See that? That’s the vein throbbing in my forehead…

I was feeling very confident that today I would be showing off a cast-on post for my December socks. Unfortunately, I’m still working on my purple Sleepy Hollow socks. I’d like to get them done by Yule, so they’re taking up a lot of my time.

See that?  That’s a turned heel! I was very happy that I was on the way to the toe when I picked up the original sock and noticed something.

Yeah. The part that says “work instep chart round as established over instep stitches…” I kinda overlooked that and just continued on in pattern. That sound you hear is me, banging my head against the wall in frustration.

So I’ve ripped back. Again. And I have some stitches to pick up before attempting that heel again.

Let me remind you, Purple Socks: I have quit other socks for less. The only reason you’re still on my needles is due to sheer stubbornness.  Smarten up; you have been warned…

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A Saturday Yarn: Paton’s Kroy Sock

Kroy is one of the old standby sock yarns of commercial “big box” craft stores like Michael’s. That’s where I usually find the stuff, and I get the impression from most other knitters that it’s a “substandard” type of yarn. Very rarely do I see it on a knitter’s list of “go to” brands. I think it has to do with the price point and the retailer, as I’ve seen scratchier, harder-to-work-with yarns sell for much more and have much higher reviews.

My first exposure to Kroy yarn was through my Mum. When she realized that I had been truly bitten by the sock-knitting bug, she went through her own stash and found some yarn that she had originally set aside for making handknit socks for my Dad. Mum has always given me the impression that while she loves handknit socks, she’d rather not knit them herself. I’m not sure if it’s the yarn or the tiny needles, or the tiny stitches, but the fact of the matter is that she’d rather knit a baby sweater than a pair of socks.  I’m not saying she *can’t* knit socks, just that she chooses not to. Apparently she’s tried, and it wasn’t for her. Fair enough…her loss was my gain.

The ball bands label the yarn as “Lady Galt” Kroy, and the graphic design on them is very reminiscent of the 60’s or 70’s. I doubt the yarn is that old, but it does make me suspect that before Patons bought the brand, it had a previous life of its own.  I’m down with that. I tried finding out more about it at one point, but I have to say that I couldn’t find much.  The yarn itself feels like a light fingering, while still having a relatively high wool content. Part of the reason I haven’t used it yet is because I’m not sure what gauge to use, and whether or not it might not be more suited for something lacy and girlie rather than a man’s (relatively plain in comparison) sock.

I know that for some of my friends, Kroy is the stuff the buy on sale, but never seem to use. I know that for myself, the gauge has been something I’ve had to get used to. I generally knit socks around 8 stitches per inch over size 2.5mm needles. This gives a fabric that, for most fingering weight yarns, is neither too tight nor too loose. Kroy, however, is deceptive. It makes you think that it is normal fingering weight yarn, but it has a tendency to be just that wee bit plumper than you think. At my usual gauge, it creates a fabric that I find difficult to work with. I’ve actually had to go up a couple of needle sizes. I think I currently use Size 3 needles (3.25mm), and change the amount of stitches in a round appropriately.

I’ve found that Kroy is great for socks for the men in my life.  They’re thick and warm, and the solid colours are generally very male. Lots of light brown, light and dark greys, blues…definitely nothing that most Dads will dismiss as being “too wild”. They make a wonderfully conservative sock, and because I knit mine at a lower gauge, they move a little quicker on the needles.  Think about it…if you’re ditching approximately 20 stitches per round, you make much better time. Great socks for a gift that you don’t have a lot of time to devote to knitting.

I’ve also found that the striping Kroy socks make wonderfully warm socks for *me*. I will often start them from the toe-up, and my latest trick has been to put in an afterthought heel.  This means that my stripes can be continuous, and I can either save back a bit of my striped yarn for the heel, or I can use some of the neutrally-coloured solid yarn for toes and heels. This gives me a much higher cuff, as I can just keep on knitting. It also gives more “fashion” to this humble workhorse yarn. I don’t need my Kroy to be lacy.  The odd cable is fine, but on the whole, this is my go-to yarn for plain, ordinary, warm woollen socks.

Yep.  I’m a knitter, and I’d like to think that even with my limited exposure to different “brands”, I’m a bit of a sock yarn connoisseur, but I would have to classify Kroy as a Go-To yarn. I don’t always put my Kroy socks in my Ravelry project page because they’re not a major project for me, but I generally have at least one pair on the needles. They’re not flashy, and they’re not the most photogenic of socks, but I love the fact that I can stick some needles and a skein into my purse and have a pair of socks in just a couple of days.  They’re fast, and they’re perfect purse knitting.  In fact, they go fast enough, you may just need a second project just to slow you down!  Also, due to the larger gauge, they’re also perfect for the younger set and those just learning how to knit socks. 60 to 80 sts around can be daunting for someone just learning how to knit socks, and anything you can do to bring that number down just gives more of an aura of easysauce. I can’t argue with Easysauce.

Over the course of this month, I plan on walking through the basics of sock knitting for those of my readers who are interested. I’ve had a few personal friends express interest, but claim to be boggled by the physics involved (I’m looking at you, Zoe). Consider Sundays as your weekly December Sock Class.  For that, I’d recommend picking up at least two, if not three skeins of Kroy (or comparable) sock yarn, and a good set of circular needles that you find you can get a comfortable gauge with.  I’ll be working on my 3.25mm needles at a gauge of 7 sts / inch, on a sock that should fit either a large woman or an average man (approx 50 sts around). We’ll start off with the cuff and leg. Because these should knit up fast, you can always catch up if you start a little late.

