Under the Wire

With my plan for the Self-Imposed Sock Club in place for this year, at the beginning of January I dutifully went to the downstairs Stash Cupboard, and pulled a bag. That’s how it works, the Sock Club, I’ve got everything all sorted into bags, ready to go, and on the first of every month I am reaching in, pulling a bag, and whatever that is, that’s what I’m going to knit. No swapsies, no takebacks, no do-overs. The rules are the rules. I meant it too, except for one thing. I went to the cupboard, reached in, and pulled out this.

Never mind what the pattern was, it doesn’t matter. I looked at that grey, I looked outside at the grey, I thought about the long dark tea-time of the soul that is January, and I thought about my friend Denny, who always says not to knit too much grey in the Winter because it’s just too hard on your heart, and knitters…. I swapped it. I took that bag and I shoved it bag in the cupboard and I pulled another one, and then put that back and then I kept going until I got something that made me want to live a little.

Spring Forward is the pattern, an oldie but a goodie (11 years!) it never stops pleasing me, this one. Looks fancy but is easy to memorize, and travels well as a result. It went most places with me this January.

The yarn is Valley Yarns Charlemont, a standby sock favourite of mine. Wool and silk make it warm and soft, and the silk and nylon mean it wears well.   This one’s the hand-dyed variety – a long defunct colourway, sadly.  It reminds me of tulips and pink hyacinths and other promises the spring holds, once we trudge through January. (And February, and March, and probably April.)

It was a pleasure knitting them – so much so, that this morning, it being the first of February I marched gleefully to the cupboard, pulled a bag, looked at what was inside, looked at what was outside (which is another unbelievably cold day, even for here) and tossed it back again. There will be February Sock Club Socks, and they’ll be worth braving the cold for,  but it’s my club, and I make the rules. I’m off to the yarn store.

PS. Because one of you will ask, the tea towel in the pictures (I’m using it as a spinning cloth at present, so it was handy for the pictures) is from Tilly Flop.  I found two of them in my stocking this year, courtesy of Ken Santa Claus. I love them.

93 thoughts on “Under the Wire

  1. I LOVE THAT PATTERN!!! Oh my God, it’s been years since I’ve knit it, but I remember adoring it and now you’re making me want to knit it again– but I have a baby blanket on the needles, a baby bootie (your Cutest Booties!), a sweater for me, and I need to cast one on for my little Alice. So. Socks will wait.


    (Springy lace socks sound nice.)

    (In pink? Leaf green?)

    (I swear I’ll do Alice’s sweater first…)

  2. Love the sock club idea and love the socks as well. They are quite lovely! Thanks for the post! Happy Friday from Fresno, California!

  3. It is indeed your club! Definitely switch out greys. I agree totally with not knitting too much grey in winter. I’m working through this currently.

  4. I thought, for just a moment, that was Little Lambs Eat Ivy but realized it wasn’t. I didn’t even know this pattern existed, and I adore that colorway you knit it in.

    I think I know what I’m going to do with some lovely midnight blue yarn that I have….

  5. I kove the look of those socks and i just received a bundke of sock yarn. I have never maded socks. Maybe this is the year. Of course there are 1 shawl, 1 bag, 4 scarves/shawlettes and 2 sweaters on the docket, but maybe a pair of socks would be fit in.

  6. LOL! We are in the middle of a huge snowfall and I am fortifiying myself with coffee before going out to shovel again. Your post made me laugh out loud in my cold gray house. I will be casting on socks for my daughter. They are bright pink and brown. I am knitting a hat. It is gray and variegated pink! I love the idea of “it’s my club and my rules”! Just say no to gray yarn on gray days because the heart needs to be happy in January in Canada.

  7. Oh, dear. Stephanie is going to the yarn store. She says she will get colorful yarn for a pair of socks. And she’ll come home with enough yarn for: a new wardrobe for Elliott; two or three baby blankets; two or three wedding shawls; another union suit for Joe; a slipcover for the garage;…;-)!

    • “a slip cover for the garage”, that cracked me up! I’m very sure that she could knit one in a heartbeat, but it wouldn’t be something that could be travel knitting.

