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Second Sock Syndrome

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

It’s Monday, and I’ve been working away on my Rainy Day sock pattern, audio-book-in-ear, coffee in reach. I’m on the second sock of the pair, which I admit, I sometimes approach with reluctance, because it’s more of the same. This pair’s not too bad, because the heel and toe offer interesting variety, book-ending the more basic repetitive stuff.

But second sock syndrome is a thing right? Somewhere in every knitter’s home is a guilty stash of single socks and UFO’s (unfinished objects) NASA would happily deny the existence of. Jerry Seinfeld does this joke about single socks going missing in the laundry because one has ‘made a run for it’…I put it to you that the second of the pair was never made in the first place. A yarn-store employee recently told me she was haunted by a single sock she made as a child, losing the pattern before the second sock was done…leaving her with a single sock she keeps pair-less to this day.

Is it the repetition? Is it fear the second won’t match the first? Is it foot bias? Is it just that you are distracted by that new, sparkly, shiny pattern that popped up on your Instagram feed? Maybe all of the above. For monogamous knitters like me, it can get a little challenging to pick up the sticks and finish the job, so here are some things that work for me. Maybe they’ll help you too:

1. Pick an interesting pattern.

This is an easy strategy. Whether you challenge yourself with a new technique, like faux cables, or some fancy colourwork, or you’re one of those wonderful knitters who likes to squeeze every wedge of the colour wheel into a small space, keeping the brain engaged in new ways might help you cure an old problem. A great pattern can be like a good book too. Re-reading the same lines can be like re-uniting with a long-lost friend.

2. Start the second sock before the first is finished.

This one’s my personal go-to. I’m not sure I can explain why it works either. I mean, I’m still repeating the same thing, but somehow, looking at two socks forming together seems to gel them in my mind as part of a unified, single object.

Rainy Day socks knitting in progress
Rainy Day socks in progress

3. Start a different pattern to break things up.

OK, so this one might be a little controversial, because stepping away from an unfinished project is what lands some of you in this pickle in the first place. The key is keeping the first project front of mind – maybe still in the knitting bag, so it doesn’t end up in a dark drawer whimpering into the void. After all, as my Harlequin Romance obsessed Aunt Barb used to say, “Variety is the spice of life!”

Wait, now I think on it, I’m not sure she and I are talking about the same thing…

4. Set a measurable goal and talk about it

My husband occasionally lumbers through triathlon races 'he’ll never win'. Those are his words, I am an eternal optimist. He says he doesn’t train for races, he races so he’ll train. The prospect of being seen in a wetsuit, biking bib and running shorts all in one day, while competing against the other mid-life hopefuls is what it takes to motivate him to do the boring, painful sessions between races.

As a knitter, you don’t need to develop a relationship with lycra, and the prospect of makers racing against each-other to finish socks while families crowd around to cheer them on is, let’s just say, unlikely. But there are ways to achieve the same effect.

Try keeping a journal where you set a completion deadline for yourself. Maybe pick a worthy person’s birthday in mind for every project, or simply announce your completion goals to friends and family in advance. Either way, a public deadline might be just the thing to pair up your singles into the future.

5. Get used to wearing mismatched socks.

If all else fails, why not just lean in to the problem. Just as some knitters these days don’t bother weaving in their ends, you could just turn your foot fashion into a speed dating exercise for lonely socks. The line between crazy and cutting-edge is yours to choose…after all, you’re the one putting the work in!

That’s all I can think of today. I have a new pattern to release, the Good Weekend Beanie 😊.

Please check it out and thanks everyone for the love and support.

Let me know how you deal with second sock syndrome…new ideas welcome!


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