Get Started Knitting Socks

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I read an article this week called 14 Things You Need to Get Started Knitting Socks, socks5
and it’s definitely got some good information in it, but I don’t really think you need fourteen things.  Sure, a lot of those things are useful if you’re building a sock knitting kit, but you don’t need them all just to get started or give it a try.  So I decided I’d give you my little low down on getting started with socks.

I avoided knitting socks for a long time because I’d heard that socks were Hard®!  And I was scared away from them.  But I’m here to tell you that if you can already knit in the round, you’ve got the hardest part conquered.

Okay so here’s what you really need: a set of sock needles, a tapestry needle for weaving in your ends, and some yarn.  And I’ll talk a little bit more about each of these things now.

sock1Needles: There’s a lot of debate over what needles to use for your sock knitting.  I’m a DPN girl, myself, but there are lots of other options.  You can use a single circular needle for magic loop, two circulars, or even a tiny 9″ circular to jut knit that sucker in the round.  No one way is better than the others, it’s entirely up to personal preference.  For me, that’s DPNs 🙂  You should get a size needle that suits the yarn that you want to use for your socks, more on that below.

Tapestry Needle: This is just a larger than average sewing needle.  You can get them in plastic, metal, and other kinds of materials if you want to get fancy.  Any will work.  Choose one that you can be threaded with the yarn you’re planning to use.  Too tiny and you can’t get the yarn through the eye, too big and you’ll stretch out your stitches as you weave in ends.  This article shows some images of different types.  Those clover needles would work for most of our needs.

Yarn: Okay, this is arguably the best part, choosing your yarn.  I often suggest thatsock2 a first timer who is nervous should knit their first pair of socks in worsted weight yarn.  This makes a pair of socks that is a bit more like slipper socks, thick and squishy and easy to finish quickly.  But if you really want to, there is no reason not to knit with fingering weight yarn, which is what most sock knitters prefer.

I would encourage a wool and nylon blend for your yarn for a few reasons: wool is delightful, it’s warm, it has memory (which means that it can bounce back after being stretched out), it keeps you warm even when it’s wet, and then nylon because of it’s toughness.  A little nylon blended in helps a sock to stop from wearing out so quickly.

sock3As for the color of your yarn, here is where I echo my advice on choosing your tarot decks.  Find something that delights you, something that you can’t stop thinking about, something that makes you smile every time you see it.  Because you’re going to be making a lot of stitches with it!  Some options: Knit Picks Hawthorne Kettle Dye, Speckle Paint, Madeline Tosh sock yarnOpal sock yarn, and Cascade Heritage. And there are about a thousand more from indie dyers all over the internet.  Have a wander through Etsy and search for sock yarn and you’ll find yarn in ever hue and blend you could have ever imagined.

Okay, now Patterns: For your first sock you definitely want a pattern.  Once you’ve knit a bunch you can probably start riffing on them and making some things up as you go.  But for your first sock stick with a well written pattern that can walk you through the steps.

Here are some of my suggestions:

Susan B Anderson’s fingering weight socks
Susan B Anderson’s worsted weight socks

I also really like this one:  The Humble Sock because of that awesome diagram labeling all the parts of the sock.

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Knit my First Pair of Socks:

The Heel Flap – when you get to this point, yes, you really are going to knit this sock4weird rectangle section back and forth on two needles.  No, really.  I know it looks insane, but when you hit the heel on a sock it’s time to take a deep breath, relax, and just go ahead and do exactly what the pattern says when when it looks crazy.

Picking Up Stitches – This is way easier than people make it out to be,  You’re just going to look at the edges of that weird rectangle and slide your needle into a handful of edge stitches to create loops you can knit into.  There are as many ways to pick up stitches as there are knitters, try out a few and find one that you like the best and just go with it.  The manner in which you pick up your heel flap stitches won’t have a huge impact on your sock, so try not to sweat it and just go for it!

Finishing the Toe: Kitchener Stitch is a beautiful thing.  It can be a little fiddly the first handful of times you use it, but it more than makes up for its fiddly-ness with the simple beauty of those finished grafted toes.  Here’s a lovely tutorial with great pictures to give you confidence that you can graft your sock toes!

So that’s it.  All you need to know to get started on your first pair of socks.  So get knitting!   And then show me 🙂  Because you might not have noticed, but I am crazy about knitting!  Mine, yours, anyone’s.

Wooly Wednesday: Pussy Hat Edition

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I made myself a Pussy Hat for the Womens’ March.  And I wanted to talk about it this week.  Because I wasn’t going to knit one.  I saw other activists all over the place knitting these hats and I just didn’t see the point.  What the hell was a damn pink hat going to do given what we were facing.  And what the hell was the point of all the damn #NotMyPresident tweeting and stuff.  I wasn’t going to bother going to the women’s march, anyway.  I guess I just wasn’t feeling it, what was the point of all these protests, shouldn’t we be spending our energies on doing something that actually did something?

p-hatWell, I was wrong.  These ‘silly’ hats are something.  I did end up going to a march on Saturday.  And I saw a sea of pink hats and protest signs and it made me feel cautiously hopeful for a few hours.

