Tag Archives: lace

This year’s first Christmas present

Lots of blue: my blue lemonade cardigan, the picnic cedar table my dad made for us, and some flowers from my mother-in-laws garden

Lots of blue: my blue lemonade cardigan, the cedar picnic table my dad made for us, and some flowers from my in-laws garden

I know what you’re thinking, but after trying to finish 7 pairs of socks in as many weeks last year, I’ve decided to space this year’s presents out a little bit.  I just finished blocking this Vodka Lemonade cardigan in Cascade Ultra Pima for my mother-in-law.  She loves bright saturated colours, and spends her winters in Florida, so this light cotton cardie seemed like a great idea (hopefully she thinks so too!). I love Thea Coleman’s designs, this one has just enough lace to be unique, without sacrificing wearability.  So lovely!

The clever lace motif and seed stitch border at the bottom of the cardiga

The clever lace motif and seed stitch border at the bottom of the cardiga

While the fraught relationship between a woman and her partner’s mother has become a tired cliche, it definitely doesn’t apply here. I am lucky to have such a strong and caring woman in my family. I’ve been pretty blessed in the role model department, and she’s one that I’m grateful for everyday (and it’s not just for the free babysitting – I swear).

The pattern was a pleasure to knit, and the recipient a pleasure to knit for. I’ll make sure to include a picture of it on in my holiday round-up this winter.



Happy Valentine’s Day to … Me!

My pink Hedera socks in madelinetosh merino

My pink Hedera socks in madelinetosh merino

This year, I’m stuck working late on Valentine’s Day (which is also my birthday!), so I decided to treat myself to a little gift: these holiday coloured-pink socks (Hederas free on Knitty and in Knit. Sock. Love).  Like many knitters, I often get caught up in working through a long list of Christmas and shower gifts and toddler sized sweaters are so fast and satisfying, I haven’t knit a sweater for myself in almost two years. When the last socks I knit for myself wore through earlier this month, I realized it was time to make something just for me.

So when I noticed the Knit. Sock. Love. knit-along on ravelry, I decided it was a perfect oppurtunity indulge.  I love how soft and cozy the madelinetosh merino is, even in this pretty, simple lace. I’m happy that they’ll be keeping me warm at work tonight.  And don’t worry, I have a little something for my long-suffering husband too,  I just didn’t knit it this year.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sock blocking and other “Monkey” business

My completed Monkey socks in madelinetosh

I have successfully finished my first cuff down socks! It felt a little like driving on the other side of the road, but I kind of liked it.  It turns out I have been avoiding cuff down socks for no reason. Although the socks required two of my most dreaded knitting skills: picking up stitches (along the side of the heel) and kitchener stitch (to join the opposite sides of the toe together), those were relatively easy hurdles to jump (with the help of some youtube tutorials and the very clear instructions at the back of knit. sock. love.)   I chose Monkey socks by Cookie A to start me off in this new direction for a number of reasons:

1. Of all the socks in knit. sock. love., they seemed the most approachable, and I’ve been anticipating actually using this book for months.

2. They are wildly popular (with over 16000 projects on Ravelry), and I presumed that that many people can’t be wrong.

3. They’re lacey enough to be pretty, but solid enough to be warm.

While I’m pretty happy with the results, I’m a little underwhelmed; their enormous popularity and the overall beauty of knit. sock. love.  set my expectations very, very high. They’re cute, but they’re not spectacular. To be fair, that may also have to do with the disappointing way that the colour was distributed in stripes in this yarn.

The Monkey socks, before and after blocking

They were also socks wildly in need of blocking, which launched me on a new adventure. I’m usually pretty lazy when it comes to details, so I tend to do as little blocking as possible.  It isn’t essential for everything. Many objects come off your needles looking great, but in general the more complicated the texture, the more you need to block (this is especially true for lace).  Blocking can give your knit objects shape, and can even rescue the odd stretched out or otherwise misshappen sweater (even if you picked it up at the mall).  Basically, you wet the knit garment and carefully stretch it into shape, leaving it that way to dry.

My homemade sock blockers (made from a dollar store Christmas placemat)

Previously, I have just dampened my socks and pinned them down, but these socks clearly demanded more discipline.  I looked online for sock blockers, but found this set of DIY instruction instead.  The suggestion to use a placemat was ingenious.  After a quick trip to the dollar store, I had these.  I traced the wooden sock holders at my local yarn store, and added a hook at the top, so that my socks could hang from the shower curtain rod as they dry.  Success!

I’ll be knitting socks for Christmas

My husband in last year’s Christmas present (Traditional Gansey Socks in Dream in Color Smooshy)

Socks are my absolute favourite knitting project, especially for the holidays.  On a practical level, every adult needs more socks, and they are less vulnerable to issues with sizing and personal style than other articles of clothing. Yet, the appeal of knitting socks for my loved ones runs a lot deeper than that; there is something really significant about putting that much time and love into a mundane object.  Socks are among the most mass produced and disposable items of clothing in our society.  We are really seperated from their production, they are the type of thing we buy in bulk at drug stores and Wal-Marts. As such, socks are something that we rarely give much thought to.  As a result, knitting socks becomes a little eccentric. After all, who would devote 10 (or 20 or 40) hours to making something as humble as a sock? Someone who wants to transform an object as quotidian as a sock into something beautiful and meaningful.

I’ve been reading Matthew Crawford’s Shop Class as Soulcraft, and his polemic on the significance of manual work has helped me to really understand why knitting socks, particularly as gifts, means so much to me.  He writes that “The satisfications of manifesting oneself concretely in the world through manual competence have been known to make a man quiet and easy.  They seem to relieve him of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of himself to vindicate his worth. He can simply point.”  I would say the intimacy of creating an article of clothing for someone takes the act of knitting socks one step further – it’s not a simply a statement of competency or worth, but a statement of love.  They not only relieve the knitter of the need to offer interpretations of herself (or himself), but they also relieve the knitter of the need to offer explanations of her love and appreciation.  Handknit socks are so different from mass produced socks, because of the care that is required to produce them.  When I take out my toothpick thin size 0 needles and begin a pair of socks, I hope that the wearer will feel the time and care required for each stitch as a  testament of the love, appreciation and respect that I bear them.  I hope the socks will say what I cannot.

One glance at a pair of handknit socks distinguishes them as something that has taken someone a lot of time, care and competence to produce.  This is especially true of some of the more complex patterns available  (like those in Cookie A’s Knit. Sock. Love. and Hunter Hammersen’s Silk Road Socks – 2 books that I recently picked up and have yet to try out).  To own a pair of these socks is to be really loved by a knitter.

Serpentine socks in Dream in Color Smooshy

It is at this point that I should admit, I think I have bitten off more than I can chew this holiday season.  My list of holiday gifts includes six pairs of handknit socks.  For the sake of time, so far, I have stuck to the familiar, choosing patterns from Wendy Johnson’s excellent Socks from the Toe Up.  I’ve used this book countless times, knitting multiple pairs of the Dead Simple Lace, Traditional Gansey, Diamond Gansey, Mock Cable, Van Dyke, and Serpentine Socks.  For my first holiday socks, I chose her flat gusset heel basic socks, letting this beautiful stash yarn speak for itself (truth be told, I bought it so long ago, I don’t even remember what it is).  Given that I have only finished one pair so far, it may be time to scale back my plans. I’d love to hear some of your favourite (quick) knitted gifts.

My first holiday socks this year (gusset heel toe-up socks in unidentified stash yarn)