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IMG_8883I’ve moaned about how I dislike knitting socks…..many times. It’s really too bad that I love wearing hand knitted socks.

In fact, socks may be my favorite hand knit item to wear, period. So much so that I have looked longingly at those sock knitting machines at fiber festivals (it’s kind of not the same, is it??)

It’s a conundrum.

Enter Cookie A.

When I first joined Ravelry and saw that over 10,000 Monkey socks had been knit (now stands at 16,600 — WOW!), I was stunned. I thought — if there was a sock pattern that would transform me into a sock knitter, this has to be it! — Of course I had to join the fray. It took me a few days to knit the first sock…and then another few months to knit the other.

Then, I managed to knit another pair of her socks, BFF,  in a few weeks.

I am in my second year of The Cookie A Sock Club. Last year, I knit 4 patterns out of the club. This year, I think I may try to knit all 12.

I finished the February twosome a few days after the April pattern came out. I think the trick is to have both pairs off the needles before the next installment comes out….so I’ve got the first pair of the April duo on the needles right now.

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I no longer think too much about whether the second sock will get done.

WHOA.

I think she’s done it. Cookie A. has made me into a sock knitter!!!

Knit, of course. In fact, a knitter may actually look forward to a 14 hour stretch of time when she is trapped in one place while hurtling through the air at 1,000,000mph in what appears to be a large tin can.

I travel a lot. I have almost, since my teen years, never flown without knitting. Except for a few occasions (once in Mexico and once in Korea), my knitting has made it on board without issue at the security gate (this in more recent times, TSA has relaxed now though, making things a bit easier for domestic travel).

Preplanning your travel knitting is quite crucial. One has to be extremely realistic about the amount of true knitting time that she may have, but she may risk a psychological meltdown should she run out of knitting during a long flight (where, as I mentioned before, you are strapped into a chair inside a tin can far above the earth’s surface).

My strategy in thinking about knitting on-flight is two fold — bring one project that “needs” to get done, and bring one project you “want” to work on.

The “need to get done” category could be the never-ending-stockinette/garter portion of a larger project; a project with a deadline; or something that needs the last 10% push to get through the “boring” part. My “need” category for this trip, of course, consists of socks. It’s actually perfect for travel since socks are pretty compact. And, I finished a sock on this flight — the Solfar sock in Plucky Primo Fingering. To be fair, I was already up to the heel turning (my favorite part of a sock) on this sock before the flight. (Please excuse the photo quality – at least hotel sheets are white for a good background!)

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The “want to get done” category for me generally includes a new project that I may want to work on. A word of warning here. READ THE PATTERN first. Otherwise, you may get all excited to cast on only to realize that you don’t have the waste yarn on hand, or the right stitch markers, etc. My way of combating this mistake (and I have made this mistake before) is to cast on for the project before the flight. I finished most of a mitten on this flight as well, the Octopus Mitten in Cephalopod Traveller.

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I have 2 more inter-continental trips (which are always longer flights than you think), and of course, I have to return home (with the jet stream so this is a shorter flight at ~11 hours). I have big aspirations for how much knitting I am going to get done on this trip, along with my jam packed schedule of work (yes, this is a business trip).

Perhaps a bit of a travelogue if I have time, although this is a really really short and jam packed trip.

…Because December is all about socks. As you all know, I’m not much of a sock knitter.

Unless there is a goal. And, I have to finish 3 more pairs of socks by the end of the year to successfully complete my 12/12/12 in 12, also known as the Crazypants Plan.

Irisberry socksMy latest pair is Cookie A’s Cubist Socks. It’s knit out of Iridaceae Colorworks Cypella — 80% BFL/20% nylon yarn with high twist that I really loved knitting. (Loved so much that as soon as I finished these socks, I ordered 3 more skeins in various colors from Ali’s shop). These were destined to be gifts from the get go, hence the colorway that I used is Irisberry, which variegates from periwinkle to purple. Very pretty, for a big purple lover. These socks will be packed up in my friend’s bag so she can take them to her Mom in Shanghai.

I’m sprinkling my knitting all over the globe!

And, I’ve 4 more pairs on the needles:

sock design1. I have resurrected what I’m calling My Innovation Socks. I took a sock design class from Cookie A at Vogue Knitting Live in January. I have 1/4 of a pair done, and I have pulled this out from the depths of my cabinets. It’s a sock full of twisted stitches (because I was way too ambitious in my foray into sock design), but at least it is being knit out of Wollmeise 100% in Himbeere, which is a fuscia!

