Magic loops and toe-up challenges

Social media is a funny old place – we show off our successes and hide our failures and attempts, so the world sees a very skewed picture of our lives. I am trying to rectify this with some honest blogs posts (it all began here).

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the most recently completed pair

When you read my posts you might be forgiven for thinking that I am an expert with yarn, creating whatever garment I desire with ease and flair. You would be wrong, though. I quite often post pictures of socks I have made or am making and these always draw admiring comments. However, in general, I always follow the same pattern… actually I don’t follow a pattern, I just know how to make them one way and almost always choose that path of least resistance and do what I know.

 

One of the ideas behind 17 for 2017 was to set myself some challenges to do different thingsΒ – one of which was “knit six pairs of socks including three using patterns I’ve never tried before“. Just yesterday I completed pair number three, but all had been made using my standard design. Today, therefore, I’m learning a whole new way of kitting socks: from the toe up (I usually knit from the top down). And not only that, I’ve abandoned my trusty double pointed needles and am having a go at using a technique called “magic loop”, which employs a circular needle (i.e. a stick on each and with a flexible wire joining them). Plus, I’m going to knit a pattern into the sock in the form of little cables rather than using a self-striping yarn. It is possible that I should have started with a simpler challenge, but if you are going to make changes, why not make really big changes?

The pattern I selectedΒ  is by Louise Tilbrook,Β a sock designer I admire very much, and it’s called Honeycomb Cables (pattern available here). Now, I am not guaranteeing that I will be successful, but so far I have managed to cast on, using a whole new technique called Judy’s magic cast-on (thank you You Tube, I couldn’t have done it without you) and done a few rounds without throwing it out of the window. There is definitely at least one mistake in there, but I’m hoping no one will ever notice as it will be inside my shoe when I wear the sock.

It’s early days yet, but at least 17 for 2017 has encouraged me out of my comfort zone to try something different.

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I’m following the advice on the mug

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28 Comments

  1. Annie

     /  August 23, 2017

    Good start, well done. πŸ™‚

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  2. I tried a sock pattern which also started at the toe. It was on 4double ended needles and a fair isles type pattern in 2 colours. I seem to remember casting on as usual but then doing some complicated knitting into the front and back of each stitch and splitting the result into the circle. They are very warm with all that extra yarn across the wrong side! I find they are quite hard to put on as the cast off edge is at the top and a bit too firm. If I did them again I would cast off rather loosely.

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    • A few years ago I made some traditional Norwegian socks, which are a sort of Fair Isle design in quite thick yarn – I only wear them in the depths of winter! I will have to check what sort of cast-off the pattern suggests (I’m only reading it a bit at a time so as not to frighten myself!).

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  3. I have only made two pairs of socks but I used exactly this method to make them, bar the cables. I couldn’t be doing with dps but that’s probably because I’m not used to them. As I don’t knit socks very often I have to go back to the tutorials I use for toe up socks, magic loop, Judy’s magic cast on every time but that’s fine. The cast off edge is a bit firm as coppicelearner has said but Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off (catchy title!) is the answer to that https://youtu.be/53Mtbkyf5CQ
    If the internet ever disappears I’ll be sockless πŸ˜‰

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    • I seem to recall looking up that stretchy bind off for another project… I can’t now remember whether I used it or not. I think there’s an equivalent cast-on too that’s really complicated and I have only ever used once!

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  4. Laurie Graves

     /  August 23, 2017

    Keep us posted!

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  5. Good luck with your mission, on your ‘regular’ socks which heel do you use? I always do the heel flap and I’mm too nervous to try anything else LOL

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    • Yes, I always usually do a heel flap. In fact this new pair will also have a heel flap, but one of the next patterns I intend to try will have an after-thought heel, and there’s one with a spiral heel that I might attempt at some point too.

