Thursday, March 1, 2007

Sock Thoughts

With all the exercising (we went to an hour-long spinning class yesterday morning… not the good kind of spinning either…. And then left work a little early to run 10 miles in the evening), I've started knitting on my commute. Which is actually a walk. I've knit and read at the same time for years, as long as the knitting is simple enough, and I believe I knit while riding a stationary bike a couple of times, but Ididn't think I was coordinated enough to knit while actually moving. It turns out I am, but unfortunately it’s been just a smidge too cold to make much progress. The walk takes about a half hour, but the past 2 days my fingers got chilly after about 10 minutes, and I gave up.

Before frostbite set in, however, I worked on a sock in a purple-y blue Artyarns Ultramerino I bought at Webs 2 summers ago (or maybe last summer? Maybe I’ll start writing the date of acquisition on my yarn labels?). It’s nearly solid, so I think it’s probably color 124. I originally intended to make Elfine's Socks, but instead I’m designing a gansey sock. It’s funny—when I think of gansey sweaters, the main element I see is the vertical panels on the upper chest and shoulders, with a plain lower body and forearms so they’re easier to reknit as they wear out. In my head, gansey socks should clearly have plain stockinette feet, with vertical panels on the cuffs. Ideally, they’d be cuff-down, so you really could unravel a worn foot and knit a new one.

But when I googled gansey sock, all of the examples I found focused on the other main element of ganseys—horizontal bands of small motifs—which doesn’t stand out for me at all. Andy they cover the top of the foot as well as the cuff (which definitely makes the socks more fun to knit!). Fascinating, how differently different people can see the same sweater!

Since I see the vertical panels above plain areas, my socks have a mostly stockinette stitch foot, with vertical patterns on the cuffs. I decided to knit from the toe up because I always worry about running out of yarn, and because I could see myself stalling at about mid-foot if I didn't have the patterned cuff to look forward to. I usually do a figure 8 cast-on toe and then a short row heel (I’d do a short row toe too, but then I’d have to swatch and plan), but I've been thinking that my socks are in a rut lately, so I’m trying a reversed round heel.

Since the weekend, I knit through through the gusset increases while walking, in presentations, at break, and in the evenings. I was pretty pleased with myself for figuring things out on my own to that point. But when I tried to imagine actually turning the heel, I realized I’d need to increase somewhere, or I’d have too few stitches when I was finished—I just couldn't quite figure out where the extra stitches needed to be. So I peeked at the Widdershins pattern from Knitty last night, did some math to make it work on my stitch count, and I think I’m all set, except for a sinking feeling that I should have started the whole heel earlier. With any luck I’ll be able to get a little bit further tonight and find out for sure.

1 comment:

Annie said...

Hmmm....in future gansey socks (and I foresee an enormous market demand for an entire series), what if you did incorporate the horizontal tiny patterns at both the bottom of the cuff--just before getting into th heel turn, and at the very top (harder, since that's where you'd want ribbing). But that way the horizontal areas would 'frame' the vertical patterns, which I agree are the main design element. Can't wait to see them--I hope pictures are forthcoming.