Tale of a Mom

Once upon a time there was a little girl whose mother passed away when she was just a bit older than 3.  Her mother was kind, and an experienced sewist and embroiderer, novice quilter and sometime knitter.  She taught her little girl all the nursery rhymes as she embroidered them onto quilt squares for her best friends son.  When she was ill, she sent home jelly packets from the hospital for her children’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  And later, when she passed, various people put things away in an effort of safekeeping them for some time later down the road when the little girl would grow older and appreciate them.

I was that little girl.  This past month, I have been focused on helping my mother-in-law with some things going on in her life and right there in the middle of it my grandmother sent me a package.  It was a pretty decent sized box and most of its contents were things from my mother.  There are dolls, and their clothes cut out on the pattern pieces but not yet assembled.  There are vintage quilting magazines with barely the spine broken in.  There are older cork and spring embroidery hoops.  But perhaps the most sentimental of all, there are her knitting needles, her cut out quilt block pieces and her pencil drawn embroidery layouts with notes taken on what colors to use.

Now a couple of these really stand out to me.  The embroidery designs are actually quite similar in theme to a plan that has only gotten to background fabric bought for my own floral embroidery quilt plans.  I am not planning to copy hers and see where it goes from there.

Secondly, my own baby quilt was a cheater fabric quilt of reds and blues and is now at the so fragile of fabric stages you don’t wash it, just hang it outside from time to time or keep it stored away.  There had been a few murmurs at times that my mother was planning a different quilt for me, and I have to wonder… are those 21 purple butterfly wings meant for me?

And that is how moms, and grandmoms too keep looking after their little ones even on into their 40s.

P.S. I did finish the qualifier and round one of Sock Madness also but this post is just for my Mom and you will have to wait for sock pictures!

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The Sequel to Socks

Way back in April of 2010, I made my first pair of socks. They were rather boring beginner simple socks; long ribbed cuff and plain stockinette stitch feet.  I didn’t really understand about gauge and seaming so they didn’t fit me very well and so the first sock was an experience, and the second sock was… a chore.  This is apparently a pretty common issue with socks.  Common enough they call it Second Sock Syndrome.

In 2012, I actually spent the whole year knitting Christmas Stockings.  This safely avoided the problem because this meant there was only ever ONE of a sock.

But I’d see some absolutely stunning looking socks people would make, and I’d have this internal debate on if I dare try socks again.  Well… reddit knitters do monthly knit-a-longs, and for the month of April… it was socks.  So I jumped in with two feet!

I knit these two at a time from the toe up.  And when I tried to explain the method to the non-knitter Ben he looked at me like I was a witch.  (Think Monty Python “She’s a Witch!” not Salem Witch Trials)  So I’ll try to explain and if it doesn’t make any sense to you either, you can just skip ahead to more photos.

Basically you have two needles (circular or double pointed) with your sock toe stitches split so that your top/front of your socks is on one needle and the back/bottom of your socks in on the other needle. If you are using double point needles you’d need a third needle for working, if you are using circulars then you just need two with decent length.  It may help to have two of differing colors or materials so that you always knit back onto the same circular you are knitting off of and don’t grab the wrong needle.

Two Toes on Two Needles

Two Toes on Two Needles

So in the photo above let’s say that’s Sock A on the Left and Sock B on the right and my yarn is at the right sides of the socks.  I’d first knit the front of Sock B (right)  Then set that yarn (Sock B Working yarn) aside and pick up the other yarn (sock A working yarn) and knit the front of sock A (left).  Then you turn the work so you can work the backside of your socks.  Since you turned your work over, now Sock A is on the right, and Sock B is on the left.  Work the backside of Sock A, swap back to the B sock yarn, then knit the Backside of Sock B.  Turn your work and you are back at the beginning of the process, ready to knit the fronts again.

So you have two yarns going to your needles, each for its own sock, which are growing out from some toes.

Toe-taly Awesome Two at a Time

I’m Toe-tally over Second Sock Syndrome 

Now there are a few ways people go about their two at a times.  Some people work one sock per ball and have two balls of yarn either store bought OR people divide their yarn by weight.  And then there is how I did it…. I wound my hank of yarn into a center pull ball  (Using my ball winder I got with Christmas money!) and did one sock from the yarn at the center, and one sock from the yarn around the outside.   I decided to go that route because my yarn was a recycled yarn of which I had 340 yards and I do not own a scale. The pattern itself was calling for 350 to 400 yards so I was a bit nervous I might have to make my socks a wee bit short, which was another vote for doing my socks two at a time.

I am rather pleased to report that these second set of socks came out just fine, at mid calf length with plenty of yarn left.

And while I am reporting on things… I did need to stop at a yarn shop for needles, so I managed to get out to Serial Knitters in Kirkland, WA and they were very helpful and it looked like they have a nice selection.  They offered me needles in Nickel plated or Brass and quite frankly I had to ask what the difference is.  Nickel plated is a very smooth and slick option.  The Brass has a bit more grip, but smoother than the wood or bamboo I’ve used.  I think, but I can’t seem to find a link that specifically mentions it that the reason the Brass grips a bit more has to do with the tarnish it picks up from the oils in your hands.