A Valentine

This last weekend passed in a blur, with lots of car rides and movies and family gatherings and I had tons of time where I was keeping people company, and – Well.  I made myself a little Valentine.  I started on Thursday with a beautiful roving from The Yarn Yard.

I split it in half, then each half into singles, then into two skeins of a two ply.  I knew I wanted socks, but I wasn’t sure how much yarn I had, so I started at the toes, and supplemented with some black that I had kicking around.

I knit two tubes, starting with black toes and ending with black ribbing. I was at the movies when I came to the place where heels should be, I just kept going. 
Today,  I put in afterthought heels.

They almost match.

I love them.

Happy Valentine’s Day to me.  Handspun, handknit socks.

193 thoughts on “A Valentine

  1. Heels are a real problem for all my family and after-thoughts and short rows don’t fit any of us, but I have pieced out toes with coordinating/contrasting colors and they look great. Black and red – so very classic! Glad you’re keeping them for yourself. If we don’t love our own feet, who will?

  2. That black totally makes the socks! I am puzzled by the fact you kept knitting at the theatre when you came to where the heel should be. Don’t you have to put some stitches on some waste yarn to hold the place for the afterthought heel, like you do for the thumb on mittens? I have never actually done an afterthought heel, so maybe I am misunderstanding the process. I just can’t picture being able to do this while watching a movie.

  3. You started on Thursday with roving… and today you have socks. I started on Thursday with yarn, and today I have 1/3 of a single sock. Wowza. Happy Valentine’s Day from one of the inadequate masses…

  4. I am always amazed. You said weekend… when I look at what you’ve done.. that would have taken me weeks. Always amazed.

  5. Great socks…makes me want to go home and sit at my wheel. I would never have had it if it hadn’t been for you and Tina…you are both inspiring.
    Must spin for socks…….

  6. Wonderful. Last time you did the afterthought you were out drinking beer I believe. Beautiful socks.

  7. Ooh. Gorgeous! I love the way the colors shade.
    @kristieinbc at 4:32 PM: You’ve got the right idea- putting in waste yarn is the way you’d do it if you had decent light and a piece of yarn handy. But you can also just knit the sock as a tube, then later, choose the location for the heel, snip one stitch and unravel a row across half the sock. Then put the stitches above and below the unraveled row on needles and knit the heel on. Stephanie has mentioned doing it this way before when knitting at the movies. Also useful if you don’t recall how long the foot is supposed to be and don’t have your pattern handy.
    EZ describes a similar technique for putting pockets in sweaters- useful because you can try the sweater on and get the pocket in exactly the right place.

  8. Them’s some foxy socks! Add me to the “can’t believe you got all that done over the weekend” crowd. I’m always amazed at how quickly you can create. And envious, of course. Lovingly envious. 🙂 Happy New Socks Day!

  9. I love them too. A long time ago you explained, really well, how to do the afterthought heel, and I tried it. It worked, but now I can’t remember where to find those instructions in your archives. I remember you had really good pictures too. Do you think you could explain it again?

  10. Love your socks, the Yarn Yard and Natalie – can’t believe she is doing fabric, too. The temptations never end.

  11. GORGEOUS!!! Just lovely and what a perfect gift! It’s the gift of socks AND the gift of time spent on yourself! Perfect for someone who spends so much time knitting and doing for others!

  12. I’m glad I’m not the only person who knits at the movies, but I’ve never tackled a sock there! Also looking forward to working on some valentiney spinning later this week – all pinks and purples and girly!

  13. I love them—a truely Harlot project! RobinH–ok I get both way to save spot to insert heal, but where can you get a basic heel pattern?

  14. Ooo, they’re yummy! I love the soft and bright pinks with the black. I must try that afterthought heel thing – I can’t tell you how often I’ve put aside a sock project indefinitely because I’ve gotten to the heel at a tricky time. The afterthought heel sounds like such an elegant solution!

  15. I love them too. Lovely subtle shading of colours, just beautiful, and so clever to.
    The afterthought heel is ‘one for my list’ of things to try. Does creativity ever stop?

  16. Thank you for sharing your idea of Valentine love. I just needed that valorising of self at just that moment in just that way. Turned it all around.

  17. Seriously?? You started on Thursday, spun the yarn, and knit a PAIR of socks? I can’t even wrap my brain around that level of achievement. I have been working for 3 weeks, every chance I get, on a pair of socks (2 at a time) and I haven’t made it to the heel yet. :-<
    btw…they are beautiful. Happy Valentine’s Day.

