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!
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!