Now I Can Say I've Done It


A million years ago, I mentioned that I wanted to learn to knit socks, just so I understood how to turn the heel. Well guess what: I spent three Mondays evenings getting instructions on sock knitting, and last week I finished my first sock and started my second. The completed sock looks like this:


The second currently looks like this:


I do like the yarn I got, though I had a hell of a time finding something I liked well enough to knit with. It's more subtle in its self-striping than some yarns, and it would have been fun to work with something more dramatic, but unfortunately the taste of the owners of my nearest yarn store doesn't match my own: they favor pale and bright colors while I like dark colors.

But I have to say, sock knitting is not going to be my thing. I like double-pointed needles, but the ones you need for socks are TINY. And just working a rib stitch for seven inches is BORING. Yes, turning the heel is fun, and amazing: socks are truly a marvelous feat (get it?!) of engineering. But I just can't see doing all that work for something that will get worn out fairly easily--at least, not on a regular basis.

I was thinking about the wearing-out business at one class. I'm notorious for wearing things until they are in tatters, then finding some use for them when they're no longer wearable. Old socks, for instance, are good for polishing shoes. But I can't see using what's left of this sock after it gets a hole in the toe for polishing shoes.

So I asked the teacher what she did when a hole appeared somewhere in a sock she knitted--how she darned them, what she did with the sock after darning was no longer an option. "I don't know," she replied. "I've never had a sock get a hole in it. I don't wear any single pair often enough for them to get holes--I've knitted well over 70 pair."

The thought of knitting 70 pairs of socks in my life was enough to make me ram a double-pointed sock needle into my eye. If I manage half a dozen, I'll be impressed. People tell me I might change my mind, that knitting socks is addicting. Maybe... but I just have too many other kinds of knitting I prefer. I imagine my knitting addiction will run in another direction.

One friend told me she likes to take a sock project with her when she travels--it's a small project on small needles, and you can do it on planes and so forth. That makes sense--I can see myself doing that. And I also intend to wear the socks I've knitted, to the point where they do get holes. Which means I'll also have to figure out something to do with the yarn salvaged from old socks. If this pair ever gets a hole in it, I'll unravel what's still good and make something else.


Er....uhm......looking at that first sock there, I can't help but wonder if you are actually a Hobbit...... ;-)

That looks like Trekking yarn, Holly. Nice choice!

I'm not sure I'd call sock knitting addicting, although I know people who can knock out a nice pair in nothing flat -- maybe they find it addicting. I knit socks because I like to wear handknit socks. But they take me forever to make.

You can get special "carrying yarns" for sock knitting. When you make the heels and toes, you knit the sock yarn with the "carrying" yarn and it reinforces those parts, which are the ones that develop holes. There are also some yarns that are supposed to be tough enough that the manufacturers guarantee you won't wear holes in your handknits... but what those socks feel like on your feet, I don't know.

One of my friends darns her handknit socks. If you ever get to that point, let me know and I'll hook you up with her.

Hi Mr. Nighttime--no, I'm not a hobbit. That's not an unusual appearance for a hand-knitted sock. Because there's not elastic in the leg part, the way there is in commercial mass-produced socks, the ribbing has to be very tight if it's not going to puddle around your ankles.

Hi Juti--yes, that is indeed Trekking yarn. I think I am going to be a slow sock-knitter like you. Thanks for telling me about the "carrying" yarn--if I knit a second pair, I will look into that.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on May 6, 2008 10:05 AM.

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