Where I write about knitting, crocheting and lace, and, on occasion general comments on other topics

Team Knitting: Socks for Soldiers

Written by: Lindy

November 12, 2009

Socks for Soldiers has a group of members who own working antique circular sock machines (CSM). These are amazing little machines that were designed to knit socks during the WWII era. I did a little searching on the web and found out that these machines often sell for between $1500 and $2500 refurbished and there are actually a few companies that refurbish these machine and keep them working. I’m including a link here if you are interested in taking a look. They actually look rather daunting.

Now, the knitters with the CSMs spend their time and yarn making those 12 inch long ribbed legs. Then they put the leg on a lifeline and send it off to a team member who knits the heel, foot and toe by hand. This speeds up the process for producing the SFS regulation socks significantly. I have recently teamed up with a CSM knitter and she just sent my first pair of CSM legs. Here’s a picture:

These legs are amazing! My team mate, Peggy, tells me that it takes her about 5 minutes to knit 1 leg on her CSM. However, the CSM itself takes longer to set up and encourage to actually knit. When we first corresponded, she also asked me if I was a right-handed or left-handed knitter. (I’m right-handed.) Seems you have to run the lifeline differently for left-handed vs. right-handed knitters. So, here are the CSM legs, close-up of the lifeline, and ready for me to put onto my needles and begin the heels. I plan to start them this evening, so hopefully I will get another pair of SFS OD regulation socks done well before Christmas.

SFS Care Package on Its Way

Written by: Lindy

November 7, 2009

My first pair of regulation Olive Drab (OD) socks have been washed and a darning kit has been carefully made and pinned to the toes. The SFS sock band has been completed along with a written note for the recipient of the socks. All this went into a gallon size plastic bag. I also finished my first SFS beanie — It went with the socks into the bag.

Along with the socks, I have sent a mixed assortment of “goodies” for the soldier. I gathered snacks and a number of items like sunscreen, Q-tips, Wet Ones wipes, & Chapstick to include with my socks. It made for a nice little care package.

Package has been mailed off to Sarge — who will now send it along with numerous other such packages to a group of soldiers serving somewhere overseas.

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New Projects

Written by: Lindy

October 28, 2009

Since I have finished several WIPs in the last couple of weeks and I will be finishing my first pair of SFS socks this evening, I have started two new projects. Both are scarves and both are Christmas presents.

Scarf one is for my DD. I am using a black Cash Vero yarn (Cascade Yarns) that is very soft and seems to have a nice drape to it. DD wanted a black textured scarf — so after a number of different swatches, I decided on the Diamond Brocade pattern from Barbara G. Walkers’ “Treasury of Knitting Patterns”. The pattern shows up nicely along with the moss stitch border.

Diamond Brocade Scarf

Diamond Brocade Scarf

Scarf two is for DD’s roommate, JC. Her favorite colors are red and purple, so I am using a red and purple sock weight yarn (Cascade Yarns, Hertitage) and knitting a chevron pattern. This is the swatch. I started out changing colors every two rows and then switched to changing colors every four rows. I think I prefer the four-row patterning to the two-row and will need to add more of a border because it really has a tendency to curl on the edges.

Chevron Scarf Swatch

Chevron Scarf Swatch

Readers: Which do you think looks better? The two-row repeat or the four-row? Leave me a comment, please. Thanks!

Update on SFS

Written by: Lindy

October 15, 2009

I have finished the legs on my SFS regulation socks and knitted the heel flap.

Then I did the heel turn – which required some juggling. I slipped one sock heel onto a another circular needle while I knit the heel turn and then repeated the process for the second sock. This seemed easier than trying to knit the two heel turns with the same circular needle at the same time.


The real challenge was to pick up the gusset stitches and at one point I had 4 circular needles in use. But I was successful in picking up the gusset stitches on both sides of the heel.

Now on to knitting the gusset and switching back to larger needles about halfway through.

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Things Learned from a Swatch

Written by: Lindy

October 12, 2009

It took me years to appreciate the value of doing a swatch before starting a knitting project. I cannot tell you how many poorly fitted sweaters I knit before I came to realize that it truly was worth the time and effort to swatch first.

