Shorter days. Cooler nights. Nothing is as comforting as hand knit socks! Here in Northern Idaho we’re enjoying cool nights and warm days and as the leaves turn to red and gold, it’s time to knit socks! It’s Socktober!!!
Sock knitting is a varied as knitters. Toe up, Top down. DPN. Magic Loop. Fabulous lace patterns knit from fine merino, self patterning sock yarns for simple fun, chunky weight slipper socks that warm your toes and your heart. We all have a favorite technique or two, so our staff is sharing with you some of our favorite patterns, yarns and techniques.
I chose one of Michelle Hunter’s patterns, as she makes patterns that are fun and easy to follow. Kaika is the Japanese word for “bloom” and it uses a beautiful and easy to memorize Japanese inspired stitch pattern. I used this pattern to make a toasty pair of light weight leg warmers that will keep me nice and warm during the cold winter months here in North Idaho. I used a picot cast on and a picot bind off to dress up my leg warmers. This gorgeous yarn is Madelinetosh Twist Light in “Optic” .Now that I have finished this pattern, I will search for another sock pattern or leg warmer pattern as we have lot’s of new fingering yarns that I am eagerly waiting to try! Kelley
I just finished my first pair of socks in ten years. Until recently, the thought of working with fingering weight yarn would turn my stomach. Oh, I made a number of pairs with worsted weight yarn, but somehow, in my book, they didn’t seem to count. They were workhorses-not the sprightly ponies of spots and blotches of randomly strewn color, crafted out of the finest gossamer threads.
Anyway, soon after beginning my new internship with Kelley, Kjirstine, Jennifer, and Maria at Alpaca Direct, I was affected by a strange affliction….Zauberball Crazy! While stocking a shelf with marvelous, mind-bending orbs of color and texture, I was overcome by a desire to knit on size 1 needles! Even more fantastically, to simultaneously create a PAIR of socks (not one, but two at a time!) on 1 ridiculously long circular needle! In my library (books I absorb, without ever reading), was a copy of “2-at-a-time socks”, by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. While everyone at work had moved on to knitting a pair of socks, two at a time, from the TOES up, I was completely entranced, bewitched and beguiled! The easy to understand and painless to follow step by step directions caught my attention and inspired me beyond belief! Within two short weeks, after a family wedding and during a family reunion, the “Earth” color way of Zauberball Crazy became the “Twilight” socks of Morgan-Oakes.
I am hooked. One more thing to add to the never-ending and ever-expanding list of things I mustn’t live without! Susan
I love to knit socks! The first class I took, after I learned to knit, was a sock class. I love to knit them the old fashioned way, top down, on double pointed needles. It’s soothing to my soul. I love the portability of sock knitting (I have kids at home, we’re always on the go). There is one pattern I have knit several times and I think that may be linked to my addiction to fantastic hand painted sock yarns! The pattern is found in “One-Skein Wonders” and is called “Hand Paint Highlights”. It is a great, simple pattern that really brings out the beauty of a hand painted yarn. This pair is a yarn from a local independent dyer, but I’ve used it many times with many hand painted yarns. So jump in, buy the one gorgeous skein from a hand dyer and make some great, one of a kind socks!!
Maria’s favorite socks right now are the fabulous lace pair that Becky knitted, entered in the fair, won first place, and then gifted them to Maria! A gift of hand made socks says volumes about the giver, but a receiver who truly appreciates them, and knows the value of the time and love invested in them, is a treasure as well!
Summer is officially over, and we’re a week into Autumn. It’s been a busy summer here, with no signs of slowing down on the horizon.
The North Idaho Fair
was the last week of August, and we had quite a few of our knitters enter projects.
It’s always fun to go look at all the beautiful knitted, crocheted, and handspun projects in the fiber division. There are usually a couple spinners from the local spinning guild, the Log Cabin Spinners, demonstrating on their wheels and spindles as well. We love supporting the fair and spreading the love of fiber arts far and wide.
This year we had quite a few winners. Here are some of the winning entries.
Congratulations to all the winners!
Next month is
Knit a pair of socks or leg warmers and send us a picture! You can submit it on our Facebook page or just tag your photos on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) with #ADSocktober!
