Forced to Comply

When I said I was going to stick to socks over the next little bit, I wasn’t kidding. There’s really not much else that’s as easy to pack and manage, although I keep looking longingly at the first pile of yarn for the Nephew sweaters, and wishing it was practical on any level at all to start.  While I’m still looking for the perfect yarn for Hank’s sweater, I found just what I needed for Lou at Madtosh, and have been experimenting with a few choice rationalizations for knitting it over the last 48 hours.  Luckily I’m too smart to fall for my tricks in that amount of time, and as of noon today I’ll be out of range of its aura of influence.  I’ll leave it here by my desk, and dutifully put my sock in my bag for Chicago, and maybe I’ll get another  pair of socks done before I’m back home where it is.

Another? You bet. Behold, contributions to the Christmas pile!

Pattern: Monkey. Yarn: BFMA lightweight in a rare gem.

Here’s a dashing little pair of socks (that fit me not at all, but luckily, they aren’t for me, so that’s perfect) finished, admired, photographed and placed in the long range planning box. 


Were I a better sort of woman (or the sort who swore she would do this last year) I would have wrapped them and tagged them so they were ready for under the tree. (The wrapping kicked my arse last Christmas. I’m trying to plan better this year.) These will make a certain someone very happy, and as always,  Monkey’s are easy and fast. (I love the idea of that turning up in a search somewhere. I sort of suspect all Monkeys are easy and fast – not just the socks. Seems to me like monkeys don’t have a lot of ethical anxiety around that stuff.)

Wrapped or not – you can stick a fork in these babies, because they are done – and the next pair is on the needles. 

Tanis Fiber Arts, Blue Label Fingering, 80% superwash merino, 20% nylon, colour: Midnight.

This pair’s destined to be one of the three or four "guy" pairs that wear on me each holiday.  I find it hard to find/buy "guy" yarn, hard to find "guy" patterns, and hard to keep up the enthusiasm for those big feet.  This is of course complicated by the fact that none of the guys in the family have the same definition of guy colours or guy patterns, but that’s a thing for another day. Suffice it to say that mostly they’re boring, and I put them off – and so I’m going to try and bang out a couple of pairs now, forcing myself to comply by only having those projects with me.  I’m also not taking any patterns, so we’ll see what this little experiment generates.  There’s got to be a way to amuse myself.

For now, it’s off to Chicago. VK Live awaits. See you there?

80 thoughts on “Forced to Comply

  1. Love the Monkey socks! And, yes, I will get to see you in Chicago! Very excited about attending my first big knitting event.

  2. Gorgeous Monkeys! Faved. (a bonus to knitters and other monkeys that they are fast and easy LOL!)

  3. I love the Monkeys!! I must try them.
    Good luck with the man’s socks. For me I’ve got the polor opposite. Most of the socks I knit are for me, a man, so I’m used to the largeness. Whenever I knit a woman’s pair, I am always shocked by the smallness.

  4. Love the Monkeys 🙂 My husband has big feet too. Socks for him are always last on my list mainly because they drag on past the point of my interest. My last pair for him was your Earl Grey pattern. They are his favorite in a nice boring brown.

  5. I love the monkey socks. And I totally get the guy socks thing. I have as many sons as you have daughters. And that many brothers too. But they do use and need socks.

  6. Husband with sz 13 feet, two teenage boys with size 13 and 17 feet respectively. I know all about knitting large socks, though strangely, that has failed to discourage me. I also knit socks for friends and friends of friends, and I knit absolutely freakin’ enormous Fishermens Boot Socks in Icelandic yarn or any other unbleached hard wearing yarn I can get. I knit them for sale and they have to be enormous to start with because they are designed to felt and become smaller and even more water-resistant. Luckily they are knitted in fairly substantial yarn on bigger needles so don’t take as long as fine yarn and eensy needles would take to produce something the same size. Love the Monkey socks, may just have to go and take a look at that pattern. Happy travels with your knitting.

  7. Hmmm. Taking no patterns with you. Does this mean you need no pattern for the Monkey sock? You can just bang them out without looking?? I do know they’re easy and fast, but good grief!

