well as German.  Do you find that influences the way you approach designing or writing patterns?
Mone: German is my native language, so I learned to knit from German patterns and if I like a certain

German pattern I still knit from it nowadays. I admit that I prefer English knitting patterns, simply because I like that there is an English ‘knitting language’. There are lots of abbreviations like ‘ssk’ or ‘k tbl’ – very short and commonly used and they mean the same for all knitters. In German many things have to be described with lots of words – don’t even ask me for a short form of ssk – and in addition there are no common abbreviations. Different publications use different ways to express the same thing.

When I work on a new pattern my notes are usually in ‘denglish’, a mix of German and English where I use German to explain certain design features but use English terms for all the instructions. I write all my patterns in English first, and then translate them back to German. Even though it should be easy for a native speaker I often run into trouble because I’m much more familiar with English terms.

All the designers were working on our socks during the Summer of 2014.  What else were you working on or thinking of as you created your pattern?
Mone: Well, I worked on my socks during our summer holidays, so the Chains pattern will always remind me of the terrific time we had. DH [dear husband] and I travelled along the Pacific Coast Highway from San Diego to Seattle and from there we took a trip to Canada. Not only did we enjoy the scenery, but along the way we met with some of my ‘virtual’ friends I met through the Ravelry forum. It was so fun to finally meet in person and put faces to people who have felt like friends forever. Best holiday trip ever and I hope to go on another ‘turn virtual friends into real friends’ trip soon. 
Did you run into any problems or challenges when you were working on designing the socks or writing the pattern?  What did you do to overcome it or problem solve it?
Mone: In previous Sockupied issues I’ve always loved the ‘one sock, two ways’ category, so when I was pondering on a design to submit I always wondered about a pattern that would work in both, semi-solid and variegated yarns. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of knitting with variegated yarns because often the stitch pattern kind of ‘gets lost’ in the colours of the yarn, so that was a real challenge. And I admit that I had my share of ripping back to do before I came up with Chains; in the end it was all the bridges and the intriguing constructions that inspired me.
What are 3-5 things you are loving lately?
Mone: Things that make me happy? Ah, there are so many and I could have come up with so many different things that it’s hard to make a choice. Here are some in no particular order:

Snowdrops. Funnily enough, even though I knit a lot of warm and winterish things, I’m a summer loving person and I’m always a happy camper when the often grey and wet German winter is over, so to see the snowdrops coming out for sure puts a smile on my face. Tells me that spring is not too far away and warmer weather should be here soon.

Ponderosa Wolle: I went to a crafts fair two weeks ago and had the chance to see all her beautiful yarns in person. And ahem, I might have bought some. A lot. And most of them variegated yarns. Nothing better than colours as a cure for grey and dull days.

Hannover 96: My local soccer team and we’ve got season’s tickets and go to the stadium to watch them play every second weekend. It’s always a blast with all those people in the stadium, singing, clapping and cheering them on and well, if they even win it’s perfect entertainment.

Ravelry and my friends there: I often say that my knitting friends know me better than my family and although that’s an exaggeration, it’s wonderful getting to know and chat with people who share the same hobby. Isn’t it terrific how small the world became thanks to the internet?

Holidays abroad. We are just planning our summer holidays and it’s very likely we’ll go to England and Ireland again. We’ve done that before and usually we go by car and just stay wherever we like it. This time we plan to go end of June, so maybe I’ll even go to Woolfest?  Not to forget that I’ve got Ravelry friends in the UK too, who I hope to meet.  

Mone Dräger’s Socks are titled Chains Socks, so titled because of the distinctive slip-stitch pattern.  Mone was inspired by the bridges of the West Coast on her summer holiday in the US – can you see the lines of the bridges in the socks?

© Sockupied/Harper Point

The green version of Mone’s socks are worked in Huckleberry Knits Willow in the colorway titled
North Fork, the variegated socks are in Mercado.  I love how the two yarns create such distinctive effects – both completely different but just as stunning.  Huckleberry Knits has generously offered up a skein of Willow to the winners of one of the prizes!

