Tag Archives: socks

Tour de Sock 2015 – (Or 2 months of crazy sock knitting)

You may recall if you are a regular reader that last year I took part in a competition called Sock Madness. This year I decided not to do that. However I couldn’t go a whole year without entering some sort of mad knitting competition so I entered Tour de Sock instead. It runs along side the Tour de France, hence its name. There are 6 stages, each lasting 10 days, and the idea is to finish your pair of socks within that time. The quicker you finish, the more points you get. There is also a team option (which I decided to go for) in which 7 of you try and get as many points as possible for the team. The first 5 to finish each stage get their points counted. You get bonus points for using sponsor yarn or doing little extra tasks.

The first stage began on 1st June at 2.30pm. The pattern is Virrat and is fairly simple but a little tedious. I chose to knit it using some John Arbon Alpaca Sock in the Rose colour. I finished it  on 3rd June at 8.30pm and finished 63rd out of 330 entrants which I’m pretty pleased with, although I think I could have finished sooner if work hadn’t gotten in the way. Total knitting time was about 22 hours. During the 54 hours between pattern release and completion I knit for 22 hours, worked for 16 hours, travelled for 3 hours, prepared/ate food/did general stuff required to live for 2 hours, and slept for about 11 hours. I think I used my time pretty efficiently.


The next stage, which began on 11th June at 6.30pm, was a little more conveniently timed for me. I only had 8 hours of work spread over the two following days, plus 4 hours of travel. The pattern is Far into the Forest and I used some yarn I bought from Lidl a long time ago. I completed in on 14th June at 2am. It took a lot more work than the first stage but the result was fabulous. I finished 20th out of 196 that finished the pattern on time. Unfortunately these socks don’t fit.

Far into the Forest

The third stage began on 21st June at 2.30pm with the pattern Touring Bubbles. The pattern was inspired by the fact that the riders get a glass of champagne on the morning of the final race. I had some champagne so I had some fun with the photos. For this I used some West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply in the Pennyroyal colour. I finished this stage at 12.15am on the 23rd June so it didn’t take me very long. I would have finished quicker but I had work on the 22nd. I came 52nd out of 284 finishers.

Touring Bubbles

The fourth stage started on 1st July at 2.30am. The pattern is From a Distance. I used some yarn  I dyed myself. Unfortunately I had work on the day of the pattern release and then every day until 5th July which is when I finally finished at 7.30pm. I didn’t have to use beads on the whole sock but gained a bonus point for doing so. I finished 63rd out of 188 finishers which surprised me considering how long I took. The photo is awful. I couldn’t get the socks to lay flat and I can’t put them on because the cast on is two tight. The second of two pairs that don’t fit, but only a small modification required.

From a Distance

The penultimate stage began with the pattern Ophidia on 11th July at 11.30am. I was at work so couldn’t start knitting until about 5pm. I was then also at work for the following days. I finished it at 7.25am on 14th July finishing 40th of 152. For this stage I used some more yarn I dyed.


The final stage was perfectly timed for me. It was released at 11pm on 21st July, right in the middle of my week off. I spent the day relaxing with a friend (picking our own fruit then turning it into some rather delicious jam) as she is a doctor and was working nights. Then when the pattern, Nordic Stripes, was released I began knitting. And I didn’t stop knitting until 7.30pm the next day, gaining me 12th position out of an unknown amount of finishers (the competition doesn’t end until the 31st). This was also my favourite pattern and I’m quite tempted to knit it again sometime. I used all sorts of random bits of yarn I had (and still have plenty of!).

Nordic Stripes

My team is set to come 4th of all the teams in Tour de Sock, which is a perfectly respectable result for a group of working people and mums with a lot of other things going on in their lives.

Work in Progress Wednesday 11th June

Quite a few updates this Work in Progress Wednesday!

I finished my Tonight socks and got through to Round 6 of Sock Madness. I’m pretty happy with how they came out, although I do have to lengthen them a little in the foot to fit me properly, and make the toe more rounded as usual. They’re fully reversible which is pretty cool.

