Socks have always scared me. I’ve thought a lot about making them. I’ve saved 15 patterns to my Ravelry queue. I’ve admired (and joyfully worn) the beauties made by others. But I’ve always felt the fear and avoided making my own.
When I thought about it, my sock knitting fear is based on two things. The main one is the fear of picking up stitches along edges. I will go to great lengths to avoid this and have been known to do an entire baby blanket border using intarsia to avoid having to pick up stitches at the end! In the same way, I tend to avoid knitting anything that needs two of something that look roughly the same because I have only rarely managed this feat (and even then only with a lot of blood, sweat and swearing).
So the obvious time to solve your fear of something is when doing some gift knitting against the clock, isn’t it? Way to make things easier with a bit of time pressure! My best friend’s birthday was in March so I naturally decided in the middle of February that knitting a pair of something would be a great idea.
Once I’d settled on socks, picking a pattern was really easy. Hermione’s Everyday Socks is the most knitted sock pattern on Ravelry by a considerable distance. Throw in that my best friend and I have been Harry Potter addicts since the books first came out and the choice was simple.
This pattern is absolutely wonderful and I can’t recommend it enough. The instructions are clear and the textured stitch pattern comes up beautifully. Overall, it was a really great knit – engaging enough to keep your interest without being too overly taxing. Seeing all the stages of the sock come together from the ribbing to the toes was also pretty gratifying and helped me to just about stick to the strict row knitting schedule I’d invented!
Finding yarn was a different matter though. My best friend’s favourite colour is red but I really struggled to find a suitable strong red to knit with. In the end I went for a skein of Madeline Tosh Sock in the shade Tart. I’m really pleased with the results and I particularly love how the semi-solid red shades have worked out with the textured stitch pattern. That said, I definitely prefer to knit with more rustic wool and I found the slipperiness of the Merino a bit hard going. If anybody can tell me where to find a good strong red yarn (preferably British), please let me know!
I followed the pattern for the ankle but shortened the number of texture repeats to 12 instead of the recommended 18 as I was a wee bit afraid I’d run out of yarn. Weighing the yarn as I went along helped me to feel a bit more confident that there would be enough for two socks and in the end, I had just under 20g spare.
The heel wasn’t too traumatic when I got down to it and was mostly just a case of following the instructions without reading too far ahead! I knitted the socks using the magic loop method and then switched to two 2.25mm circular needles when the stitches were split for turning the heel. I still wouldn’t call myself a fan of picking up stitches but I googled furiously and used the advice on this Purl Soho page to help me get the stitches picked up evenly. The socks do have a tiny ridge inside where I picked the stitches up and I’m not quite sure if/how to stop that happening again another time. Hmm, something to work on!
Fortunately, the socks have come out pretty close to each other in size and the fit is really good, although that was more luck than skill. They took about 3 weeks to knit in evenings/weekends and were just a really great knit. For now, I think the sock fear may be conquered but I should probably cast on another pair immediately to check right?!
Pattern – Hermione’s Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder
Modifications – I knitted 12 pattern repeats on the ankle instead of the 18 suggested in the pattern. I also knitted the sock for a size 8 foot and mostly worked this out by making my dad try them on to see if they looked alright! Overall, the bottom of the foot measured 11 inches in length including the toes.
Cast on – long tail cast on. I use this video by Wool and the Gang whenever I need a reminder.
Cast off – grafted the toes. This Knit Witch video is the best tutorial I’ve found and I have probably watched it upwards of 100 times by now!
Heel help – I used this Purl Soho page to help me work out how to pick up the heel stitches but I’d be really interested to hear any tips about how to do this.
Needles – 2.25mm Addi Turbo’s bought from my local Jamieson and Smith wool shop
Wool – one 115g skein of Madeline Tosh Sock wool in the shade Tart purchased from Meadow Yarns. I was terrified I’d run out of wool but I ended up with just under 20g left.