It’s starting to get cold in northern Minnesota (or rather, was, this past weekend’s freakishly warm weather notwithstanding…) and the farmhouse can get a bit drafty. Especially since when we don’t have guests in the house we keep the heat pretty low in the main part of the house which includes my office.
So I need new socks.
Socks are one of my favorite things to knit. I usually knit with regular sock yarn and cast on 64 stitches on a size 3 needle (I have big footsies!) But I thought it would be fun to try knitting something with thicker yarn. Thicker yarn = warmer socks, right? I headed to the local yarn shop in these parts, Sisu Designs in Ely, Minnesota, and got a few balls of a thick wool and nylon blend that felt a bit scratchy but was what I had in mind.
And, of course, immediately after I checked out I spied with my right eye a fuzzy, yummy, looking sock over on the worsted side of the shop (I’d gotten my wool/nylon scratchy blend from the sock side of the shop). Turns out the fuzzy looking socks were knitted up in Kenzie — a lovely blend of 50% merino, 25% nylon, 10% alpaca, 10% angora and 5% silk. I liked the blend for socks — a bit of nylon for better wearability, am I right?
Kenzie is considered a ‘light worsted’ so I wasn’t 100% sure how much I needed, how many stitches to cast on and what size needles. I read a bit on the googles and decided to cast 48 stitches on size 4 needles. The balls of yarn are only 50 grams, so as soon as I cast on I started to worry that I would run short on yarn. I normally knit top down with a 2×2 rib on the cuff, so I decided to go ahead with the 2×2 rib for a few inches and then finish the sock with a 3 x 1 rib for the rest of the sock (3 knit, 1 purl) in the hopes that the ribbing would yield a stretchier sock that would for sure give me the cozy slouchiness I was looking for. I also dug through my stash to find a nice contrast yarn for the toes and heels to help stretch the main color. I wanted something at least as nice and soft as the Kenzie and found a ball of a warm grey 8 ply cashmere from Jade Sapphire that’s been in my stash for a while. A total impulse buy that went awry. I just HAD to have the cashmere, but was too cheap to buy enough for a project like a pair of mittens or something. Lucky for me, that meant I had the perfect cashmere for my toes!
Super fast-forward… I never realized how sensitive my toes and heels are — the cashmere feels INSANELY awesome and is my new plan for socks going forward… more affordable, nice yarn for the foot and total splurge for the toes!
Knitting went just fine and for all but the nerdiest of knitters… you might want to skip this paragraph. I finished the first sock and was really unhappy with the length I had made the calf. They were too short. I didn’t want to go through all the time of knitting and expense of the yarn for a pair of socks I wouldn’t wear that often. I had more of the main Kenzie, but with a top down sock I wasn’t sure how to add length to the cuff because I’d basically have to knit in the opposite direction to add inches.
So here’s what I did…
First I unraveled my cast on row. I’d casted on with my favorite method for socks – the super stretchy slip-knot based cast on – I think it might technically be called a Russian cast on, but who knows, right?? A warning for anyone considering trying this: it’s incredibly difficult and pretty much a mess. But I wasn’t planning on selling them, just getting some cozy feet.
I unravelled the cast on row and pick up as well as I could. I had a few crossed stitches and knew it, but had a hard time figuring it out and barring another round of unraveling which would take another 45 minutes. Who has the time for that?
So I forged on. The next difficulty was the way the yarn was situated. It’s hard to explain and I didn’t take a photo, but after unraveling, I wanted to use the resulting tail to continue knitting before starting with my leftover yarn in order to make the seam as…. uh… seamless as possible. But the yarn was backwards, basically. I was flummoxed for a few minutes then realized that if I turned the sock inside out I could keep knitting with no problems whatsoever!
The end product is just fine. The seam is noticeable when I look close, but not when I’m wearing the socks. The fit is OK, too. They’re definitely cozy, but the rib is a bit more stretched than I’d like. I think if I’d thrown on 52 or even 56 I’d be happier with the result, but would probably have needed a third ball of yarn. What I DO love is the length of the socks. I think going forward I need to suck up the cost and buy the three balls of yarn to get socks the length I love!
Here’s the final details
Pattern: Top down, 48 stitches cast on, size 4 needles, 2×2 rib cuff, 3×1 rib foot.
Main color – two balls of Kenzie in the 1000 Colorway, around 320 yards
Contrast color – Jade Sapphire 8 ply cashmere in Pewter Charcoal, not sure on yardage. A bit.
Here’s the sideview…