Tag Archives: socks

Keeping tiny feet warm


To be clear, right off the top, these tiny feet have not yet materialized. Bed rest is continuing (successfully), and it turns out I wasn’t as done with the baby knits as I thought. I was pretty focused on knitting a new sweater for L until the end of last week when the weather turned chilly and I realized the baby didn’t really have any warm footwear.

Well, no warm footwear made by me, anyway. We of course have some cotton baby socks, tiny pants and sleepers with built-in feet, and a little fleece suit with fold-over hands and feet. But, since we’re having a winter baby, I felt like maybe some warmer footwear was in order.


Very Small Slippers — Pattern: Made up on the fly • Yarn: Fleece Artist Back Country in Grasslands, SK; Sweet Georgia Superwash Worsted in Slate; and Koigu KPM in #1205

So, I started with little shoes. These are definitely not going to fit the baby anytime soon (I would guess 6 months at the earliest), but they are very cute and there’s no harm in being prepared. Also, they took rather a lot of concentration — in part because they require crochet, which I am definitely not good at — and I don’t think I’ll have it in me to be that focused when I have a small baby to look after. So just as well that they’re ready to go!


These are so fluffy and soft. I regret not buying a pair in my size.

I bought the sheepskin soles at Gaspereau Valley Fibres (which I deeply wish was my LYS) when I was visiting my family in Nova Scotia on Labour Day weekend. The soles came pre-punched (thank goodness) and I also got a pattern with them, since the shop had several pairs of these little slippers on display. The pattern, I’m sorry to say, was almost entirely useless to me (which is why I’m not naming it — no amount of Googling led me to a digital copy). It was photocopied from (I think) an issue of Interweave Knits, but did not come with the table that explained all the abbreviations. It also lacked a photo, and I neglected to take one of the shop samples, so I was kind of working blind. Not a huge deal for a basic knitting pattern, but the crochet portion, which starts everything off, was a very real challenge (for me. If you have ever crocheted before, I suspect it’s about as difficult as a knitting ribbing). I ended up just kind of crossing my fingers and going for it, and when my stitch counts didn’t come anywhere near the pattern’s, I just worked out my own numbers. I did have to knit and reknit the first slipper three times before I was happy with the shape (and, looking at the pictures, should probably have ripped out and redone the crochet, which is maybe a bit loose), but the end result seems like it will be cozy and warm, which was the whole point.


The yarn is all leftovers from a pair of socks I knit for my mum. My scale needs a battery, so I don’t know the exact amount of yarn I used, but I’d guess about 30 g for the main and maybe 10 g for the contrast. Definitely not very much. I added the i-cord ties (the pattern just has the ribbing) because babies are notorious for losing socks and shoes, since their feet are really too little to keep them on, and then once they discover they have feet, they delight in pulling socks off. In theory, the ties will help keep these on, but we’ll see.


After I finished the little shoes, and realized they’d be too big for the first little while, I decided to whip up some little socks. I went with tube socks, since there’s a way better chance of having those fit, and grow with the baby, than trying to guess a foot length and making a tiny gusset. That can come later, when I actually have a little foot to measure.



Teeny Tiny Foot Tubes — Pattern: Made up (and detailed in my Ravelry notes, if you’re curious) • Manos del Uruguay Alegría in A9537

These were a bit tedious to knit, but are very satisfying to have finished. They are so small and adorable. These tiny tubes are also a great way to use up the leftover bits of sock yarn that are too big to throw out, but not really big enough to do anything with. I’d estimate these took about 12 g of yarn, which is not very much at all, and I for sure have enough of the yarn left to knit a third should one go missing (which it almost certainly will).


I should have included a quarter or something for scale, but they’re about 5.5 inches long.

Despite being a bit tedious (small circles don’t grow as fast as it feels like they should), I so love the finished ones that I’ve already cast on for a second pair. These ones (in more leftover Fleece Artist, in the Blackberry colourway) will be slightly bigger, since babies grow pretty fast and I want to at least make myself think I’ll be ready for that. I actually cast on the same number of stitches, but I went up a needle size and this yarn is slightly heavier than the Alegría. I’ll also add a quarter inch or so to the length. I pulled a couple of other leftovers out of my stash and if this tiny sock bug sticks around I will be ready!


