Summer of Socks, vol. 3 – Barbecue Casual & Pool Socks, the exciting finale



If you’ve made it all the way here, you’ve done an amazing feat! You’ve read through an unprecedented three-day-long streak of blog posts all about…socks.



In our first installment, we saw socks for my mom and dad. In the second, for my brother and sister-in-law. Now? Well, no Christmas would be complete without a secret surprise gift for my boyfriend, Dan, plus an extra pair of socks for myself (because I couldn’t let everyone have warm feet without me).


The truth is, this whole project started with this little skein of yarn. This beautiful yarn cake is Satchel from Mrs. Crosby Loves to Play (the most hilariously weirdly named yarn company ever, which also happens to make some truly stunning stuff, please do check them out), in the colorway Rueppell’s Griffon. Dan and I noticed it when we were browsing in McNeedles, a not-so-local LYS that we enjoy, and the staff there told me that the colorway was meant to be a dupe for the Lorna’s Laces colorway named “Zombie BBQ.”


We were delighted. If you thought that they had to say anything else to get me to buy that skein of sock yarn, you would be mistaken. However, I knew that if I bought it in front of Dan, he would put it together rather quickly that a secret pair of socks was in his future, so I instead headed out to Lacombe, a 40-ish minute drive from here, by myself while he was working in order to buy it later and hid it away, biding my time for the perfect secret sock moment.

That moment came this summer, when Dan went out of town for a few days for his sister’s wedding, and I was already deep into the Summer of Socks. He was only gone for a few days, which meant that I had to knit and block the pair in that short amount of time. At this point, I had already knit 4 pairs of socks in quick succession, so my fingers were up to the task.


But what pattern would do this glorious yarn justice? Business Casual by Tanis Lavallee was an utter joy to knit. I had no problem flying through it, even though it involved cabling and a bit of fussiness, due to the fact that it is so incredibly well-written and clear. Other sock pattern writers should take notes, because it’s that good.


Also, those tiny delicate lattice cable crosses kill me. They just look so good.


That’s it really. I tried to find a more clever way to say it, but that’s all. They just look so good. Especially how they peel off from the ribbing on the cuff.



I just really like looking at them, guys.


I wasn’t the only one.

Both socks were knitted up quickly, and I had such a good time with them that I was kind of sad that they were over so fast. However, there was a strict deadline here, so blocking commenced and the socks stayed hidden away and secret for 4 more months while I waited for Christmas.

With the combination of yarn and pattern coming together so perfectly here, I knew that there was only thing that I could call them: Barbecue Casual. When I presented them to Dan, wrapped up inside a very silly elephant mug (he’s a fan of elephants and silly mugs, so double-bonus), he was so happy.  It’s going to be so hard to not steal them.


For my socks, I used another treasure that I had squirreled away from McNeedles for a while. This is Lorna’s Laces Solemate, which is a very cool blend of superwash merino, nylon, and Outlast, a proprietary blend of microfiber that helps keep your socks from making your feet get too hot. It’s pretty interesting stuff that results in a sort of silky-soft, light sock that stays nice and warm without horrible sweaty toes.


I got it in the colorway Bayou McNeedles, the special colorway created especially for and only available at McNeedles. It looks like really cheerful school colors to me, or a painting of a calm pool of water with plants and greenery around it. Hence the name, Pool Socks. I know, it’s not super great, but I can’t be expected to be clever all the time.


Again, I went with the Good, Plain Sock recipe featured in Knitting Rules! by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot. I just wanted some simple and plain anklets to show off those colors, and I knew that there was high potential for flashing in a space-dyed yarn like this, which could ruin any all over stitch patterns.


Normally, I am not a fan of flashing, but that big blue zag across the whole thing really did it for me this time. If it’s in the right colors and the right place, flashing can be quite an interesting thing.

And there we have it, the exciting conclusion to….the Suuuuuuummmmmmmer of Sooooooooocks. In reality, it just looked like me knitting something small while listening to my Advanced Assessment class online lectures or watching Midsomer Murders on Netflix…so just like I normally look, with perhaps a bit more urgency. I just hope that everyone enjoys their new socks.

And I hope that all of you have warm feet throughout the winter and into the new year. If not, just let me know. I’ll make you some socks.


Summer of Socks, vol. 2 – Denim Ribs & Embossed Leaves

Yes, ladies and gents, it’s time for another installment of…bum bum buuuuuummmm…


The Summer of Socks! While we’re in winter! Hooray!


