The best of socks, the worst of socks

Recently, my knitting life has been a sock-o-rama, as I filled requests for chunky fishermen-style socks. As I finished off the last pair, I was ready to knit something else. Perversely, more socks.

There are knitters and then there are sock knitters. Sock knitters are the crowd who make intricately patterned foot covers with super fine wool, socks meant to fit in your shoes and under your pants legs.

I have neither the eyesight nor the patience for that. I also have a bit of vanity – if I’m going to knit something, I’d like it to be worn in a way that shows it off to the rest of the world.

I thought I wasn’t a sock knitter until I picked up Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Sock Book and I saw this pattern.

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These socks are a work of art I could show off with skirts or dresses. With these, maybe I could even start an adult knee sock fashion trend!

Off I went, pattern in hand, to my local wool shop. The nice saleslady talked me into the quality sock wool that matched the required gauge. Taxes in, that was $36.

I also had to replace my 3.25 mm circular needles, which had been destroyed during a previous sock mishap. Another $10.

That was $46 for the raw materials. I wouldn’t even spend that much money on a pair of technical running socks.

I started the project on a little holiday away. In the airport lounge in Halifax, I laid out my yarn and set to work.

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I spent the entire seven hour layover untangling and reballing the yarn, then starting and unravelling the sock several times until I got the hang of the pattern. By the time I boarded the next plane, I had a ribbing and the leg started.

I picked away at the sock during my 4-day mini break. I got used to the dental floss-like yarn, and I found the sweet spot in my eyesight where I should hold the needles. I started to appreciate the slow but intricate progress of the pattern.

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I slowly navigated the heel turn. A work of art, if I do say so myself.

Before I started the complicated heel decrease with added sole stripes, I tried the sock on.

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Yeah, yeah, I didn’t knit a gauge swatch. But the gauge on the yarn package matched the gauge on the pattern. Even if it didn’t match, there is no way I would mess with such a bonkers complicated pattern.

What now?

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I am not inclined to attempt another miniature feat of engineering to complete the pair.

I am not a sock knitter.

My husband offered to use it as a golf club cover.

What to do with all this sock wool?

I have a lifetime’s supply of very expensive dental floss.

New year, new projects

2017 is the start of my third year in yarn – and I have some exciting knitting ahead. 

Santa Claus brought me a wool winder! Now I can prep skeins of wool by winding them into large, orderly large hockey pucks. Until now, I’ve been stringing the skeins over the backs of two chairs, or more awkwardly, around my knees, to wind into uneven balls.

Plus, winding wool is almost as fun as knitting with it.

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Ain’t no party like a wool winding party.

Also for Christmas, my in-laws in Calgary gave me the Greatest Gift of All – yarn, made by the very Alberta-sounding Red Neck Goat Ranch. And it came in a brand new project bag!

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For me, yarn is almost a non-perishable item. Any brand new skein or ball that comes into the house must be consumed immediately. (Thus, my stash consists of half-used balls of yarn).

What to make?

After my pre-Christmas gift making frenzy, and a few commissioned pieces, I think it’s time to make something for me.

As with many small batch yarns, these three skeins came with no labels, so I had to do some guessing.

First, the size of the yarn.

Comparing it the other balls in my arsenal, it seems to be of worsted weight. And compared to other full skeins, there looks to be roughly 200 m per skein. I have three of them.

I think I may have enough to make this pattern.

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This short poncho would be great for me to wear at work on chilly early winter mornings. The question is – will three skeins complete the project?

I’m going to live on the edge and give it a try.

I have a couple other multi-ball projects I’d like to get at over the next couple of months. And then it’s back to socks, mitts, hats, and the small stuff that makes great gifts.

That new wool winder is going to get quite the workout.

If 2017 gets any wilder or crazier than this, I’m not sure how I’m going to handle it.

Knit one, purl one, chill out

I’m working on a pair of socks right now and I’m thinking about one of the major reasons why I took up knitting in the first place: to stay away from screens and digital information overload.

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I’m an information junkie by trade and by nature. I spend most of my work day in front of a computer with an internet connection. On my off time, my smartphone and tablet are always near. I’m on Facebook and Twitter just as much as the next person.

But all that has changed in the past month.

I’m finding all the news from the United States quite depressing and distressing. The news from the rest of the world isn’t particularly cheerful either.

It’s getting to the point where I’m feeling panicked as I scroll through the alarming headlines I see shared on social media or on respected journalism sites.  The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert don’t seem that funny to me anymore.

I know I need to stop worrying about things I can’t control.

If I already hadn’t started knitting, I would be starting now.

Google “knitting and mental health” or knitting and stress reduction” and you’ll find many articles, such as this one and this one, which confirm what knitters already know: knitting is good for you.

Which brings me back to knitting as a way of pulling the plug on information overload. .  

The more I knit, the more my fingers and brain are occupied and NOT surfing the web. 

And when I’m not knitting, I’m retraining myself in my online habits.

If I want to do some aimless internet surfing, I have moved my bookmarks for Ravelry, Knitty, and online yarn shops to the top of my browser.

If I’m watching television, it’s home decorating and nature shows, and more soothing Netflix fare. I’m really getting into The Crown!

I’m glad I started knitting a couple of years ago simply out of my own curiosity and as a bit of a self-improvement project. That way, I don’t associate knitting as something I started as a result of something stressful.

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Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a heel to turn and an episode of Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party to watch. Martha is wearing an intriguing knitted sweater.