All entries will be voted on via social media and the winner will get a $25 gift card!
So get knitting! Entries are due by November 7, 2015. We’re looking forward to seeing all the wonderful socks and leg warmers!
By now, your knitting is probably languishing in a basket by the couch or stuffed in your knitting bag while you host barbecues or hang out at the lake. Thinking about wool when it’s 100 degrees outside is enough to make you break out in a heat rash.
But what if you want to knit? Are your hands (and your brain) are bored without something to occupy them?
Here are 5 things to knit in the summer:
No, you probably don’t need a hat now. But this is North Idaho. It will be cold enough for hats again in about two months or less. That’s eight weeks or 60 days. Hats are portable, great stash busters, and may be knit out of pretty much any fiber and weight imaginable. Most importantly, they don’t take up room on your lap. Here’s some hat patterns (Many are FREE!) to get you started.
2. Mittens/Gloves/Fingerless Mitts
Nope, you don’t need these either. Unless you work in an office where they keep the air conditioning set to the approximate temperature of a meat locker. In which case, a nice pair of fingerless mitts might just keep the circulation going in your hands enough for you to do your work. Also, these are small, portable, and won’t make you sweat while you’re working on them (unless you’re working on them outside when it’s 100 degrees. But that’s the sun making you sweat, not your knitting.) Here’s some fun Gloves and Mittens patterns to get you started.
Scarves are too long for me. I don’t have the patience and follow through necessary for scarves to be part of my knitting list anymore. Cowls, though, can be knit on straights or circulars. They’re quick and easy and useful once it’s cold again (see #1. It will get cold again, never fear.) You can make plain stockinette workaday ones, pretty lacey ones, or ones covered in cables. A cowl is a blank canvas of self expression! Knit a couple now and you’ll have choices to coordinate with your outfits when the time comes. Here’s some unique Cowl patterns to get your started.
Want to knit a sweater in the summer? Knit a baby sweater. Baby hats can be done in a couple hours. Booties? They’re tiny and cute and the definition of instant gratification for a knitting project. Soft toys for babies are also great. Put some beans in an old Easter egg and insert it into a knitted ball and you’ve got yourself a soft sided rattle for your favorite infant. Baby things are great summer knitting projects. They can be as simple or complex as you like, they’re small enough to complete quickly, and they won’t weigh you down when you’re taking your knitting on vacation. Here’s some cute Baby Knit and Crochet Patterns to get you started.
I love knitting socks. I nearly always have a pair of socks on the needles. It’s my go-to project when I don’t know what else to knit. The thin yarn and the small size make socks perfect for summer knitting. They won’t make your hands as sweaty as a thicker yarn can, and if you knit socks all summer, your feet will be happy come winter. Here’s some fun sock patterns to get you started.
Do you knit in the summer? What do you like to knit? Let us know in the comments!
Since the shop got re-merchandised a few weeks ago, the SweetGeorgia Yarns display has been calling my name. The jewel tone colors always catch my eye first. And their hanks of sock yarn are big and squooshy, drawing me in and inviting petting.
So far none of them have jumped in my bag and come home with me. With two little kids at home, I don’t get a lot of knitting done and I have a sizable stash, including lots of sock yarn. But they look so pretty and feel so nice, I’m not sure my resistance will be able to last much longer. Especially since sock yarn doesn’t count as stash. (Remember? We talked about that earlier this year.)
SweetGeorgia Yarns is a Vancouver based company that Felicia Lo started in 2005. It began life as an Etsy shop with three hanks of yarn. Over the course of the next year, Felicia expanded SweetGeorgia Yarns, and began distributing in shops and online to knitters worldwide.
They produce a wide variety of hand dyed yarns and fibers in unique colorways and rich solids. Their yarns and fibers are dyed in batches of four to twelve hanks. They focus on using luxury fibers, including merino, cashmere, and silk, and creating colors that inspire and engage knitters and spinners.
Merino Silk Lace is a 50/50 blend of merino and silk. This is a is a slightly heavier lace weight 2 ply yarn. The silk adds a shimmer to the finished yarn that will make your lace projects extra special. If you’re wanting to knit a beautiful lace shawl or stole to dress up your wardrobe, this is the perfect yarn for the project. It comes in big 100 gram hanks of 765 yards.
