FO – Child’s Sock in Miranda Pattern

For the last pair in my five-sock reveal, I thought I’d share the most recent and, to my color sensibility, maybe the best.

This is one pair of Nancy Bush socks that I didn’t work as written, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

Pattern: Child’s Sock in Miranda Pattern by Nancy Bush, from the book Knitting Vintage Socks; my project is here on Ravelry
Size: US women’s 9
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll 4-ply fingering weight, in Tidepool Heather, 75% Merino wool / 25% nylon; I used 69.5 grams, which was approximately 321 yards/ 293 meters
Needles: Susan Bates size 1 (2.25 mm) aluminum DPNs, set of 5
Modifications: worked toe-up with a short-row heel and omitted leg shaping, added length to legs

Started: January 1, 2010
Finished: February 27, 2010

This pattern is strikingly simple, but with a nice impact. I read someone’s project notes on Ravelry that said “It’s a sock. There’s yarn overs. That pretty much covers it,” and of course I chuckled because really, that’s it. The arrangement of the yarn-overs with their paired decreases, however, made for these nice box shapes that reminded me of chessboards and plaids.

I had seen a lot of pairs that seemed kind of baggy and weirdly shaped, and I worried that that was a consequence of the calf shaping, which I omitted. Working these toe-up, I was able to try them on and make sure I got an acceptably firm fit, such that by the time I tried them over my heel I saw no need to increase and if anything, made them longer to try to pull up some of the slack, so to speak (there wasn’t much – I always like my socks as long as possible).

At first I felt these were slow-moving, since I was knitting on slightly smaller needles than usual and often while on the train. For a while I had a fit counting the stockinette rows between Miranda pattern repeats (why? why was that so hard?), but eventually I got an eye for it and was able to move a lot more quickly. Ultimately it took getting sick with an awful case of bronchitis, trapping me in bed for two weeks on codeine and nothing to do but watch Hulu and Netflix, to be able to mellow out and just go with the pattern. Once I got in that state, I knit the second sock in a day or two.

The yarn is, of course, what makes these socks. I wanted something with a little variation to the color for visual interest, but not so much that it would overpower such a simple lace pattern. This heathered yarn struck the perfect balance, making a fabric that I love to look at, while still showing the pattern.

While knitting I noticed that the overall tone of these socks is almost exactly the same as my current purse, as well as a lot of my favorite clothes and jewelry. I love a nice blue-green, as it seems to go with all my other favorite colors, and it looks fantastic on its own. In this color, I think these socks will be pretty wearable through many seasons, and in case I haven’t said it enough, I really, really love them.

Previous Entries on this Project:
For the Love of Nancy Bush

FO – Toe-Up Jaywalkers

This winter, I knit another pair of Jaywalkers, and I’m delighted with them.

Is there anything more charming than zig-zapping striped socks?

Pattern: Jaywalker by Grumperina, adapted to knit toe-up by Natalia Marek; my project is here on Ravelry
Size: US women’s 9
Yarn: Regia Crazy Color 4-ply fingering weight, in color 5438, 75% new wool / 25% nylon; I used 82.5 grams, which was approximately 379.5 yards/ 347 meters
Needles: Susan Bates size 1 (2.25 mm) DPNs, set of 5
Modifications: used my standard short-row heel

Started: December 2, 2009
Finished: December 29, 2009

These socks were part of the December Sock Knitters Anonymous challenge, using self-striping yarns. I hadn’t realized that I was in the minority for how much I love self-striping yarn until I heard all the griping about it during that challenge, but I love it now more than ever.

I took a calculated risk in knitting the smaller size of these, even though the first pair of Jaywalkers I knit was the 84-stitch version (also on slightly larger needles). I will admit that the biased, unstretchy fabric on these makes them very difficult to get over my heels, but they can juuuuuuust do it. I suspect that with a little washing and wearing, they’ll stretch enough to pull on and off more easily without losing their firm fit. It must be said, these never fall down, not even a bit, and I love that about them.

