Saturday, March 31, 2007


What else would 'The Sock Lady' write about. Well, how about dishcloths? This blog is strictly for socks, but I think this dishcloth qualifies:

If you are a sockaholic and crazy for all things socks, you can imagine how glad I was to stumble upon this dishcloth pattern. It's a Carol Callaway design you can find at Knitted Kitty Designs under "Freebies." You'll have to join the Yahoo group to get the instructions though.

As for my progress on actual socks, I'm Kitchenering as fast as I can--between dishcloths and sweater swatches.

The Sock Lady

Monday, March 26, 2007

No More Stripes, Please!

I've had it with striped socks! And my stash is full of sock yarns of the striped nature. I'm looking for some tweeds, some subtle lines, but no pooling, and please, no wide stripes. Wide stripes are really a trial in a 100 gram ball, skein or hank of yarn if you're trying to make matching socks. I'm also tired of the whole fake fair isle look. I want some handpaints that are just random blends of color. I spent a whole day making a pair of socks only to be forced to make them fraternal twins. In order to make them identical, I would have to bypass many yards of yarn to reach the correct repeat in the striping pattern. I hate when that happens! There wouldn't be enough yarn left to complete the second sock. This is where a picture of the two socks should be inserted to show what I mean. However, I have an electric cone winder and before I thought to take a picture or talked myself out of it, I frogged and rewound the two socks--this time onto two separate cones ending them both in the same place in the striping pattern. I will be limited as to the size socks I can make, but at least they will match.

Many people do not bother with matching. In fact they prefer to wear socks that don't match. They knit the yarn as it comes off the ball without regard to matching the mate and they love them. I say "More power to them!" Although I've made little gift cards explaining fraternal twin and identical twin socks, I'm not comfortable with them. I just can't do it. They make me think 'seconds' or 'discount' or 'mistake.' Now, don't misunderstand me. I like making a statement. A pair of socks of two patterns in the same colorway or the same colors used in different places so that they looked like planned differences are fine. I can do those. I can wear those. I can share those. It's the OCD in me that just cannot tolerate those pairs of socks that are slightly off because no attempt was made at matching. I'm sorry, but that's just me.

So today it will be a do-over for the rewound wide stripes. The two socks will match. They will be identical. I will be happy.

The Sock Lady

Monday, March 19, 2007

A Little Machine Music

I used the weekend to turn out a few pairs of machine socks. I meant to make more, but there were a few glitches. Sometimes when you get a machine running as smooth as 'buttah' and churn out a few pairs of socks, the machine gets tired or thirsty or just plain ornery and starts to act up. Sometimes a needle or two disappoints. This was one of those times. A pair a day was all I could muster.

Kitchener time! I hope to get these done while watching Dancing With the Stars.

Today I made a mental inventory of my hand knit socks that are UFOs. I have five pairs. I wonder if I have forgotten any. One day this week I will search them out and see how many forgotten ones might be lurking in various bins and baskets. Uh-oh, I just thought of another pair. That's six. Way too many!

The Sock Lady

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Time to Knit Socks

It's back to winter here in the MidAtlantic and Northeastern US. Time to Knit Socks. This is where it all happens, or at least it did yesterday.

Above is the Legare 400 with 72/36 set up. Ooops, ribber is not in the picture. Below is what is to my right, tools, phone, TV and cable remote controls, calculator, notes, file cards. No mug of decaf, bottle of water or glass of wine present at the time, but all the other necessities right at hand.

I'm working on socks for men, using the more subtle colors in my stash. The pair on the chair are of yarn originally intended as a gift for a woman. Working the yarn on this machine at this setup told me otherwise. These socks will be for a small footed man or a big footed woman. My friend is neither of those so she will get something more appropriate when I change to the 54/27 set up or move back to the AutoKnitter machine with the 60/30 set up. Not to worry, I have enough size variables and yarn choices to make socks for every foot. And no socks feel better than hand made ones of natural fibers.

Time to make the socks,

The Sock Lady

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Sock Lady is Born

They call me "The Sock Lady" because I'm addicted to knitting socks. By hand or by machine, socks are my favorite things to knit. Why? Because they are a portable project, take a minimal amount of time to complete and if you've ever worn hand knit socks you wouldn't even ask why.

I started knitting socks in 2001 after coming back to knitting and finding the holey scarves knit of sequined yarn on fist sized needles did not hold my interest. They may have been easy, quick first projects for some, but they were a nuisance to me. I bought Learn to Knit Socks by Edie Eckman and a sock fanatic was born.

My first pair were these:

Not the prettiest, but the best of the two color choices of Lion Brand WoolEase sport weight and the closest to DK weight available in AC Moore the day I bought the yarn. I don't care! I love them and still have them . . . somewhere.

They were made using four US 3 aluminum double pointed needles. That was what was available in the craft store at the time. I found a yarn shop after that and switched to bamboo needles. I also found a society of sock knitters online, a whole sub culture full of information, tutorials and patterns. I went directly to using five needles size US 1. I had found my knitting niche.

In 2001 Cat Bordhi hit us with Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles and I was there!

A huge investment in 24 inch Addi Turbos ensued. I like to work on both socks at once and more than one pair at a time. I put away my sets of bamboo double points and soared on two circulars . . . until 2002 when The Magic Loop, Sarah Hauschka's "magical unvention" by Bev Galeskas was published by Fiber Trends.

Away with the sets of two circulars. I started buying Addi long circulars in pairs. I found that 32" is the ideal length for me. I learned the method with the recommended 40" but moved down to the 32 inch, the least amount of length suggested, which turned out to be my favorite. Since then many tutorials have appeared for knitting two socks at once on either two circulars or one long circular (40"). I don't like working of two socks on the same needles. I prefer to have each sock on separate needles and working from one set to the other.

During all this hand knitting of socks and changing of needles and methods, I stumbled upon a reference to something called "antique circular sock machines." A machine for knitting socks? Could this be a faster way to use up the requisite sock yarn stash of a sock fanatic? I jumped head first into the notion and found another subculture, complete with historians, refurbishers, restorers, online Yahoo groups and its own organization, CSMSA. Knitting nirvana!

By this time I had developed my own basic pattern for hand knitting socks, a plain stockinette sock with heel flap and gusset. My quest was to find a machine to duplicate my basic pattern. I decided on an AutoKnitter with a 60 needle cylinder and 30 needle ribber since my basic sock was a 60 stitch cast on and 1x1 ribbed cuff. My first machine socks, not from the AutoKnitter but from my third machine, a Gearhart, are pictured here:

They duplicate my hand knit socks except that they have short row heels. Taking into account the equipment, accessories and supplies I bought before producing a pair of machine socks, I estimate these socks are worth $3,000. I plan to frame them. I have the yarn to make an identical hand knit pair and frame them as well, for comparison--$3,000 vs $13.00 socks. Actually both pairs of socks will be 'hand knit', one pair by hand on one long circular needle and the other pair hand turned on a circular sock machine.

Although I turn some socks by hand, knitting socks with one long circular is still my favorite knitting.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The Sock Lady