Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The perfect socks

It's been a while since I've blogged, for various reasons, but here I am, back again with the first of what will be a weekly blog post that I will write at the weekend and publish during the week. I find that my head is clear at the weekend - free from the pressures of work and deadlines, so for me it's a great time to relax and share my thoughts with you.

I'm really poorly at the moment and there's not a lot I can do about it other than to distract myself with lovely crafty things, whilst I sit very still, breathe gently and try not to talk (some would say that's a bonus!!!). So this morning I was so happy to receive a couple of lovely parcels to cheer me up and even happier that my bright, new stitch library matches my latest finished object.

I'm excited to tell you that I actually knitted a pair of socks, all for me. I bought a skein of self-striping sock yarn from my talented friend Rebecca at @blackhorseyarn in a gorgeous combination of teal and oranges/rust. She kindly dyed up a mini skein for me in a contrast bright orange, for the heels and toes. It really is one of my favourite combinations and it's incredibly bright and cheery. Perfect for lifting your mood whilst you knit. I love the little pops of colour in the rust-coloured stripes - can you see them?

In truth, I'm on the search for my perfect sock, so when I have a skein of the most gorgeous hand dyed yarn, I will know exactly how many stitches to cast on, which needle size to use, how many rows of rib and which type of rib to work, how many rows for the leg, which type of heel, how many rows for the gusset and foot and finally, which type of toe and how many rows I need.

My starting point was my basic family sock pattern in my latest book "Knit Yourself Calm". These socks are knitted from the cuff down and have a slipped stitch ribbed heel. I find that socks are perfect for mindful knitting, especially as I use a small circular needle, rather than double-pointed-needles, so once I've cast on I can just knit! knit! knit! and get into my mindful zone, focussing on the stitches as I knit each one, and focussing on my hands as they work away merrily, creating and making. If you choose your favourite colours for your mindful knitting, your project will definitely help to improve your mood. I picked up my socks at the same time each day, to relax after work for 20 minutes, and before I knew it I had knitted a whole sock (within one week too!!). I was determined not to get 'second sock syndrome', so I cast on the next sock straight away.

For those of you who are new to sock knitting, Christine Perry, aka Winwick Mum, has a fantastic library of resourses available freely on her website, with detailed tutorials, sock patterns to download and helpful guidance. I'd definitely recommend a visit to her website here.

Here are the results of my quest to find the perfect sock:

Yarn: Indie dyed merino sock yarn (75% superwash merino and 25% nylon) Colourway: Dirty Pond by @blankhorseyarn:
The verdict: Perfect - I love this yarn so much and can't wait to wear my socks. Superwash merino is perfect for me as there are no naughty floating fibres to cause irritation to either my skin or my breathing.

Needle size: I usually cast on with 3mm  needles, work a couple of rounds before switching to 2.5mm needles.
The verdict: This works perfectly for me, so no change needed here.

Cast on stitches: Whilst I would normally cast on 64 sts, I decided to try 60 sts, as sometimes 64 stitches are a little baggy on my leg/foot.
The verdict: 60 sts is perfect with 2.5mm needles, so this will be now be my choice going forward.

Rib: I have tried 1x1 rib in the past which I find a little tight, so I tried 2x2 rib for 12 rounds.
The verdict: I feel that the 2x2 rib is too slack. Next time I will try 2x1 rib (k2, p1). Also, 12 rounds of rib were not quite deep enough so next time I will try 16 or 20 rounds.

Leg: I knitted 66 rounds of stocking stitch, so together with the rib, this made 78 rounds in total.
The verdict: this seems a perfect length for me, so I will stick to this total length in future BUT I do feel that if I cut down the leg by about 4 rounds, then I will possibly be able to get 2 pairs of socks from 1 x 100g skein of yarn plus a mini skein for heels and toes. So I may try that next time.

Heel: I love a slipped stitch rib heel as I find that it hugs my heel well (you can find out how to work a slipped stitch rib heel over on Winwick Mum's website here)
The verdict: I'm more than happy with this, however, I would like to try other heels too, just to investigate further, so next time I will try a wrap and turn heel.

Foot rounds: I knitted 70 rounds of stocking stitch for the leg, including gusset, before the first decrease round of the toe.
The verdict: This is perfect for me.

Toe: I worked a standard toe decrease, on every alternate round and ended with 24 sts, which I grafted together with Kitchener Stitch.
The verdict: This is the perfect toe length for me.

So all in all this was a great experiment Now I can just cast on 60 sts and knit a sock following my own recipe above, without having to find a pattern. I think next time I will knit with a variegated yarn and I'll try a 2x1 rib for 20 rounds and a wrap and turn heel. I'll use a mini skein for heels and toes as I love the definition and contrast this gives. I can't wait to share my thoughts with you and create another pair of socks too.

Even more exciting is that I finally managed to buy a pair of handmade Bunny sock blockers from The Knitting Shed, so now I can block them properly and make them perfect. These are so very cute aren't they.  Thanks to Emma over at the Potter and Bloom podcast for alerting me to these, and they're much better than plastic ones.

Do you have a perfect sock pattern - I'd love to hear all about it and if you share the link to the pattern, we could all give it a try. I hope you all have a great week and thanks for reading - if you would like to join me on social media, I'm @the_woolnest on Instagram and @thewoolnest on facebook and twitter. It would be great to see what you're all up to.

Don't forget to tag me and use the hashtags #makeandbehappy and #knitcrochetcreate - I'll share my favourites.

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Happy sock knitting,
Lynne x