My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


Sock Musings

I’ve been thinking lately about why it is that I like to knit socks so much. And simple socks at that.

For the most part, I prefer “challenging knitting” over plain stockinette.I think cables, fair isle, and lace are far more entertaining than plain ol’ stockinette stitch. So why do I like simple socks so much?

Several years ago I started to knit socks. This occurred shortly after the “self-striping” and “fair isle” sock yarns first burst upon the market. I found these yarns immensely entertaining and knit a bunch of them. I did knit some non-striping yarns into socks, but was bored by them.

Fast forward to this past spring, when I took up knitting socks again. I’ve focused almost exclusively on handpainted yarn for socks.

I love handpainted yarn. However, it’s not always great for a sweater. I know that, yet sometimes I persist in making a sweater from a handpaint. I’m not sure why I do this, because I’m never terribly excited by the results. But the yarn is so danged pretty!

But socks! The perfect project for handpainted yarn. I don’t care if they don’t match each other exactly. I love watching the colors pool and stripe and swirl as I knit them. And because I usually increase stitches for the leg of the sock, the colors do something completely different there.

Look, for example, at my Ingrid’s Blues sock:


The foot is 64 stitches around, and the feather and fan leg is 72 stitches around.

There are so many beautiful handpainted sock yarns out there now. Some of my favs: Socks That Rock, Fleece Artist Merino, Cherry Tree Hill Supersock, Interlacements Tiny Toes, and Claudia’s Handpainted. I’ve been making a concerted effort to sample as many handpainted sock yarns as possible over the past few months.

As I mentioned in a comment on Brigitte’s blog last week, if I were comparing my knitting to reading, the fair isles, arans, and lace are like reading Jane Austen. The feather and fan socks are like reading trashy detective novels. Both have their places in my world.

Thanks for weighing in on the Kool-Aid sock. I’ve decided to keep on knitting it, to give it a chance. ๐Ÿ™‚

And just for you, Suzie, here is Teddy modelling the sock toe.


I decided to continue:


And Teddy modelled the second Ingrid’s Blues sock:


In the meantime, Lucy waits for dinner.



  1. I completely agree with regard to handpaint and socks. One never knows what patterning will emerge as the number of stitches and shape changes. It’s like, you know where you’re going but you don’t know exactly what it’ll be like once you get there.

    Handpaint makes the sock trip worthwhile.

  2. There’s just something about knitting with yarn that you’ve dyed. It’s fun. Even if it is blue raspberry, dark cherry, lime green, and baby pink. Like mine is, with those colors alternating just about every row with some white patches. I don’t know why I like it, but I do. Your sock looks lovely.

  3. It’s good you decided to keep going with the koolaid sock because now that it has gotten past the toe I like it a lot better. I feel the same way about the handpainted yarn. I’m just not into using it for sweaters, and I don’t wear many scarves, so socks are a great outlet for it.

  4. I like the KA sock! All your socks look great, this one included.

  5. I’m very glad you continued with your Kool-Aid sock. I like the way the colors are striping on the foot. The pooling you got from the Ingrid Blues is extrodinary! Love it.

    I’m in entire agreement with the hand-painted vs. self patterning sock yarn. Unless the self-patterning has an extreemly long repeat. I also like Trekking XXL because it never repeats on itself, something even a handpaint can not claim.

  6. I love your Kool-Aid sock! I’m knitting socks right now with some Regia that is in very similar colors. But you colored that yarn yourself, so yours is cooler. ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, I took a cue from several people in Thursday’s comments and made mine an ankle sock with a pompom at the back…it’s silly, but remarkably cute, and takes me back to the early 80’s when I wore socks like that all summer. (Store-bought, though.) Thanks for the memories, y’all!

    I’ll let you go get poor Lucy her dinner now. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. PS I meant to tell you, I love how your Ingrid sock has turned out! But then I got talking about my own socks. Sad, so sad. But Ingrid is gorgeous!

