A Fine Pair of Socks

When Abby Franquemont (http://www.abbysyarns.com/) gave me two skeins of her precious handspun yarn to make a pair of socks last fall, I vowed to knit them right away. I did wind it into balls, but, well, one thing led to another and before I knew it, several months had passed. When I photographed the yarn last week for a blog post (Why I’m a Spoiled Brat—#2), I decided it was high time to get started.

Like a good knitter, I knitted a swatch to determine the needle size. I started on size U.S 5, but the fabric was too loose for my liking.

So I swtiched to size U.S. 3 needles for a nice snug gauge of 7 stitches per inch.
Because I knew that I’d never get more of the same yarn and because I wanted to be sure not to run out, I decided to knit these socks from the toe up. I followed the general pattern for toe-up socks that I wrote for the Beyond the Basics article in the Summer 2007 issue of Interweave Knits (Working Socks from the Toe Up; pages 24 to 29). I worked my favorite k3, p1 rib across the instep, then tried on the sock to tell when it was time to start the short-row heel.

After the heel, I continued the rib pattern all around the leg and finished with an elastic sewn bind-off—thank you Elizabeth Zimmermann. There was even yarn to spare. (I used markers to count rows along the foot and leg so that both socks would be the same size.)

To block, I soaked the socks for 20 mintues.

Then I spun out the excess water on the spin cycle of my washing machine and put the socks on blockers to dry.

There are a couple of interesting things about this particular pair of socks:

  1. I was so worried that there might not be enough yarn that I left very little tail when casting on. It wasn’t until the first sock was nearly done that I realized that the bit of charcoal yarn at the tips of the toe must have the been the leader yarn Abby used when she began spinning the yarn—it doesn’t appear anywhere else in the skein. It’s a nice reminder that this is handspun yarn.
  2. Although the color patterning is different for each foot, it is remarkably similar along the legs. How did Abby manage that?!

I’m teaching a workshop on knitting socks from the toe up this weekend. I’ll keep this pair pristine to use as an example, but then I plan to wear them until they wear out.

4 thoughts on “A Fine Pair of Socks”

  1. Nice! I like the leader yarn at the toes, too. Both for the reason you mentioned and because it just looks cool.

    BTW, this is Anna-Liza – the link I’m posting under is my blog.

  2. Thank you for posting that pointer to your article in the Summer ’07 Interweave Knits. I have knitted quite a few pairs of socks (though not as many as you!), but I feel like there’s something lacking in me as a knitter because I always have to follow a pattern. I would really like to get to the point where I can simply knit a gauge swatch, take a couple of measurements, and cast on and go without looking back. Thanks for this. It’s still a set of instructions to look at, but perhaps will help me get to a point where I can let go of my crutches.

    Barclay / http://babablacksheepyarns.blogspot.com

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