Note: March is our official Month of Socks and we are hosting a KAL over in our Ravelry group. There’s still time to join us and be eligible for a prize drawing, so check it out!
Today I was looking at my Ravelry project page and I realized that other than a shawl I knit for my local SnB’s shawl KAL, I have only finished socks since January 1. Sure, I have other big projects on the needles, but it seems the only things I have been finishing lately are socks; five pairs, to be exact, in less than three months time.
What is it about socks? Why do I always make sure to have a sock in progress no matter what’s going on in my knitting life? And why do I feel the compulsory need to hoard so many sets of sock needles? (I seriously tried to count and lost track.)
They are portable :
I rarely step out the door without my knitting. I could be heading out to go hiking in a dark cave filled with mud and bats and I would still bring my knitting. Hey, the car might break down on my way to the cave and I would be worse than stranded: I’d be bored and stranded! I try to keep at least a pair of socks on the needles for my “to-go” project. They fit perfectly in my purse and I don’t have to lug a big knitting bag with my project and tools. If I don’t have socks (or something else small and simple) then I grab a skein of sock yarn and my trusty needles and I know that if I have a moment of time to sit and knit, I have a potential project with me.
They are easy and predictable :
Yes, I sometimes knit socks that are complicated and have charts. But of the 16 pairs of socks I knit last year, only 2 of them required me to carry a chart around. The rest were either easily memorized stitch patterns or just plain ol’ vanilla. Some of this has to do with the portability factor. I do lots of knitting at the park while my kids play and I chat with other moms; charts would just get in the way. But more often than not, I just crave simple, easy knitting. When I am stressed, I reach for my simplest project. Since I like charted lace shawls and am not always in a place on sweaters where I can switch to autopilot, my simplest project is usually a vanilla sock. The combo of fingering weight yarn and size 1 needles is a familiar friend and the knit and purl rhythm calms my brain.
But not too easy! :
Ah, the traditional heel flap, turn, and gusset. I often hear a knitter complain about doing one or more of these. I may be one of them, from time to time. But if I really think about it, flaps and heels and gussets are so magical to me. In just a few steps, you go from knitting in the round, to knitting flat, to creating a 3-D shape, to going back in the round again. All of this happens smack dab in the middle of what could be a truly boring knit, keeping you on your toes and spicing up your knitting life a little. And once you’ve finished your gusset, well, you’re in the home stretch! What’s not to love?
And lastly, it’s a little subversive :
“Socks? You knit socks? Can’t you just buy them cheap at Wal-Mart?” (This would be Stacie’s cue to ask, “They sell hand knit socks at Wal-Mart?”)
Suddenly, you have thrown the non-knitter for a loop. They could handle you knitting lace — it’s pretty and looks so complicated! Sweaters and hats are practical. Blankets are expected, given that everyone has a knitted or crocheted afghan or baby blanket from a relative stashed somewhere.
But store-bought socks are such an ordinary, everyday, and disposable item. You might have fond memories of a sweater you bought a decade ago. Have you ever had the same sentimentality about a store-bought pair of socks? If you already think of socks as ordinary and disposable, to think that someone would take the time to hand knit a sock, using yarn that costs more than 2-3 packages of store-bought socks – well, that can be a mind-blowing concept to the non-knitter.
They marvel at your skill. They wonder how anybody could enjoy knitting socks. They ask all kinds of questions. They kind of want a pair for themselves. You have warm, colorful socks, in a fabric you created yourself, stitch by stitch, peeking out from your shoes that you may or may not have purchased for the sole purpose of showing off your hand knits. They have white, cotton athletic socks that cost about a $1 and can be bought from a vending machine at a bowling alley.
And come the Zombie Apocalypse, when no one is around to run the machines that make all those store-bought socks, your feet will be cozy and the skeptics will be envious of your knitting skills.