Archives For Socks

CH 285: The Luminary Socks

Helen —  February 28, 2020 — Leave a comment
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Show Sponsors

Alongside an eclectic yarn range, which includes Hazel Knits, Icelandic Lopi & CoopKnits, we stock a carefully chosen selection of needles and notions. We’ve also recently launched ‘hand dyed by meadowyarn’, our very own in-house, hand-dyed yarn range. Working in our tiny dye studio, nestled in the Suffolk countryside, we are able to indulge our love of colour, producing complex tonal, kettle-dyed shades across a range of weights and bases. With regular updates our collections evolve and grow, inspired by the landscape and people around us.

Find all your favourite luxury yarns and discover plenty more at A Yarn Story, Bath’s premier yarn store based in Walcot Street, Bath, UK. From gorgeous skeins by The Fibre Co and Walcot Yarns to a fine selection from Shibui Knits, La Bien Aimée, House of a la Mode, and Julie Asselin, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. With friendly and knowledgeable staff to help you browse, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. Visit the store at Walcot Street, Bath or shop online at www.ayarnstory.co.uk.

Today I have a brand new sock pattern to introduce and some personal sock-knitting and studio set-up updates! The Handmade Sock Society Season 3 is off to an amazing start, with a crowd of brilliant knitters who have already cast on the new Luminary Socks in a gorgeous array of yarn.

Show Links

Terracotta Socks by Woolfield Studio

Birch Hollow Fibers

Bembe Socks by Dawn Henderson

Luminary Socks from The Handmade Sock Society Season 3

IndieLynx on Instagram

Tinkhickman on Instagram

The Comfy Red Couch on Instagram

SHOW TRANSCRIPT:

Helen:
Welcome to the Curious Handmade podcast. You’re listening to Episode 285. This podcast is all about crafting a life of happiness and creativity. I’m your host, Helen, and you can find me on Ravelry as HellsBells, and on social media as curioushandmade. You can also find full show notes on my website at curioushandmade.com.


Hello and welcome. I hope things are good with you this week. We are having a good week here at Curious HQ and we have an addition of five members to the family. My daughter, Lexi was very, very keen to have pet mice. And finally the pet shop had some in but they were available on Monday. So we went down first thing and chose two little mice. And I had them sitting next to me all day by my desk, keeping an eye on them, seeing how they were settling in. And by the end of the day I did fall in love with them and decided they were cute, that we should go back to the pet shop and I wanted one for myself. So I ended up with three more.


And so now we have five little mice pets in our house. And yeah, I’m still slightly shocked at that situation, but they’re so cute and I’m really enjoying them. I haven’t had to clean out the cage yet, so still having to have that ahead of me to figure out how to do and mainly how to teach, like see how to do. But no doubt I’ll have to be involved. And yeah, so that was quite funny and a little bit silly, but also really fun. And it’s making Sophie and I very clucky for a puppy now. But I’m definitely going to hold off on that for a while and hopefully won’t have like a reason to report next week that I’ve caved and we now have a puppy as well. But I don’t think so. I think that’s going to be put off for a while longer to see how we cope with the mice. Anyway, it’s very nice to have a pet.


We haven’t had one for a long time. We used to have cats when the girls were babies, but we haven’t had pets for about… I guess about eight years now. So it is nice I to have a little creature in the house or five. Anyway, so I’ve been quite distracted by that and it’s distracted me from work and knitting. But I did manage to finish my Terracotta socks by Woolfield Studio and I knit them in virtual hollow fibers, yarn, gorgeous yarn. And I can never remember the color, I’m really sorry Robin. It’s a really beautiful golden yellowy base with beautiful pink flecks. It’s something… Roses is in the name. And it’s a gorgeous, gorgeous colourway. And I’m really pleased with them. I knit a kind of… Not a shorty version but just a couple of inches, pattern on the leg plus the cuffs.


So they’re quite short and yeah, I’m really pleased with them. I still have to Kitchener stitch the toe on the second sock. So not 100% finished but very close. And I will in fact do that just in a bit and try and get a photo in the daylight. Although it’s super dark here at the moment because it’s a massive storm clouds overhead and there’s thunder. It was raining a minute ago and I thought I might not be able to record but the rain stopped but it’s very dark so we’ll see if photos are possible or otherwise it might be tomorrow. But yeah, so super happy to have a finished object basically. And yeah, it’s encouraging me to pass on my next socks, which will be the Bambi socks by Don Henderson, which are number 22 in 52 weeks of socks by Liner.


So I am looking forward to getting started on those. I’m looking forward to looking through my stash for some suitable yarn and wondering whether I’ll knit them for myself or for a gift. So yes, I have that to look forward to. I might do that this evening actually as a little treat. I do have at least two other of socks that I’ve had on the needles for ages that I need to finish as well, so maybe I should choose one of those and put them in my handbag for those moments when I’m watching swimming or music lesson and have a bit of time waiting around for children. So yes, I do find socks just the perfect project for that. You can just do around and it’s just a little something, few little stitches and it makes me feel like I haven’t wasted my time even if I don’t achieve very much.


Of course I am still yet to pick up the sleeves stitches, which is the next step on my Clio pull over that’s been in a work in progress for such a long time. And yes, I also need to do that. I just haven’t had the brain power really or spare brain power to do that. But yeah, it’s getting close. It’s coming up my list of many, many things to do, but I am looking forward to getting that done. And I’ll have quite a few things to cross off my knit 20 for 2020 if I manage that one and some socks. Earlier this week, I published the first sock for The Handmade Sock Society number three, season three, and they are the luminary socks, so I was really chuffed to be able to share those finally. They’ve been a work in progress for quite a while. And a huge thank you to Deb Hickman who took the photos and made the sample for me.


And a huge thank you to Claire who is Indielynx who gave Deb some gorgeous origami stars to photograph with the socks. And the socks have a star stitch panel running down the front with a little bit of a lace border on either side of the front panel. And they’re playing on the back and I used Viola sock yarn for those. I do love Viola yarn, I just find the colors really beautiful and have so much depth. And just the color palette really appeals to me. It’s sort of quite dark and moody, really fun and really pretty. So it’s lots of beautiful elements have come together to make up the pattern and a huge thank you to Tracey who is Tracyrr on Ravelry and The Comfy Red Couch for test knitting for me.


So I hope members of The Handmade Sock Society are already pleased with this design. And I am already enjoying seeing people’s socks progressing. Thank you for all the lovely comments on Instagram and Ravelry. And yeah, I’m just so excited to see the different colors and beautiful yarns that people are knitting up their socks in. Apart from a very small amount of knitting and a lot of faffing around with mice and watching them and trying to figure out what they may or may not eat or like to do, I’ve been doing some more organizing in my studio/office and hopefully they should be a little sofa arriving for the office tomorrow.


