Monday, March 7, 2016

FO: Smocked Guernsey Socks

This project technically marks my first fully successful pair of socks :) When Craftsy announced a free sock Knit-Along for this year, I knew it would be a great kick to actually make some for myself. I always have good intentions with socks, but my first pair (still yet to be officially blogged - holy cow, lol) took FOREVER and then turned out too big. This is entirely my fault, and I really should've started with a simpler pattern, but I was making them along with a Craftsy class (they were the Lace Knee Socks from Knit Sock Workshop) so I thought all would be well. Again, it was completely user error that the socks didn't turn out and I still love the pattern and hope to make them again, but that experience certainly put me off socks for a while. A full year in fact. Anyway, I decided to just bite the bullet and try again - knitting is great about that.
The first pattern was released in the class on January first. I deliberated for a few days as to what yarn to use, and in the end I just grabbed the skein I wanted to knit with the most. The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the Grape Gatsby colorway that was made exclusively for the Soak Box kit sold through Craftsy a year or so ago. It was a great kit and a great deal at the time, but it's sat in my stash ever since. I've longed to use this lovely yarn, and decided it was time. The yarn is wonderfully soft and silky, plus it's nice and warm on your toes :) 
The smoothness of the yarn made these socks ridiculously comfy, and since I actually measured my foot instead of going by the size I thought would work for my shoe size, these socks fit this time! Hooray! Like, I could actually wear these with shoes and be comfy. What a novel idea, lol. I did have a slight casualty with these and broke one of my size 1 bamboo dpns. It was inevitable really - seriously those things are like long toothpicks. I switched to metal needles then (and now have some carbon fiber needles) and didn't have any other problems. So keep that in mind - have extras on hand if you use bamboo.
So, back to the pattern. This is the Smocked Guernsey Sock pattern by Lucy Neatby which is free along with the free class. These were made from the cuff down (now my preferred technique for sure) and the class gave lots of great knitting tips even if you've made socks before. To start with, you cast on more stitches at the cuff then you technically need, knit ribbing for about 1/2", then decrease in the purls so you can't actually see that it isn't just normal ribbing. This makes the top of the cuff a little looser but still grabs enough at the base of the cuff for your socks to stay up - genius! You then knit some purl rows to separate the motifs, which I think gives a really nice finish, and then start the smocked stitch.
The smocked stitch is made by slipping 2 stitches onto a cable needle (or a darning needle in this case - a great tip that made it so much faster) then you wrap your working yarn around the two stitches two times and slip them onto the left needle to keep on knitting. You then just knit 3 rows, then on the 4th you wrap the two stitches between the previously wrapped stitches so the pattern staggers. I'm sure I'm not describing that well, but you can watch the free class and she shows you how to do it. The stitch was really simple to do, but certainly a little time consuming. I really love the effect though and it turned out that my yarn worked perfectly with this pattern since the little wrapped stitches end up a different color than the row they are knit into. The heel is a really neat technique too - you slip one knit one, then purl them all on the way back. It made for a very thick heel that is certainly going to last a good long time. The heel was a little interesting to wrap your head around, but the class made it all perfectly clear and I had no issues.
The only pace where I deviated from the pattern was at the toe - the class tells you how to knit a "toe chimney" which sounded interesting, but in reality is just a way to avoid kitchener stitch to close it up. That sounded like to much more work and I've used kitchener plenty of times, so I just did it the old fashioned way and it worked great. I included this pic though to show off the neat detail at the end of the smocking - isn't it pretty?!
So, there you have it - a pretty awesome pair of socks :) I knit them on and off over 3 weeks in January with the best intentions to stay up to date with each of the 3 patterns the class would release (I've already failed miserably at the others, lol) and this was a great project to take around with me - it really is true how people say that socks are the perfect project to throw in your bag since they're small and don't involve lots of small pieces. I've got the sock bug now for sure (in fact I immediately cast on another pair modifying this pattern with some fantastic yarn, but I haven't finished them yet). I absolutely recommend this free knitting class if you are interested in knitting socks. Even though I had knitted socks before, I learned quite a few great tips and really enjoyed the class. Plus how can you beat free? lol Yay for fun socks!

*The links in this post are affiliate links, but I purchased my materials myself. All opinions expressed are 100% my own. 

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