I also love the crisp, tight little stitches formed by working at a smaller gauge, and I found myself admiring them throughout.

I tend to wear my shoes on the fitted side, with thinner trouser socks or hosiery more often than not. For that reason, sometimes it’s difficult to wear hand-knit socks with my regular shoes, as they can fall a bit on the bulky side. I wanted to be able to wear these socks with jeans or casual work pants, for a shot of playful stripes, but still keep it all together in my work flats.

I love the way the chevron stripe pattern works with self-striping yarn, and of course it goes without saying that Jaywalkers are one of the greatest patterns of all time. Working them in a stripe makes it especially engaging to keep knitting a few more of the two-row repeats, just to watch the chevrons form, so these moved very quickly in a handful of knitting sessions.

I was characteristically obsessive in making sure my stripes matched up exactly, and I think I got it pretty spot on. I really, really love that.

I waxed poetic about Regia yarn in my last post, and these colors hold similar associations for me, plus this nautical, sailing feel. I knit these in the midst of a snowy winter, dreaming of sunshine on the river, the crisp white sails of our boat and the millions of shades of blue swirling lazily in the morning light. In my head, they became my “sailing socks,” and every time I picked them up, I daydreamed about sailing.

It’s probably no surprise, then, how much I love them.

FO – Eleanor in Blue Socks

Another pair of long-finished socks, these were such a treat during last spring’s trip to Italy.

Like broken-in jeans and a cushy sweater, these were instantly comfortable and felt familiar.

Pattern: Eleanor by Gigi Silva/Monkey Toes; available as a free pattern on Ravelry; my project is here
Size: US women’s 9
Yarn: Regia Havanna Color 4-ply fingering weight, in color 4182, 75% new wool / 25% nylon; I used 80.4 grams, which was approximately 367.5 yards/ 336 meters
Needles: Clover size 2 (2.75 mm) bamboo DPNs, set of 5
Modifications: worked toe-up, with a short-row heel

Started: February 5, 2009
Finished: March 31, 2009

I’ve knit a pair of Eleanor socks before, but I was dissatisfied with the eyelets on those (I really should reknit one and finish that pair). For this pair, I followed the pattern and I’m so glad I did.

I felt a weird tenderness toward these socks, partly as a consequence of working them slowly on bamboo DPNs. These were my refuge after long, cold days working outside, and later, my little bit of warmth and relaxation tucked in my bag while doing thesis research in Venice. I knit these while waiting for, and then riding trains, and I vividly remember one frustrating afternoon where I actually wrote in my journal “I just want to sit outside and knit my socks in the sunshine, the hell with thesis research.”

This pattern is great – I’ve really enjoyed it immensely both times I’ve worked on it, and I’m surprised that it doesn’t get boring from something so repetitive. I knit 8 repeats up the legs, and though I had enough yarn, I didn’t feel like figuring out calf increases. Still, I imagine they’d look smashing as knee socks.

I knit the majority of the second sock on the plane home, when I was utterly exhausted and couldn’t wait to be with my family and sleep in my own bed. My seat-mate, a college-aged guy from the UK, seemed genuinely perplexed by me, but I was completely unconcerned. At one point a woman walking by knocked my working yarn on the ground in front of the flight attendant’s drink cart, and it was a bit of a disaster as they rolled it over, pulling my sock and DPNs and all out of my hands and dragging it down the aisle. There is a break in the yarn, and even those little woven in ends elicit a fond smile whenever I see them.

The yarn is sturdy and was very pleasant to knit with. I’ve always loved Regia and found it to be an excellent yarn at a great price. The subtly blended colors are delightful in person and they sustained my interest throughout knitting. The rich blues and warm, gentle browns and tans remind me of corduroy pants and flannel shirts, of the beach where the ocean and sand meet, and of mud flats at low tide with wind-bent cattails and a brilliant blue sky.

In short, they feel like home.

Previous Entries on this Project:
Also Blue

FO – Spring Forward Socks

These are a bit of a flashback, since I finished them more than a year ago, but I still really love my Spring Forward Socks.

