A love letter to socks

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Over the past year, my life has undergone some major changes. I find myself in the middle of several more. It’s a time of flux, good flux, but flux.

One of the most consistent pieces of my life is craft. My craft world is primarily knitting, and even when I flirt with other crafts, I always come back to knitting. Knitting is soothing, meditative, calming. It’s portable, easy, and can be as mindless or challenging as needed.

I keep at least one, usually two, socks on the needles at any given point in time.

I knit my first pair 10 or 12 years ago and once I finished that first pair, I fell in love. That first pair was imperfect – a pattern for a DK weight yarn meant to teach the technique of turning a heel. That first pair was thick and soft, and I wore them essentially as slippers until they fell apart.

This idea of making this ubiquitous, utilitarian item – the ordinary sock- in a gorgeous fiber tailored perfectly to me appealed. So I cast on a second pair, and a third. I tried different heel turn techniques, but working a heel flap, as I did on that original pair, has remained my primary technique.

It’s a pattern I perfected to fit my feet over time. A basic sock. Cast on 72, knit a 20 rnd ribbed cuff. Decrease to 64 stitches, knit an 80 rnd leg. Turn the heel with an 18 round heel flap, decrease to 60 stitches. Knit 60 rnds, then decrease to 32 stitches for the toe.

It can be done all in stockinette stitch, a variety of ribs, or knit and purl stitches. Even a  cable or twisted stitches pattern, as long as I measure the stockinette equivalency of the cables correctly.

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I have knit eight or ten pairs of socks over the past year. I’ve bought some gorgeous sock yarns at my local yarn stores and I’ve bought some gorgeous sock yarns at other town’s local yarn shops as I’ve traveled. I have enough to fill another year of sock knitting.

I knit socks while reading, or streaming HGTV episodes. I knit while waiting, or when I need to center myself but my hands need to keep moving. I’ve knit while I’ve worked to make the right decision about what to do next.

I have tried fabulous new dyers  with dyeing techniques that inspire me, established yarn makers that I don’t know why I didn’t try earlier, and I’ve returned to what I consider classics (I can’t imagine a time I won’t love knitting with Trekking XXL). I’ve tried new blends of merino with silk and with cashmere.

But I haven’t knit much else over the past year. I had been feeling some guilt about that.  A gorgeous cowl and an over-sized scarf. A second Seacoast sweater in a deep burgundy. Some knitty knucks by request. But mostly this has been a year of socks.  I have some gorgeous yarns in my stash. But, with all of the changes in my life, I find myself now glad that I haven’t used those yarns yet. They’re waiting. And they’re okay waiting.

Because I have continued to explore my craft through the simple sock.

And while I continue to make the changes I know I need to make, I have this lovely (and growing) selection of socks.

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