monkey business and Actual Knitting Content

Note: A week or so back, I published two rather cryptic posts. Basically, Flickr had changed its interface to the point where I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to get photos from There to Here. My experiment photo was a photo of my Monkey Socks, hence the titles and the monkeys and so on.

I have now figured out how to make Flickr and WordPress play more or less nicely, so I can now proceed with what I was trying to blog about before the monkeys invaded. Thank you. You’re welcome. 

Darn those whole-y socks!

Every year, I face the same dilemma: It takes me X hours to knit a sock, usually out of yarn that was special to me for some reason, three Rhinebecks ago or two LYS visits back in days of yore.

This entire sock yarn stash

This is…almost…my entire sock yarn stash

I adore my handknit socks. However, they don’t always like me, mostly because I seem to have razors attached to heel and sole of foot. I get these jagged, ginourmous, instant holes in my socks and poof! Sock is no longer useful.

Sad Face.

Earlier this fall, as I was going through the sock bin seeing how many had holes in them and how many didn’t, I realized something: if I was going to wait until I actually darned the dratted feet covers, then I would have a huge pile of to-be-darned socks waiting to entertain me when I am 97 and in the nursing home.

And Realization #2: I know how to darn socks, sure I do. I might even have written a tutorial on darning socks at some point in time, I can’t quite remember. But my new sock heels and soles come out thick and clunky as though they’d spent the weekend wandering the wrong end of Narnia.

Anyway, #3: I don’t like darning socks.

However, #4: I really love my socks, and I hate throwing them away.

This past month, I came up with (“unvented”) a little idea, and so many folks have raved about it that I thought I’d share the love. (I’m sure this has occurred to other knitters out there, I’m just putting this out there for those who may not have come up with it yet.)

Socks to Wristlets, Socks to Anklets

I knit a pair of Monkey socks, back when everyone was knitting a Monkey sock.

my monekys

(See? Here are where the Monkeys come in.)

The yarn was from one of my first wool shows, and I had bought new bamboo needles to try out instead of the metal ones I’d been using. (I felt so adventurous! Bamboo needles! Knitting on the wild side…)

However, I loved the finished socks to death. The soles and heel sported holes big enough so that my foot would often go through the holes, rather than into the toe.

I LOVED those socks, and couldn’t bear to take the YarnHarlot‘s brave approach to darning, loss and grief. (Walk over to the nearest trash bin, throw the socks into it whilst wailing DARN IT at the top of your lungs.)

Resurrecting Your Socks

I have been working on a step-by-step photo Cufflet Tutorial (to be linked on the Tutorials index page at a future date) so that if I don’t explain it quite clearly enough here, you will be able to see the whole process unfold before you.

However, the process is quite easy, and the tutorial isn’t finished yet, so I’m going to give a brief overview here, enough so that most knitters will Get The Idea and go off and do it any way they please.

By the way, if you have a really smashing way of doing any of this, would you mind sharing, either via emailing me or via the comments? If y’all are amenable, I can incorporate these smashing techniques into the Cufflets Tutorial, giving folks full credit, with maybe even a photo of each of you with your finished Cufflet. Shared community knowledge!

denmark cuffs

The above are my beloved Denmark socks, or more accurately, the cuffs and leg section of my beloved Denmarks. They were the first socks I dared knit out of “luxury yarn”. The yarn was the first Merino/Cashmere/Nylon yarn I’d ever bought, and that “cashmere” bit on the label had me trembling when I cast on. Cashmere! For socks! Surely this was madness.

I took loving photos of my progress, cleverly stretching the cuffs-in-progress over just the right shape of drinking glass so that the wonderful stitches and subtle dappling of the colours could be viewed.

One morning I woke up and reached for my Denmarks, only to find that they now looked like this.

A rather blurry photo. Perhaps the camera was too embarrassed on my behalf to focus properly.

A rather blurry photo. Perhaps the camera was too embarrassed on my behalf to focus properly.

