A silly little trick

On Thursday of last week, two things happened. First, Joe left for a conference in NYC, and I woke up feeling awful. I’m leaving soon for a two week trip out of town, working two gigs (the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival then a few days off, then the November Strung Along Retreat – at last count, by the way, we had a tiny few spots left. Email if you’re in) and I can’t afford to be sick right now, so I did something drastic and amazing.

I took the weekend off.  I know – lots of people take the weekends off, but what’s that joke about owning your own business? It’s awesome because of the flexibility. You can work any 14 hours a day you like.  Both Joe and I have recently lapsed (out of necessity, mostly) into a wild schedule where we work all the time, and Thursday I woke up feeling it, and I promptly cancelled all but two of my weekend plans. One was a bike rally meeting with my Co-Lead – Cameron, you’ll meet him soon enough – if you’re on instagram you might have seen him go by already, and the other was a plea from a friend who desperately wanted to learn to knit. Turns out he’s recently learned he’ll be an uncle, and wants to knit a blanket.

He came over, I drew him a picture, gave him needles and yarn, taught him the premise of knitting (pull loop through loop using stick) the knit stitch, the purl, increasing, decreasing, placing markers, casting on and casting off, and he left three hours later with a top down baby sweater on the needles.  (I’m very good with beginners.)

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Other than that, I slept, knit, and tidied. The whole thing was very restorative, and there’s an amazing amount of knitting to show you, but it’s all blocking right now. Tomorrow we’ll have a festival of finished things. Today though, let me show you a little sneak I do to make sure my socks match exactly – or rather, that it’s possible for my socks to match exactly.  (Sort of.)

I’m knitting a pair of socks headed for the Long Range Planning Box (although Christmas is so shockingly soon I don’t know if we can call it long range) using Opal #8610 that I snagged at the Knit East marketplace from Cricket Cove. It’s supposed to look like a watermelon, and I suppose it does, if you have a wide way of thinking about watermelon. (All that yellow, doesn’t seem right.) I knit the first sock, and I rigged the colourway so it worked out the way I liked.  I knit to the end of the heel, then ripped out a chunk of the colourway so that the pattern would progress undisturbed along the top of the foot. I rip out parts of colourways all the time to get what I want… and usually things work out just fine, but before I do the second sock, I always double check that it’s going to work.

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I knit that first sock, and then before I start the second one, I break out the ball winder. I lay the finished sock nearby, and I start winding. I wind to the place where the first sock began, and then I start following along. As I wind, I count off sections of the first sock – a section of pink on the ball, a section of pink on the sock, now yellow, now green…. I wind and watch, making sure that subtracting a section of yarn from the first sock didn’t leave me with a wrong order for the second.

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In this case, I have more than enough – and enough in the right order.

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(I always weigh the remaining yarn after the first sock, and compare it to the weight of the sock to make sure I have enough- but with long repeats, that’s not always enough to get you a match.) Especially when I plunder a colourway while making a sock for a big man. If it turns out that I don’t have enough, I’ll choose to use the gutted bit from the first sock to start the second, because I think that mostly, the legs of socks are covered by pants, and it’s the feet we really look at. In any contest between matching legs or matching feet, I’ll take feet every time. It’s what you see when they’re poking out the bottom, or propped up on the coffee table. Feet over legs. That’s how I do it.