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Twist Collective Blog

How to Make an 8 Inch Sock Fit a 9½ Foot

Friends of mine know or suspect that I have rather a large inventory of sock yarn, which amuses them because they certainly know that I am a paltry sock knitter. I love hand knit socks, but my needles are usually occupied with larger things, and uppity knitter that I am, the humility of the hand knit sock is something I sometimes have a hard time fitting into. I'd rather wear my status as a knitter on my ::ahem:: sleeve.

But the sock stash, it is big nonetheless. I like socks, but I love sock yarn; every little ball is an entire ecosystem unto itself, the prospect of a week's worth of knitting within 12 cubic inches. And as the population of yarn artists grows, my responsibilities as a collector have become positively curatorial. Like the fourth graders trading Pokemon cards on the school bus, I can click through The Loopy Ewe's website as if it were a card deck, chanting "got it got it got it need it got it . . . "

But accumulation has its practical aspects when it comes to casting on and needing just the right yarn. Thanks to my recent finishing frenzy, I have room in the project bag for Cookie A.'s Maelstroms that I've been wanting to knit. The pattern is written for an 8 inch finished circumference, but I measure 9½ inches around the ball of my foot. I have to knit to a larger gauge, which means fewer stitches to the inch. The sock is 65 stitches, so for my foot I would calculate the necessary gauge by dividing 65 by 9½, and get 6.8 stitches to the inch.

However, I know there is some stretch in the pattern. I want a snug sock, because a loose sock is a miserable thing. How much stretch is there exaclty in the Maelstrom pattern? My guess is that I'll need at least a 10% deduction from the foot measurement to take up the ease built into the pattern. Ten percent less than 9½ is about 8½ inches. The stitch count of 65 divided by 8½ gives me 7½ stitches per inch result. Remember: when talking about gauge, smaller numbers per inch means larger stitches. Larger numbers per inch mean smaller stitches. 
 
socks in process
 

I have two options, I can use similar yarn but use larger needles, but the fabric would be looser and would wear poorly. Or I can look through my stash for a slightly larger yarn to keep that nice dense fabric I prefer in a sock, and swatch. I'm looking for a ball band that promises my target gauge, and I come up with several options in my stash, but only one of the yarns is in a colour that says "Maelstrom" to me: Socks that Rock Mediumweight in Bella Coola. Don't get me wrong: I love all the colours I've seen Maelstroms knit in. I'd entertain a good red, or even autumnal browns and oranges, but all the other yarns I had in the stash with this gauge were too flat or too busy. This one was just right with analogous colours that are a fun mix but don't muddy the texture.
 
All that was left was to swatch and confirm that indeed I had my gauge. But since swatches can be deceptive, and certainty could only come with some of the sock to put on my foot, I just cast on.
 
Stay tuned, as usual. 

Trunk Show at Trumpet Hill

Kate had such a fun time sharing the sweaters from the fall issue with everyone at the Green Mountian Spinnery weekend, that she's doing it again.

 

Twist Collective Trunk Show

October 16, 6:30 pm

Trumpet Hill Fine Yarn & Accents

Rosewood Plaza, 501 New Karner Road

Albany, New York

Announcing: A Fiber Tour of My Home Town

Consider this: you find yourself far from home, with a day(or an afternoon) to yourself, and your fiber senses tell you that something about this town/city/ speaks to your soul.

You dig out the yellow pages and look for yarn stores, and you find them, but you wonder, what else is there?  An exhibit at the Historical Society of ladies’ shawls?  A fantastic hand-woven tapestry in the lobby of the Bank?  A gregarious alpaca farmer with an open door policy five minutes out of town? The best tea shop to knit in on the west coast? You can’t tell from where you sit. You wish you had a knit friend in town.

Which is where the inspiration comes for something we invite you to help us with here: A Fiber Tour of My Home Town.

