Where Do Your Toes Start?

Well, not so much your actual, personal toes.  I’m assuming those start towards the end of your feet.  I more mean where do your sock toes start.  I ask because the yellow socks are looking a lot like this:

Where do you start your toes?That’s the point where I have to try them on every two or three rows to see if it’s time to do the toes.  For my feet, I’m happiest if I start the first round of toe decreases just as the sock reaches the tip of my smallest toe (so I need about another half inch or so on this one).  Then I do decreases every other row until the sock reaches the tip of my next toe.  For me that’s usually three pairs of decrease round/non-decrease round.  Then I decrease every row until I have somewhere around 20 stitches left (the precise number often depends on the specifics of the pattern and what will look best).

But I know everyone seems to do their toes differently, and I’m curious how you do it.  Do you do exactly what a pattern says?  Do you have landmarks on your own feet you use to guide you (yes, I have seen the tattoos, that’s some real dedication)?  Do you do anatomical toes?  Or maybe you just wing it?  I always feel that really well fitting toes are one of the perks of knit socks, and I’m curious to hear how you guys tweak yours.

Marooned

I’m delighted to announce that Marooned is out and ready for your needles.

marooned 1These are the socks I worked on while we visited San Francisco this summer (yes, yes I did bring a sock blocker with me in my suitcase) and took pictures of at the beach.  I confess, I’m unreasonably pleased with them!

Well, I’m delighted with the socks themselves (how could I not be), but the unreasonable glee is all coming from the pattern.  While I like my socks thick and smooshy (these are made with String Theory’s Merino DK and so are super thick), I know not everyone does, so I wrote the pattern at three different gauges (7, 8, and 9 stitches per inch).  I also wrote it for 6 different sizes.  That means you should have no trouble finding a size that fits you (or your teenaged daughter or your husband or anyone in between).  Just as delightful, while I was testing the sock, the testers and I found out it works absolutely beautifully with just about any colorway you can imagine.  We had lovely muted semi solid yarns, wild variegated yarns, and everything in between, and they all looked smashing.  I think this is going to be hugely flexible, and I can’t wait to see what you do with it!

And, just as a little encouragement to get it on your needles soon, now through Thursday, the pattern is available at an introductory price of $5.00 (on Friday it will go up to the usual $6.00).  You can download the pattern over on ravelry.  I hope you love it as much as I do!

marooned 2

Progress

The first sock is nearly done.  It would actually be done if I were the more decisive type.  I (as predicted) went with the option where I worked on the needles to make the foot all swirly and keen.  I got it all figured out, liked it, even took notes, then realized I really really wanted some plain socks.

most of a sockSo I made a new plan.  I secured another skein of String Theory’s wonderful yarn (this time their caper sock in a beautiful purple-y blue) and had a conversation with a super awesome secret knitter (secret only because I forgot to ask if shew as ok with me sharing, secrecy likely lifted in future if she doesn’t mind), and made quite an awesome plan.  I’m going to knit the plainer version of these in this lovely fat yarn, she’s going to knit the swoopy version of these in a more traditional sock weight yarn.  Then I’ll show both in the pattern (the pattern which will be written for something obscene like four gauges and eight sizes).

So while I love this plan, it did mean I had to rip the swirly bit I figured out.  We’re calling it a good cause though, as I think the end result will be socks I love, socks she loves, two socks to show off in the pattern, and a pattern that should fit more or less everyone and work with a huge range of yarn.

Oh, and speaking of patterns, I’ll be putting one up tomorrow.  No, not these yellow ones, the ones I finished up in San Francisco.  They’re going up tomorrow morning!

Now for the Hard Part

The gusset decreases are done.  Now I have to decide if I will a) keep going straight as established all down the foot or b) send it swerving off on a new path.  And if I go with b, I then have to figure out if I will 1) do it on the needles (high risk, but quicker if it works out on the first try) or 2) set this aside and swatch my ideas on a separate piece like a grown up.  I predict b1, as it gives the most room for swearing.