To enter the contest, use the Rafflecopter widget below!  You can enter the contest multiple times by doing different things – so have fun with it.  We will have three winners to the drawing, be sure to scroll through and see all the great prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

5 Questions for Sockupied Editor Amy Palmer, and Contest!

Welcome to Tinking Turtle’s week of 5: 5 Interviews, 5 Patterns, 5 Designers, a 5 day extravaganza to celebrate the newest issue of Sockupied: Spring 2015.  This issue is very special: it’s the first issue that new Sockupied Editor Amy Palmer curated from start to finish.  It also marks Interweave’s Sockupied being released in a new format – an easy to download PDF that’s viewable on a variety of devices!

© Sockupied/Harper Point

Today’s interview is brought to you by my own pattern, Karner Butterfly, and Anzula’s beautiful Squishy.  Instead of interviewing myself, I thought it’d be more interesting to talk to Amy Palmer, and boy are you in for a treat! Amy Palmer is the lovely editor of Knitscene and Sockupied. When she’s not thinking about knitting, she enjoys learning the violin and reading comics.    I love how Amy gives us a glimpse into what happens behind the scenes at Interweave!

This is the first issue of Sockupied you curated start to finish!  Tell me a little about why you picked these five designs for this issue.  What were the considerations you take into account when creating a collection of socks?
Amy:I wish I could say there was some magic formula to choosing sock patterns for this issue, but mostly it was “ooh that’s pretty!”

I reached out to Rachel Coopey and asked her to be the featured designer, then let her run with her design—she showed me some sketches of her Laith Socks but Rachel’s such a great designer of fun-to-knit socks I never felt the need to peek over her shoulder, so to speak.

One of the things I’d loved about previous issues of Sockupied was the One Sock Two Ways pattern, and Mone Dräger’s submission for Chains Socks was absolutely perfect for that feature.

Kate Atherley’s Washington State Knee Socks grew out of a batch of ideas she’d sent me for Knitscene, I think. The accompanying article was something I knew I wanted to read—I love the look of knee socks but, as a lady with substantial calves myself, I’ve always been a little leery of putting in the time and effort to customize them.

I thought the Karner Butterfly socks you’d submitted were a really cool take on knitting a cuff, though I then had a lot of trouble figuring out if they fell into the “top down” category or if they just needed their own identifier!

Finally I loved M K Nance’s swirling ribbing on her Mill Ends Socks. Now that I think about it there’s a bit of swirling in that pattern, Chains, and Laith. I like swirls, I guess!

Inheriting this project from Anne [Merrow] meant I had some guidelines to help me, which was really helpful. I didn’t have specific themes for the patterns themselves, but I tried to tie everything together with yarn color and photography—the blues and greens of the yarns felt really cohesive, and shooting everything in one location in a lifestyle-photography way really appealed to me, coming from Knitscene where I try to photograph the stories very thematically. But I knew I needed a mix of toe up and top down socks. Sockupied is aimed at experienced sock knitters AND a digital product, so I knew that I could include projects that seemed more challenging to my Knitscene-trained eye without worrying about difficulty level or page space.

How do you make decisions as far as yarns or colors?  How much do you take into account designer’s vision vs. wanting the collection to work together?
Amy: Generally I have a working palette, but since the samples are also returned to designers and I want them to enjoy them, I do try to work with designers on color. If I pitch a color and a designer just isn’t feeling it, there’s always some other color that fits into my palette that we can agree on!

All the designers were working on our socks during the Summer of 2014, and sent them to you shortly after, where you saw them for the first time.  What happens after you get the designs? 
Amy: In a typical magazine production schedule, projects and patterns go to tech editing within a few weeks after the samples arriving in the office. For Sockupied,  I needed to get things photographed sooner rather than later due to Knitscene schedule conflicts. The socks for both Spring and Fall were photographed in early September, then the Spring socks were sent to tech editing.

This photo shoot was a fun experience—we shot both issues in one day. The morning/Spring shoot was done at the house of our managing editor, Allison, and she’s also our model (along with her incredibly photogenic golden retriever, Henry). Then we moved locations for the Fall shoot and I’m not telling you anything more about that because it’s a secret. 😉

Did you run into any problems or challenges when you were working on this issue of Sockupied?  What did you, or your team, do to overcome it or problem solve it?
Amy: Because I was new to the Sockupied process and not familiar with the schedule, I accidentally backed myself (and by association, my designers—sorry!) into a bit of a corner with getting samples made.

