Friday, October 05, 2007

I'm learning about socks, the hard way

Originally uploaded by OctaviusPie

I now consider myself a sock pattern writer though I have not officially released a sock pattern yet. Yes, I am imaginative in that way.

It may just be in my head, but I have been playing around with stitches on tiny needles and a lot has just been clicking. Most of this stuff is old hat to real socksters, but pretty exciting to me. So here's what I learned about writing sock patterns: (so far)

1. swatch swatch swatch swatch. Gauge is critical. Seeing what stitches work well with different yarns is critical.

2. If you name your pattern after a character or creature in the Harry Potter series, people will desperately want to knit your socks. Same goes for colorways you dye your yarns and hope to sell.

3. I know cuff-down has real merits. Toe-up is just better. There, I said it. Something about being able to try on the foot as you go makes a lot of sense.

4. Blocking socks is a really good idea. Even if you don't own sock blockers, you can still use the old pin them into shape method. Your lace never looked so good.

5. Never mix complicated yarn with complicated stitches. Unless you want a fugly sock, that is. If you're going to hand knit your own precious socks try to avoid looking like you regurgitated on them. I don't care how expensive the yarn was.

6. If they don't fit, you must rip. What's the point otherwise? Pull out the knitting as if it never happened. Or else gift the socks to a horse, who may fit into them better. Your choice.

7. Measure the ball of your foot before you cast on. Then subtract for a nice snug fit. Some say 10%, I like half an inch.

8. If you deviate from a pattern, write it down. Never assume you'll remember. If you make a mistake in the first one, think carefully if you want to repeat the mistake in the second. Is having a matching pair that important? It may be.

9. Don't use the cheapest wool ever created. You won't want to wear them when you're finished.

10. I'm a little tired of self-striping yarn. Not really helpful, but technically something I've learned.

Of course, I may be wrong. Every single one of these things could be challenged. I accept that. But for now, I stand by this list.

TO DO: I want to try the 2 circulars method. I like the idea of going faster, having fewer edges in between needles, and knitting two at once, so they really really match. Am I an addict now? Yes.


Laura said...

I agree! On pretty much everything. But most especially the toe up and two circs points.

Anne said...

I agree (the Harry Potter observation is pretty key these days too). There are a couple of patterns I've found that DO look good with variegated yarns. I'm having my own issues with Monkeys right now (not a pattern that's friendly to kid-wrangling knitters, or at least that's what I keep telling myself the problem is) but that pattern really does show off variegated yarn to good advantage.

Enjoy! Socks seem to be the current global obsession.

kerri said...

I've never commented before but just had to say that you are right on about your sock knitting epiphanies.

Only thing I really have to say is regarding knitting the two socks on two circs. While it is a great idea, you end up with two extra needles bouncing around while you're knitting and it's fiddley. I prefer one long circ, same idea, just less chance of poking your eye out. Just my two cents.

Wendy Stackhouse said...

My experience with 2 circs (my opinion only) is that it is actually slower, with time taken to slide the stitches every time you get to the end. It seems faster because of doing two socks at the same time. But YMMV, of course!