Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sock Yarn Snob

I was reading a food blog the other day, I think it was Fat Shadow's Diary of a Fat Foodie, where she said something like if you're going to eat something, you should eat the best of that thing that there is (paraphrasing, of course!). I've always felt like that about chocolate--if you're going to eat chocolate, it should be Godiva or something similar, because there really isn't a lot of point in eating something like Brach's. It's just calories at that point.

I feel the same way about yarn. I would probably be considered a "yarn snob" since I don't bother buying Red Heart or Sugar & Cream or any of the kinds of yarns that you will usually find at chain craft stores. I'm not prolific enough, frankly. If I was (and when I did) crocheting afghans, I would definitely buy inexpensive yarn, but I mostly only knit socks. Sock yarn, good sock yarn, is pretty expensive. My favorite is Opal, and depending on where you buy it, it runs around $20-$22 per skein, which for me, will make a pair of adult socks and a pair of children, or baby, socks.

In the past, what has generally happened is that when I'm feeling flush, I'll buy several (or more than several) skeins of expensive sock yarn, then feel guilty about it and sell them on eBay, which is what I did last year. But I've been severely regretting selling off a few skeins of some Fortissima yarn that I ordered online in a particular pattern line (regrets, I've had a few). As a result, I've spent a lot of time searching for it online, to no avail, until last week when I found someone who had a skein of the colorway that I most regretted selling. She's doing the auction in a weird way by posting three skeins of unrelated yarn with a bidding price of $16 which will get you the skein of your choice, or a "buy it now" price of $48, which will get you all three.

I don't want all three, I just want the one, so I placed a bid, and so far no one else has bid against me. The auction is over on Friday, so I'm hopeful that I'll win it, and it's looking like I will (fingers crossed). I've decided this time to collect a reasonable number of skeins of sock yarn, and then stop for awhile until I've knit it up. And I'm not going to sell it off this time.

Why I love sock knitting:

  • The self patterning yarn. I have a short attention span, and find it almost impossible to knit something in a solid color. For whatever reason, the variegated yarn makes it more fun to knit, at least for me. I also think it's amazing that yarn can be created that makes a specified pattern when you knit it.
  • Color. I don't wear a lot of color. Most of my clothes are black, white or gray. In sock knitting I can have all of the color I want, but I don't have to wear it, I just get to carry it around (and wear it if I want, but as a small (sock) amount.
  • Portability. It's easy to carry around a small bag with a skein/ball of yarn and the tools needed to knit a sock. I keep a small knitting bag with my current sock project in it so I can grab it on the way out the door at any time. Even if I don't plan on stopping somewhere long enough to knit, I usually take it with me in case I get caught waiting somewhere.
  • Usability. I don't wear my beautiful hand knitted socks every day, or even every day in the winter, but I do wear them. Bob says sock knitting is my apocalypse skill, i.e., when the world ends, or the zombie apocalypse happens, at least our feet will be warm.
  • Pattern retention/memorization. I can now knit a sock that will fit me without following a pattern. I only knit plain socks, i.e., no cables or lace or anything like that, since the self-striping yarn takes care of the pattern. So I can knit while watching television, or talking, and I don't have to concentrate on a pattern. The heel is the only fiddly part, so I do need to concentrate on that, but for the most part, it's just knitting.
  • Sanity. Bob says knitting keeps me sane. I'm not sure about that, but I do know that it helps. It's interesting--knitting both gives me time to think, and keeps my mind off things. I'm not sure how that works, but apparently knitting uses enough of my brain power that I have a hard time worrying about things when I do it, but it also seems to smooth things out so that I can think things through while I'm knitting. I think it's something to do with what I'm knitting, i.e., it's simple enough that I don't have to constantly refer to a pattern, but it does take some concentration since I'm knitting with such small needles, and in the round.
  • Pride. I'm pretty proud of myself for teaching myself to knit socks. I always thought that I could never do it, that I had no interest in knitting with tiny sock needles, but once I saw my first skein of self-patterning yarn, I couldn't resist trying. The heel in my first sock was pretty daunting, but I soldiered through it, and now it's a piece of cake. I'm proud of that.
The sock yarn in the picture is, from top left, clockwise:

Regia Sockenmonster 01804 (50g skein)
Opal Sweet and Spicy 6756, Plum (100g skein)
Regia Sockenmonster 01804 (second 50g skein)
 Opal Sweet and Spicy 6750, Ice Cream (100g skein)
Fortissima Mexiko Fairy Tale World 0077, Heinzelmannchen (House Gnome) (100g skein)
Opal Schafpate IV 5847 (100g skein)
Kertzer On Your Toes 3816 (100g skein)

There are new reviews on my What I'm Reading page.


KathieB said...

My personal philosophy is that I don't knit to save money. I buy the good stuff with no apologies. My favorite sock yarns currently are Crazy Zauberball and Trekking.

But I've got a full drawer of socks now and am on a sock hiatus. I'm finding there's a world of interesting fingering-weight scarves and shoulder shawls out there on Ravelry. I've been working on some of those this winter. They're quick, portable, and the self-patterning yarns do interesting things in these projects.

You're right about the sense of pride in figuring out a sock pattern, though. I was lucky to find the perfect pattern for me and can about do them in my sleep.

Teri said...

For what it's worth, the German sock yarns outwear just about anything else. I have had good luck with the Lion brand sock yarns, although they are a bit thicker than I normally knit with. I like Lorna's Laces, but have had a few colors fade a bit. I've enjoyed messing around with self striping yarns, but not so much any more. I do like Trekking. I'm working on some socks from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks right now. They are basic ribbed socks with different heel/toe patterns. Still trying to find the perfect heel.

Anonymous said...

"...knitting both gives me time to think, and keeps my mind off things." That sums it up exactly!!