The joy of socks

So, I did it! In my last post I was building up to trying Winwick Mum’s sock tutorial. I’d already bought a sock pattern I liked the look of back in May, and the yarn to knit it, but frankly, I didn’t understand the pattern at all. So I thought I’d learn to walk before I started running, and used the yarn to do the tutorial instead.

It’s a great tutorial. I actually did as I was told, and swatched for a change. Look! Here’s the proof:

One of the great things about this pattern is that you can make it work for the yarn and the needles you have. That’s even better when you decide you have to start *right now* and you’re refusing to buy anything else because you’re supposed to be using things up.

As I knit really tightly, I was cautious and rounded all the calculations up. In the end that meant I was casting on 84 stitches, using 2.75 needles. EIGHTY FOUR! That’s quite a lot compared to everyone else. Originally I was going to do a basic sock with contrasting cuff, heel and toe, but the more I knitted, the more the leg just seemed like a vast expanse of red. It looked like the biggest sock I’d ever seen, if I’m honest. And the yarn is nice – it’s really nice to wear actually – but it’s very ‘hiking sock’. So by the time I got to the foot, I panicked and decided to whack some random stripes in there. Everyone else’s socks on the internet seem so… refined. And there was I knitting the biggest hiking sock in the world. But actually, it wasn’t that big in the end. A bit big, but not that big.

I also had a huge stroke of luck. Just as I was getting to my wit’s end with the DPNs, I decided to have a dig about in my supplies box. And who knows why, but past me had bought myself a 2.75mm circular needle! I can’t imagine when or why I bought it, but it was exactly the size I needed (30cm) and made everything so much better. There’s a lot of just straight ’round and round’ knitting in a sock, and doing it on a circular needle is a dream. I can’t quite handle the extra flappy cable of the magic loop (it really stresses me out for some reason), but the short circular is perfect. Big thanks to past me 🙌.

For the second sock, I decided to use the same colours but just go with the original plan. No stripes. I’m calling them a pair! And I’m wearing them right now. This was really just for the practise.

So now I’m on to my second pair. This time I’m using self striping yarn (Felici, Knitpicks). I did swatch again and actually it’s the same stitch count, more or less. So I went from 84 to 76 for my cast on. And that’s a perfect fit:

This yarn is really different. Much less ‘wooly’. It also feels a bit more robust. We’ll see how each pair wear. I must admit the first pair look like I’ve already had them years, and I’ve only worn and washed them once. But they are nice and soft. This pair feels like it’ll look smarter.

I’m thinking of treating myself to another needle and doing what Lucy does, over at Attic 24. Rather than do a complicated 2 at a time thing on one needle, she literally just knits 2 at a time on different needles. I like this idea, because socks make great TV knitting, up until the point they don’t. If you have 2 socks on the go, you can grab the one that doesn’t need much attention when you need it, and do the more complicated stuff on the other one when you have time. Also, there’s less chance of second sock syndrome.

Here’s the obligatory shot of a sock in progress.

I must admit, I’ve paid zero attention to how many rounds I’m doing, and I know the stripes don’t match up (the balls didn’t start in the same place, and I didn’t mind), but it all seems ok. And it feels nice to make something I can wear. This time I’m paying more attention to the gusset decreases. On the first pair I kept thinking ‘is this a decrease round or a straight round?’ – and every time I put the sock down I swore I would remember what round I was on when I picked them up again. Reader, I did not.

I’ve still got orange and yellow yarn left from the first pair, so next up I’ll make another prototype pair. Maybe either with ribbing, or cables. Or one of each. That’s one thing about working from home and having every meeting on screen. No one can say your socks aren’t a pair :o)

I hope things are ok where you are, and you’re safe and healthy. I’ll leave it at that, because sometimes, it’s just nice to think about socks and not… everything else.

If you’re thinking of sock knitting, I’d totally recommend the tutorial. Not least because it works for the yarn and the needles you have. You only need to swatch for yourself, not to match someone else’s gauge, which for me was a huge bonus. Winwick Mum, if you’re out there, thank you.

8 thoughts on “The joy of socks

  1. Hooray! Your socks look fantastic, and I hope you’re super-proud of them all! It’s quite usual for your tension to change over the course of your first pair so I’m not at all surprised that you’ve dropped the number of stitches – and isn’t it just great that you can make the socks fit your feet? I am absolutely delighted that I was able to help you get started with your socks (and I bet you’ll be able to tackle your other pattern without any problems now) – here’s to lots more pairs in your future! 😀 xx

  2. I can’t get over how your knitted socks look like the ones in the shops! I mean they look machine knitted. That’s also the joy of being a tight knitter, everything looks so well made. I’m in awe you use circular needles, it’s something I daren’t attempt. I’m going to check out Winwick Mum. I started knitting a blanket few weeks ago as a change, never done one. 69 squares to go and the joining up of squares is a nightmare neatness-wise. I gave up trying to do mattress stitch, and it didn’t feel like it would hold the thing together long-term. Good post title 🙂

    • Thanks! The self-striping sock yarn really helps. It sort of feels a bit more pro, for some reason. And on the circular needles thing – I just didn’t understand them before, to be honest. I think maybe that’s why I bought them and never used them. With this, it’s a bit hairy to begin with, as the stitches feel really stretched around the circle, but once you get past the cuff and on to the body of the sock, it suddenly seems to work really smoothly. And all you need to do is keep knitting round and round, until you get to the heel. It’s super easy.
      I must admit, I did spend most of the time worrying that I was doing it all wrong on sock one, but once I’d finished it and realised it was an actual sock that did fit on my actual foot, I worried less about the second one. You do need to read the tutorials carefully, but there’s a version for DPNs, short circulars and magic loop. It’s fiddly at times, but I guess that’s knitting for you.
      69 square TO GO?! Yikes. It’ll be worth it though. I use the quilts I’ve made all the time when I’m watching TV. It’s nice to have something like that, especially in this weather. (I’m usually in a jumper under a quilt, while the Mr is in t shirt and shorts. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )

      • I’ll look into self striping yarn, no idea how that works but it sounds a lot easier than working with several coloured yarns at once which I find very fiddly. I’ve never thought to try socks but seeing your images has made me want to. Must be something satisfying about wearing your own creations, more of a sense of ownership than shop bought, I’ve never knitted myself a wearable item, just stuck to dolls/animals. Happy New Year 🙂

  3. I think they look great. I’m a beginner knitter…I’ve always only did crochet, but may have to give a try. Winter is here so need some projects to keep busy. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Thank you. I always consider myself a beginner knitter too, if I’m honest. I used to crochet a lot and then switched. These are fun to do – need a bit of patience but they’ll definitely keep you busy 🙂

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