Isis Wings and Totoro: Old and New Handknit Socks

Yesterday I got a welcome package in the mail from Three Irish Girls: a pair of handknit socks.  Now, these weren’t just any two pairs of socks.  This pair of socks were the samples made for Three Irish Girls’ back in the day when I designed Totoro and Isis wings for them – two of the very first patterns I ever designed for them.  Seeing these two pairs of socks was like meeting old friends you didn’t know you had – both these samples were made by hired knitters, and sent straight to TIG headquarters.

Meanwhile, since I was new to the designing, I also created my own pairs of the socks, testing out the idea before I wrote it into a pattern.

I thought it would be interesting to compare the two samples side-by-side.

Two handknit socks, both the same pattern, one heavily worn and darned, the other new.

Isis Wings: Old Pair on Bottom, New (to me) pair on Top

Here you see Isis Wings, in both variations.  First, note my pair, worn with many washings and faded to grey from a sit in the sun.  There’s a stitch I noticed I need to mend marked by a stitch marker; the bottom is more darn than original sock.  The yarn I made my sample for was a little larger than the final yarn used for Isis Wings – the motif on mine ends up looking more open and bold.  For the final Isis wings I decided to set the heel decreases in a little, and I created a little bit of rounder toe.  The ribbing for the cuff on the final version is shorter, and I did something simpler and less distinctive than the 2×2 ribbing on my sample.  You might notice that one of my Isis Wings socks is taller than the other: I’ve mentioned before how I forgot a repeat on one of my socks.

Two handknit socks, same pattern, older one faded, newer one still vibrant.

Totoro; Old Pattern on Top, New Pattern on Bottom.

On Totoro the differences are a little more subtle.  The patterning with the slipped stitch V is the same; I changed the heel from a riverbed heel to a short row heel.  At the time, I couldn’t figure out how to write a Riverbed heel and grade it the way I wanted.  I added more repeats to the top on the final version.  Again, I couldn’t figure out how to wrap the pattern around the leg and grade it for different sizes, so the cuff of the sock has a column of missing V’s up each side.  If I were to go back, I’d either re-grade the pattern, or add some other feature up the leg on the side so it doesn’t look so empty.

Just in Time – a personal pair of socks.

Today the weather is grey and foggy – it is not raining, but it is close.  I’m supposed to get a bike ride in, because I’m not sure what the rest of the week will bring, and I’m doing everything in my power to avoid it – including the final edits on Lights Burn Blue, the last pattern I’ll be releasing in this year.  All I have left is the yardage calculations, which I hate.

Yardage calculations are hard. Overestimate, and people are unhappy because they didn’t use the extra ball. Underestimate, and it’s really bad.  And hitting it just right – well, there’s a reason that yardage estimates are normally prefaced with, approximately or about… because it’s really hard to get right.  How long of a tail do you use? How much wiggle room do you build in?

This time around, I’m working with a new-to-me tech editor, who has been great.  She’s super detail oriented, which is good. Sometimes I can let the details slide.  In the moment, the little details drive me bonkers. But it’s the same reason my good editors in college drove me crazy – because they cared enough to sweat the details.  Which are important, when people are going to be working your patterns.

On a more personal front, last night I got back from knit night (where I showed off my finished socks).  I finished the socks while we ran our party on Saturday, and in a fit of productivity, wove in the ends quickly, so I could slip them on.  I’ve named them Just in Time, as I made them out of Father Time yarn that was in my stash.  In a sprint to the end of the year, I’m trying to work through a bit of my stash yarn in limited colorways, as it’s not suited to design in… because it isn’t widely available.  I have a bunch of Three Irish Girls from many years ago in my stash, so I’m working through that.

I used Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel, which I’ve only ever worked on samples to teach from.  I didn’t want to work the heel over 1/3 of the stitches like the pattern calls for, (because I didn’t want to do the math to figure out how to make that work in pattern), so instead I made a mini gusset, adding 10 sts, which brought my sole count up so that I ended up working the heel over 2 sts shy of 2/3 the total sts.  I worked 3 wedges, and I like how they look.  It seems to work well. It’s a bit less “huggy” in the heel than I’m used to, but that’s because the heel added a bit more length to the sock than I was expecting.  It may also be because I added a gusset and Cat didn’t call for one.  I don’t regret adding the gusset, but I might make the heel a bit less deep next time.  I’m thinking the first time I wash them they might “tighten up” a bit, which I wouldn’t be upset about.  May run them through the dryer once to tighten them up.  Not quite sure.

The stitch pattern is a simple k1, sl 1 in front every 3rd row, and ofset by one.  It’s quickly becoming my go-to pattern for my own personal socks, the same pattern I used for Crayon Box (you remember, the socks that were beautiful, then bled all over, and now I have a rather ambivalent relationship with, but still wear anyway?  Yeah, those).  Which probably means I need to get around to writing them up as a pattern.  They’re simple enough that I keep wondering if it’d be a good idea to write them up with different heel styles, which would be fun, but a lot of work.  And every time I decide that I’ll just keep them in my own personal stash.

