Wednesday, December 13, 2017

More snow and more sock talk

It was snowing for the most of the night. It started already yesterday, I sighed heavily when I went to bed. We have loads of this white stuff… the forecast for today promises more, but the snow fall won’t be quite as strong as last night. The depth of the snow is already 40cm (16”), which is a lot for this time of the year. The sun rises at 1056 and sets again 1322 (0122pm), the length of the day is only two hours… It is beginning to feel like deep winter. On the plus side, the snow is light and brightens the world, candle light looks fabulous and I have plenty around. There is no better exercise than shoveling snow. It is little bit frustrating doing it over and over… the walkway looks nice and tidy for half an hour maybe, then it is slowly being buried again. Walking the dogs can be heavy, if the plough hasn’t been out yet. I seem to be lopsided, my right calf gets sore after walking in snow, especially if I am not sure if there is ice underneath, while left one is just fine. (You probably did not need that last bit of information, but the older you get, the more you need to share your pains…)

You were wondering how can I read books while I knit socks. I can read magazines, they stay open and e-books I have in my IPad. Most library books are so worn that they stay open too, with little bit of help from something, like phone on the corner of the book. Like most of you, I cannot sit still and do nothing, watching TV is impossible without something to work on. Lately the same is happening to me while I read, I concentrate better when I knit while I read. I need pause more often due to knitting, giving time think, what I have been reading, thus the reading comes more meaningful somehow, but the books need to be good and worth pondering about. Of course, there are audiobooks, but sometimes it is nice to sit in the quiet and read, like in the evenings.

People were telling stories in the old times, before the written word. Listening to audio books keeps the same tradition alive. We have a national epic, called Kalevala. (J. R. R. Tolkien was both inspired and influenced by it.) The poems of the epic are told in rhymes, making them easier for the teller to remember. This book is something I want to have as an audio book, I have not bought it yet, but will; I think it should be heard, like it was passed on.

One more thing about my socks, I think I have mentioned this before. I always start with normal long-tail cast-on. Usually cast on 19 stitches per needle, 4 x 19 is 76 stitches, if using 2mm needles. (Sometimes I use bigger needles for the cast on row and the first purl rows, then I usually just cast on 18 sts per needle.) I purl 4 rows. This, because I hate tight edges, I just cannot live in something that puts pressure on my feet. When I start my ribbing, I decrease 4 stitches evenly, 1 stitch per needle. I knit the ribbing and purl 4 rows again, before I proceed to stockinette, this just adds a little detail, serves no other purpose. If I want to have little burst of color, I can knit these 4 rows with different color than the main sock.
You have seen these guys before, but since it is so appropriate today, they are here again! (The camera was off-focus, sorry about that!)

Wool with you,

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sock talk

I am running late this morning, all due to the computer installing updates… it took forever, it kept restarting, shutting down and in the end told me that all is not well. It seems to be working, fingers crossed that it will keep working for a good while, although this companion of mine is 8 years soon.

There is very little one can say about socks that has not been said a million times before – it feels that way. But thank you for asking for the cuff pattern; we can linger little longer in sock talk.
This pattern:
*Round1: knit
Round2: k2, p2*
Repeat these two rounds. My grey cuff has 70 rounds. This is the only downside of the pattern, it squishes down, the progress is slow. I think it is lovely in a little bit larger scale, like in these alpaca socks which were knitted with 2,75mm needles. (These socks are exceptionally nice among the ones I have made, the fit is very good, they are warm, soft and thick.)
I did give in, did order some Christmassy sock yarn for Christmas Eve cast-on. I very much doubt that after all the work that goes into my Eve (we eat a big dinner already on the 24th), I might be too tired to cast-on for anything, but in case I have some energy left, I have the yarn.

I have mixed feelings about the sock knitting.

I love socks, I wear them all the time, more than any other knitted item. I love simple socks, I am willing to play little bit with yarn and colors, but not that much with texture and colorwork. I love good, hardwearing sock yarn. I don’t want to buy expensive yarn for socks, I admire the hand painted skeins, but cannot justify spending all that money on them. For scarves, mittens and sweaters, it is fine, but for socks… too expensive for me. I mostly use Regia, Opal, Austermann, Arwetta… I am sure I am forgetting a few.
Lots of my knitting is motivated by the need, warm socks are compulsory all the year round. Even on most summer evenings, it is nice to slip on wool socks. I have tried several heels (always come back to heel flaps), different toe decreases (always come back to the one that is grafted in the end), love long cuffs with ribbing, love dpn’s (have tried magic loop several times), love top down (have done few pairs toe up). All this trial and error has rooted me into my usual way of knitting socks. I have made so many pairs that the fit is now good; know how many stitches to cast on, how many to decrease before the ankle, how many rows are needed for the heel flap and toe decreases. All tried and true. I often read while I knit, or the other way around, thus handling dpn’s feels the most natural way to go. Socks are easy to do, and make me feel productive.
The down side… I could do some adventurous knitting, be learning more, be trying out larger variety of yarns, stitches, colorwork. Socks are easy and light to pick up while reading, but how hard would it be to knit sleeves, or the back piece of a plain cardigan, which I also wear and appreciate. I wonder if I would look at this in the time point of view, I knit socks quickly, but I wonder if I knitted a sweater instead, just how many pairs of socks I would have done in the same amount of time.

When I finish a simple pair of socks, I am happy, fold them away, put in a sock drawer, cast on for a new pair. Often, I don’t take pictures of them and don’t show them here, thinking that they are not that interesting, although I am always inspired when I see somebody else knitting socks. Even though I am happy and satisfied with them, there is not quite the same thrill there is when I have accomplished something more demanding. Not having this burst of positive energy, feel of achievement and success, I eat away my enthusiasm for knitting. I see lovely patterns and yarns and at times I shy away thinking that these day I KNIT ONLY SOCKS… see only socks. Just socks. Plain old boring socks…
As I said, cold toes are quite a motivation, but such is also a successful finished item that I can be little bit proud of. I love socks, don’t get me wrong and will keep knitting them, but I must confess, the plain way I make them, they don’t make me feel proud of my work.

I am little bit scared to say this out loud, because I don’t want to sound obnoxious. There are lots of sock designers out there making beautiful patterns and adventurous socks, socks are not boring, but mine are… and yet I love wearing them. Maybe I need to reconsider, try out something different.
Do you have the same kind of dilemma? Is this just Christmas angst that is creeping into my sock knitting? Or is it time to cast on for something else, something new and interesting? (In addition … to sock knitting.)

Wool with you,

PS. Again, just rambling, thoughts that wander through my head during the day while I potter along in my daily tasks… Thoughts that I might have forgotten come tomorrow… Benefits of being old, no need to take oneself or one’s opinions too seriously. 
PPS. The pictures were taken yesterday while in town.