Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Twist at the End

Winter weather is almost here, and I’ve been in the mood for another woolen knitting project. A skein of Classic Elite Yarns Alpaca Sox from my stash caught my eye. The colorway is Shaded Lilacs #1865 and it’s a remarkably soft blend of 60% alpaca, 20% merino wool, and 20% nylon.

A kkein of Classic Elite Yarns Alpaca Sox yarn.

I went back and forth trying to decide what to make. Mittens or gloves? A scarf or cowl? Socks? Ultimately, based on the colors, I went with socks — which is most likely what I had in mind when I originally purchased the yarn.

In choosing the pattern, I didn’t want the stitches to get lost in the color changes. I’ve had success in the past with Slip-Stitch Cable Socks from “The Little Box of Socks” by Charlene Schurch and Beth Parrott. I decided to use it again, with the knowledge that the structure of the cables makes the circumference of this pattern lose some stretch. With an 8 1/2 inch foot circumference, making the 10 3/4 inch Men’s Medium on US-2 (2.75 mm) needles instead of the US-4 (3.5 mm) needles called for in the pattern gave me a good fit.

Knitting progress on Slip-Stitch Cable Socks.

The last time I made a pair of socks, as I was weaving the end on the toe I started to wonder why I don’t use a darning egg for the task. On some level, I guess I think of my darning tools as just for darning. And yet, I weave in ends using Duplicate Stitch, also known as Swiss Darning. This time, I pulled out my darning egg and I’m so glad I did! It seemed like the task was completed more quickly, and it was easier to maintain the proper tension. I used the darning mushroom while weaving in the end at the cuff, and it was tricky to keep the sock from sliding around but still seemed easier somehow.

Wooden darning tools, an egg and a mushroom.

I also learned an important lesson while knitting these socks: Don’t knit with dilated eyes.

I had an eye exam yesterday, and thought I could finish decreasing the toe of the second sock mostly by feel. It was going along smoothly until I grabbed the wrong needle and pulled it off the knitting. Now, this clearly wasn’t directly related to the dilation because even when dilated it’s easy enough to see whether a light-colored needle has dark stitches on it. But I wasn’t focused and was fumbling around a bit, and that’s how accidents happen. At that point, I thought it best to put the knitting down and step away.

Completed hand-knit slip-stitch cable sock on foot.

I was able to complete the second sock after a short break, and I’m enjoying wearing them today! What small (or large) successes have you achieved with your recent projects?


  1. I'd like to knit a pair or socks, I'm a beginner knitter - I've knitted many scarves and infinity scarves and I think I'm ready to tackle something a bit more advanced (although maybe not a pair of socks yet).

    1. Go for it! I was intimidated by the idea of knitting socks for a long time, but when I finally tried them I learned they weren't as hard as I imagined.


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