Hey heyyyyy awesome readers! I hope you are all doing good and your little corner of life is treating you well. (And I hope this new fortnightly posting schedule isn’t throwing your Sunday routine totally out of whack 🙃)
So it seems that Savage Summer is upon us once again in London, and without the air-con-ness of the office building to keep me cool, there’s many a sweaty video call happening right now 😂 Ah well.
Shops are now opening again here (although restaurants and bars are still a no-go for a few days), and I for one am not desperate in the slightest to go out shopping. I saw photos on the news of people queuing outside Primark and the Nike store… I mean – queuing? Seriously? Are people *that* impatient to go shopping for god-knows-what that they want to queue up outside before the store even opens? Nah mate. I’m staying firmly at home in my sweatpants, and will order anything I simply can’t do without online, and have someone bring it to my door like a normal person.
Face masks are now compulsory on public transport, but thankfully neither of us are going back to work any time soon – and we cycle our commutes anyway. I can’t even begin to imagine the shambles that is going to be the London transport network – social distancing fo sho ain’t gonna be happening, and queueing for a bus is going to require an almighty time commitment if a double-decker can only hold 20 people instead of the usual 100+. Couple that with the temperature scanners on office building entrances, one way systems on the office floors themselves, social distancing in lifts and all the other shiz that this ‘new world’ brings us, I for one am more than happy to stay inside working from home with the doggos for at least the rest of the year.
I was pleased to notice this morning that three months of getting up at the hugely more reasonable time of 8am rather than 6am during the week has almost (almost) got rid of the dark circles under my eyes, and my skin is much less oily and blackhead-y now it’s not subject to the grimy, pollution-y city-centre roads. Instead we’re cycling out into Kent at the weekends, into air that might even be classed as fresh, and swapping the view of a back of a taxi or bus for straight-up proper greenery.
However, this time working at home has not translated into more sewing, as you know. I’m not sure why, exactly. My best guess would be that all this *gestures to state of the world* messed with my creative flow, knocked it out of whack, and set it off in a different direction. Suddenly I didn’t feel like sewing, and my energies were diverted to reading and knitting instead. I also have an unexplained urge to crochet a blanket, spurred on almost entirely by this picture on Instagram:
Pretty, huh? My crochet skills are somewhat lacking, but I think they can stretch to a blanket 🤔
Annnnnnyhoo – I’ve got some socks for ya this week! My very first pair, which I am almightily proud of 💪🏻
You might remember (although likely not, I can barely remember that far back myself) that a while ago I tried out the ‘Knitcrate’ sock box. Basically, it’s a subscription box where each month – for around $20 – you get a skein of hand-dyed sock yarn, and a pattern to knit with it. Even though I loved the yarn that came in my box, I had many thoughts about the whole subscription thing – which mainly centred around me being fussy with yarns and not wanting to waste $20 on a skein of yarn that I wouldn’t have chosen myself or straight up didn’t like. Knitcrate must have felt my brainwaves when I first blogged my thoughts, because now they offer four different colourway options in the sock box to at least give you a bit of control:
I’d be a lot more likely to purchase a box knowing something about what I might be getting, but even with the choices in colourways that they have now, I’d want a mashup of the ‘energise me’ (for basically all the colours) and the ‘chill out’ (for the turquoise, teal and royal purple, but not so much the greens). I know, I’m so hard to please lol.
But with the particular Knitcrate I purchased, the details of the included yarn were already released before I purchased so I knew what I was getting for my $20. I knew what I’d be making, too – the included sock pattern, because prior to this my first ever attempt at socks turned out to be an absolute shitfest: I didn’t buy the recommended yarn for the pattern (mine was slightly thinner), I was confused on the sizing, and the first try gave me a cuff that was too tight to actually get over my foot. Lolz. The second attempt – with bigger needles – was still pretty small. Too small, really, so I abandoned it in a bit of a strop and it’s still tucked away in the corner of my knitting bag waiting to be unravelled. I do like the yarn though, so I’m hoping that when I’m not so much of a sock-noob I can reuse it into an actual wearable pair of socks.
The yarn I got in my Knitcrate was by ‘The One String’ – an indie dyer in Utah. It’s the ‘Charm’ sock weight yarn, 90% Targhee superwash yarn and 10% nylon. The pattern that was included with the yarn is ‘Damson Espalier’ By Liz Harris, which is available from Ravelry here if you want a pair of these socks in your life.
