Some Surprise News from Sock Summit

Did you get to go to Sock Summit?  Because I didn’t and I was just soooooo jealous of everyone who did.  All weekend long (all weekend? no, for four days), it seemed like everyone I follow on Twitter was at Sock Summit… and having the time of their fibery lives…  and tweeting mercilessly about it.  Mercilessly, I tell you!  Oh, how I wanted to be there.

…And then, I found out, I kinda was.

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At The Summit, by © TAAT Designs, Used with Permission


Well, not me, but my colours.  And not just there, but actually there as part of the winning submission in the Design for Glory competition!  Ok, a tiny part, but a part…  About a week before Sock Summit, my friend Abigail emailed with the news that she and her knitting partners at TAAT Designs had submitted the winning entry, a sock called At The Summit.  The design requirement was for a sock that could be knit modularly — in pieces and then assembled at the last minute — by a team in the Fleece to Foot Challenge.

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At The Summit, by © TAAT Designs, Used with Permission


And, for their entry, TAAT Designs chose yarn hand-spun from SpaceCadet Creations fiber!  When Abigail gave me the news, I sqeeeeeeeeeed so loudly, I think I scared the neighbours!  I remember when she bought that fiber and…  well, just to think that braid of wool had risen to such heights in the sock stratophere, it kinda blew my mind!

And while At The Summit is a beautiful design and the good ladies at TAAT  — Tesia Walker, Allison Janocha, Abigail Horsfall and Trisha Paetsch — are clearly a very talented bunch of knitters…  I have to admit, I like to think it was the gently undulating shades of SeaFoam that really made the difference in the end.

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The Braid of BFL Fiber in SeaFoam


The pattern for At The Summit is now available on Ravelry, or you can buy it directly by clicking here.  TAAT Designs is donating proceeds the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, in honour of Tesia’s husband Ryan.

Congratulations to Abigail, Tesia, Trisha, and Allison on their beautiful design.  Thanks for choosing SpaceCadet colours!  And congratulations also to Meridith Todd, who spun such a fantastic yarn.

And congratulations to that braid of SeaFoam fiber.  Every single time I pack up an order and send it out, I wonder what that yarn or fiber will become.  Never did I think anything I’ve dyed would become something so… Glory-ous!

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The Braid of SeaFoam

A Book to Forever Change Your Sock Knitting

Note from the SpaceCadet: My friend Amy (DPUTiger on Ravelry) is a knitting teacher, a quilter, and a newly-minted weaver. And she’s been kind enough to write a series of posts about her favourite ways to start new sock knitters on their journey…

I’m back – finally! — for the final installment in this Sock Knitting series, and this is the post where I gush about the knitter and book that completely changed my knitting life:

Cat Bordhi’s New Pathways for Sock Knitters

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When I discovered this book, I had knit one pair of toe-up socks with short-row heels and toes — not an experience I ever wanted to repeat.  I was chugging along on socks knit using the Yarn Harlot’s Basic Sock Recipe that I referenced in my last blog post. I was even using double-pointed needles to do it!

So I was about to give up on sock knitting entirely, despite the pile of very pretty and seductive sock yarn I had accumulated (of course, the stash that felt large at that time is roughly 1/10th of my current sock yarn stash. But we won’t talk about that, will we?).  I had just moved across the country, from Los Angeles back to my hometown of Pittsburgh, and had begun exploring the various LYSs in the area.  While meeting a friend from my new knitting group at a local store, I picked up a copy of New Pathways on a whim and took it home.

Thank God that I did that!

What makes this book so special? What is it about this book that changed my knitting life?

• I will never pick up stitches for a sock gusset again.

• I will always knit perfectly-fitting socks, whether they are for me, my sister-in-law with the teeny-tiny feet, my husband with ginormous ski feet, or anyone else that I want to knit for.

• Cat’s short-row technique for the heel turn has invisible wraps. Really. I’ve never found another short-row/wrap-and-turn technique that I could honestly describe as invisible.

• Not to mention the fact that Cat’s “La-Linc” and “La-Rinc” increases are quite handy in many circumstances — and that almost all of her techniques are detailed through videos on YouTube.

In the most simple terms, to create a New Pathways sock, you knit a tube, then a funnel (increasing by two stitches every three rounds), turn the heel, decrease and knit another tube. That’s it. Those increase lines could be random, could be on the top of your foot, the bottom, the inside, the outside … it doesn’t matter.