Tough Love Sock is an 80/20 superwash merino nylon blend. This yarn is soft and squooshy. Knit at a tight gauge, it makes long lasting socks. But, like all sock yarns, you can use it for a wide variety of other projects. Soft enough for next to skin wear, you can use it for shawls and scarves, mittens and gloves, and even things for a baby. The superwash merino means it can be machine washed, which is ideal for socks and baby things. It comes in big 115 gram hanks of 425 yards, meaning you only need one hank for a pair of socks. If you have small feet or knit ankle socks you might even be able to get two pairs. Or you could knit a pair of socks and a pair of fingerless mitts. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
All SweetGeorgia Yarns are on sale July 17 – July 23.
Check back next week to see our next featured independent – Malabrigo!
We are so excited to be participating in our first Alpaca Direct Knit Along! I’d like to introduce a few of our staff who are knitting along with everyone else:
Kelley is planning to do her socks two at a time using the magic loop technique. Her gauge is 7.75 sts/inch on a #1 addi Turbo needle.
Tina is also doing her socks two at a time using the magic loop technique. She is using a #0 Kollage needle. Her gauge is 7.5sts/inch.
Kjirstine is using double pointed needles, Kollage #2.5 and her gauge is 7sts/inch.
Courtney is using the magic loop technique and a #0 needle. Her gauge is 7sts/inch.
Melissa plans to use a size 8 needle with a gauge of 4.5sts/inch
We’re knitters of all different levels and styles. It will be fun to see how each person puts a little of themselves in their project. We’re looking forward to knitting with you for the next few weeks. If you haven’t signed up yet, go to our Ravelry page and join the fun.
We’re excited to announce our first ever Alpaca Direct Knit-A-Long! We’ll be knitting the wonderful Universal Toe-Up Sock pattern by Amy Swenson, which is a free pattern from Knitty, Summer 2006. We’ve chosen this pattern because it is a great recipe for creating a well fitting sock for any size foot with any weight yarn and any size needle! So, join us for this adventure whether it’s your very first sock or your 407th sock we’re sure you’ll enjoy embarking on this adventure with us!
What’s a Knit-A-Long? It’s like an online knitting group! We’ll be helping each other as we work on our socks, share our projects and experience, and get to know each other! We’ll also be giving away prizes throughout the KAL, and there will be multiple chances to win yarn and needles!
How do I join? We’ll be posting blog posts here on the Alpaca Direct blog about our progress here at Alpaca Direct, answering questions and hosting chatter in the Alpaca Direct Ravelry group, and sharing photos on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. You can share your photos with us by using #ADsockalong
Which yarn and needles should I choose? You should choose needles that are appropriate for your chosen yarn. Since this pattern is a recipe style you can choose anything from a fingering weight sock yarn to a worsted weight yarn. If you’d like your socks to be machine washable make sure you choose a superwash yarn. We’re so excited about this KAL that we’re having a huge sale! Here’s a list of our featured sale yarns just for this KAL:
(Note -We originally intended to provide a coupon for just these yarns but decided instead to discount them right on the website so no coupon is needed!)
Cascade Heritage Sock–A great option if you’d like to make fingering weight socks! One skein is enough for most sizes. Cascade Heritage 150–A sport weight superwash sock yarn with nylon that will ensure your socks will hold their shape and last for years! Cascade 220 Superwash–With 77 colors we’re sure there’s one you’ll love! This worsted weight is a great option for a heavier sock. Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock–A hand dyed yarn that’s available in both solid and variegated colorways this yarn is extremely soft and a joy to knit with. Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock–Another great hand dyed yarn for knitters who like colorful socks!
This pattern looks hard! Can I handle it? Yes! If this is your first pair of socks you might find it easier to work with a heavier weight yarn. We’ll be answering questions and helping each other in the Ravelry group, so we’re here to help if you get stuck! Join the fun and make a new group of online knitting friends!
Sounds great, sign me up! The KAL officially starts on Thursday, July 31 and runs through Aug 30. Now you can order your yarn and make your gauge swatch. Don’t forget to start a project page on Ravelry, and tell us about your yarn choice in the Ravelry group!
