Socks with Sarah, a KAL for 2014

Susan B Anderson made a huge splash a few months ago when she posted a photo of her sock drawer and it changed the knitting world immediately. It sounds so funny, but at a time when I think a lot of knitters were getting a little tired of the shawl craze and were searching for the next ‘it’ thing this sock drawer  — filled with every color under the rainbow — sparked a creative fire in knitters everywhere. Suddenly we were all asking ourselves, “Why doesn’t my sock drawer look like that?” Personally, mine had three or four handknit pairs lost in a sea of cheap workout socks & SmartWool. I am perfectly capable & I live in an area where socks are mandatory 9months out of the year… so why doesn’t my sock drawer look like Susan B Anderson’s?

Many of the bloggers I follow started featuring sock projects. Fellow local knitters started pulling more sock projects out of their knitting bags. The Yarn Harlot, well, she’s been knitting socks continuously forever because she is awesome. Even the very popular Knitmore Girls started #operationsockdrawer in which they decided to give new homes to their uninspiring handknit socks and start in earnest to create a sock drawer akin to Ms. Anderson’s. Yes, it seems everyone is talking about socks. Knitters, I think we’ve found ‘it’ — socks are the new ‘it’ thing.

As any knitter will do in the face of such collective enthusiasm, I started trolling sock yarns and patterns, sifting through my stash, reading reviews and searching for new techniques. I immediately started making to-do lists and mentally scheduling my sock knitting. What would be reasonable? How much sock knitting would be too much? Too little? Do I want to just make simple socks or try tougher techniques? I wonder if anyone would want to do this with me?

And thus, the idea for a knitalong was born.

Here’s what I propose, my friends:

Let’s knit socks.


For a year.

Now before I scare you away, I want to be clear. I am not proposing that we knit at break neck speeds to see who can crank out the most socks in a year. Oh no, that’s not my style at all.

The goal of this KAL is to condition ourselves to incorporate sock knitting into our every day lives.

Whether I knit a whole cuff during a Saturday movie marathon, or turn a heel in the 20minutes before my kids wake up, or work the stitches from needle 1 while I wait in the doctor’s office — whether I am knitting a Cookie A sock with multiple charts or a straight-up vanilla sock, I want to take advantage of the enthusiasm erupting from this renaissance of the sock to bring it back into the bread & butter of my knitting. There is no project easier to travel with, easier to pick up & set down quickly, and no more essential item in our arsenal of handknits than socks. I know a lot of us have socks going at all times — for me that usually means my sock sits in its bag until I am in between projects, I knit on it until I figure out my next project, and then pack it away again. And repeat. I want to change that attitude to one in which I am happy to pick up socks for at least a few minutes every day, not because I can’t think of anything more exciting, but because it is part of my day — maybe even something relaxing to which I look forward. Oh, and look in your stash. I bet you have some yarn suitable for socks in there, too. What a great opportunity to use some of that up!

While I certainly don’t plan to solely work on socks during 2014 (nor do I recommend that because personally I would go crazy), the idea here is that we simply bring our socks out every day and knit on them. We all know that a little knitting over a long period can go a long way — how would 365 days of sock knitting change your sock drawer? How would it change your knitting routine?

Why knit with me?

So many people are knitting socks right now, so why knit with me?  Why not?!  If you are like me and you are finding your way back to socks, join us — this will be a blast, I promise! Maybe socks never stopped being your mainstay — that’s great! — you can join us, too, and maybe shoot us some pointers or just share your projects. Never knit a sock before? That’s ok, too. I will be creating tutorials along the way to help you through the intimidating spots. I will also have a thread in the brand new Friends of Knitting Sarah Ravelry Group  — pop over & say hi! — where you can ask questions and share your progress & triumphs. I certainly can’t take the place of a good quality class at your local yarn shop, but if you don’t have that option available to you I would be happy try to help you!

So, in reality, how is this going to work you ask?

We will be knitting on socks everyday January 15, 2014 – January 14, 2015.

And really, that’s the only requirement for this KAL.


