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Summer of Socks

LBHandknits

I do not know how this became the Summer of Socks... 

Well, okay, maybe I do. It was around March that I received some custom order requests for 'lightweight' socks - as opposed to the Donegal tweed socks, which I'd knit almost exclusively up to that point. At the same time, a few local women asked me to teach them sock knitting. So I purchased a few different fingering-weight sock yarns. I immediately discovered that I liked some better than others. This made me curious and I did a whole bunch of research, and a whole bunch of test knitting, followed by aggressive test-wearing by my inhouse knitwear tester (aka husband!). There were clear differences in the feel, fit, and durability of the socks - as a function not only of knitting techniques applied (tension, stitch pattern, style of heel, etc), but also of the sock yarn itself.  Fascinated, I contacted some yarn sellers and knowledgeable fibre folk, and chatted with them about this. The result was more sock knitting... this time as part of a yarn-testing project. I discovered that yarn-testing was a 'thing,' and that I quite enjoyed it.

And then, there was Sock Class.

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Having held a few casual sessions in random places and at random times, I mentioned to Lisa at Row by Roe that I was thinking of trying to organise a formal class. She said, we can try it here at the shop if you like? And we did! She announced the class, I set up the online registration. We capped the class limit at 8 and ended up with a total of 10, myself including. 

It was the first time I taught a class since my university lecturing days, which ended 5 years go. I knew that teaching a manual skill to a group of people was quite different from teaching information. But it still caught me by surprise just how different!  

For one thing, I know now that 10 people is too many for a workshop of this kind. I did not have as much time to spend with each person individually as I would have liked. It was also physically challenging to move around the intimate yarn shop space and position myself beside each person effectively, which was not something that had even occurred to me to consider in advance. In the future, I think 4-6 people for this kind of work is the limit.

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I initially structured the class as a series of 3 weekly 2-hour workshops. But it soon became clear that we needed a full 4. So I ended up adding an extra session, and luckily everyone involved was able to attend.

Overall, I think Sock Class was a success in the sense that we had a good time, everyone 'got it' by the end, cake was involved, and I met some lovely people. It was tremendously satisfying to watch the socks grow on everyone's needles! I will do it again, with some modifications that will hopefully improve the experience for all.

With all these projects happening, I was of course knitting lots of socks. And eventually I began writing up the patterns. I have published two so far, and still have a few in the works. Once those are done, I am absolutely promising myself to take a sock break!

I do not think of myself as primarily a sock knitter; I am mainly a sweater and sweater-dress person. But from an educational standpoint alone it was useful to go through this intensive sock period. I have learned a great deal about yarns, and have made connections with people I would not normally have. I might even have a pair or two for myself in the end... although of course I am afraid to wear them, lest I should need them as samples!