I was convinced that I could do something about this, so back in January of this year, I had the idea that I would create some free tutorials to help anyone who wanted to learn to knit a pair of socks. I don't believe that the skills required to make a pair of socks are beyond anyone who can cast on, knit and purl - and thanks to my training background, I was sure that I could create tutorials that anyone could follow. Just one sock at first, followed by the other. No complicated patterns, no two-at-at-time knitting gymnastics; just a plain and simple basic sock.
I have to say, it was quite an education, that first weekend of the tutorial and the Winwick Mum Sockalong Facebook group! So many people joining in (over 500 that first weekend!) and asking questions, sharing pictures of their yarn and getting to know each other. I hurtled from one post to another, alternately amazed at the conversations taking place about my sock pattern and panicking that I would miss someone's query. I started to wonder whether any of these people ever went to sleep ... and then I realised that these conversations were taking place from all over the world. Of course people went to sleep - but in their own time zone! It brought a lump to my throat, I can tell you! People from so many different countries who had always wanted to knit a sock and had never managed it before - but were sure that this time would be different.
They taught me a lot, these Facebook Sockalongers as they called themselves. They queried my pattern and my tutorial, making me look again at whether I could re-write it in a better way. They made me polish up on my gauge knowledge as they worked out how many stitches to cast on. They showed me that there are more sock yarns out in the world in more combinations of colours than I had ever imagined. And slowly, as the weeks passed, the socks began to appear. Single socks, at first, proudly displayed both on and off feet ...
Then the pairs started to arrive. One after the other, faster and faster like falling snowflakes.
Almost every hour it seemed that there was another pair to be admired - and the wonderful thing about this group is the sense of community that has developed. Everyone helps, everyone encourages and praises. It really is social media at its best.
And do you know, out of all the pairs that have been made (and this is only a small selection!), there have been very few pairs initially made in the same colour yarn. Thanks to lots of information swapping, I think there are going to be quite a few more pairs of socks in the same yarn as another pair - but the beauty of hand knits is that each sock will turn out differently, even if the yarn is the same. They really are like snowflakes; each one unique and beautiful in their own particular way.
People who thought they would never knit a pair of socks are now on their second, third and fourth pairs. Friendships have been made across the globe and meet-ups are planned. We've started a knit n natter group - the Winwick Mum Sockalong Society - because people wanted to talk about more than just socks.
So what now? Well, the Sockalong is far from over. New people are joining in all the time and are more than welcome. The tutorials will always be on the blog so there's no rush and no time limit. I'm always happy to answer questions, whether here on the blog or in the Facebook or Ravelry groups. I love seeing people discover that knitting socks isn't beyond them after all.
I'm also working hard on a book and Kindle version of the Sockalong because not everyone wants to be online all the time. I'm hoping it won't be much longer before there's some progress that I can show you; so far it's all on the computer which isn't very exciting to photograph! Lucy has very kindly said that she would welcome a Winwick Mum Sockalong meet-up in the Knit n Natter Lounge at Yarndale this year which I think would be a lovely idea - it would be wonderful to see some of the socks in the flesh - er - yarn! (Plus, it's an ideal opportunity to stock up on even more sock yarn!) She even said there would be a place to string up sock bunting if we felt inspired to create some so I'd welcome your thoughts on that.
Yes, it's all very different from this time six weeks ago - wonderfully different and very exciting! I can't tell you how fantastic it feels to know that my little blog has been a catalyst for some new sock obsessives (over 840 of them in the Facebook group now, and over 170 in the Ravelry group - plus however many of you out there in blogland - it's no wonder some of the yarn stores have been selling out of sock yarn and needles!) and that so many people now have a new project to occupy their hands and minds and fill their wellbeing tanks.
Thank you. Thank you everybody.
Sockalong - yarns
Sockalong - needles
Sockalong - tension squares, casting on and stitch calculations
Sockalong - accessories and matching yarn
Sockalong - anatomy of a sock
Sockalong - Week 1 - Cast on, cuff and leg
Sockalong - Week 2 - Heel flap, heel turn and gusset
Sockalong - Week 3 - Foot, toe and grafting the toes
Sockalong basic 4ply sock pattern
Facebook Sockalong group for help, advice and encouragement
Ravelry Sockalong group
Paperback and Kindle book version of the Sockalong tutorials