Is it still Christmas knitting if you never had any intention that you’d cast on before Christmas?
In H’s little pile of presents this year was a squishy parcel; four skeins of sock yarn all wrapped up to make an oddly lumpy shape that Pip at least found most fascinating. All four were the result of a morning spent stash diving with Pip, looking for the things that have always been marked out as sock yarn for H and working out which would make the nicest Christmas present.
Nicest and rather needed. Seven or so years ago I went on what can only be described as a sock knitting bender. For about a year I knit little but socks: for me, for H, for my family, for anyone else I thought really ought to have a pair of hand knitted socks. It was wonderful and at the end of the year I had a stash with more sock yarn in than I’d knitted up in that year and H and I both had sock drawers full to the point of bursting. I still knit socks, but they were more occasional pairs than a constant diet, especially once baby knitting and then the babies came into the picture.
But the problem with all your socks having been knit at once is that they all wear out at once. I’ve had a few casualties over the past few months but as I have more socks and wear tights some times I’m not in quite such dire straights as H, who seemed at one point to have absolutely no pairs of socks without a hole.
They’re not little mendable holes either, this is hole in the heel and the entire bottom of the sock looking rather see-through levels of sock appreciation.
New socks were in order and the evening of finishing Dad’s socks (and handing them over) I cast on for the ones that I knew would knit up the fastest; a nice plain pair of thick socks in Mirasol Hacho in Sapphire Jade.
on 3.25mm needles and with quite a few fewer stitches than I use for 4ply they knit up at speed. I only had two skeins in the stash when most guideline for a man’s sock would suggest you need three so I knit toe up to use every inch of the available yarn.
I pretty much just made up a pattern on the fly, that’s the advantage of knitting a lot of socks, it gives you a feel for the sort of size you need. For H, who wears a UK 10 shoe I cast on 24 sts over two needles using Judy’s Magic Cast On, increased 4 sts on alternate rounds to 56 sts and then knit straight until it looked about the right length for the foot, which turned out to be 50 rounds. I used shadow wraps to do a short row heel, then knit 40 rounds and then worked 2×2 ribbing until I ran out of yarn.
That I used Jeny’s surprisingly stretchy cast off but only did the surprisingly stretchy bit on the knit stitches not the purls tells you everything about how close I was to the end of each skein.
And they’re the perfect example of the vagaries of hand dyed sock yarn and skeins of yarn, because the second sock was knit to exactly the same pattern as the first, I promise promise, and is the same dye lot of the same colour yarn. You couldn’t have picked them apart in the skein and yet there’s definitely a little more ribbing on one sock than the other, and where the first had knit into a grand spiral of all the colours gently waltzing together, the second sock has pooled into a more lively twizzle.
But what matters most is that they fit, and they’re warm and snuggly and on that they score full marks. I finished them off in the car as we travelled back from visiting family last weekend, darned the ends in as Pip finished off his lunch and then presented them to H as a “Happy Epiphany” present.
One down, three to go, and the second is already on the needles.