Feb 18

Fretful : A Sock Story

Knitting, as a hobby rather than livelihood, makes no demands. Yarn doesn’t jockey for position or ask to be used, even though guilt (and shame?) sometimes suggests otherwise. It is just . . . there. When I started knitting it was to make something special for somebody, but it was also to engage in something with my hands in order to keep my attention on positive things. Stated in another way, I knit to stay out of trouble. And after almost ten years, I return to knitting over and over again for those same reasons.

Last week, I was feeling fretful and without much forethought, I began rummaging in my sock yarn bin. I have plenty of projects on the needles, but nothing I wanted to knit while I was fretful — gifts for others and baby blankets require (I think) a more positive mindset. I only wear socks a handful of times in any given year since it doesn’t get very cold here, so I don’t feel an urgency to knit them in order to keep my feet warm. I just knit socks because I love it.

And starting a sock turned out to be the right choice.

I’d made a deliberate decision to use the needles my daughter gifted me several years ago:

Sox Stix & Jansdotter Journal

The ebony 2.25 mm DPNs are probably my top choice for knitting socks — not too pointy, just the right length. But I avoid them because I’m afraid to break them (I’ve snapped expensive Lantern Moon DPNs before). I definitely wanted to knit with wood though, so I risked it. My intention was to pick up and knit the sock every time I felt anxious or worried. But I hardly put it down in the three days it took to finish it — I thought it would be on the needles for weeks (the second sock might).

A recent accomplishment . . .

The yarn is Phydeaux Designs fingering weight Soie – a silk and merino blend – in “Sugared Plum.” I took this photo indoors at sunset and you can really see the shiny silk:

Latest project . . . closer

Brenda’s yarns are beautiful. I also have the same yarn in the “Sansa” colorway.

I didn’t decide on a pattern until I knit two inches of plain K2, P2 ribbing. I’d used the cable twist in another project and thought the twisted bundles would be what I would focus on while I was knitting — as a mindfulness exercise. Following this urge even while I had many other projects on the needles was exactly what I needed — not just for relieving some of my worries, but also for daydreaming and planning — something that anxious feelings often keep me from doing.

One thing I decided NOT to fret about so much is how much yarn I have. I’ll release some of it and enjoy the rest and remember that there are worse things I could be doing to excess.

UPDATE: I’ve published the pattern and it’s available for purchase and download on Ravelry. Until March 23, 2013 the end of the day on March 19, 2013, the pattern is FREE.



  1. cauchy09 says:

    This is the best thing that knitting can do for us: provide a place, a moment to put our fretting. Oftentimes, there’s far more meaning in each stitch than we ever intended.

    Here’s hoping for less fretting, though.


  2. Kristen says:

    I love how knitting can transform fretful/nervous energy into something beautiful.

  3. Jayne says:

    I think I need those socks!! It is still cold here! Love Love your socks! Besides I am the oldest child and am sick 🙂

    • Janet says:

      If I could, I would be there in a heartbeat to tell you to stay in bed and relax while I took care of everything! I hope you’re feeling better by now. 🙂 I think these socks would be a bit too tight for your feet, but I have others in progress that would fit you VERY well!

  4. Andi says:

    Haha- I hope you gave Jayne those socks. She sounds like she could really use them! 🙂
    You know I am in love with these socks. Somehow socks are always there for me when I need them too.

    • Janet says:

      Thanks Andi! She deserves them just for being my big sister . . . I try to keep her well-supplied with knits, but she has this knack for blowing out the heels of the socks I knit for her! HA!

  5. I know what you mean by choosing a knitting project to match your mood — sounds like socks were just what the doctor ordered for you this time!

  6. Annette says:

    How did you learn to make socks??? I have watched tons of youtubes videos and i am soooo ready but soooo darn afraid…go figure that…

    • Janet says:

      Hi Annette — I did a lot of reading at first and then told every knitter I knew at the time (not many) that I wanted to learn. One of the ladies volunteered to teach me and had me buy worsted weight yarn to knit this pattern: Joan’s Socks (Lion Brand Site – you will need to be logged in to view). It was a great first pattern to learn, but if you’re anywhere near a yarn shop that teaches a sock class, please take it! It will cut months off the learning curve. You can then refer to YouTube videos when you get stuck. You can do it!

      • Annette says:


        One of my coworker friends is teaching me right now how to make baby socks. We are starting small just to get the idea in what i am doing with the needles because, i am working toe up but i want to use the back needle. No dpn’s here circular needles and knitting 2 socks at once.. go figure… on my second pair on my own now… whoo hooo

        thank you for the advised too..

  7. Lolly says:

    On Friday I heard the Yarn Harlot talk about all the great things knitting does for our brains, one of which is apparently that it releases chemicals to calm us down. Yay for knitting away the anxieties!

  8. I’m carrying that last thought forwards with me … every time I might be about to feel guilt at the size of my stash I shall remind myself that there are worse things I could be doing to excess!

    I hope you’ve worked through that fretfulness now and are out the other side 🙂

  9. Sweetdrk1 says:

    I’m sorry you were feeling fretful but so very happy knitting eased your mind! I love the little twists in your sock. I also love Lantern Moon and this post made me realize I don’t have nearly as many as I need 🙂

  10. SClubBethan says:

    I know what you mean about certain projects for certain moods. I haven’t ever knittted socks before but I am going to give it a try soon!

  11. Frieda says:

    I just love these socks ! I’ll be casting on right after the current socks on the needles are done . I was looking for a pattern that would be interesting without being too complicated to take along as travelling knitting . Perfect timing ! Thank you and thanks ravelry …

  12. SkyBlueKayak (aka Kathy) says:

    Thanks for gifting that pattern to us! You took something as negative and destructive as fretfulness and turned it around for good. You certainly brought out a lot of kindred spirits with their positive ideas too. Way to go!!

  13. Pam D'Esopo says:

    Thank you for the sock pattern; we’ll see how soon I can get to it, but your socks are lovely. Thanks for the generosity–good karma!


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