Saturday, 8 September 2007

In which I learn about sock knitting from my dear internet friends

Thank you so much for your comments on my last post. I was overjoyed to read them not only because of what you said, although of course that too, but because you said it. I have no idea how anyone manages, or bothers, to read this blog when I post so infrequently and even more rarely about knitting, but thank you, thank you for doing so. On the subject of comments, I'd really like to be able to reply to all of them. I have made such good friends through conversations begun with the response to a comment, and, as you know, Blogger doesn't make this so easy. Hannah, if you'd send me an email (address in the sidebar) I'd love to be able to get to know you a little. I can't say I'm much better at emailing than posting, but it would be nice to think it wasn't all one way. Only if you want to, of course.

Right, on with the story of the sock. I took some more photos because I found the memory stick and then left it in London again when I returned to Casa Mum'n'Dad. French photos tomorrow, because Deri is coming to visit later! (And bringing his computer, and my camera, which I left in the glove compartment of his car).

The pattern is Charade, and I should begin by saying that I love it. The herringbone rib is truthfully addictive, and it's simple enough to knit whilst map-reading but sufficiently interesting to make even waiting for a ferry a pleasure. It did take me a while to work out how to pick up a dropped stitch (I kept dropping the last YO off the end of the needle, and then could not for a while work out how to pick it up in pattern) which tempted D to venture, after I told him that he should go to the loo since we would be landing soon and he pointed out that he had just been and I hadn't even noticed, that knitting is 'a bit antisocial'. 'Nonsense!' I cried. 'It stopped me from getting bored in the car, and I navigated the way here successfully, and you didn't want to hit me over the head with the map because I was whining like a five-year-old, and it produced you a lovely scarf which you brought all the way to France even though it was sometimes too hot for your little Celtic self to step outside!' to which he meekly replied that he would never have wanted to hit me over the head anyway and left it at that. Antisocial, huh.

So, the sock. I begin as any knitter should, and dutifully swatch. Since I can't decide which one looks like the best tension for a hand-knit sock, never having seen one before (in the thread, as it were), I consult the oracle by way of the gauge specified for Roza's Socks, which are knitted in Lorna's Laces, the yarn I'm using for Charade. So far, so good enough for Grumpy.

I read the pattern and decide to decrease the number of stitches since this is written for a 'medium' woman's foot and mine are usually considered small. Measure my foot to check, and find that mine measures 8" around the ball of the foot, while the pattern says 6.5". This cannot be! Measure D's foot to check. His is 9" around the ball of the foot, even though he takes shoes eight sizes bigger than mine. Measure again. Spend a while wondering whether I have troll feet.

Decide to consult another oracle. She says 'Multiply the inch measurement you have taken for the widest part of your leg by your gauge and then deduct twenty-five to thirty percent of that number ... This percentage reduction is necessary to make the stocking tighter than your actual leg measurement at the top ... You don't want your socks to fall down!'. To decrease by 30% would leave me with 56 sts, by 25 % with 60 (the pattern is written for 64 sts). Feel vindicated in my assumption. CO 60 sts and knit merrily on two car journeys and the ferry home. Try on sock. Notice with horror that there is skin showing through the holes in the pattern, which is not the case with the other Charades I have admired on the internet.

Knit on past the heel knowing that at some point I am going to rip this, pretending all the while to myself that I have faced my demons and am going to finish this sock if it kills the perfectionist in me.

Try on sock again. Note hole at heel flap join. Tear needles from sock in pique and chagrin. Leave sock mouldering in London while I jaunt off to my parents's house.

Return to London for the first meeting of my book club*. Write this post. Feel reconciled to sock, and determined to finish it. Start casting on with correct number of stitches, wonder if I should decrease a needle size to remove gaps in pattern, start swatching for something else (of course) and finally turn to you lot for help.

So, once again, I am seeking your good advice. First, please note the hole. It is only on one side, that of the second side of the heel flap from which I picked up the stitches (does that make sense?) which for some reason I found harder. The holey side:

The not so holey side:

Should I just rip back to here, correct it, and carry on? Or should I start again, equipped with the knowledge on how to pick dropped YOs successfully? (I pretended to myself that those times where I hadn't maintained the pattern were Persian flaws. Secretly, I believe that my knitting is uneven enough to constitute a flaw in its own right and I should try to make everything else as good as can be). You know which way I'm leaning, right? And if so, should I cast on for 64 sts with this needle size, or with the smaller needle size, which gives me an extra half a stitch per inch (an extra two in 4")? Or is that too small a difference to eliminate the little holes in the pattern, in which case should I go down another needle size? And in that case, should I in fact increase the stitch count? I do not, after all, want my sock to fall down. Or cut off my circulation.

In anticipation of your help, thank you. And in the meantime, have a great weekend!

*Yes, I am a granny in all but biological fact. I put my hair in a bun for work. I knit. I'm working on the rocking chair.


Anonymous said...

hi philippa, i got your comment about the cookie recipe--if you send me your email address (mine is parikha49 at yahoo dot com), i'd be happy to share it with you :)

Alice said...

I have no idea how anyone manages, or bothers, to read this blog when I post so infrequently


re: the hole - sew it up when you're finished.

Sandra said...

hey there, phillipa!

i personally think that your charades are coming along just swimmingly. :) they look like they fit you just fine and the gauge seems on target. i should have specified that on the pattern that the foot circumference for the finished sock is when the fabric is unstretched. :/ oopsy. . .

anyhoo, let me know if you need anymore help. :)

Julia said...

Ditto other people...I think your gauge looks good and I can barely see skin poking through. I think us knitters always demand a lot from our projects. I'm always convinced that *everything* I'm knitting looks far worse than other people's, because we become so familiar with the mistakes, shortcuts, and errors we've made as we've knit along. But they look great!
Also ditto on sewing up the hole. Ripping back is so frustrating! Your next pair of socks will surely be hole-free and these look good.

Jeanne said...

I've gotten into the habit of picking up a couple of extra stitches along the heel flap on each side -- at least one more than expected at the top (the ankle point). I've convinced myself that this keeps those holes from appearing. You can either decrease rather quickly in the first round or two, or make a gusset that is a few rounds longer than in the pattern, but I don't notice that once it's on my foot.

Marie said...

Ditto Jeanne. I pick up extra stitches too and just decrease them come the first few rows of the gussets. :) I think you don't have to rip the sock. You can just sew the wee hole up when you are done. The sock is quite beautiful, by the way.