I make both hand cranked socks and hand knit socks and I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s nice about socks. Many (perhaps most) people wear socks on a daily basis, so that makes them one of the most wearable items you can knit. When knitting socks on my antique reproduction sock machine or by hand, I feel connected with the past. Machine made socks are relatively new, hand made socks have been around at least since the Egyptians in 1000-1400AD.
I like the fact that there are so many choices when making a sock: what type of needles you use, whether you start at the toe or the cuff or somewhere in between, how you shape the toe and heel area, what kind of patterning you use. The possibilities are endless! If you are in the Santa Cruz, CA, area, and you want some motivation to try different kinds of socks, I’ll be hosting a monthly sock club at Yarn Shop Santa Cruz on the first Sunday of every month. Call the shop for details and to register!
Once you have a pattern, especially a “vanilla” sock pattern, that you like, it’s easy to memorize the steps involved. (A “vanilla” sock is one with no special patterning.) For a cuff down sock, just know how many to cast on and how many stitches to start with to turn the heel, and the rest pretty much takes care of itself! Make the first sock to your liking lengthwise and carry it around to compare to the second sock as you make it!
My biggest tip: always start the second sock right away! It’s easy to get “second sock syndrome” where your first sock never gets it’s mate, but if you’ve got it cast on, usually, it gets done!