My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

First completed pair of socks!

My first knitted pair of socks

For over a year now, I have been knitting a pair of socks.

I chose a sock, cuff-first, as my first foray into circular knitting. The circular knitting itself was not difficult to master. Socks themselves, though, have all sorts of … components that require careful attention to detail. This one had a pattern for the cuff, then another four-row pattern for the leg/top of the foot, and different patterns entirely for the heel flap and gusset. And then there is the most dread moment of any sock knitter’s career: turning the heel!

Turning the heel on my first sock did not go so well. I’m still not great at recognizing individual stitches, so I had a great deal of trouble picking up stitches. Also, this means that if I’m not carefully keeping track of how many rows I’ve knit (or how many repeats of a pattern) using this nifty app I found for my phone, then I can easily lose my place—it’s hard for me to count individual rows and figure out what I still need to knit. So I thoroughly messed up turning the heel. This, combined with how many holes and other mistakes I’d made during my time knitting the leg, motivated me to set this sock aside and start a fresh one. I would eventually return to this sock, frog it back to stitch 0, and start over.

Now that I had made my mistakes, my second attempt at a first sock went more smoothly. There were still bumps along the way, and compared to my second finished sock, this prototype is lumpier and misshapen. But it’s mine! I made it!

I started the second sock a little bit before Christmas. Whereas with the first sock I went "full speed ahead" even if I made a mistake with the pattern (who was going to notice?), with this sock I resolved to be more patient and particular. So, it took longer, but this one went more smoothly still, and the final product is, dare I say, rather professional. I did encounter difficulty with the heel again, though not with turning it so much as random ladders showing up at the most inconvenient times. I think I frogged most of the heel flap two or three times until I was satisfied. It’s true what they say, though: there is nothing more satisfying than turning a heel and staring at what you have wrought. (I suspect they don’t actually say this.)

So I’m very happy with my socks. I’m wearing them right now: they are comfy and warm. And this has been exactly the type of learning experience I need as I continue to expand my knitting repertoire. Knitting can be very forgiving—some patterns, if you make a minor mistake, you can get away with it. However, it is also a medium that evinces the motto that mistakes are themselves the best way to learn. The more mistakes I make, the more times I have to frog and perilously thread my needle through every dropped stitch … well, I do get more frustrated at the time. Overall, though, it makes me a better knitter, makes me more confident, and makes me better knitwear.