January 27, 2016

The Sock Project

Previous sock purchases. Used up? Not entirely.
Yes, I have a lot of irons in the fire. Usually there are too many --and yes, it causes me to drop some of them once in a while. (Or every single one of them all of the time.) But I have been, low these 7 years of my knitting life, wanted to put just one more iron in.

Early on in my knitting life, I learned to knit socks. I loved it. In fact, it was one of the aspects of knitting that totally sucked me in. I know in my heart that if I had started out knitting scarves, I would have never kept it all up.

Back then, 7 short years ago, I swore to myself (that way, I was not committed...you know, accountability and all that...)  that I would replace every sock in my sock wardrobe with a hand-knitted one.

They fit better anyway, I told myself. They are portable, inexpensive, and contain just the right amount of complexity to keep a person interested.

I looked at my socks to see if I thought I could truly replace them all. After all, store bought socks are their own animal. I bought clogs and even some Keds slip on mules one size too big to make one particular pair. I heard that was a good idea.

I read book after book, bought yarn after yarn, made list after mental list of which sock patterns I would try out. And then....

I didn't do it.

The socks on the blocks (no, not sock blocks. go morbid)--not even all of them are shown here.
Oh, I made a few, but I did not accomplish the original goal. Not by a really, really, really long shot. Today, I still own all the same socks from that original wardrobe. And I am still wearing most of them. But they are 7 years older. Some are doing well, some are still just ok. Some are sort-of ok. Some are ill. Some are in critical condition. And some are in the sock-morgue. I cannot let any of them go, because that would mean facing emotional sock defeat.

So, now, 7 years later, wearing old and holey socks, I will finally begin the replacement of my socks. For real. Perhaps I may lose more along this journey; after all, who knows what frustration or roadside treachery awaits me? The fallen socks will be remembered along the way, but then finally released to that better place in the trash under the sink, where my shame will be hidden forever.

I may say a few touching words each time I drop one in, too. Like, "Woo hoo! I have some new socks! I don't need you!"

We will see.

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Let's begin here: above, you see -- on the desk in front of me -- a pair of socks I have been working on off and on since last summer. These are basic socks. I like to use US1/2.25mm dpns on fingering weight yarn for most socks. I like to drop the stitch count down to create  at least 10% negative ease (if not a little more), and I like to stop the sock length knitting early, to end at about 1/2" short on my foot. I believe socks fit better with pretty snug negative ease around, but not too much too short. (Then they cramp your toes and make you paranoid that your big toe will pop right through!! Dang it!!) So...as an example, with this yarn on my needles of choice, I am getting 8 stitches to the inch in stockinette. I have a 9" foot circumference, but for this pair,  cast on only 7.5" worth of stitches: 60.

The particular pair of socks I am working on now contains very old Rose City Yarn Crawl yarn. I think I bought it at Twisted on Broadway in Portland. It was so squished up and old that the label is now lost. I believe it is Italian yarn, but made in Sweden. (Does that even make sense?!) It is a single ply merino wool (100%, possibly) with a cool sort of blurred solid strip that reminds me of candy corn.

The first one fits perfectly and I am nearly done with the second (been knitting while watching all the past episodes of The X-files, of course). I then plan to hit each sock in some order. I am thinking of re-visiting the beginning. A little trip down knitting memory lane doesn't sound half bad. Those are some seriously good sights and smells!!

And yes, I decided to do all this while continuing to work on a wedding dress. But isn't variety the spice of life?

Happy cozying,


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