How High Are Your Knee Socks?

…..It depends.

 

changeimageI made these socks with the same amount of rows, the same yarn, washed and dried in the machines.

The reason there is only an approximate height for any sock is because it depends on the circumference of your legs.  

Now I don’t think there is a standard for leg circumference, nor do I think there should be, but the simple fact is that if you have skinnier legs, your sock will be higher  – maybe higher than the knee.  If you have curvy legs like me, it barely goes up to the knee cap.

The good news is that the knee socks will hug a skinnier leg, and stretch around a curvy one comfortably.

That makes it worth making 🙂

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Yarn: The Good Stuff

UnravelledEvery year, it has become more difficult to get commercial yarn.  I live in Canada, and this is how it works:  $10-20 per 100 grams, inside or outside of Canada.  100g of fingering weight sock yarn is usually enough for 1 pair of socks.    Now that the Canadian dollar is significantly lower than the US, and shipping has simultaneously gone up, it gets expensive to buy outside of Canada.  Sometimes I’ll find a good deal outside of Canada, but then get a bill that makes up the difference in price.  For example, if I find a ball of yarn that is $5 (factoring the US dollar, shipping, etc) outside of Canada, I may get an extra bill from Customs for $5-15 per ball that destroys my savings.  The whole experience is a crap shoot. Still, there are some good deals out there. Especially for machine knitters, I wanted to share my good experiences.

If you’re new to machine knitting, I’d like to introduce you to Loops and Threads Wool-like yarns.  Not self-striping, but lots of colours to try out.  It’s very stretchy and runs through the machine like butter, but watch out(!) for those tangles.  Tangles in the centre.  Tangles while knitting.  Frustrating tangles at the end.  Cutting out tangles.  Still, at $6 for approximately 600 yards in one ball, you’ll be glad you learned on it.

This year, Herrschners rolled out their brand of sock yarn called Sundance.  I love it – it feels nice, has great self-striping colours, and right now is on sale for under $10 CAD.  My advice is to buy it before you need it, because sometimes it can be stuck at the border – for 20 days or more. Yep, it happened to me.

I also came across a great yarn called Drops Fabel from The Yarn Guy in Toronto.  The yarn is currently at $5.95 CAD for 50g, so $13.00 for 100g.  Here’s the great part about that though.  If you look at the yardage, it’s a whopping 224 yards.  That means you can get about 3 average size socks from 2 balls for $13.00.  If you buy in 3’s, the cost goes way down.  I like the variety of colours, it is a bit on the rough wool side and the yarn can be a little sticky to knit from the centre of the ball – you will get it tangled if you’re not careful.  It washes and dries fine, but sometimes the yarn just…..breaks.  I can fix it, but it’s a consideration.  The Yarn guy also has free shipping over a certain amount.  Stock up, because he’s got fabulous colours, not just one or two.

The Yarn Guy also has cones of yarn, his e-Tent yarn is waay better selection than Listowel and he’s fast with his shipping.  It really is worth it if you order more than $100 in yarn.

Another great yarn that has generous yardage is Premier.  Their wool free sock yarn frequently goes on sale, they have free shipping over a certain amount, and you can get 3 socks from 2 balls of 50g.  I love the Wool Free because it is satin-y,  great for summer socks, and the colours are saturated so well they’re bright and rich.

Mary Maxim has 2 of their own brand that are under $10 (make sure you are on the Canadian site when you order).  I have bought a lot of their sock yarn and I am pleased with about 50% of them.  I have a lot in my stash that they discontinued.  I recommend Footloose, but the Sweet Socks look like they’re being discontinued soon.  Both of them knit nice on the machine, but they are sticky (tangles!).  If you’re a handknitter, you probably don’t want to knit with them.  After a wash they feel soft enough, but if you put these socks in a room with any of the other socks on this page, they’re not appealing.

And we come down to Patons.  A Canadian company that manufacturs their yarn in Turkey and has been around for ages.  They have been slow to come out with new colours, and their prices have been about $13 for 2 balls of 50g.  Even at Listowel.  Their 50g is 166 yards, which is just barely enough for an average men’s sock.  They’re thicker and they feel like wool – which is important in the winter especially.  They wash and dry well, and they last a lot of years.  They were my favourite, but I have a feeling they are gearing down based on the shelf stock I’m seeing this year.

A new yarn from Listowel is Sugar Bush.  They have come out with some soft yarns and wonderful colours, and it is a bit thicker than Patons which affects the circumference of the sock I make.  Also, the 50g ball is 153 yards.  That means you have to buy 3 50g balls to make a decent pair of socks — at a whopping $13 each.  I think this is likely because they’re not as big as other manufacturers, plus the US Dollar/Shipping costs – which don’t just affect us personally, it affects companies too.

