Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Adventures in Sock Knitting

I wear socks every day. I'm a "house-sock" person. Where some people wear slippers or "house shoes" I wear socks. I wear socks to bed. In fact, I can't sleep if I don't have my socks on. They are my ticket to regulating my erratic body body temperature. Too hot? Take the socks off. Too cold? Socks on! It's almost magic really. For the most part I wear simple white cotton anklets--you know the kind I mean, the ones they sell at Sam's Club, Walmart, or Costco in bags of 6 or 10 or 12 pairs. I *need* those big bags of socks because they wear out fast and because Miss Emme, my little dachsy, has this thing for my socks. She picks them up (yes, plural, she wants them both in her little doggy mouth) and hauls them away to all her favorite hiding places in the house.

After Emme chewed a hole in my 1st handknit sock I became very careful to keep them well out of her reach but I don't really care that much about the Sam's Club socks. As long as I have a clean pair to wear when I need them, it's OK. I didn't cry over the 1st handknit sock either as they had, er...well, let's just call them fit issues. Let's just say that size 3 needles recommended in the "how to knit socks" booklet I used for guidance are too big to knit a good sock out of fingering wt. sock yarn. I had worn the heels thin in those socks in months. That was my first lesson in sock knitting--small needles are your friend if you want to wear your socks for any length of time. Oh, and, keep them out of the reach of dogs!

So, I got carried away with the illusion of "free time" that I would have this summer now that the dissertation is done and I'm a "free" woman. I signed up for a bunch of KALS--too many KALS really. My fault was not in signing up and enjoying the camraderie and the designs, but in thinking I would actually be able to knit them all on time with the groups. I'm not a speed knitter. But the official start date for the Summer of Socks 2007 was last Thursday so I dutifully cast-on a new pair of socks that would be just perfect to wear in the summer. Why would they be perfect? Because I would be knitting them from Panda Cotton, a blend of cotton, bamboo, and a bit of elastic to keep the sagging in check.
So I did the logical thing and went to the Crystal Palace website to find a pattern to go with the yarn. Crystal Palace has great pattern support for their yarns, and the best part is many of those patterns are free for the downloading!

I found this great pattern by Adrienne Fong called Fly Away Home which sort of looks like ladybugs. Ladybugs, summer, cotton yarn--this sounds great. I grabbed a bunch of dpns and started in. The design called for a picot cuff which I think looks awesome, but I had never knit before. No time like the present, I thought, to learn a new technique. I found some waste yarn to do a provisional cast-on and I was off. that "off" didn't last long once I had the provisional undone and 2 sets of dpns, including my favorite KnitPicks super slippery 2.5mm ones, dangling in strange ways as I tried to get it all to come together into a cuff. The needles slid, I dropped stitches, I switched to bamboo and aluminum, I hissed, I found my dropped stitches and went on. At last, I had a very nice picot-edge cuff, a very stretchy cuff. I made a mental note to learn to Magic Loop before trying this technique again, and proceeded to follow the pattern.

Knitting on, I loved the ladybug lace motif. I also loved how fast my sock was growing. I tried it on and was surprised to discover that it fit quite nicely over my exceedingly curvy calf. This sock was fitting where no sock had fit before! Maybe there is something to this elastic added sock yarn after all. One pattern repeat down things were looking good, the same with 2, but by the 3rd repeat I was beginning to worry that this sock was too big. I added some needles and did a try on. Big indeed! But I could just knit a really long cuff and get away with it this time, I thought. Of course that would most likely mean I would need a 3rd ball of this skimpy yardage yarn. Then it hit me, I had to make the heel and foot smaller if it was going to fit--much smaller! I was already working on 2.25mm needles and somehow I didn't think going down to 2.0mm would be adequate to the task.

First I growled, then I did a gauge check. How does 6 st/" hit you when the design called for (YIKES! I don't remember seeing this) 9st/"! I knew I was sunk and I pulled the needles in preparation for frogging. The stitch holder in the photo shows about how much I don't need of this sock for it to fit. The second photo is a little exercise in yarn comparison: Panda Cotton vs. Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock or the fat sock yarn vs. the typical sock yarn. Lesson learned. Panda Cotton is more like Sport Weight. The yarn is now rewound and I'm searching for the next pattern to try. I have a couple of promising ones that call for sport weight yarn at a gauge of 5.5-6st/" I guess I'll be casting-on again soon :-)

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

I made a pair of Victorian Lace socks from the Six Sock KAL you can see them here http://tincantextiles.blogspot.com/2007/06/traveling-without-camera-cord-i.html

Six Sox KAL is a yahoo group.