Christmas Knitting and Thankfulness.

Christmas Knitting and Thankfulness | The Sock Monkey
Christmas Knitting and Thankfulness | The Sock Monkey

In my family, knitting people presents for Christmas is hard. All of my family members probably have a vague idea of what they’re getting this year, just because I knit these vague blobs of fabric and am elusive about what it’s going to be.

Sometimes it’s hard to have a family that’s so interested in your knitting.

Yep, they say. I’m getting another pair of socks this year …

And I wilt in the corner … No, just kidding. My family is really not that mean. :)

This year, I’m making all of my family’s presents.

As I’ve been updating you, I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo (which is a handful to type, by the way), so that makes my knitting progress slowed down a bit. (And everything else, for that matter.)

I’m in the middle of a pair of socks for someone that’s not related to us, an artist friend of ours.

I have another pair of socks to knit for his wife.

I’ve got to finish a present for my father; I’ve yet to decide what I’m going to make him–I’m leaning toward a pair of knitted ties, but that’s only if I have enough time.

One more sock to go for my younger sister.

I made a pair of socks for my littlest sister who is three, and she’s hopefully forgotten about them (she’s tried them on several times).

My oldest sister, best friend, and mother read my blog, so I can’t really say what I made for them.

And that leaves one person, someone who I’ve got no idea what I’m getting him: My one-year-old brother.

Umm …

He’s the hardest of my family members to knit for.

I think that I’ll get all of the things that I’m planning on giving people finished before Christmas.



I like the way that we’ve been doing Christmas.

For several years now, my family has been striving to get back to the meaning of Christmas, the thankfulness of Christmas. My mom’s vision for our Christmases is to be as thankful for our presents as Mary and Laura were in Little House when Mr. Edwards brought them a tin cup, a penny, and peppermint stick.

We’ve been downsizing Christmas; getting away from the commercialism; taking back what it’s all about.

We’ve been creating a more thankful Christmas by creating each other’s gifts.

And I think that it’s working.

We know that the other person has poured their time into making this thing for us. That’s no small thing.

It makes us have a deeper relationship.

It makes us love each other more.

I makes us feel fuller.

One of my favorite quotes is from Ann Voskamp: “When you’re looking for joy, you will always find it hiding in your gratitude.”

That’s so true.

When we’re thankful for our shapeless blobs of knitted fabric, we’re a lot happier.

I’m talking to you, Kay-Leigh. ;)

Just kidding.

But no, really. Think about it. When we’re content, that’s one thing. But being thankful for everything, that’s taking contentedness to a whole new level.

That’s giving yourself permission to be happy, subconsciously.

And boy, does it work.

Thanks again for listening to me ramble.

Your comments are appreciated!


PS. I told you last post that the sock pattern I have in Knitty is a character in The Hobbit. The character is an elf.


do with love.


This was designed by me …

Originally posted on Miss Juliet Poe's Emporium:

ann voskamp quote | design by miss juliet poe's emporium
ann voskamp quote | design by the sock monkey | Josiah Bain |

View original

NaNoWriMo Update.

NaNoWriMo update. | The Sock Monkey
NaNoWriMo update. | The Sock Monkey

So, as you all know, I’m officially doing NaNoWriMo. Surprisingly, I still have time for knitting.

Everything is going really well, which is a huge shock to me. My eyes hurt from staring at the computer screen for so long everyday (I think I’ll need glasses soon); I think I’m getting carpal tunnel in my fingers; I can’t sleep at night because I’m brainstorming (and I forget everything I’ve thought of when I wake up) (and on top of that, I’m really tired and grumpy in the morning–just ask my sisters); and the worst: I’m afraid of editing anything I write anymore because I can’t do it in my manuscript.

Yep, things are going real well.

Okay, I’m joking about all of those things (not really). I’ve met my word count each day and I still have time to knit! Let me say that one more time: I still have time to knit!


I don’t drink coffee regularly, but if I did, I’d probably have several pots downed per day.

If I did drink coffee regularly, especially during this time, I’d have a lot more time to get things done.

I’d also not be sleeping at all, but that’s okay if I get my word count done and my knitting projects finished!

(Yes, Mom, I did just say that.)

(And I know that you’re going to be reading this.)

(Happy birthday, by the way!)

So, back on topic. I just finished writing two-thousand and thirty-eight words just right now and I’m kind of tired.

Maybe I mentioned that …

NaNoWriMo update | The Sock Money
Yay! Yay! Yay! Celebrate! No. Really, I’m not that kind of person. Knit! Knit! Knit! Take a long nap!

