I have really enjoyed knitting this collection of socks and as I have created them they have all raised interesting issues.
As the Rainbow Sock Collection series has progressed I’ve thought about different heels, toes and cuffs that I like. Some were styles that I have knit many many times, others were ones which had made it onto my To Try list. This seemed like the perfect time to try all of them.
There were some elements of the sock design that I also considered. How the sock looked when it was finished was important to me. I wanted all the elements, from the cuff, to the heel and finally the toe to look in the finished sock as though they belonged together. Balance. Elegance.
Questions, Questions, Questions
How the socks felt when they were being worn was very important to me. I didn’t want style over function. So as I worked on the socks, I was asking myself questions.
- Does it fit comfortably?
- Do the heels/toes fit snugly.
- Does the sock twist on my foot.
- Does the leg sag or does the cuff hold it in place on my leg?
- How ‘structured’ is the sock?
For some socks the question of negative ease arose.
- How much?
- How little?
- How much is too much and how little is too little?
Then the number of rounds needed for knitting the foot came up. This changed depending upon the style of heel and toe combination. But it took a little maths to work it out for a sock which sported an afterthought heel. The problem with this heel type was that you couldn\’t try the sock on in process. They are a quick sock to knit as you knit the cuff, then the leg, place waste yarn where the heel will be and then knit to the toe. But there is the rub… How many rounds will you need between the waste yarn and the point where you will be starting the toe?
I am sure you are now wondering
- So what did you discover?
- After knitting all of those socks did you actually find a favourite basic sock pattern?
So What Were my Conclusions?
I have been wearing the Rainbow Socks over the past few weeks. I thought it was only by wearing them that I would really see which ones I prefer and any problems that showed up.
It should be remembered that how a sock fits can be a relatively personal thing.
At its most basic the reason for knitting a cuff on the sock is to help keep the sock in place on your leg and to prevent the leg sagging and wrinkling around your ankle. 3 out of the 4 cuffs I used did this. The lace cuff did not achieve this. It wasn’t terrible but while I was wearing the sock, it would sag and wrinkle a bit around the ankle, which is something I find annoying when I am wearing a pair of socks.
My favourite cuff?
- Remains the simple and easy to do knit 1, purl 1 rib. It is comfortable and does the job expected of it. It keeps the sock on my leg.
- For an elegant cuff I loved the picot edge. I am still thinking about how best this could be worked with a patterned sock.
At its most basic a heel needs to create the right angle on your foot that allows the sock to fit your foot. It is also important that the knitted heel hugs the contours of your heel so that it doesn’t slip around on your foot. For this reason, I found the most successful of the heels to have a ‘structured’ element.
A secondary need with a heel is that it works well within the complete pattern of the sock. Sometimes, when you\’re knitting a patterned sock, or a ‘vanilla’ sock that uses a self patterning sock yarn, you want to be able to knit the sock using a heel that won’t disrupt the pattern.
Finally, for me, I like heel that doesn\’t have too much bulkiness when I am wearing it.
When it came to a sock heel, my personal preference was for a sock heel that has a bit of structure and stays in place. I wasn’t as pleased with sock heels that twist around when I have my shoes off. All of the sock heels stayed in place while I was wearing shoes.
So choosing a favourite heel was problematic as which heel I would choose to knit on a sock is dependent upon the overall design of the sock. But for this experiment I need to choose a favourite and having worn all of the socks several times each I have decided.
My favourite heel?
- The most comfortable heel turned out to be the No Wrap Short Row Heel. It hugs the heel snugly and doesn’t move around at all. The only drawback is that it does have tiny gaps. They aren’t overly obvious and don’t annoy me and I can’t see how they would be a problem over the life of the sock.
- There isn’t a second choice of heel because I can think of different sock designs where I would happily use any of the sock heels that I tried. Having said this, the heel with the least structure to it was the Strong Heel which I found was more inclined to twist around on my foot when I was padding around with my shoes off. It stayed in place when I was wearing shoes.
All of the toes styles that I used turned out to be comfortable and not to have too much bulk in them. I think that different styles could be more comfortable depending upon the shape of your own feet.
For me, to choose favourite toes, was like splitting hairs because there really was very little to distinguish between them. I have chosen a first, second and third for the toes. The order surprised me the toe that I use the most often didn’t feature in the top three. But I know I use it because it is so easy to do with no counting and I could knit it with my eyes closed as ‘ve used it so often. On the other hand the first choice for snugly fitting my toes but still retaining a bit of wiggle room does require reading the pattern and counting which isn’t so easy to do when watching television or chatting to friends.
My favourite toe?
- My first choice of toe turned out to be the No Wrap Short Row Toe even though counting stitches and grafting all of those stitches at the end was annoying.
- The Classic Toe comes in at number two. This toe was quicker and easier to knit and looks nice when I am wearing it although it is still tricky to avoid the little ladder that can show up along the shaping stitches.
- The Star Toe came in third. A lovely rounded shape of toe with the shaping disappearing elegantly into the knitting. Comfortable to wear.
I have chosen first, second and third for the socks. The first one was judged on how well the sock fits my foot. The second choice was judged on how much I enjoyed knitting the sock. Third place was given to the sock that I thought looked most elegant when it was finished.
My favourite Sock?
- My favourite socks are the Orange Rainbow ones oddly enough, as they are orange (not my favourite colour) but I wasn’t judging the top spot by colour. I found the no wrap short row heel and no wrap short row toe to be very comfortable to wear and they stay in place when I am lazing with my shoes off while reading. The socks are also very warm which is great as the cold weather arrives. For some, a drawback with this no wrap short row heel is that there are tiny gaps and I know some sock knitters do not like these. I don’t find this to be a particularly important issue.
- Second place went to Violet Rainbow Socks. I really enjoyed knitting this sock. I loved how the picot edge looked. And the finished sock is very comfortable to wear, with a heel that I am used to wearing and a very comfortable Classic Toe.
- Third place went to the Indigo Socks. Although I was very disappointed by the cuff, the finished socks are so elegant. I just love how they look while not so delighted with the fit. But for this one I was judging it on how stylish the sock was.
Least favourite Element?
- Is the lace cuff. I found that it had an inclination to slip down my leg and I am not fond of sagging sock legs. Even on the photography day, I kept having to yank the sock up. None of the other cuffs did this. They all stayed in place.
Once you’ve worn a pair of hand knitted socks, you’ll realise you need a pair of socks for every day of the week (to start with). Then you’ll want socks to go with different outfits, different seasons, different moods… The reasons we can give ourselves for casting on for a new pair of socks can be endless!
Finding the perfect basic sock pattern is just the starting point. Then the magical world of sock knitting opens up as you open your favourite stitch pattern books and begin adding lace designs, stranded colour work and twisting cables to your heart’s content.
As for me, sometimes I feel the search has raised as many questions as it has answered. And of course, the irony is, as I finished knitting these socks and writing the posts, I came across an exciting new heel – Fish Lips Kiss Heel! How can I resist the temptation to cast on for a new pair of socks…
I’d love to hear what your favourite basic sock pattern is? Which toe and heel do you find fits you best? Which cuff do you like to knit the most? I look forward to reading your comments.