Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Humble Sock

To labor is to pray. ~Motto of the Benedictines

Many, many people have asked me to sell or give them them a pair of Trudgers. I feel I'm a fairly generous person, but I don't sell or give away the Trudgers I make (except as gifts to close friends and relatives).

This is a photo of a simple pair of socks with 48 stitches per sock making up each round.


As an experiment, I set up my space, got everything arranged so there would be minimum interruptions, to see how much sock I could knit in an hour. My favorite method of knitting socks is two at a time on two circular needles. It is much quicker, less complicated, and has less chance of leaving ladders than knitting on double-pointed needles. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

In the hour, I was able to knit almost an inch on the socks or 11 rows of 96 stitches per round equalling 1056 stitches or 17.6 stitches per minute. Extrapolating those calculations out and not accounting for the extra time it takes to turn a heel or less time for decreasing a toe (I figure it averages itself out), it takes 12-14 hours to knit an average pair of socks on fingerling or sock yarn. That's if nothing goes wrong. Tinking (taking out stitches one at a time) or ripping (tearing out several rows) takes additional time. Depending on where you are on the sock when you make a dreaded error, you may find it easier to start over.

That's a lot of time invested in a product that you certainly cannot charge even minimum hourly wage for unless you find someone insane enough to pay over $100 for a pair of socks. That price doesn't take into account the cost of the yarn, some of which is relatively expensive because it has been hand-spun by another fibre artist. Even if I could knit faster, socks will always take me a long time to knit.

I enjoy making socks and I have plenty of loved ones lined up waiting for a pair or two or three. I beg them to please take care of them because they are labors of love. I usually make each pair with someone in mind so a lot of good will and positive energy directed to that person goes into them as they are being knit. My hope, when I send them on their way, is that if the recipient wears a hole in them, they don't toss them out; to me, they are worth mending.

So that's the story of the simple, humble, hand-knitted sock and why I do not sell them. It is also background on my desire to teach knitting to people who admire hand-knitted items. I want them to be able to have the satisfaction of making their own socks, scarves, hats, gloves, or sweaters.


A Mexican Poppy in the garden.

Graties ~

Mornings on the patio.
The ability to see and use my hands.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hello Dolly!

When my grandson, Mason, was just a baby I made what was supposed to be a bear for him. It is crocheted. It came out looking more like a monkey than a bear, but he loves it and still sleeps with it every night even though it is raggedy and has one eye missing. He named it Baby. His sister, Aubrey, asked me about a month ago if I would make a doll or her, so I knitted one. It turned out better than Baby. I hope she likes it. I'll give it to her on her birthday this July. I'll have time to make several outfits before then. She wearing a mini-halter dress and go-go boots here.


I used a pattern I got out of Babes in the Wool by Fiona McDonald.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Girls' Club Knitting 2012


The Girls' Knitting Club was exhausting, but satisfying. Thanks be to God/Goddess/Great Spirt/Allah/Whoever is the Boss of Your Club, a woman I wasn't expecting to show up, did show up. Thank you, Pat! She's a leftie and we have three left-handed girls in the group. Trying to teach a leftie, if you're a rightie, how to knit is really hard.

There were about thirty girls total, divided among four teachers. We even had one mom show up. She learned alongside her daughter. I loved that! Pat took the lefties. Meaner (aka Karen), my granddaughter Savanah, and I divided up the rest.

The girls were so excited and they all wanted to be attended to at the same time. Impossible. So, I spend a great deal of the time calming them down and asking them to be patient, as I'm hovering over each girl individually, with my hands on their hands, teaching them to cast on and then do the knit stitch.

Some of them catch on very quickly and others take a lot of attention. It isn't that these others are slow, but, like my friend Terry (who I consider to be one of the most brilliant people I know), there is something about spatial tasks that elude them. Their brains don't interpret correctly what their eyes are seeing. With a lot of patience, they can learn too. I taught Terry to knit about five years ago. She cranks out washcloths and other simple things pretty regularly. Each time she has to learn a new stitch or method, we go through the agonizing process of getting her brain to understand.

In other knitting news from yours truly, I've been on a sock binge. I'm not a fast knitter and most sock yarn is eensy, knitted with tiny needles, and takes for-effing-ever to complete. The end result is worth it, but they do take a long time. Occasionally, I want to knit up a pair of socks quickly, so I use worsted weight yarn. The sock patterns for worsted weight yarn are pretty boring, so I made one up of my own. This was the end result ~


The use the two socks at a time on two circular needles method of building socks. The basic recipe for the pattern is as follows ~

Cast on 40 stitches for each sock and divide on to two circular needles.

K1, P1 rib for about an inch

Knit one round.


1. *k1 tbl, k2tg, yo, k, repeat from *

2-5. *k1 tbl, k3, repeat from *

6. *k1 tbl, k, yo, k2tg, repeat from *

7-10. *k1 tbl, k3, repeat from *

Repeat pattern for desired length of top part of sock.

I use a short-row heel using a clever method developed by Socktopus and then continue the pattern on the top part of the sock, knit the bottom in stockinette, and a simple decrease on each side of the sock, every other row, until I'm down to 8 or 10 stitches. Bind off using whatever method works best for you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Girls' Knitting Club Winter Break Gathering

Here are some photos from our pre-winter break meeting with the Girls' Knitting Club. Presents were handed out to them from the Knit Sisters and presents were received from them by those of us who have spent the last several Wednesday afternoons teaching them to knit.

Goodie bags loaded into the sleigh.

