Category Archives: Michelle’s basic socks

Re: The tragic disassembly of my first pair of self-striping socks.

To: Duffle
Fr: Donna
Re: The tragic disassembly of my first pair of self-striping socks

First of all, let me thank you for the recent pattern of waking us ten minutes before the alarm goes of because you are so, so hungry (thanks to the wacky vegan dog food/restricted diet the vet prescribed for your allergies). You just know that as soon as you have gone outside and been a good dog (at 5:50 in the morning), you get to eat. And we all know how important eating is to you, even as we suffer from your wacky fish-flavored dog breath afterward.

This memo serves to inform you that I was mistaken in my earlier assessment of your performance in re: the Magic Stripe socks (see July 27, 2004). While you did remove and destroy one set of Brittany Birch needles from said sock (for which I have still not received payment), I was wrong in my original assessment that the affected sock was “ruined” or that you were “eating all of my knitting” or that the sock was “beyond repair”. See exhibit A:

As you’ll note, the sock is back on the needles finished, almost without incident; for added protection, we used less tempting metal DPNs. Lion Brand Magic Stripe may be the poor man’s Regia, but it is fortunately as sticky as Shetland wool – even after nearly nine months exiled to a Ziploc bag, just a few stitches had dropped, and even those only one row. “Knitted together, we stay together, no matter how angry you get at the dog” appears to be the Magic Stripes motto.

Thank you too for showing no interest in mangling, chewing or hiding the Cherry Tree Hill socks (see a closeup of the afterthought heels), even though I’m sure they smell infinitely more interesting after regular wearings (four times and counting, including right this very second). I am finding it very satisfying to have finished them even though the experience of knitting them was less than thrilling. If you are keeping track, and I am, that makes two finished objects in two weeks, and three objects altogether in 2005 – almost one each month.

In short, Duffle, I apologize for anything I might have said regarding your character, willpower or lack thereof. While only growing out of puppyhood may make you a true friend to knitting (as it becomes less tempting), you are a true friend to all the denziens of Knit One, Purl Too – and for that I thank you.

Bonus link: the Marilyn knitalong I love this sweater.

The “Sally Feilds Ass” phenomenon.

14980197_F_tn.jpg Many moons ago, I noticed that people were arriving at one of my sites via the Google search for “Sally Feilds Ass.” The Sally phenomenon picked up steam because when searchers arrived and Sally was not evident on the front page, they used the search function, sure that the information they were seeking must be hiding somewhere – I mean, who does not love Sally, and who would not want to talk about her ass, given the opportunity? Other people saw that previous visitors had looked for SFA [I can only use the word “ass” so gratuitously so many times before spontaneously combusting], and they figured there must be something good there, so they too searched for Sally.

This is where we find ourselves today at Knit One, Purl Too with the poncho. As of this minute, 143 searches have been performed for the word “poncho” within this blog. And yet? I have never made a poncho. There are no poncho patterns here. As closed-off and narrow-minded as it may make me seem, I feel safe in saying that I will never make a poncho. This is not like where I first thought shawls were silly and now I have plans to make two of them (and I am eyeing patterns for several more). I mean it.

So as I said to the “Sally Feilds Ass” people, I now say to the poncho searchers: Your need will forever be unrequited here, so knock it off.

I am now looking at my site several times a day just so I can see the diminishing number of days in the YNBA. Today, just seven remain. (That’s an average of 20.42 poncho searches for every day remaining in the Yarn Non-Buying Agreement.) While I have purchased an extremely small quantity of yarn, it was only to make up for an unbelievably boneheaded mistake that would have kept me from finishing my first sweater.

While it’s unlikely I’ll finish the sweater in the next seven days, I have gotten superior advice from the StrictlyKnitting Yahoo group that will allow me to a.) use short rows for the shoulder shaping and b.) knit the sleeves from the top down using short rows. For those of you keeping score at home, the only thing I have done according to the pattern thus far with this sweater was a.) use the recommended yarn and b.) cast on the required number of stitches for the front and back. Everything else? Ch-ch-ch changing it.

I will however finish the Cherry Tree Hill socks – I liked Michelle’s pattern a lot, and I feel certain that with a less fussy, fragile yarn, I will have more success with short row heels and toes. (I have no idea either why my knitting is suddenly all about the short rows).

