50 Years in the Making

Well, it wasn’t a WIP for 50 years, but it has taken me 50 years of knitting to complete my first pair of socks!

Don’t get me wrong – I haven’t been trying all this time to knit socks, but it has been probably 10 or so years to both learn how to make a sock, and to complete a pair.

Here is the story:

When I first learned to knit from my mother, she never knit socks, as far as I ever saw, so I didn’t have any desire to knit them. Over the years, my crafting waxed and waned, so again socks never came up.

A decade or so ago, I started knitting with a group of women, and one of them would be knitting with her double-pointed needles, and no pattern, and get the majority of the sock done in the one evening we were there. I was fascinated, but never really asked for her help to learn.

Then, in a group I was hosting, there was a woman who’s favourite thing to knit was socks, and again, she could create one in an evening. I was envious, but didn’t pursue the idea of socks.

So I decided I really should tackle this challenge, and completed a sock. I used worsted weight wool, and although technically it looked like a sock, I found the process very tedious. I love to make blankets and although it does take time, the result is a large item. Socks, to me, seemed like a lot of effort for a very small item. And I learned later on that wool does not make the best socks as they can wear out very quickly in the heel without some sort of other fibre with it, such as nylon.

So that one sock sat in the drawer of unloved projects for years.

Also, knowing how much effort one sock was, I couldn’t imagine making two. In my quest, however, I bought a book on how to make two at a time. Unfortunately for me, it used the magic loop method of making socks. That was tricky for me. I couldn’t grasp the magic loop concept at all, never mind to make two things at a time, so I and decided to stick to DPN’s if I were ever to make another attempt.

Then more recently, I met someone else who knitted socks without any stress, and it sparked a bit more interest. I gave it another try. Nope. Ugly, way too big for a human.

Now it was time to take stock.

I needed a good pattern – something simple (no cable, stripes). I needed the proper sock yarn. I needed the proper size needles (something small like 2.75mm). I thought that bamboo would be less slippery, and that would help prevent stitches sliding off. I would not try the magic loop, and make one sock at a time.

I ordered some curved needles, but really they were too big, even at 3mm.

Then I helped someone tackle a baby bootie pattern that seemed to be written totally wrong, and while I was practicing, and correcting the errors, it occurred to me that I’d like to make myself some slippers.

But instead I enthusiastically, but recklessly, gathered some 2.75mm DPN’s, some sock yarn (I had accumulated quite a few skeins over the years, sometimes for stuffed toy patterns), a sock pattern I’d printed off a while back and gave it a go.

I cast on, and it looked like the picture of when the stitches are divided on the 3 needles. I joined them, and they weren’t twisted. The ribbing came along nicely. I followed the pattern along, and it began to look like a sock. With my experience with the booties, I was able to do the picking up along the heel flap. Exciting! I really didn’t have enough of the same yarn to make an entire sock, but I didn’t care. I found some more, similar, sock yarn, and I carried on, since it was looking good. Then I got to the foot, and could see that it was too short, so I undid some of the toe shaping, and knit some more rows, tried it on my foot, and finished it off. A sock! It looked good! It felt good!

Then I decided, yes, since this is a sock, I will do this again. I started the second sock. As it progressed, I realized that I’d made the heel incorrectly on the first one, but at this point, I was just happy to have something that actually looked like a sock, so I did the second sock’s heel properly. I now knew about the length of a sock for my foot, how to carefully try on a sock, with 3 DPN’s on it, and I finished up the second sock. A PAIR of SOCKS. I had done it!

And then I proceeded to knit another pair!

I can honestly say that I can knit a pair of socks. I will use the same pattern, for now, and avoid anything fancy. I will have enough of the same sock yarn to make a matching pair, and who knows who will benefit next from my new confidence and skill!


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