_DSC9022I will, at the very least, try and take good notes…

Hypnotic

Ok, so apparently I’m not the only one who likes these.  You seem smitten too.  The Boy was home this morning, so I pressed him into service as foot double so I could grab a quick snap (I mention this so you know those are his furry legs, not mine).

_DSC9016You can see I finished the leg, the heel flap, and the first few rounds of the gusset, all in the space of two days.  This is unheard of.  I’m giving credit to the ridiculously fat yarn (String Theory Caper Aran in Melon) and the low stitch count (a mere 44 stitches around).

_DSC9017But some credit must also go to that stitch pattern.  It’s ridiculously fast, and easy enough that I could do it while watching the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead (ie, I could do it without actually looking very much at all).

I’m calling it a win for simple socks.  Good sense dictates I put them away for today (too much knitting in a short time is murder on my arms), but I think I’m quite committed to these now and I can’t imagine not finishing them.

Uncharacteristic

I’m doing something odd.  I’m knitting a plain sock.  A very plain sock.  A nearly alarmingly plain sock.  See?

_DSC8993(And because you’ll ask, yes, it’s String Theory, of course it is!)  I can’t tell if this is a passing phase, a new trend, or a sign of some sort of incipient stroke.  Somebody tell me, is this pretty, or have I lost it and am I knitting a boring sock?

Shocking

Hey, look, a sock.  We haven’t seen one of those around here in a while.

_DSC8099

I realized the other day I was feeling a little crazy around the edges – a little crazier than usual.  Now I like to think I’m some sort of complicated, mysterious being with a finely tuned set of needs and desires….not the sort of creature who could be entertained by using a series of 6,000 tiny loops to make a tube with a bend in the middle.  As it turns out though, I totally am that easily entertained.  Making that tube is unreasonably satisfying.  I got a sock on the needles, and within minutes I feel my sense of equanimity returning.  I’m not sure whether to be awed by the restorative power of knitting or deeply concerned that I might be a bit simple.

The yarn is Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label in olive, and it is amazing.  And yes, it is a dk weight yarn.  And yes, it does take 2 skeins to make a pair of socks.  But I truly, deeply, passionately feel that socks are better knit on thicker yarns.  They’re easier to knit, they’re more comfortable to wear, and they last longer (this is where you can imagine me waving a banner and possibly shouting into a bullhorn).  And since I’m the one knitting them…well I’ll be using yarns I love.  Now, if only we could get yarn makers to start giving us dk yarns in 150 gram hanks so I could get a pair out of one skein…

More pics as the sock comes together, this one isn’t really doing the sock justice, but I was too pleased to have something shareable on the needles to wait any longer.

Casualty

Last night found The Boy and I clambering around on the underside of our local abandoned railroad bridge in pursuit of excellence in sock photography (as you do).  This particular spot had lots of advantages.  It’s local, accessible through one of the area parks, and maintained enough to be safe yet decrepit enough to be picturesque.  It’s really all you could hope for, and the shots came out beautifully.

Alas, there was one small problem.

Some of those more picturesque bits?  They were sticky.  Sticky in a way that got all over the bottom of my sock.  Black, sticky, gooey tar (or, more technically, probably creosote) on my lovely pale green wool socks. Quite a lot of it.  Enough that this happened too.

Nifty.  So after a restorative dinner and a beverage or two, we came home, and I went straight to the computer to see how to best remove such marks from fabric.  I set the socks on my desk (goo side up thank you).  A moment later, a snarling, thrashing streak of fur leapt up beside me and began trying to save me from the terror of stained socks.  It was the normally mellow Barry.  The idea of sock stains (or, more likely, the smell of the creosote) had driven him into a kitten frenzy.

I snapped only the quickest of pictures before separating the combatants, (the socks had suffered enough trauma, and I didn’t think Barry would benefit from a creosote snack), but I hope it captures the mood of the moment.  The socks are undergoing treatment, I’ll report back once I know their prognosis.

