Our current sock dilemma

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Another trick would be to add an additional thread to the heel. I’m intrigued by this idea and may need to try it!
Green, blue variegated knit socks.
Pattern: My Knitted Heart Vanilla Socks by Elizabeth Suarez
Yarn: Wonderland Yarns & Frabjous Fibers Mary Ann in Let’s Mosey

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.

Top-Down Knee High Socks

img_20200819_070428Well, it finally happened. My first pair of knee-high socks is officially in the books! The inspiration came from a yarn club set up by my local yarn shop, the yarn reminded me of winter hiking and the need to keep warm. The tricky thing, it turns out, is finding a sock pattern that is top down. Admittedly, this is probably because knitting toe up gives you the ability to use half your yarn on the first sock and the other half on your second sock — in other words, you can be confident that you’re going to have two finished socks and you’re not going to run out of yarn. Knowing this going into this project, I still opted to write a top down pattern. My toe up socks never hang quite right no matter how I bind them off (I either have too loose or too tight of a bind off).

img_20200819_070457I came so close to using only one skein of yarn (463 yards) when making these socks and needed less than a yard to finish the toe on the second sock. This means that if your foot is smaller than mine (I’m an 8.5 or 39) and you don’t need to make any modifications, then you should be able to get away with one skein. If your foot is the same size as mine or bigger, or if you want to make your socks longer, I recommend grabbing a second skein or using some scrap yarn to knit the Cuff, Heel and/or Toe.

This pattern is meant to be more of a recipe, so please feel free to use the Cuff, Heel and Toe of your choosing. I enjoy the Fish Kiss Lips Heel (FKLH), but think an afterthought heel would be a fun way to add a pop of color (which you could totally do with the FKLH). Another thing that’s great about this pattern (but requires more yarn) is that you can extend the length/width of the leg by increasing the number of decreases you have to do. For reference, my:

  • Calf = 14.5 inches
  • Leg = 13 inches
  • Foot = 8 inches before toe decreases

If your leg/calf is larger, you can modify the pattern by adding 10 rows + a decrease row for every inch. Keep in mind, this means adding 4 stitches for every inch you need to add to the 84 that fit me. You can also remove a decrease row for every inch you need to subtract from the 13 that work best for me.

Knee high socksTop Down Knee High Socks:

  • Gauge: 32 stitches and 40 rows = 4 inches
  • Suggested Needle size: US 2 (2.75 mm)
  • Yarn requirments: 264 (more if your foot is larger, less if your foot is smaller)

CO 84

[r1: k2, p1 across
r2: k1, p2 across] repeat until cuff measures 2 inches

[k2tog, k19] 4x (80 sts left)

K40 rows
Decrease row: [k2tog, k18] 4x (76 sts left)

K10
Decrease row: [k2tog, k17] 4x (72 sts left)

K10
Decrease row: [k2tog, k16] 4x (68 sts left)

K10
Decrease row: [k2tog, k15] 4x (64 sts left)

K10
Decrease row: [k2tog, k14] 4x (60 sts left)

K35 rows

FLKH

Foot 8 in or 1.5 inches short of desired length

Toe decreases until there are 12 sts per needle (24 total)

We’re moving; Sock Pattern Preview

My partner and I found a house (she’s a bit of a fixer-upper) and are in the process of fixing it up so that we can move in. As I type this, I’m covered in mud and paint with a huge grin on my face; we’re so excited to start the next chapter of our relationship together!

My original plan for today was to have a knee-high sock pattern ready for you, but I need a little bit more time to take some photos and clean my notes up a bit. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek!

img_20200727_113151

On Skipping the Holiday Knit Season

Untitled design
Some gifts I’ve knit in the past

For the last several Holiday seasons, I have cranked out pairs of socks, hats, mittens, scarves, cowls, sweaters and blankets. Adding and subtracting people that I needed to knit for, stressing over forgetting someone. This year, I opted to do something crazy: I’m not going to knit for anyone.

Secret Santa gift? Not something handknit. Family gift exchange? No hand knits (although my mom is getting a woven table runner if I finish it in time). White elephant? Nothing handknit. Close friends? Still nothing hand knit. I’m putting my foot down this year, I’m knitting what I’m inspired to knit and giving the gifts as they are completed.

It feels a little bit like going on strike and, if I’m being honest, I’m genuinely interested in whether anyone will say anything. I’m not testing my family, I’m just prioritizing my knitting time to be a time of rest and relaxation (or at least one where I can pick my complicated projects and not knit them to a deadline). The idea came to me when my sister told me that she was using the coordinating handknit socks I gave her and her husband for their wedding as cat toys. Why am I stressing out to make gifts for people who don’t even care that I’m taking the time to make them?

Ok ok, perhaps they do appreciate them and the cat thing is just a fluke. I’m not saying I’m never knitting for anyone ever again, I’m just saying I’m done trying to cram project after project into the months leading up to the holiday season. If someone mentions needing a pair of mittens, I will happily knit them a pair of mittens. Just not for the holidays this year.

So as we enter the final weeks of the holiday season, for the first time in years, my gifts are all purchased and wrapped. I’ve been done with my shopping since early November and haven’t had to think twice about anything. Each gift was carefully selected and wrapped with care, leaving me with a slightly giddy feeling that I don’t have to worry about a looming deadline.

Perhaps I’ll knit for everyone next year. We’ll see what 2020 brings. In the meantime, enjoy the snazzy board game that made me think of you. (It’s entirely possible that I will regret this decision come gift exchange day)