So what will my first purchase be after the end of the YNBA? Will it be cashmere? Luxurious merino? Even some of the Peruvian Highland wool all the cool kids are using to make Ribby Cardis and Must Have Cardigans (and which I feel fairly certain Elann has restocked just for me)? If you said “one ball of Magic Stripes yarn to re-make the in-progress sock your dog munched“, you get a gold star. I took the lone sock out of the drawer where it has been languishing unmated for nine months last week to show a houseguest and I was re-smitten with it all over again. Why had I not finished the pair, when making a pair of jacquard self-patterning socks was one of the reasons I started knitting again? Ponchos may be over, but self-patterning yarn is not over for me.

I am only Speedy Gonzales when I order the lunch special.

What the hell is going on? Is there knitting happening? “You know we can’t see anything if you only wave it in front of the computer screen – Donna, are you there?” Herewith, a list of things that have happened since my last entry:

1. The Lush pullover is up to the armhole shaping. Actually, I went significantly farther because I found stockinette in the round so mesmerizing and I misread the pattern (I know, will I get anything right on the first try with this sweater?). Here is a closeup of the phoney seam seen on the right in the photo above. Here is a discussion of knitting sweaters in the round versus flat, and three posts from the bottom you’ll find phoney seam instructions (it’s so easy, even I can do it).

2. I ordered my one skein of Lush needed to complete the sweater. It is not the same dyelot, and I ordered with much trepidation only after reaching the point where I would have simply been calling random yarn stores – every store that stocks Lush and has a website had heard from me. I received the skein Saturday and even though it is not the same dyelot, you would never know – it looks as though it belongs with all the rest. Can you tell which skein is the new one in the above photo? (It’s the one on the left.) Once again, I have the best internet knitting karma ever.

3. I have also swapped with the lovely Carrie for more than enough Muench Bergamo to complete Salt Peanuts (thank you so much!) in the same dyelot (you are my hero!). Coincidentally, she was wearing the Bergamo sweater she made when I first e-mailed her to say “do you have any left over?”

4. After fits and starts, I am almost done with the leg of sock #2 in the Cherry Tree Hill pair. I’m liking the second sock more, in part because I’ll soon be done with them. I’ve made my peace with the stripes, and I am officially a fan of the Magic Loop method; I like double-pointed needles just fine, but there’s something so graceful about setting up for a new round of knitting with the Magic Loop that wins me over every time.

5. I had a big credit at the local bookstore, and I almost used it to buy Latvian Mittens by Elizabeth Upitis (they basically wouldn’t let me; their supplier doesn’t stock it). But I had a nice conversation with the owner about Latvian folk tales and traditions. Sadly, five minutes is about the extent of my conversational knowledge of Latvian traditions because I (say it with me) don’t have the book yet. I bought and read Enslaved by Ducks instead (very good, no knitting/Latvian content whatsoever).

6. I promised Lisa I would knit a hat for homeless vets in Austin, because she is threatening to send sock yarn to all the entrants of her recent “caption this dog photo contest.” If I’m getting sock yarn as a prize (again) during this YNBA, it’s only fair I make something nice for someone who needs it.

7. Mary spun some amazing yarn – it’s like spring in a skein, so beautiful. [I had nothing to do with this, and the above link is not a veiled attempt to get Mary to spin me any yarn – it just made me go “Ooooh” with its loveliness.]

8. sandy’s mittens reminded me to go check out the Blackberry Ridge site – I hadn’t been there in a while and there are some great additions (Blackberry mittens and Joe’s Afghan).

9. I went to lunch at my favorite tacky Mexican restaurant Friday, where the specials have great names (instead of “# 2”). When the waiter returned to our table with the food, I got to say “I’m Speedy Gonzales” to end up with the right plate. For some reason, I’m tickled to death by that. Slow knitter, but they’ll think I’m a fast eater – hee.

Knitter, heel thyself.

Okay, raise your hand if you noticed that I accidentally added an entire extra month into my YNBA between the first post and the second post. I even set up a little counter down there in the sidebar (currently at 79 days) and thought “that’s a long time, but I can do it!” And you know what? I can. February 24? That’s for sissies. I’m not buying any books, yarns, needles or patterns until March 24. What’s more, I’d like to finish a sweater before I buy new yarn, so that gives me two rewards (yarn and garment). Even a slow knitter can finish a sweater in 80 days, right?

In gifting news, I neglected to mention that I received Confessions of a Knitting Heretic and Knitting for Anarchists for Christmas. They’re very interesting to read together – it’s a pair of books I feel I can appreciate more now that I’ve been knitting for a little while (though I would have loved to read both books’ detailed discussion of stitch mounts much earlier – it might have saved me from twisting a row of stitches on this sweater. Can you see it? About a third of the way up the stockinette section of the back? Joan Schrouder advised another knitter in a similar situation to cut the yarn at that point, pick out the offending row of stitches, and kitchener the upper and lower parts together. I could do that, but I still have the urge to re-knit this sweater in the round, so that’s what I’ll do.

