I promised myself I wouldn’t take on any knitting projects as Christmas gifts. As a perennial student, December is a time of anxiety and misery, as I prepare for end-of-semester exams. This year, I spent two weeks camped in my flat, not leaving for more than 10 minutes at a time, and only allowing myself a bit of knitting in the evening. So, knowing that setting my own unnecessary deadlines might be my undoing, I decided on lovely, pre-made store-bought gifts.

Except that my father is very difficult to shop for. Aren’t most fathers? From everyone I’ve talked to, it seems that Dads either have only minimal interests, or own everything they want. On top of that, they seem to be a very picky lot, often smiling politely at ill-chosen clothes and DVDs but never using these gifts, even out of pity.

Because I was (once again) completely out of idea for my father’s gift this year, I thought that something hand-made might actually be easier. So I decided on a pair of tan dress socks – perfect for his Sunday best.

Pops wouldn’t like nothing fancy, but I wanted something interesting to knit, so I went for a ribbed pattern with a cheeky little slip-stitch in the center – just enough to keep me from the soul-destroying effects of endless basic ribbing while maintaining the sturdy manliness of the sock. The eye-of-partridge heel was meant to be an enjoyable interlude, but each sock took two or three proper goes, as I couldn’t seem to get it right. I dream of someday knitting a single sock (I wouldn’t dare ask for a pair) without utterly bombing the heel. It’s early days, yet, though. I’ll get there.

I can just make out where I messed up on the pattern. Surely he can't tell!

This pattern comes from a book for two-at-a-time socks, but I didn’t feel up to the task of untangling two skeins of yarn every time I picked up this project. I wanted something to throw in my backpack and take with me to class, on the bus, to the cafe, etcetera. Thus, one sock is undoubtedly longer than the other. Luckily, as it turn out, so is one of my dad’s feet.

While knitting these, I heard lots of horror stories from fellow knitters about unsuccessful knitted projects for dads. Most seemed to involve socks that were slaved over, gifted, and never seen again. As time went on and I began to rush to meet my deadline for finishing the socks, I grew increasingly nervous. Perhaps I had misjudged my father’s appreciation for hand-knitted socks. After all, they’re not terribly practical: although the yarn had a hint of nylon and the heel is reinforced, the socks will wear over time and might not bear the ills that their cotton cousins can withstand. They can survive the washing machine but must be air-dried. Worst of all, without being able to take any measurements, perhaps they wouldn’t even fit! I finished and gently blocked the socks, and in a panic I bought a tin of Scottish shortbread, so he wouldn’t have to suffer the pangs of receiving a bad gift on Christmas.

I needn’t have worried. My dad was entirely appreciative of his gift, and put them on immediately. He wore them to my grandparents’ house for Christmas lunch, where he showed them off to my Oma, who was equally impressed. Then, he wore them again the next day to brunch. The likely smelliness of a second-day sock notwithstanding, I couldn’t have asked for a better compliment. What a great guy. He even took a picture of his presents in action.

I hope everyone had as much success with their hand-made gifts for the Holidays!

Project: Trichostema
Pattern: Simplicity