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August 21

My First Pair of Socks (and then some)

Tackling one of my (knitting) fears, socks, has been so easy!  After knitting my first sock up – and really, after casting on for the toe, I still don’t know what the big deal is.

Sure, there is a new cast on technique I used, but it wasn’t hard.  And yeah, I had to work some short rows on the heel, but I’ve done short rows loads of times.  Beyond these two techniques, nothing was new or hard to knitting up my first pair of socks.  I’m stoked to have some cute, fancy new socks that I knit and can’t wait to make more.

First Socks

Since these are my first pair, I didn’t want to go all fancy & purchase new yarn.  Instead, I found I had just one skein of this Cascade Heritage yarn, como blue colorway, in my stash.  I used these socks as the perfect opportunity to stash bust a bit. Win-win.

Heritage_5655 Como Blue

True to form, my gauge remains looser than the pattern gauge dictates so I had to drop down to a US size 0 knitting needle.  I’m a loose knitter, apparently.  LoL

I happened to be chatting with my knitting coworker friend, Maria, that I was going to knit some socks soon.  She came in the following day with a sock-knitting book for me to browse through.  She’s the best!

Toe Up Socks

Of course I ended up picking a pattern out of it.  I made the Rosebud sock pattern by Wendy Johnson from the book Toe-Up socks for Everybody.  The red ones featured on the cover, no less.

Socks

These pair of socks only came in one size.  I got gauge using my size 0 needle, and had the same foot circumference as the pattern stated, so I cast on and got to work knitting.  I got to the base of the toes and realized it was way too large for my foot somehow.  Ack!

The pattern called for a total of 66 stitches (at the widest part of the foot) & I ended up reducing down to 52 stitches, a 1.75″ reduction in circumference – kinda a lot, imo.

Yeah… we have to talk about feet:

I had to get a bit fancy altering the pattern since I have such short feet (8″ in length) and I also had to reduce the lace-pattern stitch-count without altering the pattern too much.  Instead of a 33-33 split between the top foot and bottom foot, I had a 31 top – 21 bottom, split.  This kept the lace pattern pretty much intact while the stockinette-stitch feet base was minimized.  (The lace pattern wraps more around the sides of my foot than the pattern dictates it should, is all.)

I have short, kid feet but in a normal, adult width.  I ended up casting on a few stitches more than the toe called for (34 vs the pattern’s 30).  My toes are more round than pointy so increasing this gave me a more rounded (ie wide) toe.  Doing so also removes some increase rows; I reduced my toe area by 4 rows, to give me that rounder, shorter sock-toe section.

Sock Toe

I doubt you can see any difference between mine and the original pattern.  It just looks like it fits is all.  :D

I worked the heel just as the pattern stated, but… Since I only had 21 stitches to start with instead of the 33 recommended, I had to get a bit fancy here with my short rows.  Really, it just took a bit of math and guesswork.  I stuck to the same proportion of increases as the pattern did – I just reduced it down given my smaller stitch counts.  (Just leave comments if you want more details on how I did this…)

I put in a life line in case I had to frog my work back- It ended up perfect the first time around.  *Woot*

Sock Heel

I’m really happy with my socks, but of course I always have more tweaks I’d do for the second pair.

Speaking of second pairs… The reason why I decided to push myself and knit up some socks is that I really wanted to knit up a pair as a birthday gift for Felix’s grandmother, Phoebe.  She’s turning 103 next weekend a few weekends ago (yes 103!!) & I wanted to make her something special, something that a 103 year old could use.  :)

Rosebud Socks #2

As soon as I finished up my pair, I delved in making grandma Phoebe a pair of her own!

Phoebe Socks

You’d think I’d have the lace pattern memorized by this point but I didn’t.  heh  I think I finally memorized it by sock #4.

Phoebe has very similar feet as I do.  She also has an 8″ length foot just like me, but she has substantially wider feet than I do.  My foot is 3″ wide at the widest part whereas hers are 4″ wide at the widest part.

Using Dream in Color‘s Everlasting Sock yarn (poppy colorway), I had the same gauge using US size 0 needles as my turquoise pair, so it was easy to just add 2 inches to the circumference of her feet.  (But really I only added 1 3/4″ since I’d rather have her wearing stretchy socks than socks that may be too wide).  I  didn’t have her foot circumference, just the measurement of her foot at the widest part.  So it’s hard to say if she has flat feet or high-arched feet (like I do).  I just kinda split the difference.

