Learning how to do sock knitting as a crocheter has been a bit of an uphill struggle. I’ve never been a strong knitter. In fact, when I learned as a child I found it the most frustrating thing and was always dropping stitches and getting het up. My mum was a brilliant knitter and how I wish I had paid more attention and learned more and stuck at it. But crochet always came more naturally…
Years later, and long after I took up my crochet hooks again, I started to hanker after doing a bit of knitting. It hasn’t come easily but maybe I have more patience now and more determination to stick with it. Even so, my sock knitting journey has been a very rocky ride but I now feel I am reaching a stage where I just might be getting into this…
My first pair, which was inspired by the Sockalong run by the sock guru of the world, Christine Perry of WinwickMum, took me 20 months and a great deal of swearing. The poor socks came out fine, despite having been stamped on many times in yet another hissy fit. They even match! I chose a King Cole sock yarn, bought at my local yarn shop in Doncaster, and I think this is the Calypso colourway.
I was very proud to be able to show Christine my achievement at the regular Friday knit and natter group at Coopers in Skipton just before Christmas last year. And so funny that Lucy of Attic24 is photobombing them!
Christmas Eve cast on socks
I’ve blogged about the Vintage Fairy lights socks designed by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade before but I think they are my favourites so far… They are certainly the most complicated with the fairy lights pattern and the 1×1 twisted rib. And I was very pleased to use my own hand dyed yarn for these. They are 100% wool (85% Romney lambswool, 10% British rabbit angora and 5% BFL). I must admit I’ve been a bit cautious about wearing these for anything but snuggling into for a evening of crochet in the lounge but when I just checked out Christine’s blog, I found her most recent post is a review of no-nylon 100% sock yarn. And its very favourable.
Its a very strange coincidence really because she was knitting the Poll Dorset socks at that knit and natter group back in December. Her blog post is her review after wearing the socks for six months and they have stood up to some rough hiking treatment. Even more of a coincidence is that the wool yarn she used is spun by the Halifax Spinning Mill that is in my village! Christine has reinforced her heel with a special stitch and says that she would do that again with the toe as well as after six months wear, she has poked a tiny hole in the toe.
I’m now very tempted to try out the hand dyed 100% high twist lambswool that I got from the mill as a yarn for bags and accessories. With some thought to the pattern and how to reinforce the heels and toes, this could make a perfect sock yarn!
I finished these in about 6 weeks, which is now a record. But they gave me real confidence to try out some other techniques and to carry on knitting socks.
Trying out continental sock knitting as a crocheter
My next pair of socks were plain and I used an Arne and Carlos sock yarn that I bought at Black Sheep Wools in Warrington. I love the way the yarn works up and I use the socks to learn how to knit continental style, holding the working yarn in my left hand rather than my right.
It was really not that difficult to get the hang of. And I had, by this time, started to make stitch markers. The ones with letters to tell me whether to do a Knit 2 Together decrease or a Slip Slip Knit decrease at the sides of the gusset made this part of the sock so much easier.
I got quite confident and took these socks out and about quite a lot, to the garden, to the beach at Scarborough and to knit and natter groups. No longer was sock knitting confined to tense solitude and concentration!
And they turned out not-half-bad.
Next adventure: toe up socks
So far I’ve been very good and finished one pair of knitted socks before starting on the next pair. So, once the Arne and Carlos continental knit socks were done, I started using this special limited edition West Yorkshire Spinners yarn, which was kindly sent to me by Christine’s Wool Shop in Birmingham. They are Cityknits online and are selling this special Marie Curie colourway to raise money for this charity. I attended their Marie Curie Tea Party last year and donated the Marie Curie bag as a raffle prize.
The colours are just right and I’m making the toe-up plain sock using a Craftsy class by Susan B Anderson. I’m only on the foot of the first sock so far, as work on this has been overtaken by other priorities, but the class is really good and easy to follow. This will be the first time I’ll be doing an afterthought heel too and I’m almost at that stage…
I’m now even more in to stitch markers and these have got my favourite Cheshire cat progress keeper and my stitch marker is part of a sock set that shows the size of the needle I’m using in millimetres. The sizes on these tiny needles are so difficult to see – and if you want to swap between needles it really helps to be able to see straight away what size you’ve been using. These were an idea from someone who placed a custom order… such a lot of brilliant ideas out there and if I can make them, I do.
I love this set – the little rings fit a 3mm knitting needle comfortably, and any size smaller so perfect for sock knitting. They are listed on Etsy here.
The next step is to insert some waste yarn at the heel position and I think I only have a few more rounds until I reach this point. Once that’s done, its just going round and round again until its time for the cuff so this is a great knitting relaxation project.
I have heard of one sock knitting pattern in which both socks are made as one long tube, with waste yarn left in for the first heel, the toes of both socks and then the second heel. Now, that would be interesting…
With sock knitting its great to review my own progress – sock knitting like a lot of things is mainly about confidence isn’t it?
Blaugust is going well!
I will probably decide this is a really mad idea but so far I am keeping up with a blog post every day in August and really enjoying it. There are so many things that I’ve talked about on the podcast but that have never made it to the blog so I feel better that I’m creating a fuller record of all the crafty activities I’ve been doing.