So I’m really excited about that because I have my desk in here and shelves and office stuff, but I really want this to be a creative area where I can sit and knit and hide from children and husband. So yes. So I’m really excited about my sofa arriving tomorrow. And then basically my studio will be fairly set up. I still have some tidying and organizing to do. But yeah, all the essential furniture will be in by then. And then it will just be a matter of beautifying the space and maybe putting some pictures up and things like that. So when I have it a bit more organized and tidy, I’ll take some photos and then maybe be a little video, maybe do a little studio tour for you.


It’s been taking me a long time to get it all together, it feels like, but I’ll be very pleased once it all comes together. One thing I did do this week, which was kind of a procrastination thing, but it was also quite useful was I had a whole box of swatches and half finished never to be finished projects that I unwound and called time on and managed to release about eight pairs of needles from those projects. And yeah, so that was really good. And I thought I could maybe donate some of the swatches to the yarnbombing project that Lexxie’s working on at school. I haven’t heard much about that this week, so I’m not sure if she’s gone off the idea already.


But yeah, I thought I could use some of my swatches for good and also secretly do a little bit of decluttering in the name of art, public art. So yes. So that was a good thing. And I had about three pairs of socks that I had were kind of swatches, kind of testing out different sizes of patterns and things like that. And so I managed to retrieve three really nice skeins of Sock yarn as well from those projects and from the box of doom. So that was really good. And it’s made me have yet another look at my stash. And I will organize another de-stash. It won’t be for charity this time. It will be for just de-stash purposes. And just wanting to get some of the yarn that I have in my stash into the hands of people that can use it because I am just realizing more and more, I mean it’s taken me a month, two months actually to knit one pair of socks. And that’s just one little skein of yarn.


So the rate at which I can use my stash is very, very low. And as much as I love my yarn and really, really struggle to let go of any of it, I really need to… I’ll feel much better if I know that people can use it. Because in the climate here it’s really, really hot and humid and I just don’t want it to deteriorate or get moldy or anything like that. So I think I should de-stash sooner rather than later and share some of these beautiful skeins of yarn. So look out for that on Instagram. I might get to it this week. Probably not to be honest seeing as I have things like clean out the mice cages on my list of things to do now. But I’m definitely going to be doing that sometime in the near future. So yeah, I’ll put the word out anyway.


If you’re on my mailing list or follow me on Instagram you’ll hear about it in advance of when I do it. So thanks so much for listening in. Sorry, it’s been a bit of a scattered episode today. I just wanted to have a quick chat with you and have a bit of a catch-up, but I don’t have a huge amount of knitting or knitting news to report I’m afraid.


So thanks again for joining me today and I hope you have a really fantastic week. Happy knitting and I’ll talk to you again soon. Bye.

Play

Show Sponsors

Alongside an eclectic yarn range, which includes Hazel Knits, Icelandic Lopi & CoopKnits, we stock a carefully chosen selection of needles and notions. We’ve also recently launched ‘hand dyed by meadowyarn’, our very own in-house, hand-dyed yarn range. Working in our tiny dye studio, nestled in the Suffolk countryside, we are able to indulge our love of colour, producing complex tonal, kettle-dyed shades across a range of weights and bases. With regular updates our collections evolve and grow, inspired by the landscape and people around us.

Find all your favourite luxury yarns and discover plenty more at A Yarn Story, Bath’s premier yarn store based in Walcot Street, Bath, UK. From gorgeous skeins by The Fibre Co and Walcot Yarns to a fine selection from Shibui Knits, La Bien Aimée, House of a la Mode, and Julie Asselin, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. With friendly and knowledgeable staff to help you browse, there is plenty for the discerning knitter to enjoy. Visit the store at Walcot Street, Bath or shop online at www.ayarnstory.co.uk.

Photo Credit: Laine Magazine

Today’s podcast is pretty much exclusively about socks! It’s an exciting time to be a sock knitter just now. The Handmade Sock Society Season 3 is now open, with pre-sales over at Ravelry and a very big Early Bird discount on the collection. We also have the release of an incredible new book of patterns produced by Laine Magazine. On today’s podcast I talk a little about the pattern I created for the book, the Snippet Socks, as well as an overall review of the book itself and some of the other incredible designs you’ll find there. I know which one I’m casting on first, but it was not easy to choose!

Show Links

Join The Handmade Sock Society 3 here!

The Handmade Sock Society Season 3 is a pattern subscription club inspired by the many meanings of atmosphere and the creative quest. The six secret sock knitting patterns in the collection are ideal for any knitter who is obsessed with (or wants to fall in love with) hand-knitted socks, appreciates a bit of suspense, and enjoys creating along with other enthusiastic makers. The first pattern of the series will be released in February 2020, and then there will be another pattern release every month until July. There’s never any pressure to “keep up” with the crowd, and our relaxed knit-along schedule is designed to give knitters of all skill levels and knitting speeds a relaxed experience.

Whether you’re a newish sock knitter or a seasoned pro, these patterns will have something to offer. The difficulty hovers between “intrepid beginner” and intermediate. There will be interesting stitch patterns, a touch of lace, and maybe a little cable or two, but nothing confounding. And of course, if you’re ever at a loss, our warm and welcoming knitalong community is always available to help, encourage, and cheer you along the way. So take a deep breath and a good look around. Stare up at the stars. Soak up the atmosphere. There’s so much to discover.

Sock Pattern Release Schedule:

  • Tuesday, February 25th
  • Tuesday, March 24th
  • Tuesday, April 21st
  • Tuesday, May 19th
  • Tuesday, June 16th
  • Tuesday, July 21st

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Membership in The Handmade Sock Society 3 grants you access to six stunning knitted sock patterns which will be released one every month until July.

  • The patterns will remain completely exclusive to Society members until the session ends.

  • The Handmade Sock Society 3 collection is available at a special early bird price for just a short time. 

  • The early bird price for the collection is £9.95 (+ applicable VAT for EU countries – Ravelry automatically adds this in). This includes all SIX sock designs and works out to less than half price of the patterns individually.

  • The early bird ends when the first pattern is released and the regular price will be £15 (+VAT for EU countries)

  • All the designs are written for fingering weight/4 ply/sock yarn, so this will be an excellent stashbuster for many!

  • If you do want to treat yourself to new yarn or just want some inspiration, I will post yarn spoilers on Ravelry before each pattern is released so you can shop or stash dive to find the perfect yarn for your socks. 

  • The patterns are all for knitted socks. Most will be confident beginner level but one or two will require more intermediate skills.

  • The patterns will be written in the Curious Handmade Percentage Checklist Pattern™ format and I will include charts for lace.

