This past weekend, I had not one, but two instances which proved that you cannot take anything for granted, no matter how much of an expert you think you are, or how long you have been doing the same thing. Trusting your instinct is great but trusting instructions/patterns that have been proven time and again by hundreds of others before you is not something you can ignore.
Lesson One: The Watermelon Socks.
I can’t remember now how it all started but I think I told Mina that I have two skeins of a watermelon self-striping sock yarn. Much squeeing ensued and I posted a photo of the skein on Facebook and told Mina she can have it. More squeeing followed, not sure how loudly or how long for but Mina assured me her husband was a little worried because she started squeeing when she saw the photo. I was supposed to bring the yarn to the Amiras meet-up but Mina and I were meeting sooner, to rummage through the shops in Satwa for sewing supplies so she asked if I could bring it then instead, a good 4 days earlier than originally planned. I did, and there was a wee bit of squeeing again after which Mina promptly secured the watermelon yarn in her bag, maybe worried that I’d change my mind? Anyway, we said that we would cast on for a sock knit-along when we met next and that’s what we did.
We cast on at the February Amiras meeting at The Lime Tree; Mina doing two-at-a-time and I was doing one sock at a time, both toe up, both the same stitch count. Mina decided to use 2mm needles and I had my trusty, slightly bent 2.25s. We managed quite a bit of progress that afternoon too! But hmm, something doesn’t look right. I’m not a loose knitter and Mina is not a tight knitter, but my sock looks bigger than hers! This, kids, is where tension matters.
I knitted a bit more until we got home where I tried the sock on. Alas! It was too loose for my liking. I thought about just going down a needle size (2mm?) or keeping on and just knit already. But the yarn is so pretty and I know I will hate wearing loose socks. So I frogged. I ripped the needles off the sock and undid an afternoon’s worth of knitting. I felt so much better for it.
I frogged back to the toe and stopped when I had 56 stitches on the needles. One size down, same needles, should be good. I caught up on TV that I missed during the week and knitted on. Soon I was at the gusset increases and heel flap. I have been knitting socks for a while and forgive me for taking instructions for granted. Like most knitters, I have certain knitting preferences that I always go to no matter what the pattern tells me because I know that it would make me happier and give me a better-fitting item. When it comes to socks, I prefer cuff-down, garter stitch edges on heel flaps and rounded toes. Those are always a feature of my socks. So knitting toe-up for the first time in ages meant I had to read the instructions for increasing the gusset and then doing the heel flap. That I did. At least 4 times! I could not, for the life of me, understand what the pattern wanted me to do! I thought for sure it was wrong. And then I thought maybe I had to be using DPNs, but nah, whatever tiny sticks can do, a magic loop can do too. Until, resigned and defeated, I followed the instruction stitch by stitch, line by line, and what do you know? It worked! It actually worked! So never doubt the design/instructions.
Which was the one thing that I ignored twice! The designer warns that the Eye of Partridge heel flap, while pretty, does not have a lot of horizontal stretch. So I finished this beautiful texture of a heel flap and was ready to start working the leg of my sock when I tried it on. Ugh! It was tight! I know I have big feet but man, the sock was tight at the ankle and my beautiful Eye of Partridge ended up distorted and mangled. *sadface*
So I frogged all the way back to the end of the gusset increases and added 8 stitches on the top of the foot and another 8 stitches on the gusset. And then, much as I hate it, I had to fall back on trusty old slip-stitch heel flap. I think it worked out well because the finish first sock fits perfectly, except the cuff which I thought would be stretchy as anything with my suspended bind-off, still a bit of soaking and blocking might do wonders to the fabric.
Hopefully by the end of the week (Thursday to be precise), I will have a finished pair and Mina and I can do a twinsies watermelon socks photoshoot. Before she goes away to Bahrain 😦
To be continued with Lesson Two…