Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Sock Tales

Now that I've joined my first sock exchange, it has caused me to reminisce a bit about how I came to this point. Although I wouldn't classify myself as a new, beginner sock knitter, I haven't knit all that many pairs of socks since my first pair four years ago. Actually, it's been something like a pair a year. I learned to knit in grade school; my mother taught my sister and me the basics of a long-tail cast on, and knit and purl.

I knit an ugly yellow teddy bear. I don't know what happened to it. In high school, I knit a scarf for charity (the most difficult thing attempted was some bobbles), and had my first experience teaching others to knit. Imagine that! I barely knew anything myself!

The first time I approached knitting seriously was in college, especially in my senior year. I was taking 21 credits and writing my honors thesis, and sometimes it seemed I skirted the edge of insanity. Knitting was my sane-time.

Through books borrowed from the local public library, I taught myself how to knit in the round with dpns and circular needles and how to do colour knitting with yarn in both hands. I experimented with cables and lace and shaping. I also learned how to knit socks.

This pair of creamy white socks - following the Aran Sandal Socks pattern (by Lori Gayle) in the book Socks Socks Socks - is my first pair of socks. There were plenty of pretty, and perhaps simpler, sock patterns in that book, but my imagination was caught by the beautiful textures in this pair. Maybe I needed something that would completely occupy my mind, so that I wouldn't be stressing out. Maybe I thought, "Hey, what's one more thing to stress out and rip my hair out over?"
With this pair of socks, I learned the basics of sock construction. I learned about short rows (although I think I still have a lot to learn about them), I turned a heel, knit a toe, and learned to knit backwards from the right needle to the left so that I could see the right side of my knitting all the time as I knit the patterned heel flap. (That's a picture of the instep, below.)
I was very pleased with my first pair of socks, and gave them to Moocow for Christmas. She's never worn them. Do you know how they have been used? As cushions over her bed's headboard posts, so they wouldn't scratch the wall. What's a girl to do?

Several years later, I knit a pair of socks for my father. They were brown, and perhaps not from the best sock yarn. I still hadn't caught the sock-knitting bug yet. I also bought some self-patterning sock yarn from Knitpicks, because I was curious, and knit a pair of socks for my aunt.

Recently, I learned to knit socks on two circular needles. I love the ease of the technique! Other things came up, but I finished my pair of socks, and have knit a third sock with the same yarn (the Plymouth Sockotta has great yardage) for my LYS to serve as a store sample. I've decided that I really don't like self-patterning yarn. I needed to buy sock yarn that day for the class, and I liked the colours. I'm just not that fond of the effect. Variegated and self-striping yarns are fine, but I feel that self-patterning yarns lack creativity. Or, perhaps I'm just not very creative in my use of them.

Well, I've kind of had my revenge on Moocow. I brought her along with me to Eastside Weavers, where she bought some sock yarn that she's fallen in love with, and I've taught her the two-circular-needle technique. I think she's hooked now, too!

Now, I'm looking at potential sock patterns for my sock pal when I should be doing school work. Perhaps a lacy sock pattern, with beads?


MooCow said...

i TOLD you i was sorry about the socks!

greeeenwithenv said...

I remember those socks! What a funny story. Well, at least you can laugh about it now... right? Maybe not.

Lana said...

All is forgiven. It does make a good story, though.