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      • I’ll be following your progress with the new heels with great interest, who knows you just might inspire me to leave my ‘heel flap’ comfort zone πŸ™‚

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  6. My mum always uses the round needles to make socks, I can barely knit a scarf, so I can’t comment πŸ™‚ It’s an interesting point about the side of our lives we portray on our blogs, I always feel a bit guilty when people think my garden is gorgeous, because I see the rest of it!!! I do try and show some of the weeds every so often to get a bit of balance πŸ™‚

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    • There are a couple of things that really bug me on the internet: highly curated pictures that clearly aren’t a real house/life despite claiming to be; and highly curated presentations of life… I like positivity, but in context!

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  7. I have given up on socks! I spent hours on YT practising Judy’s Magic Cast On and never got the hang of it entirely. Socks are my Achilles Heel!! πŸ˜€

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    • I tried a figure of 8 cast-on last week and gave up in the end, but being bloody-minded, I cannot allow myself to be defeated and Judy’s Magic Cast-on, looked like it did the same thing without the stitches needing pulling into shape, hence giving it a go. In the past I have always been put off toe-up socks because of starting them (I just do an ordinary cable cast-on for top-down ones), so I’m please with myself that I have at least managed to get one going on this attempt. I wish we were close enough to have had a go together.

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  8. Good luck

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  9. I think if I wore socks more than about 4 days a year, I’d be tempted to give it a go, but they just don’t feature much in my life, so there’s little incentive to try. Plus all those techniques you’re talking about would scare me witless! I’d need to sit with a live human being who could show me what to do…

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  10. I’m impressed with your sock-making abilities. Good for your for stretching your comfort zone and trying new things. I like your idea of setting goals for the year.

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  11. I am definitely in favour of real life over window dressing; pretend perfect just isn’t me. As for the socks, all I can say is, even with YouTube, I was I a state of bewilderment but got there in the end 😊

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  12. I’m afraid I have to admit to loving your garden ‘failures – purely because they make me feel better about my own! My roses and sweetpeas were abysmal this year, so I’ve had to endure a summer without that marvellous scent coming into the window 😦
    Well done for trying another pattern for your next pair of socks – but i’m sure you’ll finish with a decent pair to wear, even if there is a tiny mistake that probably only you will see πŸ™‚
    As for the instagram husband Vid – thankyou for the laugh! I can’t ever see my Bob becoming one though! Lol

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    • now I am really laughing… the thought of you stopping Bob drinking his cuppa because you need to photograph it! Mind you, your home (including his wardrobe) does contain some beautiful hand-crafted stuff that is certainly the equal to much that is on Instagram.

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      • Now that is very kind of you to say πŸ™‚

        I have to admit to being intimidated by Instagram, but I do enjoy looking at other people’s work, whatever their craft may be πŸ™‚

        Mind you, I’m under no illusion that my work is anywhere near professional-looking, but I’m getting back to enjoying it all again – when I’m actually awake, that is!

        I’m now in the process of finishing a blanket that was going to be a pressie for my Mum. I haven’t been able to work on it since she died in January, but have been feeling more positive recently, and so am in the process of finishing it – but it’s now going to my fave sister, who loves the same colours Mum did, so I know it’ll be just as treasured by her, as it would have been by my Mum πŸ™‚

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  13. I’m not a huge fan of toe up socks, but I do love my circular needles! I’m still on the hunt for my perfect sock recipe, and so far it’s cuff down, eye of partridge heel with heel flap and wide toe. I’m looking forward to hear if you like this method though, in the end I was happy I tried it 😊

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  14. It’s late here and after a very busy day, I’ll save most of my comment for another visit. Just want to say a huge THANKS! for that linkie. (A) because I want to try it on a pair of socks and it looks better than the one I already tried (I have half a sock done with that beginning) and (B) because it was JUST what I wanted for the beginning of a completely different project. I only needed six stitches to begin and once I quit trying to ‘understand’ the process and just followed the instructions in the video, all went swimmingly well. For some reason, I ‘need’ to understand things, but in this case, I managed somehow to just not think about ‘how it works’ and just did it. Thanks again. I’m forever grateful. I hope to post soon about my project.
    More later ~ Linne

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