July 2nd, 2007

This is Not Just a Swatch

Share Button

Melissa emailed me on Sunday to tell me that the work I had done so far was only for gauge and that once I had my gauge, I was to rip out and cast-on for whatever size sock I was going to knit. WHAT? Now don’t get me wrong. I am a BIG proponent of swatching. I am a swatcher, even at times when it is a bit overkill (even when the Harlot looks at me like I must be an alien because I swatched for the BSJ). I am a tight knitter and although I usually have to go up a needle size, sometimes, for whatever reason, I don’t. So, I swatch.

But in this instance I was rather indignant to learn that the work I had accomplished so far was just to be tossed aside. Knitting on dpns has never been a strength or much fun for me. I was pretty darn pleased by late Sunday morning when I had successfully knit my required lenght without completely losing control of the dpns or injuring myself. Plus, I was not interested in my first sock attempt being for anyone, I just wanted to understand the mechanics. As I’m emailing this info to Melissa, I get an email back from her saying she’s off for the day. WHAT??? I am ready to knit a sock and you are leaving me?! Well, I guess it and I would have to wait for further direction later.

But I couldn’t.

The sock was staring at me.

I know it was sneaking around, trying to get my attention as I moved about the house, trying to work, trying to get some chores done.

I was getting twitchy.

I couldn’t wait for Melissa.

Despite my large stash of knitting books here at home, I do not have a single sock book. Hmmm. Then it hit me. I decided to Google “how to knit socks”. (Yeah, that first class education really came in handy coming up with that thought).
First up for me – a complete guide to knitting socks, in beautiful, plain english published by the wonderful Clara Parkes on Knitters Review. I was beside myself. I was ready to start the heel flap and her instructions were clear and straightforward. Woohoo! I was back in business. I set about working the heel flap. Look at me go:

Then it was time for the scary stuff. Turning.The.Heel.
My mother-in-law has always said “You are not a real knitter until you can turn a heel”. I have built this up in my mind to be a daunting task. I’ve had other knitters talk about turning the heel in equally scary terms (at least that’s how it always sounded to me). I read through Clara’s instructions and although I understood them, I could not visualize where I was going or what it should look like. I decided to hold. I know myself well enough to know that if I made a mess at this point, I may ruin my chances of ever completing the sock.


Melissa emailed me mid-afternoon from one of her stops along the way of her family-day and was quite supportive of the progress I had made. She was also adamant that I go no further without her. I was not allowed to get any guidance at WEBS today. Luckily, I needed to be home this afternoon to become “Comcastic”, so Melissa came over to give me a lesson.


I did the decreases and the rounds and will hopefully remember which slant which decrease will give me and when I need to use which one. I think if I incorporate a line from Jimmy Buffet “Fins to the Left, Fins to the Right”. . . I can get this to stick with me.


Look what I did:

I, Kathy Elkins, turned a heel.
For anyone reading who has never attempted this – it is not nearly as hard as it reads in a pattern. Seriously. You all know I am not a capital ‘K” knitter and this was not hard – it’s knitting, knitting two together and slip/slip/knit. Honestly, keeping track of where you are is harder than the actually knitting.


Onto the gusset, which is not really an instep gusset since your instep is at the top of your foot, not the bottom, but that’s really neither here nor there. As with turning the heel, the gusset was not nearly as hard as I thought it would be.


Once the gusset was done, I needed to knit a few rounds until it was time to shape the toe (again, same types of decreases as with the heel turn and gusset).


Finally came the Kitchener. Melissa has created a handy cheat sheet, in plain English. Even with that, I think this is the one thing that would be hard to complete without someone assisting you. If you are a visual learner, diagrams or a video might work, but there is no way I would’ve gotten this without Melissa’s help. In fact, I’m sure I will need supervision on this final step for many forseeable socks.


Here it is everyone, I am proud to introduce MY FIRST SOCK:


It’s really quite cute and really looks like a sock. It was incredibly fun and I am hooked. I’ve got the sock knitters’ high. . . . .




