Category Archives: fleece artist

Toe-up or Top-down?

Which do you do? I’ve been knitting toe-up socks for some time and I have really enjoyed the process. I can now knit any sock using the knowledge I have about constructing a toe-up sock – the toe, the foot, the gusset increase, the heel flap, the gusset creation and the leg. See, it’s all easy – each part has its construction process, and if you follow it, there you are, a sock –  or two if you’re happy with the first one.

My most recent sock, however, is a top-down sock. Why? Because I’m going to the Sock Summit and I figured I needed a refresher so that I wouldn’t seem unknowledgeable in any of the classes I’ve registered for. Experience does count for something, after all.

I chose a very simple pattern called Faceted Rib Socks from the Little Box of Socks which I received for Christmas from Holli. I like the look of the pattern with the yarn I’m using, a 100% merino hand paint from Fleece Artist.

But it has not been a pleasant knit, not because it’s difficult, (it’s a 4 row pattern, easy-peasy), but because I seem to lose attention and after knitting blithely away, I have discovered at least 3 times that I’ve forgotten to knit one of the rows, so that I’ve needed to frog the sock, and get those silly stitches back on the needle. I also lost a stitch somewhere while knitting the heel (or maybe I gained one, who knows?), so when I discovered the missing stitch while knitting the gusset, I had to include an extra stitch so things would work out tidily. I also found that I lost interest as I knit, so that I often didn’t knit more than 8 rows before I would stop, put the needle down and do something else.


My faceted Rib Sock

My faceted Rib Sock

But there are positives. Now that I’m knitting the foot, I have not forgotten to knit any rows, so it’s finally growing without frogging. Small mercies. And I’m knitting using Magic Loop, which is so sensible. One needle, no fussing, no dangling needles as in two circ knitting poking through my shirt and tickling my chest. Although I would change the name Magic Loop if I could – no magic here, it’s just circular knitting in a very logical, mathematical fashion – thank heaven for the person who invented circs to begin with. Now that I’ve begun to use it, I see no need to ever go back to four needle or two circ knitting for my socks ever again. (Although that didn’t stop me from buying a set of five sock needles because they were made of hardened birch – something about those needles said, “Buy me”!, perhaps as museum pieces for my collection.)

So now I have to get back to knitting them. I have to get to the end of the foot, decrease for the toe, do the kitchener stitch on that, and then cast on all over again for the second sock. At least this time, it should be less knitting, because I won’t have to knit the two extra inches I did the first time before I realized, after frogging, that the sock was perfect at the shorter size.

Stitch detail

Stitch detail

 To get back to the question I asked at the beginning – top-down or toe-up? Well, to juggle language a little, toe-up wins hands-down. It’s easier for me because I have control over the length of the foot, I love using Turkish cast-on for the toe, and I really like not having to pick up stitches. Okay, I admit it, it wasn’t that hard to pick up those stitches, but it was still something I can do without.

Gusset detail

Gusset detail

What did I learn from my top-down sock experience? Well, yes, you can still knit it using Magic Loop; I learned a new cast-on for me, Twisted German Cast-on, which does give a good stretch to the cuff of the sock; I didn’t suffer too much from having to pick up some stitches, even if I did lose a stitch somewhere or other. I also learned that I have a rather limited attention span, and need to focus just a little better when I’m knitting so that I don’t forget to knit a row every now and again.

Cast on edge

Cast on edge

Another view of the cast on edge

Another view of the cast on edge

But the most important thing I learned? I really love knitting toe-up socks and I’m going right back to it as soon as I finish this pair. Yes, I can knit top-down, but darned if I have to. Thanks to Wendyknits, Cat Bordhi and all those others who went ahead and figured out how to knit our socks from the toe I know that knitting toe-up is the more pleasurable experience for me. And if it isn’t a pleasure, why do it? That is the question and the answer is obvious – don’t do it.


Victoria Fibre Fest 2008

There’s nothing like spending a weekend with yarn. This past weekend, June 21 – 22) was therefore a real treat. With my step-daughter Holli, I travelled over to Vancouver Island on the Spirit of Vancouver Island, one of the newer ferries in the BC Ferries fleet, where we did a little knitting after gorging ourselves on the Pacific Spirit buffet. We arrived in plenty of time so after getting ourselves settled in our accomodation, we made a fast trip to Bee Hive Wool Shop to check out the possible merchandise.

