Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Twist at the End

Winter weather is almost here, and I’ve been in the mood for another woolen knitting project. A skein of Classic Elite Yarns Alpaca Sox from my stash caught my eye. The colorway is Shaded Lilacs #1865 and it’s a remarkably soft blend of 60% alpaca, 20% merino wool, and 20% nylon.

Detail of a skein of wool sock yarn in greens, blues and purples on a white background.

I went back and forth trying to decide what to make. Mittens or gloves? A scarf or cowl? Socks? Ultimately, based on the colors, I went with socks — which is most likely what I had in mind when I originally purchased the yarn.

Hand knit wool socks in progress on bamboo needles in blues, purples and greens on a white background.

In choosing the pattern, I didn’t want the stitches to get lost in the color changes. I’ve had success in the past with Slip-Stitch Cable Socks from “The Little Box of Socks” by Charlene Schurch and Beth Parrott. I decided to use it again, with the knowledge that the structure of the cables makes the circumference of this pattern lose some stretch. With an 8.5-inch foot circumference, making the 10.75-inch Men’s Medium on US-2 (2.75 mm) needles instead of the US-4 (3.5 mm) needles called for in the pattern gave me a good fit.

Wooden darning egg and mushroom on white background.

The last time I made a pair of socks, as I was weaving the end on the toe I started to wonder why I don’t use a darning egg for the task. On some level, I guess I think of my darning tools as just for darning. And yet, I weave in ends using Duplicate Stitch, also known as Swiss Darning. This time, I pulled out my darning egg and I’m so glad I did! It seemed like the task was completed more quickly, and it was easier to maintain the proper tension. I used the darning mushroom while weaving in the end at the cuff, and it was tricky to keep the sock from sliding around but still seemed easier somehow.

I also learned an important lesson while knitting these socks: Don’t knit with dilated eyes.

I had an eye exam yesterday, and thought I could finish decreasing the toe of the second sock mostly by feel. It was going along smoothly until I grabbed the wrong needle and pulled it off the knitting. Now, this clearly wasn’t directly related to the dilation because even when dilated it’s easy enough to see whether a light-colored needle has dark stitches on it. But I wasn’t focused and was fumbling around a bit, and that’s how accidents happen. At that point, I thought it best to put the knitting down and step away.

Bottom view of foot wearing hand knit wool sock in blues, greens and purples on a white background.

I was able to complete the second sock after a short break, and I’m enjoying wearing them today! What successes have you achieved with your recent projects?


  1. I'd like to knit a pair or socks, I'm a beginner knitter - I've knitted many scarves and infinity scarves and I think I'm ready to tackle something a bit more advanced (although maybe not a pair of socks yet).

    1. Go for it! I was intimidated by the idea of knitting socks for a long time, but when I finally tried them I learned they weren't as hard as I imagined.


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