Anyway, the pattern creates a bit of waffle-like texture, which remind me of the texture of my long underwear, and thus, make me think that the pattern has special warming properties.  I actually think that they are warm because of the content of the yarn, but still, I like them.

If you do like the pattern, let me know in the comments!  I’d be much more likely to write this one up (and work it in a more sell-able yarn), if I knew there was interest, and perhaps some test knitters.

And in case I don’t get another blog post in before Christmas, Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate.

I’ll be having the family over, so it will be wonderful chaos.

Rainy Weekend Activity – Darning Socks

Like most of the East Coast, this past weekend was a rainy drizzly grey one.  I bravely left the apartment for teaching classes, but in the evening I snuggled into the couch with my really ugly slippers, a blanket, tea and one of my two current projects.  I’m working a technique that I’m hoping to turn into a design proposal, so I can’t show pictures of that right now.  The other thing I was working on was repairing a pair of socks.

As the old adage goes, “A stitch in time, saves nine.” I’m trying to avoid a more extensive repair by reinforcing the heel right now.  Not a surprise these have worn out – the yarn is stellar, but I wear these socks for 3 days straight.  They get so comfy and nice.
Eagle-eyed readers will notice that the area I’m repairing has twisted stitches, and I’m reinforcing it without twisting my stitches.  While I could repair every row and twist the thread as I’m working, I was feeling lazy.  The twisted stitches were part of an experiment to see if adding twisted stitches on the sole of the sock would reinforce the sock – and my conclusion is, it doesn’t really matter that much.  The sole would be worn out at this point (going on 4+ years that I’ve been wearing them, I believe) no matter if the stitches were twisted or not.
On another note, it’s a really precious thing to get pictures of me working on a project from this angle.  Whenever I try and get this angle on my own, with a tripod, it ends up looking rather awkward.  If not, it takes me an hour and a half to get a shot I’m happy with (seeing as I don’t have a remote trigger). Yesterday, I was up in the morning, and the light coming in the room was just beautiful, and I was looking at my project wishing I could get a picture of what I’m doing, because I never get a good picture of me darning something.
Then Becca, my best friend who is visiting, wandered out of the guest bedroom looking sleepy, and I co-oped her into taking some photos.  Best friend for the win.  Despite being a Nikon girl, she managed to bear with me while I set the settings on my Canon and handed her the camera.
I also tried to persuade her that it would be a good idea to wake up at 6 am and go for a walk so I could take some project photos on her.  She nixed that one.  Smart girl.

Inspirations and Influences: Isis Wings

Isis Wings, published by Three Irish Girls, is now out.  Boy, this pattern has been a long time in coming!

Isis Wings was created four years ago, and was one of the very first patterns I designed.  It was created before I had even considered the idea that I could have a business based off of selling my knitting and crochet designs.  Isis Wings was conceived on the porch of the house my now-husband, Michael, I and two other friends rented.  The three of them were in their last year of undergraduate studies; I was working for the college Theatre Department at Davidson College.  During those hot summer days as I began my first full time job, I discovered that I suddenly had a profusion of free time: I was suddenly released from most of my extracurricular activities as well as my academic studies.

I had actual time to knit and crochet.  I no longer had to snatch precious moments from my studies and socializing time to work on my hobby.  I had whole evenings where I could have a hobby.  And I also, for the first time, had more pocket money than I really knew what to do with.

So I bought yarn.

I commenced knitting.  I think I finished them in just over a week – which was pretty impressive
for me.  I know the first one was finished in a weekend. You’ll note below that the original pair was worked entirely in twisted stitches – I’d just switched to continental knitting, and didn’t realize that I was twisting all of my stitches.  That realization would come two projects later.

Twisted Stitch Detail Shot

And then I let them sit.  You see, at the time I didn’t know how to write a pattern.  But I wore those socks a whole bunch.  I got a lot of compliments on them, and it’s about that time that I began to just think that I might be able to make some pocket money off of this hobby.

Later, I would answer Three Irish Girl’s design call, and my new roommate in Washington, DC, would help me name them Isis Wings.  I’d work to reconstruct what I did the first time – and only realize a year and a half later as I’m studying them, that I did an extra repeat on one of them (so they are not the same height).

See? Different Heights.

Isis Wings

by Jennifer Raymond

Published by: Three Irish Girls
Craft: Knitting
Category: Feet / Legs → Socks → Mid-calf
Published: September 2013
Yarns suggested: Three Irish Girls Glenhaven CashMerino Sock
Yarn weight: Fingering / 4 ply (14 wpi)
Gauge: 9 stitches and 14 rows = 1 inch in stockinette or lacework
Needle size: US 1 – 2.25 mm
Yardage: 350 – 420 yards (320 – 384 m)
Sizes available: Women’s Small (3-6), Medium (6-9), Large (8-12)

This pattern is available for download for $5.95.

