After taking a much-needed week off from the world, we’re back in the saddle and moving forward with 2015 goals, one of which is to get all of my knitting patterns revised, updated and back online for sale. To that end, two free patterns magically (re) appeared on the Starting Over Designs website on a brand new Free Patterns page with links to download them from Ravelry (no, you don’t have to be a member of Ravelry to get the downloads, but, really, if you’re a knitter you should belong to Ravelry. Srsly.)
The first is a simple neckwarmer pattern –
Any yarn, any gauge, make it loose like the model above…er…the neckwarmer is loose, not the model…uh…or make it fit snugly. Either version (and there’s also instructions for a ribbed version – pics if you knit it up and I’ll post with full credit here, please?) has a flared lower end that fits over the shoulders and stays in place under your coat.
Also up is a cuff-down short-row heel sock pattern –
Knit in worsted weight yarn, these socks are a great introduction to the short-row heel and won’t take forever to finish. I always shudder when a prospective sock knitting student expresses their desire to knit socks with “sock yarn,” especially if they’ve never knit with DPNs because it takes freakin’ forever to knit a pair of socks on US#0 needles and if you’re learning the techniques for the first time as well, you’re setting yourself up for an exercise in frustration.
While I’m expounding on socks, let me just say that I knit my socks very tightly and I do it for a reason: back in the early days of my sock knitting career I was learning what gauge was all about (self-taught, not a knitting teacher as far as the eye could see) and what worked for my particular feet and like most newbies I used the gauge and needle size printed on the yarn ball band as a guide.
My socks were successful for three wearings and then the bottom of the heel just gave out. Just. Gave. Out. Gone. All that knitting wasted.
A bit of time under my Thinking Cap and I came to the conclusion that, for me, socks need to be knit quite firmly or they will wear out on the bottom of the heel and at the point of my big toe. The simplest way to get the gauge that works for me is to knit worsted weight yarn on a US#3 needle. The resulting fabric is firm and wears very well. My skin can’t be seen through the fabric when the socks are on my feet and I think this is the most important requirement when knitting socks you want to last awhile.
Now, I’ve been told that my sock knitting gauge is “constipated,” and it’s fine for you to believe that and to scoff, but in the end, I’ve had some of my wool socks for the better part of ten years now and they’re still going strong. Can you say the same?
Where was I? Oh, yes! When I teach a sock knitting class I encourage my students to knit the first pair for themselves using worsted weight yarn and a US#3 needle. The “course” is three classes spaced a week apart and the final class is spent with finishing and discussing changes to be made to future socks to make them even more custom fitted. I have been known to write up a personalized pattern for those who have hard-to-fit feet because I believe the whole point of knitting socks is to have warm feet, but more importantly, the socks should fit their intended feet perfectly.
There are few things in life more enjoyable than custom wool socks on a cold Winter day.
The Opal X-Large socks are finished!
Actually they’ve been done for almost a week, but I wasn’t able to get a picture of them to post.
Opal yarns were all the rage ten or so years ago, and I even knit a few pairs, but the only option was sock-weight and 72 stitches per round on US #1 needles is not something I can knit quickly – I never fell in love with it. I much prefer thicker socks that can be knit in a few days. Or less. I’m an Instant Gratification sort of gal when it comes to my socks 🙂
Lemme just say that Opal X-Large is a delight to work with. The colorways are lovely and who can resist a yarn that makes its own patterns while the knitter cruises along, knitting on auto-pilot? It’s a little splitty, but nice and soft to knit. If it wears as well as the original Opal it will have been a great investment. I’ve already bought yarn for the next pair and am contemplating some sort of simple allover texture pattern to add a little variety.
I’ve always loved a plain stockinette sock for my own use and because of that generally save sock knitting for those times I want a “mindless” project, but lately everyone around me is knitting something a bit more…fancy isn’t quite the word I’m looking for, but you know what I mean – something more than Plain Vanilla socks, and I can feel the tide of peer pressure lapping at my toes…
I’ve left the socks at Knitty Gritty on display for the moment along with some hats until more of the Regulars get swatches and items knit up. I imagine it will be a rotating group of items for a long time to come.
