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Responsibly Handmade Fashion by Jean Chung

How to make a good pair of socks - PT TWO

WIPs & FOsJean ChungComment

In the last entry, I discussed my preferences for sock yarns and patterns for sock knitting. You can read it here, in case you missed it.

Today I'm talking about choices. Once you have a favorite sock yarn or two, and know what to knit, you still have choices to make, like colors and washing methods.

3. Colors

I mentioned how beautiful sock yarns are, right? Socks are mostly hidden. Although my husband and I are fairly conservative and boring in our day job outfits, we are adventurous with sock choices. I have cartoon characters on my socks! The crazier the better. The new trend is splash dyeing. I love how these socks knit up. Usually very light blush/peach or white or black, and then bam! splashes of colors. 

I just got a beautiful skein of 100% superwash merino yarn from Baah Yarn. 

It IS 100% superwash merino, but where we live, there's really no reason to wear socks (knitted or not) during the day, other than the conventions. While some parts of the country are still very much covered in snow, or just getting warm enough to ditch jackets, we've been in the full summer temperature since January. We have A/C on right now. My knitted socks, especially the ones in 100% merino are for home use only. Besides, the splash dye thing is just so fascinating to look at!

For the first few years, I only gravitated towards rich, solid or semi-solid colorways. For my husband, I often went with black or gray while I went for plum or red/pink tones. Now with two dogs and messy toddler boy at home, I go for more variegated themes. Self-striping is addicting, "I'll just knit until the next color change..." which is perfect for those with second-sock syndrome. 

4. Washing

I toss my husband's knitted socks in the washer. I refuse to wash his dirty socks by hand. For this reason, I stick to yarns I KNOW that can withstand the washer (AND DRYER).

For my socks, I wash by hand. So I do occasionally, knit socks with non-superwash yarns, including the ones I spun myself. When they're dirty, they go into a lingerie bag, separate from my usual dirty laundry hamper. When I have 4~5 pairs, I fill my bathroom sink with cold water and mix in knitter-approved cleanser: SoakEucalan or Allure. I let them soak for 10 minutes, then drain, roll them up in a big bath towel and press so that excess water gets absorbed by the towel. Then I air dry on the rack. Occasionally, I use Gleaner to get the pills and my dog hair out.  

I think, at any given moment, I have about 3~4 pairs of socks WIPs -- and I just did some spring cleaning and organized yarns by weight. I found that I could fill all my worsted AND chunky yarns, often bought in sweater quantities, in ONE Rubbermaid storage box..... while I could fill one in the same size with just my sock yarns. 

I don't even know why I keep hoarding sock yarns... it's not like they are going to disappear if I don't keep them hostage at home!