Sock Knitting : Interview with The Sock Monkey
Hello to all!!!
Hope everyone is ok and have a great knitting plans for the weekend.
Today I’m going to talk about Sock Knitting. For me, sock knitting, has been a really difficult task to accomplish. I have the second sock syndrome and it’s frustranting. Its doesn’t occur when I knit mittens, only happens with socks. I also took a class on craftsy, Knit Original Toe-Up Socks by Donna Druchunas, but the second sock sydrome attacks again.
I have been watching lots of knitting podcast these days, and everybody loves to knit socks, so I think, maybe, I’m missing lots of fun. Don’t misread me, I love to knit the first sock, the second is the problem. One of my favorites podcast (Las Knitting Amigas) started a KAL on ravelry to make 2 socks at the same time. And the opportunity was there!!! This time it will be IMPOSIBLE to end with only one sock, also have some prizes so I will have the complete package !!! I jumped into the KAL..
The design I chose was the Lace Stockings by Faina Gorbestein. I know, you can think it is a not a beginner pattern, but I’m not a rookie in knitting, only in sock knitting (only in finishing the second sock) and it is a long time queued pattern.. This is one of THOSE patterns who screams at you to knit it.
I’m doing ok.. I will show you my progress at the end of this post. Since I’ve been knitting this pattern, many questions came to me, so I decided to ask an expert in sock knitting. The best teacher in this matter, for me, is Mr. Josiah Bain aka The Sock Monkey.. He is an 17 years old knitter designer, with awesome socks patterns, and with a lot of great tips for beginners… Here is the interview, and I hope you find it helpful if you want to start knitting socks.
- You have been designing great sock patterns; when did you started sock knitting and then designing them?
I started the sock knitting process (which is much different than actually knitting socks) somewhere around 2010. The first sock that I knit was WAY too large to fit anyone, so I ripped those out. I seriously started knitting socks three years later, and then designing was the next challenge. I designed my first sock pattern in the summer of 2014, and I can say with assurance that that pattern will never be released to the public. Because it was terrible.
- Who is your favorite sock designer and why?
My favorite sock designer is Cookie A. She is innovative and creative and I cannot say enough good things about her. Her aesthetic is marvelous and I can sit there for sometimes hours flipping through her books.
- Which is your favorite sock book and why? Do you recommend it for beginners? If not, which book do you recommend?
My favorite sock book is Knit. Sock. Love. by Cookie A, the patterns, the photography, and the layout design is so inspiring. For beginners, I would recommend Ann Budd’s Getting Started Knitting Socks, which takes you step by step through both toe-up and top-down constructions, and gives different basic patterns for different yarns and gauges. I would also recommend The Knitter’s Book of Socks by Clara Parkes. I love reading her writing about the science of socks and sock yarn, and the patterns range from super simple to complex.
- For you, what is the perfect heel method?
I love a basic heel flap and turn, but afterthought heels fit my feet amazingly. It just depends on what type of sock I’m knitting, I think.
- For beginners, do you recommend knitting socks cuff-down or toe-up?
That varies. Sometimes beginners have trouble doing top-down, so for them, toe-up is the way to go. Generally, though, I would say that cuff-down socks are the better choice for beginners.
- What is the perfect sock yarn?
It really depends on the design. Most socks are great with a 100% wool yarn or a wool/nylon yarn. Recently, I have become enamored with Andre Sue Knits Cloud 9, which is a 75% superwash Merino wool, 25% nylon yarn. I am trying not to buy superwash yarn right now because of the harmful practices used by manufacturers, but it is so hard when the colors are so remarkable. I also love Quince and Co. Finch, a 100% wool fingering-weight yarn. It’s so springy and incredible.
I think I could go on about almost every yarn I’ve ever used for socks and say that it’s my favorite yarn, but I should stop.
- For me, getting the right gauge has been a problem with sock knitting; what is the best method to get the gauge?