Laine Magazine’s 52 Weeks of Socks book

Snippet Socks

The Wool Barn

Pebbles and Pathways Socks by Marceline Smith

Intersections Socks by Marceline Smith

Branches by Amanda Jones

House of A La Mode

Porch Light by Lindsey Fowler

Little Lionhead Knits

Lucerna by Fabienne Gassmann

John Arbon

ONION

Riverbed by Joji Locatelli

Bembe by Dawn Henderson

Quince & Co. 

Tinkhickman on Instagram

The Comfy Red Couch on Instagram

The Wool Barn on Instagram

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT:

Welcome to The Curious Handmade Podcast. You’re listening to episode 283. This podcast is all about crafting a life of happiness and creativity. I’m your host, Helen, and you can find me on Ravelry as Hell’s Bells and on social media as Curious Handmade. You can also find the full show notes on my website at curioushandmade.com.

Hello, hello. Are you having a good week? I hope you are. I am having a hectic week again, I say that every week, don’t I? It’s hectic all the time at the moment. I started off the week sending off the parcels for the Bushfire Relief Auction, the destash I did recently. I still have a couple of those parcels that I need to send out, that I’m still sorting out addresses and things for. Also, this week my goal is to send off all the knit-along prizes. Everybody was super fast getting their addresses back to me, so that was awesome, and so I’m going to work on that later today. Parceling everything up, filling out all the customs forms, and hopefully, getting them to the post office probably tomorrow, if I spend today packaging. There was 15 prizes for the knit-along winners, we did a big Prize-a Palooza all at once, last week. In previous years, I’ve been a bit more sort of spaced out with them throughout the year as each passion or each knit-along comes to an end.

But last year it was so crazy with me being, that I just did them all at once. So yeah. So as I announced recently, we are rolling straight into The Handmade Sock Society number 3, and just as a bit of a heads up, this episode is going to be basically all about socks. So if you’re not a sock knitter and have no interest in sock-knitting, this might not be the episode for you. So we’re starting Season 3 of the Sock Society. So the theme for the season is “Atmosphere” and pre-sales for the collection opened yesterday on Ravelry, it is only going to be available on Ravelry at this stage because it provides such a great delivery mechanism for the patterns. So once you sign up, I can just add the patterns to the collection and you’ll receive them each month. The collection is currently available at a really big discount, early Bird price, and it will be at an early Bird price until the 24th of February, because the first pattern will be released on Tuesday, the 25th of February. So that’s in just over a week’s time.

As always, I’m really excited about this collection. If you’ve enjoyed previous seasons of The Handmade Sock Society, I think you’ll like this one too. I haven’t tried to do anything dramatically different this season. It’s a relatively similar I would say, the socks are top-down and are written in my percentage checklist style. So they’re all written out in full, as well as charts wherever necessary, and I’m looking forward to those of you who love knitting socks to join us.

So the other exciting thing that happened this week is that I received in the post, my designer copy of 52 Weeks of Socks by Laine. Also, my sample of my snippet socks that are in the book, and we have been seeing sneak peaks of the book on Instagram, and it’s just so thrilling to have this book in my hands now. It is absolutely beautiful. It’s as you can imagine with 52 sock patterns, it’s a solid book. I would describe it almost as a coffee table book, they have a beautiful linen cover, which is very tactile and a gorgeous belly band around it. I learnt that term when I was looking into printing patterns at one stage. So it’s where you have the paper wrapped around a thin strip of the cover. So they have a gorgeous photo on that, and then when I opened it up, there’s a little detail shot of my snippet socks on the inside of the front of the belly band. So that was kind of nice to see.

On the back, the inside is a beautiful shot of foliage grasses and it’s just gorgeous. I love little beautiful details like that, that says “52 Weeks of Socks is a unique look into modern international sock- knitting. The designers behind the 52 pairs come from all corners of the world. They’ve used different yarns and techniques in their designs that are either intuitive and relaxing to knit or more challenging. This beautiful book is a future classic that you will return to again and again.” I think that’s absolutely right.

So I have a design in this book obviously, and it’s called Snippet Socks. When Yana and Cindy contacted me to do a design for the book, of course, I was very happy to. My pattern is towards the end of the book, number 45, and I called the socks Snippet. When I started thinking about them, I thought I would do a little bit of a spin-off or connection with my Fragment Socks that were in issue four, of Laine Magazine. And Fragment Socks have been really popular, and when I designed Fragment, I was thinking about patchwork. I was making a patchwork quilt, and I, yeah, I was just thinking about the shapes that are often found in patchwork quilt.

So that’s where Fragment came from. Then, so snippet, I really liked those diagonal shapes and Fragment, and so I, yeah, I just kind of worked from that point when I was thinking about the design. I was quite influenced by the Japanese stitch dictionary, and I was smiling as I was looking through the patterns, because I think a lot of the designers in the book were also influenced by that stitch dictionary. It’s been really popular at the moment, and it’s, I think really influencing a lot of designs that we’re seeing coming out. The aesthetic for that is a lot of twisted stitches and a lot of combining different lace patterns in columns, and I can see that through a lot of the designs in the book. So I do think or wonder if other designers have been enjoying that inspiration as much as I have. I’ve actually been really inspired by that particular book.

So for the yarn, for this design, I used Cashmere Sock, by The Wool Barn, and that is 80% super wash extra-fine merino, 10% cashmere and 10% nylon. The colorway is Walnut. I absolutely love that base, and I really love this color. I think Maya from the Wool Barn is just so talented, and whenever I use her yarn for a design, it just photographs so beautifully. I don’t know what it is about her dyes, but the light really reflects off them, and then also the colors show up beautifully as well. So I am absolutely thrilled with the photos for the socks that are included in the book, they’re just gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous, love everything about the styling. They’ve included these socks in some of the detailed shots throughout the book, and I just couldn’t be happier.

Of course, the photography of the book is one of the highlights. The designs are all beautiful and the photography just shows them off so beautifully. I love the Laine of style of photography, it’s moody and textured, and I love the way they combine textures in their styling. So my socks are photographed on a sort of a jute-textured rug with some native flowers in the background. They look like Australian natives actually, might be South African. And a beautiful silky skirt on the model, and it’s just absolutely gorgeous. So I thought that I would choose one of the designs from another designer to cast on, and I will make that my socks category for my #knit20for2020. But then, I was absolutely struggling to decide which pair to choose. I absolutely love … The first pattern in the book is by Marceline Smith, HeyBrownBerry, who is a friend and I am currently knitting her Pebbles and Pathways Socks already. She has a gorgeous design in the book called Intersections, which is a gorgeous cabled textured design.

