Spiral stockings Part 2: the Staggering

The remnants of my double pointed needles (at least the ones that aren't jammed in the stocking). I only buy them at Goodwill now because I've lost so many.

The remnants of my double pointed needles (at least the ones that aren’t jammed in the stocking). I only buy them at Goodwill now because I’ve lost so many.

I have started this stocking three four times now.

In the immortal words of Kay Gardiner, as simple as this pattern is, I am simpler.

Attempt #1: I thought the stitches would be easy to count, because I’m using enormous yarn. They weren’t, so I used a bit of orange string to mark the beginning of the round, and got out my clicker, which I predictably forgot to click. Also, the orange string vanished into the bowels of the sock. I finally settled on attaching a safety pin to the end of a chain of tiny safety pins every time I finished a round, and then starting again after I have 5 safety pins in a chain. This is the point at which I stagger the rib, which leads me to…

Attempt #2: I’ve noticed, in knitting patterns that are translated from Norwegian or Danish, that they leave out a lot of detail. This is probably because they expect you have been knitting since age six. In the absence of other information, I guessed that the staggered rib should be extended using a purl stitch, and I guessed wrong. The purl left a weird little diagonal bar that ruined the staircase effect of the rib, but it took me a while to realize this. If I’d had a Norwegian third-grader to consult, I’d have saved a lot of time: use a knit stitch instead.

Attempt #3 was going well, until I left it unattended, and my cat lay down on it. She doesn’t like being moved.

Attempt #4 looks good, so far. I had an epiphany: not all knitting needs to be portable. I got rid of the rubber bands on the ends of the double pointed needles, because they were slowing me down, and I’m hiding the whole thing from my cat in a little box under the couch. I may be inept, but I’m also stubborn. These will be done by the new year.


I’ve loved all my birthdays, even my disastrous fourth when I was spectacularly sick all over a sliding glass door. The highlight of this birthday was giving my daughter a present – she was so surprised and I felt like the most fun mom ever.

Tomorrow will be devoted to part two of the spiral stocking. I’ve started it three times now, but I have learned so much. And I am just so happy to share.

Spiral stockings Part 1: the Needling

spiral stocking

Beginning the Vibeke Lind spiral stocking…

Yes, there are a lot of needles in that thing, but you only have to deal with two at a time. If you’re lucky.

I had a bad sock knitting experience, my first time around. When I worked on the sock, I felt like I was holding a well-behaved little porcupine on my lap; it could be done, but it wasn’t comfortable. Then I got to the heel, which involved using two more needles to hold the heel flaps. That was more than I could handle, and I started losing needles and dropping stitches every time I picked up my knitting. The worst episode was on a city bus, when I lost two needles at once; they skidded along the grooves on the bus floor to the very back where a nice drunk person was sitting. He decided he was going to return these mysterious objects to me, and, really, we’re both lucky we survived, because he should not have been handling anything that sharp.

I’m not saying this wasn’t mostly my fault (needle/stitch problems, not alcohol problems). A little research would have shown that sock knitters who aren’t completely daft use point protectors (the little green witch’s hat in the picture).

In spite of all that, I’ve spent years thinking about the spiral stockings from Vibeke Lind’s Knitting in the Nordic Tradition. I’ve always wanted a pair because I wear skirts all the time the winter, but I don’t like tights. Strangely, it’s hard to find thigh-high woolen stockings. These stockings also have spiral ribbing all the way to the toes, which looks wonderful as well as keeping your socks up where they belong. In addition, the lack of a heel attracted me (see paragraph #2), as did the possibility for of using socks for barter after civilization collapses; I’d like to find a stress-free sock pattern. Socks are a year-round commodity here, and everyone else is growing heirloom vegetables, so there may be a niche for me to fill.

If anyone wants to knit along with me, I would be so delighted. It should be fairly easy, and you can stop wherever you want: boot sock, knee sock…all good. If someone does want to try this, and can’t get the book, I’ll email you the pattern – karen at themakeshift dot org.

You start by casting on 48 stitches on three needles, and then alternate three knit and three purl, staggering the rib every five rows. I was confused by the paragraphing in the pattern at first and still don’t understand if you are supposed to knit or purl when you put in the extra stitch to shift the rib. I decided I just needed to commit to one (purl!), and that seems to be working. You decrease after 26 staggers, although I may be doing that earlier, because I’m not tall. I’m using Brown Sheep Company Lamb’s Pride bulky wool, in deep charcoal, and size five needles. (What? Don’t roll your eyes. Size five isn’t that small. I don’t want woolen fishnet stockings, sexy as that sounds.)

More pictures to come :-)