  8. The Kool Aid socks are definitely very cool. Not sure that I would wear them, but maybe because they look like so much fun. But who cares if you wear them. I live in Florida and have knit two pair of wool socks because I like your toe-up pattern. Will they get worn much? Probably not. Did I really enjoy knitting them? You betcha! My husband made me a pair of walnut knitting needles a few months ago, size 11. I felt so badly about all the walnut that was flying off the lathe as he turned them. It felt to me that he was wasting that beautiful wood on me, and on a size that I wouldn’t use very often. But then I got it. It wasn’t the fact that he was making needles because he wanted to please me. It was the act itself of making them that pleased him. And the wood was just lying around anyway just waiting to be turned into something wonderful. They are so smooth and satifying, I just walk around with them and can’t wait to find a pattern to use them on. So now I do not feel so badly about spending $20 on yarn to knit socks that may not get worn that often. It is the process, the sense of doing. Also, I figure that once I get better at making them, my sisters and girlfriends who live up north may receive some hand knitted socks for Christmas. But probably not this year!

    Also wanted to say that the Ingrid’s Blues socks are beautiful. The foot reminds me of a pond or lake that is so still it reflects the sky and the trees perfectly. And then you throw a rock into the water and the reflection changes into a beautiful Monetesque picture. I can almost see it moving. So pretty.

  9. Sorry, Wendy. I don’t post often, but whenever I do, it always seems to be book-length!

  10. Your Kool Aid sock looks completely different on Teddy. It looks really nice on him. I think he’s trying to tell you that when you put it on you might like it more.

  11. Raye, mother of the other Capricorn Wendy, in NYC says:

    I love the socks…

    And speaking of Quiviut, did you see the new issue of Wildfibers magazine? There’s a muskox on the cover and articles about them and their glorious fiber. Just sayin’…


  12. Well, your stockinette socks make me feel better about mine (yeah, yeah, shouldn’t need outside validation, blah blah). I mean, I like lace, I like colorwork, I like sweaters – but I like having something simple that can go anywhere, and I don’t like how patterned stitches on 0 needles beat my hands up (not to mention they don’t feel as nice in shoes).
    I say, no one should be embarassed about knitting simple socks. And I try my best to practice what I preach!

  13. There is a fascination with the hand-dyed yarns, isn’t there? I love love love them. I buy them, I knit them, I don’t always love what’s coming out so I frog, but then I buy more more more. I am even going to dye some yarn soon–my daughters got me into it with some tie-dyed baby onesies that are just too too cute!

  14. You’re making me want to try dying my own sock yarn! Granted, I probably wouldn’t pick green/pink… but that’s just me (I’m a blue/purple gal)

    Hmmm… I think Knitpicks has bare superwash sock yarn…

  15. P.S. I love the teddy sock-toe modeling!

  16. You are so right on about sock knitting. And they are such a portable project too. Your Ingrid’s Blues are very eyecatching. It must have been fun to watch the color patterns unfold. And I didn’t realize that Lucy had such a fluffy tail.

  17. Mellanie says:

    The Kool-Aid sock looks really great. I’m glad you decided to stick with it. Lucy is so lovely. In that picture she looks like she’s disgustedly thinking, “Enough with the yarn, already.”

  18. I live in Texas, so I have a relatively small window where I actually *need* to wear socks (and even then I usually don’t), but there is something so relaxing about knitting a sock that I can’t stop.

  19. I love the striping that you are getting with your kool aid yarn! I attempted kool aid dyeing myself this weekend- I love it. But I will continue to “stalk” the yummy sock yarns out there!

  20. Hi Wendy!

    Your hand dyed socks remind me of a watermelon. Watermelon Socks! Good enough to eat. I happen to LOVE the combination of pink and green, though others may disagree. Keep going with it. It’s fun to see the project emerge.

  21. Love thos kool-aid socks. And I love Mountain Colors Bearfoot yarn.

  22. I’m with you Wendy…love the handpaints and love your socks. Many knitters hate the pooling, flashing, ect. but I love it! I’ve either got the sock yarns on your “must have” list in my stash or have used them already except the Claudia’s Handpaint…hmmm off to find some ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. OK, you’ve finally convinced me. I’ve GOT to knit socks! I’ve never tried them before. But now, I absolutely MUST buy some hand-painted yarn and make some.

    Thank you (I think!)

    Nancy K.

  24. Whoa! That Claudia Handpaint is GORGEOUS!! And,I think that KA dyed yarn is even MORE cool now that you’re off the toe and onto the sock. So glad you stuck with it.

  25. I really love your sock toe model!

  26. Oh, the Koolaid sock looks much better now that you’re further in…sort of a weird/fun self-striping mosh…

  27. I LOVE your Kool Aid dyed socks. I love the colors. They remind me of something that I just can’t quite place from my childhood. It is a really strange feeling that I can’t quite remember what it is. Something with markers or yarn or something. I don’t know. I just LOVE them!!!

