If you’re an avid sock knitter like myself, you may have heard about Sock Madness over on Ravelry. This year, one of my friends convinced me to sign up for the crazy event.
Sock Madness is a friendly competition where sock knitters (new and experienced) compete to be the fastest sock knitter. Designers make new patterns for this event, and you get to see some fun new techniques and approaches to knitting socks. Knitters are divided up into teams based on the speed at which they complete the qualifying socks. If a knitter has signed up for the Madness but only completes one sock, or two socks to the heel, then they can be on the Cheerleader team! Cheerleaders get all the sock patterns but aren’t competing with each other. The rest of the teams compete with each other to advance to the next round. Every round the slowest knitters are dropped from the competition – but they still get all the patterns.
This year, I entered, made the full pair of socks for the qualifying round and was assigned to a team! It was fun to knit along with all those other individuals. We even had some in-person meetups for knitters in the area! I did not, however, advance to the second round .. but I’m still very happy with the fact that I made 3 pairs of socks in 6 weeks!! That was so much faster than I’ve knit socks before. All of the patterns are cool too, and I’ve learned a lot so far – a new method of color-work, new heels, new toes, a new way to transition from ribbed cuffs to stockinette legs, and some new increases.
Invitation to the Dance
I’m having a blast watching everyone else finish these complex socks and knitting along (although much slower) with them – it’s great!
If you’re a sock knitter and want to learn new stuff and stretch your knitting skills … mark your calendar for February 2018 and sign up for Sock Madness!
(pictures are all mine, of the socks that I’ve knit so far for Sock Madness)
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Presenting my newest shawl … the Cerri Shawl!
The pattern is the Dreambird shawl and renamed for the Welsh goddess Cerridwen because she turns into a bird in one of the myths about her. Due to lack of yardage, I did the scarf with with a lot less feathers (11 as opposed to the 22 the pattern has)! Started in 2014, this shawl has taken me most of 3 years to make!! It really didn’t take that long to knit, but I kept getting distracted from it.
The yarn is 100% handspun made of fiber from The Painted Tiger. The yarn really reflects how my spinning has changed over the years! It’s somewhat thick and thin, but I like how it worked up overall.
I learned so much making this shawl .. including the fact that focusing really helps with completing WIPs! No surprise there I’m sure 🙂 The first part of the shawl used the same short row technique from the Fish Lips Kiss Heel, and then the later couple of feathers used the German Short Row techniques. Both short row techniques have their advantages, but I was knitting on needles that would normally be a bit large for the yarn and I didn’t manage to minimize all the holes.
Still … I’m happy with it.
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NOTE that I’m a US crocheter, so the stitches mentioned are using US terminology.
Recently, Andi from Andre Sue Knits podcast mentioned that she was interested in exploring Crochet Socks.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ve seen some crochet socks that I’ve done. The socks photographed here are a design that I made up – as are a number of the crochet socks that I’ve made. I still wear most of my crochet socks and have darned them when needed. When I’m looking for warm socks, I love my crochet socks!
Crochet socks have different challenges in their construction. Crochet stitches, for example, tend to be more textural (aka bumpy) than knit stitches – and the fabric stretches in different directions. In addition, crochet fabric is traditionally thicker than knit fabric with the same yarn – so they don’t work well in tight shoes.
I don’t have particularly sensitive feet, so the bumps on the soles don’t bother me. If you are the kind of person who feels the purl bumps in knit socks, then I’d suggest that you only try the slip stitch style of crochet socks shown above.
For me, I like the slip stitch or extended single crochet stitches on the sole of the sock, with some kind of lace on the leg and top of the foot to help with sideways stretch. I’ve tried a few different heels, and I find that so far that the the heel flap style works the best for me. You can see an example on the Ultimate Crocheted Socks by Dorothy Hardy.
I haven’t made crochet socks in a while – I’ve been distracted with knitting socks, but thanks to Andi’s mention of crochet socks I think I’m going to try another pair again – and see how my improved understanding of sock construction, including heel construction, helps.
If you’re interested in creating your own crochet socks, I’ve created a bundle of my crochet socks and other interesting patterns to try on Ravelry.
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Undines sock pattern with the heel from Fork in the Road Socks
Socks … if you know me, you know that I love to make socks. My most recent pair of socks uses and afterthought heel.
I love the way the heel looks in these socks – the stripes bend around the heel instead of going across the heel. For self-striping yarn, this is definitely my preferred heel!
The idea of an afterthought heel is to stitch the tube of the sock then insert the heel afterwards. Some people will put in some scrap yarn where they want to put the heel. They rip out the scrap yarn and pick up the loose stitches to start building their heel off of. Other people will cut the sock where they want the heel, pick up the stitches and start the heel.
For me, one of the advantages of using an afterthought heel is that I don’t have to pay much attention to exactly how long my socks are – this does work better when you’re doing them two at a time! So I prefer the “cut your knitting” variety. It was a bit scary the first time, but now I have two pairs of socks with afterthought heels and it gets easier!
If you’d like to try an afterthought heel yourself, here’s some links to get you started:
- Socknitters.com has a well illustrated tutorial on how to use scrap yarn for your afterthought heel.
- Yarn Harlot has a tutorial on how to cut your socks to put your heels in.
- Knitbettersocks.com has a page on how to adjust the afterthought heel for higher insteps, but I found that I didn’t need any adjustment with the heel from the Fork in the Road Socks.
The socks shown are my Undines on Holiday with the heel from Fork in the Road Socks.
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I spend all that time making handmade socks, it seems to be a shame to toss them out when they get holes in them. I don’t wear store purchased socks anymore – so my handmade socks get a bit of a workout (and they go working out with me!)
Socks wear mostly on the toes and heels, so that’s where the holes come in. You can see in these socks that I’ve patched them a few times!
I use a number of different techniques for darning depending on what the hole is like – and if it’s actually a hole yet.
The light patches in the photo are areas where I caught it before more than one or two stitches blew out – there I used duplicate stitch, or swiss darning, to reinforce the worn stitches.
The dark blue square use a technique that I got from the Twist Collective called “Reknit and Graft” where you knit a square over the hole and attach it to the sides as you go. This is great for flat areas with larger holes, but it’s a bit fiddly.
For larger holes, I prefer to use the woven darning method. In this method (not pictured) you weave a dense square over the hole with the warp and weft tied into the sock. It’s the easiest way that I know to darn larger holes. The tutorial from Twist collective talks about using sewing thread to stabilize the hole first, but I rarely do that.
However you do it, darning is a great way to extend the life of your handmade items!
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I recently have been interested in knitting socks on 9″ needles – one at a time in the round – due to comments on various podcasts. So I purchased a pair of 9″ Hiya Hiya Sharps and am testing them out. For comparison, I normally knit socks two-at-a-time using magic loop on a 32″ or larger circular needle.
The needles feel so tiny! They’re just a couple of inches long and it’s a bit tricky to feel comfortable using them. I do like the idea that we just keep going round and round and not having to stop at the edges of the top and bottom of the socks.
It took about an inch of sock for me to start to feel comfortable with these tiny needles. You can see from the photo how small the needles are! I have to use fewer fingers than I normally do. I’m a little concerned about doing long term knitting with them and if they’ll tire out my hands, but so far it’s working out just fine and the socks are smoking along!
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My first try at making ankle high socks! I’m happy with the way they came out and the recipient says that they fit really well.
The socks are a blend of two different yarns – one is cotton/bamboo and the other one is superwash wool blend. you can see the details of the pattern and project on Ravelry at http://ravel.me/Ariaya/te4jp
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