When I’m feeling lazy, my favorite thing to do is grab a set of knitting needles and stream TV shows on my computer. It’s relaxing and rejuvenating me-time. The last few weeks I have been on a binge-watching, sock-making spree. So far I’ve made two and a half pairs of socks—one and a half pairs for myself (the second half is in progress) and one for my mother-in-law’s birthday.
Let’s talk about hand knit socks and why I love them:
- I can watch TV while I make them.
- They are small, so working them in my lap doesn’t make me sweat like working on a sweater or an afghan would.
- They pack easily so I can work on them wherever I am. I brought mine on my Chicago road trip last weekend, to a play date at the park and to a doctor’s waiting room.
- Wearing them feels special. I love the way a custom-sized hand knit sock feels on my foot.
- They have no seams. When I was a kid I wore all of my socks inside out because I hated the seams so much. While I have grown out of this behavioral quirk, I still appreciate the feel of a seamless sock.
Sock Pattern Review: Purl Soho Pom-Pom Socklets
Most of the sock patterns that I have used come from the knitting company and blog Purl Soho. The first socks I ever made, Purl Soho’s Pom-Pom Socklets, came from a free online pattern (link here). The pattern comes with clear written instructions and a fantastic picture tutorial. As a new sock knitter, this was invaluable.
I like this pattern for beginners because it has a very short cuff. This means you don’t have to spend a long time working on boring rows at the top of the sock before you start experiencing the magic of creating the heel flap and gusset.
And I really think it is magical. Feet are complex. It’s pretty amazing that something created by looping a single [really long] piece of yarn around a few sticks could fit a foot so well. And seeing how a few knit, purl and slip stitches come together to create a sock is exciting. When I made my first pair, I kept interrupting my husband’s studying with exclamations of ‘Wow!’ and ‘This is amazing!’ as I encountered each new step.
Hand Knit Sock Techniques
Beyond the complexity of using double pointed needles (discussed more in this post), making socks requires a few more advanced techniques. First, you need to know how to put stitches on hold so you can work back and forth across the heel flap with one needle. You also need to know how to pick up stitches so you can create the heel gusset. And you’ll need to use the Kitchener stitch (video tutorial here) to close the toe when you are finished.
Color changing is optional. As it is written, the pattern has you switch colors after the cuff, but you can use one color if you don’t want to bother (as seen in my first pair of white socks).
Turning the heel—a bit of sock knitting jargon that simply means “creating the heel,”—is not as much of a technique as it is a process. It isn’t difficult if you follow the row guide in the pattern. Seeing the heel cup form has to be my favorite part of making these socks.
Hand Knit Sock Variations
I chose to make my first pair of socks very simple: plain white. But for my second and third pairs, I wanted to shake things up. I was inspired by four balls of 100% cotton yarn I found at the thrift shop for $1.20 each. Two were navy and two were white, so I decided on nautical stripes. I left the heel and toe solid blue. Each stripe is two rows of knit stitch. The stripes helped me make sure that each sock was exactly the same length without having to count every row. I was able to get two pairs of socks from two 50g balls of yarn. All in all, these socks are the cheapest, most labor intensive socks I’ve ever worn. And I love them!
My Next Pair
I mentioned that I am halfway through another pair of socks. The Perfect Fit sock pattern by Purl Soho can be bought on their website (link here), or you can get it free when you sign up for the Purl Soho email list. The bones of the pattern are identical to the Pom-Pom Socklets—the heel flap and gusset are created using the same method. However, these socks use finer yarn and incorporate 2×2 ribbing for a perfect, snug fit. There are also no tutorial pictures in the Perfect Fit sock pattern, so I recommend making a pair of socklets first, so you will understand the process. I’ll post a picture when my blue Perfect Fit socks are done!
Note: This post does NOT contain affiliate links. I have no connection with Purl Soho, but I really like their blog.