But on the upside (I think I’ve been mentioning the upsides for awhile now, but I don’t have the heart to hit the backspace button one more time today), I have more words than I’ve ever had in a first draft before!


That’s about it.

Thanks for reading my rants!


(PS. Last post, I mentioned that I had another pattern to be published in Knitty [out in Dec]. I have a hint for you: it’s based off of a character from The Hobbit.)

(PPS. The character is AWESOME!)

(PPPS. That’s all the information I will leak today. You will just have to wait and see …)


(My precioussss …)

(Just kidding.)

I will finish this thing.

I will finish this thing. | The Sock Monkey
The number of words I had then … Taylor Swift’s 1989 anyone?
I will finish this thing. | The Sock Monkey
The current number of words in my document.

Hello fellow knitters and non-knitters and everybody in between! (I really should just say “everybody.”)

Over the last few years, I’ve been trying to write several novels. Starting is the easy part. Finishing? Well, never done that before. So this year, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The book I’m working on wasn’t started yesterday, but I’m going to try to write 50,000 new words this month. I’ve got everything scheduled out: I’m going to write about a thousand words on Saturday and Sunday, and then every day during the week, I’ll do two thousand. That will take me to exactly 50,000 words. And then … I’ll still have about 20 or 30 thousand more to finish.

Whew! It’s going to be a month!

It keeps striking me as strange: I’ve spent the last three or four years attempting to write books and never finishing, and then, this month alone, I’m going to get the majority of one done. And that comes with a period on the end. (Or a full stop, whichever one you prefer.) (And if you don’t know what that means exactly, it means that I’m determined to stick to this thing this time.) (And that’s a lot of parenthetical sentences.)

I’ve tried to plot the novel. I know where it begins, and where it ends, and I’ve got a fair idea of some of the events that happens in the middle, but the rest is all blurry. The main character was based off of a girl I met in real life, so I’ve got a pretty good idea of what she’s like.

And all of that was basically just to remind me that I’ve got a pretty good start on this thing.

But I can’t help but be a little nervous.

Okay, I’m REALLY nervous.

But otherwise, it’s all good.

I’m not going to be posting on the blog hardly this month, but just know that I’m still alive and I still will be keeping this blogging thing around for a while at least.

Thank you.


(PS. Look in the Winter issue of Knitty, out in December, for another sock pattern from me.)



Interview with designer Rayna Curtis Fegan

Petty Harbour socks by Rayna Curtis Fegan
Petty Harbour socks by Rayna Curtis Fegan
Signal Hill socks by Rayna Curtis Fegan
Signal Hill socks by Rayna Curtis Fegan

Last month, when my Mirror socks were published, there was another sock pattern that gained a lot of attention, too.  The Petty Harbour socks were designed by Rayna Curtis Fegan of First Light Handcrafts. I follow her blog and have chatted with her online on several instances. She is a joy to talk to, and when she agreed to an interview with me, I was delighted.

So, let’s start!

Who taught you how to knit?

I have vivid memories of both of my grandmothers knitting when I was a child, so between them I learned. I can never quite recall which one put the first set of needles in my hands. I do remember the first thing I ever knit, though–a blanket for my doll in white Phentex yarn that ended up twice as wide at the end as at the beginning.

That’s quite a legacy! What is your favorite project to knit, and when did you knit your first one?

Socks! I love knitting socks. When I picked up knitting in earnest again four years ago, my mind boggled that someone would spend all that time and money to knit something that went on your feet. I believe my exact words were “That’s just crazy!” Then a few months later, I took a class from Kate Atherley at my LYS and I was totally hooked. I have knit about thirty pairs since then.

Do you have a favorite design that you could knit forever?

Hmm … Well, I knit a lot of simple socks; I have knit Hermione’s Everyday Socks five times in less than two years. But I am madly in love with Wendy Johnson‘s Rhossili Beach Watch Cap. I have knit that three times and would have made myself more if I didn’t look like such a dork in hats. And I love No Purl Monkeys. I have an unnatural aversion to purling.

Yeah, purling isn’t the funnest stitch for me, either. What knitting techniques do you want to learn in the future, though?

Technique-wise, I think the next thing I actually want to learn is stranded colourwork/fair isle, but I keep putting it off. There are just so many other things to do that it gets pushed off to the back burner. I am not really a process knitter, so unless I actually really like the result, I am not likely to learn it just for the sake of being able to say it’s a skill I possess.

I love your Petty Harbour and Signal Hill socks. Can you give us a short (and maybe mysterious) description of your next design?

It’s another sock design that is inspired by my home province, this time a fingering weight lace one!  But it will have to wait for a month or so now!

