Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Socks of Doom

Pattern: Jane's Hedgerow Socks
Yarn: Regia 4 Ply Fadig, colorway: Bark

Gauge: 28 stitches/40 rows = 4" in stockinette
Needles: U.S. 0 (you'll probably want to use 1s unless your knitting is loose and sloppy like mine) circular(s) or dpns
Techniques: Magic Loop, Toe Up Gusseted Heel, Jeni's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off

My, What Lovely...Feet You Have!

I have made socks for three of my four sisters. I've been putting off making a pair for the remaining sister for several years. I want to make her socks. I tried to make her socks. I failed. When I originally asked her what she would like, she told me she wanted:

Long Wearing.


I love my sister. I want to make her happy. I want her to have socks that she really likes. I tried. Hard. I managed--in spite of the fact that I am half blind-- so black yarn is virtually impossible for me to knit with, and have ADHD--so endless swathes of tiny stockinette stitches make me really stabbity--to complete one sock. I did have to put a hot pink toe on it to keep from losing my mind completely, but I got it done.

It languished in the craft pile for several years. I had cataract surgery, and got new glasses. I discovered cuboid needles, which help me make my usually straggly stitches a lot more evenly sized. I got medication for the ADHD, so can now focus on repetitious stuff for long periods of time. But I can't make myself knit that second sock, I still don't hate myself enough to endure the drudgery that it entails. I threw out the one I'd made so it would stop taunting me; I didn't even try to salvage the yarn.

The other knitted gifts I've been making keep giving me a vague sense of nagging guilt. I finally decided that I do very much want to make this sister a pair of socks, but I have to honor myself as a crafter, first. I hunted Ravelry for a pattern that would be reasonably plain, and my stash for a dark neutral nylon reinforced wool fingering weight yarn.

I switched the pattern from top down to toe up, and my gauge is 7 (rather than 8) stitches to the inch on U.S. 0 needles. I wanted a rounder toe than the standard one that increases by four stitches every other row, and that took some research and a lot of experimentation before I got a result I like. Bonus (which may have subconsciously led me to picking this pattern) the sister's name is Jane.

It really is a foot. It's not a strange pink tree root. I promise.

Patterm Adaptations:
Rounded Toe: 
Judy's Magic Cast On: 10 stitches each needle. (20 stitches)
Round 1: knit
Rounds 2-5: k1, inc1, knit, inc1 in second stitch from end of needle, repeat on second needle (36 stitches in round 5)
Round 6, 8, and 10: knit
Rounds 7, 9, and 11: k1, inc1, knit, inc1 in second stitch from end of needle, repeat on second needle (48 stitches)
Rounds 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, and 20: knit
Rounds 14, and 17: k1, inc1, knit, inc1 in second stitch from end of needle, repeat on second needle (56 stitches)

The trick to making a rounded toe with paired increases on top and bottom is to divide the rounds into 3 or 4 segments (depending on how many stitches are desired for the foot) and knitting first none, then 1, then two, then 3 (for more 60 stitches) even rounds in between the increase rounds. Once the desired total of stitches is reached, end with one or more even rounds before starting the pattern repeats.

Work top of sock in pattern, and bottom of sock in stockinette until it measures 65% of desired finished length. (I want my finished sock to be about 10.25" long, so fudging the math just a bit:

10.25 inches = 102.5 rounds x 65% - the 20 for the toe = 48

The pattern stitch for this sock is very simple:

Round 1: k1, p1, k2, p2, repeat to end of round
Round 2: k2, p1, k2, P2, repeat to end of round

So I've got four more rows to knit before I start the heel, which is going to be the Toe Up Gusseted Heel from Maia Spins.

I'll edit this post and add more pictures when I get to that part.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Second Verse

Update 7/09/12: And now they are done. I like the way the turned out more better this time. And they fit. Perfectly.

Not quite the same as the first, but "Do Over" is such a depressing name for a project.  Halfway through the second sock, I (a) didn't really like the pattern and (b) realized they were going to be too bloody big. 

Cascade Fixation stretches. A LOT. So I frogged and started over. (Yes, that IS why I am called Rana Catesbeiana, at least in part. I generally frog everything at least once.)

The pattern I'm using instead is Hermione's Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder. More or less.

Gauge is 24 stitches/36 rows = 4” on U.S. 2 needles.

Cast on = 48 stitches
Cuff = 18 rows; k3, p1 rib
Leg = 40 rows;  in pattern
Heel = 18 rows; eye of partridge, with slip stitch, p1 edges
Gusset = pick up 10 stitches on each side
Foot = 36 rows (plus gusset decreases, so 58 in all)
Toe = 24 rows (decreasing to 16 stitches)

The four stitch, four row pattern breaks up the pooling of the clown barf quite nicely. I’m using a k3, p1 rib for the cuff, a heel flap, paired decreases for the toe, grafting to bind off.

If you want help figuring out the number of stitches/rows for various parts in a different yarn/size/gauge, leave a comment and let me know.

I'll keep the notes and pics from the first verse for the record, but the sock and a half are no more. They are expired. They are ex-socks.

*  *  *  *  *

Version One, nicknamed 5 x 5, circa 4/20/12

When the character Faith from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer is asked how she is, she answers, "five by five." It comes from old radio slang, and pretty much means, "all is well." I don't know if that actually describes these socks (well, it didn't actually describe Faith either) but the pattern repeat is five stitches by five rows, and I like it.

And it's clown barf! which is always well.

I had a couple of criteria in mind when designing these socks. Two yarns, one plain and one not so plain had to play nice together. Cascade fixation is a bit of a challenge for a sock, because it's fairly substantial, and rather textured at the same time. I ganked the cuff pattern from Columbia by Catherine Gamroth. I didn't think the abrupt change from the pattern to stockinette would work with my two sibling yarns, so I kept a repeat of it winding down the heel, while smoothing a variation into the foot.

I had planned to make the toe in lime green also, but that yarn was in another room and the Atlanta Braves were winning. I didn't want to stop knitting or watching, either one. I may put a green toe on the second sock, we shall see.

All is well, and all is well, and all manner of things will be well.

I'm using roughly 90 grams of Cascade Fixation or  similar DK/8 ply yarn, and U.S. size 4 (3.5 mm) needles. One at a time, magic loop.

Gauge = 5.5 stitches/8 rows to the inch, more or less.

Pattern and more pics to follow.

(Edit to update: or not. If I try again with different yarn, I'll write a new post.)