Thursday, September 19, 2013

12-Step Program for Sock Knitters - Step 12

Step 12 – It is Okay to be Selfish.

Now we can all admit it. We make scarves and hats and mittens and even sweaters for other people, but we make socks for ourselves (or a loved one or two).

My Neko Socks - The only way
I can get him to cuddle with me.
Pattern by Donna Druchunas in Kitty Knits

Since socks are more time-consuming than hats or scarves, giving them as gifts must be done carefully. You don’t want to give away a pair of socks to someone who will either not wear them, or will treat them badly such as throwing into a load of wash with their kids’ grass-stained tube socks.

Do you just hate it when you sit down on the train or the bus only to see the person next to you has the exact same pair of socks?  When you make your own socks, that never happens. No one else has an pair of socks just like the ones you have on your feet right now. 

I think my biggest problem is not with socks, but rather with shoes. We go to all this trouble to make lacy or cabled or ribbed socks in beautiful colors in soft, warm yarns, and then we stick those in a smelly old shoe? I've seen clear plastic clogs to show off socks, but those don't seem practical either. Yes, I have cute loafers and a nice pair of Mary Jane shoes, but it still seems like a waste

So I have come to the conclusion of my 12-Step Program for Sock Addiction. I now realize that I did not cure anyone's addiction to sock knitting (nor did I really want to), but rather enabled you to carry on. Put those needles to yarn, add your yarn overs and slip, slip knits, master the kitchener stitch, and weave in those ends. Winter is coming. Make your toes happy.

So until I get hit with another subject to blog about, it's back to the needles.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

12-Step Program for Sock Knitters - Step 11

Step 11 - Take personal inventory.

What else could ‘personal inventory’ mean but our Stash?  

I have so much stash that I am almost embarrassed (almost).  Don't hate me, but I don’t have a closet -- I have a stash room. 

I married an architect (32 years ago) and so I have a beautiful and unique house. When Ken built it, he actually told me this room was for my craft supplies. So I can blame my stash collection on him -- I was obligated to fill it up, right? I don’t know why he doesn't see it that way.

This is why I am convincing I will live forever because I can't possibly use all of this in my life time. SABLE, right? (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy).  Good words to life by.

The sad part is that about a third of my stash came from my mother's and my sister-in-law's stash when they passed away. It's fun, though, to make something with those skeins because I seem to think about them the entire time I am knitting.  They must be channeling their way through to my fingers, onto my needles, and holding my yarn, because every now and then, I hear my mom telling me I am knitting too loosely, or my sister-in-law praising my choice of colors. 
One of Neko's favorite hangouts
- the Yarn Room

Yes, Mom, I'm done writing.  Back to the needles. (See what I mean?)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

12-Step Program for Sock Knitters - Step 10

Step 10 - Learn the value of patience with the less fortunate ones who don’t knit.

Sometimes, don't you want to just rub a dirty sock in some people's  faces? If you KIP (knit in public), you need to be ready for the stupid questions. The art of patience is the only way to dealing with the non-knitting public. Look at it instead as you are educating the public.

“No, this is not crocheting, this is knitting.”

“Yes, I am making a sock.”

“No, it is not too small.”

“Yes, I know I can buy socks at the grocery store for 1.00.” (But why would I?)

"If you have always wanted to learn how to knit, go for it. There are yarn shops all over the city giving lessons."

"Yes, I believe your grandmother did that. I'm not a grandmother, and yet I am knitting."

“I'm sorry you don’t have patience for this. It is very relaxing.”

I knit in public whenever I can. I knit on the train to and from work. I knit through committee meetings at church that I thought would never end. I knit while waiting for my dentist to finish the patient in front of me before calling me in. I knit while I am waiting for the movie to start and, if it's a simple pattern, I often knit during the movie. 

It is my way of bringing the wonderful art of knitting to the world. I am not afraid of being tagged as 21st century Madam Defarge although I am beginning to understand her. I bet the French elite asked her dumb questions too, and see what happened to them? 

Back to the needles.

Monday, September 16, 2013

12-Step Program for Sock Knitters - Step 9

Step 9: Use meditation to improve our consciousness. 

I have never been able to just sit and meditate even though all the world seems to think this is something we should do. When I am still, my hand itch for yarn and needles. With my eyes closed and silence around me, my brain kicks into gear with my thoughts drifting to knitting. My mind's eye begins to search my file folders of online patterns to determine what I should knit next.  

