I'm a Knitter. The capital K means every day, everywhere.
I'm co-owner of Cabin Fever with my sister Lyn. We have published over 100 patterns and 11 books. I'm also working on a new set of patterns for Any Gauge knitting. Dive into your stash and cast on for a Top Down sweater that fits, or an accessory to use up those odd balls of yarn.
She interviewed two sisters who wrote the book Burnout, Emily and Amelia Nagoski. What I found really interesting is that they said that stress (irregardless of the cause) has a beginning, middle and end. Getting to the end, on a daily basis, is the trick to dealing with stress. Getting stuck in the middle causes emotional exhaustion. You may be familiar with this feeling?!
To end the stress they suggested some solutions you could practice every day to bring an end to that wound-up or maybe more like unwound, feeling:
Physical exercise. Walk, yoga, whatever.
Breath. Deep breaths with long exhales.
Positive Social Connection. Talk to someone, anyone. It could be a nice comment to a shop person.
Laughter. The belly shaking kind.
Affection. A warm hug with someone in your bubble. The feeling of being safe. This is the difficult one these days.
Cry. Pay attention to the crying. Don’t keep thinking about the stressor (cause of stress).
CREATIVE EXPRESSION. OK, this is where I’m at. Knitting, knitting, knitting.
Turns out that KNITTING IS TOTALLY GOOD FOR YOU so keep knitting, knitting, knitting.
I could say that I’m knitting socks because it is socktober but that would be a lie. I’m knitting socks because they are my go-to when I’m thinking about a new design or procrastinating on another project or just restless and need to cast on something, anything, new. Someone needs socks, right? My daughter just dug out her winter clothes and counted 12 pairs so she’s good. My son-in-law is working in his basement where it’s cooler so he could use another pair. My husband is talking about buying socks so he’s definitely in the queue.
Cat Bordhi has left us. To honour her, I have made a pile of all her books. I am trying to learn one of her sock systems because my dream of taking a class from her is gone. First up is the New Pathways for Sock Knitters book.
I have knit several pairs so far: the Spiraling Coriolis which are toe up, Bartholomew’s Tantalizing Socks which begin at the cuff, and lastly the Ocean Toes which are also worked cuff down.
I’m still working on these socks because I have learned:
You can place the gusset stitches anywhere on the sock: on the top of the foot, under the foot (I love this idea) or even only on one side of the sock. Wow, that opens things up, doesn’t it?!
You can work the gusset stitches with two knit rounds between the decreases (or increases if toe up). That means the gusset section is longer so these socks give you more room along the instep (the arch on the top of your foot between mid-foot and ankle) which I really need for a good fit, bonus!
I’ve knit six socks so I have this system down, right? I mean six is enough. Now to do it with the book closed (feels like high school exams). The first sock went pretty well until I turned the heel and realized that I had worked the Short Rows for the heel starting with long rows which got shorter. No, no, no, rip, rip, rip. Started the heel again with Short Rows which started short and got longer. OK, look at me, I got this. Everything looks great.
I cast on the second sock a couple of weeks later. Finished the heel and guess what, it doesn’t look like the first sock. It’s close but now quite right. What happened?! Picture me looking clueless.
It’s back to the drawing board to figure out where I went wrong. Rip, rip, rip. I feel like the little engine that could. I can do this. I can do this.
I’m changing my name to Deb Persistence Gemmell. Has a nice ring to it.
Look over there, some bright sock yarn. Into a bag it goes and now it’s mine with no thought as to what I might do with it.
When I go into a yarn store I feed obligated to buy something and that something is almost always sock yarn. Bright sock colours shout at me but then, when I get home, I don’t always know what to do with them.
This wool has a really, really short colour changes. Can you see that? Each colour knits only 1-5 stitches. It’s not going to take a pattern well and I didn’t really want to work a totally plain sock, so what to do?
I decided that every time the next few stitches on my needle were the same colour as the next bit on the strand of yarn in my hand, I would purl those stitches. Sometimes one stitch, mostly 3 stitches and every once in a while I got to purl 5 stitches, whoo hoo exciting. It gave the leg of my sock some texture and kept me watching the colours very carefully. The first leg knit up really quickly.
I knit the foot in plain stockinette. You can see how sometimes the colours sit on top of each other.
One sock done. Can’t wait to get started on the second one.