  18. Hey, just came back from the Blue Moon site; looks like the Harlot Bump has cleaned them out of mawata for now! Which means my ‘I do everything Steph tells me to do” mittens will have to wait until next Fall. I’m sure Tina thanks you for the business in the 5 second increments of time she has free in between mawata dye baths. Ha! 🙂

  19. Those are fabulous! I wish you had posted this three weeks ago, so I would have had time to do something similar for Hubby. I made him butter toffee with cashews in it, which will have to do.

  20. wow, you’re awesome. i have yet to do a full pair of socks so afterthought heels aren’t even on my radar. love the concept though, and i will likely try it down the road.
    those socks look especially comfy and squishy yummy.

  21. gorgeous socks…..thinking i may need to make myself a new pr of socks…i think the son might complain that i haven’t finished his yet.

  22. Holy crap. I showed my husband the first picture and said Wool on Thursday. And the last picture: socks today. He said, “Now THAT is impressive.”

  23. I “heart” them too. And I’m a bit jealous. All for you from start to finish.
    I “heart” that you share such beautiful creations.
    <3

  24. Your socks are beautiful! Some day I will learn to spin. My pathetic spinning wheel fund is at $35 (American), so it’ll be a while before I get my own wheel. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  25. Your beautiful socks! Can’t get over them! I also really love your green hat on the previous post. You’ve got that artist/intellectual thing going on.

  26. Oh no – I thought the Yarn Yard was our best kept secret – now we will have to learn to share nicely.
    Another secret that you might not know is that Natalie,aka The Yarn Yard, who I am proud to call one of my best friends, is also a staunch supporter of MSF through the knitter’s fundraiser P/HOP. Just pop over and have a look here:
    http://www.p-hop.co.uk/
    Knitters have donated patterns – if you’d like one – download it, it’s free! If you enjoy knitting it, pop back and make a donation – genius! Not an offer you get every day but MSF are better off to the tune of £23,000 and counting thanks to Natalie’s clever idea and the generosity of knitters who know what the pleasure they get from knitting is worth.

  27. Whoa whoa whoa – I read this whole post (love those socks!) and then it hit me: “I started on Thursday…” It was roving on Thursday and socks by Monday?! I know it’s stockingette, but still… Steph, you never cease to amaze me.

  28. @sweatpeajenny at 5:08 PM – I don’t think I could do better than recommend Stephanie’s excellent instructions on the afterthought heel here:
    http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/archives/2007/12/28/an_afterthought.html
    As she puts it, the afterthought heel is just like knitting a toe on the back of the foot. I will say that I find that if the sock isn’t terribly stretchy, the afterthought heel can be very tight over the instep. The first time I tried it, I wound up having to rip it out and redo it- I picked up a couple of extra stitches at the ends of the heel, and added a couple of increases one stitch in so that I was working the heel over more than half the stitches (plus the increased stitches). That loosened things up so the socks fit comfortably.

  29. Absolutely fabulous! I love combinations of black and red, and the socks are gorgeous. Well done!
    Of the feelings of inadequacy this roving-to-socks-in-days business sparks in me, we shall not speak…. 🙂

  30. Okay, apparently I can’t keep what kind of heel I’m making straight for the length of time it takes to write a comment! What I mean is- in a regular heel, adding some increases going into it and then knitting the heel over more than half the stitches makes the heel deeper and therefore looser over the instep.
    In the afterthought heel, I picked up a stitch or two at each side. Then did decreases as if for a toe, but because they’re over more stitches, again, you get a deeper heel.

  31. I want to be you! I have yet to make my first pair of socks but I WILL before the end of the month! Thanks for continuing to inspire me.

  32. Those are some really awesome socks. I just got in to spinning, so I’m not quite up to spinning myself some sock yarn (not that I need more of it…).

  33. I love them too!!!! All the more because upon arrival at home tonight, I discovered my first hole in a pair of hand-knit socks. It was a cruel, crushing moment. But now I see these beauties, and I remember: I can knit more.

  34. Wow! I am so impressed and so jealous! You must be a veritable speed spinner and speed knitter!
    Happy VD!

  35. The wool that you spun is really lovely – softly blending colors. I can’t fathom why harsh black would be your choice for the cuffs, heels, etc. It’s as though you put all this thought into it, and then said “Oh what the heck, any old thing will do to finish it off.”

