Socks never go out of style

matt socksSocks never go out of fashion because winter is inevitable, and unlike items made for expandable body parts, socks will usually always fit. Despite their unfailing utility, socks are also often a background project for me, taking the main stage when I’m tired of thinking, or I need something to keep me company on a walk, in the movie theater, or during a meeting when I need to keep my hands busy to focus. As soon as I finish one pair I cast another on almost immediately. Socks are the unsung heroes of the knitting world.

matt socks-3These are simple stockinette for the foot, made from the toe-up and using a heel flap that goes across the bottom of the heel and wraps around the back of the heel, as shown in the top picture. I finished with 1×1 ribbing for the cuff. If you’re looking for a pattern that incorporates this kind of sock heel, see my Girl with the Purled Toes or read more about it in my tutorialmatt socks-2The yarn was sent to me from Germany by Carina, so it feels like an extra special pair of socks. It’s Schachenmayr Regia Strata Color in the colorway Kiwi. Frequent readers know that I’m a bit Regia obsessed. The yarn has a 10 year guarantee on the label. That’s very appealing when socks are an item that have a finite life span. I have Regia socks I’ve been wearing since 2006, so I think their guarantee is pretty legit. I especially try to make Matt socks in durable yarn since he has fewer pairs than me (higher rotation in the wearing) and he’s pretty hard on his socks. Sometimes I feel I should make him more pairs, but I’m so in love with my sock stash it’s very hard to part with socks for others. I try to buy some sock yarn specifically for him to help myself be more generous when knitting socks, but it’s very rare that I don’t fall head over heels for a project intended for someone else.

I’m very excited to say that I have a new pattern coming soon! I am finalizing the photo edits and pattern organization. I was without my computer for most of July, so the process has been slower than anticipated, but I can’t wait to share the results. Stay tuned for more.

Socks I have not forgotten

Today is my dissertation defense at 2:00pm!  I’m nervous, excited, and so ready to be done! Think good thoughts for me, y’all.  There is power in the collective unconsciousness…

As for knitting content, while I’m working on larger projects, socks that I’m working on often get set aside.  I always have at least one pair of stockinette socks going, and sometimes many pairs of socks of varying styles.  They’re excellent knitting projects for traveling, commuting, knitting in the movie theater, and reading.  Right now, I just have a pair for me and a pair for Matt on the needles, but there is always more beautiful yarn in my sock yarn stash calling to me.  It’s hard not to cast on 10 pairs right now.

My pair is made with Juliana’s Lucky Star Sock Yarn in Truly Outrageous.  This yarn makes me happy every time I work on the socks.  It’s so ridiculously bright, and has just a hint of sparkle.  To keep from interrupting the stripe sequence, an afterthought heel would be best, but I really like the feel and security of the slipped stitch heel flap that I used.  I got lucky with this yarn and the stripes weren’t altered too badly.socks

If you’d like to know more about this heel flap, check out my sock patterns.  You can see what it’s like for free on Earlybird and Summer Slice if you just want to quench your intellectual curiosity.  Basically, going toe-up, I start the flap under the heel and continue the pattern to wrap around the back of the heel too.  It makes for a nice cushion on the heel and adds some durability.

Matt’s socks are made with Lorna’s Laces Shepard Sock in Fiddlehead.  This color is so perfect for many things in his wardrobe, in case he ever wants to match his crazy hand-knit socks to things.  There are a ton of colorways in this yarn, and many of them would work well for fellas that like their socks to be both fun and slightly conservative.  Matt is fine with wilder socks like this pair, this pair, and this pair.  I’m very happy about that, because the wilder self-striping yarns are so fun to knit!socks-2

It would be incredibly hard for me to pick just one favorite kind of sock yarn, but out of the ones that I have tried I love Koigu KPPPM, Tosh Sock, Hazel Knits, and Colinette Jitterbug for amazing colors, Regia and Opal yarns for amazing durability and crazy fun self-striping yarns, and Anzula Squishy for it’s maddeningly soft cashmere-induced coziness.  I’ve used other kinds of sock yarn, but these are the ones that stick out in my mind and will be brands I’ll go back to often.  What are your favorite kinds of sock yarn?   I always love learning about more kinds of sock yarn to covet!