I was also looking at number four, Branches by Amanda Jones. This is an example of where I think maybe she’s been influenced by a similar stitch dictionary that I was. It’s much more intricate pattern though, with a lot of lace and some stripes of, I think it’s the not stitch coming down the side, and the lace pattern goes into the cuff, which is really cool. Amanda works at A Yarn Story, and yeah, I’ve met her, she’s absolutely lovely person and these socks are just divine. She’s knit them, and House Fingering by House of A La Mode. And a gorgeous blue, well, actually the colorway is called Sage. It looks quite blue in the picture, but maybe it’s more of a bluey-green.

So I’m very tempted by that, and even though it looks super intricate, when you look at the charts, they’re not that complicated. It’s like an 11 stitch repeat going around. So that’s possibly memorizable, I think that would be okay to keep in your head. Then I was really drawn to a very different pair, they’re a lot plainer, number eight, Porch Light by Lindsey Fowler. These ones just have a small amount of detail around, just underneath the cuff, using sort of a different colorway. She’s used a Tweed Fingering by Little Lionhead Knits. I have a couple of this tweedy-style yarn in my stash, and so I was thinking about these ones, really like them. I think they’re my second choice.

Number 18, Lucerna, is by Fabienne Gassman. These are, again, a more simple design, more textured. So they’re reverse stockinette with some detailing, just sort of lines coming down from the top and up from the toe, and a cute, is it cast on or they knit top-down? Yes. Nobby Estonian cast on, which is quite cool. There’s an Exmoor Sock by John Arbon. That’s a really interesting blend. It’s 60% Exmoor Blueface, 20% Corriedale, and 10% Zwartbles and 10% nylon, and teases colorway Bibble Bug, which is a cute name. Oh, and also held double with silk and kid mohair by Onion, 40% silk, 60% kid mohair. So they’re held double and she’s knit them on, okay, so 2.5 and 2.75 needles. So still quite small needles and they look very cozy and just beautiful texture. Really, really drawn to those.

That’s Lucerna, number 18. There’s a gorgeous design by Joji Locatelli, number 31, Riverbed. She’s used a DK weight yarn for these ones, so she’s used Silky BFL DK by Walk Collection, who’s one of my favorite indie dyers. These are 55% wool, 45% silk, and the colorway Apollo. So they make for a beautiful sheen on the socks, and how he’s used the reverse stockinette with a lace design going down the top of the foot and down the back of the leg. So they’re really cute and would be a great option if you wanted a faster knit, probably with being in the DK. They’re on three millimeter needles.

But I think the pattern that I’m going to cast on is number 22, Bembe, B-E-M-B-E by Dawn Henderson. These are textured, it’s a textured pattern on the leg using just knits and pearls, in a really cool graphical design. The foot’s plane, which is quite nice, because once you’ve done the work on the leg you can just knit round and round on the foot. The yarn she’s used is a gorgeous rust color brownie tones. It’s Finch by Quince & Company, which is 100% American wool, and the colorway is Fox. So that probably gives you an immediate visual of the ready brown color that this yarn is.

So, yes. So I am going to pass them on soon. They’re going to be my first ones I’m going to cast on from the book, and that’s Bembe by Dawn Henderson. I think that would be a really nice unisex pair, actually. I’m looking at them and when you look at them side on, it’s sort of almost like an argyle-diamond pattern along each side of the leg, and yeah, so it makes me think that this would be a nice design for my dad. I like to knit socks for my dad, although I’m very slow.

So yeah, so super honored to be part of this book. It’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s going to be a treasure for years to come and I know how much work has gone into it. Collating and curating 52 patterns is no mean feat, as well as producing magazines last year. We’ve been working on it for a long time and it’s just absolutely amazing to have it in my hands now. The print quality is absolutely gorgeous, and as a book lover, my heart just sings when I have this book in my hands, because the pages just feel so beautiful to the touch. Just every single detail is just gorgeous, when you feel the paper it just feels so beautiful in your hands. The cover feels beautiful. It’s quite a tactile experience just reading the book, and then there’s all the patterns to knit inside.

So, congratulations Laine and all the designers in this book. It’s going to bring a lot of people a lot of joy. I would also like to thank my sample knitter, Deb, who is Tink Hickman on Instagram and Ravelry for knitting up the gorgeous sample that is pictured in the book. As well as my test knitter, Tracey, who hosts the Comfy Red Couch Podcast and is a huge support. I’d like to thank Maya of the Wool Barn for creating such gorgeous inspiring yarn to work with, and make my designs really shine. So thank you to my little team, I couldn’t do it without you. That’s not all I have to talk about this week.

Thanks for tuning in today. I hope you are enjoying your #knit20for2020 Challenge, if you are joining in with that. I’m looking forward to getting a few things ticked off or starting to work on a few things. I am looking forward to casting on my Bembe socks by Dawn. I will have some very pleasant moments choosing the perfect yarn from my stash, possibly from my deep stash, so I might be able to tick off both of those prompts. Anyway, I hope you have an absolutely fantastic week. Don’t forget, if you want to join The Handmade Sock Society number 3, to get in while the early bird price is still on offer, and apart from that, happy knitting, have a fantastic week and I’ll talk to you again soon.

Photo Credit: Deb Hickman

We’re getting ready to begin The Handmade Sock Society Season 3! We’re just days away from the start of presales! I’ve really been looking forward to this launch: sock knitters are such a fun and adventurous bunch, and these secret pattern collections always have such an exciting build up. Since the buzz began, I’ve heard from a lot of new sock knitters, or knitters who really want to join in with the fun but have been too intimidated to tackle the mystery of the sock. First of all, you’re not alone! A lot of people find the prospect of socks daunting. But the secret is that they’re not all that tricky. Honest.

Over the last two years, I’ve put together something we’ve taken to calling “The Sock Series”. They stated as emails and ended up here on the blog by popular demand. It a collection of tips, tricks, and resources on sock-knitting techniques that should make your first foray into the wonderful world of socks a little less scary. I’ve collected links to all those posts here:

Part 1 of The Sock Series: Choosing Yarn

Part 2 of The Sock Series: Needles and Techniques

Part 3 of The Sock Series: Casting On

Part 4 of The Sock Series: Avoiding Holes in the Gusset

I’ve also just posted another episode: it was sent to Curious Handmade Newsletter Subscribers last year and it’s a subject I still get a lot of questions on:

Part 5 of The Sock Series: Closing the Toes

I hope you find them helpful! And if there’s anything else about sock knitting that worries you, or if there’s another sock-knitting topic you think we should add to the series, let me know!

In the run up to the launch of The Handmade Sock Society Season 3, I’m bringing back our handy “Sock Series”. These are simple go-to-guides for the parts of sock-knitting that tend to scare off beginners.

This is our fifth guide to sock-knitting techniques! Today I’m going to discuss the Kitchener Stitch, a brilliant way to get a seamless finish on your socks.