In other sock-related news, the first of my “old” sock patterns has been updated and is now for sale on the website and on Ravelry – I’m SODesigns over there if you want to add me to your friend list 🙂
Looking over the “old” designs it’s clear that some of them will need to be knit again so I can take better photographs – what seemed Just Fine then is Outdated and Boring today. A few of the ladies at Knit Night have volunteered to knit samples for me and I guess that means I can procrastinate no longer – gotta get moving on that project.
Keep an eye on the Knitty Gritty Class Schedule if you’re in the area and looking for classes – I’ll be teaching sock knitting, chart reading, knitting lace and maybe a hat class or two.
What class would you take if you could take anything your heart desires?
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve jumped on Knittingsarah’s KAL for 2014 – to knit on a sock every day all year long, starting January 15. For those of you who have forgotten:
The goal of this KAL is to condition ourselves to incorporate sock knitting into our every day lives.
I was working on a sock when I joined and had a sock class scheduled, which went very well – both students knit a pair of socks with worsted weight yarn and were happy with their new skills. Last Friday the next class started (delayed a week because of snow) and Kristin is motoring along on her DK weight socks. Both classes elected to knit both socks at the same time rather than complete one and have to worry they would forget the techniques for the second sock and forever suffer from Second Sock Syndrome – that dreaded condition whereby a knitter only ever completes the first sock of the pair. I don’t understand, myself – the whole point is to knit a pair and wear them – anything else is just an educational exercise and wastes good yarn 🙂
There have been a few days that I did not knit on a sock, but I have knit most days of 2014, completing five hats (one of which disappeared completely* two of which were ripped out and re-knit because of design flaws that could not be overcome) and three socks so far.
Last week after class I was wandering around the shop, Knitty Gritty, looking longingly at the new Opal yarns Maurine had ordered, when I spied a single ball of something unique: Opal X-Large (the link leads to the exact colorway right at the top of the page – LOVE!!!) Hmmm…I love the colors and patterns of Opal yarn, but it’s fine and requires 72 stitches per round on US 0 or 1 needles and they simply take foooor-eeeveeeer to knit so I tend not to make fine socks. I buy my shoes a half size larger to make up for my sock knitting laziness, in case you need to know.
But this X-Large stuff is DK weight – only 56 stitches – totally do-able! I snatched up the ball and headed home to do some chores.
Over the weekend, I knit both Opal socks to the heel flap (can’t go farther until class, where I’ll use them to demonstrate the flap and heel turn for Kristin) and then picked up another bit of Stash** yarn and started a third sock. Last night I knit the forth sock of what is starting to look like a series in DK weight yarn to the heel flap and picked up the second sock of the most recent worsted weight pair, which is almost ready for the heel turn.
Whew! That’s five socks on the go – a new personal record, I think. I’m usually monogamous with my sock knitting but the Opal has inspired me to get my sock drawer filled up before nicer weather drives me outside for the season.
So far the socks I’ve knit have been plain stockinette, samples for an upcoming pattern, but I’m feeling the draw towards a new cabled design, or maybe something with a simple all-over pattern suitable for beginners. It looks like my Knitting Mojo may have found its way home 🙂
* I suspect the cat has hidden it somewhere, along with a couple of single socks. I haven’t yet found his hiding place, which boggles the mind as we live in a 30-foot travel trailer and I’ve been re-arranging furniture for well over a week now. It couldn’t have just vanished into the ether, could it?
** There is quite a bit of nice wool yarn in The Stash and a rather embarrassing amount of handspun suitable for socks that should be used before buying any more yarn. Space is at a premium and I am determined! The Plan was going so well, four pairs of socks with the boring cream Phildar, the DK socks in dirt-brown that was originally marked for a sweater but refuses to even swatch properly, even the Opal bought I don’t even know how many years ago – yarn into socks, no money spent. This new Opal X-Large has totally de-railed my stash-busting plans. And last night Maurine told me that she’s ordered more…