  8. I live not too far from the Arctic Circle so I hear ya sister…why not go ahead and sort those remaining 11 bags by month? Then you have the color punches in the everything’s-a-neutral-everywhere-I-look (except the stunning sunrise/sets by comparison) months and the neutrals in the paintbox months when the light is actually bright enough to see the stitches.
    Love where I live but the quality of light even with an ottlite is hard on the eyes…and sometimes SADD. Bright yarn in white months…the rule of the Arctic Knitters.
    Throw some neon stripes or toes/heels/cuffs on those neutrals. Even if they’re meant to be a business dressy sock, none of the men in your life are that sedate…or let their pant leg ride up above their sock tops…neon toe n cuff. A knitters nod to their wild side.

  9. I laughed so hard when I saw the first hint of this on Instagram — in recognition of the pattern and because it’s what’s on my needles. In a variegated pink. Great minds. (I, on the other hand am not done, because for once I’m following my own best advice and knitting a leg and a leg, a heel and a heel, and a foot and a foot to be DONE, so at least the mistakes match.)

  10. Are you telling me that you bagged ELEVEN OTHER sock-of-the-month projects and they’re ALL GREY??

    (Yes, I’m shouting. Looks like you genuinely deserve it.)

    • Am I correct in remembering that Steph bagged the yarn for her sock club when she was in a grey/gray mood? I would say she is now out of her funk and needs to rethink her choices. Maybe eleven more choices from her stash bagged up and ready to go.

  11. Love the socks and I totally agree with the unofficial “no grey” in January, (or February), sock club rule. To chase away the snows and polar vortex I went with Regia Fluormania Color in Neon Ocean for last month’s sock. February will be another bright color, (Knit Picks hand paint Imagination Enchanted Lake), in the Spring Forward pattern.

  12. I am imagining more than one pair of socks’ worth of yarn jumping into your cart. Enjoy! It is TOO cold out there to be knitting with anything less than bright and happy yarns.

  13. I knit a pair of socks in Valley Yarns Charlemont for my son. Such a lovely sock yarn. And just because I love him so much they were knit in black (a major accomplishment for my over 45 eyes).

  14. Can’t wait to see what you chose! I’m imagining some self-striping rainbow, neon or unicorn barf color to get you through the gray days of February.

    I want to knit a new pair of your fabulous “Foot Ovens” to keep me company this month. Brrrrrrrrr! (but I will knit them in a lovely spring shade!)

  15. I too started a sock club inspired by you. It has my top 25 or so sock patterns paired with yarns all set. (Don’t ask I am addicted to socks for backup projects.) Whenever I finish a pair of socks, I look at my options and pick out the next one. There are no deadlines and I can pick what I want, because yes it is my sock club. If I am knitting other complicated things, then I will choose something easier to knit.

    I love my Spring Forward socks. I am currently knitting Paraphernalia to replace a pair that has been everywhere from hiking parts of the Pacific Crest Trail to Stitches West. After seven years it is time. This time the color is a black cherry.

  16. We’re having a heatwave here. It’s too hot to knit (sobs). I am having to find other ways to deal with stress instead.
    So I am a little envious of your winter (though no doubt six months will cure this, and I can be envious of your summer instead).

    But you are totally on the money about not knitting grey in winter. A rule is supposed to be a pole to grow up, not a stick to beat yourself with. So you hit the yarn shop, and I’ll see if I can crochet something in cotton without it turning into a sweat rag.

      • Erk! We’re apparently getting the edge of your heatwave here – it lost about ten degrees crossing the Tasman, but it seems to have picked up a bit of humidity along the way.

        Here’s hoping (and praying) the fires don’t end up like some years in the not too distant past. I hear some NZ firefighters have been sent to lend a hand in Tasmania – fires burning for over a month!!

        • Things are pretty dire in Tasmania, so thanks for your help. I’m a volunteer firefighter in Victoria and we’ve been rather (!) busy.

