Magnificent socks

That something as humdrum as a sock can be elevated by love and then walked on, speaks to a certain magnificence. -Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, in Knitting Rules!

This year, after a 15-or-so year hiatus, I started to knit socks again, as it turns out, at a rate of about a pair a month. I've learned a lot about sock knitting this year, almost all of it over the internet. I've learned about self-patterning yarns, hand-dyed yarns, superwash wool, and how to hand-dye or paint yarn with KoolAid or Procion MX dyes. Furthermore, the short-row heel (and toe) is not terribly hard to knit. If, as in my case, you first knit up about 10 practice samples, you'll be good to go. The short-row heel is great, there's never a need to increase or decrease stitches, and the resulting socks look just a touch slicker, in my humble opinion, compared to a gusset heel sock. Self patterning yarns allow you to knit an entire sock with a single continuous piece of yarn and somehow I get a kick out of that. Oh yes, and a pair of socks can be knit on one 80-100 cm circular needle. With one circular needle, no lost needles! By purchasing undyed wool a pound at a time, I save a truckload of money (always a good thing) and of course by dyeing the wool myself in the colours of my choice, I experience a well deserved creative release and am a happier person for the day. I have purchased undeyed superwash wool from these two online suppliers, Angora Valley Fibers and Catnip Yarns , and am presently looking to try other sources. If you have a supplier of undyed super-wash wool that you absolutely love, please drop me a note.

wool socks

This is my sock knitting bible, Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch which contains everything you need to know to knit any size and style of sock, in clear language with patterns galore.

Other tricks I've learned and incorporated into my sock knitting are tubular cast-on and cast-off for double rib in The Handknitter's handbook by Montse Stanley and double invisible cast on for k1p1 rib in The Encyclopedia of knitting techniques by Debby Robinson.

This summer, at a quilt workshop I was attending, an award winning quilt artist made fun of another woman who was knitting a pair of socks. "Why are you spending hours making a sock when you can buy a pair for a few dollars?" she asked. I had to do a double-take because I would have expected the reason to be self-evident to a quilter. Go figure.

This week I bought a 1.5 pound cone of very fine cotton covered spandex yarn on eBay. As an experiment, when I get my hands on it, I plan to knit up some cotton socks and some silk socks by carrying the spandex along with the hand dyed cotton and silk yarns. I hope the added elasticity will make them behave like a proper sock should.


Dale Anne said...

LOVELY looking socks!!!

juanita sim said...

Thank you Dale Anne!