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Sewing and Knitting with Sue Robishaw

start of knitted patterned sock

Multi-Patterned Knitted Wool Socks

How-to  ~  Ideas  ~  Inspiration
More than forty years living a happy sustainable life in Michigan's Upper Peninsula

     Socks, socks, socks! In our world here in the north they are an important article of clothing but that doesn't mean they have to be boring. Have fun - treat your feet - design and knit yourself some socks.


Sue's sock #23

sock #27 thumbnail link to large image

Sue's sock #29

thumbnail sock #8

I had Elizabeth Zimmermann's wonderful book "Knitting Without Tears", whose knitting philosophy suited me perfectly and whose instructions were what I needed to take my beginning skills to a more satisfying level. It was the only real knitting book I owned. But when it came time to embark on my sock adventure I wanted a little more instruction, so I found Nancy Bush's "Folk Socks" book. Just what I needed. Even though I only followed the one pattern, the first simple sock, I did try out a number of the heel and toe designs in the book, soon settling on and then adapting what I liked most.  Those first socks I knitted were plain, made of wool, one color, simple ribbed cuff, plain stitch foot, one pair for me, one for Steve. It was a good way to start. It took a bit to adjust the fit, taking out and re-knitting several times, but I made notes and Steve and I both wore those socks for a long time. I soon discovered that 100% wool tends to shrink so eventually Steve's socks ended up as mine, mine went to smaller feet. I learned to wash gently in cool water, though no matter how gentle you are in the washing socks have a rough life on the feet, and I added stitches to my pattern to allow for the shrinkage. 

After 20 years and many dozens of socks later, natural 100% wool is still my choice. I was lucky to find a truly wonderful quality yarn early on, direct from a small sheep farm in Michigan, and was very sorry when they decided to go out of the business. Another brand was found, of course, one has to keep going. I did try a skein of commercial super-wash wool yarn when I wanted a particular color but I wasn't impressed. It just doesn't have the same comfortable feel or sweat-soaking capacity or life as the 100% natural wool.

I've made Steve a number of socks, all, by his preference, plain, serviceable, muted colored with but a contrasting understated toe, heel, upper stripe for 'design'. They are his cold winter socks, a few pair in the drawer is enough, lasting a very long time with occasional replaced toe or heel. I'm glad to knit them, but they aren't very exciting. 

My socks, on the other hand, allow me full reign for design fun. The second pair of socks I made for myself was a two color patterned sock. I was hooked. I loved making up the pattern then seeing how it unfolded as I knitted. The second sock of a pair usually of a different design, though of the same colors, similar to but not an exact copy as the first so they go together. This makes the second sock as interesting to knit as the first. Each new sock I evaluated the fit and made changes to my instructions until I had a reliable base pattern to follow. This makes it easy to start a new pair, often before I've worked the whole design out. Here's a link to my basic sock pattern instructions: PATTERN (use your devise's back arrow/button to return to this page).

Socks are fun. They're relatively fast to knit and are a portable project, which is nice because I only knit when traveling in the car. I like 100% natural wool because it is warm in the cold, comfortable in the heat, great for dancing and hiking (unless it's really hot which we don't have a lot of in the U.P.) since it absorbs moisture and provides padding. Actually, I prefer bare feet when the season allows but when appropriate, my wool socks rock!

 DESIGNS and PATTERNS - Click on a thumbnail below (or above right) to go to each sock's page where there is a larger photo and a colored pattern chart for the top designs that you can download. Browse through, find patterns that please you, mix and match, pick colors, make changes, try out different ideas, and have the fun of creating your own designs, with a little help to get you started. This isn't just for socks but for any knitting project. Check back occasionally as I continue to add socks (and other items) now and then. Enjoy!

Sue's sock #23       thumbnail link to sock #27         Sue's sock #29                thumbnail sock #8    

          Copyright by Susan Robishaw

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