And then I saw the sea of pink hats at all the other sister marches across the country and in other countries too. And I guess I realized something about the marches and protests.  Something my wife has been telling me since November when I started feeling so defeatist about marches and protests.

The protests make us feel better.  It lets us know that we’re not alone.  We aren’t in this fight by ourselves.  It’s scary as hell out there right now, between the gag orders on Scientists, the removal of the LGBT section from the white house page, the promises to defund Planned Parenthood, the violence being perpetrated against people of color in this country, and the disastrous excuse for a human being that half the country voted in as president.

These are the times when we need to have marches and gatherings, and yeah, we need to make pink damn hats, because we need to be able to see each other and to know that we’re not alone.  Safety pins turned into a cluster fuck and I’m sure given enough time the hats could turn into one too, although, I’ll have a hell of a good laugh watching the white supremacists trying to take over the pink kitty ear hat thing.

If the hats help us hang together in this shit storm of an administration then that’s what matters.  And when I say together I mean an inclusive together where we include ALL marginalized groups, trans folks, sex workers, people of color, disabled people, we all need to help hold each other up.  If bringing yourself up throws someone else under the bus it’s not good enough.

So, if you don’t already have one, it’s an incredibly easy pattern even if you’re not an accomplished knitter.  You should absolutely give it a try!!  Also there are crochet and sewn versions too if needles aren’t your thing.

And in the meantime, let’s punch some nazis.

Wooly Wednesday

wooly-wednesday

Today’s Wooly Wednesday is my teeny sock yarn blanket!  This thing is SO crazy.

sock yarn blanket.jpegYou make this blanket one 31 stitch square at a time and join them together as you go.  It’s SUCH an easy project even for a beginner since it only requires you to know how to knit, do one kind of decrease and pick up stitches.

You can see more pictures and pattern details on my Project Page.  I’m also kind of thinking I should make another smaller one to use as a tarot mat because it would fit my aesthetic SO WELL.

Speaking of tarot cloths, stay tuned for a cool tutorial for an easy way to dye your own tarot cloths using tissue paper!  I made a new cloth the other day and remembered to snap pictures so I could share it with all of you!

Wooly Wednesday

wooly-wednesday

Today’s Wooly is my Business Casual in the Clouds socks.

socksYou might recall these socks from my wittering about them while I was out visiting my mom after her knee surgery.  I actually knit three of these socks.  I had an entire sock completed out there in Colorado and I tried it on and it was All Wrong.

The leg was too short the foot was too short.  I had to rip out (that’s what it’s called when you unravel your knitting) the sock all the way up to before the heel turn and then start it up again.

They turned out wonderfully and I’m looking forward to wearing them!  This one is also a free pattern and I’d recommend it for anyone comfortable with cabling and basic sock knitting.

Wooly Wednesday

wooly-wednesday

Pretty soon I’ll be able to share with you all the holiday gift knitting I’ve been making over the last two months, but not quite yet!  Spoilers, you know.

Today I want to babble at you about these amulet bags I made.  They’re SO EASY.  If you know how to knit even a little bit I’ve got a pattern I’m going to link that You Can Make yourself!  These would make excellent holiday gifts for your witchy friends and family.

amulet

 This one I’m showing here was knit in the round and then closed at the bottom with a three needle bind off.  And even that is way more complicated than the pattern I’m sharing here.

It’s called Daisy, Daffodil, and Tiger Lily: an amulet pouch three ways.  That link takes you to Ravelry where you can download the pattern for free and make one of these cute little bags yourself!

These little bags can be made as a tiny amulets to wear around your neck or as a pouch to carry stones, herbs, or any other small ritual components. Choose colors of yarn that have special significance in your practice or make you feel good.  You can use any yarn that you like, just match your needle size to the ball band and you should be fine.  The bigger the yarn you use, the bigger the pouch you’ll end up with.

For this project I have included 3 options for working the amulet bag for varying levels of knitting ability. The first is an easy version. The only skills you need will be cast on, knitting, binding off, and some simple sewing. The intermediate version requires casting on, knitting in the round, and decreasing. The advanced version requires casting on, knitting in the round, decreasing, yarn overs with paired decreases.

I’d love to see your knitting if you give these a try, feel free to share pictures on Ravelry or here in the comments!

Happy knitting!

Wooly Wednesday

Hello dear ones!

Wordless Wednesday is transforming!  It’s becoming Wooly Wednesday in which I witter on about something wooly, probably something I’m knitting 🙂  or have knit.  I hope you’ll enjoy it.  I’ve been looking for a way to bring the wooly into balance with the witchy and this is it!

wooly-wednesday

Today it’s my Spring Forward socks!  That link will take you to my Ravelry Page where there’s a bunch more technical detail about the pattern and the actual knitting.

socks

 I knit these from yarn that I got in my somewhat short lived Yarnbox subscription.  I am not crazy about pink, so when my sweet wife gasped in delight at the colors I knew they’d become socks for her.  The Spring Forward pattern is a delight as well.  It’s free on Knitty.com. and looks great in a variety of different yarns!  It’s been knit 4600+ times on Ravelry so you know it’s good.  What I liked is that the pattern was so simple but looked so fancy!  I actually have knit it again since this pair.