On the Needles : Darjeeling Socks and an Oversized Sweater

I have had this mental image: 

She who knits her own clothing is... a lady of a certain age.
Or dresses similarly to Laura Ingalls Wilder while in her Little House on the Prairie period.
Or... gosh... insert a thousand other negative, short-sided and, truthfully, not very nice assumptions here.

And I was wrong..

Below I am wearing an outfit that I styled and I knitted two pieces of: The sweater and the socks. And I don't feel the least bit like Laura on the Prairie. I feel feminine and modern and stylish and.... like me. The woman who wears tutu skirts and hair bows and hiking boots. The lady with the platinum pixie cut and the bold red lips and mixmatched earrings. 

oversized sweater chunky yarn eat me blog

I included this second image because the sweater is far from perfect,.  It was a pattern suggested by Anne Weil of Flax and Twine {who has an amazing book on arm knitting and a beautiful blog}. In fact, this sweater, originally from the Eat Me Blog is a free pattern that was my first attempt at knitting a sweater.

The pattern, being free, is...
What's the saying? You get what you pay for, right?

It's a good start of a sweater pattern but the author leaves lots of details out especially for the beginner level that she claims that this is.

For example she says, "Stitch the pieces together."
To which I ask: "How exactly DOES one stitch sweater pieces together?"
"Will I have enough yarn to do said stitching?
"What kind of... what is it called... connection stitch thing  does one do for stitches?"

Insert multiple {LOTS} of other questions here. But the truth is, it worked out.

it's far from cute but it makes a perfectly cute outfit.

Photo Nov 17, 1 53 50 PM.jpg

And the socks:

I started them on vacation on the Oregon coast (if you're in Cannon Beach you MUST make a trip to Coastal Yarns} They started with a new -to-me, super tricky cast-on. I LITERALLY started and re-started these socks seven times but I'm super happy with how they turned out. And they're the second in my personal Stepping Stones Challenge. 

darjeeling socks stepping stones socks for knitters



If you're celebrating Thanksgiving today - I hope you are enjoying friends or family or food. In whatever order you prefer. And if you're not - happy Thursday - may you have lots of interupted creative time.

On the Needles : Stepping Stones Socks + A self-challenge

Once upon a time I was a new baby knitter. I had just married, had no clue what my career direction was going to be in life and was trying to settle down into a new town. When I realized there was a wonderful yarn shop {Mockingbird Moon} a door down from where I would occasionally grab a coffee I finally got the courage to go in and immediately fell in love.

Puppy love.
Love that makes you do stupid stupid things like knit with baby alpaca fingering weight yarn when your only previous knitting experience came from the extra bulky skein you got at the big box store. {For non knitters - starting with fingering weight yarn is the equivalent of a teenager immediately deciding to race in the INdy 500 as soon as they get their driver's license,).

However, I persisted and got pretty good. For the first six months I was making hats (easy), experimenting with colorwork (not so much) and even tried my hand at lace (not so much-er). And then summmer came and, like Sandy and Danny I realized I was merely in the throws of a fling. Only the opposite season {because knitting in hot humid arkansas weather is...ugh.}

It was during this first fling though that I bought the book "The Knitter's Book of Socks" by Clara Parkes. I've since learned that Ms. Parkes is kind of a huge deal in the knitting world but at the time I was simply enamored by the cover and the thought that one who knits should probably learn how to knit socks at some point.

Long story short: I knit this pattern in a totally different multicolor crazy yarn. There were precious and then they accidentally got put in the dryer and I spent way to much time making myself feel ridiculously guilty.. I then put away the sock book because obviously I was not a responsible enough adult to handle the making and not shringking of socks.

Photo Nov 16, 12 01 30 PM.jpg

Fast forward four years later and the beautiful book called out to me again. Again I found myself in Mockingbord Moon with beautiful fingering weight yarn {deatails below} and tiny little needles and a desire to give it another try. 

And try I did. I don't remember the exact details but I vaguely recal that I had a one-osh year old who put evrything in his mouth. And then down somewhere... with not particular rhyme or reason behind the somewhere.

I am a somewhat grown up adult and have a habit of doing this annoying pick up/ put down/ no rhyme / reason ting myslef so I understood it. but it turns out that when our powers combined I went a bit crazy. I finished one sock and I misplaced a second of five needles (one generally needs five needles to knit socks} and I gave up.

For a year, the one sock and one cuff languished in the dungeon that I refer to as my craft closet because I didn't have the desire to go buy another set of tiny needles only to be annoyed again.

Until I did.