Phoebe Socks

Since she has the same length foot as I do, it was pretty easy to know when to stop knitting the length of her foot.  I proceeded with the heel & heel gusset nearly the same as mine, just with more stitches this time – but still less than the pattern calls for.

Phoebe Socks

I can actually, sorta, fit into these socks too.  They are looser on me and the heel is more substantial/pronounced than my heel since there are more stitches here for width & for her thicker ankles.

Socks really are stretchy and can fit various shaped feet quite easily.  Just cross your toes for me that they fit Phoebe perfectly.  :D

The red yarn I used for Phoebe’s is really to tie for.  I love the semi-solid nature of this yarn.

Phoebe Socks

The one thing to note is that hers are made using a 100% superwash merino wool (while my turquoise ones are 75% superwash merino + 25% nylon).  The nylon content that is in yarn, specifically sock yarn, is in there to provide durability which is key – especially when walking around & with the rubbing from your shoes/socks/feet.  Just a note when you’re shopping around for yarn to make socks.  You want some nylon in them – not just pure wool unless you’re not going to wear them often.

I’m not terribly concerned about Phoebe wearing out these socks.  At 103, she’s really not walking around that much so she won’t be wearing out her socks like you or I would.  I’m just envisioning her kicking back in her bed wearing some pretty, warm & cozy socks for the upcoming winter months.

Her birthday was last weekend and she seemed pleased.  I didn’t make her try them on, so I do hope they fit alright.

Me and Phoebe

So much red!

While I’d love to continue to make more socks for myself right away, I need to give my hands a break from using such small knitting needles.  US 0’s feel (& look) like I’m knitting with toothpicks.

My hands are aching.  I’m not sure if it’s from knitting or if it’s from working so hard on my house with tools (shovels & hammers) lately.  Either way my hands need a break.

So…. I’m now knitting with US size 2’s on a new cardigan.  LOL  I have slowed down my knitting pace & did give myself a 3-day break while I was focusing on weaving in the ends of this colorwork vest. (It’s all done now!)  But it’s so hard NOT to knit while I have a 1 hour commute to work 2x a day, while I’m staying with my parents in the burbs – you know while I have some plumbing work done on the house…

Socks are such easy little projects to tote around in purses.  If you’re afraid of socks – please don’t be.  They’re not hard & they knit up really quickly (1-2 weeks).  You’re cold feet will be really pleased with you, if you make some up in time for fall/winter.

  1. Lauren / Aug 21 2014

    Giiiiiirl they turned out beautiful! And they fit so well! Look at you go :D I’m in the same no-sock camp as you- and while I’m not necessarily afraid, I’m just too seduced by sweater patterns! Knowing they don’t take a terribly long time to knit makes me just more eager to try them! Also, thanks for the nylon tip- I love my pure wool, and I never ever would have thought of that!

    • Liz / Aug 21 2014

      Thanks Lauren. I’m soo wanting a pair of mega thick socks for the upcoming winter. So far I haven’t knit anymore socks, but they make great little gifts since I don’t feel I’m giving up too much time on them. (Yeah… I’m a selfish knitter.)

      Don’t you just love knit cardigans?! I have dreams of making up a lush cable cardigan (or pullover) this year.

  2. MarrieB / Aug 21 2014

    Great looking socks! I have the same trouble – my hands ache whenever I knit socks, which is a bummer because they are perfect easy to transport little projects.

  3. These are lovely! I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such classy socks. How wonderful you made a pair for your grandma, too!

  4. Suna / Aug 21 2014

    Lovely socks! I am a fan of knitted socks myself, my granny would always make 2 pairs each for Christmas for all her 16 grandchildren, and in winter there really is nothing better than pulling on a pair of thick woolen socks, and crawl under a blanket with a cup of tea and a good book. About knitting/crafting pain, do take it seriously. I had the same thing happen to me 5 years ago, I did not take it seriously, and I ended up with pain and numbness from my fingers to the neck. Very bad. Stretching helps, as well as trigger point therapy. I bought a book called the trigger point therapy workbook, and it helped a lot, I just wish I’d found it when I first started developing the problems. Best of luck.

    • Liz / Aug 25 2014

      Wow! That’s a lot of sock knitting fr your gran – 32 pairs of socks. That’s 64 individual socks. I bet she was knitting them all year long for your guys. heh

      I’m going to have to look into trigger points – but I do fear I have an early onset arthritis or something. My right hand does seem to have this lingering dull ache. I’ll go see someone soon.

