Friday, November 20, 2009

Warming Feet

My son loves hand knitted wool socks. Everyone in my family does, but my boy especially loves them and wears them constantly in winter. Luckily, my LYS always has oddballs of sturdy, self-patterning sock yarns like Regia in its sale bin, so for about 5 bucks and one week's worth of effort, I can whip up a pair of warm socks for my favorite 6 year old. These socks see some really hard wear; my son has been known to wear them outside on the driveway, and keeps the same three or four in constant rotation, and they have yet to wear out. There's nary a hole in socks that are on their third winter.

This year, though, my mind is on other children, the street children of Nepal. I'm still really stuck on that image of homeless children wearing flip flops in the winter. In our comfortable western world, the closest we get to this experience walking to the car after a pedicure in January. My son will surely get his socks, but he'll have to wait. He has a drawer full, sometimes to overflowing, of hand knit and commercially made socks. He has sturdy shoes and footie pajamas, a warm bed and a full belly every night. So right now, I'm making socks for kids in Nepal. I made these two pairs, and started a third this week.

If you are knitting socks for the kids in Nepal, please consider the following:
  • use the sturdiest yarn you have. I used Regia and Lang Jawoll (I even knit the heels and toes using that cute spool of reinforcement thread that comes with the Jawoll), but Opal, Trekking XXL, Lion Brand Sock Ease or Patons Kroy would also be good choices, and I'm sure I'm forgetting others in this wool/nylon blend category. Assume that these socks will see constant, hard wear, will rarely be rotated, and almost never washed.
  • Knit at a tight gauge to ensure sturdiness. I knit my socks at 8 spi. You could also knit a bigger yarn at a tighter gauge. If you have some really sturdy wooly worsted, for example, you could knit it at 6spi and get a really firm pair of socks.
  • One 50g ball of yarn was enough for a pair of child's socks, but just enough for adequate cuffs (about 5"). Make the cuffs as long as possible. I happen to have several 50g oddballs saved up for my boy's socks, but if I had more yardage, I'd make the cuffs longer. This is a great time for you to stash-bust your balls of leftover yarns and make your own stripey or wild-self patterning socks.
  • I used used my Ann Budd's Knitters Handy Book of Patterns as my guide for stitch count and lengths, but there is any number of generic sock patterns out there for children. Skip the lacy patterns, and crank out simple stockinette or ribbed socks. This is why the self-patterning yarns are ideal.
Thanks so much for your enthusiasm for this project, and whatever you knit, whether it is socks, a hat, mittens or anything else will be appreciated.


Liz said...

6ply DK weight sock yarn is wonderful, too. Opal and Austermann make versions of it. They are uber thick and warm and whip up super quick. i get a pair of mens size 13 socks plus a toddler pair from one ball of yarn, too!

Diana L. Sullivan, CPA said...

I have linked to your Nepal project over at my blog and posted a video showing how to make a machine knitted hat for kids using sock wool. You can stripe and use up smaller amounts. I had a lot of leftover sock wool, and made quite a few hats so far that will warm little ears. I used English Rib for warmth and got some thickness that way.