handknit socks

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.

 

My magic formula for happiness: A Toe-up sock in self-striping yarn

I am a firm believer in not messing with perfection and the first thing I want to do when faced with an amazing skein of hand-dyed self striping sock yarn is to knit it into a perfectly plain and splendid pair of socks.

My default, stress-free option is to work a pair of stockinette, toe-up socks using the magic loop technique and my beloved Hiya Hiya sharp circular needles. If they are socks for me (I wear a UK size 6 shoe) I work on the basis of 60st and a 2.5mm needle. My husband usually gets a 72st sock with a 3x1 rib on the foot and leg.

Teaching toe-up sock knitting is one of my favourite classes to teach and I created the Have Fun Socks pattern as a freebie. Both to accompany the class and to offer as a free Ravelry download to all those thinking of trying out the wonderful world of toe-up socks. This pattern uses a standard short row heel but - full confession time - if I am knitting for myself I nearly always opt for a Fish Lips Kiss Heel. Obviously I can't infringe copyright and reproduce the pattern myself but I urge anyone who will listen to me to spend the $1 required to obtain this fabulous pattern for themselves.

I have taught some fairly resistant toe-up sock knitters in my time and one of their chief bugbears is often the fact that a "normal" short row heel doesn't fit very well. The FLK heel overcomes a lot of these difficulties and the additional information provided within the pattern gives you all the information you need to fit socks to the most challenging of feet.

If you want to preserve the continuity of those perfect stripes you can work the heel in a contrast colour - or wind off 10g yarn from the skein before you start knitting the sock, to use for the heels. The latter option involves a certain amount of prior thought however, and when faced with the giddy excitement of a new skein of yarn I admit that I often overlook this step.

The only exception to my winning formula is if I am travelling or otherwise out in public, and I'm not sure when to stop for the heel. If they are for me I can usually just measure (assuming my tape measure hasn't been pilfered out of my notions bag by small boys) but often I do prefer to try them on - just to make sure the heel goes in the correct place.

In the past I have tried on a sock WIP on public transport and I can attest to the fact that this will usually generate a fair number of curious (and sometimes even horrified) looks. To avoid public shame and embarrassment I now normally take the cowards way out and just continue up the leg to knit a long (13-14") tube and put in an afterthought heel.

If this thought fills you with horror - watch out for my mini tutorial on this - next week.

 

Love is... stripy socks

With Valentines Day fast approaching I decided to get a scoot on with some plain vanilla socks I had on the needles so that they could be pressed into service as a gift for my DH. We don't normally make a fuss on Valentines Day - we may make a special effort and cook a really nice meal with a bit of fizz to go with it, or a good bottle of wine but we don't normally go in for overpriced cards and flowers.

No second sock syndrome here...

No second sock syndrome here...

That being said he has been away from home (for work) a lot recently and I know that he likes to wear his handknit socks in his hotel room at the end of a long days travelling. On his last transatlantic flight, a British Airways steward even offered to buy his socks off him - much to the amusement of the fellow business class passengers.

It just so happened that this sock urge coincided with my recovery from the lurgy and so I completed these in record time following my tried-and-true formula for stripey socks: toe-up on 2.5mm needles, fish lips kiss heel and 1x1 rib cuff. For DH I generally use a 72st sock and for a bit of variety I worked the top of the foot and leg in a 3x1 rib (K3, p1). I like the stretchy fit it gives without breaking up the beautiful stripes too much.

Yarn: Stride sock yarn in colourway Robin Red Breast by The Knitting Swede

Just to make them a little bit more special I found a downloadable pdf design for a little wrapper - designed to be printed out and wrapped around your gift.

I found them via the Attic24 blog at a very cute creative blog called Buttons - do check it out as she has some great information there.

All ready for gifting...

All ready for gifting...

I don't normally do in for packaging my gifts very much, being something of a lazy gifter but I am really pleased with how these look. With a bit of luck he won't have to wait another year until the next pair.

Wyrt Socks

The first pattern launch of 2016 is a bit of a cheat really. The Wyrt Socks were originally released in November as a 4-part Mystery KAL on the Ravelry Solid Socks group. It was my first time writing a pattern for a mystery KAL and it was so much fun. Lots of folks in the group were new to toe-up socks and were really keen to try a new technique. There was lots of chatter and support and, I'm pleased to say lots of new and beautiful socks as a result.

Wyrt Socks and the tree roots that inspired them.

The pattern was inspired by winding tree roots on one of our favourite family walks in the Lake District. We spent a happy autumn day there not too long ago, finding and trying to identify fungi, picking up leaves and generally having a fun family potter about.

The socks themselves were knit using one of my favourite sock yarns - Pendle 4ply by Eden Cottage Yarns. As a Lancashire girl who grew up in sight of Pendle Hill, the name alone would be enough to entice me but Victoria's genius with colours and the firmly plied yarn with just a hint of halo makes this a perfect yarn choice.

The socks feature two bold, textured cables which wind along the front of the sock, offset by garter stitch panels. Garter stitch is surprisingly underused in sock patterns - and speaking personally - I love the added squish factor that it gives. So much so that I decided to depart from my usual heel treatment and opt for a garter stitch short row heel. Fun and quick to work I really like how the garter stitch gives an added stretch to what can, traditionally be a difficult heel type for some people.

To see the pattern on Ravelry and to check out some of the inspirational projects - please click here.

New pattern release: Priory Socks

I am pleased to be able to share a new sock pattern release with you today.

Many of you may have been fans of the online magazine Knotions, back in the day. I know that I certainly was and I was really pleased when I saw that it was being brought back.

I was even more pleased to be able to submit a new sock design to it, and over the moon when it was accepted.

Priory Socks ºLouise Tilbrook Designs

The Priory Sock pattern was inspired by a visit to the wonderful 12th century former monastery - Bolton Abbey in the heart of England’s Yorkshire Dales. They are toe-up and feature an elongated cable design which creates subtle arches reminiscent of the high arched windows – so much a feature of this historic building. Even though it looks impressive the majority of the sock is worked in a rib pattern with infrequent cable crosses.

A different kind of heel - garter stitch is surprisingly comfortable

There is also a garter stitch short row heel which I think fits in really well with the design.

Alongside the Priory socks there are 6 other patterns. There is a great sweater by Elizabeth Helmich (Couting Sheep on Ravelry) and a matching beret. Rachel aka ThornMaiden Designs has a cute beret and matching mitts.Woolly Wormhead has a great hat pattern and as well as producing the magazine Jody aka Savannahchik has also designed some great fingerless mitts.


All the patterns are free to download here and there are some great articles and designer interviews too - well worth a look.