Monday, June 06, 2011

Sock Woes


I knit differently than most people do--I wrap my yarn around the needles the "wrong" way. I'm a firm believer that there's no really wrong way to knit as long as you get the results that you want, so I've never felt the need to correct this little problem.1 One of the results of this particular quirk is that my gauge (the number of stitches per inch) is looser than most, which can affect the fit of anything I'm trying to make. The easiest way to fix this is by using a smaller needle: smaller needle=tighter stitches.

Unfortunately, this makes sock knitting a chore: socks need to be knit at a tight gauge because they need to take a licking and keep on ticking, and feet are kind of a high traffic area. To get a tight enough gauge with many commercial yarns, I would need to knit with needles smaller than 2mm wide.2 The smarter decision for me, in terms of avoiding general craziness and future repetitive stress injuries in my hands, is to use a heavier yarn. Handmaiden Casbah has been a good yarn for me for this reason. It also machine washes and dries, as well as surviving being pounded by my feet when I stomp/walk around.

I've been working on a pair of Nutkin socks for the last few weeks in the Hemlock colourway of Casbah. I decided to mod the pattern to be toe-up and to get rid of the purl ridge on the toe, which I don't like. Since I've only made a handful of toe-up socks, I decided to try a new heel construction, from Wendy Johnson's Toe-Up Socks With A Difference. Despite following the instructions, I wound up with a sock that was drastically too long for my foot:


As I also didn't care for the way the heel fit my foot, I decided to knit the second one with the gusset heel that I have usually used for this style of sock. It fits me much better. I finished the second sock last night, and once I could try on both of them, I realized that I was going to have to re-knit the heel on the first sock.

Not a huge deal, really, but I was so excited to be done my second pair of socks for the year, and now it turns out that I'm not really done. Boo-urns.
1 Plus, I've been knitting for so long at this point that I have a pretty good sense of how my knitting works, so I can usually compensate for this pretty easily. Learning to wrap the "right" way would throw all of that off.
2 Yes, they exist, and yes, they do usually bear a remarkable resemblance to toothpicks.

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