Sprial sock, complete  

Pattern: Swirl Socks, by Sulafaye

Yarn: One skein of hand-painted merino fingerling (or maybe sport-weight?) wool from Traveling Rhinos, color: Northport, 440 yards. I bought this last year at the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn [see the yarn in skein form here]. This year’s fair is coming up again in June, if you’re interested.

Needles: No. 2 Inox DPN, set of 4

Project began/ended: Started March 18, ended April 27, or a little over five weeks.

Notes and Modifications: First off, yarn review: This yarn has a ton of yardage. I had a lot left over, and the legs of the socks are pretty high. It’s also nice and warm and wooly, which I liked. (Koigu, which I used for my Berkeley socks, felt oddly crisp, and un-wool-like. However, Koigu feels great on the feet, so who knows?) The socks seem like they’re be nice for hanging around the house in the winter, or wearing when it gets cold. They’re hand-wash only, which is probably why they’re more wooly feeling than my other socks, and are nice and soft. The bad part about the yarn is that there were definitely spots where you could see that the dyer had tied the yarn in a skein for dying, and so there were white bits that showed up randomly throughout the skein.

As for the pattern, it’s great. It’s a nice way to break up hand-painted yarns, while remaining fairly simple. I also liked the sculptural quality of the raised stitches on a stockinette background. The pattern called for DK yarn and bigger needles, so I followed the instructions for the medium size, with smaller yarn and smaller needles. I think my socks are actually a little too stretched out, so maybe I should have followed the large size instead. Oh well. Also, for some reason, in my right-swirling sock, the traveling stitches that form the swirls were less plump than in the left-swirling sock, though I’m not sure why.

I used the crochet cast-on from Wendy Knits, and I used Cosmic Pluto’s short-row heel instead of the one suggested.


Since I had so much yarn, I made them taller than suggested, and it’s pretty easy to hide the increases under the swirls. I think my increases did end up pulling the fabric a little, as you can see in the top photo. Anyway, if you want to increase, here’s how I did it:

On the first, left-swirling sock: Instead of doing the left twist, as instructed by the pattern, slip the first two stitches on the LH needle off. Reverse them so that the second stitch is closer to the end of the needle, with the first stitch in front; knit in the front and back of this (original second) stitch. Slip purl-wise the next stitch (the original first stitch) onto RH needle. Continue on. (Basically slip one to the left as you’ve been doing, and kfb in the non-slipped stitch.) I increased two stitches per row (in the fatter space between the swirls) over six rows, and then knit plain for a few, and then increased at the same rate over another six rows, etc. I tried it on as a I went along, so it wasn’t super well-planned. I did write down at what rows I increased though, so I could try to match it on the other sock.

On the right-swirling sock, you will need to do a different type of increase, because the kfb gives you a raised bar on the left, which is hidden by the swirl on the first sock. So, on the second sock, what I did is slip the second stitch on the LH needle onto the right needle, and now, ALSO slip the original first stitch (in back of the second) onto the right needle. Now turn your work around, and purl into the front and back of that stitch (which is the closest one on the tip of your now-LH needle/your former RH needle), so that the bar is closest to the swirl. Turn your work back to its regular position, with the stockinette side out. You’ve essentially created a reverse kfb. Continue, bringing the yarn behind the slipped stitch. (This sounds more complicated than it is, and will make more sense if you just do it. I probably should have taken photos, but I didn’t.)

Increasing, particularly on the right-swirling sock, leads to some loose stitches and uneven tension. You will need to adjust the tension (or at least I did.) I learned this from Stitch and Bitch, and it’s is a pretty basic technique, I think, but in case you don’t know how to do it: Pull one arm of the loose stitch out until it is big and floppy. Try to figure out where the stitch connects to (in the case of the swirl, it may be the strip between the “v’s,” rather than the “v”-itself). Yank on the bar or the “v,” and continue along to distribute the tension through the adjoining “v’s,” so that the tension is less noticeably concentrated in one area.

One final non-knitting note. I am rather impressed by how New Yorkers ignore all weirdness around them. Pretty much everyone ignores me when I make Adam take photos of my socks around town–though at the Cherry Blossom Festival last week, one lady was heard to say, “Is that a sock in the tree?”–including when I am wearing my socks (and no shoes) in public places. Maybe they just think we’re odd sock feti*hists or something.

Posted in Finished Objects 2008, Socks, Uncategorized at April 27th, 2008.


I went to a talk at the American Craft library last year, and I never blogged about it. It’s a great resource that I had never heard of until I read a story about American Craft, which is a high-end craft magazine.  (It’s not a pattern or D.I.Y. magazine, more like an ArtForum or Art in America, but for crafts. You can read Alissa Walker‘s piece about the redesign in the April issue of PRINT.)

Anyway, the magazine is owned by the American Craft Council, and they have a library that’s open to the public (though by appointment only, I believe) and the library only consists of craft books. It’s really a wonderful treasure trove, filled with a lot of out-of-print books and periodicals. (A part of the knitting section is shown above.) 

