My Sock Moment - N°4
Barbara has many great tips & tricks for knitting socks - and is happy when she can help others this way!
For more than five years, Barbara and her son Mark have been producing the popular online magazine, sockshype.com. In addition to fantastic articles about a variety of handicraft topics, helpful articles on knit socks can often be found. Since sock knitting falls in Barbara’s field of activity, today we would like to ask her a little more about it.
Hi Barbara. Would you please introduce yourself to our readers? It would be great if you could also tell us about the beginning of sockshype and especially where the cool name came from.
In my little profile on sockshype, my son Mark described me like this: “Comes from Colgne. Tinkers daily on new ideas & instructions. Loves to visit handicraft trade fairs and is constantly making new chance acquaintances. She is the most experienced knitter among the authors.” With this text he introduced me quite well. I was born in Cologne considerably more than 50 years ago. I work at a foundation in this city with the famous cathedral and live with my husband in a small town west of Colgne. Mark is the second of our three grown sons. He was also the one who, after successfully completing his degree in media design, came up with the idea to create his own blog and to fill it with small articles in the field of needlework and handicrafts. And why this field? Mark was surrounded by people who were actively sewing, knitting, and crocheting. That was a potential that just had to be taken advantage of, don’t you think? When he asked me if I would like to write an article now and then, it didn't take me long to decide. I love writing texts and I love needlework – that is my topic. The contents were to remain factual and informative, like those in a magazine. A short, pithy name was needed. Maybe it happened when he glanced at his feet, clad in a pair of hand-knit socks, or maybe it was due to my current sock knitting project, lying on the table – we don’t exactly know any more. But Mark spontaneously said two syllables: socks and hype. And we liked it. The original blog idea became sockshype – the modern online magazine.
How long have you been knitting and when did you start knitting socks?
It would! A super idea for beginners. Now that you are a pro, you demonstrate many different ways to knit socks. What is your personal favorite way to knit socks?
I like to knit toe-up socks, with short double pointed needles. I love self-patterning yarns which make small designs. For knit patterns, I prefer solid color yarn because the pattern then shows up best.
Then you can start looking forward to summer when the new edition of ARNE & CARLOS Pairfect will appear on the market…. In general, what do hand-knit socks mean to you or what do you connect with sock knitting?
Hand-knit socks have the advantage that they are knit exactly to size and individual characteristics of the feet can be taken into account. What if someone’s feet are two different sizes or two different widths, or if someone has high arches, or the toes form a sharp point...? Socks can be knit to fit such feet exactly. Of course, that doesn't mean that people with normal feet can’t also wear hand-knit socks.
Another advantage of hand-knit socks is surely that the yarn is most often spun from natural sheep’s wool. This fiber regulates temperature, retains warmth, absorbs moisture, and repels dirt. Sheep’s wool can absorb moisture up to 35 % of its own weight, without feeling damp. If someone wears rubber boots all day, their feet will surely sweat, but the sweat will be absorbed by the wool and the person won’t feel like they are standing in a puddle. Many sock yarns are available with Superwash. These socks can be machine washed and dried. Thanks to the huge selection of yarns – in solids or self-patterning – and innumerable knitting patterns, hand-knit socks can be truly unique.
I love to knit socks and I like to give my hand-knit socks to nice people, as presents. I even gave someone a pair of socks as a present on their 100th birthday. He was very happy to receive them because the socks which his deceased wife had knit him were showing signs of wear.
That is a touching story! Hand-knit socks are always a wonderful gift. And how many pairs of hand-knit socks do you have in your own sock drawer?
In my drawer I have seven pairs of hand-knit socks which I love to wear when it is really cold outside. By the way, I received two of the pairs as gifts myself.
Do you have a favorite spot where you like to knit socks or where you often knit socks?
I can knit socks anywhere but I like best to knit them when I'm on the go – in the streetcar, on the way to work in the morning, or in the car, as a passenger on a longer trip.
That’s really practical about socks. It’s so easy to take them along and knit a couple of rounds in a spare moment… What is your personal perfect sock moment?