As with everything in knitting, swatching is paramount for the success of a project. Because socks are knit in the round, to get an accurate measurement, swatching in the round is necessary. If you cannot get the right gauge, try changing what needles you knit with. Circular needles and double pointed needles sometimes give you different gauges; Metal and wooden needles definitely. You may also want to experiment with other yarns; there is so much variation in different yarns labeled as fingering weight.
- Which needles (DPNs or magic loop, etc.) do you prefer and why? Is there a difference between bamboo needles or metal ones?
I like my DPNs, just because they’re what I’ve been using since I began knitting socks. I sometimes use two circular needles, and only when I’m in a pinch do I use the magic loop method. Not because any of those methods are bad, just because I’m picky.
There is a marked difference between wooden and metal needles. Wooden needles “grip” the yarn, but the stitches on metal needles slide along much more readily. I use metal needles, because my gauge is too loose when I use wooden needles, and I cannot knit as fast with them as I can with metal.
- Do you have any other tips you want to share?
The obvious tip is check your gauge, but we’ve already covered that. The other thing that got me successfully knitting socks was learning about negative ease. Your sock should at least be 10% smaller in both circumference and foot length than the actual measurement of your foot is. This will ensure that your sock doesn’t slide every which way and helps add protection against your socks sprouting holes.
- For you, which is the perfect sock pattern for a beginner?
I really liked knitting Petty Harbour by my friend Rayna Curtis. If you don’t want to start with fingering-weight socks, I love the Rye pattern by tincanknits which is in DK. And, if you don’t want a basic, knit/purl pattern, I’d recommend Monkey socks by Cookie A.
- If I want to knit some of your sock patterns, with which one should I start with?
Whichever one you’d like to knit the most! I believe that if you want the finished project bad enough, you can knit just about anything, no matter what your skill level is. If you’re just starting to knit socks, I would not recommend starting with any of my cabled patterns like Meduseld or Tauriel or even Daydreamer. (I wouldn’t recommend knitting Daydreamer anyway; it was my first pattern released and one that I badly need to revise.) If you are comfortable with lace knitting, I’d start with Taj if I were you. I’m working on doing a really basic toe-up pattern for beginners, which will be out sometime in the (hopefully near!) future.
Taj socks by The Sock Monkey
- Recently, you released Herlighet, a beautiful shawl with some awesome pictures. Congrats! Tell me about that designing process and the inspiration.
The stitch pattern was actually the first thing to be fabricated; I came up with it while experimenting with all-garter stitch patterns that could actually be detailed and interesting. After considering what I was going to put it in, I decided on a shawl.
I wanted to do a couple of patterns named after both of my great-grandmothers, and I decided that this stich pattern would be perfect for one of those. Thus, it is named after my great-grandmother, Gloria.
Herlighet was interesting for me to design; it begins at a lace border, and then short rows are worked in garter stitch to create an appealing crescent shape. And it was exciting to release; there is an actual kit with the pattern and the yarn at Toil and Trouble, which is a first for me. There are also no purl stitches whatsoever in this shawl, which I love.
- What is next?
I have a free pattern coming out May 16th, called Gyre, for Wei Siew’s Sustain the Sea initiative. I love this design, and I’m happy that it is finally getting published, as I have had it on hold for a year. I’m also working on a few big projects that I cannot say too much about yet, but will definitely keep you posted on.
Stay tunned at The Sock Monkey blog for Gyre news!!!
I hope you find this interview helpful and start knitting your socks.. For me, this info is priceless and I’m very grateful. Now is time to show my progress in my sock knitting Project. I’m almost ready to start the heel.. The deadline for the KAL of the Las Knitting Amigas podscast is on 31st of may, so I have half of a month to finish (just one day before my B-day!!!). Wish me luck!
Have an Awesome weekend!!!!
Don’t forget, I have 30% discount in selected patterns, no coupon code needed, until 31st of May. Please check them here.
With Love, Marce