Tuesday 28 June 2022

How long does it take to knit a pair of socks?

Earlier this year a friend asked how long it takes me to knit a pair of socks? Obviously, it depends on several factors: the size of sock, the thickness of the yarn, how much free time I have, whether the sock is plain or is significantly more involved than vanilla, and let’s be honest, how much I’m enjoying the project! A pair of baby socks might take me a couple of evenings, likewise some adult socks in aran weight yarn, while a pair of vanilla socks will generally take me between two weeks and a month. Once in a while I’ll fall in love with a project, and will whizz through it, abandoning all other tasks to get them finished. That happened with my Three Sirens Socks and I knitted them in under four days, even though they are relatively large (UK size 9.5), and have patterning all down the front of the sock. Some socks linger for months or even years, usually if I’ve made an error and don’t feel like fixing them, or can’t quite remember what had gone wrong with them. 

Three Sirens Socks

To try and get a more general answer to the question, I ran a poll in my Instagram stories to see how long it took other people to knit a pair of socks, and here’s what I found: 9% of respondents took 1 week or less; 36% took 1-2 weeks; another 35% took 2 weeks to a month; while the remaining 19% took longer than a month. From that, I learnt that most people take somewhere between a week and a month to knit a pair of socks.

Does that answer the question though? Different people have different amounts of free time. Maybe the people who take less than a week to knit a sock are knitting for 4 hours a day, while those who take a month only knit for half an hour a day. So I asked myself, how many HOURS does it take to knit a pair of socks? The easiest way to answer the question was to time myself knitting a sock…

I cast on a standard-for-me sock: 64 sts, 2 mm needles (I knit loosely – I get 32 sts to 10 cm on 2 mm needles), UK size 9 (approximately 26.5 cm foot length) in West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply in the colourway Sherbet Fizz (I think this colourway is discontinued, current colourways can be found here*), and timed each knitting session as I created a top-down, heel-flap-and-gusset sock.

How long did it take me to knit the pair? I confess I only timed the first sock, but that took 7 hours and 33 minutes, not including any time needed to wind yarn or block the sock, but I did include weaving in the ends. Which gives a total of 15 hours and 6 minutes for a complete pair.

I do knit quite fast, so it’s entirely possible that you might take longer to knit a pair, or maybe you’re super-speedy and take far less time. But it did show me that at a rate of an hour a day it wouldn’t take me more than about 2 weeks to knit a pair of vanilla socks, or a month at half an hour a day. I should definitely factor this in when planning gift knitting – I always leave it until the last minute and wonder why it’s a frantic hurry to finish the second sock.

Have you ever timed how long it takes to knit a pair of socks? Were you faster or slower?

*Affiliate link.

Tuesday 21 June 2022

Let's hear it for purple!

Whether it’s the shade of a particular chocolate wrapper, amethyst geodes, or alliums growing in a flower bed, purple really is my favourite colour - I even use it as the main colour in my branding! 

The Vikki Bird Designs logo features a lot of purple

For a long time the only way to get purple dye was to use the mucus of a particular type of sea snail. Yuck. And expensive! The dye was so expensive it was only affordable to rulers, royalty and aristocracy. In 1856, William Perkin developed a synthetic purple dye, Mauveine, which brought the cost down and made purple accessible to a much larger portion of society.

Hazel in Caramel socks in a lovely rich purple

During the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee at the start of this month, the official colours of the celebrations were not the ubiquitous red, white and blue, widely associated with the union flag, but platinum (the metal associated with 70th anniversaries) and Pantone 3515 C, the rich purple that has long been associated with royalty. The jubilee was marked by a 4-day weekend, which I took as a sign to cast on some new socks. For the past few years, Jodi at Cuddlebums (one of my favourite indie dyers) has dyed up a special sock set to knit up over the long Easter weekend; Jodi decided to do the same for the jubilee weekend, and I treated myself to a set. I love all the colourways that Jodi dyes - they’re all inspired by rainbows - but when this one arrived, I was extra-excited because it was in my favourite colour: purple! The mini skein accent was a platinum grey, which was very on trend for the weekend.

Jubilee yarn by Cuddlebums

I loved knitting my very purple socks over the course of the weekend. To add a little extra fun, I used the polls feature in my Instagram stories to create a ‘choose your own adventure’ game. Based on the answers given, I ended up knitting a picot cuff, eye of partridge contrast heel, and a lace patterned foot. Watching the little rainbows emerge was such a joy - on some rows every single stitch was a different colour! The final socks look pretty cute too, and I’m in the process of writing up the pattern - would you be interested in knitting your own pair? Let me know in the comments.

A rainbow in every round!

Fabulous purple rainbow socks

Can’t wait for this pattern to come out? Why not check the sock patterns I’ve already published? You can find them on Ravelry* and PayHip.

*Ravelry may affect people with photosensitivity. Proceed with caution.

Tuesday 14 June 2022

Watching through the window

Beach knitting - simple afterthought heel socks

Do you knit when you’re out and about? I almost always have my knitting on me - in the car, at the beach, in doctors waiting rooms, at the park, at soft play, at my kids swimming lessons, at the cinema, on public transport. I like having something to do that isn’t scrolling through my phone, so I feel productive; I can have a conversation while I knit, so I feel more sociable; knitting round and round is almost meditative and calms me down, which is sometimes needed while waiting anxiously for an appointment. 

Cafe knitting - stripey socks using leftover yarn

There have been many times when my knitting has started conversations. People in waiting rooms tell me fondly about relatives who once knitted, or about their own knitting or other crafting interests. I’m always happy to answer polite questions (especially from small children, who are always fascinated, and often want to know what I’m doing). Sometimes a few questions turn into a long conversation, a conversation that moves from knitting to other subjects, and before we know it, time has passed and we have to move on, but my knitting has grown a little bit more as I continue to knit while we chat.

Soft play knitting - a new pattern I'm working on

More soft play knitting - pattern coming later this year

People rarely have anything bad to say about my knitting. They admire my productivity, that I am not just scrolling mindlessly. But a couple of weeks ago, I had an encounter while knitting that unnerved me a little: I was sat by the window at a little soft play in a shopping centre, knitting away quite happily, when a lady stood by the window and started staring at my knitting. She didn’t interact, just stared. And it felt weird. As the staring was through a window, and the lady didn’t say anything to me, I couldn’t tell whether she was a knitter who wanted to ask questions, or someone who found it fascinating, or maybe they just liked the colour, or maybe they were judging me for knitting and not actively playing with my child (who was happily playing with their friends). The staring lasted a lot longer than I was comfortable with, but the lady did eventually move on.

Knitting with coffee

Has something like this ever happened to you? How would you have dealt with such an encounter? A friendly wave through the window? Holding the knitting up to show it off? I feel like I need something in my arsenal in case it happens again. Let me know in the comments.