At any given time I will be writing about & creating tutorials for the patterns I am working on — you are welcome to knitalong with these projects or work on patterns of your own choosing. I will be starting with my favorite basic pattern, Churchmouse Yarns & Teas Basic Sock. This is my go-to plain sock pattern & is a fantastic first sock pattern for anyone new to sock knitting. The design team at Churchmouse Yarns & Teas have done a fantastic job with this pattern and have made it extremely easy to follow, but just in case you are still intimidated by words like “heel flap” and “turning the heel” and “gusset shaping,” the good folks at CYT gave me the ok to create some tutorials for you. So don’t worry, you can do it!

As the year goes on, my plan is to have at least one CYT Basic Sock on my needles at all times — for time in the car, for relaxation knitting, and just in the interest of creating a routine of sock knitting. In addition, I will be working more complex patterns & techniques here & there just for fun & to keep things interesting. Because I know a lot of us like schedules & timelines, I will also provide a schedule for the first CYT Basic Sock as well as any future new patterns I am working on. You certainly aren’t required to follow these schedules, but I will provide them for those who appreciate the motivation a timeline can provide.

Why start on January 15th?

I wanted to give us all time to get settled into the new year & back into our routines. I also want to give you time to gather your materials.

For those wanting to work on the Churchmouse Yarns & Teas Basic Sock with me right at the start, you will need:

1 copy of the Churchmouse Yarns & Teas Basic Sock Pattern  — please purchase a copy via your LYS, the CYT website, or Ravelry if you haven’t already

(Remember we want to support good designers, photocopying patterns for family or friends denies designers payment for their hard work — Don’t do it!)

Your choice of EITHER about 400yards of Fingering weight yarn OR about 300yards of Sport or DK weight yarn

The pattern provides directions for both weights — if you are worried about the speed of the project or 2nd sock syndrome, I strongly recommend the Sport/DK version. They work up much faster! And as always, remember: When in doubt, buy extra yarn!

Set of 4 double-pointed needles in EITHER US size 1 or 1.5 (for fingering weight) OR US size 3 for Sport/DK version

I will be starting with the traditional double-pointed needle knitting standard for the first set of socks & will not yet touch on 2-at-a-time or magic loop methods.

Remember to check your gauge — I can’t do that for you and it can make all the difference in a sock that fits or a sock that does not!

Between now & the KAL start date on January 15th, I will be writing some informational posts about yarn, needles, tools, resources, & mental preparation to get us all ready.

So who’s ready to knit some socks?!


110 thoughts on “Socks with Sarah, a KAL for 2014”

  1. Hi Sarah, happy New Year. I like your idea, I did my first pair of socks last year, and really enjoyed knitting them. I am committed to another knitting challenge for 2014, but I think the two could combine quite nicely so long as I can knit to a self-defined schedule. It would be fun to knit in your KAL.

    1. Happy New Year! Yes, this KAL is totally move at your own pace. I will provide timelines, but they are completely optional. The only real guideline is that we knit on a sock everyday. So it can take 5 mins a day or an hour, you can knit one pair for the year or 12 – totally up to you! I would love to have you join!

  2. I’m in! Definitely need more focus to my knitting, even if I never did get there with the baubles last year!

    1. Wonderful! I think this KAL has the potential to be even more relaxed than the MerryKAL just because you can choose to just work vanilla socks which take quite a small amount of focus other than the shaping portions. The baubles required two yarns & a pattern to keep track of. Welcome! I’m so happy to knit with you!

      1. Thanks Sarah, have made a few plainish socks, will look forward to a bit of a push into something more complex!

  3. Count me in. I have been working on my sock drawer since getting a peek at Susan’s drawer last summer. Now I am not a sock slouch I have several pairs of hand knit socks in my drawer and like you this time of year knit socks are a must.
    There is always a sock or a toy on my needles…they are perfect carry along projects. Last summer I made up a pattern for a perfect toe for me and now I am exploring heels looking for the best heel for my foot.
    Can’t wait to start knitting a sock with you on the 15.

