Forgotten FO: Oh So Nikki Socks

I was cruising by my own blog, wondering how long it had been since I’d posted (much too long again, as expected), and I realized, with quite some embarrassment, that there was a pair of socks I finished nigh on a year ago but neglected to ever post here!

Please allow me to present my Oh So Nikki Socks, a wonderfully enjoyable, fast pattern, which I knit in a delightfully happy self-striping yarn.

Pattern: Oh So Nikki Socks by Judy Sumner, a free pattern available as a PDF on Ravelry. My project page is here.
Size: US women’s 9
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici 4-ply fingering weight, in Aurora, 75% Merino wool / 25% nylon; I used less than 2 balls, approximately 80 grams, which was roughly 350 yards/ 320 meters
Needles: Knit Picks size 1.5 (2.5 mm) DPNs, set of 5
Modifications: worked toe-up with a short-row heel

Started: February 20, 2010
Finished: March 21, 2010

These socks were a second entry into the Sock Knitters Anonymous February 2010 challenge, featuring under-appreciated patterns. To qualify, patterns were required to have less than 15 projects in Ravelry, and at the time I started these, I believe I was project #3. I was surprised more knitters hadn’t tried this pattern out, since it was so fast and enjoyable, with high-impact results.

I thought the short floats of slipped stitches which comprise the bar-like stitch pattern on every other row would add a bit of texture and visual interest to a self-striping sock yarn, without competing with the striping pattern.

I like the somewhat staccato rhythm the alternating sets of threes gives to the columns of stripes.

Of course I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t obsessively match the stripes. I know self-striping yarns aren’t for everyone, but to me, they are endlessly amusing. I find the colors of Felici uniquely special, and I think it is a lovely yarn all around. After the utter joy of knitting these socks, I made sure to treat myself to a few more balls.

I was tickled that I was able to start the toes and heels on the colors I did, and I knew I wanted to end on the teal, so that worked out perfectly.

As I’ve said several times now, the stitch pattern was crazy fast, in part because it was so delightfully addictive. I whipped through these in a very short amount of time, which always adds to my satisfaction with a project. It was important to me that these socks be absolutely stress-free, since I was working on them while taking breaks from my art history master’s thesis, and I had zero brainpower or energy to spare for knitting complications.


To make them toe-up, I did a figure-8 cast-on and, of course, my favorite short-row heel. Obviously, the stitch pattern inverted effortlessly.


As I related in my first post about these socks, the pattern was initially conceived for the designer’s granddaughter, and I wanted to keep that spirit of youth and playfulness to them. The yarn was just delightful to work with, and I think the end product was sufficiently charming and a burst of joy in my knitting life last spring.

If you are looking for a fun, fast, enjoyable project, I definitely recommend this pattern in a bright, colorful yarn. I hope your socks will make you as instantly cheerful as these make me.

Previous Entries on this Project:
Two new cast-ons

FO – Fern Pattern Socks (Farnmustersocken)

When I photographed the last five pairs of socks I’d knit in one session, my father apparently asked my mother, “Just how many pairs of socks has she knit while procrastinating her thesis??” While I clarified that those were socks spread out over the past year or more, I also had to sheepishly admit that yes, there were two more pairs.

As my love of green lace is extensive and well-documented, I have to say, I really don’t see myself getting tired of it.

Pattern: Fern Pattern Socks (Farnmustersocken) by Diana Harrison, from the German magazine Wollke7; my project is here on Ravelry
Size: US women’s 9
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss Sock 4-ply fingering weight, in Jade, 70% wool / 30% silk; I used 83.7 grams, which was approximately 367.4 yards/ 336 meters
Needles: Knit Picks size 2 (2.75 mm) DPNs, set of 5
Modifications: worked toe-up with a short-row heel

Started: February 7, 2010
Finished: March 14, 2010

I knit these as part of the Under-appreciated Patterns challenge for Sock Knitters Anonymous on Ravelry. The criteria for this challenge included that there must be less than 15 projects at the time of cast-on for a pattern to be considered under-appreciated, and in this instance, my project was the third.

I figured the reason it was obscure was because it was written in German, though I’m surprised more German-speaking sock knitters hadn’t picked up on it. Because the lace pattern was charted out, I found a very helpful German to English Symbol Knitting site that made quick sense of it, which combined with Google Translator helped me sort out all the relevant details. No longer will I be put off by patterns written in another language, with the internet here to help me!