Isis Wings was created almost three years ago, on a porch in North Carolina. It was summer, which was sock time, and I wanted a pattern that was easily memorize-able while still being interesting. Isis Wings is the result. The socks are worked toe-up with an afterthought heel– one of my favorite ways to work socks. The little fun challenge lies in the yarn overs. Instead of working them like the rest of the stitches, whenever you come across a yarn over from the previous row, you knit it through the back loop, creating a twisted stitch. This pattern is written using the magic loop, though it could easily be worked with dpns or two circular needles.

For More Information, Go Here

Swirl Socks are Out!

If you didn’t see by the last post, my Swirl Socks are out.  This is pretty exciting, as it marks the beginning of this year’s effort to self-publish between 1 & 2 designs a month.  It marks several months of back-end prep-work, as I’ve established relationships with Technical Editors, Sample Makers, and a Layout Designer.

All on top of planning my wedding, which is in 2 1/2 weeks.  Ack!

Swirl Socks are a great pattern for someone who needs just a little something to keep them busy.  After the first few rows, the pattern hits a rhythm, and next thing you know you are turning the heel.  It’s also a great pattern for saying… “just one more row…!”

I love how the cable passes right by the short row heel, and the differences in texture as it moves around the foot.  I love how it’s a surprisingly good pattern for very variegated yarns, because I’m prone to buying hand dyed yarns and then going, what now?

Go check out the socks here, or check out the Ravelry page here.  Let me know what you think!


The official description: To work with the color shifts of handpainted yarn, Totem uses a type of slipped stitch in a geometric pattern that resembles the monumental cedar sculptures. A lateral braid creates the illusion of knit stitches rotated 90°.

Published in: Sockupied, Spring 2013
Craft: Knitting
Category: Feet / Legs → Socks → Mid-calf
Published: January 2013
Yarns suggested: Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock
Yarn weight: Fingering / 4 ply (14 wpi)
Gauge: 39 stitches and 52 rows = 4 inches
Needle size: US 1½ – 2.5 mm
Yardage: 430 – 600 yards (393 – 549 m)
Sizes available: 5 3/4, 7 1/2, 8 3/4″ circumference and 8 1/2, 10 1/4, 11 3/4″ long
This pattern is available for download for $7.99.

Ravelry Link

FINISHED SIZE 5¾ (7½, 8¾)” (14.5 19, 22 cm) foot circumference and 8½ (10¼, 11¾)” (21.5 26, 30 cm) long from back of heel to tip of toe; to fit women’s U.S. shoe size 6½ (8½, 10½). Socks shown measure 7½” (19 cm).

Notes: To accommodate a deep heel or high instep, you may choose to add additional stitches before the heel in the mini-gusset section, then decrease them in the purl column in the beginning of the leg.

If your foot circumference is larger (or smaller) than your ankle circumference, you may cast on more (or fewer) stitches in the foot section and decrease (or increase) as needed in the columns of knit stitches that divide the front and back of the sock.

Debating if the pattern is right for you?  Got questions?  This is the place to ask them!

New Pattern: Totoro

Exciting news today: I’ve got a new pattern out with Three Irish Girls called Totoro.  It’s being released as a club pattern for a while, and then it will be for sale for the public.  Check it out on Ravelry, or stay tuned for this next week, where I’ll be talking about all the time and effort it took to pull the pattern together.  This set of socks has a story behind it, let me tell you!

There’s already quite a bit of chatter over the sock in the the Sock Yarnista Club Group.  Go check it out.

Stash Sunday – Three Irish Girls Kells Sport Merino Irish Sea

This yarn is being used right now in a design I’m working on.  It’s a prototype, and rough around the edges, but I think I’m onto something.  As with all my new techniques I try, the sample is being worked on a pair of socks, and I think it’s coming out lovely.

Irish Sea is a really subtle colorway, with great blue variations.  I like that it doesn’t have a tendency to pool when I’m working socks.  A little bit more color punch than a semi-solid, but it isn’t a high contrast yarn.

The Deets:

Yarn weight
Sport / 5 ply (12 wpi)
Amount stashed
1 skein = 320.0 yards (292.6 m)
Dye lot
Irish Sea

Stash Sunday – Three Irish Girls Kells Sport Merino Mojito

Mojito is meant to go with the Pansy Green, and a third green I’ll talk about later.  For one of my super secret projets.

It’s a paler and yellower green than Pansy Green, but a lovely addition to the collection.

Not much else to write about it… I don’t have very much of a story to go with this one.

The Deets:

Yarn weight
Sport / 5 ply (12 wpi)
Amount stashed
1 skein = 320.0 yards (292.6 m)
Dye lot