  5. Claire / Aug 21 2014

    Those are beautiful! I don’t knit, but both my sister and mom do and I know what a lot of effort goes into making a pair of socks. Such a nice gift for your grandma!

    • Liz / Aug 21 2014

      Thanks Claire. :D

  6. TinaD / Aug 21 2014

    Love the colors! I would suggest going with top-down sock patterns if you have short feet–they tend to write the foot knit-to-measure rather than knit-to-number, so are dead easy to adjust. I could direct you to a couple of bigger-gauge patterns on Ravelry that are good and/or free, if you want; drop me a line.

    • Liz / Aug 21 2014

      Thanks for the offer Tina. I’m a frequent visitor on Ravelry and LOVE finding new, fun patterns. Perhaps I’ll come find you on Ravelry if you send me your username (unless we’re already friends & I forgot) or you can friend me, I’m on there as Zilredloh also.

  7. They look great! I always have a pair or several of socks on the needles; so portable and everyone in my family loves them. My sons have 2 pair each, husband is now up to 4 and even my mother has 1; I need more as they’re the only socks I wear so my next 2 pairs are for me, then I’ll consider knitting for family again. The main problem with socks is that once you’ve worn hand knit socks you don’t want to wear anything else, so you have to make more of them.

    • Liz / Aug 25 2014

      I think I need to make a basic sock, and something less lacy, as I haven’t been wearing these all that much. They sure look pretty, but with the lace they feel like the sag down a bit with longer wear. I think in a plain knit, they’d get much more frequent wearing & then I’d fall in love with them like you.

  8. Maria / Aug 21 2014

    Congratulations! The socks look fantastic. I made my first pair a couple of years ago and I was hooked. I LOVE knitting socks. If I lived in a cold climate (I live in Florida) where socks are worn daily then I’d probably be knitting a pair every month. I’m about to embark on knee – high socks with a cable/Aran pattern. Just because I want to.

    • Liz / Aug 25 2014

      Oooh knee length socks seem great. But wait… in Florida?? heh I’m sure you get chilly nights, yes?? :D

  9. Maria / Aug 21 2014

    Oh I also have had hand and finger pain. Usually when I haven’t knit for a while and go all out. It’s like not exercising and then trying to run a race. You’re muscles and joints aren’t used to it. You can train your hands like you train your body….a slow, progressive build up, with consistency and recovery. Hope that helps.

    • Liz / Aug 25 2014

      Hey Maria… I fear I have arthritis or something. My right hand always has a dull ache now (for at least 1 month). :| I’m too scared to go to the doc to get it checked out…. soon though.

  10. Kelly / Aug 22 2014

    That’s such a great gift! They look so pretty on you, and I’m sure Felix’s grandmother will love hers. I’m a little afraid of knitting socks, even though I know that’s ridiculous! I’ve even knit a little stocking Christmas ornament that is actually a mini sock. My mom has knit me a couple pairs and I really love wearing them around the house – cozy and pretty, and adds a little homemade cheer to my weekend sewing uniform of yoga clothes…

    • Liz / Aug 25 2014

      Oh they are so not a big deal to knit up at all. I’m kicking myself that I got all worked up about them when they’re no big deal. You just have a different cast on & then the heel turn – which is just short rows. In between it’s just knitting in the round.

      I haven’t heard if her socks fit yet, but I guess some of the aunts were admiring them. :D Made me happy to hear that.

  11. Rochelle New / Aug 24 2014

    Wow these are so amazing!!!! I love how knitting (and sewing too) gives you the power to create awesome things that are custom sized/fit to you. It’s kind of magical, isn’t it? You’re one of my biggest Knit-spirations right now because you just see patterns and totally go for it! Your bravery always pays off. Well done :)

    • Liz / Aug 25 2014

      Thanks so much Rochelle. I have seen your new knits & you’re doing great! Are you going to dive into sweaters this fall? You should!!! They’re not any harder to knit than a cap, really.

  12. Michelle / Aug 26 2014

    Liz, the socks look fantastic! I especially love the red pair you made Grandma Phoebe! You’re really hauling ass at crossing off your list of fears! As far as power tools are concerned. They’re much easier than you might expect! I became a pro on the miter saw when we did our floors. It’s really exhilarating to use it!

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