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How to Become A Sock Knitting Addict

Dec 17, 2008

Note from Sandi: I'm glad so many of you enjoyed our Dancing Knitted Socks video! (Some of you said it was fuzzy on your's a link for the high-res version.) So today, I thought it would be fun to hear from the person responsible for collecting all those beautiful handknit socks for us: Carol Sulcoski, author of Knitting Socks With Handpainted Yarn, the book where all those pretty knitted sock patterns came from. Heeeeerrrreee's Carol! 

Hi. My name is Carol and I’m a sockhead.

Now, I don’t want everyone who’s ever attended a twelve-step group to email me – I mean no offense – but anyone who owns as much sock yarn as I do will have to entertain the possibility that there is something, well, addictive about sock knitting – particularly with handpainted yarn.

I wasn’t always a sockhead.  When I first returned to knitting after a long hiatus, I busied myself with other projects – hats and scarves and baby sweaters.  The concept of handknit socks puzzled me a bit:  you could buy a pair of socks for a couple of bucks at just about any store.  You had to use those teeny tiny double-pointed needles and that skinny little yarn that I found so hard to juggle.  And when all was said and done, they were for your grungy old feet, right?

Gentle readers, I was so wrong in so many ways.

Let’s take my misconceptions one by one.

Double-pointed needles.  I happen to be one of those klutzes for whom double-pointed needles present only opportunities for stabbing oneself.  I never got to the point where I felt comfortable using them, and I always seemed to forget to switch needles or to get unsightly ladders at the place where the needles joined.  Enter the two-circular method of knitting in the round.  It was a sock knitting epiphany. All of a sudden, I really enjoyed knitting little tubes for cuffs or sleeves.   The switch from DPNs to circulars was all I needed to make sock knitting seem enticing and exciting.

Thin yarns.  Ha, ha!  Do I really need to blather on more about the joys of fine yarns (see, e.g., my book Knit So Fine)?  Well, if you still need convincing, I’ve got one word for you:  handpaints.  If the sight of a skein of Koigu, or Socks That Rock, or Dream in Color, or Black Bunny Fibers doesn’t get your knitter’s blood flowing, then perhaps you don’t have a pulse!

Cheap machine-made options.  It is true that you can buy socks for a pittance at any big-box retailer. I say to this: So what? You can also buy big white nylon underpants that go all the way up to your armpits for a pittance at a big-box retailer, and I wouldn’t want to wear them.

But you put them on your feet!  Well, far be it from me to cure feet-y squeamishness in one little blog post. I throw out this thought: your feet carry you around all day, and nothing, nothing feels better on them than a pair of socks you’ve knit yourself, custom-fit to your very own feet and all their quirks. Got a wide foot like me? Increase a couple of stitches at the foot. Long legs? Knit longer socks and/or longer cuffs. Lose a few toes in an unfortunate hunting accident? A few artful decreases will take care of that problem. Maybe it’s a chicken or the egg problem: if you start taking care of those poor feet, clothing them in a glorious colorway of Koigu, maybe they won’t seem so gnarly and grungy.  (Or you can at least cover them up with some gorgeous yarn so the rest of us don’t have to look at them.)

And as if all of the above reasons weren’t enough to entice you, then I suggest you take a look at the beautiful, creative designs my colleagues and I have come up with in KSWHY.  Whether your taste is bold (like Lorna Miser’s Flamethrowers) or demure (like Ann Budd’s Punctuated Rib socks), whether you like swirling eyelets (which you’ll find in Charlene Schurch’s Schooner Socks) or simple stranded patterns (as in Courtney Kelley’s Corrugated Stripe Socks), you’re sure to find an enticing design that will help you make the most of your handpainted yarn stash.  (Or you can even find a pattern to help use up those odds and ends of leftover handpaints, like Véronik Avery’s Staccato Socks.)

Before you know it, you too will be saying “My name is __________ and I am a sockhead.”

-- Carol

About The Stars of Our Show! 

