Hibernation: It’s Not Just for WIPs Anymore

Since the global pandemic hit, I’ve noticed that lots of folks have increased their online content production. How I know this is that I’ve been consuming it (many thanks fellow bloggers!) rather than creating it. The fact is, I am in hibernation.

I’ve been spending a lot of time attempting to learn new things. Socks, which were formerly my bane, are front and center—specifically sock heels and stretchy bind off techniques. When you start to focus on the details, it’s official—you are a sock knitter. I’ve made so many pairs, I stopped using patterns and now cast on the next pair immediately after I bind off the finished one.

I’m not a fan of heel flaps. I prefer the “store bought” look of short row or afterthought heels. Unfortunately, these have a myriad of issues, such as holes, complexity, etc. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I have quite a bit more testing to do before I post on this topic, which means my family is getting a lot of handmade socks these days.

The other thing is I’ve been focused on “comfort knitting”. Things that don’t take much thought (rectangles!). It’s like the anxiety of COVID-19 has me wanting to do less stressful projects. I started with pillow slip covers, bathmats, hand towels and dish cloths, but have graduated to exclusively knitting afghans.

Other things I’ve been learning is making sourdough products and wildlife photography. Both of which have had mixed results. Like socks, I’m dialing it in a bit more with every flat loaf of bread and every blurry bird photo. 😊

In the absence of interacting directly with other people, language (in this case writing) has gone into hibernation. Thankfully, creativity has not.

I miss travel and seeing friends. This too shall pass.

Wooly Skye

In Broadford on Skye, is The Handknitter Having Fun shop. I often find astounding deals of wool there. This year, since socks were my travel project, as if often the case, socks yarn was top of mind. And for another reason as well—I lost a just finished sock on an Edinburgh tram.

Wooly clouds on the Black Cuillins from the Sligachan Hotel

We time our visits to Skye to coincide with the climbing season. This year we were a week later than usual. I expected it to be warmer than it was two years ago when I brought long-johns and wished for t-shirts. This year the opposite was true. It was cold, rainy and blustery. I on one hike I was wearing almost everything I owned, soaked through and got blown off my feet by a gust of wind.

Reverse view from Loch Scaivaig on a sunnier day

Not to say the trip was a bust—not so! I was there for rest and the weather gave me time for knitting and a bit of shopping. I picked up three beautiful sock skeins and started another pair of socks, having brought two projects for the trip. Here are the three skeins which seem to be color inspired by the location.

Can’t wait to see how the socks turn out. Too bad they take so long to knit!

NOTE TO SELF: hand dyed—don’t use different skeins and expect them to look like the belong together. This said, in spite of cutting the skein in half and caking it in reverse, the Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball® socks I started are variegating in the most peculiar fashion. Even if I make that mistake, it won’t be *this* different.

Even with taking a ball in the middle and caking it opposite, these socks look VERY different from one another

Lurid Socks?

The sock saga continues. With the titillating toe-ups done, I have another notch on my sock blocks. The only trouble with them is that they came out a bit more mottled than I expected—but they turned out beautifully. I’m now a huge fan of Zen Yarn Garden Serenity DK. So soft! So snuggly. So warm. I wish they fit me—but they don’t.


The bee is in my bonnet now that I’ve found a pattern that works and is easy to follow. It’s worsted weight, so they go fast, but that also means they are not for daily use. Nick still wears the heck out of them–usually as socks around the house, now that things are a bit chilly.

I’ll probably revisit the fingering weight later since he’s wearing quickly through the two pair I knit a while back. For now I’ll try to knit a few of these for Christmas/birthday presents since I’m feeling a bit more confident about them as a project.

And to think… Some people use sock knitting as a place to start learning how to knit.

My first knitting project was garter slippers similar to these, which are vastly easier than sock.

What was your first project?

Basket Rib Socks – The Finish Line

Well, they are done. And given how much work they took, I consider this the completion of TWO projects. With this being the third pair, it is surprising it was harder—especially since I used the same guide—Socktacular! by Knit Picks. This time I chose the Basket Rib Socks.

One element was the yarn–Spincycle Yarns Dyed in the Wool in Shades of earth. It had unexpected knots and anomalies (the size varied from light fingering to worsted). That variation resulted in one sock being slightly shorter than the other—despite being the exact number of rows. It also had MUCH more color variation than it appeared, so my idea of knitting a sock with individual skeins means that the sock almost look as if they don’t belong to one another—except by texture.