Cat Bordhi is my knitting idol. I joke that I would like to be Cat when I grow up, but I know I’m not that fearless. Normal humans make a mistake or deviate from their planned knitting path, and they back up to fix it. Not Cat. She follows her mistakes and sees where they take her.  I’ve taken a class with Cat, and this woman makes no bones about protecting her “secret sauce.” Instead, she wants everyone to know the good stuff.

And if you’re local and want to learn what I know about this book, I’m teaching New Pathways starting on Saturday at Bloomin Yarns.  Come join us!

Continuing your Sock Knitting Journey

Note from the SpaceCadet:  My friend Amy (DPUTiger on Ravelry) is a knitting teacher, a quilter, and a newly-minted weaver.  And she’s been kind enough to write a series of posts about her favourite ways to start new sock knitters on their journey…

So you’ve tackled Fuzzy Feet and are ready to move along and try something else. Where is a good place to start with that beautiful fingering weight yarn and the toothpick-sized needles?

My first pair of fingering weight socks were generated by my sock class teacher with Sock Wizard.  They had crazy-long cuffs (hello, 7” of 2×2 ribbing!) and took a really, really long time to knit. I did a second pair with the same yarn, on needles that I hated, and with short-row heels and toes.  That experience nearly put me off of socks completely.



So, you ask, what turned things around for me, and what would I recommend to you so you don’t suffer the sock blahs right out of the gate?

Knitting Rules.  If you aren’t familiar with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka the Yarn Harlot, you should be. Stephanie is a terrific writer with a sense of humour.  And whether you are an experienced knitter or especially a knitter that’s just starting to branch out into the world of Not Scarf Knitting, Knitting Rules is a valuable addition to any knitter’s library.

So just as I was finishing the Socks from Hell, the Yarn Harlot began blogging about the step-out socks that she was knitting for an appearance on Knitty Gritty. I was intrigued, picked up a copy of Knitting Rules and hit the jackpot.

And while Stephanie provides a perfectly awesome 64-stitch sock pattern, she also provides a good basic sock recipe. I love this pattern and recommend it because it gives you the tools to create a sock in any size to fit any foot. She gives you permission to stockingette that leg after a couple inches of ribbing. She has great information on how to start with hats, sweaters, all kinds of things. The book is a great foundation for wherever you want to take your knitting.

There are a few little tidbits I’ll throw in before I leave you in suspense waiting for my final salvo on sock knitting:

  • I have one rule in my classes: No Eeyores.  If you attack something new with a positive, can-do attitude, you will succeed!  If you are convinced sock knitting is too hard for you, then it will be.  Period.  Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • Lifelines are your friend!  (What is a lifeline? Click here)  If you’re new to sock knitting, throw a lifeline in before you start something new. My ideal lifeline material is DMC Perle Cotton, commonly used for cross stitch and embroidery. If you use lifelines, you really can knit fearlessly, because it will be simple to rip out and re-start if you screw up or get confused.
  • Every single sock pattern in existence can be knit using any of the three small-circumference knitting methods: double-pointed needles (DPNs), two circular needles, or the Magic Loop.  All three methods are interchangeable.  Always.  No exceptions.

I’ll be back again to discuss the one book that changed my knitting life. Until then, enjoy your foray into sock knitting!

A First Step in Sock Knitting

Note from the SpaceCadet:  My friend Amy (DPUTiger on Ravelry) is a knitting teacher, a quilter, and a newly-minted weaver.  And she’s been kind enough to write about her favourite way to start new sock knitters on their journey…

Socks seem to be part of the “Magical Mystery Tour” of knitting. Somehow, people get all freaked out with sock heels, short rows, gussets, kitchener stitch … the list goes on.

And with all these amazing hand-dyed yarns to choose from, why not add sock knitting to your repertoire?

I teach sock knitting at Bloomin’ Yarns, my LYS.  On Ravelry, I’d say one of the questions I see most often is how to get started with sock knitting. I have a prefab answer that I use over there, but you lucky folks get the expanded version with the why’s and wherefores behind my answer.

The number one thing that I recommend for a first sock is usually Fuzzy Feet. It’s a free pattern from the Winter, 2002 issue of Why do I like it so much for a first sock?

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The first reason is that it calls for a worsted weight yarn. I believe that using fingering weight yarn and sock-sized needles is a skill all by itself. When you are used to using worsted weight yarns and needles in the neighborhood of a US 8, it’s a big change to go down to 8 sts/inch and a 2.5mm needle. And it’s better to learn one thing at a time, not two.