Once you’ve knit to the very end of your sock’s toe, you need a way to close up that hole. You could just run your yarn tail through all the stitches and pull it tight (like the top of a hat) but that’s not very true to the shape of most feet. You could bind off and then just whipstitch the edges of the toes together, but that would result in a fairly bulky seam: not the most comfortable, especially when pressed against the toe of your shoe. So how do you take those live stitches and end up with a smooth finish (with no annoying seam)? Our friend the Kitchener Stitch.

I’ll be the first to admit that as a newer knitter I found this technique daunting. I’m afraid it was a major contributor to my Second Sock Syndrome for years! It’s not at all difficult, but I kept having to look it up every time I wanted to finish a sock. In the end, it was just a matter of practice. Now I think it’s very satisfying, and even quite fun. Hopefully, by the end of this email, you’ll think so, too!

The Kitchener Stitch is also known as grafting or weaving. It’s a very clever method that allows you to marry two sets of live stitches together into an invisible seam. It can look pretty complicated when you see the steps written out, but in reality, it is very simple, and it’s easy to get into a rhythm. All you have to do is start.

The very clever and generous Very Pink has made a few excellent video tutorials for the Kitchener Stitch

She also has a brilliant slow-mo version!

For visual learners, I think videos (and especially those slow-motion videos!) are hard to beat! I know some people do prefer to see the written instructions, too. Sometimes it’s just a bit quicker to glance at the instructions to refresh your memory than it is to rewatch a video.

How to do the Kitchener Stitch:

First, distribute your stitches evenly onto two needles, with the ends of the needles pointing the same way. You can use two double pointed needles, or just the two needles of a circular. Make sure the wrong sides (the inside of the sock) are facing each other. You’ll need a yarn or tapestry needle, threaded onto the tail of your yarn. Start with the yarn tail coming from the BACK needle.

First, you’ll work the Set Up instructions, once:

  1. Insert your tapestry needle into the first stitch on the FRONT needle as if to PURL, pull the yarn up and leave the stitch on the needle.
  2. Insert your tapestry needle into the first stitch on the BACK needle as if to KNIT, pull the yarn up and leave the stitch ON the needle.

Now it’s time to Kitchener:

  1. FRONT NEEDLE: KNIT OFF — insert the yarn needle as if to knit the first stitch on the front needle, pull yarn through, drop the stitch off
  2. FRONT NEEDLE: PURL ON — insert the yarn needle as if to purl the next stitch on the front needle, pull yarn through, leave the stitch on the needle
  3. BACK NEEDLE: PURL OFF — insert the yarn needle as if to purl the first stitch on the front needle, pull yarn through, drop the stitch off
  4. BACK: KNIT ON — insert the yarn needle as if to knit the first stitch on the back needle, pull yarn through, leave the stitch on the needle

Just keep repeating these steps until you reach the end of the seam. (It can help to keep muttering “Knit, Purl, Purl, Knit” as you go!) Then just pull the working yarn tight and weave in the loose end as usual. And there you go! You are the proud owner of a fully finished sock.

For a hybrid approach of words and photos, this classic Knitty tutorial has always been my go-to.

I hope that helps! By now, even the newest knitters in the Curious Crew should be well-prepared to take on their first socks (there is always plenty of encouragement, help, and community in the Ravelry group, too.) And if you’ve been making socks for years and years, and have a smart or sneaky grafting or finishing tip up your sleeve, please share it. Let’s never stop learning!

Happy knitting,
Helen x

Part 1 of The Sock Series: Choosing Yarn

Part 2 of The Sock Series: Needles and Techniques

Part 3 of The Sock Series: Casting On

Part 4 of The Sock Series: Avoiding Holes in the Gusset

I hope you enjoyed catching up with or reviewing the first three installments of The Sock Series. It’s lovely to hear from newish knitters who are building their confidence around sock knitting. By the time the first pattern of this new season drops, you’ll be unstoppable! I know we have a lot of expert sock knitters in our community, too, so if you have a special tip or trick you’d be willing to share with the rest of us, please let me know: sharing with—and learning from—each other is one of the great joys of the knitting community.

I’ve had a lot of questions about when we’re going to kick off this season, and I’m excited to say…

Membership for The Handmade Sock Society Season 2 opens TOMORROW!

I’ll send out an email with links as soon as it’s live with more details and everything you need to know. I can’t wait!

In the meantime, I want to celebrate this community and the around-the-corner kickoff of The Handmade Sock Society Season 2, so I’ve started a giveaway thread in our Ravelry group! The winner will get a hand-picked special skein of sock yarn from my stash…I’ll choose something I think you’ll like! I’ll also be offering a free pattern of your choice to six more lucky winners (one for each design!) To be in for a chance to win, all you need to do is

  • Make a project page for THSS Season 2 Socks #1
  • Post in the giveaway thread with your favourite seaside memory or place…if you’re landlocked and haven’t spent any time by the sea, where would you love to spend a peaceful week on your own, with your knitting? Share your dream seaside escape with us! Photos are highly encouraged but not required. 🙂

Now…back to the Sock Series!

Today I want to share a technique that I learned from a very dear knitting friend of mine, Paula from The Knitting Pipeline. Paula is an incredibly skilled knitter, and always so generous with her knowledge.  She showed me this very helpful sock-knitting tip on one of her wonderful retreats, and I’ve been using it ever since.

Anatomy of a Sock: The Heel Flap and Gusset

A feature of sock knitting (and one of the bits that scares most newbies the most) is the need to “turn the heel” of the sock. This is how you achieve the “L” shape that makes a sock a comfy, well-fitting sock instead of just being a scrunchy tube. It’s one of those things that sounds so much more complicated than it is. Once you’re actually doing it, it’s not so complicated at all, especially if you have a clearly-written pattern (and maybe a patient knitting friend online or in real life) to walk you through it. There are several different ways to create a heel, but one of the most common (and one of my favourites) is the heel flap and gusset. 

The actual knitting of the heel flap and gusset is actually pretty simple, as you’ll know if you’ve ever knit a sock of this type. But there is one issue that can haunt even experienced knitters: the hole in the gusset. What causes these pesky holes, and how can you avoid them?

When you create the heel flap of a sock, you’re only knitting half the stitches. Once you’re done, and after you’ve shaped the “cup” of the heel (usually with short rows…don’t worry, it’s actually quite easy!) you’ll need a way to resume knitting in the round. So, you pick up the stitches along the side of the heel flap you’ve just created until you reach the waiting stitches at the front of the sock. You could just keep knitting across, but if you do, there will always be a little gap there. This gap is what creates the holes (also known as pig’s eyes!) and it can be very frustrating. Who wants a little hole in a brand new sock?

