The Situational Sock Knitter

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.

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2×2 Rib Socks with a Fish Lips Kiss Heel, knit up in Zauberball Crazy in Indisch Rosa. My first project started and completed post-baby.

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.

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Vanilla socks in Regia 4-Ply in Snowsuit

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.

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Vanilla socks knit in Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Lightweight in Bet You Thought This Skein Was About You

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.

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2×2 Ribbed Socks for Aidan knit in Meilenweit Chalet in Blue

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.

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Vanilla Socks knit in Meilenweit Chalet in Purple

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.

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3×1 Ribbed Socks in Regia 4-Ply Tweed in Zuckerbacker

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.

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Vanilla socks with contrast Fish Lips Kiss Heel knit in Opal Sunrise in Morgenr Te Dawn

Socks: Oracle and BFF

I have made so many pairs of socks at this point in my life that it’s hard to figure out what to say about them in a blog post.

I suppose the most significant thing about these socks is that I bought both of these skeins of yarn while visiting Montreal for a conference. It was, overall, a really lovely trip–I had a good conference experience, got to spend a lot of time knitting and talking with a close friend, and had fun getting out into the city a bit (largely in search of bagels, which I still think of frequently).

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The yarn is from La Maison Tricotee, which is a lovely yarn shop, and both skeins were totally new to me. The plain, stockinette socks are made with Hedgehog Fibers Sock in the Oracle colorway, which is fantastic. I love the flashes of neon color. This yarn seemed a bit on the thinner side to me so I knit these socks on a US size 0 (I typically us a US size 1 for socks).

Basic Socks in Hedgehog Fibers Oracle

I intended to make these socks for myself, but I swear that sock yarn has started actively choosing Aidan. This is the second time that I’ve started a pair of socks for myself, had Aidan ask optimistically if they were for him, felt guilty when I said no, and then had the finished socks turn out to be too big for me to wear (the first was this pair). Again, I have been knitting socks long enough and often enough that there’s really no excuse for these kinds of gauge/measurement screw ups, but what are you going to do? Clearly these were destined for Aidan’s sock drawer.

BFF Socks in Riverside MCN Salt & Pepper

The cabled socks are definitely for me. The yarn is Riverside Studio MCN Sock in Salt and Pepper and the pattern is Cookie A’s BFF Socks, which I’ve made once before. I feel like this is really a perfect combination of yarn and pattern. I love the simple, cozy cables of the BFF socks, and they pair really nicely with this super soft and squishy neutral, tweedy yarn. These socks just seem very classic to me–so much so that I almost feel like I should gift them to someone who is a bit classier than I am!

Season of Socks

The end of the fall semester is always the same: things get bananas around mid-October and don’t let up until final grades are turned in and in the fray, I stop sewing and start knitting in overdrive. Knitting is my stress craft and the second half of this semester has been especially stressful. The silver lining is that after spending nearly a full year in a full on knitting funk, I’ve managed to knit seven Christmas gifts and three pairs of socks in eight weeks. I’ve also picked my Mireille pullover up again, remedied a too-short body and corrected some questionable waist shaping and actually started knitting the sleeves. I’m hoping to get that sweater done soon, but for now–the parade of recently finished socks.

Ribbed Trekking Maxima Socks

This first pair is one I knit for Aidan, and are knit in 2×2 rib like nearly all the socks I make him. The yarn is Trekking Maxima in the Black Multi Twisted colorway. Several years ago, I made Aidan a pair basic socks like these in some Black Tweed Knit Picks Stroll. They are his favorite socks, and I have never been able to make another pair that quite competes with the black tweed socks until these. So it should only be another six or seven years before I hit the magic sock jackpot and produce another favorite pair of socks.

Malabrigo Sock BFF Socks

I’ve been meaning to try Cookie A’s BFF sock pattern, and I’m glad I finally did–I already have another skein of yarn earmarked for a second pair of BFFs. For this pair, I used a skein of Malabrigo Sock that my mother-in-law bought me for my birthday. This colorway is Candombe.

BFF Socks Close Up

Malabrigo Sock isn’t my favorite for socks. Since it’s 100% merino, it doesn’t wear as well as a wool/nylon blend. I originally started knitting this up as a shawl, but I realized about half way into it that I was never going to wear a scarf in this colorway. It’s lovely, but it doesn’t really fit in with the rest of my wardrobe. So I decided to go with socks and, so far, the yarn is holding up much better than the previous times I’ve used it for socks.

 

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I made the final pair of socks using the Fika pattern, which was published in the Spring 2015 issue of Pom Pom Quarterly. It uses a twisted rib cuff and has a contrast garter toe detail, which was the real selling point of this pattern for me. I don’t love the heel that this pattern uses, but it’s great otherwise. The primary yarn for these is Knit Picks Hawthorne Kettle Dye in Blackbird, and the toe detail is some leftover Knit Picks Stroll Brights in Pickle Juice. This is the first time that I’ve used Hawthorne. It’s a much sturdier sock yarn than Stroll–less soft and more tightly spun. As far as sturdy sock yarns go, it’s not quite as nice as something like Trekking or Patons Kroy, but it’s good (especially for the price) and it wears really well.

So those are the socks I’ve finished sort-of recently. Shots of all my Christmas knitting to come shortly!