Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Knitting Socks and Why Knitting is a Better Kind of Happiness ~


When I lived in the Midwest during my law school years it was a wondrous experience to go through seasonal changes after having been raised in perpetually sunny southern California.  I found each season had its special moments.  Spring brought snow drop flowers and sunny daffodils; summer meant picking tart cherries and making fresh pies and long evenings watching fireflies twinkling in the dusky sky; autumn was an explosion of vibrant colors and earthy flavorful vegetables; and finally winter was magical from snow flocked trees and discovering animal prints left in the snow to savoring the warmth of family and comfort food in a cozy home.  I loved my time living in the Midwest and miss the seasonal changes.


California has it's seasons too.  It's just that the changes are much more muted and harder to identify unless you are looking for them.  Although I am lucky to live in Topanga, California which is a small community set in the Santa Monica Mountains.  Being at a higher elevation does bring more extreme temperature swings at least, which is one reason that I get to wear shawls and cowls as much as I do as the mornings and evenings can be cool. But regardless of what the temperature is outside come late July there is a sense of preparing for fall and the stores begin carrying back to school clothes and supplies that brings for me a wave of nostalgia.  I loved getting new clothes and supplies for school in the fall.  The only trouble was that I was so excited to wear my new things that sometimes it meant being too hot as the day worn on as a sweater that was comfortable at 8 am was not so comfortable by 12 noon.  I still love fall clothes and shopping for fall clothes and as a nod to that time in my life I'm calling these my back to school socks even though my school days are long behind me.  And it's way too hot to be wearing them right now.  Or maybe just because it is.


How to Knit a Perfect Fitting Sock ~

These back to school socks are knit using my standard formula of 64 stitches on US 1 needles which is my formula for a perfect fit (I wear a size US 7 M / 36 European shoe) and yet they still have enough give that my mom who wears size US 8 shoes can also wear them comfortably.  Once you figure out the right number of stitches and needle size to fit your foot it makes it easy to knit any sock pattern as most patterns tend to use a set number of stitches, such as 64.  For example if a sock pattern calls for US 2 needles and 64 stitches I'll drop down to a US 1 needle with 64 stitches confident that I'll end up with socks that fit. Knowing what combination of needle size and stitch count will fit your feet is your ticket to always knitting socks with a perfect fit!

Particulars: Basket Weave Rib Socks (Ravelry link) from the popular Sensational Knitted Socks (Amazon link - I couldn't find a website or blog) by Charlene Schurch.  The yarn is Hedgehog Fibers Twist Sock (exclusive club colorway that I no longer recall the name of).  This is the first pair of socks that I've knit from this book but I have used it as a resource over the years and it's how I learned to do the kitchener stitch.  There are a number of other designs that I would like to try someday and a great feature of this book is that every pattern has a chart to convert the pattern to any yarn weight or needle size you wish.  Although I've not knit many socks recently I've knit way too many over the years to link to them all so I've just linked to a few of my favorites: Smaug (dragon motif); Cable Rib Socks (also using Hedgehog Fibers Twist yarn); Down the Rabbit Hole (self-striping yarn); and Orzival socks.

Knitting is A Better Kind of Happiness ~


The New Yorker recently published an article entitled A Better Kind of Happiness and I found it amusing and significant that the photo for their piece (shown above) featured a happy knitter, even though knitting per se was not mentioned in the article.

It turns out that feeling productive and engaging in an activity that you find meaningful and that you are able to gain efficacy over adds a sense of well being to a person's life that meets a basic and necessary need to being well and feeling happy. Knitting meets both criteria as the process of knitting creates something of value which gives it meaning and it is also a skill that you get better at the more you do it.  I, of course, already knew this through my personal experience of finding happiness through knitting.  But now I feel a positive mandate to buy yarn and knit and knit and knit!  Kidding aside there is a very sound reason to love being a knitter and not just because you'll have the coolest socks on the block.  It's what Aristotle might call part of living a good life.

Then again there's nothing wrong with an immediate shot of hedonistic pleasure either.  I would be deeply unhappy if I couldn't enjoy my morning cup of coffee. Currently I'm drinking a delicious brew that has hints of raisin and buttery caramel from Stumptown Coffee (Trapper Creek Decaf).  We all have our weaknesses.


Until next time be well love well and have fun knitting knowing that it's actually good for you.  I would also love to hear what simple hedonistic pleasures brings you happiness ~