I learned this when I bought my first knitting machine. You see, when you are using a knitting machine, you can’t even get started without doing that swatch – as you need it to tell you if you have your machine tension set up correctly. It only takes one frustrating experience with a too tight tension on the knitting machine to convince you of the necessity for doing a swatch or two.

Swatching also provides you as a knitter the freedom to become, as Elizabeth Zimmermann says, “The boss of your knitting”. If you know your gauge, and understand the basics of the design you are wanting to make – you are free to modify any pattern – or MAKE YOUR OWN.

So, I always swatch. This last weekend I did a swatch using the Baby Ull yarns that I purchased to knit a sweater and romper for my new grandson due the end of January. I had a couple of extra reasons for doing this swatch beyond determining what size needle I needed to obtain the stated pattern gauge. First, I wanted to try out the three color pattern for the sweater and get comfortable with it. Second, I wanted to see if I liked the color combinations of the yarns in the color pattern.

Swatch_Cardigan1 Here’s a picture of the swatch. I cast on 44 stitches so that I could have a 40 stitch area surrounded by a 2 stitch garter stitch edging. I started using US 2 (3.00 mm) needles and then switched to a smaller US 1 (2.50 mm) needle for the last part of the swatch. I did a section of garter stitch, then stockinette stitch, then the color pattern using the lighter aqua blue as the main color and then switched to using the darker teal blue as the main color. I finished the swatch by doing a section of sockinette stitch on the smaller needles, followed by a section of garter stitch.

Here’s what I learned from this swatch: 1) I need to use smaller needles than what is stated in the pattern in order to obtain gauge. This is important because I want this sweater to fit. 2) I like using the darker teal blue as the main color – I think the lighter aqua blue shows up better against it than the other way around. This is significant – because I bought 7 balls of the lighter aqua and only 1 ball of the darker teal. (I have now ordered enough teal to make the sweater, as my LYS did not have enough of it on hand…) 3) The 3 color pattern is fairly simple and easy to knit. I think it’s good to practice such things before starting off on a special project like this.

So to those readers who “hate to swatch”: do you see the value of what I did here? Swatching is a valuable technique that helps you be the “boss of your knitting”. Now go swatch!

Knitting Socks in Waiting Area

Written by: Lindy

August 26, 2009

Yesterday, I had the role of being supportive of my DH while he underwent some tests at our local hospital. (Nothing serious, just part of routine maintenance for the over 55 crowd.)

Anyway, I decided to take along a pair of socks I am knitting as my “keep occupied” project for the time I would be sitting in the waiting area. I am doing cuff down, two at a time on 2 circular knitting needles. So I pulled out my knitting and started to knit away while I sipped on a cup of coffee. An older woman walked into the group of chairs where I was sitting — and pulled out her knitting!

She was knitting something on dpn’s in a pretty dark green yarn. For a time, we sat and knit without any conversation. Then, she put away her knitting and came over and sat next to me and chatted. (I think she was anxious about whomever she was waiting for, but she never really said.) I learned that she was working on a pair of mittens and she was very curious about the method I was using for knitting socks and my self-striping yarn. We exchanged bits of information about yarns and knitting and then she was called to go back with her family member while he/she recovered.

It’s interesting how knitting forms a link and an introduction for us. I know it made the time in the waiting room go by more quickly for me and I’d like to think it eased my companion’s anxiety a little and helped her time in the waiting room pass more pleasantly.

P.S. Started the socks so that I would have an easy knit project for the knitting guild meet ups. More on the guild in another post. I promise to post a picture of the socks when done.

A 65th Wedding Anniversary Celebration

Written by: Lindy

July 27, 2009

On Saturday, my husband’s parents, Irv & Wauneta celebrated their 65th Wedding Anniversary. Yes, I said 65th. This is a remarkable milestone even with an increasingly aging population.
Irv & Wauneta's Wedding Picture

We held an open house for them at our house and had more than 35 guests attend. It was a joyous day filled with conversation, food, and laughter. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this occasion. My in-laws have a knack for collecting friends, so we had old friends attending that have known them since they were kids growing up in Hastings, Nebraska and new friends who have come to know and love them since they moved here to Omaha, Nebraska. We also had many family members come share the day with us. What blessings friends and family are!

Irv & Wauneta April 2008
Irv is now 89 and Wauneta is 85. They are still both very active and enjoy life to the fullest. They are my role models for how to age gracefully and I can only hope to follow their lead.

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