Am I there yet? Am I there yet? How much further? Try on sock…not quite enough. Or if you don’t wish to encourage ladders, you measure your foot then measure the foot of the sock. Part of me is very ready for the toe, but once I finish that I will be knitting sock #2. But as I knit, I do get the anticipation of getting to the toe.

I’ve got about two more inches of knit, knit, knit, knit, knit, knit, purl, purl nine times over as I continue making a foot. I enjoy this part because I know the end will come, but I do find it helps if I listen to a story on cd or have some other non-taxing distraction. It has been a useful way to listen to books on tape I might not have read otherwise.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy books, and read romance and murder mysteries with zeal and vigor keeping me up until the wee hours of the night. However, my periscope is looking like a sock, so that even the kids get it on their second or third try.  And the important thing is, I’m making progress. Image

 

Some days that progress seems slower than others, but each stitch in each row makes the sock. And when it is done, I get to wear my new socks! Or I get to chose someone to give the socks to as a gift. I’m considering my aunt, as I think she could benefit from them, and she likes green as much as I do, if not more. Alas, I hope they fit me. I want to wear them when it starts getting chilly out.  

The fun part of making socks, is thinking how are my feet going to feel in these. New socks have absolutely nothing on hand-knit socks. I’ve mentioned it before, but there’s something very special about wearing 1,000 little hugs for the feet. Part of me wonders though, if it wouldn’t be more accurate with 10,000 little hugs for my feet. Next, I get to come to the toes and begin reducing.

Mentioning the pattern here, as I normally do…I again, must repeat myself. This pattern is certainly for the advanced knitter, as it tells you to knit to a couple inches from the length of your foot and begin reducing. The good advice I received about this was once your pinky toe disappears, it’s time to begin reducing. I’ll use it, but I’ll be measuring my foot and hoping they’re what I want when I get finished.

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Why I knit in Class

May 24, 2013

I knit in class. When I was a child, I would never have dreamed of knitting in class, or doing anything outside of coloring or daydreaming during the school day. Now, I walk into classes of various natures, check the notes left for me, wander the room, hoping to notice where some of the things I’ll need are located. The most organized teachers have ninety percent of my needs on their desk. Some put something in each corner. Each day has become an adventure.
Some days are adventures in a dull sort of boredom, Image     unless the students require your attention or are testing. If you are not an expert on the subject, you will be bored and may need something to do to keep from being a disruption in class yourself. After all, some days, you send more students than other days to the principal’s office for exactly that.
What is a substitute teacher to do? This one knits. Some read, some may crochet. I have not found I can give enough attention to writing or much to reading in a roomful of students. Some days, I don’t touch my bag of tricks. Other days, when I can’t find the book the teacher wants me read-aloud, I pull out my own book. Some days, I get a spare ten minutes at the end of the day, and I take out my knitting and demonstrate for the kids. Other days, I can only knit on breaks. But it keeps my hands busy and fills my time, and gives the students a buffer in order to approach me.
Of course I smile, but a shy student may forget they’re shy when they just have to know what you are knitting. Or another student may raise their hand and ask once they notice. Then we can have a short discussion about knitting, including the inevitable, “Will you make one for me?” to which I must answer, “No,” as gently but firmly as I can. In the meantime, I can use knitting to teach history-they used to make all their socks this way; multiplication–I have seventy-two stitches in a row, if I knit fifteen rows, how many stitches have I knit. If I get big enough numbers, I can show them how socks are 1,000 little hugs for my feet, or more. When I create video game characters, I observe interest in a craft some generations try to forget. I also teach reasoning through following directions, even if they are the same over and over again. I am sure my knitting will help me find other forays into teaching, including one-day, after school classes in my classroom. Since more than one student has told me they wish to learn to knit, I think it could become a useful after school class to work with fine motor skills and how to follow a pattern written in knitting shorthand. This is beginning to feel like algebra for socks, complete with complex equations: How much will I need to knit this? If a fourth or fifth grader has experience figuring out equations like this, imagine how much easier Algebra will be for them in a couple to a few short years.