Just as a recap, as I explained in the last post, I spent the summer knitting socks for my family, and I packaged them up with hot cocoa mix and personalized marshmallows into super cute mugs for them to enjoy on Christmas Eve.

And speaking of super cute mugs, just look at those little kitties. Those things are just so freaking adorable. I couldn’t resist getting them for my brother and sister-in-law, as they are also cat people.

Here we have the next two pairs of socks in the line-up. Denim Ribs


…and Embossed Leaves.


Oooooh. Aaaaah.


My brother Jarrod tends to spend his life in jeans and t-shirts, and when I saw the colorway called the Pearl in Knit Picks Hawthorne, I knew it was something that he would like. I’m not sure where the name “the Pearl” comes from, since all I can think of when I hear that is the incredibly depressing novella by John Steinbeck. Looking at this colorway, with its varying shades of denim-y navy blues and pops of cream and gray, I get the impression of a well-loved, well-worn pair of jeans. Not to mention the synchronicity in the fact that it looks like the denim cousin to the Mt. Tabor colorway, previously featured on my dad’s socks.


I didn’t want to do anything too fiddly here, due to the fact that the high contrast between the colors would probably obscure any stitchwork. Instead, I wanted something where those long stretches of cream and gray would pop out and spiral around and look awesome, just like they looked in the skein.


I went with an old stand-by, dependable pattern, the Good, Plain Sock recipe featured in Knitting Rules! by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot. She is knitting royalty, and if you don’t have a copy of this book, you are seriously missing out. In it, she gives “recipes,” not complete patterns, of socks, hats, scarves, and shawls, and gives you all the tricks and tips you need to write your own patterns for yourself. Plus, she’s funny and snarky in all the right ways. I adore her.


I have made so many socks with this pattern, and it always comes out great. This one in particular has a 3×3 ribbing throughout the cuff, sort of similar to my Plain Vanilla Taiyo socks. They also have simple slipped-stitch heels and capped toes, just the basic background structure to make the yarn really stand out.

I played a serious game of yarn chicken with these, due to the fact that my brother wears between a size 10-10.5 men’s shoe, and I had only about a foot left of yarn when I was done. Good thing to know that Hawthorne, with its 357 yds., had plenty enough for some giant socks.


Here we have some of the prettiest yarn I have ever seen. Seriously, look at all of these colors! It’s Knit Picks Hawthorne (again!) in the colorway Alameda, and man, it was so much fun to knit up. I lived for hitting all of the little bright blue spots. (Do other knitters do that? Pick a favorite part of the colorway and get really excited to knit those particular stitches when you see them coming up? Just me? Okay.)


These beauties were made for my sister-in-law, Kim, who enjoys feminine details, especially if they’re purple, so I figured something lacy and flowery and leafy would be perfect. The pattern here is Embossed Leaves by Mona Schmidt, again from the book Favorite Socks: 25 Timeless Designs from Interweave.


I’m been wanting to knit this pattern up for a good, long time, mostly because of the ingenious little details that take into account how the leaf pattern interacts with the structure of the sock. There is a stockinette stitch smooth heel with purled “gutters” on the sides that extend from the purled areas between the motifs on the cuff. That sentence seems like nonsense, but trust me, it’s something to be excited about.



The star toes incorporate purls into the decrease, making it look like the leaves all swirl together at the bottom. And those perfect little spirals at the end of the toes! Mona, you’re a genius.

That’s it for this installment. Stay tuned for the next…and final episode of….the Summer of Sooooooooooooocks (oooooocks oooooocks oooocks ooocks).

Summer of Socks, vol. 1 – Retro Rib & Osean

The wait is over!


I know that you were all on pins and needles, just frantically wondering what all of my super-secret sock hinting was about. You barely got any sleep, with all of that uncertainty. Your work suffered. Your personal life suffered. It really took a toll that neither of us anticipated. And for that, I am truly sorry.

Oh wait, I forgot! There’s like, maybe 2 people who read this. What a relief. I’m glad to know that thousands of lives have not been ruined over some Christmas socks.



That’s right! Christmas socks! I spent my summer, in-between working night shift and studying during the day, knitting socks for each member of my family, each one personalized to their likes and dislikes and relative foot sizes, as one would hope. They were then packaged up with hot cocoa and monogram marshmallows into a new mug, all perfect for enjoying on chilly winter nights.


And dang if they didn’t come out cute.