Here is Melissa, teacher and cheerleader extraordinaire with my very cute sock:



Here’s it’s adorable little toe. Not a bad Kitchener for the first time out:

I must reiterate, I would not try Kitchener without a net just quite yet.

Thanks for pushing me Melissa. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. I’ve already got yarn for a full pair of socks for Jonathan – he’s even approved the color.

I think I know what our next knitalong on the podcast is going to be. . . . . . .


Tags: ,

23 Responses to “This is Not Just a Swatch”

  1. Auntie X Says:

    I’ve only completed a mere 3 pairs of socks and I have to go to knittinghelp.com each time I get down to grafting the toe.

    Great job!

  2. KarenS Says:

    Kathy, your sock looks great and very cute! Congratulations on venturing into the unknown 🙂

  3. Mary Says:

    Congrats on the sock!!
    It’s a very cute sock! 🙂

  4. Melissa Says:

    What a great job! 🙂 I think you have a cute little Christmas tree ornament there! Can’t wait to see the progress on the next pair!

  5. Dharmafey Says:

    Wonderful work!!! Now you will have to join the cult over at Socks in the City (socksinthecity.libsyn.com) The stashing possibilities are endless–truly endless…

  6. MelissaKnits Says:

    I’m still stuck on the part where you swatched for the Baby Surprise Jacket. I need a moment.

    I only made you wait because you got snarky with me. I could have handed you off to Mary or Kirsten. Thing is I love the moment when you DO it for yourself, which is why I graciously allow you to pay me to teach other people how to do it for themselves. It’s the “Look, I DID it!!” part I come back for.

    And for what it’s worth, in my book you are a Capital-K-Knitter, now and forever more. But you were before the sock. You just didn’t know it yet.

    Any other gauntlets you need thrown?

  7. Kirsten Says:

    Aiaiaiai! *shoots imaginary gun into the air*

    Heheh, this is a massive occasion. Feels almost like some kind of crazy, knitter’s coming-of-age ritual.

    Needless to say, I’m so proud of you, Kathy! Nothing can hold you back, now.

  8. Octopus Knits Says:

    You go, Kathy! Awesome socklet! I’ve only made 3 so far (1 pair, 1 in need of a mate). Grafting is pretty neat, don’t you think?

  9. Dena Says:

    My first attempt at kitchener was at the end of a night of drinking, far from home, amongst non-knitters, in a dimly lit room. I was too excited to finish my first sock. So away I went attempting kitchener. Toe complete, I was so proud. My sock was perfect. But the next morning when I looked at the sock, it had looked like someone who had been drinking in the dark tried kitchener for the first time. What a bad toe. So I had to do it over. I think you took the better kitchener path. But now I can do kitchener without looking it up. So figured it out eventually.

    Excellent sock!

  10. Leigh Says:

    I just found your blog via your website. Very nice reading. Congratulations on your first sock! I reckon by now you’re figuring out that sock knitting is quite addictive. Glad to have you on board the blogosphere.

  11. unwound yarn Says:

    Congratulations on your first sock!
    I too just started my first one (on the way back from California where the logcabin afghan was auctioned). Between the Harlot’s book of knitting rules and Lucy Neatby’s DVDs I made it through the heel, the gusset and am ready for the toes and the dreaded Kitchner graft.
    I have been diverted during this time by the lovely Laines du Nord Papiro that I got at Webs. This is the silkiest cotton yarn I have ever worked with. I am doing the Heartbeat Sweater from Just One More Row and finding it more addictive than the sock (at least so far)

  12. Kristin Says:


  13. Suzanne Says:

    Congratulations! You have opened yourself to entire new vistas of knitting (like you really needed that)! I learned that the trick with socks is to do exactly as the pattern says and don’t ask questions. Knitting socks is a leap of faith. And your sock is beautiful. Don’t succumb to SSS — knit the other and make a set! Even if it is just for decoration.

