This week, I finished my first ever sock.
Okay, sure, it still needs to be woven in. And yes, I haven’t blocked it yet. (I’m doubtful I’m going to block it, come to that. There’s no open work involved and they’re socks). Never mind that. What’s important is: it’s a SOCK. That I made. From yarn! Which is just glorified thread! Which is just glorified string!
I’ve been knitting on and off since around 2009, but I really started getting into it in 2011. My travel knitting of choice has been washcloths rather than socks, because they are square. And flat. And square. I’ve done scarves and I’ve done mittens and I’ve done fingerless gloves. I’ve started a blanket (that sits, waiting to be finished, because it was for my grandmother, and then she died, and I’m only just now getting to a place where I can think about finishing it and just keeping it for me.) (Which is sad, because it’s beautifully soft organic cotton yarn, blues and greens, and delicious to the touch.)
I’ve a friend who has participated in Blue Moon Fiberarts Rockin’ Sock Club for a number of years, and in 2012 I decided that was the year I would Conquer Socks! Because there was no way in hell I could afford their club price, she set along a skein of sock yarn, a pattern, the needles I would need, and a carry-case, in a super thoughtful and sweet Yule gift. And, I tried. I did. I cast on, and I got to knitting! I made it to the heel the first time, set the project down, and when I came back to it months later, completely forgot where I’d left off, and had to start over again.
The second time I made it further, but not yet out of the heel flap, when I decided I wanted to alter the pattern. Didn’t matter that I hadn’t ever finished a sock and had no working knowledge of the steps, techniques, etc. Oh, no. I was going to use a different way to decrease than what the pattern called for . . .
So then I had to rip out and start over again. I bought a sock loom and thought: I’ll do them this way! Except, I really dislike the sock loom. Part of knitting, for me, is its portability. Still, I made some progress with that, then slipped a stitch. I unwound the yarn from the loom, put the yarn away, and vowed I’d never attempt socks again.
Months later when I came back to the project, I decided the sock yarn was too thin; maybe I’d try worsted weight instead. I like chunky socks, and it would at least make it easier to see the stitches. I was terrified of this whole “pick up stitches” concept looming in my future. Also, the yarn was pretty dark; maybe I’d get a lighter color going forward. First I picked up some bamboo yarn — way, *way* too slippery, omg, for the first time doing a sock (take four?). Then I decided, cotton! Some nice, worsted weight cotton for a chunky summer sock! And I made it far with that one! The furthest! I made it through all my heel decreases, and then stopped, terrified of those stitches waiting for me to come along and pick them up.
And then all knitting stopped. I’ve been working a lot on my writing this year, and so I haven’t been making time for knitting at all . . . until June, when I decided enough was enough. I missed the needles in my hands, I was tired of not having done socks. Furthermore, I didn’t want to do sock yarn weight socks — I *did* want chunky, worsted weight socks, because I wanted the sense of having gotten them done fairly quickly. But neither did I want anything other than wool for this sock, darn it. Just wool. No nylon, no anything else. Wool. Pretty, heritage breed wool, hand dyed if not hand-spun. So, when Black Sheep rolled around, I purchased two hanks of yarn in two different colors, came home, found a new pattern (to start fresh, and to maybe find something a bit more simple), cast on, and began again.
I made it almost to the end of the short cuff before setting it down for a few months. No biggy: after the cuff came about two or three inches of stockinette. Easy-peasey to pick up again. And when I did? I kept going.
Having managed to make two pairs of mittens over the winter, picking up stitches was less terrifying. I realized that much of knitting — especially when you’re not dealing with colorwork (or: hooray for variegated yarn!) — is about making it work more or less the way it’s supposed to work. There isn’t an exact science to picking up stitches. You want to aim for making there be smaller spaces between yarn, rather than larger, but so long as you end up with the amount of stitches on your needles that you need, you’re good to go. Having to pick up six or ten stitches for thumb gussets prepared me for having to pick up twenty stitches for foot gussets. Woohoo!
It’s a beautiful sock in that the color (triple berry pie!) is gorgeous, and in that I made it out of string, and in that it’s wool and warm and for Beth (more on that in my forthcoming pattern review post) and I learned the kitchener stitch. It’s simple, and the kitchener stitch is rough (watch the videos before you attempt your first along with them. I discovered halfway through one that it wasn’t going to work, and I’d already committed six of my twenty stitches to it) and it’s a bit lumpy in places . . . I had to rip out once and get back onto the needles, and I knit wild without stitch markers or row counting, so that was intense! I’m still not sure I managed to get all the needles back on the same active row or not, but in the end it didn’t matter much.
And now, Beth has socks! Or, a sock. One warm foot . . . .