Ugly Socks

Have you ever made something appalling? Something that made your eyelids twitch to glance at? Something that horrified you when you thought that someone might see it and know that you made it?

I just did. The Ugly Socks. We ordered 4 colours of Regia Galaxy Saturn yarn on sale, each of us choosing a colour. It’s a yarn I’ve used and liked before. The other colours look great. And even on the ball this one didn’t seem too bad. A bit bright perhaps, but Rainer likes his socks cheerful and crazy.


Regia Galaxy "Saturn"

I mean…orange. Orange is a happy colour. And it had just turned gray and cool and rainy. How could I go wrong knitting up a pair of orange socks for the man who was the love of my life? It was going to be happiness all around.

And then it wasn’t. After I finished the ribbing, it was clear that with the number of stitches I had in order to fit around his leg there weren’t goint to be the cool swirls and pooling like the surface of Jupiter that the Galaxy yarn is supposed to get.  Not unexpected.  What startled me was just how much I hated the sock. Not in an active, growling way like when the process is bothering you. Nope. Just a flinching and a stabbing pain to the eyes.  The Ugly Socks were on their way.

They were simple socks, so I didn’t need to look at them very often. Thank heavens. And I knit them quickly. Like my fingers were on fire. I started late Saturday evening and was done by Thursday. And all the while I was horrified.

Why? Well, Rainer didn’t hate them, for one thing. I knew he’d wear them, which is of course the point of going to all the trouble of knitting them. But everyone – at work, our friends, parents at soccer – everyone knows that I knit his socks. And they were Ugly Socks. No one else in the family thought they were that bad; and they giggled at my speechless reaction and my inarticulate attempt to explain why they were so horrid. For the first time ever, I reviled socks. The way each colour went with the others was just wrong. Wrong. The orange wasn’t right. The green was sort of harsh. The browns were too warm. The gold failed to be golden. And in combination they. were. awful.


Ugly Socks



Colour names: Autumn Vomit? 1970’s Appliance War?

And it’s important to note that none of the hideous rose-taupe tones of the lightest colour were captured by the camera, likewise with the glaring tones of the gold, and ditto with the truly appalling mediocrity of the emerald. However bad it looks here, rest assured that the reality was much, much, much worse. (Can you feel me shuddering?)

So I threw them into a pot of dye. Chestnut with a dash of sky blue.


Ugly Socks


Thank goodness for dye. They’re still colourful enough to tickle Rainer’s fancy. But I’ll let them out of the house now.


17 thoughts on “Ugly Socks

  1. Jen C says:

    I’m a long-time lurker (since your Poppins days) who really enjoys your writing. I’m not sure why I don’t comment – probably because, as a childless, non-knitter, I feel really under qualified to even read here!

    Can I be honest? The pre-dye socks are ugly. I was getting the same visuals you were about appliances from the 70s, actually.

    Your work is beautiful – don’t get me wrong – but the colours just didn’t work. I think that the dyed socks are a great improvement.

    I hope you don’t think I’m rude or anything; I just wanted to comment so that you knew someone out there shared your opinion on the socks.

    Jen in Ontario

  2. Heather says:

    Oh my! I’m a fan of many things 1970s but I see what you mean about those colours – they’ve got a 1970s afghan thing going on. But what a difference the dye made. Gorgeous.

  3. Samantha says:

    I’ll stand out as the strange one here 😉 but I really like the original colours of the socks as shown in the photo… The dyed version is gorgeous, but I would have worn the first pair as well.

  4. Kelly says:

    ohhh well done you! the ugly socks, aren’t that bad, but they definitely would be a pair you would want to admire and stare at all day. Love the dyed version, good save!

  5. Tara says:

    I love the Ugly Socks Redux! Although I couldn’t really call the initial ones ugly since they are obviously beautifully made! (The colors of those socks though…UG-LEE!)

  6. Karen says:

    Samantha – you’re not alone.

    The only thing I don’t love about the original color is the green, which may be a monitor thing (greens often seem off), but I like it better in the sock than on the skein. 🙂 The browner version’s okay, but I’d go with the original any day. =)

    This is why I’ve learned to let go when I’m tie dyeing – the shirt I loathe often turns out to be one that I get the lots of positive feedback on. I chalk it up to me knowing what I was expecting and other people seeing what is.

  7. Jo says:

    Wow! What a change! I actually breathed a sigh of relief when I saw them after they were dyed.

    Plus I’m so impressed at your fast knitting. Wow!

  8. LadyHash says:

    Another long time lurker, finally logging in to comment: I like the Ugly Socks. Well, I like the Post-Ugly Socks, too. But the Ugly Socks were kind of charming.

    Side note: love your website. It’s inspiring.

  9. hopewellmomschoolagain says:

    Put that ugly yarn into acrylic and you have my 9th grade English teacher’s sweater and too many couch-covering zig-zag afghans to remember! I think the socks aren’t nearly as ugly as Mrs. Ludwig’s sweater or the next-door neighbor’s afghan [you know the couch–the one with the wood frame and arms and the ugly day-glow orange wagon wheels on the fabric?] I like the ugly socks!

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