I can’t stress enough how appreciative I am that everyone involved, especially with this Spring issue, was understanding and able to work with me and I promise I don’t usually cut things quite so short! Because our graphic designer for Sockupied is also the graphic designer for Interweave Crochet and Knitscene, we ran into a bit of a crunch as she was working to get Interweave Crochet Spring 2015 out the door, but we’ve kind of become pros at turning files around quickly.

What are 3-5 things you are loving lately?
Amy: I’ve become incredibly enamored with embroidery of late—my mom had given me a bunch of her old embroidery samplers and I’ve been working on one of them, which has led me down a dangerous rabbit hole where things like cross-stitch patterns from Satsuma Street make me really excited (I blame Allyson Dykhuizen for that link). I’m also trying to work on the ones I have so I haven’t purchased any patterns yet.

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a nerd, so I’ve been working on my embroidery and knitting projects while re-watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. (Thanks Netflix!) I’m loving this because it reminds me of when I was a little girl—this was the first show I remember watching with my dad and it was our “thing” for a while. Plus it’s great crafting entertainment!

And this may seem like a cop-out but I’m really really excited about Knitscene Summer. We have some incredible projects in this issue and the photography was just so fun and fresh I can’t
wait to share it with everyone. This issue also marks my debut as a garment designer so that makes me kind of nervous in an excited kind of way. So I guess I should get back to work on that, huh?

© Sockupied/Harper Point

Today’s interview is sponsored by Karner Butterfly, my own socks!  Karner Butterfly was inspired by the small blue butterflies native to my hometown, in an area called the Pine Bush.  The Karner Butterflies are more commonly known as Karner Blue – the butterfly being a bright blue with small gold spots.  The butterfly’s habitat depends on the growth of the plant blue lupine, and as such, is endangered.

The blue and gold of the butterfly a almost perfectly captured by Anzula’s Squishy in Teal and Maple.  Many thanks to Anzula for providing yarn support!  Anzula also provided one of the prizes in the giveaway: a skein of Squishy!

To enter the contest, use the Rafflecopter widget below!  You can enter the contest multiple times by doing different things – so have fun with it.  We will have three winners to the drawing, be sure to scroll through and see all the great prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

4 Ways to Warm Up Your Socks

Like many people in the US today, I’m huddled indoors trying to stay away from the oppressive cold.  Now, living in VA, I know I don’t have it nearly as bad as my family that live up north.  Still, generally houses up north are better insulated than the lovely old home Mr. Turtle and I rent.  This morning, despite the heater’s efforts, I couldn’t get the upstairs above 62 degrees.  Now, with the space heater running and the sun finally shining in the front windows, I’ve gotten the upstairs to a balmy 68 degrees.  I’m still wearing a hat and long underwear today, though.  And my warmest pair of handknit socks.

Which brings me to a question an old friend and student, Holly, wrote to me just yesterday.  She asked,

I’ve knitted a few pairs of socks and really enjoy the technique. When I’ve worn them, they don’t keep my feet warm. My feet are cold all the time. I’ve spoken to other sock knitters and no one seems to have an answer or solution for me. In order for me to wear my lovely hand knitted socks, I have to still wear a “commercial cotton” sock under them and I think that defeats the purpose of making and wearing the hand knitted socks.

I thought this was an interesting question, because I have a mild form of Raynaud’s, which means I have to be diligent about keeping my hands and feet warm.  I know exactly what Holly means when only one pair of socks is not enough!

(As a side note, I’m not up to addressing issues of hand/feet being cold for reasons other than the socks not being up to the job.  If you have circulation issues, or simply have sweaty feet [damp=cold], I can’t help you.  When I went winter camping, we had a good rule: if you’re cold when you go into your sleeping bag, all you’re going to do is be cold in your sleeping bag.  The bag insulates you, which means any cold that’s in the bag with you?  Will stay there.  Same things with hands/feet.  If you put cold feet into a pair of socks, they’re still going to be cold.)

I thought it would be helpful to outline and expand my reply to Holly.

When it comes to hand-knit socks being warm enough, there’s a few different strategies and things I would look at to determine the cause of the socks being too cold.