Tonight Socks 2 Tonight Socks 1

I was all prepared for Round 6. I had tv queued up to watch, yarn and needles at the ready. The pattern arrived on Sunday, Chill Thrill, and I liked the look of it. I then spent 12 hours straight just getting to the heel flap on the first sock. As pretty as the pattern is, I wasn’t enjoying knitting it and it had some errors that were putting me off. My wrists were already aching a little, so I decided to sleep, rather than stay up until they were done. Overnight, I realised that there was no point in me continuing. Not only did I have the above problems to content with, but it was another heel flap sock, and they just don’t fit me very well, plus I wasn’t that happy with my yarn choice. I decided that it would be best to drop out. Even if I got the single place on my team to get to the next round, I couldn’t guarantee being able to spend the time solidly knitting to even attempt to win the overall competition. Someone else on the team had also already finished their first sock, and would have much more of a chance in the next round too.

The sock so far was frogged, and I’m still pretty happy with my decision.

Chill Thrill

I found it difficult to decide what to knit next. I decided some summery socks were a good idea. I chose some bamboo yarn (Wendy Happy) that I previously tried to knit into a cardigan back when I first started knitting. Because of tendency to stretch and stay that way, bamboo yarn doesn’t generally work well for socks, yet is a wonderfully cool fabric perfect for summer. I thought if I knit them fairly tightly on my smallest needles (2.25mm) the lack of stretch could be overcome. I’m using the pattern Seasonal Socks and am going to use my favourite Fish Lips Kiss heel, so hopefully I’ll end up with a pair of socks I’m happy with.

Seasonal Socks

I’ve won two knitting related prizes recently. The first was a pattern from PolarBears (on Ravelry) which I won as I dyed my own yarn for Sock Madness Round 3. There wasn’t a great deal I’d knit from the selection, but I chose Playtime Colors because it looked like a fun knit and I’m sure I’ll find someone who wants to knit it. The second was a random prize from a group in Ravelry, where there is a monthly sock challenge. I happened to be one of seven lucky winners for May. I won two skeins of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock and I’ve never used it before so I’m looking forward to that.

Finally, some sad news. Beshley’s Wool Shop, which I wrote about a while ago, is closing. Apparently it’s because Beshley has an opportunity she can’t pass on, but it unfortunately means she won’t be able to run the shop anymore.

It’s just under two weeks until we move house and we’ve barely started packing, so I doubt I’ll have a huge amount of knitting time for the next few weeks. However it does mean that once we’ve moved, I finally have a bit more freedom to make the house and garden look nice so hopefully I’ll be able to post a lot more crafty projects other than knitting!

Work in Progress Wednesday – 21st May

This Work in Progress Wednesday it’s back to normal. You may have noticed that I only got up to Thursday on Knitting and Crochet Blog Week. I ran out of ideas and then got busy, so I didn’t finish it. I hope you found the posts I did write interesting and something a bit different.

I haven’t done a great deal of knitting this week. I don’t think I’ve written about my new Sock Madness socks though. These are Shakertown Fences. They’re way too small for me so they may be a gift for my mum, if she likes them. The next round isn’t out yet. Only seven people from each team can get through that one though so I’m not holding out much hope of getting through unless the pattern happens to be released when I have nothing to do, which is highly unlikely as we’re moving in a month and currently don’t actually have a house to move to.Shakertown Fences

I may have not done much knitting, but I did do some sewing over the weekend. I’m on a mission to create the perfect knitting storage set (large bag, small project bag, notions pouch(es), needle cases etc.) and decided that a weekend to myself was the perfect time to begin. Once I’ve done one for me and ironed out all the problems I hope to make more.

A couple of weekends ago we were in Winchester and C&H Fabrics were having a 20% off everything sale. This was my opportunity to buy some fabric I liked. There was still a little of my birthday present from Nick left (go to craft shop, buy some things I really wanted) so this was the perfect time to spend it. Seeing as I love knitting socks so much, for my storage set I chose a fabric with socks all over it!Sock Fabric

And Nick pointed out this lovely fabric for a dress for me, which I’ll make when I’ve found the perfect pattern.Dress Fabric

I got a third fabric, but that one’s a secret.