My perfect sock moments are the positive comments about my sock knitting instructions on sockshype, for example, “Many thanks for the wonderful instructions – for me as a beginner they were the first instructions which I didn’t have to stop reading after 2 sentences, because I hadn’t understood anything.” Or, “Thank you for the fantastic, easy instructions. I am 66 years old and just knit my first pair of socks and I am thrilled! I’m sure that they won’t be my last pair.”
For us, the sockshype team, such comments are signals and at the same time they are the motivation for further topics – including sock topics, of course.
Apropos of sock topics, I have the feeling that you like to tinker around and try out new ideas – for example, using REGIA Pairfect for toe-up socks, which then, of course, look entirely different than the photo on the yarn wrapper. Where do you find such ideas? And are there also moments when things don’t go as planned?
The toe-up socks from Regia Pairfect can look like the photo on the wrapper. The knitter just has to wind the yarn off the outside of the ball. Since I don’t like the yarn ball to roll around, I almost always pull the yarn from the inside of the ball. I realized from the beginning that my toe-up would look different. I was just curious to see how the pattern would develop – especially at the heel.
You recognized it well, Sabine. I like to experiment and think up new patterns, and I love to try something new. Often, the ideas come while I am knitting or one of our readers sends a question, that then becomes a new topic for an article. Here are two examples:
The first time I was knitting socks with Regia Pairfect, I thought that it was a wonderful thing for people like me, for whom identical socks are an absolute must. But not all self-patterning yarns have the yellow yarn. So I put the topic “Knitting identical socks" on my articles’ To-Do list. Since the beginning of this year sockshype has a detailed, illustrated Tipp zum Stricken von mustergleichen Socken (Tip for knitting identical socks) for my toe-up socks, from the Regia Design Line Arne & Carlos, 6-ply, which my son Mark now enjoys wearing.
A reader inspired another topic. She asked if the addi EasyKnit could be used for toe-up socks, as well as for classic socks. After I tried the little circular needle for classic socks, and reported on my impressions, I decided to see if I could answer her question. And the answer was, yes, it is possible. But for the toe, I used a second circular needle as a helper, since knitting with only a few stitches on the EasyKnit is cumbersome and slow. Now anyone who wants to knit toe-up socks with the EasyKnit can find illustrated instructions and a corresponding size chart on sockshype.
In answer to your question, whether or not there are moments when things don’t go according to plan, I have to say yes. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does I just have to frog it. But give up entirely? No. I always try to find a way to achieve my goal.
Do you already have a new sock topic in mind? What are you going to try next?
Yes. An acquaintance of mine reported that her husband, who is an arborist, and often has to climb trees, loves to wear hand-knit socks as work socks. The classic knit toes developed holes in a short time – due to the extreme demands of an arborist. For this reason, she repeatedly tried new types of toes and now, with the star toe, has found the solution for a hard-wearing sock toe. Now I want to try this type of toe on my next sock project.
We are curious what will come next… But until then we would like to recommend your existing sock articles to our readers. Which articles were the most successful?
The absolute favorite is my "Anleitung zum Sockenstricken in 7 Schritten" (7 Steps to sock knitting) with which the 66 year old reader successfully knit her first socks.
Socks can also be a little heavier. Friends of toe-up socks could also look at "Anleitung für Socken aus 6-fädigem Regia Garn" (Instructions for socks with 6-ply REGIA yarn).
REGIA Pairfect can also be used for socks with knit patterns, like this "Paar mit Zickzackmuster und einem dekorativen doppeltem Rollrand" (Pair with zigzag pattern and a decorative double rolled edge).
And now, one last question. What are you knitting at the moment?
A scarf. I’m using it to test new yarns which were developed by Schachenmayr for the new mix&knit concept. Light, airy, and cozy soft, with sheen. You’ll be surprised ...
Barbara, thank you very much for the interview and for the wonderful articles!
For the future, we wish you lots of good ideas, fantastic sock moments, and much knitting pleasure.
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