I’ve knit a lot of socks but don’t think of myself as being a sock knitter. I am not, for instance, the kind of person who tends to have multiple sock projects on the go at any moment or who collects sock yarn. I think I usually manage to make a few pairs of socks a year, but sock knitting is not my bread and butter, go-to project. The key word here is “usually.” It might actually be more accurate to say that I am a situational sock knitter.
I actually started to knit socks seriously when I was in my MA program and was feeling overwhelmed by the combined stress of school and being far away from home for the first time. I knit lots of other things during that time as well—hats, mittens, even a couple of sweaters—but my Ravelry notebook during that era of my life is dominated by socks.
The summer that I was intensively working on my dissertation before moving to Ohio to start my current job also temporarily turned me into a sock knitter. I think I ended up making about a pair a week, which is not necessarily fast for many sock knitters but is definitely fast for me. When my dissertation draft was turned into my committee, I immediately cast on a cowl project with a more complex stitch pattern and then started working on sweaters again.
I thought that having a baby would push me into kid-knit overdrive, but it actually brought me back to sock knitting. I managed to finish up two little sweaters that I had already mostly knit before Jude was born. And I tried, but spectacularly failed, to knit a cardigan for myself in the months after he came along. But I ultimately just accepted that I only had the energy and the focus for very simple sock knitting.
I worked my way through seven pairs of socks before I felt like I was ready to take on a different project, which was when I started my Carbeth Cardigan. I still have two pairs that are on the needles—started during my sock knitting binge, but not finished before I started to get tired of socks. I’m sure I will finish them eventually, but I am enjoying have the mental capacity for different kinds of projects.
But I’m also glad that I have one kind of project that functions as nearly mindless knitting and that produces something that is comforting and useful. Those seven pairs of socks made for good, meditative, restful knitting.
But they also helped me feel like I was still capable of making nice things at a time when I otherwise felt like kind of a mess. And I stocked up on sock yarn, so I’ve got a little stash ready and waiting for the next sock knitting situation.