The stars of Monday's Dancing Knitted Socks movie are no ordinary socks, you understand. These are 21 pairs of handknit socks, each pair knit from handpainted yarns. These socks are new, never-before-seen sock designs, from eighteen designers like Veronik Avery, Lorna Miser, Chrissy Gardiner, Ann Budd, Nancy Bush, Patricia Gibson-Roberts, Charlene know. All the Sock Greats.

Where can you find these beautiful sock patterns? In our brand-new, just-out-today book Knitting Socks With Handpainted Yarn, by Carol Sulcoski. Not only are there patterns, there is also a ton of great information from Carol about how to make best use of all those gorgeous handpainted yarns we all drool over in the shops. She tells us what to look for in a yarn, and how to make sure you get pretty results and not weird results like pooling or strange stripes--in any kind of project, not just in knitted socks!

Check your local yarn shop to see if they have a copy you can get your hands on right away, or order a copy online from us.


Sandi Wiseheart is the founding editor of Knitting Daily. She is now the author of the popular Knitting Daily blog: What's on Sandi's Needles.


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So what kind of sock patterns are in this eBook? Let's see. There's a knitted lace sock pattern, a cabled sock pattern, a colorwork sock pattern, a men's sock pattern, and an easy beginner sock pattern. Something for everyone!!

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jacsu wrote
on Apr 17, 2010 10:56 PM

socks are absolutely my favorite thing to knit. at first i didn't think i would like it, but i am so addicted to it :) but i think it's a good addiction.

margret@4 wrote
on Jun 25, 2009 9:18 PM

HI, I am looking for a sock pattern that uses 2 needles only.

Try as I may circular and more than 2 needles are not easy for me.

i am a self taught knitter and crochering mum and all my family want warm winter socks like nanna used to make.


