Last day of January … Is it too late to write a new year post??
I must confess to complete failure with my Festive Season makes – even Twelfth Night didn’t save the day. My fella requested hand-knitted gloves, but I’d never made them before and I wasn’t getting on with the pattern. Then he told me an old wives’ tale that states if you make or give a pair of gloves, you wave that person goodbye! Well that certainly didn’t encourage the crafting process, and the festive deadlines came and went. Then there was the hat I was trying to complete for my friend’s birthday on New Year’s Day. It was a simple enough pattern, but had lots of yarn overs, and a small lapse in concentration could spell disaster. And disaster struck so many times, I ended up giving up!! I told my friend if hours of effort counts for anything, and if an hourly rate applies, she would have a very expensive gift! Shame you can’t wrap up “it’s the thought that counts!”
I consoled myself with a safe-knit – a pair of toe up socks that I made last year in orange. And as I have quite a lot of this purple aran yarn hanging about I’ll no doubt make another pair or three of socks with it. Now that my gardening work is picking up, I’m stepping into the new year with cosy feet. Yay!
The path to sock enlightenment is not proving an easy one. My first pair – years in the making – shrunk in the wash.. Oops! I put them in the ordinary wash at 40 degrees, and I can’t even get them on my feet anymore (now I know what Cinderella’s ugly sisters felt like if they were trying on her socks rather than her glass slipper!) Maybe I’ll use them as dusters..
I wanted to make another pair quickly before I forgot the process, so I went to good ol’ Ravelry and found this freebie pattern: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/rye-4 As the design calls for worsted yarn and chunkier needles than the first sock pattern I attempted, they worked up more quickly. The only hiccup was grafting the toe – this time I tried the proper Kitchener stitch instead of the crocheted graft I used before. The only thing I would change if I made these socks again would be to use a different sized needle for the cuff: the pattern called for 2.25mm needles compared to 2.75 for the rest of the sock, but I reckon I would either use the same size as the main body, or 2.5mm if I went smaller for the cuff, as I thought 2.25mm was a teeny bit on the tight side..
Cuff down socks: Seersucker stitch and Rye Pattern
I then decided I wanted to try a toe up sock pattern, and went for a basic pattern from the book Socks From The Toe Up by Wendy D Johnson. But I made a couple of idiotic decisions. To begin with, the pattern specified 2mm needles – eek! Titchy takes too long! And the yarn I chose was not great for the ripping back which is inevitable when learning new techniques (i.e. Turkish cast on, fleegle heel and I was rusty on M1 increases). The yarn in question was Debbie Bliss Rialto Luxury Sock. It has a haze, and this tends to catch on itself when ripping back, especially as 2mm needles create small stitches which knot up easily. Eventually I reached the leg of the first sock and managed to accidentally break the yarn (even though I was doing plain stocking stitch at that point, my brain sometimes rebels at repetitiveness, and I did something wrong, so had to unravel..) At which point I got so exasperated, I lost the will to continue, and decided that pattern in this yarn on those needles was too much trouble! So I went large again. Far more sensible to learn on chunkier yarn and thicker needles. The pattern was another freeby from Ravelry http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/toe-up-worsted-socks and it went a lot more smoothly.
Toe up socks
By then I had thought of a title for this blog post I wanted to write so I knew I wanted to make another pair of cuff down socks. I thought I’d have a go a go at designing my own sock. I’d seen several stitch patterns I liked and I opted for the Seersucker stitch, which was written for flat knitting but was easy enough to convert to circular knitting. I had to look up what a seersucker was – sounds like some sort of leech to me! But it actually means “a lightweight fabric with a crimped or puckered surface”. In green yarn, it brings to mind dragon scales..
The final test is how comfy they are in my gardening boots and, of course, if I can wash them without shrinking them. Dusters anyone..?
I’ve written previously about the faff of DPNs, and how this drove me to pick up the hook to fulfil my desire to make socks. Having sported the pair I crocheted a couple of times, I’m not convinced they wear comfortably. The structure of crochet stitches is more bumpy than knitted stitches and though I’ve read methods to lessen this, I’ve returned to attempts to knit socks. And I’m pleased to report I’ve had success…
More importantly, I don’t need thick-soled hobbit feet to don them with a smile.
It’s taken me a while to get to this point. I got as far as decreasing for the toe on one sock, and put it down as I was quite busy and felt I shouldn’t rush it. I didn’t pick it up again for ages and by then had forgotten how I did things. So in the interest of making socks that match, I ripped back to the beginning… and lost my way again somehow. So my sock yarn looked like this for a time..
My successful attempt happened after the decision to work two socks simultaneously – or as synchronously as possible with DPNs. This meant knitting part of one sock, stopping, then knitting the same part of the second sock before continuing. In this way, the process of each section remained fresh in my mind and I was more likely to match tension etc. Things went quite smoothly… but I misread the heel flap instructions: on each row, I did sl1 K1 (or P1) across, rather than alternate a row of sl1 K1 with a row of purl across. It made the heel shorter and tighter than it should’ve been, but I only noticed when I reached the toe of the second sock. Well of course there was no way I was going back and re-doing the heels! Grafting the toe was a bit of a problem too. It didn’t help that I was venturing this late in the evening (never a good time to try something new!) and I ended up crocheting a graft rather than use Kitchener stitch. It worked okay, but each graft had an ‘ear’ on the left hand side.
Despite the heel mishap, this first completed pair of knitted socks has proved comfy – definitely more so than those I hooked up. I’ve now got a long list of socks I want to make. I’m close to completing a top down pair in aran, and I think I will try a toe-up pair next…