First, the socks I like to wear tend to look like this:
Which in your average sock yarn would cost me about $50 to make, and that's before figuring in labor costs.
Second, I'm on a yarn diet anyway.
I told my husband I was on a yarn diet, and he agreed with me that this was a good thing, since when I go to the yarn store "just to look around" I tend to come home with necessities of life like handpainted silk.
The yarn diet
Well, in a non-yarn-related part of my life, I decided to make my father a Christmas gift (shh, don't tell), and this required going to my local Jo-Ann's to get (shh secret ingredient for Christmas gift), which was on sale.
And it happened that the aisle containing the secret ingredient was right next to the yarn aisle--perpendicular, in fact, so that I couldn't avoid seeing the yarn out of the corner of my eye. And once you see it you can't help wandering over, to see if there's anything new and/or on sale. In other words, Totally Not My Fault.
And it happened that there was a yarn that was both new (to me) and on sale, and it was this sock yarn*.
"But even if it was on sale," you're saying, "you still should have been kept from yielding to temptation, because it is sock yarn and you don't knit socks." This is true. I do not dare knit socks for myself. But THAT VERY MORNING my mother had told me that she wanted socks for Christmas.
Some of you are nodding now, but the more cynical of you are saying, "Ah, Wendy, even granting you a perfectly good reason to knit socks, you should not have yielded! For you were formerly an employee at Jo-Ann's, and you know that Jo-Ann brand stuff is crap."
This is mostly true. I can tell you with the authority of experience that if you are faced with a choice between a mid-priced pair of Gingher scissors, and a cheap pair of Jo-Ann scissors, you should buy the Gingher because the Jo-Ann ones will not cut fabric to save their life.
Likewise, faced with a choice between mid-range Susan Bates circular needles, and cheap Jo-Ann circular needles, you should go for the Susan Bates, because Jo-Ann needles will fall apart the first day and require hot-gluing, whereas the Susan Bates ones are perfectly serviceable.
But this rule does not hold when it comes to Jo-Ann yarn. I don't know why, (and I haven't tried all of their yarn, so I can only say this about a few varieties,) but Jo-Ann brand yarn does not suck. I have quite happily completed multiple projects with their Casual and Rainbow Bouclé* (couldn't find the Casual Bouclé on the site, but it's in the stores), as well as their Angel Hair Yarn*.
So I did it. I bought the $4 sock yarn. And it doesn't suck.
It's called "Soles & More" and is a 75/25 wool/nylon blend. Pretty soft, not scratchy. Claims to be washable (I haven't tested that yet). And it's self-patterning, and when I show you pictures of my most-worn fingerless gloves,
and the scarf I made out of stash scraps two years ago,
I think you'll understand how much I really love this colorway (creatively named "GRN/BLU/YLW", which despite its apparent straightforwardness is actually a misnomer because there is no yellow in it at all, but there is white and tan and brown, so really they ought to have called it "GRN/BLU/WHT/BRN").
(Pattern is The Yarn Harlot's Basic Sock Recipe, done over 64 stitches on US size 2 needles. Delightfully easy to follow pattern. This is my very first pair of socks. I predict many more in my mother's future.)
*Apologies for the Amazon links. At the time of this writing, Jo-Ann had their site down for maintenance.