Two year olds are slightly better at understanding the "mine" vs "yours" component of ownership and the yarn was just so pretty. 

The best part is the process that had taken me weeks of frustration for the first sock took only a few days. I actually started working on them on a Sunday evening that Ryan went off on a work trip and was done by the time we were both on the Oregon coast less than a week later.

And as I carried and read this sock book with my across the United States I realized I really wanted to knit my way through this book. Socks are portable. They're a small project but each are challenging in it's own way. Through this book I will be able to practive cables and lace and increases and decreases and reading patterns and charts and figuring out the mystoery of actually making something that needs to fit onto a human body part.

I realized that socks will make me a better knitter and that is my goal.
Plus they are ridiculously cute.

Photo Nov 16, 11 52 21 AM.jpg
  • Yarn: Hedgehog Fibres {I dare you not to go to this site and not buy all the things}
  • Color: Fool's Gold
  • Pattern : Stepping Stones
  • Source: Knitter's Book of Socks, Clara Parkes
Photo Nov 16, 11 51 25 AM.jpg

This is pair one. I have finished but not photographed pair two. And apir three (mentioned in this previous post} is currently a solo sock with my goal to finish them by thanksgiving... which is officially seven days away from my writing of this post. {Oh, and I'm recovering from eye surgery. Remember the Indy 500 example above?What do I get myself in to?} 

That may or may not happen. 

But when I does, I will let you know. 

In Praise of : $1000 Socks

Conversation with My Hair Stylist

Me: I'm knitting my brother a pair of socks for Christmas. I think I will put a price tag on them:

  • Cost of beautifully dyed wool : $40
  • Hours spent knitting beautiful wool : 20 {at least}
  • Approximate cost per hour of my skill level: $25-ish

Wholesale cost of socks : $540
Retail price of socks: $1180

The tag would go on to read:

"These are expensive socks. If you don't have the decency to hand wash them and I hear that they were shrunk in the dryer, I may never speak to you again.
Love, Your Big Sister."

The beginnings of said socks.

The beginnings of said socks.

We went on to laugh about how lots of people don't fully realize the time and effort and energy that goes into a handmade item. And the fact that there is no way to make truly "affordable" homemade gifts. As women who have both been in business for ourselves we then concluded that knitting was not the business to be in.

Me: Which is why I think I want to get more into knitting. Because it's not a business model. It's not something to be monetized. It's not a thing that one makes a small business plan like every other creative thing I've tried to do since I was a kid trying to sell friendship bracelets on the playground.

Her: {Sarcastically kind} That's a novel thought- not doing something for the money but for the sheer enjoyment.

That conversation happened earlier this month. It's been brewing around my brain for a while but it took a bad joke about thousand dollar socks to really solidify it. 

The thing is, when I again became a full time stay at home mom earlier in the fall, I was on the precipice of some major creative burnout. The tea towels were selling really well and I had a customer base that was really excited about it and ideas about how to really work with the seasons and wholesale potential. All good creative juice things.

But I wasn't enjoying it.

The numbers weren't adding up (my profit margin wasn't too good) so I was spending lots of admin, marketing, production time and had hardly any creative time. While I loved going to my local farmer's market once a month, I knew that my family situation (busy executive husband, cute but energetic toddler) wasn't at a place where I needed to be on the full time craft fair circuit. 

So when the Universe forced me to put down the paint brushes to take care of my son, I did so willingly. There was no kicking and screaming and resisting. There was a transition period where my introvert-ness had to become more used to constant toddler chatter but that was it. Once we both adjusted to out new schedules life went, and currently is, going just fine.

And I am knitting. I described it to my brother {same as above} as the perfect toddler mom activity. I knit while he plays or naps or chases the dogs or eats whatever cereal he's obsessed with today. I knit before his gym class starts and I knit in the ten minutes before I pick him up from his twice a week morning pre-k program.

This knitting is "doing" and "making" in a similar vein that painting was to me. It's fills the place in my heart {soul? brain? hands?} that knows that I'm a maker and a learner. I am the person that loves a creative challenge and both painting and knitting do that for me. Both require me to stop and think through various sets of steps at times, while other times, repetition or muscle memory or the muse is able to go on autopilot and I'm able to soak in an audio book.

But where painting was sedentary knitting is mobile. Where painting required drafting, knitting asks that I follow someone else's pattern. 

Right now knitting {doing it, getting better at it, pushing myself to learn more about it} is where my creative brain is. Right now, making for the sheer enjoyment of making is where I'm at. 

And that is a wonderful place to be.