cheers Margret

newyorknancy wrote
on Dec 19, 2008 5:38 AM
Thank you so much for the wonderful sock patterns! Great gift for the Holidays. Season's Greetings! Nancy
BrendaC wrote
on Dec 18, 2008 7:38 AM
Hello. My name is b-girl and I am a sockhead. I tried a pair of socks in May- splurged on some pretty blue plymouth Happy Feet yarn for a birthday present for myself. Made them 1 at a time from the top down on dpns and I loved the socks- so comfy and perfectly fitting. So, I tried another pair and liked them too. The only problem was I kept stressing out about having enough yarn to do the 2nd sock & have it be the same size. THEN I discovered the magic loop and have been 2-at-a-time toe up socks on 1 long circular needle and haven't looked back since. I LOVE making socks. They are beautiful. They are quick. There is no sewing involved. How much better could life be?
JeanF wrote
on Dec 18, 2008 7:13 AM
2 circular needles instead of dpns - please explain how it works. I go potty with dpns - even gave the cat a serious earcleaning with one once! Fleecewitch UK
JaniceL wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 7:50 PM
Carol..........if you ever decide to give up being a full-time sockhead think about writing. What a great column and such a sense of humor. I tried to knit a pair of socks once and gave up because of the double pointed needles and have not taken the time to find out how to knit with circular needles for socks......must do that, just taught myself continental knitting, so much faster that throwing with the right hand. Janice
PhyllisV wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 5:04 PM
I'd like to reiterate comments by Kim Q. I'd love to be a sock addict but sock patterns all assume that everyone has the same sized feet. Although they allow for changes in length, I've never seen directions for changes in lower leg, ankle, and foot width. Does anyone know where directions to correct for foot measurements other than length can be found?
Jennifer wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 4:43 PM
Mwahahaha. Perfect timing. I'm planning to knit myself a slew of socks in '09. My goal is to have the best clad feet on the planet. As for anyone who is running on a budget, I heartily suggest learning to spin & dye. Great fun, even with KoolAid! &, getting together with friends, makes it even loonier. &, Sandi, dear, you look fabulous! Please, please share your secret! [Assuming our fav Christmas cordials & chocolates aren't on the menu. booooo]
Anne MarieW wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 4:15 PM
Yes, I admit that I have a Sock Head problem. Yes, this looks just like my kind of knitting book and it is on my wish list for when I can justify the expense.Obviously, Knitting Daily knows that they have a helpless audience to pander their stuff to, but these are difficult economic times and some of us have Qiviut tatses and Red Heart budgets. Please, more helpful hints, folksy patter and maybe a new free pattern once in a while and less merchandising of the product.
SharonH wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 3:59 PM
I really wish I could knit socks. What gets me is the tight gauge. My hands seriously ache after just a few rounds and it's no fun at all. I have the same problem with crochet, except I can only do a few stitches there. I can knit lace and cables for sweaters or shawls for hours, and I make a ton of hats on DPNs, but socks kill my hands.
Kathfemme wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 3:19 PM
Whoa, Sandi! I don't always get to read all of the Knitting Daily emails, so I must have missed the one where you were kidnapped, taken to a big city and had a fabulous spa treatment and glamour-girl makeover! Your first haircut was nice, but this, well... you look phenomenal!
Maezing wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 2:13 PM
Sure hope it works later, was wanting to see the site so much! Let us know in Knitdaily when it is fixed, please.
jeanbes wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 2:02 PM
I made socks for my disables husband he has a brace so I had to make them longer but the one without the brace will not stay up any suggestions Jeanb
Deb S wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 1:53 PM
Hi, I read the article by Carol Sulcoski and it was like she was describing me. I was scared to knit socks with double points and yes the double circular needles are the way to go. I have knitted many pair of socks and I think I am a sock addict also.
peneloped wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 1:13 PM
Hi, I am a sock knitting addict!!! I was afraid to attempt socks, because I always thought it would be difficult. But, once I made my first (horrible) pair, I was hooked. I didn't do to well at dpns at first, but after I learned magic loop, I found that I could do both with equal ease. Currently, I am doing two at once on one circular - this is the way to go for me when I am working with very fine yarn, no Second Sock Syndrome, and the project doesn't seem as tiny as it is. Heres to the Sock Addicts of the World!
SharonV wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 1:02 PM
Hello. My name IS Sockhead ... If I could, I'd make a pair of socks out of every color in Koigu's palette! My stash does not contain sock yarn because I use it too fast (there's like a ba-zillion patterns I want to make). My favorite pair of socks has a stained glass look with multicolor and solid yarn and it's a great way use up any leftover yarn. Which explains why I never have any. Though my stash will outlive me by at least 20 years, it will never contain sock yarn. So to my knitting heir, I apologize in advance for the shortfall in your inheritance.
Caffeinated wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 12:35 PM
I love knitting socks, but don't like the thin yarns... sorry! I prefer to knit them out of thicker yarns (not bulky, unless I'm making slipper socks, but worsted, dk, even sport - those fingering weights kind of kill me...) :-)
PetraW wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 12:04 PM
Loved, loved, loved today's copy of the newsletter. Especially the part about the underwear up to your armpits *gg*
KimQ wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 11:31 AM
At the risk of sounding dumb (ducking my head) there a diagram somewhere to show exactly where you should measure your feet so that the socks come out to size? I haven't been successful at it yet. I always end up totally ripping out the first sock so I've yet to complete a pair!
MegB wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 11:17 AM
Sockhead.....Sockhead?.......Sock-head...... Yep that's me, so bad. Cuff down, Toe up... What ever, I am so there with y'all. I saw the sock book in the LYS, but there was N.B's Estonian lace. Gosh! What a choice. I just hope that Mr. Kringle had an eye on me there. I was good, and with much restraint, I got out of LYS with only 4 skeins, and the book,....well and another circular needle, needed start.......Sorry i'm rambling. Happy Holidays! And Sandy, the haircut is beauuuuutiful!
SelmaK wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 11:00 AM
10 step program? what happened to the other two steps:-) ? My copy's on the way, I'm saving some BBF yarn for my first pair! Love, Selma
KathleenB@3 wrote
on Dec 17, 2008 10:59 AM
"Now, I don’t want everyone who’s ever attended a ten-step group to email me – I mean no offense " No offense taken, but there's 12 steps, not 10. ;) -K