Knitters’ logic…

… or nonexistence thereof

For such an artistic, creative, hard-working bunch, our “logic” is sometimes baffling.

Let’s take a look at a real life example.

A little while ago I got Cat Bordhi’s New Pathways for Sock Knitters. I was mesmerized by all the cool construction techniques and inventive shapes, but (and I’m being completely honest here) the format of the book didn’t 100% jive with me. Although I can navigate the book, I find that the information is too scattered, in the physical sense, for my little brain. The cast-on is here, the increases are over there, the toe instructions are in the back, the pattern is somewhere in the middle, the explanation of master numbers is in yet another chapter, the instructions are all throughout… I can’t really do it.

Logically speaking, I should have set the book aside until I could devote myself entirely to the study of Cat’s principles. I know I can understand what she’s talking about if I just spend a quiet Saturday afternoon reading through the whole thing, cover to cover. Did I do that? Nope. I continued to leaf through it, oohing and aahing, cursing my lack of time and discipline.

Okay, I know! I’ll take the easy way out – just follow one of the pre-calculated patterns! I’m talking about the actual sock patterns, not the sock architectures. After several attempts to read through the book, I came to the conclusion that the patterns are heavily geared towards handpainted and variegated yarns. Great! Well, not really. I don’t have any suitable yarn! Pooling bugs me in the “this is out of my control” way, so I simply don’t buy variegated yarn! (I know I’ve said it before: the best way to avoid pooling is to use solid-colored yarn)


Logically speaking, I should have raided my sock yarn stash and swiped something solid or nearly-solid (plenty of that, believe me!), and knit the socks using that. Because, you know, I’m already having a tricky time following the pattern and grandma doesn’t care what yarn I use, and wouldn’t a Spiraling Coriolis like on page 53, knit out of purple Lorna’s Laces (the gauge matches!), be the cutest thing ever? Uhm, no. That would be silly!!!

Actually, seeing the purple Lorna’s should have immediately propelled me to my Nancy Bush library, logically speaking. Because those patterns always look so nice in the Lorna’s, and I know the nomenclature of Nancy’s sock patterns like the back of my hand. But that didn’t exactly happen. Nope.

Setting all logic aside, I marched into Woolcott, and bought two skeins of Mirasol Hacho, which is a new-to-me brand. Very lovely yarn: sturdy and squishy at the same time.

This shade I’m using, #302, is juicy, lively, and gorgeous. One thing it’s not – my grandma’s colors. Basically, it will be okay, but that bright turquoise and hot pink are definitely pushing her boundaries. Not to mention there’s more than a small chance of hideous pooling, in which case I hope there won’t be an outright rejection.

Hacho is a sportweight yarn with 137 yards in every skein. Logically speaking, I should have gone for a fingering weight yarn. Then the probability of knitting two full-sized socks out of two skeins of yarn would be a near certainty. But with sportweight yarn, it’s always a bit of a gamble. Will two skeins of Hacho make two long-ish toe covers, or two actual socks, albeit anklets? Probability of running out of yarn: eh, likely. Woolcott has more, but my “logic” prevented me from buying a third skein at the time of purchase.

In summary, instead of knitting a Nancy Bush pattern using tried and true Lorna’s Laces, I’m knitting a pair of socks for my grandma with the following characteristics:

  • they are from a pattern I have difficulty following
  • stash yarn is as plentiful as ever, but that’s not what I’m using
  • I’m using variegated yarn, which will probably pool hideously
  • in a colorway that will be a stretch (at best) for my grandma
  • which is okay, since the yardage probably won’t be sufficient for a pair of socks anyway
  • all while I have a gazillion of other WIPs

That’s knitter’s logic for you. I will knit what I want, no matter the likelihood of failure (dammit).

And don’t even try to tell me I’m alone in my “logical” thinking and planning!!!


