Thursday, March 30, 2006

Let's Talk About Socks

The course of sock pal knitting has not run smoothly. My first problem was an inability to choose a pattern. As you may recall, the yarn I had chosen (with your help!) was Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Mother Lode. I really wanted to knit a pattern that would show this gorgeous yarn to its best advantage. I considered Jaywalkers, but worried about the fit, because my sock pal's feet are not the same size as mine.

After some intelligence gathering (i.e., anonymous email), I determined that she would prefer a light, pretty, perhaps even lacy pattern. So I turned to Sensational Knitted Socks looking for a lace pattern that incorporated plenty of smooth stockinette areas to show off the variegation. I started a pair of Ribbed Lace, and then because I did not RTFP (sound familiar, Jess?), I did not realize that it was basically an entire sock in K1, P1 rib, with some yarnovers and decreases thrown in every few rounds. The idea of this nearly made blood come out of my eyes. Rip, rip, rip. I also considered the Oriel Lace socks, but after starting them, didn't think I could make the yarn, gauge, stitch pattern and size all work out. Back to the frog pond we go.

Then, I was looking through the new Rebecca magazine, and thought of adapting the lace pattern from the black sweater for the socks. That would have been cool, but sadly, after trying it out, I realized the socks would be too small and bigger needles would have resulted in a floppy fabric. Rip again.

Next stop for pattern inspiration -- the Vogue Knitting Stitchionary. (This is a great book with beautiful stitch patterns, but where are the charts?!) I found a stitch pattern that would fit perfectly with the number of stitches I believed I needed, with my gauge to make the right size. It's an eyelet diamonds pattern, which I changed a little to eliminate an annoying twist that requires not one but two cable needles. I'm knitting happily along and get this far ... when I realize that something is very, very wrong.

That's right, it's nearly five inches wide. Considering that she said her foot is nine inches around, this is not going to work. I mean, I'm no expert, but even I know that positive ease is a Very Bad Idea for Socks. So, including the little gauge swatches I did, I will have frogged this yarn about five or six times now. I'd just cut it out, but her feet are long enough that I don't really have yarn to spare.

Conclusions: I am sticking with this eyelet diamond pattern, because I like it and I think it is light and lacy without being too much. I am going to use the other Lorna's Laces -- the Seaside -- because it matches the pattern better and hasn't been frogged to death. I scaled down the pattern to a smaller number of stitches, but I suppose I could try knitting the same number of stitches on size 0 needles -- these are size 1s. Comments are welcome.

A postscript: Thanks everyone for the nice comments about my Backyard Leaves scarf. If you have feared this pattern, don't! You can do it!


Blogger Jennifer said...

Whooo boy! With all that figuring, and knitting, and frogging, I know your pal will love whatever you cook up. I have no thoughts, but am cheering you on!

1:26 PM  
Blogger margene said...

It is a challenge to make socks for a foot that isn't near by to measure and test. You are doing a good job of insuring the person will be able to wear them! Good work.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

When I'm knitting for someone who's foot isn't my size (like Margene - my Sockapal2za pal!) I like to use some sort of rib. If the fit's not perfect, it's not nearly so obvious.

3:29 PM  
Blogger msubulldog said...

Holy Cow, you've been working hard on this! I hope the eyelet pattern works out. I'm decreasing my gauge by a needle size to accommodate my sockpal's size 5 feet. It's the only way I figured I could modify a lace pattern and still have it come out okay. Good luck (for both of us)!

3:31 PM  
Anonymous JessaLu said...

RTFP - I think I may have started a trend ;o) RTFP can also stand for Rip the F*cking Project *grin*

Are you using 2.5mm #1's or 2.25mm #1's? I was using 2.5mm when I started my jaywalkers and had to switch to 2.25mm's and it took a whole inch off.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Glaistig said...

Ha, I look to you for sock expertise . (I am Colonel Klink: "I know nuss-ing.") I do know that your fortitude on this sock adventure helps to explain how the human species survived out on the savanah.

And I can promise that JessaLu's take on RTFP is going into my knitting vocab.

9:13 PM  
Blogger Coleen said...

I admire your perserverence! I am looking forward to whatever you cook up. That yarn is so gorgeous, I am certain that whatever pattern you choose is going to look incredible.

1:05 AM  
Blogger emy said...

At least it ain't as horrid as my ripping out an entire 32" round shawl :P

3:43 AM  
Blogger Jeanne said...

Sometimes the only thing that helps me get through this kind of situation is how pretty the yarn is. The Lorna's Laces is really beautiful.

I love the RTFM article at Wikipedia. So calm, so rational, about this bit of irreverence!

11:52 AM  
Blogger Philippa said...

Maybe you could make a mock-up of a foot? (I know this sounds a little crazy, but Grumperina's kind of done it). If you were to take an old pair of tights (maybe you call them 'pantyhose' in the US?) and stuff a foot with something like newspaper to fill it to the right dimensions, then you could keep 'trying it on' to make sure it would fit your pal? I know this is going to some lengths, but it might keep you out of the frog pond.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Catherine Kerth said...

first of all, i love the scarf!!!! second, it hink this round of sockapaloooza is cursed b/c i have had a lot of problems with my socks too ;) i love the diamond pattern, and i think just moving to a smaller size needle will fix the problem :) geees! i hope!

9:41 PM  
Blogger Beak-Knits said...

I am so with you on the Stitchionary. I have almost bought it a few times, but I do not function well without charts.

I am sure it will work out...someimes socks are so much trouble!!

10:25 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Where are the charts? That's my big problem with that book, too. And now there's a second, also without charts. Ugh. But great looking socks.

6:06 PM  

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