Monday, 18 July 2011

On the joy of hand knit socks

On the train into work a few weeks ago I had a lovely knitting bingo* moment, whereby an interested party sitting on the seat next to me asked "what are you knitting" and when I answered "socks" gave a small gasp and with great enthusiasm added "ooh, is knitting them cheaper then?"

I'm afraid I wasn't in control of myself entirely (it was early in the morning, before I'd made it to work and had my second coffee) and gave a large guffaw and in a disbelieving tone said "no!" I felt sorry for the interested commuter as she was clearly baffled by my response and gave a small "oh" and didn't engage with me again. Which is all when and good because I was at a particularly tricky moment in my sock and was rather enjoying the quiet before she sat down.
But, it made me think about the act of knitting socks. I am a very recent sock knitter. I was taught by a lovely friend in February, and when a mutual friend remarked one day "so does this mean you'll become addicted to socks like everyone else who tries them" I laughed and said "no of course not, I just want to prove I can do it." Little was I to know what was to come. I am now in the middle of pair number five, with pair number four also on the needles. I also seem to have inadvertently made some offers to knit pairs for people for birthdays and Christmas. I admit it, I have a problem!
When you look at it objectively from the outside (Like N often does as I frown my way through counting stitches on a chart and swear about missing a ssk on a heel turn) it makes no initial sense at all. Hand knit socks take a lot of time, effort and let's face it, money. When pondering
some yarn for socks for N at a recent jaunt to a knitting show I found myself seriously contemplating spending nearly thirty quid. It was a rush of blood to the head and I didn't, but the temptation was there.
And all for objects that are often hidden beneath trousers or worn through within less than a year of them being finished. So why are they so addictive and wonderful? Well for me there are several reasons. They are pretty. You can make them as long or as short as you like. Because they are not a garment and not close to your face and could be hidden if you wanted to, you can knit them in any colour or combination of colours you like. They are easily carried around when commuting (I have two cardigans floundering because recently my only knitting time has been on the train to work and they are just too darn big to carry). And finally, they are warm! I have long suffered from cold feet. I am, even now, in July, wearing hiking socks in the house because my little toes get cold and rarely get warm. As N has pointed out on many an occasion my feet exist in the Ice Dimension. As a result hand knit socks are a revelation. They truly are warm (unlike so many supposed "thermal" pairs that places sell), and ones that have colourwork and therefore two strands of yarn in them, are even warmer!

So I am knitting like the wind in order to get as many pairs of socks knit, in as many patterns and colours as I can before the winter sets in. This winter, I will have warm feet that will also be pretty feet.
I know you have to knit two, I know they can be expensive and fiddly, but frankly they are rocking my world, and I think they should rock yours too.

Sorry, preaching over...I'm back to knit socks and leave you alone!

*Knitting Bingo is a game invented by a friend and myself whereby if you have encounters with strangers who made particularly cliche comments about your chosen hobby you are obliged to share this with other players via text, email or twitter with the words "Knitting Bingo" and an explanation of the encounter. A good example would be the "oooh, you don't see young people knitting" or "I'd love to knit, but I just don't have time" the latter usually said by someone playing a mindless computer game on their smartphone on the same train journey as said knitter, and clearly implying that aforementioned craftsperson is a lady (or man) of leisure, and not one commuting to one of their three jobs (Sorry, little bitter about those comments!).


  1. Congratulations on your business! And finding time to knit socks, too ;0) I'm trying to learn, but I think I'm going to switch to bamboo needles and give it another go.

  2. Welcome to the wonderful world of sock knitting! As you have discovered it is highly addictive. I have had so many people say to me that I must save money by knitting my own socks. I just laugh and tell them they have no idea.