IMG_85032. For the friend who is going to take the Cubist Socks to its rightful owner, my go-to sock in sport weight, which is Adrienne Ku’s Simple Skyp Socks. These are being knit in Sanguine Gryphon Bugga in Golden Orb Weaver. They are relatively quick…knit on US/2.0 needles, and simple yet not boring. After my standard of 64-72 stitches cast on for regular sock weight yarn, casting on 56 seems so few! (I should have really researched worsted weight socks!!!)  How can I send a pair of socks off to China without putting some socks on the carrier, right? These should be nice and squishy as the yarn is 80/20/10 merino/cashmere/nylon blend.

IMG_85053. Sarsaparilla Socks by Cookie A (October Sock Club exclusive pattern). These are going to be for Dad — and are actually the first club pattern I’ve cast on with the club yarn. The yarn is an exclusive, Super Duper Sock Club Yarn milled by Green Mountain Spinnery in the color…Sarsparilla. I believe the base is the same as Green Mountain Spinnery’s Forest yarn (70% fine wool and 30% Tencel). I’ve JUST cast this one on, and using US1.5 instead of my usual 1.0. This yarn feels scratchy in the skein and a bit rough as I am knitting it, but the knitted fabric is surprisingly soft. I’m thinking that blocking will further soften the final product.

solfar4. Solfar Socks by Cookie A (June Club pattern) in The Plucky Knitter Primo Fingering in a really pretty blue called Vintage Icebox. Another pair out of the club yarn. I really like this base so the knitting is going relatively quickly here.

If I knit #3 and #4, then I am also all caught up on the Cookie A Sock Club patterns for the year. Which enables me to rationalize how I should (and I already have) sign up for this Club again in 2013. Which you should, by the way. The patterns (you get 2 every other month) are worth it all on their own — because honestly, Cookie A has singlehandedly made me like knitting that second sock — but you get 2 cookie recipes every other month as well, and the yarn she has sent with the club has been very nice. (If you think about it, with all the intricate patterning in the socks, you will never get clown barf in this club).

The December shipment is here as well, and depending on how the above socks on the needles go…maybe I can cast those on before the end of the year, as well.

Can I finish?

Ravelry is a pretty amazing place. Not only is it an incredible database of patterns and a personal database of all things knitting for me, it is a place where I have “met” some fantastic people.

It appears that I am in the middle of an inadvertent KAL (knit along) with one such friend.

I cast on Conic, as you know, and my friend Judy (from Ohio, where Finn used to live!) cast on shortly after I did. We have had a nice back and forth online, updating each other on progress and asking each other about opinions on any changes we were contemplating. (That has got to be another blog post — how I think I know better than people who write the pattern and insist on changing it, all the time.) I did not change this pattern at all except to change needle size on the cuff ribbing, but I think Judy must REALLY hate picking up stitches because she was contemplating provisional cast ons on some edges.

It’s really nice to have someone cheer you on as you are knitting away on many stitches (>400) on small-ish (US2) needles. I had the ribbing done in a few days, and I actually wore Conic to work this past Monday!

I think Judy is on her last bit of ribbing as well now, and I think she will be able to wear the shrug to work on Friday. I can’t wait to see the finished object photo of her shrug!!

Conic was a really fun knit, and I expected nothing less of Cookie A. She, after all, singlehandedly turned me on to knitting socks. I knit mine out of Wollmeise 100% Merino sock (of course, a sock yarn. So appropriate.) in a deep, almost-cranberry red called Ruby Thursday. The construction is really interesting — you knit the spine down the back, and then do the big dolman sleeves attached to this spine. From a knitting progression perspective, it’s really satisfying because the sleeves get progressively small in big increments — so once you have gone through about 5 sets of decreases, the knitting feels like it flies off the needles.

From a wearability standpoint, I thought it sat on my body pretty well. I felt like I kept on tugging on it at the back, but I am not quite used to the shape of this garment — it’s not quite a sweater. By the middle of the day, I was done fiddling with it.

I have a really funny suspicion that Conic will not stay in my wardrobe for long. I am pretty sure my little sister will try to weasel it out of me. (Mesmerize me into giving it to her, actually. She’s really good at that.)

I can always knit another!

PS WIP Wednesday admission. I’m too busy casting on new projects. But Waterfall is still out on my coffee table, sneering at me.

I participate in the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup (HPKCHC) on Ravelry, where I am a member of Slytherin House. As we near the end of each month, I put on the jets to finish the projects that I intend to finish for the monthly classes.

My goal this term is to hand in at least one sweater a month, and for the longer term projects (O.W.L. and Order of the Phoenix), I am also doing sweaters. My rationale is that instead of knitting small projects and handing in many classes, I should try to maximize the bonus points (while I don’t know how bonus points are calculated, I know there are bonus points for yardage). I have been told, after all, that I am a fast knitter and I think that in the end, perhaps I will end up amassing more points than I would have had I handed in small projects.