The solution is usually to pick up an extra stitch or two in the gap, but as I learned, if you’re not careful how you pick up those stitches, you can sometimes inadvertently create an even bigger and more noticeable hole. There are a few different ways to tackle this, but the one I learned from Paula is so easy and foolproof that I’ve used it on every single sock since. 

I could try to explain it, but luckily, I don’t have to. The amazing Paula has already made a fabulous, easy-to-follow video, which makes it crystal clear:

Isn’t that ingenious? It’s so simple and so effective. I hope it’s as helpful to you as it has been to me!

If you are a regular listener of Paula’s wonderful podcast, you’ll know that right now she’s dealing with some scary health stuff, with all the grace and good humour we would expect from her. I know that messages of support and encouragement mean a lot to her right now. You can drop by her Ravelry Group to say hello and keep up with her health updates on her Caring Bridge site. She is very much in our hearts and I know so many knitters are sending her so much gratitude, love, and strength right now. 

Happy knitting,
Helen x

Today I have one more technique for you as we get ready for the launch of The Handmade Sock Society, Season 2, very, very soon! I’m getting so excited to finally start letting these patterns out into the world, after all the hours of quiet, secret work behind the scenes. I really think you are going to love this collection. It’s a particularly special one. But before I share more details about that, I’ll share my best tips for finishing up your socks!

The Kitchener Stitch: Seamless Sock Finishing

Once you’ve knit to the very end of your sock’s toe, you need a way to close up that hole. You could just run your yarn tail through all the stitches and pull it tight (like the top of a hat) but that’s not very true to the shape of most feet. You could bind off and then just whip stitch the edges of the toes together, but that would result in a fairly bulky seam: not the most comfortable, especially when pressed against the toe of your shoe. So how do you take those live stitches and end up with a smooth finish (with no annoying seam)? Our friend the Kitchener Stitch.

I’ll be the first to admit that as a newer knitter I found this technique daunting. I’m afraid it was a major contributor to my Second Sock Syndrome for years! It’s not at all difficult, but I kept having to look it up every time I wanted to finish a sock. In the end, it was just a matter of practice. Now I think it’s very satisfying, and even quite fun. Hopefully, by the end of this email, you’ll think so, too!

The Kitchener Stitch is also known as grafting, or weaving. It’s a very clever method that allows you to marry two sets of live stitches together into an invisible seam. It can look pretty complicated when you see the steps written out, but in reality, it is very simple, and it’s easy to get into a rhythm. All you have to do is start.

The very clever and generous Very Pink has made a few excellent video tutorials for the Kitchener Stitch:

 

 

She also has a brilliant slo-mo version!

 

 

For visual learners, I think videos (and especially those slow-motion videos!) are hard to beat! I know some people do prefer to see the written instructions, too. Sometimes it’s just a bit quicker to glance at the instructions to refresh your memory than it is to re-watch a video.

How to do the Kitchener Stitch:

First, distribute your stitches evenly onto two needles, with the ends of the needles pointing the same way. You can use two double pointed needles, or just the two needles of a circular. Make sure the wrong sides (the inside of the sock) are facing each other. You’ll need a yarn or tapestry needle, threaded onto the tail of your yarn. Start with the yarn tail coming from the BACK needle.

First, you’ll work the Set Up instructions, once:

1. Insert your tapestry needle into the first stitch on the FRONT needle as if to PURL, pull the yarn up and leave the stitch on the needle.

2. Insert your tapestry needle into the first stitch on the BACK needle as if to KNIT, pull the yarn up and leave the stitch ON the needle.

Now it’s time to Kitchener:

1. FRONT NEEDLE: KNIT OFF — insert the yarn needle as if to knit the first stitch on the front needle, pull yarn through, drop the stitch off

2. FRONT NEEDLE: PURL ON — insert the yarn needle as if to purl the next stitch on the front needle, pull yarn through, leave the stitch on the needle

3. BACK NEEDLE: PURL OFF — insert the yarn needle as if to purl the first stitch on the front needle, pull yarn through, drop the stitch off

4. BACK: KNIT ON — insert the yarn needle as if to knit the first stitch on the back needle, pull yarn through, leave the stitch on the needle

Just keep repeating these steps until you reach the end of the seam. (It can help to keep muttering “Knit, Purl, Purl, Knit” as you go!) Then just pull the working yarn tight and weave in the loose end as usual. And there you go! You are the proud owner of a fully finished sock.

For a hybrid approach of words and photos, this classic Knitty tutorial has always been my go-to. 

I hope that helps! By now, even the newest knitters in the Curious Crew should be well-prepared to take on their first socks (there will be plenty of encouragement, help, and community in the Ravelry group, too.) And if you’ve been making socks for years and years, and have a smart or sneaky grafting or finishing tip up your sleeve, please share it. Let’s never stop learning!

You can also explore the rest of our handy Sock Series posts here:

Around this time last year, I sent a series of emails full of tips and techniques for knitting handmade socks. They were such a hit in the lead up to the first season of The Handmade Sock Society that I turned them into a blog series, too. As we’re getting ready to start our second season of THSS, it seems like the perfect moment to revisit The Sock Series (and also add to it)!

It was such a joy to watch so many people stretch their sock-knitting skills in the Society last year. I received wonderful emails from knitters who had never made a single sock before but managed to find the courage to dive right in. I marveled at the seasoned sock knitters who said that they’d discovered a new technique or hack that they’d never tried before.

I absolutely love the way that the members of our community are always learning and growing. It pays to stay curious, especially when you’re passionate about making things. So, for everyone who is thinking about filling a box of socks this year (or even just casting on their first-ever pair) here are some links to the first three posts in The Sock Series to get you started:

Part One of The Sock Series: Choosing Yarn for Handmade Socks

Socks work harder than just about any other type of knitwear out there. They need to withstand constant friction and moisture, two things that can quickly break down delicate fibre. This means that for the most comfortable and long-lasting socks, you need to think carefully about your yarn selection. In this post, we take an in-depth look at what makes a great sock yarn great, and how to pick the right yarn for your handmade sock project.

Part Two of The Sock Series: Sock Knitting Needles and How to Use Them

One of the reasons new knitters are sometimes scared of socks is the fact that they are knit “in the round”. The first time you see a set of double-pointed needles or a magic loop, it’s easy to think you’re looking at something really complicated. This post demystifies the most common sock-knitting techniques, from DPNs to two-at-a-time and beyond.

Part Three of The Sock Series: Stretchy Cast-Ons for Hand-Knit Socks

When you’re knitting a cuff-down sock, you need to make sure that you use a flexible, stretchy cast-on method, so that it’s easy to get your foot in and out of the sock. There are so many great cast-ons out there, and I highly recommend experimenting until you find on you love. In this post, I share just a handful of favourites.