1. First, I would check the gauge of the sock.  A lot of patterns are written for a sock to be made in sock weight yarn at 8-8.5 sts per inch (sts/in).  For me, that is much too loose of gauge with a sock weight yarn.  Normally, with sock weight yarn, I’m working my socks at 9.25-10 sts/in, depending on how lofty the yarn is.  Socks that are knit at a tighter gauge hold of to wear and tear longer.  More importantly, they close the “holes” between the stitches, keeping the cold on the outside and the warm on the inside.  If you somehow can’t reach a dense gauge in sock weight yarn (which for some people can be hard), think about sizing up the yarn you’re using.  Which brings me to my next point….

2. Look at using a denser gauge yarn – that is, a heavier weight.  Sometimes sock weight yarn isn’t thick enough to insulate your feet.  When it’s wintertime, many people wear thicker socks – so it doesn’t hurt to have some thicker handknit socks too.  Mr. Turtle’s two favorite pairs of handknit socks are made in a superwash wool and nylon blend.  One of them is made with a DK weight yarn, the other is made with a light worsted yarn.  Both of them are closer to hiking socks than anything else.  Thicker yarn means the fabric will be thicker, which means there’s a larger layer between you and the world.  It insulates you more.

3. Speaking of insulation, take a look at what the yarns the socks you are making are made of.  I’ve talked before about how important fiber content in yarn is to the finished project, and this is especially true when you need something warm. You may want to look at yarns that have some cashmere, mohair, angora or mohair blended with them.  The 5-15% of a warmer fiber can make a big difference.  I love Mountain Color’s Bearfoot, which has 60 % Wash wool, 25% Mohair, 15% Nylon.  I think it’s the perfect blend of warm and durable – the nylon and the mohair make a big difference.  My mother, when I made a pair, put them on and went “Oh, they’re warm.”  She kept those, I made another pair for myself.  Often, warmer fibers like those stated above can be a bit more delicate (with the exception of some mohairs), so make sure there’s some nylon blended in, both for durability and to prevent felting.

4. My final solution would be to look at the type of patterns you work on your socks.  Lacework, obviously, is going to be less warm.  You’re adding holes to the work!  Stranded colorwork (or some slip stitch patterns), are your best bet for a warmer fabric.  Stranded colorwork makes two layers of fabric: the stockinette layer, and the layer that’s in the back, where the yarns are floating.  If you keep the floats short (under ½”), you can get a very dense fabric.  You sacrifice some flexibility, but the socks end up being quite a bit warmer.

Love socks? Check out my sock patterns on Ravelry!

Finishing Objects

In other news, I’ve actually managed to knit some things that aren’t designs.  It’s a miracle!

I thought I’d share.

A few weeks ago I promised my brother, Matthew, a pair of fingerless running gloves.  I’m sending them to Matt tomorrow, with a little note.

The letter reads,

“Dear Matt, Congrats!  You have a pair of Tinking Turtle originals A Few Facts:

  • The fiber was named R’lyeh, by a dyer named Cloudlover. (R’lyeh is from a horror story).
  • The yarn was spun by me over about 15 hours.
  • 1 stitch takes me .0275 minutes.
  • Each glove has 2660 stitches.
  • Including finishing, each glove took me 2 hrs 10 minutes.
  • Total time: 19 hrs 20 minutes.
  • Total worth: approx $483*
  • Wash in lukewarm water, not in a washing machine. Do not Agitate.
Love, Jen”
I’m hoping it will motivate him to take care of them.  
*I calculated the worth at $25 an hour.  I did not take in the cost of the fiber.  I should have probably valued them closer to $30, which is normally what I make for difficult finishing work or teaching, but I gave him the “family discount.”

I have mixed feelings about the fingerless gloves.  I really like them; I’m thinking about making a pair for myself.  Part of the problem is this yarn has been one of my favorites for a long time.  I was saving it for something special.  When I was looking for yarn to make the gloves, I kept coming back to the color, because it’s masculine without being a boring color, and they’ve got a little bit of interest to them.

I just kinda want them for myself.  So I’m going to send them off before I keep them.

