The knitting universe is divided between people who don’t knit socks (or who have knitted the occasional pair), and those who knit socks obsessively. Those in the first category, of course, may cross into the latter at any time – all it takes is one good experience! For those who have not yet found the zen of socking, here are a few good reasons to take the plunge.
In the first place, socks make wonderful gifts. Sweaters and afghans are large commitments, and the ‘sweater curse’ looms over the unmarried knitter who wants to make a present for a boyfriend or girlfriend. Scarves are nice, of course, as are mittens, but socks are special. Socks are knit to fit the recipient’s feet, and as such they demonstrate a greater level of love.
Another reason to knit socks is that they demand technical proficiency. Beyond knitting in the round, special skills are needed for each part of the garment. One must also choose to knit socks top down, bottom up, or from the side – each style demanding specific expertise. While one can of course use these techniques on other projects, sock knitters are known for having specific knowledge that distinguishes them from the pack.
Because socks are smaller projects, they are finished more quickly. This is always a good thing – one can focus on the excitement of starting a project and the fun of finishing. There isn’t a lot of “slog time” when knitting socks – almost as soon as one section gets repetitive, one is done and working on the next. Of course, there is that dreaded “Second Sock Syndrome”, but it’s not as lengthy a process as finishing that second sleeve…
The small size of a sock project makes it a perfect canvas for trying out different kinds of knitting. Color work techniques such as Fair Isle or intarsia seem more doable in a smaller project, and the results are apparent more quickly. This is also the reason why socks are fun to design – the small parts of the project lend themselves well to ornamentation, and when the entire project isn’t much larger than a swatch, it’s easier to go for broke and experiment.
Sock yarns get more wonderful each day. Whether one prefers solid colors, semi-solids, or wild variegated yarns, it seems that every yarn company has colors galore. Since socks don’t take a lot of yarn, they are great projects for those who love to buy from smaller yarn companies. This is also a good reason to splurge on luxury yarns – it takes around five hundred yards of fingering yarn to make a pair of socks, so the cost of materials isn’t overwhelming.
Finally, socks are fun, portable projects. Because of the size, they make great car, airplane, or train knitting. The lucky knitter can use any wait time as a chance to relax and knit. And, in the end, one is rewarded with a useful and beautiful pair of warm “sweaters for the feet.”