#socktober

Weapons of choice - my favourite sock needles

My favourites: Hiya Hiya sharp interchangeables

My favourites: Hiya Hiya sharp interchangeables

Last week I gave you a sneaky peek into my sock yarn stash. This week I thought I would share with you some of my favourite needles
Hands down favourites are my Hiya Hiya Sharps Interchangable sock set (from The Little Grey Girl). Lethally sharp, with a seamless join between cable and needle and a brilliantly flexible cable makes magic loop knitting a real pleasure. Many of my designs feature twisted stitches or small cables and a really sharp set of needle tips vastly increases speed and accuracy with these.

Malala Socks by Louise Tilbrook Designs - pointy tips really help with the cables.

Malala Socks by Louise Tilbrook Designs - pointy tips really help with the cables.

 

From the same Hiya Hiya range I also love my tiny 30cm circular needle. If I am knitting plain vanilla self-stripe socks these are my needles of choice. Compact, portable and with the same super pointy tips, these are great for having in your emergency sock knitting bag. Being a mother of boys I spend a lot of time standing by sports pitches and the small circulars are ideal for this. I've lost cost of the times that a rugby boot stud has snagged my magic loop cable (serves me right for having a huge catch-all mummy bag I guess). A tiny circular needle is much safer.

Other favourites include my KnitPro Zings. I love that these are colour coded. The number of times I have grabbed a 2.25mm needle thinking it was a 2.5mm and only realised when the resulting sock is too small! With the colour coding this makes this particular error far less likely (although, believe me I am still capable of it on a bad day). The tips are pretty sharp and smooth and the cable, although a bit less flexible than the Hiya Hiyas is perfectly good for most types of circular knitting.

 

 

I'll show you mine....A sneaky peek into my sock yarn stash

A recent, gorgeous addition to my stash from  The Wool Kitchen  via  The Golden Skein

A recent, gorgeous addition to my stash from The Wool Kitchen via The Golden Skein


A quick inventory of my stash, not surprisingly shows that my stash consists of approximately 80% sock yarn. Sock yarn makes the perfect 1 skein purchase at a yarn festival or shop as you can always find a use for it, if not as socks then as a shawl or cowl.

Some of my stash is for my 'work stash'. These are skeins that are earmarked for design projects - some written down and some still floating around in my head.

Yarn from West Yorkshire Spinners features heavily in my recent FO photos

Yarn from West Yorkshire Spinners features heavily in my recent FO photos

Quite a large proportion of my stash is my 'workhorse' sock yarn. These are the skeins I reach for my DH or my sons request a new pair of handknit socks. Self striping yarn from West Yorkshire Spinners falls into this category. Both the Birds and the Cocktails range are ideal sock yarns. Machine washable, fabulous colours and everyone loves a funky pair of striped handknit socks. If I am going through a particularly organised phase I like to have a few pairs of these in the gift box, ready to be pressed into emergency service.

Some of my most prized sock yarn possessions - I would grab these first if the house were on fire

Some of my most prized sock yarn possessions - I would grab these first if the house were on fire


The final category are my prized 'golden skeins'. Some of these are indeed from the Golden Skein (a quarterly yarn club of unbelievable awesomeness) and others have been picked up on my travels. Some of these I have very firm and definite plans for (someday) and some are just pets. On days when I feel a little blue or a bit out of sorts, a quick rootle through this section of my stash is always enough to bring a smile to my face.

There are times when I do feel a little guilty about the size of my stash - particularly when my husband asked me recently whether we should think of listing it separately on our house insurance.

But then there is the smug satisfaction of knowing you have a perfectly curated selection of yarn, just sitting there waiting for its potential to be untapped. At a moments notice you could see the perfect pattern, march upstairs and after 5 minutes with the ball winder and swift be merrily casting on for your dream project. In reality of course it doesn't always work out like that but a knitter can dream can't she?

 

Five fabulous reasons to knit socks

Handy responses to have up your sleeve - louisetilbrookdesigns

Handy responses to have up your sleeve - louisetilbrookdesigns

Whenever you knit socks out in public, you will invariably attract attention. And at some point you will be faced with the question of "Why do you knit socks?". Here are 5 fabulous reasons why knitting socks is a most excellent idea.

  • The ultimate portable project: With just 100g yarn and needles needed you can happily occupy yourself for hours. Train journeys, doctors waiting rooms, endless kids sporting activities... My sock knitting comes with me everywhere and anywhere and I'm yet to find a situation where knitting is inappropriate (except possibly job interviews and in church). A spare pair of needles and a ball of yarn sits patiently in the glove box of my car, awaiting the day it might be needed. Yes, the AA provides wonderful roadside assistance in the event of a breakdown, but the sock yarn and needles will keep me sane and stop me stressing out during the inevitable wait. The expert sock knitter is always well prepared.
  • Everyone loves warm handknit socks: Yes, handknit socks really are warmer than commercial socks which often contain a large proportion of cotton or synthetic fibres such as nylon. Try and see if you don't believe me. I'm yet to find anyone, who after wearing handknit socks for a day would happily swap them back for a commercial pair.
  • They make ideal gifts: This is a tricky one as you could be making a rod for your own back. Obviously, the point of making beautiful, colourful handknit socks is so that you have a sock drawer to be proud of. Others, once they see your socky prowess may be keen to have some for themselves. By all means knit for gifting if it gives you pleasure, but don't forget that each sock represents hours of your hard work. So choose your giftee wisely and don't ever feel pressured in to knitting for others.
  • They make a perfect small canvas for trying out new techniques or stitches. trying out a new cable pattern for example, over a 70st sock is a lot less daunting than bravely casting on 200st for your first full-on aran sweater.If you make a mistake or find that cabling isn't for you it is a lot less ripping involved and a lot less personal drama.
  • People (ie non knitters) will think you are immensely clever. Just trying wipping out your DPNs or a magic loop needle on public transport if you don't believe me. If I had a pound for every time someone had told me how complicated my knitting looks, I would maybe not be rich but would certainly have a fabulously curated yarn stash. For extra credit, try knitting socks two at a time and watch jaws drop

Socktober is coming

Louise Tilbrook Designs: Socktober is coming...

Louise Tilbrook Designs: Socktober is coming...

There are many reasons to get excited about autumn here in the northern hemisphere. Winter boots and black tights hide a multitude of sins and there can't be a knitter in the land that doesn't secretly relish being able to wear a handknit sweater all day without ending up as a sweaty puddle on the floor.

For the dedicated sock knitter however, these reasons pale into insignificance beside the annual event that is Socktober. A whole month devoted to knitting socks, wearing handknit socks and talking about socks. Sounds like my idea of heaven.

There are lots of KALs and events going on for this Socktober - La Bien Aimee is hosting a sock KAL for example - just search on Instagram under #socktober and you will see what I mean.

For myself I am setting a personal challenge to knit (and finish) as many pairs of socks as possible during October. A quick inventory of my projects reveals 4 pairs of socks in various stages of being finished:

A whole lot of sock toes - and not much else

A whole lot of sock toes - and not much else

A pair of vanilla socks in yarn from Countess Ablaze (35% finished)

A pair of grey striped socks for DH (35% finished)

A pair of bright Halloween socks (90% finished)

Two pairs of striped kids socks (knit two at a time) (10% finished)

My aim is to have these finished by October so that I can start November with a few clean pairs of sock needles and lots of fabulous design ideas for 2017.

What are your plans for Socktober. Do leave a comment and let me know or share a picture over on Instagram and tag me - I'm nosy like that.