  4. I love this idea! I always try to have a pair of socks on the needles to pick up at odd moments, but taking part in this will really help keep me motivated for the whole year! Also that looks a really lovely simple sock pattern – definitely going to go straight to Ravelry and buy it! See you on the 15th 🙂

  5. Normally I am not a joiner! But I love that this Kal is unstructured AND that it will help me get back into the habit of knitting socks. I learned to knit – knitting socks – just a few years ago when knitting socks was all over the place!! It seemed every blogger was knitting socks! I knit four beautiful pair started another and set it aside about half way through the second sock to knit a toy as a gift. Haven’t touched it since. And I have a very pretty “skeins waiting to be socks” drawer. I have one basic pattern that I love and that fits like a dream. Don’t care at all for knitted patterns on my socks but rather love letting the yarn itself do the talking!! I have let yet another year pass by without making one single stitch on my unfinished sock! Even took it off the needles so i could use them to make knitted Christmas Balls!!

    So! I am thinking – this Kal would be a very good investment of time!!! And at the end I will have treasure! In the form of finished socks!!

    And a request!!! Three of the four pair of socks were knitted as gifts so while i have been lolly-gagging around not finishing socks, i have been loving my one and only pair to the point of having worn a small hole in the toe of one and nearly the other. A tutorial for repairing would be hugely helpful sometime during the Kal.

    In the meantime, I am not waiting til the 15th! i am adding stitches starting today!

    1. So glad to help inspire you to get going on socks again, Pam, and that you’ll be joining me in another KAL!

      I will definitely incorporate darning & sock repair along the way. I promise!

  6. I’m ready to knit socks – as soon as you tell me what that bottom skein of yarn is. It looks self striping – but I could be wrong.

    1. Are you talking about the bright light green/black/grey/light blue? It is indeed self-striping! From Friday Studios it is Science Fiction in the Monday base. It is amazing & I can’t wait to try it! Looks like she is currently out of it in the Monday Base, but you can pre-order it as it is in her custom colors. Oh, and there’s a shop update Friday, too. :). Enjoy!

      1. Even if I knit 14 pairs for 2014 I wouldn’t run out of stripes with the stuff I have in stash. Yet Eric Northman on the Monday base will be making his way to my home by the end of January.

      2. Yes, yes. I will do a post on this soon (I have a lot of info, but am just getting my kids back to school, so I’m slightly short on time today & tomorrow) – and please let me know ifs miss anything or could make it better/easier. Until then I’ll make it short:
        – tag in Ravelry/Instagram/Twitter/all social media with #sockswithsarah
        – share WIP/FO photos on ‘Friends of Knitting Sarah’ Ravelry group in the ‘Socks with Sarah’ thread
        -feel free to also post WIP on ‘Today on your needles’ thread in the same Ravelry group (I don’t mind overlap there)

        If I’m missing anything or could make it better/easier!

  7. What a fabulous idea! Enjoy it. I have knit close to 100 pairs of socks and my sock stock is full to overflowing. However, for the past number of years I’ve run something I call “Month O’Socks” where we knit with sock weight yarn for an entire month. I’ll have to tell you more about it to see if you’d be interested in running it in parallel. It would fit your 2014 theme well.

    1. Totally! Tell me more & we can see what we can do! Joining creative forces is the best!

      PS-This is most likely a silly question, but are some of your socks handspun? That is a goal I have this year!

      1. Yes, I’ve a few. Not many. It is very satisfying though, to wear a pair of handspun socks! I’ll message you about the rest.

      2. Cool – that’s what I thought! It seems kind of impractical for me because I spin slowly, but something I want to try. I’ve been searching for the best plying method – I’ve heard & read standard 3-ply – what did you use?

        I’ll look forward to hearing from you on the other goodies!

      3. Standard 3 ply is THE way to go. You may want to give your singles more twist than you normally might as well. The stuff I’ve used for handspun socks hasn’t been the most deliciously soft yarn ever, but it has held up beautifully.

  8. I’m totally IN! I feel that I should love knitting socks but I don’t. I’d like to. As soon as my guest are gone I will dig out my solo socks and lovely sock yarn and get ready!