Future baby socks (or booties/bootees)! Left to right: Malabrigo Sock in Lettuce and Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Blackberry (which I’ve already cast-on for more tiny socks) and Earth.

While I’m on this kick, are there any bootie/bootee patterns I should be looking at? Somehow, I’ve never knit any until now, but I am finding them so delightful that I suspect there are more in my near future. Please let me know your favourite baby footwear pattern(s) so I can add them to my list!

Looking Back & Reassessing


What a year it was! Personally, 2015 had a lot of big moments: L and I got engaged and moved cities, and I took on quite a lot more responsibility at work. All good things, certainly, but all things that kept me very busy.

Last year I knit 35 items (!!!) and I had similarly high hopes for this year. But, well, reality crept in. I had so much less time this year, for all kinds of reasons, and although I didn’t manage to knit as many things as I had hoped, I am really happy with what I did make. I spent a lot of the spring thinking seriously about my handmade wardrobe and how to build it out. Between that, and the growing realization that I was producing handmade items faster than I was wearing through them gave me pause.

So, anyway, this year I completed 19 knit items (and I’m pretty close on no. 20). Nearly half of those things were gifts, which is something I’m quite proud of, and several were sweaters, another positive! You can see all my knits here (most of my sewing wasn’t blogged) but here are my favourites from the year.


Bedford and Lighthouse socks // Spring Fever Scout and Fika Socks // Chambray and Double Gauze Scouts and Balta // BFF socks and Epistrophy

Socks and sweaters and t-shirts. Haha. That’s definitely my uniform. These are all garments I wore a lot throughout the year (and will continue to wear in the year(s) to come) and they are a good template for me to follow this coming year, I think. I have yarn for two lightweight sweaters — one neutral cardigan, one brightly coloured pullover — and no shortage of sock yarn. I would like this to be the year I add a couple of shawls to my wardrobe as well, since I really do wear the ones I have quite regularly. Sewing wise, there are certainly more Scouts in my future, and I hope a dress or two as well.

And the gift knitting will continue as well. L has become a full hand-knit-sock convert (he wore the pair I have him for Christmas for four days straight) and I can hardly ignore that kind of enthusiasm. And there are lots of babies to knit for these days as well — including our soon-to-arrive nephew!

I do have some specific plans in mind for the New Year, but I’ll save those for another post.

How do you feel about your year, now that you can look back on it as a whole? Did you accomplish what you wanted to?

Loved + Worn


These two ideas, the Slow Fashion October prompts for this and last week, fit so perfectly together that I’m just going to pretend I planned it this way. I am very much a creature of habit. I like new things and change, but I also like what I like, whether that’s a certain item on a brunch menu, a cocktail or an item (or style) of clothing.

As a result, when I like something a lot, I will purchase — or, increasingly, make, it — in multiples. For me, this is beauty of being able to make my own clothes: I can find what I like, and then make it over and over again, with simple changes, like different colours or patterns. The garments I love most see weekly wear and, I’m almost embarrassed to say, I sometimes regret wearing them because that takes them out of rotation for the rest of the week (working in an office, even a casual one, means I try not to repeat too much Monday-Friday).


But, more than any other garment (or category of garments) in my hand-made wardrobe, the ones that are, for me, totally irreplaceable — the things that will keep me knitting for the rest of my life, because truly, there is no store-bought equivalent — is socks. I am almost self-conscious about bringing this up, since I have written quite a lot about socks, but the more I think about it (and I wrote a whole other draft of this post before I realized it), the more I think hand-knit socks are my ultimate symbol of slow fashion.