New! Part Four of The Sock Series: Avoiding Holes in the Gusset

Those pesky holes in the corners of your sock gusset can be a real pain, but there’s a simple trick to help you get rid of them as you knit!

I hope you’re getting excited for our next season of The Handmade Sock Society, and that you’ll find something here that helps you along the way. I’ll be adding more articles to The Sock Series over the next weeks, so don’t forget to check back. And if you’re not on the mailing list yet, you can sign up right here to get the new posts and all the Curious Handmade news right to your inbox. Happy knitting!

Choosing a cast-on method is a very individual thing: what one person loves another person might find tricky. It’s smart to play around with a few different techniques and practice a little until you find a method that suits you.

The type of cast on you need will depend on whether you’re knitting your socks from the top down or the toe up. I’ve collected some interesting methods and handy resources for you about both types of cast ons. These are just the tip of the iceberg, though. If you want to explore further afield, YouTube is full of clever knitters willing to share their sock cast on knowledge. If you want to save some time and learn a bunch of methods in one fell swoop, this Craftsy class: 40 Ways to Cast On and Bind Off (currently at a bargain HALF price) is a great way to get a PhD in casting on (and binding off), and it will set you up, not just for socks but for a whole range of future projects!

Top down: 

Top down socks are the most common construction. The main concern is to choose a very stretchy cast on, so that your foot can slide easily and comfortably into your sock, and the cuff won’t pinch or cut off the circulation to your foot! There are a lot of stretchy cast ons out there, but these are two that come highly recommended

Knitted cast on:
This isn’t the stretchiest cast on out there, but it is my go to cast on for most projects – its probably not the best one but it does the trick and sometimes you just need to get started with the skills already in the bag!  This is a great little video tutorial to help you learn the Knitted cast on, by the always fabulous Very Pink. A common alternative that lots of people already have down, is the long tail cast on, another good option.

German twisted cast on:
This is the cast on that my friend Dani of Little Bobbins recommends. This variation on the long tail cast on is simple to learn, and it’s very well suited to socks: very stretchy, deep, and sturdy. And with the extra twist, it’s a little fancy, too. There is an excellent lesson on this technique in the Craftsy class referenced above (40 Ways to Cast On and Bind Off). I’m planning on learning and practicing this one so I can have a lovely stretchy sock.

Toe up: 

There are many different ways to begin your toe up sock and a provisional cast on is one of the most common. One of the most popular is:

Judy’s Magic Cast On
The magic in this cast on is that it allows you to begin your sock with a seamless toe, so there’s no finishing! It can be a little fiddly to master this one, but I think the payoff is worth it. Craftsy has a free written tutorial which you can follow step by step. Again there is a really clear video lesson in the Craftsy class previously mentioned.

The first Handmade Sock Society collection will be mostly top down socks and there will be at least one toe up …just to keep you on your toes (sorry, terrible but I couldn’t resist!).

 

Casting on socks for the first time can be a little fiddly, so remember to slow down, breathe deep, and give yourself some grace to practice and start over until you’re comfortable. Once you’ve found the cast on that suits you, it will become second nature. If you would like to share your favourite cast on methods please come and chat in the Curious Handmade Ravelry thread for The Handmade Sock Society.

I hope this series of sock-knitting guides has helped you feel confident and prepared for knitting your own socks, even if you’ve never cast on a single pair before! If you’re feeling ready to dive into the deep end, The first season of The Handmade Sock Society is a great place to start. With six wonderful secret sock patterns to discover and a warm, supportive community to cheer you on, I think you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!

Part 1 of The Sock Series: Choosing Yarn
Part 2 of The Sock Series: Needles and Techniques
Part 4 of The Sock Series: Avoiding Holes in the Gusset

This is our second guide in my series of sock knitting advice, in honour of The Handmade Sock Society’s first season. I know there are a lot of veteran sock knitters in the Curious Crew, but I also remember how intimidated I was by the idea of knitting socks before I got my first one on the needles. As always, I love encouraging knitters to stretch and learn new skills! My hope is that with the help of these tutorials and resources, everyone who wants to try their hand at socks will feel confident and excited to begin.

Once you’ve chosen your pattern and your perfect yarn, the next step in sock knitting is to decide what type of needles you are going to use to knit your socks. Knitting a small diameter tube like a sock means knitting in the round, and there are two main ways to achieve this feat:

Magic Loop

It sounds very mysterious, but Magic Loop is actually a very simple way to knit socks. Using a long circular needle which is pulled back and forth as you knit, it allows you to knit in any small diameter. Craftsy has an excellent free tutorial on Magic Loop here. If you want to deep-dive into the subject, they also have a “Knit Smarter with Magic Loop” course taught by Lorilee Beltman (currently on sale)!

I love Magic Loop because I Iove just having one type of needles (ie circular) for all my projects and because it’s so portable. Magic Loop socks are the ultimate travel knitting, because you can move all you stitches to the cord for safekeeping and not worry about any slipping off in your bag.

Some people even knit two socks at a time using the Magic Loop Method! My friend Mina of The Knitting Expat podcast, has a brilliant episode on this technique.

You can knit Magic Loop on any circular needle, as long as the cord is long enough: 32″ or 80 cm is most popular, though if you’re doing two socks at once you may want to go up to 40″ or 100 cm. You want a circular needle with a flexible cord and smooth joins. If you can afford it and are planning to knit a lot of socks, this is somewhere that investing in high quality needles can really pay off. Using less expensive or stiffer needles, you may find it difficult to move the stitches back and forth, which can be frustrating.

Newer on the market are 9 inch Circular Needles such as these Clover Takumi Bamboo Circular needles where you don’t need to do Magic Loop, you simply knit around and around. They have a short cord and short needles. Some people love them because they are faster because you can simply keep going around and the fabric is more consistent. Some people don’t love them because they feel too small to hold comfortably and they can also be harder to find in shops.

Double Pointed Needles (DPNs)

While Magic Loop is considered the sock-knitting standard by many, a lot of knitters prefer using double pointed needles for socks. The triangular shape created by three DPNs holding stitches as you knit has a lot of fans. Some people prefer the rhythm they achieve knitting with DPNs, without having to move the loop around. For others, it’s a matter of time-honoured tradition!

DPNs can look a little scary if you haven’t knit with them before: all those needles, all those ends…is that a knitting project or a hedgehog? While working with DPNs for the first time can feel a little fiddly, it’s really much more simple than it appears. You can also look at the process step by step in this free article from Craftsy and again, if you want to get really confident about double pointed needles before THSS begins, there’s a Craftsy class from sock expert Ann Budd called “Essential Skills for Sock Knitting” that includes a section on DPNs and lots of other sock knitting tips.

DPNs are available in a wide range of materials, from wood to metal and plastic. Wood needles tend to be a little more “grippy” or “slow” than super smooth metal needles. If this is your first DPN project, you might find it easier to keep all your stitches where you want them on wooden needles.

