Learning Curves

Back in the fall I decided to finally jump into Cookie A’s Sock Innovation after it had been on my shelf for about a year. I had a rough start, but eventually I chose Kristi as my first project, and eventually Kristi and I started to figure things out.

I worked on that sock here and there for about 2 months but it was slow going. I could knit maybe 3 rounds in an evening. The only way I could keep track of where I was in the chart was to lay a sheet of paper over it to block the rows I had finished and to look down after every stitch, check the row number and reposition the paper to make sure it was lined up properly. The only way I could keep track of what row I was on was to write down where I had stopped each night.

From November to January this was as much as I was able to knit:

In January I put Kristi aside to get started on my 2012 sock goal. I made a few pairs of plain socks and one pair of sorta fancy socks, and then I made OppAtt. OppAtt had charted cables, like Kristi, and there were different instructions for left and right so the socks would mirror each other, also like Kristi, but overall they really weren’t as complicated as Kristi. I didn’t have much trouble reading the charts or keeping track of where I was at all. In fact, they were easy enough to knit that I didn’t really think I was doing anything special with them, but it turns out I was.

I was learning. I know I was learning when I knit OppAtt because when I picked up Kristi again a week or so ago I could understand the chart and follow the correct row without any accessories. I could figure out my place in the pattern just by looking at the chart and at what I had knit. I could knit more than 3 rows in an evening. Suddenly it was all BOOM! Cabled socks? No biggie.

And now we are here:

My one concern now is that, while I originally worried these socks would be too big, now that I’ve knit enough to really try one on I would say it might almost be too small. If I knit these again I would size them up somehow. I’m just plain loving them now that I’ve got the hang of knitting them, though, so I do see more from this book in my near future. Guess I’ll just have to keep an eye on sizing from the start with the next pair.

I’m still waiting for my BOOM! moment with the slipped-stitch sole socks. It’s been a bit of a learning curve figuring out these socks as well, but I mean that a bit more like literally than with Kristi. I had to rip and re-knit the first foot when I realized it was doing this sort of crescent-moon thing, which my foot definitely won’t do. You can see what was happening a bit in this photo – that bend in the middle of the foot isn’t caused so much by the way I laid it down as by the sole bunching up.

In fact, I think it was when I was laying the sock out for this picture that I realized what had happened and what I was going to have to do. (You can see the needles have already been yanked out. I find it’s best to face up to tragedy the instant you see it coming.)

Really, I should have figured this out earlier, but I didn’t because I can never do anything just like I’m told. I got the idea for a slipped-stitch sole when I was knitting Aquaphobia. Like most patterned socks, that sock called for the pattern from the leg to continue on the instep only while the sole was to be knit in stockinette. However, the leg pattern involved a sl 1, k 1 pattern similar to what you’d use on a heel flap to make it stronger. So, I was facing having a very sturdy leg, heel, and instep, but a stockinette sole, and I really didn’t like setting up my socks to wear through on the bottom while the rest still looked good. So, I continued the slipped stitches on the sole as well, I loved how they turned out, and I decided maybe I’d try that trick again but this time just with the sole.

The thing is, because I didn’t change to stockinette on Aquaphobia I never had the chance to learn that my stockinette and slipped-stitch row gauges are not the same. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t learn this lesson on Aquaphobia, because if I had had one more problem with those socks I think it might have undone all the good the last 15 years of yoga have done. Still, it was a lesson waiting to be learned, so there I was with my sickle-shaped sock wondering what to do next.

I figured out that, with the difference in gauge, over the length of the foot, I needed 11 more rows on the sole than on the instep and they needed to be spaced about 8 rounds apart. So: short rows. I put the end of the round just after the sole stitches. I knit 7 rounds, then turned and purled back across the sole, then turned and continued in the round.This worked to keep the length of the sole and instep the same, but it left gaps between the sole and instep where I turned, which you can see here:

So: wrapped short rows are the plan for sock #2. I will let you know if things start BOOM!ing.

4 thoughts on “Learning Curves

  1. I really really liked reading this post. I have sock innovation also, and tried to knit “rick” with no luck last fall (ripped it out). You give me some hope, although Cookie’s patterns really are a challenge in themselves.
    I like the idea of a slipped stitch sole, I wonder why no one has ever done it before? You should try and post a general sock pattern with that, I bet a lot of people would be interested.
    Happy Sunday !

  2. Cookie A. socks are great. Last year I made a couple of her patterns from Knit. Sock. Love. Sake is my favorite, and it was also slightly small. But since I tend to save them for “special occasions”, it doesn’t bother me too much.

    1. Yeah, I don’t think these will be so small that they’ll be unwearable. Just a little bit of a squeeze to get them on. But they’re so pretty that I can’t get mad at them.

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