  8. I love the blue yarn. It is gorgeous. I am confident that you will find a way to amuse yourself while at the same time create something acceptable to the guys. Have fun in Chicago! Probably the closest you have ever been to my stomping grounds.

  9. Good for you on getting some guy socks out of the way! I’m battling with a pair of guy socks myself right now, and it is just so wise to get them done ahead of time.
    The Monkeys are gorgeous as well–such a pretty colorway!

  10. Just finished off three socks to finish off orphans… voila! The gift pile looks impressive until the november birthdays hit!

  11. Monkey really is a great pattern. And so recognizable! I opened your page and said “Monkey’s!”
    I attended VK Live in NYC in 2011–so much fun (I took your class on silk hankies). So best wishes to those attending in Chicago.

  12. “Guy” knitting is so tough! For my guy, it’s got to be something that won’t stand out, and for me it’s still got to be interesting enough to keep me going.
    Good choice for a road trip where you’ll be stuck with it even when you’re tired of it.

  13. Love the Monkeys and I am so there with you on the “guy sock” Sistah!! I still have three pairs looming for the Yule pile and am just so not looking forward to them. The looks of appreciation from the recipients though is more than worth the effort. I am blessed to have men in my life who appreciate hand knits. So I will toil through the navy pair and the grey pair and the black pair…Each year I try to get a little fancier until I get a weird look when they open it and then I know I’ve gone too far. So far I’ve gotten away with side cables even!

  14. Brave woman, knitting for four men. There’s only one man in my life who gets socks and thankfully, he’s pretty broad in color acceptance. It helps that he wears boots all the time so the colors don’t cause much conversation. And if he waers them to events where he takes his shoes off, he’s too busy bragging that i made them for him. Which is why he has more than one pair.

  15. You are heading my way…..I have already taken all your classes…. hope to bump into you somewhere over the weekend….JAM

  16. I do the same thing — take with me only the project I need to be knitting — but then find new and exciting ways to avoid working on it. I hope you’re more focused!

  17. I love the blue Stephanie, it is the colour of Georgian Bay at Thanksgiving.
    I love the monkeys too of course… but for fuy socks the blue is inspired

  18. The answer to making gift wrapping fast and easy? BAGS! You can buy gift bags in lots of sizes and patterns, they’re great for awkwardly sized or shaped items, and they’re reusable. Just stuff some pretty tissue paper on top, tie a name tag to the handle and you’re finished. No worries about running out of tape, cutting the paper too small, or who used the scissors last and where they left them.
    This gives you lots of extra knitting time!

  19. Beautiful socks! Lucky recipients. And I so hear you on the guy colors–I dutifully knitted a guy color hat recently for someone, but made two just in case, and he totally went for the second one. Dark green, clearly never for him.

  20. Imagine if you will, that almost *every* pair of socks you made was guy-sized. Can you picture it? Welcome to my life.
    In my family, the feet come in large, extra large, and in throw-out-the-shoes-and-wear-the-box size. I’m used to it, and yet…sometimes when I see bloggers posting about their dainty lightning fast girl socks, or when I’m reengineering a pattern so I can knit it in a sensible gauge and have it fit plus-sized feet…I really, really envy people who are smaller!

  21. I’m a first time sock knitter – first pair is on my needles (magic loop, so both at once). I crochet fairly quickly, but, while knitting, I kind of have to think about every step. I think it is because I’m a leftie but I learned to knit right-handed. Anyway, I admire all your work, and I think the blue for the guy socks is very, very nice!

  22. Ooh, love that Midnight! Green Label Aran Weight, here I come, for a sweater for my great-nephew! Machine washable AND dryable for his busy mother’s sake, and that gorgeous color, which will be perfect for his coloring and for me to knit. (I cannot knit with a color I don’t like; I tried with one project in a yarn I absolutely loved but I practically had to blindfold myself to finish it.)

  23. I am currently on the cuff of guy sock #2. 80 stitches around since the guy in question is rather, um, large in the leg department. The only thing keeping me going is the reward of a pretty girl sock when I’m finally done slogging through this.