The best gift might actually have been these two balls of Misti Alpaca for the Flower Basket Shawl from Interweave Knits. I love that my 23 year old cousin bought yarn for me, and I love that his mom had to explain what a skein was; thank goodness my aunt is a knitter.

And finally, I present the finished afterthought heel on the first Cherry Tree Hill Sock. I used Dawn Brocco’s six-point heel instructions, and though I feared the heel would be too pointy, it fits beautimously, and my kitchenering has improved since a terrible charity mitten disaster a few weeks ago that we shall not speak of except to say 1.) it looked like ass, and 2.) “Speed-kitchenering” is never a good idea, even if you think you know what you’re doing. I added about six rows of stockinette to make the heel deeper, and was so pleased with the result that I promptly forgot to add the three rounds of stockinette between the first two rows of decreases. Fits fine, no harm no foul – I’m mostly noting these changes so I have a snowball’s chance of repeating them in the second sock.

Finally, I think Theresa had the right idea – there are a lot of really well-written, interesting knitting blogs out there, and it’s time for one (or more) of them to be part of the annual slugfest lovefest that is the Bloggies. Visit the Fifth Annual Weblog Awards page before January 11 and nominate the best knitblogs out there for “Best Topical Weblog”. yes, it’s a little like a high school popularity contest, but isn’t everything? Why shouldn’t knitters get in on the fun?

A new year.

I liked Claudia’s idea: end as you mean to begin, so I knitted my way to the end of 2004, or at least until I could barely keep my eyes open and it was time for bed. I am once again re-doing the heel of the Cherry Tree Hill socks – Dawn Brocco’s six-point decrease instructions are swell, but the original heel was not deep enough. This makes the fifth or sixth version of this heel – my apologies for turning this blog into the “Sock Death March.” I’ve made no secret of this to those around me, but I’ll say here for the record that I’m not a fan of the Cherry Tree Hill – the color is gorgeous, but I didn’t expect the stripes. The yarn splits easily, and it seems loosely twisted, so once it splits, it can untwist and single stitches, worked to death, can look oddly Lopi-esque. I think sock yarn should stand up to frogging, and this does not. But I soldier on, so close to the end of sock #1, if I can ever finish the heel.

A long overdue thanks too to Susan for some delightful sock yarn from her huge stash – this makes just two balls of yarn aquired during the YNBA*. What you can’t see in this picture is that the yarn Susan sent sparkles – woo! I’m thinking it might be perfect for the New England Socks from Knitting on the Road. Something lacy, with a heel flap. Whew. Thanks, Susan!

So now I’ll begin as I ended – more knitting in store, and God willing and the creek don’t rise, a finished heel by sundown. Happy knitting new year!

*(well, four balls of yarn if you count a swap for some Regia that I will probably use to knit the Elann sock yarn cap, a stroke of brilliance since I got two different colors, and mismatched socks are only marginally cool if you’re over 30.)

64 days isn’t that long.

ynbaluarie_1.jpg What would life be like if I bought no yarn, no patterns, no knitting books until February 1? Is there a hobby where you don’t spend your time overloading acquiring things for the hobby? If so, let me know, and the hobby better not be “the practice of Zen”.

It’s not like I would lack for things to read, or knit. I have four five six projects on the needles (the Cabled Rib cardigan, the Age of Aquarius hat, the Cherry Tree Hill socks…the Lush sweater and the multidirectional scarf. That’s kind of embarrassing. Without the distractions of new acquisitions, I might actually finish something. At least the multidirectional scarf has gotten significantly longer.

I’ve acquired a stack of knitting books recently, but I should go back and re-read my very first two: Knitting Without Tears, and The “I Hate to Finish Sweaters” Guide to Finishing Sweaters. That might help as I confront the fact that despite my best efforts, I’m actually making progress on the Cabled Rib Cardigan.

I am still struggling, however with the heel for Michelle’s Basic Socks. After deciding simply to forge ahead and do a “regular” short row heel, I was unsatisfied with the results. Sloppy wraps to the left in that photo, and a big lump at the base of the heel to the right. I could ignore it and continue with what I’m coming to suspect is a substandard sock, but no. First, the YNBA is a reflective thing, a period in which can consider my techniques and improve upon them with current projects, rather than starting something new to get away from a problem with something old. Two, and most important, I can already buy socks that don’t fit properly at any store on the planet except for AutoZone. I make socks that fit.

