Tuesday, July 31, 2012

meredith's socks

Meredith Green is a reader who knits the greatest socks in the world. Actually, a few of you have mailed me knit socks and as far as I am concerned, they are ALL the greatest socks in the world. When a package comes to the farm of a certain bulk and weight, I squeeze it and silently pray "socks socks socks" because a pair of hand knit, 100% wool socks are my homesteader crack. You have any idea how great a new pair of wool socks feel under your rubber boots on a November morning? It's like putting armor on against anything the farm can throw at me. Between their warmth and insulation and the Wellie's waterproofing rubber I feel better outfitted than someone in Gore-tex liner and Vibram soles. I am farm ready. I can step in a 6" puddle of almost-frozen water and poo and come out dry and toasty. And when you come inside from all that and

I'm thinking about this because I have two unworn pairs of Meredith's socks here and I am saving them for the first frost. They sit wrapped in my kitchen just as she mailed them, waiting to be called by name in a little pyrex bowl under the bookshelf. (My kitchen doesn't have a microwave anymore, I moved it to the tack room and turned it vertical to hold my western saddle, but I do have bookshelves!) It's almost August 1st and that means first harvest to me. It means it is time to start buying or trading for cords of wood. It means getting chimney's cleaned and the pony barn walls up. It means getting hay, A LOT of hay, put aside and fences mended. It means getting ready for the big Mother Earth News Fair and then Antlerstock on Columbus Day Weekend. Antlerstock is always a huge party but I am hoping to celebrate that weekend knowing that hay is in, wood is stacked, and I am ready.

I want this to be the winter I learn to make socks. I really, really, do. I can knit, purl, cast on and cast off. I can make hats in the round, and scarves of course. I think I have all the tools I need to learn socks and the darn truth is all I need to do is sit down, start knitting, and pay attention to some books, videos, and knitters. If anyone has any favorite beginner sock resources, the no-fail type, please let me know!

*Random Updates*

I have an update about the Against the Grain Workshop. I am ordering books and printed cloth sacks for the seed distribution, but they have not arrived yet. I will mail out the packages for those taking part in the online or in-person workshop soon as I get them in. I wrote by August 1 but I didn't realize how soon that was, so expect them shortly after, before September. 

Webinar subscribers, you are not forgotten. You will get nine more videos, and your subscription lasts until they are delivered even if it spills over into 2013. Next up is Wool: sheep to spindle and is 20 minutes long or so. Your link will be emailed soon as I have the 5+ hours to finish it up, but since I am working on them every night they are coming along. 


Blogger kbrow said...

Jenna, this book: http://www.amazon.com/Sensational-Knitted-Socks-Charlene-Schurch/dp/1564775704 is my sock bible, and uses formulas rather than actual patterns for the knitting, with clear directions. I have used other patterns - Knitty.com has some good ones, but for beginning basic socks, I like to cast on and just knit, knit, knit, in the round for a roll-top sock. #2 needles, but if you're just starting out, you might want to use dk or worsted weight wool and #3 or #4 dpns.

I am a reluctant sock knitter, but with every pair, every winter, I feel more convinced that they are the best socks there are.

On another note entirely, I rendered 3 chicken carcasses (frozen, from earlier roasted chickens) down into a substantial amount of broth, yesterday. The freezer is slowly filling with bags of blueberries, and I contemplate eating the last of last year's frozen apples and pumpkin to make room for the new. The cycle continues.

July 31, 2012 at 6:49 AM  
Anonymous H said...

For socks, Magic Loop!! Google it, YouTube it; seriously, you'll never want to do DPNs again! :)

July 31, 2012 at 6:58 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

This is THE book for learning how to knit socks: Getting Started Knitting Socks by Ann Budd.
I also own one of Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks books, and it's great for a range of patterns, but I wholeheartedly recommend Ann Budd's for your first pair. Several of my friends have used it to break into sock knitting, and it helped me a lot getting my technique figured out. It's my go-to book, and it's on my nightstand as we speak. Er, write.
I'm passionately in favor of hand knit socks. Plus, once you get the basics down, they are the best take-along project when you need something to do with your hands while you wait for something.

July 31, 2012 at 7:03 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

I love the Super Simple Short Sock
by Meghann Holcomb. It's a free pattern you can find on ravelry.com. It's an ankle sock so its quicker than a regular sock. Great for when you're starting out.

July 31, 2012 at 7:54 AM  
Anonymous Adrianne B. said...

"2-at-a time socks" by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. It uses the Magic loop method to make both socks at the same time so you never have to worry about the dreaded second sock syndrome. It has step by step instruction and is excellent for beginners

July 31, 2012 at 8:31 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

I know people are very adamant about using magic loop or two circulars for socks, and I learned on two circulars as well. (I personally would rather eat chalk than knit using magic loop, but that has to do with how I purl, which is fairly unusual.) The preference really depends on your own knitting mechanics and preferences.

That being said, I really think that learning to knit a sock on double pointed needles (dpns)has a lot going for it. The technology of dpns and the design concept of the heel flap and heel turn evolved together and they make a lot of sense together. Most sock patterns refer to dpns. Even though I started on two circulars and I did like how that felt, I didn't truly feel like I understood the construction of socks until I tried on dpns. I now use dpns almost exclusively. Yes, they're fiddly, but so are the other methods.

So I stand by my recommendation of the Ann Budd book and dpn's for a first pair of socks.

