It’s only been in the last ten years or so that I’ve discovered wool socks. Before that, almost all my socks were cotton. I didn’t see any reason to get wool socks and I may have been afraid they’d be scratchy.
I know better now. I love good wool socks. I love the way they hug my feet, especially my instep. I love the slightly squishy feel of thick wool socks when they’re new and when I first put them on after laundering.
But I’ve never made any socks, cotton or wool. I’ve made slippers which are not the same thing at all, but not socks.
My daughters and I have taken to giving each other (boughten, as EZ would say) wool socks for Christmas. Like Dumbledore, we’ve discovered that getting a good pair of socks for Christmas is very satisfying.
And they’re always wearing out, or one goes off adventuring on its own and leaves its twin behind. There’s always a reason for a new pair of good socks.
This means that socks are a guaranteed lock for Christmas gifts. This is great news since my daughters are very hard to knit for.
I’ve heard there is a sock maker’s malady, sometimes called single sock syndrome. It’s a lot like UFO-itis, especially the kind that hits after you’ve made one sleeve of your cardigan or sweater.
At this point, all I can suggest is grit your teeth & persevere. Imagine the socks under the Christmas tree.
But summer has come early this year. I’m thinking it’s going to be a warm one, too. That means I need small projects that won’t warm my lap, or putting up my needles and yarn until fall – not acceptable.
Finding the Right Pattern
I have a sock book called Op Art Socks by Stephanie Van der Linden. The cover shows an amazingly colorful pair of socks. They’re fun to look at, but I’m a bit intimidated by the idea of actually making them.
Another beautiful sock book is called Magnificent Mittens and Socks. The “and socks” part is in small print for good reason. The author, Anna Zilboorg, claims that there is little difference between making mittens & socks, so she simply devotes one chapter of the book to discussing how to modify the mitten patterns into socks. I find this book intimidating, too.
So I checked out one of my favorite free online pattern resources: knitty.com. There are a LOT of great looking free sock patterns there, but most of them, or most of the ones I like, are too complicated for a first time sock maker.
Next up: another source for free online knitting patterns: Lion Brand Yarns. To be completely honest, I love Lion Brand’s pattern library. It’s huge, most of the patterns are free, and the search engine is very helpful.
Today, I found what looks like the perfect sock pattern for me: Your First Knit Socks seems like it’s just my speed. It’s a free online pattern for beginning knitters that you can download or just look at in your browser, and you can’t beat the price: free.
Choosing Your Needles & Technique
The pattern assumes I’ll be using double pointed needles, but I’ve found that using one long circular needle, and using the Magic Loop method, works well & spares me the headaches of keeping track of double pointed needles.
Another option I like is to use is 2 circular needles. It’s even easier than using the Magic Loop method and almost exactly like using double pointed needles, minus the tricky needles slipping away. This one works better if you have shorter circular needles. I’ve no idea what the name of this technique might be.
Now, I just have to raid my stash for an appropriate sock yarn. This could take a while…
Any helpful tips, tricks or pattern suggestions from other sock knitters out there? Please share your experiences in the comments section!