Old socks, new socks

My oldest UFO finally has a finished status! These socks are for Matt. The yarn is Opal Sport in color 5103. Sadly, the yarn is discontinued.matt socks-4

It’s about 40% synthetic, which is not the most fun to knit, but I know they’ll last a decade or so. They’re also supposed to help keep the feet at a comfortable temperature, but I’m pretty sure wool has that function anyway. They were steeply discounted at Webs a couple of falls ago, so I decided to give the yarn a try.

As soon as I got them off of the needles on Tuesday night and wove in the ends, Matt slid them on his feet with the greatest satisfaction. He told me that the first time you put on a pair of hand knit socks is always the best. I adore his unbridled excitement for hand knit socks.matt socks-5

This isn’t any particular pattern. It’s my usual recipe for his size 10.5/11 socks. I cast on 32 stitches (16 per needle) with Judy’s Magic Cast On. I increase to 72 stitches, then knit for about 19 cm, start the heel flap and keep it going until about 26 cm, then I do the heel turn. I pick up stitches for the gusset and do mirrored decreases (ssk and k2tog) every other row until I’m down to 72 stitches again. Then I knit until the yarn balls look smaller and smaller and make some 1×1 ribbing. Usually I try to do this when there are at least 5-6 grams left per ball.matt socks-3

A scale that weighs yarn in grams is a great tool for a knitter, especially if you love knitting socks and like to use up every bit of yarn. I decided to match these socks, which I don’t always do with self-striping yarns. When I do that, I wind the ball into two separate yarn cakes (using a ball winder) and unwind each ball until I find the point where it matches. You end up wasting a little yarn, or saving it for repairs or other small projects (depending on how you look at it). I always end up loving the self-striping socks whether they’re an exact match or not. These are no exception.matt socks-6

Alpaca in August

matt's socks finished-3Matt’s birthday socks are finished, just over 2 months late…. Oops. Who wears alpaca socks in the summer anyway? Knowing him and his intense love of hand knit socks, I’m sure he could find a way.matt's socks finished-4I’ve never known another person that has gotten so excited over knitted socks. Maybe this poet would, but I don’t know many recipients that declare this much love for socks. It’s probably part of the reason I’ll adorn his feet with socks until we reach a crazy point of sock saturation in his drawers. And then I’ll keep going. I love this man so much. He tells everyone that “hand knit socks can change your life.” Wouldn’t you knit him pair after pair too? matt's socks finished-2The sock pattern is my basic toe-up recipe. You can find it on Summer Slice  or Early Bird for free. I also sell Tuxedo and Prufrock using this method. I’ve never written up the plain pattern by itself because there are gobs and gobs of basic sock patterns available. This one is my basic recipe, but I alternate a K1, p1 rib with plain knit rows. It’s slightly more interesting than 1×1 ribbing, and has a rest row (just knitting) between the ribbed rows to make it go faster. I alternated those rows until I thought I should start the top ribbing only section, then I just did 1×1 ribbing for the last inch or so. I don’t think he’ll have any sock sagging issues with this pair, but the ribbing does make it seem thicker than usual. I used Alpacas d’Auxvasse Alpaca Sock Yarn.

Maybe I’ll write it up one of these days. My plan this week, or next, depending on how much time I can squeeze from other activities, is to finish writing up the pattern for Z’s linen tunic.

Gemini is flying by so far! I’m almost through my 3rd (out of 5) ball of yarn. I’m making a few mods and taking notes about them. Beatnik, my SSKAL project is hanging out on the needles, just past the armhole decreases on the back. I will return to her and definitely try my best to complete it by September 24th. I still have well over a month. I just got sidetracked by the promise of one more sweater I can wear this year…