Nick mentioned the other day that I had stored up a lot of old jeans to re-purpose but have never touched them. Turns out the various colours of the denim went brilliantly with my sock fabric. As did a pale blue fabric I bought a while ago for something I never got around to. The only thick denim-suitable thread I have is bright red, but that goes fantastically too.

So I started planning, cutting, ironing and finally sewing a little notions case to start with. All went well for a while, until I broke a needle. Typical. I gave up for the day and went back to it the next, finishing it off. I need to sew on the buttons though. (I have some bright ones that are perfect that I had in my Christmas stocking). It doesn’t look like it because of the angles in the image, but the buttonholes are the same length.Notions Case

I continued on to the DPN case. All went well for quite a while. Surprisingly so actually, as usually something goes wrong quite often when I’m sewing. Then I broke another needle trying to top stitch around the edge. My machine just doesn’t like thick fabric, even though I was being really careful. It’s almost finished though and I think with a little more careful sewing I’ll be done.DPN Case InsideDPN Case Outside

Obviously there are some things I could improve, but I’m pretty happy so far.

To see more from Work in Progress Wednesday visit Tami’s Amis

Sock Madness Round 4 and the Ball Shawl

So, I’m on to Sock Madness Round 4. The pattern came out Tuesday which was pretty inconvenient as I was trying to finish my shawl that has to be done by Friday. The shawl is one of the variants of Cold Mountain by Keiran Foley. It’s now blocking, and I’m really happy with how it’s turned out. The image is just a section of it as it’s so long. I can get a better photo once it’s finished blocking. I tried pinning it on a towel but the towel was no where near long enough, hence the change in background colour.Cold Mountain

So now I’m knitting very fast to try and catch up on Sock Madness. This pattern is Shakertown Fences. Here’s what I have so far.

Sock Madness Round 4

Sock Madness Round 3


Last week I said that I’d go into a bit more detail about my newest socks, made for Sock Madness Round 3.

When I first got the materials list for Sock Madness Round 3, I was surprised to see that I needed a solid colour and 7 10g scraps of colours. I had enough yarn, but I wasn’t too convinced about the colours. I expected the pattern to come out the next morning, so I (driven by Nick) went to find some yarn I could dye, and some food colourings to dye it with. Well, the only yarn remotely suitable that I could find was King Cole Zig Zag in a variegated pale blue with small dashes of dark blue. And the only food dye I could find were the gel Dr Oetker ones. So I bought them and hoped.

When I got home, the pattern had already been released. When I saw it, Rainbow Pipes and Linen Stitch Socks, I realised that I would have to continue with my dyeing plan because the scraps I had weren’t suitable at all. I had said I’d make pizza for dinner, so in between stages for that (I’m surprised we didn’t end up with multicoloured dough!), I dyed the yarn.

I should mention that at this point we were dog sitting at Nick‘s parents’ house, so had to be VERY careful not to stain anything. I also bought a cheap bowl so I didn’t damage any of theirs.

The first step was to divide the yarn into seven small skeins, then soak these in a water and vinegar mix for at least 30 minutes.Undyed Yarn

Then I added some food colouring to some warm water, put in the yarn and made sure it was covered. This then went into the microwave for 2 minute bursts until the water was clear.Dyeing

I hung up the skeins to dry, and they turned into this (with the black I’m using as the main colour):Round 3 Yarn

Not bad for a rushed and unprepared dyeing experiment!

I started knitting the next morning when all the yarn was dry. I tried to take advantage of the beautiful weather, but kept getting distracted by the two dogs.Distractions

A couple of days later we had to finish dog sitting and come home, but the next day I was off to visit my parents. So I knitted on the train, and I knitted while I was there, and I finally finished a couple of hours before I got on the train to come home again. They are some pretty well travelled socks!

When I submitted the socks, one of the organisers pointed out that I had used very Easter coloured yarn. I wasn’t even thinking that when I was dyeing them, but I think she’s right. That works out well considering I knitted most of them during the Easter weekend.

Sock Madness Round 3 Finished

I’ve ordered some better dyes and some undyed yarn and am looking forward to experimenting with it to get the exact colours I want. Keep an eye on this site, and soon you might find it for sale!