Socks are disposable items of clothing. Yes, you can spend quite a bit of money on fancy ones, but I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who didn’t wear their socks into the ground and then toss them without a second glance. But, at the same time, a great pair of socks is so, so great. I actually hated socks before I started knitting my own. I didn’t like that they required readjusting and that no matter what brand I bought, my feet were always cold, and I really didn’t like that when I finally did find a pair of socks I liked, they’d wear out within a year. Useless.

Socks were the second thing I learned to knit and in that first year I knit two pairs of worsted weight socks (I still have them both). I still remember the shock of switching to fingering-weight yarn and teeny tiny needles. It took me so long to knit that first lighter-weight pair, and then the next, and then the next. By the time I had a few pairs, almost without realizing it I stopped even looking at my drawer of store-bought socks. I was so proud of what I was making, and, almost more than that, I was proud of how useful they were!

For the last three or so years, I’ve worn hand-knit socks every day for about eight and a half months of the year. Although I now have more than a dozen pairs of hand-knit socks in regular rotation (that rotation doesn’t include lace socks or worsted-weight socks, which are worn as called upon by weather, etc.) three years ago, I only had about eight pairs of hand-knit socks, so there was a lot of washing (and, sometimes, multiple wears between washings) going on, and all those pairs saw a lot of wear. The thing about this kind of heavy rotation is that it means things wear out. This is especially true when you’re just getting started and your rotation is small.

I used the knitted-on patch technique for this pair and it is holding up admirably.

Faded and worn. I used the knitted-on patch technique for this pair and it is holding up admirably.

Just as socks were the first garment that really showed me in a practical way the value of handmade (emotionally and philosophically, I understood it already), they were also my first foray into making a real effort to make my clothes last. I’m not wasteful, but I will admit a certain temptation to let a worn-out something go as a way to justify getting something new. This t-shirt is stained? Oh darn, guess I’ll just buy that new one I’ve been eyeing. I don’t (usually) shop for the sake of shopping, but the allure of something new when what you have is old is real.

I do mend my socks, and I take care with how I wash them to ensure they last. I have noticed, though, that my older pairs — faded, mended, maybe starting to felt and/or lose their shape a little — have been pushed to the edges of my rotation. I wear them around the house, or sometimes to bed, but they are dropping out of regular use, and I’m not sure what to do with them. Part of this dilemma, I will admit, is entirely selfish: I really enjoy knitting socks, but how many pairs does one person need? If I let some pairs drift out of use, that gives me an excuse to replace them, but is that just cheating? (Yes, I knit them for others too, but still).

I can’t be the only person who produces hand-made items faster than they wear out, but this is a side of the hand-made wardrobe we rarely talk about. I love my hand made items; I wear them daily; and even though I’m not producing at a frantic rate, I still outpace myself (and not just with socks — how many sweaters do I really need? How many pairs of mitts? Etc.). The next months of making are dedicated to holiday gifts, so I have some time to think about all of this, but still — do you notice this same dilemma in your own making? How to do you deal with it?

Here & There, Autumn edition

A basic of WIPs. That's the first of L's Christmas socks on the side there (nearly finished!) and the bag at the top of the basked holds the first finished sleeve of my Epistrophy cardigan. I am back at work on that sucker because if it feels like fall already, I am for sure going to want that finished by mid-October.

A basic of WIPs. That’s the first of L’s Christmas socks on the side there (nearly finished!) and the bag at the top of the basket holds the first finished sleeve of my Epistrophy cardigan. I am back at work on that sucker because if it feels like fall already, I am for sure going to want that finished by mid-October. (Also, can you believe that orchid is still blooming!? What a trooper.)

I don’t know how long it will last, but right now there’s just a touch of fall in the air. This week is supposed to get warmer again, but I wore hand-knit socks both days this weekend after months of not needing socks at all, and today I wore both my Grace cardigan (first time since the spring) and my Shaelyn on the walk to work. Really, if Me-Made-May was a September thing, I would have been killing it, because I was wearing my double-gauze Scout Tee (so, basically this outfit) too.