This pattern has a lot of pluses for my personal preferences. The repeats are simple and short, yet long enough that you only need to work a few over each round. The fern shapes are built by two 8-row sequences of essentially the same pattern, shifted left or right, so the stitches and sequence of working them are almost the same. The only even remotely tricky part is that at the start of the 15th row on the chart, a stitch must be moved from the previous needle to make the pattern work. I wondered how that was going to work out, then just did what it said, and I had my answer: effortlessly.

In addition to being great fun to knit, this type of lace also has a strong visual impact and dimensionality without getting too distracting. I enjoyed working it in a solid color so that from a distance, they’d be sort of sedate, but up close you could really see the stitches, unobscured.

Working on larger than my usual needles, with the somewhat beefier Gloss yarn, made these socks move pretty quickly. I knit most of them while I was in bed sick with bronchitis (yuck), but even through a codeine haze I could tell I was going to be happy with the finished product.

I worked my standard toe starting with a figure-8 cast-on, then a short-row heel. I have to say I really love the way this yarn works at this gauge, as it makes for really neat structural elements that feel great on the feet.

I look forward to wearing these often and continuing to spread the love for green lace socks.

Previous Entries on this Project:
Neue Socken

Grape Lace

In what I’m sure will come as no surprise to anyone, I’ve started a new pair of socks. These are special because they’re not the usual sock, so much as lace stockings, and well, I have reason to believe I’m going to love them.

So you’ve seen Bettie’s Lace Stockings from the Spring 2009 Interweave Knits, right? As soon as I saw them, I fell in love and was certain I would be making them one day.

Among the numerous points that attracted me to this pattern (beautiful lace! size 2 needles! not a lot of yarn but you end up with knee socks! fast! stretchy! ribbons!!!), the fact that they are designed toe-up jumped out and made me extraordinarily happy. Toe-up is, to my thinking, the most logical and comforting way to knit socks, and I’ve noticed that the fit is much better than the top-down socks I’ve knit.

I changed the cast-on to my usual figure-8 (not a big fan of unpicking provisional cast-ons) and increased to 48 stitches, then got going with the pattern as written. Then I started feeling a little disconcerted.

(This is actually the bottom of my foot.)

The elements of this design are essentially a wider central pattern of lace, flanked by two narrow eyelet panels. Eventually there will be calf increases and what all built into these elements, but on the foot, it felt very strange to work three sections of lace, two of which were split on the bottom of the foot. I tried to think through the logic on that, but when I realized that there would be a short-row heel interrupting the lace up the back of the leg anyway, I wondered if it wouldn’t be better to knit the sole in stockinette?

I hemmed and hawed about how well they would wear with sole lace, and whether I felt like knitting two extra repeats when I was only interested in the one on the top of the foot. When I noticed how many times I’d flubbed the eyelet panels (from losing track at the start of the row at the middle of the sole), I took it as a sign, frogged back to the toe and started over.

I am so much happier now. I have the wide panel of bee pattern lace centered between two narrow eyelet columns on the top of the foot, with the sole knit in plain stockinette. I’ll work a regular short row heel, then follow the pattern afterwards for calf increases and so on. It’s moving way, way faster, and I’m not so annoyed feeling like I’m putting a lot of effort into something that will get bedraggled in my shoes anyway.

If you’re interested in making this change (and heck, for my own future reference when I inevitably forget what I did and need to match the second socks), it’s quite easy.

Cast on using a figure-8 or Turkish cast-on, Judy’s magic cast-on, etc and increase to 48 stitches. Or do whatever provisional toe-up cast-on you like, so long as you get to 48 stitches. When you switch to 3 needles (one for the top and two for the bottom), slip the first stitch of needle 1 and the last stitch of needle 2 to the bottom needles, such that you have 13 stitches on each of those and 22 stitches on the top needle.

P1, work a repeat of the narrow eyelet lace (in the pattern it is called Feathered Fagoting), work a repeat of the center bee lace (Narrow Gathered Lace), p1, work a second repeat of narrow eyelet lace, p1. Then knit the sole stitches in stockinette. Much easier, faster, and it retains the stretchiness of the pattern, with the sturdiness of a stockinette sole. Now these are socks I will love to knit as much as I’ll love to wear them.

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.