Here's an example, just to show you what we mean.  Published tour authors will receive a Twist Contributor's button, and the tour will be linked to your own website if you like, then featured in the sidebar as the library grows. Please include photos if you have them, information as you see in the example, your link information, and a Google map if you can manage it.  Send submissions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Location: Boston North Shore: Newburyport/Salem/Beverly Farms, MA, USA

Transportation: Foot/Car


View Larger Map

Time: half day/full day

Potential Wallet Hit: Medium to High

 

From Newburyport, where I live, there are several worthy destinations that offer a concentrated day of fibery fun. Here in town, you can check out my local shop, A Loom with a View at 31R Pleasant Street, which splits its floor space between the knitting and weaving (Betsy will try and convert you so watch out), have a lovely cup of coffee and a sweet at Plum Island Coffee Roasters tucked down amid the boat yards but still a short walk from the shop, and then maybe take a nice drive out to Parker River Alpacas (please call ahead to make sure Dave is there).

Or you could spend a day on Cape Ann, starting in Salem at Front Street which offers a concentration of shops for the fiber enthusiast: grab some excellent coffee and sandwiches at the Front Street Coffehouse at #20, check out Beadworks at #10 and the needle arts shop B.F. Goodstitch at #18, before settling in to take in the wool across the street at Seedstitch Fine Yarns at #21, a gracious and creatively ambitious yarn store full of light and colour and discoveries.

You can round out your day by strolling through the galleries at the Peabody Essex Museum at 161 Essex Street, looking at Asian and Oceanic decorative arts and admiring the homespun linens in the Yin Yu Tang, a complete Qing dynasty house re-erected in the museum’s central courtyard. Or, if you are feeling in need of little more knitterly fun and you have a car, you can drive 15 minutes to Beverly Farms to drop in on Tink and Wink at the tiny but delicious shop, Yarns in the Farms for a bottomless teapot indulgence of your latent Yorkshire sensibilities. 

Drive-By Swagging and Rhinebeck

Last week I was in the back seat of a friend's car (knitting, of course), on the way to a yarn sale.

As we pulled up to a red light, we noticed that a car in front of us had an unusual license plate that read "KNIT ON".  I quickly dug around in my knitting bag for two of these little babies.

 

tape measures 

 

I knocked on the driver's side window.  After she recovered from shock and lowered it, I offered her choice in colour, and asked her to check out the magazine. She was delighted to be given something for free, the red light surprise notwithstanding, and said that no one had ever said anything about her license plate before.  What part of the world must she live in, I wondered, knitcentric as I am. 

Which is all to say that Irene and Julia (that's me) will most likely be at Rhinebeck with a load of Twist Collective tape measures.  If you're there, and you are wearing, or carrying with you proof of purchase in the form of a WIP or a copy of your pattern, we'll hand one over for your kit bag.  Or if we happen to see you in traffic with your knitter's license plate, that could happen too.  You just never know.

Sewn Steeks for Little Birds

When last we spoke, I had promised to show you what a sewn steek looks like, so that maybe you wouldn't be intimidated out of using a non-Shetland yarn such as Classic Elite's Fresco for a steeked design like Little Birds.  Here's the swatch, unharassed.

 

The first thing I like to do is choose a stitch width and length on your sewing machine that matches the size of your knit stitches.  Rumors that sewn steeks are stiff and compromise the drape of the fabric are paranoid nonsense.  If you use a machine stitch that matches your knitting, you won't be over sewing on the knitting, and the thread does nothing to stiffen the knitting. I suppose if your machine has tension issues, you could make a mess of it, but you won't because you'll do a test swatch like I did here when I was checking out the zig zag settings.

Obviously you wouldn't do this in red thread.  It's for visibility. Obviously.

 

Line up the row of stitches you want to secure according to your steek panel.  I didn't knit an official steek panel on the swatch, so you need to pretend there is one.  Here it is sewn,

 

And here it is cut.  Wow.  Just like that.  No hyperventilating, no shots of Scotch.  Just zip and clip, baby.

I'm heartless, I know.

Then you can pick up the stitches, two stitches for every three rows on the vertical and diagonal edges.

After the knitting of the border, you may find the yarn ends from the cut to be a little raggedy.  I tinked them out to reduce the bulk.

And then I gave them a trim.  It looks a lot tidier, and it does not (repeat: DOES NOT) compromise the security of the steek.  Everything will be fine.  I promise. 

 

Never mind that the left edge is all wonky.   

 

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