Thursday 31 December 2015


simple handknit socks

As a somewhat seasonal knitter, socks are something that I've been working my way up to this winter - I mean, what could be more practical to wear with ankle boots or with pyjamas? I've always been intimidated by a few things - the use of double pointed needles, the shaping for the heel and toes, and the fact that sock yarn is usually very delicate has put me off for so long. However, a quiet few days over Christmas and New Year have been just what I needed to dedicate a bit of time into working it out, so I thought I'd collect a few of my early thoughts on sock knitting here...

simple handknit socks

The Pattern: I thought the Ulla socks from Northern Knits by Lucinda Guy seemed like a fairly safe bet to start with (if you want a little more information about the other patterns in this book, I talked about it in my round up of winter knitting books). The details of this pattern are nice and simple and seemed great as a first project on double pointed needles - knit in stocking stitch, with basic decreasing for shaping around the heel and toes. I did have to make a few alterations - for starters the Ulla pattern is knitted in stripes in twined knitting, which would not have worked with my self striping wool. Also my gauge was completely off in my tester sock (knit in a different wool, but more about that later), so I had to alter the pattern for double knitting. Instead of the charming pullstrings at the top of the sock, I opted for a knit two purl two rib, which whilst not as whimsical is a little more practical. Other than that it was a fairly straightforward process, and I can see myself using this pattern many more times (I've already cast on for a second pair!).

Adriafil Knitcol merino wool

The Wool: One of the reasons why I wanted to try my hand at knitting socks was because of the allure of self striping wool. Now, if you had asked me what I thought of self striping wool a few months ago I would have told you that it was naff and a little cringy. I'm not sure what has caused this change of mind, but there's something that is very satisfying about working with self striping yarn - it works up quickly as you work through the different colours, and I enjoyed finding out how it worked up (watching other people knit with self striping wool is a bit like watching witchcraft!).

I used Adriafil's Knitcol in shade 46 - a bright collection of rather jazzy colours. Adriafil is not a brand I read much about on blogs, but it's one that I've really come to love after discovering it in the local wool shop, as they tend to have good quality wool with high wool content for very reasonable prices. Knitcol is 100% merino wool, and knits up with a slight sheen and a soft yet sturdy and non itchy finish. As a double knit it's very versatile, but I'd argue that it is best suited to more slender projects such as gloves, socks or scarves, as the stripes are quite short, meaning that in wider projects like jumpers the stripe would likely just be a jumble of colour. Personally I think wool like this is best used for smaller projects anyway - as much as I love these technicolour socks, a whole jumper might be too much of a statement for me!

simple handknit socks

These were knit up on size 3.25 mm double pointed needles. Whilst I've knit on circular needles before, I hadn't used dpns because they looked complicated. But, like a lot of other things, they merely look like they're a lot of work when in fact, there's actually very little to it. It's just like knitting on circular needles, except the stitches are spread across a number of needles (in this case 4) and are knitted with a fifth spare needle. It sounds complicated in writing, but in practise is no more difficult than knitting with two needles!

Whilst I'm pleased with the end results, there are of course a couple of things I'd change next time. I'd heard before that hand knitted socks don't quite stay up as well as shop bought, and it's true. A little more ribbing may help, but I also think I might try a little shaping around the ankles, as in these photos they look rather baggy! And whilst these socks are glorious in their bright colours I also have to be mindful of the fact that I actually prefer wearing far less colourful socks. In fact my sock drawer is almost exclusively black or navy blue! Bed socks are a different matter of course, but day to day I just find plain socks so much easier to wear as I don't have to worry about crazy socks peeking out of my shoes. So I've unravelled my practise version knit up in a marled grey to make a pair of rather plainer, but more wearable socks.

simple handknit socks

As it is though, I'm really enjoying wearing these - they're very warm without being extremely bulky, and the bright colours bring a smile to my face when I look down to see them on my feet. And as fun as it is to make frivolous and fancy dresses, there's also a joy to be had in making things that you know you will get a lot of wear out of on a day to day basis.

So, any tips for sock knitting or any pattern recommendations? I'd like to try both the Rye pattern and the Blueberry Waffle socks, as I've seen versions of both in my blog reader that look great.


  1. Charlotte I now feel like I need to make myself some cosy bed socks! Looove these, and the self striping wool so works! Hope you are well my lovely xxx

    1. I can't recommend sock knitting enough Anna - I've already finished another pair and have cast on for a third! Wishing you all the best for the New Year! :) xx