50 Years in the Making

Well, it wasn’t a WIP for 50 years, but it has taken me 50 years of knitting to complete my first pair of socks!

Don’t get me wrong – I haven’t been trying all this time to knit socks, but it has been probably 10 or so years to both learn how to make a sock, and to complete a pair.

Here is the story:

When I first learned to knit from my mother, she never knit socks, as far as I ever saw, so I didn’t have any desire to knit them. Over the years, my crafting waxed and waned, so again socks never came up.

A decade or so ago, I started knitting with a group of women, and one of them would be knitting with her double-pointed needles, and no pattern, and get the majority of the sock done in the one evening we were there. I was fascinated, but never really asked for her help to learn.

Then, in a group I was hosting, there was a woman who’s favourite thing to knit was socks, and again, she could create one in an evening. I was envious, but didn’t pursue the idea of socks.

So I decided I really should tackle this challenge, and completed a sock. I used worsted weight wool, and although technically it looked like a sock, I found the process very tedious. I love to make blankets and although it does take time, the result is a large item. Socks, to me, seemed like a lot of effort for a very small item. And I learned later on that wool does not make the best socks as they can wear out very quickly in the heel without some sort of other fibre with it, such as nylon.

So that one sock sat in the drawer of unloved projects for years.

Also, knowing how much effort one sock was, I couldn’t imagine making two. In my quest, however, I bought a book on how to make two at a time. Unfortunately for me, it used the magic loop method of making socks. That was tricky for me. I couldn’t grasp the magic loop concept at all, never mind to make two things at a time, so I and decided to stick to DPN’s if I were ever to make another attempt.

Then more recently, I met someone else who knitted socks without any stress, and it sparked a bit more interest. I gave it another try. Nope. Ugly, way too big for a human.

Now it was time to take stock.

I needed a good pattern – something simple (no cable, stripes). I needed the proper sock yarn. I needed the proper size needles (something small like 2.75mm). I thought that bamboo would be less slippery, and that would help prevent stitches sliding off. I would not try the magic loop, and make one sock at a time.

I ordered some curved needles, but really they were too big, even at 3mm.

Then I helped someone tackle a baby bootie pattern that seemed to be written totally wrong, and while I was practicing, and correcting the errors, it occurred to me that I’d like to make myself some slippers.

But instead I enthusiastically, but recklessly, gathered some 2.75mm DPN’s, some sock yarn (I had accumulated quite a few skeins over the years, sometimes for stuffed toy patterns), a sock pattern I’d printed off a while back and gave it a go.

I cast on, and it looked like the picture of when the stitches are divided on the 3 needles. I joined them, and they weren’t twisted. The ribbing came along nicely. I followed the pattern along, and it began to look like a sock. With my experience with the booties, I was able to do the picking up along the heel flap. Exciting! I really didn’t have enough of the same yarn to make an entire sock, but I didn’t care. I found some more, similar, sock yarn, and I carried on, since it was looking good. Then I got to the foot, and could see that it was too short, so I undid some of the toe shaping, and knit some more rows, tried it on my foot, and finished it off. A sock! It looked good! It felt good!

Then I decided, yes, since this is a sock, I will do this again. I started the second sock. As it progressed, I realized that I’d made the heel incorrectly on the first one, but at this point, I was just happy to have something that actually looked like a sock, so I did the second sock’s heel properly. I now knew about the length of a sock for my foot, how to carefully try on a sock, with 3 DPN’s on it, and I finished up the second sock. A PAIR of SOCKS. I had done it!

And then I proceeded to knit another pair!

I can honestly say that I can knit a pair of socks. I will use the same pattern, for now, and avoid anything fancy. I will have enough of the same sock yarn to make a matching pair, and who knows who will benefit next from my new confidence and skill!

Always Time to Craft with Yarn

Now that it is June of 2022, I don’t really want to dwell on the past years. I will say that ordering yarn online has been a joy. My favourite go-to website is Yarn Canada. They have a huge selection of yarn, and great service.

I have been able to get supplies to continue to knit and crochet. I can’t say I finished up all my WIP’s, or started something totally new, like socks, but I think it did help me have something to be excited about in such uncertain times.

I currently am getting ready to teach free classes at the local library. Someone I met through Next Door has gotten a small grant for this program, so we are able to supply free yarn, needles, hooks, etc. She will be teaching journaling and colouring.

It is hard to know what students will want to make. Do they want to knit a dishcloth? Or crochet a skinny scarf? Shopping with other people’s money is great of course, but I do have to use common sense, and restrain myself from going over budget.

