Let's talk socks
May 16, 2017
Let's start with the obvious: I'm on a bit of a sock knitting bender.
Eight pairs since July, with the ninth on the needles right now, almost finished.
Despite the tiny needles (size 1! Officially crazy!) and the thread like yarn (fingering weight, I'm looking at you), both of which would have made me run away quickly a year ago, I'm all in. I have surprised myself - I don't do that very often - and have been thinking about why I find sock knitting so appealing at the moment. This is what I have come up with:
The yarn. This is a no brainer - there are so many beautiful sock yarns on the market. Speckles, self-striping, indie-dyed skeins are gorgeous and seemingly limitless in their variety. I can buy all the crazy colors, ones I would never wear as a sweater, and knit them up for my feet or someone else's feet. Seriously, I have sock yarn with gold sparkles in it! Fun and frivolous and perfectly suited for a certain 17 year old. I have amassed quite the collection of sock yarns and keep adding to it.
Portability. It's very easy to grab socks to knit on the go. I can throw a project bag in my, admittedly very large, purse and have it with me all the time. I knit in that half an hour after we get to lacrosse and before the game starts, before doctor appointments and in waiting rooms of all sorts, while in the carpool line, in airplanes, on road trips (Fatty is our driver) and in airports, and, of course, in front of the TV. There is no wrangling of a heavy, in-progress sweater. My arms aren't flailing left and right while I wield a large circular needle with something hanging off of it.
The magic loop. This was the game-changer for me. The sock is on one needle so I am not keeping track of four double points and not dropping stitches and needles all the time. Magic looping is also extremely fast and I love trucking along at a decent clip. It does take a bit of getting used to - awkward does not adequately describe my first attempts - but once I got it, holy moly, it was amazing. I don't think I will ever knit socks on double points again.
Variety. So many cool sock patterns are out there for the taking. I love trying a new technique on a small scale. I am comfortable enough with the basic sock form now that I can stretch my brain with different techniques and variations. It has not gotten boring yet!
Small projects equal fast finishes. There is a reason I like knitting hats. Quick, easy (once you know what you are doing) and satisfying. Socks fall into this category, too. The difference, you can wear socks all day, every day. I guess you could do that with a hat, too, but that's not my speed. I have two hand knit hats that I love and rotate between. Adding a new one to my repertoire each year is plenty. But you can never have enough socks! Growing a sock drawer is seriously fun business.
My foot issues. Boring stuff, but my reality. And it has not been lost on me that the part of my body that is giving me the most trouble, is the part that I am taking the most time to cover in hand knits. Hand knit socks are amazing to wear - they are cozy and cushy and luxurious and feel like a treat each time I pull a pair on. For me, it's self-care in a new form.
Work making vs. for fun making. While I was deep into the sewing for my next book, knitting socks is gave me a creative outlet that wasn't work-based. Don't get me wrong - the sewing part is fun, too, but it is deadline driven. I need balance so I am knitting socks outside of business hours and outside of the house. It's scratching a making-itch that I need to take care of to produce my best work.
Creating memories while I knit. This part is a little more ethereal, but it's important to me. These moments in time are marked in knit and purl stitches and then come back to me when I see them or wear them. For example, I bought a skein of hand-dyed blue yarn in Vancouver that became a pair of cabled socks knit in a week, worn with Birkenstocks while Jane and I toured colleges out East this past fall. I think about our summer vacation and our college trip every time I pull that pair on. The ones I just finished knitting are from yarn that my friend Jennie picked up for me in Nashville and I think about how she picked the perfect speckles for me. I want to keeping knitting memories.
Joy. Period. Full stop. Sock knitting brings me joy.
I know that this post is a whole lot words to explain why I can't stop knitting socks. Maybe it should be simpler than that? I could have gone solely with joy, because that is essentially what it is all about, but I am actively trying to reflect about what motivates me to do what I do. It's good mental exercise that is easy to skip if I don't make the effort.
Do you knit socks? Got a pattern to recommend? Or some yarn I shouldn't miss? Or are you obsessed with making something else at the moment? I would love to hear about it. If you want to see snippets of my sock knitting, I made a hashtag on Instagram.