“I could begin that pair of socks in green with that interesting rib that was on the cover of the new Vogue Knitting” 
“Where is that red yarn that I purchased at the wool festival last year?” 
“Did I use that self-striping orange yarn to knit a hat or is it still in my stash?"

I struggled with my lack of meditation skills for years until I stumbling upon a concept that may be unique to some of us knitters. 

Making socks, and even knitting in general, is a Zen experience. I get enough peace and contentment from knitting as those trying to clear their minds. I knit while thinking about the person I may knitting the piece (or would it be peace?) for: 

  • My husband who has worn through the last pair of socks I made for him; 
  • My friend who is pregnant with the child that she has wanted for years;
  • My cousin who says she looks terrible in hats until she tries on the one I made for her;
  • My son who requested another pair of felted slippers since his apartment gets too cold.
Yeah, this is more my style of meditation. Maybe I can't help inner peace that much, but I can help with inner warmth of the people I love.

Back to the needles.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

12-Step Program for Sock Knitters - Step 8

Step 8 - Help others who suffer from the same compulsions.  

I’ll say it again. Ravelry!

A good deal of Ravelry revolves around knitting socks. I entered 'socks' in the pattern search engine and the count was 27,079, a number that will change before I finish writing this blog entry. There are also groups dedicated solely to sock knitting (839 at last count), not to mention all the articles about sock knitting techniques. So if you haven't tried sock knitting yet, it's time to stick your toe in, and soon you will become a well-heeled sock knitter.

There is something about sock knitting that is truly addictive. Remember, however, that there is nothing wrong with being obsessed with sock knitting. Pick up a skein of sock yarn saturated with bright colors in green, gold, and pink, and try not to imagine how they would look on your feet. 

And what you get cold, what is the first part of your body that feels it? When a chill settles in the air, it is an unimaginable pleasure to slip on a pair of wool socks. Suddenly your feet are happy, the warmth spreading up to your legs on into your entire body. Your toes stop feeling like ten individual ice cubes at the end of your feet, and combine into a single block of warmth.

But then, you already knew that.

Back to the needles.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

12-Step Program for Socks Knitters - Step 7

Step 7: Be ready to remove the defects of our character. 

This one is easy. The defect in your sock addiction character is not trying new styles or stitches. I like to knit socks from the cuff down, but every now and then, I do one from the toe up, or I try a new heel style. There is no such thing as failure when knitting socks.

  • It is not a sign of failure to admit that the sock you are making just doesn't seem right.  (See my post of July 30, 2013) is not a sign of failure to see an error in the cuff of your sock after you have completed the heel.
  • It is not a sign of failure to put your sock aside and come back to it later.
  • It is not a sign of failure to have several single socks finished without casting on the second one.

This is where making amends comes in. At this point, you have to make a decision: Frog the sock and correct the mistake, or let it go and call it a design choice. 

(Please know that I recognize the difficulty of working through a 12-step program and only have respect and admiration for people who are struggling and/or succeeded.)

Friday, September 13, 2013

12-Step Program for Sock Knitters - Step 6

Step 6: Willing to make amends to people we have harmed.  

Simple. Knit them a pair of socks. 

No one can be mad at you if you present them with a pair of self-striping socks in a flattering array of colors with a comfortable rib that fit perfectly. Tears will come to their eyes, the bottom lips will quiver, and they will be without words to express the joy of having a pair of socks that no one else in the world will have. 

Except for a child. 

They only get mad if you give them socks instead of toys. They don’t care how many hours you spent knitting it. They wanted a new video game.

If It's Not Fire, It's Water!

Like most of the people in Colorado, we are alarmed and distressed by the terrible flooding happening around the Denver Area. Our home is safe although wet and muddy. We live in the foothills on a hillside so the rain continues downhill.

However, Boulder, Fort Collins, Estes Park, and all the front range cities to the north of us are suffering. Even Aurora to our east has been hit hard. Colorado Springs has suffering flooding all summer due to the terrible fires of this year and last year, leaving the ground bare and subject to mudslides. Several small towns are completely surrounded by water and isolated.

I have heard that if it were colder, this storm would be dumping about 8 feet of snow on us. It is not unusual to have snow in September here in Colorado.

Three days ago, we were complaining about two solid weeks of temperatures over 90 degrees. Look at us now!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

12-Step Program for Sock Addiction - Step 5

Step 5 - Making amends for these errors.

