Sock school

Suzie Blackman
Sunday, 16 January 2011
1 comment

With just a few days to go until my trip to Norway, I’m making things to keep me warm while I’m there. I had a wake up call while sledging on Christmas day in the harshest British weather I can remember. My newly re-lined coat performed well but my face and extremities froze. I think it was about -6° C where I was, where I’m going it was -18° during Christmas.

Socks were top of my list, I’m knitting basic patterns because I’ve not had much luck with them in the past. I’ve made six pairs to date, and still have issues with fit – in some cases being unable to get them on at all when I followed patterns. Evidently I have unusual feet – long (a UK 8 or 9, Euro 42 or 43), narrow, skinny ankles, long heels, pointed toes.

Toe-up doesn’t work for me, I have trouble deciding where to start the gusset increases and my narrow toes were making me mis-judge the sock width. Aside from being able to knit cuffs as long as the yarn will allow, I struggle to see the advantage in toe-up sock knitting.

In order to try and get my head round this sock lark properly, I picked a couple of simple top-down patterns that rated well on Ravelry.

First was Comfy DK Socks by Laura Schickli (PDF here). I used Colinette Cadenza, which turned out to be a great choice; it’s warm, washable, pretty, doesn’t seem to pill and I used under 75g for the pair, making thick socks very economical!

Comfy DK Socks in Colinette Cadenza in 'Salty Dog'

The pattern was very easy to and the socks are great, I love the ribbed instep (they look a bit odd in the picture because the rib is compressed). My only criticism would be that the heel extension is very short, making the heel a terrible fit on me. It’s also hard to work the extension with slipped stitches on every row. I knitted a 6 inch cuff, I’d recommend an 8 inch cuff, and I would double the number of rows in the heal extension. Starting the toe 2 inches before the end as specified was too short, it needs an extra row at least. I’d rate this pattern 4/5.

Next was Basic Socks by Johanna Marsan (pattern here).

Basic Socks in self-striping merino 4 ply

What’s great about this pattern is that it’s written for three different needle sizes, very helpful since ‘sock’ yarn varies a lot in weight. I used my heavy 4ply home dyed yarn with 2.75 mm needles. I prefer the heels in this pattern but for me the extension needs to be a little longer. They’re also very tight on the instep. My preference is to knit socks on circs using magic loop (I like DPNs but I’m faster with circs). This pattern is written for DPNs, which made me struggle to work out where the gusset decreases go. This sock has a very round toe that I’m sure might suits most people, but sadly not me. Still, an excellent pattern, I give it 4.5/5.

There are a few more in my Ravelry queue that I want to try, Knitmore Girls Vanilla Sock by Jasmin Canty, Basic Ribbed Socks for Men by Kate Atherley; Cakewalk Socks by KnittingPirate and Anna’s Basic Socks by Annastasia Gallaher. Once I’ve got through that lot I should have a pretty good idea of what works for me. Then maybe I’ll feel more confident about investing time and effort in knitting more complex socks.

The author

Suzie Blackman

The dyer, designer, photographer, creative technologist and maker-of-things behind It's a Stitch Up. She lives in East London in a home filled with colour, fluff and house plants.

One comment

  1. mooncalf says:

    Sounds like you have the sock bug!

    I love Salty Dog – I think it might be my favourite Colinette colour ever.

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