These are probably the pinkest, most feminine, girliest socks I’ve ever made, and I just adore them.

Pattern: Spring Forward by Linda Welch, free pattern from summer 2008 Knitty; my project is here on Ravelry
Size: US women’s 9
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy fingering weight, in Petal Shower, 100% Merino wool; I used 90.9 grams, which was approximately 360 yards/ 329.2 meters
Needles: Knit Picks size 1.5 (2.5 mm) nickel-plated double-pointed needles, set of 5
Modifications: worked toe-up, with a short-row heel

Started: January 3, 2009
Finished: April 5, 2009

As you may have surmised, these socks are practically perfect in every way. The fit is wonderfully comfortable. Because I had so much yarn (seriously – the yardage for Smooshy is so generous already, and I still have 20 grams leftover!), I was able to make the leg as long as I wanted.

The lace pattern was wonderfully easy, and fun, and I love the way it looks. The springy shapes are playful and move the yarn in pleasing ways, while still maintaining an almost solid fabric, so they’re not too open to wear as trouser socks or what have you. When I actually worked on these socks, they moved as quickly as, say, Monkeys, which made them very satisfying.

I still haven’t found a heel I love as much as a short-row heel (which is probably not a bad thing), and these were worked with 10 stitches on each side and 13 in the middle.

Apart from a wonderful pattern, I think what really made these socks for me is the yarn. I love this yarn so much I want to sing songs about it – the springy quality of the heavenly soft Merino is ideally suited for this bouncy lace, the colors are just variegated enough to stay interesting without getting distracting, the colors are lovely blends of pinks and creams so beautiful that I love every one, and the finished sock feels downright decadent on my feet. For the time it takes to make a pair of hand knit socks, it is very rewarding for them to feel so cushy and refined, like the luxury they really are. I will definitely be using as much Smooshy as possible in the future!

As for these socks, I can tell I will be getting a lot of wear out of them, starting right away.

Previous Entries on this Project:

Neue Socken

When I first started knitting, casting on a new project was an event. I put so much time and thought and energy into it, and I was so excited by the time I started that I couldn’t wait to take photos and document it, even if all I had to show was a few rows of a sock toe or the beginning of a sweater back.

I was worried that I was getting blasé about it, that starting a new pair of socks when I had so many already on the needles was becoming old hat (I’ll address my rather alarming WIP problem in another post).

The typical prompt for me to cast on new socks is the Sock Knitters Anonymous Sockdown challenges on Ravelry. This is such a fun, vibrant, and active group that it makes it utterly compelling to participate, and it’s extraordinarily satisfying to finish a pair within the group’s (very generous) timeframe.

The February Sockdown challenge included an option for Underappreciated Patterns, which of course intrigues me, as a big fan of the obscure and less recognized. I kept wondering what makes one particular pattern skyrocket in popularity while another equally beautiful (or perhaps even more beautiful) one gets overlooked.

In most cases, I realized that I personally overlook patterns which are photographed in a way that obscures the details (blurry, too dark or light, too far away to see the pattern etc) or, far more commonly, where an overly busy yarn is used. I think some hand-painted yarns are truly works of art, but not all yarns are suited for all patterns, and it drives me nuts when a great pattern is completely obscured by a high-contrast, crazy variegated yarn. Or, when such a yarn is forced to fight with a pattern rather than used in a simpler way that showcases its unique qualities.

All these obsessive issues of mine aside, I am pretty confident that the reason this pattern is underappreciated is because it is written in German. I of course don’t know any German, but I found the photos of this pattern so lovely that I really needed to make a pair of these socks, and I had this green Gloss yarn just begging to become fern lace.

It turns out it’s rather remarkably easy to figure out a German pattern, especially one such as this, which has the lace charted out. I found this super-helpful website which translates common German knitting symbols, and combining this with Google Translator, I pieced together the stitch count and instructions.

I’ve finished the first sock already, and I’m pretty stoked with the way they are coming out. More to the point, I’m actually enjoying the process, each component, and the whole experience of knitting. It’s a lovely change of perspective.