Anyway, suffice to say that fall feels very like it has arrived, and though I always mourn the end of summer, there are worse ways for it to end than with the crisp air and great light of fall. In the spirit of this wonderful season that is far too short, I am in a mad dash to knit all the things and make all soups and basically set myself up for an excellent season. To that end, here are some of the things I’m planning (and reading) at the moment.

  • I have a lot of knitting planned (of course) but I am especially excited by my recent plan to knit myself a Dala horse hat and mitts set, using the excellent Karusellen hat pattern from the new Pom Pom (my issue just arrived!) and the free Dala Selbu Hybrid mittens pattern.
  • Button-down shirts always feel very fall to me — something about back to school I guess — and I have both the Aster and the Archer patterns to try. This is a big step forward in my sewing, but I successfully executed a (never blogged, for various reasons) Southport Dress, so I’m feeling okay about the whole endeavour. Really, it will be finding the time that’s the real challenge — sewing requires so much more set up than knitting.
  • And speaking of sewing, I also snagged Grainline’s new Lark Tee pattern because fall means layering, and this is tee designed with that express purpose in mind! (Also, there are a ton of variations included, so if I can nail the fit, I can start churning out t-shirts, which are a definite wardrobe staple for me.)
  • Clearly, all this making will make me hungry, and soup and grilled cheese is just about my favourite meal pairing (ask just about anyone who knows me). After years of searching (not exaggerating) this is probably the best and more reliable tomato bisque recipe I’ve ever found, and this is the absolute right time to be making it because fresh tomatoes take this to another level.
  • Another soup I am dying to try (but, full disclosure, have not yet made) is this vegan pho. I love pho, but it’s very hard to find one that doesn’t have fish broth. Clearly making it at home is the answer, and I like that this recipe is for a small quantity. Leftovers are great, but sometimes you just want to make dinner (and it’s so much easier to scale up than down).
  • Did you see Knitty’s call for patrons? When I first started knitting (before I knew about Ravelry) Knitty was my first major resource. I found it during a bout of blind googling and it felt like I’d landed on buried treasure. Now that I’ve come to better understand its place in knitting’s web-culture and its fantastic attitude toward designers, I like it even more. I’m not sure I’ve ever knit a pattern, but I’ve definitely read through instructions to learn about techniques and the trove of tutorials is really excellent. (Edited to add: This is total nonsense on my part. Monkey is a Knitty pattern! The more I look at their archive, the more I realize how many “classic” patterns were published by Knitty.) Basically, I did the math, and realized that I could support this excellent resource and publication for less than a skein of sock yarn a year, and signed up to be a patron. This is not meant to be a directive, but if you didn’t hear about this initiative and are interested, it’s definitely worth checking out the ways you can support Knitty.
  • And, last but not least, L and I are in the art-hanging stage of our move-in (this is when it’s serious, because your furniture better be pretty much arranged) and we’ve been re-evaluating some of our previous frame choices. I found this tutorial today for a kind of floating-non-frame look and I think we’re going to try it in the living room.

What are you enjoying these days? Is it fall where you live?

Pink spark



That is really what I should have called these socks. I finished them the day after my last post and, like a spark in dry leaves, they have ignited my knitting. The black shrug I’m knitting for my mum is almost done and, even better, I discovered that it was interesting and fun (discovering this while knitting, and re-knitting black stockinette sleeves is no small feat), and I’ve just cast on for a pair of striped socks for L.

And really, that’s just the beginning. I have plans brewing for fall, starting with finishing my Epistrophy, which I put aside after finishing the body because I wanted to knit Balta. I have no regrets about that decision, but I’m excited to pick it back up: it needs two quick sleeves and then I get to join it all and knit that fantastic yoke. I can’t wait. The timing, I think, will have me finishing it just as the weather turns cold enough to wear it, and it’s hard to beat that.

In more ephemeral, sometime-soon plans, I have a shawl (and, before that, I hope to finish my long lingering Halligarth) and then I’ll be into the holiday knitting and all the momentum that brings with it.


Where I think I’ll be finding the time to knit all these things I’m not sure, but I can’t help but believe things have to settle down eventually. We’re getting more and more moved-in and settled in our new place, and though work will probably just stay steadily busy, I think I’ll be able to build a bit of knitting time into my routine each day.

