A recent discovery of mine is that while my local library may not have a plethora of knitting books on its shelves, we belong to a consortium of local libraries and between all of them, there are quite a few interesting books available. I just returned Clara Parke's "The Knitters Book of Socks", which I thoroughly enjoyed, and currently have the following checked out:
- Vogue Knitting's "The Ultimate Sock Book"
- "Sock Innovation" by Cookie A
- "2-at-a-time Socks" by Melissa Morgan-Oakes
- "Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off" by, you guessed it, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
- "The Secret Life of a Knitter" by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
- "Things I Learned from Knitting...whether I wanted to or not" by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
You could say I'm a little bit obsessed. It's OK. Really.
These were knit in Malabrigo Sock, colorway "Lotus", and they are fabulous. I had so much fun knitting them, and as finished socks they are beautiful, comfortable, and warm. They are just the right height to peek out of my slouchy boots when worn over tights under a knee-length skirt. Bonus points for fitting in my shoes properly - I've heard that a lot of knitters have trouble wearing their hand-knit socks, as they are thicker than commercial socks and don't fit in their shoes. I happen to be a huge fan of really cushioned socks normally, so my shoes are quite accommodating!
This was a fun and fairly simple pattern to knit, although it does run large. I have what I consider to be large feet (size 11 US Women's, often wide) but the Medium of this pattern is a tad loose on me (and yes, I did have correct gauge). A trip through the dryer tightened things up and thankfully didn't destroy the socks in the process, but if you are considering this pattern I'd suggest going down a size from what you think you need.
It's hard to see in these pictures, but the heel is shaped by a triangular "expansion" on the underside of the foot, with a short-row heel & flap that gradually eats up the extra stitches. It's clever, but I think it might fit better on someone with a tall arch. Still, fun to work and not very difficult at all.
The whole sock is done in a variety of patterns that only require simple knits and purls. It is worked from the toe-up, and I knit them 2-at-a-time. The result is beautiful and looks much more complicated than it is. Malabrigo's yarns are gorgeous, as always. This is only my second time knitting with them, and I have to say: if you have not knit with one of their yarns yet, you are missing out.
These socks were completed in 8 days for my Ravellenics project. You can find my project page here.
Second, we have Rye by tincanknits, from "The Simple Collection". The Simple Collection is really neat - tincanknits put together a set of 8 basic patterns with full learn-to-knit instructions. The patterns start out easy, with a baby blanket and scarf, and progress up to an adult-sized sweater. So far I highly recommend this as a resource for anyone wanting to learn. Check it out here! But anyway, back to the socks:
These are worsted-weight "boot socks", as I would call them. I am wearing them RIGHT NOW and they are incredibly warm and cushy. I like them very much! These were knit in Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool, left over from the sweater I made for Andrew this fall. For this pair, I started out with the Adult Medium size, but soon realized that would be way too big. Not a problem - since these are knit top-down, I decided to go for a slightly longer cuff and decrease as I went down to fit around my calf.
Rye would be an excellent pattern for anyone learning to make socks for the first time. Heel construction is still confusing to me (I've now made 4 total pairs of socks in my lifetime), and the pattern does an excellent job of laying out exactly what you are doing. I had some math issues on the heel short-rows, but I'm convinced (for the moment) that it was my fault and not the pattern. Everything worked out fine in the end.
By the way, do you like my DIY sock blockers? I used a couple of cheap wire hangers and shaped them to look similar to other sock blockers I had seen. Unfortunately the wire coating flaked off when it was bent, so I had to cover portions of the blockers in tape so they wouldn't rust or catch on the knitting. As a result the tape kindof catches on the knitting. Oh well, I'm still glad they were free!
Why knit socks?
If you're still on the fence about knitting socks, I highly recommend just giving it a try. Each of the sock books I mentioned at the beginning of this post are very inspiring - we now have the luxury of knitting socks for fun, but this really was a necessity at one time, and the amount of engineering and history and expertise contained in the basic sock patterns we have today is marvelous to think about. Someone had to figure out for the first time how to turn a heel. Now we have oodles of methods to choose from, but they all had to be discovered. Grafting the toe shut (when knitting top-down socks) was revolutionary. Feet are oddly-shaped objects, and it's a fun engineering challenge to create something that fits them just right. Socks are also small, portable, and provide quick and easy ways to try out new stitch patterns.
If you feel inspired, hop on over to the Friends of Knitting Sarah group on Ravelry and join in!