Friday, April 24, 2015

Knitting: first handspun socks!

I'm so excited to have finished my first pair of handspun socks! I spun this yarn off and on for about six weeks, and then three weeks after finishing the yarn, I have a pair of socks.

This was my first time knitting toe-up socks (my twentieth pair, but all of the others were cuff down). It was definitely an interesting experience! Toe-up does have a few advantages. The first is the reason why I chose to use this method for my handspun socks: you don't have to worry about running out of yarn. After you get the foot and heel done, you just keep knitting until you run out. The second thing I liked is that the increases look really smooth and neat. When I'm decreasing on socks, my k2tog's look fine, but my ssk's look so messy. With toe-up socks, you're only increasing, and the m1's look nice (I knitted through the front and back loop, so there's a little ridge at each increase, but I don't mind).

The things I didn't like about toe-up: getting started. For the first half of toe increases, it is so fiddly. Maybe it's not so bad if you use magic loop and you're used to that, but I was using DPNs and it was driving me crazy. The pattern tells you to divide the stitches over 4 DPNs, but I always just use three so I switched to that and it was a bit easier. But I dreaded getting started on the second sock. Also, I don't know if my gauge is different this way or it was just my handspun yarn, but these socks are too big. And since this was my first time knitting them, I didn't know exactly how the heel was going to work out, and I knitted the foot too long. The heel doesn't sit exactly where it should, so next time I'll know to make the foot about an inch shorter.

It's nice to have options, but I still much prefer knitting socks from the cuff down. It's so easy and natural to me at this point, and the process makes more sense to my brain. :)

I have a lot to learn about spinning sock yarn. I kept reading that lots of twist was important for sock yarn, but I think I may have went overboard. My yarn wasn't very elastic at all, and so it wasn't as enjoyable and easy to knit with as sock yarn generally is. Sometimes I felt like I was having to force the yarn around, like I do with cotton.

Also, the fit on these socks isn't perfect. They're a bit big, and that's with fewer stitches than usual. I always do 64 stitches on size 2 needles, but these only have 60 stitches on the foot and even less on the leg. The foot is a little too loose, but the main problem is around the heel. I think it's because, as I mentioned, the heel doesn't sit at the correct place. You can see in the pictures how the sock folds over on top of the ankle and how I can pinch about an inch of excess at the back of the heel. Anyway, I went into more detail about stitch counts and such on my project page so I'll know how to improve these things next time.

I knew when I was spinning the yarn that these socks weren't going to actually match...that one was going to be mostly blueish-purple and one was going to be mostly tan. Honestly, this doesn't bother me. In my head they still "match"...the colors sort of reverse at the top and it's not like I have to worry about accidentally pairing them up with other socks, ha. This pair actually turned out longer than I expected, too! Even with the low yardage, they're only about 3-4 inches shorter than my other socks. I had about 20 yards leftover, so I could have made them a bit longer. (But I like having scraps for my blanket!)

Even though they're not perfect, I'm super proud of these socks. This was a time-consuming project from start to finish, but it feels good to have accomplished the goal of spinning sock yarn and knitting socks from it. I'll definitely be doing this again, but not for quite a while. :)

Ravelry project page. I'm linking up with Liesl's Monthly Sock Challenge.


  1. Your handspun yarn is so beautiful. And your socks look comfy and squishy :-). Sounds like you've learned a lot from these socks! I tend to stick with top down too, it's been harder for me to figure out the right fit for the heel when I try toe up. I do like toe-up toes though, using two circs. Thanks for such an interesting post!

    1. Thank you! :) I did learn a lot from them. I guess it was just sort of odd because I've made so many socks, and I know how to make cuff down socks that fit. And to be making the same basic item but in a different way and with different felt strange! I'm glad I tried something new, though.

      Maybe one day I'll try magic loop and knitting socks with circulars, but for now I'm happy with my DPNs. :)


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