I returned to Simple Socks Plain and Fancy, and have re-read the short-row heel instructions. They are sinking in. I am prepared to have a growth experience with my knitting. I am prepared to learn and grow as a knitter rather than rush headlong into something unsatisfying. Either that, or I’ll do an afterthought heel.


I’m not at all confident that I can go any significant amount of time without acquiring some knitting-related item. Last month, I bought sock yarn at the Fifth Stitch, and when Crafter’s Choice had just what I wanted, I joined and bought a stack of knitting books, including Knitting in the Old Way, Simple Socks Plain and Fancy, the Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns, the Big Book of Knitting and The Knitter’s Book of Finishing Techniques.

Even though I haven’t had time to digest all of that again (careful readers will remember that I’ve seen them all because I looked at them first through Interlibrary Loan), I just bought a copy of Knitting on the Road (it was on sale!)…and I recently got a copy of Vogue Knitting as a gift.

What can I say? I read a lot before I started knitting, and I’m still a big reader. I just have to be careful that reading about knitting doesn’t cut into my actual knitting time too much. Apparently, I’m still managing to make some progress: here is the first half of my first short-row heel using the Magic Loop and Priscilla Gibson-Roberts’ technique from Priscilla’s Dream Socks (IK, summer 2000) plus some well-timed help from Michelle (thank you!). Also? The Cabled Rib sweater first sighted in the last entry is several twists longer. I’m sorry for the poor photo quality – we’re having technical difficulty here at Knit One, Purl Too, caused in part by Daylight Savings Time (I cannot be the only person who considers “fall back” day my personal holiday – I get to sleep an extra hour!).

As far as acquiring things, can I just say right now that I’m a little afraid of the KnitFest marketplace? It looks like it’s going to be a bigger deal than I thought; more vendors, more stuff. I’m a little worried that I won’t be able to resist something really cool and I’ll become one of those knitters who has to sneak things into the house. I’m looking around every day for things I can sell to fund potential purchases. Who knows what I’ll find? I have to be prepared!

I’m also tempted to take my copy of Knitting on the Road to ask Nancy Bush to autograph it after my steeking class Friday morning. Yes, I’m getting up before dawn so I can take a class with Nancy Bush – and I’m prepared to behave like a groupie too. (I love your work, Nancy! Call me!). Friday is going to be ten kinds of fun.

Shouldn’t I be working on a certain sweater?

Lo, I have finished the neverending socks – all it took was a visit to my sister- and brother-in-law’s house (six hours from my house to theirs, by car) and approximately ten to twelve additional hours of TV watching (Big is a good movie to knit to, Armageddon is not, in case you were wondering. Food Network good, ESPN bad – you get the idea). They have cable, we do not, so it was heaping helpings of TV all around. They are just hours away from being mailed – the recipient saw that and it was good.

Sadly, though I was in New York state (just for reference, when they call it a New York Strip Steak, that’s a cut of meat, not the point of origin) I did not go to either Rhinebeck or my own personal Rhinebeck, the Yarn Shop of Geneva. I did not even drive by the Yarn Shop of Geneva, so great was my interest in the socks I have been working on since July. If you’re reading this ladies, I’m sorry – look for me when trout fishing season rolls around. To make up for that tragic oversight, I took something special for the trip back as a reward.

That’s my Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in Peacock, and I’m following Michelle’s basic sock recipe, a pattern I’ve had my eye on for a while, because I like ribbing (don’t look at me like that – this is different, non-boring ribbing). So far, so good. You would think the hard part would be teaching yourself the German Twisted cast-on in a car speeding down the New York State Thruway (here’s a hint: twist more than you think you need to, and that’s about right) but no.

Until today, I couldn’t figure out how to purl through the back loop, mostly because my Google efforts were inscrutable to the search engine gods. And I wanted to start right now! So, no Purl TBL on this pair, but it will be my first set of short row heels – two fabulous new knitting skills in such a small project (and technically it’s three, since I now know how to purl TBL).

Don’t tell anyone, but I’m losing my enthusiasm for knitting a pile of Christmas gifts. Hats and scarves will always be there, but there’s only one Man-Along, and I wouldn’t mind at all if Knit One Purl Too’s Winding Without a Swift Specialist* (my husband) got a sweater out of it. He wouldn’t either. working on a beautiful cabled sweater in lovely yarn is hardly torture. At least I am not knitting sweaters like this.

*Who has categorically declared that he will wind no more Cherry Tree Hill Supersock for me – I am on my own if I buy more because it is “the most tangle-prone yarn ever.” Don’t take it personally Supersock.