February 1, 2010

Stealthily Socking

So instead of working on the seemingly endless projects I have going right now – shawls, Michelle’s sweater, or 2 blankets, I pulled out my sock books and plotted a second pair of socks for Keith. I rationalized it as a Valentine’s gift that will need to be finished before the 14th. But I’m still not really certain that was the reasoning behind it.

I love knitting socks. It satisfies every need that I require of knitting in one easy, small, portable project. Socks are my go to comfort project. They require me to pay attention, to concentrate, to precisely measure my gauge and the wearer’s foot. In short, they force me into good knitting habits. There are a whole host of other reasons that I enjoy knitting socks however:

1. They are usually intricate and detailed. I love watching all those tiny little stitches move around the small shiny needles.

2. They are one of the best ways to show someone just how much you love them. While any knitted gift is good for this, socks (to those in the know - as in they have watched a knitter moving the aforementioned tiny stitches around on those toothpick-sized needles and heard the indelicate cursing under their breath) are by far the best. Alternately, they also appear to be a very valuable gift when calculated by cost of yarn and human hours spent knitting. Everyone always asks me how much I could charge for a pair of socks, and I explain in detail that no one would ever pay what it would costs me to make a beautiful pair of socks with hand-painted yarn to fit the wearer. (estimate $20 for the skein of yarn, and then what? even at a sadly underpaid wage, they would still come out above $50 and who pays that for socks?).

3. The wide-eyed look of fear the 5 DPN needles and the tube of fine-gauge yarn gives the uninitiated. It is a great way to improve your knitting reputation. The minute you pull out that little mess of tiny needles and fine yarn, people are fascinated. They seem to be able to grasp straight knitting somehow, but in the round makes them nervous.

4. The feel (and knowing that those you knit socks for will also feel) the warm, squishy soft feeling of wearing them. For awhile, I only had a couple pairs of hand knit socks for myself (they were too costly to give away to just anyone!) and I wore them sparingly. I had rules, like only when I was really cold, only around the house, only without shoes that would wear them out faster. I followed these until one day I just gave myself a mental scolding. What was I waiting for? What was the point of knitting them if I didn’t wear them? What did I think was going to happen? That they would wear out? That was the beauty of it, if they wore out I could knit more! And since I love knitting socks, was that such a bad thing?


5. The secret joy of walking around wearing hand knit socks. I liken this to the feeling you get when you wear fancy underwear beneath your normal clothes. You know it’s there, and no one else (or at least not anyone you haven’t specifically chosen to show it to) does. It’s a little personal secret.

6. The extreme warmth. I am a constantly cold person. I cannot get warm in the hottest places, and forget about ever having warm feet in the middle of January. Hand-knit socks are the closest I can get to being really warm. If I curl up in may fleece pajamas with a pair on, I can achieve almost perfect warmness. For that, I love the socks most of all.

It makes me happy knowing Keith appreciates my knitting, and socks most of all. He wears them frequently around the house and I want him to have a few pairs so that he too can move beyond the ‘special wear only’ taboo. He rarely asks me for anything knit, but I know he likes them. So these will be a good gift if I don’t blow the secret.



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