Monthly Archives: March 2006

Things I don’t like about knitting

1. I find entrelac in all its forms rather scary and unappetizing.
2. I’m a little worried that the return of the 80s means batwing-sleeved sweaters are coming back into style.
3. Representational intarsia motifs in garments for people over the age of ten. [ For instance: Dots? Yes. Frogs or Christmas trees? No. I am, however, all over the Miss Bea's books for children, because I'm not made of stone. -ed.]
4. The picking up of stitches after the turning of sock heels; I have no idea why, but I know that if I’m going to stall on a sock, it will be here. I hate it, it’s fiddly and hard on my hands. But not today – see the heel on the first Crusoe sock? Good to go, and it took longer to turn the heel than to pick up stitches. I was so easy.  What's her problem?
Though it feels weird to admit it, much like it does when I admit I like grafting, there is no such thing as Second Sock Syndrome for me – it takes me long enough to knit a pair of socks that I completely forget about any trauma with the first sock by the time I’m into the second – I’m just looking forward to the finished object. I am a slow enough knitter, however, that I go through each of the five Project Stages several times before they’re complete. What are they?

Denial – “I can knock this [fill in project name here] out in [a month/aweek/a day/give me a minute]” This is said regardless of knitting speed, full-time employment status and past project completion rate. I constantly revise the date on which my sockpal socks will be finished.

Bargaining – “This is taking a little longer than I thought, but if I just knit for [15 minutes a day/an hour a day/each evening/all weekend/every waking moment, forsaking all other obligations], it will be done in plenty of time.” I’m not yet worried I’ll be done by May 1, but I could be…

Anger – “#@&*#Y! There’s a mistake [X rows/XX rows/XXXrows] back – I can’t believe it!” Who knits their heel flap over 36 stitches…on a 64 stitch sock? I do, apparently, so it took two tries (and yes, I counted – wrongly, I guess).

Depression – “I should have knit [fill in name of other project here] instead. This sucks.” See also: stash enhancement as distraction from stalled knitting. Let’s just say there’s a scarf from Vogue Knitting with my name on it…

Not bad for waiting around for almost a year Acceptance – Hey, if I knit just a little more….I’m done! I love it!

And yet, even though this seemed to take forever, just seeing that I’ve finished one Retro Rib makes me want to knit the other. As long as it’s not a sweater with a cat on it, that’s okay.

Cast on 64 stitches…or 72…or 60.

An actual comment from Knit One Purl Too’s caliper-fetching, ad hoc needle gauge measurement team (aka my husband): Just how many times have you cast on for that sock, anyway?

Me: Oh, just eight or nine.

In reality, it was probably closer to eighteen or nineteen, but the only time I really cared was when I started to resent, just a tiny bit, that every sock pattern I was trying did not require the same number of stitches cast on at the beginning. Starting over really meant starting over. The Cable Rib Socks (scroll down) from IK was 64 (here’s a lovely variegated version), but the Mock Croc socks from Knitpicks were 60 (yay, just 60!), and the Broken Cable Rib socks from the IK website (those are so nice – you’ll notice it’s a solid color yarn) were a daunting 72, which quickly pulled in to a reasonable-seeming circumference once the cabling began.

And none of them really fit the bill. Here’s my attempt at the Cable Rib socks – the rib is nice enough, but the single cable (on the left there) was completely swallowed up by the variegation in the yarn. Here’s the front of my Broken Cable Rib sock – leaving aside the fact that right about here I started to suspect that I was misreading the pattern because it didn’t look like my cables were crossing correctly, this sock in variegated yarn looks just too, too much to me – very Santino. And when you turn it over – well, that pooling makes me faint. So unpretty! Which is why this is such a relief (click to make bigger):

I am Knitty's Crusoe.  I am so nice. I resisted Crusoe because…well, I don’t know why, other than I had read one or two comments along the lines of “this sock is too tight.” If I have one Sockapaloooza rule, it would be “knit something with stretch for a forgiving fit.” Though it may seem like I broke this rule with Crusoe, I am knitting the pattern over 64 stitches at a tighter gauge; the resulting fabric is firm but not board-like, with a surprising amount of give. It’s slightly too big for me, but I have the ankles of a bird, so everything should be fine. Fun to knit, fun to wear, pretty to look at – whew!

Variegated yarn is so seductive.

I’ve seen a lot of beautiful variegated yarn and I remain convinced that “seduction by variegation” is responsible for 39.4 percent of all stash acqusition by otherwise responsible knitters. You know that scene in A Bug’s Life where the little bug is flying toward the zapper ant and he just can’t help himself? “It’s too beautiful! I can’t look away!” That one? Variegated yarn is like that.

I might need more sock needles if this keeps up.  Or more hands.The problem with variegated yarn is that it’s (not to belabor the obvious, but it has to be said) variegated. You get it home and thumb through umpty-jillion sock patterns and you end up saying over and over “That won’t work with this yarn. Nope, that won’t work either.” It’s enough to turn a girl into a serial swatcher, sampler of many stitch patterns, fan of none. Exhibit #1: My purse, whose contents include two sets of DPNs (size 1), one 40″ circular, size 2, six sock patterns and a back issue of Interweave Knits (also including a sock pattern). To make matters worse, I’m considering two additional patterns I haven’t even printed out yet. (I printed them; see the frenzy above.)

I could blame it on the fact that my Sockapaloooza pal is an experienced sock knitter; sending her a pair of plain-vanilla stockinette socks (even if they are in a yarn which makes knitters drool with envy) seems like I’m saying “I care, but not a whole lot.” It follows from this that ribbed socks say “I care enough to purl, but your socks will look sort of manly.” I blame it all on the Koigu.

So pretty, I can't look away.I am completely smitten with this yarn. Purchased quite awhile ago and destashed for this special occasion, it meets the Sockapaloooza-worthiness test of “so beautiful to me that I will regret giving it up.” And yet? It’s too variegated. I thought it was understated, but that’s only in comparison to the other Koigu I’ve got stashed away (see masthead, above). I cannot find a pattern that isn’t swallowed by the riot of color in the skein.

I also can’t find a pattern that meets my unspoken criteria of showing off my mad knitting skillz without taking forever to knit. I am not one of those “sock a week” knitters – unless it’s stockinette and I work on nothing else. And I feel compelled to uphold the high standards set last swap; I received cashmere lace socks last time around. In an attempt to shake off the sock-starting funk, I set aside the Koigu to begin a pair of Evelyn Clark’s lovely Go With the Flow Socks in Plymouth Sockotta; the results were nice, but I’m not 100 percent sold. Plus, I made lace socks last swap, and don’t want to do the same thing twice. (I know it wouldn’t really be the same, because I have a new sockpal this time around, but humor me). Only in comparison to Koigu would this be called ugly - it's nice It’s ironic to me that I had no problem using the yarn (hum a few bars of MacArthur Park here: “this Koigu may never be available again“), but I have great angst over how to use it. I think I need to get over my need to show off for my sock pal pick a lane (so to speak), and get down to knitting, or it will be May 1 before I know it.