Socks have become a staple knitting project in my knitting bag, not only because they are very portable projects, but also because it is very easy to purchase yarn to make socks. This is very apparent based on the amount of sock yarn I have in my stash.
When you purchase yarn for a sweater you need to either know the pattern you will use or you will have to guess how much yarn you will need for a sweater. But even before you take your best guess you will need to know the answers to a few questions. Will it be a short sleeve or a long sleeve sweater, what type of neckline will the sweater have and will it require more yarn, will it have bell sleeves or a flared bottom. Sometimes when you find yarn you like you just don’t have the answers to these questions, which can create a delimma in determining how much yarn to purchase. It is very easy to purchase too many or too few balls, and this can be very frustrating. Especially when you find the perfect pattern for the yarn only to find out you don’t have enough, or realizing you purchase 6 more balls that you actually needed. Now what to do with the left over, which probably won’t make another sweater, and more than likely will take up permanent residence in your stash.
Not so with sock yarn. It has been my experience that 100 grams of sock weight yarn is perfect for an average pair of socks, and you don’t need to know what pattern you will use when you purchase the yarn. Unless you have an extremely large foot or want knee socks then 100 grams should be plenty for a pair of socks. I have a size 7 foot and usually I make my sock cuff/leg approximately 7″, which leaves me with a good bit of yarn left over. Sometimes, I have enough yarn for a pair of fingerless mittens or a neck warmer to match my socks.
The first few pairs of socks I knit I followed a written pattern, but since then I pretty much wing the pattern based on the stitch gauge I like with the yarn. I like my stitch gauge to be tight and I also like my socks snug so by using my own pattern I can customize each pair of socks to my own liking. Sometimes I do a simple stockinette or ribbing on the leg, and sometimes I like to add a detailed stitch pattern on the top of the foot or just on the leg. It really just depends on the mood I am in when I get to that point in my project. The cuff is always a mystery until I get to it as well.
There are some constants with all of my socks. I always do toe-up socks, using the Turkish cast-on with a magic loop. I like the toe-up style because the socks can be tried on as you go and you can make the leg of the sock longer if you have enough yarn. The second constant is my own version of a short-row heel. I have tried many different short-row heels, but I always seem to get holes where I don’t want holes. So I created a short-row heel that gives me the look I like.
In addition to the constant of my toe and heel, I also divide the yarn in two balls before I begin. That is if it is a 100 gram ball. Obviously, if it is two 50 gram balls I can skip this step. By having two equal balls before I start I can make sure that I have enough yarn for both socks. I can also start both socks at the same time if I choose to do so, which I usually do.
You to can “wing” your socks with a simple formula that I will be posting here in the next few weeks.