  24. We are in the process of moving and a boring pair of socks sounds pretty good to me right now. I have put ALL my UFO’s in a bag, and everything else is going into storage, well except for my spinning wheel and some lovely fiber I got at Lambtown, and my loom of course, but other than that EVERYTHING is going into storage and the next month or so, once I’m done packing will be just finishing all the projects that I found in the back of the closet. Embarrassing the number of projects that had accumulated back there!

  25. The absolute best “guy” sock pattern I’ve found so far is Gridiron by Anne Hanson. My husband loves them, it is a very easy pattern but just entertaining enough and, at a four row repeat, you trick yourself into knitting more than you realize. My husband has very large feet, long legs and likes a long sock. So you can imagine how the knitting goes for that and this pattern is my go-to pattern for him every time.

  26. I chose Monkey because you, and several other’s said it was a fast pattern. You were not kidding! And a fun pattern to boot! Though I used the reccommended needle size, my socks came out a bit larger than normal. Wider or something. I love them anyway! And the orange colorway from Happy Feet just might be destined for my mother, who looks beautiful in orange.

  27. Wrapping was also a problem here with all the stocking gifts that we make (which are mostly small and awkwardly-shaped things), so we decided to used reusable boxes from the dollar store for the main gifts. All I have to do now is to put some wrapping tissue paper, the gift and some more paper. Add a little ribbon and violà! You’re done. (And we all voted for paper bags for the stocking stuff – we rip it all anyway…)

  28. I wish. Have a lot of fun for me, as I sit here in the dark…all alone…by myself….knitting acrylic because you said you liked the color…not that I mind…..*sigh*

  29. Paper pre-wrapped presents wrapped too early look rubbish-y, better to go maintain gift ‘good looks’ with bag/box to maintain pristine appearance – ask me how I know. All that glisters is not gold.

  30. I love those Rare Gems, you know? And have you looked at Adrienne’s Simple Skyp Socks for the guys: You know it’s on Ravelry 😉 There’s a bit of pattern to be interesting, and it’s a fast knit.

  31. I’m not on your socks-for-Christmas list, by any chance, am I? I love wearing handknit socks, I hate knitting them. I should start trading handknit and handwoven scarves and shawls for handknit socks.
    Hmm, that’s actually a good idea…

  32. Excellent, you love that Lou Reed quote too! I thought I was the only one who liked the “stick the fork in ’em” line from that song.

  33. Oooh! Love the Monkeys! And they’re fast?! I haven’t been in a sock knitting mood in a while, but this little tidbit of info (and the pretty photo) might put me have me casting on socks soon!!

  34. I can recommend Anne Hanson’s sock designs (well, some of them) for guys. She has her own guy to knit for, and while he is a pretty snappy dresser, he still manages to look very ‘guy’. Of course, have no idea what your own guys require, but if you haven’t, go take a look. You know, those electronic patterns are easy to tote around.

  35. I’ve found a great non-wasteful wrapping method. I buy Christmas fabric, sew up quick drawstring bags to fit what I need to wrap (using twisted yarn “rope” for the strings, and drop the gift in with a quick nametag. Bags can be re-used by the recipient, fabric can be recycled, or bags can be returned to me (which is what usually happens) and used again the next year–which reduces the number I need to make each year. The bags & fabric also take up much less space than wrapping paper/ribbon/bows/etc.

  36. Stephanie, I’ll pass on my own solution to wrapping Christmas gifts to you: fabric drawstring bags! The first year you make em, they will cost you about the same time as wrapping (OK, maybe a little more time) but the pay off comes in subsequent years when you get a pair of socks done, grab a fabric bag (in a cute Christmas-y fabric), slap those socks in the bag, tie on a gift tag and voila, wrapping is done.
    I sew a little fabric loop into the side seam as I make the bags so I have something to tie the gift tag too.
    Easier on the environment too and it won’t take you to New Years to clean up the unwrapping mess too.
    Last year I made my fabric bags and kept asking myself: ‘why didn’t I do this 15 years ago???’
    Oh my, I just read the last post before mine and someone else is recommending the same thing!

  37. Oh Steph, i wish i had a job i loved as much as you love yours….nice socks by the way. i want to shut my office door, draw the blinds, and finish my socks! they are almost done!