I started knitting socks last year and JOY is the perfect word to describe how it makes me feel. For all of the above reasons. I especially love the variety of patterns and beautiful hand-dyed sock yarns out there. A few of my favorite patterns: Hermione's Everyday Socks, Simple Skyp Socks, Charades, Geek Socks, Vanilla Latte. Yarns: Spun Right Round, StrayCat Socks, Havirland,
Posted by: Tien | May 16, 2017 at 08:00 AM
I still use dbl points. But can go fast. Magic loop is on my bucket list...I miss your book recommendations. Can't wait for your book!
Posted by: Teri | May 16, 2017 at 08:16 AM
I ADORE knitting socks!!! And yes I quilt and cross stitch and garden and read but oh how I LOVE to knit socks. Like you Magic Loop was the key that unlocked this wonderful obsession for me... I take my socks everywhere and have no problem knitting in public. It starts lots of nice conversations. Tien gave you some great pattern suggestions. I do a lot of plain stockinette socks and make them scrappy using bits and bobs of several different skeins... sort of a patchwork string quilt for my feet. You can see them on my blog or on IG. Happy knitting!!!
Posted by: carol fun | May 16, 2017 at 10:18 AM
I love knitting socks! I still use double points, I guess I should check out circular needles. I just finished a hunter hammersmith pattern and I'm getting ready to cast on my second pair from this designer.
Posted by: Anita | May 16, 2017 at 10:39 AM
Thanks, Anita. I am not familiar with hunter hammersmith - will look that up!
Posted by: Erin | house on hill road | May 17, 2017 at 08:18 AM
Thanks, Carol! I love the idea of using all those leftover bits in plain socks. I’ve been saving mine for toes and heels!
Posted by: Erin | house on hill road | May 17, 2017 at 08:19 AM
Thanks, Teri - I’ll see what I can come up for book recommendations. I’ve mostly been reading The Outlander series with some shorter books in between!
Posted by: Erin | house on hill road | May 17, 2017 at 08:21 AM
Thanks for all the great pattern recs, Tien! I have made Hermione’s Everyday Socks - those were my first pair using magic loop. That’s a great pattern. I will check the rest out and the yarns! Of course, I’ll look at those, too!
Posted by: Erin | house on hill road | May 17, 2017 at 08:21 AM
As you know, I have been knitting at least 10 minutes a day for my 100 day challenge. I have ripped out socks many times, but just keep at it. I also started a Find Your Fade Shawl which I started over at least twice. Learning and learning. Knitting is therapeutic and I agree the self care and portability are huge factors for me. BUT, I find myself buying lots of yarn since I put myself on a fabric hold. Ha.
Posted by: Sarah C | May 17, 2017 at 08:45 AM
Yes, yes, yes! I love sock knitting for all those reasons, and most of them are also why I'm so into small scale hand sewing. I'd love to learn how to do two at a time because I must admit, after one I'm ready to move on to some new yarn ;-)
Posted by: beki | May 17, 2017 at 10:41 AM
I've been dabbling in needleturn appliqué for portability. I love your hand sewing projects!
Posted by: Erin | house on hill road | May 17, 2017 at 11:54 AM
Ha! I am on a self-imposed fabric buying hiatus, too. Yarn on the other hand...
Posted by: Erin | house on hill road | May 17, 2017 at 12:24 PM
Love your blog and your work- quilting and now knitting. I just started crocheting and making small squares to then turn into an blanket. I agree portability is a bonus. Socks are on my bucket list next. Love seeing them and you are so clever to make!
Posted by: Rosalind | May 18, 2017 at 03:52 PM
such joy... and beautifully written. xx
Posted by: leslie | May 21, 2017 at 09:18 PM
Maybe you've already figured it out, but I tried looking this name up, and didn't find anything, however I did find Hunter Hammersen, who has some lovely socks.
Thanks for posting this topic, I seem to have collected a lot of sock yarns, and want to try and have a sock pattern on the needles as a travelling project, even though I mostly like knitting other things. Two at a time magic loop is what makes sock knitting palatable for me. Otherwise by the time I get to sock two, I've forgotten what I did on sock one.
Posted by: Liz | June 15, 2017 at 12:35 PM