I couldn’t resist some lovely Fleece Artist yarns which were a steal at $11.00 for 100 grams of lovely coloured Merino 2/6 sock yarn – one in green tones and one in brown/pink tones, which will look lovely on my feet.

I couldn’t spend much more though because I needed to save some money for the Knit Out on Sunday, or maybe just Saturday when I was free. Holli and I enjoyed poking around though because I was looking for ideas for a sweater I’m planning to knit once the one on the needles is done. I found some good candidates, so I’ll be looking again in Vancouver when I’m ready.

On Saturday I had some time to spend before I met up with a couple of knitting folks from the GLBT knitting list, so I poked around on Government Street where I saw this shop.

Sweaters by First Nations Canadians have been part of the knitting heritage of BC for a long time.

Finally the hour came and I walked into the QV Cafe and immediately spotted Chris. No, I’d never met him before, but the yarn on the table was a big clue, as was his big smile in greeting. Chris and his partner Jeff are travelling in the Pacific Northwest and we’ve been planning this meetup since I’ve known about his plans. It was great to finally meet him and a short while later my pleasure was doubled when Allie arrived with her partner Haley. Allie lives in Victoria, while Chris travelled all the way from Vermont.

(Back: Chris, Jeff. Front: Haley, Allie)

We had a great visit – we talked knitting, we knit a few stitches and Chris vamped with my Hanging Garden Stole which I had brought to show off.

Of course we had to head to Beehive again so that Chris and Allie could check out the sales. Allie got some lovely yarns, Chris added to his collection and I bought two more skeins of yarn, Hand Maiden Casbah – which I have knit with before and at the time swore I would never knit with anything less! I am so looking forward to new socks with these two yarns – they are so delicious on the needles and underfoot.

After our SEXpedition, Chris and Jeff insisted that we visit Butchart Gardens together. It’s a gorgeous place, an old quarry that has been transformed into a Garden of Eden starting about 100 years ago. Chris and Jeff were very impressive with their knowledge of the plants we saw in the garden – they have an extensive garden back in Vermont.

Saturday night saw Holli and I attending the special presentation by Sivia Harding, the special guest of the Fibre Fest. Sivia talked about her journey from artist in oils to artist in yarn.

What’s amazing is that Sivia has only been knitting eight years. When one sees her work, it’s almost impossible to believe that eight years ago she borrowed a video from the Vancouver Public Library and taught herself how to knit. That simple act must have been an amazing cartharsis, to produce the beautiful work she is creating today.

For the Fibre Fest, Sivia was asked to create a special piece – which she had unveiled the night before at a dinner and fashion show. The work is exquisite, and the piece on display was raffled off. Someone is a very lucky person. Sivia’s shawl is called Harbour Lights and evokes images of lighthouses and ocean spray.

Of course there was an audience of knitters in attendance. Here’s a few of the folk who travelled from Vancouver to see the show.

Sunday morning dawned bright and early. My stepdaughter Holli Yeoh had a booth at the Knit Out in Saxe Point Park, so we had to get out to the site to set up her new tent. We did a great job, but it took a lot of work to get the booth ready for the first customer. We were still organizing kits when they arrived. There was a good number of booths at the Knit Out, with lots of opportunity to buy yarns, admire knitting and visit with the folk who came to mingle and buy. I had some great conversations and enjoyed meeting lots of fibre fixated people.

I’d spent money on Friday and Saturday, so I was a little reluctant to spend even more, but I found some great yarn by Rabbitch of Rabbitworks

which I couldn’t leave behind. After all, any yarn named Coffee Bean must have been dyed especially for me.

One yarn which I left at the Knit Out, but which I coveted greatly, was a hank of the most beautiful, natural silver grey, yak and silk blend, lace-weight yarn. I couldn’t convince myself that it should be in my stash without an idea to use it, but now of course, I rue the fact that I left it behind. But I know where the vendor lives, and since it’s very near where my brother lives in Kamloops, I have the feeling that the next time I visit him, I will be doing a little shopping.

Of course no Fibre Fest could be complete without a little fibre on the hoof. I wish I’d been fast enough to take a picture of the sheep we saw cropping a lawn on our way back from Butchart Gardens. But at least someone knew that we needed to see fibre in its most natural state so they brought a couple of lovely, graceful, miniature llamas to hang out with us for awhile.