  38. Beautiful socks! LOVE the yarn. And the pattern seems to go really well with the changes in color. Liking that Blue Label too. How do you find such scrumptious stuff!?
    But Steph… how can you say it!! Knitting is never boring. Yes, crazymaking. Boring, nevah! Maybe you mean uneventful, hee hee :). Right now, I’m having an icky day at work and am craving me some wooly comfort yarnygoodness no matter how uneventful the project is.

  39. Fortuantely, I succumbed earlier today to the lure of the blue sock yarn and cast on — otherwise, I’d have to blame you for that. For guys, Madelinetosh has this very cool blackish green color (which I can’t find on their color page) and a bunch of other darks. Also, all of your friend Tina’s Raven Clan colors. . .

  40. You say this as though there won’t be oodles of patterns and piles of yarn all around you in Chicago. I wish you fortitude with those man socks in the face of fancy frippery.

  41. I agree with amy. Your plan is meaningless as your destination is a yarn shop, where you will be spending hours. All that flirty yarn and pretty patterns, winking at you, whispering to you. . . . Your resolve will fade, and quickly. You may arrive with just a dull pair of blue socks, but you won’t leave that way.

  42. Beautiful Monkeys! The pattern is great, and I am drooling onto my keyboard for that gorgeous colorway!…

  43. That beautiful yarn is ‘just’ going to be guy socks? I can’t help but feel that they won’t appreciate it. (By which, of course, you know that I mean “Ooo, that’s pretty yarn and I want it for myself!”)
    Alas, I will have to see you at VK Live another year. Boo hoo, poor me, I have to go to Florence and eat delicious Italian food and see oodles of Renaissance art. (I also hear that Florence has a pretty kick-ass factory style yarn-shop with much fine merino-silk-cashmere action. Again, boo hoo!)
    Enjoy yourself, and good luck with the sock knitting!

  44. Two words: GIFT BAGS & throw a piece of tissue paper on top. Ok, that’s more than two. Sue me.

  45. OK, not really into autumnal colors, but the color on those Monkey socks? Oooh, so awesome. I am so jealous. I would buy that color in a minute if I could find it.
    Congrats on an awesome pair of Christmas socks! (Lucky recipient).

  46. The socks are amazing, but you know what I notice most? Your amazing pictures! I’m not a photographer in the least sense of the word, so I’m in constant amazement at your skills.

  47. You might like “Java” pattern, from a few years back, in Knitty, for a guy pattern.
    I like your Money socks very much.

  48. For my guys Christmas socks (yes they expect a pair every year) I have made the Laura’s Twisted Bannister socks. I use fingering weight #2 US needles and 70 stitches around. My guys love them. They say that they stay up the best and are cushy. I dont get too bored with the pattern. Happy Christmas knitting

  49. Besides being ideal travel companions, I find socks to be talented calming influences. Yesterday was a perfect example. I was agitated all day. No particular reason but I could not settle down to anything. Finally, I picked up a pair of socks and began listening to Persuasion. Everything around me became much less annoying. I may not have made any progress on my To Do list, I did find some peace of mind.

  50. Wow, those socks are sooooooo nice. I have recently knit just part of my first sock and confess that I’m already obsessed. Monkey socks are now high on my list … they are gorgeous!
    I hope that your sock knitting was with you on the plane 😮 instead of in your luggage!

  51. We’re trying hard not to laugh. Frankly, the idea of YH going to a knitting show and not being seduced by some pretty thing, is pretty funny.

  52. Completely unrelated to your post…. I love your blog and it’s the only one that I’ve stuck with since I found it, so I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed in your first picture that you’re wearing a Claddagh ring, the design of which originates in my home town. Just confirms what excellent taste you have (or my excellent taste in bloggers/knitters? Who knows!)
    And on topic: those socks are gorgeous. Great combination of yarn and pattern.

  53. The colors for the fast, easy monkeys yarn is wonderful. I’m getting the sock itch, too.
    Can’t believe I’m finally going to be in the same city as you! I’m demo-ing in my friend’s booth so hopefully I’ll see you there.

