How a Compulsion Starts
(my first pair of knit socks)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009
I traveled to California to visit my family last month and I forgot to claim my laptop computer after putting it through the security checkpoint in Boston. I flew all the way to San Francisco and drove all the way to Santa Clara before I realized that my computer bag was "light". Luckily, it was safe and sound in the hands of the TSA in Boston. I had intended to get caught up on a few web design projects while visiting and now that was not going to happen. I felt like an idiot for losing my laptop and needed a challenging project to occupy my mind so I went to the yarn store! I decided it was time to tackle the challenge of knitting a pair of socks.

I've crocheted a pair of socks (read about the adventure here)but I never intended to knit a pair of socks. Why? There were a couple of reasons. One reason is that I'm a bare foot person. When I'm at home I don't wear anything on my feet and I'll wear sandals until there's three inches of snow on the ground or my toes start to turn blue, whichever comes first. I crocheted a pair of socks for the challenge .... I don't actually wear them!

Another reason was that I didn't like knitting with double pointed needles. It wasn't until I taught myself how to knit in the round with two circular needles that I "got" the whole concept of multiple needle circular knitting. The double pointed needles took a little bit of practice but it became much easier after my success with two circulars. Double pointed needles are much cheaper too and that leaves more money for yarn.

The final reason I've never knit a pair of socks is because I believed the hype about their difficulty. Turning the heel and grafting were techniques I kept hearing knitters struggle with and I felt that my knitting skills weren't up to the task. However, a number of years ago I learned to graft and I figured now was the time to teach myself how to turn a heel. At the very least it would help keep my mind off that forgotten computer.

I found a free pattern for this pair of pedicure socks. How cute! I decided I would make a pair of them for my daughter. I started knitting away and had NO problems following what I later learned was the most basic of sock patterns. I turned my first heel without a hitch and with a great deal of pride! I had almost finished knitting the first sock when I was quietly informed by my daughter that she would never wear them!!!!! It wasn't that she didn't like or appreciate them but 1) she didn't get pedicures and 2)she only wore ankle socks.

What to do? I could continue and finish and try to find someone to give them to (they weren't the right size for me) but now I had "sock fever" and I decided that my first sock was going to be for ME and I was willing to frog everything and start knitting new socks, this time with toes!

I read every sock book in the library and I scoured the internet for sock blogs and forums. I quickly learned that people who knit socks are very passionate about their work and that socks are pretty darn easy to design and knit to your own specifications. I was now completely enthralled!

The three books that helped the most were:
1) Knitting rules! by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.
--This book is mostly a humorous and practical information book about knitting but there is a section that breaks down how to knit a pair of socks without a pattern and this was my inspiration and springboard for giving it a go myself.
2) Getting Started Knitting Socks by Ann Budd.
--My sock bible. The best beginning sock book I found.
3) Socks A La Carte by Jonelle Raffino.
--A fun flip book with lots of different cuff, body, heel and toe patterns.

Sock Notes:
  • 2 balls of Patons® Stretch Sock Yarn - Olive
  • K3,P1 for cuff and body
  • K1, slip1 for the heel
  • Double decrease for the toe

  • I love knitting socks! All I want to do now is design and knit socks. I want to learn everything there is to know about socks. I am hopelessly addicted and have a serious new compulsion. I am already in the process of hand dyeing yarn and picking out a stitch pattern for the next pair. I may need an intervention. I'm definitely going to have start wearing them.

    My Ravelry project page for My First Pair Of Socks.


    Heather said...

    I read this late last night and wanted to comment, but I was so sleep-deprived I couldn't make sense.

    I loved this glimpse into how you caught the sock bug. I LOVE knitting socks. They're such quick, enjoyable knits. I was also terrified of turning my first heel, but I found that the instructions are actually very easy. It's the first time I did a short row, but I just sucked it up and did what the pattern said to do, and it worked beautifully.

    A friend of mine just knit her first sock, and I gave her that tip. "The instructions will look really weird, and it will seem wrong at first, but just do what it says. It's not hard, it's just weird." :-)

    Your socks look beautiful!!!

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