Friday, August 12, 2016

FMM - Socks, and Lessons Learned

Sometimes, when I've finished knitting a project with a yarn that I particularly love, and I have enough leftover, I'll try to figure out a way to incorporate it into another project.  Such was the case with the yarn I used for these socks:
Fierce Fiber's Stalwart Sock yarn, colorway is Pastry Bandit (pattern is Slip Stitch Lines)

I had enough remaining that I thought I could safely use it for the toes and heels of another pair of socks, and maybe even squeak out the cuffs, so I ordered my favorite colorway, Baltic, from Madelinetosh in an oh-so-luxurious sock base that had a little cashmere mixed in with the standard wool and nylon, weighed the Pastry Bandit yarn for a starting point of reference, taking detailed notes on my Ravelry project page, and I began knitting.  The end result was a super cute pair of socks for my mom's birthday gift - but it didn't come without a major mistake and subsequent learning experience for me...but first, let's get to the fun part and see the finished product:
Blue yarn is Madelinetosh 80/10/10 fingering in Baltic colorway; multicolored is Pastry Bandit.  

I loved how the socks came out - it was fun to see the pops of color on the toes and heels, and yes, I even managed to do the cuffs with the multicolored yarn, although I capped them off with blue just because I liked that look (never mind how many ends I had to weave in as a result - totally worth it).  I blocked the socks, which involves soaking them in a wool wash, and then drying them on the sock blockers for shaping, and then I took pictures - they look great, right?
A matching pair...?

Wait a minute.  Something looks different about the toes.  One is more rounded than the other - did I put it on the sock blocker wrong?  Let's take a closer look:
That definitely isn't right.  What the what???

It took me several minutes of staring at the two socks to comprehend that no, I didn't twist them when I put them on the blockers - I'd actually made the toe of the second sock twist 180 degrees!  Because I knit toe-up, I made the mistake when I started the heel and didn't have the sock orientated correctly.  However, I was knitting these for my mom, who has a smaller foot than I do, and I hadn't done my usual "try on and admire at every step along the way" thing that I usually do when I knit socks because I didn't want to stretch them out...which means I didn't catch the mistake earlier.

Now, I didn't panic, because I knew this was fixable.  I've read about knitters replacing worn out heels and toes in handknit socks, so all I had to do was to unravel the toe and start over, knitting from where the colorful yarn meets the blue, toward the front of the toe, and close it up with the kitchner stitch.  Totally doable.  So, I started unraveling the yarn, which wasn't easy because A) I'd already blocked the socks, so the yarn was softer than when I knitted with it; and B) I'd cast on 12 stitches per needle, and increased to 30, so I was having to undo those increases, which meant a lot of pulling an increasingly long length of yarn through.  I finished and ended up with a nice mound of very kinky yarn:
There was more, but I used most of it to tie a bow onto the socks when I wrapped them.

I could have reused that kinky yarn for the toe, but I had enough leftover from to start fresh, which I did.  I started knitting, and then I did my usual for the toes, which is to start increasing the number of stitches to shape it.  Did you catch that?  I started increasing, when I should have been decreasing the stitches, to taper toward the tip of the toe.  My brain went on autopilot but luckily I'd only gone about four rows when I realized that mistake.  Undo, start again...and finally, I worked my way down to being able to close up the toe with the kitchner stitch, which isn't hard, but you do have to concentrate while doing it, otherwise it's really easy to lose your place and it's quite hard to fix, so I set the sock aside for the next day, when my mind was ready to focus.  I got that part done, wove in the ends (again), blocked the sock (again), took pictures (again), and just like that, this pair of socks was truly finished.  Easy as pie - ha!

********************

After all of that, I also have another pair of socks to show you - hey, turning 75 means you get spoiled with two pairs of handknitted socks.  This pair was actually a trio - yes, I knitted three socks to make one pair.  What happened was that I knit the first sock on size one needles, like I do for most of my socks.  But, it didn't show the stripes very well, and also, the fabric felt really dense and stiff - which isn't necessarily a bad thing for socks, because that can help them be sturdier and have a longer wear life.  However, I wasn't 100% sold on how the sock came out, so when I started the second sock, I used size 1.5 needles, and I liked it much better.  Here's the comparison - the look is fairly subtle, but the fabric is quite different:
I felt like the purple stripes in the teal were lost in the sock on the left.

I didn't get frustrated while knitting these - I do enjoy the process of knitting, and it was fun to see the socks develop.  Having said that, I think I need to learn to go with my gut and be prepared to make a change, even if that means restarting a project, earlier in the game.  Live and learn, obviously.  Here's the finished project collage:
Yarn is KnitCircus Greatest of Ease, colorway is As You Wish.

