Socks: Challenge Accepted!

Since I started knitting I used to admire with envy the beautiful socks other Raverlers posted on their profiles: plain, laced, multicolored, unicolored, …. I confess that I absolutely LOVE Dona‘s socks, and my wish is, one day, to knit beautiful socks like her. I was really looking forward to imitating this people and showing pictures of my feet wrapped in adorable socks. When I was living in Brussels I bought three sock yarns and I even started two different toe-up socks that stayed unfinished for months. I never completed those two projects.

But I continued faving socks and queueing up patterns, until I decided to take action. I’m in the group Free Pattern Testers and whenever I see an interesting project and I feel I have time I offer myself to test the pattern. It’s a very good way of getting patterns for free, helping the designer and also a way of committing yourself and being sure that you will finish a project in a reasonable lapse of time (a bit of pressure is always good).

I saw a pair of socks that looked reasonable easy on that group and I decided to give them a try, they were the Fruit Lace Socks. I had to finish that pair! There was no excuse, I was going to finish my first pair of socks! Challenge accepted!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekeELle5g-o]

These were cuff-down socks featuring a lace pattern and there was only one size available, so I knew from the beginning that those socks were going to come out way too large for me. Never mind. I wanted so badly to finish a pair of socks and get out of the jinx that I just continued doggedly. There was not a specified foot length so I adapted it to my feet and the result was a lovely pair of socks to wear at home over another pair when my feet are cold (yes, that happens even in Spring).

The reason for this success was not only a clear pattern and the pressure, but also a good election of needles. Just before starting this project I remembered one of Dona‘s favorite needle brands: Addi. By chance I have a friend who has an online shop that sells this brand of needles, and she is also one of the knitters that come every Friday to our Madrid Knits meetings, so bought two circular needles from her (2mm and 2.5 mm). I have to say that I absolutely love this needles. They meant a big change in knitting socks because the joint of the needle and the cable is so smooth and it makes the magic loop so much fluid and painless. I remember my first time with Prym needles and how much I suffered moving my stitches from the cable to the needle. It also didn’t help that at that moment I was an English and a much tighter knitter, but that’s another story that deserves its own post.

My next pair of socks were custom made. I wanted to reuse the yarn of one of my unfinished projects and I was afraid of running out of yarn. I had only 50 grams that I purchased in Brussels and it was going to be extremely difficult to get more. I was on a hurry, I was on track, I was not going to look for similar yarn. I have small feet and I was going to make my save-yarn socks. I thought that a lace pattern could save some yarn and I really liked Dona’s socks for Barbara, so I decided to try something similar, but toe-up not to run out of yarn in the middle of the foot. I was also afraid of SSS and I felt lazy to weigh my yarn (although I have a scale!) so my final decision was to make toe-up socks two at a time. I was a bit worried that that could make things difficult, but now, looking backwards, I can say that it was one the best decisions I made related to knitting: No SSS, no need to weigh yarn and both socks will come of exactly the same size. No row counting, no uneven tension due to stress (that sometimes happens), dry hands, sweaty hands, … This was going to be the definitive recipe. To be able to accommodate a pattern similar to the one of Dona, taking into account that I have much smaller feet (she has a 40 size and I have a 36), I needed 48 stitches in total. I used 48 stitches also in later projects and it’s what works for me. It’s a bit tight but some negative ease when making socks is desired, since then tend to stretch a bit with the use and we don’t want wrinkles inside our shoes.

Feather & Fan pattern:

  1. K
  2. k2tog x 2 + k1,yo x 4 + k2tog x 2
  3. K
  4. K

For the sock I used the pattern You’re putting me on socks with a flap heel. I just need to say that these came out lovely, a bit too multicolored, and with a too short heel and low instep. I decided that I was going to modify that for the next time. But I had enough yarn and even some left.

My next pair of socks was also custom made. I was again inspired by one of Dona’s pair of socks but I added something extra to make them less boring (I already mastered the sock technique and I wanted more!): two cables on the sides plus the cable on the back of the leg. This yarn also came from Brussels. I added two extra repetitions to the instep. This heel is longer it fits much better my feet.

My fourth pair of socks was made from the same yarn of the second pair. I had 300 gr, enough for two pairs and it was thick and warm, perfect for winter socks. This time I wanted to make Hermione’s everyday socks since it was a big hit in Ravelry. The original pattern is a cuff-down design, so I adapted it to my own needs: toe-up and 48 stitches. I finished this socks in one of my visits to Vigo at my mother’s place and she loved them. She chose a color and I promised to make a pair for her.

So my fifth pair was again Hermione’s everyday socks in pink for my mum. I got the yarn at La Guerra de los botones and it’s very very soft. My mother uses the same shoe size so things are easy, it’s exactly the same pattern. These came out so soft, so comfy, so wonderful that I’m sad to give them away, but happy because I know my mum will love them.

I got some variegated yarn for the future, but I will probably make plain socks from that one. I also want to get fromĀ La Guerra de los botones yarn in dark brown and bottle green to make more Hermione’s everyday socks since I love them. It’s a nice pattern and the socks come out very stretchy and comfy.

After this I can conclude that I finally fulfilled my challenge, that I found my perfect personal sock recipe and that I made five pairs of socks in less than two months. Before it was madness to me, but I think I can go for the 12 pair of socks in one year challenge.

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Note: My personal recipe:

  • Cast on 10 stitches following Judy’s magic cast on (2 times, one after the other in the same needles, don’t be afraid).
  • Increase with M1L and M1R every 2 rows until you have 48 stitches.
  • Work st by st in pattern untilĀ  when your ankle starts.
  • Work 9 increases on sides with M1L and M1R every 2 rows.
  • Unmount socks, the heel is worked one by one.
  • Work heel as desired. I do a flap heel with heel stitch.
  • Mount socks again. For the leg you can work 2 at a time again.
  • Knit the leg.
  • Change to a smaller needle and do 1 x 1 ribbing.
  • Do an Elisabeth Zimmerman’s sewn bind off.