Friday, January 26, 2007

Sicky Sockies

What did I do while I was spending the better part of two weeks lying on the couch with the bug? The first thing that the little "inner voice" was urging me to do was to finish a pair of socks that I had started but had been sitting in a backpack for the better part of 4 months. This first pair (in purple) is Koigu, knit on size 1 needles using a pattern from the Sensational Knitted Socks book by Charlene Schurch. (I absolutely LOVE her book). This sock was such fun to work on! I finished this one in a few days and wondered what else to do?

So I decided to go into the stash for the beginnings of sock #2. This was the sock yarn that was sent to me during the Dye-O-Rama swap that I was involved with last year. I had this yarn all wound into balls to be used, but I couldn't decide what to use it for. The colors are absolutely GORGEOUS in this yarn and the yarn is REALLY soft!!! Makes me want to purr like a little kitty! So, after not seeing anything in my sock books that made me want to go "OOH, I need to knit THAT sock", I decided to go to one of my Stitch Directory books and pick out a stitch and design a sock out of it! This sock was knit toe-up, used a short-row heel and topped off with a 2x2 ribbing.

Here is the top-down view of the sock. I thought a lace pattern would be fun with this sock, since the yarn is so heavy. It would have made a perfect winter sock up in New Mexico, but since I have moved down to Arizona, I needed something that would be a little bit cooler. If anyone is interested, let me know and I can post a pattern of how to make this sock (or at least the stitch pattern I used for the leg and top of the foot). I absolutely LOVE how this sock turned out. I loved it so much that I wore it to work for the first two nights of the week! Very comfy, nice and soft and keeps the feets nice and comfy!

I have a third sock that I finished last night but I haven't got the pictures uploaded to my laptop yet. That sock started as one thing and ended up turning into something completely unexpected.

I am a strange animal. I love to knit socks but I really hate to follow patterns. Why? It seems like the patterns look so nice on paper, but one I knit them up, they are either too loose on my foot or too tight. (This is always following patterns for "average" foot size. WTF is average???)So, through my vast many years of sock knitting (OK, 2 years), I have come up with a system that guarentees that my socks will fit me every time. Disclaimer, this works for me, you may not find the same results...

Here is what I do:
1. Knit a gauge swatch. (I can hear the grumbling already) I knit the swatch because I need to know what this yarn knits up like with this set of needles I am working with. I have had the same brand of yarn give me different gauge with the same needles. It's an important part of the formula.
2. Measure my foot width at the ball of my foot (the widest part on my foot). I take this measurement to get the size of the tube. Now, what if my ankles/legs are wider than my foot? Easy! Take a measurement for your foot and take a measurement for your ankles/legs. You can then increase the leg/ankle portion of the sock for your measurements!
3. Subtract 1/2 inch from my foot measurement. You can also multiply the foot measurement by 0.90 and use that number. I have an 8.5 inch measurement around the ball of my foot. (I subtact 1/2 inch since I tend to knit tight)
4. Multiply my gauge swatch times my result from step 3. For the current socks I started, I have a gauge swatch of 8 stitches per inch. Step 3 gives me a foot measurement of 7.65 inches. If I multiply the two = 7.65 * 8 = 61.2 stitches.
5. I look in my pattern books, my sock charts, my sock patterns and look for something within 4 stitches of this number. For example, I may find a really cool 8 stitch repeating pattern that I want to use, I would cast on 64 stitches. Or I may find a nice 6 stitch repeating pattern that I like, so I would cast on 60 stitches.

I find this system allows me to get socks that fit me well and I can use the stitch patterns from other sock patterns or from sweater patterns, blanket patterns or any other source out there. It allows me to be creative. From there, just insert your favorite heel and toe in the right places and you are off and running.

I also tend to carry the leg pattern down onto the top of the sock rather than knitting stockinette stitch over the whole foot. This is a matter of personal preference. I tend to walk around my house in stocking feet all the time so the extra pattern does get seen in my socks. If you tend to be the type that wears socks only in shoes and no one sees the feet, you may not want to knit the extra pattern.

That is the one thing I love about knitting socks! Once you understand how a sock is made and how to make the socks, you can use your imagination and make any kind of sock you desire! No patterns are needed!

How is the workout going? This week, I have been the weight room twice, done the bike and the weight lifting. I still need to get in there later tonight for another workout.

Yarn diet? The socks I started today are "ankle socks" (I always called them booties) that I am making out of some Lorna's Laces from my stash. So far this year, we are 3/3 in using our stash yarn!