I really enjoy the process of knitting socks. I like the feel of the needles and yarn in my hands, and the increasing weight of the finished sock resting in my lap. I like the size of the needles, how petite they are in width and often length. I love the warm feeling of the wood or bamboo in my hands. I like using four needles. Yes, I admit, I like that it looks complicated to the novice when in fact, we all know, that it isn’t. Over time, sock knitting has earned a reputation for being "hard" and the shear prospect of turning the heel can bring some out into a panic. It's one of the reasons why I so enjoy teaching my "Introduction to Sock Knitting" workshops – to help destroy the myth. As my friend Mairead says, there's a "big sense of achievement after the first sock as it wasn't as hard as anticipated!" See, it’s not just me.
It's not usual for sock knitters to cite the size of their projects and therefore how portable they are – sometimes in defence to the oh-so-travel-friendly crochet. I do like how I can cup my entire sock knitting, needles and all, within the palms of my hand. As my sister-in-law, Jane says: "You can take them everywhere (especially for knitting on the train)". My friend Julia agrees: "I love knitting socks because they are small enough to take out in my handbag and knit on when I have a few spare minutes." An excellent point, especially when you do don't need to refer to a pattern and can literally, carry on knitting where you left off. Which brings me onto another positive: I really like the infinite-like rounds of pure knitting.
But let's not forget that we're knitting socks and socks are made to be worn. C.C. says "Handknit socks are wee creations of loveliness. Whether I knit lace or cables or texture or just a plain vanilla sock, I feel pure joy when I put them on my feet. I'm not sure I'll ever wear non-handknit socks ever again." Julia agrees: "I love wearing handknitted socks, they feel so much nicer and warmer than cotton ones" – as does Jane: "They're extremely comfortable to wear when you've finish". And so say we all. I find that I'm far more adventurous with my socks than the rest of my wardrobe: Here you see me in staid tones of blue, pink and grey but wait! What's that dazzlement of colour and fun appearing as I remove my boots? That's right, they’re my socks. My hand knitted adventures in bright colour and pattern (colours and patterns that don't "go off", however long it takes to finally knit the pair). Look at me drawing attention to my big feet.
There are the other practical elements too. The ever wise Mairead remarks that we're "less likely to have odd socks as [we] take more care over the home knitted ones! [So true. See the bag of lonely socks I've accrued. See my sister, Elizabeth's book: "Hector Hectricity and the Missing Socks".] And there may be 'features' in the sock but no one sees them!" Oh, she's so modest.
Then there are the wonderfully generous people who knit for others, Julie among them: "They are my chicken soup if someone's ill (I always knit someone some socks if they are really ill similar to a prayer shawl gift)". How amazing is that? How amazing is she?
So do you like sock knitting? And why's that? :-)