We also have a secret weapon in the CSM world.  This company in Hamilton offers European Coned Yarn – like Opal, Ferner, Comfort.  About 1000 grams and very reasonable.  If you know you’re going to love the colour for more than one ball, I highly recommend Fischerwool.

Lastly, I’d like to talk about your basic Superwash super fun Wool/Nylon that you can get at your Local Yarn Store.  Anywhere from $15-$20 for 100g these are sooo squishy to run your hands through.  You want to hand knit them, and they just go through the machine like butter.  If you really love someone, make socks from this wool.  Or Bamboo.  Or Soy.  Or Indie dyers. There are so many lovely options!

So, there’s a sock yarn roundup for 2017.  I would love to hear about your favourite yarns to buy in Canada and if you can get a better deal – definitely let me know!

 

 

 

Baby Socks on the CSM

Wow, this was quite a journey.  As you know, I love mini things.  I did some looking around at what others have done and there are more than a couple of patterns and ideas for the baby sock.  Until you actually knit something, you never know what’s going to come out of your machine.   I can tell you what my results for the baby socks look like, so you can have some idea of where to start when you do your own experimenting.

The Pattern

I found a free pattern from rox4sox that I followed.  My goal was a 5ish” circumference and009 a 4ish” foot because I had measured commercial socks (I don’t have babies to test anymore lol).   I figured this size would get me in the ballpark of a walking baby size.  Here are my results on a 60 needle cylinder with a 30 needle ribber with a bit of tweaking:

First Batch
First Batch

The red sock is the original pattern. That is a 5 row foot, 1 x 1 ribbing throughout. The foot turned out to be 3.5″ measuring from toe to heel. The circumference is about 6″

In the blue fair isle sock at the top, I used 4 less needles in the short row heel to see if I can get a better shape.  I was pleased with this shape of the heel for little feet  The one on the bottom I tweaked the heel again – left only 21 cylinder needles in work, and decreased down to 7 cylinder needles.  I like that heel even more, and the circumference is a nice 5.5″.

What I was really distressed about by this point was the toe: it’s huge. If I try and do the same treatment to the toe as the heel, there are 2 problems:

1.  I have to kitchener stitch ribbing (not as easy as closing up plain toes), and

010
Nice socks; Shame about the toe.

2.  I get “bunny ears”.  No matter how I stitched it up, I got two little nobby bits on the sides of the toe.

The picture on the left is my botched job at grafting – I didn’t realize I was going side-to-side instead of top-to-bottom!

I tried different techniques and lots of swearing from this point.  I tried short rowing from the toe up like a regular adult pattern but with less needles – still got bunny ears.  I tried toe up, decreasing and rehanging stitches.  What I ended up with is to leave the toe that huge, and admit defeat.

The Final Decision

The smallest sock I can make with the 60/30 that looks proportionate to an adult sock is on the left.  They are knit like an adult sock – toe up, but with a 15 row foot and shorter heel.  This makes a 5″ long foot with a 6″ circumference, so It is about a kids’ shoe size 6-10.

A note about sizes:  Sock sizes are not the same as shoe sizes.  One day I may post about the loooong explanation as to why, but the bottom line is that most people know their kids’ shoe size, not their foot length.  Since socks can stretch, and the difference between shoe sizes are often .2″, a 5-6″ sock can fit a pretty big range of shoe sizes.

But Wait…

eon
Fourth Experiment

So let’s go back to that fourth sock experiment is in the picture above, and also to the right.  That was another suggestion I had read on the internet – use every other needle.  The thinking was that if you have half the needles, you’ll have half the size of a regular cylinder.  This was the fastest and easiest sock I made, but the circumference was all wrong.  It was a whopping 6.5″.  I’ll give you a hint though – I was on the right track.

Check it out – this is what happens when you use every other needle, add the ribber AND use every other ribber needle – it creates a 1×1 rib spaced farther apart.  When they are all washed and dried, they are an exactly proportionately smaller sized sock at a beautiful 5″ circumference and 4″ foot. When stretched, they are holey, but that doesn’t show on a smaller foot, and the ribbing hugs the foot nicely.  I (finally!) got a model to test it, and this is what they look like on an 8 month old:

My Conclusions:

These may have less yarn in them, but they’re the same amount of work.  The best way to get a non-walking baby sock on your 60/30 is with the “Every Other Needle” method which is actually quicker.  One thing about working this way with the machine is that stitches drop more often being so far away from each other.  Watch out for that.

If you’re making a sock for an older child always use the ribber to get the circumference right.  I recommend the ribber for all children’s sizes right up to shoe size 6, (which is a Women’s shoe size 8).

