Let's start with the obvious: I'm on a bit of a sock knitting bender.
Eight pairs since July, with the ninth on the needles right now, almost finished.
Despite the tiny needles (size 1! Officially crazy!) and the thread like yarn (fingering weight, I'm looking at you), both of which would have made me run away quickly a year ago, I'm all in. I have surprised myself – I don't do that very often – and have been thinking about why I find sock knitting so appealing at the moment. This is what I have come up with:
The yarn. This is a no brainer – there are so many beautiful sock yarns on the market. Speckles, self-striping, indie-dyed skeins are gorgeous and seemingly limitless in their variety. I can buy all the crazy colors, ones I would never wear as a sweater, and knit them up for my feet or someone else's feet. Seriously, I have sock yarn with gold sparkles in it! Fun and frivolous and perfectly suited for a certain 17 year old. I have amassed quite the collection of sock yarns and keep adding to it.
Portability. It's very easy to grab socks to knit on the go. I can throw a project bag in my, admittedly very large, purse and have it with me all the time. I knit in that half an hour after we get to lacrosse and before the game starts, before doctor appointments and in waiting rooms of all sorts, while in the carpool line, in airplanes, on road trips (Fatty is our driver) and in airports, and, of course, in front of the TV. There is no wrangling of a heavy, in-progress sweater. My arms aren't flailing left and right while I wield a large circular needle with something hanging off of it.
The magic loop. This was the game-changer for me. The sock is on one needle so I am not keeping track of four double points and not dropping stitches and needles all the time. Magic looping is also extremely fast and I love trucking along at a decent clip. It does take a bit of getting used to – awkward does not adequately describe my first attempts – but once I got it, holy moly, it was amazing. I don't think I will ever knit socks on double points again.
Variety. So many cool sock patterns are out there for the taking. I love trying a new technique on a small scale. I am comfortable enough with the basic sock form now that I can stretch my brain with different techniques and variations. It has not gotten boring yet!
Small projects equal fast finishes. There is a reason I like knitting hats. Quick, easy (once you know what you are doing) and satisfying. Socks fall into this category, too. The difference, you can wear socks all day, every day. I guess you could do that with a hat, too, but that's not my speed. I have two hand knit hats that I love and rotate between. Adding a new one to my repertoire each year is plenty. But you can never have enough socks! Growing a sock drawer is seriously fun business.
My foot issues. Boring stuff, but my reality. And it has not been lost on me that the part of my body that is giving me the most trouble, is the part that I am taking the most time to cover in hand knits. Hand knit socks are amazing to wear – they are cozy and cushy and luxurious and feel like a treat each time I pull a pair on. For me, it's self-care in a new form.
Work making vs. for fun making. While I was deep into the sewing for my next book, knitting socks is gave me a creative outlet that wasn't work-based. Don't get me wrong – the sewing part is fun, too, but it is deadline driven. I need balance so I am knitting socks outside of business hours and outside of the house. It's scratching a making-itch that I need to take care of to produce my best work.
Creating memories while I knit. This part is a little more ethereal, but it's important to me. These moments in time are marked in knit and purl stitches and then come back to me when I see them or wear them. For example, I bought a skein of hand-dyed blue yarn in Vancouver that became a pair of cabled socks knit in a week, worn with Birkenstocks while Jane and I toured colleges out East this past fall. I think about our summer vacation and our college trip every time I pull that pair on. The ones I just finished knitting are from yarn that my friend Jennie picked up for me in Nashville and I think about how she picked the perfect speckles for me. I want to keeping knitting memories.
Joy. Period. Full stop. Sock knitting brings me joy.
I know that this post is a whole lot words to explain why I can't stop knitting socks. Maybe it should be simpler than that? I could have gone solely with joy, because that is essentially what it is all about, but I am actively trying to reflect about what motivates me to do what I do. It's good mental exercise that is easy to skip if I don't make the effort.
Do you knit socks? Got a pattern to recommend? Or some yarn I shouldn't miss? Or are you obsessed with making something else at the moment? I would love to hear about it. If you want to see snippets of my sock knitting, I made a hashtag on Instagram.