  54. Oh Stephanie…. I’m so excited!!! I finished my first sock last night! I’d been meaning to knit socks ever since the class ended back in August, but I kept getting side-tracked by other projects. Then I started the sock, but it was way too big (apparently I can’t measure worth a damn). So it sat in time out for a while.
    Then last Saturday, after spending the day at Rhinebeck, I was inspired, ripped the sock out, and started knitting it again. I finished sock # 1 last night! I would have cast on for sock #2, but it was getting late, and I couldn’t find the 2nd ball (it’s DGB Confetti – two small balls instead of one larger skein).
    I HAVE A SOCK, and it FITS, and I did NOT use a pattern! I didn’t even read the notes I took during the class, THAT’s how well everything sunk in!
    I won’t be in Chicago until US Thanksgiving, so there. TOTALLY proof I’m not stalking you 😀

  55. Love the socks. Good long-term planning.
    Actually, I read research a few years ago that showed that, for that species of primate (can’t recall which), the females were a lot less promiscuous than believed. When males chased them for mating, they ran. Then they looked over their shoulders to identify the male. If it was a male they liked, they ran more slowly so that they would be caught. If it was a male they didn’t like (spend time with), they ran quickly enough not to get caught. Researchers were surprised to learn that beta males saw a lot more action than alpha males—just far from the rest of the group.

  56. Thank your lucky stars that you have ‘average’ sized feet :/ I wear a women’s 11 (42 in Euro size). I have no one to make small socks for.

  57. The BEST MAN SOCK yarn for me is Zitron Trekking FACH. It comes in lovely greys, dark browns, dark blues – every color looks like mud and men LOVE IT. The company sneaks a little burgendy into the grey so the knitter doesn’t lose his/her mind – but the variations are subtle enough that the male sock wearer still thinks the socks are plain old grey.
    It’s 25% nylon (I think) and wears like iron. I do them up on a #3 needle with a plain pattern and men love them.
    I hate to be the bearer of bad news – but that blue color you have is way too light – I don’t know one man who would wear that – they would call it “light blue”.
    Also – while in your LYS be careful asking for FACH yarn…
    Here’s a link to the colors (with 1806, 1808 and 1810 being the “manliest” of the bunch):
    http://www.skacelknitting.com/s.nl/sc.2/category.17640/.f

  58. Have a great Chicago time.
    If you like popcorn someone should bring fresh Chicago mix (cheese and caramel) from Garrett’s popcorn to you. If I were there, I would.

  59. I like Step for man socks and recently Helical (thanks Grumperina) to use up navy and brown with associated variegateds.
    Lately, wrapping has been plain newsprint with a velvet ribbon.
    Lovely Monkeys. Do they stretch nicely or not due to the biasing?

  60. I like doing really basic colourwork for men socks, normally just on the leg. By simple I basically mean squares in blue/green/brown on black, which all the men I know will happily wear. I tend to keep my plain stockinette handbag socks for them too. My stash has a lot of Opal yarns in male friendly self-striping colourways just for this purpose.

  61. Gah! I live in the Chicago area and I couldn’t make it to to Vogue Knitting Chicago. I’m so sad about that! My budget is happy, but it’s a very small consolation right now.

  62. If you buy bandanas, they make nice wraps for gifts and are reusable for same.(They also wrap a CD nicely)I buy them at the dollar store. The red ones are very cheery, you just pull the corners up and tie with ribbon. No tape to find!

  63. My guys shy away from guy socks. The brighter the better! My last guy pair were bright yellow with dark grey skull and crossbones. In size 12, no less 🙂

  64. Well, I like your guy sock color there, so I would be hard pressed to share that sock with a guy and it would miraculously be sized to fit my much smaller feet.

  65. Fiber Optic always has great guy colors. She’s my go to person when my guys need more socks. Murky man enough for them, bright enough for me to not feel soul sucking.

  66. OK, I had to download that pattern…. I’m doing it in Opal, in the Van Gogh colorway that’s all autumnal. I can’t wait to start them.

  67. Guy patterns: Nancy Bush’s Knitting Vintage Socks. I have a friend who knit a self-striping yarn in railway stitch and the socks turned out positively soaked in testosterone. The colourway was not particularly masculine; the pattern transformed it. I recomend them. (you have to not mind purls)

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