The Expressive Creatrix (and Hobbyist)

{May 5, 2011}   My First Sock: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Yes, it is finished!  Almost exactly one month after I started, my very first sock ever is completed.  I’m not that slow, I just shelved it for awhile to work on other things – namely knitting the Garmin cozy for my mother-in-law which enabled me to practice using double-pointed needles (DPNs).  Learning two new things at once can be a bit much. However, once I got the hang of knitting with the DPNs, I discovered I absolutely love them, and so the sock was a joy to work on. 

First off, I am extremely proud.  Sock knitting seemed really daunting and overwhelming to me.  Reading about all the various techniques (cuff down or toe up; DPNs, 1 circ or 2 circs using Magic Loop; turning the heel; gussets; decreases for toes; grafting) boggled the mind.  There are many different ways to knit socks, and there are thousands upon thousands of patterns.  You can custom fit your socks to the recipient’s foot, tailoring the cuff length, heel turn, length, instep, etc.  Wow!  So much to learn.  However, before you can run, you need to learn to walk, so I needed to start with a very basic sock, done in one of the traditional manners.

I chose Silver’s Sock Class, which is an on-line tutorial.  I don’t know who Silver is, but her sock class is fabulous, and I thank her from the bottom of my heart!  I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to learn how to knit socks.  The directions are clear and concise, and there are plenty of pictures.  I was literally never totally lost.  Sure there were times when I was a bit confused, but that wasn’t the fault of the tutorial.  It was my own slower comprehension. I always figured it out!

Okay, so, how do I feel about the sock knitting process and my finished sock? Read on – but first a teaser.  Here was my sock when it was not yet done and still on the needles. I had to try it on just to make sure it really was going to look like a sock and at least kind of fit me!

The Almost Done Sock - still on the needles!


The Almost Done Sock - other side.

Yes, it was looking like a sock, and it did appear to be fitting me.  (Keep in mind, that the sock on the needles is inside out.) By the way, I love that you can try something on while it’s still on the needles.  I find it really fun to do that.
The Good
It’s done!  That’s the most important thing.  I stuck with it, I persevered, and I finished it.  Yes, it was exciting to get going on the DPNs, initially the 2×2 rib pattern for the cuff was fun, turning the heel was a complete thrill, watching the gussets and toe decreases appear was like magic, and the fact that I grafted the toe shut using the Kitchener stitch (something that kind of kicked my ass when I tried it before) was amazing, but some of the stuff in between got a little tedious.  However, that’s knitting.  That’s the nature of the beast.  There are going to be “boring parts.”  I try to think of them as opportunities for moments of Zen.  🙂
It’s also very good that the sock does resemble a sock.  Every major component is done, done mostly correctly, and I now have an understanding of sock construction and the basic techniques.  Having knowledge in one’s head is a good thing.  The challenge now is to put it to good use, expand on it, and master it.  There are definitely more socks in my future!
My feelings of accomplishment and pride as mentioned above are also good.  Knowing that I can learn new knitting techniques gives me confidence.  I can’t wait to delve into more socks, my first shawl (the Harry Shawl) and the Aidez cardigan I recently acquired the yarn for. I’m not afraid!  I can do these things!
In addition to basic sock construction, I learned a lot of things from this lowly sock.  As noted, I CAN DO NEW THINGS!  That’s a biggie.  Also as noted, knitting in the round on circulars, something that used to terrify and intimidate me, now feels very natural and good.  I really enjoy working with those DPNS!  I learned a little bit about decreases and how they relate to each other, how they should slant, etc.  I don’t have a totally firm grasp on it yet, but I’m starting to make sense of it.  Another biggie – I was able to successfully use the always-confusing Kitchener stitch.  My grafting looked really good!  In fact, it might have been the best part of the sock!
Finally, I think what may come out of this as a very good lesson is that during the knitting of the sock (while I was doing the foot section), I dropped a stitch which fell down about 3 rows.  Believe it or not, it was my first dropped stitch!  Well, the first one that I realized immediately that it had dropped. I suspect I’ve made the mistake before and didn’t catch it.  (Aha!  I’m gaining experience!!)  When I saw it, I immediately stopped, pulled out my Knitting Visual Quick Tips book (seriously, this is a fabulous resource!) and a crochet hook, and fixed that dropped stitch right up.  Really, it was kind of a thrill
The Bad and The Ugly
I’m lumping these together because really, what’s the difference.  This sock could never be considered a good, finely-constructed sock.  It’s my first attempt, and as such, it’s rudimentary and, I’ll say, it bad . . . and it’s ugly too.  But, I don’t mind.  I love this sock!  I’ll never make the mate for it, and I’ll never wear it, but I will treasure it always.
 Some issues with the socks are – a few holes where I must have dropped stitches or something (I still can’t “read” my knitting very well), some laddering at the joins of the round (which I can’t figure out because I’m diligent about pulling those first few stitches on a needle snugly), some gaps in the gussets (although I read it’s common to have a gap or small hole appear in this area), a bad join when I had to start a new ball of yarn, and some other little things like wonky stitches.  It also doesn’t fit me. It’s way too big. I think when I measured both my foot and the sock, I erred on the generous side.  With socks, I must remember that they stretch, and that perhaps it’s best to err on the conservative side.   I also suspect that I got something turned around after I turned the heel.  On the foot part, the stockinette part is on the INSIDE.  I’m pretty sure it would look better on the outside.  I’m not sure what happened.  I’ve made a mental note to be very careful to follow directions next time right after the heel turn.
So, yeah, the seams look bulky (well, the whole sock looks bulky, which it is), but considering the yarn I used, I don’t think they are too far off.   I used a DK weight yarn (Reynolds Revue) because it’s more substantial than the usual sock yarn (which is fingering weight) and thus easier to work with.  The addition of fine, thin yarn to learning new techniques (working with DPNs and sock knitting) would’ve proven to be way too much.  Using the heavier yarn took one thing off my plate. 
Well, here are some pictures of the finished project. Don’t laugh!  Instead, I hope you are impressed by my fledgling attempt at sock knitting.  I’ll be saving this sock, and I hope to someday have a good laugh when I compare it to the expertly knitted socks I’ll be doing then.  One ugly sock isn’t going to keep me from trying again.  Knitting socks is fun!

Finished Sock, Side View 1


Finished Sock - Side View 2


Finished Sock - Head On View

I’m not sure why that last picture wouldn’t rotate, but you get the idea.
Off to knit!  Not another sock quite yet.  I think I’ll go back to that simple tank top that’s been kicking my butt, and I also want to cast on for the Harry Shawl.  Of course, as usual, there are dishcloth patterns galore begging me to knit them, and I really want to start my lessons from my Fearless Knitting Workbook.  So much knitting, so little time!

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