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I had one student in a Special Ed class look at me and say, “I wish I could learn to knit.” I told her she needs about $5.00 for a pair of knitting needles and she should watch a video on you-tube on how to knit. It’s really just wrapping the yarn around a needle after inserting it into a stitch and moving the needle in order to make a new stitch. I long for my own classroom on days like this, so I can follow-up on tips like this. Some days, as a substitute teacher, I get lucky and return to the school, or the classroom even, but I don’t always get time everyday to say, “Did you get some knitting needles or would you like me to find a pair?” I don’t know if I’ll remember to bring a spare pair and a simple pattern with some yarn either. I don’t even know if that student will be there. But I wish to have my own classroom and my own after school knitting club to talk about things women would have talked about in each period of history (a different one for each month) as they sat around homes and campfires and knit. I wish to show students who don’t have a prayer’s chance of passing that they can have a purpose in this world, no matter how simple it seems. I simply want to make a difference in the life of a child the only way I know how: through my experiences and showing them they matter enough to share my experiences with them.

ImageP.S. Anticipation of a toe should be published next week, unless another topic hi-jacks my post once again.

 

Anticipation…

May 23, 2013

Usually keeps you waiting. Its been a busy week, The post will be edited and completed on Friday night this week. Happy Memorial Day!

My socks now look like a periscope. Who doesn’t want to knit a periscope? I’ve been told socks are boring, but I get to have a periscope and stick my foot out of said periscope at some point…. Note to self: cut toe-nails before photo. As for the possibility of painting them, we’ll see what Saturday brings. For now, I have a cute little periscope. I have cartoon imagination;-).

Okay, childish periscope cartoon images aside…photos to come to prove it, I promise. Let’s talk a little about the pattern and more about the sock (I hope). This pattern is not for an inexperienced knitter. This pattern may not be for a semi-experienced knitter. I’m not saying “Don’t use it.” I still like the overall pattern, but a few more specifics would have been nice, such as where to decrease the gusset. I had knit short rows, turned the heel and picked up 18 stitches on either side. Decreases have to happen. In a good sock pattern, the pattern creator tells you where to decrease. This one didn’t.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/vanilla-latte-socks

Left to my own devices, I had to judge for myself where the decreases should be included. One might say, obviously on either side of the heel. Some would say, smack dab in the middle. Some would say, check other patterns. Each of these might be good advice. But somedays, I am a do-er as opposed to a planner. Or in the writing world, a pantser, rather than a planner. I sit down and write what appears on the page. Planners outline, rough draft, and usually make points 1 through 5.

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When I am forced into the torture of the outlined world, I usually hit point 1, the introduction and get a good start on point 2, the first point of my topic. Then I am struck with inspiration or hit a tangent I can’t ignore, and segue into another entire paper. However, this is not a writing blog, but a knitting blog. This entire diversion is meant to serve as an example of my inability to plan a sock that isn’t written out for me. I put the decreases in where I thought they would work. I’m not sure if they’re perfect, but they’re mine.

The next tough decisions must come. Should I rip out the decreases and replace them after research? Most likely, even though re-knitting will occur faster, I won’t. I will likely live them as they are and hope for the best. However, having learned from sock #1, my next question is, repeat the perceived mistake or knit it with decreases in better spots. Knitting with the decreases in potentially correct spots may make me wish I had removed the stitches and re-knit the pattern.

Choices, choices.Image

I must say, I’m a little surprised the decreases weren’t listed, but I did begin this leg and foot of the journey stating that this pattern is not for a beginner. It has been fun, so far. After all, I have a periscope. But I need to turn my periscope into a sock and create a mate for it. I will keep you updated each week as to my decision on this sock and hope for the best in the meantime.

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Still In Love After All These Years.

Turning the Heel

May 9, 2013

This is said to be one of the hardest parts of the sock…and some days, it is. Personally, I think turning the heel is not so bad, but picking up stitches to begin the gusset is tougher in my humble opinion. I’ll likely get to that next week. Though I hope this week does not feel more like a critique of the pattern than an explanation of turning the heel, but they may go hand in hand.

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The toughest part of turning the heel is what are referred to short rows. Short rows occur when one knits partially down the row and turns the work to purl. The best advice I received before beginning my first pair of socks however, was “Just do what it says.” I believe for many experienced knitters, or for those with the conception that a row must be complete to be ready to move on to something else; it is very difficult to turn work in the middle in order to form the triangular or trapezoidal shape needed to hold the heel.