The mitigation would have been to alternate rows as I’ve done on other projects. And this was one project I was NOT going to tear out *another time* in spite of the $65 price tag for the yarn. See How Many Times Do I Have to Knit THIS Sock? for details.

On the upside, I did manage to perfect purling via continental style, whereas before I was really only good at knit stitches, with purls being a bit loose. So as always, there is a silver lining! I’ve added another skill to my tool belt. 🙂

Added any new tools in your took belt lately?

How Many Times Do I Have to Knit THIS Sock?

Socks! Socks! Socks! The bane of my knitting existence! How can such a small project be so challenging to a long time knitter? I swear they ARE worse than a poke in the eye with a sharp size 1 knitting needle!

I’ve made a commitment to give this a go for lots of reasons and frankly they ARE an extremely portal project. When you commute (hands free) a long distance to and from work, this is a Must Have feature. And even though they were hard for me, so far I have managed to complete two pairs—one for me and one for my husband. Just 4 little socks in all.

Oddly the first pair went okayish—a top down reasonable simple pattern from KnitPicks Sockacular! I found a bug in the afterthought heel pattern, but quickly sorted that out.

Just starting out

Then I knit a toe up pair from the same book ones for me I had *crazy* problems. Like a strand crossover on the heel—just for one single stitch. How the heck?!? You might ask. I don’t know! So after finishing—literally casting off—I had to tear it back to the instep. I was so frustrated I knit the other sock to completion (in only 3 tries) before tearing it out the first one just to make sure I wanted to complete the project at all.

And toe up? I cannot cast on a single sock without tearing it out at least five times. top count? 10 tries. I’ve watched different methods on YouTube, read up on it, nothing helps except try, try, try, try some more, try, try again. Each toe is a painful reminder that there has to be an easier way.

On my present pair I’m on the 12th cast on, third heel and the 6th instep of a Basket Rib patterned pair. By now, I’ve surely knit enough fabric to create thigh-high stockings for Boban Marjanović of the Detroit Pistons or hip wader liners for Ryan Pickett of the Green Bay Packers.IMG_5400.JPG

I’m going forward—there is no turning back with the myriad of sock yarns I’ve purchased to quench my husband’s new found hankering for ones made by yours truly. So if you know of the truly EASIEST sock pattern for sock (fingering) yarns. I’m all ears!

SOCKS: Es lo se que es

When I was a very small child my dad used to say the phrase “Es lo se que es” right after Walter Cronkite intoned “And that’s the way it is.” For the longest time I thought he was spelling socks—S-O-C-K-S. Finally, my mother explained it was Spanish for what the newscaster was saying.

My latest learning project is socks. Inspired by Rainier Knitter’s progress in this area—to not only overcome her knitter’s block, but to master it well enough to teach! I’m suitably impressed.

Years ago, around 20, I made my first and only pair of socks. It was prior to existence of Ravelry, so I don’t know where the pattern came from or if I invented it myself. I used to try and figure out stuff from garments back then, so I might have just done that. Suffice it to say, I made them and I was terribly proud of the work.

The yarn was some Noro left over from a sweater. I was careful during the first wash not to shrink them and on the first wearing, they developed holes. I darned them up thinking it was an issue with the that part of the skein, only to find that the holes developed holes the next time they were worn.

NOTE TO SELF: Don’t use single ply 100% wool yarn for socks!

Zauberbal Sock Yarn in Harvest, Stonewash and Heilix Bleche

Feeling that it’s time to get over this knitting block and inspired by my Instrgram pals like @thevaultblue, I picked up three beautiful balls of sock yarn at Stitches West. In part because my take along project was a pair of Mary Jane slippers for my mother’s birthday gift and I was struggling to get it to work. I thought it was the Zitron Trekking XXL Farbenspiel I was given by my (San Juan Island) guild so I could create the socks and not care about the cost (lovely ladies that they are!).

The problem turned out not to be the yarn, but the ancient Bernat pattern I was using. After three attempts I made the slippers with a design of my own creation out of some Caron One Pound I had left over from pillow covers teaching myself double knitting in the process. I hope to create a pattern to share, but explaining double knitting techniques, especially for increases and decreases is challenging.

The socks are underway and they are now my take along project for Interweave’s YarnFest in Loveland, Colorado.