  9. I have never participated in a KAL, but I’m in on this one! If someone said I could only knit one type of thing the rest of my life — I’d pick socks. They are one of my favorite projects. I love the Churchmouse basic pattern, but I think I’ll start with a pattern and yarn that I purchased last May and have been chomping at the bit to get on my needles — Bunting by Lisa Richardson in “Rowan Fine Art Collection.” I’ll be using Rowan Fine Art hand painted sock yarn in a variegated mocha/rose combination. I’ll use size 1 needle on 32″ cable and use the “magic loop” method. I’ll cast on on January 15th and work on the socks each day, even though some days it may be for only a few minutes! Thanks for hosting this KAL. Socks Rock!

    1. Welcome to your first KAL! I can’t wait to hear how you like the Rowan Fine Art – I’m a total bird watcher & naming the skeins for birds totally has me, but… I haven’t been able to choose yet! I certainly hope to get to try it this year! Looking forward to seeing your progress photos for these fab socks!

  10. Lovely idea! I just began knitting socks late 2013 and love the simplicity and practicality of the finished project. I can’t wait to get started with this KAL, thanks for sharing this idea!

  11. I’m in! I should be knitting a little bit on a sock each day, since my brother’s pairs for his birthday (Nov. 28) and Christmas do tend to stack up (1 left to do for 2013’s Christmas present! Yikes!)

    The current pair is in Socks That Rock, in a colorway called “Lagoon” which is motivatingly yummy!

    Thanks, Sarah, for starting this KAL, and for loving the Churchmouse pattern – we work hard to make them user-friendly and fun to knit! Nice to see them so well received out there in the world.

    1. Wow! Welcome, Karen! I am notorious for giving my husband a skein of yarn for Christmas, so here’s hoping that track record improves with this KAL – I know my husband’s expectations are high!

      I haven’t tried Socks That Rock yet – that colorway looks A-MAZING! Motivating is an understatement. I am going to have to check out Blue Moon!

      It is easy to love and recommend such great patterns. I have worked a fair number of Churchmouse patterns over the years & I am always beyond pleased with the results. I’m so glad I have to chance to share one with this KAL!

  12. OOOH I’m so in! I’ve been wanting to do socks for myself and my hubby, and it keeps getting pushed aside in favor of other things. Never knit a proper pair of socks though – only 1 pair of tube socks (no heel) so far…looking forward to the challenge!

    1. Yay! Welcome! I actually starting knitting socks because I wanted to give my husband a gift after I learned how to knit. I have always kept knitting them, but am looking forward to a little more focus on socks this year!

  13. I think I’ll join you! I have some sad and lonely sock yarn in my stash and I’ve only ever made one pair. I’ll document on my blog and see about joining the Ravelry group too! I hope it’s ok to start tomorrow…

    1. Oh, yes! You can start early — I think a lot of people are. I just wanted to give a little lead time after the announcement to gather supplies if they needed. I hope to see you on the Ravelry group. I am going to work on getting it a bit more organized here in the next couple days!

  14. I’m in! I’ve just started on my first pair and am finding it painfully slow. This is the push I need not to keep picking up my preferred project every evening!

    1. Fantastic! Hang in there! If you are working on fingering weight yarn, it can feel a little like trying to run through molasses at first. You’ll get there though!

  15. What a fab idea!!
    I’ve recently got back into sock knitting after a 20 year break and just finished my first pair 🙂 I’ll be knitting along as I have got the sock bug. I’ll join the Rav group too if that’s ok.

      1. Hi Sarah, I’ve just joined – had internet issues yesterday, off to buy the pattern now then all set for the 15th 🙂
        BTW I’m Shellyknitx on ravelry

  16. Pingback: a year of socks |
  17. Hi Sara,
    Can you add my name to your list? I love knitting socks. I try not to knit them consistently only because a few years ago I ended up needing therapy for my thumb joint. So I try to pace myself and break up my sock knitting with other knitting projects!


  18. Is it too late to be added to the list? I have been bitten by the sock knitting bug and this KAL sounds perfect! I have definitely been knitting a pair of socks everyday since the 15th!

    1. Whew-hoo! I am still waiting on my first finished pair — I am close on one, but having to wait so I can make some videos. So when I hit the spot I needed to stop at last night what did I do? Cast-on a second pair!

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