I am glad that things are opening up again, and that gathering together to knit and crochet are becoming safe and fun.

It’s Been a while…

To say that the pandemic has affected us all is an understatement. For me, it hasn’t been too rough. Yes, my classroom access has been cut off, and getting together with students has been delayed. And with ever-changing rules, it makes it harder to plan for teaching. On a personal level, though, I am still able to crochet and knit as much as I like.

I will elaborate on the teaching disruption to my life.

In 2019, I became an independent contractor, and was able to use the classroom at a big box arts and crafts store. I was able to get students from their website, but I was able to design my own classes, and charge my own rates. But in March 2020, everything closed down, including that classroom, and as of today, it remains closed. Getting other places to teach is also difficult. This I understand as public rental spaces, such as the library, don’t want just anyone wandering in their workplaces, and I don’t want to invest in plexiglass barriers to carry around with me.

Finally, in late 2021, I was able to feel comfortable meeting with people, indoors, and get back to teaching. I found many students through Nextdoor, and several from this website.

Meeting in coffee shops has been a good place as you don’t need any proof of vaccination, and even if you did, it wouldn’t be my job to do it.

I have met a few people in their homes, and I appreciate the trust that people put in me to invite me in.

I am a terrible housekeeper – perhaps I spend too much time on crafts – so I have been unable to set up a meeting place in my home.

Group classes remain a challenge; getting people together with their various schedules, has not worked out. As well, there are still cautions about group meetings.

Overall, I do hope to get back to teaching more people. One -on -one lessons are very specific to one person, and I like that. In a group of students, however, there is often more energy and the students can help and encourage each other.

Sweater in August

dscf34571.jpgDespite my ravings on about what projects to do in the hot days of summer, last year I took on the task of making a sweater with a very complex cable pattern. This year, I find myself again taking an a sweater, with a less complicated cable pattern to it. Why am I doing this?

Perhaps it is the joy of being able to go outside and knit while the hummingbirds buzz by, or to watch the squirrels cross the telephone wires as they store their nuts for the winter.

Perhaps it is the good, bright light that enables me to see the complicated stitches (instead of waiting til evening to put on a light).

Perhaps it is a change of scenery – outside in the fresh air, instead of inside with the television on. Yes, it can be a pain to take all the pattern pages and cable needle and pen needed to keep track of rows, but once I set up a bag to transport the WIP, and remember to put everything back in, it is easy to take where I want to go.

However, I did make the mistake last year of starting a project without enough of the same dye lot of yarn, and of course when I ordered more, it was a very different shade of turquoise than the one I had started. I still have the completed sweater with it varying shades, tucked away, unsure of what to do with it i.e. perhaps dye the whole thing to even it out.

You would think I would have learned…but sadly what I did was order more yarn last year thinking I would make another of the same complicated pattern.  But then I found a less complicated pattern, still with glorious cables though, and again find myself without enough of the same colour of yarn, this time because the colour has been discontinued all together. My solution? I am making the back purple, and the front and sleeves in mauve. I don’t know how it will turn out – stay tuned.

Just Say “No” to Christmas in July

DSCF3349Seriously, who need Christmas in July as a yarn crafter? I know retail seems to think it is a good idea, but yarn crafting in summer is different than in the fall or winter, and that is the point!

I can see the idea of getting ahead of handmade Christmas gifts, but I don’t want to be making scarves or hats, or even little Christmas ornaments in July. In a previous blog, I explained about the different projects and yarns one uses when the weather is hot.

It doesn’t matter that ornaments are small items; they still are reminiscent of the winter seasons, and I don’t want to be making them when the summer months go by so fast. The warmer months are a time to try new yarns, try new small projects, or even to take a break from yarn crafting. Some yarn shops close for a holiday. Yarn shipments to stores slow down now.

We should not feel pressured to be thinking about Christmas in July, but instead enjoy the couple of months where we can be outside doing other things, including being inspired by colours and sights we see while out in the sunshine. Maybe we might go out of town and visit a different yarn shop. Maybe we take a small project with us, but please nothing that reminds us of winter!

There is plenty of time to think of gifts in the upcoming cooler months, which is very exciting to yarn crafters.

Yarncraft & TV

Many people like to watch TV while knitting or crocheting. It makes them feel like they are being productive while just sitting and watching.

However, you must be aware of a couple of potential pitfalls.