That…and of course, my secret goal this year of knitting 12 sweaters, 12 pairs of socks and 12 shawls this year. I’ll update you on my Secret Project Crazypants some other time. (Mostly because I am not giving up on S.P.C. just yet.)

This term, I have already handed in two items so far. My Levenwick sweater, and the SSSSpiral Cowl.

I’m working on two more things that I hope to complete by Sunday.

First, Romi Hill’s Carson. Carson is the first in this year’s Small Shawls Collection. I got this shawl on the needles as soon as I cast off Rosa Flora. When I saw the pattern, I knew I wanted to knit mine in something tweedy. Being totally virtuous on this project, I decided to use Rowan Yorkshire Tweed 4-ply that I have had in my stash since either 2004 or 2005 (since the yarn has been discontinued since then, I’m pretty sure it’s that old!). I have oodles of this stuff, but the trick was to find the colors that I have enough of and would work in a multi-color shawl. As you can see from the photo, I’m just a few rows away from binding off. I am probably going to have to introduce another color for the last few rows so that will be a bit tricky. I think I will be able to finish knitting this shawl, block it, and photograph it by the end of the weekend.

Second, I am also in pretty good shape on Cookie A’s Conic. I’m knitting this out of Wollmeise 100% in Ruby Thursday. This sweater is such a fun knit. At first, I wasn’t sure about knitting this. I fell in love, though, when I read Cookie A’s blog post about this shrug. I think it is genius how versatile this shrug is, and how great it looks on so many body types. I think I can throw this on over a shift and be completely work-worthy!!! I’m on sleeve #2, but after I finish that (the total beauty of the construction….you decrease 20 stitches every 9 rows. It gets smaller and faster!!!), I have to pick up >450 stitches and knit 2×2 rib for 3 inches so I will likely be cutting it relatively close on finishing this by Sunday.

Of course, if I finish with time to spare, I will be working on my O.W.L. sweater, or Waterfall.

I know. I’ve not told you what my O.W.L. sweater is. I will. Soon.

Any deadline knitting on your needles?

I love hand knitted socks. To me, there’s nothing more decadent and wonderful as hand knitted socks. Lucy thinks so too 🙂 (Not really, but if I write that, I can insert a gratuitous Lucy photo. She actually is modeling a pair of baby socks for me.)

So you would think that I would have drawers upon drawers of hand knitted socks. But I don’t. Because I have been secretly (well….I’ve been out of the closet about this for a while, actually) suffering from an affliction that is common among knitters.

Second Sock Syndrome. That second sock is a total anathema to me.

I have been in search of a cure for a while. I’ve tried everything — knitting with fabulous yarns. Knitting patterns that are interesting. Knitting two socks at once. Toe up. Cuff down. Nothing has worked so far.

But here’s the newsflash. I finally have a cure, and it has allowed me to finish three pairs of socks in three months.

I can crank out a shawl in a few days. A sweater in a couple of weeks. But averaging a pair of socks a month? Total victory. I read some threads in Ravelry about how people completed the latest Cookie A. Sock Club installment in a couple of days. I can’t even imagine it! To me, they are superhuman.

Should I divulge my secret? How did I do it, you ask? Do you have sad, mismatched socks lurking in your drawers?

Here’s is the answer!

(1) Plan 3 pairs of socks. (Let’s call them socks A, B and C, with sock #1 and sock #2 of each kind.) I would suggest an easy pair (for me that means sport weight on #2 needles), a medium pair (sock yarn, #1 needles, moderate patterning) and a hard pair (something fiddly but gorgeous, like traveling twisted stitches).

(2) Cast on A1, B1, C1. For me, this means knit enough of the sock so you get a feel for how the knitting will go — so probably the ribbing plus a bit of the leg pattern. Yes, this requires you to have 3 sets of needles….but you probably have them in your needle stash, or were secretly coveting Signature DPNs in #1s anyway.

(3) Finish A1, cast on A2. Try on A1, photograph, put it up on your Ravelry project page and move the progress bar to 50%!!!

(4) Repeat (3) for socks B and C.

At this point, you’ve knit 3 socks, none of them matching, and you’re psyched. And it’s been long enough from when you’ve knit sock A that it takes you a pattern repeat to actually remember the pattern.

(5) Finish A2. This will feel like it is flying, until you are 80% done with this sock. Then, you will have to rely on the sheer power of the last 2 inches of the sock (the toe — decrease-city) to power you to the end.

Flaunt the fact that you have a pair of socks completed.

(6) Repeat (5) for socks B and C.

There you have it. From left to right, Simple Skyp Socks by Adrienne Ku (free pattern!) in Sanguine Gryphon Bugga (sport weight!), Turbulence Socks by Cookie A. in Socktopus Sokkusu-O, and Wayward in Hedgehog Fibres Sock.

(It goes without saying that using fantastic yarn helps too!)