Monday, February 15, 2016

A Box of Sox

A box of handknit socks.
   I'm the first to admit it: I like socks. I especially like handknit wool socks. During a normal California "winter," when the daytime temperatures drop below 60 degrees, I pretty much live in handknit socks. It's a matter of survival: the wood floors are cold (common in an historic home), and I don't like wearing shoes (I wear Birkenstocks except when it's wet).
   I also like to knit socks. Socks are easy, fast, colorful, and at the end of the process, I have a pair of (mostly) matching sweaters for my perpetually chilly feet. After knitting a couple dozen pairs of socks in the past seven years, I have sock-knitting down to a system: 2 US#2 circular needles; figure-8/"magic" cast on; either a "flat" or "star" toe; increases to 60 stitches, then knit plain until 60 rows from the cast-on. I now use a short-row (aka "Fleegle") heel, then knit the leg until the sock (or stocking) is as long as I want: if it's just standard socks, I knit the leg until it's as long as the foot, then do a couple inches of 3x3 ribbing before using a super-stretchy bind-off. It takes me 30-40 hours to knit a pair of socks--spread out over consecutive evenings, it's a pair of socks every 7-10 days.
   As a result of my love for sock-knitting, I have quite a collection of socks. They are neatly stored in a large box in the bedroom, paired up and folded so I can pick through them easily. There have been a few discards over the year. The first pair of socks I knitted--out of Patons Classic Wool--suffered the usual fate of all-wool socks: an accidental trip through the washer and dryer. I'm sure they made a very nice pair of slippers for some child. Another early pair was knit of 100% alpaca yarn. A word of warning--alpaca does not work for socks. I have no use for size 14 socks, so they went away. The latest sock purge were the pairs with "afterthought" heels. I like the afterthought heel, especially for yarns that make interesting patterns, but I can't do a Kitchener stitch to close the heel to save my life. As a result, those socks had a 3-needle bind-off that put a seam right at the bottom of my heel. They weren't comfortable, and now they're gone.
   The periodic sock purge still leaves me with  handknit socks and stockings. I have blue and green striped stockings, made with naturally-dyed yarns. I have a pair of truly wild self-striping variegated stockings made from handspun. I have tall socks for wearing with hiking boots, and regular socks for wearing with sandals (and tennis shoes, if forced). However, a sock purge also means I have an excuse to knit more socks.
Number 26.
   The current pair ("Number 26") are out of Paton Kroy FX, in "Clover Colors." I'm revisiting this yarn and colorway: I bought a couple skeins in 2010, but turned them into a shawlette in late 2013. Oddly, the shawl doesn't look anything like the socks--you wouldn't guess it's the same yarn, even when placed side by side. In fact, the socks are only marginally alike, even though both skeins are (theoretically) from the same dyelot. Fortunately, it's no big deal--I have no plans to wear the shawlette and socks at the same time--and I'll have one more pair of socks for the box.

On the Loom: 15 yards of 6-shaft broken twill out of Astra 10/2 cotton, on Mongo. The Gem is nekkid, in preparation for a doup leno workshop in 7 weeks.

On the Needles: Number 26 socks (see above).