Clearer close-up of The Heel Hole

Clearer close-up of The Heel Hole

Boo Hoo.

I realized that what I really liked about them was the pattern and the yarn. Sooooo…

I decided to engage the Clever Knitter part of my brain.

cut above comb

In the photo above, I had previously cut the foot off just above the hole in the heel. However, I wanted to get to the place in the sock where the rounds are continuous. The rounds stop being continuous in the back-and-forth of the heel flap (or the cup of a short-row heel), so I trimmed the sock back to the point at the base of the heel flap and gusset (to the left of the comb).

Then, I ravelled back until I found a continuous round and a single end of yarn.

the one yarn end

Note that the process of picking out all the stray bits and pieces of yarn is messy. Note that you’ll want to do the ravelling over a towel or a large piece of paper. Note that you do not want to do the ravelling over your white pashmina stole, even if you aren’t certain that there are actual pashminas out in the world somewhere.

The yarn end will be curly. That’s OK, unless it drives you crazy. If it drives you crazy, steam or wet the yarn and let it dry laid flat.

I ravelled back about an inch, inch and a half from the base of the heel, so that I could (a) add a bit more patterning; (b) do just a little ribbing; and (c) have enough yarn left to bind off. Yes, the patterning may be in the opposite direction depending on how you knit the cuff in the first place. If this is the case and it bothers you, ravel back an inch and just do a bit of ribbing before you bind off.

After you ravel, carefully put the stitches back on the needles, paying attention to stitch mount and whatever else needs attention. Knit the cufflet back up until you have enough yarn to reach around the cuff opening 2-3 times (depends on your gauge and so on). Then, bind off LOOSELY, preferably with a needle one size larger so you are forced to do it LOOSELY.

Weave in the end, steam into shape, repeat for the other sock, and voila! Cufflets.

I wear my cufflets either on my wrists as wristwarmers, or on my ankles as mini legwarmers. I find the having my ankles covered really helps keep my feet warm in the winter.

Plus, if I don’t have socks that match what I am wearing, chances are that I might have a pair of cufflets that do match and can cover up whatever else I am wearing.

Denmark Cufflet worn as Wristwarmer

Denmark Cufflet worn as Wristwarmer/Fingerless Glove

Monkey Cufflets (I wear these as anklets a lot)

Monkey Cufflets (I wear these as anklets quite often)

Also: I can save my beloved socks in a way worthy of all the work I initially put into them.


This is amazing: A gifted pianist was studying Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous sketchbook, and realized that Da Vinci had drawn up plans for an instrument, an instrument that had never been made. Gift Pianist Dude helped make the instrument a reality–a fully playable reality. It’s called the Viola Organista, and you really need to see its unusual insides (about 9:10 in the video linked above, or close thereafter) and hear its haunting sound.

Heartwarming story about a joyous reunion in the wake of a tornado.

Bouncing Lambs. You’re quite welcome.


cat belt

Finally: The World’s Oldest String, AKA Why The Neanderthals Were Cool.

Next post: Project Updates! And Misbehaving Quilt Squares.

Good stuff, gooood stuff.

See you then. May compassion and peace light your way.

About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Two toddler-age kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
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11 Responses to monkey business and Actual Knitting Content

  1. Pattie says:

    I have my own (big) bag of need-to -be-darned socks. And I have darned some fairly successfully.

    I am trying to prevent holes in my new socks by using a Cat Bordhi tip: hold a strand of KSH with the yarn when knitting the area you normally wear out. For me it iis the heel. I start using the KSH when I begin turning the heel. As I get into the gusset I just leave the ends hanging there. (I don’t carry it all the way around the sock, just on the sole). It makes an even cushier spot for my heel. So far so good. I have several pairs in rotation and they seem quite strong.
    And I love your wristlets!

  2. Rachel says:

    I have a pair of socks that have been waiting for over a year for me to either darn them or do “sock surgery” (cut out the heel, knit a new one, kitchener the two pieces together). I think I’ll make wristlets/cufflets instead, it will happen way sooner. thanks for the idea!