  36. I love them. Truly perfect from start to finish. (I love the thinking while in the dark and approaching the heels. Just forge ahead and add them later)

  37. I didn’t know you could put in an afterthought heel that way. I thought you had to put stitches on a stitch holder first. Im intrigued! How do you add an afterthought heel when you just have a knit tube?

  38. I wondered why you hadn’t posted a blog update and not even a tweet in 3 days (who me, stalking?).
    Now I know.
    Add me to the list of the hopelessly outclassed 🙂 Gorgeous.

  39. Oddly enough, I spent part of today knitting myself a “One Row Scarf” with yarn I spun into singles a few years ago and 3 plied Navajo style last week. Happy Valentines Day to us. Looking forward to the book. No pressure though. None. None at all.

  40. Oh, what fab socks. They are such a lovely color.
    I spent the weekend darning socks and have a couple of heel replacements on needles waiting to be reknit.
    I always avoid roving that is braided, because to me it looks too matted down to spin well. Is there a secret on how to know that in advance? I was in a new-to-me yarn shop today and they had a ton of those braids. I walked past them all without the hint of a glance.

  41. These socks you made are almost enough to make me take up knitting socks. I want the exact same thing.

  42. I love these so much. That is a great idea. I will have to remember that when I finally get enough courage to do handspun handknit socks myself.

  43. I love them! The black totally makes the sock.
    Can you ‘splain’ what an “after thought” heel is?

  44. So glad you posted this as I really hope it means Natalie will dye some fibre again. I love spinning with her fibre, and I’m just about to finish my last carefully hoarded braid of it!

  45. Oh, WOW – what beautiful, wonderful socks!!! You inspire me to make some 2-ply sock yarn for myself. I always do a 3-ply (b’c someone told me “that’s what you SHOULD do to make sock yarn”), but BOY does that get painstaking. And then I put it off…and off.
    I’m gonna make me some purty sock-yarn – thank you for the inspiration!

  46. Those are fantastically cute! Yesterday I went to the main public library in DC, where I live, and their knitting section was huge! I was able to get four lace knitting books, a Cookie A book and a book on drop spindle spinning, which I’m so excited to try out!

  47. I realize you are very busy, but my curiosity is killing me to ask, how do you add heels after. I can only figure that you would have to cut the yarn- and that is puzzling. In a spare moment would you please explain?
    Thanks.
    PS I concur with the others. I love the contrast.

  48. Just awesome. And lovely, and really, really impressive that you started on Thursday. You inspire the knitter in me.

  49. Wow. Love the socks! And you just started spinning the yarn Thursday?! Amazing. I’m just gonna HAVE to start spinning.

  50. I love your socks! Who says you can’t gift yourself a Valentine? Well whoever said that was crasy in the head. Anyway, love the socks!!! Simply breathtaking!

  51. Super socks! Just beautiful yarn, no pattern… simple beauty! Wear them in good health, and not just on V day!

  52. What bind-off do you use for toe up socks? I don’t know one that I think would be stretchy enough.

  53. Remember there are no sock gnomes who run around and check to see if socks match! Those are wonderful socks!

  54. Those socks look so soft and comfortable. Our weekend was terribly busy and I wasn’t able to knit any length of time. But, even if I had knit every minute I could not have done a complete pair of socks much less spun the wool.

  55. You are truly amazing! I just finished a pair of socks in less than a month and I’m so pleased with myself : ) These look so comfortable – fabulous color combination too. You once again inspire me to try a new technique.

  56. And all in less than a week — I’m awestruck! On my monitor, the black looks like dark brown, so I immediately thought “chocolate covered cherries!” Yum! (for socks AND candy!)

  57. I’ve been knitting socks for 7 years, and I’ve never heard of an afterthought heel! There’s something entirely unfair about that. How many times have I had to stop knitting, because it was time for the heel, and I was occupied with something that only allowed for mindless knitting? I must research how to do that.
    BTW, I finished my second of the SISC socks last night. This is working marvelously.
    This is a really lame question, but how do you store your socks in the drawer? If I fold them like I always did my storebought socks, then one is more stretched out than the other.

  58. From Thurday to Monday? From roving to finished sock? you make me sick … no offense intended … and you had enough to make nearly a whole pair of socks? and it all looks so evenly spun too … you make me sick.
    color me green with jealousy

  59. Beautiful! I’ve only been spinning since May 2010, but I’m determined to spin & knit kilt hose for my husband (and very glad he has shorter shins than I). Your handspun socks are an inspiration.