First up, the socks that I made for my parents, Retro Rib and Osean.  (Those are the sock pattern names, not my parents’ names, just for clarity.)


My dad is a hard person to knit for. He often loudly declares not having a need for any things at all, at any time at all. He pretends that he thinks that people waste time on hobbies, but secretly loves receiving anything handmade. He’ll insult your present by saying he has no need for it, but then tell you exactly how he’ll use it in the same sentence.


It’s a bit of a complicated relationship.


He’s a fan of green things, especially when they’re vaguely camo- or military-esque, so I figured that the Mt. Tabor colorway of Knit Picks Hawthorne would be perfect.


It’s a lovely tonal mix of greens and grays that has a sort of nice silvery-sheen to it. It’s rustic and homey without being drab.

I chose the pattern Retro Rib by Evelyn A. Clark out of the book Favorite Socks: 25 Timeless Designs from Interweave, which is a wonderful book for anyone who’s an avid sock knitter. It’s got all kinds of gorgeous patterns with a range of complexity levels, plus lots of size options for most of the socks, which is great when your brother and father have really big feet.


I did make one important pattern modification here, which I think really ties the sock together. The original pattern calls for a regular slip-stitch heel, where every other stitch is slipped on the RS rows, to make a visually-interesting and sturdy fabric on that part of the sock. It’s fairly standard and makes sense usually, but it made absolutely no sense to me here, considering that the sock has a mistake rib pattern that prominently features long columns of twisted stitches.

Instead, I only slipped the stitches that lined up with these columns, continuing that pattern (except for the purling) all the way down to the bottom. I feel like it makes for a much more elegant solution than just slapping any old heel on there. I also remember (keep in mind I made these months ago) that the directions for starting the heel flap didn’t really make the flap centered in a way that made sense to me, so just make sure that you’re keeping a eye out for that, if you’d like to knit a pair yourself. There are errata listed on Interweave’s website, so there might be a fix there already. Do yourself a favor and check, instead of just flying off half-cocked, like I always seem to do.

Anywho, my dad did just as expected when he received these. He said, “What made you think to make these? For me? What am I going to do with these?” and “Oh, these are just too big!” and “Okay, well they fit but they’re not going to fit under my shoes,” and “I guess I can wear these when it’s cold,” and “Oh look, they fit with my slippers! These will be great when it’s chilly outside.” And in a matter of hours, they were suddenly an acceptable gift.

Mission accomplished.


Making things for my mother is not nearly so much of a challenge. She loves receiving gifts, especially handmade ones, and she’s a very good gift-giver herself. I have knit more things for her than anyone else in my family, except for Dan. She knows how to receive a gift with grace and delight and takes pleasure in taking care of and displaying these objects as they are intended. She also knows that knitted items are meant to be worn, not just looked at, and she uses them faithfully. It’s real cute.


When I visited my best friend and his wife in San Rafael, CA, this summer, we stopped by a small yarn store/custom fabric dying shop called Dharma Trading Company that appears to have a lively and thriving online business of which I was unaware. I asked the person working there if they had anything local, because I enjoy buying hand-dyed local yarns when I’m travelling, and she showed me Invictus Yarns, an Etsy seller from Sacramento who does absolutely beautiful work. This particular skein is Beyond, which is a really soft and wonderful merino, nylon, and cashmere blend, in the colorway Tranquility. What better way to pamper the feet of someone who really deserves it than with cashmere?


My mother and I share a love of the color blue and a preference for anklets, so when I saw Osean by Trudy Hertaas while searching on Ravelry, I knew it would be perfect.


It has a wide lace panel in the center that mimics ocean waves, flanked by rope cables on either side. It was just enough fanciness to show off the blues and greens of the yarn without getting too crazy.



The whole thing came together so nicely, it was like the yarn and pattern were made for each other. After she opened her gift, she put them on right away and wore them for the whole rest of the night. I hope that she wears them so much that she wears a hole through all that cashmere and I’m forced to make her another pair. That would be great.

Stay tuned for two more installments of…bum bum bum…the Summer of Socks! In the middle of winter. It made more sense a few months ago, I promise.

Preventing Cold Feet in the New Year

I ended up knitting a whole bunch of things for various people to put on their feet at the end of the year. I’m not sure how it turned out that way, but these things tend to come in waves.

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First up, my brother didn’t know that he needed handknit socks named after a famous mathematician, but he did.

