Thursday, July 16, 2009

A perfect sock

I have been in the mood for mindless knitting lately. I don’t know if it’s just a hangover from last month’s craziness, or maybe from the past 5 years of grad school, but my brain has decided that it’s just done for a while. This is good timing, since I really have very little to do at the moment. The sum total of my to-do list: 1) go to the market 2) write blog posts 3) make dinner. That’s it.

Between a total lack of schedule, a complete inability to speak to anyone (a lack of people that have a reason to speak to me), and no internet, the past week has been a little like sensory deprivation, especially compared with the hectic schedule of the past few months. It was a little unnerving at first, but then the quiet started to be kinda nice.

Mindless knitting fits well in that quiet.

And so, I have a sock.

Not just any sock. A perfect sock. And, like all perfection, it is proving to be completely irreproducible.

It started out with my (mostly) standard sock recipe. I made the cast on a little wider, but other than that it’s the same as the last few pairs of socks I’ve knit for myself. Increases underneath the instep, and plain vanilla otherwise.

Except that it isn’t just plain vanilla. It doesn't look like much, but somehow it fits my foot better than any other sock I’ve knit. It hugs my instep just right, fits at the heel, the toe seam lays exactly where it’s supposed to rather than twisting around or bunching up. It’s just right.

I kept careful notes while knitting, knowing that I would need to reproduce the same number of stitches and increases for the second sock, but I must have made a mistake somewhere. The second sock is now well into its second knit, and it just doesn’t match. I have followed my notes carefully. I have double and triple checked the number of stitches, the cast on, the increases, everything. I’ve even re-created all of the stitch counts from the first sock itself, and they match. And somehow, it is not the same. Close, but not the same.

The only thing I can figure is that there’s a slight bias that’s showing up in my increases somewhere, and that follows the shape of one arch and not the other. I can’t see the bias, but there has to be something there. To get a similar fit on the second sock, I’ve had to rotate the heel position relative to my instep increases by 10 stitches (out of 90), which is a pretty big difference. The sock still fits well, and I’m not sure that knitting it a third time will change anything, but I wanted two perfect socks.

The second sock is currently in time out after the latest round of ripping back. I might pull back again tomorrow, or I might just accept that perfection only strikes once. Imperfection isn’t the end of the world, but I’d really like to know what I did (and how it’s different than what I thought I did)…