And for the love of Pete (whoever Pete is), choose a colour or stripe that you’ll like!  You won’t finish if you don’t like what you’re knitting! 🙂


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WIP Wednesday: Keep on truckin’

Today is a snowy day that sorta took us by surprise. I’ve been working night shifts this week, and with a wind storm this past Sunday, I’ve been watching the weather to see if there will be anything I’ll need to be aware of when I leave the building at midnight.

Snow is pretty and hides a multitude of backyard sins.

Isn’t that a beautiful sight? And that triangular thing? That’s my drying rack. I guess that I won’t be drying knit socks on the deck for awhile, eh?

The leg knits faster than the cuff. Seriously.

I’m now at the point where I can turn the heel on Sock #2 of the Gentleman’s Railway Socks. I’ve been grooving away on the leg pattern and just doing what I can in the time I have. Unfortunately, I left my “main knitting” at home last night, so I had to do something else on my lunch hour.

Image enhanced as the pattern got lost in the front hallway lighting.

Does that leg look smaller than the last update?  Yes, unfortunately. I wound up with an extra yarnover somewhere, and when I tried to “fix” the issue, I wound up with a nice ladder-effect from the dropped extra stitch. Whoops. So I spent my lunch hour last night tinking back about the same amount of rows I would have knit. The upside to this is that I’m now ready to start knitting in pattern again!

I’m a little cheesed that I didn’t get my November socks finished by the end of the month, but I will admit that my Sims addiction got the best of me. I know that I mentioned that I wasn’t sure I’d be doing a “Skinflint Sock Club” sock for December. I’ve decided that I’m going to post the sock of the month, and if I can get to it…damn skippy I’ll knit it! The Sock Knitter’s Anonymous group on Ravelry theme for this month is an interesting one, and I’ve chosen a sock that I think will be a fun one: Sidewinders!

Technique: Stashbuster or Unique Construction or Entrelac 
Designer: Anni Designs, Emma Haigh

I’ve got some self-striping Regia kicking around the stash, so I’m thinking I will drag that out and try the Sidewinders. They definitely qualify for Unique Construction! Feel free to join me!

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WIP …er…Thursday

Yep, it’s late. But that’s because I couldn’t seem to get photos done yesterday. And stuff.

Proof that not all I did this month was play The Sims!

I finally got something done! As much as I really do like knitting these socks, I *did* have to restart them after they fell in danger of becoming a black hole of tiny stitch suckitude. Yes, I still have one sock left to go, but I’m liking where this is going. Yes, I cast on the second sock, but I’m still working on the cuff. I got distracted on my lunch hour, otherwise I would have likely gotten more done.

I need to pin my socks to the chairs at work more often.

The second sock of the second pair of Sleepy Hollow! It’s partway down the cuff. And this is a nice thing as well. At very least, I will have two pairs of socks done by the beginning of December. Definitely both will be done by Yule, which is what I’m shooting for. When those are done, I can get cracking on whatever socks I’m doing for December.

Speaking of that, I’m not sure what I’ll choose for the Skinflint Sock Club for December. Maybe I’ll just take the time off as we gear up for Yule. I actually got at least one, if not two pairs of socks done per month. I’m pretty sure that next year I’ll be winging it, possibly with some help from the monthly choices from the Sock Knitters Anonymous group on Ravelry. I’ve also been saving up for the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin’ Sock Club, so that will hopefully also make an impact on my sock knitting next year.

In the meantime…I have plenty of work to get done 🙂

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WiP Wednesday

Things are progressing a bit better with the Gentleman’s Socks than they were. The Lion Brand is really shaping up, and I’m very happy to be working with my regular 2.5mm needles. I really need to get a pair of 2.25mm Addi Turbos to bridge the gap between the really wee needles and the somewhat wee needles, if you know what I mean.

Heel turned and gusset done! Booyeah!

The contrasting colour in the heel is some Louet Gems that I had left over after making the Ishbel Beret (pattern by Ysolda Teague) a year or two ago. I’m not sure I like the baggy-ness (is that a word?) of the heel, but since I know that the Husbeast has a hard time with socks fitting in the heel, the extra width might be good – (not that these are going to the Husbeast, of course, but with the men in this family and their foot sizes of “Big” and “Holy crap, those are huge, you walk on those?!?”, I’ll take what I can get.

Pretending to be grown up

Welcome to my home:

This is what I came home to last Sunday.  We had spent most of the weekend cleaning, and Robin had decided to finish the job while I was at work.  He also cooked dinner (stir-fry), and we cleaned up afterwards.

The kitchen is still in pretty good shape.  We’re trying to keep it clean so that we can eventually put up the tree.

It all falls under that “pretending to be grown up” category that we’re working on, I guess.  The one where the cat’s box gets cleaned regularly, and you don’t get too drunk at the office Xmas party – which, by the way, was a lot of fun.  Usually they try to split up the departments to try to get us to “mingle”, but I think they’ve learned that we’ll behave nicer amongst our own friends.  Peer policing for the win!  I mean, really…it’s one thing to make an arse of yourself in front of some random dude…but if you do it in front of friends, it’s for keeps.

Belated happy Turkey Day for my friends in the US.  Here’s hoping you can roll yourselves out of bed today after the feast the night before.  Thank you also for kicking off the shopping season.  Now I can go Xmas shopping without feeling too much like a keener.  Unfortunately, it also means everyone else feels the same way.  The even better bit is that we will also start getting the *good* Xmas movies on TV and Ondemand.  I’m looking forward to “Scrooged”.  “Four Christmases” just doesn’t stack up, I’m afraid.   Sure, I could just buy the good stuff on DVD, but I’m a bit of a traditionalist 😉

Speaking of such, I think the husbeast wants to get some greasy food and brave the malls.  If you believe in such things, pray for our survival…