Anyway, these socks. I noticed last winter that I’d worn right through both heels of my first pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks, and though I darned them pretty effectively, looking at them made me want another pair. It was a pattern I’d always meant to return to, but you know how that goes. There are so many great patterns out there, and I just never quite made it back around.


I got this yarn for my birthday and thought it would be a good match. The colours are fun and the self-patterning was speckled enough that it wasn’t interrupted by the stitches. (Some self-patterning yarn creates real images, but this was more stripes and specks — I double-checked on Ravelry before starting. I love that feature of the stash page.) I purposefully didn’t bother matching them, though I could have pretty easily I think. I like how the casual almost-matching echoes the uneven stripes and semi-solid colours, and I love the effect. This probably isn’t a colourway I would have picked for myself, but that’s the best thing about being yarn, and this was a gift from very good friends who clearly have a good sense of my taste (even when I don’t!) The best part, though, is that I have more than enough yarn left over to knit some matching socks for Amber.

Pattern: Hermione’s Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder
Yarn: ONline Supersocke Canaria Colour #1448
Needles: 2.25mm
Notes: I basically just plugged the stitch pattern into my basic sock pattern and then knit on autopilot. The result is socks that fit exactly the way I like, but ribbing that doesn’t quite flow. I forgot to use 1×1 rib, which makes for nice columns of unbroken knit stitches all the way down. It’s fine, but if I knit these again (likely), I’ll have to remember that. I also rushed a bit through the top of the first sock, so the leg part is about an inch shorter than I’d usually prefer. It’s still fine and will be great all fall, though maybe a little short to wear with boots in the winter. We’ll see. Ravelled here.


It’s back


You know how sometimes you don’t want to say something, even though you feel it, because somehow saying it out loud (or writing it down in public) makes it true? Well, I kind of lost my knitting excitement for a little while there, and now that it’s back, I feel like I can talk about it.

After finishing Balta, a project I was so happy with, I had a little cooling off period. That’s pretty normal for me after finishing a big project, and I was happy to work away on my Halligarth, but then between extra-long hours at work, the weeks of packing, and working on a project that was, frankly, boring (though going fine, and intended for someone who will love it), I just kind of lost it. I lost that drive to pick up my needles during downtime, and I didn’t have the compulsion to plan my next project — I was just kind of stuck, and I didn’t want to talk about it because it scared me. Since I started knitting, it has been a constant source of, well, comfort. It’s a creative, productive, de-stressing outlet, and something I love, and to suddenly not be inspired by it was a shock. (I still tried to get in a few rows everyday, but they were boring rows, and in a way more like practicing piano scales than working on a song, if that makes sense.)


I can talk about that now because the doldrums are over. We moved on the weekend and somehow amid the chaos of the half-unpacked boxes and the fun of setting up a new home, I found my knitting joy again. I had planned to do a bunch of sewing this week (I’m on holiday from work, and since my knitting wasn’t inspiring me, I made other plans), but aside from washing my fabric I haven’t made a single move toward my machine. Instead, in every free moment, I’ve been knitting away on these socks, which have been on my needles since May. May.

Our very dear friends (and parents of the adorable, adorable Amber) gave me two skeins of sock yarn for my birthday, and I cast on for a pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks almost immediately, knit through the leg, heel and gusset of the first one, and then got caught up in other things. I picked them up on Monday and am now nearly finished the pair. They’re exactly the right kind of simple project I need right now, plus, the colours are fun and the yarn is from good friends I already miss.

Has this ever happened to you? I’ve definitely done through periods where I was less excited about what was on my needles and more excited about planning and stashing, but I’m not sure I’ve ever gone through a period where none of it seemed exciting. Thank goodness it’s over!

The Lovely Fika



I am a big fan of treating myself on my birthday, and today I think I started a new little tradition along those lines: a new pair of hand-knit socks. I love fresh-off-the-needles socks, when they’re still all firm and unstretched, so when I finished these on Monday I decided to save them until today. It was such an easy, nice little thing to do for myself, and I’m glad I thought of it.

