If I had to pick only one type of thing to knit for the rest of my life, I would probably choose to knit socks. While in grad school, I was the one in the front (or second) row knitting a sock. On the T, whether sitting or standing, I was the one knitting a sock while looking at the people around me. I even used to walk around the city while knitting socks! These days, I knit socks during zoom meetings and while sitting on our front porch. This is a very wordy way of saying that I knit my first pair of socks back in 2014 and have not stopped knitting them since.
My preferred way to knit socks is one at a time, top down, with the Fish Lip Kiss Heel (FLKH). In fact, at least 30 of the however many socks I’ve knit (70? Maybe?) have used the FLKH. In my near decade of sock knitting, I have never experienced someone who has the ability to literally walkthrough a pair of socks until I met my husband (no pictures, it’s too sad).
I started knitting for my husband before we had even started dating and were just friends. To this day, he is my favorite person to knit for and is always seeking ways to encourage me to knit for him more. In many ways, we are the perfect match, but in this case I’m going to bring your attention to his love of socks and my love of knitting them.
When I say that my husband loves wearing socks, what I’m really saying is that if his feet are not in the water they are in a pair of socks. Morning, noon and night. At the time of this post being written, he has worn through 4ish pairs of handknit socks. While, yes, he wears these socks all the time, it hasn’t been until recently that he’s started busting through new socks that I’ve knit him. When I say that the heel on a pair socks I gave him in December were busted in early February, I wish I could say that I was exaggerating.
Personally, I blame his boots and not my knitting. That being said, the Make Good Podcast episode for this week addressed my question and had some suggestions that I should share:
It honestly might just be the boots. Again, I think I’m sticking with this being the problem. They’ve entered into our lives more recently and they’re becoming his go-to shoe. Scratch jokingly mentioned duck tape as a possible solution, but unfortunately that would lead to blisters and gluey socks.
Since the boots aren’t going anywhere any time soon, it’s time to take a more serious look at how to reinforce the heels. For starters, it sounds like using a more robust wool that’s reinforced with nylon would mean that the FLKH could still be my heel of choice. Socks that have nylon in them do seem to be doing better than those that don’t, so I think this is a good step towards lasting socks.
Another trick would be to add an additional thread to the heel. I’m intrigued by this idea and may need to try it!
My current strategy is to knit a gusseted heel with a slip 1 knit 1 approach on the heel flap. I know this is a tried an true method, but the FLKH is so much faster. Perhaps my next pair will combine suggestions 2 & 3!
The other thing I’ve been working on is adding some flexible negative ease to the socks. I’m currently working a 2×2 rib down the sides of each sock in hopes that they stay up on his legs better.
Though more time consuming, I’m happy with the way things are coming out.
A quick note on the yarn I’m currently using: It’s the last skein of the national park series pt 2 from Simply Socks Co. (I have one more skein that I haven’t worked with yet). It’s been a while since I’ve worked with wonderland yarns and I’ve forgotten how fun their colors are.
I purchased my first (and only) pair of duck boots while living in Boston during the 2015 snow storms because that’s what I noticed that everyone was wearing on their walk to work. It seemed like everyone had the same idea, actually, because they immediately went on back order and I wasn’t able to start wearing them until the following winter.
While I understand that leather boots take time to break in, I cannot express how uncomfortable I found these boots. It honestly seemed like the reason they received their name came down to the way that they force their wearer to walk like a duck. The other problem that I had was that my feet would sweat and then freeze, which meant that long walks were still uncomfortable when I finally broke the boots in.
Winters of grudgingly wearing these boots later, I found myself eyeing a leftover skein of Valley Yarns Amherst and remembering a gift that I made for my dad several holiday seasons ago. His knit insoles prevented his feet from sweating and getting cold, perhaps that’s all I needed!
Hikes and dog walks later, it’s safe to say that it worked. In the interest of helping others keep their feet warm, I’m sharing what I did:
Shoe Insoles Pattern
100-150 yards of 100% wool (or alpaca) worsted weight
6mm hook or needles
Place your boots on a piece of paper and draw a square around them that’s a 3-4 inches larger on all sides.
CO until your stitch count lines up end to end with your square.
Knit/Crochet until your square until it fills the square that you made around your boots. Note: It’s ok if the square ends up being a little bigger or smaller. Gauge is not critical because we will be cutting the square.
Gently felt the square. Note: It does not need to be perfectly felted, the square will continue to felt as you wear your boots.
Lay your boot’s insoles on top of the square and cut around them.
Last October, I applied to be a Blue Sky Maker for Blue Sky Fibers and was invited to join the team. If you’ve been following me on Instagram for a while or have read any of my previous posts before reading this one (see Camp Loopy 2019 and Camp Loopy 2020) you’ll know that I have a special place in my heart for Blue Sky Fibers, especially their Woolstok line. Woolstok has a way of screaming out to me whenever I’m wondering a yarn shop or perusing an online store, and when I come across it I find myself distracted by all things colorwork. How could I not be excited when they sent me one of their cool bundles in the mail?
Seven colors, that’s how many colors come in a woolstok bundle. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent pouring over Pinterest looking at blue and green images or Ravelry looking for inspiration. One of the Strange Brew knits came to mind, but I wanted to make something that wouldn’t need much more than the one bundle and didn’t find inspiration in the charts found in Anthology. The colors on my table looked so beautiful together, the more I stared at them the more I thought about my fiancé’s homeland, New Zealand.
It’s worth noting at this point, that I have never been to New Zealand unless you count viewing the Lord of the Rings trilogy that was filmed there (I don’t). Despite looking at many pictures of gorgeous scenery, it’s safe to say that there is a little bit of the Shire in my eventual design. It probably took me four or five hours to develop this chart, all the while I was wondering if I would come to hate myself for having more than two colors within the same line.
Chart done, I started swatching to develop the fabric that I wanted and then started playing around with numbers in order to get fit vs fabric that I was hoping for. The final result is this hat! I love how the colors come together to show a sunny mountain day from the side and a snow flake or flower when looked at the hat from top down.
For those of you who are not feeling up to holding more than two colors at a time, I recommend using a duplicate stitch. Honestly, I found holding multiple colors at a time a fun challenge – it helped that you don’t have to hold them together very long!
Now my fiancé and I have different head sizes, but we are both able to wear and enjoy the hat. Since I knit the brim long, when he wears it he folds it over twice and enjoys extra warm ears. When I wear the hat I tuck the brim in, so that about two inches are showing, which makes the hat feel smaller while also keeping my head nice and toasty. Can you tell that our winters are cold?
Please use the hashtag: #wintermosshat so I can see your project!
Sizing: One size fits most adults, decrease or increase stiches by multiple of 20 for a different size.
Recommended yarn: Woolstok Bundle (cool, neutral, or warm), 1 skein of 150g solid color Woolstok
Recommended Gauge: 22 sts x 28 rows per 4 inches
Suggested needle size: US 5 and US 6
Note on sizing: Decreasing your stitches per inch will result in a larger hat, increasing your stitches per inch will result in a smaller hat. My fiancé and I can both wear this hat (I usually wear an adult S/M and he usually wears an adult M/L) due to the brim construction. I push the extra brim inside the hat and he doesn’t need to.