  3. Laura K says:

    I’m *not* good at darning. So every time I take out a pair of handknit socks to wear, I check them first for thin spots. It’s far easier for me to double-stitch a thin spot ahead of time than darn a hole. I have one pair in particular that I have stitched over and darned so many times I’ve lost count, and they’re still my favorite pair of socks (probably why they need so much repairing, too).

    That said, the other interesting “repair” I’ve run into requires unspun wool and a felting needle. Make a patch of the unspun wool and needle-felt it into the offending ragged edges. Instant “darn” without darning.. and some emotional release as well, being able to stab the offending spot repeatedly.

  4. Filatura says:

    Having indulged in a warm alpaca coat that defeats its own purpose by having wide sleeves that act like a wind tunnel, I love the wristlet tutorial. Having heels that could be used to sandpaper lumber, I have the holey socks to practice with. Thank you much for this one, Sandi.

    BTW, have you tried socks with replaceable heels? Anna Zilboorg has a Free-Sole Sock and if I’m not mistaken, there’s something in one of the EZ books that lets you re-knit just the heel of a sock. Probably faster than darning.

  5. molly says:

    i also use patti’s method when i’m knitting socks of a ‘tender’ nature. however, even sturdier socks eventually begin to wear and then i try to swiss darn them over the worn spots when they are still frail but whole….a good pair of socks is too precious to let go without a fight! however – i will be trying the cufflets very soon with a couple of pairs that i didn’t rescue soon enough! and thanks, as always, for the chispas!

  6. gwensscars says:

    I need to figure out something to do with socks I made for the Kid when he was much smaller. They’re much too skinny now to fit either of us as wristlets, and some of them I don’t want to send away to someone else.

  7. Arla says:

    Hi Sandi,
    Love the lambs!!! I had the occasion once upon a time when I went to visit a friend (she and her husband raised sheep). While visiting with her outside in the sheepfold, one of the ‘bummer’ lambs literally jumped into my arms!!! It was the neatest experience I’ve ever had with farm animals…I loved to wriggle my fingers into the dense curly wool of the lamb…it was so soft and I loved what the lanolin did for my hands!!!
    On another note, somewhere in my stash of books, I have instructions for knitting socks with removeable/replaceable heels. If you’re interested in them, let me know…in the meantime, I will start looking for the instructions so that if anyone else would like them, they are available…not sure when the pattern was published, but I’m thinking it is in one of my vintage books…
    Thanks for sharing your remedies for holey heeled socks…for anyone who has rough heels here is what I have done to keep my heels fairly soft…
    I soak them in quite warm water with Epsom Salts in them…I soak until the water gets almost cold, then I use an table knife to scrape the old skin off my heels. After I have dried them, I apply a generous amount of a product called ‘Hoofmaker’ made by ‘Mane and Tail’. Not only does this procedure and product keep my heels nice and soft, it toughens up my fingernails (I have very soft finger nails).
    Hope that helps you all!!!

    Also loved the musical instrument by Leonardo Da Vinci!!! looks like a piano, sounds like an organ!!!

  8. Natalie says:

    Reading this got me off the internet & upstairs. I found my fuzzy socks that were beyond repair that I couldn’t bear to toss and now, an hour later, I’ve got fabulously warm wrists. Quickest knitting project in ages!

  9. Deb says:

    Love your idea. I have been looking at my handmade socks that I just can’t give up, but I HATE TO DARN. I also love wristlets. I have arthritis and other stuff and wearing them helps circulation and tones down the pain. So, I’m off to go through my socks with holes.
    Thank you for the idea, deb

  10. Christine says:

    I loved this post. Make-do is alive and well! Also, can anyone tell me what kind of sheep are bouncving around in the video chispa?

  11. Deb says:

    Happy Holidays and may the New Year keep you in good health.

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