When #1 son said he would like a pair of hand-knit socks (actually, what he said was that it was okay if I made him a pair, which is a major reversal of his pre-teen years when he refused to wear anything I knit for him), I went gung-ho researching the best socks for him and discovered:

  • there is a Socks for Soldiers (SFS) organization that has *the* sanctioned knitting pattern for military personnel with a Yahoo group and everything—you have to join the Yahoo group to get the pattern (this pattern is relevant because #1 son is in the Army)
  • the pattern has strict rules about the type of yarn (sock weight superwash wool) and colors of yarn (military black or military brown) that can be used
  • new yarn can be added at a specific point of the heel only, otherwise the seams could cause irritation during combat wear (makes sense)
  • the pattern calls for 3 sizes of needles: for the top-down cast-on, the calf/foot areas, and the heel/toe sections. These sizes can be summed up as dinky, dinkier, and frickin’ crazy dinkiest
  • patterns on the sock allow for 1×1 ribbing for 12″ along the calf to the heel OR 4″ of 1×1 ribbing followed by 8″ of stockinette to the heel—after the heel flap and turn, it is stockinette only (BO-ring!)

I started the socks last November and persevered despite knitting until my fingers cramped and my eyes crossed. The top 4″ of 1×1 ribbing took forEVer. The next 8″ of stockinette went only slightly faster but the supply of yarn was dwindling at an alarming rate. As I neared the heel turn, I realized I was not going to be able to finish the socks with a single skein per sock. They are very firm about where you can add a new skein and I could either rip back to that point of the heels as I waited for the yarn order to come in, OR I could continue my merry way in the land of denial (my home away from home).

I think I managed to blend the seam of new yarn well, but if you are really picky about turning the sock inside out, you might be able to find it and it isn’t at the heel.

Karma caught up with me later with a dropped stitch and missed decreases on the toe of ONE sock. Since I was doing them at the same time (another highly recommended practice by SFS) it was hard for me to understand how I made that error of being FOUR stitches off on on the top of one sock, but all other areas were perfectly accounted for. And then I saw the dropped stitch about a dozen rows back. There was nothing for it but to pick back to the offending offense.

I should mention at this point that one of the more challenging things about these socks (in addition to the dinky needles and #1 sons’ size 12 feet) was the color of yarn: black sock yarn. This yarn is so black that all light dies when it gets near. Individual stitches appear fused. Only in bright daylight is it possible to see clearly enough to un-knit rows.

It took over an hour to laboriously tink back the many (too many!) rows and pick up the dropped stitch. At that point I decided we both needed a breather so the socks are in time out for a day or two.

I love to knit, really I do. But right this minute I’m not as fond of it as usually am, you know?

Of course, I still love my son just the same. But unless he raves about these socks, there is no way he’ll be getting another pair!

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