Thursday, March 19, 2009

Traveling and Knitting Hints for Socks

There haven't been too many posts lately because we were off college tripping again! This time we went up north and saw Princeton, Yale, Connecticut College, and Wesleyan

One thing we learned, it is really cold up north!  We are so used to the mildest of winters in Maryland, that neither one of us was prepared for cold.   There is hope for us, however, as one friend indicated that it takes two weeks to adjust to a different climate.

There was a hint of spring in Connecticut. There were crocus blossoms in Redding; and,

witch hazel was blooming in New Haven.

Since the trip was spur of the moment, I forgot to take along a "travel project".  Usually, I try and bring some knitting for the car ride, and for quiet moments on vacation.  Once I was allowed to do a little sightseeing on my own, I headed out to find a local yarn shop.  Luckily, A Stitch in Time, located in nearby Bethel was easy to find!  The yarn shop was full to the brim with yarn and needlepoint supplies.  I decided that starting some socks would be the easiest thing to do, so I picked up 2 skeins of Summer Sox by Classic Elite.  I find socks are the easiest thing to knit while away.  The yarn and needles can fit right into your purse! And, once you get used to knitting simple sock patterns, you will find that it doesn't take a lot of brain power or planning to knit them!

Since I haven't blogged about knitting for a while, I thought I might walk you through the process of making these socks.


I chose this yarn for several reasons.  First, for it's fiber content:  40% cotton, 40% superwash merino, and 20% nylon.  I thought that the cotton/wool blend would be a bit cooler for spring socks!  Second, I believe that superwash wool (wool that you can wash in your regular wash) is key when knitting socks (especially if you are making them for someone else!).  Socks always find their way into the wash and dryer, so 9 times out of 10, if you use 100% old fashioned wool, and someone else does the laundry, your beautiful knitted socks will be beautifully felted tiny socks! Another reason I chose this yarn was for the nylon.  Nylon in the yarn gives it some elasticity, so it stretches better.  Depending on how much yardage is in the ball of yarn you may need 1 or 2 balls.  The general rule of thumb is that you need anywhere from 350 to 450 yards of yarn to make one pair of adult sized socks.  Some companies sell all the yardage in one ball or skein, but for others (like this one) you will need two.

From summer sox

DECISION #2 - Needle Size

This type of yarn calls  for size 2 needles and says gauge should be around 7 stitches to the inch. Since I have knitted tons of socks, I know my gauge works for this type of yarn with this size needle.  I also know that I DON'T LIKE to knit on needles any smaller than a size 2 (I knitted some lacy socks on size zero and it wasn't a pleasant experience).  So, just in case, when I purchase sock yarn, I always check with the knowledgeable sales staff to make sure the yarn will work with Size 2.   

DECISION #4 - Type of Needle

A lot of the cotton/soy/natural fiber sock yarns are slippery.  So, I think that bamboo double pointed needles grip the yarn better, and you are less likely to drop stitches.  Sometimes, midway, I might change to one extra long addi turbo circular and do the "magic loop method" to make the knitting go a bit faster.  But,  I like turning the heel and doing the toe on double points.  I have also knitted socks with two circular needles, but this is my least favorite method.

DECISION #5 - Pattern Choice

This is where it gets tricky.  Since I have bought the yarn and needles before I chose the pattern, I have to come home and figure out what to do with the yarn!  Usually, I have three choices:  1.  I can search for a pattern in my many knitting books and magazines; 2. I can search for a pattern on line; or, 3.  I can make one up myself.  To make it interesting, I decided on #3 - Make it Up!  WARNING:  I don't recommend this option if you are just starting out with knitting socks! You must remember that when choosing a pattern, make sure your yarn weight matches that of the pattern you decide to knit!  

DECISION #6 - How many stitches to cast on.

I think that 60 is a good number because it can easily be knit on 3 or 4 needles (with stitches divided equally on the needles).  I started these by casting on 60 stitches onto bamboo double pointed needles (size 2). Also, I find that 60 stitches gives a good women's (or boy's) sock size.  

DECISION #7 - Stitch patterns for Ribbing and Body of Sock

With 60 stitches, I need to choose a pattern for the sock that will have a repeat that is a multiple of 60. 

For the ribbing I decide on an easy K2, P2 ribbing.  I decide that about 10 rows will be what I need (I eyeball it - but it's about 1 1/4 inches). 

Now the fun part, choosing the stitch pattern.  Actually, you should choose this before the ribbing, because you might want a ribbing pattern that goes well with your stitch pattern.  I didn't do it this way - I am not good at planning!

To choose the stitch pattern, I pulled an invaluable resource from my bookshelf, The Complete Book of Knitting"  by Barbara Abbey.  I found mine at a secondhand book shop - it is the original 1971 hardback version.  It has been reprinted and is available on Amazon in paperback.

From summer sox

This book has instructions for pretty much anything you need to know about knitting.  I wanted to search for a stitch pattern that will give me a multiple of 60.

From summer sox

I didn't have to look too far until I found one that would be perfect!  I chose the Herringbone Lace Pattern.

Here is what I have so far

This is one round of the 12 row pattern.  

TO BE CONTINUED....More choices like how long to knit the sock body, how to turn the heel, how long for the foot and knitting the toe!

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