The leaf pattern is gorgeous. I worked it with the twisted knits and twisted purls (don’t worry, there is an untwisted version). This was a challenge. The trick, I found, is to work the twisted knit row on the loose side so the twisted purls on the next row are easier to work. It doesn’t take long to get the hang of this. The final blocking will really show this off.
The leaf section is done. But that’s not the special part for me.
The edge stitches are really well thought out and charted. I’m quite sure the beginning and end of the rows took time to develop. She even did a video of a different stitch she used. That’s customer service. But that’s still not ‘it’ for me either.
What I paid for, and it was a very small amount of $ but I won’t go into how much patterns are undervalued in our industry, was the 10 or so rows right here.
This is the transition from the leaf pattern to the chevron pattern. It’s elegant, don’t you think? It’s a thing of beauty. I’ve stopped knitting here so I can just appreciate how she made these patterns flow, one into the other.
As far as I’m concerned this is what I paid for. A little bit of knitting elegance. When I pick it up tomorrow I am starting with a smile of appreciation on my face. Thanks Sylvia.
If you already know how to make cuff-down socks, you can make a small modification and use your sock know-how to make slippers. I hope this is a helpful tip for you.
I’m making tiny socks for my grandson and at 3 months old he’s not on his feet too much so making sock slippers seemed like the way to go.
What makes them slippers instead of socks? A continuous rounded toe to give the slippers a higher toe box.
It’s all about the grafting at the very end.
These tiny socks are worked in the usual manner of cuff-down socks, ending with a rounded toe. Then instead of grafting the stitches on the front of the sock to the stitches on the sole of the sock, move the stitches on your needles so that you can graft the side stitches to the other side stitches. This gives you some thickness to the toe box of the socks and is therefore more slipper-like.
Graft 4 side stitches to 4 side stitches.
Now I admit that using only 4 stitches on either side doesn’t raise the toe box very much, so for an older child or an adult you could graft 8 or 10 side stitches to 8 or 10 side stitches and that would make them slippers. Make sure your slipper foot is long enough and then for the toe decrease work: starting in the centre of the sole, *knit to last 5 sts on needle, K3, K2tog, on top of foot K3, SSK; repeat from *. Work in heavier yarn, add a stitch pattern or some colour work, make the cuff ribbing nice and tall so it can be folded over and voila, slippers.
Try it and let me know if you liked it. Cheers, Deb
I have gone overboard once again. To increase my concentration, which has mostly deserted me, I am trying to work on projects that require attention. But now that’s all I have to work on. What am I going to do when my mind clouds over and I’m done with this concentration business?
I am working on 2 lace projects. One is the Tail End of my 3-Act Play scarf.
The concentration needed to follow my own pattern exactly is hard. I’m not very good at following directions (which is why I write patterns instead of following them) so this is a struggle.
Secondly I’m trying to imagine I’m a newish intermediate knitter trying this pattern out. How can I make this as easy to follow as possible? This takes some mind altering as I try to convince myself that I don’t know what this pattern is about when it was me that thought the whole thing up in the first place. You can see that this is a form of mind gymnastics that cannot be maintained for long.
So I’m knitting socks for my new grandson. Tiny socks that make me smile just to look at them.
I recently recommended our Need A Sock book by Brenda Harris and Cabin Fever (Cabin Fever is me and my sister Lyn) to a new sock knitter so I thought I should take a look through it again and knit my socks from there. I’m still extremely happy with how it takes a knitter through the process, one step at a time, using double pointed needles, my favourite method. Good job, Brenda.
I think I will knit little Max some ribbed socks next. The first socks used 19g of fingering wool so now I know what to do with all those little balls of yarn I have in my stash.
Cheers and hoping your stash is still holding up, Deb
Working row + comfort row OR work on every row. Where do you stand on this important question? Do you like a comfort row, worked quite often in purl, where you don’t have to think about a stitch pattern? I do but sometimes it’s not the best way to go.
Right now I’m knitting lace and boy, I am really appreciating the comfort row. I have to concentrate and count as I work across the row, glancing at the chart over and over again since I don’t seem to be able to hold too much in my small brain these days. Since I’m working garter lace my comfort row is a knit row and I sigh in gratitude every time.
But when I was working the Bias Centre in garter stitch I was happy to do a little bit on every row. It gives the garter stitch, not structure exactly, but some way to tell where I was. I especially, in the case of garter stitch, like to work the decreases or increases at the beginning of the row as opposed to the end.
