Sock history

I hope to have a more substantive post soon, but in the meantime I thought Lolly’s Socktoberfest questionnaire was totally worthwhile answering! I love sharing my own knitting history, and reading the knitting histories of others.

When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?

Shortly after I learned to knit – a pair of socks was my fourth project! My grandma and dad visited me that September, and seeing that, hey, I can knit for reals, each asked me for a pair. I learned by following the pattern in Nancy Bush’s Knitting on the Road. I found her instructions to be crystal clear, and mimic her format when I myself write sock patterns!

What was your first pair? How have they “held up” over time?

My first pair of socks was Denmark from KotR, and I used Louet Gems Opal 100% superwash merino. Incidentally, this pair of socks is responsible for starting my obsession with both Nancy Bush and Louet merino. I chose the yarn because it is incredibly soft and came in a grandma-friendly color. For some reason I was convinced that I couldn’t handle fingering weight yarn back then, so I felt much “safer” using this slightly thicker sportweight alternative.

The socks came out… okay, I guess :). On the plus side, it was on this pair of socks that I accidentally learned how to pick up gusset stitches the pretty way. On the minus side, I could tell which sock I knit first because it had a few cabling mistakes at the top, and because it came out slightly bigger. My grandma was understanding, stating that her feet were slightly different anyway, so having one sock bigger than another was “a bonus.”

The socks held up miserably – my grandma wore them day and night, night and day, so it wasn’t surprising when they disintegrated a few months later. For a while she darned them and re-darned them, weaving a new sole with the leftover yarn every month. She even proposed that I re-knit new soles, attaching them to the old (but still functional) cuffs. That’s when I made it my personal mission to overwhelm her sock drawer with many more new pairs of handknit socks.

Even though my grandma now has many more pairs of handknit socks, and even though she’s told me on multiple occasions that she “threw the gray pair out,” they still surface every time I visit her. I know she’s holding on to them for sentimental reasons… or maybe she really does think I’ll knit a new bottom half for them one day? (not gonna happen)

What would you have done differently?

Not given my grandma the leftover yarn :).

What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?

Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock is hands down my sockweight yarn of choice. It is smooth and silky and beautiful, and behaves very predictably in my hands.

Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?

I’m truly challenged when it comes to crochet in general, so no crocheted socks in my past. I prefer to knit socks on 5 dpns (4 holding the stitches plus 1 working needle). My favorite sock needles of all time are the Susan Bates metal Silvalume needles in the multipack. As for 2 circulars and Magic Loop… I can’t say I’ve never used them, but I will say that I use those methods as infrequently as possible, socks or otherwise.

Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)

I use both, depends on my mood. Sometimes if I feel the sock looks more traditional, I’ll use a heel flap. If I’m in a hurry, I’ll do a short-row heel. Both seem to fit my feet well.

Same general ambivalence about toe-up versus cuff-down: eh, depends on my mood ;).

How many pairs have you made?

18 pairs: 7 for grandma, 4 for me (including a mismatched pair), 4 for friends/exchanges, and 3 for dad. Grandma wins!

Two other pairs are currently on the needles – Whitby, and the “twisted socks” I mentioned here. I hope to work a bit on them over the next few days and actually show you what I’m up to ;).


25 thoughts on “Sock history

  1. Carole

    I enjoyed reading your sock knitting history. I’m planning on answering Lolly’s questions next week. Tomorrow I’m doing your “10 knitting things you don’t know about me” meme.

  2. erin

    I love susan bates dpns. I can’t seem to use anything other than metal needles with socks, or I break needles like crazy.

  3. Leah

    I see you have many patterns and stitches you have created on your own. I would love it, if you would stop by and see if you would be interested in featuring any of your patterns on my website:

    There is also a bio, that you can use to highlight your blog or pattern sales. You have beautiful work!

  4. Nicole

    Have you worn the mismatched pair yet? If not, because it hasn’t been cold enough yet… or because they’re mismatched? πŸ™‚

  5. Kristy

    I also love Susan Bates needles! I need to get another set. Right now I have 4 of them and one wooden needle in my sock, and I’m always disappointed when I get to the wooden one.