Two Sets of Circulars

When I sent out the email version of this guide, two very helpful members of the Curious Crew wrote to me to remind me of another great way to knit socks: using two sets of circular needles. Some people find this message easier than Magic Loop and gentler on their hands than DPNs. The recommended length for circular needles using this method is 24″or 60 cm. This tutorial at The Spruce has great pictures and lots of advice on mastering this technique, and there is also a very clear video here on Youtube where Amy Detjen walks you through circular knitting using two circular needles!

I write my patterns for the Magic Loop method, because it’s my personal favourite. You can convert a pattern written for Magic Loop to DPNs and vice versa, usually without too much trouble. If you do want to use DPNs instead, you’ll just need to divide the stitches evenly among your needles. If you’re using 4 needles, your double pointed needles 1 & 2 will be the “Needle One” referred to in the pattern, while needles 3 & 4 will be “Needle Two” in the pattern.

Just for reference, switching a pattern written for DPNs to Magic Loop is even easier: just pop all the stitches onto the loop and use stitch markers to mark where each DPN would begin or end.

I hope you’ve found this overview of sock needles helpful! Whenever I’m trying to master a new technique, these kinds of resources make it all so much easier. My wish is that these guides will do the same for you.

In the run up to our first season of The Handmade Sock Society, I decided to put together an email series to encourage new or hesitant sock knitters who want to challenge themselves to knit their own socks. I know newish knitters can sometimes find the idea of socks daunting. Socks have a somewhat fearsome reputation, but once you’ve knit your first pair, I bet you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about. There was such a lovely response to the emails that I decided to republish them here on the blog, so that anyone thinking about taking the plunge into sock knitting can use them! These are some of the hints, tips, tricks and techniques I’ve found most helpful in my own sock knitting journey.

Choosing yarn for socks

With any type of project, yarn choice plays an enormous role in how the finished object fits, looks, and performs over time. When it comes to picking out yarn for socks, there are some particular qualities to look out for and some things to avoid so that your lovingly handmade socks spend more time on your feet than at the back of the drawer.

Fit and comfort

A sock‘s fit is largely determined by the design of the pattern and your knitting gauge, but fibre and yarn type choice can make a significant difference. Socks get stretched and pulled a lot more than other handknits every time they are pulled onto a pair of feet, which means that you need a yarn that is bouncy and resilient by nature. An elastic, springy yarn will help your socks keep their shape, which is important because saggy socks are no fun.

-Yarn weight: The weight of your sock yarn is usually determined by the pattern, and it has a large impact on how a pair of socks will fit. There’s a reason that finer yarns are popular for this purpose: handknit socks are much thicker and bulkier than store bought socks. Heavier weight yarns can be great for bed socks, boot socks, and kicking around the house, but just remember that they require a lot more shoe real estate.

– Fibre: Natural fibres such as wool tend to have the best memory and will spring back into shape, which makes them an excellent base for sock knitting. Anything with a lot of drape, however, like cotton, bamboo, or silk, can end up droopy after a few wears. For socks, I would avoid yarns with more than 10% or 15% of any of these fibres.

– Spin: The way a yarn is spun can also affect the way it will behave. Tightly spun yarn with a high twist can also add structure to a sock, helping it keep its shape even with heavy wear.

Durability and ease of care

Unlike a shawl or even a cardigan, socks need to withstand a lot of friction and a lot of washing. That can be a tall order for handknits. Once again, the fibre of your sock yarn and the way it is spun can have an effect. We’ve mentioned that wool makes a brilliant sock yarn, but 100% wool has its drawbacks. After a day stuffed into a warm shoe, pure wool yarns can end up felting. The same felting friction can also cause holes to develop in wool socks, particularly in the heels and toes. While it’s a hundred times easier to darn a handmade sock than a store bought sock, we want that to be a last resort.  So what can we do to chose yarn that will stand up to the demands of the sock life?

Wool type: There is a lot of variation in wool types from different breeds. Sometimes there’s a compromise to be made between softness and strength. Abrasion can be tough on soft wool, causing pilling and holes in your socks. The super-soft merino we cherish for scarves and other accessories which sit close to the delicate skin on our necks and faces isn’t the hardest-wearing fibre. Good news: the skin on our feet is a lot less sensitive, and often the harsher, more rustic yarns you couldn’t use for other projects are perfectly comfy in socks.

– Spin and ply: As mentioned before, a tightly spun yarn has more structure, and makes for a sturdier sock. More plies also mean more strength. You should probably stay away from lofty single ply yarns for all but the most decorative of baby booties.

– Blends: Designated sock yarns are usually a blend designed for a good balance of comfort and durability. Usually, the secret ingredient is a man-made fibre like nylon or polyamide, at anywhere between 10% and 25%. If you choose a yarn without a “strength” fiber like this, you can consider knitting thin nylon thread doubled with your yarn in the heels and toes of your sock. Mohair blends are a lovely natural alternative for anyone trying to avoid nylon content.

– Superwash: Socks need a lot of washing. There is a lot of conversation these days about superwash wool vs fibre-conscious alternatives, and it’s a decision each knitter needs to make on their own. But many if not most commercial sock yarns are made with superwash yarn. Even if you do choose a superwash yarn, most handknits are still better off with a hand wash. A drying rack full of handmade socks is really a delightful sight!

Colour

Socks offer an amazing opportunity to branch out and explore shades and colourways that you might never choose for a garment. One skein is usually a low-stakes investment, which explains why so many of us have stashes full of single skeins of vivid, beautiful sock yarn. Colour is such an individual choice, but there are a few rules of thumb I keep in mind when choosing yarn for socks.

Pale, light colours can show dirt and stains more quickly, which is something to keep in mind if you’re knitting boot socks for heavy hiking wear vs fancy special occasion anklets.

Dark colours hide dirt, but they can also hide delicate stitch patterns and cables.

– Variegated yarns can also obscure fancy stitches, and may show some pooling or flashing of colours. Again, socks are one place it’s easy to go a little crazy, so experimenting with some really out-there variegation can be a lot of fun.

– Self striping yarn can be very motivating as you watch the colors change row by row, even on simple socks! They type of heel you do on your sock will have an impact on the striping action.

I love speckles for socks right now: they really are the best of all worlds. The specks camouflage flecks of dirt while the lighter colours let the stitchwork shine.

So there you go! That’s everything you need to know about picking out sock yarn! I hope that was helpful. Next time, I’ll walk you through some of the most popular cast on methods I know for socks.

Happy sock knitting!

Part 2 of The Sock Series: Needles
Part 3 of The Sock Series: Casting On
Part 4 of The Sock Series: Avoiding Holes in the Gusset