51 thoughts on “Knitters’ logic…

  1. Me

    Ok, so what are you saying….do you LIKE the book or not?? You lost me somewhere in the very first paragraph. After that one, all I heard was wawawawa yaddayadda yada.

  2. sophanne


    You now have 2 quotable quotes on my sidebar. The first was “Screw the Moratorium.” The second will be “That’s knitter’s logic for you. I will knit what I want, no matter the likelihood of failure (dammit).” (as soon as I’m less lazy and get it posted that is.)

    yes yes yes

  3. Valerie

    I am the same way about pooling. But I keep trying hand-paint yarns in the hope that THIS pair won’t pool. I see non-pooled socks on Ravelry and on blogs, so I know it’s possible. I just can’t seem to prevent it myself.

  4. Claire

    Ahh, but if we knew how our knitting projects were going to work out there wouldn’t be any fun in knitting them, would there?

    (And even when you kind of know it isn’t going to work out well, isn’t part of the fun just trying to prove yourself wrong and force that project into submission dammit?)

  5. Heidi

    I hear ya! This is exactly how I work. And I wouldn’t call it a lack of logic. I’d call it “making things interesting”! 🙂

  6. Debra

    I’ve read that book a few times. Knitting the worsted weight practice socks helped – it only took me an evening to do one of each. I’m knitting the Spiraling Coriolis Socks now (or I was – I frogged the first one because it was too big. Which was my doing.) It wasn’t exactly intuitive and the heel is idiosyncratic at best, but it does makes sense.

    And looks gorgeous in Lorna’s Laces variegated. No pooling, which I don’t mind anyway.

  7. linken

    You might be able to get a decent pair of socks out of that yardage. I just recently made a pair of riverbed socks…using the calculations…with Sport weight yarn. I thought for sure I was cutting it short with just 220 yards….I had a fair amount left. Maybe its the shortrow heels. Good luck! I’ve been trying to do another pattern from that book…third try…still isn’t working. The project is in time out…..while I am hoping there might be an errata page out there for it!

  8. monica

    Did you read the article in the NY Times yesterday about perfectionism? It ended with, apparently an old saying, “Do your worst” I was thinking about the phrase this morning and it kind of makes sense. By doing something, anything, you can discover all sorts of things. . ..I think you may be headed down this road, Grumperina. I think it just may pay off. . .do you worst!

  9. alice

    I’m doing plain Coriolis from a variegated Alpaca Sox, with absolutely no pooling. (I don’t actually mind pooling all that much; that may be the secret to avoiding it!)

  10. Jennifer

    I call these situations, “But nooooo.” Because that’s the answer to the logical questions. And this is very familiar to me. Good luck!!!!!

  11. jody

    this little hobby of ours is part hobby and part obsession, part process and part product, part art and part science, part logic and part love. sometimes you just need to go with what compels you. if it doesn’t work out as a finished object, at least the journey will be fun — or frustrating and (at least) blog-worthy 😉

  12. Sarah

    But Grumperina, I thought you were the quintessential process knitter! I think you just want to figure out how to make all those disparate elements work. And I have a feeling you’ll succeed!

  13. Punkin

    Knitter’s logic – So that is what that ??? is that bends my needles to its will. It rips the reins of control away from my plans and gleefully casts on.

  14. Diane F.

    I’ve got 3 or 4 bookmarks in my copy of this book, and notes from the spreadsheet where I did the master numbers are sticking out of it, and the errata is one of the bookmarks… I started to knit the Spiral Coriolis, but mistakenly followed the directions for the Simple Coriolis. The color in my socks is pooling, just a little. But, but… they fit at least as far as the arch expansion and it’s fun to try new things. (Note – The errata page for this book is

  15. Zarah

    No, you’re definitely not alone. The worst thing is, I get sooo mad at myself when a project doesn’t go right, but if I would have been objectively logical about it from the outset, I would have known that it wouldn’t work. (On the other hand, how can you stretch your boundaries without trying new things? I guess what you’re trying to say is *maybe* we shouldn’t try ten new things all at once.)