          • Denise, you are a real life superhero! Our volunteer firefighters in Australia and particularly here in Vic are amazing human beings who do incredible things. Thank you so much!!
            Hoping things stay safe for you all in Tassie too Deborah!
            Bring on the cooler weather.

          • More power to your elbow, Denise!

            Just to clarify, Nikki, I’m not in Tassie – though my thoughts are with them – but in NZ. Here in the Wellington region flooding is more often a problem than fires :-S

          • Sorry Deborah, I realised that after I pressed publish but I didn’t know how to edit it. I hope you stay safe with the flooding threats!

  17. Honestly, Stephanie, what’s the point of having your own Sock Club if you can’t make (and BREAK) the rules when you want to! Actually, though, you did not break any rules, you just modified them to suit the current situation – isn’t that what a strong, viable club does?

  18. I love and dye bright colors, but I don’t dye greys. I saw this and I thought, “Ooh, that’s a pretty grey!”
    I think that probably says more about my week than it does about you!

  19. Perhaps you need to Kon-Mari those gray wools, or at least put them into a stash all their own.
    I love the substitute skein!

  20. I tried to teach one of the granddaughters to knit. We went to the yarn store to pick out the yarn. I was not thrilled with her choice of camouflage-colored yarn, but hey, it was going to be her scarf, not mine.

    We had several lessons over a period of several months with little progress. No pattern, just garter stitch. Sometimes when she wasn’t looking I added a few rows so she would think she was making great progress and not get discouraged. Last time I saw the project (we don’t live in the same town), she had about 14 inches.

    Fast forward, after a poor, or non-existent employment record, she has found something she really likes doing, has gotten two paychecks, is, for once, enthusiastic about work.

    I went to the yarn shop today. Didn’t find the exact camouflage yarn she had chosen, but found something close. I’m knitting a camouflage scarf for her.

  21. Spring Forward is one of my favourite patterns! It is the first “fancy” sock pattern I ever attempted, and now I have several pairs in my sock drawer!

  22. My friend Kay made me socks in that pattern about ten years ago–beaded. I adore them. I hoard them. I wear them when I want to announce to the world just how loved I feel, and I take very very very good care of them. That’s a happy pattern, and the color defiance against the winter is perfect.

    Gray is good for a quiet background against the riot of color that is summer.

  23. Lovely socks! The color is so right to fight the grey days; although I love grey, personally.

    And sometimes, a trip to the yarn shop can make life worth living.

  24. Beautiful socks! I need to decide if I’m joining the Bang Out A Sweater challenge (starts today). I really shouldn’t but…

  25. I LOVE Spring Forward! The fit is fairly flexible if you’re knitting for a gift and it makes variegated yarns play nicely. I’ve knit it a bunch of times and it never gets old.

    • A spinning cloth is usually a cloth that you place across your lap when sitting at the spinning wheel. It helps catch bits of fluff and debris that come off the fiber (and keep them off your clothes). It also helps make it easier to see what you’re doing. I need to make/choose one for myself, because I frequently find myself leaning at odd angles trying to see the fiber I’m drafting across my lap, as it passes different colors in the background.

    • Cloth you spread on your lap to a) catch residual crud that falls out and b) makes it easier to see, by contrast, what you’re doing.

  26. Love the pattern and the yarn, silk is lovely mixed into the wool and so luxurious! I think pink socks are just sweet! I have some in mind and just may start them today!

  27. I would like to suggest for all future sock clubs, that you make sure during set-up to have at least six brightly-colored months, full of yarns you will want to knit in the grey winter. Plan ahead for it, to reduce this need to swap them out. 🙂 (I know, it won’t eliminate the swapping – probability, and all that. But it will prevent you from having 11 grey & 1 bright, when you know that you need at least four brights. 🙂 )

    Lovely socks! And thank you for the good review of the yarn. 🙂

  28. Those are absolutely gorgeous! You make the prettiest things. I love the yarn and the pattern that you chose. I love knitting with grey yarn, but I live in Southern California. I can understand why you would want some color when you live in Canada. No wonder you are all such exceptional knitters. You must get a lot of practice while we’re out hiking and riding our bikes.

