The asterisk is there because this isn’t exactly my first pair of socks. Rather, I’m hoping it’s my First Pair of Successful Traditionally-Made Socks. About five years ago, I made a pair of socks using the wonderful book, Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters, by Cat Bordhi. The Personal Footprints method she devised is ingenious, but I don’t want to explain it here – you can check out her web page, her YouTube video overview, and some reviews, if you’d like.
The socks I made using Cat’s nifty method are wonderful, and I still wear them. The ribbing isn’t as elastic as I’d like, but for a first pair of successful socks, they’re great. So why go back to “regular” socks at all? Because it’s a mountain I’ve yet to successfully climb. The traditional sock pattern, the one that starts at the cuff and works down to the toe, haunts me. When I first started knitting, everyone told me how easy socks were. I knit baby sweaters, small blankets, head kerchiefs, and felted bags, so I figured, how hard could a sock be?
There are montages in comedies where everyone is supposed to be making something simple, and at the end of the scene, the whole group has their thing they made, except one person, who has something entirely different. That’s me. I’m the one in the crafting class, the one with the confused look on their face, wondering why they followed the directions and got something entirely unlike what everyone else got. Can you imagine me in a chemistry class? I’d be the one who put chemical A with chemical B (JUST LIKE THE INSTRUCTIONS SAY), and somehow manage to burn the whole lab down.
When I tried making socks, I ended up with one sock that had this crazy elongated toe, as if it were meant to fit a duckling. In the next sock I tried to correct that, and ended up with a sock that looked made for pointy little elf feet. A friend at the time offered to help, walked me through the ENTIRE process from start to finish. And this person is not an idiot. She had reached the point in her knitting career where she could knit a pair of socks for herself, patternless, with nothing but yarn and a few DPNs. She’s currently getting her PhD at Harvard (not in knitting). And yet, when I finished the sock she walked me through, it was huge, it looked like a sock for a NBA player, or maybe a pony. She and I both stared at it, scratching our heads. What the hell happened this time? Who knows. Maybe I JUST CAN’T KNIT SOCKS.
I thought maybe DPNs were the problem, so I switched to Magic Loop and took a class on that. My toddler (at the time – the kids are much older now) got sick and I missed the last class, so I never learned how to turn the heel, and that sock sat on the needles for two years, me shaking with fear every time I looked at it and contemplated trying to finish the pattern myself. I finally let the dream go, and just ripped it out.
Since then, I have feared the sock.
They say that you regret the things you didn’t do, not the things you did, and I know that I will always regret not figuring out how to make a sock. It isn’t just the challenge, either; socks are something I actually need, and would benefit from learning. I’d love a drawer full of handmade, colorful socks. And while I love my Cat Bordhi socks, I’d really prefer to learn to knit them the traditional way.
So, I’m giving something new a try. I’ve taken a few classes on Crafty, and I love them, so I finally bought My First Socks, with Lucy Neatby. Lucy Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope! It’s going pretty well so far, I think? I was a little concerned when I started with the “easy and fast” worsted-weight pattern first, and ended up with way more cast-on stitches then her pattern suggests I might need. My feet are a women’s size 10, but that’s usually within the normal range of sock sizes, so why mine is so big is still a mystery, but so far it seems to be coming out okay. I’ve finished turning the heel this morning, and will be moving on to the foot today. AIYEE.