First of all, if you are watching something really interesting, or gripping, or something you need to pay close attention to, you won’t be paying attention to your work. You may lose track of where you are, and get frustrated having to examine your work over and over. As well, dramas can cause you to tense up your stitches until you can sigh with relief at the conclusion, and return your stitches to your normal tension.

Secondly, beware of watching certain programs that contain a lot of numbers. These numbers will intermix with the numbers {(7 dc, 2 hdc) twice} you are trying to keep track of in your pattern.

The most tricky thing to watch? The news. The weather report – full of “a high today of 20, rain for the next 5 days, low of 10 degrees). The sports -“she had a two stroke lead on round two, and won with a 72, which is three under par”. Just in general, the news has lots of statistics “inflation rate of two percent” or “hundreds lined up for a chance to buy tickets.”

It is definitely hard to think in your pattern, while trying to listen to other numbers and watch what is going on in the world or your city.

If you want to watch TV while you knit or crochet, do something simple that does not require your full attention. Working just back and forth, with a colourful varigated yarn, in a simple stitch can still create wonderful works of art.

If you do choose to do complicated patterns, make sure you keep track of rows, rounds, counts etc. and don’t take it for granted that you will remember. Use paper and pen, stitch markers or any sort of tracking device to make sure you have not wasted your time doing two things at once.DSCF3024

Get Real

I have accumulated various skeins of sock yarn over the years. I admire people who can knit socks, and as much as I’d like to be one of them, my lack of socks indicates they aren’t for me. I find them a lot of work, for not a lot of sock. I’d rather make a blanket and see all my efforts turn into a cozy blanket, than one (and if I’m lucky – 2) socks.

So now I’ve decided to use the sock yarn I have to make a scarf. Stay tuned.DSCF3188

It’s too hot!

I hear people not wanting to learn to knit or crochet during the summer months, so I don’t usually teach then. But while I was out walking the dog in the heat of the morning, I was thinking – it’s too hot to be out here doing this – I’d rather be knitting!

Sometimes it is too hot to do anything too strenuous, and so yarn crafting is the perfect way to spend some time doing something productive.

You can do small projects, like hats, but I especially like small motifs that can later be joined together to make a bigger project. Granny squares are small and portable and don’t take up too much space on your lap (unlike a sweater or blanket). You may want to work on something lacy and open, instead of dense and warm.

Natural fibers, such as cotton and linen also are nice to work with during the summer, or any fine weight yarn. You do not want bulky, cozy yarns now, because if you get sweaty palms, that slows you down while you are trying to create something.

If you are planning to make gifts for the holidays, or attend craft fairs, you need to be thinking about these creations far in advance, or at least go through your stash and plan out what you will need or what you want to make.

Unfortunately, yarn sales are few and far between at this time of year, but you may have scored some bargains at the end of spring when old stock got cleared out.

Summer is a time for doing lots of other activities, but it doesn’t have to mean you can’t still do some knitting or crocheting.

Old Granny “squares”

Over the years, I have started, and completed, many projects. However, I’ve also started, and not finished, many projects, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes I would experiment with colour combinations, and my swatch of choice was a granny square. These little gems accumulated over the years, and I had so many, I decided to do a purge and put them together.

I have done purpose-made granny square blankets before. In those projects, the size was consistent, and the colours were carefully selected and coordinated. Joining them would be a pleasure.

This purge-project wasn’t going to be straight forward. Between the various sizes, and various colours I had tried over the years, I had to put a lot of thought into placement.

I started by sorting them into #of rounds. I began in the middle with



5-round squares, as that is what I had the most of. Then I added larger numbered rounds, and placed them as best I could. Of course, the different sizes didn’t line up, so I had to improvise at the edges and just crochet a few rows in particular areas to square it up.

When crocheting them together, there were seams that didn’t line up, so I just slip-stitched to where the next join was and carried on.

The various colours made for a challenge as well. I had made pastels, brights, weird combinations, lovely combinations. They would all have to get along. I tried to avoid having the same colours beside one another, and tried to have them somewhat pleasing to the eye. Where did this odd-ball come from?

And of course there weren’t really enough squares to make a large enough blanket. I had many many first-rounds, so I took them and added various rounds to make more of 5 or 6 round squares. Here I could choose colours that I needed, and avoid ghastly combinations.

It may not be the prettiest, although it’s not horrid either. It will definitely keep someone toasty warm.

I really enjoyed this challenging project, and because I still have plenty of various squares left, anther blanket is in the works.