When knitting socks there are a lot of options. You can work your socks on double points, magic loop, or two circulars. You can knit one at a time, two at a time, or two at a time with one nested inside the other. You can choose to knit toe up, top down, side to side, or from the heel out.
Today’s post is about the heel of your sock. This is a part of your sock that takes a lot of wear, and is critical in the comfort and the fit of your sock. To become a true sock expert we encourage you to try as many sock constructions as you can–and we’re here to help you review some of the options! All of the options we cover today were worked from the bottom up, as if you were working a toe-up sock. However, there are top-down equivalents for all of the techniques.
The afterthought heel allows you to knit the whole sock as a tube, then work the heel afterwards. Pro: It makes knitting your sock super easy–whether you’re working from the toe or from the cuff 90% of your sock will just be knitting without any shaping. Con: It’s not the most comfortable heel, and has a tendency to slip off the foot. A great tutorial from The Yarn Harlot on the afterthought heel, and another one from Knitting Up A Storm.
A sock with a heel flap is the classic knit sock. You can work a slip stitch pattern on the flap to make it even more durable. Pro: Fits well and it’s easy to customize and work a pattern on the heel. Con: If you’re working with a self striping yarn the yarn will pool on the heel. Here’s a great tutorial from Miriam Felton on creating a better fitting toe-up heel flap, and here’s one from Knit Better Socks on how to work a top-down heel flap.
Short Row Heel
The short row heel is a quick and easy heel that doesn’t require a gusset. That means it’ll probably be faster to knit. The fit is usually more comfortable than an afterthought heel.
Pro: It’s fast and fairly simple to work, there are many variations so you’re sure to find a technique that works for you. Con: It tends to create holes in the heel, and is less sturdy than a heel flap. Here’s a detailed tutorial on working a short row heel on a top-down sock from Laura Chau. Here’s a no wrap version of the short row heel from Happy Knits.
Fleegle’s heel is a combination of the short row heel and the traditional heel flap. Pro: Fleegle’s heel is more subtle in look than the heel flap and provides a heel without holes. Con: Following the directions is not for the beginner knitter, we recommend knitting a more traditional sock before trying Fleegle’s heel.
Today’s post is about a lesser known stretchy bind off. It’s a variation on Elizabeth Zimmerman’s sewn bind off, but stretchier! This bind off is great for toe up socks, and anywhere you’d like a nice stretchy edge. It’s also a near perfect match for the backwards loop cast on! We suggest trying this on your next cowl too, as you can have perfectly matching and stretchy edges on both your cast on and bind off edges.
This bind off can be difficult if worked over really large numbers of stitches, like on the bottom edge of a shawl. Because the yarn is cut and pulled through the stitches you need a tail that’s four times the length of your fabric where you are binding off, which can be quite large on the bottom edging of a shawl!
This bind off is, however, faster and easier than some of the knit alternatives, so we’d recommend trying it on smaller projects that have a moderate number of stitches that need to be bound off.
This bind off is great for any pattern you’re working. Our swatch here is knit in stockinette stitch, but this bind off works on all stitch patterns equally well.
Step 1: Measure out yarn to about 4 times the length of your fabric, then an extra 10-16″ for a tail, cut yarn and thread through a blunt tip tapestry needle.
Step 2: Insert the tapestry needle purlwise into the first stitch, pulling it off the needle.
Step 3: Insert tapestry needle knitwise into the next stitch, leaving the stitch on the needle.
Step 3: Pull yarn through the two stitches, leaving a loop before the first stitch (the one that you just dropped off the knitting needle).
Step 4: With the yarn in front bring the tapestry needle through the loop, from front to back, making sure the loop is not twisted.
Step 5: Pull yarn and tapestry needle until the loop is snug. You’ve bound off one stitch!
Repeat Steps 1-5 until there’s one stitch left on the needle, and just slip that off the needle. It won’t unravel because you’ve already passed yarn through this stitch, since the sewn bind off pulls the yarn through each stitch twice, (once when you pull through and leave the stitch on the needle, and again when you thread the yarn through the stitch and pull it off the needle). The first and last stitch will only have the yarn passed through once, but that’s enough to make sure it won’t come unraveled. If you try this bind off we’d love to hear about it!