I didn’t show many sock monkey rear ends as I photographed them in previous blogs, but they were knit much the same way, with short rows and turns. Some patterns required wrap and turn methods, which were new to me, but not terribly difficult. Back to the socks, I knit the short rows and made the heel turn, working in the gaps from turning two stitches at a time. I do not specifically recall making the heel this way on my first pair of socks, but I do not recall making the heel of the purple socks the same way I’m turning the heel of the green socks.

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I believe its working, but it isn’t as I recall. How much of life really is? Now, for a note about the pattern, so I can recall this if I make this pattern again someday, aside from the second sock. As I knit the stitches for the first short row of the heel turn, I wondered about the numbers as they increased in increments of 2 instead of 4 or 8, which I thought would make more sense. I do not feel as if I made a bad heel, just not a perfect heel. If I find it’s awful, when I finish, you’ll will likely get to read an entire blog post about ripping out half a sock or worse, half of two socks. However, I will probably live with it, as they’re my socks, and make a mental note to improve the next pair when I finagle more yarn. For now, the heel turn is done, and the gusset is begun. Thus begins the journey to the next blog.

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In the meantime, a small note from an imperfect knitter. Though I will touch on this in the next blog, sock patterns appear to be knit so magically they return to their correct number of stitches as you pick up 12-18 to whatever number of stitches are determined should be picked up on the heel flap as work around the sock. I never seem to manage this, so I decrease as I knit and I will let you know if this pattern includes said decreases or not. This method has worked in the past, but we’ll see how it continues until I find the magic method, or decide ‘Clearly  one of us has underestimated the other.’

Coming to a Heel

May 2, 2013

I wanted to be so much farther along on this sock. I had planned to finish the leg/ankle section, knit the heel flap and turn the heel by tonight. But substitute teaching is more than knitting and watching videos…though the knitting makes for interesting conversation and helps keep the kids’ interests…well some of them. So, I haven’t gotten there. As I completed 22 out of the 32 rows I needed for the heel flap, and reworked two of the last four rows, I had to ask myself how much it mattered. I can focus on the pattern and show you what a partial heel flap looks like…photo to be taken shortly.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/vanilla-latte-socks

This pattern provides three options for the heel flap. I didn’t know there were options for a heel flap before I looked at this, but I was taught in the Navy, if you have 1,000 welders welding the same joint combination, you will still get 1,000 different welds. The same applies for knitting. Each knitter has their own tension, their own style and thankfully, their own yarn. They even have different patterns. Here, with three options, I decided I could play it safe and create an easy stockinette stitch style heel flap, which works on a Row 1: Slip 1, knit x…to end of row. or to pick a new style.

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The heel flap is extending 1.5″ or so “up” from the leg section of the sock.

I picked a new style. After shifting thirty six of my seventy two stitches to one needle, I settled on trying the Slip Stitch Rib. After all, my sock is ribbed. And I’m all about trying some new things, so long as its not too overwhelming. Notice, I’m still working on dpns (double pointed needles) and I haven’t attempted a toe-up creation from the sock world…I like to take my changes one or two at a time.

The slip stitch rib looked quick to knit up. The Eye of Partridge pattern was also available for the heel flap part of the pattern, but I decided I may save that for the next pair of socks. For now, I have shown you my progress, and since my other large commitments are easing off for now, I can focus on my sock and hopefully remember to take photos of this sock as I finish the heel flap, turn the heel and create the gusset. If I’m really on top of my game, I’ll get there this week. We’ll see where I get to. I’ve also been selected to call in for jury duty this month. I may be able to knit if I’m called up, but I’d rather be working. In addition, I’m not sure if we’ve gotten crazy enough to call knitting needles weapons, oops, perhaps the term they would use is “Potential weapons.”

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My part-time assistant, Squib, Kitten, and any other name that comes to mind as he’s knocking things over, sniffing in my knitting bag, and stealing my photography set-up. He thinks I set this up just for him.

Now, back to the classroom. I mentioned last week that I have taken my knitting into the classroom. For certain older grades, its almost a requirement. For lower grades, I find I’m more effective if I’m hands on and walking my butt off. I had second grade this morning and first grade this afternoon and once I got caught up on my notes, I just wanted to put my head down on my desk with the lights off as I threatened to do with the kids if they didn’t want recess. They chose recess. I almost did put my head down on the counter at the post office once I sent my charges home. So, for next week, I will have a heel flap finished, and hopefully have turned the heel…I’ll likely have to turn the heel over the weekend, as I find its best to finish in one sitting with few distractions, when possible. Wish me luck;-).