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.