  6. Kathy

    It was fun to hear that we have similar yarn tastes. Gems Opal Merino is one of my favorite yarns, though it seems many people are not familiar with it. And I have also found Lorna’s Laces to be my favorite sock yarn. I am planning on jumping onto the bandwagon (very late!!!) and try your Jaywalker pattern next in Lorna’s Laces “Tuscany” Shepherd Sock.

  7. Stephanie

    Grandma wins hands down. I’ve never tried the Susan Bates dpns, but I’ll have to pick some up next time I’m at the LYS. They might be my next favorite thing.

  8. Beatriz

    Kathy, I’ve lost count on how many knitting tips I’ve gleaned from your knit blog…twisting as you pick up stitches “the pretty way” makes so much sense. I might do that with all my socks now. Love the way it looks.

  9. Theresa

    After a relative dearth of good memes recently, there have been several. Loved your 10 things, and now the socks. Imagine – memes about knitting!

  10. Jenna

    I love the personal aspect to your sock history. Your grandma must know how much love goes into your socks if she is holding onto them with such care. Even if your socks didn’t turn out to your exact quality specifications, they were a success nevertheless.

  11. Carol

    Wow! Thank you, I learned something new again! Your picked up stitches are really nice! Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed reading your sock history.

  12. Marlyce

    Regarding socks which wear out quickly–especially at the heels. There is a fine yarn–wool/nylon made by Scholler, I think, and about 20 yards are wound on a bobbin. Don’t remember the price. If you knit that along with your yarn at the heel, and the ball of the foot, it won’t wear out as fast. The sock will also fit a bit snugger because of the nylon. You can buy many shades of it to match the yarn you’re knitting with, but I found that it really isn’t visible, although I have always knit with dark or bright shades. I found a very old sock knitting book by Beehive Patons (circa 1950) which described knitting a “flap” heel which could later be re-knit without problem. They were going to patent the method–don’t know whether they did. It was called the Aladdin Heel. I’m impressed with the great number of socks you knit for grandma. She definitely feels your love.

    Marlyce in windsor, Ontario

  13. Jody

    Hmm – only 18 pairs I would’ve thought way more than that. And thanks for that “pretty” pick up method I’m going to try I like the way it looks.

  14. brooke

    I think 18 pairs is a lot of socks, especially considering you’ve only knit for 2 years, right? I love how some of your knitting decisions are based on mood. I’m that way with projects -what am I in the mood to knit tonight?

  15. sylvia

    i was just pondering whether i should buy the susan bates sock set because i got a 40% off coupon for joann’s. i know u like using the 0s for most of the socks ive seen on ur blog…but what do you do with the 00 and 000?? do you think the set in general is a good deal?

  16. Rae

    As a brand new sock knitter (one down, one to go for my first pair), this was really interesting to read! I can’t wait to try picking up the stitches on the next sock using the method you described. Thanks for the detail.

  17. diana

    That’s a great story about your grandmother, especially her comment about having two different-sized feet so the different-sized socks were okay. She sounds definitely worthy of all those handknit socks!

  18. Hannah

    Every time I look at your mismatched socks, it makes me smile. And your story about grandma wearing her socks day and night…so sweet. I love grandparents πŸ™‚

  19. firefly8868

    Very beautiful blog and sharing. I especially love the Shetland Triangle … the knitting is lovely, of course, but I also like the way you wrap it. Very classy. Nice to find you.

    Best wishes,


  20. Lolly

    Thank you so much for taking the time to answer the questions. Reading your answers was enlightening. I agree about Nancy Bush’s pattern – crystal clear and so well done. She has graciously agreed to do an interview for Socktoberfest too! πŸ˜‰

    Many thanks for being a part of this, Kathy!

  21. Karen

    Nice reading that your grandma’s wearing those socks out. Isn’t it great when you knit something for someone special and they end up loving it?

    I’m with you on those metal SB sock needles. I didn’t think I’d like them but they’re turning out to be a favorite.

  22. Nonnahs

    Thanks for sharing your sock history. I’ve enjoyed recalling and sharing my own history, as well as reading about everyone else’s this week.

Comments are closed.