My Socks by Cat Bordhi

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:

  1. 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?!
  2. 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.

Cheers. Keep on, keepin’ on.

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever patterns by Deb and Lyn

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Variegated Sock yarn can be challenging

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.

Diamond Select Footsie

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.

Socks you gotta love them.

Cheers, Deb

Gauge Free and Any Gauge patterns by Deb

Tiny (Sock) Slippers

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.

worked from the Need A Sock book by Cabin Fever 36 sts in sock yarn

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

Gauge-Free and Any Gauge patterns by Deb

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Cabin Fever patterns by Deb & Lyn

Little Socks

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

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns by Deb & Lyn

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A Counter for a 3 row repeat

How would you handle a stitch pattern with a 4 round repeat with increases worked every 3 rounds. Whoa, working a 4 round/3 round combo is very complicated. How would you keep track? Do you have a system? I found one that worked perfectly for me.

The Bartholomew’s Tantalizing Socks from the New Pathways for Sock Knitters has just this set up for the gusset shaping. Do not fear, Cat Bordhi has written out every row for her knitters. But as I seem unable to follow line-by-line instructions faithfully I had to find another solution. Could I keep track with a counter on my phone, put little ticks on a page, write out a long list of row numbers and cross them off? If you’ve been in a class with me you might be laughing here.  I hate the tick method. I urge knitters to look at their knitting and use it to keep track. But in this case the stitch pattern makes it really hard to see the increases. So the laughs on me.

During one of my walks a solution came to me. My friend Dana had, many years ago, told me how she keeps track of sleeve increases. Now was the perfect time to try her system out. Are you ready? It’s really high tech.

Take a piece of yarn and tie 3 knots in it so that you have 3 loops.20200702_104438

Put loop 1 on your needle somewhere convenient. I put it one stitch before the marker where I will work the first increase and start the stitch pattern. Loop 1 means work an increase at the beginning and at the end of the stitch pattern on this round.20200629_085444

Next round insert your needle into loop 2 and work stitch pattern. Next round pick up loop 3 and work stitch pattern. Next round pick up loop 1 and work increases again along with the stitch pattern. Repeat.20200703_093234

I found the stitch pattern easy to keep track of. It was getting the increases in the right place that was difficult. You could also make another 4 loop string for the 4 row stitch pattern if you needed it.

I have a couple of suggestions for improvements.

  1. A smooth yarn would have worked better. The loops would have been easier to find quickly. I grabbed a piece of  yarn that was within reach but it would have been better to get up off my chair and find some smooth cotton to make my looped string.
  2. Tie a bead or button to the bottom of the string. This will make it hang like a fancy stitch marker on the needle since the bottom would be weighted. I’m going to try this next time. I’m sure I have a bead or two in my button jar. If you use this for more than 3 loops this would help to keep track of the last loop in the sequence.
  3. A high contrast colour would have helped too.

This is a game changer for me. You’re never too old to learn a new trick.

Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns by Deb & Lyn

 

New to me Socks

Socks are made so many different ways now that it’s hard to keep up. I’ve decided to give some of my summer knitting over to non-traditional sock making.

To get started I looked through my stack of knitting books to find a book I bought but never got around to using: Cat Bordhi’s New Pathways for Sock Knitters, Book One. Whoa, I’m really late to this party. This was published in 2007!!

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I can attest to it being weird and wonderful. I have completed a pair of Coriolis socks (top left on the cover). Toe-Up with a heel flap. I have always found it difficult to get the length from toe to heel flap correct in this style of sock. The instructions were excellent and these are the correct length. YAY.

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I love the swirling line which breaks up the stripes of the Heritage Paints wool. I worked these from the Master Pattern for any gauge of yarn because my yarn didn’t fit any of the line-by-line patterns. I think there is an option for more swirl lines and I would like to try that next time. Because there will be a next time.

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Next I thought I would try out a cuff down sock. I chose the Bartholomew’s Tantalizing Socks and followed the pattern, as closely as I ever get to following exactly. I love the slip stitches and what they do to the variegated yarn. (Same Heritage Paints yarn because I love it and at one time bought a whole bag.)

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Don’t you love the stitch pattern? Here’s a close up. K1, with yarn in front Slip 1. A little bit of manipulating, bringing the wool back and forth but totally worth it.

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Of course it was a little more confusing when it got to the heel with the standard Heel Stitch: K1, with yarn in Back Slip 1. There was a bit of “ooops, rip back and start again with yarn in Back this time”. I expect to experience the same fun now that the heel is finished and I start working the original pattern on the foot. Yarn in front, yarn in front, yarn in front.

I have never tried working the reinforced Heel Stitch on the bottom of the heel. Have you? Some of my knitting guild friends highly recommend it. I guess I will see if I like it when these are worn. Something to look forward to when it’s not 28 degrees (celsius) outside.

Hope knitting is keeping you happy and sane,

Cheers, Deb

Any Gauge and Gauge-Free patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever No-Sew patterns by Deb & Lyn

Star Toe Up Socks

Have you tried Toe Up Socks? They are my go-to method. But maybe getting started has you hesitating. The popular way to get started is with Judy’s Magic Cast On, by Judy Becker, which mimics the Cuff Down grafting of the toe, in reverse. I find it challenging to work well. If you have it down terrific. If not, I have an alternative that is easy and totally works.

It’s called the Star Toe (I did a video, have a look) which begins with a cast on of 8 stitches, in your usual cast on method, Phew. Divide the stitches onto 2 double pointed needles or the 2 tips of your circular needle for Magic Loop and start increasing.star toe 2 needle start

Double point users: I only divide my 8 sts onto two double points for the first round because putting 2 sts on each of 4 double pointed needles leads to much dropping of needles and cursing. As soon as I have enough stitches I add in more double pointed needles.

The toe is divided into 4 sections. Right now there are 2 sts in each of the 4 sections and 2 sections are on each of the needles. As soon as you start the Increase Rounds below the 4 sections become obvious.star toe 4 sections

The star toe works by increasing into the first stitch of each section. I use the Kfb increase (knit into the front and back of same stitch).

Round 1:  *Kfb, K1; repeat from * to end of round. – increase of 4 sts (12 sts on needles)

Now you have enough stitches to add in more double pointed needles. Magic Loopers just continue as set up.

Round 2:  *Kfb, K2; repeat from * to end of round.

Round 3:  *Kfb, K3; repeat from * to end of round.

You get the general idea here. Continue to work increases into the first stitch of each of the 4 sections until you have approximately 1/2 your total sock stitches.DSC_0299

Now introduce a Knit Round, alternating a knit round and an increase round.

Next Round:  Knit.

Increase Round:  *Kfb, knit to end of section; repeat from * 3 more times.

Repeat these last 2 rounds until the Star Toe is the correct size.

How do you know it’s the correct size? Measure across the width of the toe OR stick your toes into it. Note: the sock toe is slightly bigger than it appears! That’s because it’s stuck on straight needles so stop increasing when it’s a little tight and it will be correct.

I just finished a sock for my husband. I don’t worry about the exact number of stitches when I start, I just work the toe until it’s the correct width across (4 1/2″) for a 9″ circumference sock for his foot. Then I knit and knit and knit for his size 11 foot.DSC_0295

It turned out perfectly. Onto sock number two.DSC_0302

And the toe fits!!DSC_0308

Hope that encourages you to get started on a Toe Up sock. Thanks for reading,

Deb

ANY GAUGE and GAUGE-FREE patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever patterns on ravelry.

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