I was a frustrated sock knitter. Before this summer I had knit a handful of socks and always been marginally happy with them. The primary problem that caused my sock malaise was that they always bagged out on my feet. If you read this blog regularly, you know that I became newly inspired to knit socks so that I can wear them with my Birkenstocks. Please don’t burst my bubble – I do think this trend is really cool. Since that blog I’ve knit two pair of socks and I’m so enthused with the results that I want to keep going and going. What changed?
The first revelation I had in my sock knitting was to make my socks ribbed throughout. As I mentioned above, my socks had a tendency to bag out. While I realize not everyone has this issue, my skinny ankles swam in my socks. Some of our other knitters have made similar complaints about their own socks. Since ribbing offers a natural elasticity to your knitting, this is a simple first step. The first time I ribbed my socks, I only added the ribbing on the leg of the socks. The feet still bagged out on me, so I took note and decided to add more ribbing throughout the entire sock.
When my sock knitting adventures began this summer, I decided to start with a toe-up sock. Just like a top down sweater, I knew I could try this on as I went. My first pair was with a beautiful skein of Baah’s La Jolla on a US1 needle. I found a fantastic sock pattern by ZF Cohen that promised to be an awesome pattern for sock knitters of all levels. Her pattern is more of a recipe than a pattern, with guidelines and suggestions, but no specific stitch counts or needle sizes. As it turns out, with this recipe, gauge isn’t that critical. Isn’t that a relief?
I opted for a Turkish cast-on to get started and magic looped throughout my socks. Not only was I able to try on this sock as I went along, but I compared it to socks that I own and love (that are not thin socks, but slightly thicker). This actually proved to be really helpful, and a great way for me to get to a stitch count that suited me perfectly. I also added 2×1 ribbing on the stitches for the top of the foot. FYI, for my ladies’ 7 foot, I ended up with 54 stitches on the needle for my entire foot.
One beautiful thing about Cohen’s sock recipe is that there is no picking-up of stitches or short rows for the heel shaping. Heel shaping is achieved with a combo of increases and decreases and leads to a beautiful fit for the heel. After a fast turn of the heel, I completed the leg with 2×1 ribbing across all stitches, and then added 1×1 ribbing for the cuff. I finished with a tubular bind off, because I’m a sucker for kitchener stitch!
The end result was a sock that fits perfectly. They also look awesome with my Birkenstocks. I had to keep going. Wool & Grace received a cool Swedish sock yarn called Raggi. I knew these would make a great, thick sock and I wanted to try out Cohen’s recipe with this weight of yarn.
Raggi is a worsted-weight yarn is made of a super wash wool and nylon. It’s incredibly durable. I’m kind of a beast and can usually break yarns with my hands. Not this one! This bodes well in terms of durability! For my Raggi socks, I decided to use a US5 needle. I want my sock fabric to be dense and tight. I cast on 16 stitches to start (8 wraps with a Turkish cast-on) and went from there. I ended up increasing my toes up to 36 stitches to get the right fit. My first sock flew off my needle and I finished it within an afternoon! I vowed to slow down and enjoy the laziness of the next sock. In the end, my Raggi socks fit as beautifully as the first pair, and the recipe translated beautifully in the worsted-weight.
I feel fantastic about these two new pair of socks and I want to keep going. The pattern is intuitive enough that I don’t even need it anymore, and this can be my lazy knitting project that I take on the go with me! Since we want everyone to feel awesome about their hand knit socks, we decided to set up a class using this method of sock knitting – and using Raggi. Whether you’re a first time sock knitter or a frustrated sock knitter like me, this method and this class are worth exploring! Check out this class here or stop by to talk sock-knitting with us!