The photos below (which are crappy, I know; Adam is the official photographer for New York Minknit, but I took these, hence their blurry and generally crappy quality) show a range of the works they have available, including an intriguing looking mitten book, a chapter from a book about “sweaterhags,” an old French knitting book, and a spread from a funky 1970s needlecraft book.

 books American Craft   


Posted in Printed Matter, Uncategorized at April 26th, 2008.

I’ve been dragging my sock around town, annoying everyone, but putting in a row here and a row there.

Here it is visiting the parachute jump at Coney Island. (My knitting has now visited two of the remaining remnants of the 1964 World’s Fair, the other being the awesome Panorama.) By the way, as an occasional reader of weird pop culture history books and through my years of research for work, I’ve discovered that almost everything was invented or debuted at a World’s Fair, including Belgian waffles, air conditioning, various electrical gadgets, and ice cream cones. Whenever someone wonders when the first “______” came about, if you answer “The World’s Fair!” you would, I think, be right at least 75% of the time.

I also made it pose next to many different types of magnolias, tulips, and cherry blossoms  at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, (and one patch of neighborhood jonquils). It’s like the gnome! It’s everywhere!

This is a small little yarn store in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Midwood, which is a short drive away from Coney Island. Adam and our former co-worker, Seltzerboy (pictured) wanted to eat pizza at Di Fara. (If you click through on the links, you can read about how the two of them are fanatical about Di Fara. I was the victim of much eye-rolling when I suggested that Di Fara should institute a line, instead of the free-for-all pizza ordering system they they currently have.) It’s just a neighborhood yarn store, with Red Heart and Patons, and similar brands, rather than the more high-end yarn stores in Manhattan or other parts of Brooklyn. It is, however, devoted entirely to yarn, unlike a lot of similar neighborhood stores, which tend to be a catch-all of fabric, yarn, Bedazzlers, and other craft supplies. I am guessing that they developed this inventory–of more inexpensive, and often acrylic, yarn–by observing customer demand, though I wonder if it would benefit (or hurt) the store to carry more boutique lines of yarn as well. Their inventory is so similar to that of Michael’s or Jo-Ann’s that it lacks any stock that might give it an advantage over those big-box craft stores. It may be, however, what the neighborhood wants, and a store carrying Koigu or Malabrigo might be seen as too expensive or too snobby by its customers. I don’t know; that’s just my guess.

Stitch N Stitch

1320 Coney Island Ave.

Phone: (718)-692-0100

This was on the same block, and I think it might be owned by the same people who owned Roxy Yarns, but I couldn’t find Roxy Yarns. Perhaps both stores are moving? I liked the name: “You’re SEW materialistic!”

Posted in travelingproject, Uncategorized, Yarn Stores at April 20th, 2008.

Sometimes, I hate learning new things. I like doing things the way I always have, and assume, grouchily, that no new way can be better. I am, however, determined to try all of the different ways of how to knit a sock, and this pattern (Swirl Socks by Sulafaye), required learning how to knit toe-up. After some frustration trying to learn Judy’s magic cast-on, I went with the crochet cast-on, and I was amazed! It was so easy!

Combined with thicker needles (size 2) and sport-weight yarn, these socks have been flying along. I’ve become a total toe-up convert. That first progress shot (above) was after just five days of knitting. Probably, if I thought knitting taught life lessons, I would now say something about the importance of learning new things without fear.

I went on a business trip to Cincinnati this week, which entailed lots of airport waiting, and thus, lots of knitting. Something about getting to stay in a hotel suite still feels glamorous to me. Traveling for work–even if just to Ohio–seems so sophisticated! And a hotel suite without all the household chores of home meant more knitting time.

By the time I came back to New York, all the bulb flowers had blossomed. I had enough yarn to make these socks even taller and into knee-highs, but I had been knitting just this sock all week, and I got bored. Sometimes, when I read difficult [read: not particularly plot-driven] and long books, I get physically annoyed with the book. I remember reading Gravity’s Rainbow one summer and hitting the book against our dining room table. My dad looked up, and I was like, “This damn book won’t end!” It was slow-going in the beginning, and I seem to recall that the book was actually fairly interesting in the middle, but by the end, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was like, “End, you stupid book, end.” I got that way with this sock, and just bound off mid-calf, with yarn left (I had pre-divided the yarn into two balls), because I couldn’t deal with knitting more of it. That’s the beauty of socks, though–you can just stop when you’ve had enough.

I had never seen this kind of flower (above) before. They looked like they were cut out of crepe paper, but they were real. The rectangular ends of the petals were what made them seem fake–most flower ends are tapered, but these look like they were snipped off neatly. If you know what kind of flowers these are, leave a comment.

Off I go to cast on for the second sock.

Posted in Socks, travelingproject, Uncategorized at April 6th, 2008.