  28. See! I knew the Kool-Aid sock would look great if you kept on going! And thanks for your thoughts on sock-knitting and handpainted yarn – very interesting! So far I own skeins of two of the kinds you mention — it’s my goal to try them all. ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. I love knitting socks too, but had never thought of my love for the handpainted sock yarn to be another of those “reasons why…” Totally makes sense ๐Ÿ™‚

    The claudia’s sock is beautiful ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Juliette says:

    First of all, if knitting socks is like reading a trashy novel..then I am still trying to make it through my Weekly Readers! I like your hand-dyed better than Ingrids Blues..which is nice but…not thrilling..where as your hand-dyed, hand-knit looks like a popscicle…

  31. It’s almost like politics – some like pooling and flashing, some don’t. I can’t seem to find a commercial yarn that doesn’t pool on a simple sock. Do you know of any? Do you like using hand painted sock yarn that doesn’t give you some kind of pooling or streaming effect?

  32. I also love all the louet gems based sock yarns. I just bought a skein of the next gauge up from Opal to try. (though in a fit of stupidity, I misread the yardage and will have footies instead :P). Right now though I’m knitting some Trekking XXL socks, and it feels like string in comparison. I definitely like “cushy” yarns better! While I was in Portland, OR, I bought some STR Sock Candy too, I’ll let you know what I think when I finish them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. love your haindpainted efforts – you inspired me to buy some Kool Aid. Now the trick will be to actually do it before my kids start drinking it!

  34. Your feather and fan socks are wonderful! I love the way it pooled on the foot and striped on the cuff. Very lovely. I also love hand painted yarns.

    And Lucy doesn’t look happy having to wait ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. Lucy sez: Wendy, put down the camera and pick up that catfood bowl now or things will get ugly around here.

  36. Your Kool-Aid sock is very pretty. I wonder why you even thought about stopping. I like the way it makes the stripes. By the way, I was looking into this website:, hoping to find something to buy, only to came to the conculsion that our Lucy could beat them all…..

  37. Love the way you express yourself – I also love working with handpainted yarns – I can’t knit socks – working with the 0-2 needles hurts my wrists – so, I knit scarves width-wise using garter stitch – mindless yes, but, I love to see the way the handpainted colors play out over 200+ stitches to create a beautiful knitted fabric – which, because its all garter stitch, makes a very cushiony scarf.

    Your Koolaid socks look great – can’t wait to see the final products.

    All the Best and Love to Lucy!

  38. I love how the colors pool and swirl on the foot of your first Ingrid’s Blues sock, then make simple stripes of themselves up on the cuff. What fun!

  39. Lisa Rogers Lowrance says:

    Betty J, I completely understand how you feel about the knitting needles your husband made for you. I have a suggestion: size 11 is a good size for scarves or afghans or hats using worsted yarn or sport weight doubled, which make both good gifts and good pieces for the many charities looking for knitted goods. I bet it would feel very good to use his gift to you to make gifts for others. Spreading the love, if you will.

  40. Love the colours. Most especially the Ingrid’s Blues. My mother (Ingrid) would love them too.

  41. I really like the Kool Aid socks – the colors are pleasing but not really me. On the other hand, the Ingrid’s Blues socks speak to me loud and clear. I’ve also been trying to sample many different handpaint sock yarns lately. It’s stimulating to see the great variety available. I enjoy comparing the depth and sharpness of the colors and the feel of the fabric as I knit. It keeps the sock knitting fresh. It also satisfies my attraction to the gorgeous handpaints so that I can stick to more solid colors in bigger projects which usually produce more pleasing and wearable objects.

  42. have you forgotten how lovely ingrid is? i love that sweater.

  43. Another Julie says:

    Sigh…just went shopping at Carodan Farm. I’ll be wearing a beaded cable hat this winter. Their selection of yarns and patterns is wonderful.

  44. Hi Wendy,

    I love the colour sock yarn called Lucy it matches Lucy really well.

    I also like the yarn that you dyed with Kool Aid
    and have inspired me to have a go at dying yarn. I have found a shop here in Melbourne that
    stocks Kool Aid.

    A friend of mine recently bought your book and gave me the details so I went out and purchased it. My friend has made a mouse for her cat and a pair of socks from your book. I have started the book yet, but have been reading your blog.