Daily Archives: May 10, 2013

The thing about handknit socks

On an earlier post about sock knitting, someone asked in the comments something to the effect of ‘how do you keep your handknit socks staying nice looking after you start wearing them?’

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The answer, of course, is that you can’t. Unless you’re only knitting socks with the hardiest sheepswool knitted at a very firm gauge – and probably even then, eventually – hand knit socks are just going to wear out. It probably doesn’t help us out that current sock knitting proclivities have driven the sock yarn market towards squishy soft superwash merinos and luxury blends – even with a bit of nylon added in, these soft yarns just aren’t going to keep the fresh-off-the-needles look for very long, once our feet start doing their job by walking around in them. But they just feel so niiiiiiice, so we keep knitting socks with them anyway.

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And even if we gave up the soft sock yarns and stuck to only the hardiest stuff, the fact of the matter is that anything worn on your feet inside shoes, day after day, is going to take a beating. In Stephanie’s immortal words, socks are not forever.

It’s all extremely nonsensical, of course – if your goal is to get pairs of socks that last forever. Interestingly enough though, I don’t know about you, but since I started knitting socks, I’ve never lost one of a pair. I’ve gotten holes in them, I’ve had some get over-washed and shrunk, I’ve had heels and toes felt up from extended wear and I’ve given away some that ended up too small for me to wear and I couldn’t bear to re-knit the same length of yarn into something bigger. I bet if you took a survey of knitters who knit socks, they would probably all nod at this and think all of these occurrences are totally normal and barely worth shrugging at. But unlike almost every pair of commercial socks I have ever purchased, every single one of my pairs of handknit socks has remained intact. I don’t know why this is, exactly, but I’m pretty sure that it has something to do with the fact that once you’ve spent many hours of time and patience very carefully making something super pretty that is about to get bashed around on your feet (because this is in fact its proper and intended use), you tend to give it that same bit of attention in the washing, drying, and putting-back-in-the-sock-drawer-until-next time phases of its existence.

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And truth be told, I’m not sure my socks are all that perfect in the instant when they come off the needles, either. Usually I knit my ribbed socks in the movie theatre (because that’s a solid 2 hours of knitting time thanks ever so much), and inevitably I hit one row where my fingers forgot what “knit 3, purl 1″ ribbing was and I ended up out of sync with a few purl stitches placed where they shouldn’t be. (The errant row on this pair is from Iron Man 3. I regret nothing, and was thoroughly entertained). Those mistakes can stay where they are, I don’t mind. They feel the same on my feet.

The point is that in the short time span after these new socks come off the needles, they are the awesomest, greatest, most satisfying and comfortable, cutest and brightest socks ever in the whole world.

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Until the next pair, at least.

Happy weekend!

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Pattern: A Nice Ribbed Sock
Yarn: Sweet Georgia Yarns Cashluxe Fine, in ‘berry tart.’ (who says you can’t eventually finish that pair of socks that’s been in your handbag for 3 months? Well, not me, now.)

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