So there I was, feeling awfully pleased with myself. I had made socks, two whole pairs. They fit. They were lovely. I was quickly approaching smug. You know those lists you see detailing why you should knit socks? The ones that talk about the practicality and the comfort and the portability and the reasonable cost and the creativity? I proudly ‘discovered’ each and every one of these marvelous traits and was completely sure I was the very first to do so.
There was just one problem. A pair of socks has an ungodly number of stitches. Do the math. It’s astonishing. I was a very new (and hence dreadfully slow) knitter. That many stitches was weeks and weeks of work. So I had a brilliant idea. I would use thicker yarn. Thicker yarn would cover the same amount of area with a smaller number of stitches. Genius.
This was the beginning of what I now think of as my deeply unsuitable yarn period.
Now it’s not (usually) that there was anything all that wrong with the yarn itself. It’s more that it wasn’t right for socks, at least not at the gauge I was using. So the next dozen or so pairs were knit with poorly chosen yarn at far too loose a gauge. The upside was that I couldn’t just follow patterns without some serious alterations because I didn’t need as many stitches as most patterns called for. I quickly learned that if you kept the basic structure of a sock in mind you could do pretty much whatever you wanted with the stitch patterns.
Most of those socks got holes within a few months which prompted me to wise up about gauge, yarn selection, and their rather fundamental role in creating long lasting socks. I even got (slightly) faster and switched to using standard patterns. These socks proved much more durable. Then I found out about stitch dictionaries and gleefully abandoned other people’s patterns in favor of making up my own. I even toyed with making some without benefit of stitch dictionaries.
A few people saw some of these socks and asked where I got the patterns. I stammered something about making them up, and they suggested I write them down. I don’t mind writing, and I have an unreasonable fondness for telling other people what to do, so I gave it a shot. The first iteration of this website was tossed together at 3 in the morning one night in the middle of March to host one of these patterns. People liked it. People knit it. Some lousy stuff was going on in my non-knitting life, and knitting was soothing, so I knit. People saying nice things about my pattern was also soothing, so I wrote another one. Then another. Some people were kind enough to suggest that the patterns might be worth charging for. Ravelry made that easy so I gave it a shot. It seemed to work.
It’s mostly just been momentum and deep and abiding selfishness from there. Knitters keep saying nice things, and it makes me feel good. Knitters keep buying patterns, and that lets me buy more yarn. I’m going to be knitting socks anyways, so as long as other knitters keep making me feel good and keep funding my yarn habit, I’m going to keep indulging my bossy streak by writing patterns.
So back to the questions that started this (unreasonably long and rambly) story. No, I haven’t been knitting for ages. I’ve been knitting for just over two years, and I’m still a slowish knitter. And as for how I learned how to design socks? Well mostly by being too lazy to follow proper sock patterns. So the moral of the story is that it takes no magical talents to write patterns, just laziness and a willingness to tell others what to do. If you’re wondering if you could do it, I’m guessing you can. Give it a shot.