To frog or not to frog, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler with the fingers to suffer
The strings and needles of outrageous patterning,
Or to take yarns against a sea of troubles,
And by pulling to end them: to unravel, to knit
No more; and by knit no more, to say we end
The heartache of a boring pattern,
To do the thousand natural socks
To frog, to sleep before casting on again,
To sleep, perchance to dream; Aye, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of no current,
What dreams may come?
When we have shuffled off this pattern for lace or cables,
Must give us pause.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

12-Step Program for Sock Addiction - Step 4

Step 4: Examining past errors with the help of a sponsor.  

Ravelry again, right?

You have a question? A problem? I am betting it's on Ravelry. 

So if you haven't joined Ravelry yet, go to and sign up. It's free and fun. 

You show a knitter how to knit and they will complete a sock. You can show a knitter Ravelry, and you'll never see them again!

So back to the needles.  Come back when you can. I'll see you on the other side of Ravelry.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

12-Step Programs for Sock Addiction - Step 3

Step 3: Recognizing a higher power that can give strength
Ravelry, right?

For needlecrafters, diving into the thousands of patterns and yarns and projects and people and groups and advice -- how could anyone go wrong? How many times I have opened my Ravelry link (saved on my menu bar for ease and convenience) to find a new and inventive stitch to use on my socks, only to emerge hours later to find that I have added several new patterns to my library. Then I feel guilty because I should have been knitting instead of being on the computer.  

Here's where the higher power comes in -- all is forgiven for time spent in Ravelry. I look at it as my own form of video games.

More about Ravelry's involvement in my 12-step plan tomorrow.

Back to the needles -- that is, if I can close my Ravelry page.

Monday, September 9, 2013

12-Step Program for Sock Addiction - Step 2

Step 2: Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.  

This means our stash, right? 

Not only do I have enough sock yarn to arm -- I mean foot -- my son's college marching band, I also have enough little balls of left over sock yarn to make enough afghans to keep them warm. And yet I know that if I walk into a yarn store, or type ‘sock yarn’ on an eBay search, or start looking through a yarn company’s catalog on the internet, I will find that magic sock yarn in a color that I have been looking for, OR in a color that I didn’t know existed.  Therefore I must purchase it. 

Hmmm. I am beginning to think this might actually fall under the previous step of control and compulsion.

Back to the needles.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

12 Step Program for Sock Knitter - Step 1

So my first question about setting up a 12 step program for sock addiction is: Is it 12 steps or 6 pairs?

If you have ever knitted socks, you know that they can become an addiction. I always tell people I haven’t bought a pair of socks in twenty years, and yet I have spent more money on socks than anyone else you know (present company out there in the blogsphere excepted).

So here are my 12 steps to sock addiction.  I will be posting these steps over the next several days so be sure to check back often. 

As I think of these, however, I realize I am not really looking for a cure.

Step 1:  Admitting that one cannot control one’s addiction or compulsion.  

My name is Laurie and I am a sock addict. Hello, Laurie

In the last two months, I have knitted eight pairs of socks, and started three more. I have enough sock yarn in my stash to last for two life times. In fact, I am convinced that I will not leave this Earth until I have used up my stash. I will live to be 157 years old. 

My addiction goes with me everywhere. I always have at least one sock project with me at all times. I knit in the car while my husband drives. I knit from the passenger seat when my husband goes into the hardware store only to emerge one hour later with a long stick and a bag of screws. I knit during my lunch hour at work while my Lean Cuisine Spaghetti and Meatballs gets cold. I knit on the train both to and from work. I knit during my women’s group meeting twice a month. I knit while watching TV. A sock project can go anywhere and that's exactly where they go. 

Yes, I have an addiction. But it's not a bad one.

More tomorrow. Back to the needles.

(Please know that I recognize the difficulty of working through a 12-step program and only have respect and admiration for people who are struggling and/or succeeded.)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

7 Pairs of Socks Makes One Weak -- or, Week

First of all, Hello September!

I am so glad you are finally here. But please, take these high 90 degree temperatures away. I am tired of being hot.

And because of the heat, I have been knitting socks, socks and more socks. I have three unfinished sweaters because I just can't have that much wool my lap in the summer.

So I dug into my stash of sock yarn and pulled out my double-pointed needles. I knitted on the train, I knitted during my lunch hour. I knitted at my women's group meetings. I knitted which Ken drove the car to wherever we were going, from the store to Fort Collins to see our son. I knitted while watching TV in the evening and now that football season has started, watching football games. I also have three more pairs started. I avoid SSS (second sock syndrome) by switching between the socks.

So in addition to the overflowing drawer of socks I have upstairs, I have added 7 new pairs, in colors and stripes and lace and ribs. Now I just need some weather to put my sandals away.

Back to the needles.