Sweet Spot Socks

Anyone who has ever worn a pair of homemade socks knows what foot heaven is like. The experience is akin to… well, having your feet kissed by butterflies. Or Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and/or Olivia Munn (the Happy Home Economist is inclusive).  Now, if you or anyone you know is somewhat arthritic, as is the Happy Home Economist, double that happy foot feeling. If it helps, imagine Nikolaj Coster-Waldau/Olivia Munn on one foot and Johnny Oduya/Christina Hendricks on the other.

And now that you have imagined this heavenly foot rub, here is the other rub: hand knit socks take time to knit, and you need hand knit socks! Lots of them! You, your whole family and all your friends need some damn hand knit socks!

Now, a nice thing about socks is that busting out a few in simple stockinette should not take too long. However, for many of us, the temptation to gussy something up, give it a little something something, earn the oohs and ahhs of family, friends, and random strangers passing by, is irresistible. And so we find ourselves slowly working away, patterns open on our laps and glasses on our noses, through spectacularly cabled, or richly stranded, or ornately lacey socks. Maybe we will never wear them with anything more glamorous than a croc, but in our minds we will wear them with kicky high heels and we will look adorable.

The economics of knitting design encourage these complicated projects. The basic structure of a sock is fixed – feet are generally similarly shaped, and there are only a few ways to do a heel, toe and cuff, all of which are easily and freely googlable – so if you have made one sock, you can make more, without need for a pattern. In order to sell a design, therefore, designers must come up with a design that is both beautiful and complicated enough to provide a compelling reason for a purchase. Generally, this is a win-win situation: designers are rewarded for their labour, as they should be, and knitters get some damn fine socks.

But what if you need lots and lots of socks? Quickly, because winter is coming in? And you keep losing your cable needle, tangling your bobbins, and winter is just too damn cold for lacey socks anyway? And you can’t get the requisite gauge with your new 40 inch 2.25 mm Addi Turbos and if you don’t change your needle size the socks will never stay up, but you don’t have a smaller size and Addi Turbos don’t grow on trees?  And the only time you have available for knitting involves either public transit or a subtitled version of the complete box set of Once Upon a Time in China and you are in the middle of the legendary fight sequence between Jet Li and Donnie Yen? Should you consider that pride is a deadly sin anyway and just crank out some stockinette socks? Well, yes, when I write it that way, I guess that does indeed seem a reasonable answer. However, that is not my answer.

Instead, I suggest the Sweet Spot Socks, so named because the twisted stitch used in the pattern occupies the sweet spot between mindless, simple, gauge-ignoring knitting and fancy looking results. Best of all, the design is gender neutral, and customizable to easily fit children or adults. It looks just as good peeking out of the top of a hiking boot as it does a high strappy sandal. Just use whatever yarn you have kicking around, start at the toe, increase until the sock fits the intended foot, figure out what arrangement of six and two stitch twisted rib panels works in your unique stitch count, then start knitting and keep going until it is time for the heel, and after the heel keep going until you feel like you are done.

For her - with kicky high heels. Made with Classic Elite Alpaca Sox.

For her – with kicky high heels. Made with Classic Elite Alpaca Sox.

As you can tell from the above paragraph, this is not really a design that merits payment. Expert sock knitters with knowledge of twist ribs (or access to a stitch dictionary) can take one look at the picture and duplicate them without any need of opening my humble pdf. Accordingly, I thought it might be more fun just to write up this design as a sort of toe up 101. The pattern is written up as a tutorial on Judy’s Magic Cast On, loop increases, short row heels, Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off, and of course the right twist stitch. For those sock experts who only want to figure out the right twist stitch, save a tree – all you will need is page 3.

For him - made with manly Cascade Superwash 220.

For him – made with manly Cascade Superwash 220.

The pattern does assume some familiarity with double pointed needles (DPNs) or magic loop; however, if you haven’t used these methods before, don’t worry – they’re actually pretty simple. You’ll be fine. There are heaps of excellent youtube videos out there showing you how. Personally I prefer magic loop simply because I find that method is less likely to fall off my needles when I shove my project in my purse and then forget it there for a few days, but DPNs have plenty of fans too.

So, without further ado, here is the link to the PDF. I hope you enjoy knitting, and wearing them – if anyone has any questions at all, let me know… I’ll be around. Perhaps lounging in my sweet socks. sweet spot socks

Why yes, yes I did make matching socks for my entire family. No, I don't think there is anything odd about that.

Why yes, yes I did make matching socks for my entire family. No, I don’t think there is anything odd about that.