The next several photos are of hands casting on and knitting. We weren't allowed to photograph the girls' faces.





We got presents too! A lovely mug, some spicy tea, a ginger cookie and candy canes!

I know I can speak for all of the Knit Sisters when I say this was a fun and rewarding project. Patty B. found some fun gloves to put in the girls' goodie bags. They were a tremendous hit. Also a big hit was the hot chocolate provided by Gail M., the notepads provided by Terry F., the Christmas socks provided by Penni S., and the yarn and needles provided by all of us.

One of the little girls was trying to knit wearing her new gloves. I don't know how successful she was, but she did not want to take off the gloves. Another girl spent a fair amount of time trying to figure the best future opportunity for her to have her hot chocolate. Would it be this weekend or would she save it for Christmas morning? Maybe we'll find out when we go back after the first of the year.

Mrs. Hudgins, the teacher in charge of the class, also learned to knit and worked side by side with the girls. When you are in a circle of knitters, everyone is equal. Patty pointed out to the girls that they were doing what thousands of women have done before them when they sit together and knit: knit and talk, knit and talk, knit and talk.

It was lovely!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Santa Clause is Knitting in Town

The Knit Sisters have been working diligently with the girls at Greenfield Middle School. Many of them are knitting up a storm now. Only a few are still having a tough time of it, but remain determined to conquer the skill of knitting. Karen shared that one of the girls told her that when she told her mom she was learning to knit, her mom said, "You're becoming a young woman now."

We are in the process of putting together gift bags to hand out to them next Wednesday that will include enough yarn for them to make a long scarf in the garter stitch. Here are about half of them ~


Santa Hats, or reasonable facsimile thereof. Mason grew out of his original Santa Hat. Tai says it now looks like an Elf's hat, so I'm building a new one for him and a hat for Michael. Tai, Aubrey, and Savanah all have hats from years gone by ~


Friday, November 26, 2010

Community Service? More Like Self-Service.

Knitting Dharma

The more expensive the yarn, the more likely the dog to eat it, pee on it, or unravel it in the yard. ~Linda Kay
Some of the Knit Sisters are involved in helping to teach some middle school girls how to knit. It is a challenge, but really a lot of fun. A big shout out to Karen, Gail, Yolanda, Patty, and Hillary, for helping with the hands on stuff, and for the several of you who donated money for needles.

I thought (a dangerous thing for me to do) that after the first lesson, there would be some attrition in the numbers -- that rather than the 15 girls we started out with, we'd end up with around 10. Why did I think this? Well, I thought that many of the young women would find it boring. We live in a fast paced world where everything is done in an abbreviated manner. We don't even write out entire words any more!

At the second session there were 17 girls. No worries, I'm thinking, because this session will really test their metal since we are actually going to be teaching them to cast on.

All I can say is that my projections were wrong. The next session had 20 girls wanting to take up needles and meet the challenge AND the teacher wanted to learn too! (She caught on very quickly, I might add.)

Anyway, some people who have found out what we are doing say, "What great community service, Linda!" Oh, yes, no end to my giving. This is more like self-service because any opportunity I can get to knit with others, I'll take it!

Karen called yesterday evening to say she had a 30% off coupon for an entire purchase at Michael's and that Michael's had Impeccable yarn (268 yards) on sale for $2.49 a skein. She wanted to know if I wanted to go with her to purchase yarn for the Girls Club. Oh, hell no. Not on the eve of Black Friday, not with my full belly, not with me having just unleashed the girls from the bra. I'll buy, if you fly.

Here's what Karen brought back ~


Sweet! When the girls get proficient at casting on and doing the knit stitch, they will choose (by lottery) their color of yarn, get a set of needles and start working on their first actual knitting project, a simple garter stitch scarf.

In other knitting news, I've had these photos of Yolie in the sweaters she recently completed for awhile now, but I have no details on the yarn used or the patterns. The first sweater is made with a yummy angora type yarn in a lovely cranberry color. The pattern is a simple cardigan (simple for some, not for me). It looks great with Yolie's coloring.

red sweater
Yolie in Red Cardigan

The second sweater is made with some fancy-schmancy yarn and is a pattern Yolie got at Creative Pursuits. It might be one of the owner's original patterns. A nice wrap around, held together with a broach or pin.

Blue sweater
Yolie in Blue Wrap Sweater

Karen sent this photo of her daughter's dog, Buttons, which she was dogs-sitting, helping her out with her knitting. Buttons is so helpful, she may become a permanent fixture at Karen's since her daughter does have six other dogs at home.

Buttons Helping Meaner

This is a little bear I made from a pattern in Knitted Toy Tales (Laura Long), using Lang Tosca Light yarn. The next time, I think I'll just use a worsted weight yarn and go up a needle size. It turned out sort of cute, though. I gave it to my daughter, whose nickname as a baby was Sherry Bear.

Sherry's Bear

And, finally, a photo from a recent trip to a show put on by Hand Weavers of the Valley. Wow, what a display of color and amazing products. I wish I had time now to learn weaving and spinning. Soon, though. Very soon. At least the spinning part. Not so interested in the weaving... yet.

Handweavers of the Valley

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Karen (aka Meaner) has been prolific the past several months making sweaters and hoodies for her great-grandchildren. Here's another hoodie she made from the Bar Harbor Hoodie pattern from the September 2010 issue of Creative Knitting pattern she used for Conner on the previous entry. Karen got creative by adding some leaves to the front panel to jazz this up her oldest great-grandgirl.


Here's the one she made for Conner.