Wednesday, January 16, 2013

2013 Sock Challenge

I once knitted a pair of socks a long time ago, just one pair, and it took me all year. I was not an enthusiastic knitter, then or now. The socks (I did finish them!) have felted and thickened in washing, so they’re more like slippers now than socks. I didn’t know to look for superwash wool, if they even had it for knitters then. Altogether, not a good experience and it’s a sad thing too. I learned knitting from my mom, who would knit up our Christmas stockings in the fall. I still use double point needles for hats and wristlets, they just feel more natural than circulars.

From a functional standpoint, I go through a lot of department store socks. And increasingly, they are made of non-breathing materials and sprout holes and tears in the toe seams within a year. Cheap materials and factory made, but not a good bargain. I understand that a good knitter can turn out a pair of socks in a day or two. I could really use a dozen well-made socks. I could really use a dozen well-made socks in my favorite colors too. Surely, sock knitting is a learnable skill. So says Robyn, and I’ve watched a series of sock newbies turn out lovely socks in her classes (see photo below).

So my New Year’s resolution - and Nice Threads’ 2013 Sock Challenge - is to learn to make socks with Cat Bordhi’s technique in one of Robyn’s classes and then go on to make a pair of socks by February 15th. And then a pair each month thereafter. I’ll post the results on our FB page, warts and all, but hopefully we’ll see an improvement from the first to the twelfth.

A lovely sock in progress, made by Barbara from hand-dyed superwash merino yarn in last year's Personal Footprint sock class.

In making this resolution, I’ll be taking my own advice - Make at least 3 of everything! Only in this case, it will be 12, so 4 times as much trial and error, bad technique discovered and experimentation applied. 4 times as many tries as it takes to get it right. In that view, I can relax a bit about making my first pair perfect.

One of the beauties of Cat Bordhi’s technique is that it works with all weights of yarn. That means that all twelve socks can be completely different but I’ll be working the same pattern. My first pair of socks will be of bulky yarn so it will go faster and I won’t have to squint to see the stitches. I don’t know about diamond patterns and lace cuffs, but I’m sure my twelfth pair will be made out of that smooth, glossy superwash/silk yarn I sell to sock knitters at the the shop. And notice that I’m saying my twelfth pair and not my last - I am planning to be a sock knitter from here on out.

I hope you will join me! You can ask to schedule Robyn’s class anytime you are ready, or just drop in between 1pm and 2pm on Saturdays to get started. You need an hour to get the beginning information and then an hour to make your first rounds under Robyn's discerning eye, and then you can go home and finish the sock on your own. You can always make quick visits to Nice Threads for advice and repairs.

But you can also get the book and work along with us in your far-flung, but internet connected homes. A link is below and on our website, to Amazon for Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters by Cat Bordhi, our source material. I promise you, it will be worth a book and a year of sock-making. (Who knows, you may perfect your sock knitting by May) I promise to share my sock-making insights along with all 12 pairs of good, bad and ugly, so at the least, check in to our Facebook page for updates.

If you are joining the challenge, upload photos of your socks to our Facebook wall or just send us a message and we’ll repost it. A prize will be given to the person who posts the most socks in the year. And maybe there are some intrepid experts out there who could make a pair of socks every two weeks. Amaze and inspire us and post your socks too!

Thanks and lets get knitting!

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