Friday, November 30, 2012

Socks Undone and Done

For my travel knitting, I took socks to SOAR.  I decided to try one of the patterns from Ann Budd’s book, Sock Knitting Master Class.  It has been quite awhile since I knitted something from someone else’s pattern.  But I thought it’d be a nice task for travelling.  My goal was to stick to the instructions as written and avoid imposing my own opinions upon them.

I chose the pattern, “Slip-n-Slide”, by Chrissy Gardiner.  I do like slip stitches so this pattern spoke to me.  The yarn used in the pattern was indicated to be fingering weight (#1 super fine), with 450 yards per 100 grams.  The gauge specified was 16 sts per 2 inches.

Ann chronicled her own experiences with all the patterns in this book in her blog.  You can find some of her comments on this particular sock in her blog entry, February 19, 2012.  

I selected from my stash some yarn that had been a birthday gift from my friend, Sylvia VM:  Lorna’s Laces, “Shepherd Sock” (80% superwash wool, 20% nylon), in a mix of berry pink and medium-light blue (color 501 argyle, dye lot 6662).  I thought the colorway would be especially effective for the slip stitch patterns highlighted in the sock.  approximately 215 yards per skein, suggesting a gauge of 7 sts per inch (also #1 super fine).  I figured I could get gauge with this yarn.

In fact, on US size 1 needles (2.25 mm), I got ever so slightly more than 8 sts per inch.  So, I figured this yarn would work for this pattern.

I confidently headed off on my trip with yarn, pattern, and needles.  I happily knitted the leg of the sock, then started the heel flap.  I was concerned with a minor error in the heel flap instructions.  How handy was it that Ann Budd happened to be at SOAR too, so I could ask her about the sock!  I did modify the heel flap to suit my “urge”.  And I’m happy I did.  After I knitted the heel turn, I tried on the sock.  Or, I tried to try on the sock.  No way was it ever going to fit me.  Just too small.  Honestly, I didn’t think I was off that much in gauge.

Three possible solutions that I could think of:  1) adjust the pattern by adding stitches,  2) knit at a looser gauge, or 3) knit the pattern with a different, thicker yarn.

I did not want to knit at a looser gauge; it has been my experience that socks tend not to last very long if they are flimsy.

I thought about adding more stitches.  In fact, that is exactly what Ann Budd had done when she knit the socks.  But for what ever reason I was disinclined to this solution.

I opted for solution #3:  using a thicker yarn.  I knew I would be able to find an appropriate yarn in my stash at home, but I did not have such yarn with me.  Thus the socks remained undone at SOAR.  Instead, I worked on a sock of my own design (see my previous blog entry  for that sock).

When I got home, I rummaged through my stash and found just what I was looking for.  A yarn that was also a gift from my friend Sylvia VM.  And, interestingly enough, in a similar but darker colorway!  It was a yarn that called out to be knitted into slip stitch patterns.

I regret that I do not have the tag for this yarn.  Sylvia had already wound it into a ball and its tag was long gone.  I am confident that the yarn is wool.  Superwash perhaps.  Perhaps not.

I got a gauge of 7 sts per inch on US size 2 needles.  Not the gauge called for in the pattern, but I liked the firmness of the fabric and thought it would be better for the sock to be a bit too big than too small.

Success!  Now the socks are done.  Here is a picture of the socks, with a bit of the yarn I used, and a ball of the yarn I didn’t use.

The socks were fun to knit.  The stitch patterns were easy to memorize and perform, yet interesting enough to entertain me.  I mostly followed the directions as put forth in the pattern.  But I did make a few very minor changes:

1.  I modified the toe to be longer and more graduated of a wedge shape.
2.  I used a cable needle to perform the twisted slip stitches (as opposed to just letting the live stitches hang free), and I worked until 18 sts remained, instead of 14.
3.  On the heel flap, I worked even rows starting with “Sl 1 wyf” instead of the suggested “Sl 1 wyb”.

I’m happy to report that the socks fit!  All in all, a nice sock experience.  I can’t seem to stop knitting socks right now; I’ve got another pair on the needles….

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