These are Fika, from the spring issue of Pom Pom Quarterly, which I finally subscribed to. Every new issue of Pom Pom has at least one pattern in it that I love, and every time I wish to myself that I was a subscriber, so I finally just went for it and I’m so glad I did. Besides being the source of lovely patterns and other writing, it’s beautiful to look at, and the paper stock and printing make it feel almost like a little book. Anyway, the spring issue was the first one I got as part of my subscription, and it just made sense that Fika would be the first thing I cast on.


I’ve had this Koigu in my stash for ages (years, maybe even) and although I was originally thinking it would work well for a pair of Smokestack Socks, I’m really glad I used it for Fika. The twisted rib is a great way to both show off and break up the fun speckled colourway, and all the colours in the yarn made choosing the contrast stripe really fun (originally, I had planned to use red, but then I saw this picture and changed my mind.)


I knit these at my usual gauge, which was a bit of a miscalculation on my part, since the largest size has you cast on 64 stitches — four fewer than I’d usually go with. I thought to myself: What’s four stitches? And knit along quite merrily, making up for the deficit by decreasing fewer stitches at the gussets. As you can see, the socks fit quite nicely, but they are hard to pull on! The upside, of course, is that they don’t sag. The next time I knit these, I’ll just go up a needle size, which will give me the wiggle room I need. And there will certainly be a next time, because as I knit blissfully away on these I went into a kind of autopilot and, after casting on, didn’t refer to the pattern again until the toe, which means the missed the novel heel shaping! I’m intrigued, though, so another pair is certainly in my future.


Pattern: Fika by Maribeth White
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM in P336 (the contrast is Koigu needlepoint yarn in #3332 — this is sold in 10-yard mini-mini skeins, which is perfect for this sort of detail)
Needles: 2.25mm
Notes: Just what I mentioned above about ignoring the heel shaping and doing fewer gusset decreases. I actually also knit the heel in a different yarn, because although I really love Koigu for socks, I’m hard on my heels, and it wears through a bit more quickly than a yarn with nylon reinforcement. I chose a low-contrast colour though, so it didn’t compete with the rest of the design and I’m quite pleased with the overall look (you can see just a hint of grey heel in the photo above). Ravelled here.

Light it up


It never fails to amaze me how quickly I can get something finished if I just focus on it. A few days after I posted about my current socks, I noticed a hole in the heel of one of my favourite pairs. The next day, I found a hole in the heel of another pair. Despite those holes being entirely unrelated to the pair on my needles, finding them lit something of a fire under me, and barely more than a week later I finished that pair.


I actually would have been done sooner, but I made a very foolish yarn calculation when going away for Easter weekend and ran out of yarn (I know better than this, and yet…) Oh well. They’re finished now and they are as fun as I hoped they would be.


Originally, I’d only been planning contrast heels, but then a couple of you suggested contrast toes too, and I’m so glad you did. They are the perfect touch. For more fun, I alternated the stripe sequence between socks. It’s subtle, and a nice little twist on perfectly matched stripes. (I’d already planned to do this, but it came in extra handy over Easter since it meant I didn’t have to waste any of the yarn I had with me.)


There’s not much to say about these. They’re my standard 68-stitch, top-down sock. The stripes ended up being a perfect width to base measurements on, which doesn’t always happen, but definitely makes lining things up from one sock to the other much easier.

Yarn: Knit Picks Felici in Lighthouse (with leftover Sweet Fiber Super Sweet Sock in Spanish Coin for the contrast)
Pattern: Old faithful
Notes: No change from the usual, though I will say the choice of contrast colour was inspired by lighthouse lights. That subsequently led to my project name, which meant every time I picked these up this song would pop into my head, making for quite an enjoyable project. Ravelled here.


In progress


Stockinette is not the most exciting fabric to look at, but it’s all I have to offer at the moment.