Well, we all will be looking forward to it! What does the design process look for you most of the time? Do you have a particular person or thing that inspires you?

Thank you! As for the design process, my first two designs were things that I just knit for two specific people, and then wrote up afterwards. Signal Hill is the first one that I actually set out to design, following a more traditional process.
Inspiration for me comes from lots of places. I am a huge fan of stitch pattern books of all kinds; I got my very first Japanese stitch dictionary this summer. I also take inspiration from some of the designers I know, either online or in real life here in Toronto. Signal Hill was inspired by Glenna C, but I’d say my biggest overall design influence from a person standpoint would have to be Kate Atherley. She creates clear patterns for classic designs that produce lovely results. I took her pattern-writing class at my LYS in July, and it was invaluable!

Where do you hope to go with designing in the future?

I don’t really have a long term vision of where I’d like my designing to go. It’s really just something I started for fun. I have plans for more designs, of course–I just need to find the time to execute them all. I work a regular job and I have other hobbies I’d like to work on (spinning and dyeing being the two that come to mind), so the time I devote to designing is somewhat limited. I think for now, I’ll just take it as it comes!

As a spinner, do you look at commercially-made yarn from a different perspective?

I am really still a newbie spinner. In fact I have really only been spinning in earnest since May, even though I have had my wheel a fair bit longer.

I still love all my commercial yarns, sock yarns especially, because I am nowhere near the point where I can spin the yarn I want. Right now I just spin and then later, decide what to do with the yarn I produce. Right now, commercial (usually indie/hand-dyed) yarns are definitely still my staple.

So, do you hope to branch out into not only designing knitting patterns, but also yarns?

I would actually love to start dyeing my own yarns. I have done some experimenting with acid dyes, and undyed fibres and yarns, but I live in fear of “ruining” them, so I am sometimes not as adventurous as I’d like to be. I need to get over that and just go for it!
A lot of what I have done to date has been kettle dyeing (where you just mix up the dye and just immerse the fibre). I’d love to take a class in handpainting yarns, like the Stained Fingers Dye Camp that a local independent dyer, indigodragonfly, offers in the summer here in Ontario. That’s the sort of method that allows for all the amazing variegated yarns you see from indie dyers.

We’re almost done here, and I just wanted to ask you: What would you consider to be the most valuable knitting book out there?

I don’t have a favourite book, per se.  I love my stitch dictionaries; I have two from Vogue and one of the Barbara Walker treasuries.  I think pattern books are highly individual, depending on what sorts of things you knit, so it’s hard to recommend just one!

Okay, last question. If you didn’t knit, what would you think you’d be doing with your life at this point?

If I didn’t knit, I have no idea what I’d be doing.  Mostly because a large chunk of my community is knitting related, and one of my best friends, who has shown me polymer clay and jewelry making and such, would not be in my life at all.  My sister-in-law taught me beading, so perhaps I’d be doing more of that.  Or maybe I would just be WAY further ahead on my “To Read” list ;-)

Thanks so much Rayna for letting me interview you!


Rayna Curtis Fegan is a knitter, spinner, designer, and software reporting specialist.

She was born and raised in Newfoundland, Canada, and will be returning home soon, but for now lives in Toronto with her husband, and her rescue dog, Kayleigh.
You can follow her on TwitterRavelry, and Pinterest.

Review: The Safe Lands trilogy

Captives, book 1Outcasts, book 2Rebels, book 3






Publisher: Zondervan

A few weeks ago, my friend Jill Williamson released the last book in her first dystopian trilogy: The Safe Lands. She asked me to review it for her, and so I am, although I really should have written it when the book first came out. :)

The books follow three brothers living in a village in post-apocalyptic, plague-ravaged North America: Levi (the oldest; a hunter), Mason (a doctor), and Omar (an artist). Omar is a loner–he feels like he can’t fit in, and he doesn’t think that anyone likes him. In the first book, Captives, he gives his whole village to the Safe Lands (a enormous, walled city that harbours victims of the thin plague), in exchange for a title and money in the Safe Lands, where he thinks he will be safe and able to fit in.

Unfortunately, his plans don’t exactly work out. The villagers fight back when the Safe Lands officials come to take them away. The men of the village are killed and the women are taken to a pregnancy and birthing center; the Safe Lands are hoping that the uninfected villagers will birth uninfected children for them.

The first book follows the brothers around as Levi tries to find a way to escape, Mason makes a rash deal that he will find a cure for the thin plague, and Omar goes from happy to lonelier than he ever was before in the village.

And if I tell you anything else about the trilogy, I’ll end up giving you way too many spoilers.

If you like YA fiction, you’ll probably like this trilogy; just have the third book handy when you finish the second one, because it ends with a huge cliffhanger!

Thank you, Jill for writing really good books and giving me really good advice on writing and publishing. :)


And I’ll be back next week with an interview from a really talented designer, Rayna Curtis Fegan, so stay tuned!

New Yarn and Finished Socks

This week (knitting-wise) two things happened. Good news first.

I just received my first skein of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight.

Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight in colour SporesDelicious, eh?

I’ll use it for my next design, which I hope to have completed soon, so stay tuned.

Next: the good but not-so-good news.

I finished my first pair of colourwork socks. (The Ravelry project page is here.)

One turned out really good!

Sneaky Argyle socks by Wendy D Johnson

The other one … Well, I’ve been working on them on and off since February, so I really don’t want to take it out.

Sneaky Argyle socks

So now I’m going to be all depressed and everything until I rip my whole sock out. (Take a look at that cuff. It starts out large and gets smaller all the way down. :/ I need more practise.)

Sneaky Argyle socksIMG_1774

But I’m pretty happy with the first sock!

 Sneaky Argyle socks

And, let’s face it: Good yarn makes poorly-made socks a whole lot tolerable!

Sneaky Argyle socks with Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight.

Now, you colourwork knitters are probably shaking your heads in disgust wondering what is it that’s wrong with me. I’m sorry. Colourwork is not my strong suite. But these socks will not be the end of my more-than-one-color endeavors! I’ve got my eye on a cardigan (which is very strange for me to say, because I think that all things that resemble sweaters are over-rated) that has a colourwork yoke …

#SherlockLives Cardi by Professor Fonz

So, if you more talented colourwork knitters would give me as many tips as you think I could possibly use, that would be greatly appreciated.



Welcome to the Dark Side …

Welcome to the Dark Side ...I can just imagine a villain knitting … Moriarty? Hmm. I think Loki would be a better knitter than Moriarty. :)

Thank You

The Ravelry Socks' "Hot Right Now" listLast week, my Mirror socks were published in Knitty. I’ve been getting a lot of great feedback on them, and I just wanted to take a post and say thanks. As you can see in the picture up there, they hit number one on Ravelry’s “Hot Right Now” on not only one, but two separate occasions. Since it’s been published on Ravelry, it’s gotten 546 likes, it’s in 267 queues, and currently 4 people are making it.

Thank you all for getting the pattern this big!


Knitty: Mirror sock

Mirror Socks by Josiah Bain // The Sock Monkey
Mirror Socks by Josiah Bain // The Sock Monkey

Today my Mirror sock pattern was released in Knitty for the Deep Fall issue. I’m super excited (to say the least). This is my first “official” pattern, and I know that it won’t be the last. So, Mirror. The socks were inspired by the song, Mirror, by Ellie Goulding, from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack. I’m a big Ellie fan, and although the song wasn’t as deep as most of her other music, this created the spark (sorry, that Hunger Games pun was really not intended!) that created the socks. Here’s the blurb from the beginning of the Knitty pattern:

Most of my sock-designing inspiration comes from certain songs that I really like. This one is no different. Inspired from the song Mirror by Ellie Goulding (from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Soundtrack), these socks are, surprisingly, mirror images.

When I started knitting these I had some second thoughts, because they’re so asymmetrical and it looked a little awkward. But as it grew, and I started to get a feel for the pattern and placement, I suddenly realized that what this sock needed was its other half. We are not complete without our reflections, right?

Along the insides of the socks is a strip of garter stitch. There is a surprising lack of socks with this versatile stitch, so I decided to remedy it. With garter stitch as my base, I knew I wanted something lace to go with it, partially because I needed practice designing it, and also because garter and lace look so nice together. Even with those two things down and ready, I still needed something to fill the outside edges with. At first I shoved twisted traveling stitches out of my mind; I do way too many of them and I had decided to take a little of a break; but without my mind, I sort of snuck them in there somehow. I didn’t have much debate as what I was to do with the gusset. The Cat Bordhi sockitecture just fit in this design, and it looks quite nice slipped under the foot.

What you see here doesn’t have to be what your sock looks like, though. Mix things up a bit: shift the columns, work the single knit stitch up the instep through the back loop to add another layer of sophistication, or add a purl column instead of having the garter stitch collide with the lace panel; the possibilities are yours to explore.

And I have to say something about the model: Thanks Miss Juliet Poe, my sister (Miss Juliet Poe’s Emporium), for twisting your feet into precarious positions while I snap away! I greatly appreciate it!

Thank you to my fellow bloggers for your support with the blog!