  60. Still amazes me how fast you churn these out including the spinning no less. Maybe someday I’ll be half as fast.
    Love your class description for Camp. Wish I could be there to take it. I have lots of socks in need of the creative emergency room.

  61. Very nice! I wanted to thank you for your finishupitis post. Something finally clicked and inspired me as well. I’m working on my second sock that has set around for 2 years and making good progress on a baby sweater that was put in time out at least 3 years ago. It’s no coincidence that they are both on small gauge needles. Not only am I feeling good about completing old projects, but I am going to learn from this that I am not meant to work at small gauge or knit sweaters from the bottom up. I’m proving I can do it, but I knit for fun – keep it fun!

  62. Perfectly lovely. That is the nicest Valentine of all:: the colours blend softly, as we imagine the resulting spun yarn to be. Love the black contrast. An inspiration!

  63. I was wondering about continuing past where the heel should be without placing a row of waste yarn. Did you steek the heel?
    ~Confused in Edmonton.

  64. Admiration, envy, cold feet (mine! yours should be toasty). Happy belated Valentine’s Day–you deserve a present, especially during the editing process.
    Going back to some previous posts: I think most people get that in Noah Webster’s day, spellings were still up to the individual; and that he wanted, in the revolutionary spirit of the age, to make American English different from British English. What I don’t get (and I’m American, BTW)is how that transformed into blithely ignoring what the rest of the English speaking world does, both in matters of spelling and the system of weights and measures. Why it matters to your editor is also beyond me. People will be able to understand what you’ve written, regardless.
    If you haven’t run across it yet, I recommend an interesting book about all sorts of controversies in the English language–many grammatical, but also a bit about how pronunciation has shifted back and forth in the past 600 years: “Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language.” Interesting and funny.

  65. Somebody else had a book recommendation about the English language, and although I haven’t read that one, Bill Bryson’s English and How It Got That Way is hilarious!

  66. Just beautiful.
    I knit socks, and I spin sock yarn. Somehow still missing that bit about putting the two together to get handspun socks., though. 🙂

  67. Lovely, brilliant socks. but do tell – how do you put in “after thought” heals?? I don’t get it… maybe I am just thick… do you (gasp) cut the sock??

  68. Inquiring minds want to know: what are afterthought heels and how do you do them??? I’m sure it’s way more difficult than anythin I could tackle, but I’m so curious. Well, ok . . . I’m off to Google. BTW, I heart the socks!!

  69. Nice job on the yarn. Wow, those colors really pop. The black cuff heels and toes are fabulous and also a nice reminder of how I might want to use up some sock yarn remainders (one of these days!)
    I also need to try an afterthough heel one of these days, too.
    I’m always finding inspiration here. : )

  70. Love the afterthought! It’s a great way to work when there’s a limited amount of yarn and enough sense to know it! I like tall topped socks, so it’s an ace in the hole technique I learned from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch.
    Thanks for sharing your knitting passion. I, too, have been knitting longer than I remember, and can’t remember learning how. I’m not quite as dedicated as you (knitting/spinning sharing my creative passion with painting).
    I can say your blog inspired me to knit enough socks that all I wear is hand knit socks. To actually wear the socks I have made… I’m picky about my socks, and I have a nice collection I’m working on.
    Knit on!

  71. OMG — roving on thursday, socks on monday — did you sleep during that time? have you found the. best. energy. drink. ever? or are you supergirl? (i though i was doing well to simply knit ONE boot sock in a dk weight in a single week.)

  72. So I’ve been thinking – have you ever posted a picture of your sock drawer? I mean, it must be awesome right?

  73. oh Wow. A Valentine for all of us, really.
    Or, is it an EVIL Valentine because some of us out here in cyber land may also have some beautiful roving but have sworn off spinning sock yarn because there have been some (several) mishaps and that’s a lot of work for a mishap, but now some of us might think–hey, I need Need NEED to spin some sock yarn and then knit them and take photos, but that’s too much pressure right now . . . Ok, I’m better now. Nice socks, by the way.

  74. How do you do that? I mean – you started spinning Thursday, and now you have socks? If I’m spinning a whole day that makes about 15 grams and 50 meters or so. Am I just slow, or do you have some secret I don’t know?
    Amazing socks. I’d love myself too!

  75. that is beautiful yarn! the green yarn you featured not too long ago, inspired me & sparked my knitting fire! thank you so much. 🙂

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