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Filtering by Category: socks

Errigal-Tested!

LBHandknits

hillsocks.jpg

I enjoy knitting socks and over the years have knit many. However, until very recently I very seldom used 'sock yarn.' Having always lived in cold climates, I like my feet to be Toasty (yes, with a capital T) and therefore prefer to knit socks out of considerably thicker yarns - my favourites being Donegal tweed and Alpaca. 

I never thought anything of this, until, upon seeing some of these creations a knitting friend gasped - 'Are those not too delicate to be worn? Surely they would get immediately destroyed!' Since then, a few others have said this same thing. 

So... well, okay. Firstly, all hand-knitted socks - including those made of sock-specific yarns - are 'delicate' compared to the store-bought, super-dense machine-made knits such as say, the socks you would get from Smartwool or Ibex. If you walk in your hand-knit-stockinged feet outdoors or on rough wooden flooring, there is no sock yarn in the world that will endure that. It is also - despite what the 'superwash' label suggests - inadvisable to throw your hand-knitted socks in the wash or (gasp) the tumble dryer. 

In my experience (and of course YMMV, and all other standard disclaimers apply), the socks I knit out of non sock-specific yarns are no different. They are thicker and more textured (you can sometimes 'feel the stitches' around your feet, which is an interesting sensation to get used to) . And, on account of having zero nylon content, they are somewhat less stretchy. But more delicate they are not.

In fact, my husband and I both regularly wear the socks I knit when hillwalking, as they feel fantastic inside hiking boots. So: up and down soggy bogland for hours. Rinse and airdry afterward (I use sock blockers, but this isn't absolutely necessary). And they are fine to wear again.  

I spend a lot of time outdoors. Walking. Cycling. Standing (or crawling) around, waiting to take a photo. I find that the tweed and alpaca socks keep my feet warmer than 'sock yarn' socks, and that's why I love making them. They can't be worn with all of my shoes, but they do fit into most boots, including some of my dressy ankle and knee-high boots. The lifespan, if knitted densely and cared for properly, depends of course on how often I wear them but is generally equivalent to that of sock-yarn socks. 

If you are a knitter, what's the harm? Give your favourite yarn a try next time instead of sock yarn and see how it behaves. You will have to adjust the number of stitches of course, from whatever pattern you normally use. But experimenting is fun, right?

And if you are considering purchasing some of my socks: Yes, they are delicate. As are all hand-knit socks. But they are also Errigal-tested! Please wear them boldly, read the Care Instructions in the product description, and don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. 

 

Shaping and Body Type

LBHandknits

I was taken aback to see this photo of me, snapped for what I hoped could be an illustration for a sweater pattern I am working on. In my mind's eye, I was envisioning the thick, aran-weight jumper pictured as being quite loose and shapeless. Worn with a pair of men's cargo trousers I was going for a relaxed, oversized look. To see instead my figure outlined so frankly came as a bit of a shock. That I have a big bum and sharply tapering back is no surprise; these are the realities of my body and I am quite used to them. What surprised me, was that my contours somehow managed to re-shape this loose and boxy jumper! When a friend modeled this very item for me last week, it looked like an entirely different garment - despite her seemingly similar pear-shaped figure. 

To me, this raises some frustrating questions with regard to making and selling patterns. For instance, how do you illustrate the finished product accurately? Using several different models seems like the obvious answer. But even then, it is impossible to account for all body types. 

Moreover, for a garment which involves shaping, how can you possibly make sure that the shaping is in the right place for any given individual? It seems to me you cannot, which perhaps explains why most knitting patterns - even for dresses and fitted cardigans - go easy on the shaping.

I love knitting clothes with a highly tailored fit, and would hate to exclude that from my designs. At the same time, I recognise that the more shaping I introduce into a pattern, the less universal it becomes.

Coming from a background where everything I knit is a one-off and made for specific individuals, whom I can personally study and measure, the world of pattern design is very different from what I am used to. So perhaps I am just overthinking it. One thing I know for sure, is that I won't be the one modeling this sweater for the pattern illustrations. Contrary to what the photo above suggests, it really is boxy, with no shaping along the torso what so ever!