I also managed to finish two sets of socks this week.  Now, before you think I knit an entire set of socks in a week, let me explain.  About 2.5 years ago, I got to play with my friend’s antique sock knitting machine.  It was a little sensitive, and would only let us do tubes that day.  So, I made a bunch of tubes that I’ve been using for teaching.  BUT!  Two of them I managed to make into tubes that I wanted to turn into socks.  I finally got around to it.  For all the sets, I only knit the ribbing, the toe, and the heel. Still a bunch of knitting, and I was also cutting into the sock to do afterthought heels and toes, but not quite so terrible.
If you’re observant, you’ll notice that the second pair is a set of fraternal triplets.  The middle one wills tay a teaching sock, while the top and bottom become wearable socks.  For some reason as I was working these, the tube went from tight to loose, and the first sock had different pooling from the other two.
What have you been working on lately?

Review: Sock Architecture by Laura Neel

I tweeted just when Sock Architecture came out that I was really excited about the book – just based on the glimpse of the pictures I saw on Ravelry, this book was for me.

Sock Architecture is a book that focuses on the knit socks – no adornments, just the facts.  The photography reflects this dedication: the socks, heels and other techniques are photographed against a plain white background, absent of more artistic styling.  It reads more like a textbook and less like an art book.  The pages lack a glossy texture and Neel doesn’t shy away from the math.

I’m not complaining – this is the book I’ve been waiting for.

It embraces the math (no surprise, Neel’s blog is titled Math4Knitters), and talks about socks the way I think about them – in ratios and proportions.  It doesn’t dumb down the fact that knitting is a thinking person’s hobby; that there has to be a part of each knitter that can see, can think, a project into existence.

I’m about halfway through my second re-read of the book, and I thought I’d make a list of my favorite parts thus far:

  • The history part of the book is short, but informative.  I now have several places where I’m going to go to do my own research.  If you have an electronic copy of the book, the links to the pieces she’s talking about are great.
  • The mini-heels, demonstrating how each heel fits on the same model.  So great for a couple of reasons: acknowledges that not every heel is for every foot, and that you can substitute out one heel for another.
  • The attention to detail given to the different types of heel, toe, and sock construction.
  • The loving discussion of gussets, why they’re helpful, and why you nearly always want one.
  • Several-fool proof ways of measuring feet.
Now, lest the math scare you away, the whole back of the book is filled with normal, written patterns, and many of them are very, very lovely.  My favorite is the Uncommon Dragon.
I think, if you’re a dedicated sock knitter, or a sock designer, you are doing yourself a disservice to not have this book.
You can buy the book here: I bought both the e-book and the physical book.  I have no regrets.

Book Review: Socks A La Carte Colorwork

Today has been the day of socks.  I had to get the knitted sample of a design I’m working on for Sockupied off by 3 – so I was knitting the afterthought heel into the sock the entire morning.  (It was in Anzula.  It wasn’t exactly a hardship.)

Then, as I was working on the heel, my girlfriend Lois called with some knitting questions.  Specifically, I’d worked with her and another friend so they could each make their first pair of socks, and now Lois was getting ready to tackle her second pair.  Since working with the two ladies had been a rather informal affair, they’d gotten a sock pattern tailored specifically to them, and Lois had some questions about why I’d chosen the particular toe and heel that I’d taught them.  It led to a wonderful conversation about sock knitting philosophy, and in the course of the conversation I made a book recommendation that I’d thought I’d pass along to the rest of you!
Most of the resources I use for sock knitting that I reference nearly all the time are Knitty Articles.  Kate Atherley (who also tech edits for Knitty) has written a comprehensive primer of sock articles.  My favorites are Socks 101 and a blog post talking about foot sizing relationships.
Still, I started thinking about one of the books I used a lot when I first started knitting socks.  I ended up telling Lois about the Socks A La Carte series by Jonelle Raffino & Catherine Cade.  I own the Colorwork one, and have borrowed from the Library a few different times the other two.
What I love about these books is simple.  Remember those toys when you were a child where you could pick a head, pick a body, then pick a pair of legs?  And you could mix and match them to your heart’s content?  That’s this book series.  You can choose what you like from all the different patterns, mix and match, and come to the pair of socks that you like the most: with your favorite toe, heel, cuff and leg.  It’s particularly delightful.

In other news, I’ve got some serious pattern writing to do tomorrow.  So if my blog post on Friday is light, you’ll know why.  My brain will be wrung out.

Lastly, I’ve been having a great conversation in the Designer Forums on Ravelry about work schedules, Flow, and staying on task.  It’s particularly enlightening.