July 31, 2012 at 8:51 AM  
Blogger Momma Storer said...

Hey Jenna! I'm just knitting my first sock. Because we're on a tight budget and have limited internet I can't order any books and can't watch any online videos.
I do, however, use cometosilver.com. The directions are clear and there are lots of photos to help. I am an ultimate beginner, this sock is my first knitting project, and I've been able to keep up.
I hope this helps.
Have a wonderful day!

July 31, 2012 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger Glyndalyn said...

I do not have a recommendation for a book on knitting socks but would encourage you to try. Also try some mittens which are easier than gloves.

My recent issue of Mother Earth listed you as a speaker for their conference. Congratulations! What topic? One day I plan to attend their conference and some classes. How would I apply to teach some skills?

July 31, 2012 at 10:19 AM  
Blogger Miss Music said...

"Teach Yourself Visually--Sock Knitting" is a wonderful primer for learning to knit socks. Each part of the sock knitting process is broken down into separate sections, with lots of pictures for those who learn visually. There are a variety of processes, such as top-down, toe-up, and it explains finishing process very well, too. http://www.amazon.com/Teach-Yourself-VISUALLY-Knitting-Consumer/dp/047027896X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343749815&sr=8-1&keywords=sock+knitting+visually

July 31, 2012 at 11:53 AM  
Blogger gooddoug said...

Nothing, and I mean nothing feels as good as hand knit socks.

I'll second the Ann Budd book, it is great. Also, that first sock is a bear until you turn the heel, and the it goes from tedious to fun.

July 31, 2012 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger Pit Stop Farm said...

Thanks for the reminder about the Mother Earth News Fair! Not sure if I can make it since my wife will be about 6 weeks away from delivering our baby.

Also, thanks for the thoughts of fall....I can't wait for the cool, crisp air to roll in, along with everything else associated with my favorite season.

July 31, 2012 at 12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


This sock goes toe up, which is a great way to effectively use up a finite supply of yarn. I usually use 2 sets of dpns and knit awhile on one and then on the other so that they are sure to match (size and pattern) and they are both then done at basically the same time. There is a link to her generic pattern and I've made dozens of socks for all size feet by using the formulas.

July 31, 2012 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

I like the Yarn Harlot. I just finished knitting my very first sock, using the pattern found in Knitting Rules!: The Yarn Harlot's Bag of Knitting Tricks. Good Luck, sock knitting is a lot of fun.

July 31, 2012 at 1:35 PM  
Blogger TwoBlueHeelers said...

Jenna, thank you VERY much for the update on the Webinars. We're waiting as patiently as we can. :) I'm looking forward to the wool one, and everything else in the series. Congrats on the positive Western saddle experience; I hope things are looking up at CAF.

July 31, 2012 at 5:28 PM  
Blogger Marcie said...

I would love to help you learn how to knit socks - email if you're interested in a sock tutor - I'm Roz on Ravelry -

July 31, 2012 at 7:06 PM  
Blogger J.D. said...

I second the Yarn Harlot's Sock Recipe and would also recommend an online resource,"Silver's Sock Class." Also, WendyKnits.com written by Wendy Johnston.


Handmade socks make my feet very, very happy!

July 31, 2012 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger Sylvia said...

Hi, Jenna! I love knitting wool socks (and wearing them and giving them). My favorite instructions are online for free at:
They are written by Elizabeth Durand, the moderator for the charity afghans for afghans. Volunteers make items from wool mostly for kids in Afghanistan. These are made on double pointed needles and are the simplest explanation I've seen of working the heel and gusset. If you have questions, I'd be glad to help!
Sylvia in Wisconsin

July 31, 2012 at 10:32 PM  
Blogger seagrrlz said...

I have to say that I love to make socks 2 @ a time, toe up on magic loop. That way there is never the dreaded 2nd sock syndrome and you can be sure that your sock fits you and are the same exact size.

Ravelry is a great resource for patterns and support. As well, there are groups dedicated to knitting socks in all the different ways it can be done. There is lots of feedback on the patterns. My rav name is seagrrlz if you need any help.

July 31, 2012 at 11:19 PM  
Anonymous Keet said...

I like Staci's knitting videos at Verypink.com.

August 1, 2012 at 1:43 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Knitting help.com is a great place to find videos of stitches that you don't know. I think I used it to learn how to do an invisible seam on the toe of some socks I knitted.

August 1, 2012 at 2:04 PM  
Blogger Northwest Girl said...

Hi Jenna,

I solve the dreaded second sock problem by using a counter. Also, I would advise pulling the yarn snug between needles when knitting in the round - it helps prevent laddering. The sock books recommended are good - I have most of them. Good luck and happy knitting.

August 1, 2012 at 7:28 PM  
Blogger Marilla said...

Knitting Pure and Simple Beginner Sock pattern is well written and walks you through every step. It uses worsted weight yarn and that means thick, warm socks that are finished more quickly than socks knit with sock weight yarn? I agree that using DPN's helps you to understand the sock construction. Good luck! If you have questions I'd be happy to answer them.

August 1, 2012 at 8:38 PM  
Blogger laurie said...

I second the Knitting Pure and Simple pattern. The one drawback to the worsted weight is it sets you up for faster socks...switching to sock yarn seems sloop slow. But they are nice socks, especially for boots. I'm learning on 2 circs now and it feels so fiddly.

August 3, 2012 at 1:58 PM  

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