Sunday, December 2, 2007

We have a sock....and a tangle

I managed to get a tangle in the toe sock yarn. And no, it was not caused by cats, open skeins, or even spontaneous tangling. It was caused by my own stupidity. Branden has suggested before that I should work one sock from the inside of a ball of yarn, and one from the outside, thus working on both socks at once from only one ball. I groaned and told his that that would make an unholy mess. Knowing this, as I did, I'm not sure what possessed me to try it with an open skein. I think it was mainly that I just wanted to finish connecting the toes, and I figured it wouldn't be much twisting of ends. Well, it was. I worked on the tangle for a while, but have put it aside for now. Actually, I put it aside and Branden picked it up. He's an engineer, and just loves puzzles. Apparently, a large knotted hunk of yarn is a good puzzle. I won't argue.

Meanwhile, I started working on another pair of socks in Lana Grossa. I had heard really good things about it, but hadn't tried it yet. I think I'm not a fan. This might be because the entire center of the ball was a knotted mess (which was an unwelcome discovery when I was using it to run away from the other knotted mess I'd just created...), but I think it's mainly the feel of the yarn. In the ball and in the sock, it feels fine. It's a really nice wool, and it's nice and soft when balled or worked up. In between, however, it feels sticky to me. I can't think of a better way to describe it than sticky. I love the colors, it's striping nicely, and I like the finished product, but the process is a little less fun with sticky yarn. The striping is also a little too well defined for a complicated stitch pattern. I'm doing the sidestream architecture, which is just a very basic sock, and letting the self-striping of the yarn take care of the rest. I did want a little bit of a pattern in the ankle, though, so I did some feather and fan, since it's a pretty stripe-y patterned stitch and went along well with the strong color changes of the yarn. It doesn't show up well in this picture at all, unfortunately, but it's there. I am hoping that it will transform into a more obvious delicately wavy pattern with blocking. We'll see. For now, at least you can see the colors.

This sock has taught me a couple of things.

First, there are a lot of stitches in a sock. I usually consider myself a fairly fast knitter, but I am only creeping along in the sock world. I was really surprised by my lack of progress, until I realized that I have a gauge of 7 spi, but 11 rows per inch! I think Cat's book says that most people have an 8 or 9 rpi count, and I have 9 rpi for the Bearfoot yarn, but with the Lana Grossa it's 11. So, assuming an average of, say, 70 stitches per round (it's 62 through the foot and ankle, and up to 85 through the heel), my 11 inch sock suddenly has over 9000 stitches in it. And that's for an ankle sock! (My family has huge feet. Even my 10-year-old sister has a women's 9 foot. Mine are 10 and a half). That makes me feel a little bit better about the slow progress. I can understand it taking this long to make 9000 stitches.

Second, I have discovered that I prefer my socks tight. If I use my gauge, measure my foot, and calculate my stitch numbers based on Cat's charts, I end up with a sock that is, in m opinion, far too loose. I like a sock to really hug my foot, and in order to do that I think I'd have to decrease my stitch count by at least 10%. I suppose that's good news for the next sock; fewer stitches means less time, and I am trying to pack a lot of sock in before Christmas...