I don’t know if you find this but garter stitch sort of numbs me out, especially on long rows of it. About 5 stitches in my mind is off on another tangent and not paying any attention to what I’m doing. I find myself turning and starting the next row, paying close attention to whatever is required, before I realize that maybe I was supposed to do something at the end of that last row. Wait, did I miss something?? Tink back and finish up correctly. This is where a strategically placed marker comes in very handy. A very large marker that you can’t miss is a must, just like tying a string on your finger. Hmm I wonder why that string is there? I know there was something I was trying not to forget!
This little guy is our comfort these days. His family made it up to the camp (called a cottage if you’re in the south but here in the north it’s called a camp). Max is the 7th generation to come here. Right now we have 4 generations of my own family in residence, plus cousins and aunts and uncles too, over 6 camp properties (all social distancing but pretty easy since we spend all our time outside).
I’ll stop now with the Nana pics. We are overjoyed that they made it up. Another baby that can grow up here, just like Morgan and her brother did, me and my sisters did and my father before me. Makes me feel hopeful for the future.
Cheers, and I hope you are working some magic with your knitting whether you have a comfort row or not,
My concentration has deserted me. I can’t seem to focus. My head seems to be buzzing rather uselessly. When I can’t read a page of a book without my mind wondering off I know I’m in trouble. Reading is my canary in the mine. Uh-oh, this is not good.
How to get it back?
I’ve turned to sudoko puzzles. I been doing several every day for the last week. Today I am celebrating because yesterday my 21st EASY puzzle was error-free. Yay. Today the 22nd puzzle was also totally correct. Double yay. I decided to stop there and enjoy this victory over my squirrel brain.
My second focus project is to tackle something hard: Brioche. I have not taken to this stitch at all. I have taken 3 different classes. I thought I had really made a breakthrough during the last Basic Brioche class I took last fall, thanks Sheila. I got home and tried a new project, lasted for one inch before throwing it down, disgusted with myself. I don’t know why this technique has me totally stymied.
I can learn, I can learn, I can learn. I’m telling myself that I’m working on improving my concentration rather than the technique itself. Ha, ha, right!
Voila! Hey, not too bad. At the beginning I kept finding stitches where the yarn over was missing. Obviously more concentration was needed. I know how to correct this now, in fact, I’m pretty good at it.
And when your brain says you should stop … you should stop NOW. Ask me how I know! A very hard lesson learned.
I don’t know how many times I need to knit this scarf to get the pattern written but I’m now on scarf #3. I am calling it the 3-Act PLAY. I have included different stitch patterns so I hope knitters will have some fun playing with them. I have had lots of fun with them.
It starts with Act I and 3 triangles. Act II is the central straight bias section and Act III is the scalloped tail end.
It’s going to be written as a simple garter stitch scarf. Ok, not exactly simple but there will be lots of garter stitch knitting. I unraveled another shawl and knit right off of it, changing colours as I came to them in the shawl. The knitting is a little kinky (not that way!!) but I like it anyway.
I’m test knitting now and getting more of the details into the pattern. I am working the first 3 triangles, each in different Eyelet pattern and in one colour.
Here’s a close up. Right Side: knit. Wrong Side: [YO, P2tog]. I love how different these eyelets look.
Next up … eyelets worked knitwise in the usual manner just to see how they differ. So far so good. Cheers, Deb
Lace, it’s just holes, right? So how hard would it be to come up with my own set of lace patterns. No problem, right? Ahem, maybe and maybe not.
The last section of this 3 part scarf is worked in garter stitch which makes the lace patterns in garter stitch too. I thought I would come up with 3 different lace patterns you could work in any order and each would morph seamlessly into the next one.
The garter stitch ridges worked every other row renders a complicated lace pattern very difficult to see. You can’t see the lines of decreases at all. The design depends on hole placement only and needs to be fairly obvious. Oh dear, this is already harder than I thought.
First I tried this. Fairly easy to work and the double row of holes makes a design you can see. It moves on the diagonal which is pleasing but …
when this scarf is worn this tail will fall down the front of the wearer and then the nice diagonals look like vertical lines. Sigh. Not exactly what I was looking for.
Wait a minute, if I work this double row of holes as a straight line they will look like a diagonal when worn, right? (photo on the right). OK, that will work. One done.
Now to modify it for a couple different looks. Do you like this? I’m not sure the pattern is clear enough. It’s supposed to look like the line of holes crossing. I don’t know that it’s clear enough.
Try again. I like this one much better. How about you? A little more tweeking and I think this one’s a keeper.
Does it need a diagonal in the other direction?Maybe.