  16. Jocelyn

    Nope, I wouldn’t tell you that. In fact, I was going to thank you for making me feel less alone — it’s so good to know I’m not the only one who carries on doing something that is just bound not to work, and then is completely floored when, lo and behold, it doesn’t work in exactly the way I expected (which maybe indicates some sort of plan at work?). On a positive note, the yarn is yummy, and the pattern is cool! We’ll just keep our fingers crossed, shall we?

  17. Cathy-Cate

    What fun would being logical be?

    (More productive perhaps, but what the hey! Go for it!) I myself have a sock cast on with a normal stockinette toe in Yarn Pirate BFL, and keep thinking I want to convert the sock to Coriolis; but can I do that? And what about my master numbers? and when will I have time to sit down and read the whole book??)


    Well, we’ll have fun seeing what happens, whether or not you do have fun. (I hope you do.) The adventure begins….

  18. Jo

    You are sooooo not alone! But as for knitting logic, it, like reality, is relative. For example, if I have yarn for a sweater, a hat and 2 pairs of socks, I will only have the desire to knit (and purchase yarn for) a shawl or bag. If I am knitting a shawl or bag, I will only want to work on (and purchase yarn for) dishcloths. It may have something to do with the genetic need for the stash to self perpetuate (there may be some sort of symbiotic theory here) that pushes us to acquire. Then again, it may simply be that it’s so PURDDDDY! Either way, the stash grows and we keep knitting! That’s knitting logic!

  19. marilyn

    That’s what’s so wonderful about knitting. We can do what we want, and in the end it doesn’t really matter. Unlike at our jobs, perhaps.

    I can’t wait to see what happens with that yarn!


  20. Rita

    well done. At least you won’t be bored.

    I wish I could see your beautiful pictures, though! They haven’t been showing up for me for, oh, four or five days now. Am I the only one?

  21. Erica

    Who needs logic in knitting? I just bought Cat’s book, too, and I completely agree with you about it being a little difficult to navigate. I really appreciate the master patterns and the freedom that they give me to change things, but I’d also like to have a pattern all on one page once in a while. Perhaps something about the book also inspires the illogical; I bought it to make socks for my family for Christmas (6 prs in 4 weeks…), because I don’t like making socks and I figure that a little familiarity will help me get over the not liking part. Who knows? Sometimes crazy things work out after all. =)

  22. Christy

    Logic? Pssh…no fun.

    But hey, if that variegated yarn starts getting to you, I’ll be happy to relieve you of it. 😉

    That said, you can get a fairly decent pair out of sport-weight yarn. I made a very cozy pair out of some Koigu Kersti.

  23. Brenda

    I think it makes perfect sense, you being a process knitter and all:

    -It’s a new technique

    -And a new-to-you yarn

    -It’s socks, so that means if you hate the whole thing, you only need to knit one

    -Most importantly, it’s NOT a sweater 😉

    Of course, we’re here to help you rationalize anything that has to do with knitting.

  24. Karen B.

    I never thought of you as someone lacking discipline! I do admit to being a little shocked at your yarn choice but, hey, sometimes a our brains need a bit of shaking up, creatively speaking.

  25. Tracy

    I totally know how you feel! I have five things unfinished and on the needles and I want to cast on for that cool double knit argyle scarf in Son of a Stitch n Bitch. But I know why! It’s new! Double knitting is new and challenging and so is the whole argyle look, to me anyway. A challenge is always what makes me HAVE to buy new yarn and cast on.

  26. maryse

    i have two skeins of that yarn in my stash and was taken with it’s colors, and it’s awesome squishiness. anyway, i look forward to seeing how these socks turn out.