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These are from the always fabulous Cookie A., sock designer extraordinaire. I have made many of her sock patterns in the past (Ravelry links all, of course), and they are always the perfect combination of technically complicated, fun to knit, and just a little bit nerdy.

These ones in particular, Cauchy, are from her fantastic book Sock Innovation, and they are named after Augustin Louis Cauchy, a French mathematician responsible for the Cauchy-Schwarz Inequality. Therefore, they are covered in tiny stretchy inequality symbols.

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See? Math! In your socks!

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Seeing as my brother and I are math-and-science-minded people, I figured he’d enjoy them.

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I may have upped the geekiness quotient by knitting them out of Berroco Sox in the colorway called Watson. My science brain is still feeling so clever.

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I think he liked them, if his willingness to be a sock model for my silly knitting photo shoot was any indication.

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He’s a pro already.

Next up? Well, Dan needed some socks, too. Some super secret ones.

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I knitted up Longitudinal from Knitty after falling in love with its stripey cleverness.

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You knit your lengthwise stripes on a long circular needle, doing a bit of a modified-magic-loop-technique-sort-of-thing. After a minor setback while learning the cast-on method prescribed, I was off and running.

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I am a sucker for some good squishy garter stitch, and the stripes make it even better. The yarn is Knit One Crochet Too’s Ty-Dy Wool, and although it is a tiny bit splitty, it made for some lovely stripes. I’m a big fan of how slightly imperfect they are.

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Dan is calling them his lizard socks. I like it.

Two warnings, though, before you embark on your lengthwise sock journey yourself. #1? These socks tend to slouch a bit at the ankles. I think it just might be the way of the lengthwise sock, unless you deliberately knit them slightly small to stretch. #2? That Kitchener stitch bind off all the way up the leg to finish? I don’t think that I have ever had such angry thoughts about my knitting as when I was completing that. Usually Kitchener doesn’t bother me one bit, but this is garter-style Kitchener, for what feels like several hundred stitches. It is super easy to get mixed up and skip a step, so just buckle it down, pour yourself a drink, and pay attention. You’ll get through it, you just won’t like it while it’s happening.

Last up? Some plush purple goodness.

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Purple Mukluks for Dan’s mom from Knitting Pure & Simple. (It’s pattern #116, if you’re so inclined. You should be.)

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Knit up in Cascade Pacific Chunky, one of the loveliest wool and acrylic blends out there. Super soft and shiny with gorgeous saturated color. Yum.

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The mukluk shape is created by some very clever short-rowing in the instep. I have used the word clever a great many times during this post. I may need a thesaurus.

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Check out that grafting action.

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I obviously didn’t have to be coaxed to model these ones off. I’m excited to put them in the mail for her soon. She definitely deserves some squishy woolly comfort for the rest of the chilly New Hampshire winter.

If you think that’s the end of my year-end making-of-things, do not fret! I promise that there’s more baking and knitting to come, which may or may not involve chocolate, oranges, and bunnies. I’ll let your imagination work out the rest.

365 Project – Week 5

This was definitely a week of surprises. Ups and downs and wonderful gestures from some wonderful people. Let’s get started.

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I made my first mistake on my project and forgot to take a picture on the 28th. Boo. Fortunately, early the next morning, I reassembled the tableau of what pleased me the night before, Harry Potter and chamomile tea. The next day, I suffered taunts at the bookstore for being the only person who works there who hadn’t read Harry Potter yet.

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My current favorite wine. Yum.

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Nicely out-of-focus, yes? The first tiny seedling to raise its head out of my planter box. Lettuce. Since then, radishes, bunny tails, and some herbs have joined the fun.

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Cooking up some Eggplant and Tomato Pasta courtesy of the Pioneer Woman for work lunches. Delish.

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A wonderful surprise in my mail from my brother’s girlfriend! I lent a copy of this book to someone in my knitting group (and of course, now I can’t remember to whom), and it’s out of print. She dug up a copy as a thank you gift for staying with us over Christmas. It’s definitely a gift I don’t feel like I deserve, but am so pleased to have. More stockings for everyone!

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A surprise free show from Darrell Hammond at House of Blues? Fantastic!

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A crazy thing happened today. I received another gift that I don’t feel like I deserve. Holy schamoly! I know that I blushed uncontrollably and stammered “Thank you,” about 20 times, but I hope that everyone at work knows how much I appreciate it and how good the whole thing makes me feel. I really feel like part of a community now.