Thursday, September 07, 2006

What the Muggles Think...

ETA: Welcome to all who are stopping by for the first visit via the SAM2. Come stay a spell -- can I offer you something? Tea? Coffee? Cookies? Let's talk about about knitting!

I have made socks for all the women in my family: my mom, sister, daughter, and both of my brothers' wives. Oh, and me. The socks on the left are the most recent pair, gifted to my sister-in-law, and the ones on the right are, of course, the TBS on the feet on my sister.

The striped socks began their life as a pair of basic stockinette socks for me, my first pair. The plan was to figure out "my basic sock recipe," and begin cranking out a bunch of simple socks for the upcoming cold seasons. They knitted up so quickly. I loved the yarn, I loved the stripes, and I began to really embrace the love of the simple stockinette socks.

But one weekend at the shore, the SIL took an interest in the socks. I love the perspective of non-knitters; I talk about knitting with other knitters, and am reluctant to bore the Muggles with knit-chat. But I think sometimes we knitters and bloggers are so insular; we get caught up in trends and fads, and make items for the yarn and not for the wearing, for the challenge, but not for the flattering looks. Non-knitters sometimes need to tell us needle freaks what we look like to the outside world. Remember the socks-with-Tevas debate with my sister?

She began by asking some semi-technical questions, about the construction of the sock, how it stripes, etc. I appreciated how interested she seemed in my hobby, so I happily obliged her with a basic discussion of toe-up sock construction and sock yarn.

As the conversation went on, though, what she really wanted to know was if I was going to match these socks to my shirt. Now, I don't know about you, but I am not organized enough to match my handknit socks to my shirt. Matching my clothes rarely enters my mind when I go into a yarn store and pick the prettiest sock yarn I can find. It has at one point occurred to me that perhaps I should purchase more subdued sock yarn to make more versatile socks, but I don't so much think of my handknit socks as a wardrobe item so much as a luxury, a little work of art for my feet, a surprise in the clogs. I knit handknit socks as much for the enjoyment of the knitting as for the pleasure of the wearing.

I knit socks because they are the closest thing to instant gratification in knitting. And as a knitting project, it is perfection. There is mindless knitting (cuffs and feet), interesting construction (so many heel and toe techniques), and endless possibilities and combinations. It doesn't hurt as much to frog a sock as it hurts to frog a sweater. You can finish a project in the most luxurious yarn and still not break the bank. You can go crazy with colors and not embarrass yourself by wearing them as a sweater. As all sock knitters know, handknitted socks just feel so damn good. And for me, there is always that feeling of anticipation that maybe this time, this pair of socks will be the perfect combination of yarn, color, pattern, and fit.

But to the non-knitter, handknitted socks are just socks. And socks, to my SIL should match your shirt.

As she continued to press, I finally asked if she wanted me to knit her a pair of socks. She enthusiastically said yes. I began to ask her about colors; would she like stripes or a more varied color pattern, a solid, lacy, what?

Well, I quite like those colors. Those are really my colors. And I would love a shirt that color too.

Then she tried them on.

Oh, they fit perfectly. Even better than they fit you, I think.

She was so right. My first attempt at stockinette socks were a little too long in the foot and a little tight in the calf. But they looked great on her.

So I gave them to her, and now she is in search of the perfect top to match the Regia socks, and I am still in search of the perfect socks.

Project Specs:
Yarn & Needles: Regia 4 Ply Wool Mini-Ringel Rio 5217, US1 Addis, Magic Loop
Pattern: Basic Stockinette Sock, attempt #1
August 2006


Ann said...

I've started my first stockinette socks and I am wondering about the fit. I think I've cast on too many stitches or maybe should go down to US1s ... anyway, I completely agree that I have no, absolutely no, qualms about ripping out and starting again. It's wonderful!

Annie said...

Great socks! And hey, now you know what will fit you better, and someone else got a pair of socks that they will love. Yay!

Anonymous said...

i love regia mini ringel because they look like striped socks you would buy in a store, so i'm not surprised a non-knitter took to them like she did.

btw, my first pair of socks -- also too big for me. it took a few tries before i felt comofortable making them smaller.

eyeknit said...

I'm enjoying reading your journey toward the perfect sock combination, as I'm on the same path. I think that the infinite permutations could occupy and interest a knitter for a lifetime. I'm currently using STR for the first time...Oh my. If they only made nearly solids!

Dave said...

Great story. And now you don't have to worry about finding the "perfect" colour yarn for your SIL :-)

Teri.p said...

Nice socks, Liz. Shame they didn't turn out to be your perfect sock, but isn't the journey fun? Besides, now you have another adoring fan.

Anonymous said...

The socks really are lovely. I can see how your sister-in-law would adore them.

Anonymous said...

I love your regia mini ringel socks. I love the colors!

Jillio said...

i wear jeans most of the time so you can't really see what color socks i'm wearing anyway.
to me, socks are like underwear, and underwear is UNDER everything else. who needs to know if your underwear matches anything else you're wearing - or what kind of underwear it is, for that matter?
i believe you need to teach her how to knit socks for her to full appreciate handknit socks.
and seriously? i get swept up by the color of sock yarn. if i were to match my sock yarn to the shirts in my wardrobe...well, i suppose i'd have to go find a LOT of shirts to match. :)

Anastacia said...

Saying hi from SAM 2! Interesting discuss you have. I personally never match my socks to my outfits - I'm lucky if my outfits match my outfits!