Friday, February 12, 2016

Just keep wool walking

Or walking on wool. Which one do you like better?

This week, although not having a good start at all, has been a good week nonetheless. Thank you for sending me good wishes, they must have helped, because even though this week started off not good, not good at all, resting has done its magic and once in a while, staying put and in bed (after you stop feeling too icky and too sorry for yourself) for a couple of days, works wonders.

I had plenty of time to think about walking... and socks. I have been thinking of walking this week since I have not been able to do it physically, I have been doing it mentally. I know this mental exercise solely might not work for your benefit and build your muscles, but in building eagerness to walk again, mental walking has been great. I searched for walking quotes one day.

"Good things are coming down the road, just don't stop wool walking."

"If we are facing the right direction, all we have to do is to keep wool walking."

It is only natural to go from wool walking to wool socks (ok, shoes too, I love shoes... way too much).

Have you actually measured your feet carefully and know your correct sock knitting numbers? Honestly?

The fit of the foot part I got covered after maybe knitting 50 pairs of ill fitting socks (exaggeration there! maybe just 40) and finally realized what works and what does not (I am little slow), but lately the cuffs of my socks have grown taller and taller, almost up to the knees and my method for long socks has been based mainly on guesswork. I know. I have a habit of knitting 60 rows of ribbing or other pattern stitch just to find out later that the cuff is a bit too tight or too loose. My estimating has not been working that well and this week I rather got tired of this guesswork.

I measured my legs, looked at the mirror and analyzed the shaping. I know my gauge for my standard fingering weight with 2mm/US0 needles and calculated the numbers. I could not believe how many stitches I needed, according to the measurements and the gauge and the -10% left me with lots of stitches. I could not believe it was right.

I compared my stockinette, lacework and color work socks. This might sound very familiar to you and you might wonder why I did not do it earlier... Therefore, (after knitting all those ill-fitting socks) I know that 64 stitches around the ankles with gauge 36sts/46rows with 2mm needles works well. I compared this to my figures and realized that I like to have -15% negative ease around my feet and ankles in stockinette. Some lace patterns are ok too, but some of them tend to be little on the loose side with this stitch count and then color work requires more stitches.

When I started this thought process, I was sure that I would end up having a fool proof plan that I could stick to every time, that I would instantly know when picking up a pattern stitch and needles how many stitches would be needed. However, really it is not that simple. What remains as a fact is that all the variations to plain stockinette is going to affect the fabric... and thus affect the fit. There really is no reason to avoid making a swatch. I know me, I probably will continue the way I have been doing so far, casting on and knitting for those 60 rows, but what was good about all this thinking:
* I know the measurements now.

* I know just where I need to place my decreases and increases.

* I now have a foundation for all the information I am going to gain when knitting socks.  It will be so much easier to collect and add bits of knowledge on this groundwork. Now when I make a mistake or succeed, I can understand why this did not work or why it worked.

I don't have much to show you today. Most of the knitting has happened inside my brain. I did pop out yesterday to take couple of pictures, but since it was raining, I took these pictures quickly and they did not turn out so well. February is "helmikuu" in Finnish. Helmikuu translates to something like pearl month. Long time ago I read that this month is called the pearl month because when the temperature after a warm period, dives under the zero and the water freezes on trees, glimmering ice pearls are formed on the branches. When I read this, I thought that ok, lovely romantic thought but I wonder if it has any truth in it. It does! This week there have been many pearls on trees, I wanted to take pictures to you, but could only manage these, and there are not that many pearls even in that tree. However, sometimes there can be a lot. I hope that phenomenon happens again later this month and I can get you better pictures.
It is snowing today. Really snowing.

In the end of next week I will get to collect my little baby boy! Here are the latest pictures... Do you suppose he is yawning or meowing? Both pictures courtesy of Lotta Ovaska.

Wool with you, enjoy your weekend,


  1. While reading your blog this morning it suddenly occurred to me that you might be a good person to ask a question about socks since you have so much experience knitting them and wearing them. I've knitted about 12 pairs over the years (I live in California and the need for wool socks is not great). I often have problems with holes forming in the heels unless I wear clogs which keeps the back of the shoe away from the knitted sock. Should I be using different wool? Should I knit a filament into the heel to make it stronger?

    Your new little cat is lovely and I look forward to seeing more photos of him once you bring him home. Thanks.

  2. That's a lot of sock knitting you, I've had issues with fit...seem to have the foot part down...I have very skinny need to decrease more for the foot...I'm still working on the leg part...we are having extreme cold for the next few days.....haven't been reading blogs this week, so sorry to hear you were feeling poorly...

  3. Hi Lene - glad you are feeling better. Your new little boy is darling!! Cannot wait for you to pick him up. I think he is just trying to scare you (let you know who will be boss) in that last picture - ha-ha. I was going to re-read your notes on socks, but since I am just in the very beginning stages of knitting them (only 1.5 pairs done to date), I don't want to frighten myself off! Lastly, I love your description of February and how it is called the Pearl Month. What a lovely way to get through some bleak winter days. Have a wonderful weekend.

  4. Jeannie17:56

    I think he is yawning and giving a little meow at the same time. That's what my cat does!! I love the photos of the tree!!

  5. Anonymous20:31

    One of the most charming things about your blog, besides the knitting, are all the added details about the culture and your way of life in Finland. It is most interesting to learn of Pearl month, the biting of the cold at the corners of your house, the community college of spinners, of the spooks and gremlins lurking in the woods in the semi-dark surrounding your cabin up North when you make a foray to the latrine, just as they did when you were a young child, of the dog sled safaris, of the day's snow storm, of what a daily shopping trip to the local mall entails, and of your soon-to-arrive little kitten. You write an utterly fascinating blog, Lene. Happy to see you back on top of your game once again. Renée (backwoods of Wisconsin)

  6. I've been walking IN wool - wool socks (handknit), two-layer long underwear (inner cotton, outer merino), wool sweater and hat and scarf and mittens (all handknit). I get out early, before the wind kicks up, and walk 2.5 - 3 miles. Thanks for all the sock knitting tips - I too have knit a lot of socks of variable fits, and am just now focusing hard on making them fit better.

  7. Anonymous22:10

    I think that your lovely little tiger is laughing ;)

  8. Another sock knitting variable, impossible to really account for in every case, is the particular yarn and wool breed with which you are knitting. While the gauge may match, some breeds are more springy or stretchy than others. Some yarns have more elasticity than others...and of course gauge and stitch count and pattern all come into play with that. Even with swatching, it can be so hard to get it all right!

    I knit two pairs of toe up plain socks from my twin four year olds. They love them, but only one pair fits one kid exactly right, and both pairs come right off when coming indoors and taking off snowy boots. I need a longer, tighter cuff, for starters. Hmmm. The variables, even in plain size 4 socks, seem endless.

  9. Love your new little fella. He looks like his fur feels like velvet. Looking forward to watching him grow on your blog.

  10. Thank you for this post! I have been going through a similar process with my socks for over a year. All of the ones I knit with the suggested stitch counts in patterns don't fit me right. My calves are larger than most, and then my legs slim down at the ankles. I already have realized that size 0 or 1 needles and more stitches are essential and I'm learning how to do increases and decreases on the leg with textured patterns. Lace patterns comes next! I've frogged a lot of knitting in this process, but I'm slowly getting closer and closer to satisfaction. Really enjoyed reading about your process. And your boy is so sweet! I hope we'll see more of him. Will he be a mouser?

  11. Lol! His tiny fangs are adorable!