Adventures in Hand Knit Socks

Posted on: 02/02/2011

hand knit socks, handspun yarn, hand dyed yarn, wool socks

Wow! Where did January go?  Gone already, seemingly in a blink.  I’d better get an update on here while I’m in the mood and before another month passes.

This past holiday season I did indulge in some knitting.  I “gifted” myself time to knit (while I was sick with the worst and longest cold in the history of colds in America ever!..and then had my usual row of migraines..sometimes you just have to call uncle)  and promptly ran right into the wall of inadequate knitting needles. This wasn’t new…I just didn’t feel well enough most of the time to “put up” with the fights.   I am fascinated with the simplicity of circular needles and want to only knit with them for now.  I don’t know about where you live, but the knitting needles offered by my local hobby stores are pretty pathetic.  The last time I was in John Hancock, they had removed all of their needles and claimed they were going to carry a new line.  Two months later when I stopped back by still nothing.  So I finally decided to buy a set online.  This was a big deal for me…I have to fuss and fret and study and read, read, read.  This actually took me a long time to finally make a decision.  Really, I could have built my own small factory overseas in the time.   I decided to try the Options metal needles from Knit Picks.  I am really pleased with them.  They are awesome and I’m so glad I chose them.  The plastic used to connect the circular needles like on bamboo or metal needles that I have  purchased,  (when I could find them from my hobby store), are all too hard and inflexible.  I just kept thinking how this shouldn’t have to be such a fight!   The Options needles have a much softer, more flexible line.  The first thing I noticed was the ease on my overall hands and wrists.  I had knit several  hats and fingerless gloves  also this season and noticed the difference by the second row!    The smallest needle in the set is a US size 4 and I figured that would be all the smaller I would ever want, because I just knew that I wouldn’t like knitting with anything smaller than a size 4.  Well, and so insert live and learn here.  I also purchased some worsted and dk weight undyed wool yarns from Knit Picks and promptly set out to teach myself how to knit a pair of socks.  (I had “read online” one time, somewhere a long time ago, someone talking about how handspun yarn likes to split and had convinced myself that when I was going to teach myself how to knit socks it would be beneficial to just go with commercial yarn.  On this  point?  I was incorrect.  THIS is why I don’t seek and read so much before I head into a smaller project. I tend to believe and then incorporate inaccurate info without thinking too hard about it).  I headed to Youtube and got busy.  Somehow I put together this pair of socks from several videos.  They were worked from the cuff down and I learned soooo much!

hand knit socks, simple socks, wool socks

hand knit wool socks,

They are soft and wonderful…but a little chunky for inside my shoes, but perfect inside my snow boots!  And what I learned about using size 4-5 needles and this gauge you get a bit of a waffle feeling on the bottom of your feet.  Not bad, it’s ok but it made me want to try smaller with both yarn gauge and needle size.   So…I did manage to get a pair of Addi Turbo size 2 and three (lys) but not until after I spun my own yarn (20 wpi) and knit another pair with size 4’s.  This pair was dyed in my new Fairy Tail colorway and I just had to do it.  I’m loving this colorway so much!

hand knit socks from handspun yarn, self striping yarn,

Fairy Tail Colorway, superwash merino

I learned so much again…for hapless knitters like myself who don’t like to gauge and don’t want to count rows and stitches much (ok..yes I count the cast on stitches and yes I count overall once in awhile, and yes I have to count for the heel turn and  yes I count for the gussets, it’s under 24 so it’s all good!) ..and just head off down the road without too much expectation.  When I figure something out it makes me so happy you’d just think I was the only person in the whole world to ever figure it out…! yeah! ok! One thing that came to me while working on this pair was…working from the cuff down..I was unsure of how long to make the cuff..fearing I would run out of yarn…(I had spun 4 ounces).   A  light bulb moment  for me  happened about 1/2 way through the second sock.   Weigh the ball..weigh the socks…next time I will know about how much yarn I have…as this time was completely in the dark, but it still worked.  For this pair each sock weighed 1 ounce.  I was DELIGHTED to find that from 4 ounces I could get 2 pair of socks, (albeit with shorter cuffs..but still 2 pair!).  That thrills me!  The size 4 needles worked ok..with the smaller gauge yarn..except I got this prompted me to purchase the size 2 and 3 needles, but I haven’t had the time to try them yet (for socks)…but have managed to start a little newborn hat with my extra  yarn on the 3’s.  Brave of me huh?    There is less of a waffle feeling on the bottom of the Fairy Tail socks (fine enough for me!) and they fit nicely in my shoes.  I love them! Knitting socks has loomed in the darkness of will/can I ever,  for long enough, and I’m so glad I made myself figure them out.  They are not hard and if I can do it?  that is saying something!   Maybe next time I will even find  the courage to knit some socks with a tiny bit of a pattern eh?  I know!  But that might require counting rows and stitches and well…maybe someday..some other Christmas, minus the virus please!

I’d love to hear about your sock/needle  adventures!  I should have at least bought just a few pair of quality needles by now and saved myself a lot of frustration from the beginning.  It is what I recommend to anyone starting down the circular needle road and tired of fighting the inflexible cords!  The Addi circs are nice too.  I found the cords to be similar in flexibility and the Options needle ends to have a little more weight, more like a traditional weight of a knitting needle.  The Addi needles are lighter.  I haven’t knit enough with either to know which one I prefer.

I also want to share some more of my inspiration for knitting socks by introducing  you to this wonderful, multi-talented  lady!  Wilma is from Miles City Montana and is fun to follow on Facebook.  She creates beautiful sock patterns.   She has a blog here

and Wilma says “all of my sock patterns are up in one place on ravelry, if you are interested. I am wilmab4397 there. ”  So you can search for her there too!

Thanks for reading along!  Happy sock making to you!


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