For me and my knitting, 2011 was probably the year of the sock. I was there when Lyn suggested a knit-along personal sock club, were we all agree on the patterns and then knit the same sock together. It was a wonderful idea I hadn’t knitted many socks before, but I do have stash full of beautiful sock yarns I jumped in with both feet. Six pairs of socks in a year, one sock a month. I can do that.
But then the idea got bigger than all of us, and, well, democracy doesn’t always go the way you’d like. Some of the patterns voted for were lovely. Some of them were hideous. Some of them looked alright, until you started knitting them. Some were confusing and poorly written. And they were all free, which probably explains their popularity.
The January-February socks were the Shur’tugal socks by Alice Yu. They looked pretty in the photo, and I’m happy with my finished socks, but I really didn’t enjoy knitting them. Those left twists were a bugger. The heel was pretty though. The yarn was probably better suited to a plain sock, the pattern gets a bit lost in the striping. It is pretty though.
The March-April socks were the Nutkin socks by Beth LaPensee. These looked amazing in the pattern photo, knit in stunning wollmeise yarn. Mine look pretty good in lovely malabrigo sock, a birthday present from DrK. They were easy to knit, an easy to remember pattern. They bias, terribly. If I knit them again I’d reverse the pattern on alternate repeats, but really I’ll probably never knit them again.
May-June was the Leyburn socks. Toe-up socks with a short-row heel and toe. I’ve tried these ones before, years ago, but fell over at the short-row heel that wouldn’t fit over my high instep. This time I added some extra increases leading up to the heel, and substituted the short-rows for an improvised toe up heel-flap. I also tried Judy’s magic cast on (wow, it really is magic!). I took these socks on holiday, and knit most of them in the car driving all over England visiting family. They were a good travel project, with a simple pattern that was easy to memorise. The socks are pretty, maybe one of the few patterns around that do good things for variegated yarn, but there really isn’t enough stretch in that pretty lattice stitch for a good fit.
July-August was the Foxface socks, by Nancy Bush. I was excited about these ones. I’d heard good things about Nancy. Well written patterns with intriguing designs. I bought some beautiful yarn from iknit in London, Handmaiden Casbah (merino and cashmere yum yum). I got confused with the lateral braid, knitting it twice on the inside of the sock, before consulting Dr Google and finding a tutorial. The finished braid looked good, but seemed a bit pointless. The heel was a bit weird. So was the toe. So many design features, all clashing with each other. I didn’t like the weird ribbing at the back of the sock so took the pattern all the way around the leg. Again, I’m happy with the finished socks, but found the process a bit painful.
Can you see a pattern here? Four pairs of socks, and I didn’t really enjoy making any of them. I wear them, but I struggle to justify the amount of time I invested in them, time that could have been spent knitting a cardigan that I would wear and love. Or something to keep my kids snuggly warm. Or something that is just pretty and delicate, like a fine lacy shawl.
Part of the problem was the patterns- I don’t know I would have willingly chosen any of these patterns, and I didn’t vote for them. There are times in life when we are have to accept the outcomes of democracy whether we like it or not, but knitting isn’t one of those times. Its meant to be fun, something I do with my precious spare time. These socks just weren’t fun for me.
But I can’t just blame the patterns. I’ve knitted socks before. The experience didn’t suck, but they were never my favourite thing to knit. I thought being part of something bigger might help, but maybe I was just deluding myself. I do like to wear knitted socks. but I don’t love knitting them.
There was supposed to be six pairs of socks. I made four pairs. The September-October socks were the Nanner socks by Wendy D Johnson. I really didn’t like these, so I knit a dinosaur for my smallest son instead. The last socks were the Boyfriend socks by Alice Bell. These looked nice, but I had so many problems and then they wouldn’t fit my husbands leg. And it turned out he wasn’t bothered about handknitted socks for Christmas. So I wasn’t bothered either.
I didn’t just knit socks in 2011; there was also a five cardigans, an assortment of beanies, a big red apatosaurus and some whimsical nonsense for the kids (knitted carrot, anyone?). In 2012 I plan to knit more cardigans, maybe a sweater (or vest) each for the boys and a blankie for the sofa. There will probably be more nonsense too. But no socks!