Coop Knits Socks, Review & Giveaway

One of the most charming parts of TNNA (and yes, I do still owe you the official TNNA post, but I seem to have brought back the traditional TNNA cold, which has taken up residence in my ear and kept me more or less in bed, so this week has sort of gone spiraling away from me and I’m just the smallest bit behind)…ahem, as I was saying, one of the most charming parts of TNNA is finally meeting in person all those folks you’ve only known online.  Matching up names with faces (or let’s be honest, blogs and twitter accounts and ravelry names with faces) is always delightful.  And this year, one of the people I was lucky enough to finally meet in person was the lovely Rachel Coopey.

Rachel makes really nifty socks.  Well, she makes lots of nifty things, but I don’t think she’d argue if I said she has a deep and abiding affection for beautiful socks, and that her passion shines through when she’s got a new pair on the go.  She’s been designing intricate, engaging socks for years now, and her first book, Coop Knits Socks: Ten designs to warm your feet and your heart, has just come out.  I was lucky enough to nab a copy of it at TNNA, and I wanted to be sure you guys knew all about it!

I’m having an awfully hard time writing about this book.  I sort of just want to just post pictures of all the socks and then point at the little details on each of them and go ‘see…see that right there?  That’s what will make these great fun to knit!  Here’s some yarn, go get started, I’ll wait.’  I suppose that’s not exactly practical (though it would be fun), so I’ll have to restrain myself to something a bit more traditional.

Well, actually, I’m still going to give in and post some pics.  I just can’t help myself.  They’re too pretty not to share!  (The pictures in this post are from the book and used with Rachel’s permission.)

The quick run down is that there are ten intricate sock patterns, all top down (cough, as socks should be, cough), all clearly written and meticulously charted (also, as socks should be).  Each of them includes delightful details (like the beautiful heel on Paignton or the stripes on Saltburn or the mirroring on Budleigh) that make them into something really special and mean you’ll have a blast knitting them.

You can see that Rachel is a dedicated sock knitter, and she’s taken the extra steps to design patterns that are fun to knit.  I can tell you from experience that sometimes the sock that’s fun to knit is a bit trickier to write than a more basic sock would be, but Rachel puts in the extra effort so you’ll enjoy your projects!  The results are beautiful.  (She’s also taken the time to figure out a handy way to make sure everyone who buys a paper copy gets a free eversion…she’s nice like that!)

If you like to knit thoughtful, beautiful, interesting socks, this book belongs on your shelf.  And while I can’t quite manage to give it to all of you, Rachel has generously offered up a copy to one lucky winner.  If you’d like that to be you (and really…you would), go take a look at the socks and tell me which would be first on your needles if you won.  Leave your answer in a comment (and be sure to use a working email address when you leave a comment, otherwise I can’t get in touch with you if you win…I’m the only one who sees them, and I won’t do anything with them save contact the winner).  I’ll leave comments open through 10 am (eastern) on Wednesday, July 10.

One Down

The first sock is done!  See?  All the way done, right down to the pretty little toes.  And don’t worry, the little bars of yarn all lay a bit straighter when my foot (as opposed to the blocker) is filling the sock out.

That’s String Theory Merino DK in Didgeridoo.  Now, 1 skein of that yarn has 280 yards.  Knowing that I have big feet, and knowing that I wanted to make socks from this yarn, I bought two skeins.  When I finished up the first sock (after the requisite amount of preening), I popped it on the scale.  It came in at 56 grams.  The remainder of the skein weighed in at 60 grams.  Unless there is some sort of surprise waiting for me, that should mean that I can get a whole pair of socks out of just this skein.

I’ll insert a disclaimer here about how these socks have short cuffs, and how I always recommend erring on the side of buying extra yarn, but it does seem like I’ll get away with just one skein this time.  Which leaves me with the fabulous question of what to do with the extra skein.  I’ve never made two pairs of socks from the same yarn and color before, but this shade is so irritatingly gorgeous I may just have to do just that.