The very best socks

Published on Wednesday November 18th, 2009

Once in a while, along comes a project that exceeds all your expectations and strikes a tuning fork of joy in your soul. Sometimes this bliss extends only through the crafting process and the finished product doesn’t quite fit, or doesn’t hold up to wear. Other times, it’s just perfect all around. This is one of those times.






This is the Teeswater wool sock yarn from Shaggy Bear Farms of Scio, Oregon (via the Farm Series at A Verb for Keeping Warm) that I’ve been prattling on about to anyone who’d listen. AVfKW has five more skeins from the lovely ewe, Elise, who so kindly grew the fleece that became these socks, and it’s all I can do not to snap them up right now. I really mustn’t, because I just spent loads of dough signing up for the Madrona Winter Retreat, but they’re very tempting. (I’m excited about my Madrona classes, by the way. I’ll be improving my drop spindling on Saturday morning with Amelia Garripoli, knitting for speed & efficiency with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee that afternoon, and then knitting happily ever after with Carson Demers on Sunday afternoon. See you there?)

And this is the Arch-Shaped Stocking pattern from Schoolhouse Press, a sextet of patterns (including colorwork versions) created by Meg Swansen after she reverse-engineered the original sock her mother knit with this clever foot shaping. Mine is the Fishbone Cable version with twisted rib.

I’ve been wearing these socks for two weeks now and can happily say that they’re the most comfortable pair I’ve knit. I love the architecture of the foot, especially the way the twisted rib along the sole looks like lapstraking on the prow of a boat. Yay socks.


A Summit sock

Published on Thursday August 20th, 2009

Our Sock Summit homework for Meg Swansen’s Arch-Shaped Stockings class was to work the leg of a child’s sock in Guernsey wool over 44 stitches. I had no Guernsey wool and felt I’d better not even try to order just one skein from Schoolhouse Press, because who’s ever been able to justify paying the full shipping rate for one skein of yarn? We all know what road that leads down, and since I haven’t knit up all the wool I bought from them last year at Knitting Camp, I decided I’d just pull something from the stash. I thought it should still be something from Schoolhouse, and I had lots of Satakieli left over from a hat. It would be quite a bit lighter than Guernsey, but I figured I’d knit it on 2’s or 3’s and it would be okay.

No dice. My 3 dpns were in the second Islander Sweater. My 2’s were in a baby bootie and a mitten. My 1.5’s were in the Makarovna socks. This is what happens when you start too many projects and don’t finish them in a timely manner, kids. So I cast on with my 1’s. (Luckily I have two sets. The other was in a glove.) And I have a very small sock to show for it.


I really should have put something in this photograph for scale. You’ll just have to believe me that the sole of this sock is about 3″ long. Oh well. It will make a charming Christmas tree ornament, don’t you think? Possibly it could go on quite a small baby, although since babies’ feet don’t really have arches I think the clever shaping is probably moot.


This is only one version of seven possible arch-shaped stockings you get with Meg’s pattern. This twisted-stitch sock is the most basic; there’s another lovely Bavarian-style twisted-stitch one, an Aran style patterned after the original knee socks Elizabeth knit for Meg in the ’60s, and several gorgeous colorwork versions. They’re fun to knit, and I loved trying on the Aran knee socks. There might be a pair of those in my future.

The class itself was marvelous, of course. It turned out a friend’s mother from my hometown was in the same session, so we sat together. Meg and Amy recognized me from Camp (and I think it’s amazing how they can do that… all those campers, and they remember our faces!) and said lovely things about Daisy Daisy, which I was glad to have brought to the chilly Convention Center. It’s such a treat to spend time in their presence; if you ever get the chance of a class with them or an opportunity to go up to Wisconsin for Camp or one of their other events, you should leap at it.

In other sock news:


That is a sock inside another sock, both ready for grafting. In fact, they are now grafted. The inside sock I did first (the only option if you don’t want to separate them at this point, and believe me, I want the full magical value of pulling a finished sock out at the end), in the usual way. Then I had to stop and scratch my head. Oh, right. The outside sock is inside out. It has to be grafted inside out. So instead of knit purl, purl knit… purl knit, knit purl? Yep. But you’d be amazed how difficult it is to train yourself out of a little mantra and set of motions you know so well. I accomplished it, though, and along the way I made a realization that ought to serve me well in tackling more difficult grafting… non-stockinet grafting, for instance. Each stitch requires first its opposite, then its own. So a purl stitch must be purled on the first pass, then knit on the second pass. I knew this in a vague way, of course, but once I started thinking about it that way I saw that I could now become a master graftswoman. Bring on hoods with fancy cable patterns!

So the Makarovna socks are grafted, but I decided I had to wait for an audience other than the cat for the moment of truth. We’re off for a few days of family reunion, so the amazing sock trick can be performed in front of all my husband’s relations!