I thought this box would be the hand-holding I needed to bring a pair of wearable socks into the world, and although I really love my finished socks, the quality of the pattern instructions was a little bit meh.
Before you even start knitting something, what do you do? Figure out the size you need to make. The pattern listed two size options – S/M and L/XL – but no indication of the size feet and calves that they actually fit. For someone that’s knitting their first pair, this was not helpful to me. I dithered, likely muttering some complaints under my breath – and in the end went for the small/medium because I guessed that large would probably cater for a man’s size 11’s or something – but a size range would have been really handy, y’know 🤷🏻♀️
The next hurdle that I came across – again let me point out that I haven’t, at this stage, even begun knitting yet – says you should ‘cable cast on, using the pictured sock for reference’ but in the one and only picture of the socks in the pattern booklet you can’t actually see the cast on edge, so, yeah thanks 😑 Long-tail cast on it was, then.
LOOK HOW TINY THE NEEDLES (AND STITCHES) ARE 👀😂
I didn’t think the instructions were particularly clear in a couple of places either – one of them I was one row out to what they said I should be (but I couldn’t see how I could be at the row they said, if I followed their instructions) and the twisted stitches at the heel was also a particularly wordy section with no real guidance than to just try it one way, and if it ‘didn’t look right’ then do it the other way. So much for this being easy, huh. *sigh*
My last complaint – although a minor one – is that someone really needs to sort out the white balance in their photos, because the socks in the booklet are nowhere near the colour tones of the actual yarn 👀
I’ve never knitted socks before, but I’ve plenty of experience of knitting a cabled garment with a cable needle. You’re given the instructions to knit the socks without a cable needle – though this involves purling through backs of loops which takes an IMMENSE amount of wrangling the tiny needles into odd positions. I proceeded with my tried and tested method of cabling using a cable needle, but I’m not joking in the slightest when I say that this took an absolute AGE to do just one row. It’s SO fiddly. I wondered how I would ever get one sock complete at the rate I was going. So, I decided to give their cable-needle-free instructions a go. Well, it took several rounds to get into it – it felt like a proper arms-and-needles-all-over-the-show mission to do the left crosses (the right crosses weren’t so bad) but eventually, I got there and it did become quicker than cable needle method. But WOW I think I should have chosen a simpler pattern for my first pair 😂
The heel flap is… reinforced I guess you’d call it? It took me a while to figure out why there were all these slip-stitches going on, but after a few rows I realised that this made a thicker fabric, which is obvs what you want on the heel so that the back of your shoes don’t wear through your socks in five seconds. Clever.
The yarn behaved well, not splitty at all and really nice to work with. It did take quite a long time to do the ‘leg’ bit of the sock where the cable pattern goes all the way around – becoming slightly faster once you get to the ‘foot’ bit and the cables are only on the front half of the sock (stocking stitch on the rest of it – super fast!). Using Kitchener stitch for the first time to close up the toe took a couple of tries to get it looking right…
A bit of a pointy toe though? Maybe. I also went wrong somewhere on the last few rows of the toe and had to rip back and pick up the stitches and try again… NOT fun when your stitch loops are super-tiny 😑
And then once you clap yourself on the back for completing a whole sock, you have to go and do it all over again! Well, I guess you don’t *have* to, but if you’d like to have a matching pair then yeah it’s rinse and repeat I’m afraid… with a sprinkle of Groundhog Day for good measure.
Oh, I also discovered that taking photos of socks is HARD! We took these in Central Park in NYC, just a couple of days before lockdown kicked in. It feels like an absolute age ago, but it was maybe twelve weeks back. It all seems a bit surreal, now.
(Also, geeeeeeez I have some serious cyclist calves going on 👀😂
I really love my finished socks though, and the yarn softened up A LOT after I washed them for the first time (in wool detergent, on a cold wash because I was so damn scared of shrinking them 😳😂). These bad boys have spurred me on to make ALL THE SOCKS, especially using the nice yarns that I picked up during that trip to NYC (on the final day before Knitty City closed). Socks are just so easy going – they’re small, portable, and you can dip in and out to do a few rows when you fancy it. Plus, everyone needs socks, and can you ever really have too many pairs? No. No you can’t.
Next time on the blog… the long-awaited (very long-awaited) pink leopard print Dawn Jeans! 💕🐆👖YAS!
Happy Sunday guys ✌🏻💜
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