  27. Meg McG

    Delurking to say it might just be the influence of reading Cat’s book. From what I can tell, that woman has one odd way of visualizing knitting. She has a whole other set of rules when it comes to logic and maybe the book just rubbed off on you a bit! You typically account for every variable when you knit, gauge (pre-wash and post), yarn materials and their respective properties, altitude, wind direction, slope of stitches, weight of the yarn and getting within 6 inches on 28 pattern repeats based on a sheet full of math… It’s a change to see you totally free wheel it.

    I saw her knit the Coriolis socks on Knitty Gritty and was absolutely blown away by the ideas this woman pulled out of her mind and translated to a 3-D shape.

    So….if the socks don’t work out just consider it a mad scientist experiment, influenced by another mad scientist!

  28. Melissa

    A friend of mine knit socks for a man with relatively big feet out of two skeins of Hancho. It didn’t pool at all (though hi numbers will almost certainly be different to yours)

    Hope that gives you some, well, hope!

    Melissa x

  29. Pam

    I spend all day being logical, making logical, science-based decisions, so for me, knitter’s logic is all about telling the scientist to SHUT UP!

  30. Debbie

    I’ll be interested to see how you like the sock yarn. The Mirasol Project is a worthwhile cause. Their patterns are really great, as well. Love the semi-solids in Lorna’s Laces–always.

  31. Dara

    I have used this yarn for socks in a different colourway I thought there wouldn’t be enough for socks either but I made a pair for my sister who has size 10 feet.

  32. Samina

    You could call it lack of logic, but I prefer to call it living on the edge. It helps to make life a little more interesting. Ahem.

  33. Merna

    Kathy, Lynne Barr’s scarf book and Cat’s sock book are both brilliant examples of out of the box thinking about knitting construction. I’m normally not a scarf knitter, but bought the scarf book after your high praise — and it’s great.

    Once you take the time to sort out Cat’s info, it’s fun to implement. I’m knitting Cables and Corrugations (for myself) in Dreams in Color Smooshy sock yarn and it’s fascinating to see the arch expand while the pattern develops on the top of the sock. It would be beautiful in a strictly solid color too.

    Thanks for you great blog.

  34. Helen

    It’s not a logic problem. You’re simply challenging yourself. You’re pushing yourself, not so much your grandmother’s color boundaries.

    Can’t wait to see what happens next!

  35. Julia

    I can see myself doing the exact same thing. I just bought Cat’s book, and I’m mesmerized, but I, too, need to read it cover to cover before I attempt anything!

  36. martha

    Logic is for wimps. Logic is great in some fields, but in something as complex and aesthetic-driven as knitting, I like to think that intuition is the brain’s way of integrating more information than could be accounted for with a string of logic.

    So to bolster my theory, make sure that the socks turn out well, ok?

  37. Amy S.

    The posters above nailed it: you’re doing it for the challenge. Not entirely unknown for you, I’d say. And. . .alone in this? Then why did I buy four balls of Rowan Plaid yesterday that I don’t need and have no idea how I’ll use, at a price that turned out not to be one-third off after all, and despite its one-quarter acrylic content which–gasp–I didn’t even notice till later? (The colors were so cool, though.) What would you call that–stasher’s logic?

  38. Marin

    As your logic is so clearly my own, I can do naught but support you wholeheartedly since I think that may make me look less… illogical.

    w00t! You go, girl!

  39. Vanessa

    You made me giggle…that same “knitter’s logic” is exactly what has been taking over my past week of knitting. All the while, I have a bunch of WIPs that have stacked up and thankyou gifts to knit for in time for Christmas and what do I go and do? Start a new sweater project and a pair socks! Good luck with your socks!! 🙂

  40. KathrynGrace

    See, the reason we don’t have to worry about things like that is because receiving a hand-knitted gift of any sort is so amazing and wonderful that they don’t notice that the color isn’t one they’d have chosen for themselves. Don’t socks average 12,000 stitches each? That’s a lot of work! How could anyone not be grateful for that kind of love?

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