Wednesday, July 2, 2008

My First Handspun Socks

I spun this yarn last summer, my very first real yarn. I'd begun spindling in May and dinked around for a few months with small amounts of various fibers before attempting something serious. I had two ounces of Targhee natural and two ounces of Corriedale natural, so I spun each and plied them together. It came out okay. Spun too tight and plied too tight, but not so bad. Definitely a fingering weight and definitely knittable.

And now, this summer, I am knitting socks from the yarn. This is the first one.

The pattern is called "Journeyman Socks" and it is from the Summer 2008 issue of Spin-Off magazine. It's also available as a paid download from Ravelry. I did make rather major modifications to the design. Mostly it was the stitch pattern that I fell in love with. It demanded to be knit with my handspun.

What did I change?

The Number of Stitches. As you may surmise from the title of the pattern, this is a man's sock. It calls for a cast-on of 84 stitches (6 pattern repeats). I cut that back to 56 stitches (4 repeats). Worked out perfectly.

The Instep.The original pattern has the gusset decreases on the instep side, rather than the traditional heel side, of the instep/heel divide. This causes the stitch pattern to disappear into a "V" in the middle of the instep as the sides gradually come together. It looks great with the multi-colored yarn used for the illustration, but I didn't think it would look very attractive with my plain vanilla yarn. I do intend to use that approach on another sock though. I love the effect. For this sock, I did a traditional instep and carried the ribbing pattern all the way to the end of the standard toe.

The Back.The pattern calls for the twisted stitches to end after only two repeats on the back of the sock and for the knitter to continue in ribbing. I've seen this technique on a number of folk sock patterns and I like it, especially with a very complicated pattern on the front. Makes the leg of the sock look less busy. But in this case I was so enamored of the stitch pattern I just couldn't do it. I continued almost all the way down to the heel.

The thrill of knitting something that I will actually wear from yarn that I have spun myself is hard to describe. Perhaps when I have been spinning longer, I will become more accustomed. But right now there's excitement in every stitch -- a sort of ongoing internal monologue as I knit: I spun this myself! And I'm knitting it into socks, gorgeous socks, that I can wear! Ack!


Luni said...

"Thrill", indeed, and truly "gorgeous" socks. Your own words describe them as well as I could. It is nice to see such a beautiful piece of knitting and gratifying to share the joy of the knitter.

SNOWBIRD said...

I think the yarn and socks turned out great! Can't wait to see the finished pair.

beverlyanne said...

Congratulations on the stunnig socks. You found a pattern worthy of your very own wool. Ack! indeed.

Marjorie said...

Those are wonderful. The pattern really highlights your very beautiful yarn--and you're right to wear them proudly.

Delighted Hands said...

Only another spinner/knitter can understand your joy! We celebrate with you-our toes are wiggling!