    PS — Does swatching for the Baby Surprise Jacket make it just a Baby Jacket?

  14. Bonnie Says:

    What a sweet little sock. Congrats!

    Also, congrats on the beautiful new catalog. I love the personal touch, from the stories you weave into ot it to the cute pic of your little guy (he’s a natural model!). It’s much more enjoyable than a yarn catalog usually is.

    I love that you name your yarns after towns in the Pioneer Valley. And I also love the George Harrison song you use for the podcast! Makes me happy every time I hear it.

  15. Kim Says:

    Yay! Your sock looks fabulous. Must be something in the air about first socks — I took a class and made my first teeny tiny one last week!

  16. Cirilia Says:

    If it makes you feel any better, I still make a little reminder on every pattern with slanting arrows and the corresponding decrease…that has never stuck!

    When turning the heel, you’re always looking to close the gap. You’ll be able to see it really clearly on your next sock I bet.

    Also, your next hurdle should def. be the Magic Loop method! DPNs are for people who like to feel like Edward Scissorhands!

  17. jude Says:

    Great sock and congrats on overcoming your sock phobia :).

  18. Kathy Says:

    Thanks to everyone for the nice comments on my little sock. Yesterday was “Kathy Knit A Sock Day” at WEBS. Any issues that came up, I simply said “Hey, look, I knit my first sock”. It’s cuteness basically diverted attention away from the issue at hand. Of course this tactic has limited power, but I’ll take it even for one day.

    I am casting on today for a pair of socks for Jonathan. Onward and upward.

    Auntie X – I was wondering if Amy had a toe graft video on her website. I’ll be sure to check it out!

    Octopus Knits – it is pretty magical if you don’t let your brain get too freaked out by the process.

    Dena – you are much braver than I.

    Leigh – welcome to the blog! Hope you find it fun to read.

    Unwound – glad you are liking the Papiro. Email me a pic of what you are working on. That yarn is underappreciated and I’d like to give it a little love and attention.

    Bonnie – I’m so glad to hear you like the catalog! I was really pleased with it but at ultimately my opinion really doesn’t matter. As for Jonathan and his modeling career – he was in tears 5 minutes before that picture was taken. I had to up his pay from $2.00 to $3.00 to get him to pose 🙂

    Kim – your sock is SO ADORABLE! If we can do this – we can do anything! My “Not just an Apron” is in a time out. . . .I’ll be blogging about that today or later this week.

  19. Brown Berry Says:

    Adorable!! Congrats on finishing it. I can totally relate to your trepidation, but I also admire the way you pushed ahead.
    A great read.

  20. Rhonda Says:

    I knitted my first sock after only 1 month of knitting (22 months ago), and now have made around 30 pairs, and can do them in my sleep. Kitchener can be sooo easy if you look at it like knitting, only with a darning needle… front needle knit, purl/back needle purl, knit.

    So, front needle, go in as to knit, slip off, go in as to purl and leave stitch on.

    Back needle, go in as if to purl, slip off, go in as if to knit and leave on…

    Hope this helps and is not more confusing!

    BTW, beautiful first sock!

  21. Caterina the Queena Says:

    Congratulations, and welcome tothe world of “I must always have a pair of socks underway. Must carry the SIP (that’s Sock In Progress, of course) with me at all times.”

    I am a fool for socks. I’m also a fan of Charlene Schurch’s Sensational Knitted Socks books and the magic loop. Have fun! Go wild!

    And remember: It’s never too early in your sock-knitting career to start designing socks yourself.

  22. Zarzuela Says:

    Congrats! I was just listening to you talk about this on the podcast and I had to come have a look. Welcome to the wonderful world of sock knitting. 🙂


  23. Leebot Says:

    Yay for you and your awesome sock! Turning the heel isn’t hard at all really. (I think it’s kind of fun!)

Leave a Reply