I cast on Epistrophy a couple of weeks ago, and after a bit of a false start (the errata wasn’t linked to the project page, though it is now), it’s been going alone quite nicely. I’m adding 2.5 inches to the length of the body, so it’s just as well I’m enjoying all this knitting. I’m getting quite close to the point where I need to join the sleeves, which of course means I’m getting quite close to the point where I need to actually knit the sleeves. I’m hoping the anticipation of the fun yoke knitting will keep me going through the sleeves so I can get this done before it really is too warm to wear it (it’s snowing right now, so I think there’s a good chance I’ll be able to wear this before the warm weather really arrives).

I couldn't resist the contrast heel.

I couldn’t resist the contrast heel.

And of course there are socks. Usually I keep plain stockinette socks as background knitting, as an alternative project for when I’m working on something more involved. At the moment, Epistrophy isn’t all that challenging, so these have languished. They’re quite fun, though, and I suspect that once I decide I need a break from all that treacle-coloured tweed they’ll be quite  palate cleanser.

For sure, though, one of the reasons I’m so content to just sit and knit stockinette for ages on end is that I’ve been sewing. At the moment, it’s the perfect balance of getting the satisfaction of both finishing things and having a longtime project. I’m hoping to get some proper photos in the next few days so I’ll have some actual finished things to show you soon!

An unplanned pair


When I wrote that rambly, chatty post about socks, I really didn’t intend to turn it into a series. But then lots of you commented, and I got emails and Ravelry messages, because (of course) I’m not the only ones with thoughts on socks. Lots of you got in touch with notes of sock solidarity, but there were also quite a few questions about how to get started with sock knitting, or about fit or care, so I thought I’d do a little follow-up covering all that stuff. This is, of course, just from my own perspective, so please feel free to chime in in the comments if you have tips/tricks/patterns to add to this sock primer.

Getting Started

One of the best things about being a beginner, in my opinion, is not know what’s supposed to be “advanced.” When every project means learning a new skill, everything is equally advanced, so don’t be afraid to go for socks right away if that’s what you want to knit. I knit my first socks in worsted-weight yarn, which was good for speed (and being able to see the stitches), but I didn’t know all that much about what I was doing, so the fit isn’t the best. Socks were my third knitting project. I knit a scarf, I knit a cowl, and then I knit socks, which just goes to show that you don’t have to be super advanced, just open to trying something new.


The first pair of Stepping-Stones I made (for my mom), knit in Malabrigo Rios. (These were not my first socks. I still have my first pair, but I don’t have any photos for some reason. )

If you want to just knit a pair of socks to figure out construction, and you live somewhere where a pair of worsted weight socks will be useful at least once in a while, Clara Parkes’ Stepping-Stones pattern (it’s free) is a good place to start. It’s more interesting than plain stockinette, teaches you basic construction, and comes in a couple of sizes. I’m wearing a pair of these socks now, actually, so I can attest to this being a good pattern.

For lighter-weight socks, both Glenna C.’s A Nice Ribbed Sock and Kate Atherley’s Peppermint Twist Sock (stripes optional) are great for beginners. Both of these socks use a flap heel (they’re both knit top-down) and the Nice Ribbed Socks include instructions for a slip-stitch heel (my personal preference), which creates a thicker, more friction-resistant fabric excellent for heels.

I really dug into the archives for this one! Behold a slip-stitch heel in al its glory.

I really dug into the archives for this one! Behold a slip-stitch heel in al its glory. (The rest of the pattern is Hermione’s Everyday Socks, which is great.)

Sock Literature*

Book-wise, there are a ton of great resources. As far as reference books go, I have both Sock Knitting Master Class and The Knitter’s Book of Socks, and would highly recommend both. Master Class is filled with really excellent information about technique and construction, and includes both toe-up and top-down patterns, with lace, cables and colourwork included among the options. It also has a DVD of some of the techniques, which I found really helpful when I was starting out.