None of this information is difficult to find in other places and there are a TON of helpful people with Sock Knitting Machines out there.  What I hope is that the pictures will help you visualize the result better if you ever consider making them!  And I’ll leave you with one final picture:

Family socks!
Family socks!

Mini Socks!

OH Yes, I love Mini Things. I couldn’t resist when I saw this pin on pinterest to see if I could make one.

Ravelry Pattern

I took a look at the Ravelry pattern (below), and it was done on a flat bed machine, but the translation didn’t quite turn out right.   My 2nd try on the CSM came out MUCH better.  (Pattern I used is below).  My first mistake was not remembering that on the flat bed machine, you have to crank out 2x the number of rows for tubular knitting.  So I halved the numbers and knitted the mini sock flat on the CSM and this is the result:

IMG_1303

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s what I worked out:

PATTERN for cuff down mini sock

Take all but 24 needles out of the cylinder.

– Cast on your waste yarn and do a few rows. Then cast on your sock yarn.
– Knit 3 rows (back and forth), fold cuff over.
– Knit 17 rows, put left 12 needles on hold.
– Short row 4 stitches each end of the 12 needles in working position on right.
– Once back to 12 needles in working position, put all needles in working position and continue for the foot:
– knit 13 rows
– Toe: put left 12 needles on hold and repeat the heel short rowing.
– Cut long tail, and add waste yarn.
– BO.

Kitchener the toe, sew up the side seam and you’re done. Ta da!

Homegrown Harvest Socks

SockyTalky Yarn on the Machine
Socky-Talky by The Dye Guy
Harvest Socks
Canadian-eh?

Just in time for Thanksgiving, I cranked out a pair of Harvest socks!  I found a beautiful hand-dyed yarn made in Canada from my LYS and it was so yummy to work with.  It’s Socky-Talky by The Dye Guy.  All the sock yarn I use is 75% wool and 25% nylon, but I noticed that when I spend more on the yarn, I notice the difference in the softness of the wool.   It’s my treat to myself 🙂

Ribber Tension

I don’t like to do any adjustments on the machine because I know someone before me had the machine set there – probably for a good reason.  So as much as I didn’t want to, I finally adjusted the ribber tension to see if that was the problem with the stitches.

YES.  It worked – my rib stitches are a dream now.  I got as far as the latch tool bind off and wow – not at all as easy as on the flat bed.  But the latch tool was not easy when I started on the flat bed either, right?  So I guess I just need some practice.  As it stands now, my latch tool bind off is really loose and as ugly as the cast on.

Just to see if I could get a better cuff now that everything seems to be adjusted on the machine, I tried the folded cuff.  Simple enough; I read that I only need 5 rows or so.  Took it off the machine, take the waste yarn off and…….not pleased with that one either.  What happened?  It’s all kind of roll-y. 

OK so, back to the drawing board.  There’s a ribbed selvedge edge that I’d like to try and it sounds as if there are some that have had success with it.   The technique starts with the ribber in work for one round, out of work for two rounds and in work again for one round.  Sounds a bit like the flat bed ribbed cast on.  I don’t know if this will work at the cast-off edge so I’ll try it knitting the sock cuff-down. I do enjoy the kitchener stitch, so I’ll give it a shot.

Stripey Colours

So I took a bit of a break from the circular machine because I found this bulky yarn and I wanted to try it.  This is Bernat Jacquards, and I think it’s mostly meant for sweaters, but I thought it would make a neat sock.  No nylon in this yarn, but super comfy 🙂 Simple folded cuff, seamed up the side with a kitchener stitch toe.

For anyone that may have been following the CSM progress, I’ve still not quite gotten the toe up sock.  I’ve discovered that I need my tension super loose as I do the toe so that it can be hung on the other side.  That means my cam needs to be all the way at the bottom.  I have also discovered that the toe is supposed to be slightly larger than the heel.  I went back to the diagram on page 14 in the manual and realized that the toe is supposed to be done on the back side of the machine (heel done on the front side), and has less needles remaining as you short row.

Success with the toe after these two modifications, but the ribber is dropping tons of stitches.  In the toe-up method, you add ribber needles instead of removing them as you go.  One of the important things I had to remember is that the direction of the ribber needs to be counterclockwise if the stopper is on the left side of the adjuster in the cylinder.  (clockwise if the stopper is on the right side)  Otherwise, the ribber will move way past the cylinder slot it’s supposed to be at, and there is a huge mess.  The “adjuster” I’m talking about is in this picture – it’s on the inside of the cylinder.

Once I get past that toe, I’ll post pictures!