If you already do enjoy small needles and want to jump right in with that set-up, then you can go wind your next skein of SpaceCadet so you’re ready to roll with my next guest post.

So what else is so great about Fuzzy Feet?

They are knit with a worsted weight feltable wool (like Cascade 220) on US 10.5 needles, which makes them very quick to knit. I usually use a 16” circ, so I don’t even have to mess with a small-circumference technique like DPNs (double-pointed needles), two circular needles or Magic Loop. The construction is identical to a traditional top-down sock so you can learn the process with great big comfy needles. And the best part? It doesn’t matter in the least if you mess up, because when you’re done… you felt the slippers.

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Have you ever felted anything before? There is virtually no stitch definition left after the felting process so those wonky short rows to turn the heel? Those gusset stitches that you picked up that are a little loose and open? The kitchener stitch at the toe that isn’t quite perfect? Gone. All of it.

You wind up with a pair of comfortable, warm slippers. And you learned the mechanics of sock knitting! Even my uber-picky husband likes his Fuzzy Feet. He’s on pair #2, since he walked through his first pair by the end of Winter #3.

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So what’s the next step after you’ve finished your Fuzzy Feet? I’ll be back to talk about that next time!

This Post Is Not For You

This blog post is not for you. Unless you are my mother or my sister. If you’re not, that’s ok — you can still read it — but it’s not for you.

It’s for my sister, firstly. Are you there, meine kleine Schwester? It’s for you because, while you were staying with us over Christmas, and we were sitting at the table and enjoying that wonderful holiday feast and a few glasses of wine, you mentioned something that that showed me just how much work there is to do.  Hang on, let me explain for everyone else…

My sister is not a knitter or a crocheter — if you handed her a pair of needles, I’m certain she’d hold them like chopsticks. But she’s been really supportive of SpaceCadet Creations. She’s proud of the work I do, she comes into my studio to see the dyeing in action, and she promotes the fiber arts on her Facebook stream… in her own particular way.  A few weeks ago, she posted this:

Knitting is not just a hobby which reduces stress and improves manual dexterity, but it’s also an eco-friendly way to buy your clothes.

And a few days before that, this:

All the cool kids buy their clothes from knitters, because sweatshops are so uncool.

And also this:

The Knitteratti are ready for Christmas. Are you?

She’s a kook, yeah, but she’s a supportive kook.  And then, there we were, sitting at the table and drinking the last of the wine and sneaking a few extra bites of spice cake, when she mentioned that she’d had some good feedback on my yarn from a couple of friends, but that they hadn’t bought anything because they don’t knit socks.

For a moment, I was taken aback.  “Well… erm… you know, they don’t have to knit socks with it,” I said.

“They don’t?” She was genuinely shocked by the revelation.  “But it’s sock yarn!  You called it sock yarn!”

“Um, well… yeah, it’s sock yarn if you’re going to knit socks with it.  But… it’s just yarn.  You can knit anything with it.”

“You can?!? Like what?!?”

“Like hats, or scarves, or mittens, or sweaters, or…  well, anything you want.  It’s… y’know, it’s yarn.”

“You never told me!” And she actually jumped up a little in her seat as she said it.  “I thought it was just for socks!  I’ve been telling everyone that it’s only for socks!”

So, for my sister — my lovely, kooky sister who has been so supportive but totally doesn’t get knitting — (and for you, just in case you might be similarly confused), let me just clarify:  sock yarn is not just for socks.  It’s only called sock yarn because it’s the right weight to be used for socks, but you can use it to make whatever your heart desires.  Don’t let that label hold you back!

In fact, that’s really important.  Let me say it again, with Center and Bold this time:

Sock Yarn is Not Just for Socks!


The rest of this post is for my mum, who really wants to knit something with my yarn but, so far, neither of us have had a chance to sit down and pick her a colourway and a pattern.  I suspect she is thinking of a scarf, because that’s her comfort zone, but (ignoring everything I’ve just said above!) I’d love to see her try a pair of socks.  I think it would really stretch her knitting skills and, more than that, she’d have a lot of fun in the process.  And I know she finds that prospect of socks a little daunting, so this is the bit that’s for her (and for you too, if you’re feeling a little intimidated at the thought of knitting socks):

Mum, go ahead and choose your colourway, pick up your needles and knit your gauge swatch.  There’s nothing to worry about.  Because we’ve got some blog posts coming up in the next couple of months that are going to take you by the hand and guide through starting off as a sock knitter.   It’ll be good — trust me.

And, Mum…  you are going to love sock knitting!