  29. The socks I knit are all multi-coloured. No self-striping yarns, but odds and ends pieced together in little stripes or various shapes. (I am right in the middle of a year-long stash busting mission.) They take their time, but I like the fact that every pair is unique. So I could never join a sock club which demands one pair of socks a month. But I totally agree: it would no occur to me to chose a grey colourway in January/February. A friend asked me to make her a pair of socks in what she called “spring colours”. i can’t wait to start them.

  30. A Very Wise Knitter once wrote “there are no knitting police.” Make it work for you — and we’re glad to see some color in winter!

  31. Indiana’s warmer than Canada, except when you share your #%<~ polar vortexes (vortices?), but equally gray all winter. That's why neon-rainbow Pairfect socks were next in my sock queue . . . until a red/white/gray grabbed my attention. I figure I can always switch to the cuff-to-cuff sweater in jewel tones when the red's not enough.
    Only downside to the sweater is that the yarn is a singles, and the way I knit twists it tighter until I have to let the sleeve dangle and remove some twist. That's OK when there's just 10 inches of sleeve, but definitely won't work when the sweater gets bigger/heavier. Can the hivemind suggest a better remedy?
    (I knit what I've been told is a variant of Russian Continental, or combined continental knitting. It works with my hands, and I'm way too old to change my style, but other ideas are welcome!)

    • I’m not sure if this will work, but it’s worth a try.
      When you finish a row, turn the knitting the opposite way to how you usually turn it. That should untwist the twist that you just put in it.
      We need a Polar Vortex here in Australia.

      • It’s possible to put the yarn supply into a closed bag, suspend it from the work, then let it remove twist as it revolves. Tedious, carefully watched, succeeded for me (except for singles).

  32. In my part of Canada winter is white with dazzling blue skies. We’re rewarded with extremely cold weather. The right colour of grey is fine here. While you were typing and sending this, I was at my LYS buying Jawoll Twin – long colour changes. I chose 511 green, yellow, pink, blue.

  33. If I were you . . . which I am not . . . I wouldn’t even put any gray yarn into your Sock Club. It seems to always want to crush your spirit a little by popping up in the winter months (and with so many winter months in Canada, the odds are stacked against you in the first place).

    I hope you found something sparkly.

  34. I’m loving your Spring Forward sox, Stephanie.
    I am now planning to make some for myself.
    My sock calendar for this year is to only make sox for me. I know this sounds selfish, but everyone else has plenty and I need some more!!
    I was going to join in the Self Imposed Sock Club, but have made a pact with myself not to add pressure to my crafting this year. Just ‘go with the flow’ type of crafting.
    Instead, I have made a list of ‘To Do’ (mainly finish) a lot of WIP’s. These involve knitting, spinning, cross stitch and sewing. The first two are of the most priority atm. It has been way too hot to knit or spin lately, tho.
    I’m sure that you found something luscious at the yarn store. Hope you didn’t freeze your butt off getting there. 🙂
    That Jacob fleece looks great. Judith is an International Treasure.
    I have to touch the cat. I’m a cat lover. Woo hoo!!

  35. WHAT. THE . HELL. we’re you drunk when you put that together…… the rule is no knitting grey in in the Month of March.. That’s the rule. But really. REALLY. Are you high? For Fuck sake. Knit some pink, blue green. WHATEVER. Love you, miss you.

  36. I’ve taken Denny’s advice to heart more than once, so no gray/neutrals knitting during the bleak winter months… my heart can’t take it. Currently, I’m knitting robin’s egg blue socks and it makes me happy.

  37. Not too much gray knitting in winter is a good rule.

    I also adore Valley Yarns Charlemont. I haven’t made any socks with it yet, but I have done two shawls. It knits up beautifully! Your socks are lovely.

  38. I like your sock club rules. I just finished sock number one for my son and now I must slog through the other one. They are gray.

  39. After reading this at work, I couldn’t get home fast enough (except for a stop to buy plastic gallon bags) to put together 12 sock club kits. I tried to explain this endeavor to my husband but with little success! Thank you for the great idea.

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