Oh yeah. Stuff that isn’t for me. ;)

So I had this most excellent plan for Christmas for HWJF. We all know how he loves his handknit socks and we all know how he bought me a sock machine for my birthday this year. Well, I came up with the idea that since he’s been hinting rather heavy handedly lately about the lack of additions to his sock drawer as of late that I would make him some socks. Not just any socks. Socks on the sock machine! And not only socks on the sock machine, but 25 socks for the 25 days of Christmas!! Brilliant right?! Yeah. Not so much.

Witness this:

sock machine exile

This is sock machine exile. This is where the sock machine has sat, untouched since before bassoon camp this year. That would be MAY people. Let me do the math for ya. That’s 6 months. Six months this rather expensive gift has sat untouched and unloved. But no more I vowed! I will make socks with the machine. There was even a still unfinished sock waiting to be finished from a pair I had started way back in May on it. I would finish that and go on from there.

Just one problem. I am apparently incompetent when it comes to this machine. I still, after all this time, am totally incapable of making a heel or a toe without the yarn breaking. I spent three hours Sunday night while HWJF was out working on that unfinished sock and part of another. The yarn broke more times than I can count. The tubes were fine, the machine knits without dropping stitches in a tube, but heels? Forget it. After three hours of pure frustration, it happened.

The meltdown.

Those that follow me on plurk know of what I speak. I totally lost it. I called HWJF in tears, totally spoiling my brilliant surprise, begging for forgiveness but professing my absolute hatred for his very wonderful gift and my total inability to use it. I yelled, I cried, I threw yarn people. It was not pretty. I blew my stack on plurk (and had many sympathetic answers to my cries which certainly helped). It was Not Good.

But then I calmed down, took a hot shower and suddenly devised a plan to thwart the evil machine. What if I could knit the tubes on the machine but just knit the heels and toes by hand? What if I could insert waste yarn for an afterthought heel? I’d be saving a ton of time by getting the boring tube part done and still have a wear-worthy sock without a billion holes in it. So I gave it a try.

sock in progress

So far so good! What I did was this. I knit my hem, hung it, then continued with the leg tube. I then got to the point where I would usually start the heel, but instead of doing it on the machine I cut the sock yarn, tied in waste yarn, knit half way around with the waste yarn, cut that, tied on more sock yarn and finished knitting the foot on the machine. At that point if I was using one ball of yarn per sock, I stuffed the extra yarn inside the tube, found the other end of the ball of yarn, tied waste yarn to it and knit several more rounds. I could then start the next sock. If I was using one ball of yarn for both socks, I just cut the sock yarn after finishing the foot for the first sock and went on to the second. I’ll have a couple of extra ends to weave in, but I don’t think it’s that big a deal at this point. And I was able to complete two pairs of socks to this point in less than an hour!

Needless to say, there’s a lot more finishing work to do with this method, but I’ve still saved a lot of knitting time by using the machine to do the majority of the work. While the surprise is toast, at least I think that the possibility of the boy still getting his 25 socks this Christmas is still there. And I think he’s just happy I didn’t throw the thing through the window before he got home. ;)

Have a great weekend! :)

Related posts:

  1. More about the CSM…
  2. Who me? Obsessed?
  3. Socks, socks, socks
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24 Responses to “So where was I?”
  1. Ida says:

    I love it when humans conquer machines.

  2. Yvonne says:

    you’re a brainy one!! :)

  3. Sharon says:

    I have to second Ida’s response. Man thwarting machine is righteous. Threw yarn heh? That’s a meltdown for sure.

  4. Kristy says:

    Wow, that’s an awesome gift! I’m sorry there had to be a meltdown in the middle of it :(

  5. Lindsey says:

    Sometimes you have to employ the 10% rule – you must be 10% smarter than the machine you’re operating. I think you won on that one! :)

    I can’t wait to see the socks once you’re done!

  6. Tina M. says:

    Perfect solution! Having watched Jess do the heel and toe on her CSM, I can testify that it’s a very fiddly, cranky thing. And hers is an antique! Your solution gives you the gift of sanity, which is a precious thing this time of year. Good for you. :) The heels and toes are the best part of socks anyway, like you said.

  7. stacey says:

    Sounds like through the fog you have come up with a great assembly line type method!!!!

  8. penny says:

    {hugs} glad to see there’s a working solution. Good luck!!

  9. Chris says:

    As one who routinely encounters that intense frustration when working with machines, I totally get the meltdown. And applaud your ingenious solution! Good for you conquering the beast! But I’m not surprised – you’re a crafty lady, after all. :) With persistence and sheer bulldogged determination, I have no doubt you will eventually figure out how to work heels and toes on the thing. Or take a workshop to teach you how. In case HWJF needs any ideas for present for you. ;)

  10. evilcostumelady says:

    Good compromise on the heel… short rows are a nuisance on any kind of machine when knitting in the round. But how do you shape the toes? :o

  11. Cookie says:

    I’m so glad you were able to make it work for you, sweetie. Stupid machines.

    I thought it was the 12 days of Christmas.

  12. Kathy says:

    I agree with Cookie….12 days of Christmas. Seems a lot more achievable! We’ll get you through those heels and toes, just you wait and see. Perhaps after the holiday season, the dead of winter, and we will overcome. Kathy-Kansas City, MO

  13. Karen says:

    Oh, sorry about the melt-down. But at least yarn is soft, so when you throw it nothing gets hurt, right? And good for you for working it all out in the end. The 25 socks will be awesome!!

  14. Daniele says:

    OH! That’s great Jessica! The afterthought heel is where all the fun is anyway. Plus, you’ll have some tlc in parts of all of his socks. Brilliant! The surprise may be spoiled, but he still doesn’t know exactly what he’s getting, right? :)

  15. Anne says:

    Go, Jessica! Go, Jessica! I’ll be cheering you on from CT!

  16. Francois says:

    Super efficient idea! Thank goodness you thought of it before the inevitable nervous breakdown.

    To make it even quicker to make tubes – don’t bother with adding waste yarn, just cut out the sock yarn at the appropriate place? Sure it wastes a bit of sock yarn, but not much.

  17. Ceci says:

    Good for you! You have fulfilled a directive from John Mack “Do not take NO from an inanimate object.”

    Here is something I found:

    http://www.knittinganyway.com/socks/Tubesocks.htm

    describing exactly what you did! You are one amazing lady.

  18. amy/DPUTiger says:

    I think Francois is right. Ditch the waste yarn. If you look at the premier issue of Twist Collective you can read all about Cat Bordhi’s Houdini socks. I haven’t tried them yet, but I trust Cat has done all the research to prove that there’s a darn good reason to not use waste yarn for this method. I think it has something to do with the inevitable holes you get on mitten thumbs, etc.

    But good for you for tackling the sock machine and after getting a good up-close look at my obscenely huge sock yarn stash, I’m quite envious of your wonderful gift. Yay, you! :)

  19. Li_B says:

    I have a friend who has an expensive knitting machine. She’s made one sweater that she refers to as her $3500 sweater ;-)

  20. Kim says:

    You show that machine who is boss! 3 hours of messing with a cantankerous machine would throw anyone into a hissy fit. Brilliant solution. Just put on your robot hands and the heels & toes will be done in no time! Good luck!

  21. Opal says:

    I think it’s great that you aren’t letting that machine win! Go you!

  22. Risa says:

    Clever solution!

  23. JessaLu says:

    …tube socks? ;o)

    I’ve been fighting with mine for days. My BIL is probably going to get a gift card to Home Despot cuz his socks just aren’t happening. I’ve knit FIL socks and SIL socks but for some reason, his just won’t cooperate.

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