Sunday, February 13, 2011

Down At The Heels

I knit really good socks.  That's not bragging.  It is fact.  It also isn't some innate skill I just pulled out of the aether.  I knit a lot of really ugly socks before I got the hang of it and unraveled more than I finished at the outset of my sock knitting journey.

I will always screw up a complicated fancy-schmancy pattern and that also lends some credence to my so-totally-not-bragging stance.  But I can knit a really good looking basic sock with nary a fumbled flap.  I stand behind my skills and have a certain amount of justified pride in them.

My recent (if somewhat belated) decision to try toe up/short row heel socks has taken me down a peg or two, though.  To go from flawless heels to something that resembles Swiss cheese is nothing short of frustrating.  Not to mention humbling.  I carry on in spite of this for a couple of reasons.

First, it is something new and interesting.  I sort of got distracted from the knitting for a while there and now that I'm back at it I kind of like the challenge.  If you've never tried to knit a wrap before, then it is challenging.  I will stand for no dissent on this matter.  I'm cranky from that experience...

The other reason I think I like the toe up design is that they fit remarkably well.  After years of thinking that my high instep was too delicate and special for anything other than a flapped sock, I am shocked by how perfectly a short row heel lovingly hugs my foot.  My tender hooves deserve such luxury so I'm keeping at it.

As an added bonus there's none of that pesky weaving of stitches at the toe, but that is a minor consideration.  I've gotten pretty good at toes over the years, what with having to finish socks in darkened movie theaters or teacher workshops...

My second pair of toe up socks is at the half-way mark.  This time, I didn't do wraps for the short rows.  Instead, I turned the work, stuck my tongue out and said, "I ain't doin' no stupid wrap" and went on my merry way.  As I worked the second half of the heel, I did a series of k2togs and M1s to keep things even.


Thank you Internet for your most wise and generous counsel...




Sure, it 's an acceptable sock.  It fits very well and the cuff is exactly perfect this time.  (unlike the overly snug first pair I crafted)  What's killing me here is the little stuff.  There's that gap at the heel, the thing I worked so hard to overcome in the past and now can't seem to remember to pick up the extra stitches for.  And don't even get me started on the whole provisional cast on deal.  Why I can't seem to do that right is just beyond me.  I've tried a couple of other ways (including the figure 8 cast on) and they don't work very well for me.  I always seem to end up with what I like to call a "protuberance" or an "outie" at the toe.  It also looks very much like other things that I simply can't live with on my foot.

I'd tell you the story about how I tend to get bored and put the sock down half way through the heel then forget about where the needles are and let half the stitches slip off, but that makes me shake and think bad thoughts.  Let's just say I have now done it three times and leave it at that, shall we?

I mean, honestly!  It's like losing six years of sock knitting progress!  I'm a rookie again and it's not a good look on someone of my advanced years.  I just have to remember that practice makes perfect and that neither Rome nor the ideal footwear was born in a day.

And I'll bet the Romans had even more trouble since they wore those sandals all the time and their sock heels showed up pretty darned clearly...

SA

5 comments:

kmkat said...

That provisional cast on thing? I must have done it a couple dozen times, for various socks and other objet d'knit. And it was only on the last two times (both of which happened just last week) that said provisional cast on actually zipped off like it was supposed to. Every other time I have ended up having to cut the waste yarn somewhere. I think the secret was the yarn I used these two times -- Knit Picks Shine Sport, a smooth cotton blend. Don't know why that worked, but I plan to use it every time now.

Donna Lee said...

I use a crochet hook and crochet the provisional cast on around my needle. This helps it zip out. Otherwise, I have to pick it out one stitch at a time and it's a pain. I am working my way up the cuff of a toe up sock and I think they feel like they are faster to knit. I don't know why since they're the same number of stitches.

April said...

I am hopeless at the provisional cast on. HOPELESS. Not so good with short rows either. It's amazing anything gets knitted around here. But I think your sock looks beauteous!

I almost adopted a Siamese these weekend and I'm blaming you completely.

Julia G said...

Don't despair of the provisional cast on! Trying to learn it on fiddly sock yarn with toothpick size needles is probably the worst way to do so, although that is how I learned it after many frustrating attempts. It worked best for me when I accepted the idea that no matter how carefully I pulled up stitches from the right "bump" section of the chain, it was not always going to unzip. It either did or it didn't, according to some mysterious algorithm known only to itself, and I would just have to patiently undo the chain if it wasn't feeling zippy.

But I find it very useful in larger projects too. I used it to cast on the stitches for the brim of a helmetliner/balaclava. I just finished another hat in which the middle panel of fair isle alpacas came out much tighter than the rest of the hat, despite extensive swatching, so I'm going to use the provisional cast on to start with the llama panel on larger needles until I get the sizing right, then knit down to the brim from there. It also helps to use tightly wound yarn (of the same weight) for the crochet chain so you don't get splitting.

trek said...

I like the yarn!