The Knitter’s Book of Socks has lots of patterns as well, but the main thing it will teach you is how to choose the right yarn. There are so many different yarns marketed for socks, and I found the way Clara Parkes breaks down different yarns’ characteristics totally fascinating. It has given me a whole new way to analyze my stash, and it makes me consider yarns differently when I’m in my LYS or planning a new project.

Willowherb, from Coop Knits Socks.

Willowherb, from Coop Knits Socks.

For pure fun, I’m also a huge fan of Rachel Coopey (as you no doubt know) and her book, Coop Knits Socks, is full of great patterns. They’re more advanced, and the instructions are less hand-holding, but if you’ve knit a pair or two of socks, you’ll be fine. Her new book, Coop Knits Socks Vol. 2, actually includes a plain pair of socks (named Dave, because everyone knows a Dave), so it has the base and all the fun.

Operation Sock Drawer

Wherever you start, don’t be afraid to tweak a pattern until it suits you. Personally, I like a tight gauge (9 sts = 1 inch is typical for me), which means I have to knit more stitches on a smaller needle, but that’s okay with me. It also took me ages to figure out exactly how long to knit my foot and then how wide a toe I liked. Each pair is a little experiment, and although I think I have it figured out now, I’ll probably try something a little differently one of these days and then tweak things a little more. That’s what makes it fun.

I also tweak the socks I knit for others: These were my dad's Christmas socks, mostly the same as last year's, but with a few subtle changes.

I also tweak the socks I knit for others: These were my dad’s Christmas socks, mostly the same as last year’s, but with a few subtle changes.

Some tweaks are built into a pattern: You can decide for yourself (usually) how much ribbing you want at the top of the leg, how long you want the leg to be, how long you like your heel flap (and how to knit it, or whether to swap it out for a different heel), where to start the toe, etc. One thing I would recommend if you’re new to sock knitting and go the heel-flap route is to more or less ignore the number of stitches the pattern says you have to pick up along the gussets. If you knit a longer heel flap, you’ll need to pick up more stitches (one through each selvedge, and then one or two extras at the top, to ensure you don’t have a hole; if you have a high arch, for example, a longer heel flap and longer gussets are going to make for a better fit). The main thing is to ensure you pick up the same number on each side and then decrease until you’re back to the right number of sole stitches.

I also convert basically every pattern’s decrease directions so that I can use Cat Bordhi’s Slim and Trim SSKs technique (which I just think of as the “hungry stitch method”). It does require both a set-up row (the initial slipping row) and then a closing row (feed the stitch, then knit it), but I love how clean it looks and how easy it is to incorporate into the gussets and toes of my socks.

I love how well the SSKs and K2Togs match, even if the dyelots don't.

I love how well the SSKs and K2Togs match, even if the dyelots don’t.

Wear and Care

As far as washing goes, I sometimes hand wash and I sometimes throw my socks right into the laundry. For hand washing, I just fill up a basin with cool water, add some rinseless wool wash (Soah Wash, Euclan, and Allure are all good ones), and let them soak for a half hour or so (when I add the socks to the water, I squeeze them under the surface, to make sure the water and soap really gets in there, but that’s the extent of the work I put in). After they’ve soaked, I press the water out (squeeze, but don’t twist or wring), roll them up in a towel to get more water out, and then hang them to dry. When I throw them in the laundry, I make sure they’re in a load without towels (or other items that might encourage felting) and make sure the water is cold. Then I hang them to dry. (I don’t do anything fancy when I hang them. Just straighten them out so they aren’t all twisted up and then hang them on a clothes rack or the towel rod.)

Once you start wearing your socks they will, probably, start to wear out. There are lots of great darning tutorials, though I love this one from Twist Collective and have used it to great effect. Some brave people actually cut out the toes or heels and then reknit them and graft them into place, but I have yet to try that (it hasn’t been necessary). Of course, you can always use a worn out pair of socks as an excuse to knit something fun and new, and I would never judge you for it.

Anyway, there you go! What did I miss?

*My friend and I went to the Textile Museum of Canada last week and there was an exhibit of rugs that kept referencing “rug literature,” which I thought was both hilarious and awesome.