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  • Stock Your Sock Drawer - Andrea Rangel

    We are so happy to host Andrea Rangel here on our blog for our Stock Your Sock Drawer Series. Andrea has been a part of Tolt from the very beginning, designing our first pattern, the Tolt Hat and Mitts, and continues to collaborate with us on special projects, including our Farm to Needle book. Our recently published Camp Tolt Pattern, Okanogan Socks, were designed by Andrea; when we decided that we wanted a pattern for technical hiking socks, we knew immediately who we wanted to ask... 
    You can follow Andrea on her blog and on Instagram @andrearangelknits and be sure to check out her book, Rugged Knits

    1.  Do you consider yourself a "sock knitter"?   Why do you like to knit socks?

    I’m an everything knitter, including socks! I love to wear hand knit socks, so it’s always good to add to my wardrobe. And, like most sock knitters, I appreciate how portable a sock project is. Just one ball of skinny yarn brings lots of hours of enjoyment!

    2.  When did you knit your first pair of socks?   Was it harder or easier than you thought?

    I knit my first pair of socks for my grandad when I was a fairly new knitter. They were in a weird microfibre yarn and they came out enormous. Not sure why I sent them anyway, but he still gets a good laugh out of them and I know he appreciated the effort. Making the socks was easier than I expected (aside from my gauge and materials issues - we’re always learning, right?), but turning the heel was so magical! I didn’t have any understanding of what I was doing - I just followed the directions without question and when that little heel pocket appeared I was so amazed. It was like alchemy! Just follow this magic spell and a sock will appear! I still love that about knitting socks.

    3. Are you a DPN or Magic Loop knitter and why?   Has it always been that way? If not when and why did you make the switch?

    I’m all about the magic loop. It’s so much less finicky in my opinion, and I can just use my favourite interchangeable needles for it instead of having to go fetch something different. I did start out knitting socks with dpns, but I never warmed to them. They always felt a little overwhelming (and I would always drop my needle on the floor when I got to the end of one!), so I was delighted to find out about magic loop.

    4. Do you have a favorite pattern or heel and toe construction?

    I like knitting socks every whichaway and don’t really have favourites. Toe-up is great because it allows for adjusting the leg length without much trouble, but the traditional top-down sock with a reinforced heel and Kitchener toe is such an elegant construction that I love it too! The heel and gusset in that construction are particularly pleasing and I love the way they fit.

    5.  Is there a favorite sock yarn at Tolt that you have worked with or want to work with?

    My favourite pair of socks right now is my Clochan design knit up in Hazel Knits Entice MCN (which could easily be substituted by YOTH Little Brother or Hazel Knits Artisan Sock). I was initially a little nervous that they wouldn’t wear as well because of the cashmere content, but they feel so luxurious and have proved to be super sturdy! I wear them as boot socks and hike in them and they make my feet so happy. 

    6.  Do you have any tips, tricks or advice you can give to other sock knitters new or experienced?

    When I first started knitting socks, I had trouble getting the snug gauge that makes a comfy and durable sock. I’m a pretty loose knitter, but wrapping my yarn twice around my index finger instead of my usual one time, thus adding a bit of extra tension, made all the difference! My advice is to be willing to try new things - tension your yarn a little different, knit a sock construction you’ve never tried, use a different yarn! 
    I also have a recommendation about fit - try knitting your socks with a bit of negative ease. I usually wear socks that are about an inch smaller than my actual foot circumference. In fact, I knit the XS size of my new sock pattern, Okanogan, which is 6.5 in/16.5 cm, and it fits my 8.25 in/21 cm foot just fine. I had to be a bit forceful to get the sock on my foot, but once it was there, it was comfy. 
    Hand knit socks aren’t as stretchy as store bought ones, so that can take a bit of getting used to, but it’s worth it! You can knit socks to be really durable by working at a snug gauge and reinforcing wear points like heel and toes (see Okanogan again), but the true genius is that hand knit socks can be repaired! If you get a hole in your store-bought socks, all you can really do is throw them away. But handmade socks are survivalist socks. With a little spare yarn and a darning needle you can reinforce worn stitches. Add a couple double pointed needles and you can fix actual holes! That makes hand knit socks super practical as well as being special. 
    Happy sock knitting! 

    P.S. If you’re ready to stock your sock drawer, I hope you’ll have a look at Okanogan! It comes in a bunch of sizes and it’s got tons of clever details to make it the perfect trail sock.

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