The big dumb sock project: Two down, but not really

So far, project Replace My Falling-Apart Commercial Socks with Handmade Socks is going … hm.

Good: Made two pairs of socks!
“Silver lining” good, i.e. not actually good: Learned a valuable lesson about selecting yarn for socks that are durable and not just well-fitting.
Bad: I’ve been knitting for years and years, and I know tons about selecting yarn for durability: yarn composition, plying, gauge — all of it! I knew when I started that the yarns weren’t great for socks; I was just too impatient to stick it out and wait until I had more appropriate yarn before casting on.

The first ones (100% not-superwashed merino; come onnnnnnn, Arlette) popped a stitch on the first wearing, but I love them, so they now live on the family’s run-down little boat in Sausalito as part of my stash of warm boat clothing. (The boat sounds way more glamorous than it is; I call it “the RV of the Sea,” which gives you an idea of its size and mustiness.) It gets cold right on the water, so the socks are actually pretty perfect for wearing around there, but they didn’t get me very far toward replacing everyday socks, which are only getting more holey.

The second socks looked damn good.

They held up better than the first ones, but after a day of wear, the heels were fuzzy and haloed something fierce. They do a little better with shoes that don’t grip my feet too tightly, so they’re now my “don’t have too walk too far today in these cowboy boots” socks. I got to learn how to match self-striping yarn, but since almost all my commercial socks are plain black, I think I have to admit that dark solid colors are what I’ll actually wear and love.

Unfortunately, after accidentally knitting two pairs of warm and delicate socks, I’ve gotten all spooked. Lately when I go to a yarn store to scope out sock yarn I end up anxiously haunting the aisles looking up reviews on Ravelry and desperately scanning for the words “pilling” and “felted,” and remembering the sweaty-verging-on-soupy feeling in my shoes when I wore the second pair in the current crushing heat wave. That’s right about when I give up and buy something that’d look good as a hat, since that’s both figuratively and literally as far from socks as you can get.

There’s hope, though. The last sock yarn skein I got mostly because it was too hot to think straight and the yarn was a relatively plain and desaturated blue, but it turns out it’s actually a pretty well-rated yarn for socks. Once I manage to finish the thick, cabled boot sock I’m working on — WHY?! it’s like 80 degrees out! — and if I can stop losing my empty circular needles by hanging them around the back of my neck when I focus on something and then having them fall off somewhere mysterious after I forget about them, maybe I’ll make some real headway!