Shall I go on with my sock, well, not drama...but, er...production?  So the other issue I had with these socks came with the yarn.  I chose this yarn a while back specifically to make these special socks for my mom's significant birthday.  It's a hand-dyed, gradient self-striping that looked really pretty on the website.  When the yarn arrived in my mailbox, I thought "hmmm...there doesn't look like a lot of color difference in the blue" - but it was wound in cakes, so I couldn't really get a good look at it:
I began knitting with the blue, and sure enough, it was pretty solid.  So I emailed KnitCircus, and was advised that the color change would appear pretty soon (I'd only knitted a couple of inches).  I decided to restart with the purple, figuring that the most vibrant part of the blue color striping would appear first and if the sock ended with the cuff being more solid, that would be OK.  Now, I like how the socks turned out, but the gradient striping just wasn't much to write home about, especially compared to what was advertised.  I emailed KnitCircus again, and I have to say, their customer service was excellent, because they agreed with me and gave me a refund.  And because of that, I'll order yarn from them again in the future, for sure.

It was a process to get these two pairs of socks knitted to my satisfaction.  I've come to accept that I have a bit of a perfectionist streak when it comes to knitting, and that's OK.  I'm good with making things right, even if it takes me several tries.  I'd like to think I won't ever make such a crazy mistake like getting a toe twisted, but hey - I'm human, and humans make mistakes.  It's all good in my little knitting world, and for me, the most important thing was that I could give my mom some really nice handknit socks for her 75th birthday.

Have a great weekend!

18 comments:

  1. Easy as pie? I would have worn the socks with the mismatched toes! You are awesome.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They weren't wearable...the seams that run along the sides of your toes would have been in the middle of the top and bottom - way too uncomfortable. :(

      Delete
  2. Love both pairs of socks!! I like how you did the purple first and then it striped into the blue. Great company to work with you and I would order from them again too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Even though I wasn't thrilled with the blue gradient stripes, I was really happy with the company, and they have several other colorways that I have my eye on for a future order.

      Delete
  3. Your mom will love them! Have you thought about selling your socks?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She did love them! :)

      No, I can't sell my socks - no one would pay what they would really cost, LOL. I use fairly expensive yarn, and it takes me quite a while to knit them, too. This is something I do for enjoyment, not employment.

      Delete
  4. I laughed when I saw the toes of the socks and realized the mistake you'd made. It seems like the kind of mistake that would be very common to make. You are a perfectionist, but I know a lot of perfectionists who give up mid-way through or won't even try, because they know they can't make it "perfect." So, you're the perfect kind of perfectionist! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now that I've made THAT toe mistake, I'm surprised that I haven't done it before (or more often), LOL!

      Delete
  5. Those socks are cute with the different color toes and heels. I've done that many a time with projects to get most of the way done and see a mistake I should have caught earlier. I hate having to fix that stuff, but it would drive me crazy if I didn't, even if it's something only I would notice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly...and now I know how to switch out toes, so bonus! :)

      Delete
  6. I agree with Wendy. I wold h ave figured that the toe would be hidden inside a shoe.

    I am going on a knitting weekend this weekend. I will be knitting socks. Nothing as elaborate as yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even hidden, it would have been uncomfortable. What is a knitting weekend?? I want to go!!!!!!!

      Delete
    2. My friend has a house on the river and invited a bunch of knitters. So we will just chat and knit all weekend.

      Delete
  7. Just beautiful. Even though most of this was Greek to me, I can appreciate some nicely knit colorful socks!

    ReplyDelete
  8. LOL at Helen, I have the same but that doesn't matter. I love your passion about knitting. I remember when you started and look how you have improved your skills.

    Bet your Mom was very happy with the socks, I think they are beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love the socks you made for your mom! What a nice gift for her birthday :) The one and only knitting project I ever completed was a scarf for my mom, and I was just as much of a perfectionist about it - just wanted it to be perfect for her. And that was apparently too much for me, since I haven't knit a stitch since LOL (and I think that was about 5 years ago!)

    ReplyDelete
  10. How fantastic that KnitCircus was so understanding and gave you a refund! And go you, fixing ALL those issues! You can see it MUCH better on the 1.5s!

    I'd love to hear more about your blocking process, as I have never properly blocked anything!

    Totally LOLing that you started increasing when you were fixing that sock! Totally something I would do!

    And I agree with your response to someone asking about selling this stuff. People have asked me, and... no one would want to pay for the material and the time it takes!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Knitters get it when you get that "you should sell it" statement. ;)

      Delete

I love hearing from you and read each and every comment! Comments on older posts are moderated, so they won't show up right away - sorry to my real readers, but spammers love to hit old posts, so this is necessary.