On Socks and Slumps

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When I first started knitting, I was very skeptical about socks. More specifically, I was confused by their popularity in the knitting community.  Socks are just about the least exciting garment a person could make, I thought at the time. They’re also among the most expensive compared to other garments: 1 skein of good sock yarn runs about $25 and only makes one pair, but you can make a whole sweater with two skeins of sock yarn and slightly larger needles, and a $50 sweater seems like a way better investment than $25 socks. Money considerations aside, I’ve also been a person who has hated wearing socks for the majority of my life. My socks were always replete with holes after just a few wears, and they’ve always felt rather suffocating next to my skin. 

While nothing can really change the price of hand knit socks, I’ve come to the conclusion that wool socks are different than those other crappy socks that have caused so much discomfort in the past. Wool socks are luxurious. They are uncannily warm or cool whenever you need them to be, and I find them so comfortable now that I’m able to wear them through the night and wake up to find them still on my feet the next morning. I have come to love socks for these reasons, and because of the way they boost my ego. Few things have made me feel more clever than learning how to turn a heel to make perfect fitting socks, and knitting two socks to be as close to exactly alike as possible is something that I get better and better at doing with each pair that I make. So, I hope you’ll forgive me my lack of modesty when I brag about the socks pictured above. These are Light Rye, modified from a pattern by Tin Can Knits and made with Knit Picks Stroll Handpainted in the Constellation colourway. Because the original pattern is written for worsted weight yarn and I wanted to used fingering weight, I cast on more stitches (72, to be exact) to fit a large man’s foot. I think my garter stitch pannel in the front is wider than what the original pattern calls for, but I don’t really mind. In total, these socks took 5 days to make. If I didn’t have a job to go to, they might have been done in 3.

Obviously, I am not a large man, and these socks are not for me. My sock knitting appetite has been whetted, though, so I definitely am making some socks for myself.

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Allow me to introduce my first pair of Cookie A‘s wildly popular Monkey socks, knit in self-striping Drops Fabel. These are my first patterned socks since I made that fancy pair for Margaret, and I completely understand why knitters love this pattern so much (there are 17919 pairs and counting on Ravelry!). The repeats are short and very easy to memorize, making these the perfect travel knitting project: easy, but not too brainless. It’s my first time using Drops Fabel and, so far, I really like this yarn. I can see that marled self-striping yarn might not have been the best choice for a moderately busy pattern, but I love the colours, and the yarn seems sturdy enough that it would survive the washing machine (P.S. any knitters out there able to comment on this yarn’s machine washability?).

My absolute favorite thing about socks right now is that they’re giving me the confidence to try another sweater soon. I mean, if I can do a fancy pattern and turn a heel like a boss, surely I can find my way back to making lovely sweaters that fit the way I want them to, right? So, I’m thinking that Xanti looks like a challenge I’m nearly ready to undertake. There’s plenty of stockinette to balance out the cable and lace details, and I already have some great yarn in a hard-to-photograph bottle green colour that I’ve been saving for the right pattern. It feels great to be getting excited about sweaters again!

Though this might be the end of my sweater slump, I’m still not done with socks! I’ve picked out the next yarn I’ll be trying out, but I haven’t settled on a pattern yet. Any of you seasoned sock knitters have any pattern recommendations that will make the best use of my beautiful yarn?

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3 thoughts on “On Socks and Slumps

  1. Pingback: Sneak Preview | Self Preservation

  2. I’ve been knitting since I was 6 and I’ve always been sceptical/scared of socks! I always think, I don’t even like knitting in the round, how will I manage DPNs… as well as the cost of the yarn. But what is your favourite sock pattern? I’m about ready to be able to brag about turning a heel!

    • When I feel like making socks, I usually make a plain pair from a pattern I improvised/memorized a while ago, which is a basic 64 stitch top down sock with a standard heel flap knit on 2.25 mm needles. I think Kate Atherly has a free basic sock pattern similar to the one I settled on through trial and error. I learned how to make socks using Silver’s Sock Class (http://www.cometosilver.com/socks/), which give great step by step instructions that are clear and easy to understand. The pictures included in the lessons are really easy to understand, too. I highly recommend this tutorial if you’